This blog post is an adaptation of my sketchbook reflection from my MA website ‘Sprigs and Brides’, reproduced here for Open Studios 2021. I wanted to show you some of my sketchbook development.

One of my objectives during my MA was to learn how to communicate visually. It was important to me to overcome a fear of drawing, sketchbooks and art language. I wanted to develop a visual language, and find new ways to communicate my ideas. I envisaged that I would be taught how to do those things as part of the course.

A photo of a fashion drawing using collage
Collaged fashion drawings

I even ventured to life drawing class! Thank you Oliver Lovley for living up to your name
The phrase ‘Just have fun with it’ began to haunt me, I felt like my rescue pup Wilf, faced with a range of toys and tennis balls, not having played with a human before. I didn’t know how to ‘play’, let alone have fun and enjoy it. IHaving no idea how to explore ideas on paper, in fabric or on a computer, I even began my own hashtag #sketchbookwoes and dreaded drawing. But I kept trying and attended drawing workshops and life drawing classes, determined to face that fear. I found I enjoyed using ink, it had an intensity of colour that appealed, and I splashed it around with abandon, but without knowing how to take it further

Beginning to ‘get’ sketchbooks

My poor friends listened to me with great patience as I outlined my woes, even loaning or giving me art materials to try with. Thank you Rachel and Gail for your support! Rachel and I went to a sketchbook class taught by the super-talented, patient and understanding artist Helen Hallows. We packed up our materials and papers and turned up at a fantastic eco-venue in Derbyshire. Helen turned the light on for me. She took us through various exercises to loosen up and forget that we were drawing. I tried continuous line drawing with a pen for the first time and that was it. I found had my style, my method and my medium.

Building sketchbook confidence

By the time we got to 2020 I’d become comfortable enough to begin a new sketchbook/reflective. This video shows some of the pages from it. It was a mix of printed off photos, stitch samples, hand written text and FINALLY some sketching and drawings. I’ve developed a continuous writing style, and on my MA website you’ll see how I’ve pushed that further into picots (edges loops) and brides (joins between motifs).

This gallery shows some of the pages, with samples photographed or scanned as flatlays. I tried to use some overlays and textiles with the pages. I love tracing paper overlays and used this a lot for planning layers in the design. Finally, you can check out the sketches I was making a month or so ago, using more recent lace samples and email headings as inspiration.

Just don’t tell me to have fun with it!

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