Wednesday, June 29, 2011

follow your own path

 When the Sketchbook Challenge first began my goal was to get better at rendering realistic drawings.  I tried my best to force myself to draw something every day but it became obvious pretty quickly that no matter how hard I pushed myself it just wasn't the right path for me because I prefer to work in abstract imagery.  I did discover however that there are two methods of working in a sketchbook that do work for me - photography and watercolors. 

Over the few years I've found that I really enjoy taking photos, especially ones of texture.  I print them out on 4x6 photo paper and the put them in a large sketchbook and when I work with them to create a new piece of artwork I also attach a color card that has a swatch of the surface I ultimately create inspired by the photos along with paint samples that have notes about any color mixing I did .

 “in the tall grass”
30″ x 40″ hand painted silk mounted on stretched canvas

 Working with watercolors allows me to explore shapes and colors quickly and loosely letting the flow of the paint be the guide.  I've created several pieces of fiber art based on my watercolor paintings, the most recent being from these:

 These were just quick and easy shapes drawn while chatting with my friend Kathleen while she was working in her sketchbook at a recent sketch-in.   I did a few pages of these and ended up translating them into fabric and then into this quilt:

"stuck in the middle" hand dyed sandwashed cotton 59"x39" machine quilted

So my point of all of this is that there is no one magic formula to keeping and using a sketchbook that works for everyone and that each person has to follow their own path to discover what methods and techniques work for them. As for me, I'm going to stick to the photography and watercolor path because that's the one that works for me!

p.s. if you'd like to explore using simple abstract or non representational watercolor paintings as a jumping off point to creating new fiber artwork then check out my new online class Watercolor explorations for the fiber artist here.


  1. Hi Sue. Great post! I, too, struggle with drawing as drawing. I also gravitate towards abstract imagery. Keeping a drawing/sketching practice, however, has helped me immensely! Love this sketchbook challenge!

  2. Thank you Sue for this posting. Sometimes several days can go by before I actually complete a sketch, let alone a realistic one. Like you I'm drawn to photography and all its channels for artistic expression. But yesterday I did a "realistic" sketch of one of my lilies and I'm hoping the lessons discovered will be a springboard for me; a digital painting.
    Thank you again.

  3. It's nice to see your thought process. I'm not comfortable sketching realistic things either.

  4. I love this sketchbook challenge and joined it for similar reasons. The most amazing part for me has been finding so much inspiration from the other participants. I would never have tried some of the things I've tried if it wasn't for this challenge and cyber-meeting so many new friends. I'm still looking for what works best for me, but that's half the fun. Thanks Sue.

  5. Whew-great minds and all that LOL I am also coming to the conclusion that while there is a purpose to realistic drawing, it is not the end result for me. Drawing has me look more intently into the beauty around me - YAY - but in and of itself doesn't end up as an free self-expression (speaking for myself) I am ending up with fairly realistic drawings incorporated into my art journaling and that works for me. Thanks for leading the way down the path!

  6. I highly admire realistic art...Andrew Wyeth being one of my favorite artists...but I myself also struggle with recreating reality outside of my camera. I think that is why the new fad Zentangling, has appealed to me so much. Thanks for your words...I did leave a picture on the Flickr link for "Pathways". Is that the right thing to do for the challenge?

  7. Thank you thank you thank you. When I started I wanted to improve my drawing abilities....and I really felt that this meant realistic and pretty much SKETCH as in pencil or pen...Doing the sketch a day has been a massive struggle and I have been resenting it. I have discovered that I need/want color and that working to someone else's "theme" is just not going to do it for me. I am going to blog about this because it has been so hard. Thanks for giving me permission to do my own thing...again. :)

  8. Thanks for all the great comments everyone!


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