Friday, July 28, 2017

Anna Bartlett -- A Sketchbook Conversation

Today's Sketchbook Conversation is with Australian artist and teacher, Anna Bartlett. Anna's business is called Shiny Happy Art and I think you'll soon see why! Here's her sketchbook story:

I keep a sketchbook because I know it makes me a better artist, and I it also helps me enjoy life more. I have four kids and a busy life and the act of sketching - of being still and noticing the details in the things around me - really enriches my life. 


Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

I have always sketched - in lots of books, on anything, anywhere, really! It's only last year that I thought it's about time I got my act together and sketched deliberately and regularly, and found a favourite book type to use. So I bought a stack of A5 size xPressIt Mixed media journals (300gsm watercolour paper), and now my job is to fill those books. I have about four on the go at any one time and I deliberately leave them about - at my desk, in my bag, in the car, at the studio... so there's always one at hand.


Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

School scrap books are what I use for my work planning and that often involves sketching. I can't believe it took me 46 years to figure out they work for me so well. I paint the cover of a new big scrap book each season and do all my planning in that. It gives me permission to draw, and draw BIG if needed. 

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

As I now work full time in my business, Shiny Happy Art, I am always looking for new things to teach my students about. So those discoveries become drawings as I figure out how I can teach a topic or a style. 

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

There are plenty of things I want to get better at drawing, including faces and landscapes, so I try to include those subjects, but flowers are my go-to subject. If we have fresh flowers in the house I just HAVE to sketch them, or I feel like I've wasted an opportunity.

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

I do really love the feeling of filling up a book though! That's often a motivator in itself. 

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

A waterproof black pen is probably my favourite. I have a collection of different brands and I can never remember which ones are best, but I have decided I like the 0.8 width. I then add watercolour if and when I have some time. At the moment I'm loving Jane Davenport's watercolours.

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

The Lamy Safari pen with blue ink also looks lovely and I just add clean water with a brush to make the ink into a wash. I drew with this a lot while I was overseas last year and they had a terrific response on facebook and insta. Colour is my first love though, so I always come back to the paints. 

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

One thing I hear from so many of my students is that they have that little voice saying 'it's no good'. But the point is that there's no quick route to getting good (for most of us, anyway). A friend of mine calls it 'miles on the brush'. We all need miles on the pencil, pen and brush to get good, and that's all there is to it. So fill those books, be inspired by nature and by the other artists around you. Use your sketchbook to experiment. Use it for your shopping list! Whatever you need to do to use it in your everyday life. 

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry

Often little drawings can look a bit odd if they're out there by themselves. But when they're one drawing in a full book it takes the pressure off, and no matter how wonky things are, you'll feel proud. And then you'll turn around and start on the next book! I highly recommend it!

Anna Bartlett, Shiny Happy Art, Sketchbook Conversations, Sketchbooks, My Giant Strawberry


Thank you, Anna, for sharing your sketchbooks with us today.

Dear reader, you can connect with Anna:



Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews





*Photos in this post ©Anna Bartlett. Used with permission.

3 comments:

  1. Definitely Shiny Happy Art! I love Anna's quote 'If we have fresh flowers in the house I just HAVE to sketch them, or I feel like I've wasted an opportunity.' Thank you for sharing the story of another sketchbook artist Anne. :)

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    Replies
    1. I feel the same way! So many flowers in my garden right now begging me to paint them.

      Glad you enjoyed this week's conversation, Simone!

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  2. Such playfulness in some of Anna's work! I really love it.

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