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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

binding sample journals


Reading through comments on a recent post by my dear friend Kate (aka Cathy Johnson), I remembered a pack of sample watercolor papers purchased several years ago from Legion Paper. Kate mentioned binding a journal of a similar sampler pack.

Nearing the end of this journal, I've been considering buying more paper to bind a few more. But why not use what I have? First I cut the Bockingford tinted samples in half to make a smaller purse-size journal. Then I used most of the other sample sheets as-is, folding once to form signatures.

I checked in the old steamer trunk that holds my bookbinding materials for cover boards, planning on binding both of these with an open spine & Coptic stitch. But I found these two book covers, bug-chewed text blogs removed, that were rescued from a discard pile at a library sale years ago. Totally unexpected, BOTH of them fit the signatures I just made! The only adjustment needed was to remove two papers from the larger set, since the original book was rather thin. With the title "Near to Nature's Heart", the small book may be dedicated to nature sketches.


After cutting and folding new signatures, I leave them under this weight (an antique iron from Bill's grandmother) a few days before sewing. It helps the paper hold it's new shape.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


This is Corpus Christi as seen from the Texas State Aquarium. An artificial barrier has been built along the sea wall with mangroves and other plants, much under water from recent heavy rains. Waves wash over this barrier, sometimes trapping fish and other sea life. Usually there are plenty of seabirds taking advantage of easy fishing, but this was a particularly stormy day.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A shrimping we will go


We recently took a trip to the Gulf of Mexico. Just across the lane from Our Place on the Bay, the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at, a shrimp boat was waiting for its next trip out. So I sat nearby and drew her. Early each morning the crew takes her out, then returns to load up their trucks with the day's catch.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Painting with Gouache - Sandy Williams

It's 41 degrees this morning here in Michigan and, although we don't have snow, it's certainly cold   enough to remind me that it isn't that far behind us.  This is a snowscape I did using gouache to paint over the pen and ink and watercolor pencil painting.  Gouache was perfect to add the opaque touches for the snow.


There have been some discussions lately about painting with gouache.  It's my favorite medium and I'm passionate about using it to create detailed paintings of birds, botanicals and animals.  I'd like to invite you to sign up to my monthly newsletter  with tips about gouache, art in general and fun projects.  I hope you'll join in.  Go to www.soundofwings.com and click on the blue button on the top of the "Learning Center" page.  I also have books on painting with gouache available as immediate downloads or as print books on Amazon.  I hope you'll drop by!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Toaster Alarm -- Sandy Williams

My dog, Callie, and I both like routines.  She keeps me on my toes and we don't deviate from meal times, walk times or time to get up in the morning.  And she takes anything having to do with food VERY seriously!  Well, she's a Labrador Retriever so no surprise there.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Writing on sketchbook pages

I was recently asked “why do sketchers feel the need to add writing? I don't think you need it. Is it a tradition?”
28jan2015 Fed Square
I have thought about this a few times over the last few years in relation to my sketches/drawings and this seems a good opportunity to put my thoughts in order and onto ‘paper’ , so to speak.
My answer to the query was"

“I describe my sketchbooks as sketchbook journals. It is a record of my observances at a particular time and place. It is a record of my life, I have just started my 50th sketchbook journal since Dec 2008. But when it comes down to it I just LOVE TO DRAW, but I like to give it context.”
Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks
Moleskine watercolour sketchbook

I have drawn all my life, but only regularly since 2005 (ish), in any sketchbook I could get. I was then using watercolour pencils and ink pens and graphite pencils. I have continued to use these materials, exploring and building on my knowledge of how they work and the effects that can be achieved. Every now and then I splash out and experiment on a large sheet with charcoal or go to a life drawing class, but in general this is my thing!

In December 2008 I bought my first Moleskine Watercolour Sketchbook (13 x 19 cm). This was a watershed moment in my drawing path. There have been many discussions on facebook groups about the format of a sketchbook (landscape/portrait) and what is ‘best’ and the effect on a sketch. I love to use this format and fit my sketches to the format.

I carry my sketchbooks, watercolour pencils ink pen with me everyday, everywhere. Read about what and how I use my drawing material here  There is always the opportunity to draw! I also draw longer studies of objects at home in the same sketchbooks.
The most important part of the page is the drawing but I also like to provide a short narrative. These are my journals of my life. I can look back to a date and see what I was doing (or drawing) at the time. I have captured everyday matters, travel and serious illness.
10jan2015 Kyneton Farmers Markets - Copy3DEc14 princes bridge
The words are not the focus of the page but provide a context and narrative.
There is an excellent book called Globejotting : how to write extraordinary travel journals (and still have a good time on your trip ) by Dave Fox which provides some ideas about what to write about. But I do not want the words to overtake the page. Although sometimes feel like I have so much to say , that I could write for pages.
  • One of my friends thinks I write too much and prefers my pages with few words.
  • Another tells me that they can hear my voice in the words on the page and that makes it even more personal and special and enjoys when I write a lot!
  • People who do not know me and browse through my sketchbooks often comment on the fact that I write notes and are fascinated by the idea.
  • But in the end I ask myself “who are the journals for” – they are for me !
At one stage I questioned drawing on both sides of the page – (it is a topic that s raised regularly on Artists Journal Workshop facebook forum and others. ) I have considered drawing on one side of the page  because of two issues
  • Colour smudges onto opposite page
  • some drawings I am so pleased with that I don't want to "ruin them"
But in the end I decided I want to turn the page and tell a story. To overcome these issues I have done the following
  • If I have a particularly special drawing,  or heavily coloured drawing that would smudge I put a piece of Baking paper between the pages to protect them.
  • I have started drawing subject that I know I have become good at and want to start drawing on separate sheet – feathers, nests and now books. I want to draw them a bit larger than my 13 x 19 journal size and also potentially have them framed for an exhibition, sell prints and cards. One day soon..
But I will continue to draw everyday, capturing and documenting moments of my life and enjoying every sketch!
14Nov14 Australian black duck

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sandy Williams - New Year's Post - a little late!

I'm a little late in posting my New Year's Day sketch.  I sat outside in the same spot I've visited for the last four years and sketched the same little landscape.  Although the sky was a brilliant blue it was still bitterly cold and I finished the sketch inside with a Pitt pen and Derwent watercolor pencils.  Since then both the snow and temperatures have fallen and I'm dreaming of an early spring.
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