Open Sketchbooks - A Spring selection (Part 1)

Ackerman Watercolour Box. c1830
Spring is here and with the warmer weather it's time to get out sketching! To set our brains buzzing into creative action here's the first of two instalments looking through recent sketchbook pages of SCBWI illustrator members.

Sketchbooks are wonderful things. Pristine blank pages can be  daunting to start working on, but they are also an invitation to explore without rules, without deadlines or pressure to work within a style or format. Because sketchbooks are a relaxed medium they encourage a uniquely natural flow of creative energy. Sketches from life record not only what we see, but also the essence of a moment caught in time. Working drawings for projects record a process of idea evolution; doodles are explorations into the imaginative subconcious. This week's selection includes all of these.

Small sketchbook on a moving train + big bike = a challenge!  This is the first, quick sketch (done with a Pentel brush pen) that I’ve ever done of my beloved old French bike which I’ve ridden for well over half my life.  Most of the time I am ON the bike but two weeks ago on the train back from Cambridge to London, I found myself facing it.  Pity the sketchbook wasn’t bigger! Bridget Marzo

Tiz & Ott and Monster ideas -
Sometimes in an impossible attempt to sort out my old sketchbooks,  I discover something from way back that might set me off on something new. 
Here’s what I picked up today - Tiz and Ott in search of a story (with what looks like a very disgruntled fish) and monsters are in the way.
This spread precedes the very first sketches in the same book for my story Tiz & Ott’s Big Draw which came out in 2015 - so I reckon these date from at least 3 years ago.  (Note to self - date sketches clearly!) Bridget Marzo
 These are all sketches of Namibia. Jane Heinrichs

Jane Heinrichs
 ‘Peter’ - experiments Lorna Murphy
Al Holloway
Initial concept doodles from a current sketchbook
relating to a picture book which I am currently developing. Martina Cassidy

Martina Cassidy
Because I’ve been doing a lot of school visits lately, I’ve been thinking what to include in my talks to the children, and doing lots of deliberately quick drawings as a rehearsal. I always include something about pirates and always do a lot of drawings of piratey things. But I’ve just had a book called Ten Little Monsters published, so this year I was trying to work out various bits and pieces around the theme of monsters — loosely including vampires, werewolves, witches and wizards — without giving the kids the heebie-jeebies. I needn’t have worried. It’s amazing how much even Reception age kids know about the monster myths!  Mike Brownlow

Mike Brownlow

Look out for the second part of this season's sketchbook posts shortly. 

We hope everyone is inspired to get out your sketchbooks and start doodling! To participate in the next selection, email up to two jpeg's of your recent sketchbook images, with your contact details and any caption notes, to John at this email address.


  1. Just caught up with this - love snooping into other people's sketchbooks - thanks and look forward to more!

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