Introduction to using a sketchbook
I’ve never kept a sketchbook.
Since I started at City Lit about 3 years ago, I’ve taken a picture of anything I’ve done that I’ve thought was okay – either at City Lit or at home. With the best of these I’ve printed off the photo – just on ordinary paper – and stuck it in an A4 sketchbook with the date and where it’s from. This links to the kind of portfolio I was used to using with teachers – cumulative examples of work which show progression (hopefully). Sometimes I’ll show stages:
Here’s an example:
We discussed why you might keep a sketchbook – capturing/recording information quickly, practising drawing, a place to develop ideas, providing a cumulative collection of your artistic ideas and thinking. You can use drawings, notes. According to our teacher Adam Piper, in essence a sketchbook ‘can show how you develop an idea, how to manipulate it and move on.’
We talked a bit about photos vs sketchbook – to me they are completely different things – and I would do both. I take photos all the time – my maxim for the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign website – which I do – is – if we haven’t photographed an event then it might as well not exist. I also edit, crop, improve photos manically.
But drawing is something different – once you’ve drawn something, tried to represent it, however badly, it becomes easier to represent it again. It’s not just about recording but a whole of process of thinking, working, practising, developing.
What we did
We were asked to do a couple of exercises using different directions of drawing strokes – with a view to maybe breaking with bad habits eg always starting the same place, drawing marks in the same direction.
We divided into 2 groups. My group went outside. Toshi and I drew in the park – parts of a tree – and also in the Sir John Soames Museum on Lincoln’s Inn Fields. We were lucky that the museum had an exhibition Face to Face of drawings from the Clifford Chance collection – really interesting examples of different kinds of portraits. Click here to see more
I did a drawings of tree bark patterns and the beautiful staircase in the museum. We then used pen and ink to develop the drawings. Later we used brown paper to represent a mid tone. I tore mine. Below you can see what I did with the original drawings.
Here are some pictures from Joan Higgins, Toshi Banton, and I think Joan. Joan was in the collage group.