Sketchbook vs Learning Log

My feedback from Assignment 1 suggested that I begin a ‘sketchbook’. I wasn’t at all sure what this was, or how it was different to my ‘learning log’ (my on-line write ups). My main finding is that they are NOT names for the same thing.

Learning Log

“Its purpose is to record and reflect on what you have learned. We encourage you to use the learning log at intervals to stop and really think back on the things you have discovered about your practice and how you responded to tutor feedback. ”
“Clear and edited learning tool to mark your thoughts over the course.”
“Your learning log is about looking back.”
“Your learning log is more reflective and critical. With the added distance of the learning log you can be more holistic and analytical by teasing out or linking aspects of your learning.”
“Clear, edited thoughts.”
“What EXACTLY have you learned from carrying out your explorations, from your feedback, from your planning? It allows you to have a benchmark to be able to track your learning at key points and to see your progress in retrospect. Often, when studying a creative subject, we don’t realise things at the time, aspects such as strong ideas, interesting techniques, potential of selecting media combinations etc. and it is only when looking back and tracking our progress that the pennies begin to drop.”
” your learning log as more of a critical piece of writing. It is your chance to explain your work and what you have learnt to your assessor. Getting over to them key events in your practice, goals you have reached and ideas that have shaped your practice. Your learning log is also the place to visually show the links between you creative output and your contextual research, illustrating how you have been influenced by wider contexts.”
– Hall (2019)

I attended a workshop with Rebecca Fairley on 18 July: How to Approach your Learning Log which was incredibly useful for clarification. I’ve put some useful quotes from the workshop here, so I can easily refer back to them:
– to record how you have meet your learning outcomes and course aims
– a crucial point to support the learning process by pausing in between activities and reflecting
– making links and critically review elements
– A place to organise your thoughts
– A place to show how your research in books, exhibitions etc dovetails into the work you are doing
– to give evidence of discernment/choice, why you have chosen certain samples to refine and work further


Your sketchbook is about the present, the now … Your sketchbook is chronological and concerned with your immediate thoughts. These are often emotional, detailed and fragmented as your work unfolds.
“A diary or a place to write streams of creative consciousness”
“Long musings, those quick impulsive notes and the personal sketches.”
– Hall (2019)

“It is a collection of ideas which ultimately form a ‘library of possibilities’. This library exists primarily for the artist to be able to refer back to concepts and information when creating new work. The book is not a precious work of art in itself and so can be treated in a very free, playful, individual, expressive and spontaneous manner.”
“Your sketchbook is a record of inspiration and experiments. It is like a view into your creative mind which shows what you are looking at and how you are responding to it. This includes colour, texture, proportion, techniques, others artists and designers, drawings, painted sketches, material samples, internet downloads, book and magazine cuttings……anything which is inspiring you and moving you forward. You should be adding to, and referring to, this book throughout a project.”
“Show how you have looked at an artist or designer and then reinterpreted their style or technique in your own way. Throughout history creative people have developed their own work by looking at, and responding to, the work of others.”
– Musson (2015)

It turns out I have been using sketchbooks for years, in my non-OCA work.

And even in my quilt pattern drafting:

So, it was a fairly easy transition to incorporate a Sketchbook into my OCA work, too:

I am more pleased with my outcomes since employing a sketchbook. It allows me to do more concrete experimentation, rather than considering the options by imagining them.


Hall, F. (2019) ‘Using your learning log’ in Explore #WeAreOCA, 4 January

Musson, N. (2015) “What Should My Sketchbook Contain?” in Explore #WeAreOCA, 22 April,

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