apartment living

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.

My (little) open studio Saturday

Opening up my studio to people on Saturday was a big scary for my introverted side and I nearly send a message cancelling it a bunch of times the night and even morning before. But I went through with it and had a great time. It was a beautiful day so most people were having fun outside, but I got to work and enjoy talking to the people that did come. Thank you! I will be doing this again sometime, possibly in the fall or winter. The most enjoyable part for me was the conversations. Having studio space in my house is so convenient with small children but I miss the conversations that I imagine I would have if I rented a shared spot somewhere. Also, enjoyed giving ATC to the kids that came and getting them excited about making and collecting original artwork. 

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Split Personality : Hoarder Artist in a Minimalist Life

As an artist I am a natural hoarder as I am inclined to keep all sorts of items for possibly future use and save things like sketchbooks. I make and collect art and books and these take up space. But I have found that life works more efficiently when I have less stuff and spend less time cleaning and more time working on what I care about. How do I find that balance? When do you let old art or art supplies go? 

art studio

Three happy mLee art fans are now customers as well. Thank you.

Three fans stopped by the mLee studio to purchase artwork before their big cross country move next week. All three of them seem pretty happy with what they left with. Good luck on your move and try not to gloat too much about the weather come February. While these beautiful people are lucky enough to live in Boston (for now)  and visit my studio in person I realize not everybody is so lucky. So I try to bring a bit of my studio online through the blog and on Instagram. To my customers are all over the world; you too could be featured on my blog. 

Want to be featured on future blog posts or Instagram? Send photos of you, your kid or pets posing with my artwork to marissa@mleefineart.com

Want to be featured on future blog posts or Instagram? Send photos of you, your kid or pets posing with my artwork to marissa@mleefineart.com

Printing Again! Art Studio Share.

Quicky collagraph of a little house in red and yellow. Concept to print in under a day. Collagraphs are about as instant gratification one can get in the printmaking world. Now I need to give them about a week to dry before I can draw on them without smudging the ink. Good thing I set up a handy drying rack string using some twine and binder clips. Totally out of the way of my work so they can hang there indefinitely. In the meantime I am working on another couple of cardboard collagraph plates to print this week. My art studio is my happy space.

Six prints drying in my art studio.

Six prints drying in my art studio.

Washi

Paper is my big hoarder collection. I have piles of it that I either made or collected over the years. Thankfully it doesn't take up too much space, but keeping it orderly is another issue. Among the art that I have made on paper and the scraps of art I have various art papers. The most special to me are the washi papers. I mostly use them in my sketchbooks these days where a little washi highlight can go a long way. So beautiful.

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Sketchbook

Time to fill up my sketchbook. It has been 75% complete for months now and neglected. Not sure why I stopped the habit of drawing everyday but now is a great time to start again and finish it by drawing every morning this vacation week when there is nowhere to be for hours. Nothing is more important to an artistic life than keeping an active sketchbook. And drawing in the sunlight with a cup of coffee and some refrigerator oatmeal is a pretty awesome way to start the day. Healthy, easy and productive. Awesome! 

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Taming Chaos

Creativity is chaotic. That's a fact. Another fact is that for me it is impossible to work in a chaotic environment. Especially a small one. So I need to spend a fair amount of time making sure that my space stays organized and I know where everything I need is and periodically sort and purge my supplies. 

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Time

There is never enough time yet there are hours that seem to drag by at a painfully slow pace. It can be hard to find the time to work everyday with children and a house keeping me busy. I love my family and I love making our hundred year old small urban apartment more homey feeling and personalized. But the work that needs to be done is seemingly endless. But with my changing schedule I find myself with more time, maybe even enough time if I'm really lucky.

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Cold! Cold! Cold!

The radiator in the bathroom drips a little bit. The other morning the floor was so cold that the water was freezing on the tile in a little stalagmite icicle. There isn't much snow on the ground either so there isn't much winter fun to be had. Plus, have I mentioned that it is really cold outside and I have a three year old that hates winter coats and snowpants and is generally a pain to go outside with? Yeah that. It is all okay though because this makes it the perfect time to stay warm in the house moving around doing some pre-spring cleaning, organizing and purging and working on art and crafty projects with the kids. Look it is Olaf from Frozen in a shrinky dink that I made with my six year old! Winter isn't so terrible when you adjust your mindset a bit and adapt to what you are given. 

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Home as a Work in Progress.

There is a lot of art in my home, yet very little of it is hung up on our walls. Most of what I took the time to frame and hang is art from other artists that I have collected over the years. And mostly I hang work in my studio because it makes the room seem bigger and it inspires me.  In the living areas of my home we tend to not have a lot of wall space or sense of permanence to hang art but that is starting to change. Today I hung some of my art in the hallway and in my bedroom. I almost never hang my own artwork but it seemed silly to have ready to hang pieces that I love just sitting in a bin unseen in my studio. Another thing to make our apartment feel more like a cozy home where we can stay and to inspire myself and my children with art every day. As soon as the little one came home this afternoon she asked about the artwork in our hallway and told me that she loves it. Thanks sweetie! 

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Clean Start

After the holidays made a mess of my little studio I took some time to clean and clear it out a bit and focus on work. I got rid of a few broken tools and some old drawing assignments from my freshman art school days and suddenly I can breath again. I'm ready to work. Everyday. When I finish carving the block that I am currently working on and print from it it will either go in a drawer or a stack. I stack the larger blocks and put the midsize to small ones in a drawer. Then I can print from them whenever I want for years to come. But I will need to restock my paper supply first. That is always fun!

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Printmaker

I'm a printmaker. Sadly a lot of people out there don't know what that means. But people that I meet are generally pretty eager to learn and that is why I do things like being carved blocks of wood to shows. The internet is a little trickier but I aim to show what I do rather than just the end result here on my blog. These days being a printmaker and a mom means squeezing time to draw, carve and print in during nap times and the precious few moments I have alone during the week. Earlier this week I had two hours to print, but today that time was taken by errands and other family obligations. And nap is not happening. Printing is the hardest activity to plan for because I can't just pick it up and I can't just drop it at a moments notice. It's messy. I pull my hair back and wear an apron. And I still end up with ink smears all over. There just aren't enough hours in the day. In life and in art I do what I can with the time that I have.

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Minimalism and Me - Studio Post part 2

 For the past year or two I have been on a slow journey with minimalism. My free time is very limited so it can be difficult to have big purges but I do what I can whenever I have a free moment along the way. Just getting rid of a few items a week on a regular basis can make a huge difference over time. Then I spend less time cleaning and organizing and more time working and having fun with my family. Our main focus with minimalism is to not accumulate more items without careful consideration. Slowing down the consumption and going without has made a big difference. For our family it is all about finding what each member likes best and uses most and focusing on those items and getting rid of and avoiding the rest.

This philosophy of finding out what I enjoy working with as an artist and getting rid of the extra can be challenging to implement. Living a life of minimalism as an artist offers some special challenges. It is all too easy to collect and hoard various art supplies and justify it saying that it could be just what I need for some later project so I have to keep it around. My small studio starts to fill up with junk rather quickly and then when I need to do work I find it challenging. Now I purge supplies and donate them to my daughter's school on a regular basis. I figure they can put the random art supplies that I have collected over the years to better use than I can. And I still have plenty of materials to draw inspiration from and use in various projects, but without the clutter.  Messy does not work very well in a small space. 

Sewing machine I am looking at you and giving you the stink eye.  

This box of old ink was given to me before my six year old was born and I have had it unused in the box the whole time. I don't need crusty old intaglio ink. Saved a few and tossed the rest.

This box of old ink was given to me before my six year old was born and I have had it unused in the box the whole time. I don't need crusty old intaglio ink. Saved a few and tossed the rest.

My Studio part 1


I work in a small space in the 950 square foot urban apartment that I share with my husband and two young children. There are advantages and disadvantages to being an artist who works from home. One advantage is that I'm always close to work-particularly of note when my 2 year old naps for a few hours (most) afternoons. The big disadvantage seems to be missing out on interacting with artists who aren't 6 or 2 years old. This may or may not actually be a disadvantage.

I'm going to spend some time sharing how I setup my studio to keep its' contents both well organized and safe from children. I'll try and share some tips that I learned along the way too.

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