Sketchbook Project 2013

For the first time I had a sketchbook project without a theme. When I signed up the themes were very generic such as “sketchbook,” “chap book,” or “travelogue”. I assumed “sketchbook” would be the most fitting, but since it was an option, I chose, “undecided” so I could decide later. Before I sent off my book, I noticed that they added several more options for themes that were more like the themes they’ve offered in the past. Some of these are “dwellings,” “creatures,” and “lists”. Of the options offered, “diagrams” felt like it would fit the most as an after-the-fact choice, but it also didn’t feel quite right. I wonder if they’ll let me keep it as undecided?

As with the Sketchbook Project Limited Edition that I completed in 24 hours, I was down to just a couple of days until the deadline before I had a chance to start my 2013 submission. As luck would have it, I decided to use block printing as my technique for January’s daily patterns, so the choice to use the same stamps in the sketchbook was an easy one! This technique was even faster than the collages I created for the Sketchbook Project LE, and over the course of 2 days, I leisurely filled my empty book with lots of color, pattern and texture.

The cover was created bit by bit as I worked with various colors on the main pages of the book. I feel lucky that the composition turned out as balanced as it did!

Sketchbook Project 2012 Cover

The inside front and back covers were embellished with paint marker since I didn’t have time to carve stamps with all the letters or words I would have needed!

Sketchbook Project 2013 Inside Front Cover

Sketchbook Project 2013 Inside Back Cover

I named the project “Block & Print” to match up with the title pattern that started with “Lines & Grids” and “Cut & Create” of my last two Sketchbook Projects.

The inside back cover shares a hint of things to come. Notice I direct people to check out There isn’t actually anything there at the moment, but there will be! More news to come about that soon!

Most of the pages feature several colors and two or three different stamps, with printing on both sides of the spread. Often I printed the stamps quickly and then smooshed the pages together to make secondary impressions on the opposite page. Sometimes those secondary marks were pretty subtle, but they lend another layer of texture to the overall composition.

Pages 3-4

Pages 7-8

A few pages seemed “just right” after I finished up using one stamp with one color.

Pages 15-16

Pages 13-14

There was really only one spread that I felt was a little less than successful, and yet it is also one of my favorites in some ways!

Pages 11-12

I really love the way the pattern on the right of the stacked triangles turned out, and the bolder yellow print on the left would have been a good fit as its pair, but oh how I wish I hadn’t smooshed the wet yellow paint onto the triangles. The yellow smudges are a visual distraction that muddies up the bright pattern, and it would have been stronger without that extra element. That said, I recognize that this entire sketchbook really was a collection of printed sketches and experiments, and although in my mind this isn’t exactly “perfect” I can still appreciate it for the overall experience!

Take a look at the video of the entire book, with a little explanation of my process and some of the stamps!

Art House Co-op is restructuring the way they are going to do the next installations of the Sketchbook Project, focusing on specific tours with a certain number of spots available for each. I’m not sure if I will participate again or not. Maybe if a tour title “speaks to me” or something.

Have you participated in this or other Sketchbook Projects? Do you think you’ll participate in the future? If you have your 2013 book online, I would love for you to share a link in the comments!

Sketchbook Project in 24 hours

Last Friday I received an email from the Art House Co-op with a friendly reminder that my submission for the Sketchbook Project Limited Edition was due to be sent in 3 days. In the back of my mind, I knew the deadline was approaching, but it hadn’t really sunk in that April was almost over.

With a full weekend already planned, I knew I wouldn’t have a chance to start working on my sketchbook until Sunday afternoon. I hadn’t started it at all before this, other than the myriad of ideas that had swum through my head over the past few months. Now I had just about 24 hours to figure out what I would do, fill up the sketchbook, scan the pages, and still make it to the post office before 5pm on Monday.

I had to be strategic. All thoughts of taking photos, printing them out, pasting them to one page, and somehow creatively responding to them with a drawing or painting on the facing page flew right out the window.

Somewhere amidst the cobwebs in my mind, and little idea resurfaced. I remembered an old watercolor instruction book that I had discovered among some of my Grandma’s old art supplies. The instructions were a little outdated, so it was earmarked for the recycle bin. Although all the examples were printed in black and white, and therefore maybe not so helpful with waterCOLOR, I did enjoy the texture and values of the different images, and set the book aside for use in future collages.

Only one thing: somewhere along the line I decided that I suck at collage. Part of me never really expected to use the images in the book, but thought they might come in handy for art swaps at the very least.

In my time of need, I revisited the initial inspiration to use the book for collage, along with internal comments such as, “yeah, but you don’t do collage” followed by other thoughts of “well, why not?”

As Sunday afternoon approached, I settled into the idea more and more. Maybe I could do collage after all. Maybe I thought I sucked at collage because I was trying to collage the way other people collaged. Maybe I needed to find my own way of doing it. Maybe just start cutting and tearing up paper and see what happens.

So that’s what I did.

I’ll admit to feelings of frustration and almost giving up because I wasn’t totally sure of what I was doing. I also admit to the fact that part of what kept me going was knowing that if I didn’t finish this, I wouldn’t be in the Sketchbook Project Ltd. book that I’ve already paid for, and that would really bum me out.

In order to help me meet my goal and overcome uncertainty and frustration when it came up, I set one important rule for myself: don’t over think it!

That became my motto. Whenever I started to fiddle for too long, I would remember my motto and I’d either have to make a decision right away, or move on to something else. This was the best rule I’ve ever come up with! It was both freeing and challenging. I’m used to taking my time, thinking about things for days before making a decision. I didn’t have that option with this project, and in the end it was so much fun to simply have an idea and go with it. If in the short term, the idea didn’t pan out, I had the option to move on to something else, but I had to keep going. It was truly a revelation!

My first two pages came together with very little thought or deliberation. I was drawn to a few scraps of paper that were “leftovers” from more purposeful tearing and cutting, and the composition practically assembled itself.

Sketchbook Project Ltd. Pages 1-2

Don’t you love when that happens?

Not all of the arrangements came together quite so smoothly. I fiddled with the layout of the shapes on pages 17-18 the longest out of all the pages. I kept to my rule of not messing around with any one idea too long before moving on, but I kept coming back to it, knowing I wanted to use the triangles in some way.

Sketchbook Project Ltd. Pages 17-18

In the end I drew inspiration from previous drawings I had created for another set of sketchbooks. It was fun to work out a similar composition with the restriction of using pre-existing shapes.

To choose one single spread that I like the most in this book might not be possible, but I do have a favorite in terms of how it came to be. Pages 11-12 are the epitome of my “not over thinking it” process.

Sketchbook Project Ltd. Pages 11-12

I found two scraps of paper (the ones you see on the bottom left of each arrangement) that were very similar in shape, even having the same bit of extra paper the folded over to the front. When I discovered them, I knew they had to go in the book, so I looked to see if there were any more like them. There weren’t. Just those two. In the spirit of not over thinking, I said to myself, “ok, you just have the two pieces. now figure it out.” So I did. Step by step I made decisions to get the composition to where you see it. It was a new way of working for me, and it was so cool to see where the process took me. Every time I look at this image, I get a strong feeling of familiarity. I’m not sure why or where it comes from. Maybe it has to do with going with the flow and doing what needed to be done in the moment, and therefore creating something that was “just right”?

As I continued to work, a theme seemed to develop for my sketchbook on its own. Many of the compositions are a comparison of different shapes and textures that I arranged in a manner that emphasizes their similarities. Perhaps another title for this sketchbook could be “Similarities in Difference”. Pages 15-16 are a good example of the discovered theme.

Sketchbook Project Ltd. Pages 15-16

Despite the fact that each individual shape is unique, they fit together in small groups and then as a whole pattern in a harmonious way. Their similarities are notable, as are their differences!

For most of the pages in the book, I arranged the compositions of pieces of paper, deciding on the final arrangement before gluing them in place. With pages 21-22, I quickly realized that wouldn’t be possible.

Sketchbook Project Ltd. Pages 21-22

The individual pieces of paper were too small, and overlapped too much to work out the design beforehand. With a general idea in mind of what I hoped to accomplish, I worked by tearing the pieces and gluing them right to the page. I wasn’t concerned with a perfect composition for this spread. I knew these pages would not be about achieving a perfect composition but about the creative process. Happily, I was completely satisfied with the end result. I love the overall texture of the larger shape, and the pencil details I added to the smaller shape have given me ideas for future work!

I would love to show all the images here, but this post is already about a mile long. I’d love for you to check out the rest of the pages on flickr where I spent a little time writing descriptive insights about the process of making each set of pages.

Did you participate in the the Sketchbook Project Limited Edition? What was your theme? Did you finish and send your book off in time?

I hope you enjoy this new style I discovered as much as I enjoyed making it! It was a 24 hour whirlwind, but probably one of my best days ever!

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!

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!