For the forth year in a row I am participating in Inktober over on Instagram. I didn't buy any special supplies for this just pulled out a few tools that I would like to work with for the month. I am using Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Sketchbook for all of my daily #inktober drawings, but also using ink as my main tool of the month outside of that sketchbook. To get really comfortable using ink I think using it as often as possible is key. I started with the official prompt list, a first for me, but am jumping around with whatever moves me to create day to day. It is nice to have those prompts as a creative backup and as an extra challenge. Who else is joining the Inktober party this year? I would love to hear your plans for it as well as your experience so far.
I am a social media/ Instagram challenge addict. I know I have a lot going on but I could not resist joining in on #the100dayproject for the third year in a row. I would like to thank Elle Luna for creating this inspiring challenge and I hope to participate for many more years to come. Take an action and repeat it for 100 days in a row and document your progress. Since I am enjoying my metallic watercolors/gouache paints so much I decided to base my theme around them and other metallic art materials. I am looking forward to seeing what this next 100 days brings me creatively as I know it will challenge me in unexpected ways as it progresses. I'm also very interested in seeing what other creatives are doing. How many new voices are participating in 2017 and how many are returning like myself. Say hi in the comments and let me know what action you plan on repeating over the next 100 days. It's a long time, but we can do it!
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?
The Sketchbook Skool assignment for the week was to collect sketches and after six days cut them out and collage them in my sketchbook. The instructor Jonathan Twingley uses a dip pen and ink to make bold expressive marks. Sounds like an exciting challenge. I got started a few days late but I was motivated. Then my four year old got sick. Away went the dip pen. While I was able to sketch during this period it was mostly inside of books and it was far from free and messy. Mostly blind contour drawings of my sick kid filled the pages. But I have been filling loose pages with watercolor, gouache and a bit of ink for months so I got that stack out and started cutting. What fun! Stay tuned to see what I ended up making with all these bits and bobs.
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.
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?
Weekend Morning Pages and schedule keeping are hard, especially in temporary housing with no personal space. But this Monday morning is the best morning I have had since moving out of our house in JP nearly two months ago. While their dad showered I made lunch for the girls and helped get them out the door, then I was showered and dressed and not feeling groggy or sick before eight. Ready to have a productive day planning for the week ahead. I made a cup of tea that I don't desperately need for once and as the skies clear up here in Oxford. The movers come with our stuff on Wednesday morning and I will be moving us in during the rest of the week while the kids are in school. My studio space along with everything else! I am so ready. What are you ready and waiting for? If I were back in Boston I would be preoccupied with waiting for the snow to melt.
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.
Saying a fond and grateful goodbye to the year 2014 today. It was a year of finding a new artistic voice and growing my skills and confidence. It was a year of saying goodbye to a current life, city, friends and country and it was a year of me often unconsciously self-sabotaging myself. I am going to say goodbye and thank you to all the piles of good from 2014 and thank and learn from my very personal mistakes. I am ready to wrap up things here in Boston and start our adventure in Europe. Just thinking about the inspiration for my art that I am sure to discover has me super excited and ready to get started.
I have been debating this idea for awhile now but I have decided to go for a daily ink challenge for 2015. I am still working out the details but I think the big things are that every day I need to make something with ink in 30 minutes or less. The #inktober challenge started off slow and difficult but midway through I hit a groove and ended up learning and growing through the challenge and missing it when it was over. My biggest artistic goal for 2015 is to improve my drawing skills and this should do the trick nicely. A year of daily ink is likely to be even more challenging than a month, but hopefully even more rewarding as well! I am excited to start and keeping it up during our travels should be interesting.
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.
What distracts you from your most important work? What is your time suck? An activity that you pretend is productive but is really just a time wasting time suck. I need to spend some time working on art today in my studio. Often when I am going through a growth period I step back from my sketchbook and focus on shopping for materials. The quest for the perfect materials that will make me a better artist. When really the time to work on art is what matters. The time I spend looking and buying supplies is often a time suck waste. Especially at this point when I pretty much have everything I need. Instead of looking for the perfect colors, the perfect sketchbook or the perfect brush I should draw and paint more. I draw and paint everyday, but if I have time to browse art supplies online I am not drawing or painting enough. Back to painting for me!
I am an anxious person. Drawing (rather obsessively) helps me channel that anxiety and remain calm (more or less). I feel time passing strongly and often painfully. I feel myself losing time and I worry. Drawing helps me remember my days and gives a record of my days. Ever since I started keeping a sketchbook I have been infinitely more engaged and happier. I recommend it to everyone.
Making my mark.
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.
Wait what? No, that is not what I want but it is a struggle. But keeping my blog fresh and interesting Monday through Friday is important to me, so bear with me as I work out the kinks and figure out how to make all this activity work. How do others fit everything in?
I draw everyday and have since sometime back in April when I started keeping an active sketchbook. I draw about twice as much on average now than I did two weeks ago. But really, I could still stand to draw more and I know it. The more I draw the better I become at it and it is the most enjoyable and relaxing yet exciting activity I know. Nothing can top it for me and believe me I have tried! I'm jogging twice a week and trying to make it three times a week, drawing whenever I have a spare minute or even a not so spare minute, reading, taking online classes and spending time with my family this summer. That leaves little time for the computer. This is why I have taken to drinking tea mid day to give me a bit of a lift without keeping me up all night. What a wonderful weekend! I can only hope to have many more weekends this productive yet special and fun.
Vacation travel was wonderful, but as usual I am finding it difficult to adjust to being back to regular life. Especially the not so regular routine that is summer vacation with my kids 3 and 6 home with me and asking for enrichment all. day. long. Camp is expensive and the 3 year old is still too young for most of them and I feel guilty leaving them to watch TV all day and feeding them frozen pizza. So art we do art projects with together and we go outside to the zoo, playgrounds. playgrounds inside of the zoo, sprinkler parks and more playgrounds. The days are hot, humid and very long. I love them but by 4pm I am so totally done and out of things to do and out of energy for myself.
Meditative watercolor paint circles to the rescue. They look cool. They help me relax. They are fun and simple and require more patience than technique and concentration and they help me get to know my paint better. In the end I always feel better and learn something during the process. In my book that is a total win. This one is available on Etsy.
Today's thowback will be the oldest piece on my Etsy shop. If you can guess the year it was made and live in the US or Canada it's yours. Stay tuned for a more contests on my blog. And thank you for making my blog so much fun to write for while keeping the new artwork coming.