Sketching teacups and Italian architecture (two of my favourite subjects) has been great to make every day special during lockdown but I’m also recording the little events each day. So that means that I’m typically filling two double-page spreads each day – one spread for the Palladian Villa and teacup of the day, and another spread for the bits and pieces.
In these pages you will see how I start my day (with bible readings and morning coffees), really quick line drawings from my afternoon walk to get a takeaway coffee, random objects from my day and a few notes summarizing what I did. This subject matter can be very repetitive so to prevent it from becoming boring I’m putting effort into the design of the pages.
A few days ago we started the Group Run-through of my Sketchbook Design course. This morning I started to look through the work which has been already posted into the classroom. And wow! I’m already blown away by the ideas and inspiration plus the sense of community that’s forming there.
I always feel connected to the group when I look through the homework galleries – especially when people write about their experiences while doing the exercise. But this morning it was extra special as I reviewed the work in the Introduction section. The first exercise involved sketching a favourite subject matter and sharing a few sketchbook goals and I jotted down a page of notes as I looked through everyone’s work. It was a great reminder that we all have different motivations and reasons for sketching.
I firmly believe that having a clear idea of what you want to get out of your sketchbook will help you achieve it! And this focus will take away the pressure of trying to do everything. For example, my number one goal for keeping a sketchbook is to record my life. So that means that my emphasis is more on story-telling than on creating masterpieces on every page. And it also means that I’m happy to rely on simple line drawings or text to tell part of the story.
I also want my sketchbook to be a place where I have the freedom to experiment and try new things. So once again I don’t want to put pressure on myself for every page to be beautiful!
But having said that, over the years I’ve developed a number of strategies to help make my pages look pleasing even though I’m working on the fly and filling pages spontaneously in the little moments during the day. I’m always trying new things, exploring new ways of combining various sketches, adding notes, drawing borders etc. Not every day is super successful but every time it’s an adventure and extremely satisfying. I absolutely love adding this layer of design to my pages at the end of the day – as much as I love the sketching itself!
The collection of pages in this article contains quite a few experiments as I geared up for the start of Sketchbook Design. Sometimes I intentionally added the sketches to the page in an awkward position to see how I could resolve it later and other times I was playing with colour schemes and the shape of my text blocks. As we are in lockdown at the moment some of these sketches have been done from photos, or substantially completed at home after a few quick lines when I’m out on location. At the end you will see a few pages from a morning walk at Lane Cove National Park (a place that was a big part of my childhood but I haven’t visited for a few decades!) – I’ll be sharing more about these in this week’s livestream for Sketchbook Design.
My mind is already buzzing with lots of ideas (can you tell?) but I’ll stop rambling now and simply share my pages…
This last sketch – done from the carpark of my local supermarket – is a good example of creating a pleasing page out of a quick and incomplete sketch. I drew a few outlines and added three washes while sitting in my car and then abandoned it when I realised I’d made a big error. I took a photo with the intention of ‘completing’ (or fixing it) back home… but then realised that a sky and aligning text block was all that was needed to make the spread look good. Generally, I prefer the sketch to remain incomplete as it’s a better record of what I managed to get done on location at the time, so this type of strategy – of putting time into the design of the spread – is a huge part of my work.
I hope that you enjoyed seeing these pages… it’s always fun for me to put them together like this. And it’s a good way to document what my everyday sketches look like at the moment before Sketchbook Design starts again. I can’t wait to see what changes happen over the next 9 weeks as I get inspired by the group.
The really special part of this course is the combined idea library we create and the strong connection we create with each other as we share personal sketchbook pages. It’s already super exciting to the community to come alive inside the classroom. We are only partway through the Introduction week so it’s not too late to join – click here for more info!
I can’t wait to begin Lesson 1 later this week and start focusing on adding interesting elements to my pages!