Friday, March 9, 2012

Things to do with a sketchbook

Today I thought I'd show you some spreads from my sketchbooks. As you may or may not know I keep two of the same size, about 10x10 inches. One lives in my studio and the other everywhere else.

A lot of blogs and sites will only show you the prettiest pictures from their sketchbooks, but a sketchbook is a tool in your art, not an artist's book. At least not to me. So I thought today I would give some examples of what I use a sketchbook for. Maybe it will inspire you to use your sketchbook for some of these things as well and in any case it will rid you of any prejudice that a sketchbook has to be filled completely with pretty pages. ;-)

Some of the following you have already seen in some other posts and some you have not. Some are nice to look at and some are not. This is just a sample of a real life sketchbook. Enjoy!


* test your pens and markers on black and white paper to see how they respond

* try out a friends copic markers on different types of paper and be surprised at how much you don't like them

* leave a drawing unfinished and then stick the left over of a sticker page on it to give it character
* make a color chart for some new paints

* note down all those ideas that pop into your head at the most inconvenient times
* write down quotes you like
* paste in images of art work you like (the art work on the below spread is by Dina Wakley and Shannon Sinclair)

* try out a new idea and see where it goes
* paste in all the odds and ends you can't find another place for, like pretty old japanese prints, information leaflets and a random self portrait

* paste in art works you intended to use for a project but then decided against

* draw some ribbons and circles or other nonsense (bet you didn't see that one coming!)

* make lists
* take notes

* plan out another journal (these plans were for ROD2)

* do a mind map to work out an elaborate idea (I still want to do an artist's book on Wuthering Heights someday, but I'm a little scared to start such a huge undertaking)

* practice your doodling, then add some color

* practice your doodling some more and learn still need a lot of practice

Thank God for sketchbooks! Where else would we collect our try outs, our notes, our mistakes, our left overs, our ideas, our experiences with art supplies and a hundred other things? Use your sketchbook as the instrument it is, learn from it. Don't throw your try outs away, don't hide your mistakes. They are valuable teachers.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into my process and wish all of you a very artsy and wonderful weekend!


  1. Totally true! And life is not always beautifull, but well... it's life, your life. Thanks, Caatje for this uplifting post, i reckon there are a lot of people thinking it is only about beautifull pages and having huge tresholds to make anything...

  2. Caatje, you are an incredible resource and a wealth of information about art journaling. I wish you would do a weekly challenge on BAJ for us to all try. I would love it.

    1. I wish I had the time, but I just really don't want to make one more commitment right now. Thanks though, I feel flattered.

  3. LOVE this post - you are so cool to show all aspects of your creative life. Have a wonderful weekend

  4. Heerlijk, zo'n 'alles' boek... inderdaad, een betere leraar is er niet!

  5. Your sketchbook is a brilliant idea! I jot ideas down on scraps of paper that get tucked into other books and then lost or forgotten about. I really must follow your inspiration and get myself a sketchbook and keep it nearby and make good use of it. Thanks for popping by my blog ... it was lovely having you visit. Love Debbie xXx

  6. I really enjoyed the photos of your sketchbook. This really is the way it should be...a tool. Thanks for posting :)

  7. What eye candy! Great post, xoxo

  8. Leuk al die ideeen Carin,
    Lijkt wel een mini cursusje zo. Grappige opmerking over die copic markers. Ik heb zo ook, maar ze zijn niet overal bruikbaar voor. We goed op glad niet zuigend papier en ook fijn over gesso of acrylverf.
    Maar goed idee zo'n test / tip / ideen boek.
    Groetjes Carla

  9. I love the way you keep all these things together in your Teri said, what a tremendous resource! And, I have to say, I think your pages are all VERY pretty. How fun to look through all of these pages.

  10. Loved the peek! I learned about keeping a studio journal (same as your sketchbook here) about a year ago and it's the BEST thing!

    "I need to learn about digital art very soon" caught my eye. Have you? Are you doing any? It's so much fun. I'm in the process of setting up a "digital sketchbook." That's what I'm calling it, anyway. I was printing out way too many of my digital creations and pasting them into my studio journal. Anyway, if you haven't done much with digital art, yet, here's a nudge. >

    1. Oops, caught! No, I have not had time to really get into it. I have done digital art in the past, but it was a long time ago. I do know a little about things like layering and masking in photoshop, but I would need a refresher course. I bought Susan Tuttle's book on digital art and hope to practice with that some time before I die. ;-) Still, even digital art will always be about the eventual printing for me. For instance to use it in a journal. I'm not a purely digital girl, I need my stuff to be tangible. So it will always be a part of something I can touch and feel.


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