Artists – Travel Sketchbooks

  1. Scarfe

Fraser Scarfe (1986 – present)

An artist still in the process of carving his niche and making his name. Scarfe was the 2013 Drawing Year Programme Manager at The Royal School of Art. Growing up in Lincolnshire and presently based there he was the Artist in Residence 2008-09 at Lincoln Cathedral cumulating with his first solo exhibition.  Over the last few years he has had other residencies in the UK and abroad.  (The Royal Drawing School. 2018). 

Scarfe’s love of the natural world and his home area of Lincolnshire provides much of the subject matter for his paintings.  Taking as much opportunity as possible he draws from observation noting the world he inhibits be the countryside, the town or observing the city from a vantage point.  As a painter drawing has always been at the core of Scarfe’s practise.  This drawing from natural is at the heart of his practise.  This observation from life allows him to capture the essence of a place capturing the energy and pulse as well as the dynamism of a place.  These ‘field sketches’ prove the foundations for much of his studio painting.  (Australia, 2018)

Much of his sketchbooks are filled with ink drawings done using a broad tipped marker.  This allows strong positive lines to be quickly noted using a a rapid gestural style noting the main characteristics of a person or location within getting into detail.  A quick scribble notes the dark shadowed side of a building, a jacket or a jumble of hair.  Where detail may be lacking they are supported by their strong sense of a snapshot from life, a frozen moment where Scarfe has looked and noted a scene or people getting on with their individual lives.  Some sketches are completed over two pages across the open spine of the sketchbook.

The examples from Scarfe’s sketchbooks are from his website are from London 2013 and Pignano, Italy, 2013. (2018). 

Sketchbook – LONDON 2013

Sketchbook – Pignano, Italy, 2013

In the second sketchbook of Scarfe’s looked at here, the drawings were produced during an Artist’s Residency at this Italian town.  The tight close scene of London are replaced by wider vistas.  The close confines of London city open in these drawing probably as a result of the bright light and open countryside he depicts.  Where he depicts a townscape such as Fig. 6-5. The tight closeness of London is replaced by a broader more theatrical and dramatic scene.

Where he is familiar with life in Britain he gets in close understanding and blending with the ‘natives’ but in Italy he seems to have placed himself, even in the crowds in a more remote place.

iPad Sketches

As well as using conventional artist materials, Scarfe has also embraced technology in his art utilising an iPad to sketch.  Three examples are shown alongside of this medium.  Colour drawings can be done just as easily as monochrome.  The mark making tool can be adjust to simulate different drawing mediums such as pen, pencil, brush as well as different tip types such a round, flat etc.

Just as the invention of the metal tube freed the artists of 19th century France to work outdoors and be mobile like never before, electronic implements have freed the modern artist to carry a notebook, sketchbook and a variety of mediums in effect in their pocket.  Photographs and notes of a scene can be made and saved on a device alongside sketches by the artist and uploaded for others to see before the artist is even home from his sortie.


Using his notes and field sketches Scarfe works in other media to produce work.  Incorporating marks similar to those made in the filed he has produced an etching with a dark, foreboding presence.  The dramatic sky dominates about two-thirds of the work as it looms threateningly over the silhouette of a town.

Another image with a dramatic dominate sky is the one alongside “Fig. 13. Lincoln from Canwick – sunset (2012)”.  This atmospheric monochrome drawing captures the spires of Lincoln rising above the city as the light fades signalling the end of another day.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 6-1. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601326731. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-2. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601326824. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-3. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601326731. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-4. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601326770. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-5. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601211635. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-6. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601211676. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-7. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601211679. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-8. Scarfe, F. (2013). Sketch – 4601211651. [online] Available at: [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-9. Scarfe, F. (2012). IPAD Sketch 1. [online] Available at: .150353934997564/279244668775156/?type=3&theater [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-10. Scarfe, F. (2012). IPAD Sketch 2. [online] Available at: .150353934997564/279244668775156/?type=3&theater [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-11. Scarfe, F. (2012). IPAD Sketch 1. [online] Available at: .150353934997564/279244668775156/?type=3&theater [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-12. Scarfe, F. (2012). Lincoln from Canwick – sunset. [online] Available at: 150353934997564/475308632502091/?type=3&theater [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]

Fig. 6-13. Scarfe, F. (2012). Lincoln from Canwick – sunset. [online] Available at: 73146.150353934997564/444814672218154/?type=3&theater [Accessed on 25 Apr’18]


Australia, C. (2018). Young Artist making a stir in the UK / Paint Talk / Chroma. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018]. (2018). BIOGRAPHY – Fraser Scarfe. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].

The Royal Drawing School. (2018). Fraser Scarfe | The Royal Drawing School. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Jul. 2018].