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 Both before and during the recent lockdowns for COVID I did much of my painting in sketchbooks. Why? - working in a sketchbook has allowed me to develop both my artistic skills and more importantly, my 'style' in an 'enclosed capsule' allowing me to easily see how I have developed and to experiment with methods and equipment without ruining an expensive piece of watercolour paper.

 It is also a convenient way to store paintings - in a book form rather than piles of sheets of paper. Of course you need to use a proper watercolour sketchbook rather than a book of cartridge paper or a sketchpad. There are several on the market - I started with Moleskine A4 books which have 200gm watercolour paper which has a slight 'tooth' (is slightly rough) but latterly, I tend to use Hahnemuhle as I get on with the paper better - it does not 'cockle' so much under washes and takes ink well.

 During COVID I started dong a 'painting a day' - in order to 'keep the doctor away!' - in other words, I looked forward to my daily paint to help me keep sane. Coincidentally, someone had given me an old Black's Sketchbook which had sketches in it of Windsor & Eton dring the early part of the 20th Century. I used these as the basis for my own ink sketches and paintings after I did some further research on the subjects, completing almost 200 paintings in my sketchbook over 2020 and 2021. I wanted to make sure that the integrity of my sketchbooks was maintained in the futue - so many old sketchbooks have individual paintings cut out of them and framed - I did not want that to happen and so I painted on both sides of the paper.

 I also started sketchbooks based on interesting old doors I found on the web and from my own photos and as I was drawing and painting these I started to make up stories in my head of the people who lived behind the doors - I hand wrote the stories using a fountain pen on the facing pages.

 Two books based on a selection of my  COVID pen & wash sketchbook paintings - 'Views Around my Country in Pen & Wash' - First and Second Books are now available in Kindle and paperback versions, from Amazon - see the page on Art Books and Novels.

 A further book - 'Desperate Doorways' based on my doorway sketches and stories is also now available in Kindle and paperback versions from Amazon - gain go to the page on Art Books and Novels. for more information. And you will see from the pictures below, that books in the same series based on shoes and wrecked boats will follow.


Examples of my working sketchbooks from the COVID period and after.

Above, a selection from my 1st Covid sketchbook of scenes from Berkshire and Cambridge and below, from my 2nd Covid sketchbook with scenes from Stratford on Avon and Oxford.

Below, a couple of sketches from my Boat Wreck sketchbook which include a short story for each.

Below, a couple of sketches from my sketchbook 'Shameless Shoes' again with a short story for each - still to be published.


Above, from my old doors sketchbook some of which found their way into my book 'Desperate Doorways'.

Above, from my travel sketchbook - in this case the Anchorage, Cove in Scotland - we owned and lived in the top flat overlooking the Firth of Clyde back in the late 1970's and below Snape Maltings.