Would you like a spot of tea?

img_3979Well it’s amateur hour!  Don’t get excited…I’m talking about my video editing skills, not your sketching…silly.  I don’t have exactly the right equipment and believe it or not, it’s incredibly difficult to video my work with my phone in my left hand while sketching with my right.  That being said, if you’ll bear with the rudimentary photos/video footage and hopefully-not-too-vague instructions, you can learn my process and create a sketch of your own…..perhaps the first sketch of a well-loved sketchbook.

I selected one of my favorite things to sketch, a teacup.  This one is fairly simple in shape and detail and a good confidence booster if it’s your first watercolor skimg_3966etch.  For this exercise you will need a cheap watercolor or craft brush (something soft, not bristly), a small set of watercolor pencils, a permanent pen, and of course paper or a sketchbook thick enough to handle some water.  I am using my Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen size S (but a Bic or a Sharpie pen works just fine), a watercolor pencil set from Faber-Castell, a cheap watercolor brush that came in a set of 5 at Hobby Lobby, and my Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Journal.


First I look closely at my subject.  What colors are represented?  I only used blue, green, yellow and brown in my sketch.  Where are the shadows and highlights?  You can squint your eyes to blur your focus and see these better.  I won’t get into too much detail on shading yet.  This exercise is really just meant to get you loosened up and having fun.

Step 1:  Draw the outline of your subject.  Don’t worry about scale or proportion.  Just draw what you see.  My teacup drawing isn’t perfectly round either, and that’s okay.  It’s just a sketchbook after all. img_3964

Step 2:  I color in the blue and green parts of the tea cup with watercolor pencil.  The photo does not show it well, but the bottom of the cup has blue merging with green.  I notice that there is a shadow on the left side of the cup and the inside of the handle where it curves in.  I use brown to represent these shadows like so:img_3967


Step 3:  I decide to go ahead and finish the outside of the cup by adding some water with my brush.  Dip your brush in the water and blot a little with a paper towel so that you don’t drown your paper.  I first deepen the color of the blue and green parts with water and let that dry just a few seconds before moving to the brown.  To finish the outside of the teacup, I start my brush on the side with the brown shading and drag it across the cup.  This way, it gets lighter and lighter as you go to the right, creating the illusion of the roundness of the cup.  Leave the lightest parts alone of the cup alone.  This part is probably best shown by the video below.

Step 4:  Now, let’s move to the inside of the cup and the tea itself.  The shadows on the inside of the cup are to the right so I add brown on the right inside rim.  For the tea I use yellow on the left (highlight) side and brown on the right (shadow side).  I blend the two colors of the tea with water using my brush.

Step 5:  The shadow the cup casts on my desk looks like it’s falling behind the cup.  I draw a thin line of shading underneath the cup and a larger block of color up each side.  For the shadow I use brown and a little blue layered on top.  Then add water and sort of muss it all up and you’re done!

Bonus:  I like to add a sentence or two in whimsical lettering about the sketch….where I am, what I’m doing at the time, how I’m feeling….whatever feels appropriate to say.  Date, sign your name, or frame an outline in pen if you want.

Now admire your work, let it dry, and move on to a fresh page.  You did it and hopefully had fun in the process!  I definitely did!  Cya next week, artists.  Until later, this is KristyMichele….signing out.


Getting Skool’d

Learning to art journal……..

Well it’s been three weeks and I am halfway through my first Sketchbook Skool course called Beginnings.  Did you followers think I fell off the face of the Earth?  Nope!  Just learning and sketching and studying and Instagramming…..but I figured I would stop in tonight and write about what I’ve learned so far.

In Beginnings, we are learning how to start a daily art habit and keep a sketchbook.  Art journaling is actually a fun and therapeutic way to chronicle the events of your life…..like the more adult and sophisticated version of my gossipy teenage diary.  😉

For those of you interested in starting your own art journal, here are some motivational tips:

  1.  It’s okay to sketch mundane objects or log the details of the boring details of life.  Life doesn’t have to be exciting each and every day to create a daily art habit.  Just start sketching….anything that catches your fancy!
  2. Make a habit of it…..you may feel critical of your drawings or paintings at first, but stick with it….you won’t regret it.  As they say, practice makes perfect…..and even if it doesn’t, who wants a perfect sketchbook anyway?  Mistakes make your sketchbook better….more real…..more uniquely YOU.
  3. Don’t pressure yourself.  If you skip a day or a week, don’t beat yourself up.  This is supposed to be fun and a way to de-stress……so have FUN!  If you start a journal and find you hate it (highly doubtful….but I’m biased!), feel free to chunk it in the nearest recycle bin or dumpster <cringe>.
  4. If you do love it, take your sketchbook and at least a pen with you at all times.  You never know when the perfect opportunity will present itself…..which brings me to…..
  5. Sketch in public!  Sketching in public can be intimidating at first, but I can promise you that most people will either be curious and impressed or too busy to even notice.  I like to keep my phone with me in case I can’t finish a sketch and need a photo reference to work on it later.
Have I lost you yet?  If not, let’s move on to some more technical skool-type stuff:
  • A sketchbook.  I like using a 5.5×8 inch bound sketchbook.  I feel cramped using something smaller and anything larger isn’t portable enough for me.  I really like my Strathmore Hardbound 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal.  The pages fold reasonably flat so that you can sketch across adjacent pages and are thick enough so there’s not much bleed-through.
  • A pen.  Preferably a waterproof permanent pen like Faber Castell Pitt artist pen (superfine nib) or Sakura Pigma Micron in 02 or 05.  A lot of artists, apparently swear by using just a Bic ballpoint pen.  I’m not a big fan of ballpoint pens, but to each her own, and on the plus side, Bics are incredibly inexpensive and easy to find.  I use a Sharpie pen in my planner notebook and occasionally use that to sketch as well….also easy to find in any Walgreens or Target.
  • A small set of watercolor pans or a small set of watercolor pencils.  I have a Windsor & Newton Cotman pocket sketchbox, but I prefer my Derwent Inktense set of 12 pencils.  I find them easier to carry and I can use them dry or wet.  Sometimes if I am feeling rushed for time or don’t want to deal with watercolors in public, I color in parts of my drawing with these pencils, then add water to them later to create a wash or brighten the color.  Faber Castell also makes good watercolor pencils.
  • A small round watercolor brush and container to hold water.  But better yet…..there are these nifty things called waterbrushes.  [—I literally just discovered these….and I call myself an artist!….for shame!]  They hold water inside and with the press of a button or tiny squeeze of the reservoir they dispense a small amount of water, eliminating the mess of a container of water.  Brilliant!!  I like to keep a tissue or small paper towel handy for clean the brush tip or soaking up extra water when I accidentally add too much to my drawing.
  • Optional but for an added security blanket: a standard no. 2 pencil or set of sketching pencils and eraser.
  • Completely unnecessary but I carry these sometimes:  a brush tip marker for bolder lettering and painterly swooshes (I like Sakura Pigma brush marker), and a white gel pen for highlights and layering writing and designs over watercolor  (mine is Sakura Gelly roll).


Okay artists…..enough for today.  Now go drag out your supplies or shop for new ones and meet back here next week for Getting Skool’d part 2.  Cya soon!




Daily rituals

Productive people say it is highly important to have daily rituals to get you ready for an awesome day and keep you motivated.  I have a few already, my morning cup of tea and ‘beddy-bye’ tea/reading at night to help me sleep.  This year I have resolved to read….


…every day to keep myself inspired and motivated to create, but I wanted something more.  I have always admired artists that keep a running sketchbook of their daily adventures and  travels.  My mundane adventures never seem very sketchworthy and drawing/watercolor are not my forte.  So today I signed up for a Sketch Book Skool course that I found out about from a blog post from Danny Gregory .  I’ve been an admirer of his work for years and he’s teaching one of the modules.  How did I not know about this skool before?!  I can’t believe I just barely got in the class before it starts on Friday!  I will learn not only how to keep a sketchbook but also how to build a daily art habit.  I’m so excited I can barely contain myself!  Stay tuned for sketchy updates…..