I love using sketchbooks because they are so immediate and informal. I always use a pen in my sketchbooks. I take a variety of pens because it is more spontaneous than a pencil and I like to work quickly.
I like the feeling of an ink line, it is lovely and flowing. I take several Sharpies with me in thick and thin widths - and I even like them using them when they dry out, it give a soft, faded look.
I use concertina sketchbooks now all the time. I was given the first one two years ago when we had just been to India. I put in drawings, small paintings, photographs and things stuck in to remind me of India, which made it quite bulky.
Now, I take a concertina sketchbook with me every time I go away. I have seven or eight of these with drawings of Portugal, India and Italy, and some local visits as well. You can spread them right out across the table and stand them on end in a loop.
My sketchbooks are records of the places I have been to. Sometimes I add comments or a list of food from the menu, and I look around for interesting things to record, and sometimes I draw while we are waiting for food at a restaurant, or travelling on a boat.
I stand up to draw most of the time, unless there happens to be a seat there or we are eating a meal. I think I like to stand drawing because that is also the way I paint, using use my whole arm, rather than wrist movements. Sometimes I put some colour in while I’m there, or add colour afterwards, but the drawing in the sketchbook is always done on the spot.
My sketchbooks are made by Seawhite, measuring 21 x 15 x 3cm, which come in a black cardboard box to hold it together. When I go away, I aim to fill the whole 35 page length for each trip, and sometimes I work on the back of the 35 pages as well.
I use watercolours and white gouache, I prepare my travel palette with fresh tube paint and among my brushes very favourite brush is an old small, wide flat bristle brush.
You can see that in some sketchbooks I have drawn over colour already on the page. I think that gives them an extra depth. Sometimes I add random patches of colour, perhaps paint or pieces of collage glued in with PVA. I use brown paper, pieces of envelopes perhaps with writing on them, all sorts of paper bags with pieces of interesting designs or small features I like. I don’t have any particular colour plan, I just use a few colours that I like. I draw in ink over and across the collage, I’m not trying to fill in. It adds another dimension to the drawing. Sometimes I prepare the pages with patches of colour, putting on the paint with sponges, corks and brushes. In one of the sketchbooks my granddaughter Hattie helped by putting down some colours for me, and then I drew over the top.
I don’t use these sketchbooks to paint from, they are records of the things that I have seen while I was out and searching for interesting shapes.
Annabelle Spencer 21 May 2019
Love it - especially the consistency of filling your sketchbooks and your pre-preparing the pages sometimes which I’ve seen other artists do. Nice having little bits of text for added interest.
Bernadet 1 July 2017
Hello, I love your work, and I can learn so much from this blog. I wonder what kind of pen (the black drawing) you us. I bought a lot of them but they are always not working well.
Thank you for your lesson! greetings Bernadet