How can you use a sketchbook to produce a collection of artworks?  Well – I had a stab at it and the result is a collection of works.

Some of you reading this post will have been on my sketchbook journey either via instagram or online over the course of the UK Corona lockdown where documenting the day to day became the norm.

You will have come to recognise some of the signature pieces that first started life as thumbnail sketches on half pages in my square sketchbook.

Here are some of my thoughts about the process of turning out your sketchbook pages into pieces of artwork.

  1. As you sketch, you build a repository of ideas, a library of things you naturally enjoying spending time looking at and getting onto paper.  The sketchbook suddenly becomes a great space through which ideas evolve and take shape and they allow you the privacy to do so. What starts with a scrappy sketch surrounded by notes or other drawings can start to slowly evolve. Perhaps this is why artists keep different sketchbooks for different themes.
  2. In my case I could look back over a few months’ of sketching and see the stylistic linkages I was making on paper.  There was an emergent theme that evolved over months of practise.  As you practise you will find things you naturally enjoy drawing or colouring.  Keep practising! Just fill that sketchbook!
  3. I didn’t particularly set out to paint a collection as I like to stick to my sketchbook pages. And there is a part of me that sticks to my sketchbook pages because they are private entries and part of my journaling history.  I also don’t want to put myself under pressure to create a grand piece of artwork at the end of it or a collection. Imagine the very thing that you pick up as a hobby suddenly turns into this pressurised activity? (here is the empathy I have with GCSE and A Level sketchbook students who have to evidence the process!) And ironically, the paintings now framed and up on the wall spent some of their early lives in an A3 sized portfolio sketchbook – sketches in themselves, an opportunity to push myself further with my technique.
  4. Its important to look back and review what you are actually sketching.  This enables you to spot the connections and themes in your work. I am a big believer in a level of our subconscious taking over when we draw and sketch freely. Art therapy delves into how our subconscious comes to the fore when we draw, enabling our brains to process and solve conundrums in new ways. A sketchbook similarly highlights what you are preoccupied with – even if you yourself don’t recognise that this is so. There are days when I close my sketchbook and don’t necessarily think too much about the drawings again. On reflection a few weeks later, however, the memory of the drawings, the colours, the feelings and memories they evoke feed into motivating me to do more. On reflection, or taking a bird’s eye view shows you that you may have enough material for a mini collection like I did.

The result which now hangs framed on my studio wall is a series of 9 watercolour paintings that have been birthed out of my sketchbook and started with me gazing at a coffee plunger on my windowsill one Sunday morning. This was an image that I wanted to expand into a series of paintings that give a nod toward the good things amidst so much that seemed to be bad. The things that we suddenly started to have time to enjoy.

In total and from start to finish including the sketchbook journey this family of 9 took around 3 months to compile.

They look great in any type of kitchen and my studio wall! The grey frames and double mounts (white with a bevelled edging of yellow peeping through) suited to most kitchen wall colours. They are now on sale separately or as an entire collection.

Four of the images are being made into prints which you can purchase here and I’m toying with a card collection too!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed the process of painting and putting them together.

Oh….and if you haven’t already please sign up to Emily’s Notebook community.  More free resources and guides await when you join here!

Emily x