For those who have been wondering if I fell off the end of the earth, unfortunately for many weeks I was teleported to another dimension called Really Hard Work. Not just the brain-drain kind of hard work, but also the kind that completely wears you out by the end of the day.

I was able to sustain my energy by ingesting vast amounts of red licorice, coffee and diet coke. But at the end of each day, I didn’t feel like writing blogs or making art — all I wanted to do was come home and fall asleep playing Plants versus Zombies on the sofa. And since I sort of lost my sense of humor for a while, it’s probably better I didn’t write much.

Now that I’m getting back into the blogging mood, here are more pages from my sketchbook. While in Japan, we visited a high school, and I got a chance to draw the girls in music class. The school has a blue uniform that sort of looks like gym suits and looks very comfortable. I wouldn’t mind wearing a uniform — It would save having to decide what to wear every morning!

Photoshopping Drawings and other High Wire Acts

This is a rendering for larger project to be made in fabric. I’m pretty happy with the composition — it’s an interesting spin on a portrait of a single character as the center of interest with my typical busyness in the background.

It’s also the first time I’ve combined natural drawing media and computer drawings in a Photoshop collage. The high-wire walker was done with a Pigma brush pen and watercolors. I drew the monks in pen in my travel journal, then scanned and combined them with drawings of buildings I did in CorelDraw.

If you remember, a couple of years ago I did a drawing called Tip Toe Temple. Somehow that original idea has gotten tangled up with these photos of cell towers and electrical power lines from Japan. So now here’s some other more recent ink brush drawings of similar themes…


and this one:

Clouds have a lot of personality and are interesting characters to draw or paint. Speaking of clouds, here were some really wild ones as I left the studio tonight, just a little before sunset. The wind was whistling in an eerie way, and the clouds seemed over-dramatic over the paper cup factory across the street. I half expected an big UFO to break through at any moment.

Winter Olympics 2010

Recently back from Japan and still suffering jetlag… So it’s nice to just veg out in the evening and watch the winter olympics in Vancouver. Here are some couch potato ink brush drawings of Olymipic ice dancing using my travel watercolor set and my new-found joy – Japanese waterbrushes.

Waterbrushes are plastic pens that you fill with water. Instead of a pen tip, they have bristles, and you squeeze the water out of the handle to fill the brush tip. Great for travel watercolor journaling and doing nice color washes without running out of liquid. I’ve acquired versions by Niji, Kuretake, and Sakura. Here’s a good article about waterbrushes, and if you’re in the States and want to order some, the Jet Pens website looks like a good source (better order some additional sizes for myself:)

Sitting in the back

When I go to videotape an event, I usually sit on the back row or in an aisle seat so I can easily get up and down as needed. The other day at the Creamery Arts Center, I sat in the back, only to be delighted to have the opportunity to draw some wonderful hairstyles while I was waiting for an event to start. Hair is hard to draw, so I’m working on it!

Traveling Watercolors and Vintage Paintboxes

Here’s a fun little project using watercolor paints. I bought a traveler’s water color set last year made by Winsor & Newton. The paints are good, but I hated the box — it was all plastic, too fat, and yet there was no real room inside for anything but the half-paint pans, which although were form fitted in more plastic, still always stuck to the lid when I opened the box.

The vintage paint box below is one I found somewhere (probably Ebay). Since it came to me empty of contents, I had been using it to carry paint brushes.

So I took the Winsor Newton paints out of the plastic box and put them into the vintage tin. And there’s still room for a real size paint brush and a pen! The paints slid around though when I tried to wet them, so I used a hot glue gun to stick them in place. Russ, the glue gun pro in the house, told me I needed to warm the metal of the box first, for the hot glue to really stick. So actually he warmed the tin over the stove, then the glue gun worked it’s magic.

Now I can even add some colors to the palette — I think I’d like to add a few more, and you can order or buy the little pans of paint from online or good art stores.

Here’s another vintage box I thought about using, but the corners are too sharp, and the shape is wrong. I like the long paint box because it’s flatter and about the same length as my moleskein sketchbook, so they are easy to stack together and slide into my purse.

It’s still cute though, and look inside — it only cost $.29 at S.S. Kresge Co. back in who knows when!

Merry White Christmas!

white-christmasI’ve been drawing stuff in the sky this week and looking at photos of space, astronauts, and the Hubble…. animations of fireworks….

Today we woke to a gift from the sky – snow!

This the first White Christmas I can remember in a long time. Mochi and I went on a very early morning walk. It was a bit surreal, and we didn’t see a soul out except for some squirrels, so I let her run off her lease, much to her joy.

For someone who likes to work with color, I’m awfully inspired by some whites — moonlight, starlight, and snow. Wondering how to draw snow, I decided to just draw the stuff around or behind it. It’s kind of like space in sculpture and architecture, defined by the stuff around it.

my new winter hat

Merry Christmas everyone!

(And how come with all the art supplies I’ve bought in my life, when I want to do a quick ink sketch, all I can find is an old box of Prang and one old brush??)

Inspired by Hand Job: A Catalog of Type

hands-lettersThe other night I got a little crazy with the scissors and whipped up some hand-made letters for the header for the blog. I don’t know if it looks good, but it was fun.

I had been was looking through the book Hand Job: A Catalog of Type to find inspiration for a project I was working on and found much more than I expected.


It’s a great book showing the work of graphic designers and artists who prefer using hand-drawn letters instead of digital fonts — packed with sketches and journal entries along side finished drawings, posters and illustrations by 50 talented artists.

“Graphic designer and hand typographer Michael Perry has selected work that represents the full spectrum of design methods and styles. Whether you are looking to invigorate your design work or are just in need of a little offbeat inspiration, Hand Job will have you reaching for your favorite pen.” –Brunswick Street Bookstore

Then I stared seeing hands everywhere I looked…in my studio, in the warehouse, everywhere….


P.S. I forgot to say that another reason I really enjoyed this book as because in school as a kid, instead of paying attention in class, I used to spend a lot of time drawing signs and messages in letters that were little cartoons of snakes – each letter had a little head with eyes, vogue, and a mouth.

Twelve Tips for organizing your sketchbooks


Over the past few years I’ve been trying to get into the habit of keeping a visual journal or sketchbook, but now I find myself wondering how to deal with the rather disorganized pile of sketchbooks I’ve accumulated. So I posted the question on my last post of how to organize them, and was surprised at all the helpful suggestions I got in the comments section. Here’s a short summary:

  1. Date your sketchbooks and individual pages (several people suggested this, and I now when I look back to older sketches, wish I had done it.)
  2. Cut and Paste –“Forget neat signatures and just cut and paste to your heart’s content until you get the cohesive story you want” thanks to Kristin.
  3. If you use spiral sketchbooks, you can take the coil out and reassemble them in a different manner, said Gwen.
  4. Leave the first 2-3 pages in the book blank to leave room to write an index to specific pages. “On ‘continuing saga’ projects, I also write all the pg#s and ntbk info at the top of each page. Sounds kind of anal I know, but I got tired of hunting all over the place for patterns and design solutions.” said Ceci. (some people also wrote an index at the back of each sketchbook, or just inside the cover.)
  5. “scan spreads and then upload and tag them on Flickr so they can be organized by topic/theme, etc.” said Carolyn.
  6. Several people mentioned that they keep different sketchbooks for different topics — i.e. art quilts, travel, home decor ideas, book design, etc.
  7. “Sticky note tabs to mark specific projects within a book.” said Loreen
  8. Scan or photocopy sketches to assemble into “new books of their own (japanese-style, maybe), or make them into accordion books. These can be organised by project, or topic, or date, or whatever” said Margaret.
  9. “Got a bad journal page?- rip it out, paint it black or paste something else over it.” Sounds like a Rolling Stones song, but good advice, Sandy!
  10. If you add or paste stuff into a sketchbook that is hard-bound, cut out a few pages to allow room for the added bulk. (I’ve been thinking about pasting in some of my fabric experiments.)
  11. Use different sizes and journals with different types of covers to distinguish them for different projects or trips. Or make different looking covers, suggested Dijanne.
  12. “Sew the signatures together…and cover it…you might try this http://michaelshannon.us/makeabook/index.html” wrote Margaret.

Almost forgot to say, Thanks everyone for all your comments and suggestions!