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  • Writer's pictureLynn Powell

Sketchbook therapy

I was delighted when two Edinburgh artists approached The Arienas Collective about running a joint workshop. I love a bit of creative collaboration!

Book-binder Cass Barron and Mark Kirkham (well-known to locals as the Edinburgh Sketcher) came up with the fantastic idea of a full-day workshop where you spend the morning creating your own, personalised sketchbook, and the afternoon learning how to speed-sketch in it.

I could see my artist daughter Jodie - whose idea of using our home to run creative workshops led to The Arienas Collective - was struggling to find the time in her ever-busy life to practise her drawing skills. It was nearing her birthday, so I decided to join in with the first book-binding workshop to make her a sketchbook. I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use Cass's recycled leather and paper to create what would be a very personal present. I surprised myself with my book-binding skills (with welcome help and encouragement from Cass!), and Jodie was so delighted with it. Jodie is a great believer in the wellbeing benefits of taking time out to be creative, and wanted to share what it's meant to her: as you can read below, it's not just a treasured sketch-book, it's provided her with much-needed creative therapy, and time out from a busy life.


"Since graduating from Fine Art six years ago, I (like many artists) have struggled to keep up with my sketching. All of the usual mundane responsibilities of adult life act as perfect excuses not to pick up a pencil and play.

When you make your own sketchbook - or are gifted a personalised, handmade sketchbook like this one - it seems like a total waste to leave it on the shelf.

In most areas of my professional life, I have to meticulously plan ahead and constantly dissect decisions, so it's tempting to aim for perfection when sketching - this is not what art is about. I made a promise to myself to not care about the end result, and just doodle - this sketchbook has allowed me to not care. It's private; no-one else needs to see my sketches, and no-one needs to know if they're good!

I scribble down things I've seen that day, things I hope to see tomorrow, my dreams or memories. I don't think while I'm sketching and that's why it's so therapeutic."

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