Marina, Sequoyah Park

Marina, Sequoyah Park

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Out and About With My Sketchbooks

Meet my new muse, a beautiful little handmade paintbox by David Cooper. It was ordered as an anniversary gift in June and it finally arrived in October. It has precipitated all kinds of sketching activities in the last few weeks including making some handmade sketchbooks. This painting is in one of them on  Fabriano Artistico 140 lb cold press paper. I used a Lamy fountain pen with Noodlers Lexington Gray ink and watercolor. I had such a good time with this one!

Here is a picture that includes the real paintbox just 3 x 4.5 inches and so nicely made.

I decided to make some watercolor journals that I could take out on location along with the new paintbox and here is the first one. It is designed to hold quarter sheets of paper, 11 x 15 inches. The covers are a little larger to protect the paper, 11.5 x 15.5 inches and made of .080 Davey board which is quite sturdy. Then I covered the board with a natural linen fabric.

Here ia a photo where I was preparing the covers. I used a pvc glue (Miracle Muck) and then glued a nice paper on the inside. The two covers were left under weight over night.

Then I prepared the paper by dividing full sheets of watercolor paper into quarters. I arranged it so that the outer edges would have a torn edge. I used my old three hole punch to prepare the paper to place in the journal. For this first book I used Bockingford 140lb cold press paper in white and some tinted colors. One of the nice things about the way this is made though is that any paper can be used and the pages can be taken out and new ones put back in.

After I took the covers out from the weight they were drying under I used a Faber Castell Pitt pen with a brush tip and permanent ink to draw my signature on the front of the journal. Then we used a quarter inch punch tool and a hammer to make the holes in the covers. Three black one inch locking binding rings were used to assemble the covers and the paper. They can easily be opened and closed to take pages out and put more in.

Here is a photo of the inside cover where I also placed an identification card.

A photo of the torn edges,

standing on its side,

and folded completely back to place on an easel or my lap.

I decided to try some plein air sketches to hunt for ideas to put in the new sketchbook. This one shows Mack and Laddie on the pier at Lake Bixhoma. It is done with a refillable Sharpie and some colored leads.

This is another sketch done the same day with the same materials. It was windy and the little white caps on the lake took my interest.

The last one is looking back near the entrance to Lake Bixhoma. I thought that coming back with the new sketchbook for a larger watercolor sketch would be a good idea after making these little sketches.

At home I tried a few more studies from photos I had taken at the lake with pencil and watercolor. 

Here is my gear set up with the new sketchbook in place on the easel. This is the En Plein Air Traveller Easel which I find is very light weight and easy to set up.

Here is a photo of the watercolor sketch in progress in the new handmade journal. It is a little larger than I normally sketch and it was a challenge. I usually suffer from sensory overload when trying to sketch on location and this time was no exception.

Here is the final version of the sketch on the Bockingford paper in watercolor with black and brown permanent pens.

Back at home in the 8.5 x 5.5 inch Mixed Media Sketchbook I painted another memory from Dahlonega, Georgia. This is permanent pen and watercolor and this rainbow sighting was the inspiration for what I finally wove in the tapestry workshop while there.

 More planning sketches in pencil for another watercolor sketch inspired by Lake Bixhoma.

Here is the new sketchbook set up in the studio ready for another watercolor,

and then the sketch magically appears. Not really, this one was full of challenging moments including completely washing out the background only to repaint and discover that even though it was now nicely painted it was too distracting from the forground. So more taking out, toning down and glazing... In the end it was the water I wanted to paint and I am not unhappy with that.

This was done on blue tinted Bockingford paper
with watercolor, permanent pen and gouache.

I liked the first sketchbook so much I decided to make a second one a little smaller. Here is a photo right before the holes were punched in the covers. I prepared a selection of watercolor papers including Fabriano Artistico, Arches and Lanaquerelle in half the size of the first one, 7.5 x 11 inches.
While the covers were being weighted I went ahead and painted a little tea cup sketch for the first page.

Here it is in the finished smaller sketchbook.

A closer up view of the Christmas Tea sketch. Fountain pen and permanent ink with watercolor.

Which brings me full circle to the paint box sketch which is the second page in the new smaller sketchbook. Looking at this today a wild thought entered my mind, what if I made a Big Tapestry from this sketch of my Tiny Paintbox. I think it would be fun to weave those squares of paint, the brass, the mixed paint on the trays, the background, lots of fun.


  1. I'm intrigued with the flexibility of the locking rings...taking things in and out. Think I'll be making a smaller square one and doing a cover with a weaving. Thanks for the detailed post Janette and Happy Anniversary indeed!

    1. Great Ruth! Hope you share the photo. Covering with a weaving is a great idea! Thanks for taking a look around.

  2. I always enjoy looking at your sketches. It was nice to look at your website again.