OPEN SKETCHBOOKS Spring selection Part 2

 Illustration Features Editor John Shelley presents a concluding look at sketchbook pages from illustrator members of SCBWI.

The combination of a slow start to Spring and the ongoing pandemic have encouraged many illustrators to look close to home for inspiration. Views from windows feature big in our sketchbooks for this selection, but also SCBWI has been running some excellent online drawing exercises to keep us focused during lockdown, resulting in some dynamic pages! 


And of course, nothing hampers the travels of our imaginations. Journeys, ideas and experiments for children's book projects have no boundaries. 


If you missed last month's selection, Part 1 is here!

(Click on the artist names for links to websites).  


Bridget Marzo

An unexpected chance to study wild dogs in action in an arresting group of bronze sculptures by artist Liliana Moro in the Galeria Nazionale, Rome. All thanks to Alina Surnaite’s Virtual Scrawl Crawl on March 20th.
I used a Conté Pierre Noire pencil for this - which I’ve not used for years.

More speedy sketches from the March 25th SCBWI Drink and Draw session.  This time I took some imaginative leaps from a photo of shelves of crockery, adding animals drawn early in the session.  
On the right hand page I reverted back to observational drawing with online photos of  a seal and goat from interesting angles. I had never drawn either animal head-on like that.

Love how unexpected these events are, and how we can talk shop and experiment with tools too. @bridgimage_art


Clare Tovey

I am still recovering from a horrible accident in January which resulted in a torn arm muscle. This is proving to be even more of a challenge for drawing than breaking a finger! Anyway, I am still drawing... only for very, very short amounts of time.

This anglepoise lamp sketch was part of a Good Ship Illustration Friday night Art Club, which consists of timed, observational drawings using whatever tools you have to hand that you can draw with. I am enjoying this for experimenting with bolder mark making, and am a teeny bit obsessed with using highlighter pens, especially the bright pink ones!

I have maintained early morning observational sketches of the young, characterful cat who lives with me. At the same time I am also doing observational digital sketches of him, and am having fun experimenting with turning these into comic pages. There is definitely a book brewing.  @clarabelledraws


Martha Lightfoot

In this last lockdown I found I was drawing the view from my studio window more and more. Sometimes I do it as a warm up before starting work; sometimes when I'm not sure what to draw but just need to get started on something. I got this small Royal Talens sketchbook for Christmas and decided to use it just for landscapes, as it seems to suit the shape.

I limited my palette and started off with some inky smudges, made with kitchen towel dipped in ink (I saw Helen Stephens doing this in The Good Ship Illustration Art Club and I find it a good way of starting quite loosely!)

I was looking out across the valley and decided to focus on a particular cluster of houses that I often look at, but usually only draw as part of a much wider landscape.  @martha__lightfoot


Maxine Lee-Mackie

Some images from my Aladdin sketchbook.

Colour and texture studies for Aladdin picturebook.

Ancient Chinese architecture study for Aladdin picturebook. @maxineleemackie


Nora Racz

Before I start on a digital drawing I like to draw some warm-up doodles for fun. I usually just draw whatever pops into my mind when I put the pencil to paper. When I really like a sketch I sometimes use it for a digital drawing later on. 



Paul Morton



Sally Kindberg

Notes for a work in progress

Staying in a B&B last summer  @SKindbergia


Sam Starr

A is for Anteater is my character created from the letter A. I have written a poem about him and need to develop a storyboard for this character.

A quick 5 min drawing of Luna, a snoozy French spaniel puppy


Sue Rinaldi

I was trying hard not to focus on 'perfection', which was really hampering me getting anything down on paper. I tried a blind drawing of some figures and their shapes were really dynamic so I decided to have some fun and work them up further.

I used an illustration fee to invest in some prisma pencils and wanted to explore using them over watercolour. There's definitely an element of escapsim... @soobalooart


Tonka Uzu

Two double sketchbook pages of random people ink sketches and another one of sketches for a picture book character. 



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Many thanks to the artists who sent in work. Open Sketchbooks will be back with fresh selections in the Autumn!

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 Boy in the Jam Jar, written by Joyce Dunbar, for Bloomsbury. He's a four times nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. @studionib

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