Final January Sketches

Here are the last of the sketches I did during January. I created several on the 25th to make up for missing other days. Click on images for a larger view.

For the word prompt ‘selfie’

For the next few sketches I selected my own subjects from around the house. This pin cushion is dear to me because my friend Susan made it for me.

I had a single stem of anthurium for several weeks in January and it begged to be sketched.

Another fun evening of doodling.

Another angle on the anthurium.

The word prompt ‘landscape’ inspired this sketch.

And finally, the word prompt ‘glass’ gave me an opportunity to sketch a favorite rooster. This colorful piece is perched on my kitchen counter and always brings a smile to my face. This is my first two-page spread, a sort of break through for me. This guy just seemed to demand it.

So, that’s a wrap. I enjoyed the sketching I did in January. And though I had hoped that it would create a new habit for me, I did fall off the wagon in February. However, I will go back to sketching here and there. Meanwhile, I have fiber art that I’ve created and more fiber work in mind. I’ll keep you posted here.

And More January Sketches

The word prompt for the 18th was ‘pair.’ These dice have provided many hours of laughter with friends while playing Farkle. Click on an image for a larger view.

The next sketch responded to ‘cover.’

I participated in the Portland Women’s March. It was a powerful, exciting event. Here is my favorite photograph taken that soggy but uplifting day.

And my simple response to it:

The New York Times had an article which included a Turmeric Tea recipe that I couldn’t resist trying. It was a great excuse for a sketch and the tea is quite satisfying.

Stay tuned for the final sketches of the month.


More January Sketches

I played catch up a few times during the month and created more than one sketch in a day — I wanted to end the month with the equivalent of one sketch for each day. Here are the next few (click on an image for a larger view):

“Quote” was the prompt for the 13th and I like Beverly’s blunt take on giving up:

I used a photograph of Cooper to create a sketch for the prompt “Pet” on the 14th. Here’s the original photo taken on the 12th

and the sketch.

“Craving” led me to sketch some blooms.

I think my sketch is appropriately “Ridiculous” for the 16th.

I made up for not sketching on the 17th with this sketch.

More to come very soon.

More Sketches

Here are a few more of the sketches that I created in January. The Sketchbook Skool prompt for January 8 was ‘movie.’ Click on images for a larger view.

I went back to this page several times to respond to ‘metallic.’

On the evening of the 10th I had fun with this ‘doodle.’

Here is one of the last Riviera pears we had. A great snack!

The prompt for the 12th was ‘hair.’ I took a picture of myself at the salon getting my hair colored. Not my best effort but you get the idea.

Thank goodness this sketch doesn’t look like me!

Web Site Fixed

Several important features of my web site have been broken for quite some time.  Getting it fixed finally rose to the top of the list. During the fixing process I also had many other changes made to the site — all with an intent to make it function easily and be more user friendly. I hope you will take a tour of the site and let me know what you think.

Now I can’t wait to share a bit of what has been happening in my corner of the world since the new year. I committed to taking a challenge of creating one sketch each day during the month of January. I blogged about that here and here. I’m please to say that I followed through on that promise to myself. Here are the next five sketches that I did. Many of the sketches I created were inspired by a word prompt that was supplied by Sketchbook Skool. You can see that the sketch below was a result of the prompt ‘place.’ Click on images for a larger view.

This sketch was inspired by a lovely flower arrangement I had.

And here’s ‘breakfast.’

This photograph was taken on January 2nd. It’s a bit blurred but I couldn’t resist trying a sketch.

Not bad for someone who thinks she can’t do portraiture.

Here is my sketch for the prompt ‘resolve.’

Many things have happened since this sketch was done and I will be sharing highlights with you in the days to come. It’s nice to be back. I hope you’ll stay tuned and that you’ll share your thoughts with me.







Happy New Year

I managed to create a few sketches during the last days of 2016. It felt encouraging to me. It felt good to create. Mostly it felt healing to just sit and focus. Perhaps the cold weather shifted my mood to spring. (Click on image for a larger view.)

More outdoor thoughts, this time with more color.

After I kicked off my boots I decided to sketch one.

This morning I read about a month-long sketch challenge from Sketchbook Skool. I’ve taken several on-line classes from them and always enjoyed the classes and the results. Today’s prompt is ‘rest.’ So I started sketching…

The air is quite chilly and snow is predicted

but right now it’s beautiful outside and the sun in streaming into my studio. It’s a new day. It’s a new year. Make it what you want it to be.

More Sketches

A couple weeks ago I began experiencing intermittent computer issues so my posting has been sporadic. Those issues have been resolved so I have full use of my computer now. Enough said.

Here’s a sketch done in response to an assignment from my recent Sketchbook Skool instructor, France Belleville-Van Stone :  Sketch something with wheels and use cross hatching to create light.03-13-16 piano sketch

France has an obsession with sketching vehicles. Me? Not so much. So I had to smile to myself about this sketch. This is my restored ca. 1840 Schott fortepiano. My proportion is a bit off, but I’m working on that. In fact, I’m taking a class from an architect which addresses this issue and others. I’m looking forward to more sketches of this beautiful instrument with more realistic proportion and perhaps more detail in the future.

And here is a sketch I did just because shoes can be fun to sketch.


03-12-16 shoe

What are you creating just because it’s fun?

Sketchbook Skool: Stretching

Sketchbook Skool is an on-line sketching and watercolor school that I have taken several classes with. While I was away, I received an offer for a class that had just begun at a price I couldn’t resist. When I got home I was eager to check in and take the first class with  Jonathan Twingley.

Jonathan is an American author, artist and illustrator. His work is regularly exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States. One of the exercises that he invited us to do he calls Reaction as Action. For those of us who have the paralyzed-at-the-sight-of-the-blank-page syndrome, this exercise is a way to kick-start some creative juices:

  • Stain a paper towel with some ink.
  • Close the sketchbook on the paper towel.
  • When the ink is try, draw/sketch/doodle

Here is the two-page spread of the exercise.


I was completely surprised at how quickly I picked up my fountain pen and began drawing around the ink blotches on the right-hand page. I used a neon-yellow hi-liter marker to color the pedals of the flower and watercolor paint for the stem and leaf. Try to imagine the zap of color that high light marker created on the page because scanning didn’t do it justice. I used my chop to sign the page. I like the spark it added. If you’re new here, you might want to read about how I acquired my chop here.

How are you stretching to develop skills this year?

Fountain Pen Sketch

I purchased a Lamy fountain pen over a year ago and have done little to become acquainted with it. I purchased the pen after taking a course through Sketchbook Skool with Liz Steel, an Australian architect-turned-sketcher who regularly uses her fountain pens to sketch. She discusses fountain pens extensively on her site here.  The pen has been noted as good for beginners on several sites I’ve visited and it is a reasonably priced pen for a novice; I also purchased Noodler’s ink, which is permanent, a must for those who may wish to add watercolor to their sketches.

I decided that today was a perfect day to capture a sketch of one Parrot tulip I’ve been enjoying for several days. These tulips are brilliant orange with yellow, frilly edges and when they begin to bend and lean it is hard to take your eyes off of them.

02-18-16 tulip sketch


It was fun to capture this single flower and revisit the focus of carefully viewing what I want to sketch. I’m looking forward to sharpening that skill with more regular use.

SBS with Liz Steel

This week has simply vanished into thin air. I haven’t completed viewing all the lessons that Liz Steel has in store for me in Sketchbook Skool but I am plugging away. The process of watching the videos, contemplating the lesson and doing my best to get into a new mindset are fun but also a bit daunting at times. Liz is a teacher today but her education and career were in architecture. The analysis that she brings to creating a sketch is very organized and thorough — I like it a lot!

In our first lesson — Seeing patterns in complex objects — Liz drew her favorite subject, a tea-cup. Before getting to the cup, however, there is much thought and analysis that goes into knowing the cup and saucer well enough that you can overcome what may look daunting and then draw what is really there, not what you have in your head. I used her technique to break down the elements of my favorite cup and saucer by drawing a few thumbnail sketches of particular elements. Click on image for a larger view.

SBS with Liz SteelThe first thumbnail captures the overall configuration of the saucer including placement of the floral pattern. #2 attempts the floral pattern, or at least a good likeness. #3 shows the essence of the cup. Once all this prep work is done, Liz’s style is to do a sketch very quickly. This was quite a surprise to me, actually, considering the exacting nature of her career life and the preparation that goes into the sketch. However, now that I’ve done just one sketch using her techniques, I can see where the preparation work allows for more confidence once pencil is in hand. I also like her view that ‘circles are wonky in sketches, so just get over it and keep moving on.’ What a relief that is for someone who tends to try to be exact. Note to self: This is supposed to be Fun.

I still have more to learn from Liz. The next lesson is about drawing a building. I can’t wait.



SBS with Andrea Joseph

This week Andrea Joseph is leading the charge for Sketchbook Skool. If you’re not familiar with her work, your eyes will soon be wide open! Her style of teaching is relaxed and calming. At the same time she’s packing in the tips and techniques. Andrea’s forte is drawing with ballpoint pens. This was a real push for me. I was tempted to stick with the Faber-Castell PITT artist pen I’ve grown comfortable with. But darnit, I’m taking a class to learn new things — so I combed the house for every color I could find in ballpoint pens. I came up with black, blue, red and purple. The only interloper in our house is the purple one — a Papermate medium, a gift from a friend and fellow artist (thanks, Heather!).

Andrea thinks of individual drawings in a larger context. She likes to work in themes so designates sketchbooks to one and sticks to it, hence a book completely sketched in blue ink, or brown, or about travel or, well, you get the idea. Her first assignment was to take up a pen and draw items in the house that are the color of the ink. I chose the blue pen — a Bic medium point with Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town printed on the side. After reminiscing about the last time I was there I placed several items on the dining table and began drawing. Here’s my BLUE page. Click on the image for a larger view.

Blue sketchesI had to be true to the blue tea pot — it has a black handle and spout cover — so I switched to a black pen.

The focus then shifted to hand lettering. Andrea does a lot of it on her sketches and she has experimented with styles for many years. I would like to gain skills in hand lettering so I was eager to do the first assignment: Choose any color ballpoint pen and write your name or a quote without lifting the pen from paper. I dove right in using the quote that she had used to demonstrate.

Handlettering with Andrea JosephThe idea was simple and the method meant slowing down quite a bit. Just slowing down meant I did a fair job of the assignment. A second time through the writing emphasized the letters of each word and completed the letters. An unwanted blob on the question mark was turned into a flower.

Pleased with this outcome I as emboldened to go back to the blackbird sketch I did last week. I actually wanted to do some hand writing on it when I sketched it, but I decided it would probably take away from the image I was pleased with. Here is the sketch updated with the wording I wanted.

Blackbird updateI’m really jazzed about the final assignment: Draw a collection. Here is what I came up with in my studio

Button collection for sketchThe shapes! The sizes! The designs! Oh my! I can’t wait. Stay tuned for the fun.


Saturday Sketch

Sketchbook Skool instructor Cathy Johnson had us sketching birds this past week. I tried my hand at a cedar waxwing sketch with watercolor but was disappointed in the outcome. I’m pretty happy with this sketch of a raven though. Click on image for a larger view.

Raven sketchI am also taking a class focused on sketching dogs and cats. Two classes at one time is one class too many for me. So, I’m off to practice sketching fur and wet noses — wish me luck!

Sketchbook Skool: Self Portrait

If I had known that Koosje Koene was going to ask me to sketch a self-portrait, I probably would not have signed up for this semester with Sketchbook Skool. I have never attempted any kind of portrait sketching. But I’m in the klass now — and I’ve trusted her before and been pleasantly surprised with my product, so I dove in.

The first attempt was done while sitting in a comfortable chair in front of a mirror with a spot light on the left side of my face. The sketch is clearly of a person, just not one that resembles me much. But onward!

The next assignment was to do a self-portrait — Koosje calls them ‘selfies’ — using a photograph. This was a bit easier for a couple of reasons: 1. I had the experience of the first sketch and could see where I went astray. 2. I wear glasses for close work so I was putting them on and taking them off constantly for the first round, not so for this one. Whew! Click on image for a larger view.



It’s not perfect but it does come a lot closer to resembling me. And I’m not looking for perfection, just skill building. If I want a true likeness I’ll use my camera. As Koosje says

Have no fear of perfection. You will never reach it.

Now that takes the heat off!

Sketchbook Skool

This is the first week of the second semester with Sketchbook Skool. Danny Gregory is our first instructor. The focus of this 6-week class is ‘seeing’ — not what we think we see, but what is actually in front of us. The lectures are thoughtful; the homework is challenging.

First assignment: Draw a piece of toast. Click on image for a larger view.

Franki Kohler - Seeing Toast

The assignment was to sketch every detail we could see, with the option of sketching just a portion of the toast. I spent about 45 minutes capturing a bit over one-third of this slice of toast. I used a PITT artist pen S. It took serious concentration and still I was lost in the nooks and crannies a couple of times.

Sketching for Fun

Roz Stendahl, one of the 6 instructors of Sketchbook Skool, focused on sketching animals. She particularly liked sketching live animals. She also realized that it can be quite a challenge to sketch a model that is moving, particularly if you are new to the discipline. She recommended going to natural history museums, state parks or other venues that would have taxidermy you could sketch.

Above all, Roz said that because sketching is something you want to do, it should be fun. So why not go to a toy store and pick up some fun models? I like her thinking. I went to my local toy store and picked up some dinosaurs. Click on image for larger view.

DinosaursI have to admit, it was pretty fun getting them placed just right for my sketching session. For this sketch I used pen, watercolor and then went back with watercolor pencils.

Roz’s parting gift was a set of Fun Factor Flash Cards that she designed using sketches from her journals and emphasizing points she made during her lesson. Points like “Sleeping pets make great models.” and “Never let a model down your shirt.” This one had a photograph of Roz, head tossed back laughing, with a parrot peeking out the top of her shirt. She knows her models and has fun! The tip I keep in mind is “The right time to start sketching is always now.”

This posting has been shared with Off the Wall Friday.

More Sketching

There are few things that scream summer like strawberries. And we are enjoying our share of beautiful strawberries that arrive each week in our box from Shooting Star CSA. Click on image for larger view.

Summer Screams StrawberriesI couldn’t resist a calm sketching moment with the last few berries in the basket.

Tommy Kane, one of the 6 Sketchbook Skool instructors that led me on-line in sketching, assigned sketching our kitchen. Tommy is all about detail. The only way to understand that statement is to visit his site. Here’s my rendering of a portion of my kitchen:

Kitchen sketchI think that Tommy would have sketched the grain of the wood but this was enough detail for me. I was able to do this in 2 sittings — about 1 1/2 hours each. Tommy often spends 8 hours or more on a sketch. His style is instructive, to say the least.

I’m looking forward to the next Sketchbook Skool class which starts in July — another 6 weeks with another 6 instructors. The change of teaching and sketching styles keeps this class fresh and my creative mojo moving.

What are you doing to keep your creative mojo fresh?

Sketchbook Skool

I’m in the middle of an on-line class called Sketchbook Skool developed by Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene. The idea behind this 6-week class led by a different instructor each week is to gain skills and inspiration which will lead to making sketching a daily habit. I am learning a lot and having fun, my two goals for taking this class.

This sketch was done starting with a cup of coffee — yes, the morning wake up cup. A bit of coffee poured into a saucer and the mug used as a stamp, then the sketch. What better than to use what is at hand — a watercolor kit. It was a very nice way to begin the day — focused and caffeinated. Click on an image for a larger view.

Coffee SketchKoosje suggests sketching things you love. Here is a watercolor of a plate that belonged to my mother-in-law. I have loved this little plate from the moment I first saw it. I treasure having it in my own home now.

PlateAnd here is the plate.

The PlateI would characterize my sketch as not bad as a first attempt. I will be sketching this again with a focus on better capturing the trees to the far left and right of the setting. My mistake with those areas was following the paint order used by the artist who painted this plate, forgetting that the paint order for that medium versus the watercolor paints I am using, is quite different. I can do nothing but improve!