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Peony and Parakeet

Why Keep a Sketchbook?

Sketchbook pages by Peony and Parakeet

This is a photo collage of the art journal pages that I have made. My art journals are also my sketchbooks: some of their pages document new ideas instead of expressing my current thoughts and feelings. When I draw sketches, I often pick a subject that I want to explore more closely. This time, I wanted to examine landscape paintings and mid-century modern ceramics.

A sketchbook page spread by Peony and Parakeet

My sketchbook pages also contain text. If I find an inspiring article or book, I write down the most useful quotes. This time, I found an interesting article about landscape paintings in the latest “Taide” magazine. It is a Finnish art magazine that I regularly read when visiting a local library.

Carrying Sketchbook and Pencils

I always take my art journal with me, when going to the library. Usually, I pick a Moleskine Sketchbook, thin-tipped drawing pens and some colored pencils. Cretacolor Aqua Monolith pencils are excellent for traveling (see this post for more information).

Cretacolor Aqua Monolith colored pencils

Drawing Sketches from Paintings

I also found a book about a Swedish painter Peter Frie who specializes in simplified landscape paintings. Some of his paintings are constructed so that the landscape only fills a part of the canvas. I found this concept really interesting and applicable for art journal pages too.

A sketchbook page spread by Peony and Parakeet

When I draw sketches, I don’t copy the paintings accurately. I focus on the construction and the details that I find especially interesting. I also add explanations to them so that I can remember later why I included those bright spots or other details to the sketch.

A sketchbook page spread by Peony and Parakeet

Now you may ask: why wouldn’t I just take a photo or be even more practical, browse Pinterest and pin images? It’s what many do, and it’s much quicker than create hand-drawn and hand-colored sketches. I believe that when you draw, you will get deeper on the subject. You have to:
… decide what’s most important, and what can be left out
… find out the main structural elements and their relations
… recreate the image in your personal drawing style
And while doing all that you will learn new shapes, ways, and structures so that you can later use them more freely in your artwork.

A sketchbook page spread by Peony and Parakeet

Random Page Order Increases Inspiration

I create pages in random order to my art journals, and I just love how new pages go with the old ones. The drawing on the left is a new one, and an older page on the right looks like another version of the same location!

An art journal page spread by Peony and Parakeet

It is also interesting to create spreads that deal with two very different subjects: the page on the right is about landscapes and the page on the left shows sketches about motifs from mid-century modern ceramics.

A sketchbook page spread by Peony and Parakeet

I found the idea of dividing the page fascinating, so I created a new one with watercolors, adding ideas from the ceramics in their sections.

An art journal page by Peony and Parakeet

Then I created a couple of pages that combine the ideas from landscapes and ceramics.

A sketchbook page spread by Peony and Parakeet

When you see inspiring things but find it difficult to remember them later when creating, it is helpful to keep a sketchbook! To fully process inspiration, we need to use both our heads and hands!

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24 thoughts on “Why Keep a Sketchbook?

  1. A good argument you made for drawing rather than taking a photo…for then you can recreate the image in your own drawing style…not a photocopy!! Thanks Pavi!

  2. I am amazed that I had not thought to take along a sketchbook to the library! I’m going to do it and want to try the Cretacolor pencils, as well.Yet one more great idea from you, Paivi. Thank you for passing it along. All the best to you in Finland all the way from California.

    1. Thanks, Sandy! Cretacolor pencils don’t break easily and they are pretty easy to use even when they are not sharp anymore. That makes them great pencils for traveling. Have a great time at the library!

  3. More of your wonderful work — after taking your class I’ve been in spired to try and take just a piece from a painting – a great idea to do it at the local library! My library is small but they do have some art books.

    1. Thanks, Gloria! Great to hear that you have been inspired by paintings! Other than art books I also browse books about nature, culture and such at the library. Magazines are great inspiration source too.

  4. Inspiring as usual for both, what your write and what you show as from your paintings! Love the way your are using your journal for notes (both pictures and text). I just learned to use mine more and more to quickly sketch or write down ideas. Like the idea to do a library session with sketchbook

  5. Your spread with the landscapes on the right and ceramic motifs on the left has the most beautiful landscape at the bottom. I just love to see things that are not the correct color – I guess it lets my imagination play more. I can look at it and immediately 3 or 4 scenes come to mind to explain the colors and my brain actively works at viewing this sketch. It is just beautiful.

    1. Mary, thanks! Yes, I love to play with colors too but sometimes when I am sketching, I pruposefully make the grass green and the sky blue so that I can understand the construction of the image. Have fun creating your imaginary scenes!

  6. You inspire me! Hopefully, you will send out a notice when you have another available class.

    1. Lorraine, thanks! The subscriber’s on my email list are always the first ones to get the information on new classes!

  7. I am a new subscriber to your newsletter and I want to thank you for the beautiful work you do. Your work is so different from the art I am used to seeing on YouTube. You have inspired me in so many different media…thank you Paivi!

  8. Paivi,
    Beautiful and stunning sketches.I love the idea of pencil and water mix,I have a little one I started a few years ago,Thank you for the inspiration to get back to it!
    Very happy to of found your beautiful blog

  9. Very inspiring pages and I love that you combine old sketches with new ones! I’ve just signed up for your newsletter and look forward to seeing what’s new with you. 🙂

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