Sketchbook Memories

Recently I’ve been chatting with fellow art blogger, Yovy, from Teaching Myself to Draw: The Atelier Method. I was reminiscing about my earliest attempts at drawing. Today, I dug out my old sketchbooks again and spent a wonderful morning going through the pages, smiling at a few childish scribbles, cringing at others. For me, learning the basics of drawing was a challenge, but it was worth it. I’m seeking now to improve upon my skills as I study anatomical drawing, figure drawing, and portrait drawing. It doesn’t come naturally to me, but I know, these studies, too, will be worthwhile.

It was with great pleasure that I turned the pages in my very first sketchbook, and I want to say again how very important it is that we have our sketchbooks, that we keep them, and that we look through them now and then.

I remember how hesitant I was to buy my first sketchbook. I had no idea what I would do with it — other than make a lot of drawing mistakes — but I soon learned how valuable those mistakes were. My sketchbooks are a visual record of my journey, showing me not only the bumps in the road, but the progress I’ve made in the last eighteen months.

For the first 6-9 months of my drawing experience, I worked almost entirely in black and white. I began with graphite then learned charcoal, as well. The first sketchbook is all in graphite…with only a few exceptions. Now and then, when I was particularly pleased with a drawing, I would take out those beautiful Prismacolor Premier colored pencils, and despite not knowing how to really use them properly, I would “colorize” one of my drawings, such as this drawing of leaves:


If you look closely, you can see through the pages to a few of my other pencil scribbles, including one of my very first attempts at drawing a dog. It wasn’t pretty. Oh, but I loved these leaves.

Every artist — and every aspiring artist — should have a sketchbook. Although it might seem like an insignificant little thing, it’s one of the most important tools in our art arsenal. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I cherish my sketchbooks.


  1. My biggest “failure” as an artist is to not make time for sketching, so I made it one of my New Year’s Resolutions. So far, I’ve managed to doodle something each day…which is farther than I usually get with my resolutions.

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    1. Wonderful idea! When I started painting in November, I was so excited with oil that I didn’t do any sketching for weeks. I’m getting back to it now, and I know it will make me a better artist.

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      1. Yes, right now I’m thinking of taking up finger painting just so I can play with colors and not even think about what I’m doing. It hasn’t been a good day for painting 😦

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  2. Thank you so much for the mention, Judith. It seems you always had a good relationship with color. I find it very intimidating. It’s hard to see it for me, especially in the shadows. Thank you for sharing something as intimate as you sketchbook with us. I’ll take your advice and start keeping one myself.

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    1. Glad to mention your blog! I’m glad, too, that you’re going to keep a sketchbook. I have several. I have one “all-purpose” sketchbook — it’s small — and then I have a larger one just for my anatomy and figure drawing studies. I also have one I started just for drawing birds, although I haven’t used it for months. I also have a gray-toned sketchbook to use with charcoal. It’s always fun to look through the pages. It brings back so many memories.

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    1. I’m glad to hear this. I think it’s important for all artists to understand the basic fundamentals of drawing. So many people think it’s not possible to “learn” to draw — but it is. I’m living proof of that πŸ™‚

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  3. But just one sketchbook?? I have three in current use, in case I want a little one in my purse or a big one by the river… I am happy to find you.

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    1. When I first began drawing I only had one sketchbook. I now have several. One is only for figure drawing, another is for charcoal, one is for birds, another is for doodling. When I bought my first sketchbook, I didn’t feel I knew enough about art to even own one. Now, I love my sketchbooks and carry one with me wherever I go.

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