View Full Version : My Maine Sketchbook

05-26-2010, 09:04 AM
First of all, let me say that I have a love/hate relationship with sketchbooks. I've never seen a sketchbook that I didn't like - until I start using them. I have many, many different kinds of sketchbooks, most of them with only a few pages used. This is my most recent, and the most cohesive as far as theme is concerned. I was very excited when I started this on a trip to Maine last year. It was a brand new sketchbook from Cheap Joe. It looked like it would be perfect for pencil, pen, and of course watercolor. After all, it has a PAINTBRUSH on the cover. Wrong! It takes pen and pencil wonderfully, but when you use watercolor the page turns gray. You can't see what color you are using. When it dries, it looks fine, but it's very frustrating while you are using it. Not sure yet whether I will give up and only do pen or pencil in it, or whether I will continue to use w/c and just make sure that I use very little water.

Here's my Maine Sketchbook so far.



05-26-2010, 09:06 AM


That's it so far. Looking forward to continuing it on another trip to Maine, maybe this summer.

Joan T
05-26-2010, 10:14 AM
Mickey - Glad to see you posted one of your books, and the Maine one is great!!! I love the front page with the Pemaquid Lighthouse and the rocks. We will definitely have to plan a trip up there soon so you can add to the sketches.

05-26-2010, 10:31 AM
You are off to a great start, Mickey. I hope you get to Maine again, so you can continue the book. And don't feel bad about haveing a bunch of sketchbooks with only a few pages used. I think that is normal. At least I hope it is.:p


05-26-2010, 10:55 AM
This looks great so far! i brought my Moleskine book with me to Ogunquit last Sept, didn't like my sketches so I ripped them out. I have a few other WC sketches in it but am saving it for better ones. Silly, huh? I have several other sketch books that I haven't finished. I like the one I am using now, a Flexi Sketch from Cheap Joe's and it takes a light wash even though it is only 75lbs paper. It is 300 pages too! It was only 17.00!

Keep your sketches coming!


05-26-2010, 11:23 AM
Your sketches are great, and Maine is a wonderful subject! Maybe the in-process watercolors are frustrating with the behavior of the paper, but the end result looks very nice. Keep 'em coming! (I empathize with the uncompleted sketchbook syndrome, by the way. This forum will hopefully be incentive to change my unfinished ways...!)

05-26-2010, 11:29 AM
Amazing landscapes. That is indeed difficult if colors you apply turns to grey. Kudos to holding up on it!

05-26-2010, 11:57 AM
Absolutely beautiful Michelle :clap:


05-26-2010, 12:30 PM
That must be frustrating to paint gray only to have it dry in the color you painted. However, your perseverance has led to some beautiful paintings. You are not alone in "unfinished" sketchbooks. I have 3 in various states of done-ness and 3 completely blank ones sitting on my shelf. :o

05-26-2010, 12:34 PM
Michelle, I have separate Maine sketchbooks too! I love seeing your drawings and watercolor pieces of all those familiar places. It's so interesting how sketches can evoke so much mood and memories, and doing them retains so much feeling for a place as opposed to just taking photos. Thanks for sharing...I will try to get a thread going with my Maine sketchbooks too. So much to do, so little time...That's when sketching is perfect!


05-28-2010, 08:31 PM
Wow! Michelle, you may hate the gray shift and being unable to tell what the watercolor's doing till it dries, but I think you compensated for it well enough. The watercolors are stunning! They have strong deep colors and good value ranges. They have beautiful accuracy and color harmony.

So far this sketchbook is magnificent. I hope you can get used to how the watercolors look in progress because your results are gorgeous. The pen drawings are great too. But that last one where you painted the bare trees from negative space is just superb... wonderful paintings. Keep going!

05-29-2010, 04:32 PM
nice work even though the paper sounds a nightmare :)

I love the Canson book - there is a link to it on my thread. The paper is a soft white, not brilliant white but it takes virtually anything I've thrown at it. (it's a smoothish watercolour paper)

05-29-2010, 11:43 PM
WOW, what beautiful watercolors! I especially like "Ocean Point"--that looks like a frameable, "done" painting to me.

Re: having a love/hate relationship with sketchbooks: do you think that maybe one of the reasons might be because you are trying for a cohesive theme, or are expecting all of things that you put in your sketchbook to be of such a high quality? Because the things you have posted here are really nice, super finished, which is wonderful but I'm wondering if you feel a pressure for everything to be like that? One of the nice things about a sketchbook opposed to a "piece" is that a sketchbook is just for you--for you to doodle in and noodle around in, to just have fun with, you know? It's something totally for you and there's great freedom in this. It doesn't have to be cohesive. It's actually kind of fun to see the "stages" one goes through in terms of interests and technique and progress, etc. If you can enjoy that--the progress of your notebook--then I think that might be a key in using them up (if using them up is something you want to do)

Hope this helps :)

05-30-2010, 02:55 AM
good points :)

and exactly how I feel about my books - they are totally pressure free because there are no expectations of everything working, there is freedom to experiment and play.

05-31-2010, 08:31 PM
Hello. . . I have never been to Maine and always wanted to go there (esp. since I read a bunch of Stephen King which is often set in Maine!). Your paintings are beautiful and like an armchair vacation to Maine! I will look forward to the next installments when you visit again. Thanks for sharing!

05-31-2010, 10:41 PM
Gorgeous! Agree that the paper would be / could be frustrating to work with.

05-31-2010, 10:45 PM
Hey, your watercolors look great! My watercolor only sketches have been a dismal failure so far, so in spite of your paper challenges you are having great success with it.


07-02-2010, 05:40 PM
Michelle - I'm sorry to hear the trouble you are having with watercolor in this sketchbook, but am AMAZED that you have such beautiful paintings when all you could see while painting them was grey! Must be very frustrating while you are working on them, and artwork is supposed to be FUN!!

I've never been to Maine, but it looks beautiful in your paintings. I like that you are doing different styles and yet the common theme binds them all together. Very nice work!


07-02-2010, 06:11 PM
Thanks, Jean, and all who have commented on my Maine sketches. I'm really happy with most of them.

For those of you who haven't been there, you gotta go! Maine is beautiful.

Anne-Marie suggested that perhaps I was frustrated because I was trying to keep a cohesive theme to my sketchbook instead of "anything goes". Well, I have a closet full of "anything goes" sketchbooks, and since Maine is probably my favorite place to visit, and I have lots of sketches scattered throughout lots of sketchbooks, I always wanted to start a sketchbook just for visits to Maine. It was a poor choice for a sketchbook containing watercolors, but it's a nice hard bound book that is perfect for pencil, pen and maybe a very light wash. I didn't have any trouble with the "title page" because I kept the washes very light, and worked very quickly.

It doesn't look like I will be getting back there this summer, but I will fill the book eventually - and start another that is more friendly to watercolor.

07-08-2010, 05:50 PM
Michelle, your colour sketches certainly don't look gray, this is a lovely collection of sketches ...

07-08-2010, 07:46 PM
Thanks, Scatty!

07-08-2010, 07:49 PM
Hi Michelle, I have only just found this thread.

wow, wow, WOW what great work! I had a chuckle to myself reading everyone's comments as I can so relate to it all........ we artists are more alike than we realise LOL!

Maine looks beautiful, I shall have to experience it through your sketches though, being on the other side of the world..... :)

Vivien Maloney
07-08-2010, 10:23 PM
Michelle - These are lovely. I'd somehow missed this Journal. So, I'll now follow it with interest.

07-09-2010, 12:43 AM
Michelle, what about water color pencils? That way, you'd be able to see the colors (more or less, because the colors do intensify when after they have been made wet) and still work in watercolor . . .

07-09-2010, 08:03 AM
Thank you, Vivien. I won't be posting in this thread all that often, since I live about 500 miles from Maine, and only get up there once a year or less. Although I guess I could always do some sketches from my photos.

Anne-Marie, I was never really happy with water color pencils, but I might give that a try next time if I remember to take them with me.

08-29-2010, 02:59 PM
I finally got up to Maine to visit my sister and family for a few days, and we went out sketching a few times. Here are my latest sketches:

08-29-2010, 04:37 PM
These three are gorgeous. I love them all, but the rocks in that middle one stand out as so natural and rugged, they're wonderful. I like the way the water seems shallower around them too. Gorgeous islands and that little house is so well drawn and painted. Beautiful series. I hope I can even come close the next time I get out for plein air somewhere.

08-29-2010, 04:51 PM
Beautiful. Such pretty countryside to sketch. I'd be inspired too.

08-29-2010, 08:08 PM
Thank you, Robert and Debbie. It is certainly pretty in that part of Maine. The first one was done at Reid State Park, which is essentially an ocean beach with a picnic area. There were so many pretty spots to paint from. The middle one is Ocean Point, which is a seaside community of wealthy houses and at one end there is a small parking lot, a small public beach and some rocks that we regular people can use. I sat on the rocks and looked out on some little islands. The last one is from Pemaquid Point. We spent the day at the Pemaquid Lighthouse, which I've painted many, many times. There is a sketch of it at the beginning of the sketchbook. I wanted to do something other than the lighthouse this time, and I wanted to sit in the shade. So I sketched this view from the picnic area looking out across the water to a piece of land with the white house on it.

These were all done with my little watercolor set that's about the size of an Altoid box, and a water brush. I have pared down to bare essentials because I'm just not physically capable of carrying a whole load of stuff around anymore.

08-29-2010, 08:34 PM
Michelle these last 3 are stunning, so beautiful. What a wonderful place to visit. Thank you so much for sharing them. You have a wide range of colours there for such a small kit. I guess sometimes less is best :) The rocks are great, love the bird perched on top in the second one.

08-29-2010, 11:59 PM

The new sketches are wonderful! I particularly like how you did the rocks.

Vivien Maloney
08-30-2010, 03:25 AM
Your latest 3 sketches are beautiful. What a wonderful part of the country!

08-30-2010, 01:14 PM
these are very fresh. lovely :)

08-30-2010, 06:20 PM
Thanks, John, Viv and Vivien! I wasn't quite happy with the rocks, as the Maine rocks are very rugged looking and the ones near the water are covered with seaweed. I can't really get a good strong dark with my water brush, nor with the slick paper in my sketchbook, so I resorted to using hatching with my pen for some of the darker areas. It worked as far as getting some indication of shading. But this is SKETCHING, so I don't have to get all the detail and texture in - right?

08-31-2010, 08:01 PM
Your latest work is great - I agree with Viv and Vivien....... I like your idea of keeping this sketchbook to a theme even if you don't manage to get there as often as you'd like ;)

09-01-2010, 08:41 AM
Thank you, Jackie. I really like keeping this one just for Maine, but I only get up there about once a year. Usually my sketchbooks are used only for painting from life, but I've been debating about doing some sketches from my photos - otherwise it will take me several years to finish this book. LOL

09-01-2010, 09:05 AM
Beautiful sketches/paintings of Maine. It's a beautiful country out there. I haven't been up northeast since I was 8 years old. Been a long time.

09-03-2010, 11:16 AM
Thanks, Rachel. I was a teenager the first time I went to Maine with my family, and we all decided that we wanted to live in Maine when we grew up. My youngest sister is the only one who actually did it.

Joan T
09-03-2010, 01:12 PM
Mickey - I can't believe you painted in Maine without me!!! I will have to get up there soon. All three of these are good, but I think I like the strength of the rugged rocks at Ocean Point. I know Tina said it was really hot when you were there, and from past experience I know there isn't much shade along the water's edge. Great job! Maybe we can visit for a few "autumn" days with Tina and you can add a few more sketches.

09-03-2010, 09:55 PM
Michelle, no shame in using photographs! However you manage it, I think it would be really lovely to stick to a theme with this one - after all, you can start another one for anything else you want to tackle (spoken as a fellow "newly formed" sketchbook addict :lol: )

10-16-2010, 10:00 PM
Well, this is cheating a bit, since this painting is not actually "in" my Maine Sketchbook, because it's on it's way to my SWAP partner. SWAP is a group of artists who exchange small paintings several times a year. This one is going to Australia.

When I was in Maine last, I took several photos of the Pemaquid Lighthouse reflected in the tidepools between rocks. Taking photos of the lighthouse with the tidepool reflections is a must for tourists visiting the attraction, but I wanted to paint just the rocks and the reflection. I really like the way this one came out.

10-16-2010, 10:03 PM
great stuff :)

10-17-2010, 08:22 AM
great different view on what could be a conventional scene

10-17-2010, 11:31 AM
This is very nicely done, Michelle! And hard to pull off as well as you did - I tried once to paint autumn tree reflections in a stream without the corresponding trees on the bank and it turned out very abstract...and not in a good way. :) Yours, however, is very good.

10-17-2010, 12:27 PM
Michelle this is stunning!!!

10-17-2010, 06:48 PM
Oh my! This is just wonderful. How lucky for your exchange recipient to get this marvelous painting.

10-17-2010, 10:15 PM
Thanks, Jackie, Vivien, John, EP and Debby. I was really happy with the way the reflections came out. This is only 5 x 7, and I'm thinking about doing a larger one.

10-18-2010, 03:25 AM
Love this painting of the reflection, lucky little Australian getting that painting!

10-19-2010, 09:55 AM
Thanks, Linda. :-)

10-19-2010, 10:32 PM
Your last three capture the personality of Maine. I've been there several times in my life for vacation. You are depicting Maine's pure and quintessential spirit. It's my favorite state.

Ever been to Rangeley? An awesome place to draw would be on the Appalachian Trail on Saddleback Mountain.


10-20-2010, 07:09 AM
Thanks, Diana. It's my favorite state too.

I've never been to Rangeley, and have only been on the Appalachian trail for very brief sections in NY and PA.

10-20-2010, 07:36 AM
Michelle, I love the tidepool reflection! It's gorgeous. That's a magnificent painting and a fantastic idea.

10-29-2010, 12:11 PM
I decided to get a little practice sketching boats, a subject that I find very difficult, and a subject that is hard to avoid in Maine. I did these from some of my photos.

Joan T
10-29-2010, 01:14 PM
Mickey - The tide pool at Pemaquid is great!!!! Glad to see you're practicing boats for our next trip up to Maine. These came out pretty good!

10-29-2010, 05:22 PM
looking good- they aren't easy are they but these are successful

10-29-2010, 05:54 PM
Great job on the boats. They're tricky even from a photo.

10-29-2010, 06:25 PM
Thank you, Joan, Vivien and EP. If you only know how much erasing I had to do, especially on the one with the 3/4 view. I wish I had boats nearby to practice with. I want to be able to get them right the next time I visit Maine.

10-29-2010, 08:14 PM
Good job on the boats. All those strange curves plus foreshortening. Yup, hard subject.

10-29-2010, 10:15 PM
Great perspective on those boats, they all read true and accurate. Going to be grand seeing them in paintings!