Art Journals, sketches, TV sketches, watercolors. Read: guilty pleasures, fixations and obsessions.

Posts tagged “art journals

Sketch of a Sketch

Received my copy of the Laws Guide to Drawing Birds by John Muir Laws a couple of weeks ago — I only had the chance to hastily flip through it because company came that very afternoon to stay for a week… Every so often during that week, I’d casually handle the book, furtively crack it open for a teasing peek only to slap it closed, my face flushed as though it were something taboo to do in “mixed company”. Clearly, this book intrigued me and I couldn’t wait to get some alone time with it.

A couple of days after our guests departed, I uncovered the book, which was in a pile in my studio and immediately formed a vision and intention for the next morning: Two morning hours (at least) of play on the cool and breezy front porch with this book, my sketch kit and a virtual fountain of hot coffee.

The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds is laid out well and although I didn’t start at the beginning (I never do!) I read a couple of early chapters and settled on scratching out one of the lessons in my small dry media sketchpad. Then I started to get fidgety — probably the coffee — and scooted everything together for a sketch outing “portrait”. Then, not so mysteriously, I felt compelled to sketch and paint that scenario in my new Moleskine watercolor notebook.

When I think back on last Thursday morning, it makes me grin. I need to manifest more of this type of vision/intention, it was so much fun to play!


Watercolor, Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink and gouache in 8.25 x 11.5″ Moleskine watercolor notebook. 10 August, 2012.

At a luncheon yesterday, I was utterly transfixed with the rather unusual chandelier that hung over our table and just had to attempt to convey its whimsical character in a sketch. Yes, maybe I fussed with the crystals a bit too long. I confess a suppressed fixation with sparkles, glitter and fantasy.

The Gauntlet

Watercolor on 140 lb., 8.5 x 11″ Strathmore Visual Journal. Westbrook, Maine. 1 June, 2012.

Nothing says “carnival” to me more than the scent of fried dough. It smells delicious, and I’m sure that when the oil is new, the result is very good. But, ugh — I tried it once a number of years ago and even though I’m a hound dog for anything covered with sugar, the dough was heavy and greasy and sat unpleasantly in my stomach. My friend and I were walking off an excellent meal of Indian food last weekend, when we happened upon a small carnival in a park by the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, ME. Full of saag paneer, I was able to run the gauntlet of carnival delicacies without succumbing to any temptation. Until I got to the milkshake stand, that is.

Looking around at the carnival sights as I contentedly sipped my chocolate shake, I realized how extraordinarily crisp the lights of Jensen’s Fried Dough stand lit their flags against the night sky. I had my sketch book with me, but didn’t feel comfortable whipping it out and starting a sketch. So, I snapped a photo and sketched it at home later that evening. I wasn’t thrilled with the sky rendering, so I started another version with a different palette and here is a view of the comparison. Although I like the sky in the second attempt, I think the first sketch has more personality.

It’s not graceful to gloat. No, it’s not.

Graphite, Ink, Intense Pencils on Moleskine. 12 May, 2012. South Windham, Maine.

Revenge is sweet when it’s time for Super Scrabble on a Sunday afternoon. I lost the last game, which took place April 15, and botched my little drawing of the afternoon as well (see it here.) So, this game and sketch redeems me somewhat, although it’s not really graceful to gloat. But, heheh, it’s hard not to once in a while…

Pressing Business

Pastimes and fixations on projects come and go with me, but I’ve always sketched, doodled, painted and otherwise made things from scratch. Some years, I am up to my elbows in buckets of sudsy water, scraping layers of wallpaper from the walls of our old farmhouse and other years I can’t seem to get enough time outdoors in the gardens. This year, I’m sketching more, started playing with watercolors again and am getting rather obsessed with fountain pens, paints and sketch books. Especially sketchbooks made with watercolor paper.

Over the years, I’ve made a couple of booklets and pamphlets and have enjoyed the process, but mostly I adore having a tangible piece to show for my effort. Lately, I’ve been wanting to create sketch journals, making the sizes that I want and filling them with good watercolor paper that won’t warp with repeated washes. After watching a fast-action video in which a guy makes himself a beautiful journal, I got it in my head to make a book press and get started bookbinding.

The maple board and the hardware came from Lowe’s. My kind husband cut the boards for me and yesterday, I assembled the book press. Today, I created my first book with it. It’s not perfect, surely, but it’ll do nicely for as a palette journal. I’ve got to revisit a couple of Web sites to find out where I went wrong with the stitching, (although the stitches seem tight, one of the signatures is slightly separated from the others,) and it would probably be a good idea to get some archival glue. But, I’m happy to have been able to put this little 3.25″x4″ booklet together with scrap materials.

Helles Crew

Ink and watercolor on Moleskine notebook. 28 April, 2012.
Last weekend, we took another road trip to New Hampshire. The waitress fairly rolled her eyes when she saw me whip out the devil ducks and wooden Cabin Fever contender. When she saw me sketching, I heard an audible sigh. No matter, the beer was great and the devil duckies wanted beer. Here, see the envious Helles Crew at Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery on 28 April. Cabin Fever Snow Pile Races Evil Devil Duckies and rounded, grounded Palooka Red only wish they could taste this brew!

Natter, Schmatter

Ink, markers and watercolor on Moleskine notebook. 26 April, 2012. South Portland, Maine.
Had an appointment to have my car serviced at the local Subaru dealer  and their WiFi never works for me, so I brought my sketchbook and pens. Wish I’d brought my earplugs, too, because two 60-year-oldish ladies were dominating the waiting area with their blather and natter. I barely contained my eyeballs from rolling back in their sockets several juicy times and inadvertently let an exasperated sigh when one of the ladies asked her friend where
Daytona Beach was. (Really.)

The natter and the wait might have been boring as hell, but I found the duct work
in the showroom fascinating.

Awash in Babies

Watercolor, ink, Tombow pens on Moleskine watercolor notebook. 23 April, 2012.
These wee baby dolls live in this 3″ diameter salt cellar in a china cabinet. They caught my eye the other day—they looked forlorn and neglected. Now they reside on my desk and demand constant attention. Because I know who’s boss around here, I obliged with a sketch.


Ink and watercolor on 5×8 Moleskine. 15 April, 2012.
Lost miserably at Scrabble today, but came up with a half-decent ink sketch of the situation. Then, when I started painting, I bumped the notebook and the Bloody Mary red paint ran. So, I went with it and splashed my way across the page. Whoopsie…

Mirror, mirror

Watercolor, Inktense pencils on Strathmore 140#. 10 April 2012.
The two desktop critters demanded more time out of their box, so they got to stay on the drawing table overnight. Tonight, they patiently sat for their portraits, although I think the frog is fairly glowering at the lizard.

Stand Off

Derwent Inktense pencils, Noodler’s Bulletproof Black on Strathmore 140#. 9 April 2012.

Spring weather made it too windy to draw outside, so I resorted to reorganizing my art supplies.
I rewarded myself by staging and sketching a stand off on my drawing table
with a couple of willing desk critters.

The Boss

Graphite, ink and Derwent Inktense pencils on Strathmore 140#. 5 April 2012.
Drawn from a scale replica of a roof boss at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England.

Looking Up

Watercolor and ink on 5″x8″ Moleskine. 4 April 2012.
Feeling a little guilty for spending this beautiful April afternoon painting and listening
to music. But, only just a little. I’ve often sketched and painted this house on the Presumpscot River that we’ve been living in for 27 years and never feel that I quite capture the look of the vergeboard. Looking up at the roofline, I marvel at the workmanship and simultaneously see dollar signs when I see how it needs to be repaired.

Smooth Cruise

Watercolor and ink on 5″x8″ Moleskine notebook. 21 March 2012.
Had an unusually smooth cruise that morning, flying from Portland, ME, to Dayton, Ohio.
Passed my short layover sketching at the end of the C concourse of Detroit Metro Airport, waiting for my connecting flight.

The Beast

Watercolor and ink on 5″x8″ Moleskine watercolor notebook.

It was unseasonably warm here today, so Will rolled out The Beast from The John Deere Palace (the former goat barn.)
It started up on the second try, no black smoke or chugging at all. No wee mousies fled the engine
when it started like they did last year. Maybe no one had set up camp over the winter…

Miss you, Ma

Permanent marker and colored pencil on Bienfang graphics paper.
This sketch was done a number of years ago, probably in the late 1980s. Although this is a drawing of my much beloved and now deceased mother-in-law, I never showed it to her. I’m sorry I didn’t let her see this, because it makes me smile just to look at it and I had to share that. I miss you, Ma.

Presumpscot River at Bridge Street, Westbrook, Maine

Downstream view of the Presumpscot River at Bridge Street in Westbrook, ME.
On errands, I couldn’t resist stopping for a few minutes to scribble in the scene,
leaving the color for later. Spring is definitely in the air!
Watercolor and ink on 5″x8″ Moleskine watercolor notebook.

Soft-Serv Snow Pile II

Soft-Serv II, the final race course of this year’s Cabin Fever Snow Pile Races.
Yellow Bird wins the Mystic Seer Bobblehead Doll!
Ink, watercolor and marker on 5″x8″ Moleskine watercolor notebook.


My yoga/art studio door.

Watercolor and ink on 6″x12″ 140 lb. paper.