Tuesday, November 13, 2018

DIY Watercolor Sketchbook (Accordion/Flip Style)

"There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult".
                                                                        - Warren Buffett -

Have you ever wanted to make a hardbound watercolor sketchbook but thought it would be too difficult or take too much time?

In my YouTube video I show you how to make a watercolor sketchbook from a single sheet of Strathmore 400 Series, 140 lb. watercolor paper. There is no sewing, stapling or taping necessary because the sketchbook is made from a single sheet of 22" x 30" watercolor paper. It's folded, cut and re-folded in what I call an "Accordion/Flip" style and you can complete the text block in less than 5 minutes. I added a cloth-bound cover for added protection to the watercolor paper and an elastic band to hold it securely together.

This is one of the fastest, easiest methods to make a watercolor sketchbook. You can use a single sheet of your favorite watercolor paper. Or... here's an opportunity to try out a sheet of another brand to see if you like it before you purchase a pad or block of it. The design and weight of the paper allows you to paint on both sides of the paper. The finished sketchbook is a standard size of 6" x 8", but if you prefer a different size, try one of the designs below to make an 8" x 8" square sketchbook or an 8"x 10" sketchbook from the same 22" x 30" size sheet of watercolor paper.

Just a reminder....these sketchbooks would make wonderful gifts!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Beginning a New Adventure

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
                                             - Lao Tzu

It's exciting to be able to revisit the beginning of a new art adventure. That's what happened this past weekend with my grandson. Emmett, who is seven years old, has decided he would like to learn how to do watercolor painting like his grandma. A new adventure we can share together.

The first step we needed to take was the selection of his paint palette and then the decision on what paints he should use. He decided to go for a metal paint box because as he put it, " the metal box was stronger than the plastic one." Then we selected his paints. I didn't want to start him out with Crayola or Prang, even though they are both good products for children. Instead, I started him out with Winsor & Newton Cotman paints. That's what I started out with when I was his age and never regretted it.  I'm still using their product today and find it to be of the highest quality. I wanted him to feel confident in knowing he was using real artist's paints and not something meant for a child to play with.

The next step was becoming familiar with his paints and knowing what colors he was working with. This he did by making a swatch card to put in his paint box. He painted swatches of each paint color and was surprised by how the colors appeared different on paper than they appeared in their pans.

After he completed the swatches, he was ready for his first watercolor painting. I didn't want to interfere with his first creation. In fact, I was eager to see what he came up with. His first endeavor  was on a small scale but it was what he could handle. His drawing was of his own creation and he began to paint it without hesitation. Of course, there was a special story about the picture and each color he chose to paint each item.

For his first attempt I think he handled it like a pro.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Midori Style Traveler's Notebook

"We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are".
                                                       - Max Depree-

I have an old messenger style leather purse that I loved dearly. Unfortunately, I loved it so much I wore it out. So what do I do with it? I'm still emotionally attached to it and can't throw it away, but I don't want to put it in the closet and have another thing cluttering up the house. Solution...take it apart and recycle the leather into something usable.

I've always admired and wanted a Midori Traveler's Notebook but I could not justify the cost of the leather notebook and the inserts. However...I now have the leather to make my own beautiful handmade traveler's notebook and I have all the papers I enjoy using to make the booklets. I also love the idea of repurposing something "old" into something "new" that I can use every day.

Follow along as I show you step-by-step how I used the leather from my old favorite purse to make a Midori style traveler's notebook. I break it down into easy steps and give you all the measurements to create not only the leather notebook but also the booklets to insert into the notebook.

Of course, if you don't have an old leather purse to use, you can purchase new leather from the craft store or fabric store. Then you can make the booklets from your favorite choice of papers.

Try making one for yourself, I know you'll love it as much as I love mine.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How To Make Your Perfect Sketchbook

"I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen."
                                                 - Frederick Franck

The most important thing for an artist is their sketchbook. It's where we work out ideas and get our practice, but most importantly it's where we express ourselves. Every artist has their particular preference about the size of the sketchbook and what kind of paper is inside.

We go into the art stores searching for our ideal sketchbook. Many times we either come up short and can't find it or worse yet we find several sketchbooks with different types of paper that meets our needs. We can't haul around all these sketchbooks so we end up restricting ourselves to the sketchbook we have on hand.

What if you could have one perfect sketchbook with all the different types of paper in it that you enjoy using? Would you choose sketch paper for working out that intricate design? Perhaps toned tan or gray for your portraits? How about watercolor for that spontaneous landscape?

Now you have that option. You can create that perfect sketchbook in the size you want with all the different kinds of paper you adore using. Best of all you can carry this sketchbook with you where ever you go and have the option of using any of these papers whenever you want.

It gets even better... you can remove the pages of this sketchbook and draw or paint with whatever medium you choose and then photograph it or place it in a scanner and then put it back in the sketchbook. Yes...you can remove the pages, move them around and put them back into the sketchbook in any order that soothes your mind.

It's not a fantasy, that perfect sketchbook does exist and I'll show you how to make it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone

"As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal."
                                                                        - Robin S. Sharma

I started drawing when I was a little girl. I simply picked up a pencil and began to draw on any paper within reach.  I was inexperienced and made a lot of mistakes, but with a pencil all I had to do was erase it and draw it again...and again...and again until I got it right. There was no stress and I felt at ease knowing my mistakes could be easily corrected.

This method of drawing is ideal for beginners. It allows you to relax as you gain experience. As I grew older and my skills developed, I realized that if I wanted to grow as an artist I needed to step out of my "comfort zone" and use more challenging mediums. This would allow me to stretch and work my skills while learning new techniques and taking bigger chances. You can't accomplish great things by playing it safe.

For example...here is a sketch I did of my grandson, Mason. I drew it with pencil in my sketchbook and it turned out nice.

 But look at what happens when I step out of my comfort zone and do the same sketch on toned tan paper with color pencil.


 So...I began using color pencils, then watercolor pencils and water soluble graphite pencils. The most difficult and the most intimidating medium I'm transitioning into is ink. Ink is permanent...once you put it on the paper there's no going back!!! I've worked in acrylic paint in the past years,  now I enjoy working in watercolor paint and last week I purchased a set of gouache paint. I'm interested in experimenting with it to see what I can learn.

I can't say that every drawing or painting has been successful. Sometimes they aren't. Even now, with decades of practice, I'm still not sure if a drawing or painting is going to turn out like I planned. That's the exciting part of being creative...you never know what's going to happen. Most of the time you're improvising...but would you want it any other way?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Summer Vacation

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.
                                                 - Earl Wilson

The best part of working in education is summer vacation. Especially this year. I didn't think I would make it to June.

When I first started this job our school was just a small country school. It consisted of 20 classes and I was the librarian with a library collection of 8000 books. I loved my job and arrived every day with a smile on my face. I couldn't believe I was being paid to do what I loved.

As the years progressed so did the school. The enrollment increased, requiring additional classes and textbooks were added to the library duties. Shortly after that we began a new program called Dual Language Immersion and I not only had more classes but the number of textbooks doubled and were available in both English and Spanish. Recently we began checking out Chromebooks to the children and starting next year I will be converting a section of the library into a MakerSpace area.

I'm no longer a librarian. I perform multiple duties and the school has grown significantly. I now have a library collection of over 17,000 books, an additional 6,000 books are checked out to classroom libraries, over 100,000 textbooks, consumable workbooks and teacher's resource materials in English and Spanish distributed among 44 teachers and...953 Chromebooks.

I definitely need a vacation!!!

I'm looking forward to spending time this summer with my grandchildren, family and......my art materials!!!

In case you thought I was exaggerating!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Lessons I've learned from my mother.

Motherhood: all love begins and ends there.
                                           - Robert Browning

When I was a little girl my mother took me everywhere with her, whether it was running errands, on personal visits or when handling business transactions. She took me places where children were usually not allowed but because I was a quiet, well behaved child they would allow or tolerate it. She would always tell me, "Bethie...this is a wonderful lesson for you...watch...listen...and learn."

I loved watching my mother because she was a remarkable woman. She was intelligent, loving, beautiful, brave and she had great passion for everything she did. She also had the most amazing people skills and could hold a conversation with anyone on any subject.

Like most women of her generation she put her family and home first. Her children's needs and desires came before her own and she was responsible for holding the family together, solving problems and maintaining a happy, healthy home.

As I grew older our bond grew stronger. I knew I would never have the people skills my mother had but I did develop a different talent...a creative talent...and we balanced out each other. My mother taught me not to be afraid of hard work, that if you wanted to accomplish something great you had to take chances and no matter what...you have to have a dream.

So we worked hard together, laughed at our mistakes together and dreamed big dreams together. We were supportive of each other so we felt braver...safety in numbers I suppose. Time passed quickly and my mother's health began to decline. We didn't take on new projects or work as hard and our dreams were replaced with health concerns.

When my mother passed away a part of me went with her. I lost my sense of direction, my balance and my best friend. I felt so empty and alone inside.

I'm in the process of learning how to live without her...and that is the most difficult lesson of all.

I love and miss you so much Mom.

Dedicated to...Violet Elizabeth Franks (August 19, 1925 - October 22, 2014)