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Concertina sketchbook work in the style of Karen Stamper

You know I like to watch YouTube video how-tos! Here's a link to one by Karen Stamper who also runs courses/workshops (no affiliations)

I decided to have a go, and here's some photos of the processes I went through! If they seem too vague, I apologise but don't want to give away others creative secrets - click on the link to find out more!

The idea is to produce interesting backgrounds which you can sketch on. I have an old concertina sketchbook which was mostly unused as I found it wasn't good for wet media - the paper buckled and broke down when it got wet with paints etc - and it only had a couple of pen and ink sketches in of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Here are two images of the two styles of work. Which do you prefer?? 😊 The pen and ink drawing informed the more abstract one.


Here are a few photos of the process

A collection of collage bits and bobs. Some papers with marks on made some time ago following a workshop by Laura Kemshall (link in sidebar under "inspiring places")

Some sticky labels, gesso, various widths of masking tape, quink, Inktense paints, and magazine images.


Building layers of background texture with the tapes and gesso. Nothing in the least considered here, just sploshing on. If you wet the page in bits, then the quink flows delightfully and splits into component colours.

Magazine papers, sandpapered over a plastic rubbing block that the grandchildren use.

And fixed into place. When I'd finished with the sticking, inking and gessoing, (and it's very easy to do too much here), I turned to my image of the museum and put in a similar skyline. As you can see its a rough approximation only. I used a water soluble pen and diluted it to soften.

A new discovery for me, which Karen mentions on YouTube, is Posca pens. They are great fun and I love them. Kind of poster paint in a pen. They are permanent when dry but you can use water and a paintbrush to move them around whilst they are wet. I used a blue one above my building line to add definition to what was quite a busy image. I also knocked back some of the collage with white.

I'm definitely going to try this on a bigger scale - I've been given a landscape A3 sketchbook and would love to find somewhere quiet to draw some urban scenes and skylines. Anyone I know out there want to join me in Birmingham one day??


  1. What a fun process! I love the sanding over a textured block. I'd join you just as soon as I win the Lottery. LOL! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

    1. Thank you, I am - hope you are too. Yes, it would be rather expensive for an afternoon trip!

  2. Lovely work thank you for sharing it. My favourite is the abstract piece, but probably only because the precise drawing work would drive me nuts to do myself.

    1. Thank you! Depends what mood I'm in to be honest, but you can hide an awful lot under layers of stuff with gesso - also great to just go for it and not have to worry about accuracy.

  3. Replies
    1. Well that would be delightful!! I'll message you x