1.1 Artists’ sketchbooks

Key words from the brief:

  • Browse through the recommendations,
  • Generate your own visual and written research into artists’ sketchbooks
  • Present this research work in your learning log
  • How you present it is up to you.
  • Think more about your response to their work and how it resonates with you

The six artists I selected were:

  1. David Hockney
  2. Grayson Perry
  3. Henry Moore
  4. Vincent Van Gogh
  5. Louise Bourgeois
  6. Ronald Searle

Note that this page is work in progress and additonal research will be added as the course progresses.

David Hockney

The selection below is mostly from a sketchbook titled London 2002.

Digitised versions of David Hockney’s sketchbooks can be found here.

For some reason these sketchbooks really resonate with me.

I like the quality and restrained use of line.

What can you learn from its content?

The content is ‘everyday’; interiors of ‘ordinary’ rooms, the back of a taxi, a chair, cans of solvent and paint tubes, people walking on the pavement. They look like a very practical everyday sketchbooks carried everywhere.

The sketchbooks are almost totally visual and there is very little text, and when text is used it’s as a headline rather than adding addtional information about the content.

What media it is being rendered in?

Looks like coloured pen of some kind and some use of watercolour.

How does the artist ‘draw’?

Sparce/minimal use of line, with limited use of tone and colour. I find the use of a brown pen as the primary colour with use of black lowlights is quite distintive and has a nice quality.

Does the artist include ‘mistakes’ in their sketchbook?

Seems to. The images are very honest and are-what-they-are. Some pages of the sketchbook only have the start of a picture which is then abandoned for some reason.

Do they hide any of the content?

Not possible to tell.

My visual response

I thought it would be a valuable lesson to try and draw an image in the style of my selected artists. I hoped this would give me some insight into the opportunities or limitations of working in a particular way.

Drawing in style of David Hockney
Drawing of my kitchen in the style of David Hockney – A3 sized sketchbook

Grayson Perry

There’s a brief but intersting article in the Guardian online where Garyson Perry describes his drawing process.

What can you learn from its content?

I like Grayson Perry’s sketchbooks because they map his creative processes and contain lots of playing, experimenting and ideas development. They are quite irreverant and very practical, with handwritten reminders and prompts written alongside images, giving furher insight.

What media it is being rendered in?

A whole mixture. Pen, paint, pencil, collage on different papers and formats. I particularly like the use of marker pens that give an over satuarated garish colour palette.

How does the artist ‘draw’?

He describes the process himself in the Guardian Online article:For me, drawing manifests itself in two distinct ways: in the urgency of a doodle, or the obsessive labour of intricate detail.”

Does the artist include ‘mistakes’ in their sketchbook?

Yes. The pages are full of juxtaposition and trying out things.

Do they hide any of the content?

Not possible to tell.

My visual response

Drawing in the style of Grayson Perry
Drawing in the style of Grayson Perry – A3 sized skechbook

Henry Moore

Until this exercise I’d never looked at Henry Moore’s drawings although I’ve seen many of his distintive sculptures. So the subtltey, beauty and meticulous obsevation of the Sheep Sketchbooks which seem diametrically opposed to his sculptures blew me away.

What can you learn from its content?

Henry Moore’s studio overlooked a sheep field, so the subject must have been immediate and accessible. Having grown up in a house that overlooked a field of sheep I recognise how careful and closely these sketches are observed.

The suprising thing is that the sketchbook(s) are about a single subject, sheep. Different breeds, different locations, different postures, yews, rams, lambs, single or in groups.

What media it is being rendered in?

Ink pen.

How does the artist ‘draw’?

The mark making is incredible and varied. The most stricking thing is that there is no use of outline and he soley uses mark-making to form tones and shapes.

Does the artist include ‘mistakes’ in their sketchbook?

Not intentionally. These are not experiments, they are closely observed studies.

Do they hide any of the content?

Probably not.

My visual response

Drawing in the style of Henry Moore
Drawing in the style of Henry Moore – A3 sized sketchbook

Vincent Van Gogh

Louise Bourgeois

Ronald Searle