Moving My Art Around . . . Part 2, How


A few years back, when I was developing what was to become my Creative Drawing Workbook, I did this very loose sketch as a demonstration of how much of a nature scene can be created with just one shape – a simple arc like we “draw” when we add parentheses to our writing.

Take a careful look at this sketch. There is nothing else in it except four little circles. And, technically, a circle is a collection of arcs. This just shows you how simple drawing can be if you look at it in a certain way.

While sorting through some sketchbooks the other day, I came across this flower sketch, and remembered that I just loved the “bounciness” of it. I can feel a breeze when I look at it.

I wanted it in my art journal – to illustrate a poem I had just recently written about being in the moment.

Of course, I could draw a simple sketch like this again in the journal, but it would not be the *same* sketch. I have a thing about preserving my drawing and sketching “moments” too.

So, the Sheer Heaven transfer was the perfect solution.

And my new favorite journal, the Stilman & Birn Beta Sketchbook, takes those transfers wonderfully.

Note: This perfect art  journal is now available from my website. Just click Stilman & Birn Beta Sketchbook,

Tutorial Step-by-Step

So the first step was to trace the sketch onto Sheer Heaven with my 3H pencil. Of course, I could scan and print instead, but with these simple lines, tracing is faster.

Yes, Sheer Heaven will transfer graphite too – a fact which I only recently discovered.

I have to make a disclosure here. My students will realize I am not using a 3H pencil here because the lines are too dark. These shots are from a video and I had to use a darker pencil to show well on camera.

I use my 3H pencil for sketchbook transfers everyday – it works great and is much more subtle.

Step 1. Tape a piece of Sheer Heaven over your sketch with artists or drafting tape, which will not damage the paper. The rougher side of the  Sheer Heaven should face up.

This will reverse your sketch in the transfer. To avoid that, trace on the slick side of Sheer Heaven first, then flip it over on some scrap paper and retrace on the front.

I am going to use a reverse sketch in my journal spread as well, so I am just tracing on the front.

Step 2. To transfer the sketch, you mist it with 70% rubbing alcohol. Your spray bottle must produce a fine mist. They sell that type of spray bottle at fine art supply stores, but I prefer an empty pump style hair spray bottle. They make a fine mist and never send out surprise droplets.


Misting will first produce a really light coating of alcohol, then start to look like orange peel, and finally smooth out to a glassy finish like that shown below. Do not wet past this stage.


Step 3. Hold the misted Sheer Heaven by the very edge and turn it over onto the journal page. Burnish gently with the side of your hand. The Beta series sketchbooks have a slight cold press texture, so a gentle burnishing with a bone folder is also a good idea to make sure every part of the tracing makes contact with the page.


Step 4. Carefully and slowly, peel up the Sheer Heaven and the pencil sketch will now be on your journal page. If there are any missing spots as you peel, lay the Sheer Heaven back down and gently burnish that area. If you missed a spot while misting, it will be missing from the transfer. Those little jags at the bottom of the grass are my fault. I accidentally moved the Sheer Heaven when laying it down.

trans6For my spread, I want to flip and repeat this transfer t the other page. When I trace this transferred version, I will end up with a right-reading transfer for me left page.

Step 5. When the transfers are dry, which does not take long because this is alcohol we’re talking about, I use watercolors to paint them:


Step 6. The next thing is to apply a wash for the sky area. If you weight the Stilman & Birn pages, they do not warp or curl while drying. I just used my paintbox. With a heavy moisture application, you will get gentle curving of the page when dry, but that will flatten again if you close the book and set something on it for awhile.


Step 7. My final step is to add the poem. I do not love my own lettering enough to use it here.

So, I turned to my Mac where I have lots of fonts that are perfect for the job. I used the Pages software because it is so simple. Guides were placed on the page to indicate the exact measurements of my journal spread and where the bottom illustration began. I placed the type centered on each page, then flipped it so it would transfer right reading.


After printing the page on Sheer Heaven, I cut it into two pieces which matched my journal page size exactly, so I could align the transfers by matching up with the corners of the journal pages. The type for each page was transferred separately.

And the result was a spread which combined a very old sketch, some fresh watercolor painting, and a new poem into one saved experience in my art journal . . .



Art Journaling in Paradise Workshop . . .

We got a great response so far, Sandy has agreed to spend her birthday here in Santa Fe at this event, I got the classroom reserved and I will be publishing the highly detailed sign-up page this coming week.

We do know the exact retreat days will be Saturday, September 14 through Thursday, September 19, 2013.

Plan to come in on Friday, as we will gather early Saturday morning (9 am) in the hotel courtyard to start our adventure.

Thursday, the last day of the retreat will be a full studio day. No formal instruction, but both Sandy and I will spend the day with everyone in the studio. If you must skip that day to get back to work, we will understand. We plan a relaxing catch-up day of art journaling for Thursday the 19th.

Cost for the Workshop will be $650 for the six days. This does not include lodging costs.

Suite style rooms with kitchenettes will be available at a rate of $55.50/night (plus tax). You will make your own reservations – dealing directly with the hotel. You do not have to stay at our hotel – we just happened to find the best deal in town for you!

Meals are not included, but you will have a kitchen and a supermarket a few steps away. Santa Fe is a dining mecca and has great restaurants at every price level if you want to eat out. Bag lunches are a good idea, but there will be plenty of time to wander out and find something delicious if that is your preference. We may surprise you with a meal out on us.

NO skill level is required. All we ask is creative enthusiasm and willingness to try.

We will have a payment plan (for the workshop) so you can hold your spot while saving your money. Your hotel will not have to be paid until you get here, although you will probably have to guarantee your reservation with a credit card (standard procedure).

This is all the info that is solid until I publish the sign-up page.

While I appreciate everyone’s input on when and where we should hold this retreat (I loved the suggestions from a few people that we should have the Santa Fe Art Journal Retreat on the East coast), we have reasons for our timing. Santa Fe is full of tourists and twice as expensive during the Summer months. By mid September, all is quiet and beautiful.

Any questions on what we know so far, pleas email me:

Think it through, because once we open the registration, we can only accept 24 students and we have a lot more emails of interest than that already.

I will let you know here when the final details are posted (and Sandy will do so on her blog as well).

Happy Easter! Hug a Bunny of you see one.

5 thoughts on “Moving My Art Around . . . Part 2, How

  1. Jeanne

    Thanks so much for this excellent tutorial! I have saved it and will definitely be using your tips. Of course, I have used Sheer Heaven for transfers before, but not for words! Or Inktense. Oh, the possibilities!

  2. Anne

    Jessica, I enjoyed the tutorial. Hopefully someday I will take time out to try this transfer technique. I like the whole idea of an art journal for taking time to “enjoy the moment.” Life is filled with wonderful moments easy to miss or forget.This idea is a way to take one positive memorable moment to bed with me at night, hold it in my memory as I sleep and wake up with happy positive thoughts.

    Thanks for sharing your technique,
    Anne Harris

  3. Gwen Bunnell

    Jessica, I love your tutorial. It’s been a while since I
    did a “sheer heaven” transfer, but your tutorial here makes it seem even easier than I remember. (smile) I will save this tutorial and go through some of some of my “old class journals” to see what I can copy. I still remember how much fun those classes were! Wish you would start doing those again. Remember LTJ”s?
    Thanks again,

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