Thursday, March 21, 2019

February Calendar Sketch

Life can become a bit of a blur sometimes, can't it? One day merges into the next and before you know it, another month has gone by. I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday, not to mention last week! But I've found that keeping a daily sketched calendar is a great way to capture days and moments that might otherwise be forgotten.

Ink & watercolor in a 12" x 9" Kilimanjaro sketchbook filled with 140 lb. off-white watercolor paper

I started this practice last spring and did a few months' worth of calendars (see March and April), then when workshop season arrived, I put it on the back burner. On January 1st of 2019, I started up again and have really enjoyed the process over the past two months. (See January Part I, II, and III) I have now completed five months out of the year, and I plan to eventually have a calendar for all twelve, even if they're done in different years.

I vary the layout each month to see how creative I can get with my boxes. February was easier than most, since there were only 28 days in it this year, which made four identical weeks.

After I drew the layout in pencil, I laid 1/8" blue painter's tape over the lines. (To make 1/8" tape, I sliced 1/4" tape down the middle with a #11 Xacto blade.)

I penciled in the dates, so I wouldn't get confused and forget a day, then started adding my daily sketches. All the sketches were drawn with a Sakura Pigma Micron 01 pen.

The month included sewing, exercising, snowy weather, buying new glasses, learning to make my own sketchbooks, and getting ready for a teaching trip to Florida...

There were fun, happy days, like when some friends came over to paint on the 5th, and less-than-fun days like the 7th, when I spent a long time in the dentist's chair, and the 14th, when I received some discouraging news from my doctor.
I left the wintry weather behind on the 18th when I flew to Tampa, then spent two wonderful weeks teaching, relaxing, and enjoying the Florida sunshine.

Designing these little triangles was challenging. With such a limited space, the sketches had to be very small, especially if I wanted to include some lettering, too. To keep things interesting, I varied the lettering styles in lots of different ways, just like I teach in my introductory sketchbook journaling classes. Here are a few simple ways to alter a standard printed lettering style:

  • Use all caps or all lower case letters
  • Add serifs to the letters
  • Elongate the letters
  • Make letters short and fat
  • Make the letters more rounded (like on my Feb. 22 sketch)
  • Add curlicues to the letters
  • Use bold block letters
  • Fill block letters with varied patterns, such as plaid, stripes, & polka dots
  • Put dots on the ends of each letter
  • Curve the line of lettering
  • Make the letters "bouncy" (some up, some down)
  • Use cursive instead of printing
  • Thicken the downstrokes of printed or cursive letters 
  • Place the lettering on a banner
  • Use a fancy lettering style from your computer

At the end of the month, after all the boxes were filled with sketches, I knuckled down to finalize the design of the rest of the page. I decided on a bold lettering style for the title, hoping it would stand out against all the busyness of the triangles that filled the page below.

I added the three quotes that I had chosen to border the page then taped off the three sides using 1/4" painter's tape. The quotes were hand-lettered using a pointed dip pen and black ink.

Using the same colors I had used earlier on the triangles, I painted a border wash of blended colors around three sides of the calendar. The trick to seamless blending is to keep all of the paint the same degree of wetness as you paint. Mix up plenty of paint on your palette before you put brush to paper, then work quickly to cover the area with wet paint, then don't touch it again while it dries! Flooding wet paint into a drying wash is a surefire way to get blooms. Also, using a skimpy amount of paint and a fairly dry brush will result in lines, overlaps, and irregularities in a wash.

I like the bold, chiseled look of the lettering, painted with just two colors, a light aqua and a medium-dark blue.

Decorative motifs help to draw attention to the title.

The final step in completing this page was to add some darker values to the daily sketches using richer, more concentrated mixtures of the background wash in each block.

I think adding the darker values helped to make each block more cohesive.

Keeping a daily sketched calendar definitely takes commitment, but I enjoy taking some time each day to work in my sketchbook, and all those little snippets of time add up to a wonderful gem that's filled with memories.

This February calendar brings a smile to my face every time I look at it, remembering all the events, places, and people that were a part of my days. 

Click to see larger image 

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