I’m working my way slowly through all my old blogposts – updating posts, re-uploading images (and often re-scanning the originals), changing titles and adding tags etc. It’s a massive task but I just love doing it – it’s the blogging equivalent of putting a photo album together (do you remember what that is?)
Anyway, as I’m working through 2009 I noticed something rather dramatic happening to my sketching when I started my 15th sketchbook. Although I was aware of it at the time, it’s even more noticeable to me now. I switched from using the A5-ish size Moleskine landscape to an A5 portrait format Ebony book by Daler and Rowney (150gsm cartridge) and suddenly my sketching improved significantly.
Now this doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense as one would think that moving away from watercolour paper to cartridge paper would hinder my sketching, but the reverse happened. The smooth cartridge was much better for my linework and was able to take watercolour well enough. The change in format was another factor, enabling me to work larger and to play with the composition of my pages. In fact the sudden improvement in the composition of my pages is a big part of why Sketchbook No. 15 is so special
Note: The quality of the Ebony books went downhill a few years later and I then switched to Stillman and Birn Alpha (which is still my favourite everyday book).
Here are a few pages from this book. (I was using a lot of Inktense at the time)
And click here to see all the articles from Sketchbook No.15.
I was chatting to a local sketcher in December about whether she would ever get her work to a point where she was happy. I asked her how many sketchbooks she had filled – I think it was about 8-10. As I had just started updating my 2009 blogposts at the time, I replied “Well, I saw a massive improvement in Sketchbook No. 15 so maybe it’s around the corner for you?!!” This is a lot more encouraging than saying it took me 250 sketchbooks to get where I am now, which is something I often say to people. 🙂
Just for the record, my statements are a little tongue in cheek (the tone of my voice doesn’t come through in typed format!)
However, the big takeaway from rediscovering Sketchbook 15, is that its not enough just to keep sketching. The breakthroughs often come when you make some kind of change. If you feel as if you are stuck in a rut, then switch your tools or your paper and try something different. And don’t forget to study and research as well – from books, videos, workshops and online courses. It’s really easy to cement bad habits if all you do repeatedly sketch the same way without some form of education. But that’s a topic for another article!
I hope you enjoy seeing some of my old sketches!