Sketchbook / Journal Pages

Sakura white, metallic and starlight gelly roll pens in a black Sakura journal/sketchbook. I had a lovely few hours last night, sat in bed, settling down for a good sleep.

What you can’t see in the photos is how the matt white and shiny blue/green inks create interesting weirdness visually. By weirdness, I mean a strange kind of 3D effect that I can’t put into words. That was totally unexpected.

I haven’t decided what to do with these pages yet. Will I fill them in completely with colour/pattern, or will I leave the pages as they are. If I leave them as they are then they can be used for journaling, writing, and I quite like that idea to be honest. As the writing is likely to be very personal, I’m not likely to share that, but maybe I’ll mock something up digitally, see for myself what it’s like and then decide.

And with that last sentence, I may scan these in and use them as templates for a digital journal, which would then take away my worries about making a mess of the page by writing on it!

Of course, they’d work quite nicely as frames for quotes too.

Too many possibilities!

Whatever I decide to do – and it may be all of these things – there is something satisfying about working with shimmer and shine and the contrast with the matt white ink on black. The sparkle and shine makes my arty soul rather happy.

Just a note on the black Sakura sketchbook / notebook /journal. I like it! It has a LOT of pages in it of acid-free, sturdy enough, smooth paper.

Sketchbook Page

Over the past few days I’ve been sketching in a black paper sketchbook. I’ve been indulging myself in sparkle and glitter, as well as using Derwent Colorsoft pencils, a Derwent blending pencil and a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen for these particular sketches.

In both cases, I started using coloured pencils. Only when I had finished the design did I add the white pen work to see how it would look.

I also enjoy the contrast between the sharp, bright white pen work and the softer, more fuzzy and hazy coloured pencil areas of the designs.

There is also something fascinating and enjoyable about bringing pattern, form and light into to the dark. Which works well as a metaphor for abstract art bubbling up out of the depths of my unconscious mind.

I enjoy creating abstract patterns. Like all my art, it brings peace, contentment and joy to my creative heart. By manifesting these designs on a page, I bring further ideas for art in the future.

Sketchbook Musings

Over the past week or so I’ve been gradually adding to this sketchbook page. It is entirely what a sketchbook should be, in my opinion. Pages full of ideas, sketches, unfinished drawings, practice of techniques, written notes… a visual zibladone for the creative soul!

It is a reflection of what is catching my attention in my world. That world encompasses the inner worlds of imagination and emotion, as well as the outer world of books, nature, architecture, photographs, and so on.

This page includes inspiration from Mayan glyphs/sculpture, rocks, nature, mushrooms, magic wands/staves/sceptres, pen textures and some inspiration from Hundertwasser.

Everything on the page is a bit wonky (not perpendicular), and I’m OK about that – it’s a sketchbook! But then wonky art, particularly colouring pages, seems to be part of my signature style. Perfectly straight lines just don’t look right to me, nor do sharp corners. Perhaps that’s why I like Hundertwasser so much.

The English gardener William Kent said, “Nature abhors a straight line”. Hundertwasser said, ” The straight line is godless and immoral.”

A sketchbook is always a work in progress (WIP), even when every page is full, it’s full of incomplete drawings and ideas, sketches and notes, jottings and doodlings. Nothing has to be perfect. Not a single thing.

A sketchbook is a place to try things out, experiment, just see what happens. With that comes an acceptance that not everything will work out, and where surprising things happen and discoveries are made that may otherwise never happen.

Sometimes the gems of ideas and colour combinations and ways of using media remain hidden until much later. A sketchbook is a place to practice and learn, to note down what is of interest at this time, what needs to be expressed, without any pressure to produce a finished, polished artwork.

That doesn’t mean, however, that a sketchbook can’t be something interesting to look at, even with it’s own kind of beauty. They are a reflection of the artist that creates them and so is a window into their arty heart and feelings. They are very personal things.

A sketchbook encourages me to use media that are gathering dust because I do so much art digitally. In a physical sketchbook, if I want any colour, then I have to use some of these media.

On this one page I’ve used Pilot Hi-Tec C4, Pilot Maica, Rotring Rapidograph and Uniball Unipin pens. To add colour, watercolours, Tombow Dual Brush pens, Derwent ColorSoft pencils, Derwent Procolour pencils, Derwent Inktense pencils have been used.

WIP Wednesday

As it’s work in progress (WIP) Wednesday, I’m sharing my current sketchbook page. A sketchbook is always a work in progress.

At the moment, I’m being inspired by a couple of books :
“Fantasy Genesis” by Chuck Lukacs
“Fantasty World Building” by Mark A. Nelson

I’m using an Art Gecko sketchbook that is almost 12″ square along with Pilot Hi-Tec C and Pilot G-Tec Maica pens and Tombow Dual Brush Pens.

I’ve said it before – I’m not really into characters (unless they’re cute, whimsical, fun ‘doodle’ kinds of characters, usually non-humanoid). However, I’ve always loved to draw plants and patterns as well as designs from architecture, nature, machines and even animals (patterns, textures and such more than the animal itself).

My ‘Entangled’ drawings bring together these various elements to create more abstract or whimsical designs. But to put them together to create entirely new things isn’t something I’d ever thought of.

I’ve always admired fantasy and sci-fi artists, but never considered myself capable of anything like that. However, trying new stuff out is how you grow and develop as an artist.

Not that I’m going to become a fantasy artist, but maybe exploring these avenues will allow me to add new things to my art in ways I never expected. In much the same way my adventures in cardmaking, mixed-media journaling, watercolour and other such things have helped me to develop my digital art and drawing.

I’m also realising how important sketches are for my digital art – be it drawing or painting or just colouring in line-art of mine. I think it has to do with me being able to have a good overview of the whole design, something I seem to be unable to do when working digitally, even when I zoom out entirely. I’ve mentioned it before, but I do have a bit of a problem relating to size and scale even in everyday life.

There’s a different kind of sensory pleasure in working on paper – the tactile and sensory feedback is quite different to that gained from digital work. That’s not to say I don’t get pleasure from working digitally, it’s just different.

There’s also the fact that each page doesn’t have to be a complete or finished piece of work. It’s a place to try things out, explore, experiment, and just let the pen/pencil/brush take a walk across the paper to see what happens. Serious work and not so serious work all have a place in a sketchbook.

As do written notes, ideas, observations, sources of inspiration, lists, reflections and more.

Monday Mandala

Weird, weird art.

I have absolutely no idea what I was thinking as this mandala was created, nor why on Earth I chose these colours.

As it’s digital art, I could use digital tools to re-colour the image, but I’ve decided to leave it as is.

I know I wanted to do something that used similar techniques to the digital abstract paintings I’ve been exploring lately.

Similar. Perhaps. But definitely not the same kind of thing.

It’s like something out of a weird nightmare, or some bizarre, manufactured virus.

I think I can safely say my artistic mind is out of sorts today!

Fantasy Genesis

I think it may have had something to do with a book I briefly scanned yesterday. It’s called “Fantasy Genesis – A creative game for fantasy artists.” by Chuck Lukacs.

This is the introduction to the book:

Welcome fantasy geneticists! Here is a practice place of the imagination, a place where infinitely diverse forms and patterns will create concepts in infinite combinations, which you will bring to light with pencil and paper. One of the most important jobs we have as artists is to create inventive new ways of watching and documenting this beautifully diverse planet that allows us to live on it. We’re expected to see the world—from our cultures, habitats and technologies to the vast diversity of wildlife and plant life to the pores in our skin—in a slightly different light. Like scientists, we’re expected to experiment with new ways of expression, new sounds, new interpretations of old ideas, new solutions to old problems and new inspirations for images and change.

Fantasy Genesis – Chuck Lukacs

It caught my attention. As did the use of dice and tables for combinations of features appealed to me.

Not that I’m a fantasy artist. But it has sections to do with plants and landscapes and machinery and buildings. Things I am interested in. Creatures and characters not so much. I admire people who can draw such things, and create amazing artworks. However they really don’t have much interest for me artistically, apart from pattern, shape and texture.

I thought it may be a way for me to extend my drawing and imagination, as well as making more use of a sketchbook. I also thought that once I get my head around this kind of thing, I could create my own lists, incorporating patterns and favourite kinds of motifs to use too. I’ll see about that.

I know that my signature style of art is ‘entangled’ with some cute and whimsical elements from time to time and mandalas. I like working with abstract patterns and colours too. But exploring other genres, ideas, styles can only develop and add to my artistic skills and visual vocabulary. Even if I discover that some things are not for me, they will lead me down artistic avenues I may never have traversed.

So, one of my tasks today is to take time to properly read this book and work out how I can make the ‘game’ work for me!

Slowtember Prompt list

This morning I needed a quiet, slow, simple time with some arty stuff.

Firstly, I get so frustrated working in a bound sketchbook. The binding always gets in my way even though I like the paper. I much prefer working on loose sheets of paper. I want to keep a sketchbook, or series of sketchbooks. So, the pennies dropped that I needed to put together a discbound sketchbook filled with acid-free cartridge paper and bristol board, and other papers I may wish to draw on.

Yes, I know I’ve got a disc bound sketchbook filled with papers coloured in many ways to draw on. But, my recent forays into art, the realisation that black and white line art is my favourite way of working, needed a solution too.

So, after a while of sorting out such a discbound sketchbook, I thought I’d like a cover page for the Slowtember part of my this sketchbook. It gave me a chance to practice some hand lettering, and to mess around with Tombow Dual Brush markers.

I also added drawings for pancake plant, the prompt for days 10 to 12 which I missed out and went straight to rubber plant!

I suspect that by the end of the month I will have a visual reference for leaves of these indoor plants.

Naturally, I messed up the numbers for the dates for each prompt. My hand lettering isn’t wonderful, nor are the leaves around the title. Let’s not mention the colouring. However, it will do; after all it is a sketchbook page not a finished, polished piece of art. That means no pressure on myself to get it perfect, or as near as I’m happy with. It’s about trying things out and if they don’t work then it’s an opportunity to reflect and learn more about my skills and artistic voice. It’s also a chance to use media that I wouldn’t normally use, and possibly to remind myself why I don’t usually use them as well!

#Slowtember – Days 2, 3 & 4

Yesterday afternoon and this morning I’ve spent time catching up with #Slowtember by @megaelod on twitter. Here’s the sketchbook page I created for the prompts monstera (Swiss Cheese Plant), areca palm and rubber plant.

I took the opportunity to practice my hand drawn typography / hand lettering, as well as my use of line to add volume to a line drawing.

I’m not the best with colour, or with traditional media to add colour, but I think I’ve done OK with some of these. I like the simple washes of gradient colours in the areca and rubber plant leaves. The line work is nice, but the colour brings it to life. The monstera leaf done in coloured pencils works well as far as a sense of volume goes, but I’m not the best with coloured pencils, even using blending solution.

I even found some microscopic images of cells from monstera and rubber plant leaves and stems. So, I just had to do quick drawings of patterns from these, with some imaginary colour added to them.

It’s nice to do this challenge. It’s not as full on and intense as Inktober is, and even if I fall behind there’s not so much to catch up with. It’s also nice to work in a sketchbook (or digitally) as there’s no pressure to complete a finished piece of work. I like how I’ve left some of my drawings partly coloured so I can compare how colour adds (or not) to the design.

When I’m looking at my page and writing about it I always have ideas about how I could’ve approached an idea, or get new ideas. Time for me to go and jot them down before I forget them!

Sketchbook Saturday

What’s new?

I know, it’s that page in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook again! However, there are some changes, most noticeably the bottom left design.

I have added some depth and contrast in colour using coloured pencils to parts of the designs, and left other parts as just watercolour. I have used a blending solution and paper torchon to blend the pencils in most instances, but not all. Sometimes the blending just isn’t needed.

The bottom design was done today. It took around three hours to complete. Drawing the design with Pitt Artist pens, followed by the background washes of watercolour, finally the coloured pencils.

What I’ve learned

I like using coloured pencils on watercolour paper, and over a watercolour wash.

I find it really difficult to get the intensity of contrast with watercolours alone. Using coloured pencils makes that a cinch, especially on paper with a good ‘tooth’ to it, like watercolour paper.

I got a good sense of satisfaction as I completed the bottom design. I’m not all that happy with some of my colour choices, but that wasn’t my main consideration today; that was trying coloured pencils on watercolours on watercolour paper.

Working with the ‘aha moment’

Sketchbook page

After a walk and lunch yesterday, I eventually settled to working with my aha moment. This sketchbook page is the result, though I have work left to do with it.

The designs are inked in with Pitt Artist Pens and I’ve used watercolours and Inktense paint pans and pencils to colour the motifs. Well, most of them. I’ve left some parts in black and white to show the difference that colour makes.

I used a Daler-Rowney artist’s sketchbook. The paper is acid free, but is not specifically for watercolours. It held up surprisingly well to multiple layers and glazes of colour, though it does grab the colour and it’s difficult to move it around as on watercolour paper.

I also found the wet brush lifted some of the pigment from the Pitt Artist Pens. That surprised me as they were totally waterproof on watercolour paper.

Reflections

Having an ‘aha moment’ and working with that realisation can be quite different. It’s nice to try different ways of using line and stippling to add shadow and volume to the drawings.

The half-beetle was an interesting one to work with. On the lower wing I could’ve used lines to add the illusion of curves, but for some sections I just used colour. I also used the beetle to practice adding lines and stippling.

I tried drawing the beetle digitally, but it just didn’t feel ‘right’. I didn’t get the same satisfaction as I did drawing it with pens on paper. I’m sure that’s due to me having my brushes set up incorrectly. That’s something I’m going to have to work on. I ended up with a drawing that was too perfect. That surprised me too, as I love to work digitally. Perhaps that was a function of my current mood and energy levels.

I do tend to switch between digital and traditional media, sometimes mixing the two. That is certainly an option moving forward – drawing the line art on paper, then colouring digitally.

I do like the earthy tones I’ve used to add colour to many of the design elements on this page. That still continues to surprise me, as much of my work has been brightly coloured, often with ‘in your face’ colour palettes used.

The smaller designs I’ve drawn here also have their own sense of satisfaction and enjoyment for me. Usually, I draw full page designs for colouring books. But here, I’ve drawn small compositions, and that is not so overwhelming for me at this time.

Sketchbook Saturday

Very much a work in progress

I’ve been working in my Arteza watercolour sketchbook (A4 in size). I’ve continued to add some colour to the larger design. As this is a sketchbook and nothing has to be perfect or finished and is a place to experiment, I decided to try adding black lines to the bigger design as well as to draw a smaller design in black pen first.

I’m still not all that comfortable with my entangled kind of designs without black lines it seems. Or maybe this is just a function of me being totally out of sorts over the past few days if not weeks, possibly months.

The black lines add structure and form to the design, but there’s also a colouring book feel to it too.

I am thinking I’ve not yet worked out how to get enough contrast in the watercolours to bring out the volume of the various design elements and to separate them one from another clearly enough.

I also tried adding white lines using a Signo gel pen. That worked out nicely in terms of adding highlights. The shapes of the lines also helped to add the illusion of dimension.

Finally, I tried adding some metallic watercolour in a pale gold. I tried adding dots as highlights,but I also tried a very dilute glaze of the watercolour over the paint. Now I liked that very much, but it has to be dilute and blended out quickly. Sadly, the photo doesn’t show this well on the purple weird mushroomy thingy on the top of the big design.

I’m telling myself it’s all learning, experimenting, finding my way. I just don’t know what my way is at this moment.

Art and my emotional and mental wellbeing

I am tired today. Emotionally drained. and I’m finding it difficult to be satisfied with anything I’m currently doing, even artistically.

This is definitely affecting my ability to ‘art’ at the moment. I lack focus, energy, inspiration even. I am getting frustrated with myself all too quickly, and fed up of what I’m working on too easily.

These are sure signs that I’m out of balance, emotionally more than mentally. However, my emotional health does have an effect on my mental health if I’m not careful.

It feels like some self-care time is needed, with activities that won’t overwhelm me but will help to soothe me and give me the time and space to find that inner balance and contentment once again.

The touchstone of contentment is there, in my heart, but it’s hidden by the shadows the clouds of emotional disturbance are casting within me.

Like all weather, the current unsettled emotional weather will pass. It has lessons to teach me and adjustments to be made. I am resilient enough to do this, to work through this mood and exhaustion, as well as to know how to take care of myself in times like this.

As I reflect backwards, it wasn’t all that long ago, just over a year, that I discovered the touchstone of contentment within me and found that it was OK to look after myself, take time out for myself, to have quiet, non-busy days to myself.

I never feel guilty about doing this any more.

I know if I try to do things that need to be finished, done well, then days like these are not the days to attempt them. The frustration kicks in and just unsettles me more.

I’m not sure if it will be Ben and Jerry’s and Star Wars that will help me, or something else. But I will find my way back to my usual, default, contented state of being.

Productive? Busy?

Everyone could do with learning that we need time to relax, to give ourselves permission to do nothing other than just be.

Society expects us to be constantly busy, productive, on the go, making the use of every single minute of waking.

But all that does is to drain energy, pile on the guilt if we’ve not completed every task in our planners, journals, diaries, and so on.

Social media is full of videos and memes and blog posts about how to be more productive, successful, famous, noteworthy. All of which can make a person feel guilty, useless, underachieving, unworthy.

There seem to be relatively few saying how important it is to look after your mental and emotional health as much as your physical health. So few messages about how important it is to take time out to recharge your energy, to stop and just be rather than forcing yourself to get something done, even if the frustration with the task means it’s taking longer and longer to do.

It’s not easy to give yourself permission to take time out, to relax, recharge just be, watch the world go by, read, listen to music, create, day dream, just for the joy and peace they bring. No, it’s not easy at all, given all the pressures that come at us from every direction.

These kinds of activities are just as important as the ones that are ‘productive’. They are activities that are productive in a different way – you are productively taking care of your energy levels, your mental and emotional well being, feeding your heart and soul with the tasks that soothe and heal.

It’s all part of self-care, making sure your needs are catered for. It’s not being selfish; it’s recognising that you need to take care of yourself as much as you take care of others. It’s about balance in life.

I am hoping that through the pandemic more and more people realise how important it is to slow down the pace of life, to take time to do things that feed heart and soul.

Today, my heart and soul need soothing and caring for. Everything else can be put on hold until I’m able to face them without frustration and rapidly getting fed up of them.