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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

News from Roz Stendahl: What I'm Looking Forward to in 2016

Left: 15 minute sketch at life drawing—costumed model at the co-op. Color pencil. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Each year brings new challenges and currently I am excited about the new online classes I’m going to be bringing out in 2016.

But as the new year starts I’m most looking forward to a new offering of my "Drawing Practice: Drawing Live Subjects in Public" class.

Each day from January 31 through March 5, 2016, I’ll be in the class looking at student work, answering questions, and helping the students build a durable daily sketching habit. 

We will begin with a strong foundation and lots of skill building demonstrations and assignments. These include sketching demonstrations made at Como Zoo and the 2014 Minnesota State Fair. (It doesn't get more public than the Fair!) New lessons come every Monday and Thursday throughout the month.

We will add sketch out dates to build a tolerance for working in public with moving subjects. And through it all I’ll be helping students silence their internal critics, make friends with their editing eye, and learn a new way to talk about their artwork that is positive, honest, and supportive. My month-long involvement with the class wraps up with strategies for goal setting. The class includes two live webinars during the first month. Students have access to all the videos and the classroom for a full year. And there are quarterly live webinar check-ins throughout the year so that they keep their daily drawing practice going.

I’ve been teaching a version of this class live for about 15 years. In 2015 I went online with this class. I was overjoyed with the response. Students from around the world joined with me to work on their sketching and observational skills. They dug deep and worked on longstanding issues of resistance and procrastination that were holding them back. They created amazing work and supported themselves and their fellow students in their creative journey.

In over 25 years of teaching, I’ve heard every excuse and seen every type of resistance there is. Nothing is more gratifying to me as a teacher than helping students break through the barriers that hold their drawing practice stagnant.

While this is an immensely rewarding class to teach, the intense teaching involvement and feedback I provide means I can only offer this class once a year. I believe that by offering it at the beginning of the year I will be able to help students start out strongly.

And by offering the class at this time of the year I won’t have it run right up to the Minnesota State Fair like it did last year! (I wanted students to finish lessons before the Fair, but by running the class in February they will also be able to practice for several months, should they elect to go the Fair. And you all know I believe everyone should come to the Minnesota State Fair.)

This means that I’ll also be able to focus on the new classes I’m filming and still get to the Fair myself. The new classes cover bookbinding methods, art journaling techniques, and a design class.

Left: Finch sketches made at the nursing home Aviary. Sakura Pigma Sensei Pen on Rives Lightweight. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

I appreciate the interest this blog’s community has taken in my move to online teaching. I’m grateful for the hard work that Kate Johnson has done to create this community and encourage people to share their work. She makes it look easy.

I will still be blogging here and on Roz Wound Up. And I hope also to post additional videos on YouTube about my art adventures. I live in a beautiful city where the possibilities for sketching in public are many and varied. And I’m blessed to have artist friends who love talking about their work. I look forward to sharing their work with you in 2016.
If you would like my help to improve your drawing skills and build a durable drawing habit you can read about  “Drawing Practice” here.
You can register here.
If you’re interested in learning about future classes as they are made available you can use the Class sign up form on my blog to get on a mailing list.
I hope that you have already had a moment to sit down with yourself and think about your goals for 2016. If you haven’t, I suggest you take a moment now, before the year slips away to have a little chat with yourself.

I believe it is important that we clearly state our intention for the new year. And I also believe that we have to nurture our creative lives through planning. I hope that this new year brings you opportunities to sketch and fill your journal and sketchbook pages with the details of your life.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sketching with Bent Nib Calligraphy Pens

As noted the other day in my pen conversion posts--this is FUN, with a huge range of line widths possible!

Sketching our friends in the Copper Creek Band, with a bit of gray wash added...

Molly Hammer and Joe Cartwright at Chaz on the Plaza...

See all the line widths that are possible with just one pen?

I added a wee bit of color today...this is my new softcover Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook, LOVE it.

Quick sketches of details...

Showing this again to show how the nib can be held to get different effects.

"Urban Removal" works...

Fun for nature subjects too...

I've got several Hero and Sailor calligraphy pens, almost like drawing with a brush.  The pens are generally quite inexpensive...give them a try!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Kate's "Frankenpen," Part TWO

My converted Noodler's to a bent nib is FUN...

Here's the pen and  nibs together...

 I used to feed from the original Noodler's Creaper pen...you just gently work it out of the pen.  (While I was at it I deepened the feed groove slightly to make it feed better.)

The nib is from an M-86 Hero pen, a perfect fit.  (The feed did not, though, so voila, Frankenpen!)
A good cleaning with Goulet's pen flush put everything in the mood to work well...

Here, you can see the lines of the feed, and the approximate position...you hold the nib and feed firmly in one hand and push it into the pen.  Don't force it, but seat it well.

You can see the position and the bent nib well below...

And the pen in action!

Hero pens are available online (though the M-86 is hard to find, perhaps on eBay last time I checked); it looks as if an 8-Horses Hero might fit too, but I have yet to try one.  (And ya know, they work just fine in the pen body they come in, they're just a bit heavy for me!)

A review of the M-86 is here--you can see photos here too.  It's a bit awkward to use and the cap doesn't fit well when posted--it unbalances the pen but it has a LOVELY nib, hence my conversion!

I usually pick up my Noodler's Creapers from Gouletpens.com--they've got a huge selection of colors, too!  (No, I don't work for Goulet or get a cut from them--they're just terrific people to work with, so I like to spread the word!)

Alas, I don't know about converting any of the other pens out there--I'm so happy with this one!

Again, these two posts are in answer to correspondent Liz Steel's question about my pen hack in her wonderful series on Fountain Pens for Sketching--don't miss it!

Kate's "Frankenpen!" Part ONE

Our dear friend and book contributor Liz Steel has been doing a wonderfully helpful series on her blog on Fountain Pens for Sketching, on Tuesdays and Thursdays--don't miss it! 

She asked me about my Noodler's Creaper conversion to a bent-nib calligraphy pen, and though I've mentioned it in passing, here, I really didn't say much about it...so here's Part One, how I did it, and why!  I love that pen...lightweight, versatile, handy and fun!

The bent-nib pens are great fun , once you learn how to hold them...this is from my YouTube video that shows a number of ways to use them.

Actually, it's Chinese, in this case, but oh well...
Our community center after a fire, with my Hero pen...
NICE variation for the trees...

And oops, sorry, Blogger's being weird, so I'm having to do this in two parts...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Well hello! I'm back...

More or less, anyway...life has been more than full, and mostly good, and satisfying, though with it's fair share of pain as well.

What fills me today is being ready, finally, to start working on a new class.  More than likely, interactive again, after all this time.  Those are time-consuming and exhausting, but this is something I want to connect with, personally.  Connect with the students, personally.

And yes, it WILL focus on journaling.

It will grow out of this place--a journey begun, for me, years ago in the 70s, really.

It's time.

This is what I wrote on my Facebook page this morning:

"Someone flipped a switch in my brain. There WILL be a new class upcoming, maybe two of them, I've been writing for 2 hours and ideas just keep flowing. I love this part of what I do!

This is a class I thought of doing a couple of years ago, but life--and death--got in the way.

It's time.

It will TAKE some time to pull it together, but it feels good to be so full of energy and ideas."

And I've been writing down thoughts, quotes, ideas, and plans ever since.

It will be personal.  It will be DIFFERENT.  I'm not even sure where it will take place, yet, but most likely on my old familiar Blogger.

I'm not sure what to call it, yet..."Meaning-full Journaling" popped to the forefront this morning.

But I am confident it WILL happen.  It feels right.  I am full of a serene kind of excitement, if that isn't too much of a contradiction in terms.

It's time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sandy's portrait sketch

I've been faithfully attending life drawing sessions on Wednesday nights for almost four years now.  A few weeks ago our model didn't show up so we took turns posing for one another.  The sketch on the left is one I did of  our group's mentor and the sketch on the right is one she did of me.  She's going to be 93 years old next month and is amazing!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Our family looks forward to going to the county fair every year.  It makes it that much sweeter when we're able to have little ones along with us.  This year we had three little girls and the one I sketched in my journal, Adelaide, was so thrilled to be able to go into the stall with the palomino pony.  Her face just glowed!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

First Street Alley

First Street Alley
©2015 Steve Penberthy
Watercolor on Strathmore Gemini 140-lb CP paper
in handmade sketchbook,
6.75" x 10.25" (17 x 26 cm)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Morning at the Lake

Morning at the Lake
©2015 Steve Penberthy
Watercolor on Strathmore Gemini 140-lb paper in handmade sketchbook, 
6.75" x 10.25" (17 x 26 cm)

I painted this sketch in my handmade sketchbook containing my favorite watercolor paper, Strathmore Gemini 140-lb CP.  It has the right amount of sizing that works for my style.

More info about my handmade sketchbook.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

why drawing makes me happy

Drawing makes me happy
I have been thinking about why drawing makes me happy, without getting too philosophical, and I have tried to put it in words. This proved more difficult than I thought, so this is a longer blogpost than I imagined. I originally posted this on my own blogpost. I received the most feedback I have ever had on my blogpost from fellow sketchers that I thought that is might resonate with people who use their sketchbook as an artists journal.

I have been drawing on and off (mainly off) all of my life. About ten years ago I started drawing almost daily, then I began carrying a Moleskine watercolour sketchbook, my Watercolour pencils and Lamy Safari Joy ink pen with me everywhere. Now, drawing is a part of me and my life. It is not a hobby or pastime, but part of what makes me – me. This realisation came when I was very ill about four years ago and had (successful) brain surgery. I was asking for my pencils and sketchbook in intensive care a few days after the operation and then sketched constantly in hospital over the following months. See all my drawings from my medical adventure here
operation on the evening of 30 March 2011. This was sketched in ICU on 6 April 2011
Now, I draw everyday, a quick sketch capturing a passing moment or a longer drawing over a few days or nights. If I don’t put pencil to paper for a few days I get itching for it - looking at people or scenes and visualising how I would capture it on paper – what would I include, what features to emphasize or which colours I would choose.
When I draw I am happy. I switch off from everything else in life, time stops, peacefulness reigns, there is freedom and fluidity. I try and draw in my lunchtime at work. When I make that time, I sit in the library shelves where I work and draw the books. For that half an hour, although I am at work, I do not think about deadlines, goals or things to do lists.
24Apr15  Library books
I read a quote from happiness guru Csíkszentmihályi describing this as FLOW, which is "being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one… Your whole being is involved, and you're using your skills to the utmost.”
It has taken years to find my own drawing style and become comfortable with it (although I am still learning constantly). I feel as though I have finally found something that I am good at. I have accumulated skills and learning through years of practice. Sometimes my pencil moves confidently and smoothly over the page, other times tentative and exploratory. But I am always enjoying it as I work and explore within my comfort zone on the paper.
As I draw I am subconsciously thinking about the drawing, its proportions, what colours will work on the page. I am visualising how something may turn out. However, they are not thoughts I have to think too hard about – ah well, except proportions and perspective – that requires a bit more thought. The finished result may meet my original idea, or may not, but still exceed my expectations. In photos of me drawing, you would not think I am happy – hunched over, furrowed brow, intense expression- but honesty I am!!
There have been a few times when I have become very emotional and almost bought to tears at the thought of how much joy I experience and how fortunate I am to be able to draw. They were moments of an unexpected upswelling of joy. Below is one of those times. I was sketching on my own in the streets of Barcelona, after the Urban Sketching Symposium in 2013 on a Sunday morning, surrounded by the everyday happenings of peoples lives.
Barcelona July 2013 after the Urban Sketchers Symposium. Sketching on my own
There is so much more to write about drawing and happiness . Especially the concept that when drawing you are not only looking but observing what you see everyday as you never have before . But this is the subject of another blog another day…
I shall finish on David Hockney quoting an old Chinese saying “Drawing needs three things, the heart, the hand and the eye, two won’t do.”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August Is Artist Appreciation Month - Come And Join Us!

I was recently made aware that August is Artist Appreciation Month. The idea is basically to discuss/share about an artist who inspired you in your creative journey. It can be someone famous, someone local, a friend or a family member.

Have you heard of it? No? Me either.

After doing a little research, I found that the idea had been around for a few years but had not really taken off. Still, the idea has merit and felt like something worthwhile, so I've written my story below.

Before we get to my journey, I'd like to ask you to share yours. You can tell your story in the comments below OR if you share your story on your blog, please leave a link in the comments for folks to follow.

I think in this sharing we'll find we have things in common we would never have guessed and I also think there will be quite a few surprises. I hope you'll join me in sharing your story!

Here's mine:

When I looked back at my own journey, I realized my catalyst to undertake an artistic life began with a visit to a craft fair when I was either 15 or 16 years old. Mind you, my sole reason for attending the event was because my mother told me I could drive if I went and since that was uppermost on mind in those days, you can bet I went! I liked crafts as well as the next female, but I mainly went because I was able to drive. (The priorities of a teenager!)

After arriving at the event, I quickly became bored and wandered off by myself rather than trailing around behind my mother. (Teenage angst showing.) In my wanderings, I came across an artist painting a macaw parrot with watercolors. The parrot was mostly finished as I recall, but what held me spellbound was watching her use green paint to "carve" a leaf out of a white background.

The artist was quite skilled at creating form and shape in one wash. (I learned this much later.) As I watched, she added lights and darks, lifted a bit of paint and suddenly, it looked like I could have reached over and picked that leaf up. It seemed so effortless!

I was instantly, completely captivated, a willing hostage to the magic she was creating.

After watching for several minutes, she engaged me in conversation and explained a little about what she was doing. I have no idea what paints she was using, what her palette looked like, how many pigments were on the palette, the type of brushes she used, the type of paper she was using or whether she had two buckets of water or just one.

All I knew was that I had been witness to something incredible and I wanted to create magic too!

She told me about some classes on the other side of town from me, but I was never able to locate them. I searched for again after I moved to that area, but I had no luck in finding her. I'm sad to say I had no clue what her name was nor did I ever locate her.

I wish I could.

When I walked out of that craft fair, I knew with unshakeable conviction that one day I'd be able to paint with watercolors. I can still see that leaf coming to life before my eyes when I look back at that memory over 30 years later!

The artist engaged me with her humor and willingness to share. She encouraged me to pursue my interest by telling me about the classes. But maybe best of all, she made it seem possible that I too could one day create art.

There were no discussions about how hard watercolor is to learn or how long it takes or anything negative. She didn't put up any obstacles nor did she set herself on a pedestal to be admired by the little people. Instead, she showed me her joy in a simple pleasure.

It took another decade and a few more cataclysmic events before I became serious about the pursuit of my art. I'd always dabbled in crafts, but I believe the idea that I could actually making a living with art, be an artist (gasp!), was planted that day.

If I could sit down and talk with her today, I would thank her for sharing her joy, for demonstrating the simple pleasure of painting without apology for how good or how bad the work was. I would thank her for encouragement to take classes and for planting the seeds that have brought me to where I am today.

There's plenty of negativity out on the web these days. The political arena is heating up with all kinds all balderdash, so how about joining me in sharing your story about an artist or artists that inspired you on your creative journey? If you do, please leave a link in the comments as I would love to read your inspiration. ~ Laure

Monday, August 10, 2015

a small "just in case" sketchbook

For the past three days Texas had "tax-free days" for back-to-school shopping. Since I had a money coupon and a 30% off at Kohl's, I bought these sandals from Naturalizer . . . only $13.40! Very comfortable. So I drew them before church with my large sketchbook and bag.

I took the large sketchbook to show the kids at church my recent dinosaur sketches, but I drew this in a tiny purse-sized sketchbook. The cover was from a used Moleskine-like book that a daughter-in-law gave me. I gutted it and refilled with small scraps of various watercolor and Bristol papers. The papers didn't quite fit heighth-wise and the gluing job wasn't very neatly lined up, but I like having a smaller "just in case" sketchbook in my bag. Especially since my new regular sketchbook is larger than the bag.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

a new hand bound leather-wrapped journal

This art journal was bound last year using Kilimanjaro paper from Cheap Joe's and a scrap of leather from an upholstery shop --- they let me have the leather scrap free! It's soft and pliable, wrapping around the text block. This time, I sewed the paper signatures directly to the leather, one at a time, using hand-dyed silk threads. Which means the middle two-page spreads of each signature will have colorful silk thread running down the middle, but I like how the colored threads look on the outside spine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

sketching during grandchildren's visit

Three of our grandchildren are visiting this week. Yesterday we had a bit of a tea party, trying out one of the blooming tea buds that came with my glass tea pot. This sketch shows the flower it formed as it brewed.

Today is a painting day. All three chairs are taken so I snuck a photo of them instead of painting with them. Earlier, we had a chocolate breakfast: sourdough toast with chocolate hazelnut butter, strawberries topped with the same, and chocolate milk.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

old sketch kit, refitted

Years ago I sewed this denim sketch wrap following a design from a library book --- I think it was from one of Claudia Nice's books. I remember using it on my first sketch crawl with Kate.

This time I filled it with a landscape-shaped pad of watercolor paper plus a watercolor block off my shelf -- the pad is Arches, a paper I don't like, which is why it has stayed on my shelf so long. The block is Fabriano Artistico paper which I love. The palette is a flat-profile tin with half-pans of watercolor attached with rubber cement. I like the extra room for travel brushes. It fits in an outer pocket with Velcro closure; inner pockets hold a mechanical pencil, pens, and larger travel brushes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What I've Been Up To, or How I Got a Bunch of "Strangers" To Make a Book

Some examples of simple round back spine journals. 
A couple months ago I offered my first online bookmaking class. People have been asking me to do an online bookbinding class for years, but I've always pooh-poohed the notion.

I would tell people, "I like to be hands on." Or I would say "I like to see the students' faces when I explain things, so I can see if they don't get something."

All those things are still true, but a shoulder injury which made it impossible for me to lug my "portable" binding studio around finally convinced me I should give it a go.

So I started with what I think is an elegant and useful book for visual journal keepers (because of course that's most of the people I know). I taught my simplified version of the round back spine. I required specific papers and materials—so that if something went awry for someone, I knew I had controlled as many variables as possible and I would be able to help them "remotely," instead of in person.

And then I made a LOT of videos. (Over five and a half hours of videos.)

One of the great things about the videos is that everyone could see equally well every step of the process. The one downside to teaching in person is that when I demonstrate there are usually 12 people in a class, huddled all around me, vying for a good vantage point. And often there is only one opportunity to watch me do something. And I push people really hard in class because I want to get them over the idea of "perfect" and instead focus on the idea of process and the whole. (I'm bossy.)

With online classes people can watch the videos over and over and the videos include so many close-ups that this is one aspect of online that's actually better than being there in person.

Of course I spent so much effort on making the videos to the point and tightly edited, that what was missing, when I sat back and watched it all was obvious—all those lengthy digressions (some of which are humorous) I'm known for. (In fact one of my pre-release testers made this actual comment since she'd taken the class with me in person.)

So I made some more videos to capture some of those digressions.

And yes people don't get to see how "funny" I am in person, but I even addressed that by having 4 live webinars where students got to see me answer their questions in real time and be impromptu and a little goofy.

Since I had no idea how to "manage" my time involvement—I seem constitutionally unable to not respond to student questions—I limited my involvement to the first month. Then I set about popping in daily and answering questions as they came up, so people could keep working.

This worked great because some students dove right in and had a book finished before the first weekend was up, while other students did each of the steps in a slightly more spaced out fashion in between the demands of their lives. That second group were able to benefit from the questions asked by the first group of students.

By the end of the first few days I realized that yes I can get across all the important points through video. It would have been nice to stand next to a couple people who were tearing paper and having problems, but I've been doing this for so long that I had lots of suggestions for them and they all reported improvement after trying different things.

That was actually the best thing about the class, the students were great. They asked great questions, they supportively commented on their fellow students' work, and they jumped right in and got their books made. And I felt comfortable working with them, because I got to do what I love to do—answer questions and teach people how to make books that they can actually use to meet their needs and they way they work.

I enjoyed the process so much that I immediately started shooting videos for 4 more book structure classes and a drawing class. As you can imagine, it takes quite a lot of time to shoot and then edit video. This is a bit frustrating for someone who writes as quickly as I do. When preparing for an in-person class I could write a handout, do a sample in the days before class to remind myself of the process' quirks so I'd be sure to mention them all, and then start packing and shifting stuff.

I guess I can live without the packing and hauling of stuff! And now I know that there are people all over who right now are working on their July book. I told them I wanted them to make a book a month for the year, to really train their minds and hands to do this process. They know I can check on them!

I have been asked when I might offer this class again. I wish I could give a concrete date. I want to release a couple other classes first because 1. I like to do new things, and 2. I want to see which types of classes are most popular. I have well over 75 classes that I'd like to translate to video, if the classes prove popular online. But as with any new venture you need to see what people like and don't.

I only teach one way, however, and that's with involvement and precision. So far the students have told me they liked it. One particularly inquisitive and delightful student told me it was like having a daily conversation with Roz—well for him it was, because he asked a lot of great questions.

My production schedule has been disrupted a couple times in the past few months as my 93-year-old father-in-law has gone in and out of hospital. He's frail, and now totally forgetful, but he has some great days. And he is very interested in what I'm teaching online.

"How can you even teach drawing online?" he asked, when I told him I had started putting together a drawing class for online.

I looked at him for a moment and considered how I could explain it. I've been teaching binding and art classes for over 25 years and it's just something I do, like paint in my journal. It seems natural to me. Teaching is something I've always done. So how could I give him a concise expression of the process of teaching a subject he has never dabbled in?

But it was immediately obvious to me. He's an engineer. I've lived my entire life with engineers (or scientists and process-oriented artists).

"You know when you were first learning to be an engineer you had to learn first principles?"


"Well there are those for artists as well. And a new vocabulary, just like engineering. And there are processes, which you can break down and explain so that people understand how to run a problem independently."

His eyes lit up. He knows all about learning something so well that he can improvise and create. He did it his entire life as an engineer and on his best days he still sits down at his computer and works on his pet projects.

"Well that's worth doing," he said.

And I nodded. I believe it is.

Right now I'm looking forward to the launch of "Drawing Practice: Drawing Live Subjects in Public." It's based on a couple Drawing Practice classes I've done in person over the years. However, when I started doing the videos it became something much richer. Things that were normally one minute asides in class, discussed quickly before we pushed on to some "have to get done task," became their own entity. It was a fun experience to see this happen.

The class deals with five things I believe are critical in developing one's drawing skills for live subjects—daily practice, habit building, understanding fundamentals so well you can improvise, actually getting out in public, and dealing with one's internal critic. The class starts on July 24, 2015. There are new lessons every Tuesday and Friday through August 22. (Students have access to the videos and course materials for a year.)

I will probably offer this class again sometime in 2016, but am not sure of the schedule. Right now I plan to post another book structure class, a visual journaling class, and repeat "Simple Round Back Spine," first. People are always asking if I'll teach a gouache class and a color theory class—yes, and yes. But they won't be ready at least until the fall of 2016 or later.

If you're interested in taking online classes with me you can go to my blog Roz Wound Up. There you can see a "Classes with Roz" image in the left-hand column. (If you click on it you'll go to a page about the most current class.) Just below that image is a sign up form. If you sign up there you'll be fed automatically to my class mailing list and receive promotions that way.

Alternately you can go to my blog and scroll down the left column to the Category list and click on Classes. OR you can scroll down a bit more to PAGES and find the pages that say "Classes…" and click on one that appeals to you.

There are a lot of things that I'm still coming to grips with in online teaching: where to store all this video "footage" for one thing! But as with the other teaching I've done in my life, it has introduced me to interesting and creative people who want to learn. These students push me to think about my process in a meaningful way. I am grateful for that.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

beginning a new hand-bound journal

With my previous post, my journal was filled and I have begun a new one. For this one, I cut sample sheets of Bockingford tinted papers in half, then bound them into an antique book cover. The end sheets are made from a sheet of Saunders Waterford --- I often skip using separate paper for end papers, choosing to use watercolor paper here as well since it is usually drawn on.

Inside the front cover, I glued the front illustration from the original book. The old book block was bug-chewed and crumbling but I wanted to save this bit. As usual, a palette on the first page: this one, a pocket palette made from a business card case filled with earthy, granulating paints. I will fill in personal contact info after posting this, in case the book is lost.

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
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