Commonplace Book

Over the years, and because it’s particularly useful in my role as an art & design lecturer, I have kept my own version of a Commonplace book, a book where I would jot down all manner of facts and information that I feel may prove useful to me at some future point. Quotations, poems, ideas, and plans- all find their way into these notebooks (I now have a good number of them) alongside which I also place information that is somewhat mundane and prosaic-notes from work meetings for example. When I began teaching as a career I quickly realised that the obligatory staff/work meetings that I had to attend were an ideal place to sketch. My work colleagues who were present and, as a consequence, being somewhat static and focused elsewhere, presented ideal opportunities for impromptu portraiture.

The caricature style of the sketches are a reflection of the drawing technique that I use. I focus on the face of the person and do not look at my notebook as I draw- and I then draw quickly, in this way I avoid the ‘nodding head’ action that accompanies the act of looking at the sketchbook and then the subject, after all, I do not wish to draw attention to myself (I am expected to be attentive to the meeting after all) or to make my subject self conscious or embarrassed should they become aware of my interest. This approach (at times) allows for surprisingly accurate likenesses. These drawings are not meant to be ‘serious art’ and drawing in notebooks, as opposed to using a sketchbook, releases me from any expectation as to the quality of work – I can just have a bit of fun.

These sketches have been completed over the past 15 years. Many colleagues have now retired or moved on to other jobs and these drawings serve as a record of individuals who taught me a lot about the craft of teaching.