5.0 Taking stock

The purpose of this exercise was to stand back and review the course today in order to identify positives areas to build on and areas of improvement.

Key words from the brief:

  • Think about which aspects of the course you would like to return to
  • What you have practiced and learned throughout the course.
  • Read back over your reflective statements
  • Focus on the most positive aspects
  • Go through your tutor reports

Taking stock

Materials and processes I feel connected with


  • Dip pen and Indian Ink
  • Dip pen and liquid watercolour
  • Liquid watercolour brush pens
  • Ink pen
  • Liquid watercolour
  • Sharpies
  • Posta Pens
  • Charcoal
  • Conte Crayon
  • Poster paint


  • Print roller to apply paint
  • Starting analogue and finishing digital
  • Using Photoshop colour overlays across tonal drawings
  • Spot black
  • Fast drawing
  • Using descriptive words and phrases to enhance observational drawing
  • Reportage/observational drawing
  • Narrative arc/story structure
  • Life drawing
  • Woodcut relief printing
  • Monoprint
  • Etching
  • Masking
  • Blind contour drawing
  • Reuse of existing artwork

Assessment of exercises and processes

I scored the exercises and assignments based on how much I enjoyed doing each.

Exercise Score

  • 1 = Bad
  • 10 = Good
1.0 What sort of sketchbook should I use 2
1.1 What is your relationship to your sketchbook 2
1.2 Making mistakes – working fast and cutting up 8
1.3 How personal do you want your sketchbook to be 1
Assignment 1 – Recording & sharing your work 9
2.0 Rapid sketches 6
2.1 Limited line drawings 3
2.2 Investigating a process 8
2.3 Blind contour drawing 8
2.4 Drawing with tea bags 7
2.5 Drawing with objects 5
2.6 Pareidolia 4
Assignment 2 – Happy accidents 5
3.0 Observation 9
3.1 Understanding viewpoints 2
3.2 Working with external impetus 8
3.3 Illustrative drawings 8
3.4 Interpretation & communication 8
3.5 Free association 6
Assignment 3 – Illustrative people & places 9
4.0 Fill it up fast! 10
4.1 Description & depiction 8
4.2 Storyboarding 4
4.3 Conversations with pictures 4
4.4 Using basic narrative structure 7
Assignment 4 0 Building stories 9

Key words

Put ticks next to the words you most empathise with in this list:

Informative Descriptive
X Narrative X Fast
Slow Inside
Exterior Figure
Abstract X Sequential
X Objective Format
X Reportage Imaginative
Structure X Meaning
Message X Places
X People Ideas
X Expressive Representational

Tutor report review

The following words and phrases from my first three tutor reports sum up the goals, objectives and approaches I should now focus on:

  • The importance of testing
  • Blind contour drawing as a way to develop new characters
  • Using different implements or materials to visualise different old and modern surfaces or textures (brick, steel, etc)
  • Rapid and slower drawing in combination to create a sense of temporality (time passing) in spaces, buildings and objects (buses, tubes)
  • Bringing lots of smaller sketches into larger, more finished pieces in the studio (like John Virtue’s approach).
  • Architectural line
  • Your doodles are great …. It would be great to see more of this style alongside your more observational work.
  • It would have been good to see maybe another layer of background detail


Have your opinions and thoughts changed about how you keep a sketchbook?

It is interesting to go back to exercise 1.0 What sort of sketchbook should I use to look at my observations about how I’d used sketchbooks up to that point.

Some of the observations remain broadly true. After reviewing a whole range of sketchbook work from Key Steps in Illustration and Printmaking 1, I observed that some subjects and use of materials have broadly remained the same.

The area that has completely changed is how I use sketchbooks and how this primary research is developed and evolved/feeds into final finished artwork. This was almost completely absent at the start of the course.

I would say my thoughts about how and why I use sketchbooks and what part they play in my artistic practice has changed radically.

Which comments do you now most empathise with and why?

 I reviewed the quotes from 1.1 What is your relationship with your sketchbook and selected the following as the ones I most empathise with.

  • The sketchbook as a place for experimenting, to show process and ideas A place to experiment and not to feel restricted.
  • It helps me think.
  • I use my sketchbook as a regular (it should be daily) tool for thoughts and experiments. I keep it to help remember the ideas and have access to them later.
  • They’re working notebooks, so the relationship is fairly matter of fact. I like to keep them, but I try not to fetishise them as objects. I’m not precious about them.

These statements from other artists reflect most closely how I now feel about my sketchbooks.

My sketchbooks are something I carry around with me everywhere as a constant work in progress and place to capture, process and experiment with ideas or simply to enjoy drawing and making pictures. The act of drawing helps me process my thoughts and shape ideas into final artwork.

What have been the most surprising changes to your thoughts about sketchbooks?

The thing I’ve noticed the most is my confidence in using a sketchbook in public. Somehow I’ve gone from being timid and embarrassed and completely restricted in how, when and where I’d sketch to being comfortable and happy to work in crowds, on trains, in audiences and on marches.

I now understand and see the value and differences in slow and rapid drawing and am excited by the possibility of combining the two, drawing on the work of Veronica Lawlor.

The most surprising change has been to see sketchbook development as a core part of my practice, not just a place to work up pre-existing ideas.

Another surprise is the amount of sketching I now do. This has become a daily practice and pleasure.

Which of the exercises and assignments would you like to do more of or return to?

More of:

  • Blind contour drawings
  • Fill it up fast!
  • Building stories
  • Illustrative people & places
  • Observation

Return to:

  • Investigating a process



%d bloggers like this: