sketchbook

Inktober 2017

For the forth year in a row I am participating in Inktober over on Instagram. I didn't buy any special supplies for this just pulled out a few tools that I would like to work with for the month. I am using  Hahnemuhle Nostalgie Sketchbook for all of my daily #inktober drawings, but also using ink as my main tool of the month outside of that sketchbook. To get really comfortable using ink I think using it as often as possible is key. I started with the official prompt list, a first for me, but am jumping around with whatever moves me to create day to day. It is nice to have those prompts as a creative backup and as an extra challenge. Who else is joining the Inktober party this year? I would love to hear your plans for it as well as your experience so far. 

My tools for Inktober 2017

My tools for Inktober 2017

Challenge Accepted: My 100 day project.

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! 

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg

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?

image.jpg

Finish it Friday

A couple of weeks ago I got the idea from another blogger to reserve my Fridays for the concept of Finish it Friday. Meaning that instead of starting new projects I spend my Fridays focused on finishing things that I have already started. So far it is working out well for my creative life and helping me get organised and see myself making progress. It is working so well that I am thinking about broadening the concept to the rest of my life as well as a way to get more done around the house. Will see how it goes. 

Today at I finished a blog post and hopefully by the end of the day this sketchbook will be filled up and archived.  

image.jpg

Quality time is cheap

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. 

image.jpg

Traveling with my family! Our fifth new country visited in 2015.

Last week I visited Berlin with my family. After wasting my twenties not traveling and not being able to travel during much of my thirties due to babies we are using this move to the UK as an opportunity to travel all over Europe whenever we have a chance. So far that has meant trips to Paris, Rome, Barcelona and just recently Berlin. It's been great to see so much and share it with the people that matter the most. I am also so glad that I got into obsessive sketching and travel journaling before starting these trips because now I have the ability and desire to document these trips in the way that I enjoy. Years ago I tried a family blog but that just wasn't for me. And taking photos is somewhat fun but for me the fun ends when it comes to printing out the photos. Sketchbook keeping is perfect for me since everything is automatically in a book! 

image.jpg

Stretching myself

The Sketchbook Skool assignment for the week was to collect sketches and after six days cut them out and collage them in my sketchbook. The instructor Jonathan Twingley uses a dip pen and ink to make bold expressive marks. Sounds like an exciting challenge. I got started a few days late but I was motivated. Then my four year old got sick. Away went the dip pen. While I was able to sketch during this period it was mostly inside of books and it was far from free and messy. Mostly blind contour drawings of my sick kid filled the pages. But I have been filling loose pages with watercolor, gouache and a bit of ink for months so I got that stack out and started cutting. What fun! Stay tuned to see what I ended up making with all these bits and bobs. 

image.jpg

My name is Marissa and I am a creative challenge addict.

A new challenge for 100 days? On top of my 365 creativity challenge but with a narrower focus. And the 30 days of blogging. Sure, why not? But only if I can roll it into my main challenge.  

Brainstorming:

1) self portraits - 100 of them in a row, ouch! Not medium specific. Challenging to keep it interesting and not get terribly sick of myself. 

2) drawing - probably too broad of a theme 

3) painting - same problem as above

4) daily floral - another good option. Good chance to practice florals.   

5) daily portrait - like #1 but with more flexibility. 

I think I am going to go with the self-portrait theme or floral but I will think about it overnight.  

I think I am going to go with the self-portrait theme or floral but I will think about it overnight.  

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. 

Jury Duty

First Veterans Day and no studio time and now Jury Duty and no studio time. But I expect to be doing a fair amount of sitting in the jury pool room and am bringing three sketchbooks and some supplies. There is a good chance that I will finish up two of these these sketchbooks today. One of them is an old sketchbook that only works for pencil and ink that I have kept next to my bedside table for awhile. I am going to fill it with gesture drawing warmups and doodles. The other is the Moleskine that I have been carrying around with me a few months. I am super ready to move on with both these books but I am trying not to rush it with the Moleskine. I told myself that I need to spend some time with my next Moleskine drawing that I do since I have been using it for fast drawings and that is fine, but I should focus on line a little bit more. I am looking forward to my next sketchbook, but it is time to remain present with my current sketchbook. Sitting and people watching is a good chance to do that. Maybe I can creep out the judge and he will send me home for the day.

image.jpg

Veterans Day = Take my kids to a crowded museum day

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.

image.jpg

On patience.

Sometimes (often) I need to remind myself that I am still learning and that I need to be patience with my style and keep working and I will get where I need to go. I have been painting for less than a year and I enjoy it more than I ever expected. But the truth is I have no idea what my work will look like in a year or two. My personal style has not yet developed and I get frustrated waiting and searching for it and I must remind myself to enjoy the journey and keep working hard and I will get there. That there are no shortcuts. That said if anybody has some tips on honing in on a more personal style I am all ears. In the meantime I am enjoying the journey in my soon to be relocated art studio with a sketchbook always nearby. 

image.jpg

Inktober for October

Blogging has been hard for me lately, but making art has not been. I got a slow start at the #inktober drawing challenge that is happening online. Mostly on Instagram. I draw in ink daily, but not the polished masterpieces that I see using that hashtag. Intimidated I didn't post much early in the challenge. But as I continue filling up a sketchbook with ink drawings my confidence grows as my need to be "the best" shrinks. Perfectionism and a low opinion of myself and my work has been my excuse to not push myself for too long. No room for perfectionism this month. Getting out a drawing a day for #inktober. Some were good but many more of them were mediocre or worse and that is okay. It was the act of making them every day for an extended period of time and the accountability of putting them out in the world that mattered. Now the month and challenge are nearly finished and I have my big Doodle Book nearly filled. Then it is on to the next challenge to stretch and push myself. 

drawing with a brush and ink is a fast skill building activity

drawing with a brush and ink is a fast skill building activity

Window shopping sketchbook

I want more succulents and vessels for my studio. But right now is not the time to accumulate more stuff. So I browse online and window shop and fill my sketchbooks with my findings. Someday I will have plenty of interesting looking and beautiful plants of my own to inspire me. Just not today. 

#inktober started late for me and was a slow start as I compared my scribbles to other artists but halfway through and I am finding my groove and learning. Isn't that the point?

#inktober started late for me and was a slow start as I compared my scribbles to other artists but halfway through and I am finding my groove and learning. Isn't that the point?

Why do I sketch?

I fill about a sketchbook a month these days. When I am done they go on a shelf in my studio and I look back on them often. My children look through them and I show them off to friends and other curious people. This number doesn't include the "extra" books I keep around. Why do I do it? Why do I use precious paper and other materials for plenty of less than perfect pages? Because if I don't I grow stagnant and miserable. Because the process is how I grow as an artist and as a person. Because my sketchbooks are important. I admire other artists that keep active, consistent yet varied and adventurous sketchbooks. It is a tricky balance for sure to develop and maintain a style while continuing to push yourself as an artist and experiment. As I try to break out of my sketchbooks a bit more and feel comfortable doing pieces for the public rather than for myself I know that making time for my sketchbooks is something that needs to come first in my art life. No matter where I am at in life I will always sketch.

The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you  Liz Steel  for helping me get over first page jitters.

The first page of every sketchbook starts something like this. Thank you Liz Steel for helping me get over first page jitters.

The sounds of the city.

After five days up in the middle of nowhere focusing on art adjusting to being back to the city is a bit of a challenge. The city is loud and dirty with too many people. Yesterday I went to the Arnold Arboretum to sketch and get away a bit and I had a really hard time connecting with nature with the sound of the cars outside and all the people walking around. As soon as I would start to relax and sketch a woman would walk buy with clicking heels or an off leash dog would get in my face. I did manage to find a good location to sketch with minimal interruption, but it will take me a little while to get used to being back in the city.

image.jpg

Processing Haystack

Monday morning. Back to reality after an inspiring trip to Haystack. Yet I am still happy to be home around my favorite people. Now that I am home I have a lot to do to process the artwork that I made there and the ideas that I generated. Plus laundry. So much laundry. Laundry is the worst. But for now there is coffee to drink and kids that need to get to school.

image.jpg

Goodbye Haystack deck. 

Blast off!

Heading out to Deer Isle Maine for the annual Mass Art Haystack retreat. So ready to be among fellow creatives in the deep pines next to the ocean. Internet is spotty up there, just how I like it. I am so ready to disconnect from regular life for a few days. I have a couple of sketchbooks, some paint, a bunch of pens and my creativity ready to take some workshops and connect with others and draw everything I see. I even packed my running shoes. Be back blogging about the experience on Monday!

perfect size for travel and no big loss if I lose it.

perfect size for travel and no big loss if I lose it.

This is why I carry a sketchbook everywhere.

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!

A family stops for a snack before a ukelele class inside the complex.

A family stops for a snack before a ukelele class inside the complex.