Sketchbook Project: Conclusion

I finally got my video uploaded! I tried vimeo first, but their size limit is only 500MB, so I had to go with youtube. There are two versions of the flip-through video. I’ll post the longer version here that includes commentary and runs a bit over 11 minutes. I also uploaded a shorter version with no talking.

Keep an eye out for the one page that I forgot to scan at about 01:30.

Did you see it? It’s the green and blue drawing I think looks like a loom.

I took a couple of photos of the drawing tools I used in the sketchbook.

Pencil Steps
When I started the project, the colored pencils were all about the same length. Obviously I used some colors more than others, although I don’t know how apparent that is from looking through the book. I based one of the drawings in the sketchbook on the length of the pencils.

Compass Set
I rediscovered this old compass set that my father used when he worked with maps while doing fieldwork in Geology. I found it just in time to draw some circles in the sketchbook. Also shown in this photo are the pencils and erasers I used. Mostly I used the 0.3mm mechanical pencils with HB lead, but occasionally used the 2B wooden pencil.

That’ll do it for the sketchbook project. It was a lot of work, but I had fun coming up with ideas and filling in all the pages. It was good practice to be focused on one project for a couple of months, and overall it was a very rewarding experience. I’ve connected with so many great artists through this project, mostly via twitter. The variety of top-notch artwork being made never ceases to amaze me. I’m so happy that DC was added to the tour–I get to check out all the awesome sketchbooks in person! Well, maybe not all since there are over 28,000 of them, but I imagine I’ll be spending quite a lot of time at the gallery while the show is going on.

the art of “in progress”

I enjoy taking “in progress” photographs of my art as I’m making it, and sometimes I’m very good about stopping for a few minutes to take a quick photo. At other times I get completely engrossed in the art and neglect the documentation.

I’m learning that, like with most things, there’s an art to capturing a comprehensive view of art work in progress.

In my last post I shared the outline drawing I had started and planned to paint in.


As you can see, the painting is now finished. I had fully intended to take in progress photos but didn’t get around to it until the painting was finished. Oh well.

I started another painting immediately after finishing the last one, and before I had a chance to photograph the outline, I already started painting it in. Oh well again.


My intention is to photograph this at a few more stages before the final, but we’ll see what happens.

I realize that I have to be focused on my goal before I start painting. If I’m going to stop at intervals to take photos, I really should have my camera out and a photo area cleaned up and ready before I sit down to paint. Otherwise the effort of doing so while I’m already painting usually feels like too much of a bother. I’ll try this out to see if it will yield more step by step photographs. Wish me luck!

Another thing I realized while painting the pinks and reds, is that I think I’m trying to use watercolor more like gouache. I really laid it on thick, trying to get bright, vibrant hues, and I know that traditionally watercolor is intended to soak into the paper more. Maybe I just still have a lot to learn, or maybe I should stop painting on bristol, but I don’t necessarily mind the way I’ve painting. I like the texture of the thicker paint, but I wonder if there’s a more economical way to achieve similar results.

I haven’t used acrylics in a while, and even when I did it was for color studies in college, so maybe I should unearth them, try them out again, and see if they will fit the bill.

photographing art

I have a very high-tech method for photographing my art that is too large to fit on my scanner. I tack it on the wall, or more often, lay it on the floor and zoom in my telephoto lens, bending my body into an uncomfortable arch while trying to get the edges of the paper as square as possible in the view finder. It’s no easy task, and with a “kitty helper” it’s even more challenging.

Hi-tech photo studio

My cat mojo wants nothing more out of life than to sleep on my art. The moment I pull out my pens and lay paper on the table, Mojo invariably appears out of nowhere, ready to snooze in the middle of what I’m doing. Paper on the floor is even more irresistible, so of course Mojo was nearby when I photographed my most recent in-progress art.

Art Photo Shoot, Zoomed

Even after zooming in, he makes his presence know.

I took these photos to see how my new flash would work to photograph art. It makes a big difference; the light is a lot more even than I could have gotten from my on-camera flash or light from the window. I had to brighten them up a lot in Light Room, so I’ll probably tweak my set up a little more to get brighter out-of-camera shots, but so far so good.

Sketchbook Project: Update 7

This is the second part of the very long final post I had written that I decided to split into two parts.

I’ll start with the cover.

As I worked in the book, I had numerous ideas for how to decorate the cover from collaging different lined and gridded paper, to making stencils and spray painting, to lettering, to pencil drawings. In the end, I took inspiration from one of the drawings on the inside of the book. I used a silver paint pen to draw the big spider web on the cover. I’m not sure how well it alludes to what will be inside, but I like that it’s a bold, recognizable image and a natural form of a line & grid pattern.

I find it somewhat amusing that although I had worked out the lettering for the title page before I even started sketching in the book, this was the last page the I finished. I kept thinking I’d come up with a better idea, but nothing else seemed to work out as well. I went with my first idea which turned out to be the best solution after all.

This is the drawing that inspired the cover. I feel a little funny admitting it, but the idea for this drawing came to me as I was waking up from a dream. I saw a similar image in my mind’s eye during that between waking and sleeping state, and it caught my attention so much that I woke right up and thought, “I gotta try drawing that!”

This drawing is actually one of my favorites. I know it’s on the simple side, but I love the rhythm of the pattern. It’s similar to some of the drawings I’ve made in the past (this watercolor comes to mind right off the bat), but I think it’s different enough, and I’m planning to make a series based on this style of drawing.

I recently remembered that the inspiration for this drawing came from butterfly wings, of all things. I had a half cooked notion that I’d try to replicate the pattern of the veins on a butterfly’s wing, but without any source material to look at, I was a little lost. Instead, I came up with a pattern of my own based on a grid. Each color line represents a different “rule”. Starting from the end of each branching line, I would count on the grid, “down two, over one” for the orange line; “down two over two” for the blue line, and “down two over three” for the yellow line. I worked across from left to right. I “messed up” the pattern a couple times, but I kind of love those kinds of mistakes as they often make a pattern more interesting and unexpected than if everything is technically perfect. Another thing I love is that the final shape of the drawing was a total surprise. I like to think about how it might have changed if I hadn’t made any errors, or if I’d made more of them, or if I’d determined different rules in the beginning. I might have to try out a few more versions of this drawing style.

The results of this drawing were also somewhat unexpected. I based the different lengths of the bars and their colors on the lengths of my colored pencils. The colored pencils I used in this sketchbook got gobbled up pretty quickly. At this point the ones I used the most are tiny stubs. The purple bar on the left represents the smallest of the stubby pencils. Some of the other pencils were similar in size, so their bars were drawn at the same height. I could have drawn a few more bars, but I stopped when the paper ran out. The arrangement of colors corresponds to where the pencil fell in the height lineup.

The first thing I have to say about this drawing is that it creeps me out in a weird way. I’m not even sure why since I kind of like the pattern and detail of the piece. Is it because the pattern looks like reptile skin? Is it the way the points meet in the center? I don’t know! I thought about coloring it in to try and change the way it feels to me, but couldn’t make up my mind about what to do. In the end I left it as is. It might be a little creepy, but I figure that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This is the very last page in my sketchbook! Incidentally the second to last page is the creepy reptile drawing (above), so I wanted the last page to be a lot more cheerful and celebratory. I decided to draw brightly colored swooping shapes, like streamers that might hang at a party. This is probably the page that I drew the quickest (literally drawn just hours before sending off the book!), so it’s the most sketchy of the bunch, but I think it ends the book on a positive note.

So that’s it! Those are all the pages in my sketchbook.

Well, almost. Today while writing these entries I realized that I missed scanning in one of the pages, and I’m more than a little bummed about it. Luckily I took a video of the whole book, so you’ll be able to see the missing page!

There will be one more entry about the Sketchbook Project that’ll include the video and a few photos, coming soon!

Sketchbook Project: Update 6

I’ve lost a bit of steam after finishing up my Sketchbook Project sketchbook, scanning all the remaining pages, sending off the book, and then editing all the digital files, so I took yesterday off and didn’t really do anything creative, or even productive. I went to bed early last night, and today I feel renewed and ready to finish writing about the remaining scanned pages.

I wrote out a very long post with all the remaining pages, and it was crazy-long, so I’m splitting it into two.

This is another drawing that I made using a compass. The pattern reminds me of art deco designs, a genre I love, and yellow and gray is one of my favorite color combinations, so all in all, I love this drawing!

I seem to have a couple of themes that developed in this sketchbook, one of which was weaving and tapestries. This reminds me of a loom that’s been torn and the threads are falling. Although it’s on the minimal side, it’s become one of my favorite drawings in the book.

I started this drawing by making the scalloped shapes and planned to fill the page with the pattern, but when I got to the half way point, I wondered what it would be like if the pattern started to unravel, so I changed my idea. Taking a bit of inspiration from the unraveling threads drawing (above), I drew the pieces that seem to be falling. To me it looks like plumage, but it also reminds me of ripe fruit or leaves falling from a tree.

This was the first of my “pressed for time” sketches. I was feeling the pressure of the impending deadline and felt like I had to just draw something. At first I drew only the colored blocks, but it felt like too much of a cop out, so I added in some detail with a pencil. In the end I’m really happy with this one!

This was another “under pressure” drawing. I first drew a stripe of the little seed shapes and then added the lines that extend vertically between the stripes of seeds. I drew the lines as long as they are to save time by not having to draw as many seeds. Although the reasoning was for saving time, I really like the way this one turned out and think it would make a pretty pattern for bedding or upholstery.

That’s it for now. I’ll be posting the last pages very soon!

Sketchbook Project: Update 5

This afternoon I finished up the final page and cover of my Sketchbook Project sketchbook. It feels so good to have it all finished and sent in!

I’ve edited and uploaded a few of the pages to flickr. In the interest of finishing up this series of posts, this will be a longer post than previous ones, but there will still be two more posts coming before I wrap it up.

This drawing was based on a previous sketch that I shared in the video I made back in November (around 3:47 in the video if you’re curious). I was surprised by how different this looked once the color and texture was added.


I created with the help of one of my dad’s old compasses.

pine branches
I snagged this idea from an old abstract sketch of pine branches that pre-dates my current art-only flickr account. I arranged it a little differently, so hopefully it’s not cheating too much.

This drawing was also borrowed from a sketch I’d done previously. I changed the arrangement of the shapes and the colors.

half circles
This was inspired by a photo I saw somewhere along the line of a building with red windows against a stone wall. The drawing itself changed a lot from the photo, and now I see all kinds of things in the drawing from turtle shells to houses.

I used the help of a compass to draw the circles and then added in the line and grid detail to create this very structural looking drawing.

I didn’t have much direction with this drawing. It started with one of the fan shapes and evolved from there. I like to think of it as the ceiling of a big outdoor tent structure.

This drawing has a Native American flavor, similar to the dream catcher drawing that is also in this sketchbook. I like the directional feel of this one.

So that’s it for this batch. I’ll be adding one more post that shares the scanned pages and a conclusion post that will feature a video of the finished sketchbook as well as photos of some of the drawing tools I used.

Sketchbook Project: Interlude

Although I’ve been adding sketches to my sketchbook somewhat at random (not sequentially page by page), I avoided drawing on the last 16 pages since they are perforated. All the while, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. I considered gluing different paper on either the front or back of the pages to reinforce the perforations, but I was concerned that there would be a lot of rippling, or that it would make the book to thick.

Once I’d filled in all the pages in the front of the book (those that were not perforated), I was faced with the decision, and I had the idea to glue strips of paper on the back of the pages–only enough to cover the perforated area.

I decided to use rice paper since it’s very thin and flexible. I cut strips of paper a half inch wide and the height of the book.

I used mod podge for the glue. For my first attempt I painted the glue onto the rice paper strip. When it gets wet, rice paper is very fragile, and since mod podge is water based, the paper teared as I tried to affix it to the sketchbook.

Next I painted the glue directly on the sketchbook, eyeballing the width of the strip. Then I carefully lined up the strip and pressed it into the glue.


There was definitely a bit of a learning curve, and some of the pages have a little more glue on them than they needed, but I got the hang of it soon enough, and it seems to have worked out really well. The pages don’t bend at the perforations anymore but still turn easily, and it didn’t add too much thickness to the sketchbook.


Now I just have to fill in the remaining pages in that back section with sketches and send it off… in only 3 days. Wish me luck!

Sketchbook Project: Update 4

I really feel like I’m hitting my stride with my sketchbook. At first it seemed that I was all over the place, and I think I still am in a way, but now it’s all starting to fit together like a puzzle, and I’m creating some drawings that I really like and might translate well into larger works of art.

dream catcher
I started this drawing by using a compass to pencil-in concentric circles. Then I added little dots at random intervals on each of the circles and connected them. After that, the drawing evolved and I added feathers because it started to look like a dream catcher.

As I was driving to Baltimore one afternoon, sitting in traffic, I sloooowwwwlyyy rolled by a cell phone tower, silhouetted against the sky. I was intrigued by the pattern of the bars of the tower, and how it changed as I passed it.

This is a simple sketch. I wanted to try drawing a line like variegated yarn. I think it looks pretty cute!

I’m not really sure where the inspiration for this came from, but I wanted to do another multi-color drawing like the one above it.

Pretzels! I drew a pretzel a while ago, and I’m hooked on this motif. I thought about how pretzels are really just lines of dough twisted into the pretzel shape. To fit in with my theme, I arranged 2 dozen pretzels in a grid!

I recently discovered an old compass set that belonged to my father. The first drawing I used one of the compasses to help me draw was the dream catcher sketch (above). The use of the compass in this drawing is a little more obvious. I really love the result! This might be my favorite page so far.

So that’s it for now. I have my work cut out for me with 18 pages down, 22 to go and 8 days to finish. Luckily I’m not drawing spreads since most of my drawings have “bled through” in an interesting manner. The bleed through on the backs of the pages is subtle and is actually the result of drawing on top of my grid guidelines. The ink from the guides actually gets rubbed off when I press firmly with a pencil while drawing. You can see this best on the pages facing the dream catcher and pretzel sketches.

Sketchbook Project: Update 3

It’s been a long time since I last got a chance to scan in art and write about it. You have no idea how good it feels to have time to blog and do fun art stuff again.

December was a super busy month for me, and not just because of the holidays. Did you know that I’m a Graphic Designer? I’m working as a freelancer, and I’m making a transition to focus more on web design, so I’ve been taking some time off from working to focus on learning the ins and outs of web design and coding. I got an unexpected job for the month of December that I couldn’t say no to. The project pretty much took up all my time and then some. I’ve been able to continue working on my Sketchbook Project pages little by little, but I haven’t had the time to scan and upload images, or blog about anything. I’m very grateful for the work that came my way, but I’ve been a little sad that I haven’t been able to spend much time on my art.

Now that things are lightening up work-wise, and the Sketchbook Project deadline is looming (only 9 days left!), I’m happy to be able to dedicate some time to drawing and all the good stuff that goes with sharing my work online.

A few of the pages in my sketchbook were creased and wrinkly when I got it. I’m not sure if this drawing is finished. I feel like the area to the left of the wrinkle is too empty.

facets, blue

facets, green

My father was a geologist, and I recently came across some of his gem and mineral books which inspired the previous two drawings.

notebook paper
This drawing evolved as I was working. When I finished, I thought it looked like an abstract interpretation of wide-ruled notebook paper.

I enjoy drawing 7-pointed stars. They require a little more concentration than 5-pointed stars and are very satisfying to complete when I get them right. The big star at the bottom is an example of what happens when I am not concentrating. Technically it’s “wrong” but I like it anyway.

I couldn’t decide what to do with this drawing after finishing the lines. I added some grid pattern along the edge of one of the shapes, but I’m not completely sold on it. This drawing might just stay as it is.

I have a few more pages finished and scanned that I’ll be sharing soon!

iphone photo-a-day side project

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a 365/something-a-day project since my birthday last June. I didn’t quite get my act together in time to do birthday-to-birthday, but as January 1st was approaching, I thought again about what kind of project I could do. My main priority was that I wanted it to be something that I could realistically stick with every day. I considered doing a sketch-a-day which I’m sure I would have benefited from immensely, but I questioned whether it would be sustainable over a year.

One afternoon I was chatting with my brother, and the topic of iphone photography came up. He shared his posterous site with me that he’d created solely to post iphone photos to. I was captivated by the idea, and since I have an iphone and a tumblr blog (very similar to posterous) that wasn’t doing much but sitting idle, it seemed to be a good candidate for a year-long project.

On January 1st I still hadn’t definitively made up my mind, but I thought, “ok, either you are going to do something or you are not… so what’s it gonna be?” I didn’t want to make a decision by not making a decision, so I made the small effort to take a photo, edit it with the Camera Bag App, and upload it to my renamed and restyled tumblr blog. I took the first photo and of course had 10 other ideas immediately. It was hard not to post more than one photo, but I’m in it for the long haul.

My only rules are that it’s 1 photo every day, taken with my iPhone, and edited with Camera Bag if needed. I toyed with the idea of coming up with some kind of theme or consistent subject matter, but in the end I decided that I’ll just wing it each day and see what I come up with.

Here’s today’s photo:

I’ll be sharing a link to each day’s photo on twitter ( @aisforanika ), but if you want to follow along directly, you can check out my tumblr blog.