From My Garden, Hops

We’re growing a couple of hops plants for my brother (he likes to home brew beer), and I really love how the leaves are heart shaped with what looks like a serrated edge. My first impression was that they would be a challenge to draw, and since I’m always up for a challenge, I set up a little “outdoor studio” and got to work.

outdoor drawing "studio"
(Not pictured are a couple of cushions to sit on.)

Hops Leaves

I zeroed in on a pair of leaves to draw, did a quick sketch to figure out the composition and make sure I got the scale of the leaves right, and I then started working on the details of the shapes of the leaves. The hardest part was seeing the leaves as the light dwindled, but I finished the first phase of the drawing just in time.


Once I got the outline of the leaves worked out, I tried shading to give a sense of depth, but it just wasn’t working. Instead I decided to focus on adding detail texture, so I drew some of the main veins of the leaf. I was really interested to see how there was a clear pattern in how the veins were distributed, but it wasn’t always a perfect pattern–just my style!

I had to pack up my outdoor studio that first night, since I lost the light, but I took some time to refine the lines of the leaves and veins.

The next day I evaluated the drawing, and realized that the composition seemed to be wanting a little more. I set up my studio again and used my artistic license to add a smaller set of leaves below the first, even though in reality they were located elsewhere on the plant.

hops leaves

I want to do more with this drawing. I even transfered the drawing to another sheet of “good” paper to work with, but then it sat there. After mulling it over for a couple days, I’m still not sure exactly what the next step will be. I’ll set it aside for now and move onto something else. I’m sure I’ll figure out what to do eventually!

A New Kaleidoscope Drawing

After hanging up all the work I framed at Metropolitan Cafe, I was 99% satisfied, except for one area where the triptych seemed too small for the prominent space above the fireplace.

Circle Drawings on the Wall

I decided to make a larger drawing to hang in its place, moving the triptych on the wall that’s to the right of the space shown in the image above. I started working on the new drawing the very night I got home from hanging the show.

I started by drawing a grid on some smooth drawing paper with a pencil (and a ruler of course), and then drew the outline of the circle with the help of my trusty compass set.


After drawing the grid I actually erased most of it, leaving only a hint of the lines, just dark enough so I could make out the grid while I was adding the colors. I started with pink.


Unfortunately the pencil lead kept breaking, so before I knew it, the pink pencil was down to a little stub. Luckily the peach color in the set was very similar in tone, so I switched to peach to finish the first layer.

Best Part

With the first color finished, I started the next one: chartreuse green. Adding a new color is the best part of these drawings because that’s when I get to see how the colors will interact as they are layered.

Once the chartreuse was finished, I used true green to start the next layer.

Best Part 2

Ice Cream Cone

I took one more in progress photo when I finished the true green layer, but then got so wrapped up in finishing the drawing that I forgot to take any more in progress pics! Instead I took a photo of all the colored pencils I used for this drawing, which include those I’ve mentioned, plus aquamarine, carmine red, magenta, and violet.

Colored Pencils

Large Kaleidoscope Drawing

When my mom saw the final drawing she said, “it looks like a kaleidoscope”. I think that’s a great observation, so I’ll be calling this series “kaleidoscopes” from now on.

Before I could snap a photo of the finished drawing, I framed it and whisked it away to Baltimore to add it to the show. While I was at Metropolitan, I took a photo of the framed drawing. I wish I’d taken a wide shot of the room so you could see the difference now that the triptych has been moved. I’m sure I’ll visit the cafe again soon, so I’ll update this when I get the shot.

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

I tried out the Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils on a piece of Arches hot press paper.

Prismacolor pencils!

I decided to use the Arches paper instead of the grid paper I’ve been using for previous drawings to see how the thicker paper would hold up, and to see how the image would look without the underlying grid. I’m still working at a small size at this point (about 5.5 inches square).

I took a few in-progress shots with my iphone while I was working so you can see how the image changes with each added color.

yellow & orange
I started with a layer of yellow ochre, followed by pale vermillion.

yellow, orange & mulberry
The next was a layer of mulberry.

yellow, orange, mulberry & process red
I filled in more of the circle with Process Red.

yellow, orange, mulberry, process red, & true blue
True Blue was the first cool color added, followed by a layer of ultramarine blue to finish up the drawing.


I like the final drawing, but I also like a lot of the in between stages as well. I’m thinking about making a few drawings that are more like “incomplete” circles.

The Prismacolor Premier colored pencils were very nice to work with on the thick paper. The color came off onto the paper very easily, so there was no warping of the paper at all. The biggest challenge was keeping a sharp point. I had to sharpen the Premier pencils a lot more than the Verithins, but also didn’t have to press as hard, so I guess it’s a trade off.

The lines appear a lot more wobbly without the underlying grid to anchor them, but I like the look anyway, and I’ll probably get better at drawing straight lines with a little more practice & patience.

Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils

I finished up my first colored pencil drawing, using the Prismacolor Verithins.

Prismacolor Verithin colored pencils

These drawings take a really long time to make. There’s a lot of detail and a lot of overlap, so it’s just a process that takes a while. The results are well worth it, and overall they’re a lot of fun to create because they change so much as I develop the pattern and add new colors.

Drawing in progress

The leads of the Verithins are rather hard, so I found myself pressing very firmly on the paper to get the color to show up, especially with the lightest pink and green. Because of that, I ended up embossing the paper so much that it’s rippled and doesn’t lay quite flat. I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get a good scan, but the shadows are very slight.

colored pencil

I’m going to do another drawing using the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils to check out the difference, but ultimately I plan to do a series of these on larger plain paper.

Suffice it to say, I’m very happy with my new colored pencils so far!

Sharpie Drawings

The other day I found a book on Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs. A small hex sign hung on the wall of my room growing up, and it was one of my most favorite things. In the book, there was even a little “how to make your own” section, which involved lots of compass drawing. Inspired, I started doodling on a piece of grid paper.

marker sketch

I drew the center part first, and added the frame because it seemed to want some structure. When using the grid to add the lines of the frame, I realized how un-geometric the circular part was. Although I like the final sketch, it felt a little unsatisfying for it to not quite line up properly, so I decided to use a compass to draw one of the basic motifs used in hex signs.


I really liked the geometric feel of the frame from the first sketch and was particularly intrigued by the overlapping areas, so I had an idea to combine the compass work with an overlapping triangle texture.

round geometric

I like the result here, but the overlapping didn’t seem as clear as I wanted, so I tried a simpler style of two overlapping circles.

circles & triangles

I’m very happy with the way this one turned out. I love how the colors work together, and I achieved what I wanted in terms of overlap. I flipped the paper over to protect the surface, and I noticed the back of the paper. It’s very much the same, but the colors are a bit more subtle, and there’s a different feel to the piece.

circles & triangles back

For the next drawing, I wanted to eliminate the marker outline, and see if I could achieve a distinct edge by only filling in the parts of the grid that were within the circle.

overlapping geometry

I think it worked pretty well, especially for the edge of the circle. I’m not sure that the half-circle lines I drew within the circle are as distinct, but overall I like the colors & texture of the pattern.

overlapping geometry, back

If all goes well, I should get my shipment of colored pencils today. I have plans to continue this series with graphite & colored pencil. I think the sharpies look great, but sometimes an overlapping color would completely obscure the color behind it, so I’m thinking color pencils will be a great way to control the intensity.

Do you have a favorite image from the bunch?

Sketchbook Look

One of my sketchbooks has been hiding in my purse for a few months. I started drawing in it this summer, and intended to sketch in it when I was out and about and had a spare moment. Either I didn’t go to many places, or when I did, I didn’t have time to sketch, because it’s been mostly unused since the end of July. I found it again when I was switching from my summer purse to winter purse, and decided to sketch in it the other night.

I had finished quite a few sketches in the book during the summer, and the thought of scanning them all in to share seemed rather tedious, so I decided to make a short video where I flip through the sketchbook and talk about the different sketches a little bit.

I hope you liked it.

I’d really love to hear your feedback about this, so let me know what you think. Would you be interested in seeing similar videos of my sketchbook after I’ve drawn in it some more? Should it be shorter? Could you see the drawings well enough? Any feedback is very welcome!

begonia pattern

I’ve been trying to get back into drawing from life again lately. I have a little sketchbook that I keep in my purse so it’s with me wherever I go, but I find I don’t draw in it as often as I thought I would. Instead, I’ve started sketching in it at home. Yesterday I sketched the branches of a tree that I saw through the window. I don’t love the cold weather that winter brings, but I do love the shape and pattern of bare tree branches.


Once it got dark outside, I sketched a small potted begonia that sits on the coffee table.


After drawing the begonias, I had an idea for a stylized drawing.


I still referenced the real plant to draw the shapes of the blossoms, but I simplified the petals a bit where I needed to and arranged the blossoms in a chain.

The next drawing I did was based on a few doodles that I’ve done before, but haven’t yet scanned.

stacked triangles

Maybe there was a little influence from the tree branches as well?

As I was working on the last two drawings, my Sketchbook Project theme was definitely on my mind. What can I say? I’m hooked on my theme (lines & grids) and can’t wait to get my sketchbook!

The chain of begonia blossoms seemed like it would work for a pattern, so I played around a bit in photoshop.


I like the look of the gray and white, but I couldn’t resist adding some color, also in photoshop.

bright magenta

I tried out a ton of color variations in photoshop, and posted a few of them flickr if you want to check them out.

lines & grids

I finally made up my mind about what theme to choose for the Sketchbook Project, and more importantly, I actually, officially signed up! For a long time I had my eye on the theme, “Make Mine a Double,” but could never quite take the plunge. Recently I checked out the website again, and that theme wasn’t available anymore. I was a little bummed, until I saw one that hadn’t been available when I was first checking it out. “Lines & Grids” is the theme I went for, and I’m really happy about it. In my opinion, it’s one of the most neutral themes I’ve seen, and I feel like there is so much that I can do with it.

After signing up, I kept coming up with all kinds of ideas for what I could do for the sketchbook, but I know that it’ll be a while before I get the actual sketchbook in the mail and can start drawing in it. Not able to contain myself any longer, I painted a plaid pattern on a small card with watercolor, and then cut out the shape of a heart.

I glued the cut out heart onto a plain sheet of paper, and continued the lines from the heart onto the clean background with pen.

too much plaid

I found it confusing and a little overwhelming when I was done. It seemed a little funny to me, but I cut it out again!

plaid heart

Ahhhh. Much better. The busy plaid needs the contrast of the plain background.

Not one to waste scraps, I also scanned in the background on its own, which also looks pretty good.

plaid background

Maybe something like this will end up in my Sketchbook Project sketchbook?

hush, smooth, & smile

Waaaayyy back in June I participated in the Creativity Boot Camp. The idea was to make one piece of art inspired by the day’s theme on that very same day. The whole thing was supposed to be finished in the 2 weeks of the boot camp. I got delayed while working on the second theme, “picnic” because I ended up drawing 5 different things! I realized I wouldn’t finish all the themes in the allotted two weeks, but I decided to continue working at my own pace until I’d drawn something for each of the 13 themes. I finished up 10 of the themes in a timely manner, but the last three lingered on my to-do list. This weekend, about 5 months after the challenge started, I decided to finish it up.

I lost my momentum when I got stuck on the 11th theme, “hush”. I had a really hard time coming up with an idea of what to draw (obviously). As the weeks drifted by, I would occasionally try to think of something for the theme, but nothing grabbed me. Finally I thought, “well I could just do something calm and muted”. I thought of water, and how the drawing for the “fluid” theme might have worked for “hush” so I decided to do another water-inspired drawing.

hush, original

I’m not sure how successful the final drawing is in terms of the theme. The “water” might be a little too choppy, and the outlines might be a little too strong for “hush”, but it’s a pretty pattern, so I’m happy with the results.

The 12th theme was “smooth”. I already had this one worked out as a sketch, but I wanted to post the themes in order, so I held off finishing it until now.


I doubt that this drawing would conjure up the word, “smooth,” on its own, but I like it for the theme because of the idea behind the drawing. I first drew the lines, and then smoothed out some of the angles with a curved line and shading.

The final theme was “smile” and I was pretty much dreading it, truth be told. Every idea I had seemed terribly cheesy and made me cringe a little bit. Lucky for me, I watched Alice in Wonderland this weekend.


As you might imagine, the Cheshire cat inspired this pattern. Maybe it’s still a bit cheesy, but I also think it’s a pretty cute pattern and one of my favorite drawings from the whole boot camp. I certainly wasn’t expecting that the theme I disliked the most would have such a fun solution!

Today I gathered up all the finished drawings and arranged them on the wall above my desk. In all there were 13 themes, and I completed 20 drawings in total. “Picnic” had the most drawings at 5. “Ivory,” “multilayered,” and “heavy metal” each got 2 drawings, and for all the other themes I drew 1 drawing each.

all Creativity Boot Camp drawings

For reference, here is a list of the themes that correspond to the image above, top row to bottom row, left to right:
ivory, ivory, picnic, picnic
picnic, picnic, picnic, multilayered
multilayered, heavy metal, heavy metal, grow
fluid, fly, ornament, drizzle
full bodied, hush, smooth, smile

If you click through to flickr on the above image, you’ll find that it’s tagged with the various themes with links to the original full-sized drawings. Also, if you want to check out the blog posts about the previous 10 themes, you can find them on my old “anika mari” blog.

All of the drawings were done on 6 in x 6 in bristol. When I started the challenge, I had decided to use only pencil and/or Prismacolor markers. A few minor exceptions that snuck in were a silver sharpie that I used for the silver and pink “heavy metal” drawing, blue ink that I used for the outlines of the “ornament” drawing, and black ink used for details on two of the picnic drawings. For “full bodied” I used black ink and watercolor. I really don’t know why I used watercolor. I’m sure I could have colored it with marker, but I probably just wasn’t thinking!

It took me a while, but I’m so glad that I followed through and finished all of the themes.

Would I do it again? It’s hard to say right now, after just finishing. Those final three themes were looming in the background for months, and it kind of stressed me out in a mild, consistent manner. That said, overall I really liked the Creativity Boot Camp. The best part was creating some really nice drawings that I never would have come up with if I hadn’t had the themes to work from. It was a challenging creative exercise that got me to approach making art in a different way. Maybe in a year I’d be up for it again?

calendars with color

I’ve been drawing more calendar sketches in my spare time. I’ve had some new ideas, and wanted to hone some of the original sketches as well.

calendar sketches

I’m really happy with the redraw for February, and I like the new drawing for September. The November texture is also pretty interesting, so there’s potential there, even if I did run out of space on this sketch.

Last night I added color to some of the existing sketches.

calendar sketches

I’m not a big fan of the color. I was a lot more fond of them when they were black and white line drawings.

There were only two months that I added color to that I liked: a new drawing for May, and the existing September sketch.

calendar sketches

Color works for those particular drawings because they were relatively simple and repetitive and achieved balance with the surrounding white space. The color functions as an accent and doesn’t overwhelm the piece.

Taking into consideration some of the sketches where color doesn’t work, my best choice is going to be to stick with black and white only and rely on line details and texture to add interest.

It was worthwhile trying out color on these sketches, even if the result is that I decide not to use it. I love color, so it’s often not a conscious choice on my part to incorporate it into my work. Although I’m a little surprised to find that I prefer the drawings without color, I’m also a fan of the simple elegance that’s possible with the use of only black and white.