View Full Version : A New Life for An Old Aquabee Sketchbook

06-08-2010, 11:58 PM
I have a 9 x 12 Aquabee sketchbook that I've had for a long time. Like most of my other sketchbooks, I've done a few things in them and then put them aside and forgot about them. This sketchbook has had a couple of lives already. In it's first life, I did some sketches on a snowy Thanksgiving weekend while riding to Pennsylvania in our truck. Well, I sketched them in the truck, and painted them in the evening at my mother-in-law's house. The date on these says 1995. There are two more pages of similar sketches.

I revived the book a couple of years later when I got the idea to sketch flowers from my garden as they bloomed. I planned on having 100 flowers - like a Georgia O'Keefe book I had called "One Hundred Flowers". I think I got up to 13.

After I quit painting the flower journal, I did some half-hearted pencil sketches and the sketchbook got put aside again.

06-09-2010, 12:04 AM
Today I'm giving the sketchbook yet another life. I want to learn how to sketch in ink. There are several reasons for this. 1. I really like ink sketches and have seen some sketchbooks done in ink that I love. 2. I am a very tentative sketcher, and my pencil sketches are very light (I enhance the contrast on most of them so you can see them). I sketch and erase, and sketch and erase, and it takes me forever to get a sketch done. Sketching in ink will force me to be bolder. 3. My light pencil sketches sometimes rub off so much that you can barely see them. Ink won't rub off.

So I went into the WDE photos and did a few pen sketches. I think I am going to like doing these.



06-09-2010, 12:37 AM
Michelle, these are great! Thank you for sharing your watercolor plein airs and your flowers too. Those are beautiful. Your ink drawings are lovely. I often sketch in pencil under mine and do my correcting in the inking, so if you're hesitant in the pencil stage that just makes it easier to clean up after ink.

The cockerel came out fantastic. The street artist is excellent and that landscape with reflections is gorgeous. Well done!

06-09-2010, 12:40 AM
Great stuff. The watercolor florals are especially nice.


06-09-2010, 01:37 AM
looking good :)

06-09-2010, 02:10 AM
It's great that you've started using the sketchbook again! Pretty flowers and snow scene.

06-09-2010, 02:19 AM
Very nice, Michelle! Are the winter scenes in the Poconos by any chance? I grew up not too far from there, along I-80.

06-09-2010, 02:24 AM
Good for you. It is so nice to visit old sketchbooks and become friends again. I like ink sketches also.

06-09-2010, 03:30 AM
Lovely work Michelle, especially those first watercolours.


06-09-2010, 08:46 AM
Thanks, Robert, David, Vivien, Raymond, John, Nancy, and Yorky.

John, the old w/c sketches were done along Route 80, around the Hazelton area, or maybe a little further west. There are a lot of areas along 80W where you can see a long way off, so you have time to do a quick sketch before the landscape is behind you, especially if you are riding in a truck. I tried it from a car, and it doesn't work as well. I no longer have the truck, and we haven't been out that way in many years, but I had a lot of fun doing those simple quick sketches. It forced me to be fast.

06-09-2010, 09:43 AM
Michelle it is great to see your older work. Nice to hear the stories associated with them too. The flowers are so pretty. Good idea for restarting in your journal. I sketch in pen quite often and love it. I find it very freeing for some reason. When I pick up a pencil, which I still do, I tend to get hesitant again and like you erase and sketch and erase some more. All the scavenger hunts have helped so much.

Great cockerel/chicken. Really nice shape. You did a good job on the pavement artist and landscape too. I look forward to seeing more. Don't be scared, just keep trying. :)

06-09-2010, 10:40 AM
Hi Michelle,

Well, I thought the landscape looked a bit familiar! I was born and raised in Bloomsburg, which is only a few miles west of Hazleton, right on I-80, so I'm very familiar with the area. I'm looking forward to the rest of your book!

06-09-2010, 03:57 PM
Michelle, thanks for showing us your wonderful snow scenes and flowers. The ink sketches are marvelous. I think a lot of sketchbooks end up going through phases as the artist puts them down to move on to other things, then finds them again. It shows the artist growing and changing.

Joan T
06-10-2010, 01:51 PM
Mickey - I'm glad you are giving this one a new life. I can just imagine you sketching while Dave was flying along I-80!! Good idea to practice sketching in ink. These came out great!! I love the rooster. Keep 'em comin'.

06-10-2010, 03:05 PM
Thanks, Jacqui and Dr. Debby.

John, I'm glad that you liked and recognized my little PA sketches. I started sketching from the truck during the many trips back and forth taking our two sons to and from Penn State. It was a long trip and doing little tiny sketches was a way to entertain myself and make the trip seem not so long.

Joan, it was fun sketching in the truck. That was a long time ago, and I haven't really tried to do anything like that since. Most places I travel now the scenery is more complicated and goes by too fast. As for the ink sketches, I always liked looking at ink drawings, but I really fell in love with those sketchbooks that Jerry Brommer and Cheap Joe showed us at the Springmaid workshop. I've just never been able to commit myself to using the pen long enough to get good at it. Now maybe I will.


06-12-2010, 03:55 PM
New sketches, one from backyard, and three from WDE.
My son's blueberries - the birds haven't gotten to them yet.

Squirrel and goose from WDE

Lily pond from WDE - I knew before I started this one that it would be difficult to impossible to sketch but I love lily ponds so I had to at least try.

06-12-2010, 03:59 PM
These latest ones are great. I love the lines of them, especially the blueberry cluster and leaves are so elegant. They all are but that one has a very pleasing shape overall, it's gorgeous. Well done!

06-12-2010, 05:46 PM
Thanks, Robert. My son has been trying to grow blueberries for several summers. He gets a little bit of new growth, a few berries, then the birds eat them. He just transplanted his small bushes to another part of the backyard, and they seem to be doing a little better. If they hang in there, I will sketch them again.

06-12-2010, 09:00 PM
Really like these sketches Michelle. Are they done in pen or pencil? All have really nice lines. I love the lily pond and the duck. Great work.

06-12-2010, 09:26 PM
They are done with a "S" size Pitt pen, Jacqui. I did some guidlines in pencil first on all but the lily pond. I just dove right in on that one. :-) Thanks for the comments.

Carole A
06-12-2010, 09:39 PM
Nice sketches Michelle. Tell your son to drive some stakes in the ground teepee style over the blueberry bushes, then hang old CDs from them; loosely so that they move in the breeze. Should keep the birds from the berries.

You'll have to paint the berries when they ripen.

Carole A

06-12-2010, 11:26 PM
Michelle, these new drawings are great. Yes, even the lily pond you weren't sure of.

I use a nylon mesh cloth available at the nursery for keeping birds off of berries. I don't grow blueberries (yet :D) but currently have blackberries, raspberries and strawberries that the birds love too. The mesh is about a half inch square so there is plenty of space for light and water to get to the bushes. They are a pain to fold up and put away after harvest, but I get to harvest my berries.

Vivien Maloney
06-12-2010, 11:59 PM
Hi Mickey - Glad you decided to use your Sketchbooks again. This Forum is really great at getting people to sketch again and everyone's Journals are so different. It's not easy sketching in Ink is it, but you've done a great job. Hope to see more.

06-13-2010, 08:38 AM
Thanks, Vivien!

And thanks for the horticultural advice, Carol and Dr. Debby. :-)

06-13-2010, 10:45 AM
These are terrific! I especially like the lily pond!


06-16-2010, 11:31 PM

I sketched this little Hawaiian scene from the Google Street Map. I have to admit that I "walked around" for a long time with my little virtual person before I found something that I wanted to sketch.

06-17-2010, 03:45 AM
Lovely sketch Michelle, isn't Street View great!


06-17-2010, 06:26 AM
Mickey, this one's great. I love the view you chose, it has a great composition. I think that's another benefit of Street View, that you get practice framing a landscape composition when you choose and crop a view. Gorgeous! I love the variety of plants and trees in this one.

06-17-2010, 07:55 AM
Thank you, Yorky and Robert.

Well, I've "walked around" in Googlle Street View a few times and was fascinated with the idea of sketching from it, I had never actually tried it before. I was excited when Virtual Paintout chose Hawaii for this month. I loved Hawaii the three times I visited when my daughter and family were living at Hickham Air Force Base. But I was a little disappointed with the street view of Oahu - my memories are of gorgeous beaches and streets lined with plumeria trees. I couldn't seem to get close enough to the gorgeous beaches, and if there was a beach close enough to a street, it was narrow and usually blocked with buildings, trucks, etc. But by "turning" in all directions, I did find this scene and a view of the Diamond Head lighthouse that I will sketch later. I also bookmarked one other scene, but can't remember whether it was a street view or one of the private photos that they provide for different areas. I was trying to avoid those because they are really someone else's work. But for the most part, I think if I want to sketch and paint Hawaii, I need to break out my CD's of photos that I took while I was there.

I think Street View is better for places like Paris where street scenes are what I would be expecting to paint.

06-17-2010, 06:37 PM

Here's the sketch of the Diamond Head Lighthouse that I did from Google Map Street View. I didn't realize that you could see it from the street. I viewed it from the top of Diamondhead, and have a photo somewhere in my stash that I took looking down on it.

06-17-2010, 07:52 PM
Great sketch of the light house, Mickey! Well done. It's so cool you were actually there and have your own references to work from as well as Street View. I think you might be right about what's likely to show up on it.

06-17-2010, 10:45 PM
Great choices and sketches.

06-18-2010, 08:23 PM
Thanks, Robert and Dr. Debby.

I just looked at the CD of my own Hawaii photos, and the in the ones of the lighthouse from the top of Diamond Head, you would probably not even notice that the lighthouse is there, that's how tiny it is. It's about the size of a very small ant. LOL

06-18-2010, 09:06 PM
Michelle - Congratulations on restarting your old sketchbook, and thanks for sharing the earlier work. Like the others who have commented, I LOVE your Thanksgiving paintings and the flowers. Among other things, I like your palette and the placement of 2 per page with very wide borders. They are just lovely!

And your ink sketches are fantastic. It's interesting to hear others experience the same difference between pencil sketching and pen that I have. I had always been very tentative in sketching with pencil and when I TRIED pen, I was shocked at how well they came out and how bold I got about trying new things! I credit my participation in the WDE's for most of the progress I have made in sketching and drawing. Very nice work. I look forward to seeing more.


06-19-2010, 04:20 AM
You've kept this beautifully simple and airy with every line counting - a really nice sketch.

Joan T
06-19-2010, 10:47 AM
Mickey - I like your sketches of Hawaii. I tried to find something to paint for the VPO, but I'm having the same problem as you finding good views with the street map. If I find something I want to be able to turn the view, and for most spots that isn't an option this time. Good collection of sketches!!

06-19-2010, 11:42 AM
Thanks, Jean, Vivien and Joan.

Joan, I hope you find something. I literally "walked around" for hours trying to find something that I could see that looked like Hawaii to me. But Hawaii isn't about streets - it's about beaches and gardens - and you don't get to see much of them from the street. All those beautiful plumeria trees lining the streets at the AF base, but Street View doesn't let you touch down on those streets. :-( Someone on the Virtual Paintout did a surf shop in Haleiwa, and I have a photo of the same shop with a lot more surfboards for sale. I looked for Matsumoto's Shave Ice, but the photo wasn't very clear, and it must have been off season because there was no line of people outside, or sitting on the bench eating shave ice. You couldn't even see the sign to know that it was a shave ice store.

06-19-2010, 04:39 PM
This is watercolor for the WDE, done sitting at the computer, with my miniature watercolor box and my waterbrush. It's approximately 6 x 7. Between the sketchbook paper and the waterbrush, with everything drying too fast and lifting too much, I couldn't get a nice smooth background, but the iris didn't come out too bad.

06-20-2010, 08:26 AM
Oops! Uploading the sketch would have helped. LOL


06-20-2010, 09:55 AM
The iris is lovely, and I like the textured background, looks like other plants in the garden. Gorgeous blue colour there, love it.

06-20-2010, 01:53 PM
Lovely iris. The dark background really makes it pop.

06-21-2010, 12:27 AM
fun sketch

06-21-2010, 09:30 AM
Mickey, your iris is gorgeous. I love the dark background and the rich colors. You got it so accurate too. Beautiful watercolor sketch.

06-21-2010, 10:26 AM
Thanks, Jacqui, Dr. Debby, Robin and Robert.

06-26-2010, 09:46 AM
Two sketches for the WDE

Done with medium and brush Pitt Pens

Done with 05 Micron pen

06-26-2010, 02:04 PM
Great pineapple sketch. The girls portrait is lovely. Great handling of the hat.

06-26-2010, 05:44 PM
Great WDE sketches, Mickey!

06-26-2010, 05:50 PM
Today I'm giving the sketchbook yet another life. I want to learn how to sketch in ink.

So I went into the WDE photos and did a few pen sketches. I think I am going to like doing these.

Yaaay! Congrats, Michelle! These ink sketches are wonderful :) :) :)

06-27-2010, 12:34 AM
Great ink sketches. Love the texture on the pineapple, wonderful job on the girl. I thought she was well worth trying too but alas I am still to do so.

06-27-2010, 06:56 AM
Thanks, Dr. Debby (the hat is what drew me to that particular photo), Robert, EP, and Jacqui. I've "cheated" a bit with these and blocked them out with pencil before completing them in pen and ink. What I really want to do is to just jump in there with the pen, but I got hung up on accuracy and went to the pencil first.

07-02-2010, 02:25 PM
For the Weekly Drawing Event
Pitt Pen in Aquabee sketchbook
Way more leaves than I wanted to draw!
Still trying to get the hang of sketching directly with pen. I sketched the trellis and the cat in lightly with pencil, inked the cat and started drawing leaves. When I got tired, I filled in the trellis and the foreground. Sometimes I don't think I have the patience to be a pen and ink sketcher. I definitely could never do a large finished drawing in ink. Give me a quick watercolor wash anyday! LOL

07-02-2010, 08:20 PM
Mickey, that's not cheating. I often block things in with the pencil and then correct the pencil sketch with my inking. That's just my usual method. The only time I pen-sketch is if it's something like a fast cat gesture or I'm just feeling lazy and not worried about whether it comes out well.

Great sketch of the cat in the garden! I'm going to have to do that cat too, it's such a cool reference.

07-02-2010, 09:27 PM
You did a great job even if there were too many leaves for your liking.

07-02-2010, 11:43 PM
Yesterday I received a Gerald Brommer DVD entitled "From Line to Complex Surfaces". In it, he starts off by sketching a landscape with some interesting buildings in pen and ink, and then he adds shapes of color - with "line independent of shape".

When I saw this photo, I decided to try using this method.

And I think I wrote my first Haiku

Done for the WDE:


A house abandoned
is left to the elements
drawn in line and shape

P.S. I like the fact that line and shape ARE elements (of design). :-)

07-02-2010, 11:57 PM
Interesting. It reminds me of some illustrations I've seen in magazines, the shape and line being unrelated has a startling effect.

07-03-2010, 04:37 AM
A very 1950's effect :)

will you experiment more with this idea?

I've done this occasionally in printmaking and recently with collage - you can put those areas of colour down with pieces of coloured paper and then just draw overlapping them in the same way as you have here.

07-03-2010, 06:41 AM
Yes, I do want to experiment more with this. I have some lighthouse photos, and photos of mission churches in San Antonio and San Diego, as well as Maine seascapes that I think will work well with this.

This was just the first part of the DVD. In the next part, he does the same thing with collage, and then later he works with gesso and collage. I plan to incorporate the collage and gesso into some of experiments also. I had taken a stained paper collage with Jerry Brommer two years ago, and he is a great teacher.

07-03-2010, 10:28 AM
And to think, they still teach children in school to color inside the lines! This is great. I like the soft colors you used.

07-04-2010, 02:48 AM
Ha Ha! And I was one of those who always stayed within the lines.

07-04-2010, 09:53 AM
Michelle great cat drawing, the experiment with line and colour is fantastic. It came out so well. Great effect and idea there. The perfect image to try it with.

Vivien Maloney
07-04-2010, 02:42 PM
Michelle - I like your latest sketches especially the line and wash of the buildings. Not staying within the lines, really adds something to the sketch and I like the idea of that.

07-05-2010, 11:38 PM
Thanks, Jacqui and Vivien. It's a fun way to sketch.

07-18-2010, 02:11 PM
Here is another line and wash done from one of this weekend's WDE (image provided by signchick). Pitt pen and watercolor wash.

Vivien Maloney
07-18-2010, 02:23 PM
Lovely work Michelle. Can I ask you a question about the WDE? I've often looked at the work in it and would like to participate but the beginning times are not suitable for us in NZ, e.g. this weekends one begun at 2.00am on Saturday morning for me, so obviously I wasn't going to get up at that hour in the morning to post anything. Do you have to check in right when it begins etc?

07-18-2010, 04:11 PM
Vivien, I just do my sketch, drawing, or painting whenever it's convenient for me during the weekend. You are supposed to time yourself and post what you have done after 2 hours. None of mine have taken that long yet. They usually post the photos on Friday evening, and the first couple of times I did my sketch on Friday or Saturday, but this week I waited until today because we took my two grandsons home yesterday and I now have time to sketch. I'm new at the WDE stuff, so I don't know if I'm breaking any rules. No one has said anything. So I would imagine that the time difference shouldn't prevent you from being able to participate.

07-18-2010, 05:49 PM
Nice drawing. Like your ink work and the colors really make it sing.

07-25-2010, 06:10 PM
I sketched these for this weekend's WDE.
Micron .05 pen in my 9 x 12 sketchbook

07-25-2010, 06:23 PM
What a wonderful line you have in your drawing. Thats an incredible head with head and neck adornment, complexity captured simply with your line. Lovely drawing Michelle.

07-25-2010, 06:33 PM
Beautiful, simple, elegant.

07-25-2010, 07:49 PM
Michelle, your line and wash buildings is great, the blocks of colour are an interesting effect. Your line drawings are great too :)

07-26-2010, 08:26 AM
Great drawings for the WDE - that women is fabulous!! love it