Friday, September 14, 2012

The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project has been touring the nation and it made a stop at Urban ReThink (625 East Central Blvd., Orlando). The Sketchbook Project sells small sketchbooks to artists around the country, asking the artists to return the book full of art. I participated the first year I heard about the project but it was painful to give up a full sketchbook. I learned from fellow Urban Sketchers that the Sketchbook Project retains all reproduction rights to the sketches. It is nice to have the one sketchbook in the Brooklyn Sketchbook Library but I'm not tempted to do it again.7000 sketchbooks were neatly stored in bookshelves on wheels. They can be quickly rolled off a truck to be moved to a new city. Dina Mack sat flipping through sketchbooks. As she put it, "I'm in sketchbook heaven."

Urban ReThink which was formerly a book store seemed perfectly suited to house the collection. The first step in checking out a sketchbook was to get a library card. I already had my card from the previous year, so I skipped to step two, which was checking out a book. There was a laser bar code reader to scan the card and then you used a computer to pick out sketchbooks by theme, location or artist's name. I picked two local sketchbooks to start. The sketchbook from Orlando was dark, brooding and full of angst. The next category I searched was "This is a sketchbook."  I figured I'd get to see some quality sketches. One artist did catch my eye. Cheism was an artist from London and his sketches were light hearted and fun. Larry Lauria an animation instructor from Full Sail stopped in. Larry had submitted a sketchbook this time around so I tried to check out his sketchbook. It wasn't available. Someone else must have checked it out. I seemed to keep checking out duds while the young couple next to me kept getting fun creative sketchbooks. One of their books was taped together accordion style and the whole book was one big colorful Dagwood sandwich.

Artist Mary K. Shaw sat with friends at the table in front of me flipping through sketchbooks. Blank post cards were available for artists to sketch on. If you sketched on a postcard, it would be sent to the next stop on the sketchbook tour. Robin Maria-Pedrero completed a postcard sketch and in return, she was given another artists postcard. The postcard sent her warm wishes for a beautiful day. The next step for the Sketchbook Project is a mobile library, similar to a food truck.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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