Steamboat library encourages artists of all types to create visual journals |

Steamboat library encourages artists of all types to create visual journals

Visual notebooks may take many forms. The Sketchbook Project being facilitated by Bud Werner Memorial Library is using small, unlined Moleskine notebooks not unlike the smaller of the journals in this photograph.

— Steamboat artists, writers and creative souls of all ages and descriptions have an opportunity this month to take part in a global art collective and even achieve a small measure of immortality while completing a 32-page sketchbook through the Sketchbook Project, based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Bud Werner Memorial Library adult programs coordinator Jenny Lay said the Sketchbook Project will bring a mobile library featuring 5,000 eye-opening sketchbooks to Steamboat Springs in August 2014. The sketchbooks completed by Steamboat creative types who turn in theirs by Jan. 15 will be among those 5,000 books.

"It's a true crowd-sourced art project," Lay said. "I've been to their library in Brooklyn and spent a long day perusing sketchbooks. The books represent a really huge range of people’s personal passions."

It's safe to guess that even during the course of a full day, she wasn't able to look at all 65,000 sketchbooks in the library, but she saw enough to become inspired to complete a book of her own based on a recent monthlong trip to India. The sketchbooks comprise 32 pages, and Lay’s trip just happened to span 32 days.

Other books range from the early artistic efforts of young children to profound works by experienced gallery artists. And they take many forms.

Some of the journals involve quilting and cut paper, for example. Other artists literally take the sketchbooks apart and reassemble them to suit their own artistic impulses, Lay said.

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"The only thing you can't do is, there's no glitter allowed, and you can't have anything sticky" on the cover, Lay said. The organizers also ask that no dangerous materials be used in the creation of the sketchbooks. The finished project can't exceed the original dimensions of the sketchbook, except that it can be 1 inch thick.

The Sketchbook Project is the foremost effort of a company called Art-House Co-op that came into existence in Atlanta in 2006 and moved to Brooklyn in 2009, where it has grown to organize global collaborative art projects involving more than 60,000 artists.

The 28,138 sketchbooks in the collection represent artists from more than 130 countries. And there is a digital version of the collection to inspire first-time journal keepers.

Lay will take the inspiration part one step further during a pair of drop-in workshops from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Dec. 30 at Library Hall.

"We'll have big tables set up and artists on hand to help people get past any fear of putting stuff on a page," Lay said.

There also will be a hands-on display of the library's significant collection of books on the subject of creating visual journals.

Lay has arranged a grant from Colorado Creative Industries to buy down the usual fee of $25 (which includes the sketchbook) to $10 for adults and $5 for youngsters.

The sketchbooks themselves measure 5 inches by 7 inches and are manufactured of recycled paper by the famed company Moleskine, the brand used by Pablo Picasso. The books can be picked up at the library. The next step is to register the book online and create an account with Art House.

Artists who hope to have their personal bios included in the mobile library that visits Steamboat must return them with a postmark no later than Jan. 15, Lay said. However, later submissions still will be included in the library in New York.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Get involved in the Sketchbook Project

Complete a 32-page sketchbook and see it return to Steamboat from Brooklyn, N.Y., with the Sketchbook Project in August 2014.

First, get a sketchbook from Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Register the book online with the Sketchbook Project.

Customize it with drawings, trip diaries, collages, poetry or any content that inspires you.

Return it by mail postmarked no later than Jan. 15.

Cost: $10 for adults and $5 for youngsters

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