Hello, how are you? 

I have spoken about sketchbooking before in a previous blog but I wanted to talk about it again, and how over the last few weeks and months I have been reconnecting with mine. I have had some really big realisations recently that without sketchbooking I would never have made.

If you don’t have a sketchbook I really recommend getting one as they are great for capturing things and allowing you to empty your mind with sketches. It can capture so many amazing things that may seem pretty insignificant otherwise.

Sketchbooks

Over the last few weeks, following my revelation about my phone and how addicted I was to checking it, I have been making sure I have my sketchbook with me so I can capture and sketch whilst out and about. It’s been wonderful to do and to reconnect. 

You can get so many different types of sketchbooks. They come in all different shapes, sizes, colours, the list is endless. I have a few around the house. One by the sofa, one in my studio and another in my room. I also have a smaller one that I keep in my bag so I can sketch on the go. I find this one so useful as I have an active mind so recording on the go is really useful to me. If something pops into my head I can just park it up in this ‘on the go’ sketchbook so it doesn’t get forgotten.

With all my sketchbooks, I simply sketch, make notes and enjoy the process of playing around with ideas. There is no pressure with the outcome, it’s enjoyable and you can start to make connections with many things whilst you are sketching away.

Looking at the journey

Lately, I have been really looking at my journey and backtracking all the way back to my childhood as to why I do certain things in life and within my art. It has been fascinating. Now, at the moment my artistic journey is rather small as I only have a two hour window each week to play around with my ideas, but I have been looking at my journey as a whole. Really looking into what images inspire me and where I pull my inspiration from.

Mind Maps

For me, I like to mind map as it suits me. I’ve been looking at past mind maps, going back years ago to look and see what things are still coming up in my thoughts and what has changed. As well as looking at my experimental work, pieces and colours, I have started to notice so much about myself.

Annotating

At points my work felt very unrelated but when looking at all these different pieces, they aren’t at all. It’s been so insightful to see the art and the art journey and a lot of this has come from me annotating my sketchbooks. Asking myself and noting down:

  • How was I feeling when I created this piece? 
  • Why did I make this piece? 
  • What book was I reading at the time? 
  • What music was I listening to? 
  • What do I like about it and what do I dislike about it? 

I pour it all out into my sketchbooks and it’s proven really powerful – it’s almost like a therapy. So from doing this process over the weekend of going back, looking and taking it all in, I have learned so much about myself and my art. I started to realise things within my art from the reflection. They make so much sense, however before doing this they seemed so insignificant.

Leaves

For example – I will always draw leaves. They appear in my sketchbooks a lot and when I look around my studio they crop up all the time. What I have come to release through reflecting on my sketchbooks and my notes is, it is no coincidence that leaves keep appearing in my work.

It relates back to a time as a child. I had terrible anxiety at school as I really struggled to process auditory. I couldn’t take in what was being said by the teacher. I even struggle now at conferences or when things are read to me. Due to this, at a very young age, from about 10 I started to have panic attacks. I hated going to school as I was frightened that the teacher was going to ask me something and I’d have no clue. 

Over time I have learned to accept it and have formed ways to cope with this, but being a child in school, I really struggled. But what I would do as a child is, I would draw a leaf pattern. I did it over and over again and I guess it was my way of feeling secure whilst taking my mind off things. It would allow me to escape the feeling of panic and leaves just became my motif. 

When I am writing this it seems so obvious but I had never put the two together. When I did it was a complete light bulb moment and so much made sense to me. Leaves to me have so much meaning and comfort. Drawing these leaf motifs got me through some horrendous times. 

However, this relasitation only happened to me through the process of sketchbooking and annotating within the sketchbooks. It’s truly an amazing process and one I highly recommend doing.

Finding connections

Another connection I have been making is all about patterns and imprints. When my children were little, I would walk them to nursery and every time I’d walk past this one brick wall, I’d take a picture. The same wall I captured so many times but I just couldn’t work out the connection. 

It had ivy that had grown over the years which has left this wonderful pattern. I liked this pattern but again I couldn’t work out this connection. I just felt obsessed by the wall and so drawn to it. 

However, the same thing happened with this coaster I have. It is made from glass with a photo inside. Over time a drink spilled over it and has created the most beautiful pattern with just a little of the photograph peering through. Again, I love this coaster and just couldn’t work out why. It’s been in my studio for years. It follows me around and just reappears every now and then. 

By going through the key questions within my sketchbooks and asking myself what is that I really, really love about this photo? This coaster? This wall? Gathering all this information through my sketchbooks it started to become clearer. It was no coincidence. I was drawn to these patterns out of a place of curiosity about imprint.

Learning… 

It is so exciting to start to pull all these pieces together about myself and my art. To learn what direction I want to take my art in and explore more of. All of this has come from the process of documenting within my sketchbooks and it’s been so powerful. 

I guess what I am trying to share is, keeping a sketchbook is so valuable for many, many reasons. However the process of documenting is equally as important. This has allowed me to dig deep and to really look at what I love, what I was feeling and make connections between the art I create and what is happening around me. 

When annotating, ask yourself the following: 

  • How was I feeling when I created this piece? 
  • Why did I make this piece? 
  • What book was I reading at the time? 
  • What music was I listening to? 
  • What do I love about this sketch, photo, texture or piece? 
  • What don’t I like so much about it? 

Sometimes things may feel really random and unrelated but a lot of the time things are linked and by keeping a sketchbook like this, it really helps to shine a light on certain aspects and allows you to form these connections. 

These realisations won’t happen overnight. They may take months or even years to form but if you keep going back, keep sketching, keep asking the questions and making notes the process becomes so much easier. 

Enjoy your journey with art and get excited about finding out new things from the simple process of sketchbooking. 

Much love, 

Michelle.