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Collaborators in Creativity: Artist Sketchbooks

These enthusiastic studio art students made some “sketchy” new friends this past spring – and that’s nothing but a compliment.

May 29 , 2018

Sketch of spring 2018 class of Artists Sketchbook. Credit, Ellen Orseck

Life is sometimes a busy blur that passes much too quickly, but artist sketchbooks can help us capture creative moments and musings as they happen. However, as the spring class of The Artist’s Sketchbook discovered, sketchbooks can also become springboards for fresh experiences and new friendships.

Taught by acclaimed artist and Glasscock School instructor Ellen Orseck, this popular studio art course brought together art enthusiasts from diverse skill levels, backgrounds, ages, genders and cultures. However, as the class got underway, creative sketches weren’t the only things that started to emerge.

“It was marvelous to watch as the students went from being total strangers to becoming friends with common interests inside and outside of the classroom,” said Ms. Orseck. “In so many cases our differences can divide us, but their shared artistic passion created an incredibly warm and supportive environment.”

As one of the class goals, Ms. Orseck encourages each student to consider submitting a sketchbook for the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project. This crowd-sourced library features the work of more than 70,000 artists in both hard copy and digital formats. Ms. Orseck is an avid supporter of this global art effort and has one of her own sketchbooks on permanent display.

The enthusiastic energy in the classroom led student Linda Werner to suggest collaboration on a single class sketchbook, with each person completing one page of the finished work. After agreeing on a theme of “favorite foods,” they were on their way to creating a shared masterpiece.

As part of an off-site field trip to prepare for their project, the student artists travelled to the Hirsch Library at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to view famous artist sketchbooks that included the works of Jackson Pollock, John Biggers and Richard Serra. With some books dating back to the 18th century, the fragile pages provided both inspiration and insight into the artistic process.

“Every sketchbook is more than just a collection of drawings,” Ms. Orseck explained. “They are truly windows into the artist’s thoughts and an intimate walk through his or her creative process.”

Back in the studio, each student poured his or her talents into what became a sketching smörgåsbord: avocados, scallops, chocolate-raspberry ice cream and bacon-and-eggs, just to name a few. The final colorful collection, “Food for the ‘Art-full’ Soul,” was assembled and sent to the Brooklyn Art Library in Williamsburg, New York in late April for permanent display. The sketchbook will ultimately be digitized for online display and travel the world as part of a mobile library.

This time-lapse video shows just a taste of the hard work that went into this labor of artistic love. You can also view an Instagram gallery of the work in progress, but be warned: some of these sketches look good enough to eat!

We thank The Artist’s Sketchbook class for demonstrating just how much is possible when creativity, curiosity and camaraderie blend together so beautifully. We hope to see you in future studio art classes, and Ellen Orseck returns in the fall for another session of The Artist’s Sketchbook.

Follow the Glasscock School Facebook account for the final digital link to the “Food for the ‘Art-full’ Soul,” sketchbook. Also, stay tuned for updates about our fall catalog release in mid-July, which includes upcoming studio art courses. See you in class!

Banner image: Drawing depicts members of the spring class of The Artist’s Sketchbook. Credit: Ellen Orseck
Time-lapse video credit: Linda Werner

About the Author

Artist sketch of Brooke BoenBrooke Boen is the Digital Marketing Manager at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies.
She is an ardent admirer of those with artistic ability.