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Making the most of sketchbooks and learning logs

Eileen Adams is a fervent believer in the value of sketchbooks. We were delighted when this sketchbook guru (known for her contribution to Campaign for Drawing) agreed to be filmed talking about sketchbooks and the role of learning logs. I approached her after hearing her keynote speech at a conference all about sketchbooks earlier in the year in which she inspired all present. Its really worth taking a look at what she has to say since she has spent many years thinking and learning about sketchbooks and their many uses. She talks about this in this first clip.
There are also sections of video of her talking about: the relationship between
sketchbooks and learning logs ,
keeping sketchbooks alive
and looking at the sketchbooks of others
All these videos will also be accessible on OCA Elements.com for future reference.

Posted by author: Jane Parry
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8 thoughts on “Making the most of sketchbooks and learning logs

  • I found this interesting BUT what I’d really love to see is more information and guidance on producing sketchbooks with a reduced amount of actual sketching/drawing for someone like me who is studying textiles; in fact more generally for those of us studying textiles in this arena would be good full stop! Yes, a breaking of all the ‘rules’ I know, but the issue is there for me at least.
    Using the pencil (and other drawing media) leaves me pretty cold and uninspired. I know it’s because I’m not good at drawing, never have been (art teacher at school didn’t hesistate to let me know either!)and it is a great frustration, but give me thread and fabric and I could play and expriment and create for ever! I understand all of the theory around using sketching, and Eileen explains things very well, but end up forcing myself to do the sketching itself, which surely can’t be a good thing? Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to ‘scribble’ things that mean something to me as part of the inspirational/creative process, but that’s not seen as enough, so it’s the expectation that I use artistic materials to develop ideas that I have a problem with and am looking for as much help as possible with making this easier and finding alternatives to ease the process. People suggest that practice will make me better at drawing, but my time is precious and I don’t actually want to be an artist as such. You wouldn’t expect someone who wanted to be a brain surgeon to spend hours studying boiler servicing would you?
    My tutor is being really helpful and assisting me in producing sketchbooks that are more useful and meaningful using stitch and I’m working on that, but it would be good if there could be more guidance and reference material here as well. Or am I the only person looking in who is creative but not with pencil and paper??

    • The best publication I have seen about sketchbooks for embroiderers and textile artists is CREATING SKETCHBOOKS by Kay Greenlees (Batsford 2005). Also check out The Campaign for Drawing to realise that drawing is not confined to pencil and paper…

  • No. You’re not the only one Judith so far as drawing is concerned. I “can’t draw” and this set of short videos has come just at the time that I’m cautiously approaching the idea of drawing lessons with the hope that this will improve my photography. I’ve tried to teach myself in the past with limited success and the urge is still there. I’m better at writing reflectively, putting things in order and sorting them out so what I want to do is to find a way to use drawing to help me think more creatively and use my intuition rather than my logic. I have seen and handled sketchbooks at a recent Degree Show and they seemed so tangible and real.
    What I’m also now thinking, in a wider sense is that learning logs don’t have to be either writing or sketching because they’re about the best way for each of us to reflect upon our learning. Is it possible to draw with textiles? Why does it have to be a ‘book’ couldn’t it be a tape, a box or some other container?
    Lots of food for thought and thanks for the videos Eileen.

  • That’s a really good point in part 3, “keeping sketchbooks alive”, about the artist/student, knowing the sketchbook may be assessed, shaping up the sketchbook in a self-conscious way so that it loses its integrity and practical usefulness and becomes more of an artist’s book. I guess nothing wrong with that as long as we understand the difference? I’m thinking of those sketchbooks in graduation shows that are “works of art in themselves”.

  • Yes, I thought the sketchbooks I saw were ‘works of art’ in themselves. They also definitely looked as if they had been used for personal development because they were full of sketches/ideas for outfits, with swatches of materials as well.

  • Here’s to The Campaign For Drawing , and Elieen Adams . What great stimulous , Knowledgeable guidence eloquently put across . If your interest is textiles then look at the vimeo on Avril Lewis’s project on The Solent , it includes sketchbooks . My interest is definately drawing and painting (I’m ON THE BA HONS Painting course ) , so this has given me some invaluable pionts to remember . To reflect and ask what am I using the sketchbook for , in what way to learn and get the most out of it . There were Some beutiful sketchbooks shown , I particularly liked Freda Kalo’s and will look out for other artists sketchbooks / fasimiles in ernest .

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