Archives for posts with tag: Sketchbook Skool

Ella web


Sammy card for Jenny 203

More like Soul Companions, don’t you think? Cute as bugs, I say. And I kissed em both on the nose this morning. 🙂


Boston cremes web

After Wayne Thiebaud:  detail from Boston Cremes, 1962

In my naiveity, (perhaps with a smidge of an ego) I thought it would be fun and easy to forego the obvious choice of something seriously Renaissancey for my SBS assignment – ‘Copy an Artist that you Admire’. Well, I have been schooled. Wayne Thiebaud is a Master of thick acrylic paint and unlikely colour placement, and he molds beautiful delicious form with deft skill. Pop Art genius – I won’t make the mistake of underestimating his delightful simplicity again. I did, however, manage to sweat it out, and do a credible job while using the simplest of tools myself, my basic sketch kit. Nothing fancy at all – a Uniball black ink pen, my small Cotman travel watercolours, a couple of fineliners and pencil crayons, and some housepaint from a sample I have had hanging around on my desk for ages. That was to cover the orange blotchy mistake I made early in the sketch, and had no other way to disguise. Luckily the thick pages in my Kim Oka journal could take the abuse. Yep, I learned my lesson. And I’ll happily do this exercise again, because there is scads more to learn from a giant like Thiebaud. I am a baby when it comes to this kind of painting. And honestly, I kind of like that feeling of being in the shit and having to wallow my way out – it certainly keeps things interesting. So copy I will, and if it was good enough for the Renaissance greats… well then.


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….. 🙂

Ella asleep

Many a happy hour have I spent combing through the vast wealth of visual and technical knowledge that Roz Stendhal freely shares on her website Roz Wound Up. I discovered her in “An Illustrated Life” and admired her drawings and journal pages so much, she became one of the first blogs I hit the “follow” button for. OK, she is obsessive, and quirky, but she is sooo sweet – and talent leaks out of her every artistic endeavour! If you dig back far enough into her blog, you find the time when she had a brain injury and had to retrain her effected drawing skills. Which she did. Amazing woman. She remains to this day in my main toolbar, quick reference and bags of inspiration just a click away.

Roz’s Sleeping Pet assignment for Sketchbook Skool:

Surprisingly easy with Ella, after a massive run in the forest she can crash out on the couch for hours. The crazy Potcake Dingo turns into a big stuffy toy.

Ella Roz

The Jack, on the other hand, is a bit of a challenge. He is such a twitch I was lucky to get just the ears. And such sweet ears they are. I cannot believe he is 13 years old. Sammie.

Sammie ears Roz

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…


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