Sketchbook Retirement – #12

Who: Moleskine
What: Cardboard Cover, Rounded Corners, Inner Pocket, Ribbon Bookmark
When: September 3, 2006
The Field Museum / 1400 S Lake Shore Drive /Chicago / IL 60605

Why: I wanted something portable for the rest of my trip in Chicago. I liked that it would fit in my pocket, carry my ID and some cash and that it was black.

Incidentals: At that time I wanted EVERYTHING to be black. If this photo had been taken that day at the museum, my nails would have been black to match. This is my first Moleskine. A hallowed event for sure.

Underlying Unintentional Sketchbook Theme: Inklings of ideas. Half baked thoughts. Baby Mermaid Development, Poetry. Appointments and People.


Dearest #12,
I remember that freezing September day when I first saw you sitting in a Natural History gift shop. I marveled at your compact size. I asked the sales boy all about you and he said that real artists loved you more than all the others. I knew that was what I would like to be best of all and so I picked you up and plunked down what then seemed like a monumental amount of cash for your 3×5″ dimensions.


My travel companions were all jonesing for a smoke. I christened your pages in a freezing park while they filled their lungs with their cherished tobacco and I filled mine with what felt like shards of glass in that icy Chicago air. There were pigeons and babies and this is what I drew on your pages the first time my pen ever met your acquaintance.

Because you are mine body and soul, your pages are often fish laden, although you can see that these fish happened before I really hit my cold blooded stride. I guess I wasn’t a “real” artist quite yet. Your fish are kind of awkward, albeit charming.

I was leafing through your pages and I found a portrait of my new, now old friend, Rachel. This must have been before I flat out refused to draw people I know for their base entertainment. So it was before I had airs, or at least ‘the airs of a real artist.

Since this was before the days of a full time artist life, there are gems like this from public parks, without coffee, because back then coffee was too expensive.

This conversation reads
I see a scooter!
— I see a sign!
I see a tree!
— I see a million trees!
I see your butt! AUGHHHHHHHH!!


Of all your pages, perhaps this is my favorite. It reads: “How bad (not badly – apparently I wasn’t so concerned with grammar on these particular tombs) do you want to do it and how bad do you want to do it in New York?”

I am reminded of how close I was to leaving my beloved Brooklyn, broke as a street urchin and working my charcoal scuffed fingers to the bone. I am impressed by you, #12. You remind me how much things have changed and how much they have not.

I am still fully invested in Burlesque bars, even if they’re now en vogue and can be visited in every part of New York and I no longer have to travel to any seedy underbelly of society.

Your pages hint at coming brilliance. The development of a line of Baby Mermaids is begun with real promise here. So I owe you a lot. Who knew how far that would stretch?

How could I know that this unrestrained madness in your first few pages

Would later translate to this in the swan song of your last few pages?

Yes, in my career as a real artist, your pages have mattered. I can see what that boy in the shop meant. Thank you for your contribution to my truly lovely life.


P.S. With my coming show I am transitioning a large amount of sketch pages and random bits of paper. Somehow #12 was unearthed in the tumult and I was reminded of our relationship and it’s bittersweet nature, teaming between innocent ideals and bitter artistic frustration. 20/20 hindsight has been good to us here. I felt that #12 deserved a proper retirement, She Sure is Sketchy style.

As always, thanks to Valerie Best’s brilliant T-Shirt Project for giving me the inspiration to begin this tradition here too.
Listening to right this second: Happiness is a Warm Gun by the Beatles

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