Sketchbooks: Archaeology, Flora, Fauna, and Sleep

My studio is on fire, so what do I grab? No pets here; it’s my sketchbooks. Carefully annotated and lined up on shelves, I would need a chute to send these stacks and stacks out the window, but they must be saved for they are my encyclopedia, my secrets.

Ever since I can remember I have kept three kinds of cross-referenced sketchbooks.

First, in hand-made hardbound books, I draw, paint and collage everywhere: from subway tunnels to museums; beside hospital patients and at chamber concerts. Second, because I am a compulsive drawer, I keep “sketch boxes” wherein I put myriad drawings made on meeting agendas, waiting-room magazines and assorted scraps.

The third kind of sketchbooks I keep are my bound, hardcover “dream books”, one of which is always by my bedside, accompanied by writing and drawing implements. I know through experience that without my book and materials at hand that the recurring dreams and prophetic dreams on which my work relies would dissolve into the early morning ether. My ritual is this: early each morning I write down my dreams, often adding drawings and “maps” because, for as long as I can remember, places, animals, departed loved ones, disturbing events and the conundrum of time form a seemingly endless inner world that occurs, for the most part, underground. It is this underground dream world, more real than what I see as I write this, that has vividly “told me” what to explore and where to work on-site.

These “real” spaces feed my dream life, alter time, and coalesce into one, unbroken cycle of waking and sleep.

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