Sketchbook Revival 2023, hosted by Karen Abend, wrapped up in late April and it was a good one! For the uninitiated, it is a collection of two daily workshops (archived for a month) focusing on various art-related practice -- painting, urban sketching, breaking down your own creative barriers, collage and more. Finally, I'm sharing some of the things I painted during that time.
I chose to do mostly the painting/drawing sessions, though I did watch a couple of the collage pieces. Even though I've done enough of it that I don't really want to do it anymore, you can still learn about color, design and placement regardless of media.
I'll show you a few of the things in my sketchbook, along with a bit of commentary! This iris was the first I did with Jeanne Oliver. The idea was to do a contour drawing -- that is, your pencil does not leave the paper as you sketch the image. I chose one from my botanical calendar. Then you can use paint or colored pencil or markers to add color.
I liked this one a lot. It's not that the drawing is that fantastic, but doing the process makes you slow down and really think about what you're doing as you work.
Last year I did a blob-painting workshop that I loved. This year's was taught by NYTimes artist Mike Lowrey. It was different from last year's -- and yet, similar but my drawings were entirely different!
You start with a blob of color and then see how it speaks to you as you add in the line drawing. I had fun with this -- it reminded me of looking at clouds in the sky and seeing shapes! I found this very fun!
I did NOT find Helen Wells abstract workshop fun while I was doing it. That felt completely out of my zone and I was very uncomfortable! Wells told us to draw a squiggly shape on our page, a spiky shape over it, a vertical line and a horizontal one, the start to color it in. I was not happy. And then I started adding in some dots and it started to take shape. Is it angry birds? I'm not sure -- but I found myself liking it.
In fact, I liked it enough that I did another (and felt equally uncomfortable). I think this might be fish. Or birds. Or just color. This is what it looked like as I was working.
And after. Wells was especially good at working us through a lot of the complexities of color -- not just what we like but what may or may not go together -- and why. That alone was worth it!
Tamara Laporte had us painting a fox. She had a template but showed us how to do a sketching grid method so this was done freehand but by blocking my page (and looking at her blocking of her working image. I'm not sure how foxy it looks -- maybe more like a dog. But I liked doing it and I will be doing the grid again and very soon.
Here's a different version. I did love painting him!
Then I watched Joanne Sharpe on spontaneous watercolor and and adding words to your journal as part of the page design. I liked the workshop. But I hated my first piece. I think I tried to get too fancy!
So I did another. It's still not right but I liked it better. And I enjoyed working the wet-on-wet background.
I knew I would love Roisin Cure's workshop, as I was familiar with her work. Her main thing is to have us urban sketch from life. However, online, not so easy. So she had one of her pieces and she walked us through it, explaining how some things are larger, others smaller to reflect the near-far perspective.
Apparently, she did her original sketch from life on the beach. I just loved every second of this and my only wish is that it was more "original" than copied art.
Another of my favorites was Emily Mills' Sketchnoting workshop, which would be great for a travel journal. We could pick a topic so I picked part of my time in England. I'll definitely do this again.
Another workshop, by Amandine Thomas, was on sketching your day. The idea is that one should be doing art practice daily, even if for only a short time. And of course, we always say, "I have no idea of what to do!" Well, subject matter for practice is all around us.
I had such fun with this that I did a second piece.
Joy Ting had us doing a landscape by first mimicking another artist's very abstract landscape. I didn't do that because I hated the colors. Then she wanted us to use similar colors to create our version of a landscape she shared. I just couldn't But I did do my own from her image. It's a more realistically colored version and I rather liked it.
Toni Burt was a super favorite, too. She had us drawing a wonky house and rather than painting precisely, painting loosely with suggestions of color. This was my first...
...and my second. And I will do more in this style, working the houses from some of my photos.
Another favorite artist is Este MacLeod, whose watercolor workshops and free coloricombo challenges I participate in. Este is big on having us use numbers as a jumping off point for our thinking outside the box and the trees she had us paint all are based on overlapping numbers. Would you know the one in the middle is a bunch of 5s? Or the one to its left, 2s? Again, I'm painting off my grid but I love it and the color!
Lauren Lesley had us drawing chickens! That's harder than it looks -- maybe not if you are "simplifying" the chicken but I just couldn't do a "cute" chicken -- I wanted mine to look close to the real thing. I loved this. Painting animals is something I enjoy and strive to be better with. There is loads of room for improvement here but I basically liked it.
And I hated this on with Angela Fehr. I can't even remember what the assignment was and Fehr was engaging. I just couldn't get anything the way I wanted it to be. Isn't this the most ghastly art? Frankly, calling it art is a travesty. The more I tried to save it, the worse it got!
I tried to do the technique and add a line drawing of chicks -- which I liked only slightly more.
I listened to a couple of workshops, not doing the project but also got a great deal of of Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's session and the opening session on how to build your own journal with some basic bookbinding skills. I'm not sure I'll do it but I'm glad I know how -- because you never know!
So, that's Sketchbook Revival. Now, I just have to get that daily practice in order!