I was thrilled to be asked to be part of a publication by the Ruthin Craft Centre in Wales last year on sketchbooks and how they are used by artists and designers. As a teacher I really love to share how I learn and to inspire others to take a creative route. It was also an interesting one for me to consider as I don’t really use sketchbooks that much – preferring to use loose sheets of paper and storing them more like an archive. Partly because a lot of what I do uses wet media and waiting for sketchbook pages to dry can cause interruptions to the flow of creating.

A copy of the book arrived last week and it’s fascinating to read about the other artists and designers featured. The publication was created by Ruthin as part of a digital portfolio of resources that provide children and young people with an opportunity to develop their artistic skills.

Learning how to use sketchbooks can be a funny thing to get used to, I sometimes found when I was studying at university that they almost added pressure to create something perfect, but that’s not really what they are for. They are a space and resource in which to store ideas and figure things out. They can be messy, scribbly, quick to create, and full of words and snippets of found things or they can be very ordered, slow, and logical. It can be a bought sketchbook or a made one, or like me, it might be a lot of loose sheets of paper – or a big mixture of all of these – it just depends on what works for you.

I feel really honoured to have been selected to be part of this resource and hope that my words and images will help to inspire a new generation of makers and creatives. A big thank you to the Ruthin, and Kate Jordan and Ceri Jones who coordinated the programme. It was a small print run – but if you are interested in buying a copy – you can express your interest here and once they have enough interest they can do another print run.

Recently though I have discovered the joy of a concertina sketchbook, which allows me to work across lots of pages at once, ideal if you are a fan of wet media like me – plus it creates some really unexpected compositions as the pages unfold or overlap. Learning how to develop and use sketchbooks or sketchbook pages can be a real challenge. If you are interested in developing your sketchbook skills I have a new course at the studio which you can find out more about here.

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