Sunday, July 19, 2020

June 2020 Painted Calendar

Get ready for a mammoth post! June was filled to the brim with activities, and I captured them all on one 9" x 12" calendar page in my American Journey Journaling Sketchbook.

9" x 12", ink & watercolor in an American Journey Journaling Sketchbook

(Click on this larger image file to see all the details)

Let's take a look at how the month of June shaped up for us here in Prosperity, PA....

Week 1 had us gardening, cooking, and spending time with our grandson.

My favorite sketch from week 1 is this one. I like the bold design and happy colors.

My favorite activity that week was having what we call "Special Grandma and Grandpa Time" with our grandson, Nicholas. We bring one grandchild to our house for two or three days (no siblings allowed!) and do all sorts of fun activities with him/her, and, more importantly, give him lots of one-on-one time, love, and attention. During this visit, we went for a bike ride on a local trail that runs alongside the Monongahela River.

During week 2, I added a border to the page. It was inspired by the purple clematis that blooms in June in our backyard. I had planned for the border from the beginning, leaving space for it when I laid out the page. What I hadn't thought of is how tiny those thirty little squares would have to be to accommodate the wide border. It certainly made the daily sketching challenging - the boxes were less than 1-1/4" square!

I the found it was much easier to draw the border while standing outside, looking at the plants, than to try to do it from a reference photo. Photos tend to make a jumble of foliage. I lightly penciled in the border then inked it with the same Pigma Micron pen (size 01) that I used for the sketches.

My favorite sketch that week was the Baltimore Oriole. That orange color is just luscious, isn't it? This is the first year we've ever had orioles at our feeders, and we've really enjoyed watching them scarfing down grape jelly and oranges.

My favorite event that week was an outdoor sketching get-together at my friend Teresa's beautiful garden. I almost felt like I was in England - fragrant old-fashioned roses, wisteria in bloom, picket fences, a koi pond, deep blue felt like heaven! And being with my friends for the first time in months was even better.

I got a little behind with my painting during week 3, but I managed to keep up with the drawing, which requires the most time and effort for me.

Coming up with an idea each day and figuring out the design of the square then drawing and inking it - that's what takes time. Painting can be done quickly, because all the decisions have already been made.

I caught up with everything during week 4...

My favorite sketch for week 3 is this one:

I like the design of the square and the rich colors on the purple flowers (which, for the life of me, I can't remember the name of!)

My favorite activity that week was our inaugural camping trip with our new trailer, which we bought last October and never had a chance to use until now.

Week 4 brought a haircut (yay!), gardening, grandkids, and home improvement projects. My favorite activity that week was taking my granddaughter to visit my mother for the day. I hadn't seen my mom for weeks due to the pandemic, and she's really been missing the family.

We finally got to the point where we had all been isolating long enough that we felt we weren't a risk to each other, so Isabelle and I spent a day at Alpine Lake with her.

My favorite image from week 4 is this one of me getting a long-awaited haircut. It says so much about the times we're living in.

And those times aren't always the happiest, are they? My sketch for the 27th represents one of those days when I just felt sad and on the verge of tears from the time I got up in the morning till I went to bed at night. Most days, I stay busy and upbeat, but occasionally it all gets to be too much. Then I give myself permission to cry and feel sorry for myself ... and everybody else, too.

Usually, after a good night's sleep, I feel more like my everyday happy self. I'm grateful that those dark days don't happen too often.

After I finished all thirty days of my June calendar, it was time to tackle the clematis border. I first painted the leaves using various combinations of Sap Green, Leaf Green, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Light, Ultramarine Blue, and Cobalt Blue.

I allowed the yellows, greens, and blues to mingle on the paper, giving me varied values and a wide range of natural-looking colors.

FYI - While I was working on the border, I protected the rest of the page with a sheet of plain paper.

I did this throughout the month, too, while I was working on the individual squares. I would isolate the one or two squares that I was working on that day and protect the others with scrap paper temporarily. It prevented any skin oils or dirt from soiling the sketchbook page, and protected it from inadvertent paint drips, etc.

After the base wash on the leaves was completed, I masked out the stamens using a ruling pen to make nice, thin lines.

Then I applied the first washes to the flowers.

I was able to get a wide range of values with that first wash.

All that was needed in the next step was to add darker shadows and detailing.

When I was ready to paint the centers, I removed the masking fluid.

Then the stamens were painted with Yellow Ochre and touches of green.

The next step was to finish up the leaves by adding veins, shadows, and detailing.

After 30 days and countless hours of drawing and painting, it was finished!!!

Or was it??????

I decided the page looked so crazy busy that it needed something to tie it all together. I considered all sorts of possibilities, but finally settled on adding a pale blue wash of Cobalt Blue around the entire page. It was tricky painting around the vines while simultaneously feathering out the paint, keeping a soft edge, and not having any hard edges or overlapping lines in the wash.

I think the effort was worth it. I love this page, with its glimpses into the life of our family. The exuberant border might be a little over the top, but I think it, along with all the fun, colorful sketches, represents the richness of my life and the happiness I feel in my little corner of the world. Even though things might not be the way we want them to be right now, life is still so very, very good.


  1. It's wonderful, Leslie, and I appreciate your tips. I think I'd a sketchbook like yours. What type and pound paper? You inspired me to do a covid art journal -- I'm almost through my first book, which when you think about it is a very sad occurrence.

    1. The first sentence in the post has a link to the American Journey Journaling Sketchbook on the Cheap Joe's website. It has 140 lb. paper, and it says it's hot-pressed, but it's not slick like you would expect hot-press paper to be. It has some tooth to it. It's a creamy off-white color.

      I've let my COVID journal lapse. I just didn't have the heart to work in it after a month or two. Not sure if I'll go back to it. I guess the novelty wore off and weariness has set in.

  2. Thank you Leslie for sharing your art with us. Not only is it beautiful, but joyful as well as being honest about feelings. We appreciate your teaching on so many levels. Thanks again.

    1. You’re welcome, Laura. Thank you for your kind comments.

  3. Morning Leslie! I love everything about this! It is so bright and pretty - a sweet remembrance of June. I've got to try something like this and get out of this slump I've been in.
    Thank you!

    1. There’s a fresh new month coming up. Maybe you could try a calendar in August. Keep it simple, so it won’t be too overwhelming. It certainly doesn’t have to be as elaborate as this one. Just have fun with it. You can even make it black and white, if you don’t feel the urge to paint. It’s so much fun to look back over it at the end of the month.

  4. I love you painted calender, what a fabulous idea! and a wonderful memory.


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