Sketchbook Crawl #1

Follow me down the rabbit hole as I flip through an old sketch book! Only a small fraction of what I sketch ever makes it to the finished stage, but I don’t find any of it wasted.

This sketchbook is dear to me, because it’s where I began to find my current style. I was reading “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel” at the time, and it definitely inspired me! In the featured image above you can see The Thistle-haired Gentleman, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel. There’s also a fairy dipping their toes, a faun and a woman with a dazzling coiffe (inspired by the pattern on my living-room carpet). But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Back in Summer 2017, when I began this book, I still used blue col-erase, a pencil I discovered in college.

I love it when I manage to start a sketchbook with a good drawing— it’s like it sets the tone for the rest of the book! This sketch of bunnies going to a potluck (not realizing that they’re the main dish) wound up in my Inktober 2019 series. The prompt was “Tasty”. Next to it is a little Domovoi spirit in an apron, and below it a froggy-looking guard I never finished.

My sketchbooks are a messy affair! Drawings jumbled on top of one another. I was still exploring my style here. I’m naturally drawn to a comic-y approach, and I was looking for something more illustrative. These were characters that I imagined as part of a club at a selective private school: “The Primrose Club”.

By the middle of the sketchbook, I had moved from blue to black col-erase and added ink to the mix. I tried a few different line types, and I found I loved the finest and most even line. It surprised me, honestly! Growing up I always preferred thick variable lines in comics— like Calvin and Hobbes. But for my own work, I needed the delicate lines to show details. Unfinished in the bottom right corner are an ugly peacock, and strange-looking, gossipy ladies.

Adding a terra cotta col-erase pencil to the mix was a game-changer! It added warmth to everything I did and was so forgiving I could sketch with abandon! I was drawing a lot of fairies and animals, and refining my own face style.

I fell head-over-heels in love with the terra cotta pencil and the prismacolor pen! I explored all these different textures here— fluffy fur, smooth hair, ruffled sleeves, stiff fabric. The lady on the bottom is Lady Pole from Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel.

The last page and naturally there’s drawings going every which way! I had started exploring with watercolors. Though I use a sketchbook that’s billed as “mix-media” it can only really take very faint washes. Which is fine by me really— I love the softness of it on the forest elf.

The guy and the horse I imagine as part of a story called “Horse Wingman”. It’s about a hero on a mighty quest to find a girlfriend, but who’s thwarted at every turn by an evil curse and his complete lack of self-awareness. Luckily his mount and best friend, Norse, is there to talk him up to the ladies!

Thanks for joining me— and stay tuned for the next sketchbook crawl soon!

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