Roz’s 2012 Minnesota State Fair Journal

January 7, 2013

If the embedded video of my Minnesota State Fair Journal doesn't work please watch it on YouTube.

Finally today I'm able to post my 2012 Minnesota State Fair Journal. A family crisis in August limited my personal time. While I was able to spend time at the Fair there was no time to process the experience by scanning drawings and writing about it the experience….The project has been sitting on a shelf waiting for attention. 

During the final two weeks of 2012 my time opened up and I used it to work out some "glitches" with a new camera. As I did that I realized that the long, multi-part post I thought would be necessary to explain my 2012 Fair experience was unnecessary. I could show it quickly in a video. Is it as detailed and exact as I would like it to be? Nope. But the video does give you a sense of what was going on in my mind and why I made the choices I did.

I say in the video I didn't want to write a novel-length post, so I'll stop now and let you watch the video. I have one additional comment, which is a sort of correction. I speak several times about using the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Calligraphy pen. It was one of my preferred tools at this event. However, there are many drawings which have very fine lines and those were completed with the Staedtler Pigment Liner (most often the .3) which is not mentioned in the video. You'll see what I mean when you watch the video, and even if you forget to wear your glasses (as I did when shooting the video) you'll see the difference.

I encourage you all to sketch even when you don't believe there is time to sketch, even when your life seems impossibly full or stressful. Those are the times when sketching can provide the greatest benefits by focusing our minds in the present moment and touching our wonder and our sense of play.

Note: I use Nichiban masking tape when I'm taping off areas before painting. It comes in a variety of widths and easily removes from "most" papers. (Do a test first—just about anything will pull up fibers on some of the softer printmaking papers.) I only rub down securely on what will be the wet edge (to keep paint from creeping), and I remove it as soon as the paint is dry. Tear the tape off slowly and carefully especially if the tape goes all the way to the edge of your page—it can catch fibers easily there and you could tear into your entire page. Sometimes I use decorative Japanese masking tape that is popular right now—I leave that in place on the page. You can see how I used decorative Japanese tape in my snow piles sketch here. Other times the tape will even be an important part of the image—you can see how I left decorative tape in place, even made a "sketch" with the tape, in this sketch of a finch here.

    • Lisa
    • January 7, 2013

    I wish I could hear that last paragraph whispered into my head every day. I may have to quote you and place it somewhere in my daily field of vision! Thank you for the reminder. If I don’t have the time and energy to truly concentrate on my drawing skills, I tend not to bother. When I”m that tired, is it even worth it to just doodle and/or play abstractly with paint? I’m still at the point where I’m learning to draw. . .it doesn’t come naturally and easily yet.

    • Lisa
    • January 7, 2013

    Yes, I own those 2 books that you mentioned and have a few others. I’m re-reading them systematically. My ultimate goal is to paint paintings and to sketch with various materials for fun as you do at night.

    Thank you for all that GREAT advice and encouragement–I can certainly spare 5 minutes a day ( but I know I need solid practice time, too. ). I’m starting today!

  1. Reply

    OOooo I enjoyed this one – you are so good at catching animals quickly! Your gestures are wonderful! The banty hens are right on, I have a rooster and a hen…that painting after the page of multiple sketches looks just like my hen..and it is true, they remind one of dinosaurs. Where can I read about how you made THIS journal? The paper ‘sounds’ so good on your fingers….you know what I am saying – right?

  2. Reply

    That’s fantastic Lisa! You’re all set to build a great habit. Remember that 5 minutes a day every single day is actually more valuable than a big blow out session every Saturday morning. Every day short sessions work on practicing the mental shift needed to draw so in a week of 6 short sessions and one 2 hour long attempt to sketch you’ve actually learned more of use in the 6 short sessions, and may not have the drawing muscles for the longer session. Five minutes a day is your solid practice time.

    (It’s like distance running, you start by running around the block every day for a week and then gradually over time you’re running a mile every day, then 5 miles every day, then 10 miles every day. But it doesn’t seem like any effort because you built up to it.)

    Besides that, once you get in your five minutes a day, over time you’ll find that it’s 10 minutes a day, or 15 minutes a day, or 30 minutes a day, and by then you’ll be enjoying it so much that you will protect it as a crucial part of every day. It’s just time. Good luck.

  3. Reply

    Thank you Pattie, Doesn’t that paper sound great when I’m turning the pages?! I didn’t notice this while filming but afterwards I noticed it when I was editing the video and adding captions. It also smells great (but you can’t get that from the video). (I’m still sick that it isn’t available any more. Happily there is Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media paper which does a lot of what this paper did, and a lot that this paper couldn’t do, so I’m not crying.)

    The journal is one of my Roz Method books and right now the only way to learn that method is to come and take a class from me. (But not this year as it isn’t on the schedule.)

    I hope to carve out some time this year and write about that method and a bunch of other stuff so if I can sell a publisher on such a book you’ll be able to find out that way and have instructions in a book.

    I’m so glad, as a bantam owner you enjoyed my bantams! I love those birds. This year there was a whole row of them put up on a higher ledge of crates than usual, so they were actually at head height. Very fun.

    Thanks for writing.

  4. Reply

    Pattie, I forgot to put in that you can find instructions for casebound books in several of the books on my essential bookbinders shelf list

    The books aren’t made the same way as I make mine—their books are more traditional, have more steps etc., but they result in wonderful books. I encourage you to check them out. Most of them should be available in a library. Everyone on the list from Zeier down to Golden has instructions for casebound journals. The book of your dreams might just be there.

    • Terry Carter
    • January 7, 2013

    I loved and appreciate so much your sharing this video with us. I could spend all day on your site! I’ve been in a slump lately but I’m going to try your five minutes a day. Thank you, Roz!

    P.S. I loved the drawings and washes all the way through your book. I especially loved the pigs. They were wonderful and the sheen and colors of the feathering on that pigeon was so beautiful.

    I love your energy and organization!

  5. Reply

    Okay I am not the only one who sketches with a headache. Often when asthma gets me up at night, and there is that panicky breathing—–doing a slow and steady self portrait while I wait for it to pass helps center me, lower the BP.
    The pig butt is bodacious. The lovely sheep at the end has such beautiful washes. It is very helpful to see how you approach the whole experience, vary the methods when they stymie, and resolve to have a variety of layouts. This year was my first at our fair and I just went without a clear plan. NEXT YEAR: I will be prepared! Much thanks!

    • Frank Bettendorf
    • January 7, 2013

    Roz, Great stuff on the video and worth watching more than once. I like that in your comments you remind readers that doing your “scales” every day is the route to progress. My experience reinforces that.
    What’s with the bandaid on the thumb and first finger? Have you been cutting and folding?
    Thanks for your postings.

  6. Reply

    Thank you Terry for you kind words. I’m glad that you enjoyed this video and these sketches. I’m very pleased that you are going to try sketching 5 minutes a day! I look forward to hearing how that goes!

  7. Reply

    Ellen, I’ve been plagued my whole life with headaches of all sorts—If I didn’t sketch when I had one, or when I have vertigo, I wouldn’t get anything done. I’m glad that you see the sense in this too. I think it’s the perfect thing to lower the BP and I’m glad sketching helps you when you have an asthma attack!

    You extracted exactly what I’d hoped out of the video: sometimes you have to bust things up.

    Don’t worry that last year you didn’t have a clear plan when you went to the Fair, you have to go at least once with the intention of sketching to see what is really going on because walking around with that intention alerts you to all the impediments (e.g. the crowd) that will arise.

    Now that you know the lay of the land a little better you can actually use that information to make a plan. Have you read my State Fair posts?

    Click on the Minnesota State Fair category in the list and go back to the first post on the Fair probably from 09. (I started blogging in 08, but it was October and the Fair was long over by then.) I talk about making plans and all sorts of other things I think you’ll find helpful.

    ANd during the year take some time to go to the zoo and sketch there, and if friends (or you) have pets, sketch them as well. All that practice will help when you arrive at the Fair.

    Let me know how it goes.
    Thanks for reading.

  8. Reply

    Thanks Frank. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I know you’re a believer in practice.

    As to the Band Aids, on any given day during the winter some finger is bandaged. The skin on my finger tips tends to crack in colder weather because 1. I wash paints and such off my hands so frequently. 2. Wash my hands frequently when I’m baking bread etc. 3. Have my fingers exposed to cold when sketching (I’ll wear fingerless gloves) outside, 4. I don’t put lotion on because they all smell too much for me, I’d just have to wash my hands again, and 5. I probably don’t have enough oil in my diet—I like BUTTER and as far as I know that saturated fat isn’t as helpful as oils.

    In the fall when I’m riding my bike I eventually switch from fingerless cycling gloves to full gloves, but probably leave it too long so the fingers are already cracked before I put the other gloves on, and then the washing just aggravates it. So eventually it gets bothersome enough that I put Band Aids on for days at a time to get them to heal. Typically I do that when I want to get ready to bind some books—which I hope to do at the end of January, so I’m trying to get my fingers in shape. (I can’t bind with Band Aids on because I can’t feel the glue that gets on my fingers, and I can’t bind without them if I have cracks in my fingers because washing the glue off my hands causes them to crack and that means a potential for blood on the paper. I do so hate that.

    Dick would love it if I took cod liver oil and flax seed oil, and a bunch of other healthy things he does.


  9. Reply

    It’s always great to see your State Fair journals. I really liked your idea to bust it up when you felt you were in the dumps. I know sometimes I go out with high expectations and just can’t seem to get in my groove. I usually pout about it for a while and then hit it again the next day. Interestingly enough it seems like I do my best work at the end of a session when I have let go of expectations and am just letting things happen on the paper.

    I really envy you having a group to visit the fair with. I have tried and tried to get my group to go, but they are terrified of sketching in front of other people or in crowds. I guess in a way it’s a blessing for me as I get to really concentrate on what I’m doing without interruptions. Thanks again for letting us enjoy your visit.

  10. Reply

    Jill, I know a lot of people feel that way about having the group. Sketch out day is actually my LEAST FAVORITE day at the Fair. I’m happy that I got the notion with the Avidors to try and make it a regular event and get as many people out together as possible, because I really do want more people sketching everywhere and at the Fair specifically.

    But it’s yet another thing to organize and worse—it totally messes up my flow.

    I’ve sketched at the Fair for so many years that unlike many of the folks who show up I actually already have a plan and schedule and routine if you will that works best for me. The meetings (which we have down to an end meeting only now) are disruptive of my flow and they are something I have to keep checking on—have I allowed myself enough time to walk to the site, I can’t go to this side of the fairgrounds because it’s almost time for the meeting etc.

    Sometimes there are also new sketchers who want to come along and sketch with me. I’m OK with that up to a point. I’m OK with people coming with me, but then the “take care of people” Roz comes out and tries to make their experience better rather than focusing on my own experience. I also sketch very quickly, even that really finished black rooster in 2012’s journal was probably at max 20 minutes and probably more like 15. So if I’m with someone and they want to stay together it’s difficult.

    It’s much better if we can all split off and meet at the end. That’s what the Avidors and I have done—though sometimes I finish a sketch quickly and come back just to see what Roberta is working on because it is so fun to see her work.

    For any other event I’m much more easy going about time spent with someone, mainly because I don’t have a limited number of days to get it all in.

    Most people don’t understand that the State Fair is THE event for me for the entire year. It’s when I get sketch reference work that I’ll use all year long to make paintings. I”ve pretty much got every moment of my time there planned, which is one of the things that made this year so difficult, I couldn’t go on my own schedule like I usually do because of family.

    On the bright side, this year we had more people show up (it has grown a little bit every year) and the end meeting was great, with everyone showing what they had done. That is VERY FUN indeed. What is fun is seeing what others have seen in basically the same place as you, but with their eyes, their interests, their styles.

    But my favorite days at the Fair are always the days I go alone, not Sketch Out day.

    Happily I don’t feel this way about other sketch outs. I think because I can always go back to those places on my own at any time.

    The Fair is definitely different for me.

    Thursday’s post is actually about an incident of “pouting” and recovery such as you describe.

    Thanks for writing Jill. And may you always have exactly the right amount of company when you’re sketching, no more, no less than desired, no interruptions, no organization, and a nice comfortable place to share work when it’s all over!


    • Terry Carter
    • January 7, 2013

    I just finished all the links in your reply to Lisa. I read them throughout the day. Hope I can find my way back to this place on your blog. You’re an amazing, caring person.

  11. Reply

    Simly wonderful and inspiring.

  12. Reply

    Terry, you’re too kind. Nope, I’m just well organized. I started the blog in part so that I could write things once and refer to them over and over. I am the queen of cross references. But thank you.

    If you save this URL

    in a folder on your computer you will be able to always get back to this page. Enter the URL in your web browser address line. Then when the page loads there will be a little icon by the line of the url and you can drag that to your desktop where it will become a little icon. That can be stored (dragged) to any folder you want. You can label it however would be best to remember it by. My computer guy saves his links in weekly folders, labeled by the monday date. I don’t think that way so I usually label things with subjects like “art,” “journals” etc. all in my Links file. You can of course bookmark things using your browser but I quickly have too much there for that to work.

    THanks for writing.

  13. Reply

    Thanks Elizabeth.

  14. Reply

    Again, Roz, the way you share your experience is so very valuable! I’m particularly grateful that you interrupted the page-by-page of the fair sketchbook to show how you worked yourself out of the funk in your studio book.

    I love the way the little framed areas worked for you–I am going to try that the next time I go out with my book.

    I’m always reminded when I watch you work to just keep trying things. Thanks so much!

  15. Reply

    Thank you Lisa, I’m glad you enjoyed this and are going to try the tape adventure. I like that Japanese masking tape Nichiban (it comes in a lot of different widths). It removes easily from “most” papers (do a test first the printing papers that are soft sometimes get pulled on with the tape). I only rub it down securely at the “wet edge.” I let the tape hang out of the edges of the book because I was in such a hurry prepping it in the morning, but that turned out to not really be a problem. I had quite a wad of used tape in my pocket by the end of the morning. I am going to add the type of tape to the post. Your note reminded me that I hadn’t done that. Have great fun with your taping experiments.

    Oh, sometimes I use the decorative Japanese tape and leave the tape on the page—as in this snow pile sketch

    Thanks for writing.

  16. Reply

    Just an aside, so what is the name of the paper that is no longer made you mentioned? Thanks for the bookshelf info – I have a few of those – I just need to dust them off…and get serious.

  17. Reply

    Pattie, I’m sorry I can’t tell you. It’s from 20 years ago and the label in the flat file is long gone. Its name was deleted from my list of papers for binding when it went defunct and I’m three computers and several systems beyond being able to read any old drafts of the notes. The digital age is not really good for keeping track of such things. (Which is why starting a couple years ago I started saving all my drafts of such lists.)

    It’s a very sad story. I remember being told the mill had closed. I discovered it just after that. But I couldn’t get any more of the paper. It wasn’t my favorite, favorite paper at the time—so I spent my energy and money trying to buy old style Folio, also, as luck would have it, to no avail. (Folio is still available and is actually a lovely paper, but not the way it used to be, before 1990, which is what I miss.)

    What makes this even more sad is that I didn’t learn my lesson and didn’t test the paper I bought from Barcham Green (another defunct mill) until it was all sold. And that is a very sad story indeed.

    There have been other papers that have come and gone as well. Their names fade from memory too (in part from the conk on the head and in part from lack of wanting to remember something painful perhaps—though now I write the name of the paper I used to make a journal in the back of the journals I’m keeping for myself!).

    If you’re looking for a paper which can do mixed media well, and is especially fun to write on with pen and ink and then paint on, I highly recommend Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Paper, which is available in sheets 22 x 30 inches—because I whined and begged a lot!

    • Dana
    • January 10, 2013

    Oh Roz… Lisa Firke summed it up perfectly! I’ve watched your video a few times especially to see how you recalibrated your sketching. As I’ve read your blog I hope I’ve internalized your suggestion to keep working even when things aren’t “working”… to keep trying and see where it takes me. And to keep having fun!

    You’re an inspiration.

  18. Reply

    Thank you Dana, that makes my day to read that you are taking that away, because it’s what I want people to get, from every post. Thanks so much.

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