drawing

Inktober 2017

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. 

My tools for Inktober 2017

My tools for Inktober 2017

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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Inktober for October

Blogging has been hard for me lately, but making art has not been. I got a slow start at the #inktober drawing challenge that is happening online. Mostly on Instagram. I draw in ink daily, but not the polished masterpieces that I see using that hashtag. Intimidated I didn't post much early in the challenge. But as I continue filling up a sketchbook with ink drawings my confidence grows as my need to be "the best" shrinks. Perfectionism and a low opinion of myself and my work has been my excuse to not push myself for too long. No room for perfectionism this month. Getting out a drawing a day for #inktober. Some were good but many more of them were mediocre or worse and that is okay. It was the act of making them every day for an extended period of time and the accountability of putting them out in the world that mattered. Now the month and challenge are nearly finished and I have my big Doodle Book nearly filled. Then it is on to the next challenge to stretch and push myself. 

drawing with a brush and ink is a fast skill building activity

drawing with a brush and ink is a fast skill building activity

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?

The sounds of the city.

After five days up in the middle of nowhere focusing on art adjusting to being back to the city is a bit of a challenge. The city is loud and dirty with too many people. Yesterday I went to the Arnold Arboretum to sketch and get away a bit and I had a really hard time connecting with nature with the sound of the cars outside and all the people walking around. As soon as I would start to relax and sketch a woman would walk buy with clicking heels or an off leash dog would get in my face. I did manage to find a good location to sketch with minimal interruption, but it will take me a little while to get used to being back in the city.

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This is why I carry a sketchbook everywhere.

Happy Friday! Happy Weekend! School meeting cancelled yesterday while my youngest child was still at preschool and my oldest child was at a playdate. Instead of eating one of their yummy fattening desserts I sat outside and drew the Ula Cafe during my free hour. So glad that I had my little portable art studio with me and was ready to draw.

See you on Monday!

A family stops for a snack before a ukelele class inside the complex.

A family stops for a snack before a ukelele class inside the complex.

New Starts!

Now that Open Studios is over with I can start planning for the next big event(s) in my art life. On Monday I completed sketchbook #6 and started sketchbook #7 and them almost immediately felt sketchbook paralysis. Not on the first page since I start the first page the same every time with a collection of colors, my name and number and a quote to inspire me. But after page number three or four I started to feel blocked. The perfect cure was a walk around the Arnold Arboretum here in JP collecting fallen leaves. Now I need to paint them and their gorgeous fall colors in my sketchbook before they all turn brown! Following that is a workshop on Moku Hanga Japanese printmaking workshop at the Elliot School here in JP this weekend. Back to printmaking I go but with a big change in learning a new technique that I have been interested in for years now. In a week I will be in Maine...

fallsketchbook

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.

Happy Friday

Finishing up an art filled week with a sunny and mild Friday and looking forward to the weekend. Loving these early fall weather days here in Boston. On Tuesday and Wednesday I wandered and on Monday and Thursday I stayed close to home. Today I will have two little ones with me so any adventures will need to include them.

from my Wednesday wanderings

from my Wednesday wanderings

A jewelry box and a story.

My grandparents brought this back for me from India. During Liz Steel wonderful, brilliant and informative lessons in Sketchbook Skool she showed us how she does her lovely intricate teacup watercolors. But I don't have a single teacup only coffee mugs and those just aren't the same. But I do have this intricate little box that my grandparents brought back from India for me. I knew it was my subject for the lesson but I drew a few mugs first because I was frightened by the shape and details of this box. Eventually I completed it and I feel despite some wonky bits I did it justice and drew it with love and care.

box

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. 

Blind

So glad that it's Friday. It has been a long week of a long summer here and this morning I am super grateful for the upcoming weekend. Hoping to get some beach time and drawing time.

For a few months now I have been keeping a sketchbook in ink and it has changed my drawing for the better. My lines are more confident and my drawings improved rather quickly and steadily after making the switch. About two weeks ago I hit a rut where I wasn't growing as quickly anymore that I found horribly frustrating. And worse I was growing bored with my drawings. So I took on a new challenge for myself. Blind contour drawings in ink. A blind contour is a one line drawing where you don't look at the paper while you are drawing. Focusing on what you are drawing on instead of looking back and forth can train your eye to see details that you may have glossed over in the past. But often the drawings end up pretty wacky. Early on they look like scribbles, but they get better and now I am totally addicted to the process and feel that it is improved all of my drawing. The challenge is to do this for seventy-five days or seventy five drawings. I am already at more than seventy drawings two weeks in so I am going to ignore the number of drawings and focus on the days. 

Blind contour of South End brownstone done with water soluble brown ink then colored at home. 

Blind contour of South End brownstone done with water soluble brown ink then colored at home. 

Stress Relief Watercolor Circles

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.

Focus on the process. 

Focus on the process. 

My drug of choice...

After an outing to the ICA Boston with my eldest and a long walk in the sun to the nearest T station I was tired, hot and a little grumpy. When we were finally on the subway I was noticing how still passengers generally were and that drawing them would probably be great practice. And since our stop is at the end of the line I wouldn't have to worry about missing out stop. But I was so tired the thought of drawing more pained me. I had already drawn plenty that day right? It's a long train ride home so with some hesitation I did start drawing the passengers and it was like a drug that made me feel better almost instantly. Drawing really does relax me and without the nasty side effects of drugs. The drawing is nothing fabulous (and I don't feel like sharing it here) but I was right that it was good practice for me to keep training my eye to see and my hand to draw it. 

Four months feels like an age ago. Throwback Thursday.

My sketchbook four months ago. When I start to feel discouraged I just look at a sketchbook from just a few months ago and look at what I am producing now and I feel better instantly. I can change and I can still learn. Practice and hard work are incredibly important. Also, the warm weather and busy days this summer is the perfect time for some refrigerator oatmeal.

Kid Art - Elementary School Art Show

Like all little kids, my two daughters both love art and love to draw. The three year old loves carrying around a little notebook and practicing drawing straight lines and shapes and then proudly counting them. The six year old draws a rich magical world filled with her family, princesses, fairies, butterflies and unicorns. She has a fabulous teacher at her public school and their yearly art show is this Thursday. The walls of the entire school will be covered with beautiful artwork. My big girl proudly showed off one of her drawings yesterday. I see us picking up a bunch of colorful frames the next time we are at Ikea. Between the work she is doing with me at the ICA once a month and the art she makes at school we have so much beautiful work to show off. 

My open studio event is this Saturday 10-2. Don't forget! 

the artist in front of her masterpiece 

the artist in front of her masterpiece 

Working small : Artist Trading Cards

Also known as ATC or ACEOs (art cards editions and originals) when sold. I have been making and collecting these little treasures for years now. I have most of my collection that I traded for back in my Etsy prime framed together and hanging in my studio. It is fun having all those different artists playing together in a single space. Always around to inspire me or just make me happy. Making them myself has also gotten me through many a creative block and helped me try out new ideas in a relatively quick and easy way. When I am printing from a large block I usually find spaces to put a couple of black cards down and voila instant art background. For years I never drew on them and thinking back I must have had some reason for keeping them pure prints but now I can't see a reason why I should stick with that idea of purity. Pen, paint and who know what is next when it comes to these little works of art. No rules. Pick one up on Etsy or maybe if you are in the Boston area and run into me I might just give you one. But not this one. 

It may be little but I love it.

It may be little but I love it.

Leaving my comfort zone and going digital.

Waiting for collagraph prints to dry so I can draw on them by hand without smudging the ink is a slow and often frustrating experience. But after a day drying my scanner won't smudge the ink if I'm careful. I am better with an actual pen than a digital pen, but I am learning and I get unlimited erasing when I draw digitally and having layers to work on and edit is pretty nice. Great way to take my art on the go with me on vacation. Though I still can't draw in the car without feeling sick.

Transient
Transient

Analyze what works, learn from it and ditch the rest.

For somebody that fashions herself as a bit of a minimalist I certainly am a pack rat when it comes to my art. I wouldn't have it any other way. Kept an obviously failed collagraph print that was just a hot mess and sat on it for weeks. Until I was ready to get out my watercolors and pens and transform it. It may not be a masterpiece but I learned a lot during the process of making it. In the future I can take pieces that aren't a disaster and transform them.

Transient

Risk for the risk adverse

I guess I was in an artistic rut for awhile. Doing what felt comfortable, easy and safe. It was good until it wasn't. Now I am trying new techniques, learning new things and using new and sometimes just old hoarded materials. It feels great. And also totally terrifying. Especially when it is time to put the work on Etsy.

Transient