A Peek At the Sketchbook

So that big, beautiful leather sketchbook I have? The one with the 140 lb. cold press watercolor, hand deckled paper?

It is getting pretty full. I am more than halfway into it. The sketchbook was a gift from my daughter Sarah and her husband Jonathan, and they just couldn't have known how wonderful a gift it was...I didn't know myself when I got it. All I knew is that it was a work of art all by itself. I didn't yet know it would be the most important tool in my arsenal, and a means of discovery and self expression unlike anything I had ever encountered before.

A sketchbook is to an artist what stretching and walking are to a jogger or runner. It warms you up. It leaves you with a history of ideas and color combinations and techniques attempted, and techniques mastered. And techniques epically botched.

You do have to overcome any anxiety about "messing up". You do have to understand that paper is the safe place TO mess up. You don't want to mess up a beautiful 20 x 20 deep edged hand stretched canvas. You want to make your mistakes on paper, in that art journal...or sketchbook...whatever you want to call it.
Today's art journaling:

I am still exploring the theme of "In The Middle"....celebrating the beauty of middle age, with my art.

Above, you see a background of three colors, acrylics, rolled on with a brayer. You want spotty coverage...it is part of the overall look I like to achieve. Then, I gesso'ed the general area I knew I wanted to place my girl.

As I am doing all this, I am pondering things I've read in Scripture, thinking of other women I know, and being grateful for my own, one beautiful life. I am hearing the Lord speak over me, and I have to choose to believe what it is He says about me...and believe it enough to put it down in the form of art...for all to see...and mock...or admire...or resonate with...or not.

Tough stuff, this being an artist. Baring my own soul in this way is far harder than using words alone.

After gesso'ing, I come in with pencil and do a general outline. I choose her hairstyle at this point. I decide if she will be a red head or a blonde or short hair or curly or straight. I even did a gorgeous silver haired girl recently...my sweet friend Nancy Lyke from south Florida was my inspiration.

Then I use a mix of acrylic and oil pastel to create skin tone. Acrylics first, always. Oil lays down over acrylic but not vice versa. Look back in previous pages of my art journal to see how I found out.

Then I use acrylics to create hair color...two colors, sometimes more. Then a water soluble pencil creates details and always my trademark hair out of place. My girls always have a lock of hair out of place...askew...like me. They do not have faces because they are the face of every woman I have ever known and cared about. "She" could be you...if you want her to be.

Lastly, I use pan pastels and charcoal to create depth and another pop of color.
Then, the message. Always, always words. Words are my first love and my art form. Without words, there are no images for me.

In the above journal two page spread, I wrote, "in her life, the energy of youth and the wisdom of old age met in the middle, and caused new things to spring up from her beautiful heart continually..." Then I added the heart and the butterflies...because the girl on the page wanted it to be so.

That is a peek and a walk-through of my process. None of it is perfect. It doesn't have to be.

It just has to be.

Being is enough. Being creates the doing. Grace plus nothing. You pretty much have to have the soul of an artist to understand.
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