Wednesday, June 19, 2013

More Lamy Love...

As part of an ongoing project with my sketching group, we each made a themed journal which we are exchanging with each other over the next few months. I recently got mine back and was thrilled to have examples of everyone in the group's work. My most recent drawing in my journal is this little bird. The theme is "A Red Thread", so I drew this little guy and then pierced the paper and put a piece of red embroidery thread in his beak. My book is back out in the group again and will come back to me in a couple of months. Once it's full, I'll scan it and post it online.

Lamy Joy Calligraphy pen with 1.1 nib, Lamy Black ink in handmade Stonehenge accordion journal, 7.5" x 5.5" open.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Getting Back Into It...

After the intensity of April's Fake Journal Month, the last few weeks seem calm by comparison. I've had a few times out with my local sketching group with mixed results. A couple of weeks ago we went to the Historical Society Museum where they have a big outdoor area with lots of old buildings and equipment. This is my third time there and each time I've chosen one of the old tractors to draw. This time I decided to go for this old guy...a Caterpillar Thirty crawler. I love doing these detailed nuts and bolts type drawings. This old fella had a lot of parts missing and was resting in the shade under the trees, which means lots of leaf litter!

Way back in November, Marc Taro Holmes turned me on to the Lamy Joy Calligraphy Pen and the Lamy Black Ink after I saw his fabulous vacation journal he did in Newfoundland. Click through and watch the UTube video of his flip-through. It is a beautiful book! This Lamy Black ink bleeds in a very wonderful unpredictable way and works great with just plain water or with watercolor. I decided to work on this crawler with just plain water because he was grey anyway. In my Stillman & Birn Alpha 5.5 x 8.5 sketchbook using the 1.1 calligraphy nib...

Click to enlarge!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Things I Learned While Doing IFJM….

I'm finally getting around to writing this wrap-up of IFJM after a lot of 'life' interruptions. It was good to sit down and reflect on my experience as I hope it will help me for next year's IFJM and maybe help some of you too. So here are my thoughts...

1. It always takes more time than you think.  I had wanted to keep my daily time to a minimum after previous years having to drop out due to lack of time to work on the journal. This year I just wanted to do quick watercolor and pencil sketches. Well, that quickly turned into very detailed drawings/paintings that took a lot of time. Plus I was spending a lot of time reading and researching the birds I was depicting. I was really enjoying myself so I decided to start getting up earlier so I would have more uninterrupted time to work on the journal. This worked well. I also decided to scan the finished pages in batches as that seemed a more economical use of time vs. scanning every day. 

2. Paper issues. I searched for one of the Alvin Field Journals that Roz Stendahl has used in the past (I loved the crinkly sound of the pages) but was not able to find one. I bought several other brands and decided on the Sokkia Economy Field Book as the one I wanted to use. It measures 4.5" x 7.25" closed which yielded a nice aspect ratio open at 7.25" x 9". Another bonus was it fit on the scanner easily. The paper was fairly tough, yet I managed to tear it in several places by going back in with pencil or pen while it was still wet with heavy washes. Also the paper buckled so badly I had to weight it in-between working on spreads. Bleed through was another issue as well, but I found if I let things dry completely before adding the next layer (a tough one for me) it was better. One of the things I've learned is that I really love working on non-traditional paper surfaces, the only problem with that is if you end up with a nice drawing that you want to reproduce or use in some other way, you are limited. It makes me think that I need to make some sketchbooks with my own paper in them that is more friendly to the heavy working I'm doing to the surface plus holds back wet media a little better. 

3. Accidents can be happy…go with them. I tried to keep a open mind about my character and go with the flow. I did a test page in the back of all the books I was considering to try to decide which one to use. When I decided on the Sokkia book I did another test page in the second to the back page…a trial page with a possible layout using all the materials I thought I might use. Horror of horrors when I counted the remaining pages in the book, there were just enough left to finish the month with no extras! I decided then to keep my first test page as April 1 and work backwards in the book. Kind of weird, but it worked. 

4. Doing preliminary sketches allowed me to get a feel for the shapes of the birds and how they are put together. I made lots of preliminary quick pencil and watercolor wash sketches in a large (for me--8.5"x11") spiral bound sketchbook. This really helped me to find the essence of the bird and understand how they are put together. I'm really fond of many of these loose sketches and plan to do more. I started out with fairly simple illustrations and as I worked on in the journal the drawings became more detailed and studied. This is funny since I have always tried to break from this style as I had worked this way for so long. But I think there is something I enjoy about working and reworking an image that I need to pay attention to as well. 

5. Trying new media. I decided part way in to start working with my Inktense pencils as well as the watercolor and pen/pencil. This turned out to be a good thing because as I became more detailed with my drawings and familiar with the Inktenses, I could work the drawings up and layer slowly, developing a lot of new effects I hadn't known were possible. 

6. Go with the character flow, if you don't like your initial choice--Change it. I started out thinking I would do one thing with my IFJM journal. About two days before I was due to start, I realized I really didn't want to go where that character might lead. I was mildly freaking out, thinking, "what the heck am I going to do???" Luckily I was in the middle of shooting photos at a wildlife area and the thought of documenting birds in a 'field journal' was something that I really resonated with. It's not a new idea, but the combination of learning to draw birds plus learning more about them was a huge pull. I think that was the big take-away for me on this project. One thing that was really helpful was John Muir Laws' book "Guide to Drawing Birds". It really made a difference in how I looked at birds and drew them. 

So all in all a great experience. I'm already planning for 2014!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mail Art

I've been experimenting with mail art lately. I had a small package that needed to be sent and that plain old manila envelope just seemed to be begging for decoration. I don't know why, but using these kinds of 'throw-away' surfaces is so appealing to me. Maybe it's because it's not in a sketchbook and needs to be of a certain quality? As I worked on the drawing I kept thinking about what the rooster might be thinking, or at least my experiences with my own roosters, who seem to ALWAYS have a mind of their own. It was fun to imagine this guy stepping into the mud and tracking it across the envelope on his way to other adventures.

Back of envelope
Front of envelope
This started out as a pen and ink drawing then I added gouache, Inktense pencils and graphite. Fun.

Friday, March 22, 2013

More RITR and Inktense

I'm having still having fun with the Rite in the Rain journal and the Inktense pencils. I got out my Lamy Joy pen with the non-waterproof Lamy ink and did a few sketches on binder paper while I was on the phone the other day. It seems like these always come out pretty good for some reason. I like the way the Lamy ink bleeds when you add water to it.
Fluid acrylic background with Inktense pencils and gouache on Rite in the Rain.

Lamy Joy Calligraphy pen with Lamy cartridge ink and watercolor on loose-leaf binder paper.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

More 'Rite in the Rain'

Looks like this book is becoming a bird themed book, which is OK with me. I am really enjoying the Inktense pencils I got for Christmas. They work really well with watercolor and gouache and are especially fun on this super slick 'Rite in the Rain' waterproof paper. The quote is from the amazing artist Janice Mason Steeves. I read her blog regularly and this quote just struck a chord with me. So many times I start a work with an idea in mind, several hours go by and I then end up in a completely different place than I expected. It's really cool when that happens. : )

Click to make bigger.

Friday, March 1, 2013

When a Book is Not a Sketchbook

Recently I've been experimenting with different kinds of sketchbooks...some of them not really designed to be a sketchbook at all. One of these books is the 'Rite in the Rain' waterproof notebook. I was inspired by Roz Stendahl's 2009 fake journal in which she did some exquisite bird drawings in an Alvin Field Notebook, so I went to my local survey shop and picked up the closest thing I could find, the 'Rite in the Rain'. These pages are so waxy that my first attempts to paint on them were a disaster. The paint just beaded up on the surface and refused to dry. Once I added a drop of dish detergent to my water they did spread but the result was less than interesting. After talking to Roz she suggested I really layer on the paint in a thick, inky consistency and that seemed to work. The birds below were done as a test to see how different things would work in the book. The bird on the left was done with Derwent Inktense pencils which are really fun to work with on this super smooth paper. The washes were not quite as good as the bird on the right which was done with a Pitt Brush Pen, heavily loaded pigment of Daniel Smith Watercolor, some white gouache and random scratching with the tip of a bamboo dip pen. It's been a lot of fun working in this book and I plan to try to find one of the Alvin books to try out.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Well, I've really neglected this blog for too long, so one of my recent goals was to get back posting regularly. I have been busy with lots of things, but I am still sketching pretty regularly with my sketch group, the Siskiyou Sketchers. One of the things I've been working on recently is drawing my meals out. I'm still using watercolor but mixing it up with base drawings with oil pastel and Inktense pencils. I'm trying to work with more intense color as I like the effect. I also just started a new sketchbook, a Stillman & Bern Alpha book - which has 100# paper and is sized at my usual 5.5" x 8.5". I'm enjoying the heavier paper, but still getting used to the way it accepts watercolor. Anyway here are a few sketches from recent meals out...

This is from a great restaurant I recently discovered in downtown Medford. It's called the Taste Kitchen at Downtown Market. Amazing food and considered design in every detail of the place. I love going there!
The AMAZING lemon meringue tart I had for dessert. Sitting at the bar is a great spot because you can watch the food being made.
Another lunch at the Taste Kitchen.

A not so great dinner out, but good practice working on ellipses.

Add caption 
 As you can see, having a gutter in the middle of the page is somewhat problematic. I tried a spiral bound book, the AquaBee, I loved the paper but the ring bind was just too much of a barrier to large drawings. I guess I need to be thinking about a 8.5" x 11" book!