Inside the Sketchbook of Frances Ives


Frances Ives is an illustrator who works with a significant assortment of products throughout lots of distinctive formats, which includes paints, inks, colouring pencils, monoprint and pastels. One of her favourite ways to create her apply is to draw out and about in sketchbooks. She tells us far more about how she receives the most out of them.



Frances Ives Usually takes us By her Sketchbook Exercise

I have been a sketchbook person for a extremely extensive time, but it was not until eventually the very last 3 many years that they grew to become critical for my practice. I started the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge Faculty of Art, and for the initially 3 months, drawing from observation in our sketchbooks was our only assignment – and for me, it’s been the central place of my apply ever since.



I don’t have 1 particular way of utilizing my sketchbooks – they are a position to check out media, consider various drawing methods and make a great deal of errors! They are a location exactly where I draw total scenes from observation together with minor snippets of the planet, exactly where I thumbnail tips and generate ideas, and at times where I develop completed artwork for illustration initiatives.



They’re a visual notebook and a remaining canvas, but they’re also a comfort and ease blanket. I know I can retreat back to them, and they are a risk-free artistic location that I can bodily shut to the entire world, and will only be noticed if I pick out to share it. They give me the freedom to make problems, and there is some thing reassuring about that for me.



These times, I truly feel considerably additional comfortable in sketchbooks than I do with a blank sheet of paper. I used to be quite important with sketchbooks – I would be concerned about starting and ruining the very first page, and in the earlier I have even torn out internet pages, to continue to keep the sketchbook wanting ‘good’. My principal information to any one wishing to use sketchbooks is to NOT do that!



Sometimes, those internet pages that you ‘messed up’, or that one particular you spilt ink more than, or even the ones that are technically good but you come to feel underwhelmed by – they are the types I assume you can find out the most from. If I experienced ripped every single web site out of my sketchbooks I wasn’t satisfied with, I would be left with a couple awesome drawings and practically nothing that really gets me imagining. Now my sketchbooks are comprehensive of swift drawings, timed everyday living drawings, drawings of points I would under no circumstances normally test from fellow creators patreon classes and tasks… it can direct to a seriously various sketchbook!



I have experienced a lot of ‘favourite’ sketchbooks more than the many years, but at this time I continue to keep likely back to Royal Talens Art Generation and Pith Sketchbooks – an odd blend because they’re fully different. I use them in distinct approaches, also.All through the initially United kingdom lockdown in 2020 my most made use of sketchbooks had been the very compact Royal Talens. When all the things felt so unsure, the tiny scale designed the endeavor of drawing really feel so considerably far more workable – a small house of solace, exactly where I could try out a thing new and not really feel confused by the web site. I consider this is when my appreciate of drawing mother nature definitely took off. I was lucky ample to be surrounded by it and, when the entire environment appeared to gradual down, I could notice the altering seasons by way of my drawings.



I are inclined to use my Pith sketchbooks for much larger double webpage spreads, or extremely painterly do the job. They hold drinking water based paints genuinely perfectly, and have a softness to them which changes the all round truly feel of my operate. I consider the scale of my sketchbook can also be reflective of how I really feel, and how I really feel about my get the job done. By the summertime of 2021, all the things experienced started to experience additional hopeful, and my self-assurance in my picture producing had grown.



I experienced a good deal of exciting in a massive A3 Moleskine making substantial landscapes on holiday break in the beautiful South West with a friend, using everything from acrylic markers to glitter glue to enjoy and make get the job done. Effectively doubling the dimensions of my drawing also offered problems, (‘how on earth do I fill that considerably space?!’) but it encouraged me to locate new techniques of working, and be additional free with the marks I was making.



I will need my sketchbooks to be capable to place up with a large amount of media, both damp and dry, and a quite weighty hand. At Xmas I acquired myself an Etchr sketchbook, which I not long ago took to the Bologna Book Good, and I am so amazed with it. Upcoming on my record is the Fabriano Venezia sketchbook that a attractive buddy gave to me – the paper feels fantastic, and I’m heading to wrestle to observe my own tips and not be much too cherished with it! I’d never explain myself as a purist when it comes to components. When I analyzed for my BA, a tutor advised me I must by no means use a pencil with watercolour since it would not glance fantastic – I assume I’ve been preventing these ‘rules’ ever since. I like to use watercolour and gouache with wax or oil pastels, inks beneath pastels, and colored pencils on leading of all of these matters. I’ve learnt a good deal by experimenting with materials that wouldn’t ordinarily be applied together – there are so many textures and marks to take a look at.



I test to curate a locale drawing bag for when I go out drawing, and insert a number of extra products relying on the weather and light and temperature. It generally is composed of a several drinking water dependent markers, some paints (I favour watercolour or gouache), a few of inks, some pastels and a heap of colored pencils. I like to layer elements down in rather a common painterly way – starting off with light washes or sweeps of colour, and little by little making textures and depth. I consider to seize the environment of a position or mood powering an illustration, and to always produce a ‘feeling’ for the viewer, and the assortment of textures and marks I make as a result of mixing distinct products enable me to realize this. I hope that folks can truly feel familiar with the get the job done that way.



I go back again to my sketchbooks a large amount when I’m operating up illustrations. In some cases for direct reference, from time to time just to see how I may possibly have utilized color mixtures, or how just one materials is effective with another. Generally, I return to them for a tiny bit of inspiration and to remind myself what I like. In a earth that is so visually overstimulating, sketchbooks can be a reminder of what you are instantly drawn to, and what you appreciate seeking at. Drawing in sketchbooks can feel cathartic for me. Some of the topics I opt for to draw may appear very certain, but they also remind me of a time, or how I could have been sensation although earning a drawing. I guess they’re a tiny bit of a time capsule, or a memory.



Resources I use (frequently):

Colored Pencils (Derwent Lightfast and Inktense, Faber Castell, Caran D’Ache Luminance)
Caran D’ache Luminance pencils
Holbein Gouache
Acrylic Gouache (Turners and Holbein)
ShinHan Go watercolour gouache
Watercolours (Daniel Smith, Schmincke, Holbein, Roman Szmal – own curated palettes)
Gentle Pastels (Unison and Jacksons)
An assortment of inks
Caran D’Ache neocolor
Waterbased brush pens (ecoline, faber castell and tombow)
Refillable Brush Pens. The Derwent force button types are my favorite.
Sablene brushes

Fewer frequently but still incredibly considerably there:

Golden Fluid Acrylic
Acrylic ink.
Schmincke liquid charcoal
Low tac masking tape
Sennelier oil pastels
Conte pierre noire pencils
Pastel pencils


About Frances Ives

Frances Ives is a freelance illustrator and artist, at the moment based mostly in Cambridge while researching on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge College of Art. She spends a whole lot of time out operating from her sketchbooks outside, and her primary resource of inspiration is the sky and all of it’s colour. Prior to finding her like of capturing narratives after her first picture e-book was picked up by Michael O’Mara, she also examined at Kingston University and Camberwell University of Art.

Visit Frances’ Internet site

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