One of my favorite practices is using a small handmade journal for quick 2-3 min. gesture sketching, this is ultimately the best way to hone your observational and drawing skills, it is a first step in producing studies for a finished drawing and it is very energizing and fun (see purple daffodils below). For this sketchbook I use a colored pencil to capture simple impressions of objects. Another journal/sketchbook I keep is an art process sketchbook, where I try out new techniques, mix colors, do rough thumb nail sketches, etc. (bottom right). I also use a personal journal/sketchbook, which I call ethnobotanical sketchbook, where I draw plants and other natural objects, and write about the subjects and how they resonate with me, sometime I research the plant's edibility and medicinal use, or I might write about feelings or thoughts that the drawing of that plant inspires in me. I might write about the memory a plant or an animal brings forth. (bottom left) Another sketchbook I really enjoyed was a Traveling Sketchbook I participated in with Oregon Botanical Artists (top)- where 14 artists each started their own accordion sketchbook and mailed it to the next person on the list once a month. It took almost a year and a half to complete this project, and all artists ended up with beautiful gift of drawings and paintings by various artists to keep.
The page below in my personal journal, was recorded over a weekend at Lake Quinault in Washington in October. I enjoyed experimenting with format of composition, lettering and recording glorious gifts of the forest. Next year I plan on continuing all my different sketchbook practice and maybe even tweaking them a bit. I plan on starting a sketchbook devoted to just recording wild berries, as studies for later drawings, and I plan on participating in two sketchbook exchanges (one with Oregon Botanical Artists and one with Pacific Northwest Botanical Artists) and also continue my personal journal, which this year will have a special focus. For each year of my life I will be creating a page of plants, animals, natural landscape that were meaningful to me at certain age, and continue to resonate now as well. I really enjoy the variety of approaches each sketchbook offers.