On my first day back to work after being sick for weeks we had a staff meeting. I wanted to put my head down on the table and nap so doodled to stay upright and awake. Later I pasted the page in my sketchbook with the added note about antibiotics.
Then my first night back at Tuesday night sketching (at the Bread Workshop) after I drew my food I sketched the sketchers at my table. I had to add that shading to the right of Amy’s face to “erase” the splotch I made by her nose that looked like a booger.
I added one too many lines, which lead to more lines to try to fix them, in Sonia’s hair which had been perfect until I did that. I made a note to remind myself to STOP at “good enough” and not keep going.
Whenever we meet to sketch at a cafe we always try to sketch our food before we eat it and we always joke about what a great diet it would be to do that at every meal. It not only helps to slow down eating, but it also helps to speed up sketching! This leads to looser, more playful sketches which I think are more fun to make and to see.
Sonia and I met for lunch at The Junket, a deli in El Cerrito Plaza. My Turkey and Swiss Sandwich on a sourdough baguette (sketched above) was the best I’ve had in years. It was my second choice though, as we originally ordered Chicken Dumpling Soup. But when I saw them spooning it into a bowl, it had the consistency of gloppy, yellow gravy. I asked if it was cream-based (Sonia is allergic to dairy) and they said no, they knew it wasn’t because they reconstitute it with water. Um…no thanks. I switched to the half sandwich and Sonia got salad and we were happy.
On our next Tuesday night sketch-out we met at the Bread Workshop. They had contacted me the week before to ask if they could use this previous sketch I did there to illustrate a newsletter they are sending to supporters and I gladly said yes. They reserved a large table for us with a view into the bakery so that we could draw the bakers working.
I wasn’t much up to that challenge as it was my first night out after being sick for two weeks and my sketching felt rusty. You can see Micaela’s wonderful sketch here and Sonia’s here and here. The food was fantastic: my grilled veges (above) were so flavorful!
This was the extent of my drawing bread and bakers. The Bread Workshop are advocates of sustainable foods and practices and ranked as one of the top ten greenest restaurants in the Bay Area. Everything I’ve had there has been delicious and they were playing great music that night, going from George Benson to Billy Holiday to Tom Waits in succession.
Yesterday I bound a new journal and updated my instruction sheet on how to bind a 5.5″ x 7.5″ sewn-signature casebound journal with watercolor paper. Each time I bind a journal I learn a little more and update my how-to sheet as I work so that the next time it will get easier for me.
I created the instruction sheet as a guide for myself, compiled from many sources* but you are welcome to download the file if you’d like to make a journal like these. I keep it on my website’s Resources page here on JanaBouc.com because having it in one place makes it easier to find and update.
I name each journal (actually they seem to name themselves as I’m binding them) and decorate the cover after I’ve filled it with an image fitting the name. My last journal named itself “Aqua Baby” and is pictured above.
I wanted to try (for the first time) to bind a cover made from pieces of book cloth, one for the spine and two for the fore edges. I thought I had a big enough scrap of the purple but mis-measured (as usual). So I had to use some of the turquoise cloth to cover the other side. This journal has named itself “Scrappy” as it’s covered with scraps and was scrappy enough to demand to get made despite everything working against that right now.
Although I’ve bound other journals using a variety of methods, here are the five sewn-signature case-bound journals I’ve made and here’s another look at their covers. I love the paper, the dimensions, the feel in my hand, the way they’re easy to use sketching standing and for scanning. They are humble and a little plain, but I’ve always appreciate function more than fancy.
I can’t wait to finish the hated Moleskine watercolor sketchbook (which would be fine if it was just portrait, not landscape) that I’ve used since I got behind on binding. Watch for a flurry of sketching to finish it off!
I like to use my winter holiday vacation as a time to review my past year and sort out what I did well and what needs work. Since this is also the end and beginning of a whole decade, this process felt even more important this year. One thing that really stood out was that I needed to kick my caffeine habit and its evil companion, sugar (both fake and real).
So, after a week of being foggy-brained, sleepy and witless, I’m now free of caffeine, sugar, and Splenda* and finally starting to feel good and my inspiration is returning.
Without the sweeteners, decaf coffee and tea were tasting pretty vile to me so I began the search for a flavorful herbal tea with at least a hint of sweetness. I finally found a couple that I like but in the meantime spent a fortune buying seductively-named but ultimately insipid teas that taste like something you might use to clean windows.
Case in point: the tin of “Hot Apple Cider Tea” pictured above. It looks and tastes like hot apple cider about as much as a picture of an apple tastes like an apple. If I’d painted a cup of that tea, it would look like a cup of water. The tea in the cup above is Good Earth Tea and warm milk. It’s not bad. 🙂 But it sure isn’t a latte. 😦
*UPDATE: Just looked up “What is Splenda” and here’s what I found:
Splenda is made from cane sugar by replacing three hydroxyl groups on the sugar molecule with chlorine. The resulting molecule is not recognized as sugar or a carbohydrate by the body and as such, is not digested. Some refer to Sucralose as Chlorinated Sugar. Sucralose does not occur in nature.
Eek! I’m embarrassed to admit how much of that stuff I was consuming!
On Monday night I completed another sketchbook and three years of sketch-blogging. Cathy and I had dinner at Cactus Taqueria on Solano Avenue in Berkeley and sketched the other diners. Then we started walking to see what else looked like fun to draw.
It was cold and foggy outside, and the lobby of the old Oaks Theatre looked warm and inviting so we walked in and asked if we could sketch. This confused the woman working there who had nothing to do but sit and chat with a younger woman. It was a Monday night and they were showing a French movie and it was a bad French movie and so there were few customers. She told the manager we wanted to sketch (with a tone of voice that implied we might be deranged) and he said it was fine.
We sat on carpeted stairs (the only place to sit except the already occupied bench) and sketched the popcorn machine directly in front of us. At first it seemed like a stupid, boring subject, but within minutes I was captivated by all the odd mechanical bits inside the machine. Oddly, despite the strong scent of hot popcorn, the machine was completely empty.
At first we sketched listening to the inane conversation of the two women which even they seemed bored by. They left and the manager came over and asked us whether drawing can be learned or if is just an inborn talent (definitely can be learned!). Then he wandered off and we listened to him being lectured to by a customer (inspired by the movie she’d just left?) about race, culture, history, and her philosophies on life, while he listened patiently, saying “OK.” I jotted down a few of her pronouncements on the sketch.
Three Years of JanasJournal.com
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About a year ago, I received an email from Croatian poet and author Sonja Smolec, asking for permission to use one of my watercolors on the cover of her new book of poetry, “White Lilac Love.” Of course I agreed, and was delighted when she sent me a copy of the book.
A week ago I received an email from Sonja telling me that her publisher had held a bookcover contest and her book had won! The 73 poems in White Lilac Love weave a beautiful and tender love story with all the soaring emotions from hope to despair to true love along the way. One of the poems was so evocative and full of wonderful imagery that it inspired a painting (in progress — more about that later).