The more I looked at yesterday’s squirrel, the less I liked it. It is misshapen and the colors look flat and childish. Another third grade attempt.

The book is really multiple small books

About sketchbooks.

You can buy a fully bound sketchbook. Many of these bound books are beautiful and have high quality paper. When you are done with the book, you buy a new one. I will need to be much better than I am to buy an expensive sketchbook.

The alternative is to buy a cover that uses individual elastic bands to contain anywhere from three to five “mini” sketchbooks. Some covers have internal elastic bands inserted or you can buy your own. In either case, you can then do what I did, which is buy a big package of small pads.

Make sure the cover and the books are the same size. As you use up books, you can add new ones. These packages of “mini” books don’t contain the best art paper, but I figured i was going to use a lot of paper while I was learning, so I went with cheap — at least for now.

You can see the various books. Each is connected by an elastic band. Don’t stare at the squirrel. I know he’s not better than the first. Different, not better.

I hadn’t opened any of my higher quality sketch pads until today. But, it seems you can’t do an acceptable water color without using heavier paper. You can’t even run color tests because thin paper absorbs the paint and the colors don’t look right.

Total squirrel frustration overwhelmed me. I decided to move on and give watercolors a chance. I also decided to try a simpler image. I know I’m supposed to go out and do this from “life,” but is about 5 degrees Fahrenheit (well below zero in Celsius) — and it is sleeting. Not going out there. I went out and fed the hungry birds, but that was it. What a miserable day!

My new motto? You can’t have too many erasers.

Clearly squirrels are not going to be my artistic forte, so I went looking for a good picture of a goldfinch. This one popped up and it was a good choice. Simple lines, no complicated background, no hands or feet to fight with. Simple seemed like a good choice.

This is a baby goldfinch, probably on his first flight from his nest. I thought he was adorable. First I tried some color tests. In the process, I realized I really don’t like those nylon “water brushes.” They are supposed to be easier to use than regular sable brushes, but they aren’t easier for me. Luckily, I have a set of good sable brushes. As soon as I picked them up, I felt like I’d come home. It didn’t improve my talent, but it felt comfortable and familiar.

For a first try (and I even used watercolor paper!) it’s at least recognizable. I was not sure how to get the snow to look like snow. In the photograph, it’s just a solid white without any shadows. At least I managed to get that little birdie to have something like a shape. The background looks pretty much like the background looks. It’s all bokeh — soft color with no definition.

I think I can say now, for the record? I don’t think I missed my calling as a talented graphic artist. I think I chose the right profession and this is, as I said from the beginning, a “minor” talent.

Categories: #animals, #Photography, #Sketchbook, #Squirrel, Anecdote, Arts, Goldfinch

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13 replies

  1. O! Nice.
    I love water colours, but I could never get the hang of it.


  2. I think for early attempts these are pretty impressive! We’re always our own worst critics and that can be a good thing, as it pushes us to try harder and achieve more, but you seem to be off to a great start with this new venture 🙂


  3. 🌹❤🦋🐦😀


  4. Thank you for the information about binding for sketchpad. My grand daughter will get one for her birthday. Awesomeness!


  5. Minor, schminor.., Major, schmajor.., matters not. After all, Grandma Moses was recognized late.., really late in her life. There’s hope for you yet, and it may come as a complete surprise. Scketch on my friend!!


  6. I think you are too hard on yourself, Marilyn. The squirrel looks great! And the bird is adorable. This was my year to get out the sketchbooks, too, but I have found that I really like sketching (with a black artist pen)–and I can get pretty sketchy! I’m using a little color with watercolor pencils, but I’m not really liking them. Have you tried them?


    • I’ve been trying them too, but I’m really not using them properly. You are supposed to work in layers, lightest to darkest — and put a wet wash over each layer, let it dry, then move on. I have never waited long enough, so the layers get all smudged and don’t look good. If I can be REALLY patient, it will make a difference — I THINK it will, anyway. I have noticed that failure to follow instructions really doesn’t work out well.


  7. Words to live by: “You can’t have too many erasers.” I think you’re selling yourself short, Marilyn! Your drawings are pretty good and coming along. My parents actually met in Art School and were academic art professionals. I can’t draw my way out of a paper bag, so that gene skipped a generation. I like seeing your explorations into the new art mediums, and your advice about sketch books and paper is helpful, and useful. Did you know you can print digital photos onto watercolor paper with interesting effect? Love the little bird you posted.


    • I actually have one picture that was printed on a paper that looks like watercolor paper. I don’t know if it is also infused with chemicals, but it’s a really nice print and looks rather like a painting. I also have a couple of prints on canvas and they absolutely look like paintings — and are beautiful. The printing on canvas improved them.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think both the paintings are very good. 👍🏼


    • I think in the end, I will be a tolerable, not-bad artist. I also think I need another course specifically for drawing and sketching. There are some basics I’m missing, especially dealing with shapes and set up. I didn’t buy NEARLY enough pencils — but boy, am I glad I bought a lot of erasers!

      Liked by 1 person

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