Emily M. DeArdo


Sketchbook Skool

Visual Journals: My Sketchbooks

drawing, Sketchbook SkoolEmily DeArdo1 Comment


2015 brought a lot of surprises, but one of the biggest is that I found out I liked drawing. 

Until recently, I'd equated art with math--it was something other people were good at, but unlike math, it was something I could easily appreciate. I love going to art museums and fawning over the art. I've always wished I could do that. 

My art training was mostly art classes in school, grades K-8, which became progressively more challenging, but we didn't really learn anything about art--concepts or theories or really how to draw. It was, here's the project, do it. And I wasn't very good at it. Art seemed to elude me. I could paint ceramics decently (There was a once-a-month class at a local studio), but that was it. My art was going to have to be music and writing.

Proustian tea break!

Proustian tea break!

But one day last spring, while reading Melissa Wiley's blog, I discovered Sketchbook Skool. Melissa said they could turn even serious non artists into artists. It wasn't formal. It wasn't graded. But all sorts of different artists taught students various ways of drawing, of creating art. 

So I enrolled. I learned to play with colored pencils and watercolors, how to mix colors and blend colored pencils together. I grew more comfortable using pen that couldn't be erased. (Although sometimes it still makes me nervous!) I started carrying around a Moleskine watercolor sketchbook and drawing--sugar packets, fountains, whatever. 

And I found that I liked it, even when my drawings were wonky or not very good, or not what I imagined. 

the bunkbeds at my grandma's house. I'm glad I drew this because the beds have since been dismantled. 

the bunkbeds at my grandma's house. I'm glad I drew this because the beds have since been dismantled. 

I've noticed that my drawings are getting better--meaning they meet my expectations. I am really happy when I manage to blend just the right color of a madeleine with my pencils, or get the shadows right in a watercolor. 

Last week, I finished my first Moleskine sketch journal. I didn't think I'd do that, when I first bought it. I thought that maybe I would really hate art and just leave it to sit in a corner somewhere, with really bad pencil marks marring a few pages. 

But it didn't. All the pages are filled. 

Now I have three more sketchbooks in progress--it's gone mad, I know. :) One is another Moleskine watercolor sketchbook, for my Sketchbook Skool classes--I like having the thick watercolor paper for that, and the larger size. The second is my Moleskine Art journal that I use when I travel. I really liked having it with me when I was in Boston and it's definitely coming to LA with me. 

from the Boston sketch pages. 

from the Boston sketch pages. 

Lastly is a red Moleskine art journal that's for home. By "home", I mean drawing things around here--what I eat at Starbucks during my sketch days, drawings of my house, my parents' house, buildings around my town, etc. I'm having a lot of fun with it so far. 

I'm in no way going to be a professional artist. But drawing taps into my creativity in a different way than writing. I like to think it complements it. I'll never stop keeping my written journals, but I don't think I'll stop sketching now, either. Maybe I just need to buy stock in Moleskine, since I use their journals for both writing and drawing!


impressions of my Christmas tree. 

impressions of my Christmas tree. 

In 2016, I'm hoping to take two more Sketchbool Skool classes, at least--Stretching and Storytelling--and continue filling the pages of my art journals. 

What new skills did you pick up in 2015? 


Daybook No. 114

Daybook, books, goal setting, Tidying Up, Sketchbook SkoolEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Outside my window::

cloudy, but I saw dandelions the other day. DANDELIONS! In December! probably because our weather has been a lot more like spring than winter, lately--we've had a few deep frosts but it hasn't snowed yet, which is weird. Normally we've had at least one snow here by December. 


Jeans and a scoop neck "dark cherry" colored top, my St. Dominic medal, and my watch. Bare feet, which is appropriate because I'm watching a movie about St. Francis as I write this. 


All the Advent books, and Communion with Chris: according to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. I also read Rosemary, a book about the Kennedy's oldest daughter, who had intellectual disabilities, and who was lobotomized by her father in the 1940s. The book was pretty well -written (I had quibbles with the author's "explanations" of some Catholic things, but that's par for the course...), and you can't help by feel sorry for her and the rest of her family, who didn't know what had happened to Rosemary until it was done. 

Listening to:

The Hamilton CDs (again)--and some of my Advent CDs. I might have to put in Messiah for today and tomorrow, since tomorrow is the Immaculate Conception (a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics), and the first part of Messiah is perfect for this. 

Goal setting:: 

Last week I did a lot if Powesheets work--goal setting for the New Year, and I'm pleased with what I've done so far. This is always an illuminating process for me. I'm on the actual goal setting steps now and I'm working on that part pretty slowly because I want to make sure that I'm setting the right goals. 

In one of the Advent books I'm reading, Come, Lord Jesus, Mother Mary Francis talks about the "dream the Lord has of [you.]" I want my goals to reflect that dream. 



working on the Powersheets last week!

working on the Powersheets last week!

Tyding Up::

This is hard because everything is so topsy-turvy with the Christmas decorations being out, and moving things around.  But I'm hoping I'm on the last "purge" of books and DVDs, and that I can have a whole post about the process in early 2016. 


I'm on the fourth week of my Sketchbook Skool Seeing class. I have to tell you, last week was hard. We were talking about continual line drawing and I was terrible at it when I first started. But by the end, I think I managed to do some decent work: 

lemon, pear, and bottle of olive oil. 

lemon, pear, and bottle of olive oil. 

This week, it's nature drawing, with is hard because it's December and there's not a lot of "nature" around. :) But I'll try to catch some of the squirrels and draw them for this week's assignment. 

From the kitchen::

Tonight I'm trying a new Nigella recipe--a chicken "tray bake" (meaning it's baked on a tray--clever, eh? :-P), with fennel and a citrus marinade. Tomorrow I'm making stew, because YUMMMM, and it's a feast day, so winner right there! 

Plans for the week::
ENT appointment today (I actually like seeing him, he's a great doctor.) Sunday is jam packed with CCD, our catechist meeting (we have one quarterly), and our Lay Dominican meeting, where a few members will make their life promises! (I did that last December) It's always exciting when that happens. 


Daybook No. 109

Daybook, books, Sketchbook Skool, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Outside my window::

Cloudy and potentially rainy. I wouldn't mind that. Stay inside with books and tea and fireplace on? Excellent idea. 


An asymmetrical hem skirt, a blue v-neck top (Eddie Bauer), a scarf a friend made me, and my watch. I'll put on my boots for the firs time this autumn when I go out. 


A Wind In The Door (I'm re-reading Madeline L'Engle's books, and the Time Quintet is the last one in my re-read. I realize I sort of went about this out of order. I did the Austins, then Polly's books, and now Meg), Crossing the Threshold of Hope, and The Comedy of Errors for an audition on Saturday. I've never read the play before, and it's funny, but it's also got some good reflections on the nature of marriage in it. 


NaNo starts on Sunday and I've begun to think about the novel's structure and make notes about it in my notebook devoted to this. I need to have a dedicated notebook to scribble down all the names, places, and ideas I have for each piece. 

I'm also still in my "seeing" class at Sketchbook Skool. 

Tidying Up:: 

Still in the throws of the "komono" category, but I'm making progress there. I want to finish it by the end of the month so I just have the rest of this week to do it. This is a hard category because it's not so much about things that "spark joy" as much as things I use or don't use, need or don't need. But looseleaf paper? Where can I put that? In a folder? In a binder? And then hope I don't forget about it? I can probably put it in a file folder in my office, because I'll remember it's there. 

After the Komono category there's only--praise Jesus!--two things left--sentimental items and photographs. 

Around the house::

Other than Tidying Up, there's the general cleaning things. I did wash a few of the windows last week when we had lovely weather, so that they can be cleaner before winter gets here and they get all messy again. Since I'm a small person, I can't reach the top of the outside of the windows, but that's OK. 


Fall is a great time to cook because you don't have to worry about the house getting too hot! I've got a stew on the menu this week (yes, another try at a new recipe) and a tomato bisque. I'm also making one of Rachael Ray's leek-y chicken recipes, because I've got leftover leeks from the last stew recipe, and I want to use them. 

Plans for the rest of the week::

An audition on Saturday, as I talked about earlier, and CCD on Sunday--the kids are doing saint "report" this week. Basically they find a few facts about a saint we assigned them, and they come up and tell the class about it. I have an eye doctor appointment today and then dinner with my parents after that. I'm actually home this weekend--yay! Next weekend, though, I'll been in Pittsburgh for my cousin's confirmation, but that's never a bad thing. 






Daybook No. 100

books, Catholicism, Daybook, dominican saints series, drawing, knitting, links, Sketchbook Skool, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment

(yes, I need to change the photo. I'll do that soon. :-P)

Outside my window::

Sunny, cloudy, and breezy. By "cloudy", I Mean we've got a few clouds floating around. So I guess that means partly sunny? I have no idea. 


My blue and white stripped breton top (short-sleeved) and my Boden skirt with the seaside print. I get more compliments on this skirt than anything else I own, so basically I have to keep it safe forever and ever. :) I'm also wearing my Charleston goldbug bee earrings. 

In the CD player::

Sterling Road, by Cassie and Maggie. 


Today's the 11th, so I'm off to do Holy Hour as soon as I finish this. I'm part of the Summit Dominican's adoring rosary, so that means on the 11th of every month, I have a Holy Hour. (I chose the 11th because that's the date of my transplant) Last month, my holy hour was in Charleston. :) I'm taking a lot of intentions with me. 

Today is also the feast day of St. Clare, follower of St. Francis and foundress of the Poor Clares--Mother Angelica's order. 


Middlemarch, Persuasion, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose


Working on my Sketchbook Skool classes--I have to draw a piece of toast later today. :) I'm also working on a colored pencil drawing that I did in pen a few weeks ago. I'm adding the color now and trying some new techniques. We'll see what comes of it. 

Also, I'm starting a new knitting project, but more on that tomorrow. Sorry guys, it's not anything exciting....yes. That purl stitch! :) 

Around the House::

It's the master bath's week for deep cleaning so I"m working up there. It always amazes me how many dishes I manage to go through as one person. Really! 


This week I'm doing a series on Dominican saints, and tomorrow St. Thomas Aquinas is up. So far I've done St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Siena. It came to my attention over the weekend that not too many people are familiar with the Dominican saints, so I'm going to try to rectify that. 

I've also got two September Real Housekeeping pieces being edited. We haven't come up with our October topic yet, so I'm waiting to see what it is before I start brainstorming ideas. 

I'm also playing around with a new idea for a novel that will be my 2015 NaNo piece. In the brainstorming stage now. 


Yoga yesterday, gym today--after Holy Hour. I'm sad that this summer has mostly been too cool to go swimming.