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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Interview #3--Vicky Williamson

Vicky Williamson is one of our correspondents that I've actually had the privilege to meet and get to know in person. Click on her name to see her wonderful Flickr images, or see her blog for much more information!

Talented, dedicated, funny, she's become one of my favorite people as well as favorite journalers. She lives in Kansas, and often makes the long trip to Missouri for our intermittent sketchcrawls.

(Click on any of these images to enlarge them.)

This spread is from a spring sketchcrawl in East Valley Park...
She and husband Bill are lots of fun--we met them up in Weston once, a small, Missouri river town with a somewhat Irish flavor, and it was a delight to see her sketches. I used some of those in the book!

This one is in Chapter 3, on Types of Journals--fun, eh??

 She met up with us and Liz Steel last fall, too--love her sketches of Borromini Bear!

Vicky enjoys testing her materials and exploring the possibilities in her journal...always an inspiration!  (She remembers to put NOTES on hers too, so she can remember what she's tested, years later.)

She got a lot of mileage from this tiny set, don't you think?

So let's get started--meet Vicky Williamson! 

This is my sketch of Vicky from one of our sketchcrawls...she had the sense to bring a CHAIR!

Q. How did you get started sketch journaling? 

A. In my early 50s, I thought that it was too late for me to re-learn how to draw. Then I found your book, "The Sierra Club Guide to Sketching in Nature" at the local library. You made it seem so attainable, giving me hope that I could draw again, which I had loved to do all through childhood. I looked you up on-line, and from there, I first learned about keeping a sketch journal.

About 6 months later, I began drawing the Everyday Matters challenges, which gave me the courage to begin keeping one myself. I still remember how terrified I felt to actually post my first sketch on-line!

Q. What interests you most, what catches your eye?

A. I try to sketch things that imply a story behind them, whether actual or imaginary. For example, I would not choose to draw just any building; it would be one showing a history, possibly with signs of decay. If sketching my grandchildren, I don't want it to look like a posed photograph; I'd rather capture a memory of a moment in time.

Q. How do you find (or make) time?

A.  At first I had to push myself to sketch something, regardless of how "unimportant" the subject. Now it has become a habit --- I find myself looking for something to sketch as I go about daily tasks, sometimes even forming a thought or two about some text to add.When I find a few moments, it's easier to get a sketch down because I've already been thinking about it.

I tend to be a hermit and have to push myself to get out to sketch anything special. When out with others , I tend to take photographs to sketch from later. It's just easier for me to focus on the subject that way. In the evenings, sketching whatever happens to be in view, whether a pile of books, a pet, or even my palette, is a good way to relax.

Q. Where do you see this taking you?

A.  I have no idea! Since I began to sketch and post the sketches on-line, I've received attention that I didn't expect. What a surprise it was to find that others actually like what I draw!

I have received a couple of requests to illustrate childrens' books from people who both plan on self-publishing. Botanica, the city gardens in nearby Wichita, expressed an interest in my teaching a future workshop on keeping a nature sketchbook. The plans fell through after budget cut-backs, but maybe it will happen someday.

For now, I enjoy posting sketches on my blog, along with a few written thoughts. It still amazes me when something will catch someone's eye and bring a smile to their day. Sometimes something I've written brings someone else encouragement during a rough time in their life --- I love that!

Vicky also does wonderful sketches of her watercolor palettes and supplies.

Q. You do some color samples in your journal; tell us a bit about that.

A.  Since my journal pages grow from whatever I've doing each day, it seems a natural place to play with colors, comparing pigments and mixes. It becomes a good reference later on when I'm trying to get just the right color mix. Following the example of Liz Steel, I always do some kind of palette illustration or grid for the first page in each journal. An excellent way to get past that scary white page!

Q. How do you arrange your colors? You've been interested in various triads, how are you enjoying those?

A.  From the start, I've arranged my paints in "rainbow" order, from cool reds to blue-purples, followed by neutrals, light to dark. Even when the pigments change, the order remains the same, making it quicker to find the color I'm after.

I experiment with various triads, trying them out in limited palettes, after seeing your successes with them. But I just can't settle on any triad for long . . . . colors mesmerize me and I always have to sneak in some greens and maybe an orange or purple! Working in limited triads is a trial in progress, one I am losing!

Here, an ink and watercolor sketch with the plants that inspired it.

Q. What is your favorite medium?

A.  Ink & watercolor wash! I would someday love to paint "real" watercolor paintings, but the immediacy of a permanent ink sketch followed by a splash of watercolor just brings me joy!

Q. What's your most memorable journaling experience?

A.  There have been many special moments with my journals --- it's still a wonderful surprise when a page or spread turns out especially well.

Last spring, I especially loved a three-day period of sketching in church services while visiting Houston. Saturday was Shabbat at our eldest son's Messianic synagogue, Sunday was Palm Sunday with our daughter's church, and Monday was at a Passover Seder. Each one different, yet all celebrating the same Lord. All captured in some small way in my sketchbook.

Q. Have you taken any classes on journaling, or given any?

A.  I took your first on-line class on keeping an artist's journal, which evolved into this current book. Other than my on-line artist pals, I know of no one else even keeping journals.

Opportunities for art classes locally are very limited, so I doubt there would be much interest in a journaling class.

This one is a handmade folder, rather than a casebound journal as she usually makes--but it was beautiful when finished!

Q. Tell us a little about making your own journals, and why

A.  Though I continue to try out various purchased sketchbooks and journals, I always go back to those I made myself --- you just can't beat working in a book in your chosen size and shape, filled with paper you love to work on. At first, I tried to cram in too many pages or sewed the signatures too tight, preventing the open pages from laying flat. My covers are often a bit crooked, unless I'm using an old hardback book that the insides have been removed from. I'm still learning the whole process, which is satisfying in itself even with a less-than-perfect outcome.

I first learned the process from Martha at Trumpetvine Travels website, showing how to reload a Moleskine sketchbook with better paper: http://www.trumpetvine.com/sketchblog/moleskine-

From here, it was an easy jump to reloading larger books, then trying to make my own book covers. I printed out Martha's instructions and always refer back to them when sewing new journals together.

Q. Other thoughts? Whatever else you think is important...

A.  A hard lesson for me to learn has been that keeping these sketchbook journals is for ME, not anyone else (though I freely share them with anyone who is interested). Some of my family seem to think that it has no value, that I'm just wasting my time when I should go out and get a "real" job. I've had to accept that this is what I am SUPPOSED to be doing at this time in my life, regardless of what others think. And I have been blessed with comments from others all over the world who my sketches have touched in some special way.

I believe that the Lord has given me some artistic ability and wants me to use it --- I'm still on a journey to discover how that works out but I'm trusting Him to show me as I go along.


  1. I have a very similar story to discovering journaling as Vicky, and also found Cathy’s website and journaling through her wonderful books. Vicky was so helpful to me over a year ago at the start of Cathy’s first online journaling class. My computer skills are terrible, and Vicky was so patient in answering all my online questions and helping me set up my Flickr account to post my first pages. Since then she has been so encouraging to my journaling efforts (even though my journaling has been very limited). Living in a rural area, I can also relate to having no one else close by that keeps a journal, and I heavily rely on my online art friends for support!
    Vicky….you have found your “calling”, and I appreciate your sharing those lovely sketches on a regular basis with us as they are a source of inspiration for me and many others!

  2. Debo, that doesn't surprise me in the least. Vicky's a terrific person as well as being so inspiring.

  3. Another wonderful interview! What I like most is that these stories speak to all of us so well - just people who like to pick up a stick and draw, from all kinds of backgrounds, with or without formal training in our past. Your questions here are things I sometimes ask myself. The answers are so validating! Thanks Vicky! Kate, I also really like your portrait of her, very much!!!

  4. Wonderful interview, Vicky and Kate!

    Vicky, I think your courage to keep journaling to keep moving forward, honoring the artistic side of you, is incredibly inspiring. Letting others witness the growth you've moved through/moving through is also ultra inspiring.

    I think what often happens when someone see a "finished" sketch, all they see is that one sketch. They don't see the learning, the fear, the uncertainty, the practice (nor the joy, the accomplishment, the fun) that can come along with picking up something after so many years!

    I look forward to seeing your delightful work for many years to come!

  5. Great interview Vicky. A perfect blend of knowhow and personality from a woman who seems very accessible and down to earth. And to those who don't get it, then they just don't get it. You do. We do.

    Thanks for the interview Cathy.

  6. Goodness, you all have me blushing!

    Thanks, Kate, for the great interview!

    Debo, we learned from each other and will continue to do so.

    Cyd, I agree --- it's so cool when we find we have more in common than we once thought and there's always some way we can offer encouragement to someone else.

    Laure, very insightful thoughts!

    Ellen, thank you! I don't know about know-how, but I'm sure retaining lots that I've learned from each of you.

  7. Wonderful interview! Thank you both.

  8. Great interview, Vicky and Kate! I have to second what's already been said. I love how you resonate.... 'You can do it, too!' and how you follow your heart, your spirit - go girl! Stay true :)

  9. That's the feeling I get from Vicky, too...I love how she just DOES it, creates these beautiful and meaningful pages, no matter WHAT. Glad you're all enjoying it!

  10. Thanks Kate and Vicky, all of the interviews have been inspiring,entertaining and educational.

  11. Thanks again, everyone! Your comments really encourage me.

  12. wonderful interview Vicky!!! It was just SOOOOO special to meet you last year!!!!

  13. Wonderful interview Vickie and Cathy, I so admire you both. Vickie your faith and talent shines thru every page you do... you are a missionary of a different sort, sharing your heart, your faith, your family thru your art... you are an inspiration to me.

  14. Liz -- so good to be in this together with you!

    Elaine, your words mean so much to me. My faith is an integral part of my journals and I long to share it's joys without "pushing" or "preaching". Thank you!

  15. Great interview, Vicky and Kate! I joined the Flickr community only about 3 years ago, but months before that, I found Kate through one of her books and lurked/stalked her Flickr site before taking one of her watercolor pencil classes a few years ago. At the same time, I discovered Vicky's Flickr site and lurked/stalked it as well before coming to know her. Vicky, your journaling style is so real and fresh and you're the reason I decided to get back into drawing and painting. Your journal pages are one of my absolute favorites to view! I'm just sorry that I don't have as much "online time" as I used to to comment on them.

  16. LOL! It seems Kate has infected a LOT of us with the art bug! Nice to know I was part of infecting you as well. And how FAR you have come in 3 years -- your recent art is incredibly lovely!

    (Yeah, I still lurk a lot without commenting)

  17. This is absolutely wonderful!!! And Vicky is one I stumbled across in Flickr and have followed ever since. She inspires me to move forward with my own desires and facing challenges and fears. And I've been grabbed by the art journaling bug!

    From Vicky I have found Kate and others that I now receive RSS feeds keeping up to date with new postings and new means of inspiration.

    Thank you for sharing this interview!

  18. I read a "Thought for Today" that I think applies to Vicky....attributed to John Quincy Adams

    "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." That is how you affect my daily life. Thanks.

  19. Ailise, you make me want to cry . . . . this means so much to me. Thank you!


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