The Sketchbook & the Bullet Journal


This is a watercolor from my sketchbook series. I am in the process of reviewing all my sketches and watercolors for a new project I am working on in 2017.  I love that I have these piles of visual diaries of everywhere. What a treasure trove! “Red Fish Shacks”. 6×8 watercolor. Original $175. Limited Edition Prints $35  Available.Photo: Mary Byrom

BULLET JOURNALS & SKETCHBOOKS: GETTING ORGANIZED FOR NEW YEAR !

Its so early in the new year it doesn’t feel real yet. I always go through this when I’m writing the date in my bullet journal. I don’t know if I’ve talked much about it but I love my “bullet journal.” Over the past year it has brought me full circle and it’s really keeping me organized. I love that it’s analog and is so organic that I can design it to fit my needs and my always changing life.

THE BULLET JOURNAL IS DIFFERENT
I discovered the bullet journal on my instagram feed. All it took was seeing one picture of it to grab my attention. There was something about its old school approach that brought everything back down to earth. It is almost meditative to keep one. In contrast to the sped-up electronic gadget world that we live in this feels positively organic! I have a field sketchbook that goes every where with me and now, and I have a bullet journal that accompanies it!

THE PROCESS

I kept a daily journal when I was 6 or 7 years old  But I never used it to keep track of things. I used it to report things after the fact. Keeping a bullet journal is the opposite, I design how I keep track of things, how my life activities are organized and then review everything to see how it turned out. Thoughts and perspective are still part of the process but is sure feels good to have a track record that I can look any time I want to evaluate how I’m doing.  I list everything I think I need to keep on track from simple daily and weekly stuff to long term, big picture stuff. The bullet journal is full of ideas, tasks, structure and total freedom. How’s that for the perfect tool for a creative type?

I tape things into my bullet journal that I’m sure I will need again. Like the name and size of the multimedia board that I want to reorder. Photo: Mary Byrom

THE RIGHT BOOK
I love this process.
Right now I use 5.5 x 8.5″ Canson Universal sketchbook for my bullet journal. It is a perfect fit for me. I draw and sketch all the time in my bigger sketchbooks with heavy multimedia paper in them, so I can paint in watercolors, gouache or acrylic if I feel like it. I sometimes draw every day  in the big sketchbooks and I now write every day in my bullet journal. I don’t journal or use the small sketchbook the way the urban sketchers do. I’m not recording or journaling my day in pictures in these small books. I’m using them for thinking and creating form and structure in my life. Bullet journaling helps me direct and harness the unending creativity that pours out of my mind and keep track of all the many helpful things I encounter and would forget it I didn’t write them down. It helps me manifest my ideas into 3D reality. Not one of the electronic apps I used for the past several years could ever work as well as this does. It was eye opening to experience the benefits of the process. I totally understand why it is so popular with so many people.

THE BULLET JOURNAL CAN BE DESIGNED TO WORK FOR YOU

I’m getting freer with my design of my bullet journal this year. I’m including more open, unplanned space in it to think things out. This is what I love about this. I used it one way for the past year and noticed that I needed more space for thinking and development of ideas. What I learned was that as an artist I do many more things per day (that need listing) than someone who has a basic 9-5 job. All my work and life details go into my bullet journal. It’s headquarters for keeping everything on track. I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my increased productivity last year. I also noticed I didn’t have the feelings of overwhelm I sometimes have when I’m so busy that I’m just going from point to point to get things done.  I am beginning to have more down time as a result of my bullet journal. Now as I’m reviewing last year and deciding on priorities for 2017 it is really making a difference in how I’m making my choices.

NEW PRINT RELEASED THIS WEEK … on my site on Fine Art America

“Deliverance” is now available in a variety of sizes as a high quality giclee.

If you wish to purchase prints of my paintings, they are being posted on my page at Fine Art America. You can follow my page on Fine Art America for notification of the release of new paintings into print editions.
A select collection is available now and more will be posted soon on a regular basis. I will be releasing small studies and reproductions of some of my larger paintings.

NEW STUDIO CLASS STARTS JAN 10TH.
I HAVE ONE OPENING AVAILABLE NOW

YOU CAN REGISTER NOW FOR THE STUDIO SESSION OF THE WINTER CLASS – STARTING JANUARY 10TH

Class meets WEEKLY on Tuesdays 10am  – 1pm.
The 2017 session will be focused on drawing perspectives, developing design, developing your color “voice” and painting large landscapes from plein air studies.
Register for 6 week STUDIO CLASS here.

If you are interested in joining the class that begins January 10, 2017 and have questions, please contact me here. 

UPCOMING EVENTS

LIVE DEMO AND Pop Up – NEW YEAR SALE & CELEBRATION – HAIKU EXHIBIT ~

I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO MY DEMO & POP UP IN JANUARY!
I will be hosting a painting demo, artists talk and pop up sale in the quiet, beautiful time of the year – January !  (I’m watching the long range weather reports – which may or may not help on choosing the date…we shall see!)
I will have small paintings from my haiku series and selected plein air landscapes available for purchase at unbelievable price points! If you are looking for paintings of the seacoast region – you will find them here.
This will be a fun & wild pop up happening!
If you love tiny paintings, adventure, unusual locations and hot chocolate this event is for you.
If you would like to receive the date, location and time of this festive event please click here! 
This event is by invitation only. Get your invite here ! 

Warmly,

Mary

Fast & Slow

I was looking through my sketchbooks the other day checking out the way I respond to situations.

House at Mackerel Cove 8×10 pen & watercolor 
Outdoors I am racing, zip, zip, zip getting it down before the light, tide, wind… changes.

Pears & Glass 8×12 watercolor
Indoors doing a still life with fixed light, no moving objects, a stable temperature…. all is calm.  I still paint fast…its instinct.  But you can tell its indoors by the way the painting looks….all is calm.  

Mountain Snow & Roast Lamb at the Hodge Podge Lodge

 There was plenty of snow in the White Mountains when I packed up my gear and loaded it into the car.
The sun drifted in and out of the clouds, making the mountains along the Kangamangus Highway look mysterious . 
Main Street in North Conway, New Hampshire was sunny and warm, the sidewalks were packed with tourists.
The road up to Cranmore Mountain was packed with cars. 
It looked like everyone was on vacation…  
Here’s my big painting kit for the day ! A black fine line pen, a Koi 24 color water color kit with a water brush and my 6×8″ sketchbook.
I had a real tight schedule. My husband Marcus was performing a concert in the lodge and I had one hour to sketch and paint whatever caught my attention…
Some very nice shapes were formed by the curve of the mountain and the bands of trees as they draped down the slope.  
4×6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper
I walked around and looked up the ski trails.
I loved the dramatic views and sweep of the snowy slopes…
4×6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

My car was parked in a spot with great views…so…
I set up and proceeded with the “JaneRamsey ” method of watercolor painting in freezing weather…on the heated hood of my car!  Brilliant…it kept everything warm and liquid.    
The sun began to get low in the sky… nice shadows formed…heck it was only 3:30 pm !
Still the light on the trees was hazy and golden.
4×6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

I went up to the bottom of the slope to watch the skiers coming down.
What angles some of these folks formed.
6×8 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper
Every so often this snow machine towing this sled full of tiny skiers went by with instructors holding on to them tightly so they wouldn’t fall off.
The ski “life guards” had the best form.  I could have sketched them all day. Very casual, fast and elegant. They would come swooping down the slope holding both ski poles off to the side in one hand… 
4×6 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper

The teenage boys were interesting.  They could go fast at an angle but were a bit ragged in their form… 
6×8 pen & watercolor on 90 lb paper
Marcus finished his concert and we packed the car and headed out of town to Beth & Nordel’s Hodge Podge Lodge. 

The lodge is the sweetest place you ever saw… after traveling a mile and half into the woods on a snow machine…
…the welcoming fire in the wood stove and the campy feeling were perfect !
Alan, Vitali and Owen were watching dinner as it was cooking… guests were arriving and lamb roasted in the piney woods was on the menu for New Years Eve.  Happy New Year everyone! 

Short Days, Long Nights

I painted outdoors for 5 years. I did not like painting in a studio once I painted en plein air. I knew I’d have to go back inside one day… so in preparation for that day I built a new studio. 

It is painted off white(including the floor) and has banks of 5,000 lumen lights overhead with a mixture of color balanced spot lighting.  These past few weeks I’ve been in the studio painting…I”m painting large paintings from sketches and field studies; both water color and oil .


I have a practice of doing sketches, watercolors and oils on location. 
Some are very rough.

I stand in one spot and keep recording what I am seeing.


I turn to my left and sketch and paint that view …


…then turn to my right and do the same…


I will walk around and try to capture enough detail and a feeling of the place for me to be able to remember what was important to me at that time. 


I used the watercolor sketches to put together this oil painting. I’m trying for the essence of the place, the soul of the day…its not quite finished.


I do these very quick value/temperature studies to sample colors and see how much chroma the mood will bear.

I’ll do a fast watercolor just to get the feel of the action. These clouds were racing out to sea after a thunder storm cleared out.

A  quick watercolor value study gives me a feel for the simple masses and the shape of things, like wandering with my mind through a place before I decide how I want to depict it. Its very liberating to do this. It helps me to get familiar and comfortable with a place.
   

On location I do rough sketches first, quick watercolors..then I often will do a series of quick 20 minute oil sketches back to back. Why?  I’ve found that if I paint like this I will often have something good from the lot that I can take home and work with.  I’m a real process painter. I do hundreds of starts, 5×7, 6×8, 8×10’s on location.  So now I’m painting in the studio I have no shortage of reference material for these large paintings I’m working on. 

Water colors ~ 6×8’s, 90 lb. sketch paper 6×10, 90 lb. sketch paper  8×12  300 lb. Arches rough 
Oils ~ 8×10 linen on panel, canvas on  panel

PAINT EAT SLEEP for more views of paintings.


Plein Air in Canterbury, NH

New Hampshire is gorgeous in the summer!  I live near the ocean in Southern Maine but…a short drive from my house takes me into the foothills of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
We headed up to Canterbury, NH for the afternoon. 
Marcus decided to come along with me to do some sketching.

Here’s the view of the top of the meadow where we parked the car. 

I started to set up and Marcus got down to work a right away.  He’s working on perspective and sight measuring.

He decided to sketch my pochade box all set up and ready to go. He is experiencing the difficulty of designing the landscape to make it interesting and hold your eye.  All that editing.  Much harder than a still life or person.  So at this stage in his plein air experience he picks a specific object or person to sketch and is doing really well.  

Of course here we have 2 sketch books with totally different focuses and purposes. 

 I’m well into the my first field sketch.  I’m painting with my back to the scene to keep the moving dappled sunlight off my canvas and palette.

Here’s the 12×12 , oil on panel. 

The big cross road behind me had a road sign for every destination these roads will take you to – yes, it goes to 
 Boston!  Note the granite post. Up in these hills we see pasture fence posts made out of granite.

A granite watering trough is near the sign. This is a spot to stop and water your horses. The road was once a highway(1700’s?). Its now a country road.   

Here I am taking that step back to see if the design is making sense on my second start.

Here is the cross road behind me that goes to Lake Winnipesaki.

I’m laying in some paint fast on the 16×20 panel. The light is changing, the clouds are flying and  I’m moving fast!  

 As we packed up to head back to the coast heavier clouds moved in over the meadow.  What a great day!  

Antique Cars in Plein Air at Par Sem

I was invited to be the artist-in-residence at an antique car show for a museum in Maine. What a delight!  The Parsonsfield Seminary Museum is a treasure.   The place is sublime.
The museum grounds were packed.  It was a perfect summer day. 
Antique cars arrived from everywhere.

The lawns filled with all kinds of cars…

And trucks!

The deep cool shade of the old maples was fully appreciated by the visitors.
The cars of the sixties are very popular among collectors now. 
Hot rods were fancy and in wild colors.
There were over 150 cars all parked in groups of ten year spans. 
This was a new plein air experience for me.  Wow! I’d never see so many antique cars in one place before.  Which ones to sketch?  It was overwhelming.  How to choose? So many great models . So little time! 


This convertible sparkled in the sunshine.  Did I forget to mention these cars are so clean and shiny they look like mirrors?
Here was the first sketch of the day .  I did it in ink and watercolor.  Fast.  Good lesson, I  knew I needed to the do the next ones in pencil so I could correct lines if needed as I was having to move fast and wasn’t familiar with the different lines and shapes.  Plus onlookers gathered fast, even before I could get started. They were interested and excited.  
Next, I decided to just stop, “park” myself in the shade and get going.  Here’s the setup.  The antique cars had complex shapes and curves. 
Here’s the little 1930’s car I sketched. 
I was sketching just across from  the gazebo where a great band was playing. Live music all day!  Imagine an artist in plein air serenaded all day- it was delightful. 
I sketched this car after the owner came and visited with me while I was painting the sleek convertible on the other side of the campus.  What a sweet car! Such personality. 
I stayed in one spot, just kept turning my chair and sketched next car.

 
Everyone began to gather for the awards ceremony.  
This car won a blue ribbon! The husband of Wendy Newcomb  is the owner, what a blast!  He knew what I was dealing with painting en plein air.
This was the oldest car at the show.  A 1917 Model T.

In late afternoon the museum campus sits with a few cars left after everyone else has headed home.  The only hint of the big event were a few tire tracks left on the grass. 

Painting on the Run

I paint in oils …most of the time.  I used to paint in oils all of the time… until that trip when the weather was really, really bad and there was no place to set up out of the wind and rain.
I grabbed my camera took some photos then dug into my “car studio” and pulled out a sketchbook and some watercolor pencils.
 I designed my picture, put in the color notations with the pencils.
 …and when I got to a nice warm, dry, place I pulled out a brush & water and finished the pictures.  
Wow, I had something and it was my interpretation of that scene …not a photo. 
Soon it was sketching from a moving car (no I was not driving)and on the terrace of a mansion…
Here we are tucked in a corner with our paints out of the 30 mph winds. See we had it all to ourselves…on a calm day all the tables would be out , the umbrellas unfurled and the place packed with visitors. 
From the edge of a pasture at the William Cullen Bryant homestead…
And… sitting in the stands at a Yankees baseball game ! 
The whole world at any time and any place is now my subject –  !  
I got hooked on sketching and painting in the fast lane.
It has a nice influence on my oils and it is improving my drawing and  “seeing”, which in turn improves my painting.   

Wet Paint & Thick Paper

I am trying out new materials to see how they behave.  I am used to doing watercolor sketches on cheap 60 lb. paper.  I liked these papers so much I just had 7 sketchbooks made out of stacks of my paper at Kinkos. So great!   So I will be sketching and painting on cotton this summer.  Here are a few tests I did on 140 lb. and 300 lb. Arches, Somerset & Rives BFK paper.  Paints are Daniel Smith watercolors.

Rocky coast & pines, Schoodic, ME. on Rives BFK 140 lb.


Catching some wind on the Damariscotta River, Damariscotta, ME. on 300 lb.Arches.


Golden grasses & scrub pines on Drakes Island, ME. on 300 lb.Arches.


Rain clouds at sunset, N. Berwick, on 300 lb. Arches. 

Bright sail on John’s Bay, South Bristol, ME on 300 lb. Arches.