Vacations

Prepping for the Urban Sketching Symposium in Chicago

I'm in Boston now visiting friends and sketching whenever I have a moment free. Yesterday I did some people watching on the beach and sketched them while my kids swam. It was great. But mostly I'm just spending time with friends here. But in a few days we will be heading to Chicago and in a week I will be surrounded by Sketchers and sketching nonstop. I'm so excited. Who else is going? I packed rather light and everything but my sketchbooks fit in a small bag. I'm interested to hear what others are bringing.  

 My kit for Chicago.  

My kit for Chicago.  

 Sketching people at the beach.  

Sketching people at the beach.  

 Sketching the Boston south end with the local Urban Sketching group.  

Sketching the Boston south end with the local Urban Sketching group.  

Illness, Inktober and some rambling

Wednesday blogging turns into Thursday blogging. I have a sinus cold and possibly an infection right before a family holiday. I am resting as much as possible so I can be at my best in Spain. The kids are already home from school and that is actually a blessing because the two mile walk picking them up from school every day was not helping me recover quickly! I miss having energy and a clear head but I am managing to just barely keep up with #inktober and other smaller projects this week. I am glad that I decided to be flexible and not stick with any theme or format for this years Inktober as it has allowed me to keep going and not give up when I am not feeling my best. The motto that I need to pin on my wall and remember is that done is better than perfect. It is so easy for me to get sidetracked searching for perfection that I never finish or never share a project, blog post, artwork or whatever. Is this a common problem? I am all ears for any good strategies for avoiding the perfection trap?

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How to have a successful family holiday.

Single people or people traveling without young children enjoy your much easier to plan with fewer limitations holiday! 

Don't overschedule yourself on holiday. Think relaxation over sightseeing. And if there is some monument or museum that you just have to bring your kid(s) to, avoid an early ticket.  

Go out on your own to see the sights that you are most interested in and let your partner do the same.  

Get a place with a pool. This makes downtime so much easier and more effective.  

Don't stay out all day sightseeing. Come back to rest midday or early evening if you got a late start out.

Memories over photos. Really look with your family rather than taking constant selfies.  

Draw and journal your trip as you go and finish it up at home with collected ephemera like handouts and tickets. 

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London mini-holiday

Became more mini when a three day two night overnight in the big city became one uncomfortable overnight in a bad AirBnB rental. At least I got some sketching and cafe visits out of the trip!

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Alone

Finding myself already counting down to our next vacation. On vacation in new countries I don't expect to know anybody and don't have the chance to feel bad. Here in England when I go out and am around people it is the worst because at home I know people back home through online. But out there I know nobody. Feeling alone in a crowd feels like a horrible party every time I go out of the house. It rarely bothers me I'm so busy and preoccupied with making art and growing my skills and business, but when it does ouch! Summer might me difficult for me. 

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Art Tourism

Not just the fabulous museums and galleries in Paris but the legendary art supply stores as well. Sennelier across from the Louvre has been in business since 1887 and is where Degas, Picasso and other famous Parisian artists got their supplies. The shop even developed oil pastels for Picasso! Now I have a few small goodies to take back to England with me.  

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Hello Eiffel

Effiel Tower sketching was required during the trip and I wasn't about to let some rain stop me. The running ink just adds to the atmosphere and memories for this trip.  

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Sketching, blogging, tourism and being part of a family with young kidson vacation is (almost) too much.

It's exhausting but exhilarating and oh so much fun. Each day is different and better and I end each day exhausted and happy. Love Paris! 

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Notre Dame took my breath away.

Growing up in the States I have never seen anything like Notre Dame before and it left me speechless. Having the chance to walk around and take it in before sitting down and sketching it was a huge privledge. Walking around inside during mass I felt both French and Catholic for a few minutes. 

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Sketching Memories in Paris

Sketchbook keeping on vacation/holiday is one of my favorite activities. This morning I woke up and sketched a corner of the living room on our Parisian apartment. Memories of this trip kept forever in a precious book. 

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Hello Mona, do you have any idea how popular you are?

Mona Lisa. People fight to see you and elbow children and the elderly to get a selfie with you. An alarm goes off around you when people get just too close every five to fifteen minutes. Basically you seem to bring out the worst in people. I can see from that famous smirk of yours how amusing this is to you. But personally I would rather hang with one of your more calming relations and avoid getting elbowed. Nothing personal but I feel a little claustrophobic around you Mona.

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Packing for France!

We are heading to Paris next week for the first week of our spring break and I am planning my sketchkit for the trip. I want to stay fairly minimal and not put too many choices on myself on what to use each day. Most days I will be with my family and sketching light therefor traveling light, but I have one lucky day in Paris by myself and can bring a more robust sketching kit on that day. What would you bring? My basics these days is a sketchbook that is big enough to comfortably use yet small enough to comfortably carry, a watercolor kit with a minimum of 14 mixing colors, a fountain pen with waterproof ink, a mechanical pencil, water brushes and a brush pen. We got a new camera for this trip and upcoming trips and I will be taking photos and using them as reference when I get back to my studio. 

 My maxed out sketching kit ready for Paris! 

My maxed out sketching kit ready for Paris! 

A little break from illness with a road trip to Stonehenge

We are happily going car free in the UK, but for our first two months here the company that moved us out here is paying for a rental car. Being so sick for weeks on end has meant that we haven't been able to use the rental for the little road trips that we planned. Until this past Sunday when we went to Stonehenge! Over a million people pass through the Stonehenge site every year despite it being a bit of a pain to get to if you don't have a car, and still a bit of a pain with a car. But it is only about an hour and I could finally breathe without breaking into a coughing fit or gagging, but I wasn't ready for a trip to London. So we piled in the car and went to Stonehenge and it was really cool! They have very few signs for it along the way and we lost our wireless directions halfway there but we knew we were going in the right direction when we saw a bunch of big rocks arranged in a circle from the highway. From there we headed to the visitor center and took a shuttle bus to Stonehenge. I am typically not a fan of those little recorded devices that museums give out or sell but they gave them to us and they seemed to really help the children get into the idea of seeing a bunch of big old rocks. I grew up seeing Stonehenge in every history book and now I have seen it, sketched it and taken a selfie with my family in front of it. Next weekend we are going to London! Another one hour road trip.

 Stonehenge sketch. Watercolor and grey colored pencil in a pocket moleskine watercolor book.  

Stonehenge sketch. Watercolor and grey colored pencil in a pocket moleskine watercolor book.  

 Stonehenge surprises us as we drive on the highway. 

Stonehenge surprises us as we drive on the highway. 

Failed but not a failure.

Coming off the high of completing October's #inktober Instagram daily ink drawing and sharing challenge I signed up for the daily blogging challenge #nanoblopomo as a way to improve my blogging habit. It started out pretty well but about halfway through it I started resenting the challenge and remembered doing it last year and all it accomplished was blog burnout. So I stopped and promised myself weekly blogging combined with daily drawing, painting and Instagram sharing and enjoyed the rest of the month of November.  Ready for new challenges for December!

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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.

Processing Haystack

Monday morning. Back to reality after an inspiring trip to Haystack. Yet I am still happy to be home around my favorite people. Now that I am home I have a lot to do to process the artwork that I made there and the ideas that I generated. Plus laundry. So much laundry. Laundry is the worst. But for now there is coffee to drink and kids that need to get to school.

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Goodbye Haystack deck. 

Here today, gone Wednesday.

Coming off a great art making weekend I am back into the regular week of preschool snacks, herding children, meal prepping, school drop offs and errands. But only for two days because on Wednesday I leave for Haystack on Deer Isle Maine. It is looking like we are in for another beautiful five days the second year in a row. And for that I am grateful. No matter what the weather brings the time at Haystack will be magical because Haystack is a magical place. Five days of art making with other makers in gorgeous surroundings. My third year going I am very blessed. I need to do some more packing.

 Can't wait to be back!

Can't wait to be back!

Vacation Visual Journal

Before heading on our long weekend to NYC I spent the day trying to finish up the sketchbook I half filled during our travels to Ohio and Illinois in early July before the kids head back to school after Labor Day. Now we are back from NYC and despite drawing a lot while I was there on location I still have more planned drawings to do to fill up our summer sketchbook. But today is my daughter's seventh birthday and I am going to focus on spoiling her before she heads back to school later this week.

 Cedar Point memories

Cedar Point memories

Lucky Charm

Happy Friday! We are heading to New York for the weekend to see friends, go to museums, eat pizza and other yummy foods and hopefully draw on location. Feeling the art groove in my studio lately that I hope translates to various locations. Maybe I should bring my studio good luck charm with me. Two years ago at a Disney World gift shop I saw my name on this necklace. This never happens to me. They didn't have my eldest daughter's name but they had mine so of course I bought a necklace that I will never wear and hung it in my studio. I still won't wear it, but maybe it should come along in my bag. See you next week!

 my lucky charm is a cheap Disney necklace with my name on it

my lucky charm is a cheap Disney necklace with my name on it