Illustrator Clover Robin is no stranger to Brown Paper Bag. I was first wowed by her last year when I found that she chronicled her travels using collage—while on the road! Since then, I’ve been following her work as she fills her sketchbook pages with more cut paper goodness. Clover writes that she “delights in nature and all things botanical,” and is “inspired by a childhood of woodland walks and countryside rambles.” As such, her illustrations often feature quaint homes and beautiful blooms that utilize a bevy of color and texture. Although they’re abstract, Clover arranges the brush strokes, splatters, and colors to build form. The result is both structured with a sense of spontaneity and freedom—sort of like being outdoors.
Yesterday, I wrote about the ambitious #100dayproject of Cheryl Teo—she’s in the midst of building vibrant cut paper scenes on matchbook-sized stages. Illustrator Lee May Foster-Wilson, aka Bonbi Forest, is also completing this hundred day endeavor. She’s going the 2D route, however, and designed a project around celebrity animal puns. Justin Beaver, Spaniel L. Jackson, and Llama Del Rey are just a few of the “punny” creatures that she’s drawn.
Last week, I shared 12 illustrators inspiring illustrators to follow on Instagram. But that’s not all of who I follow; I use my feed to track awe-inspiring sketchbooks, too. From collage to painting, these artists are using their playtime to hone their craft by trying new techniques and imagery.
Have you ever shut down your computer or closed your laptop case and breathed a sigh of relief? I relish the feeling of disconnecting from the online world like that. But then, there’s the feeling of “What should I do now?” It’s easy to get wrapped up in Wikipedia articles online, but offline? Not so much. Well, I’ve got a suggestion for you: pick up a copy of Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking. Written by Emily Neuburger, it’s a “launching pad” that offers 60 journal prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
For those who exercise, you (probably) go through a warm up before you start on your workout. This activity transcends physical activity, however, and extends to mental ones as well. A sketchbook is the perfect place to get ~ready~ to illustrate and try out new techniques. Julie Hamilton does just this with her collage sketchbook. Under the hashtag #sketchbook_studies, she cuts out paper of different colors and shapes, arranging them into various combinations that range from figurative to abstract. In each collage, Julie’s trusty pair of scissors is her paintbrush—just like Matisse—which gives her images a bold, angular appearance.
The sketchbook is a powerful place. It’s a place where artists and illustrators can play—try out new techniques, subject matter, or even jot down the occasional note. Many people prefer to keep these books private, and I don’t blame them. They can be incredibly personal spaces. So, I’m always delighted by those who choose to let us in on their sketchbook—it’s like seeing how someone’s mind works.
There are some who, with little effort, are able to make every page of their sketchbook look like a finished work of art. These books, in turn, are not just places to jot down lists or make a silly doodle. Rather, they’re intimate galleries that travel with them as they move throughout the world.
Here are 5 different illustrators who take the sketchbook to a whole new level.
Last week, we took a peek into the shape-shifting sketchbook of Eva Magill-Oliver. Artist Bryce Wymer, aka A Flat Earth, is another creative who for him, a sketchbook is a portable gallery to showcase his beautiful and mysterious paintings. And if that’s not enough, Bryce has created a series of short time-lapse videos that demonstrate his process.
The videos are a combination of show-and-tell and painting in progress. Bryce will often start out by flipping through some completed (or nearly completed) spreads, and then he’ll complete an illustration right before our eyes.
Check out some of Bryce’s videos, as well as his static spreads. (h/t Less Talk More Illustration)
I’m a huge fan of sketchbooks… probably because my attempts to keep them always come up short. So, it’s no wonder that I’ve been fawning over Eva Magill-Oliver’s books the past few days. They’re a combination of beautiful colors, bold shapes, and playful design. Unlike my pencil scribbles and sloppy note-taking, she uses each spread as an opportunity to make organic works of art. Eva will cut into pages, arrange pieces on top, and go outside of the book by attaching other bits of paper. In this way, the confines of the spreads are merely a suggestion—one that she’s happy to disregard.
In her artist statement, Eva writes that nature drives her color and imagery. “The natural world is an infinite resource for documenting and exploring shapes, patterns, and textures,” she says. “It also invites personal reflection and meditation.” Just like a sketchbook.
Follow Eva on Instagram to see what she’s working on now.