Monthly Archives: August 2015

A critical review of my sketching

9 August 2015

Sometimes it’s necessary to step back and evaluate. Today was one of those times. 

Although I enjoy to draw and sketch, it seems too take up much of my day (when I probably should be concentrating on textiles work). As I start on my second module, I thought it timely to re-evaluate my approach to sketching, and my sketchbook. 

I started by reaching for my copy of “Sketchbooks for embroiders and textile artists” by Kay Greenless [1]. Although I have read this book before, it was over a year ago at the outset of my studies with OCA. Revisiting the book, it seemed full of new ideas. Now that I have been keeping a sketchbook and using it to generate design ideas, the relevance of the suggestions and approaches suddenly seemed clear.

The section entitled “sketching on location” p. 69-71, echoed true. Still, after over a year of sketching, I feel embarrassed to get out my sketchbook in public and invariably miss many valuable sketching opportunities. What brought this home was the illustrations of sketches by Sarah Burgess on pages 70 and 71. Drawn on A6 paper during a boat trip in Venice, they are extremely basic line and shape drawings made with a pen, but incredibly, they capture the essence of the journey and the scenery. At this point I have to admit to still falling back into ‘making a drawing’ when I am intending to sketch. This attracts much more public (and family) attention, and invariably takes at least 15-20 minutes.

During a visit to Norwich last week, I spent some time at the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) library, researching the architecture of International Modernist Oscar Niemeyer. This was in preparation for Assignment 2 “man-made objects”. I came across a wonderful book about Niemeyer’s first UK project, the Serpentine gallery pavilion in Hyde park (2003) [2]. What fascinated me was that the book illustrated Niemeyer’s sketches along side photographs of his finished architectural projects. The Picasso-like, often incomplete scribbly drawings looked like they could have been made whilst riding on a bumpy bus, and yet they are beautiful and inspirational. It is obvious to see how ideas for building shapes originated from the sketches which were certainly extremely valuable to Niemeyer as a design aid.

I feel at last that Niemeyer’s sketches and the scribbly, almost indecipherable sketches of artists like Sarah Burgess and Rozanne Hawksley have at last given me the ‘permission’ I need to sketch without inhibition (see “Like a bit of old washing” illustrated in Kay Greenless’ book p.22 [1]). On a visit to Norwich puppet theatre, I made numerous A6 pencil sketches of the puppets and the lady serving behind the refreshments desk (see below)!

Nobody looked over my shoulder at what I was drawing or even seemed to notice! I am excited.These marks are varied, spontaneous and lively. I have the feeling that a new era of more prolific, uninhibited sketching has begun.  


1. Greenless, K. (2005) Sketchbooks for embroiderers and textile artists. Batsford. London.

2. Niemeyer, O. (2003) Serpentine gallery pavilion 2003. Serpentine gallery publishers. London.