Emily M. DeArdo



Sketching Summer

drawingEmily DeArdoComment

I seem to sketch a lot more during the summer. Not sure why--maybe because there's so many fun things to sketch? Winter gets boring fast. Maybe what I need is a tinted paper sketchbook so I can draw the whites of winter without it being boring? A thought for the next "daily" sketchbook I need. 

I always have my travel sketchbook but I realized recently that I'd been neglecting my big Moleskine Watercolor book. So I got that out and took it to Pittsburgh. I also got my Stillman and Birn Zeta book (my daily book) into my bag for some daily pages. 

The top sketch here is my "daily page" in the Zeta book for June 7. I really love the shading and coloring I was able to get on the mint tea, and I'm glad the cardigan looks  like a piece of clothing. The first few I'd drawn were awful! 

art journal 6.8.17 1.jpeg


This one was just fun. I was at a stoplight--a very long one near my house--and I decided to draw this really, really fast with a Tombow marker. I added the black pen lyrics later, at home.  (It can take three light cycles to get through this particular intersection. I had a lot of time.) 



This is my sketch kit bag. It's a Vera Bradley cosmetic bag that my friend Tiffany gave me a few years ago for Christmas, and I felt it deserved its own sketch! I drew this in the cafeteria at Children's before my first volunteer shift. 


When we went to Pittsburgh I knew I'd have a chance to draw some fun things. So I did a few different spreads in both books. 

This is a sketch of a bridge over I-70 E near Zanesville. The flowers in the corner are representative of what grows along the highway in Ohio (clover and ox-eye daisies, in this case). 


And since I only have about 8 pages left in my current sketchbook, I ordered a slightly different one for my next "daily" book. This is a softcover Alpha from Stillman and Birn, as opposed to the hardcover Zeta I have now. The paper isn't as thick (150 gsm vs. 270 gsm), but I really like the pages (at least based on the one I've used so far). Like Liz Steel, I do a sketch of my palette on the first page. Not only is it easy, but I love having a reference of what colors are where in the palette at the front of each book! 

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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?