New Sketchbooks… Finally!

Five months, that’s how long it took me to finally finish my new books!

Way back in September I tore down a dozen sheets of Strathmore 500 Mixed Media paper, one of my favorites for visual journaling. Folded into folios and collated they formed 36 signatures… 72 folios, 2 folios per signature. Using 9 signatures each I was able to make four book blocks.


As I bound them I included sewn-in endsheets of a single folio of Canson Mi-Teintes. Clockwise from upper left:  South Seas, Parma, Green and Plum.


And then they sat, taunting me from the carry-case where I put them, safe ’till I could glue up the spines and case them in. There was plenty of time to finish them but every day brought more procrastination.  As I was working on my TO DO list I realized I could accomplish a lot by just finishing those d*#n books!

I set to work collecting my tools and supplies… pencil, ruler, X-acto knife, PVA, mull, book cloth, and cover paper.  Cover paper! … but I don’t have any!

I decided to paint my own cover paper using another Strathmore paper, this time their Aquarius II. Luckily I had some in my stash. It’s a cotton/synthetic blend which resists buckling when painted, even with very wet media. I’ve been experimenting with acrylic inks and decided to color coordinate them with each journal’s end sheet.  Monday afternoon I splashed water and inks, mostly playing wet in wet but also testing drawing with black ink and filling the shapes with color. The pomegranate paper came from that trial… I love it!


If you look closely at the dots in the uppermost turquoise book you can see I also used a little pearlescent ink for shimmer. Acrylic inks don’t change the hand of the paper and aren’t sticky as acrylic paint often feels, especially if the paint is layered on too thickly. I noticed on my previous journals my handmade book cloth didn’t hold up very well. The corners wore down to the boards, most likely due to the use and abuse my journals get knocking about in my purse. I always have one with me.  This time I used commercially made navy book cloth for both blue papers and black for the others.


Ta Da!!! Four NEW approximately 8 inch square sketchbook-journals!

Hmmmm… I love them all… which one is your favorite?


Sketching Reboot — EDM 22-18

Way back in 2012 I heard about a group committed to sketching every day in the month of May. I did some searching  and found Wendy/Quirkyartist and Liz Steel/Borromini Bear planned to do what has been called EDiM… Every Day in May. They spread the word to use the Everyday Matters Challenge list starting with #100 and go in reverse order for the month.

I thought it was wonderful that there was a list of 100 sketching prompts out in the interwebs for me to use. Little did I know that I would find the list was much longer. As of now there are 328 drawing prompts! The full list is kept by Karen Winters and can be found on her blog.  This is turn led me to Danny Gregory, friend and sketching guru to those of us who found our artistic way later in life.

I started in on May 1st 2012 with #100 and decided to work backward to #1 and then pick up at #101 and work my way to 328. Even allowing for lapses and my other work I thought I’d be further along than I am now.

Sheesh! I was working fairly regularly on the list when I hit #22 – Draw a piece of clothing. I don;t know what it was but the list just kept getting transferred from sketchbook to sketchbook and that piece of clothing never got it’s day. I did plenty of other sketching… I even drew my clothes as I packed for my vacation.  But I didn’t label it as EDM 22.

I only had a few more pages to go in my sketchbook and again I thought of moving my list to the new journal.

NO!  I will not move it without making progress! … Earmuffs count as clothing, don’t they?

140206 edm22The spell has been broken!  I finished the sketchbook (one of my handmade books with Fab. Art. 140# soft press paper) with EDM 21.140217 edm21

EDM 20, 19 & 18 have been the first entries into my new Stillman & Birn Alpha. This is a new sketchbook for me and it’ll be interesting to see how I like the paper. I noticed how white it is right away. Boy, the colors just pop!

140219 edm20

1402120 edm18&19You can see some buckling at the bottom left where I painted a fairly wet wash.  It flattened as it dried and now seems to be within my “acceptable” range. The Alpha has a lot pages so I better get used to it… 124 pages… that’s twice what I have in my beloved Strathmore 500 Mixed Media Journal. The paper is slightly lighter,150gsm to Strathmore’s 190 gsm, so we’ll see. It’s always fun to try new things.

A touch of Spring

ISP!   … or in our family’s language:

It’s So Pretty!

Yes, It’s snowing again.  Now, don’t get me wrong… it IS pretty, but it’s been so white here for quite a while that I’m longing for some color… and Spring is still a month away.  I’d love a house filled with greenery and flowers but we live with an adorable but destructive cat. Nothing is safe.  Up ’till now this has forced me to give all gifts of plants and bouquets to my friends and neighbors.


But I’ve had an ah-ha moment!  It seems she disdains anything in the narcissus family.  I was able to grow paperwhites this winter and I’ve had a vase of daffodils in the window to which she’s only reacted with mild curiosity.  She’s a tricolor with an erratic temperament so I take nothing for granted… into my sketchbook they go!

140217 DaffodilsI’m grateful for a touch of Spring as the snow keeps falling.

Watch… Then Draw.

I’m a big fan of an artist from the Netherlands, Koosja Koene. She’s a prolific artist and blogger, teaches online classes and submits recipe pages to They Draw and Cook. She is one busy woman! I really love her short drawing videos she uploads on Tuesdays, appropriately named:  Draw Tip Tuesday!  They’re so much fun and her enthusiasm is infectious!

Last week I spent an afternoon with Koosje and my watercolors.  I watched her paint an orange and then tried it myself.  It’s not really a paint-along technique since her videos are greatly sped up but it’s helpful to watch her technique.  I’ve nowhere the skill as Koosje but I’m still rather pleased with my first attempt.

140202 orange

I then watched one on Do It Yourself Postcards.  She divided the page and drew small simplified thumbnail sketches of shirts… all types of shirts.  Koosje colored them with colored pencil but I chose to use watercolor.  I might try her suggestion to paint a collection of shoes next time… or even handbags.  Goodness knows I have TONS!

140131 shirts

She’s a wealth of knowledge and inspiration and her videos are a sure bet to kick you out of the winter doldrums.

Koosje’s collected videos can also be found on her YouTube video channel as well.  There are over 50 but they’re short.  If you have self control you won’t have to watch them all in an afternoon like I did! 😉

Breaking a Slump

Today as I got on the treadmill for my regular 50 minute trek I pulled out my iPod and plugged in my earphones.

HORRORS!!! … the battery had no juice!

Now I shouldn’t have been shocked by this.  I’ve been in a bit of a slump. Two weeks have passed without me going to the gym.  My music just sat in the bag, all its charge draining away.  This slump has also invaded my artistic life.  Sure, I’ve been working on lessons for a class I’m taking… but my daily personal journal?  … the one I take with me everywhere… uh, no new entries.

So I gave myself a kick in the butt, put on my gear and got back on the treadmill.  I was a bit concerned about my lack of tunes.  Could I go the distance?  Would I give up early?

I did not!  In fact, I had an amazing workout!  And no, I didn’t  walk longer or harder, nor did I break any records.  But I did have breakthrough.  No longer bound to mentally sing along with my playlist, my brain was free to just wander.  I planned this post and another and decided how I wanted to finish a few sketchbooks I’m binding.  I even decided how to break the stalemate I have with my journal.

140204 iPod

So, next time you find yourself in a slump try a little exercise and be sure to try it at least once without a soundtrack.  Just go where your body and mind takes you.