Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Minimalist Approach

Carol Sloan here.

This weekend, my husband and I had to travel to another state for an umpire conference.
I had several hours in the car to sketch, paint and journal a little bit.
I have a kit (of sorts) that I carry with me in such circumstances.

Check this post for the tools that I use.

I usually use the Pitt Artist Pens but decided to try the Micron pens from our sponsor.
I do love the smaller pen tips in these pens - great for teeny tiny little details that I tend to add.

I used the two sizes of pens, a pencil, a blending stump, and the Wausau Exact Vellum Bristol paper that I like to use.

When I am given the topic to work with and have to create artwork that way, I usually begin by doing an exercise that
involves free flow writing.

I pull out my sketchbook or just a piece of scratch paper and write what the words mean to me - fast scribbles, the first things that pop into my head...
I thought about what I highly prize...
what do others prize or value?
I look up phrases that include the words. I follow the links to read a bit about each one.

Can you tell that the research of a new subject is one of my favorite things? It really helps me to wrap my head around the subject. It helps me to think of the topic in a deeper, more meaningful way.

The first things that came to mind that I personally prize are my husband and my son.
Above all, these two are the most highly prized things in my life.

I read some of the comments that talked about not feeling comfortable drawing faces.
I love to draw faces but don't trust my skills enough to draw someone I know without them being there to look at or having a photo to reference. My sweetie was driving so I couldn't ask him to keep looking my way so I could sketch him and my son is away at college (art school!)  and I had no photos...

What's a girl to do?

The second best thing of course!
I simply wrote about them.

Drawing something is one way to represent it but writing about it is another way. 
I began the sketchbook page by folding my paper in half. That really helps me as I don't have to fill an entire page. I can handle the smaller size of a half page much better!

One theme that was repeated in the research of "Highly Prized" was freedom.
How we all truly prize our freedom - whether it is personal freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of religion.
It's all freedom.

So I drew an image that represents "freedom" in our country (USA).
An eagle.
It may not be a realistic rendering but I have the freedom to decide that, right? <insert a big smile here!>

I used the smaller nibbed pen for all of the detail work.
Then I used a regular pencil to scratch around the drawing. What I wanted to do was lay down enough graphite so that I could go back and smudge it with the blending stump.
This is how I created the shading, the shadows on the drawing.
It is a really simple and quick way to add some dimension and depth to your work.

I drew some uneven, meandering lines for journaling. Don't worry about being precise (unless you want them that way!), just put the ink on the paper.
I added little detailed areas on the lines (click on the photo to see it enlarged), scratched the pencil on it again and used the blending stump to smudge it.
Lastly, I added my journaling.

"Highly Prized- what do I value.
As an American - a human,
I find that I highly prize my freedom,
personal liberty ranks right up there too...
the freedom to choose are all things that I Highly Prize.
My husband, my son,

So there you have it. A sketchbook page that I created while riding down the road, using only four tools.
Simple tools.
I hope that you are giving yourself the gift of time.
Giving yourself at least 15 minutes a day to sketch. To journal. To paint.
Whatever you love to do that sparks your creativity.


  1. What a great page. I love the eagle. Sometimes creative is better than realistic. It catches the eye and makes one pay attention to the meaning of the piece. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Cute eagle and of course I appreciate that you use text in your sketches. It takes a real talent to be able to draw in the car!

  3. I like your take on the "highly prized" theme! Reading about your sketching on the road brings back memories of childhood road trips. I always had to have pens, pencils and paper with me...I still do!

  4. How amazing - your page is wonderful. I just did an unexpected road trip also and ended up with My Man (husband) as Highly Prized also. The road trip was to a NWR in Southern New Mexico and one of the images I sketched was a bald eagle...great minds you know? I'll post my sketch on my blog, and in the flickr group. Lori

  5. Oh how I wisht ath i could write draw andd read in the car!!! I still get car sick!! Yuck!! Your eagle is fabulous- it would make a fabulous Art Quilt in so many different styles!! I can see done in the Kelli Perkins style and the Jane LaFazio style and of course the Carol Sloan style. The bird really reminds me of a Mexican thunderbird, or maybe that is Mayan Thunderbird!! The manner of the journaling is wonderful as well- very free and open!! Must try that- I tend to be too tight!!!
    I really love this post and how you explained your process!!! Bravo!!

  6. Great inspiration! I love how you approached this prompt.

  7. well. Yes, I do give myself those 15 minutes... more actually... but my pages do not look so groovy.
    I bet that is not the point....
    Look. I am happy that you've started this whole shebang- because while my pages still look crappy, I feel that I am growing as an artist. The sketchbook causes me to think of art in my downtime... the time I spend away from art. I bet that makes no sense to you.. but for me to see my sketchbook outside of my workroom, and to draw during non-art time, well... that is a bit of a growing experience for me.
    Enough of not making sense now, I'm going to bed.

  8. Hy Carol, tell me more about the sketchbook challenge - I see some people posting on this

  9. Hi Carol,
    I loved your eagle sketch so much that I made a page last night using your wavy line for text method as a spring board, then combining a few other techniques, like contour drawing. Will post it in the Flickr group.
    thanks for the inspiring post.

  10. Lori - I loved your sketchbook page from your birding trip!
    Elizabeth- I can only draw for so long and then I have to stop for awhile too...
    Amy-I do understand about needing a place to be imperfect! I have a lot of really Bad Pages...that's one of hte reasons that I like to use looseleaf pages...I can pick and choose what I place in them!
    Cathy- go to to read how it all works and join in with us!
    Anna Marie-I visited your blog and LOVE your page! Way to go! What a great way to add the work back into your sketchbook!


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