Marina, Sequoyah Park

Marina, Sequoyah Park

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sketches, Sketchbooks, Sketch Kits and Classes, Oh My!

I have been taking an online class with Liz Steel over the holidays, Sketching Now Foundations and it has certainly been a wonderful opportunity, a well organized and useful class but it has been tricky keeping up with it at this busy time of year. Many of the sketches this time are things I have done as a result of the class, and several others just the normal daily sketches of my life and times. 

This all means that I have a record number of sketchbooks that I am working in and a record number of sketch kits to accommodate all of this activity. Last Fall I was working on getting my big kit together and wrote about what I was carrying for location sketching including a watercolor easel. Then a trip to Georgia prompted me to work on a mini kit that I could keep in my purse so that I wouldn't miss anything ever. I have been working on that one and happily it still fits in my purse. I have also been attending some life drawing sessions and had some opportunities to draw from a model and that has prompted me to find my old life drawing kit and update it a little and then finally the Sketching Now class has prompted me to put together a medium sized kit, one that can fit in a bag, also portable but with a few more options than the small purse kit. 

My small purse kit has been fun to put together and to use. A pocket palette with watercolor, mostly Dan Smith and M. Graham, a Pentel water brush, white Sakura gel pen, 2 Pentel multi 8 pens, a Twisbe Mini fountain pen with black De Atrementis document ink, a Sharpie, tissues,kneaded eraser and a sharpener that comes with the Multi 8 pen.

Here is a sketch in the 5.5 inch square Handbook journal that stays in my purse that shows all the options in the two Multi pens and a few sketches of Purrlie cat.

Another sketch done with the purse kit, with blending those few colors in the Multi 8 can go pretty far.

A few more recent sketches, the blue cup is in the purse journal, the one on top has been my personal journal and almost finished, a Strathmore mixed media series 500 this time. The bottom left is in the Stillman and Birn Zeta book that I am using for Liz Steel's class.

Here is my first sketch of Maisie in the purse journal with the tools I used. We adopted Maisie from the Okmulgee Humane Society in November. She is a sweetie and is adapting well to our home and getting along great with Laddie and Purrlie.

A closer view of the Maisie sketch.

Finally here is the whole little kit safely tucked in a pocket of a smallish Baggalini. A triumph!

For Liz Steel's class the first business was drawing the tools for what I will call the medium kit, basically this is the kit that I can put in a tote bag with a sketchbook or add to the easel bag for a more complete outdoor sketching kit. It is a work in progress but I have added a few things since taking the Sketching Now Foundations class.

Another sketch with more tools from the medium kit.

This is the range of watercolor pencils that I have in the medium kit. Having the large set of pencils is nice of course but one thing this class has helped me do is to narrow the range for a lean set of 12 that is very versatile.

Here is the watercolor palette in the brass travel watercolor box, also a work in progress.

Above is a mixing chart made from the palette choices.

Finally here is the first sketch from the current online class, a simple table setting from a local coffee shop made with the above tools in a 8.5 x 5.5 inch Stillman and Birn sketchbook. I am using two books for the class this one and a bigger 11 x 8.5 inch which is also a Zeta.

We were also asked to try out a tool we don't use much as a specialty item and I used this parallel pen. I like the bold look of that cup and should get this pen out more often.

Another cup using the watercolor pencils in the kit. I won't include all the sketches from the class because many are just studies and not very interesting in their own right.

Here are a few value studies done for the class. We have been trying out different ways to set up a drawing, a measuring method and a gesture method using pencil.

We also did some contour and blind contour sketches. This one shows the two journals i have used for the class. the smaller one is almost full.

Another one from the first week of class.

A watercolor sketch from the class using the measured set up. I spent some time in downtown Tulsa looking for interesting doorways.

Another doorway with a measured set up in pen and watercolor with a colored pencil set up plan drawing.

I enjoyed this little still life also done with a colored pencil set up before ink and watercolor.

Another sketch working on perspective by drawing chairs. I left the perspective lines on the ground beneath them in this one.

Here is one that shows the colored pencil set up drawing with the permanent ink on top.

The same sketch with the watercolor added. It is interesting how a change of medium changes the final sketch so much. I enjoyed doing this one of some of my favorite art books and DVD's.

Here is a drawing of a bag done with a gestural set up sketch in watercolor pencil and then drawn with ink. I like the gesture set up approach and this is similar to what I do when drawing the figure so it felt pretty comfortable.

The same bag and another done with no preliminary drawing and straight with ink which is often the way I do my sketches. I do think this one benefitted from having done the other first though. It turned out pretty nicely and I plan to add some watercolor at some point.

This is what the medium kit looks like, the pencil bag has the colored pencils, sharpener and kneaded eraser. The other bag has the watercolor box, two water pens, travel brush, mechanical pencil, tissues, small spray bottle, small water container, small vial of salt, small roll of drafting tape and about three pens which varies but usually includes a fountain pen with permanent ink, a Tombow marker or two and one or two others depending. All of the class sketches were made with this kit, still pretty compact and this can be added to the easel bag with some extra brushes for an outdoor plein air kit.

Here is a photo of my very old life drawing kit on the left. I have cleaned it out and have been using it for some life drawing and also to draw from a model with a group in Tulsa. Cleaning it out I rediscovered how much I like Derwent drawing pencils for figure drawing and when I looked them up online found that they now come in a set of 24 that are perfect colors for figures or landscapes.  I added them to the kit for some color variety and hope to try them out on some landscapes soon. 

I have been using these Strathmore 400 series Toned sketchbooks for the figure studies.

Above is the kind of sketch I have been doing with this kit. I start with an Ebony pencil for the basic drawing and then add some white Conte pencil for lights and hi lights then finally go in with the Derwent drawing pencils to add a little warmth and color. I hope to be working more with the figure as I really enjoy it.

A little sketch done in the Strathmore Mixed media book just for fun. It turns out this bush is Bittersweet and makes for nice display during the holidays!

Here is another one done in the Strathmore prompted by the Storytelling class in Sketchbook Skool. This was supposed to be a memory from childhood and I had a lot of fun with it one evening. Permanent ink and watercolor.

Quite a few new art supplies and books found me during the holidays. New red and green De Atrementis document inks, a new fountain pen and three books which I am looking forward to reading. I am currently enjoying the out of print one by James Gurney and Thomas Kincaid.

I have been wanting some brown De Atrementis document ink but none has been available in the United States for a while. I read on Jane Blundell's blog that she was experimenting with mixing these inks so I filled a small vial half full with the red and added green drop by drop until I  had a pretty nice brown and put the result in the new fountain pen. I also put some of the ink in an old Schaefer with an italic nib.

That same evening I did a little sketch with the mixed brown ink in both pens and some colored pencils. 

During December I also received a great surprise in the mail from Stillman and Birn. I actually won one of their giveaways. A beautiful S&B Beta sketchbook and some Qor watercolors in a great box. I haven't actually used them yet. I am holding off until I finish the last couple of pages in the Strathmore Mixed media book.  I am excited to try the Beta and also some handmade watercolor paper by Garza Papel in Spain. More experiments for next time!


  1. Great post Janette!
    I also won one of december Stillman & Birn giveaways

    1. Thanks Martine! Wasn't that a nice surprise to receive in the mail?