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Keeping A Sketchbook

Here are some thoughts on sketching. Most artists find a sketchbook to be vital to their practice, but not everyone uses them in the same way.

We are obviously not able to get out and about to sketch at the moment, but there are endless possibilities for subjects in our own gardens and homes.

A visual diary.  

You can use it to record places, events and ideas.                                                                       When you draw something you spend time looking and thinking about the moment and the thing you are drawing, so anything you draw you will remember better than a photograph.

If you sketch on holiday, you will find you can look back through your sketchbook and memories will come flooding back. Holiday photos, on the other hand, often leave me thinking “where was that?” or “why?”

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Storing your ideas.

When you don’t feel inspired, or feel like painting but don’t know what to do, a well filled sketchbook will be full of ideas waiting for you.

There are currently many classes and YouTube videos encouraging us to make our sketchbooks into artworks in their own right. This is great, and encourages those who might otherwise be too self-conscious or lacking in confidence to be creative.                                                                   A beautiful sketchbook is a thing to be proud of!

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Improving your drawing and observation skills

There's no right or wrong way to draw. 

Don’t try to make perfect pictures in your sketchbook, just practice your skills, record fleeting thoughts and moments of life.

The important thing is to keep practicing, every day if possible, even if just for a few minutes.                                               

Like a diary, it can be private, you never have to show anyone your sketchbook if you don’t want to. It is a place to be completely free, make mistakes, make a mess, try new techniques or materials, play.

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With you at all times.

It’s nice to have one small enough to fit in a handbag or pocket at all times, and possibly a bigger one for serious sketching trips. You can get a cheap one - if it’s too precious you will worry about spoiling it, although you should make sure the paper is good enough to take whatever mediums you are going to use.

I thought I would show you a couple of examples of how I have used my sketchbooks, below.

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I thought I would show you a couple of examples of how I have used my sketchbooks in the past.

The first image is a rather uninspiring photo of a beach in Dorset, taken from the top of the cliff. 

The next two images are pages from my sketchbook. Looking at these I can remember the day clearly. It was very sunny, and I was weary and almost too hot, having hiked across the clifftop, pausing occasionally to make quick notes. I was looking forward to an ice cream in the cafe down on the beach. I heard, before I spotted, a motor boat down in the bay, drawing white patterns in the water, which brought to mind the tracery of white lines and fossils all over the rocks and pebbles on the beach below. 

I used at least two sketchbook pages to inspire this painting, in which I was trying to express not only the heat and atmosphere of the day, but also the strange linear patterns which seemed to overlay everything in the environment.

There were many cliffs on this trip. What I remember, when I look at my sketches, is the colours, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by the imposing height of chalk, and the challenge of climbing over the big, slippery boulders.

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