I am participating in the #100daychallenge over on Instagram for the second year in a row. Last year was florals, this year is patterns. I am not giving myself any restrictions in terms of materials/ media used or format this time around so there is a lot of room to explore, grow and do things on the go when needed. I hope you join me.
Do I want to spend it being afraid taking timid steps? No I do not! Today is my birthday and this morning I asked myself what I wanted to do with my day and this is the answer I received. And this time I listened to it and was rewarded for my willingness to push past the fear, play and experiment.
Our first year abroad came and went last week. The first year was an exciting yet challenging combination of fun travel, stress and isolation. So far this year we get to keep the fun travel and dump most of the stress. Could not be better!
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.
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.
I haven't sketched outdoors much lately. The weather and my brain just have not been cooperating. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to sketching outdoors and that often bites me in the end. But the sun was shining and I had some time so I went out to sketch to many impressive Oxford University buildings and had a wonderful experience overall. I cleared my mind and just worked on it one line and shape at a time and then when I got too chilly went inside to add the colors. I am an outdoor sketching wuss when it comes to cold weather. I am glad that I packed my sketching kit in a hurry and did this simple drawing of Oxford.
This portrait of my youngest daughter has a rather serious expression and twee hipster feel. Just like the real life girl I know so well. Going to start on one of her older sister next. It should be very different.
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!
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
We get beautiful weather in England. And I get to sketch it here in Oxford. Two days of blue skies and abundant sunshine in a row is certainly something to celebrate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Back in May I joined the one hundred day drawing challenge on Instagram and chose florals as my theme. I had just gotten into painting flowers as England is filled with beautiful flowers that change all the time from spring though summer and I was inspired and motivated to improve. About a week in I started keeping these paintings in a sketchbook I dedicated for them and every day I added to the book. More or less. Today I finished the book a few weeks behind sketchdule and a few paintings over one hundred. It was a hard challenge to keep up with such a restrictive theme. But true to my goal I do feel like I improved a lot over the three months of sticking with it and painting my flowers nearly every day. I am also very happy to be done with that sketchbook as my collection of active sketchbooks has grown over the past few months and I am thrilled to have one less to think about cluttering my workspace and my brain.