their work and words, interviews, blogs, images, hints, tips, websites
and more...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Sadie Hawkins Day!

How did you spend this leap day? 

We finally had a day off when the weather was picture perfect :)  The Redbuds have been calling me and I knew I best take advantage and sketch one while they still had their flowers.  They started blooming early this year by about two weeks.  The leaves are already starting to pop on this little beauty.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sandy Williams - Tracks in the Snow

On my walks with my dog I often wonder what she senses as we stroll down the paths in the fields.  I feel at a disadvantage with only my human vision to scan the landscape.  All that changes when it snows.  All the visitors leave their tracks behind and I can see that the place I thought was isolated and private is, in reality, a hubub of activity.  This sketch was done in my moleskine with a crow quill pen and Higgins black ink with Derwent and Albrecht Durer watercolor pencils.  The writing was done with Noodler's Lexington gray in the fountain pen they give away for free when you buy the ink.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Our journals can see us through stressful periods!

drawing is calming

I find that my stress levels drop dramatically if I take the time to draw carefully from nature...I posted this originally in our Sketching in Nature blog in the summer of 2009, when we were going through a very stressful period indeed, with Joseph's mother in the last stages of dementia.  Long phone calls, both from her and from his sister happened several times a day, always with the upset of the day.  I found that my journal was my best friend (after Joseph!) during that period...as calming as meditation.

Of course if you've been a longtime reader of this blog, you know about the fantasy journal I kept during that period, too!  Journaling and humor are terrific tools for handling life's challenges!

I've always loved cicadas--their sounds, their abandoned amber husks, the lacy wings of the adults. This page even has a time-lapse video of an emergent cicada--and this one tells some interesting facts about the noisy summer creature.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Interview #18--meet the peripatetic Jennifer Lawson!

And yes, you're right, this time we didn't have a teaser post!  Jennifer and I have BOTH been so busy, we just decided to jump right in.  I'm delighted to have had the chance to update her original interview, because I knew a lot had changed for her, what with a whole lot of travel and a brand new, high pressure job.  

This is one of the mixed media images I chose to include in Artist's Journal Workshop...
I love her bold, lively work, including her Bali  sketches, animals, travel works, and home in Maine...that's one of my favorite places, so I've really been looking forward to this!

Let's jump right in--and thank you for waiting for us!

Jennifer, how did you get started journaling?

I started sketching the summer of 2007. I took a very long break from art, focusing on my career working as both an art director and creative director after getting a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in college many years ago. The only drawing I did for years were thumbnails and layouts producing thousands of catalog pages. It was that summer five years ago when I became aware that I needed to fill my creative spirit with some sort of artistic expression. Over the years I had bought sketchbooks only to have them sit unopened. I remember that summer grabbing a cheap sketchbook and a pencil and starting to sketch. I was horrible! However, suddenly the whole world changed for me. I found creative fulfillment, I enjoyed trying all sorts of mediums, teaching myself to watercolor, starting a blog and discovering all the wonderful people from all over the world that share my passion and…I even got better.

Jennifer's sensitive, energetic portraits are always a treat...

Tell us a bit about your and what difference in approach, medium, or feeling they call for.

I spent two years living in both Maine and Bali, Indonesia. Moving to Bali is the reason I taught myself to watercolor. It was a transportable way to get the bright intense colors I love into my sketches. The experience of living in Bali was a wonderful way to document the new and exciting life that unfolded everyday. I have wonderful journals that account my time in beautiful Bali.

I love her sketches of animals, both at home and in Bali...

I started with a small box of cheap pan watercolors, but now I only use tube colors (mostly Daniel Smith) because the consistency and the colors are far superior. Also, I could change colors depending on where I was living. I learned a lot by reading other artist’s blogs and seeing what they were using. Living on the coast of Maine, I tend to use more darker blue gray colors like Payne's Gray, Lunar Blue, Moonglow and the earthy golds and browns. In Bali I used more clear blues like Antwerp Blue along with more yellows and reds and being the tropics, I had to make a lot of greens, which is harder than you would think. I love Quinacridone Gold and Cerulean Blue and go through a lot of both colors wherever I am sketching just about anything. I enjoy getting varied line weights in my sketches so pens are very important and I've tried them all. I always have a Staedler .03 pen, a flexible nib fountain pen and a Pentel Pocket brush pen with me.

What’s your favorite subject?

When I first started, I would draw mostly inanimate objects, landscapes and my pets. My dog Sophie has always been one of my favorite subjects. Being an animal lover, when we moved to Bali I would draw all the Bali dogs that roamed the streets of the villages.

Sophie's "in the swim"--the energetic lines here really give the sense of motion.
Eventually I started to draw the beautifully costumed Balinese and their colorful life. I took a reportage course with the Dalvero Academy and found that to be a wonderful way of seeing and recording the world around me. I started really focusing on the figure, which was such a challenge for my out of shape drawing skills, but with practice I got better. I tried portraits and found I loved doing those—friends, family, and strangers, Julia Kay’s Portrait Party on Flickr...anybody. It's fun! I also went to the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Lisbon Portugal in 2011. What an amazing experience to meet other artists and draw the people and places of that beautiful city. I hope to go again—Santo Domingo in 2012.

Colorful Lisbon!

So how many of us will get the chance to sketch one of the most storied mountains in the world?

Jennifer, sketching on the spot on Kilimanjaro!  THAT is dedication...

Do you see yourself continuing to journal?

I will hopefully do this for the rest of my life. I can't imagine life without sketching. It is who I am. Though I do not live in Bali anymore, I continue to travel as much as possible and record those events in my journals. I recently climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and did as much drawing as possible in the rugged inclement mountain conditions. We hiked all day long and with the cold temperatures at night I only managed a small sketch or two a day for the 8 days we were on the mountain. When we would get to camp I would usually start a sketch before dinner and finish it huddled in my tent, all bundled up in my sleeping bag, drawing by the light of a headlamp before I would fall asleep after a day of hiking 2,000 to 3,000 vertical feet. It was an experience I will never forget and along with the memories and photographs, I have these quick sketches in a small Moleskine watercolor journal that are wonderful reminders of that amazing adventure. Lately my creative consulting job keeps me very busy and it has been harder for me to find time to sketch as much as I used to. I am now realizing it is time to take a step back and carve out some time for what I love to do.

I love Jennifer's food sketches, but especially these simple, colorful bowls of soup from the top of the world.

DO you use your journal sketches to plan future paintings or are they stand-alone?

My journal sketches are all just drawings of where I am in that moment. I wish I could plan future paintings, but honestly, I can be a little unfocused and drifty when my days are not scheduled by the structure of corporate life. So most are just spontaneous sketches in sketchbooks and loose pieces of paper. Most of my loose sketches get filed (actually stuffed) in a large paper grocery bag never to be seen again. If I want to paint, I get out the oil paints and start from scratch.

Other thoughts? Whatever else you feel is more important, personally, to YOU...

It's such a gift that I discovered drawing, sketching and journaling in my life, now it IS my life. It's part of who I am whether it is the major part or not so much as it is these days. That will eventually change, as the impermanence of life will offer up new opportunities and possibly more time to sketch.
I continue to learn and grow everyday through my sketching. I never leave the house without a sketchbook and a pen or two...at the least. Better late than never, right?

Thank you, Jennifer, this was terrific!


Don't miss her blog at http://jenniferlawson.blogspot.com/ or her Flickr, where there are LOTS and LOTS of images to enjoy...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Flickr, Facebook, Urban Sketchers and the world!

Back when I first got started sharing my art online, there was just Yahoogroups,...and then Flickr, and my online classes...and then blogs, and Facebook...and it's a brand new world that's opened before us.  Sometimes I'm overwhelmed, sometimes humbled, and always challenged.

I LOVE seeing art from all over the world, and getting to know people in Singapore, Tokyo, Brazil, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Egypt, India, England, Canada, Sweden, and more...

Being included in Danny Gregory's An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, writing my own Artist's Journal Workshop and inviting a number of my favorites to share their work and words, and now being part of Gabi Campanario's wonderful The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The World, I'm astounded at how my horizons have expanded in such a relatively short time.

The other day I was re-reading Urban Sketching and thinking about the amazing people I've "met"--some in person, most through our art and words online.  I'm not the hermit I once was...

Thank you all for the inspiration...and if you don't see your name here, I just ran out of time and space, and my brain finally melted!  I know you're out there...

Tearing Paper to Make Your Own Journals

Last year I got a criticism on one of my teacher evaluation forms. (Yes it does happen.) One student wrote, "I don't know why we wasted time on learning how to tear down paper and didn't spend all the time on sewing."

Now the evaluations are anonymous but I can tell you something about this student—she already had a way to tear down paper that she liked, or she owned a large paper cutter, or she was a member of the MCBA Co-op and had access to their equipment, or she is used to taking classes where the teachers prepare all the materials in kit form (and therefore doesn't make books at home on her own because she really hasn't learned hands on all the steps).

The class however was open to students of all levels. And my approach to bookbinding is to tear your own paper without expensive equipment—something anyone can do at any level.

Frankly I can't see how you can make a book without knowing how to tear paper, so it's an essential part of the process of bookbinding to me. As an instructor I believe it's important to go over the process of tearing, and in that discussion also bring up the various qualities of the paper, and of course demonstrate the proper technique. As a time management tool it also eliminates a bottleneck of students at the cutting machines and keeps class moving more quickly than it otherwise would. It is even more important to teach this skill when a book structure requires fussy tearing of a sheet to get a page size that can't happen simply by folding in half and in half. Showing how to measure in those circumstances is an important skill to teach.

So while I'm sorry the student was frustrated and I do try to pay attention to critiques, I won't be changing my approach—it is a foundation of my philosophy.

I know a number of the readers of this blog either already make their own books or would like to make their own books. Some of you may not know how to tear down paper. Today on my blog Roz Wound Up I have posted a video demonstration of me tearing a 22 x 30 inch sheet of Folio (which is a heavy weight printmaking paper). Along with the video I have provided a few additional written tips and recommendations including links to my posts on determining grain direction and also how to fold and collate your torn sheets so that you have matching surfaces across a page spread (some papers have markedly different fronts and backs). I'll be following up with another post discussing fussy tearing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Caran d'Ache opaque watercolors/gouache

Hi all!  You may remember we've discussed the Caran d'Ache opaque watercolors/gouache set in this post: http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.com/2011/07/gouache-again.html 
and did a comparison with other brands and types.  It fared well, as you can read in the post and in the comments!

(If you want more gouache-inspiration, check out the labels in the sidebar at right...14 posts on gouache!)

I just had to try these, and quite honestly I think they're extremely nice...they re-wet well, they're smooth, they're nice and dense...but as some of you know, I'm needing to simplify my studio and my life, so I'm passing along some of my art supplies to people who actually WILL use them!  (I'd originally thought to transfer the cakes to a smaller metal box, but I gave that one to my youngest godchild!)

The only problem with this set, for me, is that it IS very sturdy, and just too big and heavy for field work, given my arthritis, and I already have a palette of gouache I use at home.  Sooooo...if you're interested, there's a great bargain on eBay right now! :-D
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