MATS Bootcamp: Wabi Sabi

 

During April for MATS Bootcamp we were asked to create a magazine illustration that could sit alongside a magazine article written by Beth Kempton the topic of Wabi Sabi.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese view that nothing is perfect, everything changes, that that’s OK – and in fact there is beauty to be found in that imperfection. Beth’s article, which was an extract from her book Wabi Sabi:Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life, focused on how it’s helpful to accept change in order to be more resilient when change inevitably occurs.

It took me a long time to work out what I was going to draw for this assignment but in the end I decided to illustrate the bamboo that Beth referenced in her article. I also came across lots of examples of cyanotype photography online, which inspired the textured background and white leaves.

I don’t know if it was coincidental or not but around the time I made this illustration I kept coming across quotes and articles about accepting imperfection, including a quote from Stephen Hawking, which was on the front cover of Flow Magazine (issue 29). I think maybe this was something I needed to be reminded of and it was helpful to have it reinforced.

There’s one more assignment for MATS Bootcamp but in the spirit of being comfortable with imperfection, I’ve decided to give myself permission to skip that one and continue focusing on my current 100 Day Project, which you can follow along with on Instagram.

In letting this go I feel like I’ve given myself some space to think about and plan the next pieces of work I want to make. Is there something you can let go of that would help create space, either physically or mentally?

Review: Back Pocket Notebooks

Back Pocket Notebooks

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been testing out the Back Pocket Notebook. Although it’s not specifically a sketchbook, I’ve been using it for some lettering and drawings to see how it compares to sketch specific books.

To summarise, if you’re looking for a good quality, robust little notebook to carry around, I would definitely recommend the Back Pocket Notebooks.

Back Pocket Notebooks Back

I have a set of 3 Kraft Plain Notebooks, each of which contain 18 sheets or 36 pages of 120gsm paper and a stapled spine.

Back Pocket Notebooks Spine

At first glance they reminded me of the A6 Eco Starter Sketchbooks from Seawhite of Brighton. The Back Pocket Notebooks are slightly smaller, measuring 9 x 14 cm. The paper isn’t quite as thick as the Seawhite cartridge paper but there are more pages than the Eco Starter and the paper has a nice smooth surface, which I really appreciated when using fine liners and markers.

Back Pocket Notebook Inside

Although it’s described as a ‘plain’ notebook, I think that refers to the cover because it’s pointed out on the band holding the 3 notebooks together that the paper inside is actually cross grid. It’s similar to dotted paper but each ‘dot’ is a tiny cross. I’d never used that kind of paper before but it was kind of handy for keeping my hand lettering straight!

Back Pocket Notebook Felt Tip

The paper in the Back Pocket Notebook is perfect for either pen or pencil. I used a few different fine liners and felt tip pens, and the only pen that bled through to the other side of the page was the Copic marker. But Copic markers seem to bleed through almost all paper in my experience so this wasn’t a surprise or a big deal. I covered some large areas with Koi brush pens and even with the darker colours the dots on the paper do show but that may or may not be a problem for you. It didn’t bother me because I wasn’t trying to create a finished piece of artwork.

Back Pocket Notebook Gouache

I was able to apply a light wash of watercolour in the Back Pocket Notebook without any problems and the paper took gouache quite well too. The paper does buckle with both watercolour and gouache but even some dedicated watercolour paper does that so, again, this wasn’t a surprise or a problem for me.

I’ve carried the Back Pocket Notebook around in my bag and it’s stood up well to that without getting damaged so far. I wonder if rounded corners might make it a bit more robust in that respect if you were carrying it around in your bag or pocket every day.

The Back Pocket Notebooks are excellent quality, and the size means that they’re really easy to carry around without adding lots of extra weight or bulk. I wouldn’t use them to replace a dedicated sketchbook but as somewhere to keep notes and ideas, make simple line drawings and practise hand lettering, the Back Pocket Notebook is an excellent option and, as the name implies, highly portable too!

Thank you to Justin at Back Pocket Notebooks who gave me this set of Kraft Notebooks to test in exchange for an honest review.

100 Days of Hand Lettering

Today I finished my 100th piece of hand lettering for this year’s 100 Day Project. I’ve made 1 piece of hand lettered work every day since 4th April. It’s been a big challenge and some days I wondered what I’d got myself into. I’ve digitised some work but I actually settled into working in my Moleskine watercolour sketchbook a lot of the time. I also combined some of my hand lettering with other work that I was doing on any given day.

Let me know in the comments below which one is your favourite, and if you’ve been working on the 100 Day Project, leave a link to where you’ve been sharing your work.

A Change of Pace and an Offer For You

Jules Renard Hand Lettering

This week I’m working on 3 different pieces of work. First of all I have a client commission piece that I’m hoping to get done probably by the end of next week.

I’m also working on some sketches for this week’s 365 Days to a Portfolio prompt. Since January Marissa and I have been creating 3 new prompts each week which fit into an overall theme for the month (fashion, botanics, animals, etc). However, things were starting to feel a bit hectic for both of us so we decided to slow things down a bit for the summer months.

Instead of having an overarching theme each month, and creating 12 or more illustrations within that theme, we’re now working on one illustration prompt per week (either a new one or an ‘old favourite’). This gives us the space to dig deep with our work if we choose to, or to at least not feel overwhelmed.

Apple and Pear Pattern Watercolour

This week’s prompt is ‘Repeat Pattern’, and as you probably know, I really enjoy creating patterns from my work so I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with that.

The third thing I’m working on is the 100 Day Project. There’s now 1 week left until I finish my 100 days of hand lettering and I’m kind of looking forward to it being over! It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed working on my hand lettering but doing it every single day can start to feel a bit stressful at times. So I’m looking forward to continuing with including hand lettering in my work but producing it at a slightly less frenetic pace!

I’m also starting to think about how I could make next year’s 100 Day Project a little bit different , or at least easier.

One other thing I want to mention is that right now there’s a summer sale on in my Etsy shop, so this would be a great time to get a discount on any of my prints, notebooks or greeting cards. Just use the code: SUMMERSALE17 to get 10% off any order of £4 or more. I’m also offering free shipping to anywhere within the UK with the code: ETSYCIJ17. This sale ends next Monday (10 July) so don’t miss out!