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January 6, 2007

London Visit: Part 17: V &A

Last Thursday I met Katherine Tyrrell and several of the Society of Graphic Fine Art members for a sketch day at the Victoria and Albert Museum.  I was delighted that they chose the Islamic Art Room - we saw it briefly when it reopened this Fall and I always meant to return to sketch some of the designs.  I spent the morning analyzing a Turkish tile design followed by a Turkish bottle.  We had canvas stools and I had my backpack with sketching tools, waterbrushes, and the Daler-Rowney cylinder of watercolor paints.  I was delighted to be so comfortable sketching/painting and zoned out.

I chose this Turkish tile design because it forced me to slow down and figure out the design which was symmetrical across the diagonal of the square.  In the past I photographed magnificent mosaic tiles from the floor of the old Paris Opera House and appliqued quilt squares from the designs. 


This 16th C Turkish bottle was the most beautiful shades of blue.  I loved the stylized flowers and also envisioned the design in fabric.


Katherine prepared a sheet of Arches Watercolor paper with a grid design before she came to the museum.  She then copied designs from a series of beautiful plates and was halfway done when I left.  Her work is wonderful and is now posted (Jan 5th entry) at:


My notes re: adding hot links in my blog are back in New York - so I'm just adding the link to Katherine's blog here because today's entry is from her visit to the Holbein exhibit, followed by the sketches from the V & A.  I love reading all of Katherine's blog entries, and not only enjoy her journal sketches, but learn something about art everyday because of the research she does for each entry.

January 4, 2007

London Visit: Part 16 - Tower Bridge


We played tourist in London this week and visited the exhibit at Tower Bridge followed by a delicious Italian lunch in the Butler's Wharf building.  This morning there was a question about the Daler-Rowney travel watercolor set on the EDM message board, and I remembered that I had this rare photo of me - sketching a piece of Tower Bridge from the warm restaurant.  Since I carry the camera, there are full vacations without any documentation that I traveled with my husband!

I take a small leather pencil case with mechanical pencil, 2 Zig millenium ink pens, a Bic Clik eraser, a folded paper towel, the watercolor set, two size Niji waterbrushes, my travel journal (not very small), wallet, comb, kleenex, Moleskine cahier with map and bus route - all in a very small (ladie's purse size) leather backpack.  Here is the journal page that I was creating:


January 1, 2007

Holbein Drawing: Anne Cresacres


I downloaded the Holbein drawing on the left from the on-line exhibit catalogue and sketched the drawing on the right in #2B pencil.  How can I prevent it from smudging?

Art Goals - 2007

WARNING TO FELLOW EDM SUPERBLOG SUBSCRIBERS: This is a long blog entry written primarily for my own self-reflection and planning.  I can't believe that anyone else will be interested enough to stay with me to 2007 Goal #8 .... 

Members of the Everyday Matters Group are being very reflective and sharing their ideas about their journey through art in 2006 and their personal goals for 2007.  I'm really enjoying reading each of their blog entries and simultaneously thinking about my own.

Throughout my life, I have had the need to regularly create something with my own hands and the majority of my creations were focused on textiles and needlework.  I drew reasonably well as a child and could always copy photos to make patterns for my textile work.  But I described myself as a "copier."  I also love books and was especially attracted to travel sketchbooks - thinking that I could never take the time, nor have the skills, to keep one myself.  Although I love art of all styles and time periods, I gravitate to artist's drawings - usually preparatory for their big oils - and any work they did in watercolor. 

I have had a wonderful career as an academic physician employed by medical schools first in Texas and then in New York City - and raised 3 fantastic kids.  My husband and I are entering our 40th anniversary year and I'm now only working 3 days per week and regularly helping care for one or another of our baby grandchildren.  This was a perfect time for me to set new goals and expand my own interests and skills. 

This new phase of my life started on Mother's Day 2003 with the gift card purchase of Gwen Diehn's book The Decorated Page, and continued slowly while I worked on textile projects for the weddings of both of my sons in 2004 and 2005.  Then during late summer 2005 I found many illustrated blogs and the EDM group.  This single event really changed my own goals by providing me with a community from whom to learn and be inspired.  From September through December 2005 I sketched EDM challenges from the past in black ink in a spiral sketchbook and kept up with the new weekly challenges.  I then set goals for 2006 - and listened carefully when EDM members said that the only way to improve was to sketch daily and experiment. 

Accomplishments for 2006: 

1.  I completed a daily sketch - pen with watercolor wash - every day except 2.  But on many other days I did two pages in my sketchbooks.  This was the single most important accomplishment because it really did improve my eye-hand coordination, but more than that took me beyond the fear of a blank page.  Some evenings I was so tired after long days at work that I could only sketch and paint a rubber band or binder clip, but forcing myself to take 15 minutes to fill a page was critical to the process.  I wrote about "Journal Angst" for the first EDM challenge of 2006 and now have settled on a large watercolor Moleskine for my daily paintings and several Cachet Linen series watercolor journals for my London journals. 

2.  I developed a blog on January 4, 2006 and uploaded an EDM Challenge and at least one other series of sketches each week.  This regular activity helped me stay focused and as a wonderful surprise I made many new friends through sharing my life, my work, and my artistic struggles.

3.  I worked on a single color for some of my sketches each month - January through June.  I have cool and warm primary Winsor-Newton artist grade tube paints and I needed to learn how to mix secondary and complementary colors. It was fun to collect objects around our apartment and to try to recreate their colors in my paintings.    I think that I learned so much about my own palette and have added only several additional colors during the year for a total of 11.

4.  I am now completing my second full London sketchbook during our 4th visit to our daughter and her family since she moved to London in May 2006.  I found out that I really can travel around a city and find a few minutes to sketch "live."  I usually take enough photos to paint the sketch when I get back to her house each day.  I have a great Daler-Rowney travel watercolor set and 2 Niji waterbrushes which I bring with me, but find that I usually don't want to paint until later.  The combination of a sketch and several photos is perfect for my current style of sketching while traveling.

5.  I bought some book-binding tools, followed Jan Alsop's excellent instructions, and recycled a book on Queen Elizabeth I that I bought for one pound on Charing Cross Road.  I can't wait to try the 3 types of watercolor paper that I mixed in the new signatures.  I will use this for London sketches of some variety - still to be determined.

6. I painted one "larger-than-sketchbook size" piece - a sketch of my son's new house in DC  - as a gift.  I then sketched and painted a Christmas wreath and candle per his request so he could layer the images and create their Christmas card on Photoshop.  One of their friends, who by chance we met at the Imperial War Museum this week, wrote them that it was their favorite Christmas card this year, but not to twll any of their friends with children!

7.  I made watercolor paintings on cards and postcards to mail to my grandchildren.  They love mail and really love giving me orders. It gives me great pleasure to see them play with my paintings of their favorite book, video, TV characters. 

8.  I read several wonderful books on keeping travel sketchbooks - each with pen and ink and watercolor.  Each of these books were instructional art books in addition to examples of one or more artists' own travel sketchbooks.

Goals for 2007:

1. Continue to sketch/paint everyday in my large Moleskine watercolor sketchbook.

2. Complete each EDM weekly challenge and try to expand my skills by what I choose to paint for the challenge.

3. Make plans for how I will use my new Eliz. I recycled book.  I'm currently considering using it for more London sketches -  from photos that I have taken during our visits.  I have another Cachet journal for London Volume 3 and decided that I want to continue to use the same journal type for all of my London travel. 

4.  Recycle another book since I have more paper from my previous purchase.  This time I will look for an old New York book that I can use for special days out and about my own city.

5.  Spend more time sketching human faces and figures.  I'm not sure yet whether I want to take any life drawing classes because I love the challenge of learning on my own.  I collected some copies of Holbein's portraits and Rodin's figure drawings from our museum visits this week.  And I now own two Hockney drawing/portrait books.  I will recreate some of these pieces from the 16th C, 19th C, and 20th C for fun and then immerse myself in my city and draw people to try to develop my own style. 

6.  Read some of the new art books on my shelf - starting with Betty Edward's book on color.

7.  Make a "larger-than-journal size" watercolor of the house my daughter and son-in-law rented this year in London so we have a personal visual memory of this wonderful year when they return to New York mid-year.

8.  Be a visitor in my own city and keep a Manhattan "travel" journal.  I now have scattered journal pages throughout my daily sketchbooks. 

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