Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dutchie Nap

Both of my Dutch Shepherds are hard core nap-takers.

This is a quick scribble of Nik.

I started with the contour, then added the text, fully intending to add more detail and some more journaling.

But then I looked at it and thought, stop.

A nap needs some quiet space around it.

The Design class I am working in with Roz Stendahl is helping me see white space and margins much more clearly.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving: Columns and Nora Jones

This page started with a quick scribble of my dog, Nora Jones.  She is a Dutch Shepherd.

Lately, I've been trying to be more conscious about my page design, but I had this scribble of the dog down on the page without any forethought (which is my usual M.O.).

Then I decided to see if I could make the page look a bit more intentional.

I played with columns, creating a vertical line in a place where the dog would break the plane.  I thought perhaps this would push her image forward from the words.

I put a little headline of her name, making up the font with serifs.

I added the main journaling piece.  But then it felt unbalanced with a big blank area in the upper right.  So I added the cartoon call-out.

I certainly learned a lot messing with this combination of sketch, texts, columns, and call-outs.

Plus, it was nice to mark the eighteen-month anniversary of our rescuing "The Jones,"  the enormous healing progress she has made, and the quirky goodness she has brought into our lives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Miraculous View of a Brush in a Jar of Water

I have never tried to draw an object in a jar of water before.

Which means I've never really looked at one before.


Still thinking about page design in this double page spread.

Still using my new bent nib Hero pen and DeAtramentis brown document ink.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sometimes, the Back of a Head

In fall of 2016, I enrolled in a new course being taught by the fantastic Roz Stendahl on design.  You can learn more about it and all of Roz's classes here.

What I wanted to take from the class, at least initially, was a way to make my scribbly journal pages look neater, but without having to neaten up my scribbling.

I don't know if that makes sense.  I still want my fast, capture-the-moment, scribbly sketches, but I wanted the pages themselves to be more pleasing to look at.

First major lesson for me:  MARGINS!!   Keeping some white space around the page (except in the case of intentional bleeds) makes things look a lot more tidy.

This, by the way, is easier said than done.

Here is the first sketch I did trying to keep margins and white space in mind.

I drew this particular angle on my mother because I was sitting inside at the table, trying to figure out what I wanted to sketch, and she was sitting outside on the front porch.  I could see her through the window.   I was taken with the notion of trying to capture a portrait of someone just using the back of their head, and their posture.

I will say, this looks exactly like my mom!

This is also the first scribble I did with a new bent nib Hero pen, loaded with DeAtramentis document brown ink.

My hope is to do a bunch of scribbles with this pen and get to know it, even as I am learning more about page design.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sketching to Test New Paints

I nabbed three colors of VanGogh watercolors paints from the clearance bin at a local art store the other day.   I wanted to test them out, but I didn't feel like doing swatches.

So, I decided to sketch what was on the table in front of me--with no worries about realistic color.

I used only my three new colors--Van Gogh permanent red violet, permanent blue violet, and permanent orange--along with my trusty Daniel Smith indanthrone blue (which I consider a magic color because it makes anything look good).

Here are my experiments.

This was a lot more fun that the usual color swatching, which is, of course useful, and I'll probably do those eventually.

But the scribbles of random objects took very little time, got my daily observations in, helped me learn about the values and behaviors of the new paints, and was fun.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Livestreaming Soccer

This fall I took a self-paced class in page design from the wonderful teacher Roz Stendahl.  You should all take classes from her.  Seriously.

Anyhow, as part of my sketchbook keeping, I'm going to try to be more intentional about the composition of my pages.

So here is a quick sketch I did one evening when I watched a livestream of my nephew's soccer game on the computer.  It shows my screen porch, the woods behind, and the libation I enjoyed while watching.

I used a new pen I've just gotten.  A Hero bent nib calligraphy pen, with DeAtramentis document brown ink.  I'll do more work with both of them to get more familiar with how they work.

I enjoyed capturing the late summer moment.  I enjoyed intentionally playing a bit more with the spacing of the image and the text on the page.

On thing that Rox taught us is that simply paying attention to margins, especially gutter margins, can help a page look more attractive and intentionally designed.  So that's where I've started.  Margins.

One baby step at a time!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Developing Drawings from Soccer Sketches

Having scribbled a bunch of pencil drawings during a fast-moving live soccer game, I sat down with ink and watercolor and developed some more careful drawings from those sketches.

You can see here that first, I drew one based on a stick figure.  Then I drew the exact same figure again, trying to flesh it out to be more realistic looking.

Then I decided to work from a photo of my nephew, but keep in mind what I had learned doing the fast scribbles.

On this page you can see I drew and redrew the image four times.

In the center left is the blind contour which I drew first.  I love the wonkiness of blind contours!  And I am amazed that you can actually see what the heck it is!

Second I drew the image directly below it, a faceless contour, working out the shapes a bit more accurately.

Third I drew the image on the lower right, adding a bit of face and uniform detail.  As the notes on the page say, I was working out how the twist worked in terms of the proportion of the limbs and the movement of the clothes.  All very hard for me! But so much fun.

Then finally I completed the big sketch.

I am pleased with the composition of this page--I like seeing the growth of the image through the version.  And the notes add a nice sense of "study" to it.

And though it really doesn't look anything like my nephew, it reminds me of watching him play.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Scribbling at Soccer Games

I'm lucky enough to be able to attend college soccer games and watch my nephew play on the team.

This year, I decided to take a sketchbook and a fat, soft pencil, and force myself to spend at least one half of the games trying to quick sketch people in motion.

FAST motion!

My goal was to practice seeing how bodies moved, how clothes moved on those bodies as they twisted and turn and ran and stopped, and to practice proportions.   I also hoped to strengthen my visual memory.

Here are some of the results.

As you can see, I wrote notes to myself, noting what confused me, what I was trying to indicate.  You can see me testing, trying, scribbling and scribbling right over top, just capturing the general shapes and trying to convey some sense of movement.

I wasn't sure how I'd like the practice--if it would decrease my enjoyment of the games.  But it made the games way more fun.  I paid better, closer attention to the players.  I learned names and numbers more quickly than I usually do in a season.  And I grew in my appreciation for how amazing these athletes are!

Have you tried scribbling fast motion sketches?  Why not give it a whirl next time you are at a child's game?  Or watching sports on TV?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Jubilant Forest

 I haven't done a "find the picture in the blob" scribble in a long time.

I had some leftover watercolor on my palette and I wanted to clean the palette.  But I just can't bear to throw watercolors away, no matter how little.  So I randomly slapped some on a page, blew it around with a straw, let the colors mix and mingle to see what sort of range would appear.

Then I looked at the dried blob and entered with an ink pen, trying to see what shapes presented themselves.

I found a lovely entrance to a jubilant forest.

Perhaps the most fun thing about this, to me, is that I only used three colors of paint.  Yet they mixed and mingled to form many shades of purple and green and orange.

Also, I can tell that my work earlier in the summer with the dirt roads in the forests of northern Michigan influenced what I found in this blob.

If you are interested in blob art--finding scenes and creatures and other fun stuff in blob, sidewalk cracks, and the like--there is no one better that Carla Sonheim at showing you how to do it.  I encourage you to check out her website, books, and fun online courses!