OPEN SKETCHBOOKS Spring 2018 Part 2

A second Springtime peek into the wonderful world of illustrator sketchbooks submitted by SCBWI members, curated and compiled by Illustration Features editor John Shelley.

Ink, marker-pen, acrylic, pencil, watercolour, pastel - this selection shows illustrators using all kinds of media to explore the boundaries of sketchbook pages, sometimes using techniques that may not be seen in portfolio or published work. It's one of the great things about the freedom of sketchbooks - they allow us to push the boundaries, shake us out of narrow definitions of our professional style, try new techniques, often with time-limited vigour. This can nourish the way we approach more finished art, while being a relief from long hours slaving over a studio drawing table or computer!

Our enormous thanks to all the SCBWI illustrators who sent in work for this fabulous Spring selection. If you missed last month's Part 1 follow this link.  

(Click on the artist names for links to websites)

Bridget Marzo

A sketch of the view from Rupert Brooke’s old rooms for a book on King's College Cambridge ...

... and another sketch done in the London heat. Line versus colour - an old battle ground but I love sketching in one or the other - as well as both. @bridgimage_art


Gaia Alessi

My sketchbooks are a messy lot! Usually they are the receptacle of my warm-ups before starting the working day, where I try to find those elusive shapes and moods, and my warm-downs at the end of the day, when I sit in front of the television but my hand still needs to go on for a bit. As such they are a very scattered lot, but I like it that way!

 For me it is very important to keep a very different space to draw in where anything can happen and nothing will be appraised against consistency of style or message. Also it is very valuable to be able to see one’s thinking process and free thought associations developing through time with all of it’s stutterings because sometimes the stuttering is the gold you’ve been digging so hard to find in your professional life.  @hiyaitsgaia

Imogen Foxell

As well as children's illustration, I keep a daily sketchbook of my life. The first picture is of my friend's three French hens (Poulitzer, Poulidor and Poule Pot).
The Thames getting a bit overfull in Oxford where I live (I think it got inspired by Philip Pullman's Book of Dust). @imogenfoxell

Katy Dynes

This still life is from when we had all that rain a couple of weeks ago. New pastels and 'items' on the way to the composting bin! Probably about 15mins sketching. Their last swan song!!

These horses are quick sketches as a view from my experimenting with different quick sketch media. The quicker the better! @kittydinners

Kim Geyer

Working on using a minimal palette for more historical pieces.
Doodles for a picture book idea.
I prefer to sketch in pencil - Faber-Castell, and in colour, Prismacolor Premier.  I often scan these images in to Photoshop and play about with them. @kimgeyer63

Layn Marlow

I'm trying to write a new story about a boy visiting his grandmother who lives near a beach. Coincidentally, I've just been back to the beautiful Scilly Isles, where my own grandmother lived, so I was sketching a fair bit whilst there. This one's an observational sketch of the old telegraph tower on St. Mary's.

On the three hour boat journey to the islands, I spotted a young fellow passenger named Noah with his family. He looked just the right age for my story, so I kept him in mind as I started sketching these little studies, to help me get to know my main character. I'm going to use some of them in thumbnails now, to see if I can work out a sequence of events for the story. @LaynMarlow

Lynn Pritchard

Some art work taken from the sketchbook I kept up whilst travelling round Sri Lanka.
The Pettah market, different sketches of people whilst walking through the streets of the quarter of Colombo and later worked together to create my impression of the busy, colourful market place using  Watercolour and coloured pencil.
A visit to an Elephant Park sparked off ideas for a children’s book I was working on whilst I was in Sri Lanka, here’s one of my ideas for a teacher character. @Gingermog

Martin Morrison

Images from recent sketchbooks, created as part of a daily drawing challenge, based on weekly word prompts.
These are some of the images created during the 'Bird' week, using markers, brush pens, and colouring pencils. @martin_morrison_illustration


Niki Leonidou

Working on themes about Mother's Day, pencil and acrylic.
Study of a chicken, coloured pens and ink. Niki Leonidou Facebook

Nuria Otte

A character study and a sketch from a picture book I’m working on.



Paul Morton

Doodled in front of tv, with no conscious realisation of what I was creating.

Doodle whilst travelling in the back of a car on way to Edinburgh in December.
Saw some nice trees and produced this. Paul Morton Blog.

Rachel Marquez

I was acting in a corporate film last autumn, and I had a lot of down-time between scenes. So, I sat myself behind the sound booth and sketched the sound booth... those were a lot of wires to draw!
On set of Call the Midwife. I had a good view of the mothers in the waiting room, so I grabbed a quick ink and marker sketch. @rachelmarquezactress

Sally Rowe

When I go on holiday I always pack paints and rarely use them. I’m going to Canada this summer and am trying some Urban Sketching ideas to speed up, loosen up and annotate. Early days...

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Many thanks to all the artists who sent in work. Open Sketchbooks will return in the Autumn with a new selection!

Header photo © John Shelley 


John Shelley is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures and the illustrator of over 50 books for children, most recently the picture book Magic for Sale with words by Carrie Clickard (Holiday House). He was one of the UK nominees for the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

1 comment:

  1. What a great and varied round up of sketchbooks. Thanks for the compilation John.


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