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!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pages from Flora

Flora, the current journal, is in full use. I love her size and I love her paper even though neither is ideal (too big, and not perfectly suited for wet media and markers). Here are some of her latest pages.

I have to smile when I see how when it comes to this journal I use words like 'she' and 'her' instead of 'it'. As if it's a person. I think it's the name, even though I didn't mean it as a girls name at the time. I just meant 'flora' as in the world of flowers, plants and trees. Oh well, the journal works in mysterious ways I guess. ;-)

Have a wonderful day all!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Good times were had last weekend

Good times were had the past weekend. Of course for me weekends are long and shouldn't really be called weekends. But I can't seem to stop doing that anyway. I'm off work every Friday to Monday since I started working less.

I spent most of Friday in the studio playing, among other things, with my masking liquid markers:

This weekend it was time for the annual ITGWO festival. ITGWO stands for Into The Great Wide Open and is a very popular music and arts festival that is spread out over several places on the island. It lasts for about three and a half days, but that's a bit too much for me, so I went for one. As islanders you can get day tickets, so that helps.

The stages are set out in the middle of nature. One was in the dunes for instance and another (below) was in the middle of the forest. Everyone sat down there and the atmosphere is beyond words.  Thousands of people come to the festival every year and when the tickets sell they are usually sold out within minutes. Luckily as an islander you can always get tickets and at a discount too! Islander privilege! ;-)

I saw several very good (and less good) performers play like Kris Berry & Requisite (a woman with a voice like an angel, I even bought a cd), The Kik (fun fun fun), Benjamin Clementine (a bit odd, but he grows on you) several others, but the reason I got the ticket for Saturday was Ben Howard. He was still quite unknown when he was here last time several years ago and he blew the entire audience away in a small performance hall near the camp site. Now he had center stage and an entire band, was a main act for the evening and people actually could sing along with his songs. I guess he has moved up in the music world. I still missed the magic of that performance from years ago though. That was something really special.

After all that walking around from stage to stage and standing for hours on end among crowds of people I really needed some serious down time.On Sunday I spent the day mostly napping and reading at home, but on Monday it was time to get out and about again.

I walked through the forest and dunes and then I decided to climb the dunes that lead to the North Sea and found myself a perfect spot on a sandy plateau right here:

It looks lower than it was. I was about halfway up a dune. It was one of those white clouds blue sky days with lots of sun and a nice fresh wind (it had been pretty windless the days before which is unusual for us). I brought a book and a sjawl to lay down on. I napped, I read, I stared into the distance and repeated this a couple of times until some time later I discovered four hours had passed!
It was one of those perfect afternoons that just kind of happen.

When I got home and had showered the sand off I was more relaxed than I had been in years and that is saying something. It's like my whole body let go of everything. It was wonderful wonderful wonderful (yes, I had to say that three times).

That night I closed off the weekend with a few hours at the journaling table. 

I wish I could be that relaxed all the time, but my personality won't allow it. I'm doing my best though, haha. In any case it was one of those weekends that is just good for the soul, especially those hours at the beach.

In the meantime some work days at the office have passed and now a new weekend has begun for me. Let's hope it's another wonderful and artsy one and I wish you all the same: good weekend all!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Walking sketches

It happens way too rarely that I will actually sit down and sketch during one of my walks. I take tons of photographs, but sketching always seems like just too much work to do while on the road.

These are piles of poles and planks to be used for the festival called Into The Great Wide Open.

I have a great admiration for urban sketchers and nature sketchers. You know, people who actually go out and about to draw and paint. I do draw and paint, but I always prefer the comfort of my own home to do it. I'm not uncomfortable with people seeing me or something, but I am uncomfortable for the sheer fact that I don't have a table to work on and put my stuff. I'm a luxury sketcher. ;-)

A little view from the dyke along the Wadden Sea. Those things in the field are horses by the way.

However recently I was inspired by the urban sketchers blog and last weekend during two of my walks I actually sat down and sketched. I brought a little sketchbook and my tiny watercolour box plus a waterbrush and a drawing pen. And it was...well...doable, haha.

Scene from a road through the dunes. Um...not so good with perspective, but I like the colours.

Now I realize that these aren't great sketches, but that is not the point. The point is that I did it. I took the time to do them and now I have a self made visual memory of some scenes I came across on my walks. I would really like to do more outdoorsy sketching. I don't care if the sketches are wonky, I just want to make more of a habit of it. Let's keep our fingers crossed I can make it work somehow.

Wishing you all a wonderful and sketchy day! ;-)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Watercolour mosaics

As you know I have been dabbling in what I like to call watercolour mosaics. By that I mean painting as if the painting was made up of little tiles. However I could not find the right approach yet. Even though I liked making these paintings they were still not quite what I had in mind. Someone suggested that might be because there was no space between the tiles I painted and she was right of course.

So now I have found the perfect little helper for that. It's called a masking fluid marker. Of course I knew of the existence of masking fluid, but only the kind you apply with a brush and that just didn't seem precise enough, so I never used it (I don't even own any). But when I came across these markers by Molotow I knew that they were meant for me, so I bought two, experimented a little and then I was ready for the big test: some real watercolour mosaics. Here's how that turned out: 

You can see the markers here above the book. They write in blue and work just like any ordinary paint marker.

I am very pleased with the result. You simply draw the lines with the markers. I use templates and a ruler to get my lines so straight by the way. Then you colour the shapes in and afterwards you can remove the masking fluid by rubbing it off. I suggest using a kneadable eraser for that, it saves a lot of mess. The marker I have comes in 2 and 4 milimeter width. They do take a little patience to use especially with a ruler and such, because you are basically applying a kind of rubber that sticks to everything and regularly have to wipe both the ruler and the tip to keep the work clean, but it's a small price to pay for having such a precise masking tool.

Here are the pages a bit closer up:

As always these were done in the Fodder Book, which is a big Moleskine watercolour sketchbook.

I will definitely be making more of these now that I finally have the means to do them as I intended! Hope you like them too and hope I've given you a little tip for an art supply that might come in really handy if you need to mask off precise lines.

Have a wonderful and artsy day all!