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. 

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


Vacationland: Princesses and Fast Rides

My days are spent with my family swimming and pounding the pavement at Disney World. My evenings are spent resting my tired feet and drawing. Pretty great way to spend my vacation. Princess Kitty agrees that this was worth the drive. In between all the drawing, painting and reading I'm doing on vacation (hah!) I have been spending hours at the parks with my family. Fun but oh so tiring. The more time we spend at the parks the less energy I have for my work, but I am still managing to get stuff done. Finding the right balance between "rest" and work is a challenge at all times, during vacation is no exception. 


Portable Art : Sketchbook Share Day Bag

Twice a week I am a captive in a home in the suburbs while my six year old gets some reading help. Since I'm more of a distraction than a help with her tutor I need to find ways to keep busy for the hour. I've perfected the day bag of portable art to bring with me.

A book
Travel Watercolor Set
iPad and stylus

And I am all set for my hour.

Watercolor drying in the suburbs

Watercolor drying in the suburbs

Easter stamping with my kids.

Not sure what we are planning on stamping for Easter. Never heard of cards for Easter or welcoming Spring. But my kids love stamps and they will love these homemade stamps. I've been focused on so many different mediums that it is causing me to take a few too many trips to the art store. While I am having great fun exploring watercolor and collagraph printing and drawing more than ever it is getting to be a bit of an expensive habit and not really inline with the minimalist philosophy. I don't see anything exactly wrong with buying supplies to make stuff. But I should question what I need before I do so. My storage space is far from unlimited. So for this week I will be focusing on materials that I have that I have been neglecting. Stamp making is easy and fun and something that I can do with the kids. These materials were literally sitting in a drawer untouched for years. I have not shown these new stamps to my girls yet. Can't wait to see their faces and see what we make together. 

hand carved stamps on stamping material (the pink is the best) and firm drafting erasers 

hand carved stamps on stamping material (the pink is the best) and firm drafting erasers 

Planning: Nurturing my art this summer

Thinking ahead to summer and trying to figure out how I can enjoy the summer sun and fun with the kids while still carving out creative time for myself. We will not be putting either one of them into any childcare or camp. We considered it but I decided that I would rather spend the time with them during the summer while they are little and just find a way to make up the time. I can't count on Charlotte napping like she did last summer and that kind of stinks. But on the upside that means we aren't so tied to the house which will be really great! I need to use the outside time with them as inspiration and sketch as much as I can and find some young kid friendly projects to share with both of them. Then work for myself on nights and weekends. For the most part I want to be out in the sunshine with my children as much of the summer as possible. I'll have tons of time to create once school starts up for both of them. Maybe I could save up some babysitting time during the day once or twice a month. I welcome any suggestions. Mostly on this cold March Monday I am enjoying dreaming about summer and being warm.


Let it Go (rediscovering my artistic soul)

Working with my kid has been a wonderful experience so far. Often I feel that my drawing gets too tight and controlled and I am just not a strong enough draftsman to work that rigidly. My strengths lie more in color than in line. Yet it is hard for me to loosen up and I struggle and get stuck. Collaborating with my six year old and sometimes even just letting go and handing her the woodblock and a pencil has been exactly what I needed to let go and loosen up. She is thrilled to see her lines translated to print form on beautiful paper with beautiful colors and I have noticed her drawing getting stronger and her artistic passion increasing. And my style still shines through all of it. Turns out we make a pretty great team.

First OhAlex Print

Thanks Ira! I will keep going and work hard every day.

Keep going. Over and over again. Thanks Ira Glass for the stellar advice and encouragement. A week into the hard focused work and it is already paying off. Of course I already knew this from my own life experience and from books I have read like The Artist's Way and The War of Art. It is so obvious that even my little kids do it. They are always working hard and practicing every skill that they know new and old over and over again. I leave out a scrap of paper and my eldest writes and draws all over it. She can't help herself. But adult me still forget and needs a fresh reminder from time to time. Now I am finding ideas that I didn't have two weeks ago are suddenly coming out of apparent thin air. I can feel my brain working better. Sticking to my Core Hours and working is begetting more energy and more ideas to work with. Planning ahead for summer and fall.


Art Date

On the last Saturday of every month the ICA has cool programs and is free for families. The ICA Boston is always free for kids but on those days the kids get the adults in for free as well. Pretty cool. We went in the spring and had a great time but haven't been able to make it back until this month. I went with my eldest daughter and had a great time. She loved the Nick Cave exhibit, especially a statue with the Easter bunny holding a very glittery egg. But what she loved best is what I love best. Sprawling out with an amazing view of the waterfront and drawing. She worked very hard on her drawing and put it above her bed when she got home and kissed it goodnight. I think we will be back for more of these art playdates.



My six year old wants to draw all day long. She's also very skilled at using art to calm herself and find her center, right wrongs and celebrate life. Why don't I? Why do I get so caught up in tasks and my boring to-do list and not draw more often and enjoy life more? Live more often. Get lost in the white space of time while creating. Well, I should take a lesson from my daughter and do just that.


Snow Day Art Day!

Another snow day here in Boston. What is it with all these mid-week storms? I shouldn't complain because I think another storm is forecasted for this weekend. Looking at the snow piling up outside it is hard to believe just this past Sunday we were stomping around in rainboots at light jackets at a local farm. Not today. We might go out later to build a snowman or sled. But mostly today is for staying inside and doing art. Like contact paper sun catchers for our windows. That is, we will do that if they ever stop playing together in their room. Little sister is super excited to have her big sister home with her today. My Little Pony, Lego, Magnatiles, dressup and even trains have all come out so far this morning. There is still plenty of time to make one of these right?  We did it!


This morning exploded on us with big kid waking up with a twisted foot and a rash all over her body. Turns out letting her sleep in a new nightgown without washing it first was a very bad idea. At least she wasn't contagious and was able to return to school and not miss her field trip. But with doctors appointments and running around getting medicine there went my morning to do list. So I threw it out the window and enjoyed the rest of a gorgeous day with my little girl. What started out as a rainy day turned into a sunshine filled gloriously warm fall day. We went for a bike ride around our neighborhood and split some delicious thai noodles at our favorite playground and had a really fun day. I adapted and am now using my evening and tomorrow to catch up on what I missed on my to-do list this morning.  It's all going to be okay. 


Art Appreciation with my Family

The children loved the zoo but I am really glad that we didn't renew our overpriced zoo membership and instead just go with friends a few times a year. Enough friends have passes and I really never want to go on our own. Save money and sanity. If we had a membership I would feel compelled to go more often. Instead I should look into a membership at the MFA, the ICA or the Decordova. The MFA has a lot of kids programs and is the closest but the ICA is good for kids too and I like it better overall. It's harder to get to. The Decordova is probably my favorite but a long drive away and I don't know when we would even go on a regular basis.


My Tribe

Looking for my tribe on the internet and in the blog world. Reconnecting with some print making blogs that I used to follow before my children were born. There are some really great artists that I have been missing out on during these years I have been so busy with my small children. In particular I am feeling a bit disappointed that I missed out on this large collaborative puzzle block from 1000 Woodcut artist Maria Arango. Each zone is a puzzle piece that has been mailed off and carved by a different artist and then mailed back to be printed together. It looks really neat and I regret not having it together enough to sign up for it a year or two ago. Now I know that I need to keep my eye out for upcoming projects like this and maybe even eventually start one of my own. In the meantime I will keep making art, keep blogging, keep connecting with others and start a blog roll reading list on my website.

An Artful Life

Weaving art into the tapestry of everyday life by including my children and family in my artful life. This week that was making lanterns for and walking in the lantern parade here in Jamaica Plain. It was the 30th annual parade at the pond and our first time walking it as a family.

Crafts are not my thing. Learning a new skill in what at least at the time feels like a high pressure environment is not my favorite activity at the end of a busy week. But on Friday afternoon after school after my little girl woke up from her nap grumpy and ran around the house mostly naked for awhile I made a batch of glue slurry, cut up some tissue paper and got to creating with my big girl. The big girl had a great time building her lantern that little girl eventually calmed down and joined us to help out with the finishing touches. 

The glue started to dry on my fingertips and that bothered me but I kept going. Soon our lantern was done. Then I made two more on my own. Funny thing how the learning process can be so painful at times but then something clicks and you just keep going and keep creating. I got to use some fun tissue paper that I have been hoarding for years.

Our three homemade lanterns dried overnight and we went to the 30th annual Jamaica Plain Lantern Festival on Saturday night with them and had a wonderful time walking around and seeing all the little kids in their costumes and running into neighbors in the dark walking around the pond and trying not to stumble into each other. There was a lot of music and dancing as well. We will be back next year.

The lanterns at Jamaica Pond  

The lanterns at Jamaica Pond