artist

Illness, Inktober and some rambling

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?

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Packing for France!

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. 

My maxed out sketching kit ready for Paris! 

My maxed out sketching kit ready for Paris! 

The Blogging Habit

The blogging habit is not an easy one for me. I need to commit to doing a short blog post Monday-Friday. In fact, maybe blogging should be a seven day thing for a month or so while I establish the habit. Blogging is a hard habit for me to keep up and I think that that weekend break is a good idea in the long run but derails me in the short term while establishing the habit. My sketching and painting habit is solid. My ice cream habit is sadly quite established as well. Time to get the blogging habit set. I have the work to share, time to share it beyond the word of Instagram. How do other bloggers do it? Especially visual artists that don't consider writing to be their thing?

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My best morning yet!

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. 

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An Inky Challenge for 2015

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.

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Stressed and distracted

Moving across the ocean in two weeks is stressful and distracting. Who knew? I am going to miss our friends in Boston so much but at this point I just want to get it over with and get over there already. We have one more full week in our home then the movers come and pack us up and we spend part of a week in temporary housing in Boston. Then we fly out on a Friday red eye flight. The girls are due to start their new school in the UK that following Monday. Some art supplies will come with me on the airplane. Some will go on the small air shipment but most of it will go on a boat and take a month or longer to get to us along with all of our furniture. I need to choose wisely. Temporary housing is waiting for us over in the UK. We will be fine. My goal is to keep working, prepare to depart and enjoy our friends here while we still have them. Life is a party at the moment. 

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Jury Duty

First Veterans Day and no studio time and now Jury Duty and no studio time. But I expect to be doing a fair amount of sitting in the jury pool room and am bringing three sketchbooks and some supplies. There is a good chance that I will finish up two of these these sketchbooks today. One of them is an old sketchbook that only works for pencil and ink that I have kept next to my bedside table for awhile. I am going to fill it with gesture drawing warmups and doodles. The other is the Moleskine that I have been carrying around with me a few months. I am super ready to move on with both these books but I am trying not to rush it with the Moleskine. I told myself that I need to spend some time with my next Moleskine drawing that I do since I have been using it for fast drawings and that is fine, but I should focus on line a little bit more. I am looking forward to my next sketchbook, but it is time to remain present with my current sketchbook. Sitting and people watching is a good chance to do that. Maybe I can creep out the judge and he will send me home for the day.

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Moving to England!

Sometime in January I will be packing up my art studio and moving it to the UK along with my family. Feeling very blessed and excited about this next adventure. Boston has been a wonderful place to live for nearly twelve years but I think we are all ready for a change. I think Oxford will be an inspiring city and I am excited about this next step. 

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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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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.

Processing Haystack

Monday morning. Back to reality after an inspiring trip to Haystack. Yet I am still happy to be home around my favorite people. Now that I am home I have a lot to do to process the artwork that I made there and the ideas that I generated. Plus laundry. So much laundry. Laundry is the worst. But for now there is coffee to drink and kids that need to get to school.

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Goodbye Haystack deck. 

Oil vs Water

One more sleep at home in Boston. On Wednesday morning I leave for Maine and will get to spend five days at Haystack. But my art life has been full since before Haystack. Just this past weekend I got to take a Japanese Printmaking workshop at the local Elliot school and it was great fun, intense work going from sketch to block to print all in a too short weekend. But I learned so much and I do want to do more with it now that I understand the basics of the technique. Carving the block was basically the same as I now it, but printing was completely different. Very painterly and flexible which was great fun. But with the ticking clock of the water based inks quickly drying out stressing me out. I came home exhausted both physically and mentally both nights. I have six original prints to show for the weekend and an itch to make more. The woodblock printing that I am much more familiar with is western style printing on various papers with oil based ink and a printing press. No painterly fun like the Japanese moku hanga, but also once I lay out the oil based ink to work with it is good all day long with little risk of it drying out. I would love to print these blocks with my oily methods to compare, but then I wouldn't be able to go back to the waterbased inks.

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Market Testing

I took about a dozen watercolors  to Open Studios and I sold about half of them. JP Open Studios was a market test for the watercolors to figure out if I should keep at them and how to price them and the answer was yes keep going! JP Open Studios was fabulous fun this weekend as I love connecting with my community. And I love sending original artwork out in the world. Thank you to all those that have supported my fresh start these past months by reading my blog, offering feedback and buying artwork. I will be putting watercolors up on my Etsy shop as soon as I can get new work made, scanned and listed.

The fantastic carousel on the Boston Greenway opened last year and is a delight for both children and adults. This little painting went to a very good home this weekend.

The fantastic carousel on the Boston Greenway opened last year and is a delight for both children and adults. This little painting went to a very good home this weekend.

Favorite Things: Lamy Safari and Lamy Joy fountain pens

I love my Lamy Safari fountain pen. An awesome fountain pen for under $30? Sign me up. Not quite under $30 when you take into account that all pens come with blue ink and you need to buy a converter to use bottled ink but an awesome pen for around $30. It is my main pen these days. I love it for drawing and for writing. Comfortable to use with my left hand and no problem with smearing. I loved it so much that I picked up a Lamy Joy and replaced the very nice calligraphy nib with an EF nib for drawing and that has become my favorite studio pen. The Safari travels around with me and the Joy is always available to me in my studio. Of course the right ink is just as important as the right pen.

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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.

I want to stop, but why?

The 75 day blind contour challenge has been easy and rewarding. The original challenge is to draw in ink for 75 days or 75 drawings. But I already draw in ink in my sketchbook and a lot more than one drawing a day. But I am not super familiar or confident with blind contours so I decided that 75 days of blind contour drawings in a single sketchbook would be my theme. My drawing has clearly improved from this exercise and I still enjoy doing them yet I realize that 75 days is a long time and I am not even halfway done. That fact is discouraging and tempts me to stop, but I am not going to stop. I can see myself looking through this themed sketchbook in the future when it is complete and that makes me keep going. What makes you keep going?

a few days and journaling in the 75 day sketchbook. I use bits of washi tape to brighten up the pages since I am drawing in black ink throughout every page. 

a few days and journaling in the 75 day sketchbook. I use bits of washi tape to brighten up the pages since I am drawing in black ink throughout every page. 

Perfection. I don't have it.

Some artist's seem to attain perfection in every sketchbook page. Andrea Joseph is an example of this type of artist. She hosted the most recent week at Sketchbook Skool and I found putting on her skin and drawing with a ballpoint pen for two days to be too much for me. She's a wonderful and super talented artist but her sketchbooks are far too perfectly composed for how I work. For me sketchbooks are to work out problems, record events and try things out. And for that I need freedom to mess up. Good for her for sure but I need to find my own way. But I can still enjoy her beautifully rendered drawings of often humble objects. 

Ball point pens drawn with ball point pens. I'm sure if I tried this I would end up with a smeared mess on my hands. 

Ball point pens drawn with ball point pens. I'm sure if I tried this I would end up with a smeared mess on my hands. 


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.