Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christmas 2014 - A Mother's Kiss

The inspiration for this year's Christmas Card is a mother's kiss. Nothing is more loving and connected than a mother's kiss. It imparts everlasting promise of love, protection, support and care to one's child. This is what the Virgin Mary took on when she accepted the angel's call and she not only fulfilled this promise to her baby, Jesus, but also to us. When we visited the Holy Land this year, we followed the footsteps of Jesus during the beginning of the 1st century AD and at the same time we also followed Mary's who understood, supported and accepted  her Son's role in this world.

I found this song after I finished writing my post and I was delighted that it embodies the message I wanted to impart in my painting so I have added it as a feature on this post.

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby
You've kissed the face of God

c. 1991 Word Music ( a division of Word, Inc.) and Rufus Music
(admin. by Keeling & Company, Inc, Nashville, TN) Words:
Mark Lowry Music: Buddy Greene
Link to song on YouTube Mary Did You Know as sang by Kathy Mattea

A Mother's Kiss
Madonna and Child Series 2014
by jojo sabalvaro tan
watercolor on 5" x 7" watercolor paper

May your mother's and the Virgin Mary's kisses be with you always. 

Wishing you all a  blessed Christmas and a 2015 filled with opportunities.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

More on Book Publishing

Ok, I pretty much finished formatting the content of my book and now I am ready to get it published. I converted my Word file into PDF and made sure that the text were embedded. As usual, I did my research on the internet and came up with three possibilities - Blurb, The Book Patch and Createspace (an Amazon company). I also tried a local printer here in the area. The experiences with each one are quite different.

My specs for the book:

  • at least 8 1/2 x 11 landscape
  • full color inside
  • gloss white paper inside
  • soft bound, perfect bind
  • gloss cover

Local Printer

I sent my file to them a month ago and I have not heard from them at all. Very poor customer service. Definitely, a no go.


Blurb ( http://www.blurb.com/)

Out of the online publishers, they were the only ones that would print in my desired landscape format. So I tried Blurb out first. Instead of uploading my PDF file directly, I worked in Blurb's Bookify program (very similar to Shutterfly) and built the book page by page using their pre-designed page formats which limited what I can do with each page. Sometimes I had to cut my narrative in order to fit into their text box. Similarly some of the pictures can only be shown partially, which is ok since it made it more artistic .I had to upload all the pictures to the site but I was able to cut and paste the narrative from my Word document into Bookify. I was able to choose a page color which made the pages more attractive. The book is a large format landscape (13" x 11") and I ordered it hardbound in linen with a dust jacket. The inside pages were nice and thick and my sketches turned out great (probably, the closest to the originals). This book was the nicest of the lot but also the costliest at almost $100. Certainly not suitable for mass distribution.
The cover of the Blurb printed book from Blubs' preview page

The Book Patch (http://www.thebookpatch.com/)

Book Patch only printed 8.5" x 11" books in portrait format so I had to reformat my file into 8.5" x 11" portrait from the original landscape format. Book Patch's process is fairly simple, as long as your PDF file conforms to their designated formatting requirements then you can just upload your PDF file directly to the site (after you've done the requisite identification stuff for your book, of course). So I made sure that my manuscript fit within their required margins, bleeds and cut space. You will have an opportunity to review your file on their interior reviewer program. I was concerned that all my sketches appeared yellow when I reviewed them and was afraid that they will appear yellow on the printed book. I wrote to customer service and they did some checking and did not really see any problems. They also suggested that I order a proof just to make sure. I received the proof and the sketches turned out without any yellow tinge and I was happy with it. The inside gloss paper used was nice and sturdy and the print appeared very clear. The sketches were close to the original, just a tad darker. I also designed my own cover and uploaded it to Book Patch as a JPEG file which turned out a little less sharp since I was working with a screen print.  It is not ideal but I had a hard time  with their process of building book covers due to my own impatience. My only concern was the binding on the proof copy fell apart at the bottom almost immediately after I received it. I brought the problem up to Book Patch's customer service's attention. By the way, I thought that their customer service people were very responsive and helpful.

The cover I designed for the Book Patch printed book

Create Space (an Amazon Company) - (https://www.createspace.com/)

Similarly, CreateSpace can only accommodate an 8.5" x 11" book in the portrait format. Also, all I needed to do was upload my PDF file. You do have to go through a book set -up step by step process. CreateSpace also provided an easy way to design the book cover so I tried that. They also have an interior reviewer and at first I thought that my sketches came out all blurry and I spent quite a bit of time trying to get my photos to their required 300 dpis. Whatever I did, the blurriness would not go away so I let the manuscript go through the approval process and had a proof printed. The cover is the same quality as that of Book Patch but I was a little disappointed with the paper of the inside pages. They were the thinnest of all the publishers. The pictures came out ok but not as good as the other two. CreateSpace also requires that you have an ISBN. You can opt for the free one they provide. CreateSpace has a massive distribution network and a royalty with a calculation that has my head spinning. They do have a calculator on site which helps you determine your selling price.

The CreateSpace book
Passport to Creativity: Exploring the World with a Watercolor Journal
Authored by Ms. jojo sabalvaro tan
8.5" x 11" (21.59 x 27.94 cm)
Full Color on White paper
80 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1502992307 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1502992302
BISAC: Art / Techniques / Watercolor Painting

PASSPORT TO CREATIVITY - Exploring the World with a Watercolor Journal - a collection of watercolor sketches from all over the world extracted from the author's watercolor travel journal along with the author's observations of the places she visited. It is also a  travelogue with tips on travel as well as painting and travel journaling and sketching. 
The whole process was not easy and I chuck that up to inexperience with the business and processes of publishing a book on my part. I made so many tweaks and corrections to the "final' manuscript since every time I proof read it I find something that needs to be corrected or changed. You really need another set of eyes to read the manuscript since I found that I kept reading the manuscript the way I wanted it to be rather than how it is actually appears on paper or the screen. It is kind of like that test going around where you are asked to read a paragraph that does not contain any vowels yet you are able to read every word as if the vowels are there.
Obviously, the Blurb option is the most cost prohibitive, although the book was really the most attractive and professional.. . Book Patch is a better product due to the paper and print quality but Create Space has a better distribution network and a little less expensive.   The CreateSpace book is now available on Amazon. at a discounted price of $18. Two-day shipping is free if you have Amazon Prime. Link:  Passport to Creativity by jojo sabalvaro tan

Wow, I am now truly a published non-fiction book author. Time to order my handmade brass watercolor palette from Craig Young.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy Autumn 2014

What a beautiful autumn we've had so far here in the Chicago area. The trees were in their full color regalia, (probably the best I've seen around here in a long time) and the weather was not bad either. We experienced some of the balmiest temperatures we had for the fall season. I thought I'd pay tribute to this wonderful season by doing a painting. I have neglected painting somewhat since I have been working on putting together a book of my travel sketches ( that's another continuing saga!). We have a baby squirrel that's been running around our yard feeding on the last of the summer offerings in our garden. Its favorite spot is our raised herb and vegetable garden which it has been visiting ever since he was just as big as my hand from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. Now he is almost full size. I don't see it eating any of the produce though. We still have a few herbs and some green tomatoes in the garden and he has not touched them.

For my homage to fall, I decided to paint this squirrel as it frolicked among the fallen leaves in our backyard. Here is what I came up with. I've entitled it Fall Leaves Fall from a poem by Emily Bronte. Hope you like it.
Happy Halloween and Thanksgiving everyone.
Fall Leaves Fall 2014
5" x 7" Watercolor on Canson Montval
jojo sabalvaro tan
And here is the poem by Emily Bronte (1818-1848)

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 19)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Trials and Tribulations of Book Publishing

The Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona, Spain
One of the sketches that will be included in the book.

Many people have said when they saw my travel sketches that I should publish a book on the subject. I hemmed and hawed for the longest time and now that I have decided to do so, I realize why I have not began earlier. It is not easy. Unless you have a publishing company to back you with editors, writers, graphic artists, layout specialist, publicist  and a retinue of assistants, which I definitely can't even dream of having, the process is formidable. Today, many writers opt for self-publishing, mostly online as eBooks. There are many self-publishers who go the print book route with the help of a number of online book publishers, who provide some layout but mostly printing and some distribution services. In short, self-publishing is not as straightforward as claimed, even with all the geeky help around. But since I was already determined to write this book, I braced myself to face up to whatever challenges unfold. But not without a stimulus.  I promised myself that after I have completed my book on travel sketches, I will order a handmade brass palette by Craig Young in England ( website: http://www.watercolorpaintboxcompany.com/ ).

My targeted reward - The Craig Young The Paintbox Palette

It takes as much as two years or more from placing an order to receiving it and there is no communication whatsoever during the process, yet it is the most coveted palette by watercolorists  all over the world and used by famous ones around like one of my favorites, Charles Reid. It is also quite pricey. My niece, a mother of  four growing teenagers and pre-teens and a three year old, would balk at the price and say for that amount of money she could feed her family for a couple of weeks.  I feel that the palette would be a well-deserved reward, sort of in the league of ”the light at the end of the tunnel”, “dessert after a meal" and "the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow" all rolled into one.

Anyway, for the book, I started out looking at the sketches and notes in my travel journals to pick out which ones I could possibly include. After extricating all my journals from the cabinet (not an easy task as all of the other stuff stored in the cabinet came falling down like Humpty Dumpty), I was surprised that I had completed a number of watercolor travel journals already. I did not realize that I had been sketching our travels off and on for a long time now until I dug through the sketchbooks. That was a welcome surprise.  At the start, I was afraid I may have to dig out tons of old pictures to use as reference for sketching and we have boxes and boxes of those stored all over the house. Talk about daunting! Going through these boxes and searching stored files on the computer may just be what would have stopped this project dead on its track.

my travel journals

I took photos of the sketches in the journals, copied the ones in storage and uploaded them to my computer so I had an idea of how many I would use. I was thinking that the book would be limited to less than 100 pages with maybe just as many pictures and their corresponding narrative. Originally, my idea was that this book would be more of a how to on travel sketching. As I progressed, I decided to make it less of an educational book but more of a travelogue using my sketches and insights on the places we visited.

Then came the search on how I would layout the book. Yikes... so far this was the most challenging part of the project. I researched the internet for book publishing sites and layout software. I asked folks if they knew of any graphic artist that could help me. This is when frustration started to set in. I downloaded a few of the online book publishing software such as Blurb but most of them were geared towards novels. I am doing more of a picture book but not a photo album. Shutterfly had the capability of doing pictures with text on their pages but I would have use their set templates  and print through them which would  just be too cost prohibitive even with the limited print run I had in mind. As a matter of fact, most of the book publishing sites where they provide layout templates limits your capability to print elsewhere.

I, maybe foolishly, decided to do it on my own and design each page myself working to have a sort of cohesive unified feel. Inexperience is both driving me because I don't know any better and intimidating me, also because I don't know any better - but the willingness to try tilted the playing field. I reverted to the good old friend Microsoft Word which also had templates which I tried and chucked. Of course, there are limitations with Microsoft Word also but it helped that I was familiar with the software.  I am hampered by the bells and whistles that Word has. Some of my ideas on design just can’t be done with my limited skills or what is available on the program. If I like to use another line design, for instance, it cannot be done or maybe it can be done with a lot of tweaking and experimenting. Maybe I can find time to experiment later. For now, I am sticking with the basics so I can at least put the concept down.
Since I chose to use MS Word to put together the book, I am in actual book production mode - selecting pictures, writing narratives and tentatively, organizing and arranging them on each page. I am more than two months into this book writing business, my frustration level is down a few notches but I know I still have lots of work ahead. Each day gets me closer to getting my watercolor palette. May the muses be with me. Oh, I accept help, suggestions and inspiration from humans also.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Reviews: Jesus, A Pilgrimage by James Martin S.J. and The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman


When we go to another country, other than guidebooks on the area, I like reading fictional novels that are set in the places we will be visiting. In preparation for our trip to Israel and Jordan, even though one can get a lot of information online, we bought several guidebooks, downloaded The Holy Bible on our phones and tablets for handy reference while we are at a particular site and bought magazines and books on the life of Jesus and following His footsteps in the Holy Land. Finding a novel was not easy. I was trying find ones like those I previously  read  written by Anita Diamant and Marek Halter, who wrote mostly about women based on or mentioned in the Bible. We did buy a copy of Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly which I did not think was particularly well written but the book did give us enough atmosphere about the events surrounding Jesus’ death. Our tour operator included references on our itinerary to the Bible verses that mentions the places we would see, so we are able to relate them in the historical context as told in the Bible.
Unfortunately, I did not find a book that would satisfy my need to read a fictional book about the ancient history unfolding in the Holy Land. That is until, we got home. Browsing through Amazon and Goodreads, I saw a newly released book by James Martin S.J. called Jesus, a Pilgrimage, although non-fiction it was a great read. Father James Martin is a Jesuit priest and Gospel scholar who combined his extensive knowledge of the New Testament with his experiences on his own pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a sense of humor and imaginative and meditative thoughts in writing this book. It gave one a picture of Jesus as he was in the 1st century when he was preaching in Galilee and Jerusalem. It was such a delight reading about Father Martin’s experiences on his own pilgrimage and comparing them to our own. Many of his observations mimicked ours and so since we were reading this book after we came back, we had a wonderful time reliving our trip to Israel and Palestine along with him.  My husband enjoyed reading the book so much that he actually read most of the book aloud to me. You learn from the book also, as Father James illuminates the relationships between the places we saw and the New Testament. You get a feeling that you were there in the 1st century and hearing Jesus’ message as he delivered it then and appreciate its relevance to this day.



A 1st century boat found on the Sea of Galilee similar to what Jesus and His disciples may have used

And then I also came across the novel The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman at Barnes and Noble bookstore, one of the last major bookstores around and one which I still patronize as my own little campaign against the disappearance of bookstores.  The Dovekeepers was exactly what I was looking for and I immediately purchased it in paperback and could not wait to start reading it. Reading an ancient story seem to go well with turning pages of paper and enjoying the distinct aroma of the printed book. I do not think that reading this book would have been as pleasurable on Kindle or IBooks which has long been my norm for reading books and magazines due to convenience. Reading this book in print was definitely more enjoyable and gratifying than on an ebook although, at more than 500 pages, it was a long and challenging read.

Dovekeepers is set in Masada in 70 AD which was built by King Herod high on a mountain top in the Judean desert. Masada was the last stronghold of the Jews against the Roman army. The story revolves around four women, Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah, who were the dovekeepers at the fortress. The doves were used to send messages and their droppings were important source of nutrients for the orchards and plants in the fortress. According to Josephus Flavius, an ancient Roman historian,  two women and five children survived the siege and they told the incredible story of the men and women who died there at the last moments of the Roman attack.  According to Josephus, rather than allowing themselves to be subjugated by the Romans, the  men and women in Masada were systematically killed by the men among them who were selected by lottery, with the last man standing killing himself. Alice Hoffman was able to spin a great lush story based on these two women survivors. I was intrigued by the women in this novel, they are strong, courageous, passionate, resourceful and adaptive. In the end, these traits helped two of them endure and live to tell their story. I like the premise of the book, four supposedly unique women, coming from different places and status, with different backgrounds converge during the last months of Masada and eventually become fierce friends as they held on to their own secrets and helped each other instinctively.  What I did not like too much is that the four women seem to lose their distinct characters or identity from time to time in the book. But, I still recommend the book highly since for me, it brought Masada to life. I think I am glad I did not come across this book before we went on our Holy Land trip because I truly believe, it is a better read after seeing Masada. While reading the book, I can see the places we visited and put the characters there. So now, when I see Masada, in my mind’s eye, I picture it with Yael, Revka, Aziza and Shirah and the other men and women who were there as the defeat to the Romans became inevitable.
Storerooms of Masada

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Travel Sketches - Hong Kong

I am trying to organize my travel sketches on my watercolor travel journals so I can put them together for a book. I am quickly realizing that producing a book is not an easy task, but it is a good goal. This project allows me  to relive our travels and recall memories long forgotten. I am also encouraged to travel more, return to some places and experience new ones. But most of all, it inspires me to draw and paint more. Looking back at my sketches, I can see how my sketching has improved over the years and that emboldens me.

So, from time to time, I will be including some of the sketches I am considering for the book in this blog.  Your comments are welcome.

This one is of my visit to Hong Kong in the 1980s with my husband, father-in-law and sisters-in-law. It turned out to be, for the most part, a shopping trip. I still have the set of porcelain statues I bought of the Chinese gods of prosperity, wisdom and health and had just discarded an earphone I purchased  there (boy, that lasted a long time). I loved shopping at the night market where you can get a 'Rolex' watch for 10HK$. Tempting.  We also did touristy stuff like visiting Victoria Peak, sailing on a junk boat at the Hong Kong Harbor and dining at one of the floating restaurants. Hong Kong was a dichotomy of cultures, but in spite of the strong British influences, I felt it is so much more Chinese.


Shopping in Kowloon, Hong Kong circa 1980

Since I had not started sketching when we went to Hong Kong in the 1980s, years before China took over after Britain, I used a photograph from our album as reference to sketch this. I imagine there has been great changes since.  The signs, of course, were more colorful and I do apologize for my attempt at Chinese writing. Hong Kong was always a hive for commerce and shopping was an adventure. One of my most indelible memories was having late lunch at one of the restaurants in the area. Eventually, we were the only remaining diners in the upper floor and it surprised and amused us to see all the dining tables in the restaurant being transformed for the game of mahjong.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mia's Quilt

A new grandniece has joined our family and we are all gaga over her. I decided to make her a quilt to be presented at the baby shower. Pouring through my books and magazines, as well as the internet for inspiration, I found a quilt pattern designed by quilt artist Amy Butler. It so happened, I have a collection of her fabrics in my stash and this pattern puts it to excellent use.  The pattern is called Bloom Quilt and is available as a free pdf download on the internet. Here's the link
I have had my stash of Amy Butler fat quarters  for a while, mostly collected during my travels to California and quilt shop hopping.. I was very attracted to the bright multicolored designs that reminded me of the colors and exotic designs of the 60s and 70s yet they are very current as well as timeless..These are some of Amy Butler fabric stash of fat quarters I used for the quilt


Instead of creating the quilt top with strips of fabric as per the pattern,  I made rectangular units of the Amy Butler's polka dot prints and sewed them together.

The construction of this quilt is a little different than normal. Once the quilt top is made, the ruffle border is attached .  Then the quilt top is placed on top of the batting. This unit is placed on top of the quilt backing right sides facing . The quilt top, batting and backing should all measure the same. The  seams are sewn around the perimeter leaving an opening to allow the whole quilt to be turned inside out - a basic pillow case construction technique.


A variety of sizes of yoyos were made. I made templates from everything round  I can find around our house, including plates and large garbage bin covers.



The yoyos were appliqued securely to the top because this was a gift for a baby and I did not want them to accidentally come off. Again, this is a little different than the pattern's instructions, where the yoyos were loose on the edges.

I love how colorful and interesting this quilt turned out. I think it will give the baby hours of entertainment and warmth.  I am looking forward to the day I see Baby Mia enveloped in this quilt. For sure, I will have to take a picture of her with the quilt.

Mia's Quilt
by jojo sabalvaro tan 2013


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Paper Mosaic - If I forget you, O Jerusalem

If I Forget You, O Jerusalem
Paper Mosaic
by jojo sabalvaro-tan 2014

After our Holy Land pilgrimage, I wanted to create an artwork commemorating both Israel and Jordan. Inspired by the many mosaics found in Jordan and Israel, most of them from the Byzantine period, I came up with the idea of making a piece depicting the old city of Jerusalem and utilizing the art of mosaic. In this post, I wanted to share my daily progress on this project and some of my processes.

Day 1 - Preliminary Sketch

This is the preliminary drawing on my sketch pad which I originally titled 'Jerusalem on My Mind.'. It depicts a woman who could not get Jerusalem out of her head . I added the word 'Peace" or Shalom in Hebrew on her forehead as a prayer for The Old City of Jerusalem which has been the source of conflict between nations for hundreds of years now and where peace is always tenuous. The drawing sat for a few days while I pondered on how to execute the project.

Day 2 - The Cartoon

After deciding that the project is a go, the image was re-sketched  on tracing paper. This is referred to as a cartoon. I made sure that the finished project will fit into a standard mat board opening.

Day 3 - Transferring the Cartoon unto the Mat Board

For transferring,  wax-free transfer paper was used. It comes in several colors and I used the color that will show up on the mat board.   The tracing lines were gone over with  a pen, details  tweaked and more adjustments made to the sketch on the board.

Day 4 - Starting the Mosaic

On the fourth day,the eye section, the lips, cheeks and some of the nose were completed. The paper tesserae used for the mosaic were individually cut out of glossy magazine pages.

Day 5 - Mosaic work on the Jerusalem Scene

I completed the walls and started on some of the buildings in Jerusalem. The picture also shows some of my basic supplies, magazine pages cut into tiny paper tesserae (in the dish) used for the mosaic, the brush used to apply the paste as well as the awl used to precisely place each mosaic piece. It took an average of 10-12 seconds to apply each tesserae. 

Day 6 -  More Jerusalem Scene

I have pretty much completed the buildings and started working on the hills surrounding Jerusalem.This was the most time consuming part of the project since I was working with really tiny paper tesserae and had to look for particular colors in the magazine to use for each building.

Day 7 - Still More Jerusalem Scene

Today, the mosaic work on the Jerusalem scene is done. I am particularly happy with the way the sky turned out.

Day 8 -  Hair and Face

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I am now on the face. I tore out a number of pages with faces from magazines to determine what flesh color to use. The first one I applied was too pasty, so each tesserae piece previously applied had to be plucked out from the board. Then I started over with a combination of a number mosaic pieces of different skin colors employing them randomly; it worked out better. For a more realistic depiction of the hair, a solid color was not used in lieu of a color that contained highlights and shading.

Day 9 - The Face 

The face is finally completed.  While developing and working on this project, I decided to changed the title to 'If I Forget You, O Jerusalem', a passage from Psalm 137:5, which I felt was more fitting. 


Day 10 - The Background

 It took me a long time to decide on a background color. I was originally set on a metallic gold which is what is often used in Byzantium mosaics that are not applied on a floor. Gray, blue and red were also prime candidates. I settled on white which for me represents the predominant color of the stone work in the Holy Land.


Day 11 - The Completed Mosaic

I still have to seal the mosaic with Mod Podge to secure all the tiny paper pieces.  Almost 3600  pieces of paper mosaic tesserae were used.  The piece measures 10.5" x 13.5".

If I Forget You, O Jerusalem
Paper Mosaic
by jojo sabalvaro-tan 2014

 Psalm 137:5

New International Version (NIV)

5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
    may my right hand forget its skill

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Watercolor Travel Journal -Sketches from Jordan

On a recent trip to the Holy Land, we added Jordan to our itinerary. Jordan is a beautiful country bordered by Israel, Syria, the Palestine Territories, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It's terrain is very similar to Israel and Palestine with which it shares the River Jordan and the Dead Sea. The history is also quite similar.

As has been my habit of late, I keep a watercolor journal of our trips as a remembrance.  I find that doing so keeps the memories fresh and more vivid.

I also posted three blogs about our experiences in Jordan:

(Click on link to visit)
A Journey to Jordan Part 1 - Jerash and Amman
A Journey to Jordan Part 2 - Petra
A Journey to Jordan Part 3 - Madaba and Mount Nebo

I start by sketching in pencil. I normally like to do this while I am at a site but this time our travel and sightseeing is so fast paced, so I just took pictures of what I might want to include in my journal and sketched from the reference photos. After I was satisfied with the pencil sketch, I went over it with a waterproof, fade proof fine point pen. My favorite is the Micron .05 but I also like to use the Pitt XS. I then erased all the pencil sketch with a kneaded eraser. For this sketchbook, I used a 7" x 10" spiral bound Strathmore watercolor field book. It had a sheet of paper in between which I also used for sketching. I like the spiral bound because it lies flat. I normally use the Arches Carnet de Voyage spiral bound watercolor journal but I could not find it anymore. I think I may make my own journals so I can use my favorite watercolor paper. After the pen sketch, I was ready to apply my watercolors. This time I used Schimenke  and Daniel Smith watercolors. I found it a little bit daunting  to paint my Jordan subjects because most of the subject is stone work and desert, so with some of the paintings I took some artistic license with the colors.

Here are some sketches inspired by the places we visited:


Sketches of Jerash Archaeological Site

Pen sketch

One of the structures at the crossroads of the Cardo where travelers would place images of gods to pray for thanksgiving and protection

The Temple of Zeus

A Bedouin taking a cigarette break  at one of the niches at the Amphitheater

One of the backdrop niches at the Amphitheater

The completed journal page for Jerash

Sketch of Amman

A view of the Amman from Citadel Hill



Sketches of Petra

First View of the Treasury from the Siq
El Khazneh or The Treasury, one of the most beautiful structures in Petra. For more details on this structure please click on The Treasury  link
Pen sketch of camel riders with the Royal Tombs in the background

The completed sketch. These are camels for hire that takes you around the site. In the background, carved on the mountain side is the Urn tomb.

Pen sketch of view of Royal Tombs from Colonnaded Street
Completed sketch. From left to right is the Urn Tomb, Corinthian Tomb and the Palace Tomb.



Sketches of Madaba

St. George Greek Orthodox Church where the Madaba Map is located. The Madaba Map is a fascinating mosaic made in the 6th century that represents the bibilical land from Egypt to Lebanon. It decorated the pavement of a Byzantine Church  in Madaba.

Madaba Mosaic Artist  at work. I really enjoyed all the mosaics we saw, particularly the ones from the Byzantine period,; so much so that I will try to find a class where I can learn more about Byzantine mosaics and maybe how it is done.


Sketches of  Mount Nebo

The Brazen Serpent Sculpture representing the cross, Moses' staff and the bronze serpent found on top of Mount Nebo.
"And The Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live." (Numbers 21:4-9 RSV)

Bedouin shepherd with his flock
The above picture brings to mind this Psalm

~Psalms 23:1-6~
The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not  want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Amen.