Sketchbook love never dies. Years ago, on a different blog, I wrote a short celebration of the humble sketchbook.

There is something truly compelling about looking through an artist’s sketchbooks because they reveal so much about the artist’s approach.

I know I am not alone in this. I have displayed my sketchbooks at group exhibitions and my open studios and found they evoke so much conversation. I’ve even had visitors ask if they can buy my sketchbooks. I’m not the only one who has Sketchbook love.

I referred to the use of sketchbooks in a post I wrote early in the first lockdown which explored ideas for developing your work when you can’t get to in-person workshops. They are little treasure troves of creation. A place where an artist can ignore the fear of the blank paper (or canvas) and be spontaneous with mark-making.

Sketchbook love means multiples

A sensible approach to sketchbooks would be to start a sketchbook, work through to the end and then start the next one. That’s not the way I work.

I always have several sketchbooks on the go at the same time – each one has a different feel or a particular purpose.

  • I have a large Arches book used for colour swatches. Over the years, it has started to become a very personal colour reference.
  • There are a few concertina sketchbooks that allow me to extend ideas across a wider space and get experimental with mark-making
  • One small Moleskine is dedicated entirely to tree studies
  • There are a few travel journals
  • A small colour and composition study sketchbook that I use for little mixed media experiments
  • And a square Two Rivers Paper Company spiral-bound book that is wonderful for loose watercolour sketches.

When I see them listed out like this, I realise how many different aspects of my art are expressed in sketchbooks. Each one is an opportunity to focus on something different. An opportunity for new learning and a new line of experimentation. This describes my sketchbook love.

How many sketchbooks do you have going at the same time?

And if you want to see what other people have done with sketchbooks, here are some links you may enjoy:

A delightful collection of eclectic books on Brainpickings

Michael Bailey – in celebration of the trusty Moleskine

And if you want to binge page through sketchbooks, try The Sketchbook Project. You may even want to contribute a sketchbook of your own. I know I’m tempted.