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".


  1. This is a beautiful little book Leslie! So pretty!

    1. Thanks, Annie. I enjoyed having it as a continuing project.

  2. Very beautiful and a lovely style.

  3. Beautiful little booklet. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Lovely, as always, Leslie! I love having themes for these little books, and I like your handling of that end page that ends up being in landscape format. Your colors are so luscious. They make me long for my own garden to bloom, especially on this very gray Ohio day.

    1. Things are definitely popping out around here, and just when it's getting really pretty, I'm leaving for Spain tomorrow! It will look so different when I get back in two weeks. Miss you, friend!


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