What do you do with your sketchbooks when you finish them?

Are your sketchbooks being used? Or do they lay forlorn and forgotten? Gathering dust!

Do you sketch because you feel you ought to? Are they just exercises you do at an art class? Or do you sketch with a purpose in mind?

Maybe your sketchbook is an end in itself?

Up until recently I would always remove the “best” from my sketchbooks. Sometimes I would frame them, and the rejects would then be left and forgotten.

About a 18 months ago I decided to look at my sketchbook practice.

I felt I was missing something. Opportunities which should be informing my practice.

I wasn’t sure quite how to tackle the situation so I decided to do some research. Looking for books, I noted just how few there are on sketchbook practice.

There are lots of books with sketches or sketchbook in the title. But most of these are copies of completed sketchbooks for you to browse through.

Or, they are teaching you how to sketch.

Some do help with deciding which sketchbooks suit your needs.

Others still are scrapbooks Worthy of note, but scrapbooks non the less. Adding objects to a sketchbook is fine. But I find Scrapbooks tend to be works of art in themselves.

But, so far, I have only found one on sketching as an technique to inform and experiment. An illustrated life by Danny Gregory. Which is more of a compendium of different styles of sketchbook and the people who keep them.

Still, it’s a start. See how different artists work stimulates your own ideas.

Sketching is not the same as drawing.

A fact I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate. Although many people use the terms interchangably.

Sketching is the rapid recording of information. Whereas drawing has no implied concept of time. A sketch is a drawing, but a drawing is not necessarily a sketch.

So how should you use a sketchbook? The simple answer is any way you like. It is your opportunity to take risks and live dangerously.

Sketches should be relatively quick.

  • Use it to store/record you ideas.
  • Try out those experimental ideas.
  • Experiment with composition
  • Use it to work out problems with specific areas
  • Use it to note inspirational images and items.
  • Use sketches when experimenting with media
  • Compare tool marks.

On the whole, sketchbooks are private. You may choose to share them, but you don’t have to.

This privacy is liberating. There are no wrongs and rights with a sketchbook.

I no longer tear my sketchbooks up. If I like an image, I’ll redraw it now. And sometimes it informs my artwork!

Pages from sketchbook
2010 Cathy Read Pages from sketchbook

In a recent mixed media class I was experimenting with texture. Having created my textured background I needed and image. I Flicked through my sketchbook and this one seemed to suit.

©2010-Cathy Read- Zoned Out -45x23cm
©2010-Cathy Read- Zoned Out -45x23cm

I simplified the shape because I wanted the texture to shine through. I could easily have used the lines and shading to construct a more representational image. I may still do that!

The point is, without the sketch, the picture on the right would not have happened!

I would love to compile a list of good books, and/or links, which advise and inform about sketchbook practice.

Do you know of any good books or sites?

In my search so far I found a couple of useful places to start.

Using sketchbooks in schools

A few pointers for getting started with sketchbooks

80 works for designers  using the sketchbook

There must be more. So, If you know any please add them to the comments below!

About CathyReadArt

Artist creating abstract art using mixed media. I believe there should be beauty in art, but sometimes it takes an artist to show others what is truly beautiful.
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