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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > January 19 > New directions

New directions

Use your sketchbooks creatively to work out ideas, experiment, make notes, limber up and be bold, says James Hobbs
Swasky Three Heads, fountain pen and brush pen, 4x113⁄4in (10•30cm).

‘This double page was an exercise that I recommend as an ice-breaker. On the left I took my watercolour palette and tested my yellows and then I finished with the rest of my colours. On the right is an exercise for creating a pattern with watercolour.’

While we all know it can be a great idea to keep a sketchbook, there is, of course, no right or wrong way to use them. They can be whatever you want them to be to suit the way you work. They may embrace colour, or be relentlessly monochrome. Their pages may reveal images straight out of the imagination, or show scenes drawn from observation that are rooted to a time and specific place. But to view some work online it is easy to assume that the aim is to make sketchbooks filled from front to back with immaculate, perfect, social mediaready images.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the first issue of 2019 to inspire and inform your artistic development, including all the information you will need to plan your entries to the best open competitions throughout the year in our extensive 5-page guide. We also see the start of two new series, by Ruth Buchanan on how to draw and paint animals with confidence, and Mark David Hatwood on all aspects of marketing and how to make money from your artwork. There are practical articles and demonstrations showing you how to adapt your painting techniques for coloured pencil work, with amazing results, how to paint a self-portrait as well as a stunning faded rose, both in watercolour, and how to make your watercolours more dynamic by using watercolour grounds. Our top artist contributors also share their expertise on best practice for working on the spot, how to plan a complex composition, paint your first realist still life in acrylic, use your sketchbooks to work out your ideas, how to paint successfully from your photos and which colours to mix in oils to achieve a sense of space in your landscapes. With all this and much more, there's plenty to keep you drawing and painting over the festive period. Enjoy!