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  • Writer's pictureSue Bulmer

My Concertina Sketchbook Year so far...

It's the 1st of July and I am half way through my year long creative sketchbook project #myconcertinasketchbookyear.

If you didn't know already, in January 2023 I pledged to make at least one handmade concertina sketchbook each month and fill it with inspiration from each month. I had been on a journey of reflection and decided that I needed to spend some time on my creativity 'just for me' as I felt the constant comparison with others was pulling me out of shape. I took a month off social media in December 2022 while I was coming up with my plan and released it to the world in January along with my January concertina sketchbook.

What an unexpected journey the past six months have been. As winter turned into spring I realised that this project was really resonating with people so I invited them to join me. I have had the company of creatives from all across the globe making their own sketchbooks alongside me 'virtually' since then and it has been lovely to see a little community grow around this simple idea. People have contacted me telling me how this project has helped them to find their creative flow again after illness, bereavements and huge life changes and it feels amazingly rewarding to know that I am connecting with people in such a meaningful way. It's now my one of my life goals to help and support people to access the wellbeing benefits of creativity by living more creative lives.

I have even made an online course, Creative Soul Sketchbooks, sharing my own developing process and giving hints, tips, inspiration and ideas to help people on their own creative sketchbook journeys. It takes you on a deeper dive into my process and feedback so far has been amazing.

The year so far in review

So far I have explored cool wintry icy pastels in January, brights and darks in February where I felt a brief return of the sun but was plummeted back into winter before you could say snowdrops. There was the crocus inspired combo of yellow and purple in March, followed by neon pinks in April and then moving into orange, blue and collage in May. The latest one, inspired by my garden, took me into pastures new with Brusho Powders and saw me sitting in my garden taking in nature with my inks and pens at the ready.

Each month has taught me something new...

It has been a journey of discovery. Each month has been different and I've learned something new each time, whether it's something as simple as learning what happens to two colours when you mix them together or how it feels to sit with discomfort (March, yellow and purple!!) or 'incompleteness' (confession - June hasn't even got a cover on it yet!!). I am enjoying the process so much, and I'm loving that you are all sharing this journey with me. That said, June has been a testing month, and I don't feel I have enjoyed it anywhere near as much as May. I had a residential course for my job, I was working on tweaks and amends for the course up until the last minute, there was the realisation that I had done what I set out to do but then the vulnerability of releasing it to the world and all that entails. I started feeling a bit wobbly prior to the course release date on 17th June but my fears were allayed as sales arrived as hoped. I ended June with a well-earned holiday to replenish, reflect and reset. I'm taking it easy in July as I know too well that burnout can creep up on us easily and without much warning.

Plans for the second half of the year

I'm now beginning the second half of the year aware that the Summer Solstice has passed and wondering what's in store as we head into mid-summer and autumn. I feel I need to revisit my themes of Seasonal Alignment and see where that guides me. Maybe I will browse the pages of my Almanac by Lia Leendertz, or maybe I will dip into Sacred Seasons, my newest seasonal find by Kirsty Gallagher. Or maybe I will just take my dog for a walk and sit in a field and wait to see what crops up for me?

Are you joining me? Why not sign up to my course and follow along?

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Aug 15, 2023

Your #myconcertienasketchbookyear concept is an absolute delight! The inspiration, ideas, colours and your enthusiasm is a complete joy. Love following you on Instagram and watching your creative process unfold (or fold, if it's a concertina sketchbook). I had to laugh when I read the bit above, about you ''....sitting in a field and see what crops up''. Crops up - very apt for your current season😃


Aug 02, 2023

Love your sketchbooks. Question: After you make them, do you fill them daily with inspiration, comments, etc? Or, are they finished after you do the art in them? I thought you were making a personal sketchbook to fill during the rest of the month, but after seeing so many of your videos, I wonder if the sketchbook is the end product. Thanks.

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