Discover more from James Burks: Life in Lines!
The Opposite of A.I - Part 2!
Or how I can't resist buying sketchbooks.
In my last post, I talked about buying a manual typewriter to help change how I write and break free from technology.
Today, I want to talk about how I changed how I draw to break free from technology.
When I first started working in animation, I carried a sketchbook everywhere. I was constantly drawing the people around me and would regularly go to the zoo to draw the animals too. But over time, as I transitioned to drawing digitally, I carried it less, and the computer’s undo button became my trusty companion. Don’t get me wrong, I love drawing on the computer and all of the amazing tools it provides, but I also miss drawing in my sketchbook. There’s something magical about holding art in my hands and seeing how it was made. To see the human touch and glimpse the process that went into making it.
Here’s the thing: I'd still buy sketchbooks even though I was no longer drawing in them. If I were in a bookstore or the art store and saw one that was a cool color, a unique size or had nice paper, I’d buy it.
Every time I’d buy a new sketchbook, I’d tell myself, “I’m going to fill this up with art!” And every time, the sketchbook would sit on my shelf with the other unfilled sketchbooks and gather dust.
Recently, while on a trip to Joanne Fabrics, what do I see? Another interesting sketchbook calling my name. It had a natural brown cover and 80 pages of the most beautiful cream paper. But I told myself that I don’t need a new sketchbook, I’ve got plenty of them at home. But I also had a 40% coupon! How can I resist the perfect sketchbook if it’s also 40% off? The answer is, I can’t!
I left the store with the sketchbook and brought it home.
Now this is where a few things went differently than when I bought sketchbooks in the past. First, I had too much free time with nothing to do while waiting and waiting for notes on two separate projects. The second thing is I saw my friend Brett Bean posting his fantastic morning warm-up sketches, which are incredible! And the third thing, I was getting tired of creating art solely to feed the hungry monster that is Instagram. I wanted to get back to doing what I loved and the reason I became an artist in the first place— drawing for myself!
So I unwrapped the sketchbook with the natural cover and the beautiful cream paper, and I started drawing in it! I gave myself only one rule; I wouldn’t post anything I drew inside it on Instagram, at least not until I had completely filled the entire book.
What I love about drawing in a sketchbook is similar to what I love about typing on the manual typewriter. It forces me to embrace my mistakes since there’s no undo button. If I make a bad drawing, it’s okay. I acknowledge that it’s not good and move on. After all, the only way for me to make good drawings is to get the bad drawings out of my system. And since I’m not sharing them on Instagram, there’s no pressure. However, I will share some of them here, even though I haven’t filled the entire sketchbook yet. But we all know that rules are meant to be broken, right? And technically, this isn’t Instagram, so I think it’ll be okay.
Before I share some of my sketchbook pages, I want to leave you with this: Make time to make art for yourself. Draw characters that you want to draw. Get lost in your imagination. The world outside will be fine while you’re away, and you’ll feel better when you return to it after filling a page or two in your sketchbook.
Now, without further ado, here is some art from my sketchbook!
Drawn with a ballpoint pen and grey marker. I like to walk around the house singing the Smashing Pumpkins lyric, “The world is a vampire!”
Drew these based on 1960’s London Fashion photos.
A female Arctic explorer from my imagination.
Some random dudes and an elephant.
A page of cats! One of my favorite things to draw.
The theme for this page was women in either overalls or coveralls. I will sometimes use a whiteout pen and Post-it notes to fix drawings.
Chipmunks and a random woman from the ’30s. I saw the chipmunk in the bottom corner while out on a run. I thought it was dead because it wasn’t scurrying off as I approached. Thankfully, it was very much alive, and ran off after I made some noise. I roughed these out with a thin orange pen and then finished them with a brush pen.
Drew these while at the Taste of Japan Festival in Anaheim, CA.
The two orange dogs I drew at the Taste of Japan festival and the rest are from my imagination.
Two servers working at The Stand and a page of made-up cats based on orange marker shapes.
And that’s it for now. Maybe I’ll share more as I continue filling up the pages. I’ll be bringing it with me to San Diego Comic-con in July. There will be all kinds of interesting stuff to draw there.
Thanks for reading!