I love using the collections feature on Instagram. It’s how I find (and remember) so much great work, from embroidery to illustration to ceramics. (I totally recommend it.) One of my favorite collections is simply titled Sketchbooks, and the name says it all—it includes sketchbook pages that I admire. After hoarding many favorites, I thought sharing them would be nice way to start the weekend and inspire us to go doodle or paint in our own books.
While many students are back in the classroom, you don’t have to feel left out if you aren’t one of them. Through the online learning site Skillshare, you can educate yourself all year long—even during summer and winter breaks! Best of all, you don’t have to leave your home to do so; they offer over 17,000 art, design, and photo classes that you can take anywhere at anytime on any device. Earlier this year, I tried Leah Goren’s Illustration & Inspiration: Keeping a Sketchbook and had a ton of fun painting and gaining new inspiration for sketching. Recently, I’ve enrolled in another class to help build on my sketchbook skills. Ohn Mar Win’s Sketchbook Practice: Make Everyday Objects Pop With Watercolour and Pen implored me to try something I’ve never done before: use white ink. Curious? You too can try this class with 2 free months of Skillshare Premium.
Having a good journal is like having a trusty companion. I have so many small art journals and keep every one of them; I can’t bear to part with my scribbled (and often indecipherable) notes or doodles. Artist Lily Moon creates blank hand-bound notebooks that are perfect for your writing, drawing, or collages. The different themes—such as The Blue Journal, Wild Ideas Pocket Book, and Runaway Thoughts—each have their covers adorned with a different detailed illustration. In addition to their pretty painted covers, Lily includes stickers that will help get your creative juices flowing.
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)