The Life of the Mind

Do you ever lose yourself in creating pencil sketches and discover, when you “wake up,” that you’ve drawn objects or people or places that have personal meaning to you or ideas you’ve been subconsciously toying with? Drawing sketches can be like writing in a journal–the pages of your sketchbook are a reflection of your preoccupations and thoughts.

 Londoño created a drawing every day based on his readings and visual reactions to them.
Londoño created a drawing every day based on his readings and visual reactions to them.

Looking at our own sketches helps us see what is going on in our own minds. Looking at other artists’ sketchbooks can be equally illuminating, because you are able to assess how their minds work, how their pencil sketches translate into finished works of art, and what preoccupied them when they were drawing sketches for themselves.

Colombian artist José Antonio Suárez Londoño’s sketchbooks–or “yearbooks,” as he calls them–are part of an ongoing project that the artist has been working on since 1997. He creates a drawing a day based on the book or series of books that he reads over a course of a year. The drawings become visual repositories of how the readings impact the artist over days, weeks, and months, and serve as the trace remains of his intellectual explorations.

Untitled by José Antonio Suárez Londoño, lithograph, 2009, 14.5 x 9.5.
Untitled by José Antonio Suárez
Londoño, lithograph, 2009,
14.5 x 9.5.

As someone who loves both reading and art, I can’t think of a more fitting and powerful way of blending the two interests. Londoño allows what he reads and how he translates what he reads to become fuel for his artistry. It just goes to show you how close inspiration is. We can use everything we filter into our minds over the course of a day, or we can actively engage with what we read or see to make work that bears the marks of our intellectual pursuits.

You can also set your artistic abilities loose on the world around you by telling the story of your day through sketches and small works with the instruction and sketching lessons that you’ll find in our Urban Sketching Resources. The essential drawing techniques you’ll discover, with insights on how to make the most of what you see from an artistic standpoint, are sure to spark or renew your interest in drawing. Enjoy!

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Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

2 thoughts on “The Life of the Mind

  1. I love this idea and even though my drawing skills are zip to none, I am tempted to give this a try. It may be part way into the year, but I feel that if I try this, 2 things will happen. I will improve my drawing skills to be able to maybe increase my acrylic painting skills, and I will also have a pictorial reference about my year. Thanks for the inspiration!!

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