2016 Goal #2: Get Messy in my Sketchbook



Earlier this week I shared my three goals (er, resolutions) for 2016. Today I’m going to talk about Goal #2: Get Messy in my Sketchbook.

As many of you who follow my work know, several years ago, I began keeping sketchbooks for the first time in my life (or my art career). This might sound weird (and I grant you, it is), but I am self taught and never developed the discipline for sketchbooks like many art students do when they are studying drawing in school. To be clear — I sketch all the time, and have been for years — especially for illustration clients; just not in a “book.” And what’s even weirder is that when I did start “sketching” in a book, I felt a great drive to fill the entire spread of the book, as opposed to simply drawing what was in my environment or drawing specific things here or there in the book. So my approach to my sketchbooks has been non-traditional (though I have come to learn other artists approach their sketchbooks this way as well). You can view some of my spreads from the past few years here.

In addition to (for the most part) filling spreads with my doodles, my sketchbook habit has morphed into a lot of line drawing with finer tipped pens (including gel and micron pens), which requires a certain level of precision. Yep, there’s a certain “neatness” that goes into my sketchbook spreads. Perhaps these drawings are an attempt to create some sense of order in the chaos of my life? People often comment when I post the spreads on Instagram: “Your spreads are so neat and perfect looking!” Or “Do you ever mess up?”

I had a conversation last month with my friend, illustrator and comics artist Vera Brogsol about how we both like our sketchbooks to look finished and when we “mess up” we often rip out the pages to start over. We chuckled together over this slightly embarrassing fact, but deep down inside, I also know that I have the urge to get messy in my sketchbooks. I just had to figure out a way to do get messy that felt right for me.

And then a remembered several years ago my friend & fellow artist Danielle Krysa (aka The Jealous Curator) showed me a technique she’d learned from our friend, the great artist Martha Rich: take an old book (something like an old cookbook or out-of-date encyclopedia) and use it as your sketchbook. The idea here is that there are not blank white pages that you must keep pristine. Every page is different. It’s a perfect place to get messy. So a few days ago I found this old book about Germany (no offense, Germany) that I bought for the beautiful photos inside but have never used or looked it much and decided to make it my new messy sketchbook for 2016.

germany book

And then I set to work getting messy on the first spread in the book (the final result, pictured above). And it was more fun than I’ve had in a long time.


So, I’m off to a good start! And I can’t wait to go back for more!

Never fear, however; I am no abandoning my more precise, clean, white sketchbooks entirely. I’ll still be drawing in those regularly too (it’s in my blood).

You can follow along with all of my sketchbook antics over on Instagram.

Have a great Thursday!


Recent Sketchbook Spreads



If you’ve been following along here on my blog for the past few years you know that I love to draw inside my sketchbooks. You can view all of my recent sketchbook posts here, and view many of my sketchbook spreads from the past couple of years here on my website.

Here are some recent spreads made in the past couple of weeks!


This spread was drawn with a Sakura of America gellyroll pen. Here is a post I wrote about all of the pens and other tools I like to use in case you are interested in purchasing some of your own.

I love drawing cute animals! And so I had fun with this spread last week. Also drawn with a gellroll pen.


Drawing in my sketchbook is very meditative for me. This kind of drawing below — which starts with a center point and then is drawn outward — is one of my favorite forms of drawing meditation.


All four of the spreads above are drawn in a medium sized hardcover Moleskine sketchbook. I glue pages together with a glue stick to make them thicker (a handy trick!).

Are you interested in drawing in a sketchbook but don’t know where to start? I offer two different sketchbook classes on Creativebug which give ideas and instruction for drawing in your sketchbook! You can start with Sketchbook Explorations (that’s the first class) then continue with More Sketchbook Explorations. They are great classes for beginners!

Have a great Tuesday, friends!


New Notebook from Denik!



Friends, I am so happy to share with you the release of a new notebook from Denik.  What’s special about Denik is their mission and vision: For every product they sell, a portion of the proceeds goes directly to building schools.

This particular cover came from a design I drew in my own sketchbook earlier this year:


You can purchase the notebook here and visit my artist page on Denik here.

Have a great week!


Portugal & Spain Sketchbook Spreads



“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai

Hello friends!

As many of you know, I traveled with my wife Clay to Portugal and Spain during the month of October. We had an amazing trip. You can see many of the photos I took in the six cities we visited on Instagram. Since we traveled between six different cities (and had two stops on our way to Portugal), I spent a lot of time on buses, trains & airplanes and at cafes drawing in my sketchbook. I think there is no happier place for me than being on a train in a foreign country with my headphones in (playing my favorite music, of course) and drawing! Nothing fills me with such bliss. Some of the trains were a bit bumpy, but somehow I managed to pull off some detailed spreads! Here are some of my favorites from my adventure. You can see more of my sketchbook spreads here.


{I made this spread at a cafe; it was inspired by all of the beautiful ceramic tiles in Lisbon!}



{Portugal was one of the most colorful and pattern-rich places I have ever been.}


{A sketch of the view from the Duoro River in Porto, Portugal}




{A rendering of the beautiful hillsides of Granada, Spain}


{The beautiful windows of Madrid!}




{And, finally, things I saw in the visually-rich city of Barcelona!}

Now that I am back home, I am settling into my routine again, to working, painting, keeping my life organized. I am also planning the content for my upcoming online course for artists, which I am very excited about!

Happy Thursday, everyone!


More Sketchbook Explorations // Part Four



Friends! It’s PART FOUR of my latest class with Creativebug launches today! This week we take our pens outside of the sketchbook to create TWO new projects: a beautiful wave pattern with white gel pen on black paper and all-over patterns on the covers of kraft paper Scout Books (also with gel pens).


Join me for this class — the class lives Creativebug in perpetuity and you can take it at your own pace. It’s never too late to start!

Have a great Tuesday! And happy sketchbooking!