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Textile art by Elisabeth Rutt

Sketching without a sketchbook

June 9, 2014 by Elisabeth Rutt

I love using sketchbooks but sometimes they gain a life of their own and become too precious for the thing that they are. They also raise the agonising problem of that beautiful first white page. After years of struggling with this confrontation, that interrupts my enjoyment of a lovely new book, I have largely got over it by never using the first page, I start a couple of pages in.

But I have discovered that sketching without a sketch BOOK has become a very helpful way of discovering and planning work. I can record and experience my ideas and materials directly, either straight onto fabric or in a 3D, manipulated way in my hands.

I am finding that letting my ideas grow in this way makes the development of work into a finished piece so much more seamless (excuse the pun). The transition from an art and design media and a paper sketch book into textiles can be very difficult and often the spontaneity of the paper sketch is lost in the translation.

Here are a few photos of these attempts, some have resulted in finished pieces of work while others are still in the ‘sketch’ stage.


Textile art by Elisabeth Rutt

Textile art by Elisabeth Rutt

Textile art by Elisabeth Rutt

Textile art by Elisabeth Rutt

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Latest comments

  • Annie Gabriel 10 years ago

    What a brilliant idea!

    • Elisabeth Rutt 10 years ago

      Hello Annie

      I am glad you like the idea, I certainly find it helpful.


  • Jasmine Powers 9 years ago

    This really gave me an Aha! moment. Sometimes I think I have to do things only a certain way, but it never dawned on me that I COULD take my pen drawings off the sketch book into another medium. Usually I do either or, all doing it freestyle and not planning anything. But with the right tools, since I do a lot of work with yarn, wire and stones, I could work out some of my things beyond the page. It seems simple but I NEVER thought to do it. Thank you so much for this post! You are awesome!

    • Elisabeth Rutt 9 years ago

      Dear Jasmine

      Thank you for your comment, I too had an ‘Aha’ moment when I realised I could work in this way, it really is quite liberating!
      I wish you well with your work.


  • Jean Oberlander 9 years ago

    This has really helped me with a project I am working on! It’s never occurred to me before to try and let loose from pages into more textural and 3D thinking. A really great post!
    May I ask what are the interesting plastic rings and materials you are using in that last photo? They are lovely colours!

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