My Sketchbook in January 2019

It’s time for my monthly sketchbook review. January has been a relatively quiet time for me with lots of work done from home, or close to home. Winter is here and it has simply been too cold to spend a lot of time drawing outside. But I went on a few beautiful hikes when collecting material and shooting video for my new class (Drawing Ideas For Winter).

Winter is also the ideal time to watch birds, with the leaves off the trees. I’m watching and sketching birds almost every day, and fortunately there is a lot to see and draw. There are quite a few different local birds at the feeders and in the garden right now – the most common ones are sparrows and great tits. I also began to study leaf shapes but quickly abandoned it without having a lot of raw material.

I started a new nature journal and as I explained in my online class, I love the idea of using the first page for small weather sketches. It’s a great technique to collect information about the seasons and get started with a new sketchbook. So far it’s been quite wintery – when I look at this unfinished page I realize I love the muted colors of this season.

Winter is a good time to take a closer look at trees and their shape, and whenever I can’t spot birds, I try to sketch the trees in the gardens that I can see from my window. They are all a bit different. I’ve also tried to study the snow that fell one day, but it melted away quickly, and I turned to Wilson Bentley’s beautiful snowflake photography instead. But I’m determined to take another look at the snow.
Different kinds of thrushes are pretty active here since they can find a lot of old apples, and I had the chance to study these beautiful birds.

For the creation of my last online workshop, I took a closer look at twigs and cones, and I managed to smuggle in a few bird sketches, too.

I tried capturing the ice formations outside and I have to say it’s pretty challenging – drawing ice crystals is time consuming and difficult on white paper.

I’m also using my nature journal for more detailed bird sketches, with little color swatches next to them. I’m still figuring out better ways to mix my watercolors, and since I have gotten new paints recently I’m happy to spend a lot of time experimenting with them. I’m particularly interested in different greys since they are useful for a lot of birds, and it seems to be the color of the season, too.
You can also see that a cat visited the garden the other day, but the blackbird and the sparrows weren’t impressed at all.

This was what kept me drawing in January. What have you been up to? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Julia, these pages are so very beautiful. I am so facenated by all the different elements you find and put together on the pages. Your nature journal also gives me a small glimpse of Germany and the natural wildlife and raw elements that are found there. I am particularly interested because I am German on my Dad’s side. My grandma and grandpa came to Canada a few years prior to my Dad’s birth. I so wish I was capable of of sketching well. But the Almighty gifted me musically with just mediocre artist ability. But I do love to view other artists piece’s and I have fallen head over heels in love with watercolor and gouache and taken up lettering to challenge myself. So thank you for sharing your journal with us and the more fluffy birdies the better I always say! Lol take care.


Thank you so much Terri! That’s so interesting, do you know where your grandparents lived in Germany?
For what it’s worth, I do believe that everyone can build their drawing skills to a good level, so I’m sure you have it in you! I love music too (but stopped playing a long time ago). Doing all of these creative things because they’re fun to do is the right way to go! And I was thinking about how the cats would maybe hard to see because I didn’t define them at all, lol!


Oh darn! I forgot to mention that I couldn’t find the cats that were visiting the garden that you spoke about in your post. I had to go back 3 times before I realized that they were created using the negative space! Which is awesome by the way. It goes to show you how people tend to see only what they think to be important and block out negative space as just wastage once all the images are created. OR… I am just completely blind and nuts and should just shut my pie hole! Lol lol


I love all your bird sketches. I’m also loving about the winter that I can see the birds on the tree branches. This includes hawks. 🙂


Thank you! And observing hawks is wonderful, glad you have the chance!


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