summer

Midori (travelers notebook) love

Not the noxious green melon liquer that I drank in college! But a beautiful and simple leather folio that holds various notebooks. I wanted one and got one for Christmas. But it wasn't love at first but it has grown on me this summer as the item I carry with me everywhere and put my life into. Why wasn't it love at first? Because for urban sketching I prefer a proper bound usually hardback sketchbook. Summer has not contained much time for urban sketching but there has been more than enough time for Sketchnoting, journaling, reflection and planning. The Midori has been well used and perfect. 

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Summertime Flow

Not much time for urban sketching this summer with my two young children are home full time. We are quite busy getting to know our new city and neighborhood through playground visits and other outings. While I have sketched our favorite playground before and I'm not all that interested in drawing it again beyond small bits inside larger sketches. Instead I park myself at a picnic table and draw using my imagination and record feelings and events as they come while my kids play. It's pretty different but also pretty wonderful. I might get the chance to sneak out and draw some Oxford buildings in detail during the evenings or weekends but so far I am satisfied with my current sketching habit. Happy summer!

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Aftermath

The Pushing your Sketching Boundaries Oxford workshop ended and both of my kids are now home for the summer. That fun challenging week feels miles away now. But I am seeing changes in how I approach sketches.  

I'm drawing more and painting less.

I'm back to working straight with ink.  

No time to sit on a stool and spend loads of time sketching a building. Instead I work on windowed vignettes during stolen moments throughout my day.  

Recording life rather than focused on product and skill development. 

More journaling, text and drawing from my imagination. 

This is a short season in my life and I'm enjoying the relaxed pace of summer and seeing where it leads.  

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I want to stop, but why?

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?

a few days and journaling in the 75 day sketchbook. I use bits of washi tape to brighten up the pages since I am drawing in black ink throughout every page. 

a few days and journaling in the 75 day sketchbook. I use bits of washi tape to brighten up the pages since I am drawing in black ink throughout every page. 

Draw more. Write more. Run more. Blog less?

Wait what? No, that is not what I want but it is a struggle. But keeping my blog fresh and interesting Monday through Friday is important to me, so bear with me as I work out the kinks and figure out how to make all this activity work. How do others fit everything in? 

I draw everyday and have since sometime back in April when I started keeping an active sketchbook. I draw about twice as much on average now than I did two weeks ago. But really, I could still stand to draw more and I know it. The more I draw the better I become at it and it is the most enjoyable and relaxing yet exciting activity I know. Nothing can top it for me and believe me I have tried!  I'm jogging twice a week and trying to make it three times a week, drawing whenever I have a spare minute or even a not so spare minute, reading, taking online classes and spending time with my family this summer. That leaves little time for the computer. This is why I have taken to drinking tea mid day to give me a bit of a lift without keeping me up all night. What a wonderful weekend! I can only hope to have many more weekends this productive yet special and fun.

photo courtesy of Sarah Hay

photo courtesy of Sarah Hay


A favorite meal.

Spent some time on Saturday wandering around Fenway by myself so of course I stopped by my favorite Thai restaurant for lunch. Being home with my two children full time over the summer is a lot of fun but it is also exhausting and it is important that I take time to be by myself whenever possible. So my husband Jon took the girls on a hike at Drumlin Farm and I headed to the Dick Blick in Fenway. While I did not end up buying much, being able to shop and then getting lunch at my own pace and not having to manage other human beings was such a welcome break. I left the weekend feeling ready for another week with my little girls.

Som Tum or Green Papaya Salad with shrimp and sticky rice. A little bit sweet, a little bit sour and a little bit spicy and very refreshing. 

Som Tum or Green Papaya Salad with shrimp and sticky rice. A little bit sweet, a little bit sour and a little bit spicy and very refreshing. 

Upcoming Events for August, September and October

August is filled with my kids being both home full time for summer and carting them all over for various activities. But in September getting out there with my artwork begins again. I'll be hanging my work at Hatched here in JP for the month of September and will be there on First Thursday. Looking forward to meeting people there. Then I am registered for a Moku Hanga Japanese style printmaking class at Elliot that I have been wanting to take for years. Now I still long to take lessons from Annie Bisset my moku hanga hero, but I can't make it out to Western Mass but I can walk to the Elliot school here in JP.  I only have to wait until the last weekend of September. The weekend before that is Jamaica Plain Open Studios and the first week of October I am going to Haystack with Mass Art. I'm so excited about all the upcoming events.

For August I have a blank sheet of note paper on my desk ready to be filled with notes and scribbles. I took a few pictures of my old one and stored those pictures in Evernote after I spilled paint on it and had to rip it off. 

For August I have a blank sheet of note paper on my desk ready to be filled with notes and scribbles. I took a few pictures of my old one and stored those pictures in Evernote after I spilled paint on it and had to rip it off. 

For August I have a blank sheet of note paper on my desk ready to be filled with notes and scribbles. I took a few pictures of my old one and stored those pictures in Evernote after I spilled paint on it and had to rip it off. 

Perfection. I don't have it.

Some artist's seem to attain perfection in every sketchbook page. Andrea Joseph is an example of this type of artist. She hosted the most recent week at Sketchbook Skool and I found putting on her skin and drawing with a ballpoint pen for two days to be too much for me. She's a wonderful and super talented artist but her sketchbooks are far too perfectly composed for how I work. For me sketchbooks are to work out problems, record events and try things out. And for that I need freedom to mess up. Good for her for sure but I need to find my own way. But I can still enjoy her beautifully rendered drawings of often humble objects. 

Ball point pens drawn with ball point pens. I'm sure if I tried this I would end up with a smeared mess on my hands. 

Ball point pens drawn with ball point pens. I'm sure if I tried this I would end up with a smeared mess on my hands. 


Weekend relaxing?

Are weekends supposed to be relaxing? I must be doing something wrong then. This weekend didn't go poorly, but it didn't go smoothly either and now it is gone and I am back to the week where I have to squeeze in time for art. I drew a fair amount over the weekend and the past week. Even went back and finished and fixed up a couple of abandoned sketchbook drawings and got them to a place where I can be happy. Yet I still feel impatient with my watercolor and drawing skills. 

The need to print again is growing stronger. I haven't had the chance since summer vacation started. I don't want to work with older blocks I want to take my growing drawing skills to a new block of wood and get lost carving and printing it. Maybe I will try my hand at white line printmaking. I have a few ideas for subjects and I should have blocks of wood that are big enough but not too big hanging around my studio. 

My printing press has been so neglected this summer. I must make time for it before summer ends. 

My printing press has been so neglected this summer. I must make time for it before summer ends. 

Relax and enjoy nature.

Friday is here and I am looking forward to getting outside this weekend. Long week here with the kids filled with a lot of fun but not a lot of art time for me. Hope the weather cooperates and I get in a couple of morning jogs that leave me feeling energized and inspired. What inspires you? What brings you down?

Inspired by nature.

Inspired by nature.

Morning Pages and Mandalas

When I got out of the habit of writing morning pages I moved over to sketching in the morning. Turns out doing a controlled drawing like a mandala early in the morning is a good way to wake up and get my hand eye coordination started. But my thoughts suffered and in turn my blog suffered without my Morning Pages. So I am back to writing then again in the morning. Summer is pretty great for that as we simply have more time and are not so rushed in the morning. So I write then I draw and sometimes I draw then I write. And I avoid email and social media until I am done, often I wait much longer. And my day is set up and started in a positive productive manner. 

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Arty Gifts!

One of little girl's Montessori teachers is an artist and a sketcher and she told me at end of year picnic that she is trying to form a sketching habit and showed me her Moleskine. I recommended the Visual Journals for affordable quality mixed-media paper that can stand up to paint and ink. Then I surprised her by giving her my tiny Altoid watercolor travel kit (the one with the bikes was a bonus since I know she's into biking). She didn't want to take it but I wanted to give her a gift that she would love and I knew I had another waiting for me drying at home. Another mother suggested that I start selling them and maybe I will put a couple in my shop, but mostly I want to start making them as gifts for art loving friends. Here's to a great Friday and a great weekend! Surprise somebody with a small gift if you get the chance and feel inclined. 

Tiny travel paint kits make great gifts.

Tiny travel paint kits make great gifts.

Wake up and draw. Harder than it sounds.

Wake up in the morning and write, draw and exercise. These are the three things that are most important to me in the morning. Usually I can get one or two of those tasks taken care of without too much trouble, but the third is a challenge. Why? There are other people living in this house. Small people that need to be fed and get out the door to school in the morning. Small people that fight with each other on a regular basis. The morning rushing around is about to end and for that I am excited. This summer other than two weeks of Tenacity later in the summer we don't have anywhere to be until 11 and I am looking forward to our slow starts. I will probably still pack lunches most days so we don't end up eating out, but no more getting out of the house before 8am rush after today. Here's to sleeping in children (I can dream) and productive mornings!

Morning rituals revisited and revised for summer.

Mornings are hard. I thought they would get easier when the days started out sunny and warm but so far it is even harder to get to the work and I need to be even more disciplined. I still very much want to sleep in until 7 or later and writing my morning pages snuggled in the cozy warm bed is no longer very appealing. I got out of the habit of writing Morning Pages and I think my blog suffered and I suffered as a result. Now I am working to get back into it and establish a new routine and new location for my morning work. Only to have that all change in two weeks when the girls are both out of school for the summer! My mornings will remain basically the same this summer and in a way be easier since there will be no rush to pack lunches and get dressed in the morning. We will be keeping very busy but not rushing out of the house at 8am kind of busy. I put down some scrap paper on my desk this weekend and started taking notes on it. Really great system. Protects my desk and I always have something to write on. Those rolls of paper from IKEA are going to get a lot more use now! Morning pages, blogging, warm-up sketches before I check my email or get on Facebook

notes from last week 

notes from last week 

My (little) open studio Saturday

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. 

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Summer Sketching. I'm ready!

What makes a good afternoon? Sunny yet mild weather. Spending time outside at school and neighborhood playgrounds watching my kids play while I draw and paint things that I see. Coming prepared with plenty of water and apples and swimsuits so they could play in the sprinklers. At one point Alex handed me a leaf and asked me to draw it for her and then ran off. If this is what summer is going to be like I am so ready! My day bag is packed with all my minimal necessities and I am ready to go. 

I even included the worn down old statue that everybody trips on at least once a year. 

I even included the worn down old statue that everybody trips on at least once a year. 

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.

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