Impermanence and You


I hate seeing my bad drawings. It ruins the page, the opposing page, the entire notebook, and my afternoon (okay, well thirty seconds of it). I also have a knack for getting my first stroke wrong every time and for small scribbles drawn from the wrist rather than the elbow.

It's because of these that I've grown to like the sticky note as a canvas. I stick them to the edge of my monitor, to the lamp stand beside me, and to a large cardboard sheet I've attached over my desk specifically to display them. When they've lost their stick or need to be cycled out, I place them in a nearby zip-lock bag. Eventually I collage these into a larger notebook and glue them back onto the page where they always belonged.

Seeing my best work, or even my decent work, gives me a feeling of relief that keeps my concerns at bay and proves in a more immediate fashion that yes, I can handle this. The freedom to pick and choose which scribbles I see out the corner of my eye as I work, to quickly produce fresh doodles to remind me that I didn't simply get lucky, and to store them so their designs are as permanent as any other piece is tremendously motivating. The best part is that I can choose which stickies to erase forever, to crumple and discard into a small rainbow confetti recycling bin. Doing so rarely consumes more than a minute of my efforts and acts as a macro undo, a rapid resetting process which leads to better, faster, and more properly formed results. A second bag holds onto to sketches which document my progress, not awful but certainly nothing I want to see right now.

The starkly vibrant colors of sticky notes provide many chances to practice using brightly contrasting inks as well. Adding subtle white highlights to dark black inks brings my scribbles into a broader spectrum of shading. Notating with red ink over precise but sketchy forms lends a diagrammatic feel to my work, improving my ability to convey important information in an aesthetically pleasing and easily understood fashion. Finally, the small confines of the sticky note canvas keep me from getting carried away. If I wanted to draw a nose, I'll draw a nose. On a larger paper, I would probably try to draw the rest of the face without thinking ahead about the interlocking forms and ruin the whole thing.

For all these reasons and for several I'm sure I've not even observed, I actually appreciate keeping my scribbles outside of the notebook.