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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Sketching on the go

James Willis encourages you to make the most of your sketchbooks – the results do not have to be great pieces of art and will provide plenty of information for your finished paintings, alongside your photographs
Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, 0.1 graphite pen in sketchbook, 91⁄4x13in (24x33cm)

I love drawing. I always have. The actual process, both physical and mental, is a kind of meditation for me, and a way to communicate my ideas and experiences to myself. A sketchbook is my version of a written diary. Not everything in it is a great drawing, nor will every page be the inspiration for a new painting, but that does not matter. The drawings, whether finished, interrupted or incomplete, are part of my life as an artist and build my confidence, observation skills and experience to help me develop my work in the future.

Sketchbook choices

Sketchbooks and pens are as an essential part of my travelling equipment as my camera or phone.

And, to be honest, I remember more of my adventures when I return if I have sketched them. Of course I do take photographs and use them in my work alongside my drawings. But the difference is that I rely more on the sketchbooks than my camera as my records of the atmosphere of time and place speak more clearly through a short, intense study than an instant image. I suppose this is because drawing, even for a few minutes, engages me in a fuller way than the brief touch of a button. I find starting the hardest thing. I think the fear of the blank page has something to do with it, especially when I have just opened a new book.

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About The Artist

Welcome to the June issue of The Artist. As we look forward to the UK summer Martin Taylor demonstrates how to paint a seasonal bluebell wood, whilst cover artist, Haidee-Jo Summers, invites us to join her in painting our gardens and focus on capturing light and colour. Learn how to control your watercolour brushwork with Hazel Soan, try sketching on the go with James Willis, bring your waves to life in your coastal scenes with Jenny Aitken, and know when and how to varnish your oil paintings with guidance from Graham Webber. Our top artist-contributors also offer advice, step-by-step demonstrations and inspirational practical features on working from different source material, painting characterful faces, how to select a core palette of colours for landscape painting, the benefits of working with water-mixable oils, the value of a positive wish list, and much more. Enter our various competitions with fantastic prizes up for grabs and understand how to use regular e-newsletters to promote your work with some great tips from our regular gallerist Mark David Hatwood. Enjoy developing your skills in all media with The Artist this month!