family

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! 

A little break from illness with a road trip to Stonehenge

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.

Stonehenge sketch. Watercolor and grey colored pencil in a pocket moleskine watercolor book.  

Stonehenge sketch. Watercolor and grey colored pencil in a pocket moleskine watercolor book.  

Stonehenge surprises us as we drive on the highway. 

Stonehenge surprises us as we drive on the highway. 

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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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!

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

Draw more. Write more. Run more. Blog less?

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.

photo courtesy of Sarah Hay

photo courtesy of Sarah Hay


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. 

Impatient and Anxious. Accept it or change it?

Often I feel very impatient to have my skills catch up to my desires. Learning to slow down, breathe and enjoy the journey rather than fret and worry is something that I struggle with. Anticipating vacations is often something filled with similar anxiety and worry. Drives my husband batty since he is a much more chill person than as well as very logical and anxiety over fun things like vacations doesn't make a lot of sense to him. Thankfully as we take more vacations as a family and I even get to go out on my own once or twice a year this anxiety is starting to wane a bit. But the anxiety I have over my artistic skills and accomplishments still beats strong. I compare myself to others and see all my shortcomings and have a mini freak out. Today I tell myself to relax and enjoy the journey in my sketchbook. Whatever my destination to trust that I will get there. Working on some continuous line and blind contour drawings and other sketches on this lovely Friday. Planning for a fantastic weekend with all sorts of cool and inspiring events happening right in Boston. This weekend I will remember that I can change and not just grow in artistic skills and pick up new positive habits such as keeping a sketchbook and running, but I can also grow and become less anxious over time. 

Learning to relax and see with continuous line and blind contour sketching. 

Learning to relax and see with continuous line and blind contour sketching. 

Sketching around people

Are you too nervous to draw around people? Especially the thought of drawing people that aren't specifically posing for you? Or maybe even people that are posing for you and asked to be drawn? Too much pressure to do a good job? Maybe you end up scribbling over your drawing, erasing your drawing or even worse ripping out the page and crumpling it up! That was me for my entire life up until this point. But now I just do it and half the time early in the drawing I mess something up or the person moves and I am tempted to give up but I go on and finish the drawing. I always finish my drawings. If I keep going I can fix it to at least be decent plus I learn from the experience of drawing and correcting errors. If I give up I learn nothing. It is summer so go outside and draw and if you are feeling extra brave draw people. They rarely mind. 

Quick sketch and watercolor at a summer Small Group BBQ in the neighborhood. I lost my light and had to stop sooner than I would have liked to but I am content. 

Quick sketch and watercolor at a summer Small Group BBQ in the neighborhood. I lost my light and had to stop sooner than I would have liked to but I am content. 

Sketchbook Skool (not a typo) and using my Moleskine.

I don't think Moleskine sketchbooks are worth their $15 pricetag. But when I found them on clearance for $4 I bought all the hardbound ones they had and then they sat in a drawer while I focused on mixed-media paper and watercolors. But now that I am signed up for Sketchbook Skool and drawing even more often than before I find their sleek pages calling for some ink drawings. I managed to only fall a little behind with the weekly lessons while traveling and am working to catch up. This weeks assignment is six self-portraits of selfies using various techniques. This is not a super fun assignment for me as I am not very interested in drawing myself, especially in great detail. But I am putting in the time and effort and having fun despite myself. It's a good exercise and maybe someday it will become part of my art habit. Thank you Koosje Koene for the push to break out of my artistic comfort zone. 

Me and my little clone posing for an iPad selfie. 

Me and my little clone posing for an iPad selfie. 


Travel Journal Sketchbook

Back from vacation with a sketchbook half filled with drawings that I did during our travels. I manged to draw every day, sometimes a little sometimes a lot. A great vacation and we have lots to help us remember it forever. Cedar Point, Columbus, Chicago and family all in my sketchbook. Not wanting to switch gears with it completely now that I am home and fill it with random sketches I have decided to continue it with the theme and fill it with memories, mementos and ideas that come from the trip. Using various souvenirs and photographs that we brought home with is for drawings will quickly fill the rest of the pages. Hopefully!

A journal spread that I worked on after we got home. 

A journal spread that I worked on after we got home. 

Ideas:

  1. Pets (Yuna, Abby, Lizzy the shy kitty, the three legged cat and Maeby).
  2. Favorite roller coasters
  3. Weekend trips
  4. Family Trees
  5. statue gardens
  6. The Art Institute Lions
  7. Pizza
  8. pool portraits
  9. Travel Map
  10. Cake pops for Charlotte

Wake up and draw. Harder than it sounds.

Wake up in the morning and write, draw and exercise. These are the three things that are most important to me in the morning. Usually I can get one or two of those tasks taken care of without too much trouble, but the third is a challenge. Why? There are other people living in this house. Small people that need to be fed and get out the door to school in the morning. Small people that fight with each other on a regular basis. The morning rushing around is about to end and for that I am excited. This summer other than two weeks of Tenacity later in the summer we don't have anywhere to be until 11 and I am looking forward to our slow starts. I will probably still pack lunches most days so we don't end up eating out, but no more getting out of the house before 8am rush after today. Here's to sleeping in children (I can dream) and productive mornings!

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. 

NYC - Traveling Artist (with family)

Spent the holiday weekend in NYC with my family. First stop was The Cloisters where I showed my unicorn obsessed daughters the Unicorn Tapestries. What I didn't count on was how the tapestry series ends with the unicorn being slaughtered. Alex was devastated. Also didn't count on an adult reaching out and handling the famous tapestry that dates back to the 16th century. We all enjoyed the courtyard, especially Alex and I who sat down and drew flowers and the fountain. My oldest daughter has picked up on the fact that I draw every day and she now does it herself so she "can be a great artist like me or Van Gogh". Thanks kid! Next stop brunching in Brooklyn with friends, The Lion King musical, the MOMA and Central Park. 

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Waiting in line... for the Jamaica Plain Open Studios

Jamaica Plain Open Studios is approaching again and registration was (yet again) in person at the Footlight Club here in JP this week. People started lining up before three for a registration that began at seven. With kids and a working spouse that is not how I can spend my afternoon. And on a glorious May day that isn't how I want to spend my afternoon. But luckily one of our favorite neighborhood playgrounds is near by and my kids were able to play there and be watched by friends while I waited in line long enough to get a number. Eventually the kids had to wait in line with me but they were very well behaved. JPOS is September 20th and 21st. Hope to see you there as summer winds down and autumn begins! 

Helping mama hold that #20 spot in line.

Helping mama hold that #20 spot in line.

Take off running! Scheduling that works.

We came home from our vacation a day early so we would all have more time to recover before school, work, travel and chores take over our lives again. That is one of the advantages of driving. It paid off and I have a plan to take off running in the studio on Monday with no pressure on myself to do anything other than draw in my sketchbook before my core hours start. Then come Monday after getting the girls to school I will be on the clock working. It will be a week of streamlined schedules and hopefully learning how to be more efficient as a family and as an artist. Making time work for me instead of against me.

Family Schedule:

  1. Wakeup 6am to beat Charlotte
  2. Morning Pages + Blog
  3. Light Breakfast
  4. School Drop Off*
  5. Exercise
  6. Shower**
  7. Tidy
  8. Core Hours 10 - 12
  9. Lunch + Social Media
  10. Preschool Pickup
Afternoon Plan:
  1. Play or nap
  2. Alex Pickup
  3. Playground
  4. Homework
  5. Dinner
  6. Bath
  7. Read
  8. Girls' Bedtime 8:30
  9. Read, draw and relax
  10. Bed by 10pm

Transient

Fighting off the Darkness

Every morning I wake up and say to the darkness: "Not today, you can't have me today." But I feel the anxiety and depression lurking around the corner all the time. These are emotions that have completely mentally crippled me and almost destroyed me a handful of times. They are as much a part of me as my brown hair and brown eyes at this point in my life. It is something that I have to actively combat. Vacation should help but it mostly stresses me out as I anticipate everything that could go wrong. But I do eventually start to relax and feel less anxious and have a good time. Now I am pretty relaxed and hopeful as we head home, I just need to work hard to maintain this feeling and keep the darkness at bay.

Transient

Portable Art: Vacation Day Bag

My vacation day bag includes:

  1. my sketchbook
  2. camera
  3. iPad Mini
  4. stylus
  5. books (Die Empty and Daily Habits)
  6. travel sized watercolors and water brush
  7. pens
  8. colored pencils
  9. iPhone
  10. my brain

Will see how many of these items I actually use during this trip and report back. What art supplies do others bring when they travel? 

Thinking about my home of Boston today while on vacation at Disney with my family. Good luck to all those running in the Boston Marathon today.

Transient

Downtime, rest and recharging.

I took the weekend off blogging, rode my bike, got my hair cut and spent time outdoors with my family. Did minimal art stuff and didn't spend much time thinking about my next steps. I have been feeling plagued with a lot of "what next" kind of worries and the weekend of glorious weather and one sick child seemed like as good a time as any to step back for awhile. Vacation is next week.  The world didn't end and I felt better starting out the week after a bit of rest. I still kept my sketchbook up because that is completely habit at this point.

Sick day spent drawing.

Sick day spent drawing.