GUEST DOODLEWASH: Unwrapping Gifts With Sketchbook Journaling

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - Valle Crucis - #WorldWatercolorGroup

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - autumn leaves and berries - #WorldWatercolorGroupHi, my name is Annie Glacken and I am from North Carolina (follow me on Facebook and visit my websites, here and here!). Thank you, Charlie, for allowing me to be a guest artist on Doodlewash. I truly appreciate the opportunity. I have always loved creating some type of art. As a child I would spend hours and hours lost in the joy of creating diminished. Once my children grew older, my desire to create art once again bubbled up to the surface.

I began with a few lessons in acrylics but soon switched to oil. After a couple of years, I was introduced to watercolor and was smitten. I love the transparency and luminosity of watercolor. Because watercolors can have a mind of their own, it can be a fun challenge to follow where the painting leads. When many people think of watercolor, a beautiful pastel-like painting comes to mind. However, I prefer to create with vibrant and dramatic colors.

When I first began painting, I used the kitchen table for years and longed to have a dedicated space for painting. A few years ago we transformed a dusty room in our barn into my studio. It is like an oasis spot for me and I totally lose track of time when I paint. In fact, my husband has been known to come down to get me with a flashlight as I didn’t even realize it was dark even though I sit in front of three windows–talk about being in the zone! Here are the before and after photos…

I painted as a hobbyist for many years. Then about five years ago, I took the leap, and opened my business, Annie Glacken Watercolors. Since then, I have exhibited in several galleries and juried shows.

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For the last three years I have been teaching classes in watercolor and more recently sketchbook journaling which is my new love. Why do I love sketchbook journaling? One reason is that it forces us to notice the everyday gifts in our life that we often take for granted.

Maybe we step outside and notice a beautiful sunset…

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - cove deck - #WorldWatercolorGroup

We might want to capture that last flower of the season…

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - Last of the Geraniums - #WorldWatercolorGroup

What about sketching and painting sentimental items?

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - Dad's Glasses - #WorldWatercolorGroup

When I am in the produce section of the grocery some things are just begging to be sketched…

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - fall corn - #WorldWatercolorGroup

The possibilities are endless. Taking the time to sketch and paint these gifts is like unwrapping them.

Another reason I enjoy sketchbook journaling is because it is more like “play” to me. It takes away the pressure of having to produce a studio painting that follows all of the “rules and tools” of design. As many of you know there is something about looking at a journal page that brings memories not just of the location but also the weather, sounds, smells, etc. You can remember so much more about the day than if you just snapped a photo.

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - Valle Crucis - #WorldWatercolorGroup

One last benefit is I am creating a journal of my life with words and images.   One day when I am not here, I hope my journals will be cherished by my children and grandchildren. I would have loved to have inherited such a keepsake.

My Sketching Gear

When I go out on location, I really try to keep my gear lightweight. Below is a photo of my sketch bag and contents. I bought this and my chair upon the recommendation of Brenda Swenson. (She is a wonderful instructor by the way!) You can purchase this bag at Harbor Freight Tools for about $10.

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - supply bag contents - #WorldWatercolorGroup

I removed some of the stitching on one side so that I could make a larger pocket that holds my sketchbook, scratch paper, viewfinder, etc.

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - supply bag interior - #WorldWatercolorGroup

I also purchased a strap to attach to my bag from Amazon so I could carry on my shoulder:

#Doodlewash - Watercolor by Annie Glacken - supply bag - #WorldWatercolorGroup

My chair is the most comfortable chair because it has a back on it. Yet it only weighs about two pounds, is very sturdy, and has a shoulder strap. This Roll-a-Chair from Camp Time comes in two different heights. I purchased a short version as I am only 5’ 3”. I squeeze tubes of my favorite watercolor pigments (Daniel Smith, Holbein, and Winsor & Newton) into a Heritage Folding Palette.

For brushes, I use the Jack Richeson Travel set which includes ¼”, ½” and ¾” flats, and #’s 2, 4, 6, and 8 rounds. They have the nicest points on them and the entire case only measures 10” x 5” x 1”. I also purchased a collapsible water container.

My favorite pen to use is the Pilot Metropolitan. It glides so smoothly across my cold press watercolor paper. I have two Pilot Metropolitans: a black pen filled with Noodler’s Lexington Gray and a bronze Pen filled with DeAtramentis Document Brown. Both of these inks are permanent so I can lay a watercolor wash right over them with no problem.

My Sketchbooks

As far as sketchbooks go, I have used Stillman & Birn, Moleskine and Strathmore.


Making My Own Sketchbooks

Recently I decided to make my own sketchbooks. To begin, I tore sheets of 140# cold press watercolor paper using a method that Roz Stendahl recommends. I wanted to tear the paper so that I would have a nice deckled edge.

#Doodlewash - Handmade Sketchbook by Annie Glacken

#Doodlewash - Handmade Sketchbook by Annie GlackenNext I created the covers for my journal. I began by wetting two whole sheets of watercolor paper and then crumpling them up into a ball. Next I carefully opened them up flat. I stained one whole sheet of masa paper with orange watercolor and another with Marine Blue. Because the paper was crinkled, the watercolor settled more into the crevices making a textured look. When the sheets were totally dried, I tore them into random size strips all the way across the width of the paper. Next, I used Matte Modge Podge to glue the strips onto the front of the two pieces of davey (book) board.

I let each strip wrap around the other side about a half inch. Next I painted the Modge Podge over the entire cover using a sponge brush. When both covers were completely dry, I used pieces of Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel Paper and pasted them on the inside of both covers.

#Doodlewash - Handmade Sketchbook by Annie Glacken

I decided to use the Coptic stitch to put my journal together. I found excellent instruction on the Sea Lemon YouTube Channel for how to do this:

Here are some other views of the final sketchbook…

If you don’t want to put that much effort into making a journal, there is an easier way to make your own. Just tear or cut pieces of watercolor paper to the size journal you desire. Then take it to your nearest office supply store and have them punch holes and bind it with a vinyl coil. It only costs about $3-4 to have them do this counting the vinyl covers.

The beauty of making your own journal is that you can create it to the size that you like best. Another benefit is that it is often cheaper than some of the journals you buy—especially if you use Kilimanjaro watercolor paper from Cheap Joe’s. It costs much less than Arches and performs very well.

I hope you are inspired to capture your life in a sketchbook journal. Also, I hope you will find some of these tips useful. I love being able to share sketching ideas with others both online and in my workshops.

Happy sketching and painting!

Annie Glacken
Watercolors Website

Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
  1. kim881 6 years ago

    I love those colours and shapes!

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    Annie, thank you for all the tips about the bag and binding journals. I’ve made sketchbooks but getting them to open flat has always been a problem. The Coptic Stitch allows a flat opening, a terrific asset for artists or writers.
    Your art is beautiful and your inspiration – that every day offers a gift to be painted – is worth remembering.

    • ANN GLACKEN 6 years ago

      Thank you Sharon for your kind comment! I am glad you like the tips and hope they are helpful!

  3. Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

    Loving what you’ve got going on here Annie! And thanks for the book making tutorials!

    • ANN GLACKEN 6 years ago

      Thank you Jessica and you are very welcome!

    • Annie 6 years ago

      Thank you Jessica! I hope you are inspired to create your own sketchbook!

  4. Jodi 6 years ago


  5. Ev Wesson 6 years ago

    This was well the worth the time to read. I love seeing all your beautiful images and the photos showing the materials that you take with you on field trips. Your artwork is much more personal than photos, I believe, as a journal of your life, and will certainly be treasured by others.

    • ANN GLACKEN 6 years ago

      Thank you Ev for your thoughtful reply! I wanted to share my sketchbag and materials because I always think it is helpful to see what other artists use in the field. Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Curious to the Max 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for the tips and tutorials. The art community is very very generous in sharing and you are a testament to that. Love your art and journaling!

    • ANN GLACKEN 6 years ago

      What a kind comment! Thank you so much! I do think the art community in general is a very giving group of people!

  7. SHARON HASCHALK 6 years ago

    Thank you so much Annie for sharing your beautiful work and all the useful tips and information. I especially like “Dad’s glasses!” That canvas travel bag you use looks like it does a perfect job and holds everything you need. I also noticed the lamp you have to work by at your desk and I wondered about that and what kind it is. I want to get a better lamp that what I have now. Your homemade journal ideas are great, too!

    • Annie 6 years ago

      Hi Sharon, thank you for the nice comments and you are most welcome. The “Dad’s Glasses” sketch is special to me as I lost my dad a year and a half ago. You’re right about the canvas bag. It is the greatest because it never ever tips over and holds so much. Here is a link for the type of desk lamp I use: Hope that helps!

  8. Art-Chap-Enjoin 6 years ago

    Great ideas about making your own sketchbooks – thanks for all that careful description. I’m tempted to make my own now!

    • Annie 6 years ago

      You’re welcome! If you do make you own, please send me a photo!

  9. M. L. Kappa 6 years ago

    Charlie, somethings gone wrong with your blog! When I press to read more, I get a large fixed banner with some kind of menu on it, and just a tiny stripe below which can be scrolled. Impossible to read the post. Help!😱😱😱

  10. M. L. Kappa 6 years ago

    Despite experiencing serious technical problems and having to read your post as though through a keyhole(!!!) I loved your work, and all the explanations about making the journals, Ann. Will go on your sites to enjoy your painting more easily!

  11. Annie 6 years ago

    I am sorry you had such difficulty reading the post. I am not sure why that is since I am not a technical guru. 😞. Thank you for the nice comments, and I do hope you will follow my blog for more tips in the future.

  12. Margriet Bierens 6 years ago

    Thank you so much Annie for telling us all your tips!
    You are very open to tell all this.

    The journals you make I like very much.

    I did a course for making a picture-book.
    We learned to fold the paper in a special way and bind it together, interesting but I am not so handy, more a painter😊

    But I finished it. At this moment I am not in my studio otherwise I could send you a foto from this book.

    Very interested in the chair, never saw this in Holland. A good, light chair is very usefull for working on the field.

    Thanks again Annie, gr Margriet

    • Annie 6 years ago

      Hi Margriet, I am glad you found the tips useful. I really like my roll-a-chair for the following reasons: it is lightweight, yet sturdy. The three legs adapt to uneven terrain. Lastly the back on it makes it comfortable to sit for long periods of time. Thanks for commenting!

  13. jmnowak 6 years ago

    I like your style…beautiful work!

  14. […] out what Guest Doodlewasher Annie Glacken did with this canvas bag from Harbor Freight!  I have one of these bags, it’s great, very […]

  15. Jen Pfeiffer 6 years ago

    I love the idea of creating my own watercolor book. Thank you for the tutorial. I’m going to Europe in November and want to make a book just for the trip. Thank you for sharing.


    • Annie 6 years ago

      Jen, you are very welcome! I hope you are able to make your own book for your European trip. Have fun!

  16. Jill Kuhn 6 years ago

    I’ve fallen in love with sketchbook journaling this summer. I’m in the process of making my own art journal and blogging about it. I enjoyed seeing your paintings and your handmade journal! 💜🎨👍 I will reference your post on my blog! 😍

    • Annie 6 years ago

      Thanks Jill! Please give me the link to your blog so I can see your journal!

      • Annie 6 years ago

        I just found your blog and sent email to follow. I hope you will follow mine too: Thanks!

      • Jill Kuhn 6 years ago

        Liked your Facebook page and subscribed to your blog too! 💕🎨

  17. Susan 6 years ago

    Wow! Thanks so much for sharing all this great info. It’s going to end up costing me a pretty penny, but I suspect it’s going to keep me from some foolish purchases, too. Really appreciate all the time you took to put this together.

    • Annie 6 years ago

      You’re very welcome Susan! I am glad to help!

  18. […] GUEST DOODLEWASH: Unwrapping Gifts With Sketchbook Journaling […]

  19. Michele May 6 years ago

    Lovely work Annie! Thanks for the awesome tips on supplies and handmade books. I recently made a few myself and also found Sea Lemon’s videos to be very helpful! =)

    • Annie 6 years ago

      Thank you Michele! I agree with you about Sea Lemon’s videos. Well I guess we will be “seeing” more of each other on facebook and blogs!

  20. Tonya 6 years ago

    Beautiful work, Ann! Your journal pages are lovely, and I love how you adapted that Harbor Freight bag. I’ve used these for years and never thought to remove the stitching. Great post!

    • ANN GLACKEN 6 years ago

      Thanks Tonya! I got the idea for the bag from Brenda Swenson.

  21. I love those daffodils, You have me reading Wordworth!

    It was the bluebirds in the dogwood that made me want to write a poem..

    great work!

  22. Teri Casper 5 years ago

    I love everything about this, from your beautiful art and making sketchbooks. Thank you

  23. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    I like your style and how you bind your own books. Thanks for the link about the portable chair.

  24. Mary Roff 5 years ago

    Thanks for sharing so much wonderful information.

  25. Susan Cuss 5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your art story, your tips, and your philosophy! I enjoyed reading this, and seeing your beautiful art.

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