Goodbye Sketchbooks

If you’d asked med six months ago if I’d ever let go of my sketchbooks, the answer would have been a resounding no. But to my own surprise I have now actually thrown out most of my sketchbooks!

This summer I had to completely empty my studio (where the sketchbooks lived) because the floor had got water damage. Again. (Do a search for ‘studio’ here on the blog to read about this ongoing nuisance.)

As I was moving the sketchbooks I happened to look through a couple of them and it turned out that most of the pages was actually just to-do lists! I don’t really need to hold on to to-do lists from 2012 forever and ever! So I decided I’d look through all the sketchbooks and take pictures of any relevant pages and maybe rip out any pages that had particular ‘sentimental’ value.

These are the pages I decided to keep. And SOME of the sketchbooks! There were quite a few more but I had already thrown them away when I thought to capture this momentous occasion! ;-)

It’s been interesting to look through the sketchbooks. There is a lot of sketches of Blake of course! :-)

It has been…I dunno…kind of cathartic to get rid of the sketchbooks. Although I rarely looked through them and never really thought that much about them once they were filled. But I think perhaps they were weighing on my mind anyway? All that ‘old’ stuff? Maybe?

Some of the drawings I don’t recall making at all. Others I have extremely vivid memories of. Like this one. Tony was away at a music festival and I had filled the dining table with pens and watercolours and I did a bunch of sketches. Among them this bouquet of wild flowers I had picked on a morning walk with Blake. :-)

Some drawings/sketches actually made it out of the sketchbook and into something else, an embroidery pattern for example. This sketch of a painting of Elizabeth I in the National Portrait Gallery became the Gloriana embroidery pattern. I didn’t do the sketch with embroidery in mind but it was a fun design to stitch. (Find it here if you want to have a look at the stitched version.)

I did a sketch of a painting of Elizabeth’s dear old dad (maybe not so dear?!) on the same day and I’ve been meaning to do an embroidery of him too. I guess the inspiration hasn’t quite found the way to a pattern yet… some day…

For a little while I was doing a daily portrait sketch in markers. They weren’t very good, atleast not if by ‘good’ one means ‘looks like the person’. But I quite like this one of Emmeline Pankhurts.

Some pages are random ‘snapshots’ from our house or when I’ve been out and about. That’s a lot of the pages I have kept because they remind me of certain times and places.

I do that sort of sketching in a much smaller sketchbook now. It’s a lot easier to carry with me. The wire bound sketchbooks are quite big, you can’t just put them in a coat pocket like I can with the A6 size sketchbooks I have started using.



  1. November 10, 2020 / 2:01 pm

    I just recently bought a sketchbook and haven’t used it very much so the thought of throwing them away is quite shocking to me. I guess, like everything, eventually they take up more space than they are allowed, and you have to decide which ones you want to keep. Thank goodness for digital photos!

    • Carina
      November 13, 2020 / 7:22 am

      I would have been shocked at the thought of throwing them away too! But since I have been through this process I’ve been thinking a lot about the function of sketchbooks, atleast for me. And I think it is actually kinda freeing to think “well, I’m going to throw them away eventually, I might as well just make a mess and have some fun”. Because I used to not use sketchbooks very much because they seemed so precious. What if I mess up one of those precious pages and the sketchbook will be ruined?! But I am over that because (atleast for me) a sketchbook is supposed to be a mess. And yes, thank goodness for digital photos! ;-D

  2. Mona K
    November 10, 2020 / 2:36 pm

    I love your sketchbooks. It’s always so interesting to see what people capture in these books.

    • Carina
      November 13, 2020 / 7:17 am

      Thank you! I love looking at other people’s sketches too. :-)

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