Monday, December 5, 2011

special guest sketchbook profile: Desiree Habicht

Desiree Habicht is an artist, living her dream of painting and creating art everyday...

It is my journey through the process that is so exciting, the trials, the experiments the people I meet! Won't you join me as I have fun doing what I love most, working in watercolor, pastels and fabric.

Why do you keep a sketchbook and how often do you work in it?
I keep a sketchbook because I need a place to record my inspirations whenever I get them and I work in them daily. I have kept a sketchbook/art journal for as long as I can remember, sketching out ideas, drawing things I came across and experimenting with different techniques and mediums. They were drawings, sketches or paintings with notes of things that pop into my head, often in no order or without reason. Things can be sketched upside down, sideways, however I seemed to grab the book. I always have one by my bed and I make myself sketch in it before I go to bed every night. I always enjoy looking through the pages, remembering the idea that I had at that moment, often times finding the inspiration I need for the project I am currently working on whether it be a new painting or quilt or fabric line.
Many years ago, Danny Gregory came out with a book called “Everyday Matters” where the concept was to journal daily about the things in our lives. So in 2006 I started to sketch and journal daily. This sketchbook is often a moleskine and is small enough to carry with me everywhere. I always have it with me along with a small paint set, a water brush, pen and mechanical pencil so I can sketch anywhere. The moleskines have a pocket in the back where you can carry cards or collect leaves, flowers and small objects found along the way. I have many leaves tucked away in my journals from all over.

Do you work in just one at a time or do you have several going at once?
I keep several sketchbooks going at one time, probably too many going at one time. I hate it when I am getting ready to run out the door and can’t find my sketchbook so I have them everywhere. One of my goals is to condense and make myself finish one at a time so they stay within the same time period. Packing a backpack with sketching supplies ready to go is a great idea too. I also have different sketchbooks for different things. I have one I use to sketch and paint my garden, documenting and recording the beauty of the things I am growing and doing in the yard that year. I also have separate journals for capturing our trips and vacations. These journals are quite detailed, recording daily events and sketching the things I am enjoying along the trip. I love that I can look back in these journals and it takes me back to all the wonderful moments I experienced. In my travel journals I often sketch during the day and then journal the experiences of the day at night before going to bed. I know many of the things I recorded would have been forgotten had I not journaled about them.

What’s your preferred format (sketchbook size, type of paper, single sheet, spiral bound, etc.) and preferred medium for using in your sketchbook. Watercolor, pen, pencil, crayon, collage,etc?
I think it really depends on what I am using the journal for. For my daily sketchbook I prefer a large watercolor moleskine just because they are easy to buy and ready to go. Most watercolor journals have a 140lb cold press paper which has a bit of texture. Hot press paper is smooth. I have made my own sketchbooks using different watercolor papers and sketching paper. I do have some small moleskines (3 ½”x 5 ½”) with sketching paper for my purse, I only use pencils on those.  I like an inexpensive spiral bound book filled with just sketching paper for my idea sketchbooks. They are cheap and I can fill the pages with pencil sketches which can be easily transferred to watercolor paper if needed when developing an idea. These spiral bound books can be folded all the way over so you can work on one piece of paper at a time. If I only have a sheet of paper or I am sketching a postcard, I like to use arches 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper for these loose sketches and paintings.


What advice do you have for someone who wants to keep a sketchbook but doesn’t know how to begin?
I recommend a sketchbook that opens flat and has at least 140lb watercolor paper inside with a layout you prefer. Then, the next book you buy can be a different layout if you like. There are many different types of journals with different watercolor papers, experiment, try new ones, ask other sketchers for their opinions. I also suggest buying a mechanical pencil, a large ninji water brush and have a permanent black ink pen (a micron pen works well). If someone is just beginning buy a cheap set of watercolors or any travel watercolor set. My students eventually graduate into filling small travel palettes with colors that they like from experimenting in class with my paints. I find one of the hardest things is starting your new journal, those pages seem endless and so white. If you’re feeling like that then take the first page and just paint random colors all over the page and when it dries write your name and “This is MY sketchbook!” Give yourself permission to make mistakes and do bad art! If you feel like you are not a good artist this practice will help you to improve. Start by drawing simple shaped things like apples, coffee cups etc. in pencil and then when you are happy with your drawing go over it in a permanent ink pen and finally some watercolor paint if desired. Not everything will turn out. Use the not as successful pages to learn from. Journal about what worked and what didn’t work. Doing this will help you on your next sketch. Journaling along with drawing is important. When I look back I enjoy the things I wrote in the journal as much as the things I drew. Try to keep going in one book until it is finished. When you finish it write the dates on them and keep them! You will be glad you did. You can see your improvements as you continue to journal and sketch. Everything takes practice and unless you apply it you won’t improve your drawing skills.

Anything else you would like to add?
Try to draw something every day. It doesn’t matter what you draw as much as it matters that you have drawn something that day! In the beginning, if you don’t feel comfortable drawing in public set aside a time during the day to draw at home. With your morning coffee is a good time but for me I like to end my day with sketching, Often, when I can’t sleep or get a thought in the middle of the night, I will grab my sketchbook and sketch for awhile. If you are not self motivated join a sketching group that meets during the month to sketch or join an online sketching group, there are many around. My sketch class meets once a month but we sketch all during the month and post our sketches to our group blog. Danny Gregory has a group called everyday matters and they have lists of things to draw, for instance, your breakfast, your shoe etc. It is nice to have a place to see what others are doing and join in and a place to post your sketches. You can also start your own blog where you can post your sketches and talk about them. Art is an action word; you will only get better if you do it, so jump in!


  1. Desiree! so good to see your beautiful pages...thanks.

  2. I am so happy to see Desiree and her work on TSC blog. Her work is so amazing and inspirational. You go girl!

  3. great points made:>) and I totally agree on the value of sketchbooks

    and of course - lovely work

  4. I sketch but this has made me think - I'll try to take that wee book everywhere from now on.Thanks for the inspiration Desiree

  5. Wonderful interview - and your sketches always inspire me, Desiree!

  6. I loved reading Desiree's interview and seeing her pages! It is very inspiring. I think the advice of drawing every day is very good.

  7. I am always impressed with those who can draw buildings and real things so well. I enjoy seeing them.

  8. You are certainly prolific! Gorgeous work. I really enjoyed looking through your site and blog.

  9. Thank so much for your comments, I love this group of artists and I feel honored to know some of them personally and for being asked as a special guest.

  10. Thankyou to all of you that contribute to this blog. Everytime I look there is such beautiful work, and I am so tempted to dedicate myself to keeping a regular sketchbook.


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