May 19, 2016

Make it Yours! - Sketchbooking /Plein Air Painting Tips

One of my Best Friends - My Sketchbook

Yes, get that sketchbook out and really make it yours.  Now this post is really for the watercolourist and dry media artists.  You acrylic and oil people can paint on all kinds of surfaces but we have a little more trouble. 

My last 4 posts have been about sketchbooking, getting out of the studio and drawing from life. (Posts start here)  But take a look at that sketchbook.  Your best friend is drab; all black, dull colours, no pictures.  No special feelings when you look at it.  Sometimest there is even tons of advertisement on the cover.  How is that inspirational?  
My Tulip Sketchbook cover - before.  Definitely not Inspirational!!

Why not “Make it Yours”?  Give it life.  When you pick it up, you feel good.  When you look at it, you feel the adventure.  And when you open it, . . . .  Well that is the icing on the cake!

Here is the scoop - Turn Drab into Excitement
1.  Take that drab looking sketchbook and put 2 coats of gesso on the cover.  Make sure each coat is dry before doing the next layer.
2.  a.  If you are an acrylic painter go ahead and paint on the cover now
2. b.  For the non acrylic painters, like me, put 2 coasts of Absorbent Ground (White) on top of the Gesso.  
3. Now you are ready to take your watercolours and paint. Pick a design/scene that is not too complicated as the Absorbent Ground takes the watercolour but the paint does bleed out a bit so tight detail doesn't work well.  (I know, hard for me to give that up.)
You may have to do several coats of colour to get the intensity you want.  That white background does really lighten things up a bit.  Make sure the paint is dry if you are layering colour or it will lift off.
4.  When your picture is finished your are ready to protect it.  Spray 5-7 light coat of varnish over your picture.  Make sure each coat is dry between spraying. 

I have been very pleased with how well the varnish protects my picture.  I have been carrying the tulip book around for some time, subjecting it to all kinds of conditions to see what will happen.  It looks great.  I even use an elastic band on the book when travelling to keep it closed and that doesn't seem to damage it either.  
This kind of advertisement can really take the joy out of your book. 

Special Note: 
If you have one of those books with the thin covers, covered with advertisement, don't despair.  First use gesso to apply a piece of matboard to the back of the cover to give it support and then proceed with dressing up the front. (Be sure it is dry before working on the front)
This really inspires eh?  

Time to get that best friend dressed for his outings.  Paint your cover today.

Do you have other ways of personalizing your book?   I would love to hear about it and give it a try.

Looking for a starting point?  I will be happy to get you up and running.  Call me now and set up a few lessons to get you on the road to a summer of fun with your art. Your sketchbook will soon be full of great memories and inspiration for the winter.

To learn about other sketchbooking tricks see my last posts starting here and my Plein Air Adventure Page.

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Have a great artful day,


Gillian Olson said...

Great idea and lovely cover, thanks for the inspiration.

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

It really does make a difference. I find I really get a lift just looking I my sketchbook.

Brenda Hill CDM said...

excellent way to personalize your sketchbook

Wendy Mould AFCA said...

It really opens up possibles for the non acrylic painters to personalize their books. I was really excited when I saw how well it worked.