José Naranja

Jose Naranja, illustrated notebooks and journals

Jose Naranja, illustrated notebooks and journals

Among followers of “urban sketching”, there is an often associated practice known as “journaling”, or the keeping of a visual diary of one’s travels, day to day activities or random thoughts and ideas.

The idea of visual journals or diaries is nothing new, of course, but the current popularity of the practice, and the ability to place one’s journals online and compare notes with others, makes it an interesting contemporary phenomenon.

José Naranja is a Spanish artist, writer, traveller and observer who takes this activity to greater lengths than most. Naranja refers to himself as a “notebook maker and more”.

After years of making journals in commercial sketchbooks and notebooks, he has taken to crafting his own, using high quality paper and binding the in leather in much thicker dimensions than those commercially available.

These he fills with ink and watercolor sketches, hand written text, clippings, stamps and sometimes intricate design work — resulting in an amalgam that is part travel journal, part art and design experiments, part comparisons of drawing and writing materials, part collage, part scrapbook and part imaginative workspace.

You can find examples of his notebook pages and materials on his blog and Instagram page. He offers a facsimile edition of some of his selected pages as The Orange Manuscript, as well as prints.

You can also find quick overviews of some of his pages in articles on My Modern Met and Colossal. There is an interview with Naranja on Notebook Stories.

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Eye Candy for Today: Van Gogh pen & watercolor sketches

Van Gogh watercolors
Gate at the Paris Ramparts, Entrance to the Moulin de la Galette, Vincent van Gogh

Pencil, pen & ink, watercolor & gouache on paper, roughly 9 x 12″ (24 x 32 cm) and 12 x 9″ (31 x 24 cm), respectively.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts on “Not the usual Van Goghs“, in a dedicated art career that barely spanned ten years, Vincent van Gogh was prolific, leaving over 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings. Yet art book publishers and museum curators often feel obliged to show you the same few “greatest hits” over and over.

Not only are his wonderful drawings often passed over, Van Gogh also sketched in pen and watercolor. The two examples above are in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

They have a freshness, immediacy and feeling of location that would be the envy of many contemporary “urban sketchers”.

I think they also show the influence of the Impressionists he encountered in Paris, as well as the Japanese prints that were popular among French artists of the time, and which Van Gogh collected and sometimes emulated.

 
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Inktober

Inktober 2017, Jake Parker, Moemai, Max Dunbar, Meredith Dillman, Abbe Branberg, Camille Marie, Chordephra, Loish, Alyssa Tallent, Jason Chan, Mack Chater, Sweeny Boo, Yuko Shimizu, Paul Heaston, Nick Nikopoulos, Stoaty Weasel, Ian McQue, Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde
Inktober started as a challenge illustrator and cartoonist Jake Parker set himself in October of 2009, to draw 31 ink drawings in 31 days.

The goal, as in any exercise of this sort, was to get better end develop a more consistent working practice.

He repeated the idea the next year, promoting the notion that others should join him, and since then it has grown into a worldwide endeavor.

If you search on Twitter, Instagram or other social media platforms for #inktober, or #inktober2017, you’ll find the stream of those currently participating.

There is a lot of variation in style and level of ability, from novice to professional, and that’s part of what makes it such a great practice. There is no barrier to entry.

It’s not a contest, there are no real requirements or central authority deciding who can participate.

The rules, such as there are, are simple: do an ink drawing and post it online with the hashtags #inktober and #inktober2017 — repeat every day in October.

Even though this is the fifth day, it’s not too late to join in, I see lots of posts that say “late to the party” or “just joining in”. If you want to, you can throw in a few extra drawings along the way to come up with 31 by the end of the month.

You don’t have to use a dip pen or anything fancy; anything that makes marks in ink counts: ballpoint pens, markers, brush pens, whatever. The drawings don’t have to be elaborate or finished, and you can add color or not as you choose.

If you need suggestions for subject matter, there is an official prompt of 31 subjects on the Inktober website.

You don’t have to follow it, though. Lots of people make their own prompt list, or choose to do a single subject (e.g. cats, cars, portraits or monsters….), or just do whatever comes to you.

You can look through the social media feeds to see what others are doing, or simply for the enjoyment of it.

You will encounter a lot of work by beginners, and this is a Good Thing; part of the value of the practice is encouraging folks to get started. If you’re looking through with the thought of finding professional work, you might do better to seek the more curated experience of following Jake Parker’s Twitter feed, or the @inktober feed.

The images above are just some examples (mostly by professionals) that caught my eye. I particularly enjoy those images in which the artist has included their drawing tools in the photo with the drawing.

(Images above [some of these names are just Twitter handles]: Jake Parker, Moemai, Max Dunbar, Meredith Dillman, Abbe Branberg, Camille Marie, Chordephra, Loish, Alyssa Tallent, Jason Chan, Mack Chater, Sweeny Boo, Yuko Shimizu, Paul Heaston, Nick Nikopoulos, Stoaty Weasel, Ian McQue, Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde)

 
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Phil Dean

Phil Dean, urban sketching
Phil Dean is a British urban sketcher, who also goes by the handle “Shoreditch Sketcher” after the neighborhood in East London where he lives.

Dean avidly sketches the landmarks, streets and byways of London, both historic and modern, as well as documenting his travels to other cities. His style is a nice balance of loose rendering over solid draftsmanship and perspective.

He often takes an approach that is somewhat unusual for location sketching, using pen with both dark wash and white highlights on toned paper. This is a a technique more common to figure drawing, but it works wonderfully well in Dean’s drawings.

I couldn’t find much information on his materials, but in photos he appears to be using primarily markers, and I also came across reference to a fountain pen.

Dean’s primary website functions as a blog and also has originals for sale; he also has a secondary website that is arranged more like a gallery.

 
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Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower, urban sketcher, architectural watercolor illustration
Stephanie Bower is an architectural illustrator and avid urban sketcher based in Seattle.

Like a number of other architectural illustrators who are also sketchers or watercolor painters in their off hours, Bower’s location sketches have a wonderful combination of loose, gestural rendering over a solid framework of perspective and geometric forms.

I particularly admire her fearless handling of complex cityscape panoramas and large interiors, like cathedrals and churches. She has a deft touch with her application of watercolor, adding enough to give her compositions color and presence, but allowing the pencil drawing to remain a strong part of the finished piece.

Her website is devoted to her professional architectural rendering, of which you can see a couple of examples above, third and fourth from the bottom. Even though more formal than her sketches, her line and watercolor illustrations have a warmth and visual appeal that the CGI modeling renders that seem to be dominating the field these days lack.

Bower’s blog and Instagram account showcase her sketches, many of which are from travels in Europe and around the world.

Her sketches can also be found on the Urban Sketchers site (note links to multiple pages at bottom), where she is a correspondent. She also teaches workshops at Urban Sketchers events. There is a brief video introduction of Bower in that role on YouTube.

She is also the author of one of the books in the Urban Sketching Handbook Series: The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective.

In addition, Bower has two online courses available through Craftsy: “Perspective For Sketchers” and “The Essentials of Sketching Architecture“.

 
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