How to use your sketch book (or how I use mine)

Now I know that there are hundreds of thousands of artists out there, many far more talented and better known than me, but even more unknown, just getting started, taking up art for the first time etc. etc. artists who might find my thoughts useful.
I don’t present myself as the font of all knowledge here, I am just talking about how I use my sketch book.

First of all, why? Why am I sharing this with you?
Well it came about because I was talking to someone about the work I produce v the posts I make daily on Instagram and Facebook.
She had never realised that the work I produce in my sketchbook, fed into the work you can see on my website. Stupidly I assumed that people would just know but, taking a step back I see that it is not that clear.

The reason for this, I suspect, is that as like most artists, I fill in pages and pages and pages of sketchbooks experimenting with different marks, colours, shapes, blends etc and fill numerous books before I make a start on something bigger.
My sketch book is where I experiment, where I play, where I make mistakes and where ideas blossom. I regularly flick through these books looking for inspiration, looking to see what worked and what didn’t, picking apart bits to try scaling up to larger works.
Once happy, and this can take months, I will then start on medium sized paper or canvas and once happy with that I will use something bigger.

So for instance these are a couple of images from a sketch book I started 18/24 months ago. Here I am using two colours only and moving them around the page with brushes, fingers and by blowing at the puddles.

blog 23feb

This turned into the image below. To me the organic initial layer made me think water, plants and the fish I keep. I experimented with adding lines in a plant like fashion to enhance the first layer. This I did over and over again, filling up three large concertina sketch books before I was happy.

blog 23 feb 1

I then experimented on a larger sheet of paper. I wasn’t happy with the outcome so, initially put it to one side but came back to it later, when I cut the pieces into random but organic shapes to use at a later date. More experimenting in my sketchbook and the discovery of a long canvas which had paint splatters on it, I decided to really go to town and made the piece below.

blog 23 feb 2

This piece became the spring board for the series on coral/underwater seascape pieces I produced throughout the later part of 2018.
Whilst I am very happy with the outcome I decided not to make more like this but to pare back the work to produce a very simple version. I produced a dozen or so small works using the cut-out pieces on 4 inch square canvases and covered in resin, which was probably also the start of the shapes I am currently playing with in my sketch book.
However, the piece below did have the addition of a luminous layer, which is rather fun as it glows in the dark and quickly found a new home with a lovely young lady.

blog 23 feb 3

Then because I am such a lover of colour I started playing and produced this piece.

blog 23 feb 4

Then thought I would try to be a little more adventurous and produced this piece with plants and rocks which I felt should be included.

blog 23 feb 5

All of these large pieces have three or four layers of clear resin added and most of them glow in the dark.
But whilst I still enjoy making these, the planning for these pieces is not in my current sketch book, as if you follow me on Instagram you will have seen. I took part in a challenge last year to produce a piece a day over 31 days. Using the ideas from my sketch books and the large pieces above that I made, I produced images which reminded me of sea creatures hiding in seaweed with thousands of bubbles surrounding them.

blog 23 feb 6

I am currently working through ideas about blocks of colour layered over each other with some peeping out and some areas being covered over and over again as you can see from this recent post.

blog 23 feb 7

I am not sure how these pages will translate into bigger works yet, it could take me a few more months of working in my sketchbooks before I settle on a way to go. In the meantime, I shall continue to make the large pieces whilst experimenting in my sketchbook and when I think I am heading in the right direction, I shall start making large pieces which I will share on social media but by then I expect my sketch books will have started to look different again.

 

 

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