Artist Share

Daily Drawing with Lisa Congdon

I have been using the daily drawing prompts with Lisa Congdon on the Creative Bug as my morning creativity warmup. Usually in the giant cookbook I've been sketching in lately and usually I don't feel like sharing my results. But sometimes I put in a bit more time and use better paper and I am more likely to share my work as it feels more me and less derivative. 

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I am an Artist with Lisa Congdon

Last weekend I was lucky enough to take part in the fabulous online course on art business offered by the inspiring Lisa Congdon. I was doubly lucky enough to have been given a VIP spot for Christmas by my husband. The VIP membership included a one hour skype with Lisa on Tuesday after the course ended. It was a great experience and I feel better prepared to go out in the world with my artwork and to stop waiting for my work to be perfect. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat when she discussed how perfectionism is a career killer.

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Thank you and farewell to David Bowie.

Davy Jones, Ziggy, Major Tom, the Thin White Duke, Halloween Jack and of course a special farewell to the Goblin King from this child of the 80's. I have to hand it to you for knowing how to make a grand spectacular exit, but I don't think those of us left here on earth were ready. 

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Happy Spring!

Spring sprung a few weeks ago here in Oxford, or so I thought before it got cold and grey for an extended period of time. Today marks the first official day of spring and the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. Hurrah! 

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My history with art cards

I've been making small art cards as a way to help generate and try out new ideas for many years now. I have a collection of artist trading cards that I traded for, some that I purchased and I have sold many of my own. These days I am coming up with creative ways to give them to people that I meet. Seems like moving to a new country is a great chance to start giving out little tastes of art while practicing my skills in small low commitment ways. 

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Coming to Etsy! More watercolors!

Watercolors are finally finding their way into my Etsy shop. Because I am good enough and there is no reason to keep waiting. I've been painting since March and still feel like I am learning how to handle the medium and my prices reflect that learning stage. On January 5th the movers are coming to pack us up and send our belongings across the ocean. My shop will close on January 4th and won't reopen until I am settled in the UK, probably sometime in February. Locals can find my work for sale at Hatched through Christmas and New Years. 

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Mini Paint Tins on Etsy

Good news! I've started selling my mini Altoid watercolor paint kits on Etsy. For a limited time as a special bonus I am offering a free watercolor painted card with the first one purchased on Etsy. I have collected a lot of commercial tins during my watercolor painting adventures, but I always come back to this one for on the go come with me everywhere color. 

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Keep going. Instagram inspired not intimidated.

After fixing my pen I got a lot of drawings done and am now nearly finished with my Doodle Book. It is a satisfying book to thumb through because I have been working on it slowly but steadily for months now and the book actually dates back a few years and has some old sketches from back then in it as well. They are so bad! Such bad drawings. I get discouraged drawing easily and often, especially when I look at all the talent and success on Instagram. But all I need to do is look at myself and know that I will get there. I have already come so far. The art on Instagram is super inspiring and I am so glad to be following all these talented artists. But I can't let intimidation rule. Keep going. Keep working hard and I will get where I need to go. 

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Tired. Keep going.

I was tired and wanted to go to bed as soon as the kids went to bed. I wanted them to go to bed early so I could go to bed early. Then they ended staying up drawing together in their room so I wandered back to my studio to tinker with some paintings. I am glad I kept going. Once I get through my to do list I will start putting watercolors up on my Etsy shop. I am nervous about listing these new creation as I still very much consider myself a student when it comes to watercolor. But I was a student with printmaking too not all that long ago.

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Why do I sketch?

I fill about a sketchbook a month these days. When I am done they go on a shelf in my studio and I look back on them often. My children look through them and I show them off to friends and other curious people. This number doesn't include the "extra" books I keep around. Why do I do it? Why do I use precious paper and other materials for plenty of less than perfect pages? Because if I don't I grow stagnant and miserable. Because the process is how I grow as an artist and as a person. Because my sketchbooks are important. I admire other artists that keep active, consistent yet varied and adventurous sketchbooks. It is a tricky balance for sure to develop and maintain a style while continuing to push yourself as an artist and experiment. As I try to break out of my sketchbooks a bit more and feel comfortable doing pieces for the public rather than for myself I know that making time for my sketchbooks is something that needs to come first in my art life. No matter where I am at in life I will always sketch.

 The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you  Liz Steel  for helping me get over first page jitters.

The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you Liz Steel for helping me get over first page jitters.

Drawing Tip: Blind Contour Drawing Warmup

Want to improve your drawing? Don't know when to draw or what to draw? How about taking on the 75 Day Drawing Challenge? Started by watercolor artist and sketchbook keeper Brenda Swenson it has grown and developed into a popular artistic challenge for many people to customize. The only rules that stay constant are the 75 day length and using ink or another permanent line. I made the challenge my own with ink and doing blind contour drawings. A blind contour drawing is a drawing where you focus mostly on the outline, don't lift your pen as you draw and don't look away from your subject (so you don't look at your paper) while you are drawing. Do this for 75 days in a row (more or less) at a fairly consistent time for maximum effectiveness. I find the morning while I drink my coffee to be a good time for this activity. It can take as little as 5 minutes, but some people go all out and spend twenty minutes or longer on their drawings. I am content treating this as a warmup activity and spending rarely more than ten minutes on my drawing. I have also started journaling in the pages and including the date and weather forecast in the margins. Sometimes I fill in the drawings with details and sometimes I add bits of color. But they all start with a blind contour line that I mark the start with dot and an S and the finish with a dot and an F to keep me honest.

It was a hard challenge for me to start but once I got going I noticed a change in my drawing and easily continued. Until around day 35 when I realized I had been doing this challenge for over a month and wasn't even halfway done. I am not used to drawing challenges that last longer than a month. But I made it through that bumpy period and now here I am almost at day sixty and with well over 100 blind contour drawings under my belt and I am looking at ways to keep this habit going after 75 days and after my sketchbook is full. I'll probably just start a new sketchbook with simple graph paper and save the next Moleskine from my clearance stockpile for something else.

Market Testing

I took about a dozen watercolors  to Open Studios and I sold about half of them. JP Open Studios was a market test for the watercolors to figure out if I should keep at them and how to price them and the answer was yes keep going! JP Open Studios was fabulous fun this weekend as I love connecting with my community. And I love sending original artwork out in the world. Thank you to all those that have supported my fresh start these past months by reading my blog, offering feedback and buying artwork. I will be putting watercolors up on my Etsy shop as soon as I can get new work made, scanned and listed.

 The fantastic carousel on the Boston Greenway opened last year and is a delight for both children and adults. This little painting went to a very good home this weekend.

The fantastic carousel on the Boston Greenway opened last year and is a delight for both children and adults. This little painting went to a very good home this weekend.

Repeating myself. Draw more, paint more, write more.

More more more! Also sleep more to keep myself energized. I went to bed early last night and woke up this morning feeling wonderful. Good morning indeed! We are going back to NYC this weekend and I am excited to bring my sketchbook to various places. After a bit of a slump I am back to drawing whatever comes to mind and strikes my fancy and enjoying it. Case in point moths are interesting to draw but I needed to draw a bird to eat them so I could sleep last night.

 moths did not haunt my dreams last night

moths did not haunt my dreams last night

Favorite Things : Raskog cart from IKEA

Happy Monday! Relaxing and cleaning filled weekend on one of our final summer days here in Boston. This cleaning has led me to rediscover some of my most favorite things in my art studio.

IKEA Raskog cart is hugely popular for a reason. It looks good in a retro kind of way and it is well made and can be used to store a variety of items from plants to kitchen gear to art supplies. Guess what I use mine for? Art supplies of course. Only my favorite and most reached for supplies go on this little cart. I love how sturdy it is, easy to clean and with wheels that actually move smoothly and don't fall off like so many cheap plastic carts I have tried in the past. Mostly pens and ink up on this top level along with books that I am currently reading, with watercolor supplies down below and markers and scissors on the bottom level. I must really trust my children to leave the scissors and sharpies on the lower level and bottles of permanent ink on the still quite reachable upper level!

 recently reorganized art cart from my recently reorganized and decluttered art studio.

recently reorganized art cart from my recently reorganized and decluttered art studio.

Favorite Things - Pentel Pocket Brush

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I have had a couple of Sakura, Copic and other felt tipped brush pens and I hated every single one of them. The tip was never very flexible and wore out super quickly too. Junk. So I ignored recommendations on this pen brush hybrid for ages until I learned that the brush has actual individual fibers like a real brush. Very similar to the waterbrushes I use for painting on the go except instead of water it houses waterproof fast drying black ink. Last weekend I used a coupon to pick one up at a reasonable price and I am so glad that I did. The tip is soft and flexible yet very durable and refillable. As a bonus the ink dries super fast and this lefty doesn't have to worry about smearing or a black stained side of my hand. So far the only downside I can find is that I used up an ink cartridge in less than a week and refills are rather expensive. I tried to refill the empty cartridge with bottled ink and an eye dropper and I ended up with black ink all over my hands instead of in the cartridge. It is very different from any other pen I have ever used and takes a delicate and sure touch that I am still getting used to with practice. I ordered a package of ink refills. 

 Left is a fountain pen, right is the brush pen. 

Left is a fountain pen, right is the brush pen. 

Upcoming Events for August, September and October

August is filled with my kids being both home full time for summer and carting them all over for various activities. But in September getting out there with my artwork begins again. I'll be hanging my work at Hatched here in JP for the month of September and will be there on First Thursday. Looking forward to meeting people there. Then I am registered for a Moku Hanga Japanese style printmaking class at Elliot that I have been wanting to take for years. Now I still long to take lessons from Annie Bisset my moku hanga hero, but I can't make it out to Western Mass but I can walk to the Elliot school here in JP.  I only have to wait until the last weekend of September. The weekend before that is Jamaica Plain Open Studios and the first week of October I am going to Haystack with Mass Art. I'm so excited about all the upcoming events.

  For August I have a blank sheet of note paper on my desk ready to be filled with notes and scribbles. I took a few pictures of my old one and stored those pictures in Evernote after I spilled paint on it and had to rip it off. 

For August I have a blank sheet of note paper on my desk ready to be filled with notes and scribbles. I took a few pictures of my old one and stored those pictures in Evernote after I spilled paint on it and had to rip it off. 

For August I have a blank sheet of note paper on my desk ready to be filled with notes and scribbles. I took a few pictures of my old one and stored those pictures in Evernote after I spilled paint on it and had to rip it off. 

Perfection. I don't have it.

Some artist's seem to attain perfection in every sketchbook page. Andrea Joseph is an example of this type of artist. She hosted the most recent week at Sketchbook Skool and I found putting on her skin and drawing with a ballpoint pen for two days to be too much for me. She's a wonderful and super talented artist but her sketchbooks are far too perfectly composed for how I work. For me sketchbooks are to work out problems, record events and try things out. And for that I need freedom to mess up. Good for her for sure but I need to find my own way. But I can still enjoy her beautifully rendered drawings of often humble objects. 

 Ball point pens drawn with ball point pens. I'm sure if I tried this I would end up with a smeared mess on my hands. 

Ball point pens drawn with ball point pens. I'm sure if I tried this I would end up with a smeared mess on my hands. 


Weekend relaxing?

Are weekends supposed to be relaxing? I must be doing something wrong then. This weekend didn't go poorly, but it didn't go smoothly either and now it is gone and I am back to the week where I have to squeeze in time for art. I drew a fair amount over the weekend and the past week. Even went back and finished and fixed up a couple of abandoned sketchbook drawings and got them to a place where I can be happy. Yet I still feel impatient with my watercolor and drawing skills. 

The need to print again is growing stronger. I haven't had the chance since summer vacation started. I don't want to work with older blocks I want to take my growing drawing skills to a new block of wood and get lost carving and printing it. Maybe I will try my hand at white line printmaking. I have a few ideas for subjects and I should have blocks of wood that are big enough but not too big hanging around my studio. 

 My printing press has been so neglected this summer. I must make time for it before summer ends. 

My printing press has been so neglected this summer. I must make time for it before summer ends. 

Relax and enjoy nature.

Friday is here and I am looking forward to getting outside this weekend. Long week here with the kids filled with a lot of fun but not a lot of art time for me. Hope the weather cooperates and I get in a couple of morning jogs that leave me feeling energized and inspired. What inspires you? What brings you down?

 Inspired by nature.

Inspired by nature.

Enjoying my quiet Art Studio.

Good morning and happy Monday. Hope everybody had a great weekend. Mine was pretty phenomenal, the perfect mix of activity, time with family, time alone, time in nature and studio time. Bike ride and sailing on Friday night, ICA with my eldest, followed by Figment Boston and a long walk all over the city, food trucks and friends, then a jog and a rainy Sunday spent in the studio. Doesn't get much better than that. With summer I don't get a lot of uninterrupted time and space to just be in my art studio and experiment. Yesterday was one of those glorious and rare days where I got to spend hours in quiet drawing, painting and experimenting. It all started with a jog to clear my head and get my brain going. I came home filled with new and different ideas and ready to begin executing them. Well, ready after a shower. During that time I set up my little paint pallet with the colors that I use the most and made a little strip of paper with them for reference. I have a fancy set of 48 colors that is gorgeous and wonderful to play around with but I feel I do better with fewer colors most of the time. Now I have 22 colors plus sparkly gold and silver in a handy and portable case. They won't travel with me except on special occasions, I have my Pocket Pallet or Altoid set for daily painting out of the house. But they may come with me on vacation or if I decide to spend a day alone in Arboretum

 So much beautiful paint color to play with. 

So much beautiful paint color to play with.