View Full Version : Little Gems Sketchbook

08-05-2010, 10:04 PM
I'm addicted :evil: I found a new art shop and whilst browsing the aisles found a great stash of sketchbooks and journals of varying sizes and styles.

I bought 3! This is the first to be worked in and I have named it Little Gems due to its size (17.5 cm x 13 cm) and the hope that the drawings or work in it will be "gems" lol!

The paper is a lovely creamy beige and speckled. The first drawing in it is more of a doodle. I had David's (Davkin) photo up on the screen and did the sketch whilst I was talking on the phone, with whatever came to hand on my desk. I have various pencils out at the moment that I am using on a watercolour painting. The final product nothing like the photo, but that's ok!

The cover is so neat, I like the feel of the textured paper and it has a little piece of bamboo to hold it shut. (I should have rotated this photo but you get the idea!)
The paper is not watercolour paper, but heavy enough for light washes. You can see some cockling of the paper but I was a bit heavy handed on the other side!

Tree sketch done with graphite pencil, watercolour pencils and black biro.

08-05-2010, 11:17 PM
Jackie, that little journal is a gem! I like the texture and color, the little slip of bamboo closing it, and your first page painting is spectacular. Graphite and wash is lovely together even with the cockling - which is fairly even and looks like a nice texture. It's not always a bad thing. I hope you use this technique again in it, your take on Davkin's photo is splendid. Especially that spectacular tree trunk, it's so intricate and realistic.

08-06-2010, 12:25 AM
Great stuff Jackie! I love your style!


08-06-2010, 12:38 AM
Jackie what a great little sketchbook, so tactile. Love it. Also really love that first sketch. Wonderful job on the tree trunk, great texture and colour. Awesome.

08-06-2010, 04:49 AM
a nice start in a really cute little book :)

08-06-2010, 05:29 AM
Jackie, i understand when you say you're addicted - one of the first places i go when at the art shop is to check if they have any new sketchbooks :) hehehe.. then to fill them!!

This sketchbook is just gorgeous - everything about it, from that little bamboo stick to the paper!! LOVE IT!!
Your first page is stunning as well, i love the colour & detail!!! can't wait to see more!

08-06-2010, 01:36 PM
Gorgeous first page. Great looking little book too. The paper sounds interesting.

Vivien Maloney
08-06-2010, 03:36 PM
Great little Journal - I love the cover with its bamboo fastening. Terrific tree and bark sketch.

08-06-2010, 05:38 PM
:wave: Nice "gem" you have there! Like the outside cover and fastener. Your page is nicely done. :thumbsup: .............. Kurlie

08-08-2010, 08:24 PM
Thanks everyone, it's small but a great little tactile book - I really like it! :heart:

I have yet to decide whether to use both facing pages, so at this stage I have only worked on one side. I've returned to graphite for these two - I really enjoy looking at botanical drawings and thought I might have a go at that sort of style but before I knew it I had descended back into tonal shading and got all too dark really..... :rolleyes: The bottom sketch is probably the better of the two for achieving the sort of look I had in mind.


This is probably the second or third time I have ever tried to draw a bird.... tricky proportions - I think it will take some practise :D


08-09-2010, 09:35 AM
I especially like the top one :)

08-09-2010, 10:43 AM
Jackie, both of these are gorgeous. I don't think you went too dark on the botanical drawing, it's beautiful.

I understand you were trying for a particular style but I've seen those, the big difference is just that classical botanicals are posed against a plain white background with no shadow or anything. In a book I just picked up on botanical drawing, the author mentioned that adding a shadow was technically not done, but she does that to make the painting look better. I happen to like the trompe l'oeil effect when a shadow's added.

But if you want the traditional botanical look, just don't add any background at all, no shadows of the leaves or the flowers. Using leaves behind the flowers to give contrast to a light area is effective and beautiful. I don't think that's out of bounds for botanical drawing.

The little humming bird is lovely too. Both of these are great drawings.

08-09-2010, 11:32 AM
These are wonderful drawings. Looks like the paper in this sketchbook really works well for graphite.

08-09-2010, 08:23 PM
Thanks Viv, Robert and Debby :thumbsup:

Robert - thank you for the encouragement, I would really like to attend classes in botanical drawing. There doesn't appear to be much happening around where I live but I think I might do some research - it is definitely something I am interested in.

Debby - the paper is really nice, quite robust, and the colour lends itself well to tonal studies - I just need to remember to let it show through and not cover it up completely :lol:

The next page is 3 small studies to evaluate what medium looks good with this paper...... I like them all :D


08-09-2010, 08:37 PM
Your botanical studies are wonderful. Great detail on both, esp the top one. I think you did a great job on the bird too. Really nice action shot.

Not sure what happened to the last image you posted I can only see a tiny bit of the top of the page, but then WC is still playing games with us all. :)

08-09-2010, 08:43 PM
Hi Jacqui! weird I don't quite know what is happening with the uploader but I had the wrong image in there?! Hope it works now........ ;)

08-09-2010, 08:54 PM
Ah I see it now... great gum nuts. I like them all. But I think the black biro is my fav. They are all well done, and show great control of the mediums.

Vivien Maloney
08-09-2010, 09:53 PM
Wonderful shading and detail in your graphite sketches. They are already verging on botanical, but I think its as Robert mentioned, to look like purely botanical sketches you don't usually include background. In other words the sketch just deals with the plant etc thats being sketched. Does that make sense? I seem to have an about way of explaining things.

08-09-2010, 10:12 PM
Thanks Jacqui and Viv! Yes, you do make sense Viv in a round about way ;)

I don't know what is goingon with the uploader but on my screen it is showing the wrong pic. I will upload again and aplogies if you get a double whammy of pics!


I am giving up now and going off to work for the arvo!

08-10-2010, 12:12 AM
Yes, I'm seeing the little house sketch that was in your other sketchbook. So please rename the file for the post you wanted to make here and then repost it. I posted to your "apologies" thread explaining it.

08-10-2010, 02:47 AM
Great sketchbook and great first sketches, Jackie!

08-10-2010, 07:29 AM
Jackie - i love your botanical sketches & think the tonal shading is stunning!!

Great work in your new sketchbook.

08-14-2010, 10:09 PM
Thanks for your comments everyone, you are all so supportive!

I have been quite unwell with a flu bug this week and not much drawing has been done. I am supposed to be going in for sinus surgery in two weeks time - if I don't get well soon it will be postponed :(

Anyway a little of what has been done... (and the disappearing gumnuts!)


Being small, I thought this little book might be good for studies of natural subjects or things I can keep small.... but of course that might change with the next sketch :evil:

08-14-2010, 10:26 PM
Ooh, these are fabulous. Hope you feel better soon.

08-15-2010, 01:35 AM
I love the gum nuts that disappeared. That two page spread is gorgeous. Perfect botanical sketching. I can see how this little sketchbook lends itself to that, it's perfect for small sketches that because of size you can give the time to shade and render accurately in great detail. Beautiful style.

Hope you feel better soon.

08-16-2010, 05:18 AM
Jackie, these pages are gorgeous. I love the colour added here and there - very nicely done. Beautiful as usual.

Hope you get well soon and in time for your surgery!

08-16-2010, 08:09 PM
:wave: Thanks Debby Robert and Tania, starting to feel more human again but very tired :crossfingers: should be ok for the surgery I hope!

I managed to do quite a bit of small work in this sketchbook yesterday. I spotted a photo of a bee on a flower by Macdragon (hope I have name right) over in the flower and botanical forum and it fired my imagination and I caught the "bug" :lol: for insects!


I sprayed the work lightly with workable fixative and it had a bit of a side effect - the reverse side of the page had a bleed through of colour from the magenta pencil - that is one strong colour!


I have also discovered that the paper does not take too well to much erasing, so I am trying to draw without the eraser as much as I can (hence some of the work is a little off in proportions etc. Also those little flecks/fibres you can see in the paper actually "lift up" when using a really sharp pencil such as a mechanical pencil. There is an intersting texture to the paper and once sprayed with fixative it has a lot more "tooth" to go back and overlay another layer of pencil.

08-16-2010, 09:33 PM
Love, love, love the bugs! Just beautiful.

08-16-2010, 11:48 PM
Wow! These are incredible Jackie. I'll take your style over the traditional botanical illustration any day.


08-17-2010, 05:28 AM
Really beautiful sketches - pity about the paper problems, but you seem to be coping with them. Definitely a good idea to seal your graphite sketches, some of my old ones have almost disappeared! Also handy to note which mediums you have used.

08-17-2010, 02:37 PM
Jackie, these are magnificent. All of them are so delicate, refined, accurate and detailed that they make me smile. They have a dreamy, fey quality about them that reminds me of Brian Froud's original illustrations or the drawings in the field notebook in Spiderwyck.

Sealing graphite sketches is a darn good idea. I'll join the chorus about that. I've been doing it for a long time with much better results. Especially if they're facing each other, they can imprint on each other and ruin both. It's too bad your paper doesn't handle the fixative well.

I'm not sure, it depends on what's causing the problem, but you might have good results with SpectraFix fixative which is chemically different from the usual spray fixatives - it's alcohol and casein based, non toxic and it doesn't distort color on pastel paintings. It also seems to disturb surfaces less but it can cockle thin paper unless used very lightly. I usually have to spray, let it really dry thoroughly before doing the next spray, then the next -- it won't dry quite as quickly as the volatiles in the normal spray fixatives so it takes some patience.

At any rate, it's good stuff so if you can get some, experiment with it and see if that may work better. I wound up going back to normal Blick fixative for sketchbooks though because it's faster and I was having trouble waiting through three layers to get the SpectraFix on heavily enough to work but lightly enough not to puddle and dissolve the drawing.

08-17-2010, 09:51 PM
:) Thanks Debbie, David, Sonia and Robert. I am enjoying the smallness of the book so that I can do these little sketches with some detail but still not labour too long on any one page.

Robert - I am very flattered, thanks so much for your lovely words. As you know I am very fond of that style of drawing and illustration and am working hard on improving the style, so your comments are much appreciated. Thanks also for the info re fixatives (I shall look into the supplies we get here in Oz). I think given the fact I am enjoying my little book so much (and it does have quite a lot of pages) I do not really need to be doing facing pages so will go back to single pages and just lightly spray the work.

08-17-2010, 09:56 PM
PS - David - thankyou! I still am trying to remind myself that I want a "botanical" look but I guess at some stage you have to acknowledge your own natural inclinations too! I am looking at the availability of classes - I'd prefer "real" classes to attend but looking at online courses too. I feel the need for a new challenge and my work hours have changed so I figure it might be time to treat myself to some art classes again ;)

08-17-2010, 11:54 PM
Hope I am not sending you all to sleep.... it is very easy to knock out pages in this book!

First two are graphite pencils, trying to concentrate on some tone but not blend too much, and the third an experiment with brown Staedtler pen and Stabilo pens washed - courtesy of Robert giving me the idea to outline with brown rather than black :thumbsup: . Interesting look that might be worth pursuing further.... Sorry for the blurred image, the book does not lay flat on the scanner and I don't want to force the binding with this one.




08-18-2010, 02:53 AM
All three of these are beautiful. I like how your brown pen work came out with color, that's very striking and your color choices are subtle and natural. Gorgeous renderings both in pencil and pen. This notebook really is for little gems, they are exactly that!

08-18-2010, 02:55 AM
Jackie this last set is awesome. So very nice. Great detail and subtle shading. I really like the first. Nice work on the last one too, good colours. Is that the brown pen as outline, nice one.

08-18-2010, 02:06 PM
This is not boring, this is wonderful. These are so beautiful. The brown pen does work very well with the colors you chose on the last one.

08-18-2010, 04:21 PM
These little botanical studies are truly little gems. There's a WC member named cairomum (lives in Egypt) who's taking a correspondence course in botanical illustration out of Ireland or England. Your work is similar to hers :)

08-19-2010, 12:00 AM
Thanks again, I appreciate you looking!

On a roll with this book - it looks like a lot of work but in reality, in a larger book they would all be on one page ;) All H or mechanical pencil, with a little coloured pencil here and there......





08-20-2010, 08:09 AM
Jackie, you little books is so lovely to look at and you draw with such detail and accuracy. i love the pencil with the colour pencil combination, it looks awesome!!
Not sure if you've mentioned it, but are you drawing from life or reference photo's?? either way you work is gorgeous!!

08-20-2010, 08:34 PM
Nice sketches virgo. You can get all sorts of little ideas from these.

08-20-2010, 08:40 PM
Jackie these are awesome. I love the paper with the flecks through it, goes so well with your drawings, just adds to it. Your sketches are stunning. They are beautiful. I love the ladybug studies. The bee is so detailed. They are all so well done. I love just coming back and looking at them again and again. Great ideas and inspiration here. Please keep more coming :)

08-21-2010, 02:55 AM
Jackie, they are so beautiful. The insects and flowers and pods are all exquisite. I love your latest ones. The balance of two of those first insects facing each other symmetrically is elegant - one of the things I love is how well laid out your little pages are whether one subject or several occupy them. I will still sometimes get pages that don't balance, that have awkward bits of white space or run right up to kiss the edge. Yours look professional and so beautiful. This book's a treasure.

08-21-2010, 05:52 AM
Thank you for the kind words everyone ;)

Tania - all but one of these are drawn from ref pictures. It has been too cold and wet for fossicking about looking for things to draw from life! Although my lovely hubby surprised me with flowers yesterday so I hope to do some drawings from them tonight or tomorrow.

Jacqui - thank you, I have been a bit low with the flu this week and your words cheered me up no end! The paper is lovely - the flecks were one of the reasons I thought that botanical studies or nature studies would look good, I am very happy with how this little book is progressing!

Klandestineone - thanks, I really liked the whole look of this little book and hoped to do some work worthy of the "quirkiness" of the book - I wanted this to be one that I can keep referring back to for ideas and references or to just pick up and enjoy looking through my progress, so I think it is achieving that goal quite well so far..... ;)

Robert, bless you - I admire your work so your comments are lovely! When it comes to the layout I have to confess it is all pretty much to chance. If I think about it too much it looks laboured and contrived, luckily with this one so far it is working quite well with the absence of planning that I operate under lol!

08-21-2010, 02:53 PM
Jackie - It is a marvel to view each page from your sketchbook. The details are amazing and the sketches are so neat.

08-22-2010, 03:42 PM
Jackie, that's pretty much how good layout works for me too. I may be studying the principles but I don't remember it consciously while I'm laying out the page and don't plan my pages. More pay attention especially when doing multiples to what would balance the space well. It's a beautiful knack, and you really have it going for you. You're also inspiring me to get out my pocket Moleskine when I'm out, it still has lots of pages.

08-23-2010, 07:37 AM
a lovley series :)

08-24-2010, 02:48 PM
Love the look of this book and the subject matter as well. All the flowers and insects are so well done.

08-24-2010, 08:37 PM
I love these small studies...especially like those with touches of color.

08-30-2010, 03:52 PM
Hi Jackie! Haven't popped in for awhile, and need to do so more often, as I am missing out on some outstanding work. All your little gems - bugs, flowers, nuts, etc. - really are gems. Wonderful stuff! I really liked how the Stabilo-washed image came out, but also love the graphite and ink work. This time I'll remember to subscribe to the thread so I don't miss anymore posts. :)

08-30-2010, 05:48 PM
Those are some really excellent, beautiful sketches of flowers, plants, insects and butterflies, Jackie! Keep them coming.

08-31-2010, 07:23 PM
Thanks for your comments and kind words everyone, nothing new to post for Little Gems just yet - had a few days in Sydney last week (where I bought ANOTHER journal! I made a few sketches in it there which I will post soon), and been in hospital for sinus surgery. Hope to get back into regular sketching later today hopefully and post some more work.

08-31-2010, 07:40 PM
Glad you are now recovering from surgery. Looking forward to seeing your new sketches and sketchbook.

09-14-2010, 10:05 PM
yay! Got to work in this journal for a short time last night. I have not forgotten about the botanical illustration style - in fact, the older types of botanical illustrations are of a style that I like across numerous subjects, and one that is being looked at in my other sketchbooks.

This is drawn from an illustration in a book and life, after I had drawn the orange I actually went looking for one in the fridge but I only had a mandarin so I sort of stretched the truth a little :angel: When I go grocery shopping tomorrow I will try to remember to get some oranges and add some more to it!


My pigma microns have a habit of the tip wearing down to next to nothing, while frustrating, it also makes some interesting broken lines that way. I never throw them out till they are dry - they are useful for adding lighter tonal areas.

09-14-2010, 10:32 PM
Very nice, Jackie! I like botanical illustration as well, but don't have a whole lot of patience to do it on a regular basis...! I use Pigma Microns a lot, and really like them. I particularly like them in the sepia color. I haven't had the issue of the nibs wearing out though - maybe it's related to the type of paper you're using? The orange is excellent!

09-14-2010, 11:03 PM
Jackie, this is gorgeous! I love the way you use the worn down Pigma Micron to get light tones. Wonderful detail and shading. Looking forward to seeing tomorrow's orange too, that'll be interesting to compare.

I use mine to the last too - though I learned not to mash the points down by pressing too hard, that took a while because I have a very heavy hand otherwise. Now they last until they start skipping, a few of my old ones I wound up pushing the point up into its sleeve completely to kill it.

09-14-2010, 11:04 PM
Very good extrapolation. Your illustrations are always so interesting.

09-15-2010, 09:50 AM
echo from here! good work

Joan T
09-15-2010, 10:46 AM
Your sketches are wonderful...so botanical looking!!! When I saw the cover and that beautiful paper in your first posting I knew this would not be a book for me. It would sit with some of the other journals I have that are just too lovely to use. lol Glad to see you had no problem getting right to work. I'll be back to see more of your work here.

09-20-2010, 10:33 AM
Wow! I'm just in awe of this whole journal! Theres nothing I can say that others already haven't, but this type of drawing with the plants and nature is right up my alley! They're beautiful Jackie! Love the mix with pencil and a hint of colour too, really nice, but they're all excellent. I agree with Robert, the way they're laid out on the page is SO balanced... you're eye just flits from one to the next like a flutterbye!!! :thumbsup:

09-20-2010, 04:49 PM
Everything here is just beautiful, Jackie. I love the detail and the various pencils and pens that you use. I agree with everyone else...lots of ideas and inspiration.

09-21-2010, 08:15 PM
Gorgeous sketchbook and lovely drawings. I'd be afraid to use that one :-(

09-27-2010, 10:36 PM

Not just the book itself, but the drawing in it are AMAZING, you have such a natural talent for botanical drawing, the details are done FANTASTICALLY, without been too overbearing.

As for the page where the magenta seeped through from the fixative, I really like it - it actually adds that touch of colour to the flower, giving it life and a serindipity type of effect!!!!!