Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Three for the price of one... and it's all ORANGE!

Having not had a sketch book to work on all summer, I was surprised to realise that I quite missed it. There was something, after the intitial horror in January when this project began, rather nice knowing that a book was in the corner waiting for my attention. But my summer was busy and I was glad of the break... Until the day the post man delivered me three books at once.
At first I thought, 'Why oh why did it not occur to me to keep working in anticipation of the next book arriving...?' (for having THREE books was really daunting)

But then I remembered the answer. The reason is because it feels different, for me, to do the work at the time I receive the book. It's what makes it not a scrap book. It's NOW. It's live.

For me, a sketch book is not the place for a miniature version of a larger, wonderful artwork. For me, it is a SAFE place, a place for fiddling and making a mess (not on purpose, but it's got to be ok to make a mess by mistake). I said that right from the beginning of course.. Looking through the (amazingly beautiful) books is a mixed emotional experience. No one is making a mess. I am sorry that the theme is nature, now. It would be exciting for botanical artists to NOT be allowed to include nature.. There's another idea..!

Then, I got the flu. Flu plus beautiful botanic sketchbooks is not a good combination. But I did some loose drawings of one of my most favourite things, gourds, and liked the immediacy of the sketch. The first drawing was done roughly, with long unbending lines building up colour lightly. On the second page I drew the sun-like pattern on the bottom of the gourds.   I love the bottom of gourds, they look so vibrant, like they're having FUN. they look like Spinning Tops or bursts of fireworks. I was happy until my son saw them, and he scoffed.. oh no...

Terri's sketchbook
Terri's sketchbook

So I turned the page and painted the gourds. I LOVE gourds. Then remembered how awful the paper is in these books. It is unresponsive and allows for no playing with colour. It's not until you work on the wrong surface that you appreciate just how wonerful the right surface actually is. ALWAYS blame your tools. Wrong brush? No use. Wrong paint? No point in starting. Wrong paper? Forget it...

Terri's sketchbook

It was a struggle, though I stuck with it for several hours. Then I put the book away, and resolved to do something else to stick over the gourds.

And I moved on to the next sketch book... I decided to paint the same subjects that my students were working on, and the following week it was slices of organge. I don't particularly like the colour orange, but I really liked painting these. The colour felt jolly and enthusiastic - and I have been attracted to many more orange things. Perhaps it's the season. And the flu was improving...

Oranges, Lorraine's sketchbook

Then, the next book. By now I have decided to go with the flow more and so stuck with using the same subject as my students. They were most surprised to walk in this morning and find a croissant at each place, along with a spoon so they could give themselves a dollop of jam, then paint it...!

Here's mine. (I know, it's still a bit orangey isn't it?!) Flu is gone, normal service resumes (whatever that may be...)

Dianne's sketchbook
There is something I need to say to all my fellow setchbookers on this project. Having decided earlier that the gourds were so awful that I'd cover them up, I have decided that that would not be true. My sketch books are lived-in affairs, full of notions, ideas and visual evidence of conversations. I cannot change that. They aren't meant to be perfect. Perfect = pressure. The very last thing I'm prepared to put into my book is pressure.

Your books are so beautiful that I feel as though I am defacing them with my splurges. But they are, still, MY splurges. If you don't want me to ruin your books, please just say and I will pull out. In the meantime, I urge you all to be free and take a risk by trying something different. And there is nowhere safer to do that than in a sketchbook. Have fun...and carry on!


  1. This is so true, how many times have we messed up a page in the sketchbook and wanted to cover it up only to revisit it later and realise it's not so bad after all! I love these orange pictures, so cheerful on a grey Autumn day.

  2. I love your splurges!! Thank you for keeping it real, Julie! I love your approach!

  3. fabulous and delicious looking paintings there Julie. Those oranges look wonderfully juicy. :)

  4. awk thankyou, I was feeling a bit rubbish, your comments are uplifting :)

  5. Julie I love your paintings here. Very alive and full of color! I especially love your use of shadows. I'm am thrilled that your work will be a part of my sketchbook.

  6. A great reminder about the purpose of sketchbooks! I love this blog and look forward to every bit of it. Thank you!!