Category Archives: Sketchbook

New Magnolia Illustration and my Sketchbook

Last spring I blogged about a page in my sketchbook, and showed the process of a magnolia illustration I had done. (Check it out here.) Now, I’ve finished a digital, vector illustration using that sketch as a template. I actually started this not too long after the original sketch, but I felt like something about it just wasn’t working. So I put it aside for awhile. Recently, I started working on it again. I changed the background from a light blue to this darker shade, and added the small leaves at the base of the flowers. Suddenly it felt finished. Originally, I hadn’t wanted to do a pink colorway, but it ended up being my favorite. What do you think?

What else am I working on? This fun little sketch of a mermaid’s tail. I wasn’t home, so I used colored pencil to add color instead of marker. I’ve really been loving colored pencil lately.

And just a few days ago I finished this drawing of some daffodils.

In my Sketchbook, Maple Leaf

Here is a recently completed sketch of a maple leaf.

I started with just a rough outline, first in pencil, then traced in pen.
I added color using water color paints. I usually like to use markers, but I really wanted something soft and more blendable here.I’ve started building up and darkening the lines. I had some trouble with this. My favorite sakura pens weren’t working very well. I think maybe because I used a mixed media paper that the paint didn’t really soak into? I don’t usually use paints. Instead I used a gel pen, I had no problems working over the paint, but I feel like the lines aren’t as clean as I would like. Its hard to tell on the computer screen, and really, it won’t bother anyone but me.
The finished piece. Overall, I’m pretty happy with this, and I’ve started a digital illustration of this same design, which I plan to have finished in the next few weeks.

In my Sketchbook, “the Edge of the Sea”

“Always the edge of the sea remains an elusive and indefinable boundary… belonging now to the land, now to the sea.” Rachel Carson, The Edge of the Sea

This is something completely different from what I normally do in my sketchbook. Usually I use sharp, bold lines, and when I do add color is from brightly colored markers. But I felt like mixing it up, for more of an art journal or altered art project.

For the background I started with one of my own photos, which I played around with digitally to lighten it and to give it more of a cool blue color. Then I used some stamps to subtly add texture in light blue and silver. Then I added more stamping, in a bold copper color to add contrast and make the piece more interesting. Then for more texture, I used the light blue and copper ink pads around the edges. It came out a bit heavier than I wanted, but I like it. I wrote the quote with a black marker. Its been so long since I wrote in cursive, that I had to stop and think about what I was doing a few times. Then I used a dark blue washi tape to adhere the picture into my sketchbook. Not only does it cover where markers have bled through from the backside, but I like the contrast of the geometric design and the organic feel the rest of this piece has.

In my sketchbook: Magnolia

Last year I started a magnolia illustration in Adobe Illustrator, but I wasn’t happy with how it was coming along, so I put it aside for awhile. Recently I decided I’m ready to go back to it, so I started a preliminary study in my sketchbook.

First, a pencil drawing, to get the rough shapes in place.

Next, I traced an outline in pen and started adding color.

Finished adding color. I’ve used Prismacolor markers in the past, but I tried these ones from Windsor and Newton and was really happy with the result. They are very pigmented, and give good even, non streaky coverage and blend easily. They are also slightly less expensive than the Prismacolors.

My finished sketch. I really love this, and hopefully, I will soon have a finished digital illustration based on this sketch to share.

Adult Coloring Book

At first, I wasn’t sold on the idea of adult coloring books. I thought they wouldn’t be enough of a creative outlet for me. But I always looked at them anyways. Then I found one that I loved, “Color Odyssey” by Chris Garver, so I decided to give it a try. And now I love my adult coloring book. Its pretty nice to just do some mindless coloring, without focusing on an end state.

Above is a page I tore out and carried around in my sketchbook for months, working on it a little here and there. I love how the warm colors of the flowers really pop against the blue background. Below is a page that I’m using to experiment with different color combinations.

Have you tried adult coloring books? What was your opinion of them?

Sketchbook: Cathedral Ruin


First, I started with the basic layout, I even used a ruler. This does have perspective and a vanishing point, sort of. I eyeballed it, and mostly just tried to keep it somewhat symmetrical.


Next, I colored the walls black, and added a second story of windows so it wouldn’t be too dark and imposing.


I added color! I used to use these prismacolor markers all the time, and I had fun playing with them again.


Finished! Used a fine pen to make any edges nice and crisp, and to darken the design of the rose window.

Hurricane Matthew

We were pretty lucky in regards to damage from hurricane Matthew, by the time it hit us it had mellowed to a category 1, or maybe even just a tropical storm. The worst of it was this tree down across the driveway. It actually happened before the storm really hit, and with the help from our neighbors we got it cleared in about an hour. Other than that, we had a lot of tree branches down, but no damage to our house or other structures. We did lose power for about 16 hours, but we had prepared for that, so really it was just a minor inconvenience.


And this is a drawing of the storm, while it was still a category 4, that I did in my sketchbook.



  Recently, I’ve been making an effort to draw in a sketchbook again; just a few minutes a day, although that doesn’t always happen. Often, I get focused on creating art for my business, so it’s nice to do this for my self with no pressure.

  Originally, I had intended to outline the white shapes with black and then color them, but as I got working I liked the simplicity of just the black and white.