Beginner Art · Resources and Materials · Sketchpads

Why is Keeping a Sketchpad Important?

Keeping a sketchpad is an important part of learning to draw and paint.  It is a place where you can sketch, develop ideas and collect inspiration.

Some beginners in art feel that artists go from observing to creating a final piece of work, just like that.   This is very rarely the case, artists use sketchpads for preliminary studies, rough notes, doodles, tonal scales, thumbnails and ideas.  I use my sketchpad as part scrapbook and I stick all sorts of inspirational images inside.  I also try out media in my sketchpad, for example layering paint, scratching into layered paint, painting onto new surfaces and anything else that I fancy trying.

Sketchpads can be taken out and about!

The sketchpad should be your place to experiment.  I have met a few learners in my classes who are keeping their sketchpads as a kind of ‘showcase’ of perfect drawings.  Anything that is less than perfect gets torn out! I can understand this, as I was once like this myself while studying art.  Try to get over this, the sketchpad needs to be a place of experiments, trial and error and learning.

Sketchpads are ideal for the quick sketch and longer small observational drawings.

The learners who kept their early attempts in sketchpads were proud of looking back and seeing how much progress they had made.  Sketchpads should be like diaries, personal and an exploration of your interests and ideas.

Sketchpads could include:

  • Quick sketches
  • Drawing exercises
  • Colour experiments
  • Painting technique tests
  • Mark-making/doodles
  • Photographs
  • Inspirational images, objects
  • Notes
  • Artist examples
  • Thumbnail compositional sketches

See Which Sketchpad? for more information on the type of sketchpad you might need.


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