Sketchbook Mania

sketchbook_mania.jpg It’s kind of embarrassing how many half-filled sketchbooks of all shapes and sizes that I have laying around. As I’ve gotten more in the habit drawing, I tend to pick one up and carry it around in my purse for a while, then lose it in a stack of books. Then start another.

sketchbooks_cathedrals2.jpgBefore now, I never much cared about the lack of continuity, but on this last trip I did so many drawings I was wishing that I had dedicated a new book to it — so that I would have one of those cool travel art journals I see in art books and magazines.


Then I did a few drawings of this family, but messed up the page in between — and had the idea to cut it out, leaving the only the dad’s hand, kind of like a pop-up book.  And that was that. Started cutting up the whole thing.


Moleskine sketchbooks are great because you can cut the threads between signatures and scrape the glue off the back, and have a nice open page. I’ve done this before to frame some sketches, but have never tried to reassemble them into a new book. Now I’m in a quandry how to resolve this.

And I’m noticing how some of my ideas are scattered across many sketchbooks in a very disorganized way and wishing I had a way to keep certain project ideas together.

How about you? Ever cut up your sketchbooks, or do you dedicate certain books to themes to keep your drawings organized. Or do you even care?

Drawing people at dinner


These are some drawings of people we traveled with or met on the trip. They’re character sketches, so don’t look exactly like the real people.


At dinner people sort of sit in one place, but don’t pose. These are my composite impressions of people as they move and talk naturally. It’s a challenge to do quick sketches in ink (a Sakura Pigma Brush Pen), but also kind of fun. Most only took a few minutes.


Then some I gave light watercolor washes for a little color. If you’re going to do this, first be sure your ink is waterproof (one reason I like the Sakaru pens) or fix the ink so it doesn’t run (unless that’s the effect you want).


It might be fun to interpret these into fabric sometime later, like I did to this guy. Looking back to that post, I think my drawings are getting better after much practice!

Musings on the Creamery Art Center


Gerrie asked about the motivation behind this new series “Wish You Were Hair” and it’s true it’s inspired by my collection of vintage postcards. Also my fascination with travel and world monuments and landmarks…

But the real motivation — I can’t get out of mind the kids who come through the Creamery Arts Center. I’ve been trying to put stuff into these pieces that I think kids will like, and if they come with their parents, there will be interesting things to talk about.

Just outside of the exhibition space at the Creamery are ballet classes, so I drew this tight-rope dancer. I guess I’ve just always wanted to draw a circus, and won’t it be fun to play with color here! I’d like to add a little tiny elephant on the ground below, and I don’t know what building this is, so for now I’m calling it TipToe Temple.

Why I like drawing with pens


Guess where I drew this? Yup, when I was getting my hair highlighted! Since much of the summer has been spent away from the studio, I have been working a lot in my sketchbooks. I can easily stick a sketchbook and a pen into my purse or backpack and am good to go.

I like drawing with pen, usually a Micron 03 archival pen or Pigma archival brush pen, because it forces me to keep things fresh and think about the deliberate use of line. Things just happen in pen, both good and bad, and I have to start over with a new drawing if I want to make changes rather than re-work it or erase.

This is an idea I’m working on for Niagara Falls. First I had the idea of the waterfall hairdo, then the idea to add the wedding couple.


Then the idea of falling off a wedding cake like a cliff. Also I added an embroidered dress I saw in the movie Kamikaze Girls (great funny quirky movie, my new all-time fav!) but it doesn’t look like a wedding dress, so may have to do a little wedding gown research.

Also, there’s not room for the groom on the wedding cake, so may have to re-think him too. In my overly-complicated way of thinking, I’d love to add a bunch of bridesmaids running for the bouquet, but I know I don’t have time for that.

We’re talking Really Big Hair


Another drawing for my new series, Wish You Were Hair. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a fascination with monuments of the world — written about them in my term papers, constructed clay monuments in ceramics, traveled to see them in person.

Now these world monuments are starting to appear in my quilts. They have mysteriously collided with my interest in hair stylists and the results have crash-landed in my studio. I’ve been doodling ideas throughout the summer and am trying to preserve the spontaneity of the original sketches as I convert them to fabric.


No, I haven’t taken up smoking…


…but I’ve been collecting retro melamine ashtrays that make great brush/water holders for painting. And they come in great colors (I have bigger yellow and green ones at my studio.)


This is a small one, which is good for travel, especially on a boat where your brushes might roll overboard. The watercolor pencils roll also, but at least they float when they hit the water, so you have time to dive in and retrieve them.


Also for travel, I like using old watercolor tins to carry small brushes. They work better than anything new I can find, and add a nice flavor to the process.

Creative To Do Lists

Since recently I’ve had little time to make art, I got the idea to make creative to-do lists in my moleskine. The idea was to do an experimental page each morning, and since it was only a to-do list, I felt no inhibitions about creating a great work of art. It was merely a chance to experiment with different media.


Each day that I did a new page, I immediately felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and was able to go about my day with new energy. Now I’m trying to decide if I should continue the habit. Am I the only one who is constantly tinkering with my schedule, hoping to find the perfect creative routine?

Drawing from Life

drawing-from-life.jpgThis is a terrific book that I picked up in Seattle and since have been slowly relishing each page. Unlike many survey books that devote little more than a superficial paragraph and single photo for each subject, there are many photos from each journal featured, along with Jennifer New’s in-depth profile of each journal-keeper’s motivation, inspiration, and how keeping art journals over many years has impacted their work and life.

Not just artists are featured — in the mix of 31 journals, there are those of scientists, a psychologist, a film-maker, musicians, an architect, a quilt-maker, and more. New divides the journals up into categories of methodology: observation, reflection, exploration, and creation, with an introductory essay for each section. There is also an introduction siting journal-keepers through history, and the soft-binding, rounded corners, and ghostly grid background on all the interior the pages gave me the pleasant feeling that I was actually reading from a journal.

This book has given me new insight into what I could achieve from keeping a more regular journal and has inspired me to draw every day. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to opportunities to get stuck in odd places or at parties without anyone to talk to, so I can whip out my journal and start gathering visual information. (click on a thumbnail for larger view)