Thursday, June 23, 2011

Art Journals and a Easy Painting Exercise:

Now that we are days away from Summer Vacation (school ends Tuesday!), I thought I would talk about a tradition at our house.  ART JOURNALS

Now I personally always have several journals and sketchbooks on the go and I try to keep my kids in the habit as well. 

We sketch from life and sometimes from reference photos.....the important thing is to keep them engaged.

Find a journal that works for you.  I find book sized works best (6"x 8").

I also like coil bindings but a book bound sketch book allows you to do a 2 page spread.

Watercolor sketch books with good paper are hard to find and expensive!  So I often make my own.  I cut my large pieces of wc paper to size, I add sketch paper for every second page and a very thick cardboard back.  "Staples", an office supply company, coil binds them for me for about $3.50 a piece.

I then pack everything into a small field bag.

So what's in my field kit........

- a sketchbook (I'm trying out a moleskin, not impressed so far)

- a small clipboard (these are great for the kids)
- my cottman wc kit (I just keep adding tube watercolor to it when I run out, I then let it dry out and I'm set)

-brushes, pencil, eraser, white crayon (for resists), quarter(for lifting out circles), fine black sharpie.  I keep my brushes in a hard plastic case to protect the bristles, it's the only way, I have also used toothbrush travel cases for this.
- kleenex and paper towels tucked in the pockets
- for water I take an old water bottle and a small cup, the one here stays at the house

So now you're all to get started?

Here is a really easy painting exercise that I do with the kids.  It will help loosen you up.

It's a water reflection painting and you can change up the scenery and make several of these.  Great for school too!

You can do reflections on a lake, river, ocean, pond, puddle, there are lots of possibilities.

If you want you can lightly pencil in a horizon line.

Start painting you sky in.  Be more intense at the top and then fade out into a squiggle at the bottom.  I have used the color to indicate my horizon line and I stay mostly down the center of my page.

I want this to be a city scene looking down a river.

I'm only going to use a few colors here (limited palette).

Start putting in some shapes on one side to indicate buildings.

When I reach that horizon line I dilute my color, my shapes are just smudges of color.

Do the same on the other side.

Add a few shadows and darker details.  I also smudge a little color into that horizon line just to define it a bit more.

You can then add a little detail in ink if you want and you're done.

Here is a cabin on a lake at sunrise.

Keep it loose and don't fuss.

So break out a journal or sketchbook this summer and stayed tuned for my next post with more on art journals.

See you soon.


  1. Nice work!
    I just cracked open a new sketchbook for my 10 year old boy. He's really excited to plan out a painted floor cloth that he's going to be painting at my cousin Marg's house. I'm very excited to get him drawing this summer, peeling him away from the computer. =)
    I like your style of post...the reflection painting looks fun to do...very inviting!

  2. Fantastic idea! I love this and plan on using it with my kids. Art journals are a wonderful idea ;D

  3. Great idea! I should start an art journal. :)

  4. Great pictures for visual explanation.

  5. It looks like you are using the Moleskine "sketchbook" which I don't like eaither. Give the Moleskine Watercolor Journal a try. I LOVE mine.

  6. might want to check out this artist website and check out her video for her 16 page journal!

  7. you make think that even i could paint; what a gift you have

  8. for my w/c brushes, I use a bamboo sushi mat. It's small, keeps bushes bristles straight, and, unlike plastic box, it lets air circulate so brushes don't mildew

  9. Just learning Watercolor must start a journal Thanks!

  10. This is a lovely tutorial and I really enjoyed it :-)

    I have included a link to it in a blog post I have written recomending watercolour tutorials to my readers .

  11. You have a great blog, wonderful ideas and fun things to do. Thank you.