my red journal

This is my new journal- the first one that I made myself! I took a day long book binding class from Roz Stendahl at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. I really decided to take it out of necessity, because I was always disappointed in my “manufactured” sketchbooks, because I didn’t quite like the size, shape, paper, etc. and I just want what I want! Also, buying a handmade journal, while a lovely experience, is pretty pricey. I am amassing my supplies, and planning to make a set of journals on my own, 7×7 square, with various papers I’ve been wanting to try. I’m so excited! Here’s what came out of our first little trip together to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts…my mental health day while the kids were in preschool.

kiss of victory

Kiss of Victory (marble) 1878-1881

Sir Alfred Gilbert

I am using a Derwent Light Wash graphite pencil on Velin Arches paper.

lost pleiad

The Lost Pleiad (marble)

Randolph Rogers 1874


Boreas Abduction Orithyia (bronze reduction cast)

Gaspard Marsy and Ansiline Flamen c. 1700

My husband cannot “read” this at all. Does everyone see a male and female torso? Am I nuts?


jonah sunflower

graphite on bristol


watercolor and colored pencil

I find that my visual journaling practiceboots allows me to experiment much more freely than I would otherwise. First, there is something about being “on location”, even if I’m in my own house. Relaxed, with my journal on my lap, so different from a blank sheet of paper in my studio space. Sometimes outside with the wind ruffling my hair and miscellaneous sounds floating through…

Also, having a whole book open fuels my anxiety less than a single page. Hey, if things don’t work out, turn the page! There are a hundred more chances! My new journal has a mixture of fabriano watercolor paper and blue tinted pastel paper. Here’s an experiment I did with pen and white colored pencil on the white paper. I like the tinted paper because it gets the ball rolling- you start with and interesting problem, and not a blank sheet of white paper.

peonyHere is my first watercolor pencil drawing. This spring I was doing a lot of drawing in my yard. I was craving the outdoors, and I would work in my yard with open windows while my kids were napping. Looking back, it was a time that the art was getting a lot of energy from my. I think it had a lot to do with spring, and the energy of everything being awakened around me.

In my journaling, I have found that I have tried a lot more media than I would have otherwise. I also loved the challenge of drawing something “white” and seeing all the delicate colors.

irisHere is an Iris I did during the same period, with Prismacolor colored pencil on the blue paper. The use of white pencil for the highlights led to the boot drawing above.


Thanks to my terrific mom (grammie, the superhero) I got to have the day off while she watched the kids. Off to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for a day of sketching! I loved the chaotic feeling of these black-eyed susans reaching for the sun. I so enjoy sketching outside. What am I going to do with myself when winter sets in?

japanesegardenOne of my favorite areas of the Arboretum is the Japanese Garden. Jeff and I had a lot of our wedding photos taken here.  This sketch was a challenge for me…there just seemed to be so much, and unfortunately the drawing did get muddy and hard to read. Still, there are elements that I like, so I thought I’d share it!


White cosmos with watercolor pencils, which I’ve only used once before. I love playing with them and would like to take a class sometime. I love how they blend line and wash so beautifully.


Though I often think I won’t make it through another Minnesota winter, the summers here are absolutely divine. My husband Jeff and I have always enjoyed spending time on the north shore. Here’s a sketch of Lake Superior as seen from Park Point, Duluth. While I was sketching, my two young kids, Jonah and Eliza, worked with our friends on making an elaborate house for ladybugs out of driftwood. This day trip was on our way home from a lovely camping trip to Jay Cook State Park with our friends Tina and Sharon, and their son Ian.

tinaHere’s Tina sitting by the river than runs under a wonderful old railroad bridge. It was a lovely hike. The boys enjoyed throwing rocks into the water, and Eliza got way wetter than we’d planned. I like this sketch because Tina’s relaxed posture really echoes the feeling of the whole trip, and I think I captured the feeling of the bright midday sun. This journal entry really makes me feel like I’m right back there.

I love journaling on trips, and the scenery was so beautiful, I was itching to draw all the time. I always find it difficult to balance the social part of a trip with keeping a trip journal. How about you all? Maybe everyone just works faster than I do…

my journal     Isn’t it pretty? It’s a lovely combination of Fabriano Artistico watercolor paper and a blue tinted pastel paper. I ordered it from Brenda was lovely to work with, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Someday I would like to bind my own journals, but until then, Brenda gets my business!


cabin sketch

My parents’ cabin, as seen from the dock. I loved how the sky and clouds reflect in the windows, and how the light was coming through the trees. This was my first sketch in my new journal. What a joy to have really good paper!

bass lake

Here’s the view from my parents’ cabin that we spent time at over Memorial Day week-end. It was so lovely to sit on the dock and sketch… not only do you really see things for the first time when you sketch, but it seems that your other senses open up as well. The feeling of the cool breeze and the call of the loons on the lake was sublime. That’s what I call peace and quiet!


More sketching in my backyard. The colored pencil portion is the autumn sedum that’s coming up. I love the rose-like spiral pattern. The pen sketch is the bat house that’s been there ever since we moved in. I always wondered what it was, then as I was looking at it today I realized that there is an image of a bat stenciled on the front. Huh. That only took six years.