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Sketchbooks – Why they are my greatest treasure

If you want to create passionate, original art – USE YOUR SKETCHBOOK.

Read on to see why photos are not to be relied on and how you can improve your art work through your sketchbook……….

Doodles, quick ideas, colour notes, careful observed architectural drawings, quick drawings to capture the essence of the scene, printed photos reference postcards, artists’ work, paintings – IN MY SKETCHBOOK!

And it is all DIRECTLY from the artist – my eye, my heart, my mind; transcribed through my personal mirror of the world into marks on paper.

And you can’t get more personal and original than that!

Mixed media study in my garden – Autumn by Angela Corben

Why not just take a photograph?

An artist’s job is to extract the essence of the view, the scene, and the atmosphere and funnel that into marks made with feeling

  • Photographs give you everything, every detail, everything of equal importance

Drawing extracts the essence, it shows the mind’s workings and it is directly from the hand of the artist

Drawing is the basis of good painting. Use your sketchbook marks to inform your painting and you will paint freer, truer, and with less fuss.


Sketches made on location at New Forest & Whitsbury Gallops, Hants by Angela Corben


  • Photos flatten out tonal values, and 3d – 2d

Sketching means you automatically assess the tonal values

You extract and distil the marks that are instinctive and important to you

You observe and weigh up the volumes in the space and interpret the angles and planes of each object with your mark making/shading and this brings an awareness and integrity to your finished drawing/painting

Alhambra Sunset, Acrylic on board, Angela Corben


Charcoal sketchbook sketch for Alhambra Sunset above


Open the doorway to exciting art work which has no set outcome

Drawing marks are the start of exciting artwork – they can be exaggerated, extended, combined with other drawings.

By starting a painting by re-creating your sketchbook marks, you are opening up your pathways to Abstraction (interested in marks, rhythm, pattern) expressive painting(exaggeration of the form, gestural use of the brush), imaginative work and experimentation with colour (working from black and white means you are free to insert your own colour interpretations)

If you’re still not convinced to pocket your sketchbook…..

If I need focus, or I only have a couple of hours to create

SKETCHBOOK: this is a focused project in progress all in one neat book, so I can just pick it up and get back on my train of thought. Paint, charcoal, oil pastels, mixed media – anything goes in my sketchbook.

Acrylic ‘sketches’ formulating ideas for my Windfarm paintings

Reference bank

Sketches of people, trees, skies, boats, buildings- can be used as reference bank – to be part of any art work you are working on for imagination or from your own resources in the studio



My sketchbook captures moments in time when I am fully connected with the view before me, the smells, and the sounds of the place.

That Olive grove in Andalucía, the castle in the hills with the crickets clicking in the background, the power of the waves crashing against the golden sand encapsulated in expressive graphite marks –

It’s all there, treasures of precious moments… IN MY SKETCHBOOK!

Sketching at Velez Blanco, Almeira, Spain 2015

To get involved in my classes or workshops or to view my art work please visit my website page or sign up to my newsletter.

Thank you for reading,


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