Hi, 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.
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…
We might want to capture that last flower of the season…
What about sketching and painting sentimental items?
When I am in the produce section of the grocery some things are just begging to be sketched…
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.
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.
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.
I also purchased a strap to attach to my bag from Amazon so I could carry on my shoulder:
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.
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.
Next 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.
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!
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!