I'm in Copenhagen with my family for a few days and loving it during the Christmas season. Yesterday was Tivoli which was all decked out in lights and today was filled with exploring and sketching. Fun trip!
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.
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.
Since summer I have been having a love affair with my Midori Travelers notebook. Scribbling away in it, taking notes, journaling, sketching and even painting. It all fits in the books that I have bound with elastic into a sturdy leather flap. It certainly helps that the Midori paper is so great with fountain pens and even watercolor. My sketchbooks change all the time and often get left behind on busy days, but my traveler's notebook comes everywhere with me. Do you have a notebook that you carry with you everywhere? I would love to hear what other people are doing with their Midori Traveler's Notebooks and sketchbooks.
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.
Summer in England. My first Pimm's was at a pub along the river with my sketching buddy. Not a bad way to welcome summertime! Later we wandered a bit more and I got in a quick value sketch of an old church.
At my youngest's Montessori preschool. I baked bread and brought her sister who was home after the dentist. Lots to be thankful for this year!
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.
I get to go on some fun sketching adventures around Boston and when we travel. But sometime I have at home to draw and want to draw something real not something imagined and don't know what to draw. Am getting sick of drawing my coffee cups and couple of plants. That is where the Everyday Matters drawing prompt list challenge comes in handy. Going through that list one at a time at whatever pace suits me. Also, I am impatient to finish up this small sketchbook so I can move on to a larger non-wirebound sketchbook. Next up is a lamp.
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.
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is God's gift, that's why we call it the present."
Why thank you Joan Rivers. That is a useful reminder for me today. Anybody else collecting quotes in their sketchbook? I started putting them on the first page of my sketchbook along with my color pallet, my name and number and of course the date but now I am starting to put them tucked away in the pages of my sketchbook.
The current gift in my life is time. Time to pursue my art dreams. Time to spend with my eldest daughter in the morning and afterschool. Time to go running a few times a week. Time to explore. Time to spend with my husband while our kids play nicely together in the evening and on weekends. I know all these gifts could evaporate at any moment and instead of wasting time fretting about losing them I am just going to do my best to enjoy them while I have them in my life.
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.
Both of my kids are in school most of the day for the first time in the seven years since I became a mother. This is the first day of our first full week with this new schedule and it is a little intimidating. I feel distracted, anxious and intimidated by the passing time. There is road repaving happening right outside our apartment that is so loud that the whole place is shaking. Not exactly a super zen environment for my first day. But hopefully they should be done in the next couple of days and at the worst by the end of the week. Then I will have no excuses. I made myself a simple breakfast, drew my breakfast, worked on a painting for JPOS, painted in my sketchbook a bit and then decided I was ready to work on my blog. I lack focus, a clear schedule and order to my days but that will come. I have time.
Before heading on our long weekend to NYC I spent the day trying to finish up the sketchbook I half filled during our travels to Ohio and Illinois in early July before the kids head back to school after Labor Day. Now we are back from NYC and despite drawing a lot while I was there on location I still have more planned drawings to do to fill up our summer sketchbook. But today is my daughter's seventh birthday and I am going to focus on spoiling her before she heads back to school later this week.
More more more! Also sleep more to keep myself energized. I went to bed early last night and woke up this morning feeling wonderful. Good morning indeed! We are going back to NYC this weekend and I am excited to bring my sketchbook to various places. After a bit of a slump I am back to drawing whatever comes to mind and strikes my fancy and enjoying it. Case in point moths are interesting to draw but I needed to draw a bird to eat them so I could sleep last night.
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?
The other morning I got a rare twenty minutes alone at the Arnold Arboretum with my sketchbook. Lately I have been working on drawings that focus on the experience outdoors rather than the scene. The line of the trees, some plants, the blue of the sky and the green of the leaves are all here. And like that my morning was captured on paper. Looking forward to doing it again!
Are you too nervous to draw around people? Especially the thought of drawing people that aren't specifically posing for you? Or maybe even people that are posing for you and asked to be drawn? Too much pressure to do a good job? Maybe you end up scribbling over your drawing, erasing your drawing or even worse ripping out the page and crumpling it up! That was me for my entire life up until this point. But now I just do it and half the time early in the drawing I mess something up or the person moves and I am tempted to give up but I go on and finish the drawing. I always finish my drawings. If I keep going I can fix it to at least be decent plus I learn from the experience of drawing and correcting errors. If I give up I learn nothing. It is summer so go outside and draw and if you are feeling extra brave draw people. They rarely mind.