Firstly here are some artists I have found particularly inspirational with regard to sketchbooks. Following this are some suggestions for you to ponder as you use your sketchbook.
Inspirational Artists and their Sketchbooks
Kurt Jackson is a British artist who has been using sketchbooks for decades. He uses them to capture the natural beauty of the British Isles, and his work often features nature-inspired elements. He believes that sketchbooks can be used to create works of art that are both beautiful and meaningful. Jackson has said that sketchbooks are a great way for him to document his travels and explore his creative ideas. Jackson’s sketchbooks are vital to the development and completion of his paintings. The pages of his sketchbooks reveal how the hastily executed images can help him to work out what he wants to achieve on canvas, or simply capture a spontaneous image when there is not enough time to paint or draw properly. Insights into his domestic and professional life − not necessarily revealed in his exhibited works − abound from his continual routine of making drawings, marks, notes, poems and scribbles.
Grayson Perry is an artist who has garnered worldwide renown for his unique artwork and his use of sketchbooks to create it. Perry’s sketchbooks are filled with creative drawings, sketches, and ideas that have become the basis for many of his works. Perry uses his sketchbooks to capture his creative process and provide an insight into his thought process. He has said that he finds the practice of sketching and sketchbooking to be incredibly helpful in developing his ideas. Perry’s sketchbooks are full of vibrant images and playful doodles that reflect his unique style and creative vision. Bringing together his favourites for the first time and showing some of the finished works that result from these initial drawings, one result is a rich, beautiful book ‘Sketchbooks’, in print, perfect for those who want to know more about the artist’s creative process.
Anthony Gormley is a British sculptor and installation artist who has gained worldwide recognition for his unique and thought-provoking works. Gormley often uses his sketchbooks to explore new techniques and new materials, and to develop his ideas for future sculptures. His tiny passport sized Muji sketchbooks are filled with drawings of his sculptures in progress, as well as detailed notes and diagrams. He also uses his sketchbooks to document his travels and his interactions with other artists. Through his sketchbooks, Gormley is able to capture his creative process and the evolution of his works. His sketchbooks provide an insight into his creative journey and his artistic vision. The long glass cabinets filled with these books on view at his exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 2019 certainly inspired me. Some examples can be found here and here.
Maya Lin is an American artist and designer who is best known for her iconic Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC. Lin is also an avid sketchbook artist, using her sketchbooks as a form of creative expression and to document her ideas. She often uses her sketchbooks to explore her own creative process and to work out the details of her artwork. Lin uses her sketchbooks to capture her creative journey and to explore her own creative potential. Her sketchbooks are filled with drawings, sketches, and notes that capture her creative process, as well as her travels and experiences. By using her sketchbooks to document her creative journey, Lin has created some of the most iconic works of our time. Some of her work is in her book ‘Boundaries’.
Frida Kahlo is a renowned Mexican artist known for her vibrant self-portraits and her unique style of painting. Kahlo’s art was deeply personal and often explored her own identity and her Mexican heritage. In addition to her painting, Kahlo was also a prolific user of sketchbooks, some of which are in print in The Diary of Frida Kahlo
Baljinder Kaur is an artist and illustrator based in Wolverhampton, UK. Her sketchbooks provide a unique insight into her creative process and her thoughts on art, life, and the everyday. Her sketchbooks are filled with drawings, sketches, and notes that capture her creative journey, travels and her interactions with the world around her notably through explorations of Sikhism. Kaur often uses her sketchbooks to explore new techniques and materials, and to develop her ideas for future book illustrations – take a look here, and here is her wonderful Instagram account – do look at her children’s books.
How we can all benefit from a Sketchbook Practice
Sketchbooks are an essential tool for any artist, offering a convenient and portable workspace for creating, experimenting, and planning. Whether you’re a professional artist or a hobbyist, sketchbooks provide a great outlet for your creativity and help you explore a variety of techniques. Here are 10 different ways that artists use sketchbooks to their advantage:
- Drawing: Sketchbooks are an ideal platform for making quick sketches and getting your ideas down on paper. Many artists use sketchbooks to draw out their concepts, designs, and ideas before starting work on a larger piece.
- Painting: Just like drawing, sketchbooks allow artists to experiment with colour, composition, and other elements of painting. Most artists use sketchbooks to practice their painting techniques, or to make small paintings before tackling a larger project.
- Inspiration: Many artists use their sketchbooks as a source of inspiration, filling the pages with images, quotes, and other things that spark their creativity.
- Research: Researching new techniques and sources of inspiration is important for any artist. Sketchbooks provide a great way to collect images, ideas, and other research material in one place.
- Illustration: Artist often use sketchbooks to illustrate stories, create comic strips, or even design entire books.
- Collage: Sketchbooks can also be used as a canvas for creating interesting collages with a variety of materials.
- Journaling: Journaling is a great way to document your creative journey and track your progress. Sketchbooks make it easy to keep a record of your thoughts and ideas.
- Planning: Sketchbooks are a great place to plan out future projects. Artists can use sketchbooks to sketch out their ideas and plan out the steps they need to take to complete their projects.
- Brainstorming: Sketchbooks provide a great platform for brainstorming and coming up with new ideas.
- Reflection: Artists often use their sketchbooks as a place to reflect on past projects and take note of what worked and what didn’t. This helps them to grow as artists and become better at what they do.
From traditional drawing and painting to more experimental techniques, sketchbooks offer a great way for artists to explore their creativity. For any artist, having a sketchbook handy is essential. Using sketchbooks as a creative outlet is a great way for artists to express themselves and improve their artistic skills. They provide an easy and convenient way for artists to experiment with different techniques and materials, and to document their creative journey. With a sketchbook, artists can create unique works of art, record their ideas and explore their creative potential.
My own sketchbooks are part of a daily art practice
They are a repository for collected ephemera, a diary, a planning space and a portable studio for experiments, drawing practice, colour trials and lots of collage. I keep quite a lot of visual records now digitally, but nothing can beat the tactile experience of a nice fat and messy sketchbook! My sketchbook is my discipline and sometimes my obsession. I spend from 10 minutes to several hours a day most days in it.
Here’s a page from my cycling experience along the Llangollen canal in North Wales last week. I have been using the images to begin some larger paintings this week.
I’m giving a talk about Sketchbook use, mine and others, on 7th September 2023 in Swindon near Wombourne, Staffordshire UK, in the afternoon, for Wolverhampton Creative Embroiderers. If you are interested do contact me. This will be followed by a workshop the following week.
Inspiration for you
This Library Has 46,681 SKETCHBOOKS!
This project, housed in Brooklyn, New York and founded in 2006, has now ended but I have seen this and also participated in it. You can find about it here. It’s also reproduced in its entirety digitally. What a resource!
And finally a workshop for you for free?
My date is March 14th 2023 from 9-12am, where we will combine fun self portraits, positivity, relaxation and letting go of what no longer serves us well. The venue is Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book – not me!