Wednesday, March 20, 2019

79 days and still going strong....

Well we are 79 days into the challenge of drawing every day and I am really happy to say that I've got 79 drawings done!  Now not every drawing is a work of art - in fact I'm not sure I'd call any of them a work of art but it doesn't matter because I am having just as much fun with the challenge 79 days into it as I was when it was just a few days old.   Here's a slideshow of all the drawings I've done so far....

Created with flickr slideshow.

I hope you are still enjoying the challenge of drawing something every day!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Why I love my sketchbooks.

Today on the Sketchbook Challenge blog we have a post from a guest blogger!  Annabel Rainbow is an amazing art quilter whose work you can learn more about on her website here.  Today on the blog she gives us a peek inside some of her sketchbooks and talks about the different ways she uses them.  Read on...

Hi, I'm Annabel Rainbow and I use a sketchbook for printing, painting, drawing and brain storming ideas for my art quilts.

There's lots of links in my posting for you to click on if you like something (they're the slightly differently coloured bits of text) and you'd like to know more about the techniques used - please also feel free to visit my blog and have a browse!

Put me in an art shop with a little spare cash and I'll find my way to the sketchbooks. I love the feel of fresh new paper encased in a shiny black hard cover, pristine and ready for me to explore and use for any creative experiments. I can't keep my hands off them, they're just like sweets and of course I have quite a few - one or two are even full up!

I even had one made for myself by a local bookbinder who filled it with a mix of papers I'd chosen, and bound it together with spacers so I could add loose work to it, and he put my name in gold letters on the front. How wonderful was that? It's A3 sized and I'm trying to fill it with portraits but it's taking a long time.

If you're new to using a sketchbook or are a little unsure of how to start, you could easily be put off and feel pressurized to produce something wonderful in it. Don't be, it's yours, go mad - no one need ever know! But if your aim is to produce a beautiful book, then there are lots of examples of completed sketchbooks out there - look on YouTube or google for example where you'll find loads including lots of GCSE and A level students sketchbooks.  I tried making a visual diary once with Linda and Laura Kemshall, aiming to make each page a record of life over a 3 month period. Although it was enormous fun to do and lovely to have something as a record of those 3 months, it isn't how I usually use a sketchbook, they're a lot more random that that! You can see a video of its contents here.  

How do sketchbooks help me?

As an ideas depository and a way of remembering all the things, silly or otherwise, that come to me at random throughout a day. Maybe I'll have been to a gallery and seen something that's resonated with me, or picked up some overheard words on the radio or seen on a piece of graffiti. I grab a sketchbook, find a clean page and jot things down or draw a little picture. This clears my mind and allows me to progress my ideas knowing that it's all been safely recorded. After all, no one can remember everything!

2 pages from a sketchbook showing recorded ideas for future work.

Sometimes my sketchbook is just a no-pressure vent for any creative juices. A place to try out a new pen or give a new technique a run through.

String pulling using Quink.

Do you ever sit in front of the TV, or perhaps get up one morning, and just feel the need to be creative but you're not sure how or what to do? Your sketchbook is the ideal place to just play, perhaps you could brainstorm about how your feeling, do a quick little drawing of what's in front of you, or mix some paint colours on a gelli press to see what happens. Below is a page using the gelli press and stencils.

You might want to make a finished, considered piece of work, and use your sketchbook simply to work through ideas of placement and colour for example. If  however, you dream of doing a wonderful painting, or in my case an art quilt, but flounder because you run out of steam after the initial thoughts, take heart and record them anyway as ideas about what to include in the piece will invariably change over time, and at least you'll have a head start when you revisit.

This idea was for a pencil sketch on gold leaf, which had bits of an underpainted colour showing through. It wasn't successful of itself but the idea is there, it's remembered, it's mine, and I can come back to it with a fresh outlook later on. Priceless.

A sketchbook is also a good place to store little bits and bobs that you collect through life eg tickets to exhibitions, wine labels, stamps, or in the case below a postcard. Can you just make it out in the middle right? It's an image of the roof of the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford.  All I've done is stuck it into my sketchbook at used pen and watercolours to extend the image out over my page. There's no reasoning behind this one, it was one of those "I wonder what would happen if....." moments.

You can cut away or tear the pages too so there's less to fill, and you create a layered feeling. Here is a drawing of a seedhead and a torn page on top with a little watercolour flower.

Tracing paper layered on top of a drawing on top of a coloured page. The tracing paper flips over exactly on top of the painting, adding another layer of texture and depth.

If you have a ring bound sketchbook, you'll find it easier to do printing as you can bend the cover right back out of the way. I like the hard bound ones, and it's still possible to print directly into them but I confess it's trickier. Here's a monoprint of Mr Portillo - a family member managed to snap a selfie with him.

Still feel you can't draw? Why not trace and work into it with colours or use black and white to show tones?

Here's a page with a monoprint of a heron, traced from a book, which was then worked into with paint.

A sketchbook allows you to work through ideas, to play, to have a go, to record, to collect, to paint, to draw, to print, to mess up, to have fun. Use it whenever you can!

Thank you for being a guest on the Sketchbook Challenge blog Annabel!

If you would like to contribute a tutorial (sketching, drawing, watercolor, acrylic, markers etc), spotlight interview with your favorite artist, or a book or product review to the Sketchbook Challenge send me an email to with your idea, some information about you with a link to your own blog or social media account.   There's no pay for contributing but the Sketchbook Challenge has a large blog and social media following so it's a great way to get your message in front of an active audience. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

any way is the right way

My good friend Mel Beach posted on the Sketchbook Challenge facebook group the other day about how she is approaching the daily drawing challenge...

Rather than working in a sketchbook with lots of scary intimidating blank white pages she is using 3" x 5" index cards that she is storing in a beautiful embroidered pouch.

Each card starts with a word that sums up the day and then she doodles images related to her day.  On the reverse side of the card she adds the date and some notes about the day.

 "This nighttime ritual has been a wonderful time of reflection and documenting my day through a word of the day, related doodles and some quick bullets on the reverse side."

I think this is a terrific way to approach the challenge if you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of working in a sketchbook.  If you don't have a special embroidered pouch like Mel has for her cards then use a box that you've covered in pretty paper or embellished with paint or punch a hole in the corner of your cards and store them on a ring so that you don't lose them.  Or you could make yourself a pouch to hold your cards, pens and pencil using this free project that I wrote for the Bernina blog when I was an ambassador for them. 

Stop by Mel's website here to learn more about her and see her amazing quilt work.  Mel's blog is here.

Remember that there are no rules when it comes to the Sketchbook Challenge - any way is the right way! Are you using a different approach than working in a traditional sketchbook for this challenge?  I want to know about it so please leave a comment or drop me an email!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Weekly roundup and a call for blog contributors

In case you missed them on Instagram or Facebook here are my daily sketches from last week:

I think the best part of doing a daily drawing challenge is that it forces me to stop and be still for a half hour and distracts me from all the chaos going on in the world.  Each one of these drawings took me a half hour or less from start to finish - that's the benefit of keeping it simple.

And now let's put the spotlight on a few of you who have posted your drawings along with me last week:

by Susanne Hastings

by Celemencia R

by Ronna Perry Currier

by Sara Branson

I love how everybody has their own unique drawing and sketching style, color palette and approach to the same challenge!   If you're interested in seeing your artwork appear here on the Sketchbook Challenge blog then make sure you tag the Sketchbook challenge on your instagram posts or post your photos on the the Sketchbook Challenge facebook page.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

It begins!

Happy New Year everyone!  Here we are on the first day of a new year and a new challenge.  If you are just finding this blog you can get all the details about how the challenge works here.  Feel free to jump in and join the challenge at any point during the year - everyone is welcome at anytime!  If you'd like to know more about your host for the challenge (that would be me, Sue Bleiweiss) you can visit my website here to learn more about me and see my work.

Okay now it's time to get to that giveaway package that I mentioned a few days ago in this post.   Since so many of you (61!) stopped and left a comment I decided that one giveaway wasn't enough and so three of you have won something!  If you are one of the winners you'll have until Monday January 7th to email me at with your snail mail address so I know where to send your prize package.   Okay now let's get to it - the winners are (determined by using a random number generator):

Winner number 1: FIBREARTIST  (who left the comment: I am so happy you are doing this Sue! I have your book and I did the challenge a few years ago. I may incorporates the drawing challenge into my weekly documented art journal that I have kept for several years. I’ve been doing this on my own for a couple of years and I would like a group to share with.)  You won the following sketching kit:
In this kit you'll find: a 5" square Global Art Materials sketchbook, a set of 12 double sided colored pencils, a set of 10 Superior Needle drawing pens, 2 blackwing pencils,  an eraser, a pencil sharpener, a set of 7 metallic Gelly Roll pens and a pencil/paintbrush.

Winner number 2: Nancy (who left the comment: Drawing is such a key skill for an artist. I am in a constant state of re-energizing my commitment and it usually has to do wth exciting new products like these!)   You won the following sketching kit:

In this kit you'll find: Two 6" x 8" hardcover sketchbooks, 3 Blackwing pencils, 3 Micron pens (01,03, 05) and a Prismacolor col-erase pencil (perfect for light sketch lines that are easily erasable.  

Winner number 3: Lisa Filion (who left the comment: what a great way to kick start the challenge! Happy holidays!!!!)   You won the following sketching kit:

 In this kit you'll find: a Strathmore 5.5" x 8" visual journal sketchbook, Blackwing pencil, a paintbrush pencil, Micron pen,  Pigma Graphic 1 pen, and a Prismacolor col-erase pencil (perfect for light sketch lines that are easily erasable. 

If you're a winner you have until Monday January 7th to email me at with your snail mail address so I know where to send your prize package.  

And now everybody go sketch something!

Sunday, December 30, 2018

my drawing process and a new flickr group

Okay we're just two days out from the official start of the challenge! I have gotten several emails from those of you who want to be able to share your photos but are not on instagram or facebook.  So I've set up a new flickr group for the sketchbook challenge to make it easy for you to share your photos.  You'll have to have a flickr account to upload to the group though and there is no way to get around that.  I've set the group up as a public group so anyone can join and you will find it here. If you need help with Flickr you can find that here.

I see from the comments that you're leaving that a lot of you have got your supplies gathered and are ready to jump in on the 1st and I can't even tell you how thrilled I am that so many of you want to participate in this challenge with me!  Like I said in my last post, I know the idea of a daily challenge can be daunting so remember to keep it simple.  No need to get hung up on rendering perfect replicas of what your drawing.  Or spend half your day drawing and painting scenes with lots of details (unless you want to!) leaving you no time for anything else.  Draw in your own style, use colors you like and enjoy the process.  I have been averaging about 30 minutes on my daily drawings.  For instance, yesterday I took an early morning yoga class so I decided that would be the subject for my dailydraw. 

I always start with a light quick sketch in pencil, then I go over the pencil lines with my Staedtler Pigment Liner (0.3).  I use this pen because it's waterproof so I don't have to worry about the lines running when I add watercolor.  Then I erase all the pencil lines and then color with my water brushes and watercolor paint.  Why do I draw with a pencil first?  Because it's less stressful for me - it gives me a chance to make mistakes and change things in the drawing before committing it to ink.

Are you worried about running ideas about what you are going to draw every day?  Here's a short list of ideas to get you started:

Something from your breakfast
The tea box or coffee bag
A piece of fruit you ate
The vegetables you had with dinner
The wine bottle
Something from lunch
Your dessert
Shampoo bottle
The milk jug
A stack of books
One of the places you visited - a store, museum, salon etc
The mailbox
What was in the  mailbox
The friend you talked with
Your afternoon snack
Did you do laundry? - draw the washer machine, the dryer, the laundry or the detergent bottle
The weather - was it raining, snowing, sunny, hot, cold?
Something you saw on your walk
The car you drove
The bus or taxi you rode in
The place you bought your coffee
A magazine you read
Cans, bottles, the take out containers
The house plants you watered
Book shelf
Medicine cabinet shelf
Something from the kitchen junk drawer
Something from an errand you had to run
Your alarm clock
Your favorite chair

You get the idea - anything can make a great subject for a sketchbook page.  Just remember to keep it simple!