My sketchbooks really have me in their grip right now. After years of saying that I wanted to focus primarily on observational sketching, I finally find my heart and mind completely and utterly smitten with drawing and painting the world around me. (Alas, poor Snippets journal! I promise I will find some way to complete you...) The fact that I'm going to be teaching this now for an entire year probably has something to do with it as well.
Oddly enough, after work, when I am arguably at my most exhausted - mentally, emotionally, and physically - I have discovered that I can actually complete highly detailed pages in my sketchbook. The focus required is intense but soothing. I get lost in my observations of what I'm drawing. I sit and quietly look at the shapes of shadows. I compare the relative intensity of one color to the next, trying to match my paint mixtures to what I see. While I'm not monitoring it, I'm pretty sure my heart rate slows. So unless I have a migraine (which makes it impossible to do anything,) you can find me working in my sketchbook most afternoons and even right before bed.
One particular subject I'm having tremendous fun with is old school portraits from the fifties. I have a large collection of pictures I've found in thrift stores and culled from old yearbooks. I pick a photo to reference, draw the basic outline and then start filling in color. No sketching in pencil! I just pick up a black pen and dive in! I have to live with and learn to love my mistakes (including some very unfortunate chins.) The fact that the reference pictures are in black and white helps me two ways. The grayscale allows me to judge values quickly and secondly, I am free to assume whatever colors I choose when bringing the person (child or faculty member) to life. This particular set of portraits is colored with Tombow markers. Most of my drawings look nothing like the picture but the resulting characters are fun and a little wacky...just the way I like them!