Friday, 24 January 2014

January Colours

Yes it does.... It took a long time (over a month) before I finally got my sketchbook from Jackson's. But when I got it I was over the moon. The Stillman & Birn book is really nice looking and the paper feels wonderfully smooth and is white. That's important for me. I hate creamy coloured watercolour paper. This is good and it will show all the colours I paint and draw in the way I want them to be shown.
So I started straight away with the title page. No problem, that was just a matter of grabbing my bookbinder glue and stick my Ex Libris in the front. I had a month to wait for the sketchbook and used that time to come up with a nice title page image. It's one of my favourite birds, the long tailed tit. They are such happy little birds and I get them a lot in my garden.

The only thing I had to work on is the lettering. I haven't written enough lately and it shows in the handwriting. Ah well... the bird was nice ;)

After that it was time to make the first two pages. I thought a lot about it and looked for inspiration on the Internet. I decided to just start with what I had in my garden. It's January and one would think that there's not much going on in nature. Wrong!!! If you look well around you there's a lot going on right now. I first cut off a twig of my Hazel. They started to colour in December and are now slowly opening up. I picked a twig with male and female catkins. It's so nice how you can see them so clearly on the Hazel.

I recently got a few new watercolours and found out that the Cinnabar Green Light Extra from Old Holland matched the male catkins beautifully. In my collection of Italian watercolours from Zecchi (in Florence) were two other colours that came very close to the hues I needed: Magenta Lake and Venetian Yellow. To finish that page I added two hazelnuts from last Autumn in coloured pencil.

On the second page I made a drawing of my flowering Prunus autumnalis. That tree is the best tree a person can have in their garden. It starts flowering after the first frost and continues to do so all winter and the start of spring. The leaves are very bright green and small, filtering the light in the summer so nicely. In autumn the leaves change colour to happy yellow and orange colours. What else do you want? Again the Magenta and Cinnabar green were most useful for this twig.
Finally I found a flowering Viburnum bush close to my house. The scent is heavenly and again I could use the soft pinks. And what else did it need? A little something to balance it all. Last year I found a small feather of a Goldfinch in our garden. Treasures like that you just have to pick up. Now is the time to share this little feather with others.

Now, about the paper.... did I like it? Yes! It is not Fabriano 5 of course but it's very nice for a sketchbook. I did some lettering in wet ink. The ink didn't bleed and feather and even the small puddles of ink didn't get through to the other side of the paper. I normally work quite dry in watercolour, especially with smaller subjects. So for me the sizing of the paper wasn't too much to handle. I imagine that if I would like to work more wet in wet, I absolutely would get a problem. But I don't, so never mind about that. For coloured pencils it's nice too although I prefer paper that allows a few more layers. But again, this is a sketchbook and not paper to make a masterpiece on. So you won't hear me complain about it.
A shame we can't buy the sketchbooks in the Netherlands but I'm happy the Golden Boy has sent me his spare sketchbook as a gift. It means more sketch fun for me ;)

~ Sigrid Frensen ~


  1. I enjoyed reading this so much, and what a stunning spread! Your studies are all so lovely and I am envious of that beautiful calligraphy!!

  2. Lovely subjects ! As you said, winter is generous of opportunities for making botanical art, so no excuses for not working hard !

  3. Ciao Ingrid, io sono Maria Frau, amministratrice e titolare di Botanica Italiana ( ho notato i tuoi disegni, sono molto belli e hanno lo stile che piace a me. Vorrei ospitare i tuoi disegni nell'area del mio sito dedicata alle illustrazioni botaniche. Se ti farà piacere, contattami a, ovviamente verrà riportato il tuo nome e i tuoi riferimenti web nei tuoi disegni. Aspetto tue notizie. Cari saluti Maria Frau

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  5. Absolutely beautiful pages here Sigrid, and I really enjoyed reading about your progress.The writing is gorgeous too.

  6. Even before doing my yoga exercises I have spent some time reading and devouring all of the detailed and beautiful paintings, drawings and writings on the Nature Trail ... this is a fabulous journey you all are undertaking and much good information will be gleaned by all who take the time to look over your shoulders! Thank you all for posting this glorious work. You all will have a marvelous journal at the end of this year and the viewing audience will have many nuggets of information and wonderful art to peruse. Very stimulating and motivating and love the little "human" elements that creep in like apologies for not having done lettering in a while, etc. Thank you for sharing.