Fundamental to most artists have been their skills as a draughtsman. Turner would take sketchbooks with him where ever he went, so that any opportunity to practice and hone his skills could be taken.
Original sketches attributed to Turner now can be listed in their thousands and most that still remain have been collected together for the Turner Collection at the Tate.
Such sketching allows us to look directly into the mind of the artist and understand more about the methods use to plan and disect the scene that he was producing.
Of the hundreds of sketchbooks which remain from his career, pencil, chalk and ink are the three tools he used to fill these with exciting drawings, preparatory sketches and study pieces.
The sketches available stretch across his whole life, thus enabling us to understand in great detail the developments that he made as his life progressed.
William Turner would use India ink and tobacco-water to adapt his sketch books when using them outdoors. This subtle colouring reduced glare from impeding his work. He also made other customisations to some of his books in order to create drawings and watercolours exactly as he wanted.
Sometimes the artist would customise items himself, other times he might order them to be adapted especially for him.