So I am finally getting around to doing a sketchbook blog post and it is long overdue!! Worldwide and personal events have meant that my sketchbook practice has taken a back seat for the past 6 months. With us coming out of lockdown 3 my daughter Katie and I took a trip to North Wales to visit a gallery (Life:Full Colour in glorious Caernafon) that I will be working with next year. Whilst we were there we visited Portmerion - an extraordinary place that I last visited with my Mother 45 years ago!! It brought back happy memories and we both sat in the glorious sunshine and sketched whilst having coffee.
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“Working in a sketchbook on location allows me to truly look and absorb the feeling of just being in that moment. Sometimes it will be the milky green colour of the sea as the sun reaches a certain point in the sky or the sound of the gulls swooping overhead in leaden grey clouds or the shape of a particular rock formation that seems to obliterate everything else around it that forms the start point for a painting in the studio”
At Art School the sketchbook became a word dump, a place to record feelings, notes and artist bios, we poured our souls in to the sketchbook, and it was exhausting. On graduating I stopped using a sketchbook, I just wanted to fill large canvases with a riot of colour! In April 2019 I attended an Artist Residency at Brisons Veor in Cornwall. I stayed with 2 Artist friends and only had 2 days. I decided, with the limited time, to keep a visual record and so purchased a small square sea white book. The process of being in the landscape and just recording a colour or rock formation was transformative and I now use this as part of my working practise. The sketchbook becomes like a visual diary. I use very limited materials: - just a pen, pencil, small watercolour pallet and a water holding brush. Sketches are made quickly, just a few minutes to capture something of what I see or feel. The sketches are not intended to be used as reference drawings to make paintings but when I look back at them, they transport me back to that moment or landscape in a way photographs fail to do. I now use several books, some in the studio purely to explore mark making, collage and colour but I always carry the same small square sketchbook wherever I go.
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