It’s April 2021

and that means it’s Fake Journal time again!

Want to see what I’m doing this year? I’m posting on Skylark Karma, my dedicated fake journal blog containing all my fake journals from 2012 to the present.

This year my character’s using ink and watercolor in an A4 sketchbook not meant for wet media. Does she care? Not a bit. Join me as we see what piques her interest this month.

Here’s more information on what she’s going to use.

It’s going to be a great month!

The Eyes Have It

These eyes are from the final image… notice the more rounded iris on the left… still a bit cross-eyed… but nowhere near as bad as in my first draft.

Over the summer I painted this fella from a photo in the Sktchy app on my phone. First I drew in a rough sketch in pencil and then painted a light base layer.

I’m using an Arteza Watercolor Journal – 9 in. X 12 in. This paper sucks up paint and I knew I needed layers to get the desired contrast and vibrancy.

Better. I even thought I was done. But no. I’m sure you can see it too… there’s something wrong with the eye on the left. His eyes aren’t tracking correctly… he’s cross-eyed in my journal but not in his photo. (I’m sorry I can’t show you the photo but he owns the copyright and I don’t have permission to post it. You can see it linked to my work in Sktchy.)

Anyway… it sat on my desk for months before I attempted the fix. It’s subtle, but I rounded the iris on the left hoping to separate the two irises and correct his focus. It seems to have helped… sort of… not entirely, but it’s time to move on, turn the page and select another victim.

D’Anjou Trio

You can’t feel the feel the paper in this Hahnemühle Nostalgie art journal but it is incredibly smooth. That’s super when writing or sketching in ink. The paper, at 190 gsm (grams per square meter), is heavy enough to take water media quite well… just don’t overwork it as I have here.

I have a few layers of ink and watercolor on each of these pears and I must have been a bit too zealous with my brushes. The paper is rougher and has just started to pill along the edges of the pears.

I love the book though, it’s sturdy with a wonderful grey fabric cover. It opens totally, hardly buckles even when soaked, and watercolors remain brilliant. I even got some granulation which you can see above the rightmost pear.

Is it my favorite Hahnemühle book? Not sure… I have one of their watercolor books to try. No rush though, I still have many pages of this book to fill.


It’s been a while since my last update on the progress of the little paperwhite bulb I was given back in mid-December. Quite a lot has been happening…

and just yesterday it bloomed!

Of course now the house is filled with its “perfume”!

I don’t mind it and figure it’s the price I need to pay to have green and flowering things growing in my house each winter.

But the Paperwhite’s smell can be polarizing. Where do you stand on the issue?

Scent? … or stink?

When Do I Know I’m Done?

I thought I was done… scanned it and closed the book.

I was happy, at least I thought I was, yet I knew something was off. I studied it using what Roz Stendahl calls the “editing eye”. This isn’t some rash commentary from my internal critic but an honest review of technique and composition to determine what could be improved.

Although I lost the tilt of his head in comparison to the inspiration photo I could live with that. Instead I focused on how washed out my watercolors looked. Now that was something I could change.

Another layer of darker pigments for his hair and beard and a deeper orange glaze for his jacket and I was done.

Not perfect… but done.

#Arteza A4 watercolor book

Into the Mystic with J.M.W. Turner

Last week I showed a few photos of my sketchbook from my visit to see the Turner watercolor exhibit but that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg. You see, today I’m going to inundate you with photos I took of both the location and the exhibit itself. Fortunately photos were not only allowed but encouraged.

J.M.W. Turner… Joseph Mallord William Turner (23 April, 1775 – 19 December, 1851)






The Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT is perfect, located on the Mystic River just as it empties into Fishers Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.  It seems William Turner, throughout his life was enamored of the sea and its seafaring vessels. The exhibit includes works spanning his life as early on he depicts architecture for his patrons while he transitions to studies of landscapes and light. All of these are awe-inspiring but I was particularly taken with his more atmospheric ethereal pieces done in his later years when he bucked society’s expectations and experimented and created for his own pleasure.

The photos that follow are roughly in chronological order and are heavily weighted to his later work that I love so much.  I’m not going to describe them but instead have captioned each work for reference.  Oh, and please excuse the reflections from the glass… you may want to google the captions to find better online images.


Loch Long Morning 1801


Durham Cathedral: The Interior, Looking East Along the South Aisle 1797-8



Brent Toor and the Lydford Valley, Devon 1814-16


A Hulk or Husks on the River Tamar: Twilight 1811-14



Kirkby Lonsdale 1817


Shields Lighthouse 1823-6


Banditti, for Samuel Rogers’s Italy 1826-7



The Forum, for Rogers’s Italy 1826-7


Venice: San Giorgio Maggiore – Early Morning 1819



Marly-Sur-Seine: Color Beginning 1829-30


A Wreck, Possibly Related to “Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End” 1834


Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland 1837


(Whitehaven), Cumbria 1835-6


Coastal Terrain 1830-45



Sea and Sky 1845


Venice: Looking Across the Lagoon at Sunset 1840


Venice: An Imaginary View of the Arsenale 1840


Sea and Sky 1835


Brighton Shore, Looking West 1824


A Harpooned Whale 1845



Beach, (English Coast) 1835


(Flint Castle) 1834


Sketchbook and Loose Papers



Admission is to the entire Mystic Seaport Museum… its village, exhibitions, shipyard and vessels.




And if you stay overnight and are as fortunate as we were to have a brisk sunny day you might just want to find a spot to walk the shore and enjoy the scenery.



The Turner Watercolor Exhibit continues at the Mystic Seaport Museum until Sunday, 23 February, 2020. 

#jmwturner,  #mysticseaportmuseum


To The Sea and Mr. Turner

I’ve just returned from a short overnight excursion to Mystic, CT, specifically the Mystic Seaport Museum, to see the JMW Turner watercolor exhibit.

I’m still processing all that I experienced and I have many many observations and photos to share but they’ll have to wait. Instead I’m going to share a few pages of my sketchbook to show you how much more my books contain than a few quotes, drawings and splashes of color.

I keep brochures and even full sized maps that I sew into the book as extra pages. All sorts of things too valuable to toss or to lose on my messy desk in a failed attempt to keep them safe.

All this and a drawing too!

2019 Hopkinton State Fair – Part 6

Auuuugh! No Tunbridge World’s Fair for me today. Instead I’m home dealing with a leaking kitchen faucet and sink!  Looking on the bright side, I’ll have more time to write this wrap up and I figure I can always sketch my kitchen instead.

I love going to the fair and over the years I realized my sketching success is inversely proportional to how much stuff I lug.  Carry less – sketch more is my motto. I pack two inexpensive permanent ink pens, a small watercolor set, one short real watercolor brush, a small nalgene jar of water, paper towel and my sketchbook into my extra small Timbuk2 messenger bag (I have an older version) and tuck my wallet and phone into the zipper pockets on my lightweight vest.

I brought my current sketchbook, the A5 landscape version of the Arteza Watercolor Book. Now this book has quite a few issues which may prevent you from liking it but its price may just be the best thing it has going for it. Currently Amazon has a pack of two books for approximately $20 USD. At that price I’m willing to overlook a lot of its faults precisely because it’s inexpensive and not precious… perfect for doing studies. Roz Stendahl published a series of blog posts reviewing the A4 portrait version of this book. If you think you might like to try the Arteza for yourself, I urge you to read the entire series. I think there are 9 or 10 posts and they’re well worth your time.

My own issues with this Arteza book revolves mostly around its construction. First off, I prefer portrait orientation to landscape but they don’t make the A5 in portrait. A few of the spreads don’t have matching surfaces across the gutter, although most do match. The book is not bound with the stitching parallel to the paper grain and the binding seems to separate where the signatures are sewn together. There doesn’t seem to be any glue on the book’s spine for stability either. And finally, watercolor takes a long time to dry. This must be due to its sizing and it’s not inherently bad… it’s just something to consider if you like to work fast.

But the good thing about the Arteza’s slow drying time is the watercolor has time to move, blend, and basically do its magic thing. You can see this effect in yesterday’s Nubian goat images and the images of the Porcelain Bantam Pullet from Tuesday’s post. Those effects are what allows me to overlook the faults and keep using this book.

But will I buy more of these books?  Probably not. There are other watercolor papers that allow those wonderful effects and I’m fortunate to be able to bind my own books. I guess I’ll be binding more watercolor books as one of my winter projects.

Finally, next time I must make time to sketch the other mammals at the fair… you know, the two-legged ones. There are humans, big and small, short and tall, young and old, all over the place but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at my fair pages over the years.

Next year’s fair.  You heard it here first!

Arteza A5 landscape watercolor book