It's hard to pass up a sale at the art supply store right? So when I saw a large mixed media sketchbook on sale at my local store for about $8 I obviously had to buy it... even though I have 2 other sketchbooks on the go right now! But I love the size of this one and the fact that the pages can really take a beating. It's a Canson 9x12" Mixed Media sketchbook, if you're interested. The paper on the Strathmore Mixed Media sketchbook is another one I really love.

But that got me thinking about the dreaded first page. Why is it so hard to fill that first perfectly white page in a new sketchbook? You want to start the book out right with a fun first page! A good start like that always motivates me to keep going. So here are some easy ideas to help you fill that first page with something you'll love.

A Simple Pattern

It's no secret that I love a good pattern. There's something so meditative about taking a motif and slowly filling the page. It's also a really simple way to ease into a sketchbook page when you're not feeling the most creative. A "tossed" pattern is my favourite to play around with since it takes absolutely no planning. Think of it like you're taking some shapes and just tossing them on the page. So start with one scattered motif and build from there, taking it one step at a time without thinking too much about what to draw next.

The Date

This is another one of my favourite ways to start a sketchbook. It's also useful for when you want to look back at old sketchbooks. If you put the date you started and finished the book in the front, you'll be able to see a progression in your work and that's really fun. I usually start by just laying down some colour for a simple background. Then, since I'm terrible at hand lettering I'll Google a hand lettered alphabet and try my best to copy the letters. You can leave it as is or fill in the background with some doodles and mark-making. Make sure you leave room for the end date!

A Quote to Motivate

If you can't think of anything to draw, why not just write out a favourite quote! Whenever you open your sketchbook you'll get a little boost reading those words. I like to start with a really simple background of one or two colours and then pencil my quote in over that. Once you have the layout right, use some markers, pens or paint to add your quote. I like to add a few simple doodles around the edge at the end.

I hope those tips will help you break in a new sketchbook. Once the first page is filled in, it really gets a lot easier from there.

Would like a little more creative inspiration? I've made these 2 device wallpapers for you to download for free! They should fit almost any phone or tablet! Subscribe below and I'll email them to you right away.

Where Did I Go??

Posted on February 26, 2016 and tagged Sketchbook, Painting

If you've been following me on Instagram or Twitter, it probably seemed like I just dropped off the face of the earth in the middle of my 100 Days project. Do you remember me? I'm Sara! Hello!

I did end up taking an huge unintended break from social media but I'm still alive! Yay! (I hope you're yay-ing too!) So what have I been up to? I've been growing a person! That's right, I'm pregnant. The first trimester was really rough for me. I was constantly sick and couldn't even think about picking up a paint brush or sitting at my desk. But I'm into my 5th month now and I'm definitely feeling more like myself. I'm trying to get back into some art making and I wanted to share a few pictures with you of some sketchbook patterns and a couple WIP paintings that I've been working on.

If you're still sticking around, I just want to stay thank you so so much for following my paint-splattery-messiness! I really appreciate that you're here and reading this.

Now I want to really focus on putting out some great content on my blog here and in my newsletter. But I'd loooove to hear what you want! Fill out this tiny, micro survey (one question, multiple choice) and let me know what kinds of stuff you want to see here. I will love you forever. Answer the question!

Reflecting on 25 Days of Painting

Posted on October 16, 2015 and tagged Sketchbook, Painting

I'm a quarter of the way done! Well techinically I was at envelope 25 over a week ago. I had a rough week of being sick and turning 30. I don't know which was worse, feeling like crap or having that scary milestone birthday. Birthdays always kind of bum me out because I guess I feel like time is going by really quickly and I'm not getting enough done or something. But I actually feel okay about turning 30. My life is for the most part on track and I have a lot of things to be happy about. Ok, enough about birthdays and thoughts of my mortality! Here are a few things I've learned so far in my first 25 days of this challenge.

  • I'm learning to really look for inspiration everywhere. It's a little hard sometimes to come up with a new idea everyday. So I always have my daily painting in the back of my mind while browsing internet. I save images I like for when I need a little boost.

  • One thing I'm struggling with is making lots of paintings that I don't really like. The worst part is sharing the crappy ones on Instagram. It helps to look at a painting I hate and pick out one thing I actually like about it. If I can find a colour combo or a tiny corner that I like, then I know I learned something new.

  • I thought doing a daily painting wouldn't leave much time for other things. But I was surprised to find out it's the complete opposite. The daily envelope helps me to warm up and experiment so after I'm done I often feel energized and ready for more.

  • I'm also very slowly discovering my style. When I look at all my favourite paintings lined up, I start to see similarities. I like bright colours, patterns, messy brush strokes, contrasting colours and a sense of motion.

If you want to follow along with me, definitely check out my Instagram account!

100 Envelopes

Posted on September 12, 2015 and tagged Sketchbook, Painting

I'm starting a 100 days project! I've really been wanting to do this for a long time now but I haven't been able to figure out what that works for me. For this to be something I can actually do every day, I needed:

  • something quick that's easy to do
  • something I'm able to expand on if I have more time one day
  • in my favourite medium - paint!
  • on a material that's inexpensive so I don't worry about wasting it

The problem is, finding a material that's durable enough for layers of paint and cheap is pretty much impossible. I thought about buying little tiny canvas boards for about 50 cents each, but that still seemed like a lot. Then I remembered I have this big box of cardboard envelopes in my closet that have been there for yeeeaars! I bought them in bluk when I sold stationery on Etsy but never really used many of them since my wedding invites were the big sellers. I tried selling the envelopes a couple times, but nobody wanted them!

So I went out a bought a big jug of gesso for about $5 and started covering the front of the envelopes. Turns out they handle paint like a champ! I don't feel like I'm wasting them since I was thinking about throwing them away anyways, so it works out perfectly. The envelopes are about 7 x 10 inches so they're a great size to work with - not too big and not too small.

That was a bit of a rambling story just to say that I'm going to be painting 100 envelopes in 100 days. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the envelopes when I'm done though. Maybe cover a wall with them...or send 100 letters!

There's my first one! The drippy paint didn't work out quite like I expected, but I have 99 more days to get it right. Follow me on Instgram to see updates on this project.

Finding My Way

Posted on July 13, 2015 and tagged Sketchbook, Painting

Lately I've really been struggling with figuring out what I like to make, finding my own style, the colours I like to work with, the tools I feel most comfortable with. I wanted to pick up blogging again because it was something that I really enjoyed in the past. It made sense to me to start blogging about painting and drawing and pattern design because my favourite blogs are the ones where you get to see into someone's studio.

I especially love to follow along with daily drawing and painting challenges because there's something so cool about watching someone's creative struggles and their progression. But let me tell you, sharing things that aren't 'perfect' and that you aren't totally proud of is really, really hard. Like way harder than I thought. So when I decided to start up this blog again and I had a plan all mapped out, I totally froze.

Everything I made wasn't good enough to go on the blog or on Instagram. I found it much more difficult than I was expecting to show my not-so-great work. Even though that's something I really like to see in other artists! I like to see the off days just as much as the on days. It's about documenting the hard work that normally nobody sees. And to me that's really what making stuff is all about. Slogging through those days where you just don't feel like it and every paint stroke or line is a struggle. When you stare at a blank page so long that you scribble something just so it stops staring back at you. That's where the magic happens and where the inspiration for your good days will come from.

So in the spirit of that, here's a painting I worked on the other day. I don't love it. I don't hate it. But it's a step in my creative journey so I'm glad I made it. Now grab a piece of paper and make something! Even if it sucks. Even if you know it will suck. In fact, I hope you hate it. Because there are lessons to be learned from making something crappy. Make some crap today!

Hand Lettering is Hard!

Posted on June 10, 2015 and tagged Sketchbook, Painting

When I first gave hand lettering a shot it was with ink and a calligraphy pen. I never really got the hang of it though! The pen would either scratch along the paper or drop ink in huge blobs. My letters would be all shakey and I hated how you never got a second chance with ink. So when I tried again this past week I decided to just forget about the rules and do what works for me. That meant using a paint bush instead of a pen and faking the calligraphy part a bit.

By "faking" I mean I would just draw my letters, then go back over them and thicken up some of the lines instead of trying to get it all in one shot. Maybe I'll post a tutorial and call it The Messy Girl's Guide to Faking Calligraphy!

So I've been enjoying my hand lettering practice so far! I'm starting out with just single words, but hopefully I'll be able to move on to quotes and stuff soon. I'd still like to loosen up more and eventually get even more messy with my lettering. It would nice if I didn't have to do the faking thing. I guess that just takes practice!