art studio

Hoarder

My name is Marissa and I am an art supply hoarder. Often hoarding my best supplies because I don't feel good enough to use it. This problem is especially strong when it comes to paper. As a printmaker and now a watercolor painter paper is my canvas and my most expensive single supply. And unlike canvas I can't simply gesso over failures and try again. With prints and with watercolor I am stuck with whatever I make the first time. No more hoarding my good paper. I will use my watercolor paper blocks every day and break myself out of my sketchbooks and out of my rut. My first block or a Arches is on its way but I need to use up this before I'm allowed to use it. 

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Collector

My paint pallet, brushes, ink and pen collection has exploded recently. They bring me joy to use and I do indeed use them. Experimenting with a new color or brush is always fun, but can I master them if I am constantly trying something new? Paint more. 

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What is your distraction?

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!

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Rainy Days

Drinking tea while listening to the wind and rain while painting in my cozy studio. Sunshine is great but sometimes I need the excuse to stay in and work indoors. Loving this stormy weather. 

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Tired. Keep going.

I was tired and wanted to go to bed as soon as the kids went to bed. I wanted them to go to bed early so I could go to bed early. Then they ended staying up drawing together in their room so I wandered back to my studio to tinker with some paintings. I am glad I kept going. Once I get through my to do list I will start putting watercolors up on my Etsy shop. I am nervous about listing these new creation as I still very much consider myself a student when it comes to watercolor. But I was a student with printmaking too not all that long ago.

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Window shopping sketchbook

I want more succulents and vessels for my studio. But right now is not the time to accumulate more stuff. So I browse online and window shop and fill my sketchbooks with my findings. Someday I will have plenty of interesting looking and beautiful plants of my own to inspire me. Just not today. 

#inktober started late for me and was a slow start as I compared my scribbles to other artists but halfway through and I am finding my groove and learning. Isn't that the point?

#inktober started late for me and was a slow start as I compared my scribbles to other artists but halfway through and I am finding my groove and learning. Isn't that the point?

Why do I sketch?

I fill about a sketchbook a month these days. When I am done they go on a shelf in my studio and I look back on them often. My children look through them and I show them off to friends and other curious people. This number doesn't include the "extra" books I keep around. Why do I do it? Why do I use precious paper and other materials for plenty of less than perfect pages? Because if I don't I grow stagnant and miserable. Because the process is how I grow as an artist and as a person. Because my sketchbooks are important. I admire other artists that keep active, consistent yet varied and adventurous sketchbooks. It is a tricky balance for sure to develop and maintain a style while continuing to push yourself as an artist and experiment. As I try to break out of my sketchbooks a bit more and feel comfortable doing pieces for the public rather than for myself I know that making time for my sketchbooks is something that needs to come first in my art life. No matter where I am at in life I will always sketch.

The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you  Liz Steel  for helping me get over first page jitters.

The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you Liz Steel for helping me get over first page jitters.

Drawing Tip: Blind Contour Drawing Warmup

Want to improve your drawing? Don't know when to draw or what to draw? How about taking on the 75 Day Drawing Challenge? Started by watercolor artist and sketchbook keeper Brenda Swenson it has grown and developed into a popular artistic challenge for many people to customize. The only rules that stay constant are the 75 day length and using ink or another permanent line. I made the challenge my own with ink and doing blind contour drawings. A blind contour drawing is a drawing where you focus mostly on the outline, don't lift your pen as you draw and don't look away from your subject (so you don't look at your paper) while you are drawing. Do this for 75 days in a row (more or less) at a fairly consistent time for maximum effectiveness. I find the morning while I drink my coffee to be a good time for this activity. It can take as little as 5 minutes, but some people go all out and spend twenty minutes or longer on their drawings. I am content treating this as a warmup activity and spending rarely more than ten minutes on my drawing. I have also started journaling in the pages and including the date and weather forecast in the margins. Sometimes I fill in the drawings with details and sometimes I add bits of color. But they all start with a blind contour line that I mark the start with dot and an S and the finish with a dot and an F to keep me honest.

It was a hard challenge for me to start but once I got going I noticed a change in my drawing and easily continued. Until around day 35 when I realized I had been doing this challenge for over a month and wasn't even halfway done. I am not used to drawing challenges that last longer than a month. But I made it through that bumpy period and now here I am almost at day sixty and with well over 100 blind contour drawings under my belt and I am looking at ways to keep this habit going after 75 days and after my sketchbook is full. I'll probably just start a new sketchbook with simple graph paper and save the next Moleskine from my clearance stockpile for something else.

Where to go? What to draw? Everyday Matters Challenge.

I get to go on some fun sketching adventures around Boston and when we travel. But sometime I have at home to draw and want to draw something real not something imagined and don't know what to draw. Am getting sick of drawing my coffee cups and couple of plants. That is where the Everyday Matters drawing prompt list challenge comes in handy. Going through that list one at a time at whatever pace suits me. Also, I am impatient to finish up this small sketchbook so I can move on to a larger non-wirebound sketchbook. Next up is a lamp.

Oh how I wish these Toms fit me!

Oh how I wish these Toms fit me!

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.

Geodoodles

Having fun with a dip pen, white acyclic ink, abstract shapes and making a mess in my studio. This is why I cover my work surface with craft paper and why I always wear an apron. The geodoodles are back and I am loving combining them with the concentric circles of watercolor and paint splatters.  Last night I went to bed thinking about drawing more with my dip pen.

concentric circles, metallic shimmer and geometric doodling in my sketchbook.

concentric circles, metallic shimmer and geometric doodling in my sketchbook.

Favorite Things - Pentel Pocket Brush

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I have had a couple of Sakura, Copic and other felt tipped brush pens and I hated every single one of them. The tip was never very flexible and wore out super quickly too. Junk. So I ignored recommendations on this pen brush hybrid for ages until I learned that the brush has actual individual fibers like a real brush. Very similar to the waterbrushes I use for painting on the go except instead of water it houses waterproof fast drying black ink. Last weekend I used a coupon to pick one up at a reasonable price and I am so glad that I did. The tip is soft and flexible yet very durable and refillable. As a bonus the ink dries super fast and this lefty doesn't have to worry about smearing or a black stained side of my hand. So far the only downside I can find is that I used up an ink cartridge in less than a week and refills are rather expensive. I tried to refill the empty cartridge with bottled ink and an eye dropper and I ended up with black ink all over my hands instead of in the cartridge. It is very different from any other pen I have ever used and takes a delicate and sure touch that I am still getting used to with practice. I ordered a package of ink refills. 

Left is a fountain pen, right is the brush pen. 

Left is a fountain pen, right is the brush pen. 

Weekend relaxing?

Are weekends supposed to be relaxing? I must be doing something wrong then. This weekend didn't go poorly, but it didn't go smoothly either and now it is gone and I am back to the week where I have to squeeze in time for art. I drew a fair amount over the weekend and the past week. Even went back and finished and fixed up a couple of abandoned sketchbook drawings and got them to a place where I can be happy. Yet I still feel impatient with my watercolor and drawing skills. 

The need to print again is growing stronger. I haven't had the chance since summer vacation started. I don't want to work with older blocks I want to take my growing drawing skills to a new block of wood and get lost carving and printing it. Maybe I will try my hand at white line printmaking. I have a few ideas for subjects and I should have blocks of wood that are big enough but not too big hanging around my studio. 

My printing press has been so neglected this summer. I must make time for it before summer ends. 

My printing press has been so neglected this summer. I must make time for it before summer ends. 

Athletic Artist? Making time for something new.

But I am an artist! I don't get into sports or exercise. Plus I live in a city where I can walk nearly everywhere so I don't need to exercise. Except that I do. Especially since I have to drive more and more as my kids require me to take them further outside the city for various educational and enrichment opportunities. The days that we walk around our neighborhood are fewer and fewer. This will hopefully change in the fall, but in the meantime I need to get active. I've decided to make jogging three times a week a priority. I cannot bring a sketchbook with me so instead I focus on looking and clearing my head as I run around Jamaica Pond and bring home the experience, the colors and a handful of leaves and other bits of nature to my studio. Sunday was my first solo run and it was a really lovely way to start my day and prime my brain and body for a day spent in my studio drawing and painting. It rained most of the day, but after an active morning and an active day outside the day prior I felt no guilt focusing on processing my experiences through color and line. I don't think I should have any trouble finding time for this new habit. 

Bits of nature drawn in my studio after a day of activity. 

Bits of nature drawn in my studio after a day of activity. 

Enjoying my quiet Art Studio.

Good morning and happy Monday. Hope everybody had a great weekend. Mine was pretty phenomenal, the perfect mix of activity, time with family, time alone, time in nature and studio time. Bike ride and sailing on Friday night, ICA with my eldest, followed by Figment Boston and a long walk all over the city, food trucks and friends, then a jog and a rainy Sunday spent in the studio. Doesn't get much better than that. With summer I don't get a lot of uninterrupted time and space to just be in my art studio and experiment. Yesterday was one of those glorious and rare days where I got to spend hours in quiet drawing, painting and experimenting. It all started with a jog to clear my head and get my brain going. I came home filled with new and different ideas and ready to begin executing them. Well, ready after a shower. During that time I set up my little paint pallet with the colors that I use the most and made a little strip of paper with them for reference. I have a fancy set of 48 colors that is gorgeous and wonderful to play around with but I feel I do better with fewer colors most of the time. Now I have 22 colors plus sparkly gold and silver in a handy and portable case. They won't travel with me except on special occasions, I have my Pocket Pallet or Altoid set for daily painting out of the house. But they may come with me on vacation or if I decide to spend a day alone in Arboretum

So much beautiful paint color to play with. 

So much beautiful paint color to play with. 

Friday Favorite : Art Institute Sketch

I drew a lot on vacation. And I have drawn a lot since I have been back home. This one is from a photo I took outside the Art Institute Chicago during our first night there. Walking around the city at night was a memory I feel privileged to have and wanted to be sure to capture the memory in my sketchbook. Since I don't like using pencil using the wash and ink or fast and slow technique by blocking out the basic images in color using watercolor before drawing. That served as my guide when I slowly drew everything I could see. There are a couple of slightly wonky areas but overall I am quite pleased to have this image in my sketchbook. This is my favorite drawing of the week. Thank you Sketchbook Skool for the technique to tackle such a complex image and the focus to keep going and finish it. 

A lot of drawing and a little text. This is how I will remember my life.

A lot of drawing and a little text. This is how I will remember my life.

Summer is here and vacation coming.

This was the last week of school for my two kids. Today is the final day of school for my big kid and my little kid has today and tomorrow for preschool. Then they are both off for the summer with very little scheduled. Hopefully I have fostered independent play and I will be able to illustrate our summer adventures in my sketchbook. We are all excited about a summer filled with travel, learning, swimming, hiking, sprinkler parks, festivals, sidewalk chalk, art, relaxing and as many adventures that we can cram into two short months. And for me a lot of on location drawing around Boston and other locations near and far. 

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little, Big. Exploring with watercolor.

On location I work small and/or quick with limited colors. People move around a lot and the scene changes, plus I am usually supervising my children and they may need me. I've gotten pretty good at picking safe locations that they enjoy and I can sit back and casually supervise them play while drawing but I still rarely have a lot of time to work on a drawing when I am out with them. In the studio I rarely work big but I do work slow and more complex. My sketchbook is filling up with these color explorations and exercises in patience. Each layer of color needs to dry completely before adding the next glaze of transparent watercolor. I feel my understanding of my watercolors and their colors deepening as I relax and unwind with these complex little paintings. 

ATC next to a sketchbook page. 

ATC next to a sketchbook page.