I brought a selection of colored pencils on this trip thanks to Liz Steele and her Sketching Now on-line class. Regular colored pencils have very little appeal to me, but I am discovering the transformative nature of watercolor pencils. 'Learning' being my euphemistic way of saying messing around with. Anyway, I pulled them out a bit.
Both of these (above and below) are cut off from the full landscape spread since my scanner only goes to legal size, but since they're not highly composed, I'm just living with it. When I sit in front of a landscape I just begin with what catches my eye and move around from there. In both these cases I used pencil and ink to define edges and then wet my water brush on the pencil to build up color.
But as we went on, I got more intrigued by the stones themselves and the texture of rocks in the hillside. I stopped trying to rush to get to the color of the layers and just focused on the fun I was having building up the piles.
I loved doing these in person, since the gravitas of the rock formations was so palpable, or maybe I just went a little kooky. I was on some muscle relaxants after all.
I am hoping to get access to my husbands stash of photographs so I can play with more rock outcroppings, but he took several thousand pictures (he's that kind of guy) and it's taking him time to sort through. I await. I may have to do new versions of piles I've already done. That's actually taking on an allure of its own.
I've had very little energy since we got back from our trip. What little I've had to spare has gone into completing the work of the journals I brought with me. Despite the on-going cruddy feeling, I'm very pleased with that since too often the blank pages I've left to fill in later just get left period.
Below are pages from a larger (than I usually work in) landscape Moleskine journal that I decided to try out. I've used smaller formats before, but I'm not usually a landscape format. Don't know why. It makes so much sense. In the end I didn't enjoy working in the Moleskine as much as the Stillman and Birn, which surprised me. The dappled nature of the Moleskine surface ended up being distracting - it was too uniformly dapped when the watercolor settled in (which you can't see in this but in other ones). Anyway, I'm glad I brought it and tried it out, especially trying the landscape.
None of these are post production, they're from during the actual trip. Above was our first day in Santa Fe and I decided that I just needed to put some lines down since I hadn't been doing much recently and was feeling very unsteady.
The trees above were probably the most satisfying sketches. We were told we would have to wait for seating at the restaurant we wanted and they and a lovely courtyard, but we were all tired and a little cranky. The few minutes we sat and sipped lemonade and I sketched ended up settling us into a great mellow dinner time mood.
This being April, I know everyone is keeping a fake journal in participation of International Fake Journal month. I know I am. I just posted my first few entries on my alternate "challenge" blog - Paint By Numbers. I use that blog for monthly challenges when I don't want the challenge to take over everything else I'm doing. And that's what I'm enjoying about IFJM. My journal for that takes a few minutes each day, maybe a little more depending on how the sketching goes, but that's what is making it so much fun. I am using it to prod myself to sketch in a more less intentional way - just doing what is in front of me without thinking about it too much. I like my sketchbook best when I think the least.
I've included the text here, but most of what is written in this journal is just yak yak yak. My character has a little OCD and she uses her journal to calm herself down by sketching and letting go of her thoughts. I may think it's boring and stupid to reread, but has actually been very fun to do.
Other than that, I'm printing pictures from my trip and sticking them in my trip journal. THAT journal started out pretty lame, I wasn't very happy with how it was looking and the paper and and and… but I've plugged away at it and I can honestly say I'm pleased as a peach with it now. Peachy pleased. It's overstuffed and bursting and got some holes I need to fill in, but today, for example, I added tabs and picking out what I would use (from the ephemera that I brought back) ended up being really a bit of fun. I am always impressed with other people's travel journals and their composed pages, but trying VERY HARD not to do the comparison dance in my head this time.
Is this a great travel journal? No. Was/is it worth doing? Absoultely. I love how it makes me think about what I am doing - it keeps my eyes awake. It makes me judge what I want to pick up and save and what's not worth it. I have a reference point for a future trip. As much as anything, I become aware of what is not working, and what has worked in the past, and what I might want to do different next time.
This spine was too small. The paper was all wrong (for what I wanted to do, although I am making it work which is a good stretch for me). There were not enough pockets for business cards etc. I should have brought tabs or some way to attach tabs with me.
We are traveling today, so in advance, I am showcasing a little of what I've done. I've discovered this trip that I really really enjoy sketching rock outcroppings in ink. I did quite a few like the one above, some more and some less successful, but I enjoyed them all. Very calming and just plain fun.
I also sketched a fair amount of food. The label above was floating in the lemonade, but I took it as a sign that is was made fresh. My husband got a kind of pained look on his face.
We have collapsed in our hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico on the last day of our vacation. Tomorrow we travel home and at this point we are just done up.
I believe it's fitting then, that last night in the middle of the night I had a revelation. A pen and paper kind of revelation. I couldn't sleep, and -poof- a thought came into my head. I have been using the completely wrong pen on the Arches paper. Above is a sketch I did of some mesa/butte (which I don't remember which one we've seen so many), and I just struggled to get my pen to work on the paper. I tried my micron, much I normally love, and one of the new plumix pens I brought which I'm enjoying, and some watercolor pencils (not here, but in other sketches) but they all dig into the paper.
I have a little headlight I use when I am traveling with someone, one of those you strap to your forehead, and this lets me sketch or paint and keep the room mostly dark. So there I was in the middle of the night hunched over my journal, restating the lines of this sketch with my Pentel Aquash brush (!) pen and then putting a wash over,
and like a calm descending across the land, I was at peace.
We are still on the road. I've been sketching like a mad woman in my three journals (although I'm about to give up on one, I hate the paper so much). We have headed west, to a part of the country I'm not at all familiar with, so each day is a revelation. Unfortunately, by the time we do all the traveling, photoing, sketching and hoteling, there isn't any time for inter webbing.
Doing my fake journal has been a challenge and not at all well thought out but as usual I'm just charging on. The difference in paper between the three journals has also been shockingly impactful - I just LOVE the Stillman and Birn and HATE the Arches text weave. The latter is a fine paper, just not for what I'm trying to do which was just stupid on my part. Bringing a landscape format was brilliant however.
And I didn't know it, but apparently I love sketching rocks. Madly, deeply.
I finished up all the journals before my trip so…. I could start new ones! Yes, right now I am going a little mad because I am trying to sketch in several places all at the same time, but let me explain. First, none of my regular journals have anything to do with International fake journal month, for which I am using the above journal on the left. I am loving this journal, the paper, the size, the way it takes paint. Normally I don't like a spiral binding only because too often I don't judge placement correctly and I end up working into the spiral, but this time and for this journal it is working for me (or my fake me).
I am enjoying working at the edges of the paper, and seeing what that does to the composition. Plus, I happen to know that Stillman and Birn make the same journal in a non spiral binding. So there's that.
Along with the new journals, I'm trying out new pens, and part of what I've had to do is see how these pens work on these papers. Below is the second journal I started. I rebound a cover with a mix of junk papers and some Arches Text Weave. Only that was when I loved how thin the text weave was and that it would still take watercolor and before I realized I didn't like how soft it is. So I am working my way through all the journals I bound with this paper. But I decided to use it for now because I wanted a place to do simple sketches and also glue and paste stuff from my trip.
I need a day (or an evening) to sort through the maps/receipts/scraps I am accumulating, but we are on the move and so far no luck. However, I've tucked in what I could as we fly along, and I'm using the text weave. Below is my favorite sketch so far in this, just because it was a very colorful table cloth. I didn't even get a chance to add a wash to my eggs.
So far I've realized that I did pretty well in terms of packing supplies. The two areas that I have abundance is in paint (below - left the small altoids at home but could have done with just the Fine Water Colors and the small kids palettes - and micron pens (I love them but live in fear of the tip wearing down). Still, getting better at the weeding out phase.
Below is the last journal I added, and that's because it has good watercolor paper - it's a Moleskine with watercolor paper. I am trying to actually capture some images when I travel instead of just tiny sketches. Below is a warming up sketch I did by a riverbed. I didn't love it, but it helped me along that day to the next sketch.
Just a skittered check in. We are still in route and my head is muddled. More as I have time and energy...
I have no more minutes to type today, but I HAVE to give a hint of what is to come. First off, I am participating in Roz Stendahl's International Fake Journal Month challenge (I consider it a challenge) again this year. This is my fourth year. I first read Roz's blog DURING the month of April five years ago and she didn't mention it during the month, since she has another blog devoted to it's coverage. Anyway, I felt gypted and had to wait a whole year. I am planning a round of those years when I get back from my trip, but for now, let me just say that this year so far is the best one for me.
I won't give any of the details away (since I HAVE to go to bed) but let me say the choice of the journal was inspired, and I have just been having a blast.
There are a lot of words which is a rarity for me and part of the challenge I set myself.
Plus I gave myself a couple new pens.
I can't wait till I have more time, but I don't now so good night and when I return be ready for all sorts of stuff.