To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Costa Rica Nature Journal/Sketching Workshop ~ 2

I started planning this workshop after giving a nature sketching workshop at El Remanso Wildlife Lodge last April. I was excited about it, because I love the location so much and it is such a high to share El Remanso ~ and sketching and journaling as well ~ with other like-minded artists. I always sketch and journal when I go there, and over the years I have developed many techniques I knew were worth sharing.

The workshop had so much going for it (superb location, popular subject, people with the February doldrums), I expected it would be a good one. I advertised it in The Artist's Magazine and got nearly a hundred requests for information, and eventually I had three students enrolled. While I have taught for many years, I haven't had time to develop a strong workshop following yet among international workshop attendees, and several professionals I spoke with felt this was a quite respectable enrollment. It just takes time.

A few days before departure, I started preparing my journal, a 6x9 spiral bound book, with hefty #110 paper good for pencil and ink drawings and light watercolors. It's small enough to carry everywhere but large enough for decent sketches.

Decorating the cover came next. My sister-in-law, Marcia, makes lovely hand-dyed scarves, and the blotter paper underlying the scarves gets decorated in gorgeous, unpredicatable patterns. I glued a beautifully dyed sheet of this onto the front of my journal, then printed out a title on my computer and glued that on. Then, to waterproof it for the humid climate, I taped it with transparent package tape.

Using an exacto blade, I made two slits in the back cover and inserted brass fasteners (see the photos) to which I attached an elastic band. This worked perfectly, and kept the pages from flopping open unexpectedly.

Inside the cover, I arranged things pretty much the same as I had in my Hawaii Journal (see previous posts): with a photocopied ruler taped along the upper edge, business cards, and an acetate pocket taped on two sides to hold ephemera ~ things I might want to add to the journal later, extra business cards (and sometimes just to hold things safely until I needed them during my travels).

On the first journal page, I glued a map of Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, with an inset of Central America to show where Costa Rica is and where the Osa is in Costa Rica. I also marked where El Remanso is on the Osa. I used this map a number of times to show curious strangers where I was going.

Since I'd visited El Remanso before, I knew that the people there (and perhaps my students as well) would be interested in my ongoing travails with a ten-inch snowstorm (so alien to tropical dwellers), which had me snowbound for nearly a week just before leaving. As if that weren't enough, a previous deep freeze had cracked a water pipe, and due to the deep snow the pump repairmen couldn't come fix it ~ so I was using snow-water for all my needs for several days.

So the next two pages showed my snowbound world, with a view out the front door which included snowdrifts and the toboggan which hauls wood to feed my woodstove (I have an oil furnace, but I'd rather burn wood for environmental reasons, given a choice).

During my enforced snowbound solitude, I wrote a semi-humorous poem to start off my trip, entitled "Preamble to a Journey to Costa Rica." I hope you enjoy it ~ be sure to click on that graphic to enlarge it enough to read. One reason I included it was that as part of the workshop I teach ways to use poetry to enhance a journal, and this makes a good example.

Finally, my driveway melted enough for me to slither out and do some last minute shopping and take a shower down at Dan's house (snow water heated on the stove does NOT a good shower make!), and the next day I was on my way.

Since luggage does disappear, I wore clothes I could wear repeatedly with overnight laundering if necessary (safari pants with zipoff legs are a must), and I boarded the plane carrying my journal, a pen, camera and binoculars, and all of my workshop supplies in my carry-on luggage so that if my belongings got lost my workshop could go on.

Dan drove me to the airport, with promises to look after Jesse-the-CurlyTailed-Cat. And now, having gotten myself fairly launched, I'll continue this saga tomorrow.


Bonny said...

What a wonderful post, Irene!
I love the idea of preparing a journal with maps and events BEFORE you go on a trip. Seems to me that would also break the ice or the fear many of us have when faced with starting a new, blank journal.
I love your tips about the elastic closure for the journal and the printed ruler is pure genious! I think I will use those ideas, if you don't mind my borrowing them..
I'm coming back tomorrow to read more of your adventures!

Renie said...

Hi Bonny,
Feel free to use any and all ideas you find here. My main idea is to share with others and make your sketching life easier and more engaging.

And yes, it's a LOT easier to start the journal in your nice, quiet easy chair before the trip starts!


p.s. If you visited yesterday (on Wednesday the 21st, the journal pages may have been too small to read easily. I've enlarged them, so go back and try again. Sorry about that -- it was bedtime and I didn't check them out before posting.

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