Sketchbook Project: Update 2

I’ve been making steady progress in my sketchbook, usually completing one drawing every day. So far it seems that the common thread amongst my drawings is that they are either 1 or 2 color, drawn with pencil and/or color pencil, and include both organic and geometric shapes and lines. This may change as I keep drawing. I’m thinking about making some drawings with more colors, and I’m not sure i’ll include grids in all of the drawings.

The fourth drawing was a version of the begonia sketch I did a while back. I only used color pencil for this one.

pink and green begonias

The next one is also loosely based on a floral theme (although the pink shapes also remind me of udders!), but with geometric elements as well.


The last one is based on an embroidery pattern, and I think it’s too much of a copy at this point, so I might change it up if I can think of a good idea for it.


It’s going to be another busy week for me, work-wise, so I might not get a chance to post until the end of the week, but I’ll update with more Sketchbook Project sketches as soon as I can!

Sketchbook Project — A Change of Plans

It’s hard to believe that my last blog post was 2 weeks ago! In that time I finished up a big web design project, celebrated Thanksgiving, and caught a cold. That last item was the least enjoyable. I haven’t been doing a ton of art stuff, but I did get started on Sketchbook Project sketches.

My Sketchbook Project sketchbook finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. I had big plans for re-binding the sketchbook with watercolor paper, since that’s been my medium of choice lately. I got some great advice from my friend, Mia, who gave me a lot of tips and pointed me toward some very helpful tutorials on how to bind a book. I gathered my tools together, cut up the paper, and folded it carefully. I then arranged the folded paper into signatures and set them under some heavy books to flatten.

I knew I had to wait a day while the papers flatten before I could actually rebind the original sketchbook. I flipped through the cahier notebook and contemplated tearing out the stitches and cutting the cover in half. The paper is so thin that it’s somewhat transparent. Markers bleed right through and watercolor would ripple the paper badly. In general the paper is really not suitable for wet media. As I was contemplating all this, another thought crossed my mind and I realized I could use the paper to my advantage.

Since my theme is Lines and Grids, I was planning to do a lot of measuring and drawing grids with a ruler, but I realized that I wouldn’t have to do that if I used the existing moleskine paper. Once I had this realization, I almost immediately abandoned my plans for re-binding. Instead I’ve decided to leave the sketchbook as it is, and work with colored pencils and other dry media.

Decision made, I whipped up a few grids in Adobe Illustrator, and printed them out. Now I have a variety of grids to choose from to suit whatever I’m drawing.



See how well you can see the grid through the paper? For what I want to do with my theme (Lines & Grids), the existing paper is perfect!

My first drawing was drawn on a grid in pencil only.


I might add some color to it, but I’m not sure at this point.

For the following drawings, I drew the shapes first, and added the grid around the shapes.



Halfway through both of these, I thought they were looking kind of ugly, but both drawings evolved in a really neat way, and I’m quite pleased with the result.

I’ve done a few other drawings besides these, but I didn’t want to overload this post, so I’ll probably write about the next set early next week. If you can’t wait to see them, I’ve uploaded them to my Facebook page, so you can see them there if you want.

I like the idea of having each drawing evolve from the next, so that when flipping though the sketchbook, there is almost a story line that develops, but I don’t think my brain is organized that way. Instead of starting with the first page and making my way through the book, so far I’ve been opening the sketchbook at random and drawing on whatever page opens. Maybe I can link up the pages in some manner as I fill in the gaps. You never know!

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?

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.

calendar sketches

Yesterday was election day, and my nieces (6 years old) and nephew (8 years old) didn’t have school. I volunteered to hang out with them, and when we get together art, among other fun things, is always involved. I usually set them up with their supplies at the dining room table or the kitchen counter, but if I have to spend any time in my studio to do computer work, they eventually all migrate in there and spread out all over the floor. By the end of the day there were papers and crayons and markers everywhere.

When they paint with watercolor they have to sit at the counter because it has the potential for major mess, and since they like to be where I am, I took some time and sat at the table next to them and worked some sketches for a 2011 calendar. I was close enough that all they had to say was “hey Anika look!” and I could “ooooo” and “aaaaaa” at what they’d painted.

I made sketches for each month through August before their attention spans had run out. After they’d left to go back home I needed some time to decompress, so I sat infront of a crackling fire and finished up September through December.

calendar sketches

calendar sketches

I highly recommend that you click on the images which takes you to flickr. There you can view the large sizes and see more of the detail of the various months.

As I was working, my drawings got smaller and smaller, which you can see in the above photo. On the paper to the right, you can see the size I started drawing with January, and by the time I got to December, which you can see in the center paper, the drawing was almost half the size! But that’s ok. These are sketches, and I still have more work to do get to final drawings that I’m happy with.

I’m going to make a grid template to help me draw the dates in a somewhat regular fashion, and I’m going to try out more borders until I find just the right ones.

I like the black and white drawings, but it’s very likely that I’ll at least try out color to see how that works.

Do you have a favorite?