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.
Over the week I’ve been adding to my sketchbook- notes and images, ideas and reflections.
Each page has been coloured with combinations of Distress Inks, applied using the black side of a piece of Cut and Dry foam, followed with a spritz of water to bring out some water-staining grungy loveliness.
All the little drawings have been done on either Daler-Rowney Smooth watercolour paper (300gsm) or mixed media paper, either from Claire Fontaine or Daler-Rowney. The papers have been coloured with Distress Oxide Inks, Distress Inks, or a combination of them. Most of the pieces have had the inks applied with the foam, but some were made by brayering Distress Oxide inks onto a gelli plate and taking a print of them.
The reflection about what I like, what I don’t like, and ideas that arise is important to me in my sketchbook/journal. I do reflect on my art, a bit too much in my head. When I write it down, it forces my sometimes abstract and swirling thoughts into some kind of order. When I make these thoughts a material manifestation by writing them down, it helps me to recognise the thoughts, sift through that which is useful, and still record those that are not particularly useful at this moment but may be in the future.
I think I need to find a way to do this with my digital art. My mind goes to using One Note to do this. I shall think on this one, and make a note of it in my physical sketchbook/journal.
Today, I have a dangle design card along with a coordinating envelope for you. I’ve kept the construction of the card simple with just one layer on the card blank. The dangle design and hand lettering are also quite simple as well as whimsical in character.
If you’d like to find out more about drawing dangle designs, then A Dangle A Dayis my book about dangle designs with plenty of inspiration and suggestions.
Materials and dimensions of the card and envelope
The yellow card blank is 5½” x 4″ in size with a top fold. So, I started with a piece of card measuring 11″ x 4″.
I also cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 5″ x 3½” for the top panel.
Next, I used some thick printer paper to make an envelope. I used the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board. The size of paper needed and the position of the first score line are printed on the board. This tool from WRMK makes it so easy to create custom envelopes.
To make an envelope to fit a 5½” x 4″ card I needed to cut a piece of paper measuring 7⅞” x 7⅞”. I used 120gsm white printer paper for the envelope.
Before I started, I used a ruler and pencil to draw in some faint guide-lines for the banner ribbon and the hand lettering on the top layer. I also pencilled in the hand lettering.
On the envelope, I added some guide-lines on the left and bottom to give me a border.
Hand-lettering and drawing the design
I started by hand-lettering the sentiment, then I drew the ribbon banner around it.
My next task was to draw the dangle comprising of beads and hearts.
Finally, for the top layer, I drew in the arrangement of plants and added some shells and butterflies.
I didn’t use a pencil to sketch the design before I drew it in ink simply because I’m confident in drawing these kinds of designs. However, it is a good idea to do so if you’re less than confident. I started with the central flower pot and let the design grow out from there.
I then took my attention to the envelope. I started by drawing in the ledge on the bottom. Next, I added the plants, flowers, shells and butterflies. I then drew a black border around the envelope, just inside the edge. This line gave me something to hang the dangle from; I added a dangle similar to the one on the card.
With all the drawing complete, it was time to add some colour.
I’d received my Chameleon fineliners yesterday, so I thought I’d try them out as there are lots of small areas in this design. I love my Chameleon markers, but using them to add colour to tiny spaces can be a little tricksy.
I did try the Chameleon fineliners out yesterday for drawing lines and hand lettering. I found that they give a very long gradient, even with the shortest of touches of the cap to the pen. I thought this might work well in colouring the flowers in. I achieved a pleasing change of colour of the petals on each bloom from just one blending process. This blending also worked well for the butterflies.
What I did notice is that the fineliners moved some of the black pigment from the Uniball Unipin pens that I used to draw the design with. That was a bit disappointing. It may be that in the future I will need to draw, scan and then laser print the design out. That’s a bit of a faff, but it’s doable.
I’ve never been a fan of fineliners for colouring; I find they leave lines and tend to pill the paper. This is just a personal gripe about all fineliners.
The Chameleon fineliners are pleasant and comfortable to write with – comparable to other fineliners. So, unless I want to add colour using lines and cross-hatching, writing is going to be my primary use for these pens.
To colour the pots, banner, leaves, cacti, shells and ledge, I used some of my Copic Ciao markers. I chose to use these as the brush nib lets me colour tiny areas. Also, I wanted to use pastel-ish colours to tone in with the colouring from the Chameleon fineliners.
I did add some very simple Copic shading to the design.
The Chameleon fineliners had spread the black dots I’d added to the flower centres. So, I broke out a gold Uniball Signo pen to colour in the centres of all the flowers. I also used it to add a sprinkling of little dots around the design.
I enjoyed creating this card and envelope. It was a quick, simple project. I also do enjoy drawing whimsical designs.
I like the sunshiny yellow card blank; it makes me smile, especially as it is currenty a grey and rainy day here in the valleys of Welsh Wales.
I think the card may benefit from the use of a bit of Wink of Stella to add some shimmer and shine to the wings of the butterflies and maybe the hearts.
I could’ve ink blended a background to the design using Distress Inks. I also could’ve added a drop shadow around the design to give it some dimension. Today, I chose not to do these things to keep the card relatively simple.
I also only added one layer to the card. I could’ve cut a piece of contrasting colour to go beneath the top layer to give a bit more of a layer. Alternatively, I could’ve used amarker to colour the edge of the layer to give a border, or ink blended some distress ink around the edge. Again, I chose not to do so; I wanted to keep the card simple and easy to do.
I think the result is cute and whimsical. I now have to find someone to send it to! I think that I’ll use some Distress Micro Glaze to protect the artwork on the envelope before posting it though.
I agree that handwriting does matter. Handwriting is as unique and individual as the person creating it. It’s also a much more personal way to communicate with others. It takes longer to handwrite a letter, note or memo and then deliver it either to the person or the post office.
It’s always nice to receive chatty, friendly emails from friends, and of course this is a quick and instant communication. However, there’s something to be said about the slower nature of communication by traditional post and that personal touch that handwriting gives.
I make these cards but rarely send them to another person, let alone include a handwritten note or letter. The cards sit around my home and never get shared with another person.
I think that needs to change, don’t you?
Not sure how to go about it, but if anyone who reads this would like to receive one of my cards and maybe a letter then leave a comment or contact me via social media or email.
I actually do love to hand-write; I always have and I’ve always taken a lot of pride in my handwriting. I remember making a huge effort to change it when I realised it was looking like my mother’s writing.
My preferred way of learning was to write and re-write my notes, condensing them into just a few lines of ‘memory joggers’. If my notes in lessons or lectures were messy, I would make it my task to tidy them up as soon as I could, which was also a way for me to review, consolidate and learn.
I have the facilities to hand-write digitally. I could keep a journal by writing on the screen. However, such activities frustrate me as I can’t turn the writing area to the angle I like to write at!
Also, as much as I love working digitally in so many artistic pursuits, there’s nothing quite like the feel of pen on paper, and I do love pens! I have a bit of an obsession with stationery, even though much of my work is digital these days.
Handwriting and therapy
Nowadays most of my handwriting is in my journals. It’s not as neat as I’d like it to be. I make mistakes. I like to hand-write my journals as the process of putting pen to paper slows my mind down. It gives me a chance to reflect and review what’s been going on in my life and also with my emotions.
Of course, reflecting on my thoughts and emotions, catching them in action is important to me as I continue with my journey to recovery from CPTSD. It also helps me to record events, emotions and thoughts that need to be discussed in EMDR therapy.
Handwriting vs Hand Lettering
Handwriting is that almost unconscious way we write things down – thoughts, notes, memos, to-do lists etc, as well as our signatures.
Hand lettering is a much more deliberate activity. It is like drawing the shapes of letters, not writing the whole word in one go. It’s consciously deciding what the shape, size and embellishments of a letter should be.
I enjoy hand lettering and I do tend to use the shapes of letters that I use in my handwriting. But that’s where the similarities end for me.
Do you still hand-write? How do you make use of handwriting? Do you think it’s still an important skill?
Leave a comment, I’d be really interested to hear what you think?