Gathering ideas for a sketchbook this summer
The sweep of a beautiful landscape with a panoramic view – you want to capture it all!

What is it that inspires you? Is it the colours? Is it the criss-cross of fields and walls? Is it the wind in the barley field, the flow of the land and the taste of the sea?

Refining your focus

This is something I became aware of on a recent trip away when I was surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Your senses are full – so take a longer, slower look.

  • Start by responding to what you feel a connection to
  • Notice what captures your attention and makes you feel alive.
  • See what makes you want to say, “Come and see this!”

One way to begin is to chose an area to focus on such as texture –

  • Look close up at the lichen or moss, the bark, or the stones.

Or perhaps colour is an easy place to start –

  • Look at the colour combinations (yellow ochre and grey/blue on a rock)
  • Include the ones that feel out of place (a piece of litter amongst the pebbles) as this contrast can help to draw attention to the beautiful subtle colours in nature.
  • If you have a camera, take a photo and then another.

Some days it is really clear what is capturing your initial interest – the movement in the water – the wind in the barley – but then the pursuit is to hone your gaze more clearly, take a “deeper dive” as they say.

  • Ask questions such as, What shapes does the wind make?
  • What shapes or lines accentuate this?
  • What shapes aren’t moving at all or are in contrast to this?.

Mark-making and note-taking

Consider mark-making and if you have a sketchbook, make some free-flowing marks as a response, some stippling, scumbling etc.

Look up and around you more than down at the paper. Try to record the feeling, rhythm, shapes etc. not an accurate study.

If you don’t have any paper then use the notes section on your phone to add words to remember the experience and as a way to reconnect with the feelings when back at home. These words can be triggers that help you to create meaningful work. They can enable you to capture the mood and atmosphere of a place, the flashes of delight, and the little things.

I do hope you enjoy the journey!


“Comparison kills creativity. There is room for you. Nobody can do it with your voice, with your experience, with your insight. ” Karen Walrond

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