Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sketching at Da Shop with USK Oahu and family

My son’s family came with me to the USK Oahu sketch outing in Kaimuki at Da Shop, a relatively new bookstore that is part of a publishing warehouse. They specialize in books and authors from Hawaii and Oceania. Along with the books displayed in the store and online, they have children talk stories, food events, author and artist exhibitions, film screenings and lectures.

My sketch of my granddaughter, Ocean, sketching in the children’s corner.
I thought the children’s reading corner was so inviting. When I was a child I would have loved having a place like that to tuck into with a good book!
9 year old Leila sketching at Da Shop, Honolulu.
Leila’s sketches, minus one.
Our son, Matt, reading to his daughter, Ocean.

See more about the outing here

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Crafting a Journal While Stranded

Nov 17: Just finished my #junkjournal for #nikthebooksmith #desertedislandchallenge See the flip through at
I've been having fun in the craft side of my studio lately! Nik the Booksmith issued a journal making challenge called "The Deserted Island Journal Challenge".

We were challenged to make a journal from scratch with just a few items:
I was limited to 8 items:
#fabritac glue
#needle and #3plybamboothread
#guttedbook cover
Approximately 12x12" #fabric
One 12x12" sheet of #scrapbookpaper #Authentique #seamaiden #mermaid
#TimHoltzDistressInk #vintagephoto

This was so much fun, though challenging!
I'm almost finished with a surprise addition to this minimal journal. Subscribe to my craft channel to be notified when it will be public! Wait until you see how I blinged it all up!

I have a new YouTube channel just for my handmade journals and sketchbooks. Please visit, subscribe, like and comment! 
As always, I will post tutorials, demonstrations and other fine art watercolor videos on my original YouTube channel. Please subscribe to that one if your interest is more on the "watercolor fine art" side.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Busy Weekend for Art

While I am teaching a workshop for first time watercolorists in Kirkland this weekend, my sketchbook is headed for an art fair in NY in this cute little bookmobile!

See what they did in the workshop here:

Your book is headed to The Other Art Fair!

Just a quick note to let you know that your book was one of only a few hundred books that will be at The Other Art Fair in Brooklyn, NY this weekend:

Your book is in our NEW Bookmobile on for all artists and visitors to see! Thanks for helping us inspire this community!

In the area or know someone who wants to attend The Other Art Fair? Use code 'SKETCHBOOK' at checkout for complimentary tickets!

Sketch ya later,
The Sketchbook Project Crew

Brooklyn Expo Center
Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Friday, 11/9 3-10PM
Saturday, 11/10 12-9PM

Sunday 11/11 11-6PM


Monday, November 5, 2018

Three Tutorials now uploaded on my New YouTube Channel

I have been making accordion sketchbooks since around 2000. Up to now they have been for personal use and as gifts for friends and family.

New Tutorial Added Today
As my weekly watercolor classes and workshops are winding up for the fall, I look forward to joining my fellow urban sketchers on location.

I've been looking for something to do at home as well during the long hiatus until classes resume in late January. Recently, I've also been making junk journals in the craft side of my studio as gifts for friends and family members.

I am finishing up an international junk journal challenge and will soon have a fun, new project video to add! Subscribe to MicheleCooperCrafts to see that one when it's up!

What is a Junk Journal and What Do You Do With It?
A junk journal is a handmade book made up of recycled items such as papers from magazines, brochures, patterned paper, music sheets, envelopes, packaging, brown paper bags, maps, greeting cards, post cards, doilies, to name a few.  The book covers can be made from cereal boxes, old book covers or any hard card boards.  The list is endless, especially when your creative imagination is sparked!
This is the cover of a Junk Journal I made recently for my teenage granddaughter. She can sketch and write in it. The faux leather cover is made from dyed and distressed baking paper and two manila envelopes.I will upload a tour of this on my new channel soon.

Creating and making a junk journal is like keeping a diary but with more graphics, memorabilia and keepsake items. It is to record and document your thoughts, memories, an occasion or an event that has touched you. It tells a story and it does not necessarily have to be a daily journal.

My original YouTube Channel, MichelesNWStudio has numerous watercolor tutorials that I have uploaded for many years as an educational aid for my students and subscribers. Now I think it's time to separate the fine art side of the studio from the craft side of the studio, on YouTube at least. I will be uploading some new projects on both channels in the next few days and weeks. I hope you will visit, subscribe and comment.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Announcing My New YouTube Channel

MicheleCooperCraft  is my new shop on Etsy
I've been sketching, drawing and painting watercolors on location for decades. Many of these  adventures are on my YouTube channel, MichelesNWStudio, featuring fine art tutorials and demonstrations. Now and then I have shared a few projects from the craft side of my studio as well.

I know that many of my subscribers on the original channel are interested in anything and everything having to do with hand drawn, hand made creative projects. If you're like me, sometimes you're in the mood to do something crafty and handmade. Other times, you're in the fine art zone. Rather than sift through all my tutorials and demonstrations to suit your mood of the moment, I thought I might divide my videos into two channels: one for crafts (like junk journals, handmade sketchbooks, handmade crafts, etc.) and the other continuing to feature fine arts like watercolor painting, sketching, plein air, urban sketching, etc.)
If you have a favorite tutorial on my handcrafted pocket sketchbooks and it's already on my MichelesNWStudio channel, I will leave it there. Going forward, however, I will limit that channel to fine arts demonstrations, tutorials and sketchbooks done on location. The Iris Field tutorial is one of the most popular watercolor videos.

Here's one of the new pocket sketchbooks on my MicheleCooperCrafts channel.
Pop on over to my new MicheleCooperCrafts channel and subscribe so that you won't miss out on all the new videos I'll be posting in the next few days and weeks. Psst! I'm participating in a global junk journal challenge and I can't wait to show you what I made!

Yes, yes, I know. I haven't posted the rest of my Inktober sketches yet and this is the last day! Don't worry. It's coming!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Annual Studio Open House Nov. 3

"Snow Bird" Art Lesson on DVD
Our 24th Annual Studio Open House takes place on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. Hours: 10am-12:00 and 3:00-7pm

5-7pm: Wine, Cheese, Nibbles and a drawing for $100 worth of Art from Michele's NW Studio

We are excited to show new works and to welcome artists, students and friends. Enjoy some nibbles, conversation and perhaps take home a painting, DVD or just the experience of visiting a real working art studio.

Save a spot on your calendar and come on over! Please note the change in open hours this year: the studio will be closed between 12:00 noon and 3:00pm.
Hours: 10am-12:00 Noon and 3:00-7pm
Contact me for map and directions. Send email to michelec12 at gmail dot com

Your friends and family are welcome.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Try Prompts from Another October Challenge

This Doodlewash art challenge is open to anyone who wants to participate with watercolor painting and/or simply pencil or pen and ink drawings as well!*
*Participating in Inktober 2018? Awesome! Then simply add the tag #doodlewashOctober2018 as well when you post and share what you make with us!

Oh, the temptation! It was so hard to do this in black and white instead of the fall colors that I wanted to use! I saw these autumn leaves floating in our pond and it seemed so tranquil.......until they started sinking while I was sketching them!

Monday, October 1, 2018

It’s Inktober-Are you In?

Every year, people from around the world make a promise to themselves that they will work to improve their daily drawing practice during the month of October. They make an ink drawing each day and then they share the results on social media with the tag #inktober and #inktober2018.

I'll usually be posting my daily ink drawings on Flickr and Instagram. Go to and select the link you want.

How about it? Are you in? Here’s where to get more information if you’ve never done this before.
For those who want the official daily prompts, here’s this year’s list.
In honor of the first day of Inktober 2018, I sat down at my drafting table in the studio this morning and drew a collection of my watercolor tubes, pans and pencils. All those in this photo are considered toxic, which fits the prompt for the day, "Poisonous".
Oct 1, 2018--Prompt is "Poisonous"

The pigments used in all media, watercolor, colored pencil, oil, acrylic, etc. may contain toxic materials. Most, but not all, of the toxicity issues are associated with heavy, or toxic, metals such as copper, cobalt, cadmium, lead. Caroline Roberts has written a comprehensive article about toxicity in artists' pigments here.

These are some of Caroline's suggestions on how to handle your materials safely:
 How to handle toxic paints safely
  1. Do not use the same containers for paints that you do for food or drink. Well, duh, but thought I'd put it in anyway.
  2. Do not put paint brushes in your mouth! Use a brush holder or a piece of kitchen towel.
  3. Wash hands thoroughly after each painting session.
  4. Even better, wear latex gloves whilst painting, or at least whilst using the toxic pigments. I hate wearing gloves but after researching this topic I will be wearing them. Simple as that.
  5. Wear a dust mask if you handle pigment powders. Make sure it's the right one and keep it clean!
  6. Do not have food in your studio and use covered drinks containers.
  7. Since we don't want heavy metals in our rivers either, wipe up paints with kitchen towel and dispose of in the trash, not down the drain.
  8. If you sand your paints at all (as an acrylic painter, yes I do) then wear a respiratory mask. Keeping the paint surface damp as you sand also keeps the dust down.
Author: Caroline Roberts

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

New Workshop Announcement for Beginning Sketchers-Sept. 22

If you missed my recent USK 10x10 First Steps into Visual Journaling Workshop, it’s not too late!

Saturday, September 22, urban sketchers and Historic Seattle come together for a day of sketching in the Meridian Park neighborhood.

Learn to sketch step by step

Learn the joy of sketching – and a new way to appreciate the historic buildings you love! This class is designed for inexperienced sketchers or those who have been away from their art for a while.
Instructor Michele Cooper will help you take your first steps into urban sketching using simple tools and practical tips that anyone can follow. Michele will demonstrate techniques, then you’ll try them. Perfection is not required. You’ll learn to combine basic drawing, writing, lettering shortcuts, and ephemera for a fun day on location with your urban sketchbook. These skills can be adapted to fill your nature and travel journals, too.
The workshop will begin indoors at the Good Shepherd Center, later the group will move outside to practice sketching the exterior of the Good Shepherd Center and its grounds.
The workshop is filling fast, but as of today there are a few spots left.
Follow this link for the workshop description, location and registration information.

After the workshop, please join Urban Sketchers Seattle for an optional “sketchcrawl” (2:30 – 5 PM) at Meridian Park to have more fun practicing your new skills!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

One Inch Drawing a Day

The challenge:
The game is inspired by John Vernon Lord who, in 2016, did a drawing for every single day of the year. Each one is just one-inch squared and made with pen and ink on paper. 
His 365 miniature drawings are currently on show in John Vernon Lord: Illustrating Carroll and Joyce
  • Aprb
  • 308
  • 306
More information and how to play.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Holy Smoke! Intrepid Sketchers make their First Steps Into VisualJournaling, a 10x10 USK Workshop

Saturday, August 25

Seattle wasn't its usual bustling self with sidewalks and parks full of locals and tourists enjoying the last weekend in August. Unhealthy air quality caused by smoke from wildfires burning in Canada and multiple states has taken its toll on all outdoor activities for the past few weeks. Air quality announcements advise people at risk to stay indoors. How would this work out for beginning students coming to my USK 10x10 First Steps Into Visual Journaling Workshop?

I handed out badges and pencils as my full class arrived. We loaded up on coffee, quiche and breakfast goodies from the Grand Central Bakery and pulled up our seats at the long wooden table in the Arcade. I had planned for everyone to start the day with some quick warm up exercises. We covered materials, lettering, simple figures, how to use watercolor pencils with or without pens, and more!
Warm up exercises and getting to know our materials
Many of my students were healthy enough to brave the unhealthy air for just a 10 minute dash out into the square for some first steps in sketching figures. They were practicing my patented 6-stroke method!
In my bag was a packet of handouts with illustrations on brick buildings and alleyways.

I had planned to go out onto the cobbled square with my students around noon for a demonstration and assignment but the air quality app I was using was in the orange zone; hazardous, limit outdoor activity, no strenuous exercise!
I stepped out of the big glass doors onto 1st Ave S. to check on the visibility and smoke factor for myself. As you can see, there was so much haze that things started fading out only a block or two away. There were so few people in this usually busy Seattle tourist area that you would never know that it was a summer weekend in August. Even Occidental Square had few people other than a food line provided by local charities for the homeless.
So it was on to plan "B". Just in case we were smoked out, I had a digital handout ready. I sent step by step instructions to everyone's smart phones illustrating how to take the first steps into drawing and painting cars. I call it Cars: Inside the box. I demonstrated each step. Carefully avoiding the "P" word (perspective) the approach is to draw and connect simple shapes. Everyone amazed themselves with their results. You can see how well they've done when you see the "throw down"  below.
I asked everyone to share their favorite sketches of the day on the old wood bench in he Arcade.
Intrepid new urban sketchers meeting the challenge safe inside the Grand Central Arcade
Thanks to my fantastic students and everyone at the Grand Central Building for accommodating the weather situation. I loved sharing some tips and techniques with this group and can't wait to see you at the next USk Seattle outing! You have what it takes to be an urban sketcher wherever you go! You took off smokin'!

Thanks also to Tina Koyama, who popped in to cover this event for Seattle Urban Sketchers blog.

Monday, August 13, 2018

New YouTube Tutorial and Sketchbook Flipthrough

 I made this sketchbook for a friend so I have blue taped over the name on the tag.
See inside 3 new accordion style sketchbooks that fit into your pocket for on the go sketching anywhere! I just uploaded a new YouTube tutorial with a Bonus Flipthrough of one of my watercolor sketchbooks at the end.  Give me a thumbs up if you like it!              
Watch a full tutorial and see inside 3 new accordion style sketchbooks 
Look inside for ideas on gift sketchbooks
     Naturally, you wouldn't use the sketchbook with a heavy refrigerator magnet still in it!            

Saturday, August 4, 2018

I will miss Bothell Country Village

Bothell Country Village is a unique place where character abounds. Naturally it is one of the favorite sketching locations for Seattle Urban Sketchers, who met there today for what may be the last time. The property has been sold and the village will be dismantled after April, 2019.
Fading into history
Keepsake Cottage Fabrics has been at "The Barn" since 1984. The owner, Julie, told me they will have to relocate to a warehouse and try to continue their business online.

Sketching from across the street under the covered porch by the bakery.
The windmill originally came from a wheat farm in Waterville, Eastern Washington.
I was surrounded by blue lace cap hydrangeas and borders of summer flowers in full bloom as the day turned from a cool, overcast 60°F to a pleasant partly sunny 70°F towards lunchtime.

Ann was on the front porch, documenting all the beautiful bolts of fabric lined up along the wall.

Tina was across the street on the covered boardwalk, sketching the barn with graphite and kneaded eraser.

Meandering paths lead you through a whimsical world of duck ponds, home decor, restaurants, one of a kind toys, gifts, antiques and more.

It seems there is never enough time in the 2-3 hours that we spend sketching during each outing. How could you possibly document it all?

See IG and Flickr tags #uskseattle for more sketches from our outing on Friday, August 3.

A small family runs their flower stand at the Friday Farmers' Market. June 1 - Sept 28, 2018

First, sketching, then lunch with friends at Village Eatery & Tea Co, then buying flowers on the way to the car. Can it get any better than this?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

World watercolor month is a wrap

I’ve been working on both series of prompts for July
For the final day of World Watercolor Month and the Firefly Watercolor Challenge I want an image that will help cool us down from the current heat wave we're experiencing.

I remember fishing in the Tumwater River near Wenatchee with my parents, cooling down by walking barefoot in the cold water. You had to watch your step because the round rocks were slippery. My sister and I were always disappointed when we took our pretty rocks out of our pockets at home and they had changed from shiny jewels to dull grey stones.

"River Rocks" I learned a lot from books and videos by Tony Couch
FireflyWatercolorChallenge Day 31: You Did It!
“Watercolor: you can do it!” — Tony Couch. Congratulations! You’ve done it! Our 31-day watercolor challenge is complete, and you’ve proven your creative skill and dedication to your craft. Let us know what you plan to paint next.

What’s next? I think I’ll take the little peg man for a walk with my sketchbook around Portugal and extend my virtual vacation. They have tuktuks there now, an added convenience since we were there last. 

Worldwatercolormonth - Celebration of color on prompts
I’m celebrating complimentary color, value and chroma. This time a real watercolor, not an illustration or a sketch. 

Stay tuned for all 31 watercolors in one post. 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Did Somebody Say Collage?

The prompt for today's daily watercolor challenge from #fireflywatercolorchallenge is "paper collage." Say no more! I have a few drawers full of exotic papers and panels on which I've already collaged with "rice paper" and painted with abstract watercolor washes. (At one time, I was the president of the National Collage Society.)
A few of my watercolor and Asian paper collage panels from the studio hoard.
Serendipity! The daily prompt from Doodlewash for #worldwatercolormonth is "nature hike". I am still reminiscing about my recent Watercolor Nature Journal Workshop last month. I tore out a few pages of my little sketches from our nature hike on Saturday and collaged them into a mountain scene. I scored and two for one this time!
Nature Hike. A collage of memories and sketches.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Shells drawn with a Mapping Pen

I'm still having so much fun making my daily drawings on DIY postcards! I like the Fabriano Studio 140lb CP paper for the surface that takes pen and watercolor perfectly for this illustrative style.
I'm trying out my new dip pen and Dr. P.H. Martins Bombay Sepia ink. The ink dries relatively quickly in this 82°F weather we're having. (That's the cooler part of the late morning this week!) So right away I can start painting layers of watercolor washes from my DIY Altoids Mini Kit. No smearing!
I found my new "rare" pen on Ebay
Now about the pen. I saw Ohn Mar Win using it a year or two ago, but lately she mentioned that it was her favorite and I can see why. I wanted a dip pen that I could take sketching and not get too inky all over. Look! the nib stores in the pen just like my travel watercolor brushes do! I also wanted a flexible niib. Voila! Thanks, Ohn Mar!

William Mitchell Joseph Gillott Reversible Mapping Dip Pen Holder with 659 Mapping Nib. The 659 Gillott Mapping is a delicate and flexible nib which can create fine and wide lines depending on the pressure applied. Suitable for most mapping and drawing requirements.

The Gillott 659 Crow Quill nib can be stored inside the holder to preserve the point. The nib can be replaced when worn.