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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > November 2019 > The power of the sketchbook

The power of the sketchbook

Robert E Wells reveals how his sketchbooks are used as a creative tool for studio paintings


Sketchbooks: A5 to A2, supplied by a variety of manufacturers, usually primed with PVA glue and prepared with oil washes and textured layers

Brushes: short flag hog-hair, sizes 6 to 10; sable rounds, sizes 6 to 8

Oil colours: burnt umber, chrome yellow, cobalt blue, French ultramarine, Naples yellow, olive green, spectrum red, titanium white, ultramarine violet, viridian green and yellow ochre

The sketchbook has many different uses and is quite unique to every artist. To some it is a means of keeping everyday records of their experiences, to others it is a way to create openended diverse possibilities for exploration. It can provide a fine platform in which to analyse subject matter, composition, narrative, tonal range and the expression of atmosphere. It can surprise and delight, providing outcomes that often surpass more carefully considered works and offer freshness and energy that is hard to reproduce at will. The content in such journals may also lead to insights into the personality of the artist which are not always apparent in finished works, providing a glimpse into a private and sometimes carefully guarded world.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our November issue. This month Hermen Pekel shares his strategies for creating depth and Lucy Willis explains how to achieve perspective, both working in watercolour, while Aine Divine demonstrates how she painted a watercolour portrait of our editor. James Hobbs urges you to share your sketchbook on social media this month using the #inktober tag and Robert E Wells explains how he uses his sketchbooks as a creative tool. Kathy Barker begins a new series on portraiture with a look at eyes, Paul Brown reveals how you can learn from your mistakes, Paul Riley demonstrates how to paint mountains in acrylic and Becky Thorley-Fox sketches and paints wildlife from life, in oil. And of course our regular contributors Geoff Hunt, Jenny Aitken, Paul Talbot-Greaves, Charles Williams and Soraya French share their knowledge of painting. There’s plenty to inspire you in your November copy of The Artist!