OPEN SKETCHBOOKS Autumn 2018 Part 1

SCBWI illustrators have been filling their sketchbooks over the summer. John Shelley presents a selection.

From drought to drenches, it's been a long and varied summer, and SCBWI illustrators have been out sketching the environment, working on their next children's book project, or exploring new ideas on the page.

No matter the weather, sketchbooks are an illustrator's first call for recording thoughts, ideas and the world around, here's a first autumn selection from the pages of the membership. (Click on the artist names for links to websites).

Alex Edwards

Donkeys from a recent trip to a donkey sanctuary.
I find sketching my kids doing what they do can be great inspiration for stories and character.

Chantal Bourgonje

Both of these are sketches for a dummy book I’m creating for a new picture book that I’ve written and am in the process of editing, reviewing, changing etc. The main character is Nori, a little fox.


Coral Walker

At this time I drew a lot of figures, live drawings, or drawings based on fashion models I found in magazines. Most of them I’ve done leisurely in front of a TV.  

Based on a fashion model picture. A study of body movement.

She is floating in the air and she is content, I guess whoever is in that balloon suit would be as content too. I can never put my feet on the ground for a long period before I let imagination take me for a ride. 

Elizabeth Dulemba

I’m not sure what the story is behind this one, but I am certain this little girl is not excited about being royally dressed up! (Notice the band-aid on her knee.) The drawing began with her and blossomed around her. Every outfit grew more and more outrageous. The woman on the right, looking on disapprovingly, is her mother. I drew this with a biro pen over the span of several days.

I was attending a fantasy writing conference at the University of Glasgow and the topic of witches came up. So, I drew the witch. Witch (ha!) of course led to the dwarves, witch led to Snow White… again, I was just doodling with biro pen. I did this over the course of a few hours.  @dulemba

Emma Graham

Badger is character sketches for my own woodland story, but he and others from the story also feature in work I am creating for the local hospital children’s ward redevelopment charity.

Elephant is for a poster design that (if selected) will be painted on a Wild in art sculpture in Ipswich 2019. @emma_graham_illustrations

Hannah Malkin

This summer has mostly been about family for me so I have had very little time to draw. I discovered that small and fast worked best alongside the demands of my children, so here are several pages from my tiny (2.5x4 inches) homemade sketchbook. I folded four pages at a time and took them in a zip-lock bag with a pen and if I was feeling really hopeful, a small paintbox. As you can see, many pictures are unfinished! We were in Northern Italy, by the lake and in the mountains. 

Paul Morton

I’ve taken to these small pocket sized sketchbooks recently. After buying them as prizes for the PB quiz at retreat I thought I’d try them.

The first page with 1 inch mini sketches was my attempts at the John Lawrence challenge, but I didn’t find time to go further. 

Paul Morton Blog.

Rachel Marquez


 A tranquil day in Loseley Gardens.

 Waiting at the airport is a great time to sketch fellow travelers.

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Many thanks to the illustrators who sent in work. More images on the way next month!

There's still time to submit your work to the next Open Sketchbooks! Send up to three 72 dpi j-peg snapshots or scans of recent sketchbook pages, (we'll select up to two), together with captions and your website / social media contact details. Subjects can be anything from working drawings for children's book projects to sketches from life, or just having fun on the page. However, please don't send finished portfolio/commissioned illustration, or digitally manipulated images, this is all about working processes in physical paper sketchbooks. Submit materials to this submissions email address.

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 a UK nominee for the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

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