Student work: In conversation with Sarah Davis | The Open College of the Arts
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Student work: In conversation with Sarah Davis

Sarah Davis is studying for a Drawing Degree and is about to complete Drawing Two: Investigating Drawing. In this short interview with her tutor, she discusses how her sketchbook habit is central to her practice.

Having seen your work over the last few months, it’s clear to me that your sketchbook practice is at the centre of all you do. How many do you have on the go at once?

Since beginning Drawing Two I have filled nine sketchbooks. I use different sized sketchbooks and like to experiment with different paper, including toned paper. I use different sketchbooks on the go and never go out without an A6 sketchbook in my bag. I enjoy sticking paper and collage in my sketchbooks and cutting into the pages. I also stick ideas in my sketchbooks.

Does being so prolific contribute to your method of making?

It definitely does and my making is an extension of my sketchbook work. I have found that making use of a sketchbook helps me focus and collect ideas – and these ideas later become something bigger. I often blow up images from my sketches to explore using collage and cutting up. This helps me really understand what I am trying to achieve. Much of this work takes me onto an unexpected direction. Once I have a topic I am almost obsessive and even dream about the theme.

It’s great when work overwhelms you like that. Can you talk a little bit about how making so much work while out and about has changed the way you see the world? Do you notice more?

I am dyslexic so turn to my sketchbook almost as a visual diary. I have a dedicated sketchbook for gallery visits and with a handful of coloured pencils and a mechanical pencil I do rapid two minute sketches of some of the art work. This not only helps me when writing up a review on my blog but also helps me to remember the excitement of viewing the artwork. I also sketch on the go – in cafes and on public transport – and these visual diaries essentially enable me focus on everything around me.

The book form – which can be quite intimate and personal in scale – seems to work for you in a wider sense. When you make other work, how does your sketchbook practice inform or contribute to what you make?

My sketchbook work is very much embedded in my artistic process. They are in many ways very personal to me and I get very attached to them and I find myself revisiting them constantly. My sketchbooks are, in a sense, mini books about me and what inspires me to draw. They excite me often more than my work. I think this is why they are so precious to me as they reveal so much about my thought processes. Some of my sketchbook work will not necessarily be used to inform my work but works as part of the creative process, helping me to evaluate and make decisions.

You share a lot of work on and work in progress on Instagram (@sarah_davis_art). Does the immediacy of feedback have an impact on the way you work?

I use Instagram to record my progress and I really find engaging with other artists and other OCA students really useful. I find the support particularly useful and encouraging. Also the sense of belonging to a wider community is very rewarding. I also find comments and suggestions useful when moving on. I like to map my journey in one place and instagram helps me do this. The sharing aspect of Instagram really works for me.

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Posted by author: Bryan
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