How to Complete a Sketchbook in Se7en + 1 Days…

So it is the season for folk to be writing new years resolutions by the dozen… and I am so impressed with all the good intentions that are flying about the internet… I tell you this is the year that folk are going to be better organised, better exercised, better rested than ever before. Not just the fact that they are going to be doing all these fantastic things, but how to do them… how to become better readers, writers, bloggers… I tell you it is so inspiring and I have been pinning all these fabulous ideas like crazy. Really, I had to create a new board on Pinterest: Other Folks Resolutions.


I love a good resolution as much as anybody and enjoy joining Apartment Therapy’s Cure every year, a quick and easy home spruce up… little and doable steps on a daily basis for the month of January. I love John Acuff’s Empty Shelf Challenge, why have I never thought of keeping track of what I have read over a period of time… and I will definitely be joining the Jane Austen Book Club, on Gidget Goes Home, I haven’t read these forever and it is time to re-read!!!

Just like everyone else, a New Year inspires me – I crank open a new moleskin and all those blank pages look at me and I honestly cannot wait to fill them with ideas. Meanwhile in the spirit of Resolutions, I firmly believe in doing more of what is working for us and a whole lot less of what isn’t is a good place to start. Nothing like a blank page… which leads me to this: Yes… it is Sketchbook season and right now all the pages in our sketchbook are blank. The sketchbook project is just our best art project that we do as a family each year. And there is just over a week until the closing date… I love to say that once a year we write a book and yes, we do always leave it until the last minute.

How to Complete a Sketchbook in a Week

  1. Choose Your Theme Well: I try and choose a fairly broad theme each year then we chat about it for days before we actually begin… the more people that you talk to about your impending project the more the ideas will fly around your head… let them fly and capture any brilliant ideas that you know you want to hang on too.
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  3. Plan Your Book: I usually make a grid of the book so that we can pop thoughts and ideas down. It has works for us to have a plan because we need to get the pages into the right order. We can’t think “aahhh we need a contents page” after the fact… so we need a plan. Don’t worry about sticking to every detail of the plan… by the end of the project it is very rare for our book to look anything like the plan… ideas evolve and something that you thought would be fantastic need a lot of adapting and rearranging to work within the pages of a sketchbook.
  4. Gather Things All Year: We sign up for this project months in advance, we know it is looming on the horizon and there is a lot you can do before hand… I have a special box where I keep scraps of paper, teeny tiny things that might be handy to stick into our book… candy wrappers, tiny drawings from the kids, pressed flowers, pressed leaves… pamphlets with interesting maps and so on…
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  6. Do a Walk Around Your Home: I do a walk around and clear out the junk drawer and the counter where we plonk our keys where we are at home, you would be amazed at what you find: old buttons, foreign and useless coins, postcards, envelopes, little tiny toys… and paper scraps, bits of ribbon, stickers… honestly all those things that just lie on your bookshelves that you wish you could throw out… well now is the time to use them to create your work of art… not exactly tossing out treasures but rather using them in the cause of great art…
  7. Just Start: I always stall and delay starting because I want the whole thing to be perfect, but I really just need to start putting things on the pages… I try and put something on each page… a water colour background, some writing, stamp a few things… just something on each page – so that I have something to work on. Use whatever you have, anything you might have lying around… to get something onto each page… it breaks the “aaah it is a blank page feeling.” By the end of the year I have any number of doodles and drawings that I might have done alongside the kids… that can become great material for the book.
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  9. Fill in the Details: Now that you have something on every page start to build up your pages… work on a spread until you can’t stand the site of it anymore and then move on. You can always return to a page later, “a change is as good as a holiday.” Keep going on another page until you run out of steam and then move onto the next page… often a break from a particular spread means you can come back later with new ideas and inspiration later. At this stage you just have to keep on going and I find by doing little bits here and there it quickly adds up to a filled in sketchbook.
  10. Give Yourself a Day’s Grace: Just mark your calendar a day earlier than the deadline. I kid you not, there was one year where I really nearly didn’t make the deadline, because just as I was due to dash to the deadline someone arrived at the gate and chatted and chatted and chatted… I dashed across town but the post office was already closed… had to run home and catch a ride with a friend – dashing all over the city looking for a post office that was still open… we found one luckily, but I wouldn’t like to go through that again!!!
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    And the se7en + 1th Step:

  12. Just Relax and Enjoy It: Our kitchen does look like complete chaos as this project spreads itself onto every surface and over days and days… there is no cleaning up for meals or clearing the counters… just ideas and intensity on every surface. The more relaxed you are the easier it is to work, stay chilled and keep in mind that you can hand in whatever you have done. Rather enjoy the process and have fun creating your book and don’t finish than dash and rush and stress. This is a project we really enjoy, nothing will turn my kids off faster than worrying about the deadline… the deadline is really there to help, so that the project doesn’t become all consuming and go on and on for years on end. The project has a finish… that you are working towards. And we are going to love working on our sketchbook, the project that we can’t wait to sign up for each year.

A Tour of Previous Sketchbooks:

Sketchbook 2013: A Travelogue

This book is packed with places we have been and places we would love to go… top tips for traveling with kids, what to pack and where to go… it’s also just a bit of fun…

Click on the images to step inside a book.

Sketchbook 2012: A Companion Book

I was thinking of a Companion Book as a little book full of things you need to know and packed with little reminders… things you don’t want to forget. A simple cover belies a notebook packed with tips and ideas… things every family wants to remember, every family needs to know… fun stuff, serious stuff… things to collect and pop into your year book, things to do in and out of the seasons. Gift ideas, craft ideas, game ideas, travel ideas… Packed!!! Click on the cover and step right in…

Click on the images to step inside a book.

Sketchbook 2011: A Day in the Life…

This little book describes a day in the life of a family with se7en + 1 kids… maybe not all the laundry and dirty dishes you might think!!! You really do want to click on the cover and step inside and see what we get up to!!!

Click on the images to step inside a book.


Thanks to the SketchBook Project… for such a fun time!!!

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