Friday, August 24, 2012


Yeah fans, there really is such a color as "warm violet".

(This pastel re-arrangement into warms and cools taught me quite a bit about color. I decided to do this when I was working outside one day and the box was in full sun. I looked down and was surprised by the powerful difference between two greens which were the same value but worlds apart in temperature. They were both "medium green" but they were as different as night and day. The bright sun told the tale clearly. And that was when I decided to never ever again get them mixed up and jumbled up together. And be fooled into picking up one when what I needed was the other. So there it is.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pencil Convergence Day

Pay homage to Pincellus. Resistance is futile.
  • From Rad and Hungry, purchase country-specific sketch kits. Some of which include pencils.
  • Get a load of the giant pencil sculpture in Japan, by Pascale Marthine Tayou. Pic on left. More pics here.
  • Sprout! "Sprout is a high quality cedar pencil with a water activated seed capsule at its tip. When it's too short to use, plant it!" Is this cool or WHAT? I am so in.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dr. Awing's 5 Favorite Learn-How-To-Draw Books

Buy your sketcher wannabe friend this set of five books and they're set to GO. The whole kit is about 80 dollars from Amazon.


Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dodson (1985) – This is MUCH better than the standard “bible” on drawing, which is Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards. Dodson is more relaxed and less analytical about it all.

Keys to Drawing with Imagination: Strategies and Exercises for Gaining Confidence and Enhancing Your Creativity, by Bert Dodson (2007) – Outstanding workbook that presents material in very small, easy to deal with chunks, along with hundreds of example sketches. Dodson has a lot of fun with this stuff! There is no pressure at all. You are invited to find your own voice.

Sketching School, by Judy Martin (1991) – Excellent textbook loaded with very useful instruction and examples. Recommended highly. You will come back to it over and over again. (This one is out print but well worth the premium for a used copy.)

NOTE: Others have reported that Mastering Sketching: A Complete Course in 40 Lessons, by Judy Martin (2011) is a re-print of Sketching School. It is indeed a re-print. There appear to be no revisions, changes, or additions. 

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing on Location Around the World, by Gabriel Campanario (2012) -- Section I is a discussion of supplies and style and Section III is organized around subjects. By far the biggest section is the middle Section II which contains thousands of sketches. Each picture caption covers materials and technique, but the main thing here is inspiration. They are doing it, so can you.


Sketch Book for the Artist, by Sarah Simblet (2005) -- Far-ranging and eclectic. Off-the-wall yet very practical. This is another textbook that you will come back to time and again for ideas, motivation, and stimulation. Beautifully illustrated.


[Cover images courtesy of]

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kentucky Lane

This is about 9" x 12" and is done with pastels over a thickly textured ground. Because of the texture, the complementary colors I used in the underpainting poke through from below quite a bit. Not sure if I like that or not. I am tending toward 'like'.

I worked form an old photo I took many years ago of a country lane outside of Lexington KY.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

El Farolito

Made from a photo by my friend John Robinson, posted on his blog Life Is A Highway

Tool Report: Journlets for your Midori, by EveryDayArtist

Journlets are refills for your Midori Traveler's Notebook made with art-quality paper! They are finally here! Hooray!

Background: I have been using my Midori Traveler's Notebook for some time now. It's a dandy everyday sketchbook with a mysteriously endearing aura. However! None of the papers in the various refills offered by Midori (and its knockoff competitor, Pelle) has the heft and versatility suitable for my ink wash and watercolor wash sketching. So I took to sewing my own refills from various art papers lying around the studio, teaching myself the "pamphlet stitch" along the way. I blogged and posted about this and, much to my delight, I heard from Leigh Abernathy, a jewelry artist, avid sketcher, and book artist. She had begun to sew refills for her Pelle notebook using various art papers. Happily for all the rest of us, she has now decided to sell them! They are sophisticated, sensible, and super! More below:

The Product: Journlets (rhymes with 'pamphlets') are sold from Leigh's EveryDayArtist Etsy site. Leigh researched various papers suitable both for sketching AND for binding (the properties do not always overlap!) and selected these three to begin her line:

- Strathmore Aquarius II
- Fabriano Tiziano colored papers, with a warm brown+tan option and a black+grey option
- Southworth 100% Cotton paper

The journlets are available in 3-packs or individually. They are priced differently, and have different numbers of pages, based on the paper type. Those journlets made with heavier and/or stiffer papers have fewer pages. Leigh has thought carefully about the correct journlet size for each paper type and has adjusted the number of pages to maximize usability.

Paper Type                          Weight       # Pages    
Strathmore Aquarius II         170 gsm        24            
Fabriano Tiziano                  160 gsm        40
Southworth 100% Cotton       120 gsm       48

Design and Construction: Each journlet is hand-stitched with linen thread so it will open and lay flat, encouraging you to sketch or paint across the whole two-page spread. There is an integral heavy paper cover with a fold-over flap. The flap and cover are secured with dots of clear Velcro. The covers on the Strathmore and Fabriano journlets are 140 lb watercolor paper and have a lovely deckled edge. Decorative interior fly leaf sheets, front and back, and a pretty paper band add elegant touches. Each journlet that I reviewed also had a small clear sticker on the back cover describing the type of paper within.

Paper Performance: Sketchers' techniques and material requirements vary so much that my own opinions on each of these paper types won't help much. But what the heck.
 -- Strathmore Aquarius II is my all-time favorite white paper for journaling, sketching, and watercolor and I was thrilled to see that Leigh decided to include it in her journlet line.
 -- Fabriano Tiziano is slightly lighter and stiffer than the Aquarius II. The tinted colors work well for gouache, even though it buckles a little bit from being wet. The colors in the brown-tan journlet suit me well.
 -- The Southworth paper is smooth and luxurious. It's great for graphite or pen and ink journaling and sketching.

Leigh provides detailed paper descriptions in each of the journlet listings on Etsy, so for more on paper performance, look there. If you are undecided about which paper to chose, order a sample pack for a dollar.

In Action, Inside the Midori: Journlets are exactly the same width and length as the standard Midori refills, which are 4-1/4" x 8-1/4". And so they fit perfectly in the Midori Traveler's Notebook. You can close the journlet's cover flap using the Velcro dot, fold it under, or cut it off as suits you. Since the cover is also made from high quality paper, you can also draw and paint on it. Below is a pic of the warm brown+tan Tiziano journlet in my Midori. It's the insert at the top of the stack.

In Action, as a Stand-Alone Sketchbook: Because of the integral heavy-duty Velcro-closeable cover, the journlet is also an outstanding stand-alone lightweight sketchbook for those weekend getaways or to stash inside your everyday bag. And again, since the cover is also made from good thick quality paper, it's begging for embellishment!

Bottom Line:  EveryDayArtist's journlets are very carefully designed and skillfully made. They fill a significant niche for high-quality paper inserts for the Midori Traveler Notebook. I recommend them!


Full Disclosure: Leigh sent me a free sample of each of the journlets to review.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sketchbook Summer 2012

Sketchbook Summer 2012 is a vid of a recently-filled Midori Traveler "Kraft" paper mini-journal. For some reason I really enjoy the cheap crinkle of that "Kraft" paper.

An extra special tip o'the hat to Antonio Vivaldi.  XXXOOO

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bus Ladies

About 8" x 8", which is a 2-page spread in the Midori "Kraft" paper sketchbook.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tool Report: Nomadic PN-91 Sketch Kit Case

The PN-91 Top Open Pencil Case is one member of a family of useful and well-designed sketch cases made by Nomadic. This model has a deep mesh pocket in the top and an interior hinged flap with five elastic pen slots. The bottom compartment dimensions are about 7-3/4" x 3-1/4" x 1" deep. There is a dorky little pocket at the top of the main bottom compartment, but thankfully it does not interfere much. And can even hold a handy eraser, as you can see.

Here it is with 14 Caran d'Ache Supracolor watercolor pencils in the bottom compartment, 4 pens in the central flap, and two waterbrushes and a retractable X-acto in the left hand mesh pocket. It can easily hold twice that number of pencils (or pens or whatever) in the bottom compartment. If you are so inclined.

-- Nice deep mesh pocket on the left and good sturdy elasticized slots for pens on the flap.
-- Well-made and padded throughout.
-- Can distend to accommodate stuff slightly bigger than the "resting" interior dimensions. See pic below showing my 8-1/4" long x 1/2" thick watercolor box all alone in the bottom compartment. It will zip closed with that in it!
-- Weighs nearly nothing empty.

-- The innermost elasticized slot on the central flap is practically useless, because if you put a pen in it, it won't stay flipped over to the left.
--It's not inexpensive.

Possible Modifications and Customizations:
-- Add another strip of elastic slots to the backside of the central flap. This would hold oft-used pens up out of the bottom compartment. But it would diminish the capacity of the bottom compartment.
-- Add an elastic strip to the bottom compartment, across the full width of the compartment. This would hold all the pencils more snugly in the lower compartment. The pencils tend to roam around inside the case.

BOTTOM LINE: I like this case! It feels good in the hand, the neon green is a nifty color, and the interior layout and dimensions suit me.