Handmade Concertina Sketchbook & Plein Air Painting at Wakehurst

Handmade Concertina Sketchbook & Plein Air Painting at Wakehurst

A step by step of how I made, painted en plein air, and finished a concertina sketchbook at Wakehurst Place.

Step 1: Starting a concertina with some mark making and washes

I started with an A2 sheet of Cartridge paper to which I applied acrylic inks and played with some mark making using water soluble pencils (Derwent Inktense are my favourite for this). The marks and washes/colours were inspired by woodlands as that was my plan for painting in this sketchbook.

A2 cartridge paper with washes and marks

I loved the freedom of making part-random / mostly inspiring marks to the paper before I form the sketchbook. It really gave me something to react to when painting & adds some intriguing marks.

Step 2: Cutting and folding a single large sheet into a concertina

I then bent, cut and folded the single sheet into a concertina. See here for how to make the folds: https://citizensketcher.com/2016/03/14/make-you-own-accordion-fold-travel-journals-for-watercolor-sketching/

Bending, cutting and folding A2 paper to make the concertina

Step 3: Plein air painting on location

The best bit! I took it out painting with me when I went on a couple of visits to Wakehurst Place. In each session we spent about 20 minutes painting en plein air. The time limit adds to the energy and semi-abstracted style of my paintings. I chose to combine 4 pages of the concertina into one sketch. This gave me a landscape orientation perfect for the setting.

Plein air painting Wakehurst woodlands

Plein air painting lakeside at Wakehurst Kew

Sketching en plein air on top of a log at Wakehurst Place

Painting the last page of my concertina on top of a picnic benchStep 4: Finishing the sketchbook
I glued the open pages and made a cover using some greyboard. I used tinted gesso to paint the greyboard and decided to use a photo of one of the spots as the cover image. I used matte medium gel for glue which doesn't show up when I make a bit of a mess.

Making a cover using greyboard, tinted gesso and printout of photo & finally a quick run down and sketchbook tour:

This was a fun little project recording the last few weeks of summer 2023!


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