Friday, January 31, 2014

January Journal

I didn't expect to take as many online classes this year, but I have already signed up for at least two and I'm trying to decide on the Sketchbook Skool class too. Lilla Rogers' MATS Bootcamp starts on Monday... and I have been doing my best to keep up with Journal52.

Accountability seems to be the key to my actually keeping up with a class or finishing any project I start. Accountability to you all gets me out of bed most days! I will post my journal pages for Journal52 here on the blog at the end of each month. If I don't - you all should feel free to make a fuss. OK?

It's not too late to join if you want to play along. It's an easy-going group with Chelle posting one prompt each week with some cool ideas to try. If you are also doing Journal52, please feel free to put a link to your own art in the comments below. We'd all love to see!

I used a lot of Sheer Heaven in these pages. The first week, "Up Up and Away" - was based on a steampunk-tangle piece I did for the book The Beauty of Zentangle. I did a pale transfer of just the girl and her skirt, turned her into a hot air balloon and painted over the whole thing with watercolor, and Inktense pencils.

Up Up And Away - Sandy Steen Bartholomew

For week two, "Somewhere, A Simple Place," I transferred a photograph I had taken of a fairy house my kids and I built on a beach in Maine. I drew the text (lyrics from a song by Phillip Phillips) with Micron pen, and painted over the pale photo with watercolors and colored pencils.

Somewhere, A Simple Place - Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Week Three, "You Make Me Smile" - again, started with a transfer of my favorite photo of my kids. Then Microns, acrylic paint, pencils, and paint pens. I wanted to express not only that my kids make me smile, but how happy it makes me that they make each other happy. Complicated, right? Alex had been away at summer camp and we finally arrived at family visiting day. Lilah was beside herself with anticipation. We knew that she had missed her brother, but as soon as she saw him walking towards us up the dirt path, she flew at him on her little legs. She "launched" herself at him actually, knocking him down, and attaching herself like a barnacle. A happy barnacle. Alex obviously had missed her too. :-)

Lilah art directed this piece. She insisted the word "SMILE" be a rainbow. I think she was right.

You Make Me Smile - Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Week Four, "Building Character," took an interesting turn. I have been using this workshop as a way to push myself to draw the way I "used to". Or rather, to get back to working the way that I used to, when I loved making art, before I started drawing the way I "had to" for work. (Very complicated.)

I am usually inspired by something, an image, a quote, that leads to my own artwork. I don't just draw. I have to start somewhere. Quite often something pops into my head - which is why I really love prompts.

This is a piece I had done last year. I made it into a poster on Zazzle...

I thought the quote went really well with this assignment, but I had a "better" idea of what I wanted the art to look like. My girl looks a bit... defensive. So I redrew it from scratch. As I worked, my little character's outfit changed as I added my Bumblebat's wings and dress, and the whole thing took a bit of a steampunk turn...

character sketch - Sandy Steen Bartholomew

I drew it with a brown Micron pen, then colored it with watercolor and Inktense pencils.

Character - Sandy Steen Bartholomew

I liked the finished piece a lot! But, I had an image in my mind of an architect's drawing... sort of a sepia-blueprint. Like a design or patent sketch. I know I accuse my daughter of being a little Art Director, but I think I have another one inside my head... yes, I did it over again!

I'm not completely crazy... I started with a Sheer Heaven transfer so I wouldn't have to do all the work again.

I like to draw with a Col-erase brown pencil when I intend on leaving the lines (not erasing them). I went through the drawing putting back in all the straight lines and curves. Again, the image in my head changed... so here is what it all ended up becoming...

Building Character - Sandy Steen Bartholomew

Now that I think back on the process of creating this character, the quote seems really appropriate. I spent two full days (and late nights) working on this journal prompt. It's not real "work" - I don't get paid. It's not even created for someone - as a gift or a dare. It was just an idea. Something that was rattling around in my head and it needed to get out.
Hammer and forge, indeed


  1. These are wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I
    Buy prints of Up Up and away and Character. Hint, hint.

  3. They all look wonderful, that character is gorgeous (I think I vote for #2 ;-)
    I'm especially in love with your "Somewhere, A Simple Place"!
    Thank you for sharing, again it is a joy to read, and inspires me as always.

  4. They are all beautiful Sandy!You always get this really clean and nice look. Love "you make me smile". Have a great day :)

  5. Sandy -- Wonderful! Really love the art and your explanations..

  6. Oh, Sandy, I think your "forge' piece is incredible!!! Time well spent!!! You are amazing but probably get tired of hearing it!!! :-)

  7. OK - I am SO jealous. Love your pages and the fact that you are making so much art. Glad Sheer Heaven can be helpful! I like the Journal 52 idea and want to join in as soon as crazy February is over. Prompts are so helpful when you need a kickstart. I have also been thinking about the Sketch Skool class. Wondering if we would get enough out of it?

    1. My ex used to joke that he could shop for me in a hardware store... I can't imagine anything or anywhere that wouldn't have some kind of an influence on a creative person. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but always a learning experience!

  8. Your work is stunning! I hope you decide to give an online (or in-person) class on techniques. ... your current life-time achievements appear to be based on focus, interest, and a lot of practice. Given that, I'd be more than happy to sign up for classes that are more than Zentangle (which, of course, is great) to learn a fraction of what you now know.

    1. Thank you! I would love to do more teaching except for the fact that I hate teaching. :-( Actually... I hate the planning and figuring out HOW to teach. I LOVE showing cool stuff to people and helping them make it their own. I would like a another Minion who is good at organizing stuff (and me). :-)

  9. I love how you share your process. These are just wonderful pieces and the style is so bold and bright. I am enjoying the Journal 52 as well as journaling along with Art at the Speed of Life by Pam Carrikeer. If anyone is interested, you can see them on the art journal page of my blog:

    1. Thanks Jean! Doesn't it feel good to see all your work together in one place? We often don't give ourselves credit that we are actually getting anything DONE. It's nice to have proof sometimes. :-)

  10. So fantastic--thanks for explaining the whole intricate process!

  11. I love the quote and the character and everything about the last Journal52 page. In fact if it was a postcard or a card or a small picture, I think I'd buy it. So maybe the pages are not work now but they could be... Just saying.

    1. The kiss of death in my family has always been the words, meant as praise, "Maybe you could sell it?" ;-) I can't tell you how many businesses I've been through that started as hobbies or passions. Still... I should check out Society6 for prints.

  12. Also - consider starting a discussion about "making life work." I'm transitioning as a 70-year-old trying to decide "what should I do when I grow up" and "what should I do for my end game." Pay is important! Combine the concepts of "for pay" and "self-direction," and you have a problem hungering for a solution.

  13. Oh, Sandy, please start selling your artwork as prints!!! I LOVE your SteamPunk design (I am a huge steampunk literature and hot air balloon fan) and the Building Character design (I am also a big Thoreau fan and love your interpretation of that quote). These would look so good next to the art by Maria I won at my CZT7 training!

    1. OK. :-)
      Actually, I have a few prints on my Bumblebat shop on I made an AlphaTangle poster a while ago that looks REALLY cool BIG. But I would really like to do more of my illustrations as prints. Keep poking me... I'll do it eventually. :-)


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