Arts·Sketchbook

These 2 artists have never met, but they've been working on sketchbooks through the mail for 3 years

One sketchbook has travelled between Toronto and Brooklyn 16 times.

One sketchbook has travelled between Toronto and Brooklyn 16 times

These 2 artists have never met, but they've been working on sketchbooks through the mail for 3 years

CBC Arts

1 month ago
5:18
One sketchbook has travelled between Toronto and Brooklyn 16 times. 5:18

What can you learn about an artist from paging through their sketchbooks? See the rough drafts, tossed-off ideas and intimate musings of some of Canada's most interesting artists in our self-shot series Sketchbook.

Yaara Eshet

Hometown: A kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee in Israel

Current Location: Toronto, Canada

Primary art medium: Ink and watercolours

Tool of choice for sketchbook: Ink and watercolours

Three words to describe your art: Whimsical, storytelling, with a dash of lopsided humour

Three words to describe your collaboration with Aya: Enriching, refuelling, inspirational

Fun factoid about you or your art: Even if it does not look like it, most of the things I draw stem, in some way, from my daily life

Strangest place you have made artwork: One summer when working on a cotton field, I painted on a caravan

Aya Rosen (left) and Yaara Eshet (right). (CBC Arts)

Aya Rosen

Hometown: Jerusalem, Israel 

Current Location: Brooklyn, NY 

Primary art medium: Pen and ink + watercolour

Tool of choice for sketchbook: I get lost without a prompt or a text to relate to

Three words to describe your art: Personal, emotional, awkward 

Three words to describe your collaboration with Yaara: Inspiring, specious, flow

Fun factoid about you or your art: I draw everything from a reference, because I have absolutely no visual memory

Strangest place you have made artwork: Airplanes, dog parks, subways, Union Square while a demonstration was going on

Sketchbook pages by Yaara Eshet and Aya Rosen. (Yaara Eshet/Aya Rosen)

This collaboration began when Brooklyn artist Aya Rosen started an online group for Israeli-born artists, with the simple idea that a dozen artists would collaborate together on an art project. Yaara Eshet, from Toronto, was one of those artists. The group didn't last long, but Eshet proposed that she and Rosen continue to collaborate exclusively. Cut to: three years of collaboration and six completed sketchbooks later...

Having never met in person almost makes the experience even more special for the both of them. "This is what I love," says Eshet. "This book, it's a conversation between the two of us."

For Rosen, the collaboration has been something she's cherished even more during the pandemic. "Being stuck at home gave all of us this like, weird dystopian experience, and this has been a really wonderful lifeline into a fantasy world where I can feel like my life is not just the three blocks around my house."

Sketchbook pages by Yaara Eshet and Aya Rosen. (Yaara Eshet/Aya Rosen)

In this video, get a glimpse into the sketchbook that has travelled from Toronto to Brooklyn 16 times and see the beginnings of a new book. The books are whimsical, playful and just might make you want to find a person in a different city and start a similar collaboration. 

Rosen and Eshet both have independent art practices but have mutually agreed that they would like to continue their collaboration as they are currently working toward sketchbook number 7, 8, 9 and 10. That's right — they are working on multiple books at a time now. Both of them hope that one day they will be able to have a joint art show.

You can follow Rosen's work here and Eshet's work here

Sketchbook pages by Yaara Eshet and Aya Rosen. (Yaara Eshet/Aya Rosen)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As a young child, March Mercanti would play with his action figures for countless hours because he was obsessed with telling stories...to himself. Currently, March is a filmmaker living in Toronto, ON. He works at CBC Arts creating documentaries for artists across Canada.

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