Best Nine of Instagram Posts

Lots of people are posting their Best Nine images of the year - these are the ones that gathered most likes. Some people adjust these and some don't, some tell the viewers about it and some don't - so I decided to see what are my best nine and here is what I got - with my comments:
If you don't want to read my handwriting the short version is that there are at least two videos that got into the final nine and I am glad as I want to make more of those - but they cannot be presented with a single frame! And lots of gouache-relate painting - I did several large projects in gouache this year - so no surprises there. Two images are from the 100 Views of Silicon Valley project and there is one from my learning of Spanish by drawing project.  But quite a few big things were overlooked! I started scrolling through my Instagram feed of over 430 posts this year and quickly collected a bunch of things that needed to go in the top nine. But there were way more than nine...

So after some careful consideration, I picked a few to switch - I like this selection better.
It looks like a summary and a little bit like a plan too :) 

The end of Sketchbook #118 and my review of Hahnemuhle Watercolor Book

I just finished my Sketchbook #118 and decided to write some notes to myself about it - and share them here. It was a Hahnemuhle Watercolor Sketchbook 8' x 11.5", horizontal, 60 pages of 200 g watercolor paper one and I worked in it for a month and a half.

Most of my notes are in the image below but if you don't want to zoom in and read all that - here is a shorter version: it's a great landscape-oriented book which I loved and hated at the same time. So much space is amazingly inviting! But if you work in a crowd or in a small space or if you are sketching while standing it is very hard to manage. Keeping book open even with a minimum of other materials became a struggle and I ended up layering pages with sketches done in other books and later taped or glued in.

I loved the cover - it's almost a musical instrument when you scratch it with your nails :) Round corners were nice for tucking the book in my body and backpack. It opens flat very nicely. And paper withstands a lot - from acrylic to gouache to pencil to ink to watercolor and markers - it survived it all.

At first, I was disappointed with the surface - see my comments on the first page of the sketchbook where I painted my two mini palettes from expeditionary art. One on the left was purchased empty and filled with my "play" colors what I change often and one on the right was created by Maria Coryell-Martin and Marc Taro Holmes for Direct Watercolor Sketching.

Paper seemed sleek for my taste of working with the flexible and/or soft nib and it took a long time for the ink to dry (I was using Platinum Carbon Ink). But opened up some possibilities for mixing colors on the page as paper (because of the slickness) was not as absorbent. I switched to Uni pens, felt tip pens and then ballpoint pens. Overall I tried to use less amount on ink with fountain and dip pens and even though it took me some time to figure out what works best, I had fun and got used to the combination pretty fast.
I think I would love to try this book in the vertical format at the same size! And might use this one if I have a project that is calling for the wide and happy spreads and I have a place where to work on it.

Workshop Announcement: Island Adventure!

Imagine yourself on an island-hopping sketching and journaling adventure in the Channel Islands National Park off the California coastline. Very few people ever see these places and you will go there with a naturalist and three sketching enthusiast (Suhita Shirodkar, Gay Kraeger and myself) to inspire and support your creative journey.

Three days and nights of drawing and painting, hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and cruising on and around the amazing Channel Islands. Have a non-sketching companion? They can join too (with a discount). Find out more at:

Hope to see you there!

Workshop Announcement

Last year in June I had a very interesting experience teaching a trio workshop: there were three teachers (Gay Kraeger, Suhita Shirodkar and myself) and three groups of students. We got together in an enchanting garden in the middle of the forest in Santa Cruz mountains (California) and sketched together all day long. To make this experience very personal we split into small groups and everyone had a chance to switch locations, teachers, materials, and subjects. With small breaks and a gorgeous lunch included in the day's activities, it was a magical time of gaining knowledge, working and playing, and being together with people who share the sheer joy of putting marks on the paper.

People say that the real test for whether you are happy with something you did or not is if you will do it again. To answer that question I would like to announce that this year we (Suhita Shirodkar, Gay Kraeger and myself) offer a two-day workshop done in the same format and in the same place. (But if you have only one day in your schedule - we can make it happen too - you will have to pick which day as the agenda is rather different) - check out full description and find out more at the:

See you there!

End of the year thoughts.

I haven's posted in a while and I haven't uploaded everything I sketched this year. By this time (end of December) I am usually all caught up with scanning/posting and writing (however few words I add to my images). But not this year - and there is a reason for that.

On the outside certain changes in the platforms and online communities that I use made me aware that I need to adjust a lot of things at once and to took some time to figure out. I am not sure if I have the right system now but I am trying something different and will keep tweaking it until it feels like a sustainable practice.

On the inside, I've been asking myself why do I keep this blog and how to make it more relevant to the current work and not feel like I am always catching up. This stems from the fact that if last year I had over 700 sketches it is closer to  850 this year and this number does not include all the special projects I did - from "One week 100 people" to "Direct watercolor challenge" which I did in gouache and set myself a rule to make one painting each day of June with 20 brush strokes or less. I also started sketching as a part of my project-based learning of the Spanish Language and did a whole Inktober with it. I did over 100 gouache paintings of the Silicon Valley and made a poster with them. I taught several group and private workshops. I filled two sketchbooks underwater (while scuba diving on Bonnaire) and participated in the Sketching Work Design Online Exhibition. Made a set of Greeting Cards, went out to sketch with friends and made a bunch of new sketching friends. Changed some not very visible but important things on my website and quite a few visible things too. I also changed my relationship with iPad from artificial and strained to useful and even joyful sometimes. And the list goes on and overlaps with some of the graphic design jobs I did as I hope it will more and more.

The point is I used to try and post EVERYTHING. And slowly but surely I got bored and fell so much behind that it does not make any sense to catch up. So I tried to re-think the whole thing - from why I keep this blog to how to be responsible with the time and attention of others and myself. And something that Roz Stendahl said in her post really helped me to coin the answer for why I keep blogging: "I am writing letters to friends who may or may not be interested in sketching or art materials, but are happy to know what I’m up to, and happy to know I’m occupied—because that keeps me out of real trouble!"

I will continue uploading photos of my process on instagram, will use Flickr as organized storage of all scanned work - you can browse it by subject, sketchbook number, travel destination or project. And I will follow my friend's Suhita's advice and will be picking up patterns from all of this and sharing them as blog posts which I will then point to on social media.

Let's see how long till I succumb to the lure of just dumping a bunch of images on facebook :)