Monday, May 23, 2016

Student Sketches from Boone

I hope you enjoyed yesterday's behind-the-scenes look at my "Sketchbook Journaling Comes to Life!" workshop at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff in Boone, NC. Today I'd like to share with you some of the sketches done by my students while we were there.

After my big introduction to sketchbook journaling on Monday morning, I started them off by having them draw their art supplies...



Then they moved on to drawing something meaningful to them. One woman journaled about her wedding ring, which was made from components of the rings of several family members.


Susan sketched her mom's lunchbox. The beautiful antique metal box was challenging to draw and paint, but she persevered and did a great job of it.


Beka took a slightly different tack. She brought a buddy along to paint...


and designed a page that said "Kermey makes every 1 smile". So do you, Beka!


Look at the wonderful page layout on this sketch of a medallion/ornament from a summer in the Tetons...


Candy collects vintage buttons, so she designed a sketechbook page around them...


And Danielle drew a toy from her childhood...


We speed-sketched penny candy on day two of the workshop...




and the class illustrated some of their favorite quotes...



On Wednesday, we took a breather from journaling to spend the day working on a few step-by-step watercolor lessons. The students painted skies...


rocks...




and summer trees....



I also showed them how to add simple figures to their sketches with just a few strokes. Liz loved how easy these little people were to paint, and she created a whole little world of whacky paint people...




Thursday, we were back to sketchbook journaling again. Early in the week, I provided them with specific guidelines and instructions for their projects, but as they gained experience, I gave them more responsibility for choosing what they wanted to sketch and how they wanted to do it. I interspersed lessons throughout each day on borders, calligraphy styles and page layouts ideas, and they happily embraced it all.


I always give my students a substantial class handout, and they love it. It's reassuring to have all the information from the workshop at their fingertips, to review later whenever they like. But I have one little problem...my handouts keep getting longer and longer. The handout for this class was sixty-two pages! I think I have a book in the making! :)


It was a lot of information for them to process, and it may have felt overwhelming to them at times, but each one of them handled it with positivity and a willingness to try. I love a positive attitude!


Carollee did one of the funniest sketches of the week. It's not quite finished in this photo, but I think you can see that she collaged on a fifty dollar bill that was partially eaten by her dear sweet little angel of a dog (not!), Poppi.


Because one of the serial numbers is missing from the bill, it's worth about as much as the part that Poppi ate. What better use for it than as part of Carollee's sketchbook? Oh, Poppi......you couldn't have had a craving for a one or a five?

Check out the gorgeous fabric Annie painted in this sketch of her purse ...


One of my favorite projects of the week was when everyone illustrated one of their favorite recipes. It made me hungry just looking at all the wonderful homemade food and recipes that appeared on the students' sketchbook pages.










There was one more project that everyone worked on throughout the week. On Monday, I gave them an assignment to do a page in their journals all about their week at Cheap Joe's. The catch was that I would not be giving them a chunk of time in class to do the sketches. Instead, they had to figure out how to fit it into odd moments here and there, just like we have to do in real life!

They all turned out just great, and a few of them even included a portrait of me!

My van license plate made it into the sketch, too!


This one uses collaged images from the Cheap Joe's catalogue...


and this beautiful page by Cheryl features a nice gridded layout with a sketch of her class name tag in the center circle...


There were so many more amazing sketchbook pages. I wish I could share them all with you. It delights me to no end to see how each of these women took what I taught them, added their life experiences, originality, and humor, and created something wonderful. They all worked hard and were so earnest in their efforts during our time together, but we also had an awful lot of fun!


They've created a Facebook group to continue to support each other and "keep the magic going", as one of them said. Many of them have caught the sketching bug and are sketching and journaling every day. And they're passing it along to friends, sisters, and grandchildren.

Sketchbook journaling has touched a chord in people. In this crazy, mixed up world, we've found a way to quiet the noise and focus on what's important - to celebrate the everyday - to tell our own unique story.

The little things? The little moments?
They aren't little.
Jon Kabat-Zinn 


PS - My friends at Cheap Joe's have invited me back to teach again in 2018. I'll be doing two five-day workshops: 
May 7-11, 2018 Sketchbook Journaling Comes to Life!
August 13-17, 2018 Step-by-Step Watercolor
(Registration for these workshops won't open until January 1, 2017, but I wanted to give you a heads-up on the dates.)


Sunday, May 22, 2016

My Wonderful Week at Cheap Joe's

I taught my first workshop at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff in Boone, North Carolina, last week, and the whole experience was above and beyond anything I could have expected. My mother accompanied me on the trip to Boone, and we enjoyed gorgeous spring scenery the whole way through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

The Blue Ridge mountains near Blowing Rock, NC

It was a great time of year for a road trip, and look what greeted me at Cheap Joe's...

Look at the bottom line on the Cheap Joe's sign  behind me - it's true!

My big day had finally arrived - I was a featured artist at Cheap Joe's!

I felt welcomed from the moment I drove up to the store.


Edwina, the workshop coordinator, greeted me and showed me around the classroom (which is the fulfillment of every workshop instructor's dream!)

Ready for the ladies to arrive!
It's spacious and bright, with separate seating areas for student painting and instructor demos or lectures.


My table at the front of the demo area had an overhead camera that could zoom in on my sketchbooks and show the image on a large TV screen suspended from the ceiling, making it easy for the students to see details on my sketchbook pages. It was wonderful!


Every day at noon a delicious lunch appeared for all of us as if by magic! Amazing food catered by local restaurants - the southern pork barbecue was perfection! Cheap Joe's really takes care of their workshoppers - gotta keep our strength up for all that painting! (And talking, and shopping in the outlet store.)

On Monday morning, the students began arriving long before 9 am, when the class was scheduled to begin. I think they were as excited as I was to get started! People attended from as far away as Oregon, California, and Massachusetts.

Joe Miller (Cheap Joe) came around to welcome everyone on Monday and spent almost an hour with us, stopping by each table and taking the time to talk to the students and find out a little more about them.


Joe has written several books, and he was happy to sign them for us. His Joe's Journals was one of the first books I bought when I first discovered sketchbook journaling, and I found it very inspiring. (Still do!) He's a fantastic watercolorist, and there's a simplicity to his style that makes it look like anyone could do it. But that simplicity and looseness are not easy to imitate. It requires a confidence that comes from hours and hours with a brush in your hand.

Both of Joe's books are inspiring reads for sketchbook journalers


Joe is as warm and genuine a person as you'll ever meet. It was a privilege to get to know him last week.


Periodically during the week, usually in the afternoon when everyone was getting a little tuckered out, Joe would pop into the classroom and surprise us with a visit.

Joe as Elvis

Every morning when we arrived at the studio, the classroom was spic and span, the coffee was piping hot, and there was a free gift for each and every one of us on our tables. We received divided water buckets, brush holders, watercolor markers, pens, brushes, magazines, artsy bumper stickers, a mini-palette of American Journey watercolors, and more.


We were treated like royalty the entire time we were there. I'd like to go back to take a workshop myself. The whole experience was fun from start to finish.

Holding a workshop in the same building as an art supply store definitely has its advantages. It's easy to pop over to the store and pick up something you forgot, or something you need, or something you saw on your neighbor's table and decided you just couldn't live without! And the Cheap Joe's Outlet Store has just about anything you could possibly want. And, if it's not in the store, they can bring it over from the adjoining warehouse.


This made it, oh, so easy to splurge on new stuff. When I saw how many trips my students were making each day through the magical doors into the wonderful world of all things art-y, I considered giving a prize at the end of the week to the one who spent the most money! But I decided that just having all those beautiful new art supplies to play with is probably reward enough.

"I think I need just one more Gelly Roll pen...or maybe two....or, what the heck, I might as well buy one of each. If I don't, I know I'll just keep coming back for more!"

Class was held each day from 9 to 4, and some people stayed even later if they were involved in a project and couldn't bear to stop, but I looked forward each day to having a chance to get out and explore the area around Boone and eat in one of the fantastic restaurants in town. We had the BEST food! Every meal was exceptional. Boone is a cute little town with lots of great shops and restaurants, plus there are loads of outdoor activities in the area and great parks to visit. Many of my students extended their trips to spend more time there after the workshop was over.

One evening, we went to Blowing Rock to visit a friend, and she gave us a driving tour of the area. The views looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains were spectacular.


We visited Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, an estate that was the home of Moses Cone, a prosperous textile entrepreneur, conservationist, and philanthropist. 



Its centerpiece is Flat Top Manor, a 13,000 square foot Colonial Revival-style mansion built in 1901.


I didn't have time to sketch that evening, but would have loved to sit for an hour or two and record some of those beautiful scenes with pen and paint.



I'm glad the days are long this time of year. It felt so good to be outside in the warm spring weather, expecially after the chilly temps we've had at home lately.

Thursday morning, I did an interview with Terry Henry for Cheap Joe's blog. We talked a little about how to get started in sketchbook journaling. Read it here.

During our class time, I really kept everyone hopping. They drew and painted, designed sketchbook page borders, used bold new page layouts, and practiced lots of new hand-lettering styles. They created beautiful sketchbook pages using the tools I had given them, and I think they felt energized by all they were learning.


Throughout the course of the week, we all got to know each other. Sharing our sketches gave us a glimpse into each other's lives. Sketchbook journaling is personal, and it's telling. What we choose to paint and how we do it say a lot about us. I love that about it - no one else can do it like you do. There are so many amazing women out there, and I feel very fortunate to have a chance to connect with so many of them through my classes.

Tomorrow, in a separate post, I'm going to show you some of my students' sketches. You'll love seeing how they took the information I shared with them and came up with some wonderfully creative sketchbook pages of their own.




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