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.

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!

making a mess

I had jury duty earlier this week, and the one silver lining to the whole process was that I could stop at the nearby art store and pick up some rice paper which has been on my list for a while now. In the aisle with the rice paper, and I met an older gentleman who inquired if I’d used rice paper before. I told him I hadn’t and asked if he had any advice. He gave me some suggestions and even pointed out the cheapest pack of paper as a good one to try out.

My hopes for the rice paper were that it would be absorbent and translucent like tissue paper, but would have a little more strength to it so it wouldn’t actually disintegrate and tear almost immediately, like I’ve experienced with tissue paper.

I started out by painting a few lines on the rice paper, and before I knew it, I’d filled in almost the entire sheet with watercolor. Well on my way to making a total mess, I finished the process by painting all the way to the edge of the paper.

making a mess

I was very pleased with the look of the sopping wet rice paper, but as I looked down on it, I suddenly realized what a mess I’d made! I had laid the sheet of paper directly on the table. I decided it wouldn’t be a great idea to let it dry there, so I carefully transferred the paper to some cardboard to dry.

Quite a bit of watercolor was left behind on the table, so it was a good thing that I’d moved the paper.

making a mess

The table was plastic, so the clean up of the wet paint was easy, but I was concerned that if left on the surface long enough, the pigment might actually stain the table. I’ll have to figure out a better surface to work on if I do this again.

Once the paper was dry, the color was a lot more subtle, as often happens with watercolor. Curious about how translucent the paper would be, I drew a couple of abstract patterns on some bristol with a pencil. After cutting out water drop shapes, I glued them to the bristol in two similar rain-inspired arrangements.

light rain

sudden shower

The rice paper is quite translucent, even with the added watercolor. I think the effect would be yet more obvious if the lines of the background were darker, maybe drawn with a heavy hand if using a pencil, or with pen.

Overall the rice paper was pretty strong and flexible when dry, and although fragile when wet, it’s a lot tougher than tissue paper. I have a few more experiments planned to see what rice paper can do, but so far so good.

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?


I have paintings & print-outs & copies & sketches of butterflies all over my desk right now. It all started when I was inspired to paint one of the butterflies that I have on my bedroom wall.


I thought it would be a good challenge to use my new Daniel Smith watercolors to paint something representational for a change, and I was really attracted to the blues, greens, and dark grays of the top butterfly.

two butterflies

I ended up painting both butterflies, and I’m very happy with how they turned out. I learned a lot, and had a really fun time drawing and painting them.

In my original pencil drawing, I neglected to draw the vein details on the wings. I’ve considered going back to add them to the watercolor paintings, but I’m nervous. I try not to think of art as “precious,” and generally if I have an impulse to adjust or add something to a painting or drawing, I go for it–even if I’m not sure how it will look. So I feel a little silly admitting that I’m afraid of ruining this painting! If I’d added the details while drawing the initial pencil lines, it would have been easy to correct any mistakes; drawing over the painting won’t give me that luxury. I think I might just add some antennae and call it finished. The colors are so rich and luminous, I’m definitely going to be framing and hanging this painting, whether I add the veins or not.

I recognize that even when I draw representationally, my drawings tend to end up at least somewhat smoothed out and stylized. As I drew the “realistic” butterflies I learned their shapes and proportions. The next step was to draw a butterfly that was a little less carefully rendered in terms of matching the realistic look of the butterfly.

As a side note, I want to mention that I was asked to participate in the Twitter Art Exhibit that will take place in Norway in December, and I thought it might be fun to paint a butterfly for my submission. When drawing my first “less careful, more stylized” butterfly, I sketched out the shapes with pencil on a 4 x 6 card (the requested size for the exhibit).


I still drew it carefully and symmetrically, but perhaps you notice some of the subtle differences? I intended this to be the drawing that would become the final painting for the exhibit, but as often happens, the process unfolded in an unexpected way. I added the detail of the flower border, and then scanned the card. In photoshop I isolated the butterfly and printed it out to try out another idea i had for a background.

butterfly with dots

I like the dots, and I might work with this type of background in the future, but the floral border was very charming, so I left it as it was.

After carefully drawing the stylized pencil sketch, I realized that it was still very carefully rendered, which hadn’t been my initial intention, so on another 4×6 card, I quickly drew yet another similar butterfly in pen, just to see how it would turn out. With pen there is no chance to correct any mistakes, but by the 3rd drawing I guess I had learned how to draw this butterfly pretty well. I added a similar floral border as the pencil sketch, also in pen.

I wish I could show you the original pen & ink drawing before it was painted, but alas, I didn’t scan it because I wasn’t expecting to do much with it.

I do have a scan of another butterfly, also drawn using pen only, so at least you can have an idea of what I started with.


The only reason I painted the pen drawing at all was to try out colors and painting techniques before working on the “real” painting. I didn’t expect it to turn out so well, but I really love it, so I’m going to use the “trial” as my submission for the exhibit.

butterfly, final

If you happen to be in Norway in December, go check out the Twitter Art Exhibit. Looks like it’s shaping up to be an eclectic show!