The purpose of drawing and painting in a sketchbook is for practice, exploration, and experimentation. It’s really not meant for public consumption, but it is a personal endeavor. But, I admit that I find studying the sketchbooks of others to be more beneficial and interesting than studying the finished works. The sketches show the thought process, the approach, and how a highly refined painting starts with the roughest of ideas. It makes fine art, good art, feel more attainable. For this reason, I like sharing a sketchbook tour each time I complete one.
There has been a lull between my last sketchbook tour for a few reasons. Of course, the move, being sick, breaking my foot, travel, and lots of other things which ate into the time I might steal away to complete a page or two. But, I ended up having more time on my hands when the first leg of the move was finished and I was told to completely stay off my foot. I had an excuse to sit and take art classes and play with my paints and pencils. And it felt good. It was restorative and a retreat in a season of waiting and upheaval.
I have also loved studying master works from artists I have admired for a long time and from those who are new to me or a departure from my style. It’s pushed me and, even though there are plenty of pages that make me cringe, I can see ways that I’m learning and growing as an artist. And that’s the entire point of a sketchbook.
At the bottom of this post, there is a video tour of the sketchbook in addition to a video of the final pencil study I rendered to complete the book.
Whenever I start a sketchbook, I think, “This one is just going to be for graphite or portraits or landscape or acrylics.” I like the idea of uniformity and looking through a sketchbook filled with one theme. Buuuuut, as is true of my personality and interests, my sketchbooks end up all over the place. I work on different subjects, with different mediums, and it’s a total amalgamation of my interests at the time. In a way, that is more honest than confining myself, although creativity often thrives in boundaries, so I do need to try that at least once at stick to it.
The theme of this sketchbook tour, if there is one, is study. Master studies, studying different mediums, studying composition, and studying profiles, which is something that has always been a struggle!
Here are a few of the finished pages from my June – August 2022 sketchbook…
To start off, THIS is the sketchbook I am using. It has great paper, comes in a variety of sizes, and is inexpensive so I don’t feel like I have to be too careful with the pages. The bonding isn’t the best quality, but I like the blue fabric cover and I swapped out the cheap red marker with a blue checked one. You can see how easy that is in THIS tutorial.
A JD Fergusson study, which I ended up loving! It’s not my style, but it forced me to play with color and simplified shapes and I enjoyed the challenge and result. This was a part of the online art class Ten Days of Art. I wanted to study Fergusson’s work further, so I purchased THIS book.
I did a lot of pen & ink studies, which I enjoy because I can’t erase. It forces me to embrace mistakes and just keep making marks. Sometimes it’s more successful than other times, but I just have to keep going. THIS is my favorite fountain pen and I use Noodlers Ink in Bulletproof Black.
I’m also learning that I love drawing and painting period clothing. The details on those dresses are so good to practice form, draping, and details. The dress below is a study from the book Thomas Eakins: His Life and Art.
One my of focuses in this sketchbook was to practice drawing profiles. They are so tough! Give me a straight-on face any day, but when they are at a profile, I really struggle. I worked on it, though, and already feel a bit more confident. There is still a long way to go, but practice makes better.
I also enjoyed studying Picasso. I sort of wrote him off because I’m not into cubism and all of the strange, abstract work that he is most famous for. But, I learned that I love his earlier works and even seeing the progression from traditional works to his own unique style. It makes me appreciate his creativity even more. I mostly worked out of this book – Picasso: The Early Years.
Even though this was a quick, simple sketch, this might be one of my favorites in the entire sketchbook.
I did a few acrylic portraits and it made me miss oils! But, it’s nice to work in acrylics so I have to focus more on putting the paint down and leaving it. I can’t rely on oil’s ability to slide throughout the entire painting session.
I even worked on some branding sketches. I have a separate notebook for fabric, pattern, and branding sketches and ideas, but I didn’t have that one on hand, so I just worked in this one.
And here is the sketchbook tour video if you would like to see all of the pages (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and learn more about my process…