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Saturday, June 21, 2014

A look at our own Liz Steel's current sketching tools!

Liz has branched out into teaching a range of workshops in her home country of Australia and abroad...and continues to sketch virtually every day, inspiring and delighting hundreds of us!

Check her blog for this post on her current sketching tools...

Thanks, Liz, for letting us share here, too!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Another Simple Journal, Double-Pamphlet Style--from Shirley Levine!


Our dear friend Shirley Levine of the Paper and Threads blog has give permission to share her terrific blog post on making a simple, fast, lightweight journal--thank you, Shirley!


As always, her instructions and visuals are clear and easy to follow...now I'm wanting to make one like this!  You can find the full post here: 

And lots more from Shirley on bookbinding here: http://www.paperandthreads.com/2012/02/watercolor_sketchbook_tutorial.php

What a treasure she is!

Monday, June 16, 2014

...And this is why I need to carry more tools...

I used a new Metropolitan pen in the people, but went back to my beloved ancient Sheaffer for the plane...I love the line variety...

It seemed fitting to use a Chinese bent-nib pen on the gorgeous waterfall at the Las Vegas Zen Center; I added text with my 1960s Sheaffer pen, and a touch of watercolor back at our room.

My pens leaked on the plane, so I picked up a few disposables at Desert Art Supply in Henderson Nevada...ooops, this one wasn't waterproof, and lifted somewhat.  I always like to sketch in the early morning in the courtyard where we stay--Hawthorn Inn & Suites in Henderson.

I LOVE the subtlety of graphite--sometimes the emphatic lines of ink just don't cut it for me.  This was one of the bouquets from my sister's memorial bash--we rescued it and took it back to our hotel.  So...needed that Pentel Forte pencil, too.  And of course my watercolors, and a big brush...

Yep, more subtle pencil lines...and used a calligraphy pen on the lettering on the right, but I've decided it can stay home next time...

This was one of the disposable pens I picked up in Henderson...I figured I could sketch on the plane without leakage, if need be.  And I DO like brown ink--so far I haven't found one that works well in a fountain pen for very long (that's also water-resistant.)

Mostly used my new non-leaky Micron Pigma here--I'd meant to pack one at home but forgot.  The bit of the kitty was a colored pencil...I used it on another cat sketch I haven't scanned, too.  This is my sister and brother-in-law's beloved cat, Bohdi.

and I used the colored pencil again here--they're wax-based, don't smear, don't lift when you wash over them.  Plenty of time at the Denver airport to work, so I added color, then a few touches of ink, then a tiny graphite Joseph checking out our plane...
...so actually, there was nothing I'd taken with me that I didn't use, either in sketching or writing...and as usual, a few things I hadn't packed and bought in the art supply store!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Everyday Journaling Supplies

It's always interesting to see what other artists consider necessary for their everyday journal work, so I thought I'd share mine...this is what survived after a recent trip to Nevada, and granted, I didn't jettison MUCH!  

This is what goes in my purse...which really ISN'T much of a purse, it's my field bag/traveling studio!  My usual retrofitted Prang box at the bottom, an old pencil case with a few tools, a sprayer that doubles as my water supply and the little collapsing bucket above it if I need more (I've never been able to find another one this small!)  Then in upper center the new Sharpie EF white, a couple of Micron Pigmas that don't mind changes in air pressure, a couple of colored pencils for sketching, and two waterbrushes.  (The flat one didn't actually go on the trip but I wished it had...)  A small vial of ink in the tiny bag and a pocket protector full of pens and one mechanical pencil...it all weighs in less than 2 lbs.

My old retrofitted Prang box makes me feel like a kid!  I've replaced the round brush with a better one from Black Gold, and that's a bamboo skewer for drawing with, like a pen.  These are my usual colors, except I've taken out the green: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cathy-johnson/8126242177/in/set-72157604173444404

Here's what goes in the pencil box, from the top...a 1" flat with the end sharpened, a #8 travel brush, a small bristle brush (also sharpened) I use for painting, spatter, or lifting; a toothpick and another skewer, a piece of credit card for scraping and the lightest possible pencil sharpener for those colored pencils, a piece of sharpened dowel rod and a small dip pen we found on eBay.  It's an antique!  (Sometimes a little piece of white vinyl eraser, too...)

Pocket protectors work great to corral my pens and a pencil!

A lovely array of pens and points...from left, my ancient Sheaffer, a Noodler's Creaper, a Creaper body with a Hero bent nib in it, another old Sheaffer for smoooooth writing (ok, I could leave it home), my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen cut short so it will cap, and my favorite Pentel Forte mechanical pencil.  (Here's the post in which I tell how I cut the Carbon Desk Pen: http://artistsjournalworkshop.blogspot.com/2011/06/yet-another-new-pen.html)

Yum.  Even if they DID leak in the plane...

It all fits in here...

And the front zipper pocket is all that actually acts as a purse!  Drivers' license and credit cards (and our wedding picture!), pills, salt and pepper, cell phone, mirror, comb, nail clipper...and when I'm not flying, a TINY Swiss Army knife...
Could I do with less?  Of course.  Am I likely to?  Um...not till the arthritis gets worse!  I might leave out that one pen...

I'll share some of my sketches in another post!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Is the Artist's Journal the Artist's Art?

When Cathy asked the question "How do you use YOUR Journal?" in her last post, I was right in the middle of asking myself that very questions because I had been witnessing changes in the answer - for me - and for so many other art journalers.

I first came to art journaling in 2005.

It had been three years since we closed our first series of art galleries in Santa Fe due to 9/11 and other wounds to our tourism at that time.

I kept painting for awhile and then one day, I just stalled.

I read the wonderful book, Art and Fear, and figured out that I lacked a destination for my art. I did not want to paint for other galleries, online was not a good option at that time, and I surely did not want to fill my home closets with watercolors no one would share.

I had been keeping written journals sporadically for several years, but I never liked revisiting them. They just reminded me that I had never found answers to the things I would whine about in those journals. Blah!

I had sketchbooks, of course, like any practicing artist does, but they were very haphazard and I didn't like revisiting them because they just reminded me of all the painting ideas that I had not acted upon. Blah!

I had also been collecting a stack of blank books and mulling over the idea of visual journaling, and one day, that whole thing hit.

I could make my art in my journals - THEY would be my destination.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and my love of art journaling is legend. I have not only continued with illustrated journaling, I have taught a few thousand other folks to love it too.

When I discovered the Stillman & Birn Beta Sketchbooks, I found my perfect journal - paper second only to my true love, Arches 300lb coldpress.

Then, while hosting an art jourrnaling retreat in Tubac, Arizona in March of this year, another love affair hit.

There is only one small art supply store in the village of Tubac, and they carry only one brand of paints - M. Graham.

After 40+ years as a watercolorist, I had never encountered this brand. Strange, but true.

Having forgotten my yellow ochre tube - critical for painting adobe things, I bought a tube of the M. Graham.

I could not have imagined that any watercolor could be so different! Smooth and creamy and so pigment-loaded, I was surprised my brush could move!

That tube has grown to 33 tubes and I am more in love every day with this duo - S&B Beta and M. Graham.

One day, I found myself looking at a finished "painting" right there in my Beta book . .

and another

These are from a series called "Strange Neighborhoods". The first is titled "Gatherings" and the second "Mending Fences".

I showed my husband because I am supposed to be creating paintings for our current gallery in Santa Fe (we can't quit, it seems).

"How are we going to frame those?" he asked? "Tear the pages out?"

"Over my dead body," I said. "We would have to tear my arm off to get them."

So, we sell signed giclées.

The surprise to me was that the art in my journals can be the "serious" stuff if I want it to be. Well . . . ok, as a whimsical Surrealist, my work is seldom serious, but it can be considered "finished" anyway.

I recently took the first session of "Sketchbook Skool" to see what it would be like and to see LOTS of other people's journal and sketchbook pages.

I really enjoyed it, and it reinforced the fact that sketchbooks and journals are now being considered an art form in their own right. I hope this is an idea that continues to grow!


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