Making your own sketchbooks is a great way of taking ownership of your book before you go out drawing. If you want to make a book from scratch you can join me on my two hour 'Make' workshop. . Putting texture and colour into a ready made sketchbook also helps to take away the fear of the white page and I find working onto a slightly textured surface more satisfying than a smooth, white page. In my face-to-face workshops it is always interesting to see just how differently people approach this part of a session. Some like to have a smooth, neatly painted page, some go for lots of texture, some add colour, others might add in found papers. Do what feels right for you.

When we make any art, we have to confront ourselves and our expectations. But what we are making here is a place to experiment. There will be 'mistakes' or pages/ideas that don't work out as planned. We need to think about solutions that help us progress. Working with mixed-media is a great way of finding creative solutions. Made a bad drawing? Stick something over it and try again! Don't be defeated before you have even started. Oh, and as for those 'bad' drawings. Don't be too quick to judge...they are experiments.

When it comes to drawing into your sketchbook, you don't need to start at the beginning. I always feel I will mess up the first page so I start in the middle. I choose a page I want to draw on. I might like the background and how it relates to the subject matter. Sometimes the texture on your page might relate to the textures in what you are going to draw, or the colour might be appropriate. Again, you need to trust your instincts, there is no right or wrong. I work intuitively and work with the accidents that happen along the way. I think that gives energy and excitement to a sketchbook. Look for the positive. 

This is the last tutorial before we get out and about so if you are going away to do this course, you can access Session 3 when you get there...Bon Voyage!

Covid update - if you had a holiday planned - life sucks - We should have been in Snowdonia for Easter - I miss the hills. :(

Today you need to take ownership of your sketchbook. 

-Paint the pages of your book. I find it works best when the pages aren't too crazy with colour or want your drawings to show up on them. *leave some pages blank as there will be more ideas to share during the course. 

-Add in some collaged pages...maybe with brown paper or an old envelope (some have great patterns inside them).

-Collect some coloured papers together, or paint some sheets (I much prefer painted sheets to flat shop-bought sheets) of paper that you can tuck into the back of your book. If you know you're going somewhere rural gather greens, browns and blues. If you will be in a city you might want some brights as well as stone/brick colour. You can't take everything and there will be a bit of 'making do'.

-Add an envelope or two for your collections, or make a pocket for your book from an old map.

-Put your name in your book and a contact phone number. It feels awful if you leave it somewhere.


-If you're feeling fearful you might want to note down why you wanted to enrol on this course or add in an affirmation to keep you focused. I love the one from Session 1,


"Creativity exists more in the searching than in the finding" Stephen Nachmanovitch

Covid update - I have put together some kits of collage papers so if you don't have a paper stash at home you can order one. Click here to order.

In the forum today you can show us your sketchbook. Does it feel like yours now that you've spent some time preparing it? 

Do you normally have a fear of the white page? Or do you love a crisp new sketchbook?

Are you excited about drawing in to your book?

Click grid images to see full size images.


I started to paint the backgrounds of my sketchbook because my finished work was so colourful but my sketchbooks were always monochrome. In my final work I like the way the work develops as ink bleeds and the background and foreground react against each other. In the same way I wanted my sketchbooks to allow for the accidental to occur, finding that this often gave me ideas for how to develop the work beyond my sketchbook.


Helen Hallows


Nurturing Creativity since....

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Copyright of all art works remains with the artist Helen Hallows 

Online course content, blog posts and all design and written content remains the intellectual property of Helen Hallows. Please do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved.


Nottingham, UK

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