Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Tiny Books

This week in Sketchbook Skool we are making tiny books.  The teacher, Jill Weber, is an illustrator with a well established career in book illustration and makes the most intriguing little books for fun.  She showed us two different small books to try: an accordion book, using a long strip of paper and just folding it into many sections; and this other little book that I tried first, where I used an 8 1/2" by 11" sheet of paper and by folding and cutting, ended up with 8 pages to tell my story.

I chose this second one to start with. The tricky part is finding the right papers for these. You want it sturdy enough to handle the medium you will use, to be durable - and still to be able to take the folding.  I will have to play with this more.

I used a high quality office paper - but it buckled with my water colors.
And while these are meant to be done fairly quickly, I admit it took me most of my day!  But it was fun.
 I am happy to know how to make these because they would make sweet little gifts for friends and family.

Here's my little story.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sketching is Contagious

Here's another thing I learned when I started carrying around a sketchbook with me.  People like to see what you're finding so interesting that you want to draw it.  I've been journaling for a long time - there would be curiousity about that, too, but then folks would be disappointed when they saw there were no pictures on my pages. Once I started adding little drawings, I'd find that others would be inspired - "Oh, I should do something like that, too."  The fact that my drawings are less than professional might actually give them more license to give it a go.

One of the sweetest instances of this happened when one of our grandsons was staying with us for a while.  He was six.  One evening he was eating before he left to go to a t-ball practice.  I sat at the table with him to keep him company and he also set up his  stuffed animal friends around him.  I decided to sketch him.  He loved the picture and the attention.

The next evening as I was preparing dinner, he said "Don't look!"  and I stayed in the kitchen until he told me I could come out.  When he did call me, he proudly showed me his drawing. I was blown away by it.  He had captured so many elements around him - the cabinet behind him with the stemmed glasses and little figurines, the vase of spring flowers, the lamp, the spiral bound sketchbook on the table. He'd spent over half an hour laboring with the details. I had the feeling that he was claiming the space as his own - a place where he felt at home.  He continues to love to draw, to illustrate the stories that come from his imagination.

What is your experience with sketching or journaling?  Have you done any illustrated journaling? - I know a number of people who love to keep this kind of record of their trips, in particular.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sketching Your Days

I first signed up for Sketchbook Skool in the spring of 2014.  I wanted to get better at drawing. I struggle with proportion, with getting my eye to see relationships as easily as my mind does and then getting my hand to follow! The course was one still offered, entitled Beginnings. Each week for six weeks, there was  a new teacher with new lessons and styles to check out. It turned out to be a great deal for under $100! In addition to the instruction and demos from the teachers,  there is a huge community of class members who write in and show their own progress, struggles, and output.  Some are really experienced and do beautiful work.  Some are absolute beginners and are admirable for jumping in to something new and putting it out there.

I learned a quite a bit. What was even more important than learning techniques was coming to understand what a practice like sketching can do for you.

Here is one lesson from Danny Gregory: sketching something as simple as your breakfast can be meditative, can settle you in to your day.  And the funny thing - when I look at this sketch, I remember that morning clearly almost two years later!  I remember being in my daughter's apartment, waiting for grandsons to wake up.  I can see the light coming through the windows, almost hear and smell the soft spring rain.  Now my drawing wouldn't conjure that for you - you'd only see that I had a well balanced breakfast - some toast and cheese and clementine slices and coffee in my favorite Laura Keller mug. But I am there in that morning, waiting for my sweet ducks to join me.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hand lettering Fun

Once again I'm participating in Sketchbook Skool.  It's the perfect time of year to jump into these classes that offer so much inspiration and technique, taught by a wonderful variety of artists. The classes go for six weeks online, each week a new set of lessons taught by a different teacher.
This past week taught by Koosje Koene, one of the founders of the school.

The lessons were on hand lettering.  We were encouraged to play with different fonts, think about lettering with composition in mind.  The final lesson was to choose a word or quote and to use hand lettering to give it meaning or impact - or just design.

I decided to use a quote from Annie Dillard's novel, The Maytrees.  I love her characters and there are several quotes from this book that have become part of my view of the world. Here is the one I chose:

And the next line is "She rolled down the dunes."

And what about you?  What are you doing for yourself this winter? What quotes do you find inspiring, challenging, fun?