Minimalism

hilsener fra København (greetings from Copenhagen)

I'm in Copenhagen with my family for a few days and loving it during the Christmas season. Yesterday was Tivoli which was all decked out in lights and today was filled with exploring and sketching. Fun trip!  

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More Finishing on Friday

This week has been chaotic with my kids home for school vacation a week earlier than most local schools while we plan for our final trip of the year. Tomorrow we head to Copenhagen for a few days before spending Christmas at home in Oxford. I have been keeping up with the finishing what I have started most of the weeks finishing sketchbooks, ideas, painting on scraps of collected paper and just generally focusing on getting things done whenever I have a moment to focus. This trip I am packing light and efficient on the art supplies for such a short visit with the hope that I can finish up a bunch of projects and ideas that I have had lingering for awhile now. 

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Finish it Friday

A couple of weeks ago I got the idea from another blogger to reserve my Fridays for the concept of Finish it Friday. Meaning that instead of starting new projects I spend my Fridays focused on finishing things that I have already started. So far it is working out well for my creative life and helping me get organised and see myself making progress. It is working so well that I am thinking about broadening the concept to the rest of my life as well as a way to get more done around the house. Will see how it goes. 

Today at I finished a blog post and hopefully by the end of the day this sketchbook will be filled up and archived.  

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The art studio rearranging shuffle.

I've been in my current studio for less than a year and I am still figuring out how to best use the space. It is about a third bigger than my last studio and I am fully enjoying that extra space and how that allows me to keep a chair at my desk full time and still be able to move about. I know, total luxury! It is still very important to me to keep what I am currently using the most visible and in close range otherwise I tend to forget about it while creating. So once again I moved stuff around as I go through the process of minimizing my supplies.

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Art supply junkie

It's a sickness I allow as long as it doesn't get in the way of creativity. Now that I have a better idea what I like I have put some severe limits on what I add and am starting to put away, sell and gift what I am not using. Mostly I just focus on drawing and painting every day. As much as I strive for minimalism I often fall short, especially when it comes to art and stationary supplies. This little box I got in London when I first moved to the UK and was waiting for my supplies to arrive from Boston via boat shipment. Now it is a contained collection of everything I need to get to art making. Usually in the living room while I watch TV with my husband in the evening. What is your shopping weakness if you have one? 

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Quality time is cheap

When your current daily inspiration is a 60p gridded A6 notebook from Muji. I love nice paper and beautifully bound books that collect precious sketches. I even made a point to back the latest edition of the Perfect Sketchbook with it's lovely leather hardbound body filled with the finest Italian watercolor paper. But that won't be arriving for some months! In the meantime I have been finding myself getting too precious about my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook and as a result my work suffers. Time to spend some quality time with a cheap sketchbook and get back to obsessive low pressure sketching and what caused me to start drawing again in the first place. Thin (but surprisingly sturdy) paper. Not precious. Loving it. 

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Minimalist art carry = Midori travelers notebook

Since summer I have been having a love affair with my Midori Travelers notebook. Scribbling away in it, taking notes, journaling, sketching and even painting. It all fits in the books that I have bound with elastic into a sturdy leather flap. It certainly helps that the Midori paper is so great with fountain pens and even watercolor. My sketchbooks change all the time and often get left behind on busy days, but my traveler's notebook comes everywhere with me. Do you have a notebook that you carry with you everywhere? I would love to hear what other people are doing with their Midori Traveler's Notebooks and sketchbooks. 

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Choose Make

Over spending. Over consuming. Put something good into the world and create something with your hands and your mind. That has been my focus these past few months and it is paying off in productivity, skill growth and personal contentment. 

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Inktober and letting myself fail.

Last year I took part in the October drawing challenge Inktober. It was a lot of fun and ended on a high note so even though I struggled to get going I quickly forgot about the struggles. This year I looked forward to Inktober for months and even got numerous friends on board. Then it came and I chose to use a brand new Leuchtturm sketchbook and picked a theme. And I totally flopped. Sure there are sketches that I liked in that month and I did draw in ink every day. But overall the experience was disappointing. Why so different this year over last year? My drawings this year were easily better than my drawings from last year. Still I did not have fun and ended up looking forward to it ending. It is easy to blame it on the sketchbook I chose not behaving with ink the way I am used to but I could have easily just used something else and not forced myself to keep up with that sketchbook. I could also blame the restrictive theme of portraits that quickly bored me. But really the problem was me and my own expectations and my unwillingness to let go of them and enjoy the process. So now I am back to that book and sketching in ink and not sharing the drawings with the world and I am happy. No November challenges for me.  Yeah right!

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Traveling with my family! Our fifth new country visited in 2015.

Last week I visited Berlin with my family. After wasting my twenties not traveling and not being able to travel during much of my thirties due to babies we are using this move to the UK as an opportunity to travel all over Europe whenever we have a chance. So far that has meant trips to Paris, Rome, Barcelona and just recently Berlin. It's been great to see so much and share it with the people that matter the most. I am also so glad that I got into obsessive sketching and travel journaling before starting these trips because now I have the ability and desire to document these trips in the way that I enjoy. Years ago I tried a family blog but that just wasn't for me. And taking photos is somewhat fun but for me the fun ends when it comes to printing out the photos. Sketchbook keeping is perfect for me since everything is automatically in a book! 

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Lessons from rising early

A few weeks ago I was solo parenting for the week and had to get up well before the sun rose to get my kids off to school. It was not my favorite way to start my day as I am not naturally a morning person. But I rose so early during that week and was so efficient with my time that I found that I often had 10-15 minutes of free time to create in the morning before leaving the house to catch the school bus. That part was seriously wonderful and possibly a game changer for how I work. Now my husband is home and able to help out with our early mornings so I can sleep an extra 15 minutes and I do so enjoy those extra fifteen minutes especially as it is getting darker and darker over here in the UK. But I do take 5-10 minutes to put some art down on paper before I head out the door and it makes a difference. Getting it done before my brain has fully woken up means that I create without overthinking and am therefor more creative and willing to experiment. I usually don't finish anything in those 5-10 minutes but it sets me up for a more successful time in the studio when I do get back and either finish what I started or do something completely new. Or often both. 

The background I painted in under five minutes before leaving in the morning. Came back with a great surface to work with.  

The background I painted in under five minutes before leaving in the morning. Came back with a great surface to work with.  

Inktober for October

After months of working on it here and there the Stillman and Birn Alpha sketchbook that I started in June and have exclusively filled at home in my art studio is full! 

Just in time for October and a new sketchbook for Inktober! I tested out my new Leuchtturm sketchbook with watercolor and it failed my tests. Making it the perfect sketchbook to fill with ink drawings. Fingers crossed!

Inktober was a lot of fun last year despite some early bumps and lack of direction, and um skill. Excited to do it again in 2015!  This year I have a theme. Stay tuned to find out what it is and if I stick with this theme. 

My weapons for Inktober 2015

My weapons for Inktober 2015

Pebbles and Dots

My little sketchbook that I am filling with abstract impressions of what catches my eye here in Oxford is filling up quickly. Funny how sometimes the most humble little sketchbooks end up becoming my favorites. 

Sketchbook below, capturing the idea on a tiny art card and in my art journal.  

Sketchbook below, capturing the idea on a tiny art card and in my art journal.  

Enjoy the magic

That happens in everyday life. Adjusting to being back in England after holiday in Spain has been a challenge. It still doesn't feel quite like home, especially after time away. But there is a lot of beauty and magic here as well even if I have total wanderlust for more and more trips.  

Playground magic  

Playground magic  

Oxford campus always crowded with tourists magic  

Oxford campus always crowded with tourists magic  

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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Sketching in Barcelona

I felt better prepared for this trip both mentally and with what I packed. The time with family, tourism, activity and relaxation all just seem to flow with the chance to make art woven throughout it all. It's pretty great.  

Family outing to the beach included time to sketch.  

Family outing to the beach included time to sketch.  

Relaxing on the patio left time to sketch.  

Relaxing on the patio left time to sketch.  

Tiny Paintings

Back when I got into woodblock printmaking a started with small trading card size woodblock prints to play around with. Great for low commitment idea generating and play. Seems that I am at it again but with watercolor painting this time. Tiny portraits and other small scale paintings.  

A Klimt that I saw in Paris.   

A Klimt that I saw in Paris.   

My daughter  

My daughter  

Midori (travelers notebook) love

Not the noxious green melon liquer that I drank in college! But a beautiful and simple leather folio that holds various notebooks. I wanted one and got one for Christmas. But it wasn't love at first but it has grown on me this summer as the item I carry with me everywhere and put my life into. Why wasn't it love at first? Because for urban sketching I prefer a proper bound usually hardback sketchbook. Summer has not contained much time for urban sketching but there has been more than enough time for Sketchnoting, journaling, reflection and planning. The Midori has been well used and perfect. 

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London Sketchcrawl with the Urban Sketchers

So glad that I made it over to London via the x90 bus to sketch Trafalgar Square with the USK London group. Summer has meant less time for art and significantly less urban sketching time and the hours spent drawing was just what I needed halfway through school vacation.  

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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!