Enigmatic Sketchbooks Record Visual Stories in Colored Pencil and Ink by Katherine Akmulun
One way to approach the cinematic sketchbook drawings by Katherine Akmulun is to think about literature. “When we read a book, not only do we look at the characters, but the characters are looking at us,” she says. “And they see much more than we think.” This awareness forms the basis of the artist’s ongoing series of drawings that capture intimate interactions, bold gestures, and momentary expressions. From a young age, a fascination with human anatomy and love of reading inspired a wish to become “a kind of writer,” she explains, and “since I feel insecure about words, the only way out for me was to keep a kind of personal diary with sketches instead of words.”
In ballpoint pen and colored pencil, Akmulun explores the duality of two facing pages by creating images that are distinctive from each other yet empathetic to one another. A close-up of hands grasping lightly at the fingertips complements a joyful scene of two women dancing, or a young child clasps her mother’s hand while gazing across the binding at a man who walks briskly across an open plane. Part story and part snapshot, the mysterious narratives reference historic images and are open to interpretation. “The funny thing is that different people can see different scenes in the same picture,” she says. “And this is incredibly cool, because we all have different life experiences, different environments, and different interests.”
Akmulun travels often and is influenced by the nuances of everyday experiences, which she captures using a minimal palette. She aims to collect and record feelings and memories in the books, but she’s not precious about keeping them intact. “I love to rip out pages,” she says. “I like to realize that the pages of my personal diary can travel the world, and can find their home not only in my sketchbook. I am pleased that people want to have a piece of my personal world in their home.”
Akmulun occasionally makes pages available for sale, and you can follow more of her work on Instagram.
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Figures and Events Are Transfixed by Time in Pep Carrió’s Extensive Daily Visual Diaries
In 2007, Madrid-based artist and illustrator Pep Carrió’s expansive diary project began as a challenge with a simple premise: to draw something every day. No matter what materials were at hand and without any predetermined theme or subject matter, he took a game-like approach to see if he could accomplish filling an entire Moleskine datebook throughout the year. The numerous editions that have followed feature a dazzling array of scenes fashioned from marker, pencil, tempera, pen, ink, collage, and found materials.
Carrió’s stream-of-consciousness process has led to a collection that ranges from abstract flora to silhouetted and patterned figures to surreal vessels and landscapes. Originally, the volumes contained one drawing each day with complementary images on facing pages, but in recent years, the artist has begun to more consistently fill the entire spread with a single image, creating bold compositions that play with the symmetry of the book and the confines of its edges. Imagery of sprawling tree branches, obscured faces and masks, and bodies in precarious circumstances strike a metaphorical chord, exploring human society and psychology. His method of completing a drawing each day is itself an exercise in memory, as the diaries have accumulated records of the artist’s thoughts over time and unfurl into a personal archive.
Carrió currently has work on view as part of From Spain with Design traveling throughout Spain during 2022 and Play with Design at the Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporánea in Valencia through October 23. You can find more information on his website and follow the visual diary project on Instagram.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.