When your current daily inspiration is a 60p gridded A6 notebook from Muji. I love nice paper and beautifully bound books that collect precious sketches. I even made a point to back the latest edition of the Perfect Sketchbook with it's lovely leather hardbound body filled with the finest Italian watercolor paper. But that won't be arriving for some months! In the meantime I have been finding myself getting too precious about my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook and as a result my work suffers. Time to spend some quality time with a cheap sketchbook and get back to obsessive low pressure sketching and what caused me to start drawing again in the first place. Thin (but surprisingly sturdy) paper. Not precious. Loving it.
The boat shipment filled with the bulk of my art supplies that is taking it's sweet time getting to the UK. It didn't even leave Boston until two weeks after we left the country and isn't due until later this week, then it needs to clear customs. I am regretting some of my air shipment decisions. I wish I had included more art supplies. Especially watercolor sketchbooks and tubes of paint. I'm comepletly out of thick tough watercolor sketchbook pages and have been on a roll with the watercolor sketching. Today I went looking for an affordable option to tide me over while I wait and I found nothing but an old stock Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. Of course I bought it immediately since the old paper is supposed to be a lot better. But this is a very nice book and not inexpensive. No doodles for it! It might come with me to Paris or Rome though!
Today is Veterans Day, not my favorite holiday as an anti-war, anti-empire Christian pacifist. But the schools are not about to get on board with that sentiment so my kids have the day off and are asking me why. This is where things get complicated as I see how much power I have on their opinions. Complicated! But currently they are focused on not having school today and going to now the Boston Children's Museum to meet up with friends. And I am focused on surviving the chaos. Not my most favorite place, but we are moving I will take them both one last time and they can see their friends and I will deal. But I do hope I have a chance to actually use these supplies and sketch today. Will see how that goes.
I am an anxious person. Drawing (rather obsessively) helps me channel that anxiety and remain calm (more or less). I feel time passing strongly and often painfully. I feel myself losing time and I worry. Drawing helps me remember my days and gives a record of my days. Ever since I started keeping a sketchbook I have been infinitely more engaged and happier. I recommend it to everyone.
Making my mark.
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!
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.
Over the weekend I gave myself the challenge to draw exclusively in black and white and the various shades of grey to help myself see value better. I didn't get as many chances to draw outside this weekend as I would have liked so I may keep the challenge going in my travel sketchbook for awhile longer. I am happy to be using some old shades of grey Pitt markers after years of neglect. Very happy that I took on this extra challenge. Wish I had done something like this when I was in art school.
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.
The car is in the shop for the next couple of days so I am either on foot, on bike or taking the T around Boston while the kids are at school. There are still jackhammers outside my window so I don't really want to go home to work. Plus the weather is beautiful and mild. What kind of adventures should I go on? Yesterday I stayed in my general area and had a lovely time drawing JP, but today I think I will go a little father. Maybe the South End?
New beginnings. I have time. Now what? Time to make some plans and set some goals.
What is wasting my time? What gives me life and energy? Lots to think about. A schedule is probably needed.
What is life giving and what is life sucking for you?
For the record I totally "wasted" my time this morning walking around the neighborhood after dropping off my daughter and stopping to draw whenever the mood struck me. It was fantastic and I totally plan on doing it again tomorrow. Except tomorrow I will bring a stool with me.
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?
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.