Monday, March 25, 2013


Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style virtual class report...

I like detail and I like realism.  Watercolor journaling is usually neither.  It is about recording a moment - a memory.   If you're out and about and want to sketch something and add some color - or just take a few moments to record a bit of your day - fast and simple is more realistic than slow and detailed.  This is not one of those engraved-in-stone rules, but it makes sense.  On my first try with apples & oranges (first lesson uses fruit), I struggled with not focusing on detail and realism.  Then came the second page.  A little bit easier.  A little less nagging from the perfectionist.  A little more fun.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

I was going to title this Back in the Classroom, but the saddle song keeps playing in my head (Gene Autry - not Aerosmith).  So, there ya' go and on with show...

Guess what folks?  Another milestone - I'm a student again!  This time it's in a virtual classroom.  Yesterday I began a watercolor journaling class - a little bit of drawing, a lot of watercolor and loads of support and advice.  So far we've mostly just gotten acquainted and played with our paints a little - paint swatches, color wheels and such.  Several of my distant classmates have already completed lesson one.  I'm waiting until Saturday when I can give it my full attention.  Plus it's supposed to snow tomorrow (L.O.V.E.) which makes for a perfect stay-in-the-house-and-paint day.

I will share my results in the coming weeks.  In the meantime - happy weekend and go KU!  (Yeah, I'm one of those goofy March Madness people - though my brackets are already nearly completely blown.  Rats.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Couch with a View

When I'm sketching in the evenings it is often from the couch - no dedicated art space... yet.  So, evening subjects are whatever is within view.  The following were done on a lazy Sunday.  A little pen sketch first, then the top of Milo's head and my feet (a nightly scene) in pencil.  Below that - a peek in the tool bag my hubby gave me for Christmas.

Anything on the floor must be Milo tested. 
The real deal.


More art supplies - a pen sketch and line drawing of my small Van Gogh watercolor travel set.

Angle view - gotta' throw one in.

More art supplies arrived last weekend.  Woohoo!  They have a very specific purpose which I promise to share very soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just Add Water

I love perusing art blogs and admiring techniques.  However, I am simultaneously inspired and discouraged by the gazillion mega-talented artists out there (past and present).  I'm trying, not often succeeding, but trying, to not put "real" artists on a pedestal.  Well, they deserve a pedestal I think, but maybe not up there eye-to-eye with Lady Liberty.

If I had my druthers, I'd be an instant master artist... *poof* ...just like that.  Heck with practice, persistence & patience!  I want to do it all right now and be an expert by tomorrow - at all of it.

I want to:
  draw like Leonardo da Vinci or maybe like Dirk Dzimrsky.
  watercolor like Steve Hanks or Viktoria Prischedko.
  bring oils alive like Kristina Havens or John Singer Sargent.
  wield color pencils like Holly Bedrosian.
  create fun and fabulous illustrations like Mattias Adolfsson or Andrea Joseph.
  fill fantastic art journals like Brenda Swensen or Joanne Sharpe.
  bravely alter books or maps like Kristy Patterson and Claire Brewster.
  do simple daily sketches like Elizabeth Perry.
  produce whimsical pages like Lori Vliegen.  (By the way, I bought that little book, which is actually meant for kids, just so I could play too.)

I could go on and on and on - acrylics, pastel, sculpture (wood, clay, metal), calligraphy, charcoal, pottery...

See?  So much to admire, so many intriguing options - so little time.  Somewhere in my brain, the aspiring artist has now picked up the bullhorn... "Ma'am, please step away from the pedestal!"  Okay - back to the sketchbook.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pen & Ink

In my former artist life, pencil was king.  Pen & ink drawings required bravery I lacked.  We used Rapidiograph pens for technical use in class.  I used them once to create a comical rendition of my hectic day and sent it to my parents.  Lack of use & inadequate cleaning killed all but one of that set.  Bummer.

Since discovering Pigma Micron pens, I've fallen a little bit in love with pen work.  It's a love/hate thing.  This sketch was done the day after a snowstorm.  I tromped around sketching in pencil first, then pulled out a pen & sat on the deck.  Moving the pen across the page and aiming for "clean" lines was making me edgy.  The trellis above kept dripping on the page, leaving wet spots & occasionally smearing the ink as I instinctively wiped them off.  Why am I doing this again?  Moving on to the fence and second shed, I reverted to sketchy lines and got into a rhythm.  That little bit of page was much more fun.  I'm not happy with this sketch, but here it is.  One more page in the sketchbook and a few more minutes of practice on the journey.

Ink textures in my little Moleskine.

I'm liking the little patches of crosshatch.  Note to self:  Sketch using just this texture.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Art Jail is not a Thing

Blank pages & I don't get along.  They are my kryptonite.  I am so paranoid about creating crappy art that putting pencil to the paper is ridiculously hard.  I know I keep saying skill level doesn't matter - just do it.  But, I hold myself to this insane standard of perfect, whatever that is.  Awhile back I spied something on Pinterest I knew I needed to read and I pinned it for later.  Later was two days ago.  It was Super Obvious Secrets that I Wish They'd Teach in Art School by Phil McAndrew at  Quite motivating and full of excellent advice.  Phil mentioned another article he'd written - Draw Like A Six Year Old.  . . . Wow. . . . . That one knocked me down, stuck a pencil in my hand and said "DRAW - RIGHT - NOW!" . . . so I did.

Here's a snippet:
What's the worst thing that can possibly happen when you make a bad drawing? The worst thing that can possibly happen is that everybody dies.  
WAIT, NO. Nobody dies! Nobody will die if you draw something and it looks like crap. The police won't come and say "jeez, that's a pretty terrible drawing of a dinosaur with a rocket launcher attached to it's head, I'm afraid we're going to have to drag you off to art jail." Nothing bad happens when you make a bad drawing. The absolute worst thing that happens is that you learn something. You grow a little bit. You get better at drawing.
This reminds me of a forum conversation in which a newcomer was asking seasoned artists what type of sketchbook is best.  This advice stood out: "Don't worry so much about what you draw on.  You have about 1,000 awful drawings in you before you get to the good stuff.  Just start."  

Back to Phil - He points out when we were kids we loved to draw.  Drawing figures or stories or just scribbling on the page was fun.  We drew without fear!  We can recapture that.
Drawing is fun. I encourage everyone to doodle, not just aspiring illustrators and designers with MacBook tunnel vision. Drawing is one of the most human things you can possibly do. Doodling is extremely healthy. It's okay to scribble. It's okay if your skills aren't on the same level as your vision (they'll catch up if you stick with it). It's okay if you don't have the skills to draw anything more difficult than simple shapes. It's okay to make really bad drawings. It's okay to draw like a six-year-old.
Every human being should read this article!  It's long, but definitely worth it.  He says so well what I keep trying to explain and what I need to tattoo on my brain.  Seriously, right now - go read this and then draw or doodle or scribble.  Go ahead, do it!  Draw like a six year old!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Itty Bitty Scribbles

One of the plans that evolved last fall was to draw a bit of the day every day.  While not as elaborate as intended, a new daily habit has resulted.  The drawings were initially sporadic.  Then inspiration hit while perusing calendars in December.  Notebook planner = new daily sketchbook.  However, I wound up with this pocket-size baby.  The spaces are small, so the challenge is to record the day with at least one tiny drawing.  Using the fine point of a 0.05 Copic Multiliner pen, I scribble (my handwriting is atrocious) a few highlights with itty bitty illustration.  The goal is to get in the habit and next year move on to bigger spaces - more drawing.

Here's just a bit of my itty bitty February.

The smile is the day our 17" snow began.  I like snow.

Also, real daily sketching has returned.  Today - random objects and views from the couch.  Lazy Sundays can be productive as well.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Hearts and Flowers

A few posts ago, I mentioned the Valentine's card from my daughter and my attempt to recreate it.  This was more about fun than working on skills.  However, I have a long way to go with watercolor technique and every bit of practice is a good thing.

Left side - testing out the brand new waterbrush.

I've seen this close up, angled, shallow depth of field shot on other artistically-inclined blogs and it seems to add a certain amount of coolness...

Coolness here?  Hmmm.

And the traditional shot.  Thank you talented card-creating artist for your lovely design.  And thank you daughter for giving it to your mother!

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