the usefulness of sketchbooks and sketching, plein air and in the studio - they can be a source of information for years to come
How do I use sketchbooks?
Using sketchbooks to work out ideas and sketching plein air are very important to me. The plein air sketches are done simply to study scenes or weather or texture or light ....... whatever has grabbed my interest. They aren't intended to be finished pieces for framing, though sometimes they do become finished and are framed. In that case I scan them and keep a print in the sketchbook, part of a series of linked sketches and ideas. The time spent looking intently and studying colour, form, line and light fixes the subject in your memory.
These sketches were of the bark on some birch trees that fascinated me with the multiple 'eyes' in the bark pattern. I had no thoughts at all as to what I would do with the information in the future. When I was sketching it was pure research.
Developing ideas from sketchbooks
Sketches of Trees
At home I looked at the sketches and the idea of some long thin canvasses and abstracted paintings evolved and I made notes about the ideas I had. You can see the finished work that evolved from these and more work on trees here: http://sitekreator.com/vivienb/trees.html
here: http://sitekreator.com/vivienb/landscape_paintings.html ,
and here: http://sitekreator.com/vivienb/landscapes_3.html
So, my way of working is to gather lots of research material on a subject that interests me and then work out the possibilities and ideas these spark, rather than have an idea for a painting and look for subjects as photorealists do.
more sketches of trees: http://sitekreator.com/viviensketches/trees.html
Sketches of the Beach
a very very quick sketch, done at the beach as the sun set, with watersoluble Tombo pen and wash (dipping my finger in water to create washes, as my brushes were packed up ready to leave), Vivien Blackburn
The sketch above was a very fast one, done at the end of a day painting with friends. The sun was setting and there wasn't enough light to carry on painting. I just had time for a quick reminder to myself of the light at that moment.
You may wonder what the objects on the beach are - they aren't large rocks but huge steel mesh cages of flint rocks - each rock about a foot or so long and hundreds of them in a cages about 5-6 feet long - that are used as sea defences to protect the dunes
This was one of the memories drawn on to do the studio pieces below amongst others, I didn't want to reproduce the sketch but to combine it with other impressions and produce something new:
Nightfall at the Beach, Stormy Day, collagraph, Vivien Blackburn
This was one of a series of collagraphs based on this sketch, each one differently inked.
http://sitekreator.com/vivienb/pntings__artists_prints_digital_images.html oil sketches done plein air, the beach in a variety of weathers and seasons.
more sketches of the coast:
As I've written before, the ideas for the long thin seascapes I do came from the edges I'd cut off when framing these square oil and watercolour sketches done plein air. I stuck them in my sketchbooks because they had the colours of that particular day at that particular time and I liked the sense of time passing that they showed. I don't think that idea would have developed in this way without my sketchbooks. For me they are a really essential part of the way I work and develop ideas.
I can understand how some authors - like Dorothy Dunnett, one of my favourites - say that they enjoy the research phase of writing even more than writing the novel itself. I really like the no-pressure, pure curiosity phase of sketching and working round ideas.Do you use your sketchbooks this way? how do you use them? do you use them at all?