View Full Version : My Celebration Play Book

06-18-2010, 02:16 AM
Here is my second journal on my drawing / sketching journey. You will see there is a theme going on, as this journal was ALSO begun in 1998 and quickly fell by the wayside for many years. I was intrigued by the Suzette Morrow workshop that Robert has been doing, and I decided to use this book to do the exercises in that course. In case you want to look at it, it is at: http://theartstudio.ning.com/ and it consists of 21 daily prompts to help you get into the habit of sketching daily.

My "Grammy-duty" schedule may not allow sketching every day, but I will follow the prompts to the best of my ability. This book is also brand-unknown. It is a black hard cover, spiral bound sketchbook, approximately 8 1/2" x 12" with approximately 60 - 75 lb drawing paper.

So here is my first page, which was done in 1998. The explanation follows the page.


Here is the explanation: 1997 was a particularly difficult year, as my then college-aged daughter developed a debilitating and mysterious illness that kept her out of school for 2 semesters, in continuous pain, with no explanation, no prognosis, and no specific treatment plan. During that time, I was her nearly full-time caretaker, medical coordinator, research associate, all the while trying to do my real full time job well enough to not get fired. The good news is that eventually "something" worked and she recovered gradually and was able to go on to lead a full and highly productive life (as evidenced by my now 3 1/2 year old and twin 10-month old grandsons!) :lol:

During that time, I was physically and emotionally exhausted and when I finally began to trust that she was out of the woods, I wanted nothing more than to get back to my creative endeavors. So, I painted 2 watercolor apples (before I knew anything about watercolor), and pasted them onto the front page of the journal, intending to continue being creative. Instead, I have 8 or 9 pages of written journal entries and nothing else. I was very soon back in the role of caregiver, as my father's health began declining and for the next several years, he lived with me and I cared for him until he passed away at age 89 in 2005. The time I spent with him was a great blessing, but not much creativity got cultivated during that time period, either!

So now, fast forward to the present. The next several pages will be my exercises from the Suzette Morrow workshop. After that, I expect to use the rest of the book for true experimentation. I will try to be free and try sketching all sorts of things and not think or worry about the results. Here are my first several days of exercises:


Above is Day 1, which involves random drawing in little squares while repeating over and over "How do I feel?" Once the squares are all filled, you go back and try to "find" images and bring them out by drawing in pen over them. I dreaded this, as drawing from my imagination has always been the hardest thing for me. I was pleasantly surprised at how many images I found and how recognizable my drawings are (to me, at least).

The next two pages are day two which involves cutting images from magazines (or in my case, I used out of date art catalogs and junk mail). You glue them randomly onto the page and then extend and connect the images with whatever art materials you want to use. These were done with micron pen, Inktense Pencils and colored gel pens.



Day 3, below, is about filling shapes on the page with line, using the line in a given space to create value by placing the lines closer and farther apart. (Note that this book is slighly larger than my scanner bed, so I get light coming in around the edges on some of the images)

This page was done with micron and pentel black pens, #2 wood pencil, and colored gel pens.


And finally, Day 4 is about drawing with left and right hands simultaneously, to engage both left and right hemispheres of the brain. I want to do some more of this, but this was all I had time for today:


Thanks for looking! C&C's always welcome and appreciated.


06-18-2010, 07:58 AM
Those are interesting and fun looking exercises. For someone who has trouble drawing from their imagination, I would say you did very well, judging from all the things you "found" in the first example. I like the "both hands" sketch - I neglected to do that one when someone put it in the scavenger hunt a while back. I like your "jewelry" and the shapes connected with line.

06-18-2010, 10:05 AM
I am so glad to see you are coming back to creativity. Life has a habit of interfering just when we need our creative selves the most. :rolleyes: Lovely apples. The exercises are fantastic.

Joan T
06-18-2010, 10:13 AM
Life does have a way of stepping in and sidelining our art at times, and is so often health related...either our own or a family memeber's health. Glad to see you have time now and it looks like you're making a good start on this!! That one page reminds me of zentangles.

06-18-2010, 10:17 AM
Good work, Jean. I had seen Robert's sketch of drawing with both hand simultaneously and was inspired to make that a challenge on a scavenger hunt I hosted a few weeks back.

06-18-2010, 04:32 PM
Jean, this is so great! I'm glad you found the Suzette Morrow workshop. It's great, I love seeing your version of the exercises. Way cool.

06-18-2010, 08:49 PM
Michelle: Thanks! So far, I have enjoyed all the exercises, even the ones that I sort of dreaded. I was surprised how connected my two hands felt when I did that exercise.

Debby: Thanks! I spent my entire career in the computer industry - very left-brain and logical. Having discovered that I even HAD a creative side was a revelation, so it is especially nice to have time now to nurture it!

Joan: Yes, you are right. I didn't connect it with zentangles, but that page does remind me of them. Thanks for commenting.

EP: Thanks. Someday, I hope to have enough time to join you all in the scavenger hunts. They look like so much fun, but the schedule is still WAY overfilled!

Robert: Thanks for pointing us over there to Suzette's site. I'm so excited to do the exercises, I want to do more than one a day. But, I guess that defeats the purpose of establishing a habit, huh?

06-18-2010, 08:58 PM
Yep. I kept it up for 21 days and obviously do still have the habit. So keep going! Just do whatever that day's exercise makes you feel like doing. I noticed that whatever it was, I'd come out of it feeling like creating.

06-18-2010, 11:27 PM
Hello! Welcome to the forum! I'm Zenica, I have a journal (actually several) that are listed under this forum as "Zen's Journey". I love the "EDM" series as well as the Suzette Morrow workshop. I've tried a few of the prompts myself, but I'm more interested in my own little adventure. I draw every day... most of the day too, I also get "withdrawal" when I don't have art supplies with me.

You have a good journal going here and I hope this turns out well for you. I also read the section about your daughter. I had a similar experience, still unknown and constant. It started about 5 years ago. So as curiosity goes, did she ever get a diagnosis? I learned (mostly) to deal with the problem. I'm still in the process of learning my degree so I know how hard it is to keep up with the work. My mom was my caretaker, we tried everything to fix it, but none of the tests showed the answer or solution. I'm sure she still has nights where she worries if I'll be okay. I'd say the hardest bit, is not knowing. My artwork helps me deal with that...

I am interested in seeing more of your work. The journal is looking great so far. Have a good one!


06-19-2010, 02:18 AM
Thanks Zen! I just sent you a private message about my daughter's illness.


06-19-2010, 02:41 PM
Jean, here's the new link to Suzette Morrow's free "Start a Sketchbook Habit" workshop. She's moving it off Mixed Media Workshops to The Art Studio still at Ning. http://theartstudio.ning.com/group/sketchbookhabit

06-19-2010, 08:25 PM
Thanks for the update Robert.

So today is day 5. The exercise is to observe and draw something that is right in front of you. I had one hour while I waited for my Grandson at an appointment, so I sat at their front desk (no receptionist is there on Saturdays) and sketched a variety of office "things" on the desk. Here is today's sketch:


I'm pretty happy with it. If I cared much about a finished product though, there are some things I would want to fix and I listed them as "Lessons Learned:"

1) Use of space. As often happens, I got crowded at the top and right side of the paper, with lots of space at the bottom. There is a hole punch between the pencil cup and the filing tray and I didn't have nearly enough room for it in my drawing. I could have left it out, but decided to just put in as much as will fit and I think it looks okay. Also, as I was drawing the scissors, I realized I had made everything in the cup a bit too big, so was not able to get all the misc. "stuff" in that was there in reality. That's okay, in this case, but in a different situation, it might be a little frustrating to run out of room.

2) Perspective: The plant pot is wider at the top IRL. No biggie, as there was barely any plant in the pot to draw. :lol: The biggest issue is the paper clip box, which looks like it is leaning way forward. I can see exactly what is wrong, but did not see it at all until I "finished."

This was a great exercise - just the kind I hate to do, but end up learning a lot from.

Got to go pick a friend up from the airport. Will post more later.


06-19-2010, 08:34 PM
That's exactly why I like sketchbooks. They don't have to be a finished project. And, you can learn from the practice, what works and what doesn't work. I think you did really well. The mouse in particular shows a lot of contour and depth.

06-19-2010, 10:19 PM
Jean, that's so great. If you understand the errors, then it was worth doing them. That is so cool. You did great on these things.

One of the hardest things I had to learn was that it's okay to simplify and change what's there -- that it's not like snapping a photo and may look better with fewer items in a pencil cup.

06-23-2010, 12:55 PM
Thanks Debby and Robert!

It's been a few days since I posted, but I've been sketching some every day anyhow. I took multiple days to complete days 6 and 7 in the Suzette Morrow workshop. Had so much fun with these, I just took my time with them and kept playing and playing with color. I really love the combination of micron pen and Inktense pencils and both of the exercises felt like they needed color.

Day 6 was a repeat of day 1, where you draw boxes with random marks in them - based on what you feel like doing. Then you "find" as many objects in them as you can. Once again, it surprised me how many things I was able to find and draw:


Next, I did the Synetics exercise, where you make a long list of words and then draw images that are triggered by the words. When I looked at the finished list of words, I groaned. I didn't think I would be able to draw images for most of them without having some reference to look at. But once again, I was pleasantly surprised at what I came up with. I just kept plugging away at it and I think I only copped out on a couple.

One specifically was "Mustang." When I was a teenager, my best friends family bought her a red mustang and I LOVED that car!!! But, I have no clue how to draw it, so I just wrote the words. I'm okay with that!! Just gave it my best effort and had a LOT of fun doing it.


06-23-2010, 04:18 PM
Jean, great pages! I love what you did with your exercises, they are so different from what I did with them. Wow!

06-24-2010, 06:32 PM
More great sketching exercises. Like that you did them in color.

06-27-2010, 12:36 AM
Thanks Robert and Debby! This is really the wrong paper to use the Inktense pencils on, but I'm really having a lot of fun using them, so I'm doing it anyway. That's what I like about the "Play" part of the journal. I can do whatever I want! I forgot to mention earlier that I recently bought a couple of Holbein Water Pens to use with the Inktense and I LOVE them! I take my little travel kit with me when I go to my daughter's house and lately I have skipped the afternoon nap we all take and have been sketching and playing instead.

My "Daughter's house kit" includes:

One of my various sketching journals - lately the Celebration Play Journal mostly
Assorted pencils and my kneaded eraser.
Inktense pencils ( 24 color set)
2 water pens
A few paper towels
A couple of micron pens - black
Usually, I take some of the recent WDE photos printed out in color in 5" x 7" size.

This is just the right kit to let me choose what I want to do in the roughly 1 - 1 1/2 hour time I am not playing with / feeding / changing / holding / coaxing / tickling / teasing a toddler or one of his twin baby brothers! :cat:

06-27-2010, 01:01 AM
Oops - accidentally hit submit before I intended to, so I'll continue in this message.

Another thing I really like about the Inktense pencils is that my 3 3/4 year old grandson likes to use them and I can use them as a reward for whatever behavior I am trying to coax out of him. We like to sit together at the kitchen table and choose one color at a time to make marks with. He is learning to write the alphabet and his numbers, so he most often wants to write instead of draw - but that's okay. He LOVES the colors. The Water Pen makes it way less messy than paints, so we can clean up pronto when we need to. :D

So, in the past few days, I've continued working on Suzette Morrow's sketching workshop and here are the next 4 days of exercises:

Day 8 is about shading and values:


Because there is so much pencil shading on this page, I used a matt finish spray fixative to keep it from rubbing off. I nearly paniced while it was still wet, because I could see the Inktense colored images from Day 7 showing through. Fortunately, once the fixative dried, those images don't show through any more AND the Inktense doesn't re-activate after it has been wet once, so both sides of the paper are okey-dokey!!!

Day 9 is about Design. You are supposed to draw designs that you could cut out of mat board and glue to a backing to make monoprint stamps. Because I drew them very lightly in pencil, I had to do a lot of Photoshopping to make them show up in the picture:


This was really fun and I think I may throw some color on them at some later point. If I do, I will post the page again.

Day 10 is an abstract exercise. You choose 4 or 5 items you find around the house and do contour drawings of them right over one another. The items I used were:

A decorative decanter that was my mothers
A pair of scissors
A mini-whisk from the kitchen
A ceramic sofa that you can use as a picture frame
A ceramic rooster salt shaker

I think the placement of the items on the page could have been better, but I kind of liked doing the contour drawings.


Finally, Day 11 was a color / negative painting exercise, using warm colors for one and cool colors for a second one. I have a set of 48 colors / Prismacolor soft, thick lead pencils, which I used to apply the color. These are VERY soft and they feel creamy, especially layering them over one another. I've done the negative painting exercise before in watercolor, so I decided to try out these pencils and I may be encouraged to use them more in the future.


Hope you enjoy these exercises. I had a lot of fun with them, but will be away from the computer for a few days, so I'll hopefully have more to post when I get back.


06-27-2010, 01:29 AM
These are great! I think you did well on arranging the outlines of the contours, some objects I can see what they are and others I can't find even knowing they're there, but the whole has an interesting shape. It suggests something that isn't there at all, a sort of large frilly flower like a gladiolus. Great job on the warm and cool negative drawing sketches. I loved that one too.

Your river stones in shading are beautiful, so glad the fixative sealed it well.

06-27-2010, 11:32 AM
Jean these are really great pages. I like how you are going with the daily sketching course, it has got me intrigued to go have a look myself. What a great set of drawings from imagination, that is one thing I would have the least confidence in too. Really like your design ideas, and the pebbles are lovely.

06-27-2010, 12:43 PM
Great job on all of these. The river stones are great. Your designs would be awesome in color.

06-28-2010, 12:36 AM
Thanks Robert, Jacqui and Debby. I didn't have any sketching time today, but I did take a photo of the 5 items I used in the abstract contour drawing. Thought you might be interested to see them, in case you still haven't picked some of them out yet. Here's the photo:


It's kind of fun finding intersting shapes around the house!


06-28-2010, 04:01 AM
Hi Jean, I too had trouble making out some of the shapes in the contour drawing, but now I have seen the photo it makes so much more sense!! You have made a great start with your journal and it obviously gives you so much enjoyment. I hope to keep watching..... :)

07-08-2010, 08:30 PM
I'm still moving along on Suzette Morrow's 21 Day Sketching Habit exercises. Although I'm not always doing one exercise in one day, I AM doing some kind of sketching every day. Just can't always get to the computer to post them as I go. I last left off in this thread with Day 11.

I recently posted Day 12 in my "Fragments of Life" journal, because that is where i normally do mixed media work. Here is a link if you want to see it: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8864869&postcount=35

Day 13 - Suzette asks us to be a kid again and find and play with a variety of children's art supplies. I had a hard time getting interested in doing that one, so I did a modification. A few days ago, my grandson Jake was visiting me and we went to play in Grammy's studio. I gave him some paper and a kid's watercolor set and then sat down beside him to "show" him how to paint whatever we decided on. (He's almost 4 now). As I did each thing, trying to paint like a child, I said, "now I'm dipping my brush in the red paint" and he would echo what I said and do SOMETHING with the red paint - not necessarily what I did. His is lively and interesting, mine, not so much! I get the point of the exercise, but I needed a 3 year old to help me. Here are our paintings:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Jul-2010/127224-Grammys_House.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/08-Jul-2010/127224-Jakes_House.jpg

Needless to say, we had a LOT of fun!!!

Day 15 (I've temporarily skipped Day 14!) - Absorb information and use your journal to record it in words, colors, and pictures. I decided to spend some time looking at some Composition tutorials. Here is the full page I recorded and two closer looks:


NOTE: I mistakenly labeled this Day 13 in my sketchbook instead of 15. I've fixed it, but not until after I scanned the page to post it!!!

Closer detail:


It was good to spend some time on the tutorials (you can see the references for the two that I looked at near the top of my page under "Sources." I did'nt record everything, as I could have gone on for several pages, but every once in a while I need a reminder. Especially for the one I show as number 10: PLAN BEFORE PAINTING! Can't tell you how many times I've had to relearn that one. :lol: :lol: :lol:

07-08-2010, 09:27 PM
Jean, that's great. You did a wonderful job noting and sketching so many principles of composition, it's glorious. I wound up doing mine on sharks from a Shark Week series, a couple of pages of sketches and notes on sharks -- not on art itself. Yours looks more useful!

07-08-2010, 09:46 PM
Sometimes it's hard to remember how we were as children. I would have problems with that exercise also. Your notes both visual and written on composition are marvelous.

Vivien Maloney
07-08-2010, 10:21 PM
These are great Jean. I'd somehow missed this Journal and have only caught up with it now. Thanks to the link to the Daily Sketch a day. There seems to be lots of people doing this.

Joan T
07-10-2010, 12:42 PM
Great pages!!!! Seems like you're doing well keeping up with it!

07-16-2010, 09:45 PM
Robert - thanks for so tirelessly commenting and supporting us all here in this forum. Your feedback is always uplifting and inspirational. I did enjoy doing the page on composition as I was killing two birds with one stone, as they say.

Debby, Vivien and Joan: Thanks for commenting. Vivien, I know you'll have fun if you decide to do the Sketching Habit exercises.

I'm still plugging along on the exercises. As I mentioned before, I don't always do one of them per day, but I AM sketching nearly every day in some form, so I guess it has already had an effect. I've got the next two pages ready:

Day 14 - Make random coffee or tea stains on your paper and let it dry. Then start sketching in images that you are reminded of by the stains. This one will be difficult to see because the orientation of the images on the page goes all different ways. You may have to stand on your head to see some of them! :lol: :lol: :lol:


Day 16 - We are asked to draw a building. My friend and I were having a "play day" in San Diego and decided to go to Balboa Park to sketch. So of course, I managed to find one of the most difficult buildings and decided to sit on the grass and sketch it. First of all, we can both get down on the ground okay, but getting up is somewhat of a challenge, especially after sitting still for a while when various piece parts have gone to sleep. :wink2: I sketched for about 45 minutes and then we were inundated with a whole gaggle of school kids on an outing. So I snapped a photo of the Balboa Park Arboretum so I could finish the sketch at home. Below are 1) My finished sketch; 2 my sketch as it was after 45 minutes on site, 3) the photo so you can see what the building looks like.


Balboa Park Arboretum - July 15, 2010
Pen and Wash (Micron Pen / Cotman Field Kit Watercolors)
4" x 6" Moleskine Sketching Journal



Note that this was done in my small Moleskine journal but I am posting it here because 1) I do not have a thread for the Moleskine and 2) it relates to the 21 Day Sketching Habit, which is mostly done in my Celebration Play Journal.

This was another great step forward for me. I did my sketching Plein Air without feeling self-conscious and one of my goals is to do more plein air pen and wash. While the building would not stand up to any builder's level, I think the perspective is pretty good - certainly I am happy with it at this point. As I do more and more plein air sketches, I hope to get much quicker at it.

I'm always struggling with how to SIMPLIFY, so I am interested in feedback about whether this was simplifed enough, too much, or just about right.

Thanks everyone!


07-16-2010, 10:08 PM
I'm reading your last couple of posts with interest because I will be doing those exercises in the next couple of days. I'm working on the 3 or more media/no plan right now. Next is "be a kid". I have crayons, but haven't decided on subject matter, or whether I want to draw like a kid, or just draw something that reminds me of being a kid. I think your pages from "absorb information" are great.

That's a terrific sketch of the arboretum in Balboa Park. I can't say if you simplified enough because I'm not really good at simplifying when sketching outdoors either. I almost always bite off more than I can chew.

07-17-2010, 12:07 AM
The building looks good. It's recognizable. The perspective seems to be fine. I don't know that it needs to be more simplified. The thing with architecture is that in order to identify the specific building, you need a certain amount of detail. Great finish on this.

Vivien Maloney
07-17-2010, 01:05 AM
Oh Jean, I so do recognise the old "sitting down and having to get up again" syndrome - happens to me all the time. You've made an excellent job of the building and thanks for posting the photo, your sketch looks very like it. I'm following your Journal with great interest. I always have trouble simplfying as well and find it the most difficult thing to do.

07-17-2010, 01:17 AM
Definitely simplified enough. You sketched a difficult building well. It's immediately recognizable (thanks for including the photo) and quite detailed enough to tell what its unusual elements are. I like the trees surrounding it too, they give it context. Cool page of coffee stain doodles.

07-17-2010, 05:31 AM
You've done a really great job on the building, and I agree with Robert, level of detail and simplification to show its overall design is just right. Its a good building to choose and you've composed it well across the two pages.
I'm really nervous about doing this building exercise, I've never been able to do buildings, perspective,and sheer size and all that detail, windows and doors at odd angles and decoration bits, oh it just throws me. So well done for tackling this and achieving a really good sketch of a WHOLE BUILDING!!