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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One page or two ? Sketching on the back of pages : Alissa Duke

I use a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook and draw in watercolour pencil and/or Lamy Safari ink pen. I carry my sketchbook and pencils with me everywhere, drawing everyday. I use it for daily sketching as well as completing any online drawing challenges such as Everyday  Matters , Illustration Friday, Virtual Paintout and anything else I feel like drawing.
I began using Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks in 2009 and am currently on my 23rd sketchbook. Previously I had lots of sketchbooks with many unfinished drawings. So the decision to move to the one sketchbook for just about  everything was a huge turning point for me and works well. There is no pressure on myself for me to do a special drawing in a special book.
However there are times that I wish I did not draw on both sides of my sketchbook or had drawn on a separate piece of paper. There are a few instances when I can imagine the drawings as individual prints or drawings, BUT I never know until after they are completed. Sometimes the most casual drawings just turn out so well, and other planned drawings are great , but nothing extra-special.
For example, I was given a gift at Christmas of ingredients and a recipe, all beautifully presented. I sketched it before I cooked the biscuits and then drew the biscuits afterwards. I then had a thought that the drawing would have been a lovely "thanks you"card for the person who gave me the gift.

However, it is on the back of another drawing that captures another part of my Christmas as home with my nephew, which I would not want to part with

How does anyone else approach this dilemma of drawing on one sides or two..... One option would be to only draw on one side of the page, however seems to be an expensive option and a bit awkward in the book with lots of blank pages scattered through it.
I am not sure if there is a solution, but I wanted to share some current thoughts going through my mind.


  1. You already have the image on your computer . . . just print it on some nice-quality paper with the color printer set at the highest quality level. Then fold the paper into a card and send it. Or cut the card portion out, then glue to another color cardstock for a "frame".

    I've done this for making Christmas cards from some of my sketchbook images.

    1. Thanks Vicki, I've thought about that and in most instances this would solve the solution. However there are a few times that giving or using the öriginal drawing would have special meaning.

      I have to learn to use my scanner and printer to achieve better final prints too.

  2. I mostly draw/piant on one side only in my artists journals. However I will print out a copy of a drawing for a card! Doesn't have to be the original. Or do it again on a separate sheet.
    I do have separate books for one restuarant I frequent and draw at...and a second book for everything/everywhere else!

  3. Strathmore makes blank watercolor cards if you decide to print.
    However, if you want to frame the drawing, and you are keeping it yourself, you can hang it from a plant hanger or decorative shelf support so that it can be seen from both sides. You can buy frames that sandwich the page between 2 panes of glass.
    If you want to give it away, maybe you'd consider doing a second version on separate paper.
    Obviously, you've hit on quite a dilemma!

  4. I was going to suggest what Vicky already said, and that is to print a copy of the page either yourself or at a copy shop. I use both sides of my pages too, so that is what I would do.

  5. I used to think leaving those pages blank on the back was wasteful. However I have started making my own sketchbooks so I don't feel it is too expensive. I don't like to use the back side of the WC paper anyway. I do from time to time use those backs but I prefer not to. I think it is a mind set. It is like some people eat an entire meal served to them because they were raised to not "waste" food. You just have to break the habit.

    1. Ah Lisa... to me it's not about expense or waste. I love having a full journal... each page, both sides... a riotous book of color! I often work across the spread so by definition I'm using the reverse of something else.

      When I've wanted to send an original I will work on a separate paper using my sketchbook as my reference. The page is often better because I can edit out what didn't work.

  6. I've been drawing on both sides of my large drawing pad. When I want to give one of the drawings as a gift I get a xerox of the sheet I am removing and put the copy back into the pad in the same place. This way I still have a record of those memories the drawings represent. The problem comes when there are great drawings on both sides. Choices, choices, choices.

  7. Maybe an option for the future would be to draw on one double leaf, a whole spread, and leave the next spread empty, i.e. 2 pages, draw on the other 2 again and so on.
    I for myself often use watercolour in my notebooks and cahiers, even when the paper is not intended to be used with wet media. How often did I have to see previous pages buckle, which sometimes bothers me (when I am really proud of a piece), and promised myself to change.
    As I often collect little scraps, tickets from the museum or cinema I then glue those memorabilia on the empty page spreads. That way I end up with books that have entire spreads with finished drawings/paintings and all my collected stuff in it, no empty pages though, because even if the memorabilia does not suffice to fill the empty pages I discipline myself to fill empty pages with pencil sketches.
    This might only work for someone not too obsessed about chronological order ... (I have abandoned that since beside my "good" A5 book I always carry small others in about 10 different handbags, for when I wait for the bus or are at the playground with my children.)

  8. I would make a copy and print on cardstock...OR...take a photo of it and print it out.. :)

  9. I haven't read through the other responses, but I wanted to say that I, too, draw on both sides of my moleskin wc book. If I were you I would simply have done a second sketch of the page on a format that I could send as a thank-you. In fact, I am working on my 3rd rendition of a little wc painting to send as a thank-you for the Cirque du Soleil tickets our kids purchased for us. :)

    I like sending original art when possible, rather than a print, since I feel it's more personal. Although prints are still very nice!

    AzKate from flickr or just plain Katie from Artists Journal on facebook etc. :)

  10. I second Katie's suggestion. Making a second version makes sense, and it's also good practice for those of us who need it.

  11. great question (a tough one!) I have just made prints in the past but have been thinking last week that it would often be nicer to send originals.

    My thinking was to re-do the sketch from my sketchbook - it might not have the same immediacy as the one that I originally sketched... but then again it might be better. Last week I sketched a number of tea cup originals to give as gifts. Although I sketched basically the same thing 5 times, each time I slightly adjusted the composition (or tea/cup selection) to suit the individual.

    I have only once agreed to give someone the original in my sketchbook - but I went home, cut it out, scanned both sides and stuck the print back in my book and then posted the original off .... (my friend got a meaningless bonus sketch on the back)

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  13. of course... IF you ate the object during the first sketch... the copy with have to be a copy from your sketch not the original!!!!

  14. If I especially like a drawing and the other side is blank, I will leave it that way. But sometimes I start a drawing on the second side and I really like that one. I have debated the same issue myself for years!

  15. I am so in love with moleskines. They are the best. I have yet to try the watercolor one but sure will now :-)

  16. Thanks everyone so much for your comments and how you face this dilemma.This is such a wonderful forum for suggestions and support.

    There is obviously no answer, but just a choice I have to make.

    RE: leaving blank pages. I received a comment from someone this week. ie That leaving blank pages would take away the "journalling" flow of my sketchbook, which is part of the joy of it (for me and people who flip through it). I don't really want to have separate books, as I like the variety of my styles and subjects in one book.

    When I look back through my drawings, it is usually the "drawings" not the sketches that are the one I may want to have on separate sheets. Many of those are my objects or Nature sketching (and people have wanted to buy them !). Perhaps I could do these on separate pages or in a separate book, on only one side. I will experiment wth drawing on separate sheets and perhaps a little larger in size, but not rush into anything...


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