watercolors

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. 

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Minimalist art carry = Midori travelers notebook

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. 

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Groove

I'm grooving with my paint and watercolor this weekend. Hard to pull myself away to blog or do anything else. Everything seems to be clicking into place after much hard work and failure. I credit a lot of my progress to sticking with #inktober and now I am going to stick with blogging. 

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Collector

My paint pallet, brushes, ink and pen collection has exploded recently. They bring me joy to use and I do indeed use them. Experimenting with a new color or brush is always fun, but can I master them if I am constantly trying something new? Paint more. 

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What is your distraction?

What distracts you from your most important work? What is your time suck? An activity that you pretend is productive but is really just a time wasting time suck. I need to spend some time working on art today in my studio. Often when I am going through a growth period I step back from my sketchbook and focus on shopping for materials. The quest for the perfect materials that will make me a better artist. When really the time to work on art is what matters. The time I spend looking and buying supplies is often a time suck waste. Especially at this point when I pretty much have everything I need. Instead of looking for the perfect colors, the perfect sketchbook or the perfect brush I should draw and paint more. I draw and paint everyday, but if I have time to browse art supplies online I am not drawing or painting enough. Back to painting for me!

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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.

Jamaica Plain Open Studios this Weekend!

The JP Open Studios are this weekend September 20th and 21st all around the JP neighborhood that I and work in. You can find me with my work inside at the UU church by the JP monument in Central JP and some of my work will still be hanging at Hatched until the end of the month. I will be be sketching and painting, will have my woodblock prints along with a couple of carved blocks for demos throughout the weekend. I have been looking forward to this weekend for months now. There will be some fresh prints, including new collagraphs, but this is the year that I decided to teach myself watercolor and became smitten with the medium.

About six months ago I decided to teach myself watercolor. Feeling ready to go outside the sketchbook and onto good paper just in time for JP Open Studios.

About six months ago I decided to teach myself watercolor. Feeling ready to go outside the sketchbook and onto good paper just in time for JP Open Studios.

My Color Free Weekend

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.

started out with painting a dried and pressed flower from the safety of my studio

started out with painting a dried and pressed flower from the safety of my studio

then moved on to drawing ginkgo leaves and seedpods at the school playground while my kids played

then moved on to drawing ginkgo leaves and seedpods at the school playground while my kids played

an owl from my imagination and sketches from the Museum of Natural History in NYC

an owl from my imagination and sketches from the Museum of Natural History in NYC

My bagel and the organ at church.

My bagel and the organ at church.

Let it go.

Urban sketching on location is great in theory, hard in practice. Especially when one is a bit of an introvert and has two young children tagging along all summer. I can only draw the playgrounds that they enjoy so many times without getting bored. Then I started to feel angst and bad about my perceived failures as an artist. Then I let go and just drew. Sometimes I drew what I saw sometimes I drew from my imagination. It is all perfectly fine. Soon the girls will be back in school and I can draw on location. Right now it is hot outside and I am enjoying going on inspiring nature walks with my children, jogging by myself and taking that inspiration home to my studio where I work with it. Coming soon. Hoping to finish a number of these little paintings by the time I hang at Hatched (at there brand new location grand opening next to the big City Feed) here in JP for First Thursday and for JP Open Studios in three weeks September 20th and 21st at the UU Church.

LunaMoth

Sketching around people

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. 

Quick sketch and watercolor at a summer Small Group BBQ in the neighborhood. I lost my light and had to stop sooner than I would have liked to but I am content. 

Quick sketch and watercolor at a summer Small Group BBQ in the neighborhood. I lost my light and had to stop sooner than I would have liked to but I am content. 

Sketchbook adventures.

With the little one yesterday while her sister was with her reading tutor. I would tear this one out and frame in their room Charlotte is so proud, but summer vacation is still very new and there are a lot more coming before we are done and back in school. She loved that baby bunny puppet so much. Might be ready to start really using our nice sketchbook for these summer memories. I am still so intimidated by it and treat it like it is made out of pure gold and lambskin, but really it is just a $15 nice pad of paper. More expensive and nicer than what I am currently using (debatable) but still totally replaceable. 

At the Needham Public Library children's section. Drawn on location in pen then we ran out of time and I had to paint it at home from memory. I may add to it on location tomorrow. 

At the Needham Public Library children's section. Drawn on location in pen then we ran out of time and I had to paint it at home from memory. I may add to it on location tomorrow. 

Summer is here and vacation coming.

This was the last week of school for my two kids. Today is the final day of school for my big kid and my little kid has today and tomorrow for preschool. Then they are both off for the summer with very little scheduled. Hopefully I have fostered independent play and I will be able to illustrate our summer adventures in my sketchbook. We are all excited about a summer filled with travel, learning, swimming, hiking, sprinkler parks, festivals, sidewalk chalk, art, relaxing and as many adventures that we can cram into two short months. And for me a lot of on location drawing around Boston and other locations near and far. 

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