Off the Rails Arthouse Sketchbook project

We need to keep our spirits up and our minds ticking over!

This project is for everyone and no previous experience is required just a bit of imagination. It is also free!

So what is the idea?

All you need to do is find a sketchbook and then fill it with things relating to a theme chosen from a long list.

The sketchbook

Over the years I have collected loads of sketchbooks that have never been touched or have a couple of pages filled in. I am sure that many of you will also have a stash hidden away.

If you don’t have a suitable book, ask friends and family they may be able to give you one, alternatively you can make up your own- collect all sorts of paper or card e.g use computer paper or bits of found paper, maps, envelopes, packaging etc. then stitch them together to make a book. Or use old diaries or notebooks.

The themes

Choose a theme from the list below…..there are some cracking themes and perfect for imaginative interpretation! If you are going to participate please get in touch and tell us which theme you have chosen, it would be good to know if certain themes have been more engaging. Please let us know your theme in the comments box on our special Sketchbook Project page here. 


Fill your sketchbook with…..

Drawings, photographs, writings, collections, collage, thoughts, jottings or combinations of them all. You may be a musician or an actor and have a very different approach to the sketchbook. It is all about thinking and developing ideas.

Here are some pointers to get you started:-

Be imaginative, turn things on their head, look at the theme from different perspectives, some pages may be very simple, some extremely complicated.

Use a variety of media and techniques, even if you are focusing on the written word think about what you are writing with and how it is presented on the page. Cut out sections, add bits, fold, hide, reveal.

Work at your own pace, you don’t need to work in it everyday. You may need time to ponder the theme whilst doing something else. Time is on our side. Enjoy the process.

For many of us a sketchbook is a private place to explore ideas and thoughts and visually put them into some sort of order. It can be shared or not, the choice is yours.

If you would like to share, post on Instagram (@offtherailsarthouse),  Twitter or Facebook and hashtag #offtherailsarthouse #offtherailsarthousesketchbookproject #sketchbookproject   #yourtheme

And then what…..

At some point in the future Off the Rails Arthouse would like to host an exhibition of these sketchbooks, possibly at the end of the year or early next year. We will have to see how things pan out before making any firm decisions but that is the long-term plan.

In the meantime through the Off the Rails Arthouse website and social media we will encourage sharing sketchbook pages…… it is your choice no pressure!


The project is inspired by The Brooklyn Sketchbook project.


We hope you will join our sketchbook project. Our daily lives might have been put onto ‘pause’ but what a perfect opportunity to give ourselves time for some creative development!

Claire Heminsley- Chair Off the Rails Arthouse


In 50 years

Ask me how I can help

The first ever


Things that change other things

In 10 minutes

Along the line

Dancing on the spot

What the patriarchy taught me

2 metres

The view from up here

Last orders



The books that made me….

Hidden moves

At the end of the garden

Best before

Fill me with stories

Things found under car seats

Travel with me

The companion books


It’s summer where you are

It’s winter where you are

Nothing new

Time traveller

Opposite day

Unchartered waters


Long trips and short phone calls

Encyclopaedia of…..

Writing on the wall

A path through the trees

Stitches and folds

Heroes and villains

Forks and spoons

Superheroes in everyday clothes

Make mine a double

Great hopes and massive failures

In 10 minutes

Bottles and jars

Distance and time

Photo log


Super clothes on everyday people

In 10 years

Right here, right now

Familiar friends


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