It has been forever since I posted last! Happily, I have been busy with some different projects and finally have something to post about.
I belong to two fantastic groups on Facebook for botanical artists: Botanical Art for Beginners and Botanical Artists. Both contain artists from all over the world who share a common interest in and passion for botanical art and illustration.
Earlier this year, a subset of artists decided to start an international sketchbook exchange, inspired by a similar endeavor by other artists in the group last year. I was thrilled to be invited to participate!
There are 9 of us total, spanning the globe from here in the U.S. to Ireland, Italy, the UK, Austria, Turkey, and Singapore. We all agreed to purchase the same type of sketchbook, Stillman and Birn’s hardbound sketchbook from the Zeta series in A5 size (approx. 5.5 x 8.5 inches.) The Zeta series contains 180lb paper suitable for both wet and dry media, but most importantly, it opens up to lay flat, so one can work on a spread of two pages fairly easily.
Initially, we thought we would stick to just botanical subject matter, but agreed that if inspiration struck differently, we could feel free to include other natural subjects or artistic interpretations (e.g., some of the artists do motif work or other ethnic design work.) We also agreed that we would do a minimum of one, two-page spread and maximum of two, two-page spreads.
Each of us started our sketchbooks with some sort of decorated title page and then created some art to open the book. I decided to go ahead and cover my sketchbook with a nice Italian book cloth and pasted endpapers of a beautiful handmade paper from my favorite store, Hollander’s.
I started with a title page that included our group name, Nature Miscellany – A Sketchbook Exchange and space at the top for each artist to write their name.
Since this is an international effort, I wanted to include something about where my book is coming from, so I drew an outline of the state of Michigan and added a couple of small botanicals: the state tree, the eastern white pine, and the state flower, the apple blossom.
I began working on the sketchbook during the frenzy of spring wildflower season, so I did a two-page spread of graphite sketches of the nodding trillium and bloodroot, two species that I had specifically hunted for in the woods this season.
I saved the second two-page spread for a wildflower that I have wanted to draw for several years: the yellow trout-lily. The mottled leaves, resembling trout, and graceful, curving blossoms are a treat to find all over the forest floor in early spring.
I mailed my sketchbook out for our first round of exchange last week. We are mailing east, and I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of our Singapore artist’s book soon!
Each of us will then have about a month to do a sketch in the book we received and mail it on in the exchange. It should take roughly a year to complete all the books, and we will have a wonderful treasure filled with beautiful artwork from artists around the world!
Stay tuned for posts on my latest sketchbook entries!