Views from Our Windows: Watercolor Sketches


As you may know, the past months included my family staging, selling, and moving out of our old home that we had spent the last 23 years in (well, 22 in my case.) During that time, I wanted to capture the memories in a way the beautiful photos taken of our home for the sale could not. As the inside of our home was filled with objects that were not our own, I looked outwards for inspiration and chose to paint the views seen from various windows in our home. This travel-style sketchbook was given to my mother.

The sketched were done with Faber pens, a limited color palette, and a waterbrush. Here are some highlights:

I started with my own views.

20160523_191146000_iOS lemon window view

One featured our friends across the street’s home.

brothers view

I paid extra attention to my mother’s spot in the kitchen.

kitchen view

I included one sketch of our house’s outside to wrap things up.



March Wrap Up

march journal experiments

Long time no chat! With my house being staged to sell, midterms, and work, I haven’t had as many opportunities to make a mess or art. I had to abandon my NYE resolution to make a wall calendar page a month as I can’t hang anything on my walls currently. Instead, I just experimented with a water brush I bought during Black Friday; because who doesn’t visit art supply stores on Black Friday?

march desk set up

Here’s my palette and new brush alongside old sketches. I thought I would test out the line and wash look with the water brush before using the brush solo. All the colors are, once again, from my Windsor Newton set my grandmother gifted me at Christmas.

march flowermarch notebooks

Goodbye March! Hello Spring Break! I recently had a chance to start some projects that I hope to share with you all soon. I’m also working on a new blog name and look that I’ll be phasing in, so keep an eye out.

Hand Lettering Practice: Round 1

Hand lettering journal Steinbeck Winter of Discontent

As I mentioned in my New Year’s post, I want to explore lettering more this year. The intro page below was done a while back, the first time I resolved to practice lettering more…woops. This time, however, I have made it much farther on my mission.

Update: I believe that Steinbeck quote was misfiled in my phone notes and is actually from East of Eden, I have a vague memory of Samuel saying something like that after speaking with Lee…Embarassing

Hand Lettering Journal Intro Page

The background for these photos is actually my new “mood board” that I painted and texturized for a faux distressed wall look, I’ll be posting more on this later.

Hand lettering journal A study

Hand lettering journal B study

So far, I’m mostly doing alphabet letter “studies.” Over Christmas, I borrowed some art books from my Grandmother, an actual artist, including this very old lettering book picture below with my practice journal.

Hand lettering practice books

Most of the fonts after A and B are from this lettering book. I even labeled which font I used for each line of my resolutions page below.

Hand lettering journal New Years Resolutions

Along with alphabet studies, I’ve been starting to work on quotes. I have a habit of quickly adding quotes that strike me while reading to my iPhone notes. The goal now is to begin moving these quotes out of my phone and on to paper. The quote pictured at the beginning and end of this post is by John Steinbeck in his book, The Winter of Our Discontent.

Hand lettering journal Steinbeck quote

December “Daily” Preparation

For the first time ever, I thought I’d try out the “December Daily” mini album idea. Or at least some version of it. I doubt mine will be every day, more like weekly with highlights. My style will probably be more just a homage to winter and the holiday season, i.e. no personal photographs or written journaling, instead just art and layouts. Before December actually arrives and day one of this “daily” book starts, I thought I should probably prepare.

december daily cover

For the cover:

I had a piece of cardboard or stock or something left over from once upon a time and I really liked the clean white coloring of it and the subtly ribbed texture it had. I cut it in half and then trimmed it to more journal-common proportions (around 4.5 x 6.5 range). First I added the blue wash using a watered down crazy mix of: acrylic paints in Cobalt blue, Phylo blue, Lemon Yellow, and Titanium white; Retarder, and Matte Medium. I applied this mix with a sponge and blended it with some brushes and a paper towel.

december daily empty cover

Second, I blended over the blue with a random iridescent clear/white paint that was originally for puffy paint style but has gotten old over the years. Over that, I had snow texture paint we had in the garage and sponged that around until eventually sweeping it into a centered circle. I used the wet paint with some extra matte medium on top to attach a wooden snowflake over a mini tag, leftover from my mother’s wrapping materials some other holiday season. (Obviously, from the empty rings, I have no preset pages and will be adding them fresh as I go.)

december daily back cover

Then, the back cover was done with basically the same materials. I sponged the blue mix over a stencil and once dry, sponged the snow with gesso over the blue. Some final hole punches completed the cover. (I did mess up, even with focus and planning, by punching the holes offset for the back cover and will worry about hiding those wrong spots later).


I threw everything I was likely to consider using in a thrifted sewing box not only for access and “organization” but to help keep the style of my album a bit more cohesive. I thought it would be fun to do this journal like one big piece rather than like my 2015 journal where each page was a separate work. You can see some of what is thrown in there, its quite a bit.

december daily supplies

Since I don’t have a ton of Christmas specific things, I choose a small handful of free printables that I liked. I rarely use these since it involves printing and ink blah blah but I thought it could be fun this round.

december daily tools

You can see a couple of the printables, but only a few. I picked and printed from collections I found around, sources here:

Are you doing a December Daily this year?

Monthly Journal: October

october journal page 2015

October came and went so fast, I didn’t really have a particular event to focus on in my entry. I did, however, finish a really interesting novel for a women literature class that month, White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I chose this novel as my “theme” for October’s entry.

If you have read the book, you’ll know the narrator is an artist. Because of that, I embraced her destructive creativity in my approach to the page. I also incorporated, with ink and watercolors, the suitcase imagery towards the end of the novel. The stamps are vintage snags from my dad’s childhood stamp collection. These were duplicates and extras he had.

october art journal page

I tried out my new tag shape punch on a chunk of thin cardboard to reference luggage tags. The watercolor leaves were done during a practice session at one time. All the white details were done with a random colored pencil-like thing for photos. The letters on the tags were done with my little lower case alphabet stamps.

october 2015 journal entry

The quote sloppily written as an open border on the pages is from Fitch’s novel and relevant to a certain story arch that I was fond of. The quote also inspired the white paper garland strand across the pages.

“The pearls weren’t really white, they were a warm oyster beige, with little knots in between so if they broke, you only lost one. I wished my life could be like that, knotted up so that even if something broke, the whole thing wouldn’t come apart.”  – Janet Fitch, White Oleander

october journal entry

I may still add some more brown packing paper on the page behind the tags and/or ties to the “luggage tags.”

2 Journal Entries for the Price of 1: August and September

september journal entry

I know I am running late not only on my September journal update but also missed my August pages and I apologize. However, now you get two entries in one and who doesn’t like a two for one deal? August was sweet and quick while September was packed fuller. I celebrated my birthday (mentioned here – illustration), got deeper into my semester, and attended a Harry Potter themed wedding (referenced here – wedding card.) Now here’s the build up of two monthly entries.

botanical outlines

I mimicked the patterns on my birthday-present bedding and then loosely traced over my lines with pen. I used regular sketchbook paper for easier drawing and erasing. Also, using thinner paper lines my planner pages better.

botanical paintedseptember journal

I let the ink set a while and then painted it in with watercolors. On top, I attached a “mini planner” made from patterned papers reminiscent of my actual planner’s coloring and some mini planner pages. I did a mini journal entry on this to give a bit of an “inception” feel for fun. I referenced the key from my table number card at the wedding for the letter “p” and used a book for the “m” to represent my semester activities and the books I enjoyed reading for my literature course.

september journal art

And now, August:

august journal entry

For my August pages I attempted a simple and minimalistic look, playing with textures rather than colors. My mother and I cleaned out a lot of old boxes in the garage and multiple closets. During this time, we found a few treasures. One of these such treasures was a box of photo slides my mother took during one of her springs attending college. I think she gave them to me expecting I would use the frames for projects but the nostalgic photos with eighties tank tops and the pretty landscapes of her agricultural-focused school were worth preserving too.

august journal slide

I punched a hole in the left hand slide and placed it on a brad so it could swivel to be looked at in front of a light, the image seen clearly.

august journal polaroid

I created a “page” with vellum paper and layered various textured packing paper types to create a focal point for the frames and slide. This way, the vellum page could be tipped to allow light to shine through the slide. August showed up quick and said bye just as fast.

Bye friends (for now)

July Entry: Creating an Art Journal Page, Step-by-Step

In July, I got a new job! I spent most my days either training or learning on the job. To reflect this in my altered-planner-turned-journal monthly theme, I decided to focus on the process of the entry rather than the page itself. If you have ever seen my travel journal, you know I like a sense of movement in my pages.
In this dimensional, Summer, entry, I show you my entire process – including how I placed hidden journaling in a flap, under a rotating tag, and inside a pocket.

july step by step journal entry

Before starting a project…
I like to spend an excessive amount of time finding inspiration. My favorite place for this is Pinterest, as you might have guessed from my constant repinning. This time, I was drawn to many of the brand Ruche’s Pinboards and ended up using the flower wall photo (shown in the screenshot) as one of my main inspirations for this entry.
Pinterest inspiration for step by step art journal page

First things go first: Workspace and Materials Preparation
Set up a comfortable but productive workspace for you and your cat. In my case, this is a table easel placed on a bed. Consider doing some concept planning and sketching. Decide on a vague theme (be it a color palette, a focus piece, an event, etc.) and narrow down possible materials. For me, a mix of the inspiring photos I found online and an Earl Grey tea box (shown later) were my focal points.
inspirational papers for step by step journal post                    Workspace with cat for step by step art journal entry

Second: Page Preparation with Gesso
Once I had an idea in mind, I needed to further prep the pages (I had bundled and pre-sealed the planner pages with some Gesso and matte medium before doing any monthly entries.) On one side, I used thick Gesso with a dry knife to build a moldable layer. Then, using the tip of the knife, I suggested a brick texture with rough dashes. On the other side I simply added a water-thin-ed layer of the Gesso with a brush to further fade the planner lines.
Fun fact: I am not left handed at all. I am so un-left handed that I had to take any “action” shots with my right hand, posing with my left.

Materials used for this step:

  • old, white acrylic Gesso (Basics)
  • nylon palette knives
  • large, coarse bristle brush
  • water

gesso prep                    20150803_230058477_iOSgesso brick

Third: Define the texture
When the Gesso was fully dry, I began to accent the brick lines in black. I didn’t ink all the dashes, just enough to make the brick pattern stand out. I used a Sharpie for waterproof lines.


  • Sharpie Pen, fine point

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For the Fourth: Back to the Scraps
While the ink dried fully, I experimented with bundling combinations of paper. I knew I wanted to include the tea box and the hot air balloon. However, the balloon’s bright color was a bit too severe for the other elements. So I used cotton balls and a touch of nail polish remover to fade it – dabbing, not rubbing, the color off.

20150803_230608276_iOS                    20150805_175537580_iOS20150805_173239266_iOS


  • 2013 mini planner
  • Paperchase scrapbook paper remnants
  • Whittard earl grey tea packaging
  • pocket Paris map
  • balloon paper embellishment (I believe it was Crate Paper)
  • drugstore nail polish remover

Fifth: Time to Paint
Now that my pages were set, dry, and ready, I wanted to add some watercolor painting based on my main inspirational image from before.
brick wall with watercolor flowers made with gesso in this step by step art journal page blog post

I did light stems and leaves with Sap Green to place my flowers. Next, I used Rose, Vermillion, and then Gamboge to place washes for flowers. I alternately mixed combinations of those colors for different stems as well as additional layers on the now dry flowers. I mixed varying amounts of Prussian Blue for a few flowers and then with the green to add shadows on the stems. A touch of Cerulean Blue suggests Washi Tape on the flowers. Last, I used White Acrylic paint for highlights.

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  • Marie’s Watercolors
  • Basics white acrylic matte paint
  • washi tape (I don’t remember the brand, it was found at Hobby Lobby)

Sixth: Distressing and Stamping
Once the botanical wall was dry, I used distress ink lightly on the edges before taking it farther inward, with a focus on a Gesso seam: like a crack in a wall. I carried the distress onto the other page for consistency. I also used parts of various stamps and black ink to suggest a pattern similar to the paper I would be using on the brick wall.

distress ink edges in the step by step art journal blog post with a brick wall featuring a flower displayusing distress ink with a blender on a brick wall flower display themed art journal page in this step by step postdistress ink on journal page in this step by step demonstration of an art journal entry


  • Distress Ink by Tim Holtz in Antique Photo
  • blender
  • acrylic stamps:
  • flowers,
  • stems,
  • and a leaf-trimmed frame

Seventh: Adding the First Interactive Element
Test your papers with your newly painted page to confirm. My paper is actually from a perfume sample but the designs were pretty. So I glued it down on the crease tail to create a flap. I secured it further with a blue scrap paper peeking out from inside the window.

Step by Step Art Journal Entry with watercolor, gesso, scrapping, and moveable pockets and envelopes and flapscreating a flap for a journal page for more journaling room and interactivity in this step by step post                        creating a flap for journalling and added decoration in an art journal page shown in this step by step post


  • Balloon paper embellishment
  • Scrapbooking binder clip (Hobby Lobby)
  • Perfume sample packaging
  • OPI nail polish
  • tacky glue

Step Eight: Rotations and Envelopes
While the brick side dried (a binder clip holding it tightly in place), I worked on the other page. I cut this flower embellishment in half because it not only fit better, but it also gave me two chances to use it. I have been hoarding it for quite a while now and this helps to ease the pain of using it. I attached it via Washi Tape to a tag cut from the tea box (and faded/distressed by rubbing – not dabbing this time – nail polish remover). To give my tag a neutral resting place, I attached a rough, Watercolor Paper scrap with a brad that I had ripped off an old folder. I glued this down just on the top and bottom edges to create a pocket of sorts.

floral tag for art journal page step by step

pocket making step by step art journal page                    pocket and swinging paper brad in step by step journal post

The tag slipped easily onto the brad. Attaching it this way enables me to rotate the tag and reveal the paper underneath for hidden journaling. In the pocket, I used the tabbed scrap from the tea box. For a writing spot, I added the lined embellishment.

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  • flower paper and lined paper embellishments (I believe all of these, like the balloon, were from a Crate Paper pack)
  • Strathmore watercolor paper 300 series
  • brad paper fastener (cut off old paper folder)

creating flap for journal in this step by step postFinal Step
At this point, my brick page was dried, set, and ready for the last piece: a neutral writing spot. I used some basic graph paper here.

I added the letters J-U-L-Y to each writing spot I had created, as shown below.

Final Product
dimensional journal page in this step by step post for julydimensional journal page shown in this step by step post for july

With this altered planner post, I’d like to enter Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge: Make a Plan at

May Journal Entry: Peonies and Books

20150601_012123000_iOS 1

To fit all twelve months in my altered planner, I will need some months to be 1 page spreads. May Entry 2015 I choose May as it is always a whirlwind due to the end of Spring semester. It wasn’t my easiest Finals week ever but I got through safe and sound. To reference the academic focus of the month, I hand lettered an “M” made entirely of book spines and the occasional bookmark. It was a fun challenge and I felt a detailed statement would be good for this half size entry. I was inspired by the peonies resting on my desk/vanity/nightstand (I like to make my objects multi-purpose) for the entry’s coloring and pattern. I stole only two stems from my mother’s kitchen bouquet to place in my room.

may entry 2015may-entry-2015

I used my Acrylic paints to create a semi-abstract, messy interpretation of peonies and leaves encircling the monogram. A basic, black pen was used to add flourishes and a border on top of the floral. I, of course, tried a few versions of acrylic peonies in my acrylic journal before beginning my monthly entry. I have to admit my messy floral pattern doesn’t share much with the more structured practice buds. Lastly, I used a leafing adhesive pen to add spots of gold leaf along the edges of the entry, focusing on the corners. Here’s to summer vacation!

May Entry - Withcraftsandlace

Monthly Entry: April

april lilies withcraftsandlace 2015

I realize this is a bit late but May is always quite busy, being the end of the semester and all. Still, I found a good moment to reflect back on April and it’s highlights to create my monthly art journal entry. In April, the most important things were filled with love. My friend’s baby girl was born and named Lily. She was my obviously my main inspiration. Just days after her birth, I attended a family friend’s wedding and it was a gorgeous outdoor ceremony and sweet reception. She deserved such a happy day.

april lilies withcraftsandlace 2015

For the entry, I mixed gesso with a bit of blue and then green acrylics to make a lightly washed background. The lilies were loosely sketched out with pen and let to dry before I messily watercolored the blooms. It is a simple entry but a reminder of special moments.

april lilies - with crafts and lace

Monthly Journal Entry: March

Spring Art Journal Entry by WithCraftsAndLace for March 2015

Looking back on March and its toasty warm weather, I felt this month’s entry was all about Spring. I kept it simple in illustration, instead adding many layers for dimension. In a way, it was meant to reflect the style of a “mood board” or similar.

March Spring Themed Monthly Art Journal Entry - Withcraftsandlace The background is made of handmade paper ripped from a notebook, given to me long ago. On the textured paper, I choose to simply drop watercolor inks randomly on the paper.

March Spring Themed Monthly Art Journal Entry - WithcraftsandlaceI then alternated paper layers between packing papers and scrapbook papers for a textured, simple entry. With that, more ink was dripped or painted as needed. The final, small, focus points are the month’s label and a ripped side of a Windsor and Newton Ink packaging box, stains and all. Though I like Spring, I am glad to have this early April cooling-off period right now.

Happy April everyone!

March Spring Themed Monthly Art Journal Entry - Withcraftsandlace