The Sketchbook Project

A very good friend of mine from work gave me the most thoughtful gift last Christmas. She purchased a sketchbook from the Brooklyn Art Library.

The Sketchbook Project is the world’s largest library of artists’ books, crowd-sources from every corner of the globe. The project is changing the way creative people share their work while creating a worldwide community resource. By filling a sketchbook which is approximately 20 pages and 5×7, you are joining the movement, adding your voice and becoming a part of something huge. You can draw, write, collage, cut, print, photograph. You can choose a theme and fill the book and send it back by the deadline.

I participated with the project and returned the book in time. I filled the book with sketches, paintings, illustrations, and drawings using the original paper in the book. I didn’t realize that you can switch out the paper until it was too late.

I have ordered my second book. I am going to do some collage and illustration combined.

Here are some of the images I have in my first book.

One Week 100 People 2019

The week of April 8 through 12 is when people all over the world are trying to sketch 100 people within five days. They say a week, which is typically SEVEN days…but it is a five day challenge. I decided to try it. That would be an average of 20 people per day. Unfortunately, I had a hard time keeping up and finding the time during the week days to sketch people live.

The first day, I sketched a few people that inspired me in the Sktchy App. I also tried sitting in the Pioneer Place Mall in downtown Portland, Oregon, but it appeared to be a quiet day. I got in some quick sketches. Ended up with 21. That was a good start!

The second day I sketched my housemates.

I added a little watercolor and liked that a lot.

Day three I did a combination of live sketches in a restaurant and some from photos. That is now 40/100 at the end of Wednesday.


Day four I had to step it up and I had meetings all day long! I was snapping photos all day of coworkers and strangers so I could binge sketch that evening. Now 62/100.

The final day and I had 38 people to draw! I spent my lunch hour in the mall again. This time in the Roots Food Court at the Portland Roasting Coffee. The staff there are awesome. I reached my goal of 100 people by 10pm on Friday night.

The outcome of this challenge for me is a love of the spontaneous sketching of strangers and friends, and honing in on my ink skills.

My paint-by-numbers addiction

In the fall of 2017 I received my first paint-by-number. I had ordered it online and had no idea what I had just done to myself. It was a scene of Paris, France and the canvas was approximately 18 x 24” and not on a board. I was excited to start, but not sure where to start exactly. Do I start with number one and in order? Do I start in one corner and finish before I move on?

It was a little overwhelming. Some of the spaces were very tiny and the numbers were hard to read. Sometimes, I would accidentally paint over a number adjacent to the space I was painting. Luckily, it came with a duplicate image on paper so you could see what the number was supposed to be. My entire first painting, I did not water down the paints, so I almost ran out of some colors.

It took me a few weeks, but I finally finished. I ordered more. And more. Months later, I have a very large collection of completed paintings and am not sure what to do with them. I enjoyed doing them. I found it relaxing and quite the stress reliever. Thankfully though, I finally slowed down. Maybe weening myself off of the kits was a good idea. I couldn’t find any paint-by-number anonymous groups for addicts, so I’ve had to try to recover by myself.

I stopped buying them. That helped. Now a co-worker wants me to paint some for her. She purchased a few different paintings that she wanted but didn’t want to paint herself. Kind of a win-win situation. I get to paint still, but I have time to do other things.

Here are just a few that I have stashed in a drawer that I have finished.

This is one of the series that my cat loving co-worker asked me to paint.

Daily Art Journal

For the past couple of months, I have been sketching and/or painting in my art journal almost daily. Sktchy App I downloaded a free application on my phone called Sktchy.

The first challenge I participated in was the 30 days/30 pages (see earlier post, 30 pages/30 days). These were daily sketches with prompts and tips from one of three artists every day. I learned a lot and got in the habit of daily journaling.

My next challenge was with five artists for five days called ”Five Day Facial.” Each day was a different focus on a facial feature with a different artist. Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Ears and Hair. I have had no formal training in art so this was exciting to me and I learned a lot!

You can now subscribe to Sktchy for $4.95 a month and get daily artists with tips and a photo to draw. People upload their photos on Sktchy as well, to be inspirations. Then, many people draw them and tag the inspiration so you can just swipe right on your drawing and see the referenced photo underneath. You are also encouraged to hashtag the month and day so you can see everyone’s version of the same photo.

Below are some of the photos and sketches I have done over the past month or so. Sometimes there are different challenges, such as “create a story with this photo” or “try minimal lines and no color.”



A Report From the Sewers of Paris

In May, I visited Paris, France with my daughter. We took in the usual tourist attractions: the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Cathedral Notre-Dame. But one of the main attractions was our visit to Musée des égouts de Paris (the Paris Sewer Museum).Debbie in the sewer tunnel

The Musée stairs lead down to the 18-foot high by 14-foot wide tunnels. The network of sewer tunnels underground also houses freshwater pipes, telephone wires, traffic-light cables, and the city’s pneumatic postal network, which was shut down in 1984.

There is an art gallery along the walls of the first tunnel you enter, with various portrayals of sewer monsters. Entering another tunnel, there are displays with mannequins dressed in gear to enter the sewers, and equipment they use. Next was the display of taxidermy sewer rats. In my opinion, the Paris sewer rats look different than Portland rats, with their little berets and baguettes. Another tunnel shows off colorful display posters and models about the sewer and drinking water system, watersheds, and fish. In one of the final tunnels was a series of displays of the history of the Paris sewers.

To give some perspective, the history of Portland began in 1843 on the Willamette River in what was then called Oregon Country. In 1851 the City of Portland was incorporated. Portland’s first sewer was a covered wooden trough that ran from SW Montgomery Street to Fourth Avenue, then to the Willamette River, built in 1864. Portland’s Columbia Wastewater Treatment Plant began collecting and treating wastewater in 1952.

Compare this to the ancient history of the Paris sewers. Until the Middle Ages, the drinking water in Paris was taken from the river Seine. The wastewater was poured onto fields or unpaved streets, and filtered back into the Seine. Around 1200, streets were paved, incorporating a drain for wastewater in the middle. The first vaulted, stone-walled sewer was built in 1370. In 1850 the present Parisian sewer and water supply networks were designed and separate water supply networks were built for drinking water and non-drinking water. A 373-mile sewer network followed in 1878. A sewage treatment program (designed to meet needs for the next 50 years), was approved in 1935.

Paris has a combined sewer/sanitary system and aging infrastructure, like Portland. In 1991, a 20-year plan was developed to restore the existing sewers, protect the Seine River from untreated rainwater during storms, improve working conditions, and modernize operations. The quality of the water in the Seine has significantly improved in recent years. There are now over 20 species of fish in the river, compared to only three in the 1970s.

The sewer museum was one of the highlights of my first trip overseas. It was exciting to see a different infrastructure and to learn that Paris poop smells just like Portland poop.Sewer rats and Debbie

Paris Sewer System Facts:

  • 70 measurement stations
  • 22 storm overflows equipped with gates
  • 6 pumping stations
  • 8 flood pumping stations and 45 storm overflows are used as safety valves in the event of network overload
  • 6,500 flushing chambers are used to clean the sewers periodically
  • 97 grit chambers trap the sand and silt carried by the wastewater
  • 9 siphons have been built under the river Seine to channel wastewater from one bank to the other
  • 2400 km (1491 miles) of sewers; 40 km (25 miles) of main sewers, 140 km (87 miles) of secondary sewers and 1400 km (870 miles) of primary sewers evacuate wastewater to the treatment plants
  • 30,000 manholes have been installed every 50 meters (164 feet) to provide access to the sewers and there are 18,000 drains to channel surface water from the streets into the system
  • 100,000 private connections link the buildings to the network
  • 1 storage tank with a capacity of 17,000 cubic meters
  • Treatment Plant capacity is more than 2 million cubic meters/day (528,344,104 million gallons)
  • Population 2,241,346 in the City of Paris.
  • French families spend an average €1 ($1.16) a day on water and wastewater services, for approximately 330 liters (0.26 US gallons) of water supplied and sent to the wastewater system every day.
  • Paris has an average of 24.4 inches of rainfall per year over an average of 162 days per year

Debbie Caselton has worked in Public Involvement and Community Outreach for Capital Improvement Projects for City of Portland’s Environmental Services for 16 years.

Paris, France


For my 50th birthday, my daughter took me to Paris! We spent three nights in Paris. We stayed at the Hotel de Notre-dame. It was a lovely place in a great neighborhood. Because my daughter is a flight attendant, we fly standby. That is an adventure in itself!

We visited the many cafes and bistros, eating crepes and drinking cappuccinos. We visited the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Paris Sewer Museum.596C37D0-C049-4061-B9EE-9E2FA7D35296

One of the highlights was sitting with my daughter and sketching and painting. I surprised her with her own travel paint kit and an art journal. D08095FC-ECD9-4916-B64D-F7B6B373135FD51A0EEB-D1A4-47D2-957D-4B3973FE59575F3C4CC6-61B8-450E-AD98-DE82633F5C46