View Full Version : First Attempts From Someone Who NEVER Thought They Could Ever, Ever Draw

05-25-2010, 09:27 PM
Hi everyone--
Well I experimented with both photographing and scanning my journal, and am in the midst of figuring out what works best for what.
A little about me, to give context for the notebook:
As a kid, I loved to color and would just get lost in the beauty of children’s books. It was a disappointment when books had fewer and fewer illustrations as I got older!
I loved all things art but I was not considered talented in the least. I drew outside the lines. I scribbled. I “couldn’t draw.” I don’t recall a single time anyone ever said anything I drew was the least bit nice.
My mother was a gifted artist, but she kept this gift to herself. I recall being 13, 14, and trying out her paints, but didn’t know how to use them, didn’t know how to draw, and my mother did not get any joy out of sharing or showing me how to do things, and so she didn’t. Art classes in elementary school did not teach us how to draw. It was very much a 70’s, “do your own thing” kind of deal. My only art teacher in jr. high was scary and antagonistic. I never tried took another art class again, although I did try a community workshop when I was around 12 or so. That totally flopped, and I put aside my artistic yearnings, focusing on writing instead.
I got a degree in English. I loved English because I had so very many wonderful teachers who enjoyed sharing their knowledge and showing one how to develop and apply practical skills in analysis and in writing. It also took me back to being able to create a world of my own--like the children’s books once did for me. But I wasn’t a few months out of school than I knew that I longed for a career that would have a strong visual component. I chanced upon Alexandra Stoddard’s “Create a Beautiful Life” which is basically a design book, and realized for the first time that that is what I really wanted to do. I had NO idea how I was going to explain this to my family, however. I finally got up the courage one day in the car with my Dad. “Dad, I want to be an interior designer,” I said. His response was no response: he said absolutely nothing. And I knew that I could not depend on any help whatsoever to realize that dream.
I pushed off on my own, cobbling together temp jobs and whatnot. I got married. We lived in Rome and in Turkey, bringing the kitty we adopted at the Humane Society. Came back to the States. Eventually I decided to go to grad school. I got an MFA in Creative Nonfiction. Afterwards, I found it easier to get better jobs in the corporate world and settled down doing technical writing for a pharmaceutical company.
When I was 40, my mother died. I also sustained a serious back injury caring for her, and ended up taking a medical leave of absence from work. I healed enough to go back after a couple months, but kept getting more and more depressed. I also gained more and more weight.
At 42 I decided I had a choice: I could just give up--on life, on finding a suitable career, on my weight, on my health, or I could fight. And I decided to fight.
My neice was just graduating from high school. She was thinking about going into interior design. I was wistful: I wished I had! And then I thought: so why don’t you then?
I looked into various programs. I found one I liked, that was close, had a great reputation, would exempt me from taking any general education classes, was reasonably-priced, and had interesting classes. BUT. And that “but” was a single course called “Observational Drawing.” And I couldn’t draw! How could I possibly pass??
And so I put off the program. I put it off and I put it off, lamenting all the while: if they didn’t have that ONE course.
Finally my husband wisely said: so? As in: So what if you have to take a drawing class? It’s ONE class! So what if you flunk it? You can probably take it over again, right? You can probably take it a couple times! And besides, you don’t have to take it right away. Maybe you can get a tutor or some books and practice a little before you take the class!
The admissions counselor at school told me: Don’t worry. Lots of people don’t think they can draw. That’s what we teach you.
Okay, I thought. I’ll TRY. Thank goodness the first class wasn’t a drawing class but a design class, I thought. And “thought” was right: it turns out that “Fundamentals of Design” was not a “design” class at all but . . . you guessed it: a DRAWING class! AUGH!
I practically threw up in that first class from the panic, at one point blurting out: the last time I took an art class was in 1976! This made the class laugh: most weren’t born even a dozen years after that!
But the professor (the artist Nancy Lu Rosenheim) was wonderful--such a Godsend. I loved her. She was warm and smart and funny, in addition to being extremely accomplished herself. She had gotten her MFA solely with the hope of teaching art, and we were her first class. She poured everything into it: patience, knowledge, support. She explained different styles, different techniques. She started us off very, very s-l-o-w, which was exactly what I needed. To this day, she is a friend, and I love her for her beautiful spirit and for being such a positive and encouraging soul.
Nancy told us that artists keep sketch books and encouraged each of us to start one. I wasn’t sure what I would put in mine, but I was willing to try. The notebook I share here is that book.
I’m proud of this book for its spirit: for my willingness to risk. I was very unsure and unconfident, but I decided to try anyway. In doing so, I gave myself permission to experiment with technique, subject matter, and media. It combines the collage, stamping, book arts, and card-making of my scrapbooking background, and hesitantly moves into experimenting with colored pencil, watercolor, gouache, egg tempera, soft pastels, oil pastels, graphite, charcoal, markers, and ink, as I sort of feel my way through a safety zone of patterns and collage and then move to tracing, exercises, and finally some attempts at drawing.
One last thing: remember how I thought that I had that one drawing class, and there ended up being two? Actually, there have been at least 6: the following quarter, I took a class called “Rapid Visualization” which I thought meant “rapidly visualizing interiors” and it turned out to be rapidly sketching out ideas! The quarter after that I took “Form and Space” which sounds like a furniture class, right? WRONG! It was a 3-D design class and required constant thumbnails. Then there was “Perspective” which I had assumed was a history class (i.e. “Perspectives in Interior Design”) but was, of course, a class in perspective drawing. And “Rendering”--which I thought meant “bringing about” but turns out to be a fancy word for “coloring”. In each class, I am incredulous (oh no! A DRAWING class???) and feel dread in the beginning, and with the exception of a single class (that I indeed dropped and re-took with a wonderful profession) I grow more than I could have imagined with each, until now I am actually beginning to fantasize about writing and illustrating children’s books. I know that I have a long way to go in terms of growing in skill and technique, but I no longer think “I can’t draw.” I think: I can learn. I can improve. In the meantime, my back and healthy and strong, I’ve lost 50 pounds and to the size I was when I got married over 20 years ago and I’m over halfway through my program with a 4.0 GPA and the knowledge that I NEVER would have pursued this degree if I had known I would have had to take SIX art classes!
Below: My notebook, an 8-1/2" x 11" Canson. I has some silver alpha stickers from scrapbooking, so I stuck those on the cover. I also am fond of ribbons as book marks, and have always been partial to pink-black-gray.
Below: Simple cover page, using colored pencils.
The first thing I learned in my first art class: how to find the exact center of a page. I was exicted to learn a real "technique".
I left a few pages blank so I could later add a table of contents.

First Page: Notes for Floor Study.
I was pretty worried about my first entry, since I didn't know how to draw anything. I do like colors and patterns, though, and I was very drawn to to color tile pattern where I work, and that seemed easy enough to draw! I just had to measure out squares! So this is the first thing I did. To give myself even more latitude, I did both the notes and the colored pencil drawing on typing paper, which I then glued into the book. This quelched my fear that I would "ruin" the book if I didn't like what I did.
Second page: Center First Floor tile at Abbott Molecular, in colored pencil.
I need to fix supper now so I'll continue posting more pictures later :)

05-25-2010, 09:49 PM
What a great story! Enjoy interior design, drawing, and not letting tactless comments or noncomments from years ago put limits on what you do.

05-25-2010, 09:54 PM
Anne-Marie, so glad you found the courage to follow your dreams. It's a shame this modern society feels it has to stomp all over people's dreams. Nice tile pattern.

Carole A
05-25-2010, 10:10 PM
I applaud your persistance, Anne-Marie. You know, your experience isn't peculiar to the 70s. When I was 4 years old, I was sent to live with my grandmother. I was always drawing, scribbling and coloring, so my sweet grandma sent me to a private watercolor teacher on Saturday mornings. I still have some of the stuff I painted way back during the age of Dinosauers :lol: . After my grandmother died, my mother had to accept her responsiblities of a mother and came to take care of me.:( She was anything but supportive of my activities that were not utilitarian. I was to do my homework, get a parttime job, clean the house, etc. etc. Her influence on me was so damaging that now as a 60-something Grandmother, myself, I'm afraid of messing up a piece of white paper.

My grandkids, they've had access at my house to just about every kind of art supply available, and I'm seeing some really great stuff coming from them. They are making me very happy!

I'm going to do art though. I have sketch books and doggone it, I'm going to get busy and mess up some of that nice white paper! I've been an observer for a very long time.

I'm looking forward to seeing more from you and your progress.

Carole A

05-25-2010, 10:30 PM
Allrighty: more pix.

I didn't like working in colored pencil. I felt more comfortable with paper, from my paper crafting days. So I decided to do another study of the tile, this time using colored paper, which is Page 3:


Actually, I kind of didn't like that, either. So I thought: if you don't at first succeed, try and try again. I had some watercolor paper and some old Koi watercolors. So I decided to try with watercolor:

Page 4:


This was the closest to what I liked. I still wasn't really happy with it, but I did notice that I enjoyed working with watercolor the most out of the three mediums I tried

I used the experience to make some notes and also to re-inforce some of the vocabulary words that Nancy was teaching us. I made it fun for myself by using vellum paper and eyelets and scrapbooking stickers. (Page 5):

Then I thought about what to do next.

I was not confident about attempting to draw anything yet. So I looked around and found something another pattern I liked: a quilt that my grandmother had made. The pattern always fascinated me because I could never figure it out. Looking at it, I realized that it was a series of squares with some curves and some straight lines in each square. I sketched it out, square by square, using my water color paper. I didn't have any colors that looked right, so I went to the art supply store and decided on some egg tempera which was the EXACT color of my grandmother's quilt.

Back at home, I realized that if I scaled the quilt down too far, it lost proportion. I decided to use a BIG piece of watercolor paper and then when the piece dried, I folded it up in such a way that it could be glued to a page in the notebook and unfolded. I made a "title card" with the egg tempura and some scrapbooking stickers and tied it up with a ribbon:

Page 6:


When you open it up, it looks like this:


I still sort of didn't have the hang of using water media, but I started to understand that the varigation of the color is actually beautiful.

One of the things I also realized when doing the floor tiles is that all my strange, crytic little notations and drafts were almost more interesting than the "finished" entry itself. So I pasted in oneof my drafts, and attached my Design Notes to it (Page 7):


So those were my first two sketch book "projects".

I will post more pix in the coming days. I know this is a little untraditional as a sketchbook--I don't think I understood what a sketchbook is really for or how it's "done". Thankfully, my professor and friend Nancy was super nice and supportive with my early attempts. Hope this helps give others the licence to do whatever in their sketchbooks and have fun playing with different things.:)

05-25-2010, 10:40 PM
Thankyou Maryin Asia, Dr. Derby, and CaroleA for the kind comments! They made me smile! :)

CaroleA: I know exactly what you mean about being afraid to "mess up" a sheet of white paper. That is a sad legacy. It's so nice that you were able to break it and encourage your grandkids to create.

I encourage you to create, too! I look for ways to not make things a bigger deal than they are. One of the reasons why I have come out of my shell and posted something here on WC (after being a member for 3 years!) is because I want to keep up the momentum I built in the drawing classes I was taking before. Now that I'm not in a drawing class, I find I'm not drawing--and the funny thing is, I really LIKED drawing! But like you, I still get afraid. So this is my way of banishing fears and re-involving myself in making art. :)

05-26-2010, 12:03 AM
Loved reading your story. . . and I can totally relate to the being afraid to mess up a page of paper. I feel like that almost every time I begin something and have to tell myself, its ONLY paper. I also feel like that when I write my fiction, that I just can't possible do it and will screw it up and have to force myself to just get going.

The first book I ever bought on drawing when I decided a few years ago to go for it was So you thought you couldn't draw. Which is EXACTLY what I did think all my life. But now I know that I can! We can!

05-26-2010, 01:51 AM
Anne-Marie, your story moved me so much! I take it for granted that everyone always believed I would become A Great Artist when I grew up, though they all also believed I had No Talent for writing and would never be A Real Writer. They were right on one and wrong on the other.

That caused me to disbelieve the whole "Talent" theory completely. It's not something that gets decided by the people around a child, other than their succeeding in discouraging the child from ever trying to learn. I can't count the number of great artists I've known who got that discouraged and came to it late, fought through those social barriers to get so breathtakingly good at it that I'm thrilled.

Your sketchbook is delightful! Creative, unique, original, it has a great story and theme and such interesting early projects. You started out good at several important skills that you didn't realize were drawing -- coloring well, creating and choosing patterns, using a ruler well -- these things are all drawing too. Being able to observe and record what you see, that's drawing. You always had it in you. They were wrong, as surely as they were wrong about my writing.

Your beginner book is elegant.

Your early pages don't have the flaws my old sketchbooks did. I'm looking forward to seeing more. Your layouts worked from the git-go! I have so many pages in older sketchbooks that have one rather small drawing crawling off one edge and nothing else on the page because there wasn't room for anything else on that page.

I am so glad you found a good teacher and a good friend. That's another part of your wonderful story. I was always grateful for the "do your own thing" outlook of art classes in the sixties and seventies because they were my only respite from a Kafkaesque childhood of impossible demands and Catch-22's. I never stopped to think about what that did to anyone who was afraid to draw. It was such a joy to me compared to other classes.

You have inspired me. Thank you for posting this. I'm looking forward to more -- seeing you free yourself and grow is so beautiful. You belong to you, your life is yours, your drawing is a wonderful thing to do with your life. And if there is such a thing as Talent, you're dripping with it.

05-26-2010, 02:50 AM
Thanks for sharing your work and your story. I hear stories like this and I shudder. We have three kids and all are going to school for, or working in, graphic design and fine arts. Other parents think we are crazy, but I know our kids are following what they have a passion for. Good luck with the rest of your schooling.


05-26-2010, 04:43 AM
Anne-Marie, I read your story, and it sincerely moved me. Congratulations on your achievements so far, and thank you for sharing your journal! Don't worry about how a sketchbook should be or how it should be done. You really are doing good, and I like the way your journal is so personal. Looking at the pictures, I could see them telling a story, then little by little becoming more free and confident :)

Love the vocabulary page, and that gorgeous shade of blue... really looking forward to see more! :thumbsup:

Joan T
05-26-2010, 10:22 AM
Anne-Marie - I enjoyed reading your story and applaud your determined spirit that has surfaced in many parts of your life. Your journal may be a bit different, but aren't they all? I can see a change in your work, especially in the floor tile pages and that gorgous quilt. I will be watching for your next installment.

Joan T
05-26-2010, 10:23 AM
Anne-Marie - I enjoyed reading your story and applaud your determined spirit that has surfaced in many parts of your life. Your journal may be a bit different, but aren't they all? I can see a change in your work, especially in the floor tile pages and that gorgous quilt. I will be watching for your next installment.

05-26-2010, 10:32 AM
What a great story, well done and good for you for pursuing what you really want to do! I'm liking your journal so far, fascinating to see different things. Looking forward to seeing how you progress :)

05-26-2010, 11:36 AM
I love your story, and your creative way of using your sketchbook. I'm so glad that you got to study interior design, and DRAWING. LOL

05-26-2010, 11:52 AM
Never let anyone push you down or dictate what you have to use or do unless it's grounded advice with facts or results. This is your journal, YOU decide what to put on it. :) It's easier if we draw/paint what we love because you'll never get tired of that.

I also tend to muffle my ears to these so called "artists" that talks the talk but can't walk the walk even if they have expensive materials. Completely dismiss the idea that art/drawing is an innate ability of certain individuals. Don't let these insecure snobs take you for a simpleton.

Even the greatest of artists never stops to study their craft, even striving to be better despite their current level. In that aspect, the learning process never really stops and it's always wonderful to learn and apply newly acquired knowledge.

I do believe that some people woud fail terribly and give up, thinking they don't have the ability. Most typically, these people skip basics, never practice but always expect results like it's magic! That's where the real hump is. The real truth there is to it is practice and time.

Looking forward to more of your stuff. Thanks for sharing.

05-26-2010, 11:53 AM
Hi Anne-Marie,

I found your story wonderful and it particularly hit home with me, because we have some parallels. I'm about halfway through an AFA degree at a community college (at age 60) and never thought I could draw or paint until I actually tried to about two years ago. I am having an absolutely wonderful and rewarding time in classes, as you so poignantly wrote about in your opening post. Having no kids of our own, it's been very enjoyable associating with my mostly quite young fellow students. Problem is, I see myself as one of them in my joy at doing something completely new - and had a rude but funny awakening the other day. Several of us were talking between classes and I mentioned that I would really miss everyone over the summer quarter since I wouldn't be taking classes until the fall. To which one young woman who is one of my buds in class said, 'Awww, yes we'll miss you too, John. You're like the class grandfather!' She meant it as a kind compliment, but of course I had a good ironic belly laugh and asked if I could at least be viewed as only a father figure...! :lol:

It's wonderful to hear your story! Keep it up!

05-26-2010, 12:41 PM
A sketchbook is what you want it to be Anne-Marie. The different versions of the tile pattern was practice and learning what you like and don't like. Keeping notes in your sketchbook is very common, you just put them in, in a unique way which is you. The grandmother's quilt is lovely and a cherished memory. All these things are awesome. Keep going. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

05-26-2010, 02:23 PM
Hi, Anne-Marie!
I found your "essay" to be quite inspiring!

As to sketchbooks, mine are more like "scribble" books -- I bought them with the express idea of using them for testing and writing down ("recording" is a little too pretentious for what I do!) my artistic endeavors. I also bought inexpensive (OK, cheap) books to embolden me. With that concept, I do not fear "messing up" my sketch books. :)

Again, thanks for sharing!


05-26-2010, 03:57 PM
You GO girl!!! Loved your very moving introduction and can't wait to see more! :-)

05-26-2010, 06:03 PM
Hi everyone!

Rainy: Thank you for the kind words. And you are right: we CAN draw! I'm going to look up the book you mentioned. It seems right up my alley! Thank you for telling me about it!

Robert: Wow, I had to read this in chunks because I actually got choked up a couple times. Thank you. Thank you.

Doug: I think on of the most important, most life-affirming skills a parent can impart is a belief in oneself and in one's creativity. That all three of your children chose to go into the arts speaks volumes for you as a father, and the nurturing you gave them. I salute you!

Sandra: thank you for the kind words. Blue is my favorite color. I'm glad you liked the Ultramarine used for the quilt!

Joan: thank you. I'm enjoying your blog and the variety of subject matter you cover--from portraits to landscapes to still lifes and everything in between. I love the net and the riches it has to offer!

Aiylah--Thank you for the note. I've really enjoyed your stuff too. Looking at your journal gave me a little nudge to share mine.

Thank you Michelle! I love your bottany watercolors on your blog. WOW!!!!

Dear Raymond--you are so right--"It's easier if we draw/paint what we love because you'll never get tired of that." I tend to do some things over and over and over again, because I just can't get enough of a particular color or texture or image and it's a pleasure to experiment with it.

Thank you everyone for the kind words an encouragement. :heart:

05-26-2010, 06:23 PM
Oooh, I didn't see the comments on the second page (still getting used to posting on WC!)

OMG John, your story has me laughing! So true, so true: I too see myself as a contemporary of my fellow students, but more than once one has said: Anne-Marie, you're great! I wish my MOM was like you!

:eek: ACK!!!!!!!!!! :lol:

Thank you, Debby. I love your Annie Oakley quote by the way. It goes with your message of being true to oneself and also to keep trying. :)

Hi Rich! Love the idea of "scribble" books opposed to "sketch books" and also "writing down" instead of "recording". I do think everything we do to make making art accessible makes it both easier and more fun.

Thank you Rachel! I'll be posting more soon!

05-26-2010, 07:04 PM
Hi Everyone!

So the images below are from the "low point" in my design journal. After sketching and coloring or painting the first two designs I've already posted, I was sort of at a loss for what to do, as I was still very enmeshed in the "I can't draw" stage. And yet we were supposed to add something to our journal every week; ideally three times a week. So I made notes about what I was learning, relying heavily on my scrapbooking past of putting paper-elements together or just pasting in pictures I thought were interesting. It got me through my anxious stage, while still moving forward in terms of thinking about design, and so it was useful to that end.

Page 8: Design notes inside a card I had made.


Page 9: Design notes on a piece of paper I'd stamped. I was drawn to the bag by the use of colors which are similar (pastel) but different (more muddied) than ones that I usually use.


Page 10: Paint chips


Page 11: Paint chips with rug patterns. I went to an art show where this artist had had rugs made of her designs. I saw the rugs from way far away and made a bee line to them and then stood right in front of them and just gazed at them. I didn't realize the artist herself was right there! Her manager/sales person/boyfriend? laughed and said: oh, you can always tell the people who love Red. And I turned to him and said: I do! I do!


Page 12: Cool chair and ottoman (I can't post this now without thinking of Robert and how this epitomizes his NIGHTMARE of a chair!)


Page 13: Magazine pix. Since I normally prefer ultra clean lines and modern, I thought that it's useful to make note when I love something outside my design comfort zone.


That's it for this set. I know: precious little "sketching" here. I thought of my little book more as a "design" book than an "art" book at first. The next set will have my first (gulp!) attempts at actually DRAWING something. But I like these pages because they remind me of ways I can connect with colors, shapes, compositions, and textures even when I don't feel up to drawing. :)

05-26-2010, 10:18 PM
Anne-Marie, this is just what I would expect to see in an interior designer's sketch book. Paint chips, color combinations, pictures of furniture, notes and patterns. It's great.

Glad you like the quote. :) I'm a strong believer in following one's dreams and going for it. I learned that lesson late in life myself.

05-26-2010, 10:58 PM
Anne-Marie, this is just what I would expect to see in an interior designer's sketch book. Paint chips, color combinations, pictures of furniture, notes and patterns.

Thank you, Debby. I do suffer from the "is this what I'm SUPPOSED to be doing?" syndrome. So I really appreciate your take! :heart:

05-28-2010, 12:45 AM
Hi everyone!

I was invited out tonight by my former boss and co-workers; the project I'd been working on for two years before taking my educational leave of absence in March finally came to fruition. It was nice to be included in the festivities and also nice to be with everyone again. It's the only place I've ever worked where I liked every single person in my department, and most of the people I worked with besides. :)

We're at page 14. The quarter ended and I started taking another drawing class. This one didn't require a notebook, but I decided to keep up the habit anyway. I was worried that although the first art class did much to help me understand composition and value, I still couldn't actually DRAW anything. I wanted to try to draw actual rooms. This next page is my attempt at drawing my livingroom. It's the first time I'd ever tried drawing a room since, like second grade! The walls are are skewed and weird, almost like a fun house, but I was actually sort of happy with it in that it DID look like a ROOM. (In my defense, the walls of my front entry really are at a strange angle, as you'll see later.) So that was a start. I did it in soft pastels, which I'd only used a couple of times almost 20 years ago. I taped some tracing paper over it so it wouldn't smudge things up so much.


Page 15: I wanted to figure what I had done wrong exacly. So I sat in the same place on the sofa as I had when I made my sketch and took a picture. Then I lay tracing paper over it and traced the major lines of the walls and furniture, to see if I could understand the shapes better. (The first pix is with the overlay in place; the second pix is with the trace paper overlay lifted.)



Page 17: (I'm presented this before Page 16 because it came first chronologically)

I tried and tried to find magazine pictures of a room I could try rendering, but I soon realized that most rooms are built on subtle gradations of color and I didn't have a good handle on that. I found a very colorful room in an old House Beautiful and I traced it. Nancy had shown us how to make our own saral paper by tracing an image, then turning the trace paper over, tracing the image again this time with a soft pencil, and then turning the page back over and tracing it onto the paper we wanted to transfer the image to. So I did this over and over. This first image is a pretty accurate imitation of the actual colors used in the room in the picture, but it was a color scheme I HATED (purple and ORANGE and black and blue and red and pink????) I used my Staedlater water color pencils. It was the first time I'd ever tried using watercolor pencils for an actual rendering of a drawing.


Page 16: I tried for more "Southwestern colors" (to go with the bedspread) and liked it a little more. For this, I used soft pastels (Unison) and then wet them, because I heard you could. This pix has the trace paper overlay over it.


Page 18: I made my own "paint chips" out of Unison pastels to experiment with the color scheme. I also drew my first lamp, of which I'm very proud. :)


Page 19: The final selection of colors that I later used for an assignment (the assignment was to illustrate "how to do something" and I illustrated "how to design a room"). The sketch is more unfinished than the other two, in part because as soon as I realized I liked the color scheme, I started on the assignment.


I have a couple more pages of rooms-with-overlays, but I'm getting sleepy, so I'll see about posting those tomorrow or over the weekend.

Thanks for looking everyone! Have a nice night! Or for those of you in other time zones: Have a nice day! :wave:

05-28-2010, 08:21 AM
Hi, Anne-Marie!

You wrote:" Nancy had shown us how to make our own saral paper by tracing an image, then turning the trace paper over, tracing the image again this time with a soft pencil, and then turning the page back over and tracing it onto the paper we wanted to transfer the image to."

I do something similar, but not being very patient, I scribble the soft (6B) pencil over the lines. ;) My scribbles are at an angle to the line I'm working on so I don't really need to worry about not covering the line. At worst, the line is dashed.

Keep up the good work!


05-28-2010, 09:34 AM
This is so cool! Thanks for showing the next stages of your journey!

I had to smile when you said that chair was my nightmare. It's not quite, only in how it looks. That one, slanted back like that as a distortion of a comfy armchair, at least has arms and a footstool. Trouble is, at that slant I would never get out of it or sit up to work on the computer. I'd go to sleep. It's only ugly, not unlivably painful like some of the others -- it has arms and a back and looks like it has at least some padding.

I wouldn't choose it and don't think it's my style, it's too much a parody of what I like. But in someone else's modern style house it's probably what I'd make a beeline for as the least painful. If you put it in your living room in a color you liked, I'd probably sit in it. And then you'd have to sort of pull me out of it when it was time to leave. lol

Now I can't remember what I said that left you all choked up. I hope it was good! I wrote so much -- I've had some bad days lately and at about pain seven or halfway to eight, I still function dangerously. I think I can function and can't stop writing, but sometimes it's scattered and unintelligible.

The writing does make me feel better though. Sorry you had to go back and reread in chunks, that sounds like it was not my best writing. The biggest flaw of pain-writing is not knowing when to stop and not staying on topic.

I love the way you approached perspective! That is exactly what I did in the 1980s! I looked at rooms in photos and traced them. If I was too lazy to trace, I'd put a ruler across the angle of the wall, then try to slide it down to the paper and keep the same angle. At first I used a protractor to get the angle right, carrying it along with the ruler, but then I got good at eyeballing angles.

Then I got this spiffy little pad of Designer Grid Paper that each page had a three dimensional grid -- ceiling, walls, floor -- in three different angles looking at the "room." It was printed in non-photo blue so that if you drew a room on that page, the grids wouldn't Xerox.

You could make up rooms that way on the grid and even have things jut out like use the grid to make alcoves by following ceiling lines with a ruler. That was convenient. Sometimes I'd look at the grid pad instead of actually using it and just copy the main lines to get inside perspective right.

But you've probably seen those pads.

I love your Unison pastels paint chips and paint chips and collage pages. They all look so sleek and designer-competent. I am not kidding. You had a lot of design elements down before you even started school, even though you couldn't draw. You started with everything I had to learn the hard way and then learned everything that came easy to me, it's so fun watching you post this sketchbook. And your drawing seriously improved throughout.

You were comfortable with collaging from your scrapbook days. Your collage elements are always clean, well glued down, lined up well, no blobs of glue smearing out onto the rest of the page, no wrinkles, none of the things that happen when I try to collage. You weren't afraid to use stamps and you used them well.

I like your not-modern design that you like, it's got beautiful saturated colors and one thing in it that's fancy and not-modern. But to me it still looks modern, it's just at the jazzy end of modern. The hangings in the doorway made me smile. Someone there remembers the stage of artistic life when you live in cheap apartments that don't have doors in doorways and hang up a sheet or some scarves or a chunk of interesting fabric instead.

I did that during some of the happier times in my life, that's not a bad memory. But it is amusing to see it in a rich-person's design concept. It's that little remembrance of a type of poverty that has little or nothing to do with the ghetto except as a subject for great art, the type that I think of now as the Edge of Hope. Runaways from barren suburbia looking for a more meaningful, more artistic life, doing without all the things they could care less about and reveling in the make-do and artistic yard-sale splendors.

If you ever design from me, keep an element like that somewhere, spiffed up. That little hint of the climb and the road, which was merry at the times when I was hanging a yard sale upholstery brocade drapery instead of a door.

Your Southwestern colors do go together. To me that does work better than the original colors of the design, it's more relaxing. Not my style but it looks good. The orange-and-pink one not modern combination is great, but more a palette to paint with than live in for me.

That's what's trippy about the not-modern one. Something in it was nagging at me even though I like how it looks and could imagine that as appealing to a number of my friends. That isn't a couch or a bench. It's a bed.

It's a bed that has no mattress, repurposed as a couch or something and stuck out in the middle of the room. It looks more like a still life setup than a place to live. Beautiful in the way a still life setup can be, but annoying to have to walk around, not comfortable to sit on, sort of geared to the people who live on their feet and never sit down.

It's also at a clever angle to the door that makes a beautiful diagonal composition from that perspective. However, for living in, that makes it harder to get around and needs more space than lining things up with the walls. It's funny how a lot of design things from magazines look cool but if I stop to imagine living there or moving through the space, it doesn't work.

I can easily imagine someone abled and mildly athletic doing that in their apartment but hastily rolling up a futon mattress to stuff it in the closet and taking out the matching things that are still clean to drape around attractively for a party, pulling it away from the wall to create the setup. Then shoving it back to the wall and putting the futon and bedding back on it when everyone goes home.

Right... there's a tray of food and drink out in the middle on top of the throw. Fancy stuff, still life stuff, arranged artistically. If there was actually coffee in that urn or anything to drink, it would get spilled on the throw and people would crash into the bed when they're drunk and everything get thrown around, but it could get put right by replacing all the stained textiles or recovering the pillows from the remnants counter, changing the color scheme for the next party.

It's a party centerpiece and may work well for that, if someone both clever and physically active wanted to rearrange the setup every time. Other than redoing the walls, it'd actually be very easy to theme to the party. Hanging or movable wall treatments would create that type of party room and complete the transitory setup thing. The room belongs to someone who likes throwing parties as much as going to them.

I hope these observations amuse rather than bore you. I'm such a heretic when it comes to design, but I think I may understand enough of it to be a semi-educated heretic.

PS -- I scribble on the back of a tracing or sketch with a 6B or softer pencil too, that's what tracing paper is for. I haven't yet gotten around to buying graphite color Saral, though I bought a roll of the white stuff for putting sketches on scratchboards. I either let the point wear down to a blunt very wide line (easier) or scribble over it, it doesn't have to be perfect, just there under where the line is throughout the important lines.

I got taught that in high school by a teacher who had us graphite the whole back of the sheet and then put the tracing paper with the sketch over it. Do it yourself Saral. I stopped doing it his way after I did that once in class, I'd have to keep track of the graphite-back sheet and redo it after using it anyway if I did it that way, and it was more messy.

PPS -- I went back and reread my post. It was one of my shorter, more on-topic ones. It was just what I said. Whew! You really are that good and you were oozing with Talent when you walked in the door. You just got a bad case of Discouragement.

We both walked in with about half of the Big Bag of Tricks and the good news is, it's a bottomless bag. In ten lifetimes I couldn't run out of cool things to learn in how to draw. There's something new every day.

05-28-2010, 06:42 PM
You are absolutely right, that magazine color scheme is awful. I think Robert has the right idea. It's for show, like a still life. If you had to live in there it would change in a hurry.

You are doing so well. Even your first attempt at drawing a room isn't bad. A lot of people have problems with perspective.

Looking forward to seeing more.

05-28-2010, 07:22 PM
Debby, I think the only people who don't have trouble with perspective are the ones that learn that before doing anything else. At some point perspective needs to get tackled and then it's a rough ride till it is. But if that's the first thing someone learns, they don't notice that.

05-29-2010, 11:03 PM
Hi everyone!

As Robert mentioned in a previous post, my access to WC has been hazy in the last 24--very disappointing that. I'd like to thank everyone who has commented on my stuff, and will be re-post my replies.

Left off on page 19. Page 20 is a bit more of the same but with a twist: using trace paper I then tried using markers to render the interior. I was a little worried because I'd heard that we had marker rendering in upcoming classes and I had NO IDEA how that would be done--I had never used markers since I was in elementary school. A basic set of 12 Prismacolor markers came in our design kit at school, but I hated them, so bought Pitt brush markers instead.

This is pretty much a failure--hated using the markers and didn't like the look. But I like looking back on this now (after I have taken an entire class in marker rendering) as it marks my first attempt.


Page 20: same room with trace overlay, rendered in Unison pastels which I then wet for a watercolor-like affect. The image is traced from a familiar advertisement, I think for paint or furniture, that always seems to be in ID magazines.

Page 21:
Another collage. These stamps were on something someone sent me, and I just stared at it and stared at it, without really realizing what it was that so attracted me. I ripped it from the envelope and kept it for a couple years in a little box I have of stuff that appeals to me.

Later I realized that what I liked was the colors in the flowers--red with a little black--against the background of the envelope. One of the challenges in interior design is finding a color scheme that is sufficiently masculine for men, but yet appeals to women or vice versa. I realized that this is good scheme in that way--a khaki-colored neutral has a masculine edge (opposed to, say, cream) but the red is sufficiently deep and complex to make it accessible for women. Black as a third color makes for a sophisticated palette.


The next set of stuff goes in a bit of a different direction, so this is a good stopping point for tonight. Thanks for looking! :wave:

05-29-2010, 11:11 PM
Anne-Marie, this is great stuff. It's interesting to follow your journey. Thanks for sharing. Your marker drawing reminds me of a thumbnail. Just blocking in color and shape to get an idea of what might work. The one in pastels looks like a refinement. Interesting color scheme for masculine tastes. I know my husband would like it.

05-29-2010, 11:22 PM
Thanks, Debby! Yeah, it's interesting in that men actually don't mind red, by and large, as long as it is in combination with neutrals. I like the process of figuring stuff like that out, how people's tastes lean, and how particular colors and styles affect people.

Thank you for looking! I've been enjoying your stuff, too! Your "fake international" journal is a hoot!

06-01-2010, 08:58 AM
Wow, rooms and beds! Great sketches.I'm a guy, but I love browsing furniture and interior design magazines. I've actually collected IKEA's catalogues. I also think they are great for color ideas. Personally though, I like bright colors in my room and toned down colors on my living/study room. Strange, I guess :lol:

06-01-2010, 01:40 PM
Anne-Marie - I actually like your first drawing on #30!! Its got a nice kinda "comfy" feel to it, "cozy"!! Just my honest opinion.... but the second one is lovely too and would feel very at home in either!

06-01-2010, 01:49 PM
Interesting concepts! I like your marker rendering, think it came out better than you think even if you traced to get the good perspective. It's loose and effective. Of course later marker rendering is probably tons better, but I still like it. Cool one with the Unisons used as watercolor, that was very effective.

The color scheme with the stamps is interesting, not my taste but interesting as a compromise to create a married couple's bedroom.

I normally hate neutrals, but this house has a tan neutral that I like a lot with the oak colored woodwork. It has enough color to be there and not look white-institutional and it connects with the wood without just being a lighter shade of it. I don't know why I like it, but it works and is tons better than white.

07-01-2010, 11:31 AM
Hi Ann Marie!
I'm playing catch-up on my commenting in this forum and just ran across this inspiring post of yours. I LOVE that art can be a passion we come to either early or later in life and it can be just as exciting and rewarding either way. Your story, and your slow, timid progress feel so familiar to me. Although the details are different, mine was a very similar path.

You have ALWAYS had so much creativity bundled up inside you, and your journey has been largely one of discovery, revealing, uncovering, as well as developing what has always been there.
It's fantastic to be able to figuratively sit on the sidelines and cheer you on. I have come to believe that MANY of us somehow suffered that early discouragement that Robert talks about, but through our lives, that inate creativity will come out in one way or another. We may be creative in the way we approach child-rearing, doing our jobs, decorating our houses, arranging flowers, or care-giving our aging parents. But we still have that internal self-estime issue that keeps nagging at us: "You just don't have TALENT! You can't draw, you can't paint, you can't blah, blah, blah." It is so exhilerating to finally discover that drawing and painting and yes, even "blah, blah, blah" are SKILLS that we can actually develop and while some people seem to have the talent bestowed on them at birth, even THEY probably spent hours and days and months and years (maybe as children) honing and developing the SKILL.

Kudos to you for breaking through the fear, discouragement, and doubt and letting your internal creativity have a chance to reveal itself and then blossom and grow.