It’s the Blobby, Feathery Zeta Sketchbook Cover

Robbie Burns whispers in my ear: “The best laid plans…”

I’ve been working on this since I got the journal in November 2013. The big idea was to lay down impasto in the form of PVA glue, and then add layers of gesso to paint a relief map. Danger, danger, operator error…I forgot my impasto and let it dry too long and when I lifted the masking tape off the border the glue feathered and ripped off completely in places.

I thought this might make a charming shoreline feature and carried on after some repairs. Then the gesso got everywhere on the black cover and feathered over the original impasto feathering. I cleaned up with water and tidied the edges with a black Micron pen and carried on.

I started laying down Derwent Inktense washes, pretending I knew something about relief maps and cartography. I couldn’t get the detail I needed, I couldn’t get the depth of the colours right. It started to look like a kid’s Grade 3 art project but I carried on.

During the first coat of satin urethane, the Inktense ran and smudged and generally started making a streaky mess. Inktense is supposed to dry as permanent ink but perhaps not on gesso, maybe only on paper? I let that dry for four hours and carried on.

When other art supplies fail you, rescue can always be provided by blobs of acrylic paint, liberally applied and decorated with dots and swirls. I carried on and did this, and then applied another coat of urethane to my second attempt.


I am up at 5 a.m. this morning applying a second coat of urethane and the pattern is growing on me. I used a metallic Golden acrylic copper to do the bottom “feathers” (the orange-ish looking colour) and add other accents to my pseudo bird. Well, is it a pseudo bird or a shamanic headdress?

In any case I realized this morning that the copper will represent the copper mines in Chile, since this is going to be my journal to Chile. Native people in Chile were murdered ruthlessly in various mining endeavours, and copper has a terrible history elsewhere in South America too.

My colour choice and painting all worked out in a subliminal way, and I can fly on to fill the sketchbook with hopefully better artwork. I’m calling the sketchbook Terra Novitentia, my own amalgamation of the Latin words novitas which means novelty, newness, strangeness, and advertentia which means knowledge and awareness. I made it up, I don’t care about real words and declensions!


Live and learn and get used to your art supplies. It is perhaps not the best idea to experiment with a new art supply on a cover, but since I am going to be doing the odd page border and pattern inside the book, it might tie-in when the whole thing is finished.

I like the texture and colour next to the black surface, it gives it a bit of a pop that appeals to me; I like a bit of zip on my journal covers.


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4 Comments on “It’s the Blobby, Feathery Zeta Sketchbook Cover”

  1. Roseanne Dix Says:

    Jude I never thought I hear those words from you – words like THROW – BLOBS – Liberally APPLIED. YEAH !!!!!
    Am riveted to this blog –

  2. murielmakes Says:

    Yeah go Judy! I really enjoy reading about your progress and the processes used to get to where you are going…The cover is interesting and I love the colours in it and look forward to seeing more.

    I have just started an art class and so far have really enjoyed it. In fact my husband wants to frame my first acrylic art work! Which is very sweet of him.

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