Resources and Materials · Sketchpads

Sketchpads – Not Just for Drawing?

Sometimes my learners get a bit confused about sketchbooks and what they can use them for. The answer is whatever you want to  use them for, they are personal records.  I see sketchpads as places to generate ideas and capture inspiration, to sketch and observe.  I also test out techniques, stick images and textures inside them.

Sketchbooks aren’t just for drawing.  I use one of my sketchpads as a type of scrapbook.  Below are some images that I found that inspired me on the theme of cell forms.  Some of the images I found in science books, others came from tapestry designs. I gather anything that I think is interesting and inspires me into my sketchpad.

A glimpse inside my sketchpad

I also scribble in my sketchpad and write notes, sometimes just words. I like a mini sketchpad of about A5 size for idea generation and a slightly larger one (A4) for painting and drawing in. Sketchpads don’t need to be showcases of perfect work because they are meant for the development of ideas and experiments.  My sketchpads have always been messy!

I like to stick in photographs that I have taken in my sketchpad.  I use photographs quite a lot for ideas.  If I am stuck I go out with my camera, it is very rare that I don’t find something I want to photograph.  I might start a project by taking photographs and then this would lead to sketches and paint studies.  I am a believer in using the camera as a tool for drawing and painting, to me it is another tool I can use.  I know a friend who uses her ipad to draw, these technologies are all tools for the artist.  I am sure Van Gogh would have tired out the ipad!

I like to stick my photographs in my sketchpad

Sketchpads are great for drawing exercises and trying out things like colour mixing. I think of a sketchpad as a reference book, something I can return to time and time again for ideas and to see what I learnt.  Sometimes I write notes for example ‘bleach splattered on acrylic paint’ if I was experimenting so I know how I achieved the effect.

Learning about colour in the sketchpad
Learning about colour in the sketchpad

What do you use your sketchpad for?  Comment below and share, I’d love to hear from you.


3 thoughts on “Sketchpads – Not Just for Drawing?

  1. Unfortunately I can’t get away from the idea that what goes into a sketchbook should be halfway decent and not embarrassing to look at later on! However having read Felix Scheinberger’s excellent book about using a sketchbook, sadly only in German at the moment, and now this, I might start another one for just messing about with.

    1. I know what you mean, I used to tear pages out of my sketchpad if something wasn’t as good as I wanted. I try to get over this idea and treat it as a fun place to experiment.

      1. I agree with Michael. Sometimes the journey is tough but the collection or the outcome should be satisfying. And I therefore flinch as to what goes in my sketchpad. But yes, I understand your point. It’s just about the inhibitions. Experimenting is part of the process. Will work on it. Thanks!

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