Babies are Hard Work!

Posted on December 2, 2016 and tagged Sketchbook with comments

Things that are hard to do when you have a newborn baby:

  • sleep
  • shower
  • clean
  • think
  • make art
  • blog

It has officially been over 6 months since my last blog post! On July 24th we welcomed our little baby boy into the world after 28 hours of labour. Yes you read that correctly. 28 hours. Who wants to hear the birth story? Anyone? Haha! This might not be the kind of blog for that.

Since then my days have been full keeping up with this energetic and curious little guy. He is really an amazing baby and it's been fun watching him grow. But unfortunately taking care of a 4 month old doesn't leave me with much time for art. Now that he's past the tiny, needy newborn stage I've been trying to squeeze in some sketchbook time when I get a few spare minutes.

My sketchbook pages have changed dramatically since having a baby. If you go to my Instagram profile you can actually see a clear line between my "old" style and what I've been doing lately. I don't really have time to bring out all my paints, make a big mess and then clean it up again. So I've been sticking with a big mixed media sketchbook and just a few coloured pens. Sometimes I just bust out my trusty number 1 Micron and that's it! The results have been fun to see. It's all about simple shapes, flowers and lots of repetition. I kinda like it and I'm excited to see where this new style takes me. Below are some photos of my sketchbook lately.





How to Draw a Floral Wreath

Posted on May 26, 2016 and tagged Tutorials, Sketchbook with comments

A cute, hand-drawn floral wreath has so many uses! A frame for calligraphy or a quote, a starting point for a beautiful card or invitation, or just some fun drawing practice in your sketchbook. Drawing these little wreaths are a lot of fun and easier than you might think. And it can easily be changed up for a different look every time.

  • Start by very lightly drawing a circle on the page with your pencil. If you're not great at drawing a circle, you can trace something round. But it really doesn't need to be perfect!

  • Once you have your circle drawn, use it as a basis for drawing a swirl. Make the swirl a bit darker so you can distinguish it from the original circle. I went around the circle 3 times here. You just drew a vine!

  • Now add some simple shapes your vine. I did some basic leaves, a little flower and a berry. Choose as many shapes as you want or keep it really simple. Here's the important part: Make sure all your flowers and leaves are going in the same direction. Mine all go in a clockwise direction here. Rotating the paper as you draw will help.

  • Continue by filling in the vine with more flowers and leaves. I like to place mine randomly as I go instead of working in a circle. Also, make sure your flowers and leaves overlap the vine in some places.

  • Take a fine-tipped pen (I used a Micron) and trace over only the leaves and flowers. Leave the vine for now.

  • Once all the flowers and leaves have been inked, move on to the vine. The reason we left this until the end is because some of your shapes will overlap the vine. I find it easier to draw the vine after the shapes have been inked so I don't draw over a flower by accident.

  • Take your favourite markers, coloured pencils, or paints and colour in your beautiful vine! Remember you can switch up the leaves and flowers to make it different every time. Try a holiday themed wreath or keep it really simple and stick with one shape (like the leafy wreath below).

The 100 Days Project - The 1st 10 Days

Posted on April 29, 2016 and tagged Painting, Sketchbook with comments

You might remember that late last year I started a 100 days project that I never ended up finishing! Long story short, terrible early pregnancy symptoms got in the way. Well, when I heard about Elle Luna's 100 Days Project starting April 19th I just couldn't help myself. Even though I never got close to 100 days last time, I felt like the project really challenged me and brought out some cool news ideas.

Overall it was a really great experience, but I wanted to make sure I simplified things this time around. Even on a good day, I often found it hard to come up with a whole new painting every single day. Restricting myself to paint made it so I couldn't really work on my daily painting while making dinner or in front of the tv at night. So this time I knew I needed to pick something that I could do with whatever art supplies I had lying around - even a ball point pen from the bottom of my purse. I also wanted it to be portable and small. And to further complicate things my due date is day 98 of this project! So I chose a tiny little Moleskine watercolour sketchbook (I think it's about 5" x 3") and committed to making 100 tiny patterns with whatever art supplies I felt like using that day.

Only 10 days in now and I love it already! I'm so glad I decided to give it another try. I'm really surprising myself by coming up with unique ideas everyday. Not every page turns out amazing, but that's the way it goes with a daily practice. And I love patterns. I mean, I love painting but patterns are what I really started out on. It never gets old how you can start with one seemingly boring shape and once you repeat it across the page it turns into something completely different!

So here are my first 10 days of tiny patterns. You can still join in too! There's still a long way to go until 100 so don't worry about missing the first few days. Post your progress on Instagram and be sure to follow me too!

My Abstract Painting Process

Posted on April 11, 2016 and tagged Painting, Tutorials with comments

I've been wanting to make a video like this for a while now, but always got hung up on the talking part! The last 2 videos I made ended up having music in the background because I just felt weird about speaking into a microphone. But I really want to get better at this, so I just had to dive in!

This video shows my abstract painting process from start to finish for two small paintings. I talk a bit about my line of thought while I'm painting, the supplies I used and show you exactly how each layer comes together. It's a little long, but I really hope you like it and will enjoy seeing how I work.

Watching other artists work is one of my favourite things. So if you have some videos you like or better yet, if you've filmed a video like this too, definitely tell me about it in the comments. I would love to take a look!

Did you like the paintings I made? Sign up for my newsletter and I'll send you both as digital files you can use for device wallpaper. They should fit almost any size phone or tablet.

How to Draw Cheater Calligraphy

Posted on March 29, 2016 and tagged Sketchbook, Tutorials with comments

Who has the time and patience to learn real calligraphy? I'm just kidding! I really admire people who can do beautiful hand lettering. Even more impressive are those who can use a real calligraphy pen. Those pens are legit hard to master! While I can't stress the importance of practice enough, what about those times when you just want to draw some pretty letters? This is where cheater calligraphy comes in. It's the beauty of calligraphy without the special tools and years of practice. Sure, it doesn't look exactly the same, but it's fun to do!

  • Start by very lightly pencilling in your quote. I had previously made this painted frame in a sketchbook page and it seemed like a great place for some lettering! I literally just scribbled some paint in a circle, so it's really easy to do. Tip: For a more playful look, vary the positioning of the letters in each word. Instead of writing in a straight line, make some letters higher or lower than the others.

  • Once you're happy with the look and positioning, trace over the quote using a black pen. Or any colour really. Feel free to erase and redraw as many times as you need. That's why we did this in pencil! Tip: For a fancier look, use a very fine tipped pen.

  • Now we want to fatten up all of the 'downstrokes' by drawing on either side of them. A downstroke is just where your pen wrote in a downward motion. If you're not sure which part of the letter is a downstroke, just trace over them in the air paying attention to when your pen moves down the page. Next, just fill in the downstrokes with your pen.
  • If you're happy with the contrast between the fat and thin lines, start to fill in the rest of the letters on the page.

I really love this technique for getting the look of calligraphy quickly and easily. Real calligraphy is something that I would love to learn some day - I even have the pen, nibs and ink! But for now I think I'll stick with this. It's fun for just playing around in my sketchbook and it also lets me practice my cursive writing in preparation for the real thing.

The Importance of Keeping a Sketchbook

Posted on March 16, 2016 and tagged Sketchbook, Freebies, Tutorials with comments

Last week I showed you a couple ways to get past that first scary page in your sketchbook. This week I wanted to talk a bit about why I keep a sketchbook. The first sketchbook I ever had was from high school art class. We had weekly sketchbook prompts and were also encouraged to just play around. I filled that book to the brim with all sorts of things from a little comic about a fly to random colourful doodles.

After I left high school, I didn't buy another sketchbook for about 8 years. I still loved making art. I designed all the stationery for my own wedding, created things for many friends and eventually started my own stationery business. I had a notebook where I would rough out ideas but I only ever used it if I was working on a specific job. I completely stopped creating art for myself. And I think as a result of that, I got burnt out with stationery. It seemed like everything had already been done and I couldn't come up with anything fresh.

After shutting down my business, I started doodling fairly regularly in a cheap mixed media sketchbook. It was all over the place. Everything from ink drawings of things in my apartment, to watercolour flowers, to cartoon animals. Eventually, I started gravitating towards pattern and abstract shapes.

My next sketchbook was a really beautiful Moleskine with thick, off-white pages. I dove head first into patterns and filled many pages with random motifs and meditative patterns. There are also some really personal pages in there too, like when I drew all the flowers I received when my dad died. It's still one of my favourite books and I feel like I really started to find my style in those pages.

Today I have about 3 sketchbooks of different sizes going at once. Keeping a regular sketchbook practice has been so important in finding my style, strengthening my creative muscles and experimenting with art. Looking back at each book, I can see how much I've grown. Sometimes it's even embarassing! Here are a few reasons keeping a sketchbook can help you with your creativity too:

Keeping Your Work Hidden

Since I blog and post regularly on Instagram it might seem like I'm sharing everything I make. But the truth is, for every one piece I photograph and share there are probably five that I keep to myself. While I do believe that sharing your work is a really important part of the creative process, you shouldn't share everything. It's so freeing to have a place where you can make art just for you and experiment without worrying about someone else's opinion. Your sketchbook can be a private place where you experiment without fear.

Art Breeds More Art

When I got burnt out with my stationery business it was because the only time I sat down with a pencil was to sketch out something a client wanted. I never played around with my own ideas and drew just for fun. The only way to work through those creative blocks is get something down on paper. Once you have something there, you can look at it and see what's working, what isn't and try again. It's great practice to rework the same idea several times.

Create Your Own Inspiration

It's very easy these days to get caught up "inspiration hunting" on the internet. You could get lost forever scrolling through Pinterest looking for something to kick start an idea. Most of the time you'll leave feeling bad after comparing yourself to other artists. Once you have a sketchbook or two under your belt, you can start looking at your own work for inspiration. Now when I'm stuck on something, the best place for me to get ideas is in an old sketchbook of mine.

I've put together a simple little exercise in colour and pattern to help you fill some pages in your own sketchbook. It can be done with basically any art supplies too, so just use what you have on hand. But if you're interested, I'll talk about what supplies I used. I've also included a little pattern "cheat sheet" which will come in handy in a lot of projects. If you'd like to get this exercise and pattern sheet, fill in your email address below and I'll send it to you right away!