Monday, October 20, 2014

The Amsterdam Virus

Well, this isn't an actual post. This is a little sign of life just to let you know that I'm still here.

I had a wonderful time in Amsterdam and will tell you all about it later, because unfortunately I also seem to have picked up a little virus there and became sick a few days after I returned.

It's a severe head cold mixed with bronchitis, which pretty much means I'm coughing like crazy, can hardly breathe when I lie down and you can just forget about any real sleep. It's slowly getting a little better, but I'm still more of a coughing zombie than a person, so I won't be posting this week either.

All in all I'm feeling real sorry for myself, but at least someone is pretty pleased that I'm at home all day these days.

Look at that content face, I don't know if I should cuddle or smack him! ;-)

Anyway, I'm hoping to feel better soon so I can tell you all about my Amsterdam trip and share my pics. Until then I'm wishing you a wonderful artsy and above all healthy time!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pages from Flora (the journal) and announcing a blog break

In my last posts I've been showing you some new endeavours in some new sketchbooks. Or maybe they were old endeavours in some new sketchbooks. Field notes, sketching and doodling, it all took place in the journal this year. But slowly my journal is returning to its roots of...well...just journaling.

For me my journal is the account of my days, a diary, the story of my life written by me, or maybe the story of my inner life written by me. Something like that. A sketchbook is something different to me, a place to practice my art, and I feel the need again to seperate them. That my journal is artsy does not undo the fact that it's still 'just' a diary, an illustrated diary.

For me the art practice and the journal are still very different things. One is not more important than the other, but I do distinguish between them in my head and heart and often also in my books. I need both to stay sane, that's for sure. ;-)

So over the past week Flora is becoming just a journal again, whatever that means. I know what it means to me, but I find it impossible to clearly explain. I'm doing layouts for writing again and alternating them from time to time with what mostly reminds me of what in this day and age are called smashbook pages. Pages where I just put ephemera from everyday life and my own photographs together.

Here are some of my latest spreads:

I love that I'm doing my layouts again. It seems my journal style always comes and goes in waves. Sometimes I do it this way and sometimes I do it that way. Maybe that's just my way of keeping it interesting or maybe it just reflects my flaky nature, haha.

Now for something completely different.
Today I am starting my fall vacation. Next week I'll be staying in Amsterdam for five days! I have rented a quirky apartment and I intend to visit several museums, walk the streets and take many photographs. I have already planned this trip since my short visit to Amsterdam with two friends in June (read about that in this post). I really wanted to stay a week, but I just can't afford it. Five days in Amsterdam, even last minute, is costing me as much as two weeks on one of the islands! Still: five days isn't bad and if the pictures can be believed my apartment really is cool!

Anyway, this means I won't be blogging until somewhere after 13 October. I'm sure I'll be back with a slideshow though so you can all vicariously travel with me. And if you want to travel with me real time you can always befriend me on Facebook as I will probably do a quick daily report there.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy week!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Starting a book for doodling

It seems that lately I've been starting up all kinds of new books that kind of originated in the journal. As you know my journal this year has mostly been a mix and match of all kinds of things. I've been drawing more and doodling more in it and now this has made me want to do books with only drawings and sketchings and ... a book for doodles. I showed you my field notes and the sketchbook I started in previous posts and today I will give you a peek at the doodle book I've begun.

This is the opening page:

The book is a Hahnemühle Sketchbook measuring 25x25 cm (10x10 inches). The paper is quite good and thick and perfect for drawing and less perfect for wet media. But it's okay, since I will not really be painting in it much. My doodling is mostly done with pens and pencils anyway.

I left the inner cover blank, because I may want to make a fabric cover for the book at some later time. The original cover is just black linnen, so not very interesting.

So far, apart from the intro page, I only did one spread:

My goal with this book is basically to loosen up and just play and make pages that make no sense whatsoever. I'm going for stream of consciousness art, haha. It's not easy for me though, being the control freak that I am. However, I think for a first attempt the first spread isn't bad. I like the fastness and messyness of it. Where the opening page took hours and hours of work this whole messy spread was finished within an hour.

I'm hoping this book will allow me to let go of my own preconceptions and just go with the flow of whatever mark I feel like making. We'll see how it goes. I'll keep you posted.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Starting a new sketchbook

In my previous post I showed you some nature drawings from a not too big moleskine cahier and I complained a little about the flimsy paper in that notebook. I'm still not sure if I will work in that book again. It's better suited for regular written notetaking.

However, while I was working in that book during my walks I also started a new sketchbook to work in indoors. It's a rather big and rather beautiful one, so of course it's also rather intimidating, but I really wanted some good paper that would take a great variety of media without starting to work against me or just annoy me.

I chose the Fabriano Venezia Sketchbook. It looks like this:

It measures  23x30 cm ( 9x12 inches), so this is a big boy. It comes with a cover like that and some people find it absolutely hideous, but I rather like it. But I mostly bought it for the wonderful thick white paper inside. I have used Fabriano artist's papers in different weights for years and I have already used a smaller Venezia book in the past, but the books are hard to come by here (I bought the one I had before in London) so I never really came across them again, but now I've found a German site that ships them over here, so I'm a happy camper.

Anyway, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, all new sketchbooks come with that dreaded first white page.
I decided to jump right in and do a title page:

'Schetsboek' is just the Dutch word for sketchbook, which I'm sure you've guessed already, so no fancy name for this one. I just want a book for really practicing my drawing, not another journal.

I stole the quote from Sarah Simblet's lovely book Sketchbook for the Artist (or The Drawing Book as it's called in the original British version).

I think those words should make the perfect antidote against wanting drawings to be photorealistic. ;-)

After that first page was over with I decided to go to the back of the book and do some testing of the paper. My expectations were high and the book actually lived up to them. Yay!

The book can take just about any media I throw at it. Is it perfect? No. But it is a good allround paper to have. If you are just a watercolour artist for instance you may want a more specialized paper, but for the rest of us jacks of many trades this is about as good as it gets.

After my first testing and playing I wondered if I could take this book with me on the road. I had not intended this, but my experiences with the moleskine kind of inspired it. It was worth a try. I thought its bulky size and weight would get in the way, but I was pleasantly surprised. As long as I'm sitting down (for standing up it's way too impractical) it's kind of like carrying your own table with you. Very sturdy!

The above mentioned book by Sarah Simblet had some of her very quick sketches of geese in it and that inspired me to go to a nearby pond and do the same with ducks.

Um...wel...maybe not the same exactly. Her geese, even though they were just simple gesture drawings, actually looked like geese. I guess the best thing you can say for my ducks is that they look like...birds? But they do make me laugh. They are so quirky! And most importantly: I had such a good time drawing them.

Later I sat on a dam not far from the marina and I watched the sailboats coming in and out (a very meditative thing to do by the way, I recommend it). I was looking into the sun so all the boats were more like silhouettes and soon enough I couldn't resist drawing them:

The feathers on the right were actually done later at home. Those three feathers I found during the same walk that I drew the boats. I really enjoy drawing and painting feathers, they're surprisingly easy to do. It's also the first real watercolour sketch in this book and I'm very pleased with it.

All in all I'm so happy I got this sketcbook and I think I will be carrying it with me on my walks more often even if it is a bit heavier that the moleskine cahier. The pleasure of working in it sure makes up for its weight.

Hope you're all doing something artsy too. Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Field notes

A few posts ago I showed you some walking sketches and after that I knew that I wanted to do more sketching during my walks.

Because I live in a place full of nature and beautiful landscapes I started to look into nature journaling and keeping field notes and such. I found the subject fascinating and I learned a lot, but I also immediately found out I'm not really suited to be a real naturalist. By that I mean I'm not someone who is all that interested to know all the names of all the plants and birds and trees and then record them in a journal and go really into deep research mode about the things I see.

For example: the island attracts a lot of birdwatchers and from time to time I get to observe those observers of birds. The way it goes is that somebody will see some certain type of bird somewhere, give notice to all the other watchers and then they will bike or walk like crazy to that point to get a glimpse of that particular bird as well. They have handsignals if they spotted it too! It's quite funny to watch.

I have no doubt that birdwatchers love nature and most of all birds, but the way they do it is not really my thing. By being so overfocused on getting a particular bird crossed off your list I have a feeling you're just missing the point of nature and the beauty of the outdoors.

In the end I'm not that kind of note taker and observer. I don't collect information for information's sake, I collect experiences. So where putting fact after fact  and observation after observation on pages and in organized lists is of great value for science and nature observers, I am more the kind who is taken by the shape of a leaf, the colour of a flower or the beauty of a bird. I don't really need to know everything about them. Yes, I'd like to be a bit more in the know on their names and such, but that's about all. I just like taking it all in and being in awe.

So I have started up a sort of field notes book. You can see its first pages in this post. It's just me taking note of some of the things I see during my walks. I have no idea what all these things are called, I am just drawn to their shape and colours and the beauty of the landscape. I think that's enough.

The book is a moleskine cahier and I'm not sure I will continue working in it. The paper is really flimsy and I can't work on it with wet media. So these drawings were coloured in with pencil. It's actually quite nice for that, but what I had not expected is that when you draw on the back of an already coloured in image it sort of prints on the opposite page. I don't really care for that.

Another thing I'm learning is that I'm not very comfortable doing my drawings standing up. I have done some that way, but I don't really enjoy it. I actually don't enjoy anything that requires me to stand up for long periods of time. For instance I hate those parties where everyone just stands around and is supposed to mingle. I like to sit down comfortably and observe. Enjoyment and comfort are very important for me in order to make art.

So I may switch to another book. In fact I have already done some sketches in another book, but that's for another post! Anyway, I hope you like this peek into my first nature drawings. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Have a wonderful and artsy day all!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

More experiments with masking liquid

You may remember my discovery of masking liquid markers a couple of posts ago. I used them then for doing watercolour mosaics. But of course I had to try them for some other things too.

So here are two more pages from the Fodder Book where I used masking liquid to draw and then coloured everything in with watercolour.

Oh dear, I just noticed there's a little piece of plastic stuck to this page! Sorry about that. ;-)

I really like how well they rub off after use. They write in blue and leave a sort of rubbery substance that resists liquids. This also helps with the colouring in of things, the lines resist the watercolour so you can be a bit less anal about not crossing the lines. ;-)

Afterwards you just erase the blue lines with a kneaded eraser. You can use a regular eraser or just your finger, but in both cases it would be a lot messier and in the last case your finger could get quite painful from all the rubbing (yes, been there done that). A kneaded eraser just picks up the blue rubbery stuff and integrates it into itself. I'm thinking over time this will mean my gray kneaded eraser will turn blue, haha.

I think I'm going to have a lot more fun with these markers, especially when it comes to making patterns,  and I am so glad I came across them!

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Picture Book

I have tons and tons of sketchbooks, blank books and scrapbooks around the house and, believe it or not, a lot of them are in use. Some you see come by here often (like the Fodder Book or the Pattern Book) and others not so much (like the sketchbook I use to practice portraits or the one for beautiful ladies in beautiful dresses). I am scattered over lots and lots of books and I actually like that, because it feels like no matter what I want to do I always have a place to go. There's just some places I visit more often than others, haha.

One of the books I've started to use recently is a very simple scrapbook. I have taken up collecting images that speak to me or that I may want to use as inspiration for art or drawing and I thought it would be nice to put them together in a no nonsense type of book. No embellishments, no artsy stuff, just stuff I like. For all intents and purposes it's just a picture book. That's what I call it too, The Picture Book.

I don't know if you can tell, but it's a mix of images I find in magazines, on the internet and my own photographs. I try to source everything by putting the name of the artist next to the pictures, but this is not always possible and I'm not too bothered by it, since this is just for personal use. In a way this whole thing reminds me of a sort of pinterest on paper. Printerest!

There's no rhyme or reason to how the images are organized, it has more to do with size than anything else. If an image fits in the remaining space it will get stuck down and if it doesn't it will move on to the next page.  I like the complete mismatch of things. It leaves my eye to just wander around the imagery and helps my mind to dream a little. 

I think just in these few images you can tell my love for patterns, girl's portraits, and flowers and such. I like that. I also like to see my own images mingled with those of other people. In short I find this whole thing inspiring.

For someone who tossed away her pinterest account this is the perfect solution and it feels much more tangible this way too. I used to pin a lot, but never really looked at them again, but with this I can just leaf through things directly.

Just thought I might share this in case it might give one of you an idea to try this as well. It's simple and it's cheap and it's quite relaxing to do as well.

Wishing you all a wonderful and artsy day!
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