Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kate Wood -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today's Sketchbook Conversation is with Kate Wood. I discovered Kate's Instagram feed thanks to the recommendation of Leigh Anna Newell. I'm so glad I did. Not only is Kate's sketchbook distinctive and beautiful, but the story of how she began her sketchbook practice is so inspiring. I'll let Kate take it from here.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry

I started my current sketchbook project and visual blog, The Best Comic Book Ever (@thebestcomicbookever), in September of 2016. I have a chronic disease that infects my central nervous system, and in September, after two years of being symptom free and in remission, my condition re-seated itself and I became suddenly very, very ill. At that point I was the sole owner/operator of a small farm business, specializing in the organic production of mixed vegetables and honey. I had spent 7 years prior working on, managing and eventually designing my dream farm, which I then built from the ground up. In two years I created a profitable farm venture on an acre of land.

Kate Wood, Kate Wood's farm, aerial view, farms, farming, small scale farming

I knew the moment my disease returned, I was at my Wednesday morning farmers market, and I also knew I would never do another market. A lot changed for me very quickly, and I’m still in the process of selling off pieces of the farm. 

Kate Wood, Farm, small scale farming,

I started The Best Comic Book Ever with a very simple goal in mind: to find a creative way to quantify my time spent in treatment. I wanted to give myself an alternative way to approach and document a huge life shift and I wanted something I could hold and reference. Mostly, I wanted to give myself a daily task outside my aggressive medical protocol. I started my daily drawing project the same day I started treatment, and I’ve made a drawing a day for the past 8 months. The Best Comic Book Ever has filled nearly 5 sketchbooks and continues to grow.

In September, when I started this project, it was with the understanding that I was only committing to a 9 week daily drawing practice. My medical team was hopeful that 9 weeks of treatment would bring me back to a stable spot, and 9 weeks of a new project seemed tangible enough. It became clear, however, after those initial 9 weeks, that my condition was more serious than we had thought, and in the space of a doctor’s visit, my project grew from a 9 week commitment to a 4 month one. 6 months in, still in treatment, still drawing every day, I was making good progress but still had more ground to cover, and 6 months became 8. Had I known that I’d be in treatment for 8+ months, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for this sketchbook project. 

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry

While a daily practice can be small and simple if you take one day at a time, 8 months feels big and heavy, too shapeless and unknown to be able to say with confidence “I can do this for … 223 days, every day.” There’s something to this, though. 8 months IS a long time – it’s a long time to be unwell and in transition, and it’s a long time to do such a specific thing, day in and day out. But I’ve learned, largely because of my daily drawing practice, that the only way to approach something that feels too big, insurmountable, abstract or scary, is one day at a time. “One day at a time” is very basic, I know, and a concept that’s been fed to me a million times over, but the context of this time has changed my relationship to those words. There’s no way around it, 8 months is a long time, 223 drawings is a lot of work, but today is just today – I make a drawing, walk the dogs, and know that I’m one day closer to something else, hopefully health. Anything is possible, when put in perspective. If you had told me in September that I’d still be struggling 8 months down the road, I wouldn’t have handled it well, I don’t imagine. One day at a time, I’ve found, I’m able to tackle and digest. And so I’m tackling this pickle of a health crisis, one day at a time, one drawing at a time.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry

Prior to this, I’ve had a torrid relationship to sketchbooks, dating back to childhood. I have always been plagued by “sketchbook anxiety”. I would rip out pages that I didn’t like – I would abandon sketchbooks 1/3 or ½ or ¾’s of the way through. I would beat myself up if a sketchbook wasn’t purely visual and had ANY words … I was psychotic about their presentation and was obsessed with “what they were”. I’ve always been someone who is never without a sketchbook, but I’ve truly always hated them. I have never been someone who can just sit down and fill up pages. UNTIL NOW! My relationship to working in sketchbooks has totally changed in a surprising way.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry

They are no longer precious. Making and sharing a drawing a day has made me more accepting and understanding of the ways in which creativity can ebb and flow. I don’t care as much. Sometimes I have good days and sometimes I have bad days, sometimes for many days in a row, but it doesn’t matter. A daily practice, I’ve learned, is not so much about making every day amazing as it is about building a relationship with the self through a commitment to something outside the self. Everyday is not special, every drawing is not brilliant, but that I sit down and do it every single day, ironically enough, brings a new individual meaning to my days and my relationship to my illness. Working in a sketchbook everyday has allowed me to make important connections between practice, process, and productivity. I’m so grateful that I set myself to this task, for so many reasons, but it’s monumental for me that I’m no longer afraid of sketchbooks.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry

An important part of this project was giving myself an external accountability structure, which I would cite as an ongoing inspiration. I decided to post my daily sketchbook entry on a project specific Instagram feed (@thebestcomicbookever). While no one was breathing down my neck and forcing me to stick with my project, committing to creating a visual blog generated an expectation, whether self-imposed or not, that helped me contextualize and focus on my project. Sharing my experiences and my drawings, which was honestly secondary in considering going live with my work, has proved to be … a really good idea. I feel now that I have a community of support, individuals who have found meaning or inspiration in my story and the visual narrative that has come out of it. The opportunity to connect with other artists and makers through Instagram has been an added bonus. I find daily inspiration, scrolling through creative feeds – there are so many folks out there, making amazing work. It’s not intuitive for me to seek out social media interactions or relationships, but I’m so glad I have.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry

For those opening a sketchbook for the first time, or for those (like me) who are trying to break new ground with their sketchbook practice, I recommend finding an external accountability structure that works for you. It doesn’t have to internet or social media based – you can show your work to your mom or your favorite teacher or your cat – the point is that if you know someone or something is expecting you to show up, it can give you that extra push to get the work done and out there. I HIGHLY recommend a daily sketchbook practice. It has completely changed my relationship and approach to making artwork.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry

You don’t have to go crazy with your practice either, I am currently unemployed and sometimes making my daily drawing is literally all I do (and all I am physically able to do) in a given day – I realize this is not a reality for everybody. Choose one day a week to work in your sketchbook, or one day a month. Organize a drawing party with your friends for the first and third Fridays of every month, do whatever works with your schedule and is sustainable. And don’t rip out any pages!!! Allow yourself space to make mistakes and remember there’s always tomorrow’s drawing, or next Wednesday’s, or next month’s. For me, the practice of keeping a daily sketchbook has allowed me to develop, grow, and build in the face of complete health fallout and loss. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. Who knows what your sketchbook will do for you … Happy Drawing!

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Kate Wood, The Best Comic Book Ever, My Giant Strawberry


Thank you, Kate, for sharing your story with us today.

Dear readers, you can keep up with the progress of Kate's daily drawing project by following her Instagram feed: @thebestcomicbookever.

Want to see more of Kate's sketchbooks from her project? Check out this video she created to share their pages:

The Best Comic Book Ever Books 1&2 from kate wood on Vimeo.





Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews



*Photos in this post © Kate Wood. Used with permission.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Celebrating the 4th Handmade Joy Exchange

In February I opened up an invitation to a Handmade Joy Exchange.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, snail mail, handmade, creativity, joy, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'd organized these exchanges in the past, three years running, but it had been a few years since the last one. With the state of current events, I thought the world could use a little more creativity, a little more joy and a little more love (ok, a LOT more of each) and decided to host another exchange.

By the time the invitation closed, I had 40 people signed up (more than the other three years put together!). They came from all over the world: sixteen US states and seven countries including Spain, France, Australia, Denmark, England, Greece and Algeria!

Seven of the 40 had participated in at least one Handmade Joy Exchange in the past. Four had joined me for all three of the previous exchanges.

This year with such a large group (and a nice, round, even number of participants) I decided that I would not send or receive a bit of Handmade Joy. My gift would be the exchange itself.

It was so exciting to see the photos arriving in my inbox and hear the joyful responses as people received their packages in the post.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Such a variety of different media.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

So many different types of crafts.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

So many different styles.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Different colors.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Different motifs.

Handmade Joy Exchange, creative exchange, creative swap, crafts, art, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

Joy comes in so many different forms. No two people interpret the phrase "Handmade Joy" in quite the same way. Looking at these photos fills me with joy. I know that the world is a little bit brighter because of all this creativity, generosity and goodwill.

I really wish I could more fully delve into the story of each of these pieces of joy, but I can only share a glimpse here. Fortunately some of the Handmade Joy Exchangers have shared their experiences on their blogs and on Instagram (and some will be doing so soon, so check back for more links):

Cindy M

Janet O

Judy H

Karen LR

Karen W

Laura B

Sharon B

Sharon R

Simony S

Simone W

Sonia H

Stephanie B (also here, here and here)

Here's a huge thank you to each of the participants. It fills me with hope to know that complete strangers want to share their creativity and spread joy and love to people that they've never met. I hope that through this exchange some of you have made connections and friendships that will last into the future.

If you didn't participate but are wishing you had, how about taking the time to put together a surprise package for a friend you haven't talked to in a while? Even sending a handwritten note is a simple way to spread some joy and love (and it doesn't take a big time commitment or much money, either).

Finally, one of the participants of the exchange suggested that she'd like to share joy and love in a way that will make a more meaningful difference in someone's life. War, poverty, hunger, natural disasters, they're an ever-present reality. Easing them with creativity and love is a wonderful idea. I figured I'd do a little roundup of suggestions of charities and share that here, too.

After a little research I re-thought the idea. This post on Abby Glassenberg's While She Naps blog explains why. It's from a few years ago, but it completely makes sense (and take the time to watch the silly video to get the full picture). Donating money does more good than donating specific items. If you're looking for a charity, check out Charity Navigator. Still want to donate a handcrafted item? Work with a local organization and talk to them ahead of time to see what is most needed and will do the most good.

Wishing you joy!

Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry












credits:

Image 1 (left to right)
top: Lisa C, Gretchen P, Laura B; middle: Betsy H, Sedona R, Stephanie B; bottom: Dana B, Jennifer M, Anne-Flore M

Image 2 (left to right)
top: Simony S, Lee B, Danielle G; middle: Ida PB, Karen LR, Lucy A; bottom: Becca R, Heather S, Deb D
Image 3 (left to right)
top: Karen S, Eleni S, Deb D, Becca R; middle: Joan B (2), Cindy M; bottom: Kels O, Sedona R, Sharon R

Image 4 (left to right)
top: Simone W, Sharon B; middle: Gloria F, Bella B, Sonia H; bottom: Judy H, Michelle P, Ashlie B

Image 5 (left to right)
top: Janet O, Stephanie B, Sarah V; middle: Ishrat K, Karen W (2); bottom: Nichole W, Peggy H, Lori S

Image 6 (left to right)
top: Yeissen L, Karen LR, Kels O; middle: Besty H, Judy H, Anne-Flore M, Jennifer M (the tiny photo beneath the last photo in the middle row is a close-up from Simone W's creation); bottom: Deb D, Sarah V, Sonia H, Dana B

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sarah Van Der Linden -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today's sketchbook conversation is with Sarah Van Der Linden.

Here's Sarah's story:

I'm Sarah, I'm a photographer, painter and lover of nature.

I rediscovered my creative soul when I moved in the countryside of France with my partner two years ago. I found that I'm most myself and happier when I'm in a forest or in the middle of nowhere. I love the color green and playing with watercolor, and I'm constantly learning new skills and things. Creativity is a long road leading to a better observation and understanding of the world.


Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I own a lot of sketchbooks, of various shapes, sizes and paper. Some are for writing, others for painting. I think it's because I feel I need to have one sketchbook for every purpose, and that everything need to be organized, and well, it's because I always enjoy buying a new one!

My most useful, the one I use every single day is a A6 notebook with a rigid cover. I always carry it in my bag with some pens in case I need to draw or note something down. It's like my confidant and my angel, and a reminder of my life. It's the only one I use to write in it. There are thoughts, quotes, ideas, some museum tickets, some leaves, and a lot of doodles and drawings. I brought it to the Natural History Museum to observe and on my couch to write down a grateful list. All the little things I enjoy are in this sketchbook, and I made a lot of paintings from ideas scribbled on it. As the paper is not of a good quality, I can only use a pencil or a ballpoint pen, which are not my favorite tools. Nevertheless, they force me to be efficient and not spend too much time on a sketch.


Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I use another A6 one, made of thick paper, for hand-lettering. I started practicing a year ago and now I'm an addict. I love to carry it with me when I'm outside, when I hike or travel. I enjoy to rest in the middle of nature and contemplate the world around me for awhile. I just hand-letter what comes to my mind at this exact moment. I use it to draw what I find or discover that day.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

That's why most of my photos are taken outside, in the natural world. It's a form of freedom to always have something with me for lettering, writing or drawing. I don't have to wait for trying out an idea, I can just sit in the woods, listen to the birds, feel fresh air on my face, and draw. Something always happens when things are easy and simple. I don't need a lot, just a pen and a sketchbook.


Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

All my other sketchbooks are made with watercolor paper. I have a square one which is my botanical sketchbook (that I started thanks to you Anne and your Skillshare class!). It's filled with flowers and leaves. It really allows me to observe every tiny detail of a plant and to learn from it. Nature is a great creator and just by slowing down and opening our eyes, we can learn a lot and get ideas about pattern, color mixing, shapes, lines and textures. And the best part is that everything, all this world, is around us, within easy reach. Beginning this specific sketchbook was maybe one of the things that allows me to learn and to progress so much.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

The last one I started (I know, another one!) is about testing an idea and practice a subject. So, there is a page full of trees, one full of ivy leaves, one with weird houses… I keep filling the page until I'm happy with the result. I can use new techniques or medium: ink pen, watercolor, masking fluid… I like to remember and keep track of tries and failures, to observe what works, what goes wrong and to evolve from that point. That's the reason why I don't use loose sheets of paper, because I do not want to misplace or scatter them.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

A sketchbook is like a secret garden, a hidden place, it's very personal. When I started my first one, I was afraid because I only wanted it to be filled with beautiful paintings. I was scared of making mistakes and miss it. Until I realized that's the all point of it. The point is to try, sometimes you fail and you hate what you created, sometimes you like it, but at least, in both cases, you learn something. A sketchbook does not have to be perfect or pretty and it doesn't have to be shared. It's a safe space of freedom for playing and experimenting, to let an idea bloom. Each sketchbook is different, but it shows the evolution of an artist and all the things that crossed his mind.

Sarah Van Der Linden, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I think that it's very useful to keep track of an idea and to gather inspiration for future creations. A sketchbook has to be light, fun and experimental. It can be a powerful tool for learning and observing. The best advice I can offer is to just start without constraint or pressure, and see what emerge. The first step is alway the hardest, then the fun part begins!


Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your story with us today.

Dear readers, you can connect with Sarah on Instagram here: @mirglis




Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews


*Photos in this post © Sarah Van Der Linden. Used with permission.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Joy List Monday

It's Monday again. And it feels like it. Good thing for coffee, otherwise I'd be tempted to join the kitties in their after breakfast nap.

cats, black and white cats, rescue cats, adopt don't shop, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

In truth, I'm not one for taking naps, but seeing how cozy those two look snuggled together, I almost wish I were.

Before I get back to my to-do list, I wanted to share a Joy List (and invite you to write one, too), but first I also want to thank each of you who voted on my tulip design for last week's Spoonflower contest. I ended up in 28th place (out of 352). Not enough for a prize or to have my design immediately available, not not so bad, either. I truly appreciate your support and encouragement!

I've been working on another design for this week's challenge (Birds and Blooms), if I get it finished in time to enter I'll share it with you here next Monday (and before then on Instagram).

yellow freesias, freesia flowers, spring flowers, yellow flowers, bulbs, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Joy List Monday: 

a weekly ritual
a reminder to stop and pay attention to the little beauties and graces that make life magical and to set aside time for gratitude each day

Today's list:

  • the wakening garden and time spent working in it
  • trying out the new cafe in town which finally opened last week
  • the fragrance of the freesias from my mom filling up my studio
  • hot coffee (yes, from the local roastery)
  • waking up to birdsong
  • the flowers that have started blooming outside and knowing that there will be many more for me to paint very soon
  • slowing down
  • reading this book


spring flowers, violas, self seeded plants, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

What's on your list today?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Painting Orchids and Remembering to Just Keep Going

Back in March I mentioned that I had a vision for a painting inspired by the flowers blooming in my home and studio. I was in a bit of a slump, but I did manage to mix some paint.

I actually had two painting ideas. A small one and a larger one. I figured I'd start small.

But then, with the very first petal, the painting failed. I hated how the paint flowed on the paper. I hated the way the colors mixed and blended and spread. It just wasn't working. At all.

I tried one more petal, but then stopped. The painting was a failure; the paper was ruined.

I used the paint in my sketchbooks playing around for my MATS assignment. And although I was happy with how my MATS assignment turned out, I felt bad for not using the paint for a real painting.

Somehow I just couldn't bring myself to get over that failure and move forward with the next one. I was a bit stuck. And uninspired. And crabby.

I think we all find ourselves in ruts like that from time to time. For whatever reason (or reasons or for no reason at all), sometimes we can shake off rejection or failure or disappointment and sometimes they overwhelm us.

But I was wrong about my failure. Painting two petals that didn't work out wasn't my failure. What's one ruined piece of paper? My failure was letting those petals, that ruined piece of paper, stop me in my tracks.

I know better than that.

What's the secret to not letting our creativity get derailed by mistakes and disappointments? It's both simple and challenging.

Just keep going.

(I've written about it before).

The tension between wanting to paint and wanting to quit is always there to some degree or another. Sometimes I have to fight hard against the voice in my head telling me that my painting is crap; sometimes that voice is easier to ignore.

I was determined to try again. I mixed my paint and after a wonderful weekend I felt inspired and ready.

watercolor, process, painting process, mixing paint, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

When a painting doesn't work out I don't usually start over with the exact same idea, but I really wanted to make this painting. And so when my paint was dry enough to use, I sat down to work.

With the very first petal I hated the way the painting was going. Again, the flow of the paint, the texture of the paper, the way the colors combined... I hated it all. But I refused to fail again in the same way I had before.

watercolor, process, painting process, botanical painting, orchids, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

So I kept going.

I fought with the paper* the entire time. I fought with that pesky inner critic the entire time, too.

watercolor, process, painting process, botanical painting, orchids, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I wanted to quit... much of the time.

But I didn't.

I just kept going.

The evening after I started work on the painting I received some wonderful, exciting news.

To me it seemed like a message from the universe. Yes, you're on the right track. (Later in the week I sold an original painting -- after a string of only selling prints -- and then my new Skillshare class was featured in their newsletter).

I'd been feeling such doubt. Such uncertainty.

Everyone does from time to time. But just as I can't let a failed brushstroke control the outcome of an entire painting, I can't let uncertainty and doubt control my days.

watercolor, process, painting process, botanical painting, orchids, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I shared my in-progress painting on Instagram this week. People were surprised by my frustration. They thought it looked great.

watercolor, botanical painting, orchids, watercolor orchid, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Eventually I began to like it. My opinion often shifts when I stick with a painting. There are a few things that rankle a bit, but not giving up made all the difference. Now that it's finished**, this painting's story makes it all the more special. It's not something that shows when looking at the it, and I doubt that it would help to sell it, but that doesn't matter. It brought me a message (not the first time painting an orchid as done that) and I'm grateful.

I don't know what you're struggling with. Whatever it is, here's to breaking free from uncertainty and doubt. Here's to overcoming mistakes and disappointments.

Just keep going.



*The longer I worked on this painting the more I realized that it was the nature of the hot pressed paper that was throwing me off. I've worked on it before and I didn't remember fighting with the paper as much. When I looked back at the first painting I did with the paper, it was interesting to see that I had a much different attitude then. I wrote, "It took some getting used to, but I let the paint do its thing, let it teach me". Wow. I'm going to take that thought with me to the next painting. I think we all could benefit from an attitude like that.

**This little orchid painting is now available in my shop

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Samantha Russo -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today's Sketchbook Conversation is with Samantha Russo. Here's Samantha's story:


My name is Samantha Russo and I am a mixed media artist with a passion for working in bright colors, patterns and shapes.

Samantha Russo, mixed media art, sketchbook conversations

I began a regular sketchbook practice in the Summer of 2016 as I was inspired by Elle Luna’s #100dayproject on Instagram. I wanted to be disciplined about making art everyday, but since it was the summer and my kids were home from school, I really needed a very doable and yet fun way that I could still commit to my art practice. Working on a daily sketchbook practice consistently for a hundred days seemed like the perfect solution for me and it turned out to be an incredible learning experience.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Part of my motivation for starting a daily practice was my yearning to discover my own voice as an artist. I used to hear it all the time that the best way to find your voice as a painter is to start by making a hundred paintings. 


sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

And so I went for it! I did have a lot of fear and resistance going into the project, but I was driven by my commitment to stick with it in spite of the voices of my inner critic that said otherwise. 

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Each day, I gathered my materials and tackled the blank sketchbook page. Over time my sessions with my sketchbook felt like having a conversation with an old friend. It was my time to play, experiment and discover what I loved and what my intuition wanted to say through color, pattern and imagery. I began with using simple craft paints and then slowly graduated to including other media such as pastels, ink and eventually collage.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

The beauty of the sketchbook is that there are no rules. I don’t have to worry about what other people are going to think or if anyone is going to want to buy it. It’s my personal space where I can be the artist I want to be unconditionally. 


sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I think that, for myself at least, it is a pure form of artistic expression because inside the pages of a sketchbook, we get to see the soul of the artist, imperfections and all. That is beautiful to me.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Today, my sketchbook practice is my main form of making art and it’s what I share primarily on my Instagram account. When I started this project last year, I thought that my sketchbook practice would lead to my creating more formal pieces of art. I thought of it as a means to an end. 


sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Lately, however, I am starting to accept that my sketchbook pages are a final product in and of themselves. Recently, someone was introducing me to another artist by saying, “Do you know Sam? She’s the one who makes those sketchbook spreads on Instagram.” I was surprised and yet quickly realized that yes, it’s true. This is what I do. I paint in my sketchbook and that can be enough!

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

I imagine that eventually, when it feels right, I will move from the pages of my sketchbook to tackling larger pieces. I would love, for instance, to do a mural some day. In the meantime, however, sketchbooking keeps me connected to the joy of creating and that is plenty. I am grateful that I have this means of tuning in to my inner world everyday in a way that is for my own enjoyment and growth.

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

Ultimately, I would love to be able to inspire others to embrace a personal practice for themselves. It doesn’t take much. I started with a notebook and some simple materials like craft paints, watercolors and my kids’ crayons. 



sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry

To someone starting on this journey, I would say, remember that this practice doesn’t have to be for anyone else but yourself. If you choose to share with others, that is great, but it is not essential to the practice nor does it have to be the goal. Have fun with it and see what you can discover about yourself in doing this work. You may surprise yourself by what you find!

sketchbooks, Samantha Russo, Mixed Media, Sketchbook Conversations, My Giant Strawberry


Dear readers, you can connect with Samantha:
on Instagram @samantharussodesign
through her website and store
her 100 day project can be found on Instagram using the hashtag #100daysofsummersketches




Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's even easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews



*Photos in this post © Samantha Russo. Used with permission.