Sketchbook #5

I always have mixed feelings when I fill up the last page of a sketchbook. I feel content as I have completed something and can move on to the next thing, but also a bit sentimental as it marks the end of a journey, which in this case lasted about 7 years! I started this moleskine pocket size notebook back in 2008, when I had just started to get into outdoor sketching and it has been on and off in my bag since then. Oh so many places and so many memories!

On a sunday afternoon

The good thing when my little falls asleep in the car, is that I have time to sketch, read and do all the relaxing stuff that would otherwise be neglected and replaced by cleaning, tidying up and so on. As long as I have what I need with me, which is fortunately 99% of the time, I enjoy these rare moments very much.
Yesterday afternoon, we were on our way to Heathrow airport to pick up a certain someone from his weekend away in Rome…
We left home early, she felt asleep, so I stopped in a residential road nearby the airport and did some sketching. Apart from the constant noise of plane engines (I do wonder if people who leaves here are used to it!), it was a perfect sunny afternoon.

Moleskine Reloaded

I can honestly say that I’m pretty obsessed with sketchbooks. As it stands I have about 8 of them going at the same time, and as I said before this year (or was last year?!?), my resolution is to complete all of them before buying a new one. But that has proved to be very hard, both the not-buying part and the completing-them-all part. So to satisfy my craving, without compromising my intentions, I decided to make a new sketchbook using an old moleskine diary.

I have made sketchbooks before, and I love how they look once they are finished. And I noticed I have different feelings when using a homemade item, than when I use something I bought brand new.
I don’t feel the pressure of having to make things look perfect, to follow a certain style, to make no mistakes. If I have made the item once, I can sure make it again and that somehow gives me the freedom to experiment a bit more and put the pressure off. And I believe this is the reason why my homemade sketchbooks look nicer and more cohesive than the once I normally buy.
Another good reason for making my own sketchbook is that I can choose the style, the format and the paper that goes in it. To be fair, I have loved the moleskine watercolour books since they came out, and that is what I use the most. However, the sizes available are not my ideal choice.
I love the pocket size of the moleskine, as it goes well with my pocket size watercolour kit, which is just perfect for outdoor and travel sketching. But the landscape format sometimes has proven not to be ideal. I feel like it is too narrow for some subjects, and to make up for it I normally carry some spare watercolour sheets in a different size.
To cut this short, I used an old moleskine daily planner and re-filled it with watercolour paper (I used Fabriano Accademia, natural grain, 240g/m// 113lbs), giving me a 48-pages pocket size sketchbook in a portrait format. I have followed the very detailed instructions found on the Trumpetvine Travels website. They are absolutely well written and so easy to follow.

The sketchbook came out pretty well; it is not perfect, I didn’t trim the edges of the pages, so they don’t align perfectly and, although I rounded the edges to match the moleskine cover, somehow I managed to trim some of the side edges of each sheet as well (I’m still mastering the art of corners rounding!).

But I absolutely love the overall look. I promised myself not to start using it until I finish at least my two moleskine sketchbooks, which fortunately have only few pages to go.

Shop news :: As I tend to get carried away with repurposing old moleskine diaries, the above pocket size moleskine reloaded is now available to buy on my Etsy shop (click here).

Up in the snowy mountains

Aschi Alto – Abruzzo, Italy
We went visiting my in-laws back in February this year. They live in central Italy, up on the mountains and it snows a lot during winter. This sketch was done on location, during one of our afternoon car trips. We pulled the car over the side of the road (we only saw one car driving on the same road that afternoon!). It was cold outside, so I stayed in the car. Shame about the electricity lines, which I love in general; they came out too big, but I didn’t really have a flat surface to keep my sketchbook steady.

30 drawings in 30 days – Last set

#21/30 – Parco archeologico Scolacium, Roccelletta di Borgia, Italy

#22/30 – Pen & Wash exercise, from Cathy Johnson Art Tips  

#23/30 – Golfo di Squillace, Italy

#24/30 – Anthurium

#25/30 – Hosta

#26/30 – Torre Cavallara, Catanzaro Lido, Italy
#27/30 – Sedia di vimini, Catanzaro Lido, Italy

#28/30 – Athelstan Recreation Ground, Kingston upon Thames, UK

#29/30 – Summer Trees

#30/30 – Il porto, Catanzaro Lido, Italy

The last 10 drawings have been a completely different story. Say that the motivation begun to fade away, say that we came back home, say that I went back to work, say that the last 10% of a project takes 90% of the time to complete…I finished the last drawing this month! Shame, I know. I managed to do drawing #29 at the end of October, but really lost any motivation to do drawing #30 until the new year. But I finally did it and along with a new scanner I was able to put an end to this torture (this is what does to me any unfinished project!). Overall I’m glad I did it, even if it took more than 30 days. I will do something similar again, but maybe joining some group projects this time to keep things more interesting.
You can find the previous two sets of drawings here and here.

30 drawings in 30 days – Part 2

#11/30 – La Capanna – Roccelletta di Borgia, Italy

#12/30 – Spiaggia – Roccelletta di Borgia, Italy

#13-14-15/30 – Doodles

#16/30 – La Terrazza – Catanzaro Lido, Italy

#17/30 – Living Room – Catanzaro Lido, Italy

#18/30 – Hibiscus – Catanzaro Lido, Italy
#19/30 – Wet-on-wet excercise

#20/30 – Golfo di Squillace, afternoon mist – Catanzaro Lido, Italy

I was hoping to get a new scanner soon, after my old one broke down a long while ago. But since that hasn’t happen yet, I got my drawing scanned at work. Here is my second set of drawings which were done back in August. I loved the challenge of finding the time everyday to do a little sketch. I must confess we were on holiday back then visiting my parents, and it was not much of a time issue, more like getting the inspiration going…trying to fight the apathy that comes with doing (almost!) nothing all day and a 40degC average temperature! But I stuck to it and I’m glad I did.
These were mostly on the spot sketches, with the exception of #18 which was done from a photo I took in my granddad’s garden and #19 which was an example exercise from one of Cathy Johnsson mini classes. And the doodles of course are pure imagination…

30 drawings in 30 days – first 10 drawings

#1/30 – Municipio – Pescina, Italy
#2/30 – Various plants from the garden – Pescina, Italy

#3/30 – Pescina (old town), Italy

#4-5-6/30 – Various subjects – Catanzaro Lido, Italy

#7/30 – La Tonnina – Catanzaro Lido, Italy
#8/30 – Pineta – Roccelletta di Borgia, Italy
#9/30 – Strada per Pescina, Italy (from photo)

#10/30 – Colline sopra Roccelletta di Borgia, Italy

And the first 10 drawings are done, almost as planned! I have been using my Moleskine watercolour notebook (21 x 13cm) as I’m planning to complete all the sketchbooks I have lying around the house by the end of the year. I have used different page layouts, so far: portrait, landscape, landscape with 4 horizontal inserts and landscape with 3 vertical inserts.
The first batch contains different type of sketches, some of them were done on the spot, some others were done using photos I had taken with my phone. I managed to do one drawing a day, except for drawings number 4, 5 and 6 that were done on the same day…you can tell by the size of the drawings and the lack of details…..

Note: In the UK the hash # isn’t printed on the Apple Mac computer keyboard, so just press “alt”+3.

Pencil sketches

I started this pencil sketch back in November and still I didn’t manage to finish it. I picked the branch and the seed pods from my neighbour’s huge Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata), which grows right in front of my bedroom window. It looses all its leaves during winter, but still holds the seed pods, regardless of all the snow we had this year. I’m hoping to get this finishide before spring when the tree gets covered in tiny yellow flowers in spring.