New Scarves for VIDA




Friends, I am so excited to announce that I have been working with VIDA to create four new scarf designs based on my sketchbook series! All four of those scarves are available starting today.

To sweeten the deal for you, we are offering the coupon code VOICES which gives you 25% off your order!  Not only that, but shipping for ALL international orders is just $5 (for a limited time).




All orders will be shipped within 30 days.

Learn more about VIDA here.

Enjoy! And thank you for supporting my work!


Some Recent Sketchbook Spreads



As you may know if you follow me on Instagram, I keep a regular sketchbook in which I create intricate spreads with various mediums. Today I thought I’d share with you some of my recent work in my sketchbook. For all of these, I used some combination of Sakura of America pens: Gellyroll pens, Koi brush pens or Micron pens.

If you enjoy keeping a sketchbook or would like to start, I offer a Sketchbook Explorations class through Creativebug and it’s never too late to start!





Have a happy Tuesday, friends!


New Online Course: Sketchbook Explorations!



Friends, I’m so happy to let you know today I am launching a brand new four-part online class with Creativebug called Sketchbook Explorations! You might remember my the online course Basic Line Drawing that I launched last year (you can also still take that one!). This class has a similar format but entirely new content and activities.

Watch the preview of the course here!

Each of the four parts is released one week at a time, and this first week is all about creating watercolor backgrounds and layering with a line drawing. You can make a spread that looks like mine, or use the inspiration to create your own totally unique spread. That part is up to you.


The following weeks we’ll do some collage with paper and work with pens as well (I’ll be back next Tuesday to share more about the content for Week Two). Throughout the course I’ll share some of my process and you’ll have the opportunity to learn alongside me. I cover materials you’ll need, composition and technique. You take the course at your own pace — it lives on the internet forever, so there is no rush! In the 2nd week of the course there will be a live chat with me that you can tune into to ask questions and learn even more.

Head over here to learn more, watch preview videos, sign up for my class or get a Creativebug’s subscription if you don’t have one already. It’s a steal at $9.99 a month (and you can take as many classes as you like and can cancel any time).

In the past students from my course have posted images of what they’re making on Instagram. If you do take the course, be sure to follow me @lisacongdon and tag me & use the hashtag #cbugsketchbook in your images so that I can see what you’re making!

Hope to see you in class & have a great Tuesday!


My Doodling Manifesto


doodling manifesto_lowres

Earlier this year I designed this Doodling Manifesto and I realized the other day I had never shared here on the blog! If you’ve taken my line drawing class with Creativebug, you’ve probably heard me talk about some of these principles.

1) In doodling, there are no rules. We all have that voice in our head that says, on occasion, “you should be doing it this way.” And when we doodle, it’s important to tell those voices to shut up. Rules play a really important role in some forms of art making: how to hold your brush, what materials to use, how to create a lush background, on and on. But in doodling, you get to draw whatever you want however you want. And, furthermore, no one but you ever has to see what you doodle. So you have all the freedom.

2) Carry pens and paper with you everywhere. This is important because you never know when the opportunity (or inspiration) will strike. In line at the bank? The waiting room at the doctor? Make your down time (even the boring stuff) less boring with doodles.

3) Make time to doodle every day. Even if you only doodle for a few minutes a day, free form drawing can loosen up your creative juju and even help you process other more difficult stuff, like working through creative blocks or thinking about solutions to life’s problems.

4) Think of everything as lines and circles. You don’t have to “know how to draw” to doodle. Make shapes! Create lines! And if you do want to draw flowers or people or buildings, think of them more abstractly as a collection of lines and circles.

5) You are the boss of your art. You get to draw what inspires you. You get to draw what you want to draw, even if it’s the same stuff you always draw. If you keep a sketchbook to doodle (which I highly recommend), your sketchbook (unless you choose to share it) is your own private place that no one else ever has to see.

6) Imperfection rules. Do you know that Japanese term Wabi Sabi? It translates to something like “beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” The idea here is that it is actually the “imperfections” that make something beautiful or interesting. What I often describe as “wonkiness” in art is to me what makes something really cool or different. Embrace imperfection in your doodling.

7) Doodling is art (end of story). Many of the large abstract paintings I make in my studio and sell to clients begin as doodles in pen in my sketchbook. Many of the repeat patterns I create that adorn fabric began as doodles in my sketchbook. Doodling itself, even if it’s never translated to things like canvas or surface design, is art. Every great artist doodles and every great doodler is an artist.

8) Black and white are beautiful colors. While I do use colored pens and watercolor paints in my sketchbook when I doodle, my favorite tools are black Micron pens and white paper. I encourage you to embrace the simplicity of using just one color (even if it’s not black) and even if it’s just every now and again. When you draw in black on white you will find great beauty in the monotony.

9) Negative space is as important as positive space. Whenever I teach line drawing, I remind my students that it’s important to pay attention not just to the marks you are making on the page (the positive space), but also to the white (negative) space that surrounds it. Composition is made up of negative and positive space and how they interact together, so ponder both as you doodle.

10) Everything you draw (even the stuff you don’t like) is part of your journey. It’s important to remember that even when you want to rip something out of your sketchbook because it is SO UGLY (and even if you do, and you can), the exercise of “making mistakes” or pushing something on the page too far when you should have just left it alone (sound familiar?) is all part of the journey of making art (regardless if you are a doodler or a professional artist). We learn & grow from those experiences. It’s important to learn to embrace the ugly, the mistakes, the “that looked so good until I added that color” moments. It’s all part of your path.

Have a happy Thursday, friends!


New Notebook in the Shop!



Now in my shop: my 5×7 inch “mega” screen printed notebook/sketchbook (front and back pictured above).

Filled with 48 blank pages for your doodling or sketching pleasure and originally designed for my sketchXchange event in Portland in October 0f 2014, this notebook (beautifully printed by Scout Books) is now available for purchase here in my shop.


Have a great Tuesday, friends.


Portland, YOU Are Awesome



This past week I spoke two different times at two different events for 2014 Design Week Portland. I have always known Portland is a special place. I have been going to Portland for visits for the past fifteen years. Several members of my family, including my sister and parents live there, and I have loved that town from the beginning. But the experience of the last several days brought a new level of love and appreciation to my heart. So many incredibly kind people, well organized, sold-out events, and good beer, food, smiles & hugs.


Thursday I spoke at the Design Week HQ in Pioneer Square (which happened to be a geodesic dome). I was in conversation with Namita Wiggers, former Director and Chief Curator for the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, and also friend and inspiration, now freelance curator, writer and big brain. We talked about my path, how I’ve used the Internet and my mulch-disciplinary approach to making a living as an artist. Thank you to everyone who came out to hear us talk, and for all the great questions I got and interest in what I do. It was all very heartfelt! A special thanks to Namita and PDW organizer Kate Bingaman Burt for inviting me to do this event!

Then, this past Friday evening, I gave a talk about my work in general & my sketchbooks to a crowd of over 200 people.


The event was organized by the amazing Yvonne Perez Emerson and Scott Baker, founders of WeMakePDX.


Here I am with my wife Clay and Yvonne at the party following my talk. I have been working with Yvonne to prepare for the event for almost nine months, and I cannot say enough about her energy and enthusiasm, not just for my event, but for supporting and being part of the Portland creative community.

Thank you, Portland, for making me feel so welcomed!

Have a great Monday, friends.



SketchXchange & Book Signing



{what I drew on the airplane flying home from NY yesterday}

I have written here before about my love for filling the pages of my sketchbook with whatever is living in my brain. Whenever I have a free moment, which lately has been while I am flying on an airplane, I grab my sketchbook and get to drawing.

On Friday, October 10 at 5:30, in Portland Oregon (Portland area friends, this one is for you), I am giving a talk at Leftbank Annex as part of Portland Design Week and WeMake Portland’s sketchXchange & Design Week Closing Party events.

I’ll be talking about my approach to my sketchbooks and sharing images of my sketchbooks. Every attendee with get a FREE Scoutbook with my design and will have the chance to enter to win a huge set of Micron pens (courtesy of Sakura of America). At the event, I’ll be selling & signing copies of Art Inc. and Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. And I’ve got a discount code for tickets, so scroll down if you are interested!


I am offering my readers a discount on the ticket price — which includes not only my talk at 5:30 but also the awesome party & art show that will follow! The code is wemakefriends – enter this code for 50% off when you purchase your tickets here.


{what I drew on the airplane flying to NY last week}

On WeMake’s blog today they’ve posted a little interview I did with their founder, Yvonne.

Hope to see you at the event!! Happy sketching!


Portland, I’m Coming for You!



Portland friends! I’m headed your way October 10!

I’ll be giving a talk and signing books as part of Design Week Portland at The Leftbank Annex. My talk is part of WeMake Portland’s monthly sketchXchange (I’ll be discussing how I approach my sketchbooks), and will be followed by a book signing for my new book Art Inc, the closing party for Design Week (which includes tons of fun activities & live music) AND the Put a Bird in It Show!

My talk is at 5 pm sharp, so get there early for a seat. Oh, and I’ll be giving away a pack or two of Micron pens to a lucky winner or two (from the audience)! I’ve also designed a 5×7 inch notebook which Scout Books is generously donating to everyone who attends.

You can purchase the ticket for the entire event here.

Hope to see you there, Portland friends! It’s going to be super fun.


Sketchbook as Surface Design



{I made this spread while sitting at my friend Ron’s pool on a hot July day earlier this summer.}

I am admittedly not a traditional sketchbook user. I don’t sit and sketch the people or places I see — at least very often (though I think that is a valuable exercise for sure — and one I should probably do more of). Instead, I use my sketchbooks as a way to play around with composition, color, and design elements in my work. The great thing about sketchbooks is that they are, by nature, personal work — they are for the user, not a consumer. Sure, I sketch concepts for clients all the time, but those don’t end up in my sketchbook. The majority of people don’t even show what is in their personal sketchbooks. So your sketchbook can really be a fantastic playground for anything you want it to be — traditional sketches or abstract exploration. There are no rules.

On October 10, I’ll be giving a talk sponsored by WeMake Portland for the closing of Design Week. The talk, part of sketchXchange, will focus on — you guess it — my sketchbooks! I’ll be focusing on “sketchbook as surface design,” since 8 times out of 10 I end up filling the entire surface of a spread in my sketchbook with something — a collage, an intricate line drawing, or some random lettering like the one pictured above. I’ll talk about my process, my motivations and what is going through my brain when I am creating my sketchbook spreads. Tickets go on sale soon, and I’ll keep you posted!

While I was on vacation in Portland a few weeks ago, I spent a lot of time with my sketchbook. That’s the thing about “sketching for fun & exploration” when you are a working artist. Unless you have time to build it into your daily work schedule, this kind of fun, free form sketching only happens when you are not working. And since I work most of the time, I don’t have much time to sketch — except on weekends, late evenings and, you guessed it: vacation.

Here are some of the spreads I finished while I was there.

photo 1

This one above I made with micron pens and Koi brush pens (also by the Japanese pen company Sakura). I use these pens almost exclusively.

photo 3

This spread above I created entirely from one Ladies Home Journal Magazine from 1969, scissors and a glue stick. I did it all while sitting on the guest room floor at my parents’ house watching bad cable TV shows.

photo 2

As you know, I love drawing buildings! This time I colored them in. I drew this spread while I was visiting Astoria, Oregon.

And this one took forever! I finished it last night:

photo 4

Do you keep a sketchbook or a book of daily or weekly paintings & drawings? Email me at with a short description how you approach your own sketchbook and 2-3 images and I may include it in my talk for Portland Design Week!

PS: I post fairly regular photos of my sketchbooks on Instagram, so if you don’t already, you can follow me there.

Have a great weekend, friends!


The Good Life Project Mashup



{from my sketchbook}

You may remember in a couple of years ago I sat down with Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project and recorded this video. Since 2012, Jonathan has been recording interviews with entrprenuers around the globe about what it means to live a good life. Recently The Good LIfe Project launched this mashup video of interviewees talking about what makes a good life, and it’s a great listen.


And happy Monday.

CATEGORIES Inspiration | Sketchbook

On Making Friends With Emptiness





You may recall that on January 2nd I wrote about having a clean slate &  that I was taking January off from illustration work to paint abstracts and read and relax. I’d had a difficult 2013 and I wanted to recharge before diving into 2014. I fantasized about long, luxurious days of bliss, maybe dabbling a bit in my studio, reading 20 books on the sofa and taking long hikes in the woods.

As happens to most of us when we take vacations (or in my case a “staycation”) —  it came and it went way too quickly. And, as many of you may have experienced, at the point this past week when I finally began to relax a little, it was nearly time to go back to work. I could use another month off, sure, but I also need to contribute to my household income. So Monday I’m back, and in full force (more on that in a bit).

I have been thinking a lot lately about what happens when we have emptiness in front of us — time to relax, no plans, blank canvases & sketchbooks, no incoming work, fewer responsibilities than we are used to. I love what I do for a living, but I use my work as a way to distract myself from the nothingness I fear. And so while you might think that having time off from work felt great (and at times it did), I also had a lot of empty time. And without the distractions of work, I was pretty anxious.

So what did I do? I created work for myself, of course. I took on about eight painting commissions. I re-opened my Etsy shop to make a little cash. I started a new sketchbook. I sewed a couple dresses. I negotiated five new illustration assignments that I will start Monday.

My wife said to me more than once, “You know, you really haven’t taken time off this month.” And she’s right. Sure, I didn’t take any illustration work, but I was still working. I didn’t read one book or lie around all day (even when I spent a week at the beach). I did hike three times. But I didn’t ever have that feeling of  bliss.

One of the things I’m working on right now is making friends with emptiness.  I am coming to terms with the illusion of safety I take in staying busy. I am even going to talk about that next month at the Nevada Museum of Art in a lecture I’m giving sponsored by the Reno/Tahoe AIGA. I’ve started meditating (more on that another day) and I’m working on being friends with my thoughts and feelings. I’m staying off the internet (another huge distraction) for intentional periods of time. If there is one thing I learned this past month, it’s that I am not comfortable not having much to do.

But it’s really true that rich creativity comes from a place of nothingness. When we are most open and relaxed and present our best ideas come to us. For me, that mostly happens when I am on airplanes (more on that also another time). Making friends with emptiness is my charge for the year. Sure, I’ll work hard (I am wired to work hard), but I want also to get more friendly with the act of relaxation. I am hoping it will allow me to bring a better, more laid back, even more creative self to my work.

So while I didn’t exactly achieve the level of bliss I’d hoped this past month, I learned something really important about my relationship to bliss: you can’t get to bliss without embracing even a small amount of emptiness.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Next week: a post on the trials of meditation.

Happy weekending, friends.



Sketchbook :: Playing with Image Transfers




You might remember recently I wrote about my friend Courtney Cerruti’s book, Playing with Image Transfers. This past week I’ve been doing just that. In Monday’s sketchbook entry (above) I transfered some images from a vintage book about Germany using packing tape and water (for more information on this technique, I highly recommend Courtney’s book). The rest of the spread is painted & drawn with my own hand. Words by the late German poet Johannes Bobrowski.

Have a great weekend, friends!


Words for the Day :: No. 13




Last night’s sketchbook entry.

Have a great Thursday, friends!


Tip o’ the Day


surround yourself_lowres

This is what it’s all about.

Happy Friday, friends.

CATEGORIES Drawings | Sketchbook

The Magic of Impermanence



{Latest sketchbook entry}

It was Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who once said, “Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”  Many years ago, I had this quote taped above my desk at my job, and I’d sort of forgotten about it until recently. Last week it felt like everything was going wrong. Of course, I’m exaggerating here. Really, only one big thing was going wrong and maybe several small things. Maybe you are like this too, but even when my problems are relatively small, it is so easy to fall into the pit of everything is horrible and also if only things would go this other way instead and spending time planning how can I change my life so that nothing horrible ever happens to me again? 

Lately I have come back to the idea of impermanence as a source of comfort: that nothing, nothing ever stays the same. While there may have been a time in my life with the idea of change made me uncomfortable, it’s become the thing, of late, that helps me to breathe. When I’m stuck in a cycle of feeling upset about something, I remind myself, “This is not forever.” No feeling or situation, no matter how awful, lasts forever. Things shift and change, and most of the time, they work out just fine (remember this?).

When I reflect on impermanence, it also helps me to remember to stay engaged. It’s so easy for me to get caught up the in struggle, which leads to distraction, which sometimes leads to missing out on the good and beautiful stuff in my life. It’s not always easy, but this idea of remembering that every moment is special because it will never happen again helps me to enjoy the here and now more — even when (or especially when) I’m buried in work or angry because someone is being a jerk.

For the record, the stuff that I was fretting about last week? Yep, it all worked out. This week I’m on to new worries. Time to remember that they will pass, too.

Have a great Wednesday, friends.