Last Week: Starting my second Stay Home Alpha sketchbook

April 15, 2020 | Leave your thoughts

I’m really starting to find my new normal and establishing some routines. In some ways it’s hard to believe that I’ve been staying at home for over a month now… but on the other hand my last social outing (Friday of oneweek100people) seems like an age ago.

This week I finished my first Stay Home sketchbook and started Volume 2. I’ve been using the new square format Softcover Alpha by Stillman & Birn and I’ve been loving it a lot. After all my testing of new sketchbooks in recent months, it’s lovely to come back to the familiar.

The Alpha paper works so perfectly for me as an everyday book! The paper is good enough for me to throw a lot at it (ie. do some rather wet painting) but not too precious that it becomes a barrier to taking risks. I know that it’s not for everyone, but it just does exactly what I need. More about why I like the paper is here.

Sketchbook 129 Flip-through

Whilst you have seen all my sketches individually here on the blog, last week I shared a flip-through to Instagram.

View the flip-through on Instagram

Last week summary

Last week I had some significant tech issues behind the scenes which derailed some of my plans. I’m super thankful that we worked out and solved the problems but it took many hours with my designer and developers – thanks Bianca, James and TJ! So as a result I didn’t have the time off during Easter to do a little more sketching. But it’s totally okay as I’m super thankful to be busy with work at the moment… and I love my work!

The biggest event last week in my little isolated world was starting the Group Run-throughs for SketchingNow Watercolour and Foundations. I feel so connected with people from around the world. I know that people think of social media as a way to connect, but I find the strongest online connection comes when I get involved in people’s work. There is something super special about reading about people’s thoughts, struggles and breakthroughs while doing a sketch – it’s so intensely personal –  and this is exactly what happens within the assignment galleries inside the SketchingNow classrooms. I love it SO much!

It was also great to start filming new bonus videos and really get my teeth into some watercolour research.  I’ve been filming weekly videos for the Buildings Group Run-through since January, but it was nice to switch to watercolour. There is always so much to learn and before I answer many of the detailed and practical questions inside the classroom, I go and do some tests in my own palette. This week I’ve been obsessed with asking myself: “how do I get the right pigment to water ratio?” and I’ve been keeping a really close eye on what I do instinctively when I mix washes.

I’m also doing a Group Run-through for Foundations and last week I got my watercolour pencils out which has been great! More about that in a previous article.

So despite the tech challenges and not sketching for myself as much as I hoped, I’ve had a very creatively rich week.

Last week sketches


I just felt in the mood for an opaque pink background (White Nights) and had a lot of fun sketching this still life on my desk.

My wonderful Frankie4 Hannah shoes (Potter’s Pink colour) and a fancy gift from The Tea Centre – I need to sketch both of these properly!

This spread also contains a little experimenting for a super fun demo I did for Watercolour Lesson 1. I was laughing out loud at times while sketching my little Kiwi soft toy!

I realised that I am still doing my usual morning coffee and carpark sketches . But instead of these being associated with my morning cafe visit and afternoon trip to the gym, it’s my coffee and planning session at home and my weekly (or bi-weekly) visit to my local supermarket (the only time I use my car!)

Note: I have a toned sketchbook and a fineliner in my car for sketching when I’m out. I’m not taking my sketchbook out of my home anymore!

A busy day with just some bits and pieces – including my WCP coffee shared previously here.  I really shouldn’t post this page as I can’t really explain more about the little tin in the top right corner! How’s that for being annoying and mysterious!

My peacock cup and WCP version of Villa Cornaro as seen earlier here and here. But it’s fun to share these two sketches in the context of a full sketchbook spread.

Bits from my free Intro Lessons for the Foundations course which I filmed a few weeks ago and another WCP coffee.

The very last spread in this book.

Something very unusual about this sketchbook is that I didn’t write my name in the front page, and the back page is not filled with random notes and bits and pieces (well except for this area where I was cleaning my stamp). Both of these features (or lack of) is the direct result of not taking my sketchbook out of the house and/or talking with other people.

The start of Sketchbook No. 130 and rather than just a simple palette sketch (my usual subject for the first spread) I decided it was time to sketch my whole kit.

Whilst collecting some reference photos for my online courses I came across some of the incredible Penrhyn Castle in north Wales. It’s one of the most magnificent and jaw-dropping great houses I have even visited – even though it’s a somewhat over the top Victorian building.

I have a tiny balcony and I’m not sitting out there as much as I would like… but I did on Saturday morning and did some wild experiments with my green watercolour mixes.  Plus another WCP coffee!

A fun family Skype which included a Gaelic lesson… and a quick dinner sketch to complete my page.


Continuing my tradition of sketching my outfits from the week – it will be fun to see how it changes as the weather gets cooler.

And my usual notes from Sunday. Note: I really like having an occasional page completely full of text like this as a graphic element, and it’s super efficient too!

Sketching Hands

As part of the challenge Suhita set me last week, I’ve been doing some hand research in the evening.

And then trying to work out what mistakes I’m making when I attempt sketching my own hand.

Well, it’s been a lot of fun for me to put all these pages together and I hope that you have enjoyed reading my notes and looking at my pages.

How’s your time at home been going? Have you been able to find enough inspiration or motivation to stay creative?


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