View Full Version : Folio One (A4 Moleskine Folio Sketchbook)

05-18-2010, 05:18 PM
I decided to call it Folio One because it is a Folio -- it's an A4 Moleskine Folio sketchbook. Like other Moleskine notebooks and sketchbooks, it looks antique right from the beginning. It's got that beautiful black leather-look cover that'll protect it from anything, the elastic band to hold it shut, a black ribbon bookmark sewn in and heavy cream colored drawing paper.

I'm not sure if it's heavy enough to handle Sketch and Wash with light washes, so I'll try it first with a Graphitints drawing on something close to the middle of a page, where the washed areas are small and any cockling would be minor. I didn't do that experiment on the first page.

Instead, I decided to run with what it reminded me of and do some text with some improvised freehand calligraphy for the title. It's such a formal, fancy, cool book that reminds me of things like adventure movies with natural historians and scientists going into jungles and deserts, archaeologists poring over ancient tombs, all that sort of thing.

I read an article on "Cabinet of Curiosities" in Wikipedia -- here's the link. They're interesting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cabinet_of_Curiosities. I've always loved the idea, ever since I collected rocks, fossils and shells as a child. I don't have space for one though, and half the cool things in it I don't have access to anyway. Not without going on trips I dearly wish I could take.

So instead, I'll use photo references from the WDE and RIL for some of the curiosities. Include things from fiction and illustrations from my own fiction. Label everything so that myths from my made-up world don't confuse people when they're near things from real mythology even if it's obscure. Examine ideas and philosophical concepts as well as physical science and natural history -- and revel in nature, which to me is the soul and core of my spirituality.

I don't need to do a collage journal with lots of lace and little hearts and rubber stamps and pretty little girls chasing butterflies... that's not who I am. It's beautiful when it's done well -- see some of the lovely art journals here in this forum. It's just not who I am... who I am is a little boy who never grew up but always dreamed of being Darwin crossed with Ray Bradbury and Audubon when he did. I get to be just as self indulgent as the creators of those vintage-photos and lace and doll drawings are, that's far better than copying their works.

It may seem a little fancier and more pompous than "The Goof Off Book" because of its tone. But believe me -- this is more my letting my inner child be the pompous, garrulous, curious little boy he really is. It won't be perfect. These things never are. Even on the Frontispiece, I didn't center "ONE" perfectly when I inked it in, because I misjudged letter width enlarging the letters to match "FOLIO."

I made up the text in pencil and then edited it when I inked it, which actually got it to lay out a little better after that goof. So this is also a statement of intent -- a focus for what this art journal is about. I might put Neptune in, and putti doing rude things like peeing in the acanthus leaves.

But that's okay. It's me, it's mine, it's organized the way I want it and it'll become intensely personal as well as wide-ranging. Enjoy.

Folio One - Frontispiece
8 1/4" x 11 3/4" - A4 size
Pigma Micron pen size 05
Moleskine Folio Sketchbook size A4 cream drawing paper.
Photo reference "Trail Snail" by lisilk for May 14-16 Weekend Drawing Event.

05-18-2010, 05:46 PM
Looking forward to this one, Robert! It's the child in us that brings that spark of creativity. It's just amazing how much imagination it can bring!

Carole A
05-18-2010, 07:04 PM
Your "cabinet of curiousities" is a great idea, Robert. And I love your title page. I'm not much of a collector; just don't like clutter, so bringing home a stick with moss and lichen on it, or a beautiful feather I might pick up, then drawing/painting those things and then discarding them would be very satisfying to me.

Waiting to see what we might find in your "Cabinet".

Carole A

05-18-2010, 11:20 PM
Great title page, Robert. I am looking forward to what you do with this. It should be lots of fun.

05-18-2010, 11:38 PM
Thank you! Raymond, I was a weird kid and way too intellectual for my context, but now I can indulge everything that ever disturbed adults around me in this journal and I love it.

Carole, thanks! Also thank you for mentioning a stick with moss and lichen on it! I have a stick with lichen on it that I've already done once for a Scavenger Hunt, so I might try it again in pen drawing in this book. I do collect still life objects but I lose them in moves and sometimes give them away and the stuff... circulates. Also I need to rein in that tendency to collect things. This book will help!

Debby, thank you! I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Vivien Maloney
05-19-2010, 01:30 AM
This looks good Robert. Can't wait to see it being filled.

05-19-2010, 07:38 AM
Wow, Robert, I love the idea, and I loved reading the introduction to it :)

Looking forward to see more! :clap:

Great notebook choice, the Moleskine perfectly suits it I think :)

05-19-2010, 08:46 AM
Robert, way to go.. your title page is awesome! I thought it was a typed page from an art book! Will be watching the thread for more! Thanks for all your wonderful advice.

05-19-2010, 08:49 AM
Thank you! Actually, it's more the reverse... the Moleskine inspired it and if I'd used a different sketchbook I probably would have done a different theme or introduction. It's cool to have a theme and a focus though. It may be broad, but it's got a couple of commitments in there. Not necessarily to organize the pages by topic like an encyclopedia or index them, but to label them and think about how the objects on them relate to each other and the world, to jot a little more text about my thoughts in this one.

It's as full of experiments as The Goof Off Book in its way. I finally dared to do it -- trust my ability to draw well enough to put together a book of observations as such. Did you ever see The Spiderwyck Chronicles? The book in that movie inspired me as much as Brian Froud's book of sketches for The Dark Crystal and the field notebook in The Mosquito Coast. The frontispiece is inspired by illustrations in several dinosaur books including Robert Bakker's wonderful Raptor Red.

I might take a long time to finish this, or not. I'll find out when I get there. But there are some other faster mediums than pen and ink I could use for some of it, like Conte crayon, colored pencils and pastel pencils. I'll see where it goes -- but it doesn't all need to be in the same medium, though I toyed with the idea of the entire book being pen and ink just to keep that look.

05-19-2010, 09:31 AM
I LOVED the Spiderwyck Chronicles.. my kids have the series and the illustrations are amazing! It's so cool that you can incorporate a theme in the journal, but whatever you end up drawing/painting is going to be wonderful. It has to be. Will have to check out the other two books you mentioned. I love illustrations in books, they are almost always better than the words!

There's a thought, you could write a children's book and illustrate it. You'd be awesome at that!

05-19-2010, 10:21 AM
If I ever wrote a children's book, the publisher would not let me illustrate it. They pair unknown writers with famously good illustrators and vice versa, new illustrators get well known authors. It's a way to launch careers that makes sense. Author art only goes to decorate authors' websites.

Besides, I don't want to get known as a children's author. It's never been my thing. The demands of children's book writing are weird -- it has to be shorter, it has to use simpler words, it has to pass a ton of strict editing criteria that other novels don't and still somehow manage to be a good story. On top of which, they could easily decide that instead of getting Spiderwyck style illustrations, they want to give me the goofy modern-art looking stylized cartoony ones where everything's out of proportion and done scribbly in primary colors because Children Are Supposed To Draw Like That.

I didn't draw like that as a child. Maybe as a two or three year old, I can remember some blobby dinosaurs with a lot of triangle teeth and relatively skinny bodies, but I was adding a lot of detail even then and frustrated at not getting the shape of the tyrannosaur head right. By kindergarten I was doing strange little four or eight sided mandalas and forests of winter trees that receded smaller by five or six layers in perspective.

Good Teachers loved me and paid a lot of attention to me, giving me cool things to read and letting me do projects at my level. They also honestly graded me high because I was way past what kids my age were doing, even when it came easy like drawing or life science.

Bad Teachers got scared of me, picked on me, chose any excuse to lower my grade and tried to shut me down when I didn't agree with the propaganda they were spouting. They confiscated books above the other kids' level, broke up any friendships I had with other kids and sometimes pushed it to the point where I thought they'd get me drinking hemlock like Socrates for corrupting the youth. They believed kids were blank slates who just accepted anything adults told them without question and never had any original thoughts or observations.

It was hard at the time, but today I look back and smile. Times have changed but while education's gone downhill in some ways, it's better in others. Though it was horrible in those years, I look back on them as a clean fight and a fairly solid victory.

But I loathed Children's Books by and large, other than the antique ones like Grimm's Fairy Tales and the color fairy books and all, where they didn't really write down to children but put in the folklore in all its gruesome detail. Terry Pratchett is right -- children enjoy a certain amount of blood and gore in stories as long as the stories make sense. So whenever someone suggests I write and illustrate a children's book, I flinch at the thought of selling out, writing something dreadful, preachy and dull that I would've thrown across the room when I was that age.

Instead, I hope to write the sort of adult books that children sneak out of their parents' shelves and read cover to cover, hooked on the story. Though I still won't get to illustrate them, since publishers of adult books pull that career bootstrap thing with authors and illustrators too. I would have to build a career as a top notch illustrator and then I probably wouldn't be assigned to myself anyway but wind up drawing other people's stories -- something I've rarely if ever had any interest in.

It's more that when I write, I like to do some author art and when I do sell a pro novel, whatever it is will get some author art up on my Website For The Book so that readers have a reason to keep coming back. Fan art by the author, basically, with prints and coffee mugs as a merchandising stream along with the royalties. It's definitely going to have veracity since I'm the only person who knows precisely what Blue the dragon looks like... well, actually having already drawn Blue, other better illustrators could change his pose and do him better. But I originated him.

05-19-2010, 11:05 AM
Wow, Robert! What a great introduction to your new journal and a wonderful first page. I'll be sure not to miss any of the postings from this one. You inspire me!

05-19-2010, 01:05 PM
Dena, thank you!

Rose -- don't think I'm riled at you for asking. It's a natural assumption -- an author who can draw ought to do children's books because they're generally the only books that get illustrations any more. I do wish publishers would illustrate adult novels more often, especially those with really good settings either fantasy/SF or just the "travelogue" style of fiction. Imagine a James Michener novel about Alaska or Hawaii that's also full of good realistic illustrations of the place and the events... or a mystery set in London in the 1930s with good illustrations... they'd rock.

05-20-2010, 09:14 AM
Hi Robert...

I totally understand. It makes perfect sense to me now :) After hearing your point of view above, the light bulb went on... it's a wonderful thing when you know your full abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and have thought everything through. You really are amazing... and what a great idea for adult authors to illustrate their novels. You're sure right about Michener's "Hawaii" for one! Terrific idea. I'd love to see that too!

And I am with you on not wanting to write a children's book because then you'd have to hang out with kids all the time. I think I've had enough of that too! And adults are more my cup of tea. I hated some of the illustrations in books when I was younger but LOVED others. I guess I never really thought much about it, but your thoughts are spot on.

So sorry you had teachers that did not encourage your love for reading and drawing when you were obviously quite gifted in both areas. Now we don't have any art in the schools (worth mentioning it) for the kids unless when they are in HS they take a course. It's sad that art is fading away and music classes, too. :(

Carry on, my friend. Your paintings and words are a balm to the soul.

05-20-2010, 11:42 AM
Oh, I didn't get art till I was in high school. This country hasn't ever understood what it does for a child's education to teach realistic drawing at an early age -- what this teaches in observation, focus, creativity, ability to express yourself. I wouldn't have been quite such a hotshot in grade school if they had, because within two or three years the rest would've been doing recognizable pencil sketches of cells or the structure of the feather or a rat skull.

I've seen 19th century drawings by grade school kids that would blow you away, totally amaze you. There's a myth in this country that only the talented few can learn, but there was a time when those rich enough to be in good schools all routinely came out capable of good realist drawing in pencil, charcoal, pen and watercolor. Also capable of recognizing and appreciating great art when they saw it. I'd love to see art reintroduced to the grade schools, it would do something good for the kids and for the country and the economy.

05-20-2010, 03:19 PM
I checked back on "Start a Sketchbook Habit" workshop on Ning by Suzette Morrow. Today's exercise was drawing by observing without erasing anything. Well, that was easy. I just picked up a pen and as directed, looked around to decide what to draw that was right in sight.

Ari was on my lap looking off toward the window. I love his black ears. So regardless of his not posing in a position where I could see his face, I started in on my favorite sketching subject of the past ten years. Here he is, covering 2/3 of the first page on the back of the Frontispiece:

Cat Sketches, May 20, 2010
8 1/4" x 8"
Pigma Micron pen
A4 Moleskine Folio cream heavy drawing paper.

I don't know what I'll do on the rest of the page, but I'll probably keep it all to black ink penwork for coherence.

05-20-2010, 04:35 PM
Ari is in the folio! Excellent rendering, even if he did move when you were doing the ear studies. You could probably dedicate pages to cat studies and still be in keeping with the theme of the book.

05-20-2010, 04:49 PM
Thank you! Yep, that's exactly what I did too. He laid down again on the bed with his back turned and kept moving every few minutes the way he does when he's sleeping. So now I have a two-page spread of Ari sketches. I might even do at least one more, he turned around and now he's facing me. Silly cat waited till I was done and putting these on the scanner!

Folio One, Page One
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Pigma Micron pen on cream heavy drawing paper

Pardon the mistake at the bottom, one drawing ran right over into another and unpleasantly connected. He doesn't actually have an extra head coming out of his head!

Folio One, Page Two
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Pigma Micron pen on cream heavy drawing paper

05-20-2010, 05:11 PM
Very cool. I love your Ari drawings. He's such a beautiful cat.

05-20-2010, 05:51 PM
Oh, I didn't get art till I was in high school. This country hasn't ever understood what it does for a child's education to teach realistic drawing at an early age -- what this teaches in observation, focus, creativity, ability to express yourself. I wouldn't have been quite such a hotshot in grade school if they had, because within two or three years the rest would've been doing recognizable pencil sketches of cells or the structure of the feather or a rat skull.

I've seen 19th century drawings by grade school kids that would blow you away, totally amaze you. There's a myth in this country that only the talented few can learn, but there was a time when those rich enough to be in good schools all routinely came out capable of good realist drawing in pencil, charcoal, pen and watercolor. Also capable of recognizing and appreciating great art when they saw it. I'd love to see art reintroduced to the grade schools, it would do something good for the kids and for the country and the economy.

Rob, I totally agree on all you said. I had art in high school too, but I know if my kids want to take it, it's not required, only an elective. We had REQUIRED art. I never got as good as drawing anything from the 19th century, but we did shading and depth as well as observation with a variety of media. It's so sad to see the art classes being cut.

Love your drawings of Ari. What a beautiful kitty!

05-20-2010, 05:58 PM
Nice work, Robert! I need to pick up a couple of the folio-size Moleskines, which don't seem to be a normal carry item for the local art supply stores for some reason (or I've been oblivious to them, which is quite possible - :o ). I find different sizes of sketchbooks to all be useful for different things. Keep up the work with Ari, who may become the most drawn feline model in sketching history...!

05-20-2010, 07:20 PM
Thank you! Yep. I think art needs to be taught seriously at the grade school level in the normal required curriculum -- the actual realistic drawing skills, proportion and shading and line and tone. Little kids learn somewhere around that age with the present school system that they can't do it, that they're not "good enough" or "talented enough" ever to learn, and that puts the USA way behind the world in terms of the arts.

Even private schools don't emphasize it or teach it early, they think of children's art in terms of unbridled creativity. When what's really being repressed is the desire to draw what you see accurately and belief in their ability to do so. I was doing rats realistically around first or second grade, because I had a pet rat and a father who was a scientist that could draw realistically. It wasn't impossible or reserved for the rare few because he taught me how he did it.

Instead, even in the outside school art lessons they taught Picasso and other nonrepresentational art stuff that completely bored me. Little kids love realism. They want to draw their comic book heroes or their dolls, they want to draw the things they like, they copy cartoons because those are available and the art that they're used to. I'd say let them! Mix it with the fine art classical drawing exercises and let them get creative in choice of subject.

Here's yet another portrait of Ari, the famous feline model of all my inspiration. He turned around facing me every time I was using the scanner, writing or posting. I tried out a new pen with this one, doing an example for the review on my art supply reviews blog (in my sig line). This page is getting penciled first, then inked, unlike the previous two pages.

Ari sketched with Zebra G Comics Nib
4" x 8 1/4"
Zebra G Comics Nib and Kuretake Manga Black Ink, penciled first
A4 Moleskine Folio sketchbook, heavy cream drawing paper.

I did him again, finally facing forward, but I'll see if I can fill this page before scanning again. He might pose again!

JTMB, I agree with you, different sizes of sketchbooks are great for different types of things. I let myself go on these big pages, but on bad days I like a small page where I can finish something a bit faster.

Oh heck... he was still there sleeping in different positions so I did him two more times and here's the page!

Folio One, Page Three
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Zebra G Comics Nib with Kuretake Manga Black Ink, Sakura Pigma Micron, Pitt Artist Pen (black brush nib), Tombow Dual Tip Brush Pen, brush side.
A4 Moleskine Folio sketchbook, cream heavy drawing paper.

All these are sketches from life, everything on this page was penciled first though. That helped to deal with his moving around!

05-21-2010, 03:45 PM
I did promise some biological curiosities in the opening statement, right? Well, here we depart from life for drawing from photos, one of the WDE photos for this week really jumped out at me with a biological curiosity. I made some notes on it and included them in the scan. This book should have bits of text here and there -- good legible ones too, which is why everything's block printed.

4" x 8 1/4"
Derwent Drawing Pencils (24 color set)
A4 Moleskine folio sketchbook, cream heavy drawing paper.
Photo reference by mginsberg for May 21 WDE

This is my first experiment in using mediums other than pen on this paper. It's very smooth, not toothy, so it may still be best for ink drawing. Still, there are other color mediums I may try on it. We'll see what it does with hard pastels, Conte crayons, various colored pens and other styles of colored pencils drawing.

It might even be good for "Textured" colored pencils drawing, where some of the paper flecks show through in the shading and it's not burnished and layered into a painting. The textureless style works best on very soft toothy paper like Stonehenge, so maybe its opposite will work well on this!

05-21-2010, 03:57 PM
Wonderful sketchbook beginning. Love the Ari sketches. Does need a little lace, butterflies and fairies, though, ha ha. Just teasing. :)

05-21-2010, 06:35 PM
Yay, more Ari sketches. I think every artist should have a life model of some sort that they can draw in different poses. I suppose that's what all those plastic and wooden manikins are. But cats are so much more flexible. The seahorse is grand.

05-21-2010, 07:04 PM
Wonderful sketches of Ari, I especially love the one of him face forward and sorta curled. I had a white cat for 16 years that I rescue from the shelter. . . he passed on to the rainbow bridge four years ago and I sure wish I'd been drawing back then and could have captured some of his moods and gestures as you are doing with Ari!

Maybe I should begin one for my dogs! A journal dedicated to the dogs sounds like a great idea. . . I'm going to start one right away as soon as I find a suitable sketchbook. I think I have a few blank ones somewhere.

Debby, I love your wording for it, 'life model'. :)

05-22-2010, 02:55 AM
Thank you! LOL Judy... butterflies might make it in, but I doubt the "cute" stuff will unless it's the occasional kitten. A friend has photos of her cat's newborn kittens so I saved off some of them with her permission and may do my "very new kitten" thing again in it.

Debby, life drawing is its own cool thing. Cats do move around a lot though! I have a cat manikin but it can't begin to get into the poses Ari can and it hasn't got an adult cat's proportions anyway, more a cute big-headed kitten. Maybe someday I'll dig it out and sketch it being mauled by a playful real one.

Rainy, that's so sad your cat is gone. Maybe if you still have any photos you can work from those, though. I do have Ari photos too, even though he's camera shy. Starting a journal for your dogs would probably be a great idea. That'd rock... and the more often you do them, the easier it is to really see them. Ari's poses are all very familiar to me now after having sketched him so much. The brown blob with ears is fascinating and this series showed me just how much he moves around when he seems inert.

I'd still like to catch him yawning sometime though, that dangerous fanged mouth in the ultimate relaxed stretch. He's so cute when he yawns, and so much the tiger in your lap too.

05-22-2010, 12:52 PM
This morning while I was watching my watercolor jellyfish dry, I noticed Ari was facing me on the bed -- and he wasn't moving. So I sketched fast, hoping to capture the pose, and he kept the pose. I got a pretty detailed pencil sketch and then had breakfast. He still hadn't moved so I got a good look at him in the same pose to ink in his fur -- this is a study of how he looks when he's sleeping rumpled and fluffy!

All Over Bedhead
5 1/2" x 4"
Sakura Pigma Micron Pen
A4 Moleskine Folio sketchbook, heavy cream paper with a smooth texture.
From life.

05-22-2010, 01:53 PM
I love the seahorse, Rob.. another great review!

And of course, Ari ranks way high up there .. your sketches are superb.

05-22-2010, 05:40 PM
Robert, just amazing Ari sketches! Great work on every one of them. I love seeing them and I'm not even a cat person. Oops! Maybe should not have revealed that! Oh well, that is what makes each of us so interesting, huh? I believe that the world is about love. Tolerance for our differences is a great expression of love.

05-22-2010, 07:10 PM
Another great Ari sketch. Love the title. :lol:

05-22-2010, 08:56 PM
Thank you all! Dena, if you're not a cat person and love my Ari sketches, then I'm doing really well with them. I've said that about dog drawings sometimes even though I'm not a dog person.

Rose, purr, thank you!

Hee hee, Debby, thanks! It was so obvious. I love it when he wakes up all rumpled and crinkled and has to spend half an hour putting all his beautiful hair in order. He always does, he's rarely scruffy -- I can tell when he's just gotten up from a nap by the rumpled scruffy look. To me it's adorable. Also makes me feel better getting up to see my hair all flat on one side of my head.

05-25-2010, 01:45 AM
Wonderful Ari sketches, Robert! Love that seahorse too with Derwent Drawing. I find it great that you use different pens, it certainly gives different feel to the sketches everytime. Kudos to capturing his poses quickly!

05-26-2010, 05:18 AM
GORGEOUS sketches of Ari, the seahorse and the seashell!!!!
I LOVE your pen/ink work, beautiful and descriptive!

05-26-2010, 11:45 AM
What a great sketchbook so far. I love the title page, and the sketches of Ari are super.

06-08-2010, 05:38 PM
Wow, thank you for all the comments! Sorry I haven't updated this one in a while. I hit a stuck point on that page with its layout and then got very tied up in doing the "Start a Sketchbook Habit" workshop in my All-Media Book. But today I solved the layout problem.

The Eiffel Tower fit nicely around Ari and left a space just right for the Lazy Cockerel, also from the current Weekend Drawing Event hosted by scattykat.

Eiffel Tower
6" x 2 1/2"
Sakura Pigma Micron pen size 08 black
Moleskine Folio sketchbook, heavy smooth cream drawing paper.
Photo reference by scattykat for June 5 WDE.

Cockerel Sunbathing
2" x 4"
Sakura Pigma Micron pen size 08 black
Moleskine Folio sketchbook, 80lb cream drawing paper.
Photo reference by scattykat for June 5 WDE.

Here's the page as a whole:

Folio One, Page Four
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Derwent Drawing Pencils and Sakura Pigma Micron pens
Moleskine Folio sketchbook, 80lb cream drawing paper
Photo references for Eiffel Tower and Cockerel by scattykat for WDE June 5, 2010.

06-08-2010, 05:52 PM
Wow, what nice sketches, especially of the kitty. :cat: The world would not have been complete if there weren't any cats.

06-08-2010, 07:40 PM
Thank you! You're so right about that, without cats the world would lack something so important. I love them -- but especially the one I've drawn the most, of course.

06-09-2010, 04:10 PM
Very nice page. The cockerel is fantastic. The angle on the Eiffel Tower is cool.

06-12-2010, 11:29 PM
Thank you, Debby! I read this but wanted to post something when I replied, so put off answering for a while. Today I rotated back to this one.

Well, it's only been a week, that's not too bad!

Squirrel Eating a Seed
4 1/2" x 6"
Sakura Pigma Micron pen, size 03 Sepia
Moleskine Folio sketchbook, 80lb heavy cream paper.
Photo reference by artbyjune for June 11-13 Weekend Drawing Event.

Vivien Maloney
06-12-2010, 11:52 PM
Hi Robert - Glad you posted your whole page - beautiful. I like the way you organise your sketches on the page. And of course, it goes without saying, that your Ari sketches are wonderful. Lovely squirrel sketch as well. Your pen sketches are very professional. Can't wait to see more.

06-13-2010, 12:46 AM
Very cute squirrel. Your ink work is so good.

06-13-2010, 01:17 AM
Wow, thank you! I work at it, with the pen sketches I really am trying to keep up with a number of good biologists and paleontologists who never make it into galleries but draw as well as any artist.

06-13-2010, 08:34 AM
Wow! Your squirrel is excellent! I wish mine looked that good.

06-13-2010, 09:29 AM
I penciled carefully under the inking and corrected it several times before I even picked up the pen, Michelle. I liked your squirrel, it came out well and reminded me that sometimes pen work doesn't need a wash to stand out. The rest of it is long practice. The first animals I ever drew well were rodents because I had a pet rat.

Watching chipmunks and squirrels in the yard and studying my sister's pet mouse plus gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs friends had showed me that all of the rodents are fairly similar in their features -- at least as similar as different breeds of dogs. So I could do a gerbil by making the rat fatter and changing its tail. I looked for the differences from the basic rat.

Took me years to get to where I'm as good at cats as I am with rodents. I didn't have a cat growing up but really wanted one. Cats are one of the things I wanted as a child that turned out to be even better in reality than my daydreams were. Actually, a lot of things in life turned out that way.

06-13-2010, 10:08 AM
Well, I have a ton of squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits in my backyard, but they are usually too far away for my bad eyes, and move to fast (some of them are really hyper) for my slow sketching. But I should get myself out there to see if I can at least get a gesture sketch or two. Somehow, I can actually picture you as a kid sketching your pet rat. LOL One of my sons years ago, while working on a Boy Scout badge, posed a dead mouse to take photos of "an animal in his natural habitat".

06-13-2010, 10:47 AM
Makes sense to me posing a dead mouse. Easier than trying to catch a photo of a live one when it might be just a motion blur.

It helps to get some photo references. I didn't have any as a kid, but I started with drawing my pet while he was sleeping, just the way I started with my cat while he's sleeping. Wild ones are tougher, you have to do just quick gestures and then check a photo reference for the details or do them from memory.

But if you have lots of them in your yard, multiple chances will seriously help. I would suggest also checking the RIL since I know people get out with zoom lenses for urban wildlife. Squirrels are so common that I know there must be lots of squirrel and chipmunk and rabbit references.

06-28-2010, 11:24 AM
Hi Robert!

I love your "Cabinet of Curiosities," especially because it is filled with so many AMAZING sketches of Ari, Ari poses, and Ari piece-parts! I never heard of the Cabinet of Curiosities and I love that you share not just your wonderful artwork, but also memories and experiences as well.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but I especially like the back fur study at the bottom of page one. His fur is so perfectly aligned, you can tell he has been lovingly brushed and petted recently! :)

Thanks for sharing your talented work, Robert. This is another fantastic sketchbook thread!


06-28-2010, 06:47 PM
I love the Ari drawings Robert! I can see how your constant drawing and watching Ari helps you understand his form perfectly and you can do such quick sketches of him accurately in no time at all. The curiosity cabinet is a fabulous idea for a journal, especially appeals to me because I am another who hates clutter but likes the idea of taking out a journal and looking at lovely pictures of things. It would be wonderful to hang out in the museum for natural science and draw lots of "scientific" type drawings of the exhibits too............ hehehe

06-28-2010, 06:59 PM
Robert I really love the detail you go to not just in the fantastic art you create but the layout on the pages. Each is a masterpiece in itself. Great view and angle on the Eiffel Tower and fits so well on that page. Cute fluffy squirrel.

06-28-2010, 07:00 PM
Thank you! Jean, I think I've done more Ari drawings than any other single subject. He's so beautiful and I never tire of sketching him. I've loved other cats before him, but I couldn't draw well enough until he came along to do them justice. With him I finally started getting it.

Jackie, I would love to take this journal out to a museum. I've been to so many and seen so many things I'd love to sketch and make note of, but at the time couldn't draw well enough to do them justice. One day I'll do that again and this time I'll be able to do it right.

06-30-2010, 06:21 AM
Squirrel! I love squirrels. Reminds me of the time I was playing MTG (a collectible card game) where you have cards like "Squirrel's Nest" that was exploited too much with other cards.

Very detailed sketch on that one and good choice on Sepia for drawing it!

06-30-2010, 07:45 AM
Thank you! I had some friends who were really into MTG, though I wasn't since I liked roleplaying games more than the card games.

07-02-2010, 02:21 AM
Wonderful journal entries! I love the ones of Ari in particular ~ :)

07-02-2010, 07:15 AM
lovely Ari's - and interesting experiments with different pens too. I rather like drawing in biro.

07-02-2010, 10:41 PM
Thank you! It's odd, Viv, I never got into drawing in biro much. The ball points didn't appeal to me and were a drawing instrument of last resort, probably because the cheap ones blob.

07-03-2010, 04:38 AM
oh yes, never use the cheap ones, they do blob - I use Parker biros and really like them. They flow easily and never ever blob :) They work well in moleskines too.

07-03-2010, 06:54 AM
Hmm. I might try one sometime, thanks.

07-07-2010, 11:03 PM
A new page at last! I just bought 20 new Daniel Smith watercolors and they sent dab samples of six more colors. So here's the start of some more Color Explorations with my new watercolors:

A4 Watercolor Folio, Page 14
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Pigma Micron pens and Daniel Smith watercolors
90lb watercolor paper

07-08-2010, 03:18 AM
Beautiful new colours & a gorgeous page. I really like that yellow flower and the berries as well as those flowers on the far right (my mom calls them princess ear-rings, not sure what there 'scientific' name is).

07-08-2010, 04:43 AM
Robert, beautiful vibrant colours, I like the Mayan Dark Blue - perfect for the berries. A lovely page :)

07-08-2010, 08:15 AM
Thank you both! I first ran into the flowers on the right when I lived in San Francisco. I found a large clump of them in Golden Gate Park. Someone with me told me they were Fuchsia, which probably isn't the scientific name but is their common name. They were very vivid, but different bushes had slightly different hues. Most of them had fuchsia in either the top part or the bell under the top part, some just had two values of fuchsia.

The reds and oranges tend to be very close together and worse, to flatten out in scans. I noticed the Cadmium Hues come very close to the Cadmiums in brightness and hue, given labeling differences. Cadmium Orange from Winsor & Newton leans more toward yellow than the Cadmium Orange Hue here. Cadmium Red Medium is pretty close to its Hue though the W&N one is a hair more orangy.

The biggest difference seems to be that the actual Cadmiums are one step more opaque, handling more like Yellow Ochre than a transparent color like Alizarin Crimson. Depending on the effect you want, you might still want actual Cadmiums in a painting. But these Hues aren't toxic and they're a great match in terms of brightness, which seems to be a lot of what Daniel Smith was going for in creating them.

I liked the Mayan Dark Blue too, it's a good muted deep blue. Might go well with an earth tones triad, yellow ochre or Quinacridone Gold and an earth red. Or with a bright warms, muted cools triad.

07-08-2010, 08:17 AM
Your color studies could make a great book for beginner artists, Robert. Much more interesting than the little grids and squares that most color theory books use.

07-08-2010, 12:15 PM
Wow, thanks Mickey. That would be a pretty cool idea. I know I'll get more into mixing in this book too, it's all demos of one kind or another.

Here's nine more of the new colors, with one repeat for Fuschia.

A4 Moleskine Watercolor Folio, Page 15
Color Explorations - Daniel Smith
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Daniel Smith watercolors and Pigma Micron pen
90lb cold press watercolor paper

All from memory or imagination.

Vivien Maloney
07-08-2010, 03:12 PM
These watercolor and Pigma pen sketches are great. Love the whole page.

07-08-2010, 03:25 PM
It's so fun to see your explorations of these new colors that you got. I like the concept of painting something with them rather than the squares or circles of color. It makes it more interesting and sticks better in my head. These are great examples of what the paints can do.

07-08-2010, 05:14 PM
Thank you both! Viv, try it when you get new watercolors. Or even with the same ones you're used to. It helps me a lot to understand exactly how the colors function when I'm shading out small monochrome paintings with them. It's also easier to compare them with similar colors.

Here's the rest of my new ones:

A4 Moleskine Watercolor Folio, Page 16
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Daniel Smith watercolors and Pigma Micron pens
90lb cold press watercolor paper.
All from imagination except for the rose, which is from a reference by Faafil.

07-08-2010, 09:51 PM
I looked at this page and notice the "Amethyst Genuine" and thought, "Of, course, what else would you paint but a piece of amethyst?" :lol: More great examples. And such wonderful paint names.

07-09-2010, 12:29 PM
Thank you! I love the Daniel Smith watercolors. They're strong, they dissolve so easily and handle so well that it's a joy using them. They're right up there with Winsor & Newton for me but come in those big tubes so I've got more to work with using them. I have a lot of watercolors, if I tried to do this with everything I might fill the book and head on into another.

Next page is combinations and mixing, I've gotten started on it with three shells but reread the rules for the forum and noticed Yorky said not to post partial images of a page but wait to post the page when it's done and put any detail images in the same post with the page. I'm not sure people are really paying attention to that rule but I post so much that I probably should.

07-09-2010, 05:45 PM
Oh goodness! My mouth is watering over some of those lush new colors you have. I also really enjoy seeing the images you come up with to test out the new colors. It truly is so much more useful than seeing little square charts - although little square charts are a lot better than nothing!!!

I've always been a sucker for sepia, and I love your little sepia bird. Also love the Mayan Dark Blue and the lovely brown you got mixing MDB and Mayan Orange! So rich!!! AND pretty much every color on page 16. (I don't need any more colors, I don't need any more colors, I DON'T need any more colors) :cat: Hope my mantra works.

Very nice work, Robert!


07-09-2010, 06:37 PM
Jean, good luck with the mantra. It's too tempting, especially when Daniel Smith puts new colors on sale in sets or triads and they send out those dot samples to try. Sometimes all I really need for a painting is a primary triad. But at the same time all these new colors are inspiring and I find new ways to use them every time I order more.

I do the swatch tests too, just haven't posted them as often. I keep those in my first Moleskine, the one I post into on the Watercolor Gallery. Why not do both? Swatches, with a full strength and a washed out thin end on the rectangle. Then once you see how the color looks in a swatch, choose a subject that color and do it in monochrome or near-monochrome.

Here's a page where I haven't done monochromes, just used the colors and made some notes about pen and watercolor painting.

A4 Moleskine Watercolor Folio, Page 17
8 1/4" x 11 3/4"
Color Pigma Micron pens and Daniel Smith watercolors
90lb cold press watercolor paper.
Everything on this page is from life.

07-09-2010, 09:25 PM
I really, really like this style of drawing/painting. The shells are great. The tomato and amethyst are just awesome.

07-10-2010, 12:17 AM
Thank you! The tomato was difficult. My son in law set me the challenge of doing it several times as it ripens, though I may put it at different angles to do that. It'll be fun.