Sketchbook Sketching -what’s the point?

Sketchbook sketching_reportage

Until earlier this year, most of my urban sketching was done in a sketchbook.  Sketchbooks of all shapes (landscape, portrait, concertina), sizes (pocket, A5, A4, A3) and brands.  Moleskine, Stillman and Birn, Handbook and Seawhite of Brighton are a few of the brands I’ve used.  However, as I increased my sales of sketches and prints, it seemed sensible to create more of my sketches on loose paper.  You can read about my #ThisPlace series of original drawings and limited edition prints here.  These images were saleable and easier to scan.  This in turn resulted in a dramatic reduction in my sketchbook work and a rather haphazard use of sketchbooks in the following months.  This blog is about the impact that I believe reducing my sketchbook sketching has had on my drawing practice and how I propose to move forward.

 

My sketchbook sketching practice

Earlier in the year I was using an A4 moleskine watercolour sketchbook much like a visual diary. I sketched in this sketchbook very regularly using a variety of approaches and often wrote notes of explanation about the scene.  Sometimes I divided the page into a series of smaller thumbnail sketches.  Subject matter was varied.  I also had different sketchbooks for different subject matter eg. people sketching notebooks.

Sketchbook sketching   

My Sketchbook sketching alternative loose paper work

For some reason as I started to do more loose paper work I did less sketchbook work.  The loose paper works tended to be whole scenes with very little in the way of descriptive text.  A title and date were the norm for these sketches.  Often, they were colour first and they would take longer than my average sketchbook sketch: perhaps 2 plus hours.  Because they were to be prints there was also a tendency to be more precious about them.   I enjoyed these pieces and there are strong benefits to creating them.  However, I do feel that my sketchbook sketching work took a back seat.  This in turn had an impact on the variety of things I was sketching.  In hindsight, I think I should have put more effort into creating both types of drawing in parallel.

This Place urban sketches

Sketchbook sketching-The benefits

Here are what I consider to be some of my key benefits of sketchbook sketching  and the reason why I need to do more of it!:

  • I am creating a visual diary, something to look back on, a chronology of events and ideas.
  • The sketchbook automatically provides stories: of places, of occasions, of objects, through the visuals and narrative.
  • It keeps me observing and recording: anything that catches my eye, so increasing the variety of subjects that I sketch. Inside, outside, from the car, waiting for a bus etc (this seems less likely with a loose piece of paper!).
  • Everything is in one place so it becomes a toolbox of ideas about subjects, sketching process etc.
  • Because it is always to hand, it keeps me sketching daily.  I have to say that by not keeping a regular sketchbook, it is easy to slip into bad habits of not sketching very regularly.
  • Its not as precious as a piece of loose paper (for me anyway!) so there is a greater tendency to try different approaches.
  • Sketchbooking keeps me thinking about presentation of the pages and layout and therefore storytelling.  It goes beyond the composition of the drawing itself.

Sketching in sketchbooks gets me out with other like-minded urban sketchers and sketching friends.  Of course it doesn’t matter whether you are doing this in a sketchbook or on loose paper!  However, when using loose paper I often go on a specific ‘mission’ to do a sketch and this is often alone rather than with a group.

Getting back on track with Sketchbook Sketching

Last weekend I attended one of the Urban sketchers 10 x 10 workshops at Salford Quays.  The session meant that I took a sketchbook with me (I chose an A5 moleskine that had remained half full for sometime!). I subsequently created a number of sketches over the bank holiday weekend in this small book.  It got me thinking about getting back into a regular sketchbook sketching which I plan to do in the coming days.  In order for me to feel the benefit I am going to use a main sketchbook rather than several at once.  I will try to use different approaches depending upon the subject, time available and materials.  These are likely to include pen and ink work, watercolour, collage and perhaps coloured pencil/crayon/pastel.  Given that my key interest in sketching is driven by the reportage storytelling aspects, it is that which I need to focus upon in my sketchbook work.

Sketchbook sketching_reportage

 

I am also going to think about ways of overcoming the endless searching for a perfect sketchbook!  There are always pros and cons with any type of sketchbook so I am going to try to live with this and stop using this as an excuse for not progressing!  What have been your main sketchbook sketching dilemmas?  I’d love to hear about them!

People at Play-an urban sketching workshop

Lizsscribbles_peoplesketchi

I haven’t posted about my people sketching for a while, although I am always looking to improve my people drawing.  This is because my area of interest, reportage illustration, involves telling stories of people and places through drawing.   Last weekend I attended one of the 10×10 Manchester and Sheffield Urban sketching  ‘Reporting from your city’  workshops.  These types of workshops are  taking place all over the world to celebrate 10 years of the Urban Sketching organisation.  The session on Saturday is one of 4 that I will be attending, entitled : Great Stories.  Each one will cover a separate aspect of drawing the big picture on location.  Continue reading

My Demonstration and workshop at Salford Art Club

Over the last couple of Wednesday evenings (2 x 2 hours) I ran a demonstration and workshop on Urban Sketching at Salford Art Club, held in Salford Museum and Art Gallery.  I am also a member of this art club so for some reason (I think it always is when you know people!) it was a little bit more nerve wracking than usual.  However, members made me feel very at ease and we had a couple of great sessions.  Fortunately, on the first session earlier in July, the weather was great, enabling me to demonstrate my colour-first technique outside and also set the group off with some thumbnail sketching practice around the outside of the gallery as a way of capturing snapshot views of the place before settling on an overall view.  Unfortunately we had to run the second session inside the gallery but with plenty to sketch (and an example to hand of how this compares with the outside situation), this wasn’t too much of an imposition!  The main focus of both sessions was capturing the essence of the place using relatively quick techniques and creating depth in the drawing (without necessarily focusing on perspective only).  Members seemed to really enjoy the sessions and engage with the approach of drawing from life.  For me, with an interest in reportage illustration as well as urban sketching, this is the focus of all of my work. Continue reading

Create Longridge: My day of extreme sport!

LizsScribbles_CreateLongridge5

This weekend (July 15th 2017) I attended my first ever proloco event in Longridge Lancashire. The Create Longridge event was launched in September 2016 and challenges artists to create a brand new, original piece of art, from scratch, in one day. And what a day it was! I decided to attend after seeing the event on social media. I was interested in learning more about these types of events and as I sketch on location and enjoy the process of capturing places (and people) from life it seemed like a good idea! Continue reading

Sketching the King Street Festival in Manchester

reportage illustration at King Street Festival in manchester

Manchester’s King Street Festival is now in its 3rd year and it is the first year it has included the top area of King Street, with parking bays turned into mini parklets for the duration! All along this iconic and historic shopping street there was al fresco dining, free fizz, gifts and goodiebags, a bandstand, a grand piano, pop-up parks, an art garden together with heritage tours and events from Manchester’s premium names in shopping, food and drink. The festival was also supporting The British Red Cross We Love MCR emergency fund for those affected by the Manchester arena attack.   This year I sensed, amongst the sadness and quiet reflection of the St Ann’s Square flower memorial, togetherness and a feeling of Manchester pulling together in solidarity. This is what makes Manchester special: its people and its places. Continue reading

Drawing at a wedding at Browsholme Tithe Barn: Capturing the special day in sketches

LizsScribbles_BrowsholmeWeddingDrawing2

This May I was fortunate enough to be commissioned to capture a wedding celebration at Browsholme Hall Tithe Barn, outside of Cliteheroe in Lancashire, UK. Reportage Illustration, the art of visual storytelling, is a particular interest of mine. You can read about the sorts of thing I’ve covered through reportage sketching here, including events and special occasions, travel destinations, restoration projects and journalistic correspondence. The focus of my work is to capture a sense of place, a sense of occasion and a sense of emotion. Weddings are therefore a natural occasion for me to be interested in drawing. Continue reading

My Reportage Illustration at a launch event for Manchester Airport: Platform

At the end of February this year, I was thrilled to be commissioned by the Manchester Airport Property Group to capture their first lunchtime event at Manchester Airport’s Transport Interchange. These events, which will include a wide range of community activities, including, food, seminars and product launches (publicized with the hash tag #FarFlungFridays on social media) are aimed at animating the large public realm area and are named Platform  Although video and photography were being employed to create a video of the event, the drawings were considered a welcome addition, as a way of capturing the energy of the occasion and the vibrancy and context of the set up and location. The intention is to use the drawings in marketing material. This blog shares my process and results. Continue reading

Introducing my #ThisPlace series of original sketches

I thought I’d write this Q and A piece to fully explain what my #ThisPlace Series of sketches is all about before its launch later this month. What is it? Those of you that know my work will know that I am a keen urban sketcher and reportage illustrator. As a landscape designer in a previous life, depiction of a ‘Sense of Place’, capturing in my drawings, what it is that makes that place like it is, is very important to me. Therefore, I wanted to create a series of drawings throughout the year, of the Places around the Northwest that I love, visit and connect with. Hence the name ‘This Place’ Of course I may include the odd drawing in the series that is not the North West of England, but for the main part, they will be of the North West, including Manchester but certainly not exclusively. These pen, ink and watercolour wash/coloured pencil drawings created, on very high quality watercolour paper (or paper suited to the medium) and framed will be available for purchase. They will be either A4 or square (8” format) (ex. Frame). What are those cards and envelopes with handwriting you’ve been sharing? Accompanying each and every original will be a handwritten card from me. The envelope will denote the ‘This Place’ series and the card will contain the title of the piece. Inside will be a short piece about the location and any interesting facts that I come across! I hope it adds to the enjoyment of the artwork. For example, there is a Peter Kay link to my very first in the series called Gated Alleyway! Why do it? In a nutshell, I wanted to be able to sell original drawings/paintings in a way that was accessible to a wider group of people that weren’t commissioning me as such but wanted an original. It will run alongside my commissioned work. What is the launch all about? For anything like this, there has to be start-point! But it is not a usual exhibit all the drawings/paintings in a gallery. It won’t work like that as I am creating the pieces ongoing, each month. Therefore, I will have 3 to start it all off. All 3 are of my very local area in Salford. Its an eclectic mix! I am going to be exhibiting them as part of a wider exhibition of the Art Of Salford, curated by Tony Easom of our local Art Club and available to view and purchase at the Cornerstone Community Centre, Langworthy Road, Salford from 27th March 2017. Where will the pieces be available; how can I see them? For the first pieces, you will be able to see them at the Cornerstone as detailed above. However, for subsequent pieces low resolution images will be posted on my social media pages on-line and you can then contact me directly to secure a purchase. Purchase will be on a first come first served basis. What places will be captured? Anywhere that I’d like to capture; there will be well-known landmarks and less known places. Mostly I will try to capture those that define a sense of place for me; that characterize that place. You will also be able to nominate a place, I won’t necessarily go there but I might well do! And if your recommendation has influenced me to go there, you may get first refusal to buy that drawing! How many are available? Mm, I’m not sure yet. I will be doing at least 2 a month minimum (maybe quite a few more!), and I will carry on for as long as it feels right and I have interest to do it. But remember, I don’t have a room full of them, 3 different scenes for launch, then several per month, so it is an ongoing project with a start of March 2017. How much will they cost? Good question and that depends on size, but for the small square 8” they will initially be £80 framed plus postage and packing. Will there be prints available? I am likely to be selling limited edition high quality giclee prints of the most popular drawings and these may well be towards the end of the year at Arts and Artisan markets or similar. How did I do? I hope this gives more of a flavor for this series of work and I really look forward to sharing them with you as they are developed.

I thought I’d write this Q and A piece to fully explain what my #ThisPlace Series of sketches is all about before its launch later this month.

What is it?

Those of you that know my work will know that I am a keen urban sketcher and reportage illustrator. As a trained landscape designer, depiction of a Sense of Place’, capturing in my drawings, what it is that makes that place like it is, is very important to me. Therefore, I wanted to create a series of drawings throughout the year, of the Places around the Northwest that I love, visit and connect with. Hence the name ‘This Place’   Of course I may include the odd drawing in the series that is not the North West of England, but for the main part, they will be of the North West, including Manchester. These pen, ink and watercolour wash/coloured pencil drawings created on very high quality watercolour paper (or paper suited to the medium) and framed will be available for purchase. They will be either A4 or square (8” format) (excluding the Frame so a little bit larger with the frame and mount).

Continue reading

Reportage-Why I fell in Love with it!

The Oxford English Dictionary cites the origin of the word ‘reportage’ to come from the Early 17th century French, from Old French reporter ‘to carry back’.   In this way, reportage illustration is a form of visual journalism, visual storytelling.  You go out into the world around you and take back with you that experience.   That memory, in drawn form, with pen, and ink and…. whatever else it is possible to record onto a surface with. Continue reading

Drawing every day: a doddle or a drama?-Diversity is the key

LizsScribbles_RedLion

When I first started drawing very regularly in 2013/14 I set myself a task to be drawing every day within 6 months. I managed that and at the time, well, until recently, I had done that. I was often doing several drawing courses, e.g. Craftsy, on-line sessions like Sketchbook Skool etc. It didn’t seem so hard. There was a variety to draw and there was direction.   But as time went on, I got my own direction, my own commissions and yep, my own pressures! Bigger (I started with A5 sketchbooks but now I usually use A4 or bigger, paper or sketchbooks (a topic for another blog!), more detailed, more text, …more time…It was a treadmill and I got the impression that If I stopped, I might never start again! Continue reading

Reportage of the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Manchester 2017

LizsScribbles_ChineseNewYearManchester2017_2

Despite the weather in Manchester over the weekend (wet and cold on Saturday, cold then wet on Sunday!) vibrant colours and a celebration-feel lifted our spirits in the city centre as the Chinese New Year Celebrations took hold in several places, from Exchange Square to Deansgate and China Town.   I spent some time on both days (although the celebrations were actually a four day event with New Years Day being Saturday 28th January), trying to capture some of this ‘sense of occasion’ in sketches. From the costumes to the dancing and decorations, the colours and the crowds, it was a festival for the eyes and ears and a challenge for our sketching spirits!

Continue reading

What view to sketch?-Welcome to the Neighbourhood

LizAckerley_welcometotheneighbourhood

Last weekend whilst out sketching , one of my fellow sketchers asked: how do you go about choosing your view to sketch?  It’s an interesting question and it got me thinking beyond the theory of composition, at how exactly I choose my view to sketch .   Here in a short summary; mainly illustrated with recent sketches of my local area  are some of the things I take into account when  deciding which view to draw and what to include.  Note that with most of them, there is more than one reason the composition was chosen. Continue reading

As 2016 Draws to a close…. My Sketching Stories of the year

Lizsscribbles2016compilation

As 2016 draws (get it!) to a close, I thought I’d capture my year in sketches ( some but not all of them!), partly as an aide memoire (those of you that read my blog know how I like to document my drawing adventures!) and partly to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going.  Its been quite a year in many respects and those of you that have followed my #scribblescompilations on social media in my 12 days of Christmas countdown, will be familiar with most of the combinations below.  However, this blog puts a narrative to the visuals and  I have tried to group things so that you can see more of the approaches and types of things that I am interested in recording and the approaches I’ve taken to drawing. Continue reading