Book Review – Sketchbook Explorations

  Mr X Stitch Book ReviewIntroduction Sketchbook Explorations:  Mixed media approaches for textile artists by Shelley Rhodes is the newest addition to the Batsford family. You might be confused by the title, who is it for?  Textile artists?  Fine Artists?  Who uses a sketchbook anyway?!  Lets find out….. Who is it for? The notes surrounding this book tell us that it is aimed at ’embroiderers and textile artists’ to make the most of sketchbooks to inform their ‘creative work’. Those working in Textiles may often be great at what they do, their finished outcomes.  Often though, it is the background work which gets missed out, the work in progress stages.  So this book closes that gap…we hope! About the artist Shelley Rhodes is a contemporary mixed media artist who cleverly combines the tactile with drawing based materials and digital art.  She works from her studio in the UK and teaches workshops on a regular basis.  She is a member of the Textile Study Group and has written for a number of publications including Drawn to Stitch and Somerset Studio. Content The book is divided into a number of sections, each looking at a specific aspect of sketchbook design.  These include the scary question of where to start, as well as other more focused ones, such as words and text inclusion.
Jump to the section which is of most interest first!
Many artists don’t feel it necessary to work in a sketchbook.  Some find it too easy to make or embroider and it is often the drawing and planning which gets missed.  This section of the book provides solid reasons why we should give sketchbooks a go.  It also conveys to us what a sketchbook can be, if we let it – for example, have you ever thought of a sketchbook being like a diary?
Visual reasons why we should bother with a sketchbook!
Rhodes covers areas which are personal to her practice, yet not niche.  For example another section of the book covers how to use a sketchbook when traveling and how our journeys can be inspirational for us.  But we will let you discover that section for yourselves when you get your own copy! What makes it special? There are some great close ups of how to use text in sketchbooks and actually some unusual sketchbooks too.  This one, with its variance in media is really inspiring…..
Each section is backed up with plenty of text to explain the subject. Text can be overlooked as something that’s just necessary. If you have taken text for granted, now is the time to think again!
A close up of one of the sketchbooks illustrated in this book.
Rhodes doesn’t just cover the traditional materials we all are aware of.  She also brings her practice and subsequently ours right up to date, with the combination of Digital Art.  This gives the book a contemporary feel, yet it is presented in a way which does not feel unachievable for those less computer literate.
Using examples from artist Jane McKeating, Rhodes explains how we too can make use of computer based tools within our own creativity.
Photography We loved some of the more unusual ideas, which really brought the point home that a sketchbook is not something to simply use as a plan of the final object we have in mind.  It is about enjoying the journey, the creation and actually the sketchbook itself can become the treasured item.
Take time to plan the pages, even using cutting tools and watercolours.
Handmade paper, nothing beats it! Look at this combination of ragged edges with ink and watercolour.
What is wrong with the book? Very little as it really had universal appeal. We personally loved how the subject matter can be applied to many forms of art.  We may be inclined to sculptural textiles, mixed media or have a traditional approach.  yet we can all have a play with a sketchbook. Conclusion This book is timeless.  It doesn’t cover any fads or fashions, so it wont go out of date.  It is the perfect shelf sitter, ready to turn to when you want to start a new sketchbook but cant think where to begin. Get your copy of Sketchbook Explorations:  Mixed media approaches for textile artists by Shelley Rhodes through our link right here!