Introducing the Pink Camo Book

I’ve mentioned the “pink camo book” on a number of occasions, and most of the time I think people assume it’s just some random name based on a brand or something. Actually, it’s far less interesting than that: the design – on both the cover and interior pages – is pink camouflage:

I wrote the bad poem in middle school. Shut up.

Pink camo on the inside too

I originally purchased the thing at a Target in Yuma, Arizona, in early 2008. It was the only unlined notebook in the place, as far as I could find, and I’d decided that I wanted to do some art journaling during my 24-day sojourn in the Grand Canyon State. I didn’t end up doing very much drawing, just some doodles during the long overnight tests (I was there for work). I glued in assorted clippings from the places I visited, but otherwise didn’t do much with it – in fact, that trip only filled 9 pages, front and back.

Forgot my book one night, so I pasted in the doodles

Yuma paraphernalia

Since the pink camo book was both cheap and ugly, I felt no compunction about turning it into an “anything” book: I drew it in while bored in the Artists Alley at AUSA or MAGFest; I used it during my brief time with dailydrawing; I used it for character designs for my unfinished graphic novel; I pasted in clippings from brochures whenever I visited somewhere, even just downtown DC. Many of my more recent pages have been of places visited while on snarfari. I now pack it for most trips and enjoy looking through it from time to time.

Philadelphia paraphernalia

Me drawing at AUSA 2009

The concept of trash pages is essential to any art. If you don’t want to put down anything that’s not pristine, you’ll never get started. Everybody needs somewhere to practice. This is why I carry around beat-up old notebooks for writing, and why I have sketchbooks like the pink camo book. I am wary of gorgeous leather-bound journals – I don’t want to mess it up with my crappy doodling and stream-of-consciousness babbling, so it just stays blank forever. That’s not useful. Now if I can just convince myself that all my sketchbooks are actually just sketchbooks and not pre-bound portfolios, I’ll be in business.

Trash pages.

What sort of “trash pages” do you use? Are they barely-started tunes in a folder on your computer? Stitches tried out with remainders? Or are you confident enough to use Moleskine notebooks or expensive yarn? Do trash pages apply to all creative pursuits?

  1. I have the problem with fabric that you have with fancy notebooks – that purple sparkly velvety fabric I bought five yards of in college? Still in one piece. I love remnants, the ends of bolts of fabric that you can buy for half price because they are probably not even a whole yard long. Cross-stitch is kind of easy to get into because once you have the pattern you have some pretty good sense of how it’s going to turn out. Embroidery, on the other hand… it’s been essential that for the children’s book quilt I am doing one character at a time and know that if at the end I decide something’s not up to snuff I can ditch or redo it without affecting the rest of the pieces (though I may put together parts of the quilt before all the embroideries are done… it will be tricky though since I’m not working with a particular size in mind so I may need at least most of the embroideries to tell what size is appropriate).

    My knitting trash pages are dishcloths. My quilting trash pages are potholders (I have one front that I haven’t made into a potholder and might never because I am not sure I like it enough to be worth the effort). My embroidery trash pages… well, aside from the decorative stitches along the edges of fabrics on the potholders, they are single characters for the children’s book quilt. They take a while, but not a completely intimidating amount of time. My sewing trash pages… well, fortunately I’ve been sewing long enough that I can usually fix things as I go along and end up with something decent even if it’s not how I pictured it. But I have thrown out half-finished projects before. It’s very freeing.

    • Remnants! That’s the word I was trying to think of when I wrote remainders.

      I can’t bring myself to throw out drawings, no matter how terrible. So I have this accordion file stuffed with crappy old sketches.

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