Updated: Feb 7
So you want to learn art? You've decided that it's high time you explored your creative side and you think maybe painting might be a good place to start? But how to start, that is your question. Well, before you rush off and spend a small fortune on paintbrushes, stop & read on ....
Getting started is often the hardest part of any kind of art. Where does the inspiration come from? The way I do it is to 'just do something'. This was the advice of my art lecturer on Day 1 of college - it's great advice and has never let me down. Getting inspired is always tricky if you worry about it, so the best thing is to just get stuck in. Don't dither & dawdle & wonder if you're doing it right, just begin. "Don't be too precious", as they say.
Key to this part of the creative process is to find a small sketchbook. Just a little A6 or 5 by 7 inch soft covered notebook is great for this, Choose one with nice smooth paper and an elastic band that keeps the bulging pages together (bulging sketchbooks are the best kind!).
I've got shelves full of these little notebooks, they hold masses of my ideas & doodles that probably never progressed to become fully resolved artwork, but the notebooks are little works of art in themselves and are great to flick through for inspiration years after they were first created. A lot of my notebooks were just bought on the high street from Ryman the
stationers and cost about £5.99 which is great value, but Jacksons Art also have a good range too along with a whole host of specialist art materials.
If you can't wait until you have your new sketchbook, then you could make a small sketchbook yourself. This is very economical and makes you very proud of yourself for creating something so effective out of almost nothing. The good thing about this type of sketchbook is that it's really lightweight & portable so you can easily slip it into your pocket for al fresco sketching.
Here's how I made my first one ...
How to make a quick sketchbook
First, find a roll of lining paper. That's the thickish sort of wallpaper that often goes over newly plastered walls of a house. I bought my lining paper from B&Q but any home decorating shop will stock lining paper of various weights. I like to use the heaviest weight so that it's lovely and thick which is superb to work on, but you could use any ordinary wallpaper or whatever you have handy. Any paper will work, if you are in a desperate rush to get started!
Cut a 6" length off the roll (or tear it if you want to have a nice rough 'deckle' edge). Start folding it up into a concertina shape with evenly sized pages. Don't worry if you've got a bit left at the end, you can just fold it inside. If you want more pages then cut another 6" length from the roll and repeat the process, using some masking tape or sticky tape to stick the new concertina section to the first one. You should end up with a concertina of double sided pages.
Next find a piece of string or garden twine and cut it to about 12" in length. This will become your tie to keep the pages together. Lay your sketchbook out flat and use a hole punch to make a hole at either end so that you can use this to thread the twine through. Close up your sketchbook and thread the twine through the holes. You can either wrap it around the whole book to keep the pages together, or just through the holes if you want to be able to open the book quickly. Tie the ends in a bow & your sketchbook is now complete and ready to be filled with your creative ideas!
How to use your sketchbook .... Don't stop and think, just doodle or write anything that takes your fancy. Capture any ideas - regardless of whether they are going to become works of art. Be spontaneous. Don't judge or think things through too much, just get your thoughts down. If you have a few children's crayons, or coloured pencils or a cheap paintbox then you can add colour - it all helps you to focus on what you are doing and get your creative juices flowing. You don't need any fancy art materials for this bit! A blue biro will work just as well.
If you need to make a sketch of something that takes your fancy while you're out for a walk, just do it, don't worry about getting it right. The important thing is to capture the moment - the very essence of whatever it is that has inspired you. You might not need to sketch the whole thing, just the little bit that you noticed first - it might have just been the colour, like this intense magenta colour of this little orchid I found in my garden.
Fill the pages as much as possible so they are not left sparse. Stick things onto the pages if it helps you to capture your thoughts - my sketchbooks have bits of grass, cats whiskers, bus tickets and all manner of bits & pieces that hang out at the sides! You don't need fancy glue - sellotape or a glue stick will do the job just fine.
I'm a big fan of the TV programme Escape to the Chateau & I've noticed the very talented owners Angel & Dick Strawbridge always use little notebooks to sketch out their ideas. I noticed that they are selling personalised notebooks at very reasonable cost, so it might be worth checking them out too.
I hope you are inspired to start a new sketchbook. Let me know how you made yours!
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