Of all the advice for artists, one often repeated piece is to carry a sketch pad around at all times. Make notes, record ideas and keep your hand in, even when you’re stuck at the bus stop. I’ve been taking pocket sized drawing books with me for a number of years and sometimes they fill up quickly, while other pads take ages to complete. However, they always provide a unique insight into how certain paintings come about.
Recording your thoughts
The importance of recording ideas was brought home to me recently when a visitor to my studio asked about painting the particular part of her valley. I suddenly remembered that I’d jotted down some ideas for this part of the world a couple of months back and instantly she was sold on the idea. It’s simple when you’ve got a ready made illustration to hand.
Drawing on the move
Sketching as you travel is a great way to keep in artistic shape too, kind of like warm up exercises for sports stars or breathing routines for singers. Capturing the landscape as it passes by helps you sharpen your skills and educate the eye. It also makes long tedious journeys go that much quicker and encourages strangers to talk to you (although this may not always be the desired result).
Practice makes perfect
Next time you are out on the train just see how much of your trip you can catch and notice the quality of your line. The ability to quickly record and synthesise the landscape is a good way to keep yourself match fit. Over the years these visual diaries build into an interesting collection to look back over and as a resource for ideas.