Archive for the ‘Sketchbook’ Category

Moments, Hours, Days, Autumn, a Book of Hours

Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

Happy Solstice to one and all…at last the days no longer get shorter! To celebrate and as a Christmas gift (whether you celebrate it or not, it’s a gift of the season) to one and all, I thought I’d share a video I recently uploaded and just shared with those on my Newsletter List. (To sign up for the newsletter, go to my home page and fill in the blanks—about once a month I’ll pop in with this ‘n that.)

Those who follow me on Facebook (here) will recognize this pond and view which is down the driveway and onto Ludwig Road, between two neighbors’ houses.

Recently, I’ve been taking some journaling and watercolor classes. Then, the Mid Coast (Maine) Book Arts group had an exhibit at the Camden Public Library. I was inspired by a book of hours on display, so BFF Kathy D. and I decided to make our own small accordion books. Below the still photo you’ll see my a video tour of the book, which I have titled “moments hours days autumn” to chronicle my life this past Autumn.

Beginning at 3:11 a.m. through to my evening ritual of sitting in my chair near my hubby’s chair, with the dog and a pile of books. You can see still shots of each page in my new Mixed Media gallery.

The left page is a quote, some by me, most by someone else. The right page is a watercolor, 5 x 5 inches. I figured I would mess things up, so it was better to do each separately, then glue them to the accordion “base” pages. On the back, I painted a single LONG (80 inches!) view that runs from winter to spring, summer and fall, back to winter, with the sky running from night, through morning, noon and afternoon, back to night. I used a dip pen and acrylic ink to write Strider’s Poem, by J.R.R. Tolkien, which has been a favorite since high school and whose meaning goes far beyond the Lord of the Rings saga.

I used Daniel Smith Watercolors, Stonehenge Aqua 140 lb. watercolor paper, Yes! paste glue, and both acrylic and fountain pen inks and a dip pen for all the lettering. The cover is made from my own hand-dyed fabric fused to mat-board from Kathy with Mistyfuse.

Here’s to hoping you all have friends (which can include family!) and joy around you throughout your lives, not just this season. I hope you enjoy my first ever made-by-me book. I think I will do more! Let me know what you think, and what you’d like to see in my new Newsletter. (And to sound like a broken record, sorry, sign up here.) MERRY MISTLETOE!

Sketching and playing

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Playing with the Stillman and Birn paper samples

Playing with the Stillman and Birn paper samples.  Pens and pencils I used in my test are to the left.

First up:  my apologies–this post got REALLY LONG.  But I have a feeling I may be referring people to it so wanted ALL the info in one blogpost.  So here goes:   many moons ago, the generous folks at Stillman and Birn sent me a sample pack of their six papers because I didn’t know what to order in a sketchbook, and the sketchbooks aren’t exactly inexpensive so I didn’t want to buy six.   I decided to do a controlled test on the samples using various pens, pencils, inks and watercolors.  The paper comes in two weights:  100 lb and 180 lb, two colors: white and ivory, and three finishes:  vellum, cold press, and smooth.  Vellum is a velvety finish (not like drafting vellum which is like a heavy duty tracing paper); smooth is comparable to hot press.  Here’s the S&B information:

Stillman and Birn chart with the differences in the papers (alpha through Zeta).

Stillman and Birn chart with the differences in the papers (alpha through Zeta). Paper specs are on the S&B site here.

And some useful links:

  • Stillman & Birn website
  • Dick Blick offers S&B sketchbooks here and here.
  • Binders Art Supply in Atlanta carries the sketchbooks AND the paper!!!!  Awesome customer service (see below)
  • Goulet Pens has great fountain pens, a massive selection of inks, a billion instructional / informational videos and (DRUM ROLL of epic proportions please) they sell SAMPLES of the inks.  You can get about two cartridges worth out of each sample…so I have ordered and used about TWENTY samples.  But that is a separate blogpost for later.
  • Online classes with Val Webb, probably the best art teacher I’ve ever had; she helps all of her students achieve more than we could ever dream!
  • Online classes at Sketchbook Skool with Danny Gregory, Koosje Koene and various guest teachers

Here’s a photo of the six pieces of paper in my Stillman & Birn sample pack:

The six papers from Stillman and Birn

The six papers from Stillman and Birn.  I’ve put on the back the name of the paper, weight, finish, and the ink used (Noodler’s Lexington Grey).  Top row is 100-lb, bottom row is heavier 180-lb.

Here I've got the paper criss crossed with the 100 weight on top so you can see the effect of very wet watercolor on it and the show-through (or lack thereof)

Here I’ve got the paper criss crossed with the 100 weight on top so you can see the effect of very wet watercolor on it and the show-through (or lack thereof).  For lighter weight paper, the lack of ghosting and bleed through is good.

Another

Another view of just the 100-lb papers while still damp (the ones on the right) from watercolor

Here are close-ups of each of the six papers showing how my favorite pens and pencils behave on each offering:

Still wet!

Still wet! Alpha series 100-lb. Vellum surface.  You can see that I did the “evil” test with LOTS of soupy watercolor to see how far you can push this paper.  The answer:  a long way!  I did find that for me the Vellum surface papers were a bit “skittery” with the extra fine Pitt Artists pens, which I didn’t enjoy.  Personally I preferred the Epsilon (below), but that is totally a matter of what each person likes.

Alpah

Close-ups of the various papers.  This is the white Beta series, a cold-press finish sized for multi-media

Gamma Paper, 100-lb Ivory, Vellum finish

Gamma Paper, 100-lb Ivory, Vellum finish

Delta?

Delta Series, Ivory, heavier weight 180-lb paper.  Suitable for very wet media.

Delta?

Epsilon:  this ended up being my favorite because of both the surface and the fact that you get more pages per sketchbook.  If I were endlessly wealthy, I might (or might not) choose the Zeta.  But since many of my pages do not use heavy water, I chose Epsilon knowing full well I could end up with some buckling.

 

Delta?

Zeta paper.  White, smooth finished.  Suitable for wet media and more.

I’m just finishing up my first S&B sketchbook, an Epsilon 7 x 10 wirebound.   I LOVE IT!  So much that I ordered some individual sheets to customize my sketchbook for my trip to England.   Before that though, here are some sample pages from my Epsilon sketchbook so you can see how it handled various media.

Epsilon 7 x 10 sketchbook, pencil on left page.  Charcoal and water on right page with white charcoal pencil.  Exercises from an online class with Val Webb.

Epsilon 7 x 10 sketchbook, pencil on left page. Charcoal pencil and water on right page with white charcoal pencil. Exercises from a **fantastic** online class with Val Webb.

My rudimentary watercolor, form the first two lessons at Danny Gregory's Sketchbook Skool. Pen and ink with watercolor.  The heavier usage on the left ripples a bit, but I'm ok with that.  And I could, quite honestly, iron it flatter if I wanted to!

My rudimentary watercolor, from the first two lessons at Danny Gregory’s Sketchbook Skool. Pen and ink with watercolor. The heavier usage on the left ripples a bit, but I’m ok with that. And I could, quite honestly, iron it flatter if I wanted to!

More lessons from Val Webb (cats in pencil) and a portrait of Tommy Kane from one of the videos in the Sketchbook Skool class. Done in Pitt Artists pens S and XS.  I roughed in the general shapes with pencil, inked, erased with kneaded eraser, then filled in and stippled and cross-hatched.   Excellent paper!

More lessons from Val Webb (cats in pencil) and a portrait of artist and Sketchbook Skool teacher Tommy Kane from a screen capture image from one of the videos in the Sketchbook Skool class. Done in Pitt Artists pens S and XS. I roughed in the general shapes with pencil, inked, erased with kneaded eraser, then filled in and stippled and cross-hatched. Excellent paper! 

I also got lucky:  I emailed Stillman and Birn  (they are SO responsive!) to ask if they had ever considered making a “sampler sketchbook” as the samples were small, but I didn’t want to buy six sketchbooks!   Turns out they had, but they didn’t sell well so won’t be making more of these samplers.  The guy told me that Binders in Atlanta might still have some, so I called them up a couple months ago since none of the sampler sketchbooks were listed on the website.  The nice lady at Binders (which also has OUTSTANDING customer service) went to look in the shop as the computer showed they had four left.  I bought three of them, two as gifts, one to use myself.

Contact info on the inside cover of my Stillman & Birn sampler sketchbook--alas these are no longer made!

Contact info on the inside cover of my Stillman & Birn sampler sketchbook–alas these are no longer made!

The sampler sketchbooks are the small size (6 x 8 ish, with 5 1/2 inches of usable width on the page) with four sheets/eight pages of each of the six papers.  Sometimes I like wide–enjoyed the format of a Moleskine accordion fold, but not that paper.  .  So I bought some of the Epsilon and Zeta paper sheets and make myself some 2-page and some  accordion fold “extensions” to tape into this journal in the sections I’ve reserved for art.  I’m not as fond of ivory paper, so I used the vellum ivory Gamma pages to write down essential information for my upcoming trip:  lodgings, emergency contact numbers for insurance, lost credit cards etc.  I’ll do some watercolor washes on the Delta cold press and may use that for both watercolor and collaging in trip ephemera.  The Alpha pages will be for my trip “calendar.” The Beta, Zeta and Epsilon pages will be for artwork.

I made a few "page extensions" (the size of 2 sheets) and a few "accordion or Z-fold" extensions to add to my book should I feel the urge to do a really wide landscape or a funky train-journey thing

I made a few “page extensions” (the size of 2 sheets) and a few “accordion or Z-fold” extensions to add to my book should I feel the urge to do a really wide landscape or a funky train-journey thing.  I purchased individual sheets of both the Epsilon and Zeta paper, then cut and folded these extensions.  I’ll take some glue or tape to affix them if I decide to use them on my trip.  This is my work-around to not wanting to make a complete journal on my own and them not having the exact thing I want–just modify!

And using more of the single sheets of paper I’m going to draw a map and then illustrate it as the journey progresses.  I’ve cut it to about 11 x 14 inches so I can glue one corner to the inside cover for opening out easily.  On the last page, I’m taping in a printed-out map, also that can be folded up nicely.

Taped in printed-out map of about half of England, folded, glued to last page in sketchbook.

Taped in printed-out map of about half of England, folded, glued to last page in sketchbook.

Opened up printed map.

Opened up printed map.

Then my hand-drawn illustrated map will be taped/glued to the inside of the back cover.  With the wire-bound, there is enough room to add these extra pages without having the rigid covers “splay out” much if at all.

So thank you if you’ve manged to read through this massive tome!   Really loving my Stillman and Birn, as well as great classes from Val Webb and in the Sketchbook Skool, and the fabulous customer service and responsiveness from S&B, Goulet Pens and Binders.

Snowy Owl!!!!!

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

About a month or so ago, Eli came in from the yard and said “Mom, what bird would be all white with brown spots?”  The only bird I could think of was a snowy owl, but we are way too far South of their normal range, so I dug out my Peterson guide and went through the entire thing.  The only all-white bird with brown spots was the owl.  Asked Eli: what shape head and beak?  “I don’t know, it was flying away from me.”  Then a few days later on NPR there was a report of many Snowy Owl sightings in Maine this winter…. and we had one in our yard, and I had missed it.

Snowy Owl at Clarry Hill, Union, Maine

Snowy Owl at Clarry Hill, Union, Maine

Then my friend Kathy told me she had SEEN the snowy owls at Clarry Ridge in Union, about 12 miles from our house, and told me how to get up to the ridge, which by the way is freakin’ unbelievably gorgeous blueberry barrens with a 360 view that goes for miles and miles and miles.  So after a wonderful lunch with Gail and Louisa at Boynton McKay in town, I decided to explore and hope for the best.

The blueberry barrens are this incredible russet color in autumn and winter.  There is SO a blueberry barrens  quilt in my future.  And maybe dyeing fabric.  Soon.

The blueberry barrens are this incredible russet color in autumn and winter. There is SO a blueberry barrens quilt in my future. And maybe dyeing fabric. Soon.  We are lucky to look out from our house (about 8 miles as the crow flies from here) and see barrens on the hill opposite.

Clarry Hill is apparently part of the Medomak Nature Preserve , and it is in the middle of a hilltop of blueberry barrens.  I wasn’t a hundred yards up the path that I was taking pictures of the late afternoon light picking up the incredible colors of the barrens:

How GLORIOUS is this color?  Looking to the west-northwest to Appleton and Union

How GLORIOUS is this color? Looking to the west-northwest to Appleton and Union.  I want to dye fabric these colors…..

It was so glorious I didn’t mind that I didn’t see an owl.  Then on my way back to the car I saw a woman with binoculars scanning and she had a camera hanging around her neck, too, so I asked her if she was there for the owl.  And she pointed one out to me…at that point s/he (the owl) was behind me to the left:

See that white spot in the tree?  That's my first view of the snowy owl!  Gotta go log that into the margins of my Roger Tory Petersen guide!

See that white spot in the tree? That’s my first view of the snowy owl! Gotta go log that into the margins of my Roger Tory Petersen guide!

I took several photos, had a lovely chat with Hilda L. from South Hope, then headed back to the car after taking MORE photos of the blueberry barrens.  Talk about wanting to head straight to the dye-pots!   Anyway, I get in the car and start backing out when out of the corner of my eye I see movement:  a snowy owl (Hilda told me there are at least two and possibly three up there) landed in the tree just up from the parking spot!  So I took a bunch of photos, then moved down the drive a bit and took MORE photos.  And was lucky to snap the owl stretching his/her wings a couple of times!

From the small parking area (on bare rock at the end of a short dirt road), I caught sight of the owl.  I had to use digital as well as optical zoom so these aren't terribly high res photos, but WHO CARES?

From the small parking area (on bare rock at the end of a short dirt road), I caught sight of the owl. I had to use digital as well as optical zoom so these aren’t terribly high res photos, but WHO CARES?

I sat there long enough that the owl started moving its wings--just getting comfortable I guess as it didn't take off.  I LOVE having digital instead of film because I can take a bazillion photos and luck into a couple like these!

I sat there long enough that the owl started moving its wings–just getting comfortable I guess as it didn’t take off. I LOVE having digital instead of film because I can take a bazillion photos and luck into a couple like these!

How AWESOME are those wings?

How AWESOME are those wings?

I inched down the dirt road a bit to see if I could get an angle for a shot that didn’t have twigs between me and the bird.  Here’s the view from the care before zooming:

From the road looking up the hill with the lens at wide angle setting.  Isn't Maine beautiful?

From the road looking up the hill with the lens at wide angle setting. Isn’t Maine beautiful?

More flapping...I LOVE seeing the wings!

More flapping…I LOVE seeing the wings!

And just a bit more flapping...look at his floofy legs!

And just a bit more flapping…look at his floofy legs!

And I'll confess to a little photoshop to lighten the shadows on this one.  The owl was backlit by the setting sun, so I lightened the shadows.

And I’ll confess to a little photoshop to lighten the shadows on this one. The owl was backlit by the setting sun, so I lightened the shadows.

This has been a glorious day:  order for a pattern this morning, some artwork and art lessons, lunch with friends, Joshua calls me and wants to see me because he got a haircut (photo on Facebook timeline), I see Ashley (his girlfriend) because she works where we went to lunch and when I went to pay she hands my card back to me and says no, I took care of it (THANK YOU  you sweet thing, you totally do not need to do that!), ran a couple errands, saw the owl, got great photos, then get home to a pair of sandals I ordered from Zappos (they are green, how could I resist) AND a new duvet cover—we’ve had one new duvet cover in about the past 15 years, so I figure we’re due, and it was on sale, and I love it and it totally cheers up the bedroom.  So I am HAPPY!   Here’s to you being happy, too!  Life is GOOD!

 

SAQA-The Maine Event 2012, Part 1

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

This past weekend was the third annual SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) The Maine Event… a weekend of folks from upper New England and far eastern Canada. This past weekend was the third annual SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) The Maine Event… a weekend of folks from upper New England and far eastern Canada.  This year organizer Beth Berman chose the Capt. A.V. Nickels Inn, and boy do we want to return!  It is under new management, is gorgeous, has good food, and was a great place for a weekend workshop.  Folks arrived from hither and yon on Friday, had a reception Friday evening, then a full day of workshops led by various SAQA members Saturday, dinner for everyone Saturday evening at the Inn (a B&B), Show and tell, and another workshop on Sunday morning.

The Capt. A.V. Nickels Inn, just north of downtown Searsport on U.S. Route 1

This was the first year I got to stay for supper and sharing, and am so glad I did!  Since I live locally (about 35 minute away) I can’t rationalize staying at the inn or one of the nearby B&Bs or motels, but maybe next year I’ll go back for the Sunday session, too.

Sandra Betts from New Brunswick gave the first session on Free-motion Zendoodling–basically the same as with pen and paper (with which we began) but then done on the machine.  This is the same idea as how I noodle around with various fill patterns for free-motion.  I took photos of the doodling by various folks, but alas didn’t get names to go with sketchbooks.  If one of these is yours (or you know whose it is) let me know and I’ll attribution!  (PS–the (c) is just for the photo..the works in the photos are copyrighted by the artists.)

Zendoodle…she later filled the entire page

LOVE the house and antler-tree! I quilted some “antler coral” in the quilt that is on the cover of my book that looks just like her tree!

Michele O’Neil Kincaid (website here) gave the next segment on texture in quilts.

Michelle O’Neill Kincaid’s textured quilt (detail)

Next was Beth Berman’s turn, showing us her method for framing pieces using rigid foam insulation board and painted wood slats…nifty!

Then we had a break before supper and sharing.  I took some pictures:

The Inn was lovely…the first thing I saw as I entered is this sideboard…loved the candelabra!

Sweet creamer and sugar pot in the dining room

And the chandelier

The regular view

and a couple alternate views (that I much prefer):

Close up

And my favorite view, from underneath looking up at the ceiling

The internet is being hideously slow at our house today, so will stop here and will share the rest in a couple of days!

Sketchbook Journal….around the world

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

One of the last exercises in my Joggles class (which now feels like it was about a thousand years ago) was to work within a grid.  I chose to work with items in our living room from our life around the world.

The finished (I think it is finished) page….may add some color to the upper left corner, just a light wash of the ochre….

I chose things from my parents’ home, like the bedwarmer and the Tibetan horn:

The Peruvian copper bedwarmer (lift lid, fill with coals, close lid, pop in bed! from the pre-electric blanket era!). Behind it is a decorative Tibetan horn–think like on the Swiss Alps, except in Tibet. This one, since it is perforated with holes, clearly could not be used to signal a nearby mountaintop.

Things I sketched….observed by the dog! Left to right back row: one of Paul’s carved monkeys from Zaire (remember hear no evil, see no evil? This one is speak no evil–his buddies are still on the shelf), a Mate cup (tea, with a strainer on the bottom of the straw, used by the Gauchos aka cowboys) from Argentina, an M’Bigou soapstone carved head from Gabon, and a duck made from a pully. My half-brother TJ was very creative; he lived in LA near the docks, and made things from leftovers–our coffee table is actually one he made from a ship’s hatch cover. On the bottom it has a note from him to my dad, for whom he made the table. They are both gone, but the table lives on! In the front is a rebenque, the crop/whip used by the Argentine and Brazilian gauchos.  Not pictured is the bird on the left side of the page.  It also is M’Bigou soapstone.

Jane LaFazio was our teacher. She wanted us to draw a grid (3×4 squares or whatever filled your page) then fill the squares, sometimes merging a couple of squares if needed. This is at the inked-but-not-colored stage.  On the bottom I wrote the places I have lived.

With some of the items colored, but no background or border yet….

And now I’ll send you back to the top to see the finished page.  I rather like it!