I have developed a few different sketchbooks for various reasons over the years (mainly cause school/college has told me to!) and I still keep and value them today. Sketchbooks are meant to be about getting started, exploring ideas or going on an inspiration journey, they are not really meant to be a ‘finished piece’ of art themselves. However, I think that’s exactly what they end up becoming. They are a brilliant insight into your thought process, at the time, and they are packed full of so many possibilities for further works of art. I wonder if we could invent a game…
- someone picks a number
- find that page in our sketchbook
- develop something on that page into a final piece
Anyone want to give me a number in the comments below??
A sketchbook is often a combination of all of the following different types, but I think it is important to have a go at trying to do each one separately, at least once, because it allows you to develop and refine your skills more intensely in each area.
Often in school/college we were given a topic to explore and develop our ideas into a final piece. In this case a sketchbook is the place where this exploration takes place. This can include anything you want as long as it is linked, in your mind, to the theme. You will probably need to explain your thought processes in writing at some points in your book if you are doing it as part of an art class-your teacher won’t be able completely read your mind or always know exactly what tools, inspiration etc you have used. Even if you aren’t doing this for a teacher to mark, it is still important to make the odd little note here and there in a sketchbook like this, because you certainly won’t remember everything you did when you look back at it in years to come!
Here are a few of the different topics/themes I have produced books for in school:
Landscapes, Figures and Fabric, Faces, Close Ups
This is probably one of the more ‘classic’ forms of the sketchbook and just involves observing things around you and drawing/painting etc them.
My Gran got me a Moleskine sketchbook book and a little Winsor & Newton Watercolour set. They are both brilliant for this kind of thing because they are both so compact and portable that you can take them with you where ever you go…within reason!
Studying other artists, and not just the world famous/hugely popular ones, is such an important way to develop yourself as an artist. It will give you inspiration and ideas and should encourage you to go after you own artistic dreams.
This is Lonely Flower by Paul Klee – Watercolour, pen and ink on paper. (Obviously his is the picture on the left!!) I saw an amazing exhibition of his work and explored some of it as part of my artist study.
I used the same materials as Paul Klee did when I had a go at recreating a similar image (the pic on the right!). This process allowed me to see the strengths and difficulties of using these medias. I love working with pen (biros especially) but I hadn’t thought of using them to box/frame watercolour or ink. I really like the effect it produces and I think the different materials complement each other. A difficulty that I didn’t foresee (pretty stupid of me!), is the fact that I can still see my original pencil marks that I used to draw out the design under the watercolour-I won’t make that mistake again!
‘Art’ is such a broad term and there are so many different styles, techniques, rules and medias to explore. I think it is useful to have a place to explore some of these. I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture below, but my ‘skills book’ is actually a collection of pieces of paper/card that I have tried different things on over the years and then hole punched and threaded them together to make a book. I still add to this whenever I try new things or learn something new.
Although not really a ‘sketchbook’, me and my friends used to have a spare exercise book that we all used to write to each other and doodle in. I have been told that I get what I deserve if, as a teacher, children do this in my lessons! For me though (and this is never an excuse to give someone who is teaching you) this does make the whole thing a bit more memorable when you look back on it. For example, I still know exactly what I was learning when I did this little scribble inspired by one of my teachers in the exercise book years ago!
Unfortunately, with work and life in general I have not had a proper sketchbook in a while-I guess this art blog is kind of a digital version of a sketchbook though but I must do another paper one soon.