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Blog - Deborah Caulfield

What artists do all day: make, do and learn.


Earlier this year, having realised (again) that  I was (still) not doing enough drawing, I set myself this assignment:

Task: Fill a note/sketch book with self-portrait drawings.

Materials: Anything. Everything. Whatever.

Timescale: Up to 39 days max (39 pages in the book).


  1. The sketch/note book must be one that I already own – no new purchases.
  2. The sketchbook must be unused, ie all pages to be blank at the start.
  3. Sit in the same chair for every drawing.
  4. Draw every day until all pages are filled.
  5. Spend no more than one hour on each drawing.

I used a small hard backed book, 13×16 cms. It was given to me by my daughter, for my birthday 12 years ago. The pages are of the delicate Japanese type that dissolves with a single teardrop. Ink bleeds  through several pages at once. It didn’t occur to me at the time to place a piece of paper between the pages…

Rummaging for materials was kept to a minimum; it wastes time and energy and is such a disincentive.  I used black and coloured ink, pencil and oil pastel. And coloured tissue paper – why not?

On completing the assignment I felt pretty pleased with myself. I then set about scanning the drawings into the computer at high resolution. It took a while. On every page, in the top right corner, a small symbol (eg yin-yang) is printed in black. I removed these in Photoshop and did some other basic editing such as cropping.

So far so … interesting.

39 pages

Making a movie, like an animation, seemed an obvious next step, a good way to display work without the need for walls. And anyway, no one wants to rip out pages from a sketchbook, even if they are worth framing, which these aren’t.

However, my first two movie-making attempts were pretty rubbish, so I ‘shelved’ the idea and got on with something else.

Then last week I happened to be doing a bit of voice acting (ADR) for my son, Sam, who’s a mature uni student studying music technology. He was creating the soundtrack for a movie, part of an audio post-production assignment. It was fun!

That’s it really. Watching Sam revived my filmmaking interest and, best of all, provided the inspiration for much needed distraction from overdue paid commissions. (Soon Joe, soon, I promise.)

Version three was OK – getting there. I began experimenting with zooming and panning; it started to feel more like what I was aiming for.

A big decision was which images to use; 39 would be too many; no one lives that long. Plus, not all of the drawings were fit for viewing. It was useful having many from which to select.

Text options were endless. Straight away I picked Courier New, an old-fashioned looking font that I never use. It fitted with the text in/out animation that was as near to voice as it gets without speaking. Or so it seemed.

Sound was a must and it had to be free. Both my kids are (brilliant) musicians but too busy to do a bespoke job for their old mum at no notice. I searched a few royalty-free sound/music websites and downloaded a track of the right length and type. It worked ok but I was sick of it after half a dozen plays. So out it went.

The music I chose was written and performed by my daughter, Katherine about 10 years ago. It’s actually seven minutes long, while I needed my video to be less than five minutes. Hence the slightly clunky fade-out.

So (fanfare) here it is. Version four. Far from perfect, but satisfying, from my point of view.

I enjoyed making this video and I’d like to do more. There’s a long way to go before mastering the software, even though it’s pretty basic.

As ever, lots to do. Much to learn.


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