Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Across a continent and ocean- my Natural Sketchbook Exchange journal is ready for its maiden voyage!

Aislinn Adams' Natural Sketchbook Exchange.

January is almost over and it is only now that my journal is ready to go. Somehow I got a little too involved in the extra details - envelopes, labels etc., This is my first time to keep a regular nature sketchbook (confession time here!) so I am very excited and, in spite of the anxiety, I am having loads of fun.

Title Page

The first thing I did on receiving the journal was to create a title page. I haven't played around with hand-lettering in years so designing the page was a walk down memory lane with some new influences cropping up- reminding me that I am always changing. I used graphite pencil to create the form and texture, adding polychromos pencils last for subtle color. I started using Faber Castell polychromos pencils recently and I really like the feel of them. I'm also enjoying the Stillman & Birn journal paper, both for pencil and watercolor. I don't have that much experience with watercolor papers but I certainly do like the paper's smoothness for graphite and color pencils.

I love textures!

The textures in the lettering were inspired by nature- leaves, lichens, tree bark, wood grain, succulents and seeds. My January page- devoted to lichens- is also a study in textures. When I picked up this lichen-covered bigleaf maple branch in our front yard I knew instantly what I wanted to do in my journal for January.

I haven't managed to identify all the lichens on this branch but I've made a good start with the help of several people including fellow Nature Trailer Claire Ward. Here are some of the main ones:-
Oakmoss, Evernia prunastri, Pincushion sunburst lichen, Xanthoria polycarpa, Waxpaper lichen, Parmelia sulcata, Fork-boned lichen, Hypogymnia inactiva, and Brown shield lichen, Melanelixia spp.

January lichens.
"More things are learnt in the woods than from books; trees and rocks will teach you things not to be heard elsewhere."     Bernard of Clairvaux

All the lichens, save the one on the very right (pincushion sunburst lichen,) are painted in watercolor. I used polychromos pencils for the pincushion sunburst lichen and the "JAN" lettering.

"The Rules"

Because I find them so helpful (and inspiring) I have decided to include a copy of St. Corita Kent's "Rules" at the back of the journal. Numbers 6 and 7 are my favorites. One of her "helpful hints" is "Save everything- it might come in handy later." So, taking her advice to heart, I've copied her rules onto a piece of rice paper I've had for over 30 years!!

In an effort to keep the journal flat I have put the rules in an envelope that is attached to the inside back cover, with a ribbon "hinge". This is to allow it to be laid flat, out of the journal, while being used. Making the envelope and figuring out how to attach it to the journal was an adventure in itself and I could never have done it without the help of local craft shop owner and new friend Christy Wood. Learning to make the envelope was so interesting and creatively stimulating I want to devote another blog to it.

But in the meantime I am just delighted to have finished my first month of the Natural Sketchbook Exchange and look forward to February's sketchbook arriving soon.

Aislinn Adams


  1. Aislinn!! I love your sketchbook!! I can't wait to see this in real life! I will have it in April, I hope!! Well done!!

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