I am a social media/ Instagram challenge addict. I know I have a lot going on but I could not resist joining in on #the100dayproject for the third year in a row. I would like to thank Elle Luna for creating this inspiring challenge and I hope to participate for many more years to come. Take an action and repeat it for 100 days in a row and document your progress. Since I am enjoying my metallic watercolors/gouache paints so much I decided to base my theme around them and other metallic art materials. I am looking forward to seeing what this next 100 days brings me creatively as I know it will challenge me in unexpected ways as it progresses. I'm also very interested in seeing what other creatives are doing. How many new voices are participating in 2017 and how many are returning like myself. Say hi in the comments and let me know what action you plan on repeating over the next 100 days. It's a long time, but we can do it!
So much to take in here in Rome. The first time I saw the masses of ancient ruins with the Colosseum in the distance I was awestruck. In Rome stray cats have ruins to climb and lounge around on.
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?
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.
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.
Make one of these and you can carry a little bit of color wherever you go. It's super tiny and if you fill it with high pigment paints those tiny dots of paint can go a long way in a sketchbook (or two). Below the illustration is detailed instructions on how to make your own. My gift to you.
Altoid Watercolor Travel Kit:
- Altoid SMALLS tin (sugarfree) is the right size and shape with NO EMBOSSING on the lid!
- Press Sculpty of other polymer clay in the base of clean tin about 1/4-1/3 of an inch high.
- Mints pressed into Scultpy form reservoirs. I can comfortably get 12 with the tiny square mints.
- Bake according to clay instructions or around 270F for 15 minutes.
- Wash out mints under warm running water. Dry.
- Spray glaze on hardened Sculpty paint pans. Let Dry.
- Tape to cover the sides of the lid and any other area that you do not want paint on. If you skip this step the lid will not close properly and scrap the spray paint and possibly get stuck.
- White spray paint the lid. You want a few even coats followed by a glaze to make this surface smooth and durable.
- Dry completely.
- Fill reservoirs with the paints of your choice. I highly recommend artist grade paints if you can afford them.
- Leave to dry a minimum of overnight longer is better.
- Voila! When you use up the paint just refill it.
Opening up my studio to people on Saturday was a big scary for my introverted side and I nearly send a message cancelling it a bunch of times the night and even morning before. But I went through with it and had a great time. It was a beautiful day so most people were having fun outside, but I got to work and enjoy talking to the people that did come. Thank you! I will be doing this again sometime, possibly in the fall or winter. The most enjoyable part for me was the conversations. Having studio space in my house is so convenient with small children but I miss the conversations that I imagine I would have if I rented a shared spot somewhere. Also, enjoyed giving ATC to the kids that came and getting them excited about making and collecting original artwork.
Three fans stopped by the mLee studio to purchase artwork before their big cross country move next week. All three of them seem pretty happy with what they left with. Good luck on your move and try not to gloat too much about the weather come February. While these beautiful people are lucky enough to live in Boston (for now) and visit my studio in person I realize not everybody is so lucky. So I try to bring a bit of my studio online through the blog and on Instagram. To my customers are all over the world; you too could be featured on my blog.
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.
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.
Travel Watercolor Set
iPad and stylus
And I am all set for my hour.
After a too long hiatus I started keeping a sketchbook again. First I finished off the one that I had been working on for (well) over a year, then I drew on random scraps of paper while I waiting to find the perfect next sketchbook. Then I gave up on waiting for the perfect one and the perfect moment and just grabbed one and started drawing. The lines are more solid and sure and my new personal goal is to use what I have and avoid hording my "good" materials and just use them. I started keeping a Tumblr blog just to showcase my these daily drawings.
I like to draw on paper. And I like paper a lot. As a printmaker paper is probable my favorite material. Ink and color is important but those are purely practical and utilitarian. Paper is soft and lovely and different subtle shades. Printing to the edge of the paper in a bleed print or leaving a border. Western versus Asian styles versus handmade papers. It is the base that the inks mix with and I love working with paper over canvas or other materials. With this love of all things paper and traditional I have mostly avoided digital artwork. But that is starting to change. Baby steps really but I might have room for it after all.
Collagraph crazy over here. Why didn't I explore this medium more before? It's so much fun and so inexpensive and low commitment compared to woodblock printmaking. I'm having a lot of fun making cardboard plates to print with and then drawing on the prints after they have had a chance to dry.
I love these pieces. They are two of my recent favorites and I am thrilled that they are heading to a new home. No matter how much I love a piece I am always thrilled when it is purchased and goes to a new owner. I can always make more but getting my art out in the world is my ultimate goal. Thankful to have Etsy helping make that a reality since 2004.
Not much of a break from carving when I am in the zone. Winter skin has forced me to step back and take a break from printing because all the extra hand washing and ink is hard on my already dry winter skin. Giving myself some time to heal. But as long as I don't cut myself carving does no such damage to my skin. I still have plenty of time to sketch every day when I am out of the house. But carving is something that I can only do at home and I need to use that time whenever I feel the push. I am feeling it. This is not a collaborative piece but my own simple design based from my sketchbook.
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.
Magic is a pretty silly concept right? Mermaids, butterflies and unicorns are all quite silly according to the adult world filled with healthy diets, mortgages and responsibility. Thankfully my six year doesn't yet live in that world and I can lean over her shoulder and daydream along with her. We are having so much fun working together as a team.
Inspired by the magical creativity of my six year old daughter. Having just finished carving the large block that I have been working on since November and not feeling quite ready to start printing with it I needed something creative to do with my time. So I started a collaboration with my six year old daughter. I took drawings of her's and turned them into small woodblocks to print with her after school or on the weekend. Ideally when her little sister is not around or occupied with something else. So far we have a mermaid and a butterfly. The butterfly has eyes in her antenna as well as long eyelashes. Awesome! I have a bunch of these small blocks of plywood to carve so I can keep this up for awhile. Stay tuned for more carvings and the prints.
By the time spring gets here I need to be ready to start using my lovely new paper supply. When I purchased it a few weeks ago I thought I might be using it sooner but then I got sidetracked by other tasks and the carving I started this winter is coming along slower than I expected. But this winter is going slow so I have plenty of time. Plenty.
After the holidays made a mess of my little studio I took some time to clean and clear it out a bit and focus on work. I got rid of a few broken tools and some old drawing assignments from my freshman art school days and suddenly I can breath again. I'm ready to work. Everyday. When I finish carving the block that I am currently working on and print from it it will either go in a drawer or a stack. I stack the larger blocks and put the midsize to small ones in a drawer. Then I can print from them whenever I want for years to come. But I will need to restock my paper supply first. That is always fun!