From Sketchbook To Drawing Board

“Little Dahlia” (wip)

From sketchbook to an actual drawing. When I posted my drawing exercise of a dahlia from my sketchbook, I had a couple of people mention to me that they really liked the sketch, so I’ve decided to make it into an actual drawing. I did a little experimenting with some color using a few brush pens but I think I’m going to keep the actual drawing in stippled black ink. After completing my Scarlet Macaw (which I’ll be posting this weekend), I’m really not in the mood for any more color right now. I enjoy the simplicity of black ink. ☺

Experimenting with brush pens.
Sketchbook exercise.

In Review


It’s the first of December and it just dawned on me that there’s only 30 more days before it will be 2020. I’m not going to say “Boy how time flies.” but there is a certain need for looking back over the year and seeing what you’ve achieved.
Over this past year I tackled some new subject matter and did more commissions, some of which were a bit challenging, or to be honest, just down right nerve wrecking but looking back I realize I wouldn’t have grown in my skills without those challenges. My patience has been tested and I’m more aware of my limitations, which isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve learned that limitations can help give you focus and direction. So looking back over the year here are seven drawings that were my favorite to work on. ☺

“Snow Leopard”
“Sea Turtle”
“Humpbacks & Hibiscus”
“Butterfly Flower”

Sketchbook Journaling

It’s a chilly Saturday morning and I’m taking some time to sit down and do some sketch journaling. For an artist, a sketchbook is an invaluable asset but I can’t say that I use mine often. For the most part, the majority of my sketchbooks are filled with poorly drawn doodles from my random attempts at trying to keep a sketch journal but I really want to make a change with that in the upcoming New Year.

Another wonderful asset has been YouTube. There are a number of how-to videos on drawing by very good artists that can help to flesh out your ideas on how to draw certain subject matter especially when you don’t have access to the actual subject or reference images to draw from and you have to rely on drawing from your imagination.

As I’ve been drawing this morning it occurred to me that keeping a sketch journal would be a really good way for me to keep visual notes, artistic tips and pointers as well as quotes I find inspirational as an artist. So far I’ve been keeping all those things separately. I have a board on Pinterest for my inspirational quotes, a section on Google Keep for artistic tips, pointers and ideas and my sketchbooks strictly for drawing and sketching. For some reason I’ve developed this strange belief that I shouldn’t write in my sketchbooks. I think this belief has developed due to the fact that whenever I see the inside of other artist’s sketchbooks, I see these polished, pristine works of art in them, like this piece just posted on Twitter, by one of my favorite artist, Philip Harris.

Sketchbook drawing by Philip Harris

Oddly I’ve come to develop this anxiety now when I approach my own sketchbook. I get this nagging feeling that if someone were to open it they should flip the pages and discover a collection of masterpieces, not random notes, scribbles, aimless doodles, poorly drawn ideas, unfinished sketches and experiments gone wrong. The sketchbook doesn’t feel so much as a place for working out ideas but rather for the finished piece. This might be why I don’t use my sketchbook that much. If I’m gonna be doing a finished piece I might as well go straight to my drawing board. But as I said earlier, I’m hoping to change that. Ultimately I can do whatever I want within my sketchbook. Sometimes I find it’s best not to pay too much attention to what other artists and the culture around art is doing in order to keep myself at peace.

On that note, do you keep a sketchbook and if so what do you use it for? Do you feel compelled to create finished works in your sketchbook or do you feel open to just doodle and experiment? Share your thoughts in the comments. ☺

Bring On The Blue

After staring at this Macaw for a day, I took the leap and got started with inking in some blue feathers. Blue is definitely a color fit for a day like today; dreary, wet and cold. I was a bit hesitant at first because I wasn’t sure if the blue that I had would turn out to be too dark and end up looking more black than blue next to the red feathers. Fortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m still a little hesitant though but that’s mostly because I rarely, if ever, use blue in my drawings, so I’m still unfamiliar with how it works with other colors in pointillism. It’s complementary color is orange and if I was doing orange feathers, then blue would be perfect for creating the shadows but orange for making shadows on blue? I have yet to test that out. For now I’m working with purple to make the shadows but I can’t really tell any difference from the purple and just adding another layer of blue. Oh well, I’m really just figuring this out as I go along, which pretty much sums up the story of my life. 😋

Bits Of Nature In My Pocket

I’m always bringing home little things that can fit in my pocket from my nature walks. Although snow has come early to my neck of the woods, I have a shelf that’s littered with pine cones, acorns, rocks, sea shells, feathers and what nots. So today I felt like getting a little sketching practice in with something I could touch and feel, instead of using references images, so I picked out one acorn from my little nature collection. I wish I could do this with little animals but I sure the animals and my better half wouldn’t be too happy with me turning our home into a miniature wild kingdom. My hubby tends to shake his head but smile at me lovingly when I come in from being outside and dump out the contents of my pockets on the kitchen table. This makes me wonder, is this typical behavior of most nature artists?

This little doodle wasn’t only some practice in sketching something in person but also practice in sketching with a ballpoint pen, or as my fellow artists in the UK say, biro, which honestly, I prefer because it just takes less breath to say. So I hope nobody minds that I’m stealing this word. The wonderful thing about sketching in biro is that it forces me to let go of my perfectionism. There’s no erasing or covering up or even working things out in pencil first, so whatever marks I make, I have to live with them. It’s a bit freeing and since I was working with a simple shape it wasn’t particularly taxing to hatch out. I initially just did a biro sketch but then I looked at my pen jars and noticed I have a few brush pens that I keep forgetting about. So I put them to use and added some color to the sketch. I can’t say I’m particularly fond of the color but it does have a festive feel to it that’s suitable for the season.