Monday, 28 September 2015

Needful Things

Now, you all know how much I love a good sketchbook. Over the years I have collected published sketchbooks and have a fine collection of, 'stuffed to the max' books of all descriptions full of meanderings, sketches, old bus tickets, you name it and I'll stick it in. In truth, a book of ephemera. And if I think it's beautiful, it goes in a book. (See the end of this post for an exclusive new idea starting in 2016)

According to the dictionary:

  1. things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.
    "there were papers, letters, old boxes—all sorts of ephemera"
    • collectable items that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.
      "Mickey Mouse ephemera"

One of my great design heroes William Morris had the right idea:

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

William Morris

Thinking about it, It all started when I was at art college where a couple of tutors who were obsessed with collections of stuff really got us all thinking about how and why we surround ourselves, and seem to have a need for things. If we look about at what our most precious possessions are, they tend not to be highly valuable, but sentimental objects that have little monetary value, but we would be bereft without them.

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,

 but their inward significance.


As an artist, you would think that my most favourite objects would be art related, a paintbox or a vintage jar, something like that. But actually one of my all time precious objects is a pebble picked up from a loch side in Scotland. It's nothing special, just a smallish, rounded granite pebble that 'Husband' thought I might like, so went wading in to get it. See, I'm easily pleased.

Song lyrics with an autumn flavour dance among the dahlia buds

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa

Ah, I digress. Let's get back to those sketchbooks. A sketchbook in my hands is never a serious academic masterwork. No, it has to be seriously silly in places, and not take itself too seriously containing little snippets here and there of recipes, quotes, poetry, colour notes, observations, pressed flowers, drawings and stuff like that. What I really love is to look back at one of my old sketchbooks and be totally surprised by what I actually decided to put in it. For the sketchbook exchange I painted a small orange tent for one entry. And why not!

Some of my favourite sketchbook pages from a year of the sketchbook exchange and my own books.

That orange tent
Seeds, periwinkles and the March winds blew across these pages.
Perhaps I was reminded of my parents in their youth, camping in Scotland at Easter
 when the snow was falling and the winds were still sharp

Tree trunk against a snowy river bank

Thumbnails help when working out compositions

Clucky and friend

I love a good window

It's honeysuckle time, so it must be Shakespeare

Clucky returns
and leaf rubbing is fun
A more traditional botanical sketchbook page
Pink, and a slightly romantic sticker of a dicentra reflect the month of love 

And back to the added extras
An open window, a sky study
and adding salt to wet washes to create texture
Plus a cosmos sketch

Typography plays an important part on many of my pages 

The colour of the type, matches the season
Chilly grey January days pepped up by bright res rose hips


And now for an exclusive: Inspired by my lovely friends on the Nature Trail 

Starting in January 2016, (yes, it's not that far away now) I am planning a new series of monthly sketchbook classes at Squirrel HQ. Each month we can plan ideas for what to include and how to compose a really beautiful page to sum up the feeling of the month. Whatever you fancy, yes even a bright orange tent can be added and I will be on hand to demonstrate painting techniques, give some tips on composition and of course provide the tea and cakes. January class planned for Wed 13th or Thurs 14th. So if you fancy a jolly day in Hampshire, get in touch.

And what if you can't make it to Hampshire, or are one of my lovely readers from overseas? Well, look out on the new membership tuition website when it launches later this year as there will be an exclusive monthly sketchbook section to help you create a beautiful reflection of your year. Let me know what you think.  

When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. 
And when you have fun, you can do amazing things.


rose-maria said...

Thank you

Claire said...

Nice to see your sb pages again, good luck with the course ,its a great idea.Ephemera is a beautiful word. :) hugs from Claire xxxxxx

Sketchbook Squirrel said...

You're welcome Rose-maria. :)

Yes, it was lovely to revisit the pages again Claire, can't wait to get the new ones up and running. Oh it's one of my favourite words too. It sums up those wonderful collections of beautiful things. Hugs to you too Jxx