2019 Nature Journaling in Yosemite, 4-days!

Janet Takahashi leads artists with experience on a multi-day watercolor journaling adventure through Yosemite Valley.
May 15, 2019 to May 19, 2019

This spring art workshop is so joyous that it borders on play. As artist Janet Takahashi shares her love of letters, art and journaling, you’ll sharpen and apply watercolor and calligraphy skills to translate spectacular Yosemite scenery into artwork. Take advantage of the inspiring setting and relaxed pace to produce a series of small sketches that reflect your surroundings and personal experiences. By the end of the workshop, you’ll have a sketchbook journal filled with reminders of your time in the park — and be prepared to continue creating beautiful, artful records of your journeys in Yosemite and beyond.

Included with your registration:

  • Four days of progressive learning (starting Thursday morning, May 16, through Sunday, May 19, afternoon around 3 pm) with an introductory evening meeting on Wednesday, May 15, at Happy Isles Art and Nature Center at 5:30 pm.
  • Park entry (as needed).
  • Camping included, if needed; limited sites are shared among all the participants (reservation arrives Wednesday, May 15, and departs Monday, May 20) at Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. We cannot adjust these dates.

Note: There is no discount if you choose not to use our gate pass or campsites. Information about upgrading your accommodations to stay at Yosemite Valley Lodge will be emailed to you after you sign up. The option to upgrade expires 45 days before the program.

Experience Level: Intermediate (at least 20 hours of instructed watercolor classes). Not suitable for beginners.
Hiking: Easy. Minimal walking in Yosemite Valley.
Elevation: 4,000 feet.
Registration Price: $389
Janet Takahashi, Artist Instructor at Yosemite Art Center
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My Illustrated Desktop

Here’s the 2018 catalog cover for Paper & Ink Arts.  My desktop really does look like this, sort of.  

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Step-by-Step Uncial Calligraphy

Enjoy this 3 part video on Uncial calligraphy done here with broad edged pens, Pigma Calligrapher by Sakura of America.  It is a beautiful rounded bold alphabet that looks great when written tiny or large.  I hope you have fun with it.  I had fun and sure learned a lot in the preparation, as I did it ALL the time, while hiking in the mountains, adding it to my sketches while eating, in my sleep (dreaming nightmares!) and more.  I became the student. Isn’t that the way it is when we become engrossed in learning to share?

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Sketchbook page from Mendocino County

HAVE SKETCHBOOK WILL TRAVEL … for Journeys of Daily Explorations at Home and On the Road. I’ll be in Orlando, Florida teaching a 3-day workshop March 17-19, 2017. Getting ready for a full immersion sketchbook journey in the class, in a restaurant, and in the field.

One way to create a sketchbook page is to create a grid with panel shapes. Here, I used tape while painting two of the panel shapes. Sometimes, I like to include a map from the area and continue to overlay images and writing.

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Breakfast Pens


I eat pens- morning, noon & night. Devour them. They are part of daily nourishment. Elixir, vitamin boost, magic potion and dessert. Ink flows like blood through my fingertips and I write what I think, draw what I imagine.

My pens are not for just collecting. Each has its own personality, makes its own mark; a hairline, flex, italic. And each requests its own ink color. Some pens are workhorses, “thinking” pens. Others for finish work, drawings in my sketchbook and note taking. I especially appreciate the vintage pens that had a previous owner and can only imagine its writing life.


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What Thanksgiving looks like

AS WE LIFT OUR GLASSES to toast all the blessings as we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day, I’ll remember throughout the day my loved ones here and past.  Thank you sweet friends, colleagues and family.  I treasure your footprint in my life.  My sketch shows here my parent’s house where the heart of this home was always at the gathering around the table and every meal was thanksgiving.

Blessings of Thanksgiving

Blessings of Thanksgiving

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Sketching Yosemite ~ a watercolor sketchbook



WATERCOLOR SKETCHBOOK JOURNALING Workshop in Yosemite            National Park,  Sept. 21-26, 2015.

Sketch, Write, Observe, Slow down,  Record your journey.  Light watercolor notes and lettering will be included. Your sketchbook journal will become an artful record of your journey in Yosemite.

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Playing Card – Creative Challenge

6 of Clubs Playing Card

6 of Clubs Playing Card

A collaborative Deck of Cards Project headed by amazing artist, Susan Longerot with 26 Artists.  She dealt two cards per hand to interpret artistically.  Final design size 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″.  Susan’s article appears in Bound & Lettered magazine, January 2015 issue.

6 of CLUBS (black card), a pen and ink illustration.   I thought about “club shapes,” hence 6 club-like clover florets churned by a red dressed mousie.  What could be better than having a midnight harvest and making ink!  My other card, the 10 of Diamonds.

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Pen & Ink and Writing Bliss

Pen & Ink go together like bread and butter, You can’t have one without the other! Sounds like a familiar tune, but so true. Which pen and which ink will dance together on the page tonight? It depends.
Pen nib:  needlepoint hairline, broad, wide, flexible, fixed?                                                           Ink:  juicy wet, dry, ink viscosity, color, opaque, waterproof, oak gall, sumi, acrylic?               Paper:  slick, smooth, rough, recycled, toothed?                                                                               Throw in other factors, such as writing speed, writing pressure, and then there’s the calligrapher!
And then, when all is said and done, when the right ink is paired with a writing tool to deposit an inked line that sits up on exquisite paper, glistening – it is as if all the stars are aligned in the night sky.  It is writing bliss!


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A few of my all time favorite pens for sketching are:

1.  Fountain Pens are the best!!! Watersoluble ink makes a nice wash with a water brush.  The line can also be varied with pressure and release.

2.  Pigma Micron, size 01, by Sakura.  Waterproof.  Black and other colors 3. Tombow Zoom Pen.  waterproof!    I love this one.   4.Pentel Slicci.   5.  Pilot Hi-Tec C for a fine line.





Airport waiting holds one of the best opportunities for sketching people and of course, planes.

Waterproof Tombo zoom pen, light watercolor wash of color.

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Poinsettia December

IT MUST BE DECEMBER . . . Poinsettia4webcombined+2-copyPotted bouquets line the walkway like velvet jewels, a crimson forest to a Christmas mouse. Welcome to this Winter.
Summer trees take an extra season to remove their coats allowing Artists and Naturalists to appreciate the beauty of their framework. As winter solstice nears, daylight is traded for candlelight and the atmosphere chills and fills with moisture. I am writing in my journal and reflecting on the year. Wishing you all a happy, warm holiday season filled with lots of hot chocolate and love!
My watercolor painting of poinsettias on 140 lb. Arches watercolor paper, “saving the white paper”, 11″ x 15″.

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draw, draw, draw. . . peonies


Quick sketchy line drawing of peonies at my friend Eva’s house. She received these gorgeous peonies and with my ball point pen as a drawing tool into the sketchbook they were captured.

Sketchbook size 16 cm square. Fabriano toned paper.

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My Thank You Note to my Calligraphy Students

To my dear students,
There are not enough “letters” in a bottle of ink to pen the words to thank you all. As students of the craft, we are always seeking to better our techniques, acquire more ideas, learn about new tools all while strengthening friendships with kindred spirits. I have learned and have been inspired by you most of all.
Time is one of the most precious things in this life; who you spend it with and what you do with it is really what life is all about. Thank you for making a commitment of your time to come to class and be a participant. Your weekly questions keep the class fresh and always provide me with new challenges. You have endured the lesson plans and weekly homework assignments with hours of work and it shows. It shows up in the cards you make and give each other, and work that you put out into this world. The creativity you put into your projects is an inspiration.
Thank you for making me a better teacher. You challenge me each week to come up with another way to help you see the “forms” that letters make and I love it. I love it when I show you one thing and the following week you share with the class a multitude of ideas. It has been the sharing that I hope you will always remember about our class. Class time is not always about trying to “get” something, but giving as well. Each time you have shared something of yourself you have enriched us all, and I thank you for that. Also, you have been kind to share your mistakes, for how not to do something has been an equal lesson as well. You have stepped outside your veil of shyness to show up. [applaud]. Thank you.
You have taught me about patience and focus.
As calligraphers, we strive for excellence hoping to make marks that leave us breathless. It may seem like an elusive endeavor much like a rainbow mirage on a moving highway that jumps farther away as you drive closer. Time passes. Never give up, for one day, you notice a uniformity, a rhythm, a natural lilt to the glistening wet ink as it sets up on the pristine paper. A single letter of brilliance made by your human hand. Bravo. Remember, that with continued practice, you are raising your own bar and requiring the rainbow to move ahead.
Notice the things that surround you can spark your imagination and be a source of inspiration. Sharing is better in this short life than metering your knowledge with clenched fists. Stretch yourselves this next year and continue to grow. Love this mark-making journey you are on.
And so, I celebrate you, my dear students, you have been my teacher. [arms outstretched]
May your days be filled with beauty, good health and much love,
Janet Takahashi

Christmas bouquet, watercolor, 4″ x 9″ Arches hot press.

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Giving Thanks

. Watercolor sketches to document Thanksgiving dinner.
Author unknown.
The best pecan pie recipe from Houston, Texas! Also French apple pie, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cream cheese pie. All homemade, of course.

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Eat, Pray, Love. NOTES

“Eat, Pray, Love” author, Elizabeth Gilbert was being interviewed for her notable book, a New York Times Bestseller. Its her account of her year long journey and the lessons she learned on her spiritual odyssey, written with humor, insight and charm. She spoke unhesitatingly with passion and with a richness of content that I had to record.
I reached for my journal quickly AND BEGAN TO TAKE NOTES:
ENTRANCES are everywhere. Everyday–a sacred space. MEDITATION. Ten minutes of SILENCE is enough. STILLNESS. seeking. journey. Your Inner Voice will tell you the TRUTH. SAY NO to things you don’t want to do or can’t do. A JOLT is a call to ACTION. You don’t have to travel across the world to find yourself. As Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) would say– you always had it in you. I am my best person when I have LESS on my PLATE.

NOTE TAKING: This sketchbook 4″ x 6″. Non-linear layout, here. Emphasis on key words. Watercolors, at the ready, making color notes, quickly melting colors into each other and sometimes catching the wet ink writing (using a Niji waterbrush and small watercolor travel set). Rotating the page at each new note. The page is done like a sketch, all done in the moment, on the spot, not retouching or re-writing later. Because, “later” there are other things to do!

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