100 Days of Sketchbook Practice

Day 1/100 of #the100DayProject. I want to feel more focused and confident when I experiment with my art materials, so I have set up #100DaysofSketchbookPractice as my challenge to play with materials and develop a daily habit of experimenting in my sketchbook. I am waking up at 6 am this week, before anyone else in the house is awake, to give myself time to play in my sketchbook. As I play, I am practicing being mindful about how I feel using the different tools and techniques. What do I prefer? My hope is that at the end of the 100 days, I will a better idea of what kind of marks and materials I like so that I can get closer to developing my own artistic voice.


I will post my daily progress on this blog so that I can reflect and write down my ideas and observations.


Day 1/100 Reflection

I was still sleepy when I walked into my studio, but I liked the sense of calm and quiet that filled the house. It was very easy to get started working. I've been thinking a lot about the practice of making thumbnails before making a painting.


Art Prof Video: Why Thumbnail Sketches Matter
"So What Is It About Sketchbooks" by Karen George

When I write, I always start off writing a first draft and I use the time to mentally spill all my words out before I take another pass to edit and refine it. Using thumbnails to design paintings seems like a logical process.


Here's what I made from today's session. I'm using a Strathmore Mixed Media Visual Journal - I like that it can lay flat and the paper is strong enough to experiment with water-based media. I painted small thumbnail backgrounds using gouache and I experimented with using Micron pens, water-soluble crayons, and watercolor pencil on top.


Day 1/100 Sketchbook Page

A quick list of things I noticed:

  • Gouache Consistency - Gouache right out of the tube varies in consistency. I noticed that I had to mix varying amount of water to get it to be a creamy consistency. This produced a flat matte effect when it dried. Patting the brush in a paper towel before picking up more gouache helped limit the risk of previous layers of gouache from being reactivated.

  • Layering Layers - Wetting the paper with a brush and then applying a thin layer of gouache on top helped to spread the gouache more evenly. I liked using crayon on top of a thin background layer of gouache because the crayon picks up the texture of the paper. Adding water to the crayon softened the texture but maintained the color intensity.

  • Value Studies - In the blue thumbnails, I put a darker value layer on top of a midtown layer, which created a silhouette effect that I really liked.

  • Pen Drawing - I used Micron pen to draw on top of the backgrounds and then painted additional layers on top. It felt like filling out a coloring page and I didn't like it. It felt tight and restrictive. I'm not sure if that was because of the pen size or the thumbnail size.

  • Crayon Scribbles - My favorite tool and technique was using a crayon to scribble and then adding water to blend in areas afterward.


Day 1/100 Sketchbook Page 2

A List of Sketchbook Ideas to Try

Collect Inspirations

  • Make a sketch of a scene from daily life.

  • Copy patterns. Experiment with mark-making and color combos and media.

  • Make marks to convey the feeling that you experience.

  • Take notes of the feeling or memories you want to convey.

  • Where was there light? What kind of energy did you experience.

  • Analyze artist work - composition, shapes, tone, direction, sizes.

Experiment with Ideas - low-risk!

  • Experiment with using different media and techniques.

  • Take notes on different experiments and techniques that you tried.

  • Draw a frame around a sketch to mockup how it would look in a painting.

  • Play with composition and format - square, landscape, portrait?

  • Think about how you hold the pencil. - Loose - not a writing group.

Develop - multiple drafts to solve problems before you commit to the big piece.

  • Use small thumbnails as an initial idea capture, then make a bigger thumbnail of you favorites to develop more detail.

  • When developing the thumbnail, don't just copy the sketch. Explore the feeling, the inspiration of the sketch.

  • Use strips of paper or board to find your composition and format. Mark the corners of your favorite composition design.

  • Take notes directly on your sketches of things to try.

  • Process Idea: Thin layers of ink or paint. Add drawing media on top to add important landmarks. Use white paint to add tones or water to lower intensity and value.

  • Process Idea: Explore tones in a figure thumbnail sketch. Use a limited palette. Play with the relationship between the negative shapes in the background and the subject.

  • Transferring the sketch to the big piece is not the end! The larger scale will change will make the piece evolve and grow. Be aware and respond as needed.


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