Sunday, October 14, 2018

Catching up - more Inktober

I have been drawing every day, just not keeping up with posting here. I'm trying to make drawing the top priority, instead of getting lost looking at other people's drawings.

October 7. This one was from a photo on Sktchy which was a mirrored image. Interesting challenge because I find exact symmetry hard. Most of the images are from photos on Sktchy. Not that there aren't a lot of interesting photos on the internet, but it is a nice place to go where you know people want you to draw from their photos.

October 8. I like the evil look in his eye, and the label seems to add a lot.

October 9. If you are looking at the dates you can see I am working ahead some days, falling behind on others.

October 10. Another where the stamps seem to add a lot to the image. This was a photo of a man with a plastic bird head. Other people interpreted him in a more realistic way, which is very effective. However this was a really quick solution. I am really enjoying this envelope sketch book and plan to make more.

October 11. I thought this profile would be an easy one, instead I spent a lot of time with the pencil sketch, trying to get all the relationships sort of accurate. Then I drew the basic shapes with a sepia Pitt pen in my left hand (I am left-handed) and a sanguine Pitt pen in my right. I finished the details with the sepia pen. I would like to get more sanguine in there.

October 12. I had brushed some hi-flow acrylic across this page, and used the mouth atomizer to add the spots. Then I drew on it. Maybe the grey acrylic is too strong. Or the image needs more contrast. Oddly enough this one inspired someone on Sktchy to make an envelope journal, so I was very pleased.

October 13. Looking thru my sktchy inspiration photos I noticed this guy's mouth was very much like the chicken's so I tried blending the two images. Not too successful in the beak area, but I like this one better than the next.

There are two for October 13 - they were done one after the other. I'm not showing you all my fails, but this one has something I like, something I don't like. This seems too polished to me, or maybe too cartoony? Something is wrong. I did the last two in the same evening, pretty quickly once I had the basic idea.

October 14. A friend sent me a link to Christophe Brunnquell on Instagram. I drew this inspired by his collage, especially the mouth.

I'm almost halfway thru the month. Pretty impressed with myself. I have regained my enthusiasm, am enjoying the quick sketches. After two weeks of doodling around I want to look more at content. Just reproducing an image isn't that interesting long term for me. Of course content is much harder to do. It's time to start on it! If you have any remarks about the drawings, or life in general, I'd love to hear them. I am always trying to improve in some areas - hatching, content, composition, finding inspiration. I am always open to thoughts.

I hope you are getting some drawings in this month, or writing or whatever creative thing you want in your life. For me it's always hard to find time, motivation and to break away from the pull of every day life. And, for me at least - I am so hooked by the news. One terrible thing after another. I am trying to not look at the news so often. It's probably better for my mental health.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Inktober - slow days

Feeling pretty down these days, and not inspired. It's fall here, the crisp weather and the turning leaves are usually invigorating. It's just been a sad fall. Sad summer for that matter. I have also somewhat lost my momentum. I remember this from last year, I started enthusiastic, but then lost interest. I don't like any kind of rules, so an "assignment" does not sit well with me. However I plan to keep plugging away. I was trying to explore personal imagery last year, and thought this year would be easier if I just did quick ink drawings, focusing on technique. And the ring light I mentioned in a previous post does help - I don't have to walk all over the house looking for good light, or take the time to scan each drawing.


October 5. I did this drawing twice - this is the second version. I was not happy with the first but wanted to have something for the day. There have been others that I considered fails that I haven't posted.


October 6. From a photo on Sktchy. I am enjoying this journal made of old envelopes, each page presents a different challenge.

Edit - I put the wrong month on these - November. Just changed that to be accurate.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Inktober 2018 October 3 and 4

The first three drawings are here. I did two for the first day, just because I could.

Above is the drawing for day 3. Ball point pen in my journal made from envelopes. Not done from a Sktchy photo, that's my niece.

And the drawing for day 4. Pilot pen with the ink they ship with the pen. It does bleed thru the envelopes a little. This is from a photo on Sktchy. I am not happy with this one, but am calling it good. I am in the mood for some distraction tonight, Jim and I are going to watch a few episodes of The Good Place. I have seen the first two seasons, but am watching them again with Jim since he hasn't seen them.

I hope you are finding time to draw a little. I would say even a quick rough sketch is good. It's surprising how ability to judge improves with practice. Not that I'm an expert on the subject, but I do see improvement in my drawings over the last few years. There are still plenty of duds, but some I am happy with too.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Inktober 2018 begins

I'm not sure if I will be able to draw every day, certainly won't be posting every day. But I am going to try to post every few days. The ring light I mentioned in a previous post is helpful, but I still like to take the photos into Lightroom, partly to give them tags so I can find things later.

These first three drawings were done from Sktchy, an iOS app. This one is a wax figure, kind of static looking in the photos, but pretty convincing. Done with a ballpoint pen in my journal made from old envelopes. It's fun to be challenged by whatever page comes up - some are security patterns which can be difficult to deal with. The small page size is a real plus.

This was done with a sepia Pitt pen, size S. Also a white Posca pen. This is a dear friend, I wanted to welcome her to Sktchy.

This last image was also done with a sepia Pitt pen. I loved this old lady's smile. The image to the left seems to be a photo of her when she was young. It was kind of blurry and faint, a little hard to see. I like the juxtaposition and wanted to include it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How to get even light on a sketchbook page for photos

I often struggle with getting even light on a sketchbook page when I'm taking a photo. I usually go outside and use bright open shade. But it's not always day, or that bright. If I can't get a good photo, I scan the page, make adjustments on my computer, export the images and then mail it to my iPad to upload to Sktchy. I got this tip from Craig Houghton on Sktchy: use a selfie ring light. I tried this one from Amazon. It's rechargeable and has three light levels. I have no affiliation with Amazon or the ring light manufacturer, it just seemed like a good one, with good reviews.

To take the image above I had the light on the lowest setting - exposure is pretty good. I do think the mouth is a little overexposed. It's graphite and white Posca pen on an envelope with a security pattern, done in a junk journal mentioned in my previous post. Each image will enlarge, the pages are about 3.5 inches high.

To take the image above, same drawing, I had the light on the highest setting - it seems overexposed all over, the graphite is naturally a little glossy and I think the light reflects too much.

In the image above the light was on the lowest setting again. This is definitely closer to the original drawing than the following image.

And for this one it was on the highest setting.

This is a very low tech test - you would need to do a group of photos with different materials to get a good sense of what's going on. Still, to get a quick photo for Inktober, I think I will stick with the lower setting. It will allow me to take a quick photo with my phone and post to Sktchy instead of my old method.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Inktober sketchbook made of envelopes


Gearing up for Inktober, I got this little envelope book from badbooks on Etsy. The pages are envelopes and the cover is double thick cardboard. A friend calls it a junk journal. It arrived tied shut with string. I could make my own, but really wanted to see the security prints from England, or any other place for that matter. We only get mail from a few places, the bank, a few bills that can't be paid online. These are all different. It's very fun to draw in. Regular fountain pen ink (de Atramentis) bleeds, but Pitt pens are fine. The pages are small and not intimidating. I usually do two or three two-page spreads in an evening.


Above - drawn with sepia Pitt pen.


Above - 2b pencil. I am experimenting with drawing with straight lines. Another tip from Sktchy. I like the look of it.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Consider This - Inktober Questions


Some things to think about now if you want to do Inktober:

If you are going to scan your drawings to post online, choose a sketchbook that will fit on your scanner. If you like to work across the two pages, make it small enough to fit. You probably don't want to have to use software to stitch together two images every day. Get your pens in a row before the end of the month. Make sure you have refills or an extra of your favorite pen.


(Image: Red Prismacolor pencil and ink pen. This image has nothing to do with Inktober, but I can't stand to post without one. I have been enjoying this two-handed drawing technique. It makes me loosen up, I am not in charge of either hand. The photo is from Sktchy - I forgot to make a note of the source.)

Do you want a separate sketch book for the month? Or maybe 30 5 x 7 pieces of paper you love to draw on? Don't make them too large - that may be intimidating.

Consider, will you use the prompts provided? Do you want to go out and draw in public, will you use imagery from the internet? Do you want to set a goal - i.e. improve hatching, learn to use a brush pen? Or do you want to stick with a theme? None of these things are necessary, but might be fun or educational.

Should you set a time limit for yourself? It's not too hard to get 15 or 20 minutes every day to do a quick sketch. Diving in and spending an hour each day for the first week might be too much and you may burn out too fast. Do you want to sketch every day or only on weekends, or only on weekdays? I know the idea is to sketch every day, but if that's not possible, don't let that keep you from doing what you can. Even doing some days will help you to get where you want to be.

At the end of the month make notes for yourself. What worked well? Was a goal of 20 minutes a day too much? Did you wish for another kind of pen? Or different paper?


Wednesday, September 05, 2018

It's me again


I'm just complaining here - I enjoy pencil sketching until the end. When I step back (or scan) and see the smudges it's frustrating. I know the tips - use your little finger to hold your hand off the page. But in the moment I forget. And erasing doesn't work well - I can't erase in the hatched areas. It's also hard to hold the sketchbook in the right place and also keep my hand elevated with my little finger. I like to sketch with my feet propped up in the evening. I suppose I should try it at my work table where I have better posture. No wonder I like pen and ink.

The other thing I like about this image is the angle - "they" always say "don't take photos pointing up your nose." It is unflattering, but I just took a personality test online, so now I have verification. I'm a Rebel. Sort of, not really in my estimation, but the 8 question quiz thinks I am.

Edit 9-9-18: Right after posting this, a tip on Sktchy mentioned an artist's leaning bridge. It's a strip of fairly thick plexiglass about 3 inches wide, with feet on each end. You place it so it spans your drawing and you can rest your hand on it. Kind of like a mahl stick that painters use. The same tip also mentioned using a back scratcher in a pinch. It would be easy to make, but a few art supply places online have them. Jerry's Artarama has them at the moment.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

More Zymoglyphic Finds

I love it when I pick up something and Jim's eyebrows go up in appreciation. Just today I found what might be a mostly dried apple, it's dark and a little soft still. Jim liked it at first glance, but then rejected it because it's soft. So I placed in on our covered porch, to either mold and melt, or to dry up more.

I don't remember this one - it looks like a piece of cement with moss. Jim is a sucker for moss.

Some kind of seed pod, it may not count because I think it fell apart later. Jim saw wings.

A part of a wasp nest. It's a little torn and possibly will be unidentifiable in a diorama. Which adds to the appeal.

And because this post seems very boring - here is an amazing Bushtit nest, found by Jim, not me. Made of lichen, spider webs, other plant material. Here's a great article about Bushtits. The best part - other Bushtits help build the nest, and the assistants help feed the baby birds. All birds, the parents, the babies, the assistants roost in the nest at night.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Gearing up for Inktober

I have decided to do Inktober again this year. The idea is to do an ink drawing every day of the month of October. Last year I did pretty well - I may have missed a few days, but did catch up in the end with extra drawings. For me there are no hard and fast rules - I will just do the best I can. To prepare I am thinking about pen and ink drawing, which I pretty much think about all the time. I am also considering the size of my sketchbook and materials.


The image above is from a class I just took on Sktchy with Joan Martin called Make Your Mark. Part of that class was drawing two handed. I find it makes my dominant (left) hand line very loose, which I like a lot. On the left is a sketch I did using two pens. I liked it so much I didn't want to draw and paint over it, so I scanned it, printed several copies and played with each one. After drawing her image Joan goes in with some hatching and then paint and other mark making tools. I haven't progressed that far.


Here I am experimenting with outlining value shapes. My goal has been to loosen up and to get better with hatching. Actually, I probably don't need to loosen up, many of my drawings are loose, but not quite where I want them to be. Perhaps they are too loose or not skilled enough. Maybe they need a little more structure, I'm not sure.


This last drawing was done with no pencil sketch, just fooling around. I think all of these approaches will play a part in my Inktober. I will also make a sketchbook with hot press watercolor paper that fits on my scanner. I don't want to have to stitch together pages if I have a two page spread. And a smaller size will be less intimidating.


Monday, August 27, 2018

Look, look, look

Installation detail of video created by curator for Look, Look, Look…A Playful Book, Center for Book Arts, 2018

I like the idea of having little kids test drive artist's books. From a Hyperallergic article Why Grownups Should Play with Artist's Books Designed for Kids about a show at the Center for Book Arts in New York: "By and large, these books do not tell elaborate stories; the vast majority don’t tell stories at all, at least not as a typical picture book would. Instead, many of these works focus on delight — through the surprise of shapes unfolding, revelations of shifting scale, new images found by rotating things around, new spectacles revealed as each page turns."

Saturday, August 11, 2018

What Should I Do Next?

This week I have been cleaning up in my studio. Not that it's ready for visitors, but I can see the table. I realized I have a number of unfinished projects and need to be making progress on some of them. I lined up some of them, hoping that seeing them on the table would inspire me to pick a few to complete. The first two were easy - I needed to sew up a dream journal and a notebook to use for lists and notes to myself. Those are done. The others will be harder. I am trying to rank them: Mature or almost done. Established; these need work to become full fledged ideas, but some of that work has been done. Hopefully they are putting down roots and I can't see the progress yet. The last group is Seedlings; little bitty barely begun things that may or may not ever come to completion. The seedlings in my neglected garden have more of a chance of survival than these piles of paper do.


In the image above there is one Mature project, second from the left, front row. It's a book that needs three more drawings, a cover, and a little text for each image. I am working very slowly on the text, which is the hard part for me. I hope to glean it from my dream journals. The stack of pages on the left are probably Established, but there are really three books there, each needs to have the text refined and to have drawings or some other kind of illustration. I don't know where I'm going with these ideas but they have potential. The pile of books in the back row, with a shoe box on top (holding collage parts) and a torn collage on top is definitely Established, but needs a lot of work. It's also the project that calls to me the most right now. In the front row, number three from the left is a pile of eco-dyed papers that are probably too fragile to bind, but I have been drawing on them in idle moments. The fragility is a big part of the appeal. The pile of red pages on the right were a project I was excited about, I have parts of one collage started, but now I don't remember where I thought I would go with this. That one is probably a Seedling. In the very back, upper right are some more eco dyed papers I thought I could use in books, but they have no ideas attached - Seedlings for sure.


In this image there is a shill in the back right - there are notes and some printouts that just need to be gathered together somehow. It will be easy to do and it's there to give me something easy when I get frustrated. In front the orange spotty pages on the right are for a collage book but I have no idea what the topic will be. Definitely a seedling, but I love the pages. On the left is an open manila folder that holds some mock-ups for a pop-up book. I am intimidated by that one - I haven't done a pop-up and I'm not sure the topic is right for the technique. I'm being coy and not showing you any part of it because I need to have some progress on it first. I think I need to make a few more mock-up pages, and one that is complete.

As I write this I realize I am taking an on-line class in mark-making. I have tried one technique from last Monday, there is another I want to try tomorrow. And in two days we will get another lesson with more things to try. So things will be going slower than I was imagining. I think I have a time-management issue for one thing.

How do you get yourself going on old projects? How do you keep from having this kind of pile up in your studio? Maybe most people are more disciplined than I am.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Indirect Tacketed Sketchbook

I'm not sure the title is grammatically correct, but you get the point. I took Hilke Kurzke's Skillshare class on indirect tacketing. This is a book binding approach where you sew together the signatures of the book in a simplified coptic stitch, then sew the cover on separately with tackets. I had been looking for instructions for some kind of medieval style binding when Hilke announced this class.


I had my usual problems with not following directions. Hilke suggests eight sheets in each signature, but I arrogantly thought I would like four better. After sewing together the signatures I realized there wasn't enough space between them to accommodate the tackets, especially if I wanted to use stiff paper for the cover, which might be prone to tearing. So I took apart my book block and tore more sheets down to make ten signatures of eight sheets each. (above is the second version of the text block.)



After sewing together the book block I realized I hadn't thought ahead to the cover material. There wasn't anything in my studio that I liked and thought would be strong enough. Hilke does show how to re-inforce a heavy paper cover, I may try that next time. I have a couple pieces of nice, soft leather I could have used, but didn't want to use my "good" stuff for a test/learning project. So I cut a piece out of an old suede skirt I bought at the thrift store years ago. It must be from the seventies. I have been taking small pieces of leather from it for years. The original skirt was made of small panels so I couldn't get a piece large enough to cover the whole book. Instead I glued on some paste paper covered book board. Since I draw on my lap at night a lot, I prefer a firm cover on my sketch book, so I think this will work well.


There are multiple flaws, but for a first try I am very pleased. It will make a very nice sketchbook. Would I do it again? Yes indeed. I also think this would make a nice binding style for an artist's book with Medieval style drawings. I would have to make a mock-up to see how that would work, my books normally have heavier paper and not many pages. I think at least three tackets would be needed on the cover. That's my personal preference, one tacket would work fine, I just like threes or fives of things.


I like that unlike coptic binding, there is no fiddly sewing of the last signature and back cover together. That step always makes me tense. Also, the thread holding the text block together is thinner and not so noticeable. I do like colorful decorative stitching on the outside of the book, but a bright magenta thread thru the middle of the signature interrupts the page.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

From my sketchbook

This week I have been doing some blind contour drawings at night. And writing whatever comes to mind around them. I love the background texture the writing makes. Both images enlarge if clicked. Unfortunately much of what I write in my sketchbook is personal, so I can't publish it here. That's the deal I make with myself - I can do anything, messy, experimental, horrible failure. And it's all (mostly) private.

Drawing this skeleton blind contour made me think there are lots of interesting ways to draw skeletons. More to come. This also happens to be an interesting crop - I have an app called Atlas (iOS) that I think is for medical students. You can rotate the skeleton and take screen shots. I also like Pose Tool 3D which is good for different positions of arms, hands, etc.


This is from 3 photos of Feejee Mermaids. Sometimes overlapping contour drawings are very interesting. This is not quite, but the background saves it for me. The text is random phrases from an article.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

More Zymoglyphic Finds

In my search for an answer to the question "is it Zymoglyphic?" I have more finds. Mostly these things show up when we walk around, and I sometimes forget to take a camera. And when I take the camera I don't find anything.

This is one I kinda wish I had kept. It's a frame - from a mirror or some picture? I found it in the grass when we were walking around. People in Portland put things they don't want any more out at the curb. It's interesting and sometimes a gold mine.

Not much to say about this - plant material. I was a little surprised it was accepted, but it does look like a tiny tree.

A leaf skeleton - seems like a fairly ordinary thing, in the sense that they must be all over. But it's not easy to just walk out and get one when you need it and this one is almost intact. This and it's partner are already in a sculpture.

I regard this as a real treasure - a mat of leaves, moss, seeds, twigs, probably some dirt. I found them in a drainage gutter I was cleaning out. When they came out in big chunks, I thought they were perfectly Zymoglyphic. A big win!

I believe this is a leaf of an echinops, a perennial I am growing. It must have fallen off and been on the ground awhile. It's nice and dry and brittle. In the "what is it?" category. And extremely fragile.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

It doesn't look like me!

The hard thing about drawing people you know, friends or family, is that they want the drawing to look like them. If I make a drawing that focuses on line quality, or trying to capture a mood, the first response is "it doesn't look like me." On the one hand, I could say "take a picture." But often I think photos don't capture people very well either. It's very tricky to get a good photo of someone. One that makes you think their essence has been captured. So "take a picture" is really too glib. Back to drawing problems: I do empathize with people who want realism. When I draw my family I often end up thinking "that doesn't look like dad." If I took the image away from the photo I might consider it a good or at least a pleasant drawing for other reasons. But making the comparison can be disappointing. I think we are trained to expect a reproduction, not an impression. The better we know someone the more we want an accurate likeness.

I asked Jim his take on realism and he says it doesn't seem important because there is photography if you want a good likeness. In portraits a painting is interesting if it captures some common humanity. That's what makes Old Masters' paintings so good - you see their humanity over all this time and it still speaks to us. He thinks in contemporary portraiture the expressiveness of line and medium should say something about the subject. This from the guy who, when I did a loose, very impressionistic sketch of his mom, said "it doesn't look anything like her." Oh well. See above.


Somehow, even when I don't want to judge my drawings by their resemblance to the model, I do. Other people do too. This drawing of my dad interests me - when I compare it to the photo I used it's not that accurate. There are five sketches in this particular sketchbook of my dad. When I flip thru the book and glance at the others I think "that's supposed to be dad but it's not right." But when I see this one - I think "that's dad, that really feels like it's dad." Jim says it's like caricature - you can exaggerate some features and the person is still immediately recognizable even when it's not an exact likeness. So that may be what I see in this drawing.


Here's another pair for comparison. To me, knowing my dad, I just don't like this drawing. I know there are ways to get a more accurate drawing, a light pencil sketch, measuring, correcting, etc. would all make these drawings better. But that's not fun. I want to enjoy the drawing process more than I want realism. All the measuring and aiming for realism is what made me stop drawing years ago. If I was aiming for perfection I would probably stop drawing again. Still, I obviously am conflicted about the whole thing. As a friend says "Onward."

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Dream image



This is a bit of a mystery - it's dated March 29 of this year. But the time is 11:35 PM. I don't normally put a time on my dream records. On the bottom right it says "drawn when I first woke up. Ballpoint" I do remember drawing it, there was no dream, I just wanted to make this sketch.
Every time I see it in my sketchbook I like it. I'm not sure why, perhaps the looseness, the weird proportions, the skeleton? I'm about to finish my current sketchbook and wanted to have a copy of this image somewhere else.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dream Journals

If you are in the EU, can I ask a question? I'm supposed to have a notice on my blog that I'm using cookies, it should be visible when you open the blog. Do you see any notice? I don't see it on my end and Blogger isn't offering any help in figuring this out. If you don't want to comment you can email me at judithDOTzDOThoffmanATgmail.com (that's a "z" as in zebra.)

Someone was asking about my dream journals - what size, how do I use them, preferences, etc. I was cleaning up a book case this morning so I can move it to paint the floor. It mostly holds my dream journals and sketchbooks so I had them in a nice stack.



Here are, I think, all of my dream journals. There were more that I actually threw away during a divorce. I was disappointed that recording my dreams didn't reveal more to me about my interior life at the time. Still, I have all these, that's a good thing. On the left in back are the earliest - I used loose sheets of notebook paper, keeping them on a board and moving them to a binder. They seemed a little large, but it worked. Then for years I liked the 6.75 by 9.5 wire bound notebooks - they were easy find, not too large and worked. But the wire always bothered me.


Occasionally I would make a book for fun, to try a binding style. A few of those became dream notebooks. The leather one with a big button was made from an old leather skirt I found super cheap in a thrift store.


More recently I started using the Moleshine cahiers. They are slightly larger - 7.5 x 9.75. Folded in half they weren't too large and didn't have the annoying wire. But they had a lump from the fold and it was hard to write on part of the page. I try to not move when I wake, remember dreams and then write them down without moving. So I want to just reach over, pick up the note book and write. It's a little awkward and sometimes hard to read. Later in the day I try to look at them, between the lines I re-write words I think are too scribbly to read later. The lump in the page made it harder to write legibly.


Then I tried taking apart the Moleskine cahiers and making signatures of four sheets each. I was writing on them unbound and then binding them together when I had 12 signatures. For some reason I like the number 12 and usually stop there. The two above were made this way. I found the paper is way too fragile to hold up to the coptic stitch, my go-to. For the second one I put strips of paper in the center of each signature to make it a little stronger. Still it's annoying and makes it more awkward to bind.


This one is ready to bind. It's made from Mohawk Superfine text weight paper - it's about 6.25 by 9.5 inches, a size the paper tears down to. I don't want to cut it and throw away anything. It's a comfortable size for laying on the bed next to me, I can support it with a slightly larger piece of Davey board and clip it together with a space pen. The space pen writes upside down, a feature I don't need often, but it works really well. I know this will bind well because I use the same paper for some of my sketchbooks.


Here are some signatures beside my bed, spread out a bit so you can see the layers, and the Davey board that supports them. I keep extra signatures in my nightstand.