Monday, June 27, 2016

My New Book is Out--AT LAST!


It's called Artist's Sketchbook; Techniques for Sketching on the Spot, and I'm very excited about the response it's gotten already--it just started arriving in peoples' mailboxes last week!

It features the works of a number of other international urban sketchers, most of them well known in our sketching family.  You'll find Don Low, Pat Southern-Pearce, Don Gore, Warren Ludwig, Vicky Williamson, Laura Murphy Frankstone, Roz Stendahl, Shari Blaukopf, Marc Taro Holmes, Nina Khashchina, Nik Ira, Steve Penberthy, Allisa Duke, Roisin Cure, Nina Johansson, Liz Steel, Danny Gregory, and Jennifer Lawson, as well as some of the finest naturalist/artists around.  People like Jan Blencowe, John Muir Laws, Kolby Kirk, Shevaun Doherty, Maria Coryell-Martin, Joseph Ruckman and Sue Hodnett fill the pages of the book with inspiration and demos.

I hope these images will give you a taste...

Here, the subject is travel sketching, featuring work by Laura Murphy Frankstone, Nina Johannson, Alissa Duke, Gay Kraeger, all accomplished travel sketchers!  And that's my sketch of the Kansas City airport terminal...on the right hand page.

Discussing format at the top of the page...see how effectively Don Gore and Don Low have handled an extreme vertical on opposite sidees of the globe?  The lower images are my own, dealing with the surprises we sometimes run into, working on the spot!


Of course we cover materials and supplies for sketching on the spot...

And there are plenty of demos...here, I add watercolor to an ink sketch.

Lots of opportunities for nature sketching, right in our own back yard!

We talk about different tools and paper surfaces and size...

...and look at how different artists handle similar subjects...here, at upper left, Marc Holmes is hard at work.  Below that, Nina Khashchina explores the rocky coast.  At upper right is Shari Blaukopf's fresh beach scene...Nina Johannson paints the palms and beach in the Dominican Republic,  and the surf sketch on toned paper is mine, from one of our trips to California.  Widely varying conditions of waters all over the place...

Steve Penberthy (top) and I explore landscape and water...

Taking a peek at colored pencils...that's my husband Joseph at left!

The back of the book is almost as pretty as the front!
I'll be giving you more sneak peeks in the next week or so, but better yet, snag your own copy! 
In the US the 128-page book is available from Amazon , as well as local bookstores and art supply stores, and soon to come on my own website if you'd like a signed copy!

If you get it and you like it, please consider writing a review on Amazon, it would be much appreciated!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Meaningful Journaling Class...really! One of these days...and a question



Hi all...I'd appreciate your thoughts on this!  I WILL be working on the class on Meaningful Journaling again...I got sidetracked by life and other considerations, and now I find I have a question. 

I've recently taken a couple of online classes that were almost exclusively videos.  Mine are usually heavily PDF, with video supplements, these days (though I didn't used to include videos in my early classes, if you've taken those.)

I much prefer the format I use even when I'm TAKING a class, for various reasons.  Here are a few of them:

I don't want to spend that much time in front of the computer. 

I can only watch videos right here, not out on the deck or in my shed or on the go.  If I print a PDF, I can take with.

My attention wanders when a video takes too long (for me, that appears to be anything over 10 minutes, usually.)

I like to be able to easily refer back to a section or a detail or a particular point.

I like clickable links, which videos don't have.

I like good clear visuals/illustrations that are easy to find again.

I like to be able to underline or make notes, if I've printed out a lesson.

Videos often feel so slooooooooow...and I tend to scroll ahead.

When I want to review something in a video, it's harder to find again than when I simply turn a page.

There are more reasons, I'm sure, just not bringing them to mind at the moment.

So what are your thoughts?


My current classes are here, by the way: http://cathyjohnson.info/online.html

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Breathing a Bit Easier...Taking Care of Business!

Exploring images of Irish dolmens yesterday...one is the Brownshill dolmen on the right, and I have no idea where the other is...

I had a couple of pieces of business that were keeping me from immersing myself in working on the class on Meaning-full Journaling I've mentioned here before...at least let's just blame them, okay?  One of them had been hanging fire, as a friend used to say, for weeks (well, months, really), and the other just came up yesterday, but I needed to DEAL with them.

Clear the decks, AND my mind.

I've received an inquiry about republishing a couple of my out of print books as eBooks--honestly, the initial contact was months ago when I was still reeling from the two deaths in the family and I just didn't want to think about it.  I finally restablished contact a few weeks ago and we're in the contract-negotiation phase now.


Let me just say that I HATE reviewing contracts.  I've dealt with dozens of them and you'd think it would be a piece of cake by now, but...it isn't.  The wording's confusing, publishing changes, and eBooks work differently from print books, of course.  Not exactly rivetting reading, either, frankly.

So my beloved Author's Guild, to which I've belonged for decades, looked over the contract and offered some brilliant suggestions, which I needed to get into the form I could send to the publisher.
And then I couldn't find their email with the original contract.  I DID find my printed-out version, so had to enter all the requests and changes onto that, then transcribe.

Are you asleep yet?

Anyway, finally DONE, and sent off...the other publisher who contacted me about those same books hasn't responded, so we'll see where we go from here.  I'll announce here if it works out!




The other thing I needed to deal with and consider was an offer to illustrate a proposed Quarto Book, on birds.  Those books are gorgeous, well-designed, elegant, beautifully printed...they like my work, and they sound lovely to work with.

But it had a deadline that would mean some real nose-to-grindstone time as well as putting off the class, and I just wasn't willing.  Those things always take more energy and time than I originally set aside for them.  (My "80-100" illustrations for The Walker's Companion, years ago, turned into nearly 300, as I recall...not all of which were used, I think.)

And frankly, I'm just not in the place where I want to fit anyone else's timetable or requirements any more.  Or anyone else's ideas!  I've got plenty of my own...

I don't know how long it will take me to actually get the class ready to go, but I want to put my love and energy there.  I want to make it worth it.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Urban Nature, where I spend 80% of my waking hours!

I am delighted that after some years of work and thought, we've managed to create a tiny nature sanctuary right here in our old neighborhood.  We attract many species of birds, as well as raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and the very occasional white tail deer and fox.  We plant flowers to attract butterflies and bees, and there are many species of wildflowers and useful wild plants on our little lot.

Plus WONDERFUl sketching opportunities!  There is much more to our urban environment than buildings and people.

I do quick on the spot gesture sketches and often add color as the birds stay around.

I make my own art supplies from things that grow in my little sanctuary...note the more practical dip pens on the right!

My feeders are usually busier than this!

I learn a lot about my environment by sketching what I find...in this case, a woodpecker's burrow caused the limb to break off so I could see how the nest was made.

Birds DO move fast, but we can sketch their basic shapes, just like people in a cafe or airport terminal, and add color as we have the chance.  I like to list the birds I see on any given day...

And record special events like this!  A white tail deer chasing my cat through the woods.  I was able to dash down their shapes as I watched, then added my familiar trees once they'd boogied on out of there...

Pilieated woodpeckers are making a comeback!  I've sketched him several times...even on my feeder, though I was told this big bird doesn't come to feeders.

These guys are ALWAYS good for a laugh, as well as fast sketching practice.  Here, mostly a Prismacolor dark grey pencil with washes added...

This kind of peanut feeder attracts a lot of birds...

I'm even doing a backyard Materia Medica of all the useful herbs and plants...


I've learned a terrific amount about what grows even here in town, and what benefits they offer.

 What nature can you find in YOUR urban environment?  It's precious, and we are nourished by it.


* I put this post on our Urban Sketchers Midwest blog as well, but I thought you might enjoy it here too, in case you don't see that one!

There is a program that gives certification for this kind of effort from the National Wildlife Federation, well worth looking into if you are interested.

And enjoy this site, The Urban Wilderness, for more inspiration--one man's effort in Kansas City's populous Brookside area. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pixel Pixies...

...that's what brilliant fantasy writer Charles de Lint calls them.  And sure enough, they're out to drive me NUTS.  Next they'll be making fairie knots in my hair while I sleep...



 We've been going fishing a lot this summer and fall, and whenever we can in the winter.  They stock trout at Fountain Bluff in Liberty, so of course my husband was trying out his Japanese Tenkara rig and practicing his casting.  AND catching fish...

And I sketch.  Not all that thrilling, there, but good practice...

This is the basic view...and I've painted it 4-5 times now.
I used several different techniques on the journal page above and decided to do some close-ups, so scanned the page and cropped a few, with details.

...and from somewhere, in my computer, words from a long-ago demonstration superimposed themselves on the images.
       
This one...FIT. 

That IS pretty much what I did there...wet in wet, bare tree limbs done with lines scraped in...(the lighter tree shapes were blotted but apparently the Pixel Pixies couldn't find that kind of caption...)

...but as if that wasn't enough...THIS one pretty much fit, too.  "Palette grays" are created when you pick up whatever's on your palette and mix it together to make a neutral tint.  Yep.  Like these...

...and just to prove (okay, to my own satisfaction!) that it WAS the pixies and I'm not just totally batshit crazy and I added text then forgot about it...the one above didn't fit.  It was just wandering around somewhere in the innards of my computer and got slapped into place.  NO salt at all in the sky wash...

So here's the capper.  If I looked in Windows Explorer at the file called My Scans, the above three images with text didn't exist.  If I went in through Picasa's viewer, they did. 

WHAAAT....???

So I did a "save as" in Picasa, named them something diffrent, and there they were, in my scans folder.  In Windows.



Oh yeah, and one of the images I'd planned to use in the Art Tip I was working on today?  The one that was in my file, oh, say, half an hour ago?  Gone.  First it was there, then it was a black square, then...poof!

Oh, and Spell Check has disappeared in Blogger today...

Ya know? 

I'm babbling...

Definitely time to turn the thing over to the pixies and go grab a carrot juice or something...

That Upcoming Class on Meaning-full Journaling...

I just keep writing...ideas keep popping into my head, in my studio, in bed, at the computer, in the shower...I'm beginning to wonder if I'll be able to actually stop and launch the thing!  6 more pages written today...

And yes, this is how I prepare for a class.  Scribble, scribble, note, cross out, arrows, boxes, transcribe, print, scribble on THAT...retype with changes...

Take photos, choose sketches, make lists...

And of course I'll be adding my visual on how to tip in pages...if I can find it...and shoot photos of the journal I DID so much of that in...


This one will be one of the shots to illustrate thoughts on using other methods to produce meaningful journal images.  I made most of these stamps myself, things that resonate with me, but some are special commercial ones, too...
I'm compiling my Resources Document on journaling and art...books and such...and resisting the urge to include everything out that's there!  Mostly I am only including the ones I actually own and that have proven personally meaningful over the years.  One, The New Diary by Tristine Rainer, was published in the late 70s, but it's as timely as tomorrow's sunrise.

And of course I just ordered another book on the subject...siiiigh...

(If you have a personal favorite, I'd love to hear about it...)

------------------

The class will take place here on blogger; I'll set up a new blog just for class members and make everyone co-contributors so everyone will be able to post, share journal pages (if they wish), ask questions, whatever.

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