Category: From My Sketchbook

art productivity tracker

2019 in Review and Next Year’s Goals

art productivity tracker
2019 Art Productivity Tracker. I colored a square on the grid for each day that I drew or painted.

Welcome to my annual yearly review and goals post. I didn’t have any goals in 2019 except to be more regular with doing art every day and to send my newsletter out monthly. I included a picture of my art tracker for the year so you can see that I got much more serious around June. I made art every day in October and I was so proud of myself for this achievement. I plan on trying to continue this momentum for 2020. I did send my newsletter out monthly except for in the summer. I want to get more regular with this and to also plan it out better to relieve some stress.

For 2020, I want to be more intentional with my art activities. Instead of spending weeks working in my sketchbook, I would like to work on some finished artwork to frame and sell. I also want to spend more time doing projects of my own instead of just looking at what everyone else is doing online.

I got an iPad Pro and an Apple pencil this year and I want to learn how to use the Procreate app. This app is very powerful and there are so many features. There is always a learning curve with any new medium, but I’m excited about some projects that I can make with this app.

Pen and ink will be a huge focus of my artwork, especially in the first half of the year, because I will be teaching a pen and ink nature sketching workshop in my community. I’m excited about this opportunity.

Thank you for following my work. I appreciate everyone who follows me regularly and everyone who just stops to look. Below, I’ve posted some work from the year that I haven’t shared here before. Best wishes for a productive, creative and healthy 2020 and beyond.

pen and ink tree detail
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Detail (10/8/2019). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
small nature objects sketch
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Fallen Objects: September 2019. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
pen and ink watercolor tree
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Moss Covered Tree (9/24/19). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.
oak leaf watercolor

Dried to a Crisp

Three studies of fall leaves and various updates

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading from the US. I have so much to be thankful for this year. I have a regular routine and my life has quieted down so much compared to year’s past. I’m pleased with myself that I’ve been working on art (nearly) daily since the end of September. I think one of the reasons is that my work schedule gives me mornings off and I feel more motivated to get some artwork done before I go in to work.

Still, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed with several projects. I tend to do this every year before Christmas, and I’ve vowed to myself several times (unsuccessfully) that I would not repeat the mistake. I’m looking forward to wrapping up all my handmade gifts and then moving onto some pursuits that are just for me. Andy J Pizza has a new Skillshare class on this topic that really has me inspired.

I recently finished a sketchbook and started a new one, the Etchr A5 hotpress 100% cotton watercolor sketchbook (see bottom left image below). I love that this sketchbook takes watercolor so much better than the moleskine books. However, I have some projects in mind that aren’t in a sketchbook and instead involve working on frame-able artwork. Stay tuned for some work outside of the sketchbook in the coming months.

maple leaf pen and ink stippling
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Maple Leaf Flatlay. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

oak leaf watercolor
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Oak Leaf (10/30/2019). Watercolor in Etchr A5 hotpress watercolor sketchbook.

magnolia leaf drawing
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Dried Magnolia Leaf. Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

End of Summer (drawings of tree trunks and roots)

I’ve been working on pen and ink all summer, but now I’m feeling like a change. The start of the school year always feels like a natural starting point and actually feels like a better time for new ventures than the beginning of the calendar year for me.

©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree trunk with roots (7/16/2019). Ink in large moleskine.

School starts tomorrow so I think it might be the perfect time to shift to a new way of working for awhile. I miss painting in watercolor and making more colorful art. So stay tuned for some more work in a colorful vein in my next update.

©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree trunk with roots (August 2019). Ink in large moleskine.

A fountain pen I really enjoy, and some drawings I made with it

Since April, I’ve been using the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with Platinum Carbon black ink. I originally heard about this pen through an art facebook group that I’m a part of. I used the ink cartridge that came with the pen and I’m on my second cartridge. I haven’t yet tried the converter. The ink cartridges and converters come with a small ball bearing inside to agitate the ink and prevent clumping, which is quite unique.

pen and ink landscape pond
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Hopedale Pond (June 2019). Platinum Carbon ink in large moleskine.

An interesting hack I found online is when Cathy Johnson used a hacksaw to remove the pointy tapered end of the pen so it would accept the cap. I personally don’t mind if I can’t cap the end of the pen, but I think this is a very creative solution.

All summer, I’ve been making pen and ink drawings of various places that I’ve visited for day trips and small getaways. It’s been the longest time that I’ve worked in one medium without deviating and so far I haven’t lost interest. This is the closest thing I’ve done to a series in fact. Some of these drawings are duds, of course, but I will have to collect my favorite ones and find an interesting way to display/publish them.

I made these drawings from photos I took at the Hopedale Fairy Walk in the Hopedale Parklands. Here is an interesting story I found about the history of the pond and how women gained the right to go swimming in it in the early 1900’s. I always like to find out little tidbits about the history of the places I visit.

pen and ink landscape pond trees
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Hopedale Pond in Portrait Orientation (June 2019). Platinum Carbon ink in large moleskine.

pen and ink landscape lake pond tree
©2019 Carolyn A Pappas, Hopedale Pond with Overhanging Tree (June 2019). Platinum Carbon ink in large moleskine.

tulip sketch

I’m getting back into the swing of art after taking a much needed break.

I’ve recently started reviving from a serious artistic funk in which I haven’t had the inclination or desire to engage in any sort of art at all. I didn’t even want to look at other people’s art, check Instagram, look for “inspiration” online, or anything similar.

I’ve never really experienced anything like this in the past. I wasn’t feeling depressed or anything of the sort, but I do think that I shifted focus to other areas of my life that were more immediately pressing (finances, etc.). I considered pushing on and continuing to work despite feeling very averse to the idea. The advice of many established artists is to “show up and do the work” and so forth. Instead, I truly felt like I just needed to rest my brain and to do nothing.

Now that things have quieted down a bit, I am focusing more on my art again. This time though, I am interested in expanding beyond floral art (not eliminating it entirely, of course). Throughout school and in the months following, I was drawn to florals because they made me happy and it was a subject matter that felt comfortable and easy to me. Now, I’m wanting to branch out and tackle some other subjects (other aspects of botany, rocks, and landscapes). I’m also working on some sewing projects and I’m imagining how I can incorporate sewing and embroidery into my art.

Cathy Johnson recently discussed her recent “dry spell.” I always like to read about how other artists deal with their creative ebbs and flows and it also makes me feel a little less uncomfortable with the whole process.

The following images are some of the pieces I painted in the last several months. Stay tuned for some new work in my next update.

tulip sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Discarded Tulips Sketch (5/13/2018). Pen and ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pansy watercolor
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Pansy. Watercolor and rubberstamping, 5 x 5 inches.

pen and ink watercolor flower sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Greenery (5/21/2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pen and ink succulents
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, US Botanic Garden (Feb 2018). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

pen and ink mountain sketch

Explorers’ Sketchbooks

Although I have taken some memorable trips in the past, I am more of a homebody and prefer the comfort of my familiar environment. I do love to read travelogues and travel vicariously through other people’s photos though.

I recently found the book Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery & Adventure by husband and wife Huw Lewis-Jones and Kari Hebert. It is a thick book (320 pages) and features photos of artists and sketchbook spreads from 70 different explorers’ sketchbooks, logs, and nature journals.

I haven’t had a chance to read all of the profiles yet, but I’ve been enjoying myself by reading one or two essays at a time in spare moments. I really like how there is a mix or photographs showing the book in its entirety (tattered pages, crumbling spine, etc.) as well as details of individual drawings and photos/drawings of the artists themselves. Another thing I appreciate is that the featured sketchbooks are from modern day explorers as well as those from the more distant past. Although many of the sketchbook pages shown are beautifully illustrated, there are also some utilitarian pages included with lists of figures, diagrams and penciled in comments.

I think my favorite sketchbook so far is from Edward Norton. He had some majestic mountain landscapes featured, as well as closeup studies of plants. His quote below reminds me of something that a modern day plein air sketcher would say.

“I sketched feverishly, my water freezing as fast as I put it on the paper, as also my fingers.” -Edward Norton (1884-1954)

Clearly this book was on my mind when I came across some of my late great uncle’s photographs while organizing through my reference photos on the computer recently. I couldn’t resist making an ink and watercolor interpretation of this mountain scene as if I were on location. Unfortunately, my uncle didn’t label or organize any of his photos so it is a mystery as to where he was when he took the photo.

If you can recognize this scene, or can suggest any similar books featuring the inside of sketchbooks, please leave me a comment below.

pen and ink mountain sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Exploring (4/6/2018). Noodler’s Luxury Blue and Lexington Gray ink and watercolor wash in large moleskine.

gnarly tree ink drawing

Starting Fresh for Spring (plus new pen and ink work)

I took a break from art for a few days to get my studio (i.e., my bedroom) in order. I wasn’t really happy with the lighting in my space, so I made a change and swapped bedrooms with my daughter. I was also struggling with clutter overload, so I took the opportunity to dispose of a lot of excess stuff and completely reorganize. The changing of the seasons seemed like the perfect time to undertake the project.

My art supplies and personal possessions are much more manageable now, but the whole job took more than two days and it was exhausting. Unlike some of the glamorous studio tours I’ve seen, my room is very plain and simple and nothing special to look at (hence, no pictures!).

One thing I love about my new setup is that my scanner is next to my desk now, so I can use it whenever I want. I didn’t have a place for it before and I had to keep it in my basement, which made scanning a real chore. I also got a new Ottlite with an attached magnifying glass (which has already been coming in handy).

After I got everything set up, I had a massive scan-a-thon and rounded up some of my recent pen and ink work to show you all. Thanks for looking and enjoy!

pen and ink nature drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Ink Medley (1/20/2018). Ink in Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook.

pen and ink tree sketch drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Sketch (2/28/2018). Ink and rubber stamps in large moleskine.

gnarly tree ink drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Gnarly Tree. Ink in large moleskine.

pen and ink tree roots
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Roots. Ink in Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook.

tree drawing sketch

Trees on my mind

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing, painting, thinking, and planning lately (as well as studying). My mind has been drifting to trees lately: the trunks, branches, and leaves that appear in my sketchbooks, but also the deep roots below. Scientists have found that there is much more going on underground than originally thought (Read: Trees communicate via their own fungi-based “internet”).

tree sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Climbing Vines (4/19/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

When I think of trees, I think of wisdom, strength, and stability. I’ve never had successful New Year’s resolutions in the past, but this year (probably because I am starting a new season after graduation) I really feel like I am starting my life over with a fresh start. I have been thinking of my priorities, and the things I really want to get done. I’ve also been focusing on my health, taking control of stress, and finding ways to incorporate minimalism into my life (Read: Go Deeper, Not Wider).

I’ve been enjoying spending time in my sketchbooks more than ever. Instead of being a task to check off my list, artmaking has become much more of a pleasure than it has been in a long time. I know that this feeling will not last forever, but I’m really loving it for the time being!

pine needles drawing
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Winter Debris. Ink and watercolor on a blank note card, 12.4 x 8.9 cm.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. Psalm 92:12-13

tree drawing sketch
©2018 Carolyn A Pappas, Tree Branches (1/15/2018). Platinum Carbon Ink and watercolor in large watercolor moleskine.

For more tree goodness, check out Terri Windling’s blog posts on trees. She writes so poetically, and the photos of her forest are so magical. Be sure to hover over each photo for poetry and quotes.

flower sketchbook drawing

Year End Review and Lost and Found Artwork, Part 3

flower sketchbook drawing
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Exuberant Joy (1/28/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens, watercolor and rubber stamps in large moleskine.

tulips sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Tulips (5/11/2017). Stabilo Point 88 pens and watercolor in large moleskine.

dichondra argentea garden sketch
©2017 Carolyn A Pappas, Dichondra argentea (7/14/2017). Ink and watercolor in large moleskine.

This is my last post of the year where I’ll review 2017 and look ahead to my art goals for next year. This is also the conclusion of my round up of unposted artwork from the past year. The above images were sketchbook pages in my large moleskine done from life. Even though my time was limited, I worked quite a bit from life over the course of 2017, which I am proud of and want to continue into the next year.

My goals for 2017 were to finish my nursing program and to incorporate more art into my life than I did in my first semester. I was successful with both of these goals, although my art activity fluctuated with my school schedule and I often went long stretches with no art making at all. My most productive times were in August and the end of April to mid-May, which coincided with my semester breaks. The least productive times were in September and November, which were also some of the busiest times of my entire nursing program. I posted to my blog 23 times this year, although 4 posts were written and pre-published the year before.

For 2018, I would like to work on making art on a more consistent schedule. I have some longer term projects/series that I am planning, but I need to create a lot of new work on a consistent basis to make my plans a reality. I also want to work more from life when possible. I did a lot of small nature studies this past year and I would like to continue on that theme. I also let my email newsletter fall by the wayside while I was in school and I want to start sending that out again.

I’m looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I hope everyone reading this joins me in having a productive, prosperous, and fulfilling 2018!
landscape sketch

Lost and Found Artwork, Part 1

My three week summer vacation went by way too fast and now I am back to school and pushing through my last semester. Although I did a lot of drawing on my vacation, I have gotten out of practice and don’t have a lot of work to show for it. I did find some artwork from 2016 that I never posted before. Here they are and thanks for visiting.

landscape sketch
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Windy Day (5/14/2016). Pen, watercolor and rubber stamping in large moleskine.

weeping katsuratree
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Under the Weeping Katsuratree. Pen and ink and watercolor wash on 5 x 7 inch greeting card.

watercolor garden sketch
©2016 Carolyn A Pappas, Watercolor Garden Sketch (December 2016). Watercolor in large moleskine.