Bees, Bears, and Blossoms – Part 1

Bears are related to seals, dogs, and raccoons. They are known to be protective mothers and have a keener sense of smell than sight.

This design was living in my imagination about 3 years before I began to work on it. I felt really stuck for a long time, just generally, which of course was reflected in my not doing much in the studio. About 9 months ago, I signed up for “Illustration Nation” at Sketchbook Skool, which offers terrific online courses for people who want to learn to sketch, or to begin sketching and drawing again. This is one of many courses they offer, all of them inspiring.

Because of the planning and design involved, creating a katazome stencil somewhat like illustration. I felt the workshop would help me bring this idea to life.

To become familiar with my subject, I began sketching bears from photos.

 various sketches of bears
various sketches of bears

Fun fact: according the Wikipedia, bears are in the family Ursidae (think Big Dipper—Ursa Major). They are “doglike” carnivores, and their closest living relatives are the pinnipeds (such as seals), canids (dog is one example), and musteloids (such as raccoons and weasels).

The next step was to try a few variations for the composition.

Some bunny’s hungry…


This morning I saw this little fellow contentedly munching the remains of our kale, which was sticking up above the snow. We didn’t pull the it out of the ground this fall because it always seemed to perk up after a freeze. I’m glad the bunny waited until winter. He’ll get his B-vitamins! Our dog Lydia likes to hunt for him in the yard after dark but he is far to quick for her!


Stencil Re-design

I received John Marshall’s wonderful new DVD, Journeys in Katazome, in the mail last week. It’s the first in a series of DVDs teaching the katazome process, starting with stencil design, cutting and preparation. A richly illustrated interactive PDF document describes the process in detail from start to finish. The DVD also includes high-quality demonstration videos in which John demonstrates and talks about various steps. I’ve started to re-design my minnow stencil after viewing the videos on stencil design. While I like my original minnow design, it is a challenging stencil to paste, and feels a bit unstable, perhaps because of the large open areas. I’ll try to create another more useful variation on the same theme as a 4-way repeat, sharing the process here from start to finish. I expect I’ll need to do 4-6 iterations before I’m satisfied with it.
In the first sketch below, I’ve played with some of the shapes, experimenting with scale and rotation. I can see now that 4 minnows do not excite me that much. In the next sketch I’ll try 3 and/or 5.