I use sketchbooks as a starting point for nearly all my work. Drawing nourishes my ideas and practice. Looking at the sketchbooks of other artists can provide a way in to understanding their work, drawing is often transformative, allowing us to look and see afresh. This post combines images of my sketches, with those of others which inspire me and a couple of inspiring quotes about what drawing means.
I have sessions of drawing and consider it important to make studies to develop one’s awareness to inner perception, collecting shapes that become my shapes. I attempt to seek out sculptural, architectural and linear qualities…always to study the function of forms and formations, drawing with simplicity. I get at the real essence of things which can be as miraculous as anything devised by the imagination Wilhelmina Barns Graham
The above quote sums up beautifully how drawing is, and should be, an entirely personal means of expression. I like the idea of collecting ‘my shapes’ through drawing, here are some of Hokusai’s ‘shapes’:
The following sketchbook image is by British landscape painter John Constable, it is an unusual image for Constable with its air of mystery and underlying narrative.
If you haven’t spent time looking at Monet’s sketch books I would recommend it – many of his quick sketches describe complex space and form with energy and economy.
This image, by British painter Mary Newcomb, is one I return to again and again. It is so simple and yet so deeply felt.
Barbara Rae, sketchbook page
This sketch of the sea by Mondrian has an amazing quality to it which pre-empts his later grid paintings.
I have a facsimile of one of Samuel Palmer’s sketchbooks which contains this bizarre image of a donkey which I love!
This is a quote by John Berger from his essay on drawing which can be read in full here.
FOR THE ARTIST DRAWING IS DISCOVERY. And that is not just a slick phrase, it is quite literally true. It is the actual art of drawing that forces the artist to look at the object in front of him, to dissect it in his mind’s eye and put it together again; or, if he is drawing from memory, that forces him to dredge his own mind, to discover the content of his own store of past observations. It is a platitude in the teaching of drawing that the heart of the matter lies in the specific process of looking. A line, an area of tone, is not really important because it records what you have seen, but because of what it will lead you on to see. Following up its logic in order to check its accuracy, you find confirmation or denial in the object itself or in your memory of it. Each confirmation or denial brings you closer to the object, until finally you are, as it were, inside it: the contours you have drawn no longer marking the edge of what you have seen, but the edge of what you have become. Perhaps that sounds needlessly metaphysical. Another way of putting it would be to say that each mark you make on the paper is a stepping-stone from which you proceed to the next, until you have crossed your subject as though it were a river, have put it behind you. John Berger
And a few of my recent sketchbook pages to end: