Let Your Mind Wander in a Meander Sketchbook!

With so much going on in the world today, sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on working on a “serious” piece of art. By serious, I suppose I mean something that is going to be a finished or complete project; something that you are going to show others, hang in your home, or sell.

Right now, my mind is all over the place, so I’ve turned to my Meander Sketchbook, where I just play with colours, using any or all of my supplies. For these, I’ve chosen not to paint anything specific, but instead I’m painting completely non-objective, or what some call abstract. These paintings are just for me, so there is no pressure to do a “good job”!

It was a few years ago at a meetup with some watercolour painting buddies that my friend Charlene McGill demonstrated how to make a Meander Sketchbook (also called an accordion book). They are very easy to make, and if you use good watercolour paper, they make really nice sketchbooks that you can take with you when you go out plein air painting.

Experiment and Play!

However, I decided that these would make really cool books to just experiment with. You could use any kind of paper, but I decided to stay with a nice, fairly heavy watercolour paper as it holds up to a lot of abuse! You can also add a cover on the front and back by gluing a hard cardboard or similar on the end pieces. I had decorated my covers by gluing collage paper on top, but then ended up painting over that too!

I’ve made two of these books so far, and today I finished the first half of the second book. For these, I use two pages for each painting, but you can do a painting on each section and have up to 32 paintings in each book. This is the page I completed today. (maybe… I usually go back and add more!) As you can see, I added everything under the sun. But what fun!

Scroll down to the very bottom of this post for directions on how to make your own Meander Sketchbook!

Lots of fun!
Here is the whole book unfolded. One side completed!
This is the other side. You can see the covers on each end. Also, I drew some meandering lines for loose prompts to help me get started.
All folded back up, nice and compact.
Obviously,I don’t know how to make a fancy illustration with my computer!
If you have questions, leave a comment below and I’ll try to clarify.

Song Sparrow- Bird #72 of 100

This little songster is a sweet Song Sparrow. What he lacks in colourful plumage he makes up for in singing ability! And so what if he’s not colourful? Look at those snazzy stripes! I created this guy using watercolours, a bit of sepia ink, and coloured pencils. Thank you to Dave Slaughter for posting the reference photo in the Wetcanvas.com reference library.

Mixed media and watercolour brown striped song sparrow on a blue watercolour background. Link to purchase is below the image.
Songster 7″ X 5″ Mixed Media on paper
Interested in this sweet singer? Comment below or check him out in my Etsy shop.
Want something similar? Fill out my contact form.

Mixed Media Monday – Pod of Pelicans – Birds #62, 63 and 64 of 100

They say you learn something new every day. Today I learned that there are many different names for a group of pelicans. They can be called a brief, a pod, a pouch, a scoop, or a squadron. I thought pod had a nice ring to it, although pouch or scoop are quite appropriate considering how they use their big beaks.

This small 5 X 7″ piece was done in mixed media, starting with a pencil drawing on watercolour paper. I then did the background and rough underpainting of the birds in acrylic, finishing off with coloured pencil and soft pastel details. After collage, this is starting to become my favourite painting style although I’ll never give up my watercolours!

Pod of Pelicans 5″ X 7″ Mixed Media on Paper
Reference Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash
Interested in this painting? Comment below, send me a message on Facebook, or check it out in my Etsy store

Mixed Media Crow Study – Bird # 51 of 100

Moving from the graphite version of this fine fellow, I decided to do a watercolour study this time. As if often does with me, it turned into a bit of mixed media piece. So, here we have watercolour, a tiny touch of ink, some watersoluble graphite, and just a smidge of gouache. As always, my camera has washed out the blue background some. It’s more vibrant in real life.

Next up will be the seagull in watercolor. At least, that’s my intention! Who knows? And then all three of these birds will get the collage treatment.

Black Crow cawing on the stump of a dead tree. Mixed media on paper.
Crow Study – Mixed Media on paper 7 X 5″
Buy on Etsy! CLICK HERE for more information

Two birds and some tulips. Birds # 45 and 46 of 100

I’m back! I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I was enjoying summer, then was on vacation in Nova Scotia, and all of a sudden it’s October! In between all of that I took on a commission to do three mini 4X4″ collages. Thankfully, my friend and client was understanding, because these seemed to take me forever to do! I had already done a summery flower collage, and she wanted three more to represent the other seasons.

I decided on a cardinal for winter and a blue jay for fall. Spring was a trio of tulips. (They started out as daffodils, but I couldn’t get them to look daffodilly enough!)

Winter Bird 4 X 4 X 1.5″ Collage on canvas.SOLD
Blue and Gold 4 X 4 X 1.5″ Collage on Canvas SOLD
Tip-toe Through the Tulips 4 X 4 X 1.5″ Collage on Canvas SOLD

It’s Wednesday, but this ain’t a Watercolour! Scarlet Tanager Bird #42 of 100

Okay, it started our innocently enough as a watercolor, but it wasn’t speaking to me. It had sat on my work table for almost two months. Yesterday, I got out my small arsenal of acrylic paint, pastel and coloured pencils, and other miscellaneous stuff. Voila! The Scarlet Tanager! It sounds like a superhero name, right? Well, to me it does.

Once again, my camera refused to recognise the deep variations of yummy turquoise in the background. Even my photo editing program couldn’t get it right. So imagine that when you look at this painting, please!

The Scarlet Tanager
7 X 5″ Mixed Media on Paper
Buy on Etsy

Wild Wednesday! Rose Breasted Grosbeak – Bird #41 of 100

Yeah, I went a little wild with this one! I think the heat is getting to me. It started out innocently enough as a nice watercolour, but I thought it was a bit dull. I started adding different media to it (as I tend to do), and it winded up looking like this. Not sure how I feel about it, and I may do it again, but here it is!

Rose Breasted Grosbeak. 5″ X 7″ Mixed Media on paper.
SOLD

Watercolour Wednesday – Nice Weather for Ducks – Bird #33 of 100

In my part of the world, we’ve been getting lots and lots of rain. It’s nice weather if you’re a duck, but I’m getting a bit tired of it! But here’s a little duckling that would cheer anyone up, even on a cold rainy day. We could have had some of these in our yard if I had let the Mallard pair swimming in the water on top of our pool tarp stick around. I wasn’t too sad to see them go however, as our dog Maggie probably wouldn’t have played nicely with the little hatchlings!

Happy Duckling 7″ X 5″ Watercolour with touches of colored pencil and sepia ink on paper.
Check me out on ETSY

Reworking a Painting and Giving it New Life – Bird #33 of 100

The Story:

I had nothing but problems with this painting. When I first worked on it, the background got away from me and got too dark. Then I had trouble with the little fish in his mouth. I worked on that silly fish for days. Also, I worked on it up on an easel, but when I took it down, I realized the support was warped.

I got good feedback on it however, and decided to try and un-warp it and enter it into a show. It wasn’t accepted, and when I went to pick it up, I realized that the new medium I tried for adhering the collage paper had turned milky! And the supports went back to their original warpedness. Grrr. That was enough of that. It was banished to the closet to serve hard time in the dark.

The Solution:

The thing was, it kept whispering to me, usually late at night when I was trying to sleep. So about six months later, I got it back out. My first step was to take the canvas off the old support and put it on a new one. I only gouged one finger getting the staples out! Then got rid of that darn fish and closed the heron’s beak. With a cry of “No Mercy!” (in my head), I slapped white gesso all over the background, leaving a bit of the orange around the edges of the heron, thinking I might use some of that later.

It stayed like that for a day or two, while I stewed and asked myself, “What the heck do I do now?” But I asked some of my wonderful friends their opinions, and that gave me a kickstart. (Thanks Lauren and Tom! And you too, Char. I had asked you a while ago.)

I added some washy colour around the heron, and some reeds. The bottom needed a bit more darks, so added a few. I found patterns in the paper that I used on the bird and accentuated them and placed some similar ones throughout the painting. Finally, I played around with some coloured pencils and oil pastels to add some pops of colour and texture.

I think I’m done now, and it sure has changed! For the better, I think. Now I just have to come up with a title…

The Progress:

The Final Painting:

Finished 36″ X 24″ Mixed Media on Gallery wrapped canvas.

An “Unkindess” of Ravens! Birds # 27, 28, and 29 of 100

According to Lifescience.com, “A group of ravens is called an “unkindness” or “conspiracy,” which seems fitting, since ravens are traditionally considered creepy; in fact, seeing many of them in one place can induce Hitchcockian “The Birds”-like flashbacks in even the least ornithophobic (those people with a fear of birds).”

I, however, find ravens and crows fascinating because they are so smart, and also beautiful with their glossy black feathers and large size.

I’ve been experimenting with mixed media quite a bit in my bird series. I did these two trouble-makers with a mix of acrylics, colored pencils, and soft pastels. Here are Heckle and Jeckle!

Heckle – Mixed Media 5 X 7″ on paper $45 CAD plus shipping and handling
Jeckle – Mixed Media 5 X 7″ on Paper $45 CAD plus shipping and handling



I also had a chance to try out some water soluble graphite with help from my friend Tom, who kindly let me use them for this guy:

Loudmouth – Graphite on paper 8″ X 10″ $100 CAD plus shipping and handling.