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Banding Together – It’s a Good Thing!

We are know that “banding together” and “forming groups” can be very beneficial in people. It is also very helpful when you have isolated elements in a sketchbook page. In the following two examples it is very clear how this works to unify drawing done at different times or under circumstances that do not allow you to move items to your pleasure.

Judy’s Rant


The scattered page was created when during a long awaited 3 day sketching trip with my painting buddy, Brenda Swenson, where we encountered rain, rain and more rain. We painted outdoors rarely, most often finding places to do what we love but indoors or in-car. NOT my favorite places to paint. She warned me that she was taking me to a place I wouldn’t like and so she did – to a big shopping mall! The sketches of shoppers were captured as people moved in and out of tables and I added signage when I couldn’t get more people. I don’t usually go back and fiddle with these sorts of sketches but I’ve been going through some journals and adding bits here and there and looking at them as design problems. The top page brings back all sorts of memories but I didn’t like it as a sketch. Recently I took another look and decided to add a band behind the central portion of the figures to link them together to make a unified page. After drawing the top and bottom lines, I had to look at the page and the colors used so I didn’t repeat a color and thereby making that image disappear. Like colors and like values, whatever color, make objects recede in importance.

Painting in the Car

Recently I taught a workshop on Watercolor Journals. On second morning of the 2-day workshop I invited anyone who wanted to join me to meet at The Filling Station, a cafe across the street from the studio. A asked that they bring a pen and journal and find something interesting to draw and later paint. We met early and the 9 of us were perhaps the quietest group they have ever had. Since so many were drawing, no objects were gathered and I ended up with too many isolated elements – again. Banding to the rescue. I chose the pattern of the tablecloth as a background to both animate the page and unify all the elements.

The Filling Station


In the top one, I had just added the background checkered band when I realized I wanted more color and somehow incorporate the name of the restaurant. The name was easy since my checks had the right number of spaces. For the color band above the checks, red was out since the stripe would cross 2 other red items. I chose the burnt orange since it repeated the sauce color in the middle. But look carefully at the shadow areas beneath the bottles in the top one. Then look at the finished piece – I added no more color to those shadows but the orange in them suddenly is more noticeable. Repetition of color is important and this is a good example. I also changed the area to the right of the date. In the journal that date was too far to the left. I didn’t like it at all but there it was. I solved that by adding “Yum!” Probem solved.

So…if you have a page where you need to gather the subject matter and make it more cohesive, try a band. It needn’t be a straight band as in these two examples. It can meander just as well. And the best lesson is that you can paint and draw in all sorts of unusual places. Keep a small journal close at hand. That’s all you need to keep you occupied and happy. I can’t be grumpy if I’m working in a journal no matter the circumstance.


  1. Judy
    April 27, 2014

    Judy, thank you for this excellent professional artistic advice. You are a teacher to the core (:
    Judy C

  2. Sketchbook Wandering
    April 29, 2014

    I so enjoy learning from you. Thank you for being so generous. I'm going to think about this banding idea…

  3. Barbara Lilian
    July 7, 2014

    Thanks a million for the banding idea. I'm a beginner to sketch book journals, and I think this band will help to improve a few pages where I've sketched here & there on the page and don't know what to do to pull it all together. I've been looking at your posts on facebook.


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