“The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.”
“A sketchbook is a vessel of my mind at a certain time.”
Echo Goff strives to fill two sketchbooks every year. A sketchbook and her Micron graphic felt tip pen are always with her: she created the habit of consciously placing both in her purse.
Echo thinks of her sketchbooks as having three identities: personal, art, and language. Both Echo’s parents were drawn to writing and poetry, which imprinted the importance of words on paper on Echo. She recalls her mother using Post-It notes to record episodes of Echo’s youth. “Millions” of these jotted memories “were scattered everywhere.” So Echo decided language would be the first marks on most pages of her sketchbook.
The writing in her books mostly relates to art, an idea that formed at a turning point in her sketchbook process, when she was 19. Echo had just finished a two-year program at Hudson Valley Community College. “You’re following what your peers are doing. It was the first time that I branched out to explore more. I used it as a place of reflection instead of taking in information and documenting it. I began documenting my personal life and responses to art because they’re tied to my art and art making.” Her reflections included fundamental questions like “How does this apply to me? This affects me this way. Why?” These questions continue to be a part of her process.
Echo rejected using her sketchbooks for preparatory drawings. “Whenever I sketched before rendering a painting, I found the painting to lack raw tactility of some kind. The spontaneity had disappeared.” These days she “sketches for the pure joy of it, which brought my book back to life.” Her sketching now is spontaneous and observational. She sketches life and nature around her. “It keeps my eye in shape and continues training it.” The impulsiveness of sketching is possible because she has her book with her at all times. “Since quarantine, the sketchbook is a document of everything, like writing a bit of poetry, working out ideas or some drawing, but I’m more apt to capture language versus sketch something out.”
The daily practice of sketching has made the book a repository for ideas. Echo always refers back to the ideas in her books in order to make work. For her, sketchbooks function as the “behind the scenes” support to her paintings. The books are akin to a prompt book filled with questions, responses, concepts and, on a rare occasion, a loose thumbnail sketch. “They are the internal narrative in what I was interested in, what I was thinking and what I was consuming. They have helped me create a unified body of work.”
Would you like to know more about Echo and her work? Visit her website!