My Sketchbook Project

This year I became one of the many official artists to partake in the Sketchbook Project for the Brooklyn Arts Library.  It was definitely a challenge to complete it the way I wanted to but it was well worth the effort.

Sketchbook Adventure

Initially the thought was to just fill the book with random sketches of whatever took my fancy; but from the moment I put pencil to paper it turned into to something more. 

It quickly became a personal way for me to explore parts of my life, my culture and showcase a bit of creative writing along the way. 

All the limerick style poems in the book have been thought up and written down by myself. (There are a few others that didn’t make the book but I want to do something else with those). They were a lot of fun to come up with and some took longer than others.  It’s probably the story of The Headless Coachman of Tobermore that is my favourite.  It’s the only one to have 3 verses and is one of the few that is based on an existing myth.  

I started writing a few of the poems last year after watching an episode of ‘The Crown’ on Netflix and listening the limericks that Princess Margret was coming out with. Hers were a bit more saucy than mine but I was definitely up for the challenge.

For me, the best limericks are usually funny, probably a little naughty and if possible should try their best to not have a predictable end that flatlines the whole rhyme.  You want to end with a high kick and a laugh.

Soon my sketchbook will be resting in the Brooklyn Arts Library but for those of you who want to see it without travelling to America, it will also be digitised on their website – A link will be posted here whenever I know it’s live. 

I’ve photographed every inch of the book so I’ll be able to make myself a copy and keep a record of what I learnt on this 

One more story so it is…

The sketches that accompany these rhyming stories were created in a style that I had already been developing.  I wanted to create unique characters that look like they all belonged to the same ‘family’ in their style.  The ‘Lady from Derry’ poem is really the one that started the process off as I really loved the way her cheeks and jaw looked quite puppet like


Almost everything was sketched first with my trusty mechanical pencil and then inked in with pen.  If you notice the tiny little circles that I’ve used to added detail to some of the pages – those are some the few things that I added on directly with pen.

The black ink pens I use are the Staedtler pigment liners. So I would use a full range of their nibs sizes from the very thin 0.05 to the giant 1.2. For the brown paper sketches I used the warm grey and cold grey procreate markers with just a little bit of white pencil to pull out those highlights that really lift the image of the page.  

A few More Notes