Wednesday, 23 January 2013


I have just been reading Margaret Cooters blog HERE, about sketchbooks, its very interesting & I thought Id add my sixpennyworth.

As a City & Guilds tutor, one of the requirements is to make 'back up' work for each item made, this is never called a sketchbook but it is exactly that, it lays down sketchy ideas & formulates resolutions.

At the moment there seems to be some sort of sketchbook snobbery around the internet, where beautifully constructed pieces of art are de rigeur.  Most of us are mere mortals and are not artists, not trained or naturally gifted or dont have the time or indeed the want to produce sketchbooks, beautifully laid out, individual little pages of art

There are many blogs and courses showing altered books which quite frankly are a complete mess.  Slapping stuff down & saying look at me, I am an artist.  Nothing wrong with that except it 'aint' art its playing, experimenting, making a mess, very few pieces that I see are constructed, thought about, considered pieces of what is called art.  Im all for people giving stuff a go, keeping notes etc, practising making what are in effect sketchbooks.


 Many of the beautiful 'sketchbooks' are not sketchbooks they (to me & its my blog so its my opinion) are individual pieces of art.

There is so much envy, WHY???  Do it YOUR way, not their way, do it with your knowledge, build on your knowlege, do workshops expand your knowledge in your SKETCHBOOK.  Write rubbish, stick any old thing, then when these ideas have been explored, create little pieces of art from a CONSIDERED view.  Ramble on Folgate.....

I have beautiful art pieces, photography, I have rubbish, I have sketchbooks, I have design books, I have a diary and I have this blog, all help me to grow as a textile artist.  But I am trained, I know elements & principals, I choose to employ or reject them, but I know the bottom rungs of the ladder.

What is the point of this is to help to quash to ENVY that exists when a mostly trained artist who can indeed draw and make something look like THEY want it too, who has explored over a period of time, the colours & styles that work for them.  I read comments that say, if only, or I wish or wow. 

Come on people its a short life, grab any paper or fabric work out ideas as a sketchbook and carry them forward into your own piece of art or art textile, dont be envious of others, use others as inspiration, print out, cut up images, stick in or on something & STUDY it.  That is the word STUDY, really look. 

I use a work looksee, maybe I made it up I dont know, but LOOK & SEE, ponder on the word, it means a huge amount.  When I create my workshops, I try to looksee what I think a PRACTISING artist would want to do, I would hope that purchasers or indeed freebiers would experiment in a 'sketchbook' so that they have REFERENCE material for further exploration.


I could make a lovely designed sketchbook, offer it as a course, bring about the envy! What on earth would the point of that be, copying my notes and way of working, what would that achieve, lots of little clones, not what I am about.


So to sum up what is a heartfelt rambling, YOUR sketchbook is done in YOUR way, the most important thing is to START, grab paper or fabric and a big marker pen & mess up the the first page or part of the fabric, take the worry away.  My students have been horrified when I do this in their nice new sketchbooks, but it makes a point, DO IT YOUR WAY, but DO IT. 

When you have explored many ideas in your sketchbook, be it on paper or in fabric - which is commonly called SAMPLES, then MAKE SOMETHING using a combination of your sketchbook (sample) ideas. If you dont know what to make, well shameless self promotion - buy one of my workshops or see if there is a FREEBIE available & one is a-coming

Ramble over, what do YOU think??


  1. Well you got me lol I'm a pretty avid follower of your blog but i dont comment all that often, i do read and love your work, i have purchased a workshop before, in fact i've spent a fair amount of money on different books and on-line courses and still dont think anything i've done is mine, reading your blog this morning was like a kick up the bum lol in a good way and even though i'm off to work i've gathered my supplies and my journal and i'll be starting my own project all by myself. Thankyou so much Shelagh your just what i needed on this beautiful summer morning here in OZ xoxo

  2. Shelagh,

    Thanks so much for the rambling. The "Do it" remark is so good to hear over and over. Why do I need a push to start doing the thing I enjoy doing once I've started. It IS easier to read a stupid novel than to start embroidering or designing, but the satisfaction that you get when you make something is so much better than finishing the stupid book.

    Thanks again. ValerieL

  3. I have a good side (Milly) and a bad side (Molly) and the both of them have been arguing for a couple of years now. Now I've read your post I can actually hear what it is Milly has been yelling at Molly about all this time!! Perhaps now I could come to terms with it and have some peace!!!

    Yay for the common scribbler, note taker, picture sticker!!

  4. Agreed! I also need that kick in the backside to try things out and just DO like I used to. It is too easy to view the wonderful works presented in blogs and be overawed without thinking of the effort and the considered thought that went into the piece shown.


Thank you for your comment, regards Shelagh



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