Sketchbook Skool: Kourse 1.1 Week #5

Recap of week #5:

  • Teacher: Roz Stendahl
  • Theme: Sketchbooks can be workbooks for your brain. Journaling can be a dynamic, life-long habit. Be your primary audience. You don’t need fancy/expensive materials to do great work. “There are no snow days in sketching.” Techniques for animal sketching. Stop before you start getting “fussy” with your sketch. Go with the flow and let your pages be messy! Keep it fun!
  • Homework: Draw the sketching materials that you’re currently using & consider if it’s time to pare down your gear. Sketch some animals!
  • My reaction:
    • Sketching materials: I use a black Swiss Army messenger bag to carry my sketching supplies which currently include (some are featured in my sketch below): 
      • Canson Mixed Media sketchbook (5.25in X 8.25in). This is my main sketchbook that I’m working in.
      • Strathmore sketchbook (3.5in X 5in). I use this one for testing paint colors or practicing a certain part of a sketch, etc.
      • A roll-up brush holder containing a variety of paintbrushes.
      • My Winsor & Newton compact watercolor set. I like the compact size of this set because its easy to take with me when I’m out & about. I’m still using the original pans which are a little limited but it has taught me how to mix colors.
      • Three Pentel water brush pens (small, medium, & large sizes). I’ve only used these once so far & it didn’t go very well. I really want to learn how to use these better, I just need to practice more.
      • An assortment of Prismacolor colored pencils from the big set that I’ve had since high school. I enjoyed reuniting with these colored pencils during Koosje’s klass. However, I’m not sure if I’ll keep them in the kit since I mostly use pen & watercolor paint.
      • One mechanical pencil that I consider to be forbidden…in fact the only reason I added it to my kit was to make my grid for Jane’s klass.
      • One big white eraser…also forbidden…also added for Jane’s klass. The mechanical pencil & eraser will probably be removed from the kit.
      • My two new Faber-Castell PITT artists pens that I bought at the beginning of Sketchbook Skool. This has been my favorite type of pen to sketch with for a few years now. I like the quality of the line they make & the fact that they’re not water soluble.
      • An assortment of older Faber-Castell PITT artists pens & Sakura Micron pens in sepia that I used a lot in the past.
      • A pencil sharpener for the colored pencils.
      • I need to add some sort of cloth or rag to use for cleaning brushes, etc.
    • Animal sketching: I LOVE animals and they’ve always been a big part of my life. In fact, at any given time during my childhood we practically had a small petting zoo at my mom’s house including: sheep, goats, rabbits, cats, dogs, ducks, turkeys, rats, a pig, a turtle, and a horse. Every time a stray animal would wander onto our property, whether it was a cat, a toad, or a snake, I would beg my mom to let me keep it as a pet. I even saved a chipmunk from one of our barn cats and “rehabilitated” it for a few weeks before releasing it back into the wild! Ok, so you get the picture, I love animals. So, you would think that I would be ecstatic about sketching animals, right? Nope, I was mostly just nervous. I decided to use my dog and cat as my subjects for the sake of convenience, which ended up not being very convenient after all. I kept waiting for them to be asleep for me to sketch them…it just seemed like whenever I had some free time to sketch, they weren’t asleep. Finally, my cat, Eva, settled in for a nap and I wasn’t preoccupied with anything so the sketching began. When I first started the sketch of Eva I had a view of her side profile which I started near the top left of the page but then she moved so I adjusted accordingly. She was laying on the ottoman/stool in my living room which I tried to sketch underneath her with some crosshatching techniques I had recently learned…I’ll keep practicing and try to expand to other subjects. Animal sketching is not my area of expertise but practice makes perfect!

My sketches from week #5:


My sketch of my sketching materials.


Before Sketchbook Skool I would’ve freaked out when my cat suddenly moved mid-sketch & I probably would’ve quit or started over on another page! I love how Roz Stendahl taught us to just go with the flow when we’re sketching animals & let our pages be messy!

Do you have any pets? I would love to hear about them! Do you enjoy sketching animals, and if so, do you have any tips of your own to share?


Sketchbook Skool: Kourse 1.1 Week #4

Recap of week #4:

  • Teacher: Jane LaFazio
  • Theme: Art heals. Sketchbooks are a great place for experimentation. Take your time and find a location that appeals to you. Start sketching with a pencil, then add detail with a pen or a water soluble pen, erase the pencil, then add watercolor in exaggerated/enhanced tones. Leave some white of the paper showing for “sparkle”. Frame your sketch with a pen outline. Art can take many forms (Jane makes amazing art quilts among other things) which can be inspired by your sketchbook. 
  • Homework: Use a grid method to layout the page composition of a fruit/vegetable sketch. Complete the sketch using the pencil, to pen, to watercolor process. 
  • My reaction: I really liked Jane’s philosophy of using your sketchbook for experimentation and to inspire other forms of art and crafts (I love crafts). I was amazed at how prolific she is with all of her sketching, art quilts, hand carved rubber stamps, mixed media collages, etc! Considering how creative and versatile she is I found her sketching process (pencil, to pen, to watercolor) and her grid method to be surprisingly rigid. I’ve gone so far down the Danny Gregory path of sketching in pen only, which has been a great learning experience, that it seemed like it would be detrimental for me to pick up a pencil again. So, I only used a pencil to layout the original grid lines on my page. When it was time to sketch the onion and the broccoli below, I only used pen and watercolor, no pencil. I’ve struggled with leaving white space in my watercolor paintings in the past and I only managed to leave a tiny bit of white space in the broccoli below, but it made a big difference and I’m going to continue working on that! Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about the grid method. It was an interesting technique to try, but I probably won’t use it on a regular basis.

My sketch from week #4:


Phase 1: You can see my penciled in grid lines in the background and my pen sketches of the onion and broccoli.


Phase 2: Here’s my final spread with the watercolor paint and some text added. I selected the grid lines that I wanted to keep and went over those in pen and erased the rest of the grid lines.

What forms of arts and crafts do you like to experiment with? What’s your opinion on sketching in pencil? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment to share your thoughts!

Viva Las Vegas!

A few weeks ago my husband attended a conference in Las Vegas for work so I tagged along and got the added bonus of spending time with my oldest sister, her husband, and my nephew who live there! We had the fun experience of staying in a hotel on the Las Vegas strip for a few days (we stayed at The Cosmopolitan), hiking and sightseeing in the desert wilderness, and I even managed to do a little sketching.

Here are some photos and sketches from our trip:


Sketches from the airplane. I can’t believe that all of these years I’ve been flying without using sketching as a way to pass the time on the flight! I’ll probably paint these eventually…


The Cirque du Soleil The Beatles: Love show was amazing! This guitar, displayed in the gift shop, was signed by all four of The Beatles!


The amazing view from our hotel room balcony!


The massive Hoover Dam.


My husband and I enjoying the sunshine after a harsh Ohio winter.


It was such a blessing to spend time with my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew!


I am amazed by how the plants and animals can adapt to living in the desert.


In Ohio we have squirrels, in Nevada they have lizards.


Is this beautiful or what?!


It was so cool to see this wild herd passing through!


Sketching adventure on the Las Vegas strip! (This is a work in progress photo, I’ll post an updated one soon)


Sketching adventure on the strip continued. I think my eyes were crossing as I tried to figure out the details for that sketch! (This is another work in progress photo, I’ll post an update soon)


We toured the Neon Boneyard where all of the retired Las Vegas signs live.


We explored the Container Park which is a super cool incubator for small businesses where they set-up shop inside old shipping containers!


We took a fascinating tour through the Mob Museum. Here’s me posing with my mobster hat & “tommy gun”.


Hiking in beautiful Red Rock Canyon.


I ended the trip with a bang by getting some peek-a-boo green streaks added to my hair (look closely, they’re a little hard to see in this photo).

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my trip! Do you have any fun trips planned for this summer?

Sketchbook Skool: Kourse 1.1 Week #3

Recap of week #3:

  • Teacher: Prashant Miranda
  • Theme: Sketchbook keeping is a way of life. Sketchbooks are great memory keepers. The 3 P’s: Passion, Perseverance, & Practice. How to use watercolor paint effectively.
  • Homework: Draw an image to capture the essence of today. Go outside and make a watercolor painting of the sky using the wash techniques we learned.
  • My reaction: This was an awesome week in Sketchbook Skool! Prashant is from India and all of his videos were filmed there. I was so intrigued by the scenery and the culture in his videos. Prashant is so charismatic, in fact his personality made such a big impact on the Sketchbook Skool students that everyone was sketching portraits of him! His philosophy of using sketchbooks as memory keepers to document your life really resonated with me because that is my main goal for sketchbook keeping. I was so inspired by the fact that Prashant has kept sketchbooks for over 20 years! I sincerely hope that I can make sketchbook keeping a way of life for many years to come! I also learned a lot about basic watercolor techniques from him that week (wet on wet vs wet on dry washes, how to push the pool of water/paint with your brush across the page, etc). As a parting gift he made a video of himself playing the guitar and singing “The Paintbox” by The Incredible String Band for us!

My sketches from week #3:


Left: I captured the essence of the day by creating eight mini sketches throughout the day. Right: I practiced some watercolor washes and added the sketch of the Staas coaster.


I sketched and painted my view of the sunset in my backyard on Easter Sunday.

How long have you been a sketchbook keeper? What are your goals for keeping a sketchbook? How do you use your sketchbook to capture memories? I’d love to read your thoughts, please share in the comments!

Sketchbook Skool: Kourse 1.1 Week #2

Recap of week #2:

  • Teacher: Koosje Koene
  • Theme: Tackling your inner critic. Step outside your comfort zone. Draw in public. Don’t give up on a sketch. How to use colored pencils effectively. 
  • Homework: Draw something outside/in public. Draw a simple subject with colored pencils. 
  • My reaction: 
    • Drawing in public: Its not everyday that you see someone drawing in public. Its just not that common. So, I was a little worried that I would stick out, and then someone would notice me, and what if that someone thought it was silly that I was drawing in public or even worse, what if they thought my drawing was bad? This is the conversation that I have with myself whenever I consider drawing in public. But, I love the question that Koosje had us ponder…Why AM I so concerned about other peoples opinions about MY personal sketchbook?! I think it just boils down to a lack of confidence. Although, I’m happy to report that I’ve gradually started sketching more in public throughout the last few weeks and I’ve discovered that it isn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be! In fact, most of the time people don’t even notice me. The few times that people have noticed me they either silently watch me draw for a short period of time or they give me a compliment on my work!
    • Using colored pencils: My skills were a little rusty, but as I continued working on my colored pencil sketches it all started coming back to me. After working primarily in pen and watercolor off and on for the past few years it was definitely a challenge to switch back to colored pencils. It was a good test of my patience since colored pencil sketching requires a slower and more deliberate pace, but I found it to be somewhat meditative. I also became pretty obsessive about shading and blending the colors together. Overall, I enjoy using colored pencils but I think I’ll save them for situations when I’m not limited on time to sketch. 
  • Sketchbook Skool Facebook Group: I started interacting more on the SBS Facebook Group during week #2 and fell in love with the fun and supportive atmosphere! (Now, if only I could spend as much time sketching as I spend looking at and commenting on other people’s sketches…)

My sketches from week #2:


I drew the clementine oranges on the bottom with colored pencils. Then I decided to replicate the drawing on the top with my new water brush pens…didn’t work out so well.


Work in progress at Starbucks. I didn’t want to carry my giant Prismacolor colored pencil set so I challenged myself to do a green monochromatic sketch and just brought a handful of green pencils.


Here’s my finished monochromatic sketch. Starbucks was a great place to sketch! I really liked the monochromatic concept and will probably do it more in the future.


I switched back over to pen and watercolor to capture the movie tickets from a movie that I watched with my husband.

Thanks for following my journey! I would love to hear your thoughts about the themes from week #2. How do you overcome your inner critic? What are your thoughts about sketching in public? What are your favorite public places for sketching? Do you like using colored pencils? Why or why not? Leave a comment to share your thoughts!

Life’s Roller Coaster & Sketchbook Skool

Riding the Roller Coaster of Life

At the end of January, 2014 my world was turned upside down as I suddenly found myself in the midst of a miscarriage. After a period of initial devastation I managed to make three decisions that changed my life: I put my full trust in God’s plan for my life, I resigned from my stressful teaching career to get my priorities straight, and I took the plunge and signed up for the first semester of Sketchbook Skool. Over the course of the past three months my husband and I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions and doubts. With encouragement from family and friends, a positive outlook, and the therapeutic side effect of Sketchbook Skool we’re healing, finding peace, and discovering who we are and what it means to be happy in this world.

Sketchbook Skool: Kourse 1.1 Week #1

I almost talked myself out of signing up for Sketchbook Skool (“It’s too much money.”, “What if I’m not talented enough?”, “What if I don’t stick with it?”…). That would’ve been a HUGE mistake and I’m so grateful that I took a leap of faith and signed up! I’ve loved art, crafts, and writing since I was a kid with a wild imagination, but as I grew older life got in the way. Sketchbook Skool was exactly what I needed to renew my passion for art and to figure out how to incorporate art into my life.

Recap of week #1:

  • Teacher: Danny Gregory
  • Theme: New beginnings. We are all creative. Draw what you see. Document your life.
  • Homework: Get supplies. Document your week.
  • My reaction: THIS IS AWESOME! The Sketchbook Skool kommunity is full of energetic and encouraging artists from around the world. Getting a glimpse into Danny Gregory’s sketchbooks and hearing his philosophy about art was priceless. Although, my inner critic was in full swing…at first I was very nervous to tackle the blank pages in my sketchbook, let alone post my work for others to see! But, I did it and I survived!

My sketches from week #1:


Cover page for my Sketchbook Skool journal.


Sketch of my dog’s chew bones.


The view adjacent to the park near my house.


Left: Sketch of a coaster. Right: Sketch of a local coffee shop.

Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope you’ll come back!