View Full Version : DK's Sketchbook #1 - Pencil

05-08-2010, 11:08 PM
First, a little about me - I'm basically a beginner at this stuff. I have had no formal training in art since a class in high school many years ago. Art has always interested me but I've never really done more than dabble until about a year ago. I've been gradually getting more interested and more serious about art the last year or so. One of my favorite things to do is go for a walk with my sketchbook.

About the sketchbook - This is a 3 1/2 X 5 1/2 moleskine type sketch book. I started this sketchbook last fall, it is my first sketchbook that I am filling up with sketches front to back. I keep this sketchbook in my car so it's always available, I sometimes sketch during my lunch breaks.

About the medium - Pencil. I started with a carbon sketch pencil that just wasn't appropriate for the small format and was very difficult to maintain a point. I then moved on to a normal wood cased HB graphite pencil. My sketches improved but it was still a pain to maintain a good point. Now I use a Twist-Erase #5 mechanical pencil and I love it. Shading is a bit of a challenge but I love having an endless eraser built in and never having to worry about having a sharp point.

C & C's Welcome!


05-08-2010, 11:14 PM
Here are the first few sketches from my first sketchbook. I have about 35 sketches from this book to post, so I'll post just a few every day until we're all caught up.


This is a tree stump in a parkway here called "The Jordan River Parkway" This is my favorite place to go for a walk in the valley, especially this section in Murray since there are some dirt paths and an equestrian trail, whereas the rest of the parkway is paved.


Also from the Parkway, sketched the same day.


Again, same place, same day.


Also same place same day



I just scanned these today, but they were sketched about 7 months ago, so there's quite a bit of smudging.


05-09-2010, 01:18 AM
Nicely done, David, and glad to see you posting your sketching journals here. I like sketching in pencil, but the smudging does become a problem, and it's a pain to use fixative on every page in a small journal. I usually paint in watercolors or oils and I've gravitated to colored pencils to reduce the smudging issue. Another solution, although a bit of a pain, is to interleave each sketchbook page with a piece of glassine cut to size. That helps reduce the smudging as well. Keep up the good work and posting!

05-09-2010, 12:14 PM
Nothing wrong with pencil sketching. Good sketches of nature.

05-09-2010, 12:25 PM
Nice one David, I like the spontaneous side of just drawing what you see. Which from what I know is probably one of the best ways of developing. I think it comes up nicely in your sketches. The tree stump is very nice!

I think it will be cool to see how you progress as time goes on.


05-09-2010, 12:45 PM
Great pencil sketches from nature. You've already got a good eye for shape and tone. Starting with pencil and a pocket Moleskine was a brilliant idea. Portable, handy, simple and you don't have to deal with color till you've mastered value. Up in the Pastel Forum there's a famous quote going around -- "Value does all the work and color takes all the credit."

My favorite eraser is either the stick type white eraser or best of all, a kneaded aka putty eraser. They are gentler on the paper but very good at taking up even colored pencils. Having one on the end of your mechanical pencil seems like a perfect convenience though! You've got a great system and I'm looking forward to seeing more.

Also, it helps to use a little workable spray fixative on pencil drawings -- but don't keep that in the car. It works better to store it at home where it's not subjected to extreme heat or cold. Heat can make the can explode and cold can ruin the contents. I have a can of it that a friend left out in her car for two cold winter nights and it now sprays out cloudy and obscures the art instead of staying transparent and just protecting it. Blick has a good house brand. There's also SpectraFix which is alcohol (as in drinking alcohol) and casein based, no propellants, a very green product. I've switched over to using that but it's a bit more difficult to control. Too much and it may dissolve some of the pencil, blurring lines and moving areas of shading.

Vivien Maloney
05-09-2010, 03:08 PM
David; your spontaneous pencil sketches are great! I like the idea of carrying around a sketchbook (in the car etc) and have done this, only to forget about it or find I've nothing to sketch with! Good for you, you are obviously more organised than me, but I must begin to do that again. Looking forward to seeing more pencil sketches from you.

05-09-2010, 04:38 PM
I like sketching in pencil, but the smudging does become a problem, and it's a pain to use fixative on every page in a small journal

As you'll see later as I start posting sketches that were done in graphite the smudging issue is minimal now. I made two mistakes at the beginning, one was to use the carbon sketch pencil, (nearly as messy as charcoal) and two was to draw on both sides of the sheet so the sketches were smudging each other. I do neither of those things now!

Thanks for all the great comments.


05-09-2010, 04:52 PM
Okay, here's installment number two of sketchbook #1;


I think this was a days later. I got so excited with my newfound love that I took advantage of a very nice fall Sunday and went on a bit of a road trip. First stop was Elberta, about 40 miles South of where I live in Taylorsville, a very tiny farming town that has this very old former Sinclair gas station planted on the main corner. Again, I was still using the carbon sketch pencil, very diffiicult to draw details. I'll have to go back this year with better pencils and maybe a larger format, hopefully the building will still be there.


From Elberta I turned West to Eureka, an old, old mining town. There is still mining going on but it's obvious the glory days are long behind as most of the buildings on main street are vacant, many of them just shells. At the west end of town is this old mining hoist built in the late 1800's. The thing is over 100' tall, quite a challenge to fit on a little 5" X 3" sheet!


This was a few days later, in the middle of the week. I finally switched to a wood cased graphite pencil. I was taking my lunch break in a parking lot and the urge to sketch come over me and I sketched this old house across and down the street a bit.


The weather was turning colder and uglier but we were having a nice weather day and I saw one last opportunity to get up in the canyons to do some sketching. I got permission to leave work a couple hours early and headed up to one of the closest canyons, about 30 minutes away. I was suprised to find snow on the ground there and the temps close to 20* cooler than in the valley and all I had on was a sweat shirt, but I toughed it out for about an hour or so. The canyon is called Little Cottonwood Canyon and I did this sketch near the upper level of what is known as the pipeline trail. My first attempt to sketch water and rocks, didn't go real well.


Another sketch on the same day same place. I don't know what the plant is called, but I thought the leaves had interesting shapes. I really need to start studying plants and geology so I understand better what I'm drawing.


05-09-2010, 09:07 PM
David, sketching is how we learn. Don't be too hard on yourself. And, you are drawing very tiny. You are doing great. These are wonderful sketches. Looking forward to seeing more.

05-10-2010, 07:39 PM
Here's the next batch;


Again last fall, this one during my lunch break in a parking lot. There was this little datsun pickup parked at an interesting angle so I sketched it, or at least attempted to. I looked up from my sketch at one point and it was gone, so I got an impromptu sketching from memory exercise. That probably explains why the front end looks rather off.:lol:


The days were getting very short but I saw one last chance to do some sketching at the parkway on the way home from work. I get off work at 4:00 and it was already getting pretty dark by 5:00 by this point. I think it was early November.


Same day, same place.


Samd day, same place. There's an apartment complex next to the parkway where I was sketching. I thought the upper level of the apartment with the trees in front of it looked interesting.


This one was at a park called "Wheeler Farm" in Murray. We were lucky to have one more nice November Saturday until it got real cold and the snow really started to fly so I took advantage. This is the "Big Barn" which is actually a modern building made to look like an old barn, it's used for events and is where my local art club meets.


05-10-2010, 07:44 PM
Here's the rest of the Wheeler Farm sketches.


This is the corner of a real hay barn. Wheeler Farm is a park, but they actually do raise crops and animals here.


Another one at Wheeler, it's the back porch of the original house built by the Wheeler family who donated the farm to the city.


Also at Wheeler. There is quite a bit of derelict farm equipment laying around out back, including this wagon with this wheel in a very sad state. I need to go back and try this one again with a larger paper and sharper pencil.


Vivien Maloney
05-10-2010, 11:28 PM
David; I like your sketches very much. Also like the idea of driving around sketching. Sounds good to me.!

05-11-2010, 02:05 AM
David, this is a great little sketch journal. Just look at all the fantastic memories you have captured already. I always find that a sketch brings back a much more visceral memory of something than a photograph I have taken does! These are all very nice - spontaneous and expressive, but also very descriptive. More please???

05-11-2010, 09:48 AM
David, your pencil sketches are excellent. I'm awed by your Datsun pickup and the buildings, you have a great grasp of perspective and you do structures and man-made things far better than I've ever done. Your rocks and water sketch isn't too bad either. I like all the trees and plants too. Good scans for the graphite drawings, I find it hard to reproduce graphite sometimes unless I use a very soft pencil.

05-11-2010, 09:56 AM
Well done, David. Your sketchbook seems to be filing up fast.

05-11-2010, 02:21 PM
These are great, David. Really must get my sketchbook out and start filling it. Very inspiring.

05-11-2010, 03:05 PM
You have been busy David! The great thing about sketchbooks is that you learn so much about yourself as an artist, what works, what doesn't, what interests you and what challenges you. I stick little pieces of tracing paper between my sketches to stop smudging if I don't have fixative.
Have you checked out the scavenger hunts in the artwork from life forum? You might enjoy them...it would give an extra dimension to your sketching trips!

05-11-2010, 07:59 PM
always find that a sketch brings back a much more visceral memory of something than a photograph I have taken does!

So true! You get to know something a lot better when you are observing it with an artist's eye.

More please???

I'll be posting more every day this week until we're all caught up. :)

have a great grasp of perspective and you do structures and man-made things far better than I've ever done.

Awww shucks...:o I haven't commented on your sketchbook Robert but you've lots of great stuff in there, your jug you recently did was very nice and it's man made. :)

I find it hard to reproduce graphite sometimes unless I use a very soft pencil.

I wonder why? I'm just using an Epson V500. I use the default "professional" setting but I set them to 16 bit grayscale, I think that's the only change from the default I use besides resolution.

The great thing about sketchbooks is that you learn so much about yourself as an artist, what works, what doesn't, what interests you and what challenges you

That's one of the biggest reasons I do this. I'm just a beginner, and I feel sketching from life is one of the most useful things a beginner can do to learn.


05-11-2010, 08:11 PM
Here's today's batch;


One of the last sketches of last fall, just done in the parking lot on my lunch break. Foliage in graphite is quite a challenge, I'll need to work on that hard this year.


This is the only sketch in my book that is not from life. I think this was from one of the weekly challenges in the D&S forum.


Ah! We had a rather warm November for a couple weeks, turns out we had one more Saturday with no snow and bearable temps. This is at the parkway at a point overlooking the Jordan River. On most of the parkway the paths are at or near the same level as the river, this is one of the few spots where the path is a ways bove the river creates this nice scene. I'll definately have to a couple more sketches from this vantage point once the trees get all their foliage back.


Now we are onto this year and my discovery of the Twist-Erase #5 mechanical pencil, which has greatly simplified and improved my sketching. It was still winter, but even during winter if the temp is above freezing I like to go to my favorite parking lot and take my lunch break in my car, and this day I sketched this school bus also on it's lunch break. I just gotta get out of that dang office whenever possible!


The first sketch of the year on the parkway, an interesting stump. I think this was early March. We had a nice sunny, warm snap for a couple weeks. Unfortunately the weather since has been rather hit and miss.


Not the same day, but the same place.


Again, different day but same place.

Thanks for all the wonderful responses, I'm enjoying them very much. I'm pleasantly suprised by the amount of interest my humble little sketchbook is receiving.


05-11-2010, 09:08 PM
More great sketches, David. I really need to take my cue from you and begin carrying my sketchbook with me all the time.

05-11-2010, 09:37 PM
Beautiful drawings! I like the series of houses going downhill from the challenge photo, that's elegant perspective. Beautiful trees and stumps. I love trees, and you do so many cool ones. Excellent school bus. Vehicles have always been beyond me, so that really amazes me. I've got a lot more practice with nature than man-made things. You seem to be equally good with both!

05-12-2010, 08:34 AM
Wow, those are quick ! I like the school bus and the houses view! Thanks for sharing!

Joan T
05-12-2010, 10:51 AM
David - Wonderful sketches!!! You'll see improvement in your sketches the more you practice. I've been doing the scavenger hunts and the daily practice has helped a great deal. I love the idea of traveling around and sketching what you see...you'll get lots of practice sketching all kinds of things. I try to keep a sketchpad/journal with me in the car too. That way if I see a scenic spot I can stop for a few minutes. Thanks for sharing these!

Vivien Maloney
05-12-2010, 07:27 PM
David; yes you have some wonderful sketches here! Like Joan, I also have been doing the "Scavenger Hunts". I love them, and they do keep my hand in for sketching and also give me incentive to sketch. I really must keep a sketchbook in the car, as I never seem to have one when I want it.

05-12-2010, 07:43 PM
I really need to take my cue from you and begin carrying my sketchbook with me all the time.05-11-2010 06:11 PM

Do it! It will most likely become one of if not your favorite activities.

Beautiful drawings! I like the series of houses going downhill from the challenge photo, that's elegant perspective. Beautiful trees and stumps. I love trees, and you do so many cool ones. Excellent school bus. Vehicles have always been beyond me, so that really amazes me. I've got a lot more practice with nature than man-made things. You seem to be equally good with both!

Thanks Robert. Obviously I love trees too! It can almost be hazardous while driving, I'm always noticing and looking at the interesting shapes and textures of different trees on the side of the road. :D I'm a big automotive enthusiast so I try to draw cars quite a bit but I have a long way to go to be good at it. The wheels/tires in particular give me fits!

Wonderful sketches!!! You'll see improvement in your sketches the more you practice. I've been doing the scavenger hunts and the daily practice has helped a great deal.

I looked into the scavenger hunt thing and honestly it doesn't look like something I can get too enthused about. Seems I have to either sketch outdoors or from photos, I have a hard time being interested in drawing the junk that's laying around me all the time. I do need to sketch more regular though, so I bought another sketchbook, a larger one that I'll keep here by my computer and if I don't go outdoors sketching I'll sketch from a photo that day.


05-12-2010, 07:49 PM
Here's today's batch. One more batch tomorrow and we'll be caught up, in fact I most likely will stop at the parkway on the way home tomorrow for a walk and more sketching.


This was in the parkway, a month and a half or so ago. I wanted to attempt a more detailed study of bark, this one didn't go so well.


This one was done in the arboretum at Murray Park approx. a month and a half ago. This is possibly my best bark attempt.


Another tree in the parkway. I might have a tree addiction. :D


I finally got wise and started dating my sketches. Another parkway tree.


This is actually a branch from the tree in the previous sketch, it really does turn down like that, all the way to the ground.


05-12-2010, 09:49 PM
Beautiful bark and tree studies. That odd branch is much more interesting than ordinary shaped ones. Gorgeous pencil sketching. Looking forward to see what you draw next!

05-13-2010, 07:17 PM
This is the last batch to catch up. I realized that the scans weren't quite as crisp as they should be, so I tweaked the contrast and sharpness a bit on these.


This is at the parkway, possibly my best bark sketch. Apparently this this tree is ill or being attacked by some insect as sections of bark had fallen off, but it made for an interesting subject to sketch.


This was at Murray Park, next to a pond, (currently dry) in the arboretum. This one didn't work so well. It was difficuly to differentiate the texture of the tree from that of the rock. I obviously picked a very artistic spot to sketch as my sketching was interrupted twice by pro photographers posing people in the same space I was trying to sketch!


This was at the parkway. I was trying to do a complete scene for practice. I seem to have a hard time drawing good landscapes in graphite.


This was at Murray Park next to the river. Another attempt at drawing both a tree and rocks together. This one was a little more successfull than the previous attempt.


Another whole scene attempt at the parkway.

I didn't make it out sketching today, had other things to attend to.


05-13-2010, 09:17 PM
Your tree studies are well done. The bark is an interesting subject.

05-16-2010, 03:45 AM
good work :) there's nothing quite as lively as working from life

05-16-2010, 04:02 AM
David, you're right! Your bark study at the top of your latest sketches, before I read it, I thought, Wow, that is a beautiful bark study! Then read down and grinned, you know it's your best bark. I think the parts that peeled away help to contrast with the bark texture, they give it a lot of character.

All of these are interesting. Your full scene in graphite is nice, I like it and wouldn't be embarrassed to have it in my sketchbook at all. The scanner still washes out your graphite sketches a bit, does that to mine too, which is why I drifted into using very soft graphite pencils. That and smudging tones of course, but drawn tones have a different texture and come out beautiful.

One of the best ways to differentiate bark and rock textures is to look for the strong shadows that define the shape of the rock and intensify them, then keep the rock face itself simple where it's in shadow and in light. I just read something relevant in Deborah Secor's online pastels book -- here's the link, her latest chapter is on rocks.


It opened my eyes to something I've been doing for years and intend to quit -- overdetailing the light side.

Very often the light washes out the details on the light side of a rock and the shadow diminishes their contrasts on the dark side. It's in the halftone area that the greatest details show and also where if you're doing it in color, the truest, strongest colors are. When I saw her examples it completely made sense. So maybe with rocks, if you leave the light side smooth or mostly smooth with only the strongest cracks and shadows showing on it, and the shadow areas very dark but not very detailed, again only the strongest cracks showing, but detail the midtones with the granite texture or whatever (if it shows, often at that scale the texture of a rock won't show other than just shading it as a halftone and letting white flecks show through evenly), that will make the rocks contrast better with the dark and mid tones of tree bark.

I know I'll be trying it, just thought I'd mention that since you said you were having trouble distinguishing rock and bark textures. Bark usually has a repeating pattern of deep cracks that is different for every type of tree, from the horizontal rings of birch or aspen bark to the vertical crooked broken ridges of oak and pecan. I love bark ... but if I'm doing the whole tree don't do more than suggest the texture usually. If it's close up then I have fun with the bark textures though, they're too cool and often could tell a botanist exactly what the tree is if I get them accurate.

05-16-2010, 11:35 AM
David, your sketches seem so simple, yet so detailed... Thank you for sharing, for I am learning a lot here!

Loved the background story of the little Datsun Pickup sketch! :)

05-16-2010, 07:07 PM
Thanks for the link Robert, lots of good info there. Unfortunately I contracted a virus on my computer the other day and it's blocking me from scanning or even downloading pics from my camera, so I don't know when I'll be able to update this thread again. Even my internet access is somewhat limited since I'm having to do it through safe mode.


05-16-2010, 07:24 PM
That is so horrible! I hope you can get it cleaned out soon and your computer back up to speed. I'd be so frustrated if I couldn't get online and upload anything. That's rough.

05-16-2010, 08:31 PM
I apparently have got it fixed now. I'll get my two latest sketches uploaded later tonight.


05-18-2010, 11:59 PM
Looking forward to them! Saw your pen and ink ones, but hope you can post more pencil drawings too (unless you're on a pen and ink streak, of course. No pressure.)

05-26-2010, 09:01 PM
Finally have some more sketches to post from this sketchbook. For the past couple weeks it seems either I didn't feel well or the weather wasn't cooporating but I've had better luck this week.


I did this one Monday and the parkway. The weather still didn't look good but I thought I had an opening for bearable weather on my way home so I stopped at the parkway. It was still somewhat cold but I braved it and went for a walk. I stopped at a bench and looked around for something to draw and spied this pair of aspen trees I've never noticed before. Foliage is kinda tough for me in graphite. The sketch got cut off a bit short. All of a sudden I became aware that it had become much more windy and colder, I looked West and saw some nasty clouds heading me way and I was a 20 min. walk from my car so I got up and hoofed it!


This was today. The sky was heavily overcast and gray but nothing threatening moisture and today it was so warm I wore shorts and carried a water bottle and went for a walk at least twice as long as Monday's. I'm getting a little tired of the schizophrenic weather we're having so far this spring. I spied another interesting "pair" of trees across the river. I put "pair" in parenthesise because it looks like they may be sharing the same roots. I'm afraid this tree is going to fall into the river before too long. Maybe the title of this sketchbook should be "The Trees of Jordan River Parkway". :lol:


With the weather so comfortable I decided I should get a second sketch in. This is a picnic table near the parking lot where I park. The cement landing it's on is surrounded by rocks, so this was a practice drawing rocks, didn't go real well.


05-26-2010, 09:55 PM
Your tree sketches are so delicate. They look great. The picnic bench is a brilliant idea. How many people stop to sketch a picnic bench?

05-31-2010, 10:41 PM
Finally Mother Nature and I got our schedule's straight and I was able to go on a hike in the canyon today. The weather was almost perfect and I had the day off. I hiked up the very popular pipeline trail in Little Cottonwood Canyon, (for you skiers this is the canyon that has Snowbird and Alta ski resorts at the top :) ). Given my limited physical activity lately I was suprised I was able to climb this somewhat steep trail without too much difficulty. Usually the first hike of the year just about kills me! I did sprain something in my foot on my way down though, just a minor limp. I found a perfect spot next to the creek, (more like a raging river right now) with a nearly flat and horizontal rock in front of a tree, so I had a seat and a back rest. From that vantage point I saw so many subjects to draw it was difficult deciding what to draw. Right directly in front of me was a pine tree that had a section of bark stripped off and so it provided an interest in textural contrasts, yep, another bark study...:lol:


I little to the left of that pine tree but farther away was the infamous pile of rocks and a small pine tree growing out from right behind the biggest rock, made for a nice composition and gave me more practice time with rocks;


My rock work still needs a lot of work. I really did like this little scene though, so I might go back, (if I can find it) and sketch it larger and take a bunch of photos. I think it would make a very nice full blown drawing.

These moments are what I live for. A comfortable place to sit, the only sound was the river seranading me, vitually no other person in sight the whole time, perfect weather, a pad and a pencil. Life doesn't get any better. This is why winter is so hard on me!


05-31-2010, 11:05 PM
Wow! Gorgeous trees and rocks. Very glad to come back and see new ones. I love your birch and aspens, they're spectacular. Cool view by the river. Perfect bark on the pine and I like your rocks and pine arrangement.

Wonderful drawings. Keep going. Glad the weather's getting better for you, hope it stays good and you get plenty of chances to hike and draw.

06-02-2010, 05:41 PM
That bark study is great. Your rocks look like rocks. And, I agree, that would probably make a good full on drawing with the lone pine sticking out of the rocks.

06-03-2010, 11:59 PM
Thanks very much for the kind comments Robert and Debby.

I made it out to the parkway today. Today was quite warm and I was breaking in my hiking shoes, not exactly the ideal situation. Much warmer/sunny than this and I'll have to do my parkway walks later in the evening.

I did this little sketch that's almost impossible to make out. :lol: It's supposed to be a dead branch in some gravel with some weeds growing to the left of it and a branch from some bush hanging in the foreground to the left.


This one I got creative with. I've sketched this scene before...kinda. I decided to change it up a little. In my previous sketch the tree at the left on this sketch framed the right side of the drawing and the path went to the left of the tree and was actually a little bridge. This time I framed the left side of the sketch with that tree but not even the whole trunk, just half of it. Then I moved the path to the right of the tree and made it dirt. I took another tree and pulled in closer to the center and more forward. The ground cover is just bits and pieces of what I saw in the area and placed where I thought appropriate.


I'm not sure the composition really works but it was an interesting exercise in taking the landscape in front of me and modifying it into something a little more interesting.


06-04-2010, 12:55 AM
The composition on your rearranged landscape works in a particular way. It looks very fairytale, like an illustration for the Hobbit. Framing it with that left hand tree is like the entrance into a magical country, it feels as if you could wander up that path to meet Frodo coming the other way, or Tom Bombadil.

I agree that the branch in the gravel is a little obscured, but beautifully drawn. I could see it when I looked close, but stronger shading on the branch and its shadow on the gravel would help define it separately.

What I've done and also seen done effectively is to get it down while outside and then go in afterward with a softer pencil, a 4B or 6B or even 8B to get accent darks in and help define things more.

06-04-2010, 12:55 AM
I really like the tree sketches. The bark on most of your trees have great texture. Great road trip sketches.


06-04-2010, 01:02 PM
Great re-arranged landscape. I agree with Robert, it looks like the entrance to someplace magical.

06-08-2010, 12:47 AM
Looks like my "plein aire" nature sketching may be curtailed for a week or so. We've had some wild weather this spring. Significant snow fall during May combined with heavy rain falls and suddenly warm temps has resulted in the flooding of some of my favorite places. Most of Murray Park for example is under water right now and the creek that runs through it the same creek where I sketched on Memorial day on my hike. I thought it was raging that day, but apparently much of the trail I hiked that day is now under water! This has been a very wierd spring for weather here. Unfortunately many homes and businesses have been flooded as well though luckily no one has been injured.


06-08-2010, 10:47 PM
Well, you could always go out right up to where the water is and sketch the flood, I suppose. But that's up to you. That bites that your area had so much flood damage.

06-09-2010, 12:16 AM
I like that sketch of the small pine tree growing out of the rocks. It reminds me of some of my past camping trips. Nice tree sketches.

06-09-2010, 12:27 AM
Thanks Michelle. With the flooding I'm not sure that spot even exists anymore! The rock I was sitting on was right at the edge of the bank, a couple feet above but erosion from an over-flowing creek could possibly take it down, as well as the tree I was using as a back rest. We had major flooding like this at all the major canyon creeks in the area in 1983, that flooding changed the landscape of all the canyons, it will be interesting to see what my favorite areas look like now. I know for a fact that the trail I hiked on Memorial day was at least moderately effected, possibly heavily damaged in spots. One of the bridges was damaged, a family on Sunday wa trapped on the other side of the creek on that trail for a few hours. I don't know if they'll even allow people on that trail until all this damage is repaired.

Another bummer for me is that Murray park was hosting a car show this Saturday. I was going to go to that show with my Dad, my guess is it will be canceled now, I doubt the park is going to recover enough by Saturday, in fact we could still see more flooding in that area depending on what the weather does.


06-12-2010, 01:15 AM
No new sketches for this book today, but the weather was just barely good enough for me to make a trip back to the spot I sketched on Memorial Day. This was my view from the rock I was sitting on while sketching, you can see both the bark study and the rocks with small pine tree here;


Here is the rock I was sitting on. On Memorial day the water line was about 2 ft below the rock and there was a lot more soil under it, now it looks like it might fall into the creek soon, but the water is actually moving pretty slow in this spot so it might be saved. It's quite obvious the water line at one point was well above this rock, the ground was quite moist.



06-12-2010, 03:27 AM
Those are nice textures for sketching

06-12-2010, 03:50 AM
David these are great pencil sketches. I love all the trees and branches and rocks. So much texture. You have a real passion and talent. I carry a sketchbook with me, but rarely go out, and feel too self conscious to use it except occassionally on the train. I'd love to be where there is so much nature and great drawing spots around. The suburbs just don't match up, but I guess there are things if I looked hard enough.

Look forward to more of your work. Great stories and info and wonderful art.

06-12-2010, 10:44 AM
These photos are great, they also show how accurate your drawings are. Love the one that has both the rocks and tree and the split bark, that's just so beautiful.

06-12-2010, 11:12 AM
There has been a lot of water flooding areas this June. Hope your sketch spot survives. Great photos and seeing the reference, I think you sketching is spot on. Great work.

06-14-2010, 11:52 PM
Once again, thanks for the comments.

I finally got back to this sketchbook today. Took a walk at the parkway and decided to do a quick sketch with both some foliage and a little bit of the river in it.


The foliage came out looking a little bit too much like a pine tree, I'll have to work on that. This tree does have long, thin leaves, so that makes it look a little like a pine when viewed in b&w.


06-15-2010, 01:29 PM
Nice! I like the reflection in the river, you captured the water texture beautifully. It's tricky with something that has long thin leaves, maybe if you do it a few times you'll see something in the shapes of the foliage clumps that would make it easier to distinguish from a pine. There's probably a way but it would likely take some experimentation to find it.

06-15-2010, 03:48 PM
Marvelous sketch. I guess it does read "pine" sort of, but not. I'm not sure what it is. I was just looking at tree reflected in water. Then I read your comments, and Robert's.

06-19-2010, 10:27 PM
Robert: Thanks. Well, as you know experimentation is the life of the artist. :D

Debby: Thanks for the comments.

06-19-2010, 10:34 PM
I promised myself when I started these sketchbooks that I'd share the bad as well as the good, today is one of those days. :lol: It's not my fault though as you'll read.

I ended up not going on a hike today. Morning got quite busy, tired me out a bit and then my foot and back started aching, and then a couple things came up in the afternoon. I decided to just visit Murray park instead. While walking along the creek I spied this guy;


Yes, I thought to take my camera today. This fella looked so comfortable sunning himself on the little culvert I figured he wouldn't move for a while, so I set about to sketch him. I got the general shape down and started detailing the head.......then a couple came by and started throwing pieces of bread in the creek!!!! :mad: Needless to say the ducks and gulls went into a frenzy including my sketching subject. I attempted to finish the sketch but I'm sure the details are all wrong.



06-20-2010, 12:23 AM
David, that's not bad except the angle of the beak. Looks like he moved between when you did the head and the beak -- but it's nearly perfect, don't be too embarrassed. The photo helps me see the good in it.

06-20-2010, 02:28 PM
I wouldn't feel bad, David. You were sketching a live subject that you have no way to tell "hold that pose". :lol: Your sketch is that of a duck sitting. The only thing I see that's off is the beak. And that could be because the bird moved it's head. Great job.

06-23-2010, 05:15 PM
Hi David,

Checking back in to see how your book is coming. Very nice work on the tree and foliage studies!

Vivien Maloney
06-25-2010, 02:52 PM
David; Your sketchbooks are coming along great. Thanks for posting the photos as well. Interesting to see the flooded creek and that's a handsome duck. Is it a Mallard? I don't know a lot of bird species but we do have Mallards in NZ and it looks a bit like one.

07-01-2010, 12:52 AM
I hope you guys didn't think I was giving up on the sketchbooks, it's been a while since I updated.

Robert and Debby: Yes, the duck did move his head between the taking of the photo and when I started sketching his head, of course. :lol: I should know better by know. I must be some kind of masochist trying to sketch animate objects. :lol: You'll see I did it again this week!

Viven and JTBM: thanks much for you comments.

I did this one on Monday and am finally getting around to uploading it today. (been real lazy lately)


At the parkway again. I decided to cross a bridge I'd never crossed before to find new scenes and viewpoints. This is looking across the river at a spot I've sketched from a couple times before. I actually sketched while sitting in the shade of this tree, it sure looks a lot different when you step back from it! Soon after I started sketching this man walked up with his dog and started bathing him in the river! Of course I had to try to add this element as well. They were there only for a minute or two though, so that part of the sketch is very vague since it's mostly from memory.


07-01-2010, 11:55 AM
I like this. It's a great looking tree and the fence is excellent. Good sketch of the man bathing his dog in the river. That's excellent, especially with most of it being from memory. You have enough there to tell what he is but he doesn't dominate the scene, it's the tree that grabs my attention first.

07-01-2010, 12:20 PM
Great sketch. Crossing the bridge was a good thing.

07-01-2010, 03:39 PM
I like the way you decided to catch the action :)

07-02-2010, 12:22 AM
Thanks guys.

I was on vacation today and went on a hike in an are called the High Uintas, (details of the hike will be posted in my #4 sketchbook thread.) I went up for some major sketching time and to warm up I did this little sketch;


I was trying a new method to indicate rocks, didn't work real well, but that's what practice is for. :)

Here's a pic of the actual scene I was trying to capture;



07-02-2010, 12:35 AM
Cool rock formation. I like it.

07-02-2010, 06:55 AM
rocks aren't easy - and the light is very harsh and bright on those, making it difficult to draw the form of them - maybe find rocks to study next time with a more dramatic lighting angle and more difference in light and shade?

I like drawing rocks too :)

07-02-2010, 11:49 AM
You always have such interesting sketches from your hikes.

08-11-2010, 11:23 PM
Over a month since I posted from this sketchbook. Too bad they still haven't fixed the disappearing images. I actually used this sketchbook today even though I never planned to. I ended up breaking my rule for this book, I used pen today! Here's the back story. I took a long lunch at work today and I went to one of the big name office supply stores today to buy a chair mat since I had a coupon. Unfortunately I needed to spend one more penny to take advantage of the coupon. I figured I'd go buy some pens, I can always use those. Now, I'm not talking about artist pens, just plain old pens for every day use. However I have a favorite pen I like to use, the Pilot Precise V5 Extra Fine. These are by far the best ball type pens I've ever used, I won't buy anything else, well I do keep cheapo Bics in my back pocket since Pilots won't stand up to that abuse. Anyway, it occured to me for the first time that the Pilot V5 might be good for sketching. Since I keep this sketchbook in my car I used the Pilot pen to do a little sketch of a bush that was the parking lot I was eating my lunch in;


Then tonight after dinner I went for a walk for the first time in the neighborhood I moved to last month. I knew the parkway was pretty close, but I still thought it would be a mile, turns out I got there in just 1/2 to 3/4 mile. While there I did a couple more sketches;



To sum it all up, I heartily recommend the Pilot Precise V5 pen for sketching! I'll be keeping this pen with this sketchbook from now on, though there's not a whole lot of pages left.


08-12-2010, 12:33 AM
I forgot to mention, this ink is not waterproof, so WC washes won't work with these. However this does open up some other possibilies, why not use non-waterproof ink the same way you use watercolor pencils or other water soluable pencils?


08-12-2010, 12:57 AM
Those are beautiful. David, you're right about non-waterproof ink and self-washes. I use both - I like to know which is which to know what it'll do when I wash it. If it's watersoluble, I use just water or know that any color will mingle with diluted ink color.

I'll have to try that Pilot V5 pen sometime. It sounds like a good one.

So you're nearing the end of this sketchbook! It's beautiful. You'll probably open a new thread when you've finished, so be sure to mention it when you post the last drawing!

08-12-2010, 08:02 PM
Ah, but rules are made to be broken under the right circumstances. These are definitely sketches worth breaking rules about. Just transfer the pen to the new sketch book you keep in your car, and keep going.

08-13-2010, 04:59 AM
I haven't used it in ages but I've got a Rotring fountain pen that uses water soluble ink and the washes from it are gorgeous. The sepia separates into slightly different colours - one with a pinky tinge.

08-14-2010, 12:23 AM
Went for another walk to the parkway and did a couple more sketches;



Not real good, but I put less then ten minutes into each.

I have to say, I'm really liking my new neighborhood. The walk from my duplex to the park is nice and quiet and the is so much diversity in the architecture and yards, no tract housing here! There's a small horse barn by the entrance to the park, I need to stop and sketch that one of these days.

Only 7 pages left in this book!


08-14-2010, 05:39 AM
these are nice fresh spontaneous sketches :)

08-14-2010, 12:56 PM
Your sketches are lively and full of life. I like the second one. *smile*

08-14-2010, 01:20 PM
Both of these sketches are lively and attractive. Everything in them is easily identifiable and your shading is excellent. The second one is gorgeous, it stands out by stronger values and a better composition.

Yay for nearly filling your sketchbook! That's always such a great feeling.

08-14-2010, 09:46 PM
David you are capturing the essence of what you are seeing - the perfect interpretation of sketching! Congrats on being so close to finishing your book - what a wonderful sense of achievment ;)

08-16-2010, 11:12 PM
Vivien, Debbie, thank you very much for your kind comments.

Robert, Jackie, thank you as well, and yes, it is exciting to be nearing the finish of this book, it will be my first completed sketchbook.


08-16-2010, 11:14 PM
I'm enjoying my evening walks very much. I get out when it's cooled down a bit so the heat isn't so oppressive. Hiowever it means when I stop to sketch I'm chasing the light. Today especially so. I decided to take out the pencil this time and do a semi-detailed bark and foliage study. As I lost the light it got more and more difficult to make out my pencil strokes on the page.



08-17-2010, 12:52 AM
As an experiment I applied some washes to one of the previous sketches done with the Pilot V5 pen;


It worked out pretty well.


08-17-2010, 01:08 AM
David, I love how the washes came out on the rock and reeds sketch. It's so dramatic with them, gorgeous. Your bark and foliage study is great too.

08-17-2010, 01:47 AM
That is dedication to draw until you can't see what you are doing on the paper any more. It's a great tree. The washes came out very well. I like the sketch even better now.

08-17-2010, 10:01 PM
David, your wash is great - dare I say it?....... yes I will! You've gone deeper in your tone with it and it looks great ;) The variation gives it much more depth as a drawing - well done.

It sounds like you live in a neat area if you have inspiration to draw so close to home..... I live in a very boring suburban neighbourhood with nothing much interesting near by to be interested in drawing :( Thank goodness for photographs, books and the internet!

09-01-2010, 12:23 AM
Thanks for the comments everybody.

I finally made it out for a walk in the parkway today, it's been over a week. It was a quick walk though, so I pulled out the V5 pen and whipped this up in about 5 minutes;


Nothing much, but it was just 5 minutes. :D I have Thursday off work so I plan on going on a hike, hopefully a long one so I should have at least a couple sketches to post that night.

Yes, Jackie, photos are important, even for me. How do you think I get through winter? Our winters can be long and miserable, (even when they aren't they feel that way.) I'm making sure I have plenty of my own photos to sketch from throughout winter. You ought to take a closer look around you though, even in urban areas you can find interesting things to sketch.


09-01-2010, 04:04 AM
That is true, I think you become a bit blinkered in your "immediate" surrounds. It is becoming a little warmer here - first day of Spring (and raining but we need that rain for the hot weather to come!). I am looking forward to getting out and about a little more and becoming more vigilant looking for subjects!

09-01-2010, 10:14 PM
Wonderful tree sketch. Looking forward to Thursday's hike sketches.

09-02-2010, 08:31 PM
Thanks for the comments everybody.

I finally made it out for a walk in the parkway today, it's been over a week. It was a quick walk though, so I pulled out the V5 pen and whipped this up in about 5 minutes;


Nothing much, but it was just 5 minutes. :D I have Thursday off work so I plan on going on a hike, hopefully a long one so I should have at least a couple sketches to post that night.

Yes, Jackie, photos are important, even for me. How do you think I get through winter? Our winters can be long and miserable, (even when they aren't they feel that way.) I'm making sure I have plenty of my own photos to sketch from throughout winter. You ought to take a closer look around you though, even in urban areas you can find interesting things to sketch.


Great little pine sketch, so natural and shapely. I love it. This has a beautiful balance and it's very detailed for a spur of the moment five minute drawing.

Looking forward to seeing what you post from today's hike! And yeah, winter's a bummer for that sort of thing. I lean toward still lifes and other people's photo references plus occasional winter views of my window.

09-02-2010, 11:03 PM
Hi David,

Haven't checked in for a while, glad I did. I like your trees and other botanicals. Well done - especially using only pencil. Good work!

09-04-2010, 08:31 PM
I hope no one was holding their breath for my hiking sketches. :lol: You know how it is, a vacation can be more busy and tiring than work, well that's what's happened to me so far. I bit off too much of a hike Thursday. It was about an 8 mile round trip with a 2040 ft elevation gain, and most of that in the second half. Needless to say, it was a very steep trail for a couple miles. It took me forever to make it to the lake and it totally wore me out. I had no time or energy for sketching, (so I lugged around two sketchbooks and the watercolor sketch kit for 8 miles for nothing. :lol: ). I was so beat that night I just vegg'ed in front of the TV. I took plenty of photos though and will try and do a sketch or two tonight and/or tomorrow and then post my sketches and some photos from the hike. Friday and today have been hectic as well. Yesterday I ran a bunch of errands, took in a movie, and went to the art club's fall show opening reception. Today I went to a car show in a small town about an hour north of here and on the way back hit a bunch of antique stores. All I bought at any of the stores was a a bunch of old illustrated car ads, I just love the artwork in those! I've got quite the collection of those now, well over 200 I'm sure. I didn't get home until after 5:00, all the driving and walking around in the heat has me worn out again. I don't have plans to be real busy or do anything real tiring Sunday or Monday thank goodness!

Anyway, hopefully by tomorrow evening I'll be posting some new sketches.


09-04-2010, 08:32 PM
Great little pine sketch, so natural and shapely. I love it. This has a beautiful balance and it's very detailed for a spur of the moment five minute drawing.

Apparently I should have spent more time on the foliage.....it's not a pine. :lol:

09-09-2010, 10:47 PM
Oops, sorry about that. Yeah, developing foliage textures that suggest the shape of the leaves is something that takes a bit of time. Still, it's beautiful. I can see it now that you've pointed it out. I think the downslanting branches were part of why I thought it was a pine, I don't usually see those on deciduous trees - though obviously that can happen!

09-16-2010, 08:41 PM
Okay, drum roll please...............this sketchbook is finished!!!!! Here are the final entries.

Saturday night I went for a walk at the parkway. I decided it was finally time I sketched that barn near the entrance to the parkway. I sketched it with the Pilot V5 pen and did a wash with a waterbrush at home.


Then I sketched this tree in pencil. I've sketched this tree before but from the other side of the river. This time I was much closer and looking at it from about 90* of the other sketch.


Last night I went on a bike ride on the parkway so I was able to get to a farther section of the parkway I haven't visited in years. There is a duck pond here and a picnic table to sit at that gave me a good view of plenty of interesting subjects to sketch, this was when I decided this sketchbook ends here and now. :lol: I spent a total of about 30 minutes on these three sketches.

First was a rock at the edge of the pond;


Then I noticed this house was kinda peaking through these two trees on the parkway and I thought it looked kinda neat so I sketched it. I kept the foliage of the trees indistinct so the focus stayed on the house.


And this is of a dead tree across the pond. It was kinda far away and my side was in the shade so it was yard to make out all the details so I winged it half the time.


And that's all she wrote, my first finished sketchbook. It's been a year long journey and I can definately see the progress in my sketching skills.


09-17-2010, 01:32 AM
This is a fantastic finish. I love that old barn. It shows how many times you studied it before finally drawing it, the values are so strong and the light and perspective are so true. The rock is great. That bare tree at the end is gorgeous. They're all good. Skim back and look at this one with pride, because I can see the progression and it's so cool.

Congratulations on finishing! Now it's time to start another, right?

09-17-2010, 10:08 AM
Congratulations on finishing the sketchbook, David! :clap:

I also wanted to comment on your ink sketches - they are very well done! The one where you did the washes came out great - that approach is one I've always liked. I'm starting to use more pen now, and enjoying it. One advantage it has over graphite is that it's easier to get dark darks.

09-17-2010, 10:54 AM
nice one of the tumbledown barn - and well done - lots of good stuff in this one :)

09-17-2010, 11:33 PM
Very fine finish! This sketchbook is a treasure.

09-18-2010, 06:47 AM
woohoo - good for you finishing the sketchbook David! I, too, like those barn sketches, it is interesting to see the similar subject done in different medium - do you have a favourite? I am in agreeance with the others - it will be really good for you to look back over this sketchbook and see how far you've come and use it for reference maybe in the future :)

Joan T
09-18-2010, 11:16 AM
Congrats on finishing the sketchbook! It has been a while since I checked in here. Great job on all the tree bark sketches! I like the one of the duck too. But I'm really impressed with the ink sketches...nice strength and shading on those!!!

09-18-2010, 05:12 PM
Congratulations on finishing! Now it's time to start another, right?

Thanks Robert, and yes, thanks to you I will be starting another for the October challenge.

The one where you did the washes came out great - that approach is one I've always liked. I'm starting to use more pen now,

Yes, I'm enjoying the pen quite a bit lately. I saw a style of pen with WC that I really liked and I'm going to try to figure out how to do it and maybe use that style for my October challenge sketchbook.

do you have a favourite? I am in agreeance with the others - it will be really good for you to look back over this sketchbook and see how far you've come

Jackie, that question prompted me to look back through the whole book and see if I could decide. It's hard to but I think in general I like my bark studies the most, the one in post #40 in particular. I'll have to try bark with pen now.

But I'm really impressed with the ink sketches...nice strength and shading on those!!!

Thanks Joan. It's real easy to get those darks with pen, then it's the lights that are a challenge!

Again, thanks everybody for all your comments and contributions to this thread, I really enjoyed it. Now I need to pay some attention to some neglected sketchbooks, #2 and #3 haven't been touched for quite some time.


09-18-2010, 06:55 PM
David, love every page of this sketch book! What a treasure! My favorite I think is the one on this page of the little house peaking out between the trees.... beautiful! You should be very proud of this book. Well done!