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Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 2012: Sudden Moleskine Book

May 2012: Treasures by apple-pine
May 2012: Treasures, a photo by apple-pine on Flickr.

I managed to go on a little vacation with a few pages left in a sketchbook and... ended up using them in one day :) As a result I am fighting moleskine paper with watercolors again - always frustrating, always unexpected but fun to look back at :)

Resume: next time if sketchbook might be used in one day - bring a new one or more single-sheet watercolor paper with you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One page or two ? Sketching on the back of pages : Alissa Duke

I use a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook and draw in watercolour pencil and/or Lamy Safari ink pen. I carry my sketchbook and pencils with me everywhere, drawing everyday. I use it for daily sketching as well as completing any online drawing challenges such as Everyday  Matters , Illustration Friday, Virtual Paintout and anything else I feel like drawing.
I began using Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks in 2009 and am currently on my 23rd sketchbook. Previously I had lots of sketchbooks with many unfinished drawings. So the decision to move to the one sketchbook for just about  everything was a huge turning point for me and works well. There is no pressure on myself for me to do a special drawing in a special book.
However there are times that I wish I did not draw on both sides of my sketchbook or had drawn on a separate piece of paper. There are a few instances when I can imagine the drawings as individual prints or drawings, BUT I never know until after they are completed. Sometimes the most casual drawings just turn out so well, and other planned drawings are great , but nothing extra-special.
For example, I was given a gift at Christmas of ingredients and a recipe, all beautifully presented. I sketched it before I cooked the biscuits and then drew the biscuits afterwards. I then had a thought that the drawing would have been a lovely "thanks you"card for the person who gave me the gift.

However, it is on the back of another drawing that captures another part of my Christmas as home with my nephew, which I would not want to part with

How does anyone else approach this dilemma of drawing on one sides or two..... One option would be to only draw on one side of the page, however seems to be an expensive option and a bit awkward in the book with lots of blank pages scattered through it.
I am not sure if there is a solution, but I wanted to share some current thoughts going through my mind.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fast Sketching and Building a Journal Page

Back in April, I conducted a small Around-the-Town Sketching Workshop in Beaufort, SC for Coastal Art Supply.

On the first day, we started by drawing boxes of various sizes on a page in our sketchbooks.  Then we headed outside with just our Micron pens, pencils and sketchbooks. 

My goals for the students included getting used to sketching quickly with pens, making color notes in pencil and in the end, completing their pages with color and decorative lettering.  We started filling the boxes with 30 second and 1 minute sketches.  Sometimes we splurged and stayed in one spot for 5 minutes.

After lunch we'd work in the studio and finish our morning sketches using watercolors or watercolor pencils.  Check out these results!

The second day, we approached our journal pages differently. We used multiple images to create  flowing vignettes on a single page.  I picked the subjects and showed them my methods of choosing where to position each item on the page.

This is my demonstration page.  The first item drawn was the metal palm tree sculpture on the right side of the page. I chose that spot because of the strong design of the fronds that pointed to the left - and into the center of my page.  The second element was the umbrella with the people.  Note that the shape of the umbrella points into the center of my page.  And the people are facing right, into the page. The third element was the cafe sign.  I made it a size to tie into what was already on my page.  The type was added back in the studio.  The page was screaming for a border.... type is perfect for that.

After lunch we hit the streets again with another page of boxes - they were a big hit and perfect for quick sketches.... And, what a flavor of Beaufort we captured!!

Here is the colorized version of my top b&w page:

If a blank journal page puts you off.... try a page of boxes.  They don't have to all be filled in the same day... perhaps one a day? They are perfect for the travel sketcher, or even keeping tract of your garden's growth.  The possibilities go on and on :)   Enjoy!  That's what it's all about :)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Meet Pat Southern-Pearce--Interview #19!

I've been waiting to do this interview for ages, it feels like--and I'm delighted to be able to introduce you to the talented and innovative Pat Southern-Pierce, at last.

Let's let Pat offer her OWN introduction, up front, and then our questions and answers will follow.  


I was born in the North of England. My mother was a weaver, true "Lancashire"...and a beauty, with jet black hair. People said she must have had Irish in her. My hair used to shine blue, too, like hers.

I went to Grammar School, then to Burnley & Leeds Schools of Art (Painting, Lithography and my teaching qualification: 6 years in all, married straight after I qualified and went into Primary School Teaching ( 4 - 11 year olds).

Because of my Art Training I was asked, by the local authority, whilst still a classroom teacher, if I would run Art Courses for other Primary teachers. I did... and, later took up a post as Senior lecturer in Art & Education at the University of Cumbria. I was there for 8 years then left to work for myself...which is where I am now... 20 years on...running Art Conferences for teachers, courses and workshops for teachers and classroom assistants, whole school in-house Training, art residencies with children, Leisure courses for adults: sketchbooks and watercolours, and also Artist-in-Residence placements. I love what I do..and am fortunate to work with so many warm, caring people and be invited to return to them. again and again rather than just do one-off visits. Relationships are strong.... and I love what I do.. Such a variety of media and subjects come up.. many, of late, on canvas. Much of what I do in schools with teachers and children..and parents, sometimes, is hung as a lasting legacy...there to stay...and treasured.

Be sure to click on this to see the wonderful textures and shapes...Pat's calligraphy adds a lot to her pages, as well.

For the last 12 years I've worked in partnership with my husband Julian, also a painter.... and Gallery educator. He brought new life and new thinking with him and it was a joy to work in tandem...and grow and develop. He died earlier this year but the joy he brought ..and his sense of fun and creativity..and the contemporary scene will live on in all I do. ..and my thanks to him..and my love..

My latest series of paintings is a set of 3ft x 2ft free landscapes in watercolour and inks.. Exhibitions are being planned for the following year.... and prints and cards..... on my website...which is almost but not quite activated. It's awaiting my final input! Details later.


Q: What kind of sketch journal do you prefer?

A: I prefer a hard backed sketchbook so that it's rigid and firm to work on.
Spiral bound books break up double page.images so I steer away from
these. At Art School I kept a large format, close-to-A3 sketchbook, with
a mix of differently coloured papers, including black and brown Kraft paper,
but nowadays I buy much smaller books, which will fit in handbags easily
and are good to handle and balance in my hands especially on the odd
occasions I end up drawing standing up outside. I have a mix of shapes
and sizes: squares from 8 inches down to 4...and rectangular books from
A6 upwards in both landscape and portrait format.

Q: Do you ever make your own?

A: I did, just once, make my own... in my final year at Art School, ready for use
in the big wide world. I filled it with wonderful papers of all different kinds and
surfaces, bound it in black cloth and gave it a strong glued spine. Unfortunately,
it was lost before I had chance to use it.

Beautiful range of values and shapes...

Q: What paper surfaces work best for you?

A: I much prefer strong. bright white paper to thin cream which can look dull and tired and I
hate it when I buy a new book only to find the paper is so thin that the drawings glimmer
through from one page to the next. A handmade sketchbook I bought in Venice is like that,
but it's so beautiful with its hand blocked flocked Venetian cover that I use it anyway!! 
Rough water colour paper is wonderful to draw on and I have a couple of books of that which
I love!....for both drawing and painting. I'd just die for a book with a mix of white rough watercolour paper, dark & middle grey Ingres pastel paper, skye blue, golden ochre, ribbed brown Kraft paper, black and a really zingy cerise. Now wouldn't THAT be something!!!

Is this inspiring, or what??

Q: You have this wonderful collection of inkwells; how long have you been using them with your journal?

A: My ink wells have been in use for writing for some years, not all..just some, for letter writing and such...but it's only this year that I've begun to use a collection of them, with differently coloured inks in each, for my sketchbook journals. It was my husband's idea. He saw me setting out a mass of jars and plastic containers for water, diluted paints and inks one day and the next, my ink well collection emerged, from the depths of a deep cupboard. Thank you, J..they've been a joy and inspirational to use..very practical, too, with their different tops and ridges for pens.

Pat uses the palette knife on both paintings like the one at the top of the page, and on sketches like this, for a lovely, linear effect.

Q: How did you start using a palette knife in your work?

A: One memorable Summer I went on a week's residential art course to St David's in Wales ( UK) with a friendly, inspiring tutor who drove us out to a different location each day to paint..glorious therapy!! One evening he held an evening class in his studio loft room up in the eaves of his old house and, because I was art-trained he introduced me to the possibilities of palette knife and water colour. Wow. I was hooked. Tried it each day, on the spot for the rest of the time and have been using it ever since.

Q: Any tips on how to control it?

A: I mostly use a No 25 Winsor & Newton pointed knife, whippy and sharp. I load it with diluted paint or ink...test it first on scrap paper to get it going, then draw with the side edge of it, pulling it away from me mostly, pressing down with the edge of my thumb.I bend the knife to make curving lines and use the tip, at times for tiny lines or shapes. Dragged sideways, with a confident, firm movement it's possible to make swathes of flat linear textured rectangles, which can be wonderful for foliage, fields, square windows (real precision needed for these!) and any larger areas of colour which would benefit from interesting surface treatment.

Q: Do you use just ink, or watercolor and palette knife too?

A: It varies. I use what the mood brings. I usually know the kind of colour palette I
want to work with and put a range of colours out, ready..a mix of diluted inks, ready mixed water colours in different dilutions and inks direct from their bottles for intensity. I mix them all together with total freedom, picking at will, as I work, overlaying ink with watercolour and vice-versa.I have acrylic, permanent, water soluble and calligraphy inks and the reactions, of these with one with another and watercolours can be wondrous. Brushes are used for mixing and for laying down an occasional part wash of starter colour on a page. This then has to dry before I can move in and begin drawing on top of that with my knife. I often have 2 knives of the same type on the go at once so that I can move swiftly from one co,our to another.

Q: I remember some of your stuff also uses sticks—thoughts on that?

A: Sticks are fun and free. If I'm that way inclined I'll nip out into the garden and pick a few up from the paths. It's good to have an assortment of diameters and types. Knobbly ones can be good. Bamboo and canes are useful too, for finer, straighter lines. I find I often twist the sticks around as I'm drawing, and dip them back in the ink or paint quite frequently to keep the liquid flowing. There's no line quite like the irregular unexpectedness of sticks..so much sensitive than Rotring or other regular flow markers. Steel nibbed dip pens are good too!!!

Q: You mention that you prefer to work on the spot or from life—can you expand on that?

A: Given the choice I would ALWAYS work from life, be it a vase of flowers, a landscape or
a group of buildings. There's a sense of "being there"..a sense of place that comes fromdrinking in the feel of something real, the softness of petals that never quite comes acrossin a photograph, the life of things...the atmosphere of the shadows under trees and the dappledshade..the sounds all around whilst you draw. Whenever I look back on a drawing I've done on thespot it all comes flooding back to me..all the richness and the feeling I had when I was there. Memories flood in....snapshot glimpses of details...and I read through my journal notes and it'sricher still. Something I've drawn from a photograph is far more 2-dimensional. However proficient. It only tells half the story.

Q: WHY do you do what you do?

A: I do what I do because I love it and it's as much a part of me as living and breathing. I have periods when I draw little and I miss it so..but life takes over and that's how it is. Sometimes when I look back at earlier journals I realise that there were periods when I drew for therapy, to take me out of myself when things were difficult. Drawing or painting for me, can be a quite magical thing. I can be so totally absorbed that all worries fall away and I am totally in the moment. One of my leisure students, a professional in the health field found this, too and used my methods and approaches as therapy with her patients...it helped them, too.

Pat's calligraphic lettering follows the shape of her drawing, here.

This pencil drawing shows a range of values and textures.

Q: Do your journal sketches ever end up as finished paintings?

My journal drawings rarely, if ever end up as finished paintings. They're books of living memories, pages that exist in their own right and it never really occurs to me to browse through them with a view to painting. Maybe it should! Apart from my mixed media collages almost all of my work stems from direct observation. I respond to something real...but don't necessarily copy it!


Thank you so much, Pat!  It's been a joy...I love your Flick sets with the beautiful views of your home, as well.

And all, don't miss Pat's Flickr page, http://www.flickr.com/photos/37479296@N06/,
where she's known as skyeshell (and be sure to browse her sets, especially the Palette Knife one!) 
Those of us who love travel sketching will particularly enjoy her Venice set and the one from the USA!

You can find a bit more of Pat's work in our book Artist's Journal Workshop, on pages 130-131, and contact information on page 138.

As noted, do keep watching for her planned website.  It will be stunning...and we'll make sure you see it!  I've asked Pat to let us know when it's ready to go.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Watch for Interview #19, the wonderful Pat Southern-Pearce!

Pat Southern-Pearce is an amazing young woman, inventive and wonderfully talented. I know you'll enjoy this one!
Pat's calligraphy is an integral element in many of her pages...it balances and complements the free shapes of the flowers, here.

I'm looking forward to this one, too...Pat uses unusual tools to create her bold, fresh paintings and journal entries. Sticks, palette knives, ink pens...well, you'll see!

But she uses the classics in her own inimitable fashion, as well...clean, crisp, wonderful forms and values...

I love the shapes and values in this graphite drawing...Pat says it was a hurried sketch, but it doesn't look that way....

You are going to LOVE this interview...watch for it!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recording a Favorite Event

I was a tad rusty as I hadn't sketched in weeks.      The theme for our local PGA golf tournament is 'Get Your Plaid On'.... This page was a great way to warm up and it made a fun back drop for golfer's autographs :)
The weather was outstanding and I got to spend the days sketching.  Oh so good to be back in the saddle again!!

The official start to the tournament.  I've sketched this golf course for 4 years now. Each year I get  braver and put more people onto my pages :)
click to enlarge

Day two's and three's sketches to come in a few days.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Exploring "Palette Grey"

Who needs to buy a tube of grey paint?

An old friend and master of watercolor taught me decades ago that some of the loveliest, luminous greys come from mixing whatever is dried in your palette's mixing area.  I usually have a variety of colors there...I can warm or cool my gray by sweeping my brush into whatever's available, without ever dipping into a pan of color.

More water makes a paler value...less makes a rich, darker grey.

Here's Pepi in the light of my desk lamp, just painted with those same luminous neutrals...next time, instead of washing your palette for a fresh start, try this!  No need to waste colors unless you just HAVE to have a clean spot to mix a pure color...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Playing with colors

Playing with colors by apple-pine
Playing with colors, a photo by apple-pine on Flickr.
I am celebrating this May by making another travel palette - with Schmike watercolors and metal box which I got on sale at wetpaintart.com :) Metal box is a little too heavy for me - but I am already addicted to some things - like transparent orange (non-cad!) and TURQUOISE!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sandy Williams - Handprint Tradition

After reading that the prehistoric cave paintings were painted by women I felt an overwhelming connection to them.  Women and horses (a large percentage of the images are horses) -- things haven't changed so much over the millenia.  Did they send their men out to kill dinner while they gathered around their torches and created art?  I'd like to think so.  This page in my journal continues the handprint tradition.
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