Graham Matthews

7 Tips for Using an Artist Sketchbook

For me, a sketchbook is a journal of all my daily activities. I always have it nearby so that I can sketch or jot down any ideas that come to mind. I usually carry a small one with me wherever I go, just in case an original idea may come to mind. I often expand on those in my studio.

Some of my greatest inspirations come to me at the most unpredictable of times, and its always best to have a sketchbook handy - in case I might forget it later.

Using Your Sketchbook

Sketch to Make You Better at Drawing

If you are unskilled at drawing, use it to better your drawing skills. Sketch everything around you, indoors and outdoors. But if you really want to improve your sketching skills then you might want to consider taking an mfa degree .

Sketching as Much as You Can

Try to do at least one sketch a day, maybe more, whatever it may be. Many artists like to have a separate sketchbook for this.

Write in a Sketchbook too!

A sketch-book is not just for drawing. If you come up with something that cannot be interpreted with a sketch, write about it. Feel free to jot notes alongside drawings. Remember, this is your sketching book. This does not have to be seen by anyone if you don’t want to. You can even treat it like a journal or diary if that is your desire. Many artists even write poetry in their sketchbooks.

Use Bigger Sketchpads

The larger the sketch book the better. Artists can freely express themselves on a larger sized page. Have smaller sketchbooks for travel.

Take Your Sketchbook with You!

Keep it with you as much as you can. If you are going hiking, have it in your backpack. Have it with you on long car trips, but only if you are the passenger of course – don’t sketch and drive! :)  I suggest getting a small notepad sized one that can fit in a pocket or purse – something that is not bulky.

Recycle Older Ideas

Go back over your older sketchbooks occasionally. You will be surprised about how much you will be newly inspired. A sketch you did years ago just might be more relevant to you now, hence you can expand on it in a larger drawing, painting, or sculpture.

More sketchbook tips

  • Put your name and date on the cover. Be sure to date each individual drawing too.
  • Always carry a pencil or fine pointed marker with you too.
  • Draw in your sketchpad from front to back, never do random pages.
  • Try not to erase anything. A sketch is not meant to be a masterpiece.

Repulsion Graphite Drawing
Graphite Pencil on Paper
By Graham Matthews

Hopefully, I have inspired some of you to use your sketchbooks more often. I think they are the most valuable tool an artist can have.

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