Birgit Schossow's Sketchbooks

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday July 16, 2015

Today DART launches the 2015 Summer Invitational: Pimp Your Sketchbooks, in which artists show their personal work and open a window onto their artistic process. We begin with Birgit Schössow, who lives and works in a small town near Hamburg, Germany.

When I sit outside with people around—in a cafe, on the beach, on a park bench—I find it very difficult. I always hope that no one notices me. It is very private, like writing in a diary. I don´t want to be observed doing this, and I certainly don´t want to talk about my drawings! On the other hand, who am I to ask for my own privacy—when I am drawing people who are at the beach or drinking their coffee?

I have started to draw with my iPad (below), which doesn´t look so much like “I am an artist and I draw!” Most people will think I’m just answering email.

I like seeing other artists’ sketchbooks, especially those who try to capture a scene through their own eyes instead of by means of a technique that they had seen in guidebooks like, "how to make sketches". Sometimes it might look “wrong,” but they are trying to figure out how the subject “works“. No sketchbook-pimp up. No concern for an “audience”. My husband's teacher always said: “We just work for the wastepaper bin.”

I have many sketchbooks (the pages here are some that I am using at the moment), but I don't have special sketchbooks for different subjects—just different sizes. Sometimes some colleagues and I met for nude painting (Aktzeichnen in German) these sketchbooks are usually very large. In order not to attract attention at the cafe, I use a very small format.

For me, sketching is necessary. And it is not important if I draw on paper or digitally. When I was a student and the teacher said that we should draw in cafes etc., I was on the one hand inhibited to draw in public, but on the other hand, we were very distracted and a little lazy and often made small talk.

I'm currently working on a book with a text by a post-war German author. It should look as if someone is the observer with his sketchbook: sketching the main scenes but also everything that happens around these scenes. A couple in love, an old married couple, card players, people with their bikes coming back from swimming. Everything that happens when you watch what people do on a summer Sunday—and though this has taken place almost 100 years ago I hope it´ll look very lively. —Birgit Schössow, in DART