My Sketchbook Collection - October 2017

November 1, 2017 | 8 Comments

Those of you who follow my Instagram stories may have seen that on the weekend I finally got around to sorting my sketchbooks shelves. They have been hopelessly out of order since I moved into my new flat in February, so it feels good to have them finally in order.

I have about 200 sketchbooks – 102 daily sketchbooks, approx 80 travel sketchbooks and approx 20 teaching and/or other project specific books. I started sketching in Jan 2007, so this is nearly 11 years worth of sketching.

I like sharing a photo of my sketchbook collection from time to time as it’s the clearest way I can think of to explain how hard I have worked developing my sketching skills over the years. The speed and ease with which I sketch today didn’t come overnight but is a result of years of experiments and regular practice. I can tell you that there are a LOT of unsuccessful sketches contained in these shelves.

The other thing that this photo tells me is that I have the most incredible record of my life in the past decade! When I started my first sketchbook I had no idea where it would lead me, so it’s amazing to have my journey documented every step of the way.

If you want to know more about my numbering system, please check out this post from Oct 2014. It’s interesting to compare how much my sketchbook collection has expanded in the last 3 years.

Do you keep your sketchbooks in order?



  • Suzanne Priest-Brown says:

    Amazing!! Yes you have worked long and hard to get where you are. It reminds me to keep going and that every sketch whether good or not is important to my skill development.
    Thanks for the insight.

  • Susan Grover says:

    No mine aren’t in order. They aren’t even in the same room. I like them everywhere, and handy to pull out and look at whenever I want to remember.

  • Corinne McNamara says:

    I appreciate your reminder that your beautiful, loose, impressionistic sketches are the result of patience, persistence, and passion. I’ve just begun trying to create a system for my sketchbooks and was surprised to find that I’ve done enough in the past five years that I needed dedicated storage space! Most sketchbooks (so far) have exercises done for classes (online, face-to-face) or from books; take-along sketchbooks are there, but fewer than I’d like to see.

  • Sally Graves says:

    I am moving and cannot take a lot with me, so I am scanning 10 years of sketchbooks (about 30) and then throwing the books away. it has made me think about the purpose of sketchbooks. why do I draw in them? why do I sometimes record notes and other times just leave the drawing? why are these books so precious to me? why on earth didn’t I scan them all along? scanning makes them shareable and creates an archive that I can always return to, never have to dust or shelve or ship. I will always have a few books around, but my goal is to scan a little more often than when I move across an ocean, so that the digital record of my sketches stays up to date.

  • This looks so orderly!!! No, unfortunately my sketchbooks and my paintings are in no order. I haven’t figured out a way to do that since they vary so much in size. I’ll have to work on that.

    I ready Sally’s post above and that is so sad that she has to throw the sketchbooks away. I know she still has a record of all the sketches, but there is nothing quite like feeling the paper while you are seeing the sketch. I joke about what will happen to all my artwork when I die. I have no children and my family is all over the USA and assorted places at present. I tell my husband that he is going to have to hand out my sketchbooks and paintings to people at my wake. lol

  • Caroline Greene says:

    I’ve only just begun sketching regularly (since coming across your blog and Instagram page actually!), and my goal is for the first time to actually FINISH A SKETCHBOOK, by the end of this year. I’m taking part in a November daily watercolour challenge on Instagram and that’s helping me fill my sketchbook faster. I dream of having enough completed sketchbooks to be able to say they’re in chaos and I need to tidy them up! One day…

  • T. Bunker says:

    As a sole-practitioner Architect here in the States I’ve been sketching and drawing since the 1970s, but I’v always been reticent about journaling. Especially for non-work related sketching, but I find the idea of Urban Sketching and watercolors in-general appealing now that I have more personal time. Too personal? Too intimate?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Ted, I used to just sketch buildings, but my skills really took off once I starting sketching my life. All the best with your Urban Sketching!

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