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Helen Capewell
OCA Learning Log
Student Number: 522802
Degree: Illustration
Current Level: 2

Exercise 1.0

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Pictured above are the current books I own. I am on my second A3 Mixed Media pad for OCA, I've quit the A4 books as I just didn't create good work there, and finally the 20x20 hardback I use for personal work.

What sort of sketchbook should I use?

I would love to know the answer to this question! I look forward to finding out during this course, which book fits me most. I feel like it'll be a similar scene to that of Harry Potter picking his wand at the very beginning. You don't choose it, it chooses you!

What might I use sketchbooks for?

I tend to keep a book to travel with, which is rarely filled when on travels (sigh). Now I'm working through OCA degree path for Illustration, I keep a book to gather my research, ideas and experiments. It's usually done in the one book as I like to keep everything together.

More times than not, I find myself working on loose pieces of basic paper fit for an office printer. Perhaps this is a preferred method as I feel less concerned on how things will look on the paper. I can move through this quickly and eventually stick it in to a bounded book.

Do I get intimidated by the blank pages of an expensive sketchbook?


And no. Partly because I've never used an overly expensive book! But if this was regarding a sketchbook in general, then yea, it can be intimidating to start on a blank page. Just need to get that first line down and you're off!

Do I need something on my page already? E.g. a grid, some faint lines

I don't believe I do, I don't like how messy everything looks in the end. That said, doodling in your notebook for work is a different story. Now these I consider private, as it usually holds my rants about work or sketches of being fed up in work. No one sees those! Perhaps I don't give enough credit to them!

Do I prefer to work on a heavy weight paper or something more flimsy?

I do like a page with a backbone, as it means the next page will be just as crisp after used. Nothing bleeds through when it's thicker - this I like. However, no, I don't always prefer the thick paper. Printer paper is fine for me or even paper designed for ink with a 75 GSM.

Do I prefer to work large or small?

I definitely feel looser when working big. Oddly, I'm less intimidated when it's a bigger page, and feel accomplished when I cover it.

Am I a creature of habit that needs things to look the same?

My first thoughts would be yes, I like things to be consistent - not that I'm any good at keeping it that way. However, I think I've longed purchased sketchbooks from places like Hobby Craft, where they kind of lack character / personality. I'm starting to think that maybe I could collect sketchbooks that actually inspire me to draw in them, for personal work that is. But then I wonder if I would feel intimidated to fill the book with fear of ruining it? Hmm. An artist who's sketchbook caught my attention where consistency is superb, is Bryce Wymer, all books are the same - this I like and already feel inspired to try a similar approach.

Do I want variety that relates to whatever I am working on?

Not really. I have a few different sized books at once, but it's not really about what I'm working on, it's mostly where I am working that will determine what book is needed. Plus, one main sketchbook can mean working on a variety of loose papers of different sorts that can be stuck in a book.

Do I want a sketchbook that is like a hardback book so I can work across pages and treat them as double page spreads? In this way I could make larger images.

This sounds nice, maybe when I feel more confident with my own voice. I think soft covers may speak to me more, but definitely like the idea of double page spreads.

Do I want a spiral bound book so I can easily fold the pages and cover over?

This is definitely a preferred setup. Flat pages is more comfortable for me when working at home. I also like the idea of perhaps ripping a page out if I don't like it.

What am I using my sketchbook for?

General sketching, Brainstorming, thumbnail ideas, observational drawing, life drawing, coursework...

Where will I be using my sketchbook?

Anywhere and everywhere! I'll take it with me when I leave the house, either to the garden, to a museum, on the train, anywhere I carry a bag to. Or I will use it to do my coursework in at home.

Do I want to work secretively or publicly?

If it's work I like then I'm happy to share it, but mostly they stay hidden. Not intentionally! They just aren't fashionable to show people. The more confident I get about using a sketchbook I think the more excited I would be to share it. I do like the idea of a private sketchbook just for my eyes and perhaps those close to me. Of course I wouldn't be shy to show my tutor any sketchbook regardless of how I feel about them.

Do I already have a favourite sort of sketchbook?

At the moment my A3 Mixed Media 250GSM ring bound pad has proved to be perfect. I want to consciously test some new books and try build a relationship with one I can stick to.

Do I produce digital sketchbook work / drawings already? If so how will I document this for my tutor? Will a digital device be one of my 3 sketchbooks that I choose

I do work digitally a lot, and have shared this works with my previous tutor through my learning log.

Do I want to do a digital sketchbook? I would prefer to avoid it. I tend to fall back on digital as a comfort zone, I use the computer everyday for work and personal work, so really it would be nice to step away from it during this course. I had a lot of fun filling my sketchbook for Key Steps in the end, I'd like to continue this expressiveness that isn't confined to a screen and tablet. I think it's easy to create good work digitally, the challenge is traditional - that interests me most!


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