Monday, April 29, 2019

Accordion-Fold Flower and Quote Journal

I have a LOT of unfinished sketchbooks, some of which I've been adding to since 2012! These UFOs (UnFinished Objects) don't bother me - I like filling them gradually over time - but I have to admit that there's something very satisfying about finally completing one.

Accordion-fold sketchbook made with 140 lb. Kilimanjaro watercolor paper and added covers

This little accordion-fold sketchbook was started two years ago, then I added a few pages to it last spring, but I had never gotten around to painting the last sketch in it until a week or so ago. Now it's finally FINISHED! Yay! It sure feels good to hold this little gem in my hands.

Accordion-fold sketchbook, 4" x 5-1/2", covered with batik fabric & tied with leather cords

Most of the sketches are of flowers from the gardens here at Summerhill.


This first sketch is of the dwarf echinacea that grows next to the "Fairy" roses by our front porch steps. It blooms all summer long, and I love its deep fuchsia color.


Each flower sketch in this accordion-fold sketchbook is accompanied by a hand-lettered quote, and many have a pretty border outlining the page.


At the height of summer, rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) blooms along the stone walk that leads to our back patio.


Roses line that same stone path where it curves under the arched white arbor.


For each of the sketches, I first did a quick pencil drawing to rough in the flower's placement on the page and mark off space for a border. Then I drew a more detailed image with a fine-point waterproof pen. All of the shading was handled in the next step, when I painted the sketch with watercolor.


The purple clematis was drawn with watercolor pencil rather than a pen.


The lines softened a bit when paint was brushed over them, and the colored pencil pigment bled onto the petals.


I like experimenting with different materials in my sketchbooks - it keeps things interesting, and who knows? I just might discover that I like a new tool or technique better than what I usually use. (That's what my 2020 "Sketchbook Journaling Explorations" workshop at Cheap Joe's will be about. Check it out here.)


Last spring I went on an outing with some artist friends to Enlow Fork natural area here in southwestern Pennsylvania, and we sketched the wildflowers that carpet the hillsides for a few weeks every April and May.


The Blue-Eyed Marys were spectacular, and I did this sketch onsite that day, sitting in the warm spring sunshine, happily chatting with my friends and enjoying the wonder of that very special place.

Click to enlarge

The final sketch in my accordion-fold flower journal is a composite of six different flowers we saw blooming that day at Enlow Fork.


Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, flowering quince, Virginia bluebells, bluets, and a buttercup all dance across the page.


I love this little sketchbook. It reminds me of those moments when I was so taken with the beauty of what was in front of me that I felt compelled to grab a brush and paint it. It brings back afternoons when the most important thing I had to think about was the turn of a petal or the color of a leaf.


It reminds me that life is good, and beauty is all around me, if I only pause my frantic rushing, take a deep breath, and look with fresh eyes at what's right in front of me.


If you would like to make an accordion-fold sketchbook with watercolor paper, click here for instructions (generously shared by artist Marc Taro Holmes on his blog). My sketchbook was made using just a quarter sheet of 140 lb. paper and has 4" x 5-1/2" pages, but larger sketchbooks may be made with half and full sheets of paper, with page sizes up to 5-1/2" x 7-1/2".




Sunday, April 7, 2019

Guest Post: Cathy McCort & Her Yearlong Calendar Project

We have a guest blogger today, my good friend Cathy McCort from Washington, PA. Cathy was one of six students in the very first sketchbook journaling class I taught back in 2014. She had never picked up a watercolor brush before that class, but wait till you see how far she's come in five short years!

When I first had the idea to do a monthly calendar back in March 2018, I shared it on the Facebook group I have for my students and asked if anyone else was up for the challenge of sketching every day that month. Cathy accepted the challenge and RAN with it, completing not just 31 but 365 days of calendar sketches! It's an amazing accomplishment, and one of which she should be justifiably proud. I wish you could have the pleasure of examining each of these 9" x 12" calendars in person. The vibrant colors pop off the page, and the creativity, humor, and zest for living that's shown here tells you a lot about the wonderful woman who created them.


Now, let's hear from Cathy and see each of her wonderful calendar pages...

Completing 12 months of tiny calendar drawings was indeed a challenge but I was intrigued from the beginning. 

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Most of the time I painted every day, but sometimes life got in the way, and I would play catch-up by painting several days at a time. Either way, I loved the idea of documenting some life events or just painting an object or idea that I came across that day. 

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Deciding what to paint is always a challenge for me. I wanted to break free of the little squares at times, and I also chose to do some themes as in July and August.

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

I'm not going to lie, some months were more of a struggle than others but I'm just OCD enough to not have given up!

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

I loved this exercise mainly because it kept me painting for an entire year even if only for a short time each day.

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

I have framed these twelve pieces in simple frames and they are hanging on a wall in my family room. 

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

I haven't been painting very long, and so for me, this is a huge accomplishment, and I love it! Leslie, thank you for the idea and the constant encouragement!
~ Cathy

Thank you, Cathy, for sharing it with us!

This exercise offers a wonderful way to record life in all its variety - the ups and the downs, the happy times and the days that are a struggle, the joyful moments and the things that drive us crazy. It shows the richness of our experience of being in this world, of making our way and living life to the fullest. Brava! to Cathy for persevering and creating something absolutely WONDERFUL!

Copyright © 2019 Cathy McCort

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