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!

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” wrote Margaret.

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

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!

Traveling with art supplies


Waaay behind on posting these days. We flew away from snow and ice, and are now enjoying sunshine. I’ve packed a bunch of art supplies and am actually dragging them around in my shoulder bag every day.

I saw guy at the hotel who had the coolest bag — when I asked he said it was a vintage Swiss army gas mask bag (sans gas mask) he got from a flea market in London, so have been plotting to find my own vintage bag for art supplies when I get a chance.


We are staying at our friends’ boutique hotel and traveling as part of Russ’s Rotary/Sister City group, to see the progress of donations used build an extra classroom, office, and play yard for a family-services school in our Sister City. We were also supposed to help build a soccer park, but though we all brought tools and such, the goal posts haven’t arrived, so that project will have to be postponed.

chalk.jpg Russ came up with a great art project to do with the entire school, but it was interesting explaining why we were carrying 50 pounds of chalk to customs and airport security. I loved that this little guy drew a chalk track and then drove his car on it. How Harold and the Purple Crayon is that?


It was a fun day, working with the kids at the school — art usually bridges barriers of language and custom. Sister Cities motto is “Peace through People” and the projects are grass-roots — a great way to travel, meet, work with people, and make friendships.

Happy New Year’s, with some resolutions


sketch from Gong Fu Teahouse

Last year I chose three words to define my new year. Now I can’t even find them on my blog (know I did a post about it) and can’t remember them either. Well, that worked well didn’t it?

This year decided to go back to some simple new years resolutions:

1. Not to interrupt people when they are talking. (bad habit of mine, I think, when I get excited about a conversation)
2. Send more thank you notes and letters (not the email kind, the real kind)
3. Draw daily. (even if it’s just a simple sketch)

I know the third will be hard. Maybe I could combine 2 and 3 sometimes for more efficiency. Also I had the idea to set up a repeating event on my iCal program to email myself these resolutions once a week. Otherwise I will forget them by February.

May add some more later, but I think resolutions are different than goals. Resolutions seem to me to be more about creating and reinforcing habits, whereas goal-setting seems like a whole different process. I may not be able to keep them everyday, but hoping to do it enough that they become a habit.

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.