Archives for category: Sketchbook Skool

Redbird web

January has rolled into February. Winter cold has remained at bay – in fact, it has been a typical balmy West Coast Winter… so far.


It seems to me the sketching moments have been plentiful. Self-imposed challenges of Sketchbook Skool Bootkamp and Kim Oka’s 30 day journaling have provided practice and entertainment on damp evenings.

Red Pepper


Weather even broke into brief sun, and a rare trip to a dear friend’s welcoming home was actually realized. By me, alone. My mountain to climb, and I did it. I was well rewarded. 🙂


When one doesn’t have to hang sheets and plastic over the doorways to keep the heat of the fireplace trapped, (also known as Art Ghetto decor) and when the toilet seat is actually room temperature every day…(yes, last January was a bit trying) the subtle layers of a coast winter can be relaxed into, enjoyed even. Especially if you have a friend  or two to share the fire.

Ella Jan 2015 web

On a calm afternoon I scooter to the pier, smell the ocean, feel the sky, watch the water flowing under the Robert’s Creek bridge.




February begins. And the sun is now rising before 8am and setting after 5pm.

Detail: Mandala

Detail: Mandala

Gently exciting.



Bootkamp SBS Jan 10 2015web

It is a funny thing, entirely unexpected, but I have become quite… attached.. to Sketchbook Skool.

Oh I knew when I joined it would be fun. And I hoped it would be inspiring, and challenging in a stress-free kind of way. I also wanted to hang with pro sketchers I have admired for a few years now, learn from them and peek into their sketchbooks. It has been all that – and much more.

Bootkamp launches today, a mash-up of classes put together into a concentrated schedule, just for those of us who have taken the previous three courses, and I have been waiting with all the impatience of a kid on Christmas Eve… who knew? I spent the most delicious evening working on the first assignment. Home alone, the fireplace on, implements gathered, sketchbook ready, hockey game on (ya we lost whatever) dinner simmering and a glass of wine… dive in. Three blissful hours later, I post. To the site first, then to the SBS facebook page. And the beeps start up. All the people that I only know by icons and comments start chiming in, commenting, saying hello… friends by shared passion for the pencil, pen, watercolour set – from all over the world. They welcome me back, and I them, curious to see what they will do.

My sweet little family sleeps while I play.


Such a simple thing, a sketch, can comfort on a winter evening – and with a few keystrokes can reach around the world.




Andrea page web copy

She got me drawing with ballpoint pens. Blobby, cheap, ubiquitous Bic pens. And I am telling you, as satisfying as it is to finish a page like this, the technique is Not easy. In theory, it is similar to the Tommy Kane crosshatch style, but I found that the meditative quality of time was much deeper. Maybe because the detail, the “hatchiness” was finer, took longer, made me able to enter that zone where you are sketching, but also hearing the birds, smelling the ocean, noting the sun passing and the light changing – in fact, this day on my back porch will live forever on this page.

Not a bad use of sitting on a butt all day, if you are MS heat-bagged anyway, hey? I love summer in the Creek.

Sketchbook Skool

Not only the most fun I have had on the sketching side of things, bags of entertainment for girls who love pencils and pens, but then they use one of my drawings on their website.


Of course I’m signing up for the third round….. 🙂

Magnolia petals blog

The actual title of this sketchbook page is “Magnolia Petals: After Tommy Kane – Genius of the Crosshatch”. He is a Master of the Uniball pen. Not only was his demo video highly informative, but it was very amusing to see him in a Tiara. Sorry, only those who take Sketchbook Skool get to see the whole thing, but the Lemon Test drawing which is the result is here. And his book, “An Excuse to Draw” is quite amazing. I read it cover to cover and still want to see more. Also, the book has a great introduction by Michelangelo, worth the price alone.

The Quest of the Artist is to find their own, unique style, and if they copy from the Masters (or whoever resonates with them) it is usually in the beginning of their personal search. I am no different, it took years of practice to load up my current bag of sketchy tricks. It might seem a bit like going backwards to copy a different style at this point, but really I find it a very interesting thing to do. No one ever knows everything, and if they do they are deadly boring.  So, when I dive into a different style, I find it most useful to mimic it as closely as I can for the first few attempts. It is so hard to keep my own “hand” out of it, and I am not always successful, but the interesting part comes when I compare my crosshatched Magnolia petals to details from some of my other drawings.

Scratchy details blog

My Skratchy Details

I see that I have a scribbly, scratchy,  smudgy style compared to Tommy Kane. I like this kind of mark making, I strive for the quickness of execution and casual accuracy that makes it a little intense. For the Tommy Kane exercise, I have to be more precise, deliberate, take my time and s l o w down. Not easy, and I suspected I would be irritated. I sat myself down in front of a few of my essential belongings, and I put in some hours. Five hours, including bathroom and food breaks. Most assuredly NOT my normal way, but as I get into it, it turns out to be quite relaxing.  And I enjoy it. Time well spent in contemplation and I want to do more…

Coffee fullblog

So, I seem to have added a new technique to my repertoire – Zen and the Art of Sketchbook Maintenance. Who knew? I wonder if I get a Tiara now, I’ll have to ask Tommy…


A new Journal is essential. Particularly when it is handmade by your friend, has an encaustic cover which smells of sweet beeswax, and comes wrapped in brown paper with a sprig of Lavendar. Kim Oka has just opened her Etsy site, but I was lucky enough to have mine delivered in person. I LOVE it. I have always used Opus student grade sketchbooks, and thought they were fine, but the heavier mixed media paper in this book is far, far better and much more fun to use – I won’t be going back! Look how it takes the watercolour – no bleed through – and the pencil crayons go on like a dream.

Onions web

Of course I had to make a pencil holder for my pencil crayons which I rarely use, but have hanging around all over.


I knew there would be a week with Koosje Koene, they are her specialty. I wasn’t sure how I would like them, but they are now happily being frequently implemented. Who knew? Of course my new Electric pencil sharpener made everything about them fun.


And I still can’t stop admiring the most beautiful pencil box ever. Maple and walnut and red felt inside, silky smooth with gorgeous dovetail splines. Much sweat and skill went into this gift, thank you so much Jennifer. It is my treasure.







For the past month I have been in sketchbook heaven. Even though I identify myself primarily as a painter, I have always been a sketchbook/ideabook person. I look online for new and interesting techniques and pages, I collect books about artists journals (living or dead) and I have a special fascination for any beautiful “Carnet de Voyage”.  I love to look in other artists journals, and many of the sketchers I follow came from these two Danny Gregory books which I bought a few years ago – An Illustrated Life and An Illustrated Journey. Imagine  how excited I was when he and another artist Koosje Koene put together their online class called Sketchbook Skool !! Professionally shot videos of practicing sketchers – all the best and brightest – assignments, and instruction and sketchbook tours and even a crazy facebook group of enthusiastic peers from around the globe to share drawings with and yak with. I could not resist.


Supplies are ready.

Desk is clean.

Time to get drawing…. Page One:

Twig pen