New Year, New Sketchbook: a giveaway!

While I was out shopping for Christmas presents this year, I found it hard to avoid temptation to pick up a fun item or two for myself. Especially when I went to IKEA, because I discovered that they had brand new sketchbooks! I was so excited that not only did I pick up a few for myself, I also got one of each color to giveaway to 3 of my blog readers!

sketchbooks for giveaway!

That’s right! I’m giving away 3 sketchbooks! I’ll give 1 pink, 1 purple, or 1 blue sketchbook to 3 lucky winners.

I made a quick video to give you a better idea of what they are like.

Please note: I don’t usually pronounce pink as “peenk”. Not sure where that came from. Also, when I say the purple is more purple, I meant that it’s more of a warm purple, not as blue as it looks on the video!

As you can tell from the video, they are filled with blank paper, but they have a nifty ruled plastic insert page too.

filled with blank paper

plastic ruled insert

I love the size of the book–feels very comfortable to hold on my lap and sketch. Truthfully, it’s not the best quality paper in the world, but it’s perfect for basic sketching.

sketchbooks for giveaway!

If you’d like to start off this new year with a new sketchbook, then leave a comment that tells me which is your favorite color of the 3 choices (I’ll do my best to give the winners their favorite, but I can’t make any promises!), and let me know what your New Year’s resolution is if you have one!

I’ll pick the winners at random. Comments for this giveaway will close in 1 week–Next Sunday January 8th (at midnight!) with the winners announced Monday January 9th.

Good luck!

Black and Gray Line Drawings

I decided that I couldn’t let an entire month go by without a blog post. October has absolutely zoomed by for me. I’ve carved out a little creative time here and there, but mostly I’ve been busy with design work.

My sister-in-law Rachel & my brother James are fans of my work, and every now and again they ask me very nicely if I’d be willing to make something for their home. The first time I made something for them, I drew several drawings for their daughter Mia’s room. Recently Rachel decided to revamp their living room, and she was keen on featuring 3 big drawings above the couch.

In a recent discussion about the project, I asked if she’d thought about what she might like, to give me something to work with as a starting point. She said she’d been thinking about drawings that were made of only black and gray lines. They didn’t have to match or be the same since she figured that there would be continuity in the fact that the lines would be drawn by the same hand. I was intrigued by her idea, so that very night, I sketched out a few of my ideas.

line drawing 1

line drawing 2

line drawing 3

line drawing 4

Admittedly, the first 3 drawings were re-worked from previous drawings and paintings (listed below), but I liked the idea of exploring these different motifs with the restriction of only using lines, without solid areas of color.

horizontal line drawing inspiration
pods inspiration
overlapping petals inspiration

The last drawing of the first 4 that I completed was completely spontaneous; something I did just for fun. Interestingly enough, the last one is also the one James & Rachel liked the most out of the first round of drawings.

A few days later I took some time to sketch out a couple more ideas.

line drawing 6

line drawing 5

Again, for the first image, I took inspiration from previous drawings–do you recognize the connection to some of the stone drawings I’ve made in the past? The second image reminds me of birch trees. I didn’t really intend to draw birch trees. I started out by drawing the lines that make the trunks, and as I was adding the small horizontal lines, I realized I was drawing birch trees, so I just went with it. I think it’s pretty cute!

We haven’t decided on the final three drawings, so I still have some sketching to do, but I’m off to a good start.

As a side note, these images were all taken with my iphone since I was having issues with my other camera, and my scanner didn’t pick up the detail of the lightest gray marker. I’m giving some serious thought to investing in an better scanner!

What do you think of these black & gray drawings? Do you miss the color of my usual work?

Patterns & Paws: Collaboration with Jessica Gowling

I have always been interested in the idea of collaborating. Not with the enemy, but with other artists. It just seemed like such a cool concept to work with another person to create something unique & unexpected, but I never really knew how to go about it since I’d never done one before.

Then along comes the ever so talented Jessica Gowling. I met Jessica on twitter months ago, and shortly thereafter we started exchanging mail art. Much to my delight, one day she invited me to work on a collaborative project with her!

Well, when I say invite, it was more like, “I’m sending you a project for the two of us to work on, and I’m not telling you what it is so it will be a surprise, and you better say yes!”.

Haha! How could I refuse?

Seriously though, I was super excited at the prospect of working on my first ever collaboration, but I was also really flattered that such a talent would single me out for something like this.

We had to wait for what seemed like eons for me to finally get the project. I didn’t even know what I was going to be getting in the mail since it was a secret. We were both worried it had gotten lost on its journey, but it turns out there was a postal snafu, and after they kept if for about a month, they sent it back to Jessica because it was missing mere pennies in postage.

Once it was sorted out, and I got it in hand, I was amazed by the drawings and the print she’d started off the project with. I was also really impressed that this was going to be an ongoing collaboration–such a great idea. I love the fact that it will continue to evolve with each exchange, and that we can both look forward to being surprised and inspired in new ways each time!

The pattern we’re following for filling in the sketchbook is as follows:

Jessica starts off the collab with paws on the first 2 spreads on the RIGHT pages only.
Anika fills in patterns on the LEFT pages of the first two spreads, taking inspiration from Jessica’s images that are on the RIGHT.
Anika fills in patterns on the LEFT pages of the next two spreads, which can be anything, leaving the RIGHT side blank. When Jessica gets the sketchbooks back, she will fill in the empty 2 RIGHT pages with images inspired by the patterns on the LEFT.
Anika fills in the following spread on both RIGHT & LEFT sides. Jessica will also add to this spread on both RIGHT & LEFT to create an intermingled collaborative spread.
Jessica will then fill in the RIGHT pages of the following 2 spreads with paws, leaving the LEFT page blank for Anika to fill in.
Jessica will then skip 2 spreads, and on the 3rd spread add paws to the RIGHT & LEFT pages for the next mixed collaborative spread, and so on.

Probably sounds complicated right? Well, it’s really not! Take a look at the images below, and maybe that will give you a better idea about how things are arranged.

First up is Volume 1 of Patterns and Paws, which I believe is the volume I’ll be keeping.

My creative process usually involves taking in inspiration and letting it simmer for a few days, but it wasn’t long before I had my first ideas, and the rest flowed easily from there.

patterns & paws vol. 1 cover

patterns & paws vol. 1
Isn’t the chipmunk Jessica drew the cutest? When creating this pattern I thought about directional movement, gathering, piles, and nooks and crannies.

patterns & paws vol. 1
This “paw print” is one of my favorite prints of Jessica’s, and I was super excited that she included it for the second spread. I really love the shape made by the paws, and I also love the dimensional quality of the print framed on the page. I decided to work with collage using thick bristol that really pops out from the surface, and created a very abstract interpretation of the shapes of the paws. Do you see it?

patterns & paws vol. 1
This was the first spread where I could do whatever I wanted. I think initially I’d planned to paint this design with gouache, but I was so engrossed in the process that I started using colored pencils before I remembered my original intention. As it turns out, I really like the texture of the pencils, especially for the lines that are hanging down and taper slightly at the ends. This is based on a motif of swooping lines that I’ve created before, but the variety of colors, and the use of colored pencils add a new feeling to this pattern.

patterns & paws vol. 1
This is a new style of pattern that I created for the collab. Is it wrong to admit that I’m kind of in love with this idea and pattern? Because I am! After completing the previous spread of swooping organic lines, I wanted to do something a little more geometric, while maintaining a hand drawn feel. In a way it’s a simple drawing, but I find the slight variations in color and thickness of the lines work together to create a really appealing design.

patterns & paws vol. 1
I found this spread to be a challenge. I actually had the idea for this pattern and its shape in my minds eye, but had to do a bit of sketching outside this book to work out the details. Because I knew Jessica will be adding paws to this spread, I thought it was important to maintain some whitespace for her to work with. After seeing some work by Anna Jane Searle, and a comment Jessica made about it, I realized I could have filled the page with pattern, because Jessica would still have the opportunity to alter it by drawing, painting or collaging over whatever I created. Learning as I go! The concepts I had in mind when creating this pattern were mountains, caves, slow growth, endurance, cycles, formations, crystalline structures, energy and flow. I’m really interested to see what Jessica will add to this!

Next up is Volume 2, which Jessica will be keeping, if I have it right.

patterns & paws vol. 2 cover

patterns & paws vol. 2
The first spread is similar in that Jessica created another pencil drawing, but the composition and the feeling is quite different and features a marmot instead of a chipmunk. I created a pattern that was loosely based on the composition of the drawing, while keeping in mind these concepts: connection, same and different, approach, warning, surrounded, unexpected, and continuation.

patterns & paws vol. 2
I used the same basic idea for this spread as for the one in Vol. 1. As you can see, the orientation of the paws is flipped, so I flipped my composition as well to relate to the shape of the paws.

patterns & paws vol. 2
I also used the same idea for a swooping pattern on this page, but I’ll mention that I chose colors intuitively for the individual volumes.

patterns & paws vol. 2
I approached the same idea for a pattern here as well, although the colors are different, and each of the three designs are a little more substantial than the similar spread in Vol. 1. Why? I’m not sure, it just felt like that’s how it was supposed to be!

patterns & paws vol. 2
I used the same idea for both collaborative spreads as well, but again chose colors as I was working, for a result that has quite a different feeling.

So there you have the first round of my very first collaborative project! Isn’t it exciting and awesome?!

If you have a little more time & want some more info about this collab, I highly recommend checking out the very first post about it that Jessica wrote after I’d finally received the sketchbooks in the mail. She took actual photos of the sketchbooks, and also discusses the originating idea for this collaboration intelligently, so it gives you a good idea of what the books look like and the intention of the project. Plus you can see the other goodies she sent along with the project!

Currently Jessica has the sketchbooks and is no doubt coming up with awesome art to add. I’ll be posting about this project as it progresses, and I hope you’ll follow along!

**edit** Since posting this, Jessica has also created a post for this stage of the collaboration on her blog. She again photographed the books side by side, which offers a unique view of how the books relate to each other. I also just think it’s fun to see the corresponding pages/diptychs next to each other.

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.

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!