Designing random sketchbook pages

September 7, 2020 | 4 Comments

I’m continuing to love using the 8×10 softcover Alpha by Stillman & Birn. The size and portrait format gives me lots of compositional options and I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with layouts in the last few weeks.

I draw random objects on my page during the day and then try to tie the spread together in the evening. I love a good challenge! If you missed my announcements last week… I’m starting to prepare for a new SketchingNow course all about Sketchbook Design – find out more and sign up for updates here. So I’m having a lot of fun doing these pages as I think through the things I want to include in the course.

The casual nature of the Alpha book (thinner and less precious paper) is continuing to give my work a delightful freedom and I feel as if I’m sketching more. Those of you who get my monthly newsletter will have read about my art goal for September so you’ll be pleased to see in these pages that I’m off to a good start for the month!

So here are the most recent pages in my book.

First time meeting up with some sketchers (ie. more than one) since the beginning of March. Talking too much to concentrate on my sketch!

And then I had 20 minutes to do a second sketch. Sitting in the sun. paint drying fast and trying to catch up with a friend. Ah! it’s nice to do some crazy reflex sketching again!

Just recording my most worn items of clothing this winter. Definitely less variety than usual!

Doing some quick sketches as part of Watercolour On Location Lesson 4 but trying to do a few focused timed exercises was a bit of a joke.  I was involved in a bit of drama and had to stop my sketches early. Even though I was focusing on my sketch I did notice three young people pass me separately and I felt something was a bit off. Okay the third guy jumped over a high fence just behind me… so I knew something was up! Then I assisted some people who were chasing them. I’m not sure exactly what they did (stole something?) on the train – the police were called but they got away.

Bits and pieces on my desk… as the page was so blue and brown I had to add some pink!

Quick sketches of two local houses (for Watercolour On Location) – and it was lovely to meet one of the owners. Ah! talking to people when you are out urban sketching is the best part of it, isn’t it?

More quick sketches for Watercolour On Location.


Bits from my day including one of my studio lights misbehaving, a new book (recommended by Maria from Art Toolkit) and some new apps.

Even more quick sketches for Watercolour On Location.

Hmm… this was actually Wednesday and I only just realised I stamped the wrong day. Just some bits and pieces making a very random composition. I had a lot of fun finishing this page off.

Another page of bits from my day. SO nice to have a warm 30C day! Ah! I love spring.

Having trouble sourcing an exact replacement light… and just some experimenting from the taxi stand seat (I keep this position for the days that are wet).

No time for sketching but I still fill a double page spread and create a record of my day.

And there you have it! The last week and a bit in my sketchbook.

Can you tell I’m having fun? And can you work out some of the strategies I’m using in these page layouts?



  • Melinda Downes says:

    Greetings, Liz,
    From smoky Portland, Oregon. Your work, as usual is delightful and so nicely done!
    You are a continuing inspiration to me (along with a zillion other aspiring artists).
    Pleas do keep sharing your work and your ideas with us all. Such a treat to keep track of you!

  • Anirudh Cheruvu says:

    Hey Liz, your work stirred up my imagination and resonated with my old memories as an artist. The key ?? takeaway is to speed paint ? and do it regularly, at least on the vacation days to keep the artwork stacking up.
    Thanks loads

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