View Full Version : Elements and Principles - LINE

01-24-2013, 01:35 PM
12 months, 12 sketchbooks, 12 elements and Principles of Design.

As follows:

1. Line ( :eek: this is a very strange exploration, at the moment!)
2. Shape
3. Texture
4. Form
5. Unity
6. Point,Line and Plane
7. Balance
8. Hierarchy
9. Scale
10. Dominance
11. Similarity
12. Contrast

vhere pointed out in a previous thread that this is a very left-brained way of studying; that's absolutely right, and quite deliberate.

I've been mucking about with sketching since high school (over 10 years ago!), and tended toward mastering my tools rather than my grasp of drawing. (This seems to be fairly common- witness the multitudes of us who try millions of pigments and art materials one after the other and hoard them all like the precious treasure they are!)

I'm fairly compulsively a mixed media artist, with the side effect of being totally confident about creating effects that please me, blending colours that satisfy, etc. (This has has somehow created a style that I find distinct and ...well..my own. This is something, it seems, that lots of people struggle with, and I hightly recommend mucking about with every material you can get your hands on as a way to develop your own style...it becomes mandatory...you can't NOT use that shade of green, or draw the same subject nineteen times, or refrain from going back in and outlining things in a peculiar shade of purple).

....ANYway, I'm now at a point where my ideas have outstripped my technical skill to render them. So I'm putting myself through a refresher on the Elements and Principles of design as a way to make me sketch a lot.

All of which means that I've ripped up a whole bunch of sketchbooks that I already made (love binding sketchbooks...some people eat when they're stressed, I bind sketchbooks. I've given up trying to figure out why :rolleyes: ) and rebound them into smaller, staple bound books (usually I use the method found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNccIFpHoWE with a few tweaks, but staples were quicker this time. The last two are threadbound with watercolour paper)

Most of the new sketchbooks have different paper (I also buy paper when stressed), because I like buying one sheet of various kinds of paper and trying it out. I didn't want to touch the two sketchbooks made with my favourite paper (Canson Ingres! Yummy!) so this is all mostly stuff I've never tried before. Some if it is from commercial books I've purchased and then cheerfully ripped up for my own ends :D . (I mention this for those who are squeamish about such things...there may well be book abuse in my threads!:evil: )

All the sketchbooks have approximately 30-ish spreads, sort of, to make up for the fact that some months are busier than others, and there is no rule that I have to sketch every day, because that is ludicrously impossible and I know it. But I do have to fill all the spreads every month, with an emphasis on exploring the Element or Principle listed, and more importantly, with an eye to using it deliberately instead of instinctively. And in addition to sharpening my technical skill and understanding of the basics, I want to lean more about why I, specifically, draw the way I do, in the hope that I can stop fumbling about and begin to identify what I am best at, and what gives me the most satisfaction to create.

Wow, that was long-winded :lol: I appreciate your patience!

So here is the series of sketchbooks! The January- LINE book is made of two colours of "Canson Drawing Parchment". The colours are "drawing white" and something I can't read on the faded label. Maybe natural whte?




01-24-2013, 01:58 PM
Oh, my dear heavens, it has taken me almost four hours to figure out how to resize and upload photos! And it's all the fault of the Safari browser...I had to switch to Google Chrome. Sheesh! My admiration of all the rest of you uploading millions of photos has increased exponentially. (Bad safari! First time you have failed me!

...anyway, the original idea was that I'd divide each spread into four, and practice 5 minute sketches in each quarter. You can see from the first few pages how out of practice I am, and how ....well, ugly they looked! I'm all for mucking about messily, but I gave up on that idea after I started looking at the pages with distaste. NOT conducive to regular sketching!


On the second spread I'm already struggling with "Line" as an element. I started compulsively shading things, and itched to use ink and wash. I found myself repeatedly grabbing for my Ahab fountain pen, despite trying to play with the expressive line qualities of a brush marker, a Sharpie pen, and Derwent Drawing Pencils. Note the admonishment "Interpret, don't copy, less boring, more useful" scribbled beside the tree trunk.



This one's not too bad, I rather enjoyed it. the objects are simpler, and more within my skill level to render. I generally don't care about show-through on my paper, but this paper is...interesting. I'll go more into detail in another post, but it's not like anything I've ever tried before, and the show through is very obvious.


By the fifth spread I'd already leaned an enormous amount about my own preferences and habits. I'm apparently addicted to shading and dimension- I can't just use outline and fill in later with colour, never mind using just outline! I was most satisfied when using either my Ahab, which has a very flexible, fine nib, or an extremely fine Piloc G-Tech C3 gel pen with a 0.3 mm point. Which is like sketching with a needle. That was...kind of news. No wonder my drawing pencils and markers don't get used that often- I need to be able to shade, even with a pen.

Also- my technical skills are SO not ready for anything like the human form :lol: ! I'll probably take a whole year to study just that, later on. Too many things going on!


01-24-2013, 02:17 PM
This is where I started to mix up the order of the pages, working ahead on the proper day if I was behind, and then going back to fill in the blank pages. And somewhere on here, in someone's beautiful art journals, I was reminded about borders, and tried it. And adored it. It looks SO much better!! :clap:

I'm drawing from a mixture of wetcanvas photos, google images, sketched from various art books, and real life at this point. And eeeew. Page 6 really cemented my dislike of still life without texture, much as I admire others who do it well. It was the most boring 6 minutes ever, and I instantly changed to different image sources, as you will see.


Now THIS was fun! For the first time, I felt like I was getting in a groove again, and happy with what I was drawing. And hilariously, there is a rather obvious absence of line!

My excuse that that I was exploring the tonal qualities of line, and shading possibilities in coloured pencil. (One of my main favourite mediums) Colored pencil is still a line based medium, but the quality of line is very different from, say...ink.


Actually, the only reason I started in ink instead of pencil was because of Daniel Gregory's insistance in Everyday Matters. I'd resisted that advice for so long (because it galls me- I draw with my eraser as much as a pencil, and erasing is perfectly fine, for heaven's sake), but since the idea was "Line" I figured I'd better use something that would stop me from shading. See how long that lasted?:lol:

The interesting side effect, is that I became fascinated by crosshatching. And apparently I have a thing for texture. So what could be more natural than exploring the ability of LINE to make TEXTURE?


I still feel like I'm missing the point of Line a little. Like maybe I should look at anime or manga for the expressive qualities of line. Maybe. We'll see. No promises!

01-24-2013, 02:26 PM
wish I had time to demonstrate line. variety of line. I recall a Hockney that had such a wonderful variety of line and some Diebenkorn's. But how many ways can you make a line? Rub some graphite on an index card, lay the card down on your paper and smudge it off onto the paper, turn the index card over and burnish the back side of it, make a dotted line and change each of the dots...partly erase one, smudge one, it's captivating when you put your mind to it...thick lines, thin lines, line suggested by it's beginning and it's continuation...oh my, fun. But I appreciate the principles and elements of design. I used to evaluate one of my paintings with these principles.

01-24-2013, 02:27 PM
Totally gave up on exploring line for this spread- just desperate to make myself sketch. And I really started using the frames to break up the page and make it more interesting. In fact, I think I went forward and outlined the whole book at this point.


Tried a bit of pattern here. Usually love pattern, but wasn't feeling it on this day. (It's copied from a Canada Post Year of The Rabbit Postcard- quite beautiful in real life)


This is when I started using the "Botanical Illustration Course" book from the Eden project for images. Most of these exercise are copied straight from existing sketches in the book, but I really enjoyed exploring the forms. And of course, the textures!


Really went to town here- this was really fun. See how heavily the ink from the previous pages is coming through? This paper was not ever meant to be used on both sides!


01-24-2013, 02:36 PM
Ooh, Bevahlee, that description sounded so enticing! It's a good reminder that not all Line has to do with accuracy, which is kind of what I have in my head.

I am starting to enjoy exploring it a little bit more as I go. Some people are so breathlessly good at conveying things with line...it's sheer brilliance, the economy with which they convey information.

....don't think I'm quite there yet! :lol:

These next two are out of order, and were completed as some of the first sketches. I also explored a bit with a carpenter pencil here...where, in a book this size, the line becomes tone with no effort at all. It was interesting.

I think these were sketched from small photos in my Finnish Encyclopedia.



01-24-2013, 03:08 PM
Okay, the paper.

I don't want to say this paper is crappy, because I kind of love it, but it was certainly never intended to be bound in book form. Or if it was, (because it is supposed to be a parchment-like surface, and parchment formed some of the earliest books) it was certainly never intended that both sides be used!

I have never seen such transparency in anything meant to take ink.

Canson Parchment is billed as a calligraphy paper, and maybe it would take acrylic inks well, and some of its poor handling is because I'm using water based ink. I don't have any to test, or I'd give a more concrete evaluation on that score.

The surface is smooth and hard; not smooth like plate, because there is a texture to it, (meant to imitate the calfskin, I assume) but smooth like....like....well, fine vellum, I suppose.

I love the hardness of the surface; if you flap a sheet of it, the loud crack it makes could be mistaken for thunder. It's pleasantly thin and crackly in book form, too, and folds with rigid crispness and accuracy. There is a bit of difference in the texture on each side, and it takes coloured pencil well, allowing a certain amount of layering.

You can see the level of show-through in the pictures. There is bleed-through as well. Normally I'm not all that fussed about show-through; I almost always prefer thin sheets and many pages to thick sheets and opacity, (especially in sketchbooks, which to me, are workbooks, and should look like it) but this level is a little extreme even for my tastes.

I have a feeling I'll miss the surface as I move onto other papers; the nib slides around beautifully and expressively, with no drag at all. It's almost slippery, and very fun to draw on.

To be honest, I'm at a bit of a loss. I don't know how to evaluate the paper, because I'm not sure what it is supposed to be good for. Large sheets of calligraphy that are one sided and framed? I'm certainly not using it that way. It's so crinkly that I wouldn't dare approach it with moisture. It's so transparent that any display would require a backing. It may be that acrylic inks would sit on the surface and stay vibrant and lively... but would they? I have no idea at all.

If anyone else has experience with this paper, please chime in. It gives the impression of being superb at one specific, narrow task...and that task is probably not a sketchbook.

(Even though I'm rather fond of it).

More exercises from Botanical Illustration.



01-24-2013, 03:12 PM
Wow! This is a fascinating journey. I love your documentation associated with each spread as you explain what you were doing and thinking as you explored this. It looks like you are learning valuable stuff here. The sketches as a whole are delightful. Looking forward to seeing more of your art.

01-24-2013, 03:13 PM
These are from "The Art of Sketching" (the chapter on line :P), the "Finland cultural Encyclopedia" (Glass birds and Glass range) and "Sketching School".

The Art of Sketching the THE BEST book of sketching I have ever, ever, encountered. And there is no author listed! Just a translator- "Translated from the Spanish by Natalia Tizon". I had it out from the library so constantly that I finally bought a copy- and I think it's out of print.

Hmm. Maybe I should go re-read that chapter....



....and that brings up up to date! It's currently the 24th of the month, and I'm working on page 19, so...a bit of catching up to do!

01-24-2013, 10:57 PM
This is a brilliant idea! I like that you aren't being precious with either the books you made or the paper, but just focusing on the process. It seems you are doing fine with line. You might enjoy Ian Sidaway Fine Line, a blog for his line drawings which are immensely inspiring. Mr. Sidaway has written many books on drawing and contributed to even more. So rock on with your drawing tools, and enjoy that you thought ahead and have each months book ready to go.

01-25-2013, 03:20 AM
Jasmine you have done heaps of work here. It was an adventure following what you have done so far. Loved hearing about your process and the paper and materials. I think it is great that you are realising what you really like and don't like to do in your drawings. That is a big thing. There are some great sketches in here. Keep at it and enjoy the process.

01-25-2013, 05:33 AM
Thank you for sharing the process and the fantastic sketches.

Joy M.
01-25-2013, 11:47 AM
Wow, what a great study! I really like the way this coming. :)

On a side note, here's a link to some free art ebooks--the twelfth one down is about line and form, and looks useful from what I've seen of it so far: http://www.goldcoastartclasses.com/100-best-free-art-e-books.html

01-25-2013, 12:07 PM
I used to focus A LOT on line when I was learning to tattoo. Something that you might find fun that I used to do is to try it with different materials. I find a raphael #2 brush to be incredible to work with. I also have sharpened sticks and dipped em with ink, bamboo wood etc also works well...I did an entire piece with a chopstick once. The variations are endless with different materials. Since you are doing experiments and learning it might be fun.

01-25-2013, 12:32 PM
Jasmine, I have a challenge for you. A very exciting one (for me anyway)...take some of your drawings, just enough to make an interesting comp. then do value studies. First light on light, dark on dark, light on medium or midtone, midtone on midtone, midtone on dark, midtone with dark and light, more dark than light (light being the accents) then the opposite of that, and then gradation...you can play with this forever. I did 36 but just use small drawings and make the values very solid..no sketchy marks. very exciting process, IMHO

01-25-2013, 12:54 PM
Here's a sample from your sketchbook. Now you can see you have hundreds of comps in your work. Good work pays off. ;-)

01-25-2013, 01:35 PM
Jasmine, this is great stuff!!! I went though the whole thread multiple times, just to make sure I saw it all. Excellent work! :thumbsup:

Thanks for posting. Very inspirational.


01-25-2013, 06:04 PM
Glad to see all your work here! (And a prodigious amount of work it is.) Looking forward to more.

01-25-2013, 09:42 PM
Jasmine, wow. . . you have done a HUGE amount of work on line as well as creating all those journals for your work. I think its great how you have used different types of line like pens, markers, pencil. And drawn delicate objects like the Queen Anne's lace to heavy rock! Very nice. Bravo!

As for line having to be exact in art, I don't think so. . . sometimes it adds character if its a little off of being perfect. :) Have you ever checked out Tommy Kane's blog?

01-25-2013, 10:16 PM
Wow, Jasmine! You have been busy. I like the whole concept of your study of the elements, and have enjoyed looking at your sketches and reading your commentary. I can totally relate to your struggles with keeping it "just line". Actually, hatching and cross hatching are lines too. LOL! Maybe instead of literal interpretations, you could stylize your sketches a little, forcing you to play more with different ways to use line. The border idea is a good one too. Lots of interesting borders that you can use to surround your subject. Oh, and I like your handmade sketchbooks and your experiments with different paper too.

Joan T
01-26-2013, 08:45 PM
I love how you are analyzing your sketches as you go. You've done a lot of work already. I like the sketches inside the borders...it gives them a different look Keep up the good work!

01-31-2013, 08:23 PM
Oh, everyone, I've loved all your comments so much! I'll try to be a bit more spread out with posting next month, this is all going to be crammed in again.

I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the long explanations :clap: since I can't seem to help, it, might as well make it a virtue!

Bevahlee, I can't believe you took the time to do that cool layered composition thing! It took me a minute to realize the sketches were actually mine, it looks so different! I will definately play around with that when it's composition time..what a neat idea!

ccoppola82, deighted to hear that you focused on line a great deal..maybe I'm headed in the right direction! And thank you for the permission to print out your step by step tutorial :)

And Dr. Debbie, I'm grateful for the encouragement...your line sketches are so comprehensively good and atmospheric that it makes me realize I'm never going to be primarily a line artist. Which is okay. I'll just look at yours!

I've learned a tremendous amount about all kinds of things from this "LINE" exercise. I'm glad it was first, because it really is the one I was least looking forward to. But it's a lot more enjoyable (if time consuming) than I anticipated, and even though I'm scrambling to find interesting things to draw that are also within my abilities, it's quite neat to see it all emerge.

Whoops! Forgot I need to switch browsers before uploading; I'll have to start another post.

Thank-you everyone, for your comments. Without your steady feedback I'd never have made it through the month!

01-31-2013, 08:46 PM
This was a sort of bizarre mishmash of desperately using any excuse to make marks on paper. (I was not in the mood!). The note on the right hand side says "Echh. No. Live models or pictures for people. ". I attempted that gesture-y sketch thing from a sketch of a person....it seems a sketch of a sketch only works if it's an object :P

The top left hand side was fun- bean sprouts, just googling images.
Then, taking the advice of RainySea and mhimswc, I started playing with stylization and non-precise lines. The nice broad lines are a Croquis B6 Lead Holder, and its a great deal of fun but wow is it messy. Watersoluble, too, so I look forward to paying with it more next month.


This is all just playing with line in general. I felt I'd been remiss in not just introducing myself to Line and seeing what it wanted to do. I liked the meeting corners thing. Liz Steele (http://sketchingarchitecture.blogspot.ca) has a particular way of drawing the proportions of buildings (She's an architect and Urban sketcher in Australia with the most awesome blog(s)) that involves crossed corners. I tried to emulate it later and ...didn't quite get there.

But nevermind. It's just the first month.


This was supposed to be an experiment in sketchy line that quickly degenerated into an exploration of smudgy line. And then I tried to...do something else. On top of the graphite (Croquis again), I used white Prismacolor and China Pencil (China marker? It's a wrapped stick in rolled paper).

I was trying to pull out dark lines by doing that, because that's usually how white wax over pencil works. But I'm not really sure what it did in this case. It looks interesting, though.

And then I had to go outline everything in fine black pen. Because I do that.


01-31-2013, 09:14 PM
Heh. You can REALLY see the ink coming through the page now!

The next one is what made me realize that I actually have to warm up when sketching. Is it that same for you guys? I never thought about it before. It's like my fingers and my brain take a little while to connect, and my eyes take a moment to remember what they're supposed to be looking for, in terms of visial information, not just seeing[/I.] So the first sketch is almost always worse than the ones that come after.

Anyway, this is an attempt at protraying a delicate flower in a not particularly delicate medium (Rainy, how to you DO that?). It was from a picture on local wildflowers that I didn't particularly like, either, which may have contributed to the apathy.

The knife on the bottom was accidentally drawn with the sketchbook upside down, and I was very pleased with it. The note says "Bwaha! The Law of Compulsive Outline!" Because, as I mentioned...I do that, and the butterknife could not escape. :lol:

The note on the flower says "I will not fill in I will not fill in I will not fill in I will not fill in....but I WILL change the line weight!"

Of course then I did fill in a bit with shading (I was resisting the urge to pick up the waterbrush), but I varied the line-weight without really thinking about it, so it didn't really go anywhere.

Sorry for the blurryness on this one!


This was another attempt at a picture I took in Finland of a little cluster of mushrooms, and some fun with a walnut and some almonds. (Note to self: small, textured objects are really fun to draw. I may have a thing for texture.:D )

I was again reminded of the "interpret, don't copy" rule, but after the fact. Why is it so much harder to portray soft or smooth things in pen? Maybe because without delicate shading, they are just a flat shape? But shouldn't Line help there? :confused: Maybe it's a line weight thing again.

I DID bring out the waterbrush here, forgetting that I had changed to a not very washable mixture in my Ahab.


The idea about smooth things being hard to portray seems not to apply to [I]hard or shiny smooth things. This metal carafe was great fun, with all the hard edged reflections. Like the metal butterknife. (Hmm. Typical. I gravitate to heavily textured natural objects and highly metallic shiny things. Two things, total opposites, equally interesting. Story of my life.)

Ignore that thing on the right. It wasn't interesting long enough to be much of anything. :D

These were done in ballpoint, by the way. It seemed more appropriate, thought I don't know why.


01-31-2013, 09:21 PM
Okay, last one, and I'll have to finish tomorrow, because there are still unfilled squares on a couple of pages!

This one was interesting. After the flame sketch which was a copy of a trace of an animated bit from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, (who knows the scene? Go for it! :thumbsup: ) I managed to loosen up a bit more on the nuts. Going for gesture, not accuracy (a key? I may have found a key!) and even managing to draw a shape without filling it in at all! It took 25 days, but there you are!

Also; it was much easier to draw these because they were side lit by a lamp, in the evening. Neutral lighting is hard. I'll be more aware of lighting in future.


01-31-2013, 09:55 PM
Jasmine great to see you have pushed yourself to continue through to the end of the month. I really like what you have done. The bean shoots are great. The person sketch does look like a person. :) You handled the shading on the metal cutlery.... but that's not line work is it... ooops. I like how you handled the mushrooms. Great work with the nuts. Yes you do seem to do really well with texture. BTW I agree about having to do some warm up sketches before you really get into it.

02-01-2013, 08:40 AM
Oh good! I'm glad you warm up too. I don't know why it's never occurred to me before..that's sort of why professional artists KEEP sketchbooks, in't it? Or at least, one of the reasons.

Also, thanks..I really liked doing the bean shoots :)

02-01-2013, 03:56 PM
These are great. Following your sketches and commentary is really inspiring. Your dedication to your goal is really admirable too.

Joan T
02-01-2013, 09:02 PM
You are so dedicated! You have some really nice sketches...especially those mushrooms. It is fun to see and read about your ideas. You did well with the line.

02-02-2013, 11:07 AM
had to play with some more of your stuff. lol you have a wealth of paintings in your sketches

02-02-2013, 12:00 PM



Wow...you make cooler things with my sketches than I do! :lol:

02-02-2013, 12:27 PM
I'm really enjoying seeing these! I love reading about your processes too. The contour drawing of the walnut is really great! I LOL'd at your Brazil nut comment. :-)

02-02-2013, 12:39 PM



Wow...you make cooler things with my sketches than I do! :lol:
thanks...Im having fun with all your work. lol

02-02-2013, 01:40 PM
nuther'n. lol. Hope you don't mind. I'm having fun.

02-02-2013, 01:40 PM
Ooooooh, that's cool. Go nuts! You just play as much as you like! It's wonderful to see the re-interpretation!

02-02-2013, 04:08 PM
ok. Need to get back to my own painting. lol. But this was fun.

02-07-2013, 10:41 AM
I have to say, WOW! This was a very interesting thread, and I am so looking forward to your next thread this month... Experimenting with line like this seem to have been both fun and a learning experience... I have notice that when we force ourself outside our own comfort zone we learn a lot about ourself! A project like this would be very useful for me as well I think... Keep them coming! ;)

02-07-2013, 03:12 PM
Hyvää päivää, JennyMK, currently in China but flying the flag of Finland! Mitä sinä teet Kiinassa?

Thank you for the encouragement; it keeps me on the wagon! I'm just uploading the last few, and then it's onto SHAPE!

02-07-2013, 05:52 PM
still messin wid ya. ;-)

02-07-2013, 05:56 PM
same song, second verse

02-07-2013, 09:41 PM
ok one more, then I need to go do my laundry. lol

02-13-2013, 10:40 PM
Hyvää päivää, JennyMK, currently in China but flying the flag of Finland! Mitä sinä teet Kiinassa?

Thank you for the encouragement; it keeps me on the wagon! I'm just uploading the last few, and then it's onto SHAPE!

Hyvää Päivää jstarn! Asun Kiinassa nyt jo 2,5 vuotta... Mieheni on täällä töissä cellulosa tehtaassa ABB:n kautta. Seuraava ehkä New Zeelandiin... :crossfingers:

02-14-2013, 07:29 PM
Bevahlee, that last one is psychedelic. Hopefully " February/shape" will give you more to work with!

and, coooolio, JennyMK!

02-14-2013, 07:50 PM
can't wait. lol

07-06-2015, 09:41 PM
More than two years later, I'm resurrecting this thread/project in honour of a landmark moment! I just enrolled in an online class with my absolute favourite sketch artist of all time, and the one who has had by far the most influence on my work! It's SketchingNow with Liz Steele, and the class homework is in a Flickr group.

Since I did complete this project, and I do have scans of these sketchbooks, I'm uploading them to Flickr for context and to see my progress before I start SketchingNow...and it's much easier to post images on here from flickr rather than my computer. (I think. We'll see).

So. Anyone interested in me reviving this? It's always kind of bugged me at the back of my mind that I never finished posting...

07-06-2015, 10:13 PM
YES, I am. Glad you are. This is what will help all those who say "I don't know what abstract art is all about."

07-07-2015, 03:10 PM
Post away.

Joan T
08-16-2015, 08:12 PM
Can't wait to see your work. A class with Liz Steele must have been great!

08-17-2015, 12:41 AM
Interesting stuff! You have a lot of fun with abstraction and dimension and unlikely juxtapositions.

04-07-2019, 09:00 PM
It amazes and aggravates me to this day that I never finished posting these photos...I even posted an update for the first time I went through the Foundations course and then never followed through!

My apologies. My life have been rather full of upheaval in the past few years, but nevermind.

4 moves, 1 house purchase, several international trips, 5 jobs, a huge career change, a marriage, a promotion and significant technological advances later...

I have a smartphone. And can tell you that...

...the next page of this sketchbook is this:


And GOOD GRIEF why can I still not upload images in Safari?!!

04-07-2019, 09:06 PM
My apologies for any sideways images...I'm going to power through the next few for the sake of expediency.

Really just playing, here. I took the Element of LINE very seriously in this first sketchbook....and promptly fell off the wagon for every subsequent sketchbook, completely ignoring their element or principal.


I remember having a huge amount of fun with this:


And loathing this flower immensely:


04-07-2019, 09:12 PM
The next few pages were a great deal of fun, and I really got into a groove with line, and texture, and playing with images. The mushrooms were from a photo, the nuts from life.


Don't know what was up with the random abstract thing on the right, but I do remember loving the effect of line to portray shiny metal on the jug. I believe I was quite proud of myself there for not smudging anything.


Especially love the bit with the brazil nut...note to self, repeating things usually leads to some sort of breakthrough.


04-07-2019, 09:20 PM
Stay with me here.....you can really tell when I have enough time to concentrate and enjoy what I'm doing, and when I'm just trying to fill space. Sadly, the latter takes over for a lot of the rest of the project.

I believe this was the first time I experimented with this sketchy technique to show sparse, irregular foliage...still use it to this day.


I still try to force myself to do this; block in large shapes to define value. I never enjoy it. And don't sketch regularly anymore. Which probably means it should become another project until it is properly appreciated :P


Really liked drawing that thyme! This was before windows became the dominant theme...I forgot about that. Useful, and interesting, since future project will involve a lot of sketching from the garden.


04-07-2019, 09:28 PM
The last page of the first sketchbook! Finally!! It took six years, but it's finally up!!

And it's not a very good sketch, but it was very memorable to me. I remember doing it, and looking so closely at the shape of leaves, and enjoying the process very much.

The stickers were supposed to remind me which paper was used to make the sketchbook, but they've faded so completely they are unreadable!!


Well I can definitely say that I learned an immense amount about Line from this sketchbook. It makes me wish I had explored the other Elements and Principles with the same focus, but life got really busy for the rest of the year and I defaulted to just filling pages.

There does seem to be a significant shift in the way I used line from the beginning of the sketchbook to the end...more assured by the end, and much more accurate shapes.

Because all the sketchbooks were all part of the one project 6 years ago, I will continue to upload them here instead of adding new threads, if the mods have no objection.

04-07-2019, 09:43 PM

I just went back to the previous page and realized.....I double posted the same images SIX YEARS LATER!!!:eek:


:confused: How I missed that I will never know. :lol:

Ah, well, it will remain up as a testament to my own obliviousness. Onward and upward...:rolleyes:

Because there is another sketchbook, along with images I took for you in 2013...which was 3 computers ago.

04-07-2019, 10:02 PM
Everyone, may I introduce you to......SHAPE!!


Now I just need to say right off the bat that I remember hating this sketchbook. HA.TING.

I struggled through it, and even learned a whole bunch, but the amount that I learned was almost obscured by my loathing of the binding I used, the paper I chose, and the overall struggle to deal with the sketchbook I had made.

And then I had to do it again in May! (The sketchbooks were made in pairs).

And it wasn't even the paper's fault! This was a computer paper, not an art paper. Can't remember which one, but it's a laid resume paper, probably cotton.

I think I already knew that Canson laid paper was my favourite, but in an effort to find a cheaper substitute, I saw "cotton resume laid" computer paper at Staples and thought "Jackpot!".


It was not a jackpot. I think I still have some of this stuff kicking around. I will never draw on it again.

But I bet someone else will! In fact, it would probably be great in a soft pastel sketchbook, or using charcoal. I didn't use either of those materials in it, but it suggests those materials.

It's....soft, this paper. Almost limp, when working with it. Rather a shock after the crisp paper in the previous sketchbook.

Watercolour did weird things on it, and it was difficult to layer anything. Strangely, the images themselves don't reflect the struggle, but don't be fooled. The struggle was real.

Also I'd used a combo sewn/glued binding that never opened flat, and which I never used again. Not a success, overall, in terms of sketchbook assembly.

But anyway. I present to you the first page.


That right there, is a shape. And there's really nothing more to be said.

Except goodnight for the moment, and I hope someone is amused at this blast from the past.

:grouphug: I really appreciate you all still existing and WetCanvas still being here!

04-08-2019, 08:50 AM
You know, it's really very interesting to go back through these...I remember them being much worse than they were.


At some point, I was 8 sketchbooks behind...completed the April sketchbook (far and away my favourite) in October!! So I'd go two weeks without sketching, then go out and complete 7 spreads at once.


It's also easy to forget how much this influenced my sketching practice going forward...I've lapsed for the past few years (even though I still carry a sketchbook everywhere I go), but things I do now automatically actually evolved during this project.

My discovery of using soluble and non soluble ink with wash, outlining all the pages ahead of time to give (very wonky) frames to each page...I even compulsively number each page the same way, and think in terms of 30 page spreads.


And of course, I discovered my absolute favourite sketchbook paper of all time, which I still use, and my favourite real watercolour paper, which I still pick up on occasion.

Here's where I first started messing around with watercolour (and coloured pencil), soon to become my primary medium for sketching. Mostly because at this point, I was already behind, and needed to fill multiple pages quickly.


04-09-2019, 03:49 PM
I think this is the first time I attempted to draw or paint my primary palette. With any success, anyway.

I love this palette, though it is not one you can purchase anywhere. It's made from a water soluble crayon tin, spray painted with white enamel, and the wells are formed with Sugru. (The wonders of Sugru and their ability to make palette wells was something I discovered on Wetcanvas. )


Somewhat surprised that I was still trying to explore shape here, with 3-D forms.


And here we get into some real repetition with exploring watercolour, shadow, shape, texture and...more endless repetition. The paper doesn't do well with watercolour, I'm surprised it doesn't look worse.


04-10-2019, 03:09 PM
More than two years later, I'm resurrecting this thread/project in honour of a landmark moment! I just enrolled in an online class with my absolute favourite sketch artist of all time, and the one who has had by far the most influence on my work! It's SketchingNow with Liz Steele, and the class homework is in a Flickr group.

I'm curious how you liked the Liz Steele class? I am considering signing up.

04-10-2019, 03:27 PM
Do it! Doooo iiiittt!!

Heh. Enough enthusiasm for you? I like her classes enough to buy two of them and do them twice. In fact, this whole, "blast from the past completion-of-the-thread" thing was prompted by me signing up for the live Edges run-through that I have joined for April 17th.

My first run through of Foundations I did with only half focus due to the aforesaid life events...now that things have calmed down, I'd like to give the classes the attention they deserve, and compare it with this project from 2013.

Her classes are extraordinary in the breadth, depth and clarity of what they cover, but I imagine they are significantly different from a live class.

I really value being able to slow down, pause, skip forward, etc. As well as being able to print out and study concepts that I later see demonstrated in video.

It helps that I love her style, but I really think that her background as an architect means she approaches sketching in a way that is clearly explainable. There is nothing she does that is without a clearly stated reason, and she doesn't forget to explain things that she does intuitively.

She's also excellent at breaking down complex subjects into easily manageable pieces, so that sometimes it's not even obvious how much you absorbed until later.

If you are more advanced, are trying to learn a specific technique or style, or are less interested in sketching and more interested in producing fully finished art pieces, you may with to go with a different course.

If your aim is to improve your sketching and understand better how to translate images onto your page in your own unique way, her classes are the best I have come across, and the only ones I have decided are worth paying for.

It will be interesting to see how it changes my sketching this time, now that I live in a less urban environment.

04-10-2019, 07:38 PM
Huh. I really did keep exploring shape for some time...


Not always successfully...


Why does the garlic look like shrimp? They are not the same. This was actually a crayon, possibly water soluble. A broad, chunky red crayon seemed a good way to ignore distractions and just try to block in shape.


But it did take 19 tries before I felt like I actually captured the shape of that individual clove. Something to remember for the future


04-11-2019, 02:04 AM
It helps that I love her style, but I really think that her background as an architect means she approaches sketching in a way that is clearly explainable. There is nothing she does that is without a clearly stated reason, and she doesn't forget to explain things that she does intuitively.

She's also excellent at breaking down complex subjects into easily manageable pieces, so that sometimes it's not even obvious how much you absorbed until later.

If your aim is to improve your sketching and understand better how to translate images onto your page in your own unique way, her classes are the best I have come across, and the only ones I have decided are worth paying for.

Thanks for the recommendation. They're a bit more expensive than other classes I've seen and so I was wondering if it'd be worth it for me. I'm not a total beginner but not very good either so I think it's a good match for me.

Her sketches are what got me interested in "urban sketching" in the first place. I used to paint Acrylic. I live outside of Paris and want to sketch famous sites in Paris. I took my acrylic kit into Paris a few times but it's not easy to haul it all around. The ink & watercolor wash approach seems to be perfect for what I want to do.

My biggest issue is looking at something incredibly complex, a famous monument, and freezing up. I try to put too much detail and my skills are not up to it so it ends up not good at all and I get lost in the process. I've seen some artists convey with just a few lines a famous landmark that is recognizeable or be able to suggest a brick wall without drawing every brick. So I realize simplification is really important.

I like your garlic sketches, at first I didn't know it was garlic until I read the note (on one of the first pages) and at the end it really looked like garlic. And I didn't know you could plant that in the garden. I love garlic. Anyway, you did great work keeping at it until you got what you liked. I need to do the same with some household objects.

04-11-2019, 12:38 PM
Yay! These are so good! Thank you for sharing! And thank you for the endorsement for Liz Steel classes. It seems there are not enough hours in a day/week/month/year for the things I want to work on and learn and practice ... :)

04-18-2019, 09:07 PM
I know right? So many fun things to cram into every moment!

Including finishing posting this darn old project so I can get in gear for new projects!

Some of this was literally just filling pages...this is ink and wash, probably some of the very first real explorations into water soluble ink in my fountain pens...looks like I hadn't discovered my favourite ink mix yet...


Clearly not accomplishing much to the left, but the right hand page is the start of something interesting.

That was an orange, but using coloured pencil as the first layer and a white china pencil for a resist. Hmm...Should play with that again.


This was definitely copied from an exercise somewhere...maybe a botanical sketching book? Exploring how reflections create shape.


This takes a hard left in a second, trying to figure out the essence of the shape through abstraction. It looks like this tree is from imagination, but it's not. It's a really cool, very lopsided tree growing out of a hill at a very strange angle. I just didn't do it justice :P


This is when I started trying out Citizen Sketcher's Tea, Milk, Honey technique with watercolour washes. Not great paper to try this out, but, with coloured pencil, it taught me a lot, and looks better than I remembered.


Ah, here's the abstraction. This, weirdly, captures the precarious shape of the tree far better than the original sketch. It's just such an oddly weighted tree!


04-18-2019, 09:11 PM
Still working with Tea, Milk, Honey...why did I stop using that?

This was super boring to do though, it's from a picture.


Now THIS was fun. Ink and wash is the best, and using shade to create form. (Take that, LINE sketchbook!). This must have been when my Noodler's Ahab was brand new...it's still my standard sketching pen, can't manage without it.



04-18-2019, 09:13 PM
Every once in a while, I remember that soft pencil is really fun, and surprise myself by taking my time. Hmm. I should do that again.


More playing with materials in an attempt fo fill pages...


04-18-2019, 09:18 PM
Okay, this is painful. It's like I regressed to the very beginning of watercolour and..stayed there. I clearly have no idea what I'm doing with flowers. Or leaves or the colour green. And the paper fought me every step of the way.

So painful. But I'm showing you anyway.


Playing with different techniques and resists, but no. Just no.


04-18-2019, 09:25 PM
Whew. Glad that regression is over.

I actually really love this clover. I remember doing it at work from something I pulled up online, and being so surprised that the glaze/resists did what I wanted it to do.

No idea what's happening to the right hand side.


And same here. Strange failure to the left, and something I really loved on the right. That little weed/flower was drawn from life at a bus stop, and was first time I managed some sort of washy background. Was also sketched extremely fast under pressure from the bus arriving directly on top of it!


There's no way these pages are in order...I must have completed this book later in the spring. There would have been snow on the ground in February.

But oranges are a winter thing!


And the final page... and we are DONE with this terrible paper for a bit!


04-18-2019, 09:36 PM
March! Texture!


There are specific detailed memories of this sketchbook in my brain...and I think it's because I carried at around for months trying to finish it while I also was working int he other books. In an attempt to start capturing texture, there was a lot fo watercolour work instead, trying to figure out complements on the colour wheel...

Aha! That's what this was, this is my new Noodler's Conrad pen, also flexible nib, with new ink! (Black swan in Australian Roses). It's still part of the sketching duo that I carry daily (and don't use, sadly), along with the Ahab, but is now my non water soluble ink pen. Which means I've been carrying the same art materials around for six years and barely using them. Good grief.





And this is when I started sketching from the bus, trying to capture things that flashed by in seconds. Good practice, that.



04-18-2019, 09:43 PM
Well, it's Textur-y.

Heh, there's a note on one of these that's from May....yep, very behind on this...

I believe this was inside a movie theatre before the lights went down...

Yep! Iron Man 3!



And here's where the watercolour begins. Let me translate the notes.

"Wet on Wet. Works well, but not on this paper" and "Wet on Dry. Works well, takes too long."

The paper in this book was I think...Step Forward Eco Printer Paper made from sugarcane? It did better than expected. Would be excellent for dry media. Doubt it will age well.

Also..I'm hopeless with flowers. Which doesn't bode well for the fact that I want to learn to paint the garden.

04-18-2019, 09:44 PM
Also, Cunparis, before I forget...are you joining us for Edges? The runthrough just started.

04-22-2019, 03:24 AM
Also, Cunparis, before I forget...are you joining us for Edges? The runthrough just started.

I didn't know about the runthrough. I just googled it and found her blog entry. I'm very tempted. I was considering doing her foundations class. But I wasn't sure if that would be too basic for me. However I felt if I skipped foundations I might be missing something useful for her other classes. I've already done drawing on the right side of the brain and I've done plein air painting in acrylic, so maybe I could start with edges?

I was also debating just working out of some of the urban sketchers books and not doing Liz's classes, or at least see what I can do with the books.

How is the runthrough going so far?

04-22-2019, 03:51 AM
I love line. It's a very important part of my work and years ago I had to work out how to integrate my love of line with my love of lost edges and subtle colour changes.

Joan T
05-06-2019, 05:43 PM
I haven't done any of Liz's online classes but I did take a workshop with her at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Chicago a few years ago...and also one with Marc Taro Holmes. Both of them are great!

Munin Raven
05-28-2019, 10:59 AM
So nice to see a healthy attitude to learning and observation. I seem to find the tentative fumbling to be one of the most rewarding aspects of art. Looking good!