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For years I’ve been told to sketch, wherever you go make sure you have a sketchbook with you, but it didn’t actually click with me until I spent a week in Scotland a couple of years ago when I went specifically to ‘sketch’.

Painting was becoming a serious thing for me and I wanted inspiration and boy, did I get it! I had a rough idea where I wanted to go, so I pointed the car and went and spent the week in and around Argyll and the Isle of Bute. With every turn, there was something different to paint and so once I arrived, I didn’t actually cover a huge distance but filled a whole sketchbook.

I gathered enough information to develop a series of paintings both in terms of detail and colour. That week away gave me six months worth of work and still now, I go back to my sketches and I’m able to suggest new approaches to old subject matter.

Building a library of sketchbooks helps to bring back memories – it isn’t like a photograph, I can remember what temperature it was, which direction the wind was blowing, how warm the sun was. I always take photographs as a back-up, to check details which I may have missed or not had time to note down.

I limit the amount of time I spend on a sketch – between 10 and 20 minutes. This creates a fresh, spontaneous approach, although at the end of the day when I look back at the days’ work, I will often add small details or highlights in pastel.

Back in my studio, I spend time going through my sketchbooks and back-up photos and work on compositional studies – simple line drawings and colour swatches. I use my sketches as a starting point only, rarely staying true to the subject, simplifying and stretching the initial idea. I find it helps me to design and use my imagination, rather than just copying what is there and worrying about what is not.

Sketching is essential... in my opinion, I take a sketchbook wherever I travel now and it is a huge source of inspiration. I can’t imagine how it must feel to ‘wonder what to paint’... my advice to any budding artists is get out there, have fun and create!

NEW BOOK- ‘Inspirational Jottings’ features a selection of my watercolour and mixed media sketches over the past few years from Cornwall to Cayman, Australia to Aberlour! ... just some of the places where I’ve been inspired to paint. Click here

scilly               pink_heather
Scilly Isles, October 2008 Pink Heather, Argyll, April 2002
Tighnabruiach, Argyll, April 2002        
storm_brewing   gentleshaw_common
  Gentleshaw Common, on the edge of Cannock Chase, 2003      

Croft on the Isle of Bute, storm brewing,
April 2002

Chateau de Bannes, The Dordogne,
June 2006
Betws-y-Coed, North Wales, October 2006    
Dolwyddelan, Snowdonia, October 2006
  Path and woodland leading from Fairy Glen, North Wales, October 2006
Fiscardo, Kefalonia in Greece, July 2005
Sennen Cove, Cornwall, October 2004
langdale wrynose_pass
Langdale, Lake District, October 2005 Wrynose Pass, Lake District, October 2005
lake_windermere     welsh_river
Lake Windermere, Lake District, October 2005     River at Betws-y-Cod, North Wales,
October 2006
Pasa Tonale, Italy, March 2002  
On the beach at Polichrono, Halkidiki, July 2003
Fairy Glen, North Wales, October 2006
trossachs     river_garden
The Trossachs, Scotland, April 2002     The river at Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, September 2002
Hedgerow sketch                
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