What working in a journal teaches you – Bali Journal 2015

Rice Terraces Acrylic and ink. Bali Journal 2015

i have finished adding colour to the rice terraces.  I should learn not to delay between the line sketch and adding colour, as I get nervous about wrecking the drawing.  This is also heightened with a journal, as I will not be able to get rid of it if I mess it up. I think that is one of the reasons why it took me so long to work in journals, the permanency of work and what if I wreck the drawing and I am stuck with it?

But of course this turned out to be one of the great things that I have learned in the last year of working in journals, the mistakes aren’t as important as I thought.  I have learned to not only live with mistakes and imperfections in my drawings but to embrace them and see that they add life and feeling to the image.  I have also learnt to work through the mistakes and how to rescue drawings that were teetering on the brink of disaster.  The use of multi media helps me, I often find a different approach of a various  mediums can often be what is needed.

The few things that I now always check when a drawing is just not working are

  • Line variation, I like to make sure that there are variations in the lines I am using and thicken up some of the lines or make breaks in the lines.  This gives much more life and movement to what I am drawing.  I have a very favourite brush pen that makes the most delicious tapered line.  It is a Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Brush pen and it is under $10.
  • Darks, since I started drawing, I don’t get the values right in my images and it is usually because my dark areas are not dark enough.  So I always have to check my drawings and go back to what I have been taught, do I have the right balance of light, middle and dark tones in my image.  As I use a lot of my photos as references, technology helps by being able to make my photos black and white.  That often  sorts out the problems.
  • Highlights.  Adding those last highlights is now much easier since I discovered good white pens.  My extra fine white sharpie is great to add in those highlight, (or fix a problem) and you can go back over them with colour to knock back the brightness and sink the area back into the drawing.

Back to the journal, my main disappointment in my last trip was not seeing the rice terraces, so this time we went for a day trip to the north of the island and did a half day walking tour of the rice fields   It was so interesting as the guide not only explained the rice production but showed us the medicinal and other plants in the region, plus something I had not seen before, clove trees  I did not realise how big the trees are and you can smell the cloves as you walk by them.  You could also see the cloves being dried on large sheets beside the road.

Cloves drying by the side of the road

Cloves drying by the side of the road

I also went back to one of my previous pages and added a drawing on a urn that was beside the bridge.  I drew the urn, but the spread didn’t work and I thought I had wrecked it, but a couple of days away from it and with fresh eyes I realised it had no darks and by adding in a very dark background it matched in with the other drawing and the spread was saved.  A drawing is such a journey and there is hardly a drawing I do that I don’t hate at some stage, but as I learn more I find that I am able to see were the problems are and fix them or learn to let go of the perfection and embrace the wonkiness

Urn and offering. Water colou and ink. Bali Journal 2015

Urn and offering. Water colou and ink. Bali Journal 2015

Bamboo bridge and Urn spread. Watercolour and ink Bali Journal 2015

Bamboo bridge and Urn spread. Watercolour and ink Bali Journal 2015


PS I have written this post on my IPad, so please forgive any problems as this is not my preferred way of posting.



19 responses to “What working in a journal teaches you – Bali Journal 2015

  1. You have really captured a Bali feel Karen – I have never been there, but to me these drawings could not be of anywhere else. The way you have used the whole page works well. It is scary working in something like a journal, where there is that sense of no going back, but it does encourage discipline, and also pushing through something that looks like being a disaster is much better than giving up, because something more interesting will often emerge. I like the sound of your brush pen, I must investigate!

    • Thanks Anna, I am glad I have caught the tropical feel of Bali. You would hate to think your travel journal had not captured the feel of your destination. Do try the brush pen it is particularly, a good black coverage and it comes to a really fine point. I will be going on the trip, just not sure how to arrange the time off just yet.

  2. Excellent pages… and advice! I often am dissatisfied with pages until I go back into them, mine are much better on the second pass. Thanks, Karen!

    • Thanks, I did not want to tell people about things they already know, but these are the things I have to keep reminding myself to do all the time and thought they may help others to discuss them.

  3. i can totally see your journal as a published book. have you thought about that? i apologize if you mentioned that already. but i love your ilkustrations. they are so grandiose!

    btw, your post looks perfectly fine done on an ioad 🙂

    • I had thought of my journal as a published book, but know nothing about how to do it, and no I hadn’t mentioned it in the blog. I am concentrating on finishing it first, then I will look at what could be done with it. Any suggestions on the process would be greatly appreciated though. I am so very pleased that others like it.

  4. Your rice terraces drawing is really splendid. Speaking of values, I have the same problem, that sometimes (often) my darks aren’t dark enough. It is good to read what you say about accepting mistakes and even valuing them.

    • The reason why I started a journal was to have more fun with my art and try different things. When I was doing my large colour pencil drawings of the flowers, my art practice became very serious with each drawing having to be right. I needed to lighten up and I wanted to practice my drawing skills so the sketchbooks became my place to practice and just draw. It worked, and in these looser drawings I enjoy the wonky, I wouldn’t be so laissez faire in my more serious work. But now I am not so sure what is my more serious work.

  5. Posting on the iPad is a nightmare, especially when the wifi isn’t so great. I go in through Safari, rather than use the app.

  6. Wonderful post. Your artwork is beautiful and conveys a nice Bali-esque feel. Really appreciate the drawing/painting tips and reminders. Very inspiring and encouraging to overcome the fear of permanence when creating journal art. Thank you for sharing.

    • I am so glad you enjoyed the post, even happier that your think that I have captured the feel of Bali. Sometimes as you are working away it is good to remember some of the basic rules, they really do make a difference.

  7. Your journal is very beautiful, Karen. You have motivated/inspired me to start a journal myself, which I have not done for many years. Your approach is very interesting to me, that is, working in spreads, looking it as something that can’t be messed up. Funny, that is exactly the opposite of what I hope to accomplish with my journal. I work so long on one drawing and am so concerned about “messing up” that I hope my journal is a place where that is OK.

    • I did start my journal for the same reasons, but it is the ironic thing is that working in the journal is more permanent. I have a couple of journals going, my sketchbook is where I sketch what is around, take out drawing and experiment in, there I like to finish drawings, but am not fussed if they don’t work, it is a great place to be free. This Bali journal is a bit more serious as it is a linked body of work and as I near completion the pressure mounts. Not that these are ‘finished’ drawings, just good sketches with pages planned. I am so pleased you are starting a journal, it is great fun and really rewarding.

  8. Karen this is a beautiful post. I love that your pages are designed so beautifully, lovely balance! There is so much to look at and incredible depth. I agree with everyone, this looks like Bali to me or, since I have never been to Bali, a magical and exotic tropical location, somewhere between this world and some magical place. I look forward to see more. Such a treat!

    • Aw, Cathe, thank you so much for your kind words. I have only two pages to go before I finish the drawings in the journal. Then I will add some photos and a map, then some finishing touches. Getting excited to see it all done.

  9. I love this picture hi tinulungan mo ako ginagawa ko yan

  10. I love this picture hi tinulungan mo ako ginagawa ko yan

  11. I love this picture hi tinulungan mo ako ginagawa ko yan

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