My own past through family photo albums. Studying and exploring this time period is filled with painful memories that I have spent years building a wall around. Confronting rather than avoiding. Reframing my experience with mature eyes. Deep breaths.
Essentialism in illustration is pretty powerful. I was working on some slow and detailed watercolor illustrations of hats when my five year old wandered over and pointed to the beret and said Paris! She then called out the witches hat, the winter hat and the police hat. I abandoned that watercolor painting (for now) and went in this direction instead.
Two weeks into working with this new sketchbook for the month long drawing challenge #inktober and I am making the best of it. This sketchbook has a lot to love, but ultimately for me there is more to hate than to love. I love the size and the binding. I got the medium A5 that is enough space for working yet remains very portable. It opens up nice and flat and isn't too thick like other sketchbooks. And it is portrait rather than landscape which is great. But this is not paper suitable for watercolor. Another problem I have is that most pens feather and leave a fuzzy line on the page and some even bleed through. In the end I will keep doing my ink sketches in this book knowing the limitations and then avoid these sketchbooks in the future.
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.
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.
The Pushing your Sketching Boundaries Oxford workshop ended and both of my kids are now home for the summer. That fun challenging week feels miles away now. But I am seeing changes in how I approach sketches.
I'm drawing more and painting less.
I'm back to working straight with ink.
No time to sit on a stool and spend loads of time sketching a building. Instead I work on windowed vignettes during stolen moments throughout my day.
Recording life rather than focused on product and skill development.
More journaling, text and drawing from my imagination.
This is a short season in my life and I'm enjoying the relaxed pace of summer and seeing where it leads.
Late start plus a convoluted journey led me to London to sketch Hampstead Heath with the London Urban Sketching group. Next month they are coming to Oxford!
Sketching in Rome was some of the hardest on site sketching I have done. Harder than Oxford, harder than Notre Dame. Headache inducing difficult sketching in the heat while putting a lot of pressure on myself to do a good job and "make the most of the experience". At the time I did not feel that I made the most of the experience in Rome since I didn't love a single drawing that I produced. Then we went home and I started going out more on non-rainy days and really focusing on getting buildings to look believable and confident in my sketches. And it's working. It's getting easier. I learned a lot from my "bad" sketches in Rome and am so grateful for the opportunity to make them. Relax.
And I am learning to be okay with that. It's still a sketch despite an obvious lack of binding. I could gather these loose paintings up and bind them in a book later. Or not. I am learning to not overthink and over plan the process of art making and what better time to start than now?
At the end of 2014 I decided that I needed to take on some sort of big year long sketch challenge. But with an international move looming and tons of change coming I didn't know exactly what type of challenge was going to work for a full year. I really liked the idea of focusing on ink and watercolor and setting a time limit but instead I simply promised myself that I would create in my sketchbook 365 days of the year and leave it at that. I am glad I started out easy on myself because early in the move I got sick and stayed sick for over three weeks. I was able to fill pages in my sketchbook during those weeks, but just barely with real struggle. Temporary housing limited space and supplies and that also limited what I made. But the boat shipment did come and after six long weeks in a new country in temporary digs we moved into our new home and my art studio was one of the first rooms I unpacked. With that everything changed. I was able to spread out and create and my creativity and energy flowed as a result. I would reward myself for unpacking rooms by giving myself uninterrupted time in my art studio. And now here I am finding myself doing 30 minute ink and watercolor paintings in my sketchbook everyday.
Did you plan any challenges for the new year? What are they and how are they going?
After two months of setting up painting at various dining tables throughout our stint in temporary housing I am energized by my newly set up art studio! I have a filled palette for my studio and I am ready to paint all day long. In fact that is pretty much what my Monday looked like.
Life drawing drop in is tonight. Since today is Charlotte's day home with me I really need that time out to focus on art. I need to pack my bag with the right collection of supplies.
It's lovely here in Oxford now that we are no longer tripping over each other in temporary housing. Just tripping over boxes, but we are making progress moving in and prioritizing certain rooms over others. I could get used to this living room view and space.
My studio is comfortable and I was able to spend the morning painting. It's a good life out here.
We expected moving to a new country with small children to be difficult. And it has been difficult, but mostly in ways that we didn't anticipate. Back to back illnesses for me has killed my sketching in Oxford groove. But I'm finally starting to feel better enough to start drawing again. Not outside yet, too much congestion for that. But it will come soon enough and I will enjoy it!
I love my watercolor brushes and treating them well is important to me. Treating them right so they give me their best for years to come. But my space is small and I would rather spend my hard earned money on paint and brushes rather than fancy brush storage. I like to keep my most used supplies as close as possible. Enter the binder clip. Low tech yet they pretty perfect for all sorts of jobs, including good brush storage.
My current art space my be small but it contains my essentials and is accessible. As I start to get used to my new time zone I will spend more and more time with the contents of this drawer. Doing so should help me cope with the loss of my community and general homesickness as we all adjust to our new lives over here. When is it going to start feeling real?
Lately I have been too preoccupied to clean up at the end of each creative session. They blend into each other and there is a mess growing in my art studio. The art studio that is getting packed up and moved across the ocean next week. A little mess is okay with me as long as I keep creating. So far 2015 is off to a great start. I am excited about where my art is going to take me.
Each child has multiple teachers. How can I make a meaningful gift for so many when time and money is limited? Of course gift cards to our favorite local bakery and handmade watercolor art cards. Boston we are going to miss you so much.
On vacation. Visiting my grandmother and aunt and uncle. Always drawing. On the plane heading home via Chicago planning out a card that I hope to finish at home this week!
I love these things! They make painting in a sketchbook on the go so much easier. They hold a fair amount of water, are small, durable and most importantly they don't leak so they are portable. I also like giving them to my children when they paint so we don't have to worry about mess too much. I do worry about my youngest turning every set of watercolors I give her purple but that is a different issue. Nothing will top a quality brush and a cup of clean water but having a waterbrush or two around has often meant the difference between me being able to get a sketch done or not.
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.