November Sketchbook

This month I took on the challenge of filling an entire sketchbook in one month. The idea of this came from an awesome Facebook group called NaSkeFiMo (National Sketchbook Filling Month). We’re continuing in December if anyone wants to join in.

The only rule was to fill a sketchbook. Any size, any length, any materials. There’s some awesome work in the group. I love sharing and being inspired by other artists. Probably the number one positive thing about social media, come to think of it.

I chose a small Moleskine sketchbook that had been sitting on my table waiting for an idea. To start out with, I cut up some black and grey paper and a watercolor painting and glued in pieces to use as collage elements in my sketches. I really enjoyed coming upon these as I went through my pages. I used various pens and colored pencils for the rest.

I read a book called Cartooning by Ivan Brunetti a little while ago and the quote on my 6th spread was the main idea I had while creating my pages.

“Style is the difference between a circle and the way you draw it.”

With that in mind, my idea was to draw quickly, loosely, and without much planning or fiddling to find the essence of My Style. What is Kate’s style? Sometimes I don’t know. I bounce around between all different kinds of art so it seems a little mixed up. But looking at my pages all together now, I see it. I cannot describe it, but there is a Kate-ness to all my sketches that has been there for as long as I have been drawing. It definitely comes out most clearly in this kind of quick work. But it’s easy to bury it under desires to Be Better. Yes, I can draw very realistically, and I like to do that. But somehow such art becomes more generic and less Me. It is intriguing to try to identify one’s own style without trying to fix it or make perfect the circles. I like what I see and often think about doing more cartooning type work in the future.

Well, enough words, here are my 39 spreads created in the month of November all together:


And here is a slideshow if you’d like a closer look. I rather enjoy how this came out like some kind of abstract avant garde graphic novel about my life interior and exterior. A lot of things happened in November and I see them in my drawings. I worked at the US election. I went on an amazing vacation in Mendocino. I will remember these things when I look back at my sketchbook. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. Can you describe “Kate Style” with words?

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Wunderlich Park

Thanksgiving Day hike for me and later tacos for dinner. Honestly can’t think of a better way to spend the holiday.

Light through trees
New green growing
Wet fall leaves
Meadow of diamonds
Cold crisp air
Deer that are not afraid
Brightest blue stellar jays


Opalescent Hydrangea

As promised, I will be posting my artwork as well as my photography. I recently finished this colored pencil piece and it is off at the framer. This is a drawing that really benefited from my new photography skills. I’ve always been a stickler about only drawing or painting using my own photos as reference, otherwise it doesn’t feel like my own. In this case, I decided to use a photo I took with my macro lens. Not only did I have a reference photo with wonderful detail and color, but I also got to try my hand at drawing the depth of field blur, and I’m pleased with the result of that most of all.

Opalescent Hydrangea, colored pencil on pastel paper

I used a nice amber shade for my paper (Canson Mi Tientes Pastel Paper) which completely changed the character of the image from what was in my original photo. It’s like a photo filter, but created using paper instead of software. I love that idea and plan to explore it in my next drawings. Here is the reference photo so you can see what I mean:


This was a rather time consuming project. I estimate the drawing took me close to 100 hours. That is much longer than I have ever spent on one piece of art. I’m not sure where it came from, but suddenly I find I have stamina and dedication to finish something like this. In fact, I wished I could work on it more than I did. Colored pencil is hard on my back, but mentally I could have worked on it a lot longer. That’s exciting because it means I can finish big projects which has always been a struggle.


Photos and the Future of this Blog

Walking around the bay trail in Burlingame the other day, even the egrets looked cold with a brisk wind blowing and the sun setting at 5.


At the beginning of this year, I embarked on a quest to teach myself to use a DSLR. A couple of online classes and 7,000 photos later, I feel competent with my Canon EOS 40D. I added a very nice macro lens and a great ultra wide angle lens to my toolkit mid-year. I’ve gone out shooting about 70 times over the year. I really like going out with my camera for the purpose of taking photographs.


My purpose for wanting to take better pictures goes beyond photography though. I am an artist and I use my photos as reference for my art. Now that I feel pretty competent at the photography, I am planning to expand this blog to be not just about my photos, but also my art, much of which will be based on the photos. So, soon I will repurpose this blog to include posts and photos of my art.

Thinking about photography as an art instead of thinking about snapping pictures as an afterthought while out and about has improved my art quite a bit. I certainly plan to continue and am contemplating upgrading my camera. Perhaps this is the mark of a true photographer: the desire to constantly buy more gear! In any case, look for a change to the format of this blog soon. It’s been a great year.



Escape to Mendocino

I spent the days following the election in a remote and beautiful home on the coast with a good friend, good food, and the beauty of nature. I have to give her credit for this plan, which she made months ago; it was the perfect time to get away.

The view of the ocean from the balcony and the fog rolling over the Pacific created a perfect relaxing backdrop. There is no sound more peaceful to me than the sound of the ocean crashing on the beach.

sand, sky, sea
fog bank rolling in
the churning pacific
sea bird dance

We went hiking at Van Damme state park which was green and lush after the exceptionally rainy October we had in northern California.

a forest so dense only one shaft of light breaks through
a magic place
greenest of the green

We passed some people who asked us if we were mushroom hunting. No, but I did take pictures of some mushrooms.

I didn’t even notice the banana slug until I reviewed my photos
mushrooms that look like flowers

Before heading home, we visited Glass Beach, which is exactly what it sounds like.

unbelievably red ice plant