urban life

Urban Sketching Outdoors

I haven't sketched outdoors much lately. The weather and my brain just have not been cooperating. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to sketching outdoors and that often bites me in the end. But the sun was shining and I had some time so I went out to sketch to many impressive Oxford University buildings and had a wonderful experience overall. I cleared my mind and just worked on it one line and shape at a time and then when I got too chilly went inside to add the colors. I am an outdoor sketching wuss when it comes to cold weather. I am glad that I packed my sketching kit in a hurry and did this simple drawing of Oxford.

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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! 

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Moving to England!

Sometime in January I will be packing up my art studio and moving it to the UK along with my family. Feeling very blessed and excited about this next adventure. Boston has been a wonderful place to live for nearly twelve years but I think we are all ready for a change. I think Oxford will be an inspiring city and I am excited about this next step. 

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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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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.

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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.

Athletic Artist? Making time for something new.

But I am an artist! I don't get into sports or exercise. Plus I live in a city where I can walk nearly everywhere so I don't need to exercise. Except that I do. Especially since I have to drive more and more as my kids require me to take them further outside the city for various educational and enrichment opportunities. The days that we walk around our neighborhood are fewer and fewer. This will hopefully change in the fall, but in the meantime I need to get active. I've decided to make jogging three times a week a priority. I cannot bring a sketchbook with me so instead I focus on looking and clearing my head as I run around Jamaica Pond and bring home the experience, the colors and a handful of leaves and other bits of nature to my studio. Sunday was my first solo run and it was a really lovely way to start my day and prime my brain and body for a day spent in my studio drawing and painting. It rained most of the day, but after an active morning and an active day outside the day prior I felt no guilt focusing on processing my experiences through color and line. I don't think I should have any trouble finding time for this new habit. 

Bits of nature drawn in my studio after a day of activity. 

Bits of nature drawn in my studio after a day of activity. 

My drug of choice...

After an outing to the ICA Boston with my eldest and a long walk in the sun to the nearest T station I was tired, hot and a little grumpy. When we were finally on the subway I was noticing how still passengers generally were and that drawing them would probably be great practice. And since our stop is at the end of the line I wouldn't have to worry about missing out stop. But I was so tired the thought of drawing more pained me. I had already drawn plenty that day right? It's a long train ride home so with some hesitation I did start drawing the passengers and it was like a drug that made me feel better almost instantly. Drawing really does relax me and without the nasty side effects of drugs. The drawing is nothing fabulous (and I don't feel like sharing it here) but I was right that it was good practice for me to keep training my eye to see and my hand to draw it. 

little, Big. Exploring with watercolor.

On location I work small and/or quick with limited colors. People move around a lot and the scene changes, plus I am usually supervising my children and they may need me. I've gotten pretty good at picking safe locations that they enjoy and I can sit back and casually supervise them play while drawing but I still rarely have a lot of time to work on a drawing when I am out with them. In the studio I rarely work big but I do work slow and more complex. My sketchbook is filling up with these color explorations and exercises in patience. Each layer of color needs to dry completely before adding the next glaze of transparent watercolor. I feel my understanding of my watercolors and their colors deepening as I relax and unwind with these complex little paintings. 

ATC next to a sketchbook page. 

ATC next to a sketchbook page. 

Get Out There and Bike

It's super cold out there. But it's also clear and sunny with no snow or ice on the roads. And I am very aware that a snow storm is always a possibility in this city until into May. So of course I am picking up my little one from preschool on my bike whenever possible! Life is good. She's already outside and in winter gear when I get her from school and it is easy to just stick her on the bike and go home. If I can bike a little bit in February then I can bike even more in March. I have been having to drive to the burbs for appointments a few times a week and the lunchtime walks and bike rides help heal me from the mental trauma those rush hour drives cause.

Transient

Week Two Impressions

As we finish up our second week having the girls in neighboring schools I am able to step back and get an impression of how it's going. It is going fabulous, better than I ever anticipated. Montessori school is a perfect fit for my youngest child and we love her class and she skips in most days. I am getting more time with big sister and feeling more of a connection with her and with her school by taking care of her drop offs in the morning and Jon is getting to the T faster. It's so bitter cold that we have been driving to school which I don't love. But I do love that the preschool has an actual parking lot and that I am usually home and ready to work by around nine. Pickup isn't until one for the little one. That is a lot of hours to get stuff done. And I am getting stuff done. I can't help it. Even when I waste time I am just not capable of wasting that many hours four days a week. Things are happening. I am gearing up for an exciting spring. 

Transient

Taming Chaos

Creativity is chaotic. That's a fact. Another fact is that for me it is impossible to work in a chaotic environment. Especially a small one. So I need to spend a fair amount of time making sure that my space stays organized and I know where everything I need is and periodically sort and purge my supplies. 

Transient

Snow Day Art Day!

Another snow day here in Boston. What is it with all these mid-week storms? I shouldn't complain because I think another storm is forecasted for this weekend. Looking at the snow piling up outside it is hard to believe just this past Sunday we were stomping around in rainboots at light jackets at a local farm. Not today. We might go out later to build a snowman or sled. But mostly today is for staying inside and doing art. Like contact paper sun catchers for our windows. That is, we will do that if they ever stop playing together in their room. Little sister is super excited to have her big sister home with her today. My Little Pony, Lego, Magnatiles, dressup and even trains have all come out so far this morning. There is still plenty of time to make one of these right?  We did it!