painting

Just like real life.

This portrait of my youngest daughter has a rather serious expression and twee hipster feel. Just like the real life girl I know so well. Going to start on one of her older sister next. It should be very different.  

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Lessons from rising early

A few weeks ago I was solo parenting for the week and had to get up well before the sun rose to get my kids off to school. It was not my favorite way to start my day as I am not naturally a morning person. But I rose so early during that week and was so efficient with my time that I found that I often had 10-15 minutes of free time to create in the morning before leaving the house to catch the school bus. That part was seriously wonderful and possibly a game changer for how I work. Now my husband is home and able to help out with our early mornings so I can sleep an extra 15 minutes and I do so enjoy those extra fifteen minutes especially as it is getting darker and darker over here in the UK. But I do take 5-10 minutes to put some art down on paper before I head out the door and it makes a difference. Getting it done before my brain has fully woken up means that I create without overthinking and am therefor more creative and willing to experiment. I usually don't finish anything in those 5-10 minutes but it sets me up for a more successful time in the studio when I do get back and either finish what I started or do something completely new. Or often both. 

The background I painted in under five minutes before leaving in the morning. Came back with a great surface to work with.  

The background I painted in under five minutes before leaving in the morning. Came back with a great surface to work with.  

Closing the book on a sketchbook and an art challenge.

Back in May I joined the one hundred day drawing challenge on Instagram and chose florals as my theme. I had just gotten into painting flowers as England is filled with beautiful flowers that change all the time from spring though summer and I was inspired and motivated to improve. About a week in I started keeping these paintings in a sketchbook I dedicated for them and every day I added to the book. More or less. Today I finished the book a few weeks behind sketchdule and a few paintings over one hundred. It was a hard challenge to keep up with such a restrictive theme. But true to my goal I do feel like I improved a lot over the three months of sticking with it and painting my flowers nearly every day. I am also very happy to be done with that sketchbook as my collection of active sketchbooks has grown over the past few months and I am thrilled to have one less to think about cluttering my workspace and my brain. 

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Create daily. Share daily.

Keep on making and sharing. Often I don't find myself in the mood to share and that impulse can bleed into my creative output. A messy studio is a loved studio. But spending 5-15 minutes a week cleaning it up is probably a wise habit to form. 

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Sketching Memories in Paris

Sketchbook keeping on vacation/holiday is one of my favorite activities. This morning I woke up and sketched a corner of the living room on our Parisian apartment. Memories of this trip kept forever in a precious book. 

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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! 

Sometimes my sketches don't go in books.

And I am learning to be okay with that. It's still a sketch despite an obvious lack of binding. I could gather these loose paintings up and bind them in a book later. Or not. I am learning to not overthink and over plan the process of art making and what better time to start than now? 

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Happy Spring!

Spring sprung a few weeks ago here in Oxford, or so I thought before it got cold and grey for an extended period of time. Today marks the first official day of spring and the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. Hurrah! 

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Settling into our new space.

It's lovely here in Oxford now that we are no longer tripping over each other in temporary housing. Just tripping over boxes, but we are making progress moving in and prioritizing certain rooms over others. I could get used to this living room view and space.  

My studio is comfortable and I was able to spend the morning painting. It's a good life out here.  

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Favorite Things: Silver Black Velvet Brushes

Vegans look away! A few months ago I discovered the joy that is painting with a squirrel mop. They can be expensive but the Harmony brand is great and so affordable it doesn't need to last as long as Da Vinci or Isabey. What I dislike about squirrel is the fragility of the hairs and they lack of snap. On a whim I picked up a size six Silver Black Velvet brush not knowing what to expect from a squirrel synthetic combination. It got great reviews and was on sale at a great price. Love at first stroke. It keeps the best point of any brush I own, feels great in my hand and is more rugged than a pure squirrel hair brush. I now have added a size 10 round with a few more shapes heading my way. I can get a full set of brushes for the price of a single Kolinsky brush! 

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And they now make travel brushes! I'm in trouble!

Rainy Days

Drinking tea while listening to the wind and rain while painting in my cozy studio. Sunshine is great but sometimes I need the excuse to stay in and work indoors. Loving this stormy weather. 

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Tired. Keep going.

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.

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Sketchbook Page of the Week

Since all the artwork I did on vacation was in my sketchbook(s) I have lots to share. Head over to my Tumblr blog of drawings if you want to see them all. And head over to Etsy is you want this original watercolor mixed media piece for yourself.

Potted succulent plant viewed from above.

Potted succulent plant viewed from above.

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

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
Sketchbook
Travel Watercolor Set
iPad and stylus
Coffee

And I am all set for my hour.

Watercolor drying in the suburbs

Watercolor drying in the suburbs