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1. Color Me Crazy

Today I embarked on combining techniques, process, and drawing developed throughout last year. I started a personal piece, but now it's time to apply it to the real world, a custom request. I did my research and concept sketch, now ready to paint.

I had to start with my color palette. As much as I love color, my head spins very fast and gets dizzy when trying to figure out the best combination of colors. I know what WORKS, but until I see it visually, I'm a jumble of thoughts.

This is where Design Seeds color palettes come into play. They're amazing! At first I didn't really care for them because most show subtle or value changes. This time I went to pinterest and found many palettes with variety. I'm stoked!



I based my choices on the photo being used for the color swatches. If the photo works...which is usually nature...then I know the color works. I also like how you have more colors to choose from BECAUSE of the photo. They don't swatch every color. Having those extra choices are great for backgrounds.

Once I print out the palette I go to my home made glazing color chart and view finder. I search for the colors within the palette and jot down the colors I need to re-create it. This takes a lot of the guess work out so I save time in the long run.


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There are two charts I'd like to point out. One is a mixed color chart. Here each square has been individually mixed and applied. Very grueling, especially if you have 20 colors in a palette like I do! I started this one years ago when I first stumbled upon this method by Suzie Short. I never finished it. :( Unfortunately my palette has changed so I can't use most of it.


The second one is a glazed color chart. Here you paint one set of color strips vertically, let them dry, and paint a second one horizontally, "glazing" one color on top of the other. I prefer this method and I grabbed it from this video by Kelly Eddington. Although it's for laying color on top of one another, not mixing, I can work from there and mix on my palette. I usually test the color out on a scrap piece of paper and alter it just a tad if I need to. Very rarely.


The other brand new approach to painting is the skin. I did a very traditional technique, wet onto wet. It's usually quite difficult since I paint so small, but thought I'd give it a go instead of my usual wet onto dry. To my surprise, it worked very well, and gives me a great base to start with. Yay! I used my usual gold, rose, and phthalo blue too. :)



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The Daily Sketch



I have discovered I'm not too chic about keeping up with a daily commitment. It's the effort that counts right? Numbering the Daily Sketches has already been off several times, so instead, I'm simplifying it more and NOT numbering them. They are dated, and that's enough for me. Just assume they'll be in each post. ;)

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2. Stockport Hat Museum with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire


Saturday was January's SketchCrawl outing for Usk Yorkshire. I met 6 other members at Sheffield Station and we took the train to Stockport. It was the day of all the gales and we had not been on the train long when they announced we couldn't get to Stockport because of a tree across the line!


Fortunately they cleared it just in time and we got to Stockport's Hat Works in plenty of time to meet up with another 25 members, including people who had travelled from Manchester, Derbyshire, Macclesfield, Hull and Birmingham. 



During the morning more and more people turned up, so that about 40 of us were there for lunch in the cafe. Luckily there was virtually nobody else there, unluckily, they had only two people on duty (one who was on their first day), so it was chaos! After nearly an hour's wait for my sandwich, I started this sketch, because that was a sure way to ensure my food would arrive, and it did.


The museum itself was fantastic, with hats through the ages and across cultures, as well as lots of contemporary designer hats, some elegant, some bonkers, all wonderful to draw. It used to be a working factory, so the basement area had all the machines to show how the hats were made, as well as mock-ups of the original milliners shop, with this gorgeous old till:


There was so much to explore, I didn't even get to see one floor, so must go back. That's the only problem with sketching - you have to make quick decisions about what to draw, so can't spend all day looking round.


At 3 o'clock we all walked next door to The Plaza: an original Art Deco cinema. Look at this decorated interior:


There was a lovely, traditional tea room upstairs with white tablecloths, amazing cakes and waiters in all the gear. We had pre-booked but, once again, they had real trouble with such a big group. I attempted a really quick sketch, but mostly we were chatting and planning future outings:



Because it took so long to serve us all (and took several attempts at ordering on our table), half the group had to leave before we got around to sharing the work. There were still more than enough sketchbooks left to fill one of the tables though:


Despite the difficulties, it was real fun to have such a fantastic turn-out (the best we've had since the York Minster day). I was especially pleased to have about half a dozen new members with us.


A huge thanks to Lynne McPeake and Andrea Joseph for taking over the organisation of the event for me. Thanks as well to Kerry Davies for most of the photos. I'm always so busy, I generally forget to take any. 



Another brilliant Urban Sketchers day out, sharing what we love and meeting lots of new people.  

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3. An Urban Sketcher's Manual: Drawing Fluid Lines


I am still writing my book for most of the working day at the moment, taking advantage of the opportunity to focus on one task, while I can. It's a bit like writing this blog actually, in that I am sharing tips and hints about how I work, but with a slightly different focus and format


I'm enjoying the opportunity to talk about other people's work sometimes as well, but for the most part I am analysing what I do when I am drawing people in various situations, which of course makes me think differently about things which I have learned to take for granted.


This week, I decided to go back to basics and talk about how a fluid line is so much more useful that straight lines, when it come to sketching people, because basically, people are curvy. Straight lines tend to make them look stiff and lifeless. So, a couple of spreads in the book are dedicated to looking at how you can develop a more instinctive, fresh line, which will bring your characters to life and help communicate the sense that you have captured them mid-movement.


For the more hesitant sketchers amongst you, those who tend to twitch their pencil back and forth, barely moving, I talk about drawing from your wrist, elbow and even shoulders because, if you don't move your arm, you can't move your pencil expressively. 


I demonstrate blind-contour drawing too, which is a great way to get your line loosened up, and I show how contour drawing helps you to hang onto the principles of instinctive eye-to-pencil sketching on an everyday basis. 

Not forgetting of course, how a quick, linear sketch can be done with a paintbrush too - what a gorgeous, expressive line watercolour can give you if you keep your hand fluid!



We have a title now by the way. It's going to be Sketching People, with the subtitle, an Urban Sketcher's Manual to Drawing Figures and Faces.

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4. It's been a very long dry spell...

It's been a very long dry spell with my being able to sit down and draw or paint. A form of this doodle has been in my sketchbook for a while now… I think it's finally time to bring it to life.Here is the first rough sketch. It is a work in progress.

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5. Urban Sketchers Yorkshire's Christmas Bash


Merry Christmas everybody!

I have been so busy working away on 
my sketching book, that I forgot to tell you about the Christmas party I threw recently. Each year Urban Sketchers Yorkshire has a seasonal do. Sometimes we go out, sometimes it is at my house, as it was this year.


Everyone contributed food and drink, so I didn't have to do any work (my kind of party). T
here was so much to eat! We piled it high then sat round and drew it as we scoffed. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos before we'd gobbled the best part of it.

I think at least 25 people turned up throughout the afternoon. To allow people to sit, we had to use both rooms. I cobbled together a 2nd table from coffee tables pushed together, so those in room 2 had some food to draw (as well as nibble on):



After we had finished Round One of eating, I laid a fresh, white (paper) tablecloth under the pudding course in the dining room, and people sketched directly onto that:


It was fun because it was a bit silly, and was a good exercise in being less precious about our work, as we all knew that, inevitably, the cloth was going to be put in the bin at the end of the day:


Then we tried something else which was even more unusual. One of our members from across the Pennines, Mike Dodds, bought a stack of paper espresso cups. We gave them out and everyone sketched what they could see around the room. This is one of my favourites, by Rich Wells:



The little cups were really lovely but, as you can tell above, photos didn't really do them justice so, next day, John and I filmed some of them. Here's one of the little films. Please forgive the amateurishly ragged start and finish - there was no time to mess about editing:


 
Our last game of the afternoon was 'sketch speed-dating'. We crammed about 15 people around the dining table then John rang the old school bell, which you can just see in the background of the film (VERY loud!!). Then we had two minutes to sketch the person opposite. When the time was up, he rang the bell again (poor ears...) and everyone moved one seat along and began again. Here are some of my two minute sketches:


When people had gone, I took some photos of the tablecloth sketches and put them together into a montage:

SketchCrawl Xmas paty: shared tablecloth sketching

It was a really lovely afternoon, with such a great atmosphere. I can't wait until next year, though we have a hard act to follow now, and I will have to think up some more fun things to do...

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6. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day… oh who knows

god rest ye merry gentlemen 2

Just when you thought you were safe from puns for the rest of the holidays…

Why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


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7. How to Sketch People: Starting on the Text


At last! This week I have finally started properly writing my book.

I don't need a massive amount of text per spread. I am typically writing 200-300 words of general text on each spread and then the rest is explanation and teaching points attached to specific sketches. That's why the sketch-selection is so important.


The tagging system John devised is working really well. At the touch of a button, it shortlists each category for me, pulling from a pool of over 430 sketches we photographed last week (very glad that job is over), which makes it SO much easier for me to pick the 3 or 4 images I need for each spread.

I don't have to start from the beginning and work my way through chronologically as, for the most part, sections stand alone. My editor explained that, for this kind of publication, people rarely read from start to finish anyway: they tend to dip in and out all over the place. She suggested I begin where I feel most confident. 

So I started with a chapter called Drawing Strangers is Scary. I find that sketchers are very inhibited by the thought that they might be 'caught in the act' while drawing someone, so I have written about tricks for keeping a low profile, but also what happens when you are discovered. The chapter then goes on to look at how you choose people to sketch, thinking about different locations and activities and how easy or tricky they typically are. I couldn't go through every possible option of course, so narrowed it down to 10, which are either recommendations or which have unexpected advantages of disadvantages. This is the chapter where the spread we did for the presentation, about drawing on the train, will go.


Meanwhile, my publisher has sent out a call to various urban sketchers, asking for examples of people-sketches. We won't need many more guest contributors, as I have already selected quite a few, as I mentioned previously, but they say it's good to do, as the perfect image for one of my teaching points may drop into our lap.

These are all sketches which have made the grade into that initial chapter, as far as I am concerned at least (but of course everything still has to be run by my editor and set by my designer - I am not even thinking about layout).


By the way, if you missed the beginning of this project and want to follow the progress of this book from the start, just use the Sketching People label on the right hand panel and scroll down. There have been 10 posts so far.

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8. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day 14

HoHoDooDa fight

The first rule of Fight Clause is: You do not talk about Fight Clause.

Why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


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9. HoHoDooDa Day 13 (late)

o holey knight

Alright, I realize these moths would have to be iron and steel eating moths to put holes in armor… but hey, creative license.

Why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


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10. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day 10,11 and 12

Santa fro zen

Yep, I’m counting all three characters again. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, stop on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


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11. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day 8 (late)

HoHoDooDa hornamint

Ok, I know they’re actually antlers, but antler-ments just didn’t really work.

Why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


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12. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day 5, 6 and 7

carol of the bulls

Holiday frivolity is already claiming doodle time and it may just be a bunch of bull, but I’m counting each character as a separate day in an effort to catch up. Yep, just making up the rules as I go along!

So hey, why not take a stroll on over here for links to see what the rest of the HoHoDooDa doodlers are doing.

Oh, and if you are wondering what the heck HoHoDooDa is, check this out.


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13. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day 4

Spruced Up

…and then, as if by magic, Bruce Sprucington Treeworthy wobbled impossibly into a stately bow.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Looks like we have a few masochists joining HoHoDooDa this year. Below are the names and links of said participants (at least any who have left their name and link to where they are posting their doodles, in the comments here.) If I’ve missed anyone or your link is not working or any other proof of my heinous lack of organizational skills, please let me know and I’ll do my best to fix it.

Let’s get doodling!

For more HoHoDooDa info please go here.

HoHoDooDa 2014 Participants:

Heahter Soodak

Roberta Baird

Pam Tanzey

Bobbie Dacus

Heather LittleBearies

June Goulding


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14. 6 Ideas for Sketchbook Inspiration

6 Ideas for Sketchbook Inspiration

I’ve committed with my friends Shawna and Jen to draw a sketch in my sketchbook everyday this month. I usually draw in my book often but committing to everyday is going to be a bit of a challenge. It’s the fourth day of the month and so far so good…. only not quite, because even though I’ve sketched everyday I’m finding getting the ideas for what I want to draw is being pretty hard. But there are some tricks I like to use.

1

 Idea Generator

In the past I wrote this post about my sketchbook idea generator. It includes a free download so you can make your own. Since I wrote the post there are a few apps I use on my phone that do a similar thing. I use these pretty often. Theyare the Brainstormer App, and Character Design Shuffle by Silver.

2

 Practice, Practice, Practice

Sketchbooks are for Practice is a post I wrote about how I practice things I need to work on in my sketchbook.  You can use your sketchbook to practice pretty much anything: figures, trees, composition, value, expressions, animals, etc. You can draw from life or use photos. Don’t be afraid to draw crapy drawings in your book. My sketchbooks are full of drawings I really hate and a only few that I love. Here’s another post I’ve written about how you can use your sketchbook for making mistakes. It also has some links to see some fun sketchbook inspiration from other artists.

3

 Draw from Photos

This is one idea of how you can practice in your sketchbook. I use photos a lot and over the years I’ve gotten smarter about how I draw from them. Photos are good for getting reference of things your can’t find out your front door and for getting ideas. For more info check out this post about how you can use photos but not be completely tied to them.

4

 Sketchook as a Journal

Sketchbook as Journal

I use my sketchbook as a sort of Journal. It’s fun to draw sketches of what I am doing in my day to day life. I drew the ones above  when I was called in for Jury Duty and the fire alarm went off. Everyone had to sit around outside the building for 20-40 min while they made sure it was safe. It was, and the jury selection continued after we were let back in. It’s a funny story and now it’s recorded in my “journal” for me to remember. As you might be able to tell I also used the moment to practice composition.

5

 Online Sketch Groups

There are lots of fun online sketch and illustration groups  you can participate in. Illustration Friday is an old-y but a good-y where you are given a weekly topic you can draw and share on the Illustration Friday website. @sketch_dailies on twitter is fun for a daily inspiration topic.  And if you keep your eyes peeled you can also participate in yearly events like Jake Parker’s #inktober.

6

 Sketching with a Theme

Chases by Fairies by Manelle Oliphant

Pick a theme for your sketchbook and stick with it for a while. I don’t think I’ve ever done this but I want to. So, for my sketchbook challenge this month I’m going to draw my sketches with a theme. The theme I’ve picked is Fantasy Land Creatures, and I want to make sure to practice gestures and expressions. You can follow my progress on my twitter or instagram and at the end of the month I’ll report back with some of the drawings I’ve done. Here is the sketch I did for this theme yesterday.

 

Here is one last closing thought about how great sketchbooks can be.

 

What tips do you use to help you make your sketchbooks better?

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15. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day 3

cockroach

HOT SHOT ROACH & AUNT KILLER

Inspired by a misspelled Home Depot sign. I know, not very holiday-ish, but hey.

What is HoHoDooDay you ask? Check this out.


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16. HoHoDooDa 2014 Day 2

Fleas Navidad HoHoDooDa

Nothing like a holiday pun to start things off, eh?

What is HoHoDooDa? Check it out here!


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17. Getting Started on my Sketching Book: the Flat Plan


Now I have the go-ahead for my Urban Sketching book on sketching people, the next job has been to convert the detailed synopsis I created earlier, into what's called a 'flat plan'. This is a way of ensuring that the chapter sections divide appropriately into the amount of pages I have at my disposal, and that the flow of the book works properly.


My editor sent me this template to work on. The idea is to fill it in with section-headings for each page and colour-coding for the chapters, to give a complete over-view of the book, at a glance.

It's been a really interesting process. It immediately pointed up certain problems with the plan as I had it, mostly because, as with picture books, you have to be very aware of how your material works as spreads and of course can't have random single pages. So, I have been re-jigging things, nipping and tucking my content. I did a rough flat plan with coloured pencils first then, once it was working properly, did a posh version in Photoshop:




Today, I am going down to London, where I will meet the rest of the team for the first time. Together we will go through my flat plan and make any changes necessary to fit with what they think will work best. As ever, although I am the author, a book is a team project. I might have a lot of experience in designing children's books, but this is a very different kind of project, so I am happy to be educated as we go along. 

I'm excited to meet my editor and keen to get started! I'll let you know how it goes.

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18. HoHoDooDay 2014 Day 1

HoHoDooDa hedgehogs

Announcing (last minute as is tradition) the beginning of HoHoDooDa 2014 (or Holiday Doodle A Day!)

As nutty as November was, what with PiBoIdMo (thank you so much Tara Lazar!) and SkADaMo 2014, it was just what the doctor ordered as far as a shot of creative, mojo-inducing stress.

A few Decembers ago, to keep the momentum going, my fellow illustrator pals, the talented Marion Eldridge and Laura Jacobson along with myself, engaged in yet another month-long sketch-a-thin which we dubbed HoHoDooDa, short for Holiday Doodle a Day (hmmm, not really that much shorter. Is it?) We did our best to create a holiday-themed doodle a day… or even every other day… or as often as humanly possible, throughout December.

What with the holidays and all, I admit it’s a little crazy and there may be some gnashing of teeth and tears shed, but overall, I’m sure it will be a blast and very rewarding, as it was last year. So, doin’ it again this year!

Just like SkADaMo, anyone who wants to join in is more than welcome! Regardless of what winter holiday you celebrate!

Rules for HoHoDooDa:

“What are the rules for HoHoDooDa?” You may ask.

1. THERE ARE NO RULES! NO SIGN UP! NO REGISTRATION! NO GIVEAWAYS OR GUEST POSTERS!  No regulations, themes, daily words, Facebook pages or anything else resembling organization. Just lots of holidaydoodling, commenting back and forth and hopefully lots of inspiration and craft honing!
HoHoDooDa Doodlers are scoff-laws and Mavricks! (Really, I’m just not that organized.) The only code we live by this month is Doodle! Doodle! Doodle! Doodle everyday from December 1 to December 31, or at least try to.
You may not Doodle every single day, but by golly you will have tried and you’ll have more doodles in your sketchbook at the end of December than you might have otherwise.
So, there’s that!

2. If you send me a link to your blog, (or wherever you are posting your HoHoDooDa doodles) I will keep a running list of all the participants and their links on my blog. This way we can all keep in touch and root each other on and enjoy the sugarplum fruits of each other’s doodle labors.

If you post to your blog it helps if you tag your illustrations HoHoDooDa or create a HoHoDooDa category. If you are posting to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram it helps to add a hashtag (#HohoDooDa.)

It has been my experience that Facebook’s hashtags are not all that reliable, which is why I decided to go back to listing any link you give me.

If there are any broken links, bad links, I forgot anyone, misspelled anyone’s name or any other heinous act was performed, please let me know and I’ll do my best to correct it.

3. Smile, this is fun!

Doodle on my fellow HoHoDooDa Doodlers, (should there be any!)


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19. SkADaMo 2014 Day 18

stink 2


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20. SkADaMo 2014 Day 19

Gobbull

Ok, I know, I know… I’m reaching now. So, here ya go, a feeble attempt to keep with the holiday theme.

What is SkADaMo? Check it out here.


8 Comments on SkADaMo 2014 Day 19, last added: 11/26/2014
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21. The Urban Sketcher by Marc Taro Holmes



My postman rang the doorbell this afternoon, dragging me all the way down 2 flights of stairs from my attic studio. Nevertheless, I love it when that happens, as it means a parcel. Sure enough, he handed over a big brown package for me to sign for. The paperwork said it was from the USA, which gave me a clue.

I opened it with glee and I was right - it was the new Urban Sketching book by my friend Marc Taro Holmes:


Marc promised to send me a copy to review a while ago, but his publishers have taken their time sending it out and I had almost forgotten it was coming, which made it all the more exciting to finally be unwrapping it.

Unfortunately,I am too busy right now to get stuck into it: I must force myself to get on with some work instead, but I thought I would show you, to whet your appetite.

A quick flick through was enough to tell me that it would be good. Marc is such a highly skilled sketcher, I'd expect nothing less. I always knew him as a brilliant watercolourist but, when I spent time with him in Brazil this summer, I saw him in action with a pen for the first time. How irritating to discover that he is a brilliant speed-draughtsman too :-D


Anyway, this book covers both, which is great. I will look at it properly and let you know what I make of it as soon as I can!

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22. SkADaMo 2014 Day 20

jeerkat

What is SkADaMo? Check this out.


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23. SkADaMo 2014 Day 21

catfishes

A pretty obvious one, but hey…

Wondering what SkADaMo is, check this out.


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24. Yahoo - I Got my Grant from the Leverhulme Trust!!


In August I was approached my a professor at Manchester University, asking if I would be interested in doing a residency with the Sociology Department at The Morgan Centre. They had discovered that The Leverhulme Trust was offering grants of £15,000 to fund projects where artists work in partnership with non-art institutions. It's a wonderful idea and I was excited to be asked.

We spent September writing the bid between us, trying to get it just right. The idea is that I will be a sketching fly-on-the-wall in their department for a full academic year, in particular recording key research projects. It's especially interesting to be doing this now, as sociologists have been thinking a lot lately about different, less impersonal ways in which to gather and record data. The team at The Morgan Center are all really excited about the project and the possibilities for the future. They are thinking of writing a paper on me!


Anyway, the BRILLIANT news is that I just got a letter from the trust, saying we got the money! I was told the decision wouldn't come through until around Christmas, so it was totally unexpected. I was pretty nervous opening the letter (vague memories of A Level results...).

The actual work won't kick in until late next year unfortunately, as we wanted the project to encompass a full academic year but, from October 2015, I will be doing my reportage-sketching for 2 days a week and I can't wait - it sounds so interesting! You can read a bit more about the specific projects I'll be sketching on my last post about it.

0 Comments on Yahoo - I Got my Grant from the Leverhulme Trust!! as of 11/30/2014 3:04:00 AM
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25. SkADaMo 2014 Last Day!!!

skadamo-button-2014-monkey-winner-450

Wooo hooooo! We did it, y’all!

First of all I want to give a hearty thanks to all the folks who visited my blog, Facebook, or Twitter to support and root me on. Your comments, retweets, shares and ‘likes’ were encouraging, often funny and clever and always more than welcome. Thanks also for doing the same for my fellow SkADaMoers. You guys made the journey all the sweeter and kept me going when I was tempted to simply sit around eating a whole bag of chips while watching time wasting kitty antics on YouTube.

I may have only completed 19 sketches in 30 days, but that’s 19 more sketches than I would have done otherwise.

In fact, to all my fellow SkADaMoers:

You decided to step a bit out of your comfort zone this November, dip your toe into a challenge. Maybe you did one sketch, or 5, 10 or all 30. Whatever number you managed to do… You. Are. A. Winner!

Why? “Why am I a winner no matter how many sketches I finished”, you may ask? Well, because you took a positive, productive step toward revving up your creative engines this month. Perhaps your sketchbook is a little fuller, your blog has a few more posts. Maybe you killed it and did 30 sketches or more! Maybe for those who participated in PiBoIdMoor even if you didn’t, you have some great picture book ideas percolating  now or some great new ideas for a painting or some other type of super cool project. Maybe because you dipped your toe into this challenge you’ll be more toned up to jump into something even more challenging with both feet! Whatever the case may be, you did it and that is fantastic! Good for all of you!

You rock. Take a winner badge!

SkADaMo button 2014 monkey winner

Now go on and enjoy the rest of your holiday season, feeling a bit more energized. Maybe you’ll take a rest from sketching every single day, maybe you’ll continue do a wee bit every day…

OR…

Maybe you’re a masochist like myself and you’ll join the HoHoDooDa (Holiday Doodle a Day) fun that December brings (starts tomorrow, or any day you can join. Of course the sooner the merrier.)

More about the fourth annual HoHoDooDa later today. For now congratulations SkADaMoers! You kicked November’s butt!

And thanks again to everyone who supported us and rooted us on. You guys are winners as well. Take a badge!


5 Comments on SkADaMo 2014 Last Day!!!, last added: 12/2/2014
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