Monday, 30 January 2012

Sketchbook Peeks - Dawn Bevins

Before we start, tell us a little about yourself/how did you get into art/craft/design career and how it all started and where you are now

I have been creative for as long as I can remember, my life has revolved around drawing, and making, quite instinctively. I chose the Art & Design route through education, choosing an Art & Design GCSE, an 'A' Level, completing a Foundation course, and then ending with a degree in Graphic Design. Having no experience, it took me a while to get a design job, so I was a Bookseller for a while, (which I loved), then I got a in-house design job working for the MOD. I was happy there for a couple of years, but found creatively I wasn't pushed enough, and that I wasn't using my full potential, and that was frustrating. To get the kind of design job that ticked all the boxes, I knew, I would have to probably approach agencies in London, but didn't want to become a commuter, so I had to think of something else. It was strange, and I had to adapt, as I had never considered working for myself before. All through education, I always knew I would do something creative, but always thought I would be an employee, and I don't even know why. I mean finances can be a struggle, but no one ever mentioned how easy it was to become self-employed. I am now a sole trader, I have my own little web site, and sell on Folksy too. I create illustrations, cards, and various delights from polymer clay, including art beads.

How long have you been using sketchbooks?
On and off for years, there have been definite wilderness years, where I have been sitting on a bus thinking ' I really wish I carried a sketchbook with me'. I am definitely not the kind of girl  that has a sketchbook with her all the time, I wish I was, but, I will get out of carrying a bag, and just shove everything in my pockets if I can. If I have to carry anything, I will put it down and forget to pick it upagain :)

How often do you sketch?
At the beginning of 2012 I began a doodle a day sketching challenge, the Doodle Olympics, so for at least the next year, I will be sketching daily. I think it was university that stopped me sketching, we used layout pads, and were drawing all the time, but you had to use ink pen, as the emphasis was on quickly communicating ideas visually, and not perfecting an image. A lot of my actual drawing skills became very rusty, and I have been intending to try and get them back ever since, but this challenge is the first time I have ever really done anything about it.
How do you feel about the prospect of starting a new sketchbook?
 It depends on the sketchbook, I should stick to bog standard sketchbooks, if you give me anything remotely pretty, whether it be the cover, unusual format, or quality of paper, I will just keep it pristine for ten years, not wanting to ruin it with my heavy-handed scribbles. I need a sketchbook that I am not worried about ripping the pages out of. Actual blank pages alone don't worry me, it is important just to make a mark, and kind of mark on the paper.

When/where do you get your inspiration for your sketchbook pages?
I think I absorb a lot around me, without thinking too much. At the moment I am drawing from photos a fair bit, forcing myself the get my lost skills back, making myself draw eyes, forcing myself to look at skin tones. I also sketch things I think might be useful, I have been trying to draw woodland animals, as I might try and feature them in invitations for our wedding in the future. I have also been drawing cats, because I was trying to come up with Baby Shower invites for my friend, and she loves cats. Today, my mind was blank, so I put the television on and began watching it, with pencil in hand, and pad on lap. Then I began making marks, while looking at the television still. Some were just what I felt like doing, some were following the movements I was watching, then I was inspired by the mass of random marks, and turned them into something.

How would you describe your creative process?
It varies, it usually starts with, the couch, a cup of tea, a pad and a pencil, especially if I just want to sketch. Whether I am drawing from a photo or imagination, I usually just go at it instinctively, you won't catch me holding my pencil up, squinting, and trying to measure things, or doing too much planning, I'm more chaotic than that, and I liked to get absorbed and lost in things. If I am doing one of my Zombie collages, I will do a simple line drawing, then trace all the parts of image separately, then paint an cut out all the parts, before putting them together, for the final piece. Sometimes I will scan a pencil drawing, and colour by hand, using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop. Sometimes I will paint parts of an image, and compile them together digitally. I don't really plan ahead though, I just think 'right, what now?' In the case of the '30' Owl image, that was created from several elements, an Owl sketch, a sketch of a leaf, that was then turned into a repeat pattern, and then used to help fill the Owl in.

Have your sketchbooks evolved over the years and if so, how?
They have probably devolved. I have found it quite frustrating, knowing that my sketchbooks used to be of a pretty high standard, and now, not so much, but at least I know what I am aiming for, and what I am capable of.

What is your favourite medium to work with?
I think variety is important. I love to use pencil or pen, because they are so immediate, and great for jotting down quick ideas, but I find it quite hard not to use bright colour. I have created a few images using polymer clay, which I enjoy, but it is quite time consuming. I used to love working in oils at college, but I just can't afford to make the kind of mess I do, using oils, in my tiny house, it would be a disaster, I used to get it everywhere :) I mostly create collages, because it means I can create small bits, and then put them together, allowing me to change my mind at the last minute. I think years of doing graphics and using the Adobe programs, have made me rely on the 'undo' command, and that doesn't exist when creating in the real world. As well as drawing skills, I also need to remember how to commit to something, and not worry about it going wrong.

Do you have a favourite sketchbook?
No, most of my sketchbooks end up in pieces, I have sheets of paper lying around all over he place.
If you had to pick one favourite page which would it be and why?
Usually I wouldn't have one, because my pages end up having so many bits and pieces on them, but browsing through, I found a page, with a little character on, that looks like he is scared and reaching up. I like drawing characters, and would one day like to illustrate a book, but I don't yet have the skills, to draw recognisable characters consistently, and from varying perspectives. It was nice that this little chap, although not the most impressive example of sketching, wasn't just standing face on, looking out form the page, being just 'flat' I really need to get away from that.

Thanks Dawn for taking part in this post for Sketchbook Peeks, if anyone wants to contact Dawn or see more of her work you can find her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, you can find out more about her on her website, and you can read about what she has been up to on her blog.  


  1. Thank you Sue, another great inspirational read for a beginner.

    Will certainly now go look at more of Dawns work, then return to the sketchbook - one day I might have something worth showing off.

  2. Thanks Sue! Fascinating peek ... looking at other people's sketchbooks is so inspiring, especially as I'm trying to restart my own sketchbook practice this year.


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