Sketchbook Exchange–Accordion Style

Sketchbook Exchange–Accordion Style

Sketchbook exchanges can be a source of inspiration, encouragement and sharing ideas, in other words, building artistic community.   At least that is the experience of a group I belong to, Oregon Botanical Artists, an Artists Circle under the auspices of the American Society of Botanical Artists.  We are on our third sketchbook exchange, and we are hooked!  Here are some of my entries in the exchange:

front page of my sketchbook

After I finish my monthly entry in the sketchbook, I mail it to the next person in the rotation, who lives in Seattle. This is the title page in my own book.  I probably won’t see my sketchbook again until it comes around to me completed, with entries from 12 different artists.

entry in the next sketchbook

I chose a nasturtium from my garden for my entry in the next sketchbook.  A looser style seemed to suit the bright textured blossoms.

rose hips from a field

Laura Shea, the artist before me in the exchange, drew the lovely trailing hop vine across the bottom of the spread in colored pencil.  She is great at leaving space for collaboration!  The wild rose hips that I gathered on a road trip seemed to fit the space nicely. I used a Lami Safari fountain pen with Lexington Grey ink and watercolors for my entry.

Dried Seedheads

Laura’s Harlequin Glorybower left room for my entry of dried seed heads with an overwintering lady bug added for a bit of color.  I used a quill pen and ink, a water brush filled with diluted grey ink and one with brown ink along with a dab of watercolor in this one. I found that the surface of the paper  was too soft to use the quill pen easily.  I like to experiment with different techniques and tools in sketchbooks, both for learning and for fun!

Redwood Twig

When I receive the sketchbook each month, I begin looking for something that will flow with Laura’s entry.  The redwood twig that I spied on one of my daily walks seemed to fit the space around Laura’s leaf, mushrooms and acorns, and echoes her colors.

Licorice Fern

A trailing licorice fern frond says hello to Laura’s Harlequin Glorybower berries. I used water colors in this entry and the one above.

Three sketchbook spreads

Here are three sketchbook spreads from the OBA exchange. The variety of colors, textures and styles create a lovely display.  It’s a great way to showcase several artists’ work at once.

Here are four sketchbook spreads from the OBA exchange.

Here are four more sketchbook spreads from the exchange. I think that you will agree that it is a gorgeous array of interacting artwork!

We are using Sennelier Urban sketchbooks, which are 4″ x 6″ (10cm x 15cm) in an accordion-style.

Intertwining our artwork seems symbolic of what we are about as an artists circle–encouraging and supporting each others work!

Sketchbook Exchange Participants

Some of the artists in the exchange: front row from left: Jane Levy Campbell, Laura Shea, Kip Nordstrom
back row from left: Alice Debo, Janene Walkky, Dorothy Krogh, Kristine Mackessy, Carol Putnam


  1. deb rossi says

    So lovely…so many wonderful botanicals. the compositions flow so well and the colors and details are a delight to peruse.
    Do you think these will ever be on display? Would love to see them up close.

    • Hi Deb, Glad you like them! We drool over them at our monthly meetings when we stretch them out on the table. Right now we are about halfway through the current exchange so we wouldn’t put them on display until after the rounds are completed. We’re open to suggestions for places to display them though! One place for sure will be during our next show at Lan Su Garden in 2019.

  2. Gillian Receveur says

    The books look amazing. I am a botanical artist in New Zealand. Also go to a book arts group, where I made a back to back accordion book. I work in coloured pencil.

    • Gillian, I haven’t tried making an accordion sketchbook yet, but I think they would be much easier than traditional sketchbooks. A friend of mine uses coasters for the covers of her home-made travel sketchbooks. Thanks for your comment!

  3. I have never seen a project like this before – what a wonderful idea it is; and the pages … stunning!

    • Sigrun–Glad you enjoyed seeing our project–I highly recommend sketchbook exchanges! And you can mail them if you don’t live near another artist.

  4. Angela Cox says

    These are just so lovely and I admire the way the illustrations weave around on the pages.

  5. Oh what a wonderful display! I’ve just come across your blog and so happy I did! Really beautiful work! I sell antique and vintage botanical books and love seeing the work of botanical artists. Kindest Wishes, Katie

    • Hi Katie, I am glad you enjoyed visiting my website and blog! Your Etsy shop has a remarkable selection of beautiful books–I had fun looking around. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

  6. Oh thank you so much for the response and for looking at my Owl and Wallflower shop. I love making accordion books, but never used one as a sketchbook before for so will have to give it a go! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful work!

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