Showing posts with label sketchbook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sketchbook. Show all posts

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Artist Date by the Sea

My girls celebrating freedom by the sea
A true Julia Cameron-style Artist Date involves going out all by yourself to explore someplace fun, to "fill the well" of images and inspiration, to encourage a kind of grown-up playtime.  When you're a mom to young children, though, you sometimes have to catch your Artist Dates on the fly, according to your own definitions, and quite often with a little company tagging along.
The girls and I at dinner at Landshark
So even though I was not on my own to explore, I definitely consider my brief vacation to Atlantic City with my husband and two daughters an Artist Date.  I soaked in the atmosphere of the seashore, re-entered a playful space by jumping in the waves, and spent time in my sketchbook trying to capture some of the imagery of the place.
My sketchbook version of the view from our hotel balcony
It is so satisfying to take children to the beach.  My four-year-old let her absolutely unabashed excitement show through with every shriek of laughter.  She and I especially loved our beach-combing sessions, picking up treasured shells and pebbles along the shore.  My five-year-old especially enjoys building sand-castles with her daddy.  And everyone enjoyed jumping in the waves as they crashed to shore.  Hauling the girls up and out of the waves definitely gave me my weight-bearing exercise outside of the gym.
I learned something new!  My husband taught me how to make these sand-drip towers, which
 look very cool atop a sandcastle, or just standing on their own.
I have no illusions that my sketches and watercolor efforts are anything but introductory.  But we have to start somewhere with something new, don't we?  I was just pleased to spend some time with my sketchbook, trying to capture my environment and using some of the techniques I learned recently in Jane LaFazio's CREATE workshop.
A selection of images from my Atlantic City vacation
So now, with the new school year right around the corner, my five-year-old entering public school for the first time, and fall just over one month away, I have the wonderful memories and inspirations of the beach to carry with me into my "real life"!
There's nothing like watching my two little girls playing together like best friends!

New Feature!

I recently added a new blog feature:  Click on the "Book List" tab at the top of my blog to find an ongoing list of the books I'm reading this year.  I have been reading far outside of my original goal list, and have stopped worrying about trying to publish a review of each book that I finish.  I am just going to keep a running list to keep tabs on my progress.  If you want to ask about any of the titles you see, feel free to send me an email at

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Of Naughty Cats and Notetaking

Perhaps you remember after my last Artist's Date that my husband called my new arrangments of plants on the kitchen counter a "salad bar" for my beloved 16-year-old cat, Stella.
I guess she decided to redecorate while she enjoyed a little afternoon snack!

After ignoring my plants for a week (tricking me into believing that I could finally enjoy some house plants), Stella went after the fern and the Angel's Tears, completely ignoring the fittonia.  Almost every day since, the poor little dead fern has been pulled from the dirt, and upended into my deer knick-knacks.  I just plop it back into the pot, assuming that it distracts her so that she continues to leave the fittonia right next to it alone.

Makes for a heck of a daily mess to clean up, though!

Here is a portrait of the little plant hoodlum, taken by my friend, Sue, a budding photographer with tremendous talent:


When I was in high school, my friends used to tease me because I took so many notes during my classes, and when I was in college, I could transcribe most professors' entire lectures into my notebooks.  I am a fast writer, who stays alert best by writing things down.  I also have a poor memory, and like to have a written record of anything I might want to review later. 

So, naturally, my notetaking habits have spilled into my art-making.  I use my sketchbook to take notes on designs in books and web sites that I might want to incorporate into my work in the future.

I especially enjoy taking note of tangle designs that I will use in future doodles.  Sometimes it takes a few rough starts to get the hang of a new design, and I find that some designs suit my talents better than others.  Here are some of my favorites that I found by checking out the "Look Inside" feature on Amazon for Margaret Bremner's The Art of Zentangle, which is now on my Wish List:
I really like these little stacked rocks.
How pretty is this flux design?

There are all kinds of variations on this Roxi pattern, and I really like how Bremner created a dangling design.
Hollibaugh has been one of my favorite patterns since I first started creating Zentangles, and I I really like the patterned stones standing next to one another, at the bottom of this picture.
As part of my notetaking, I recorded some designs for stylized leaves and trees that I saw on the website I Heart Prints and Patterns:

None of this is much to look at in my sketchbook, but the idea is that I can incorporate some of these designs on beautiful backgrounds for cards or art journal pages.  I can use a little help from online sources for new design ideas, but I will seldom use them unless I take not of them in my sketchbook for easy future reference. 

Another great web site for design and pattern ideas is Print and Pattern.  A person could spend hours just soaking in the inspiration!

I had the most delightfully balanced day yesterday.  I couldn't possibly do everything that I love to do, but the things that I did represented most of the very important pieces of my life:  I went to spin class in the morning, and got a tremendous workout.  After picking up the girls from preschool, we went on a play date to Chuck E. Cheese's--a place that I remembered as dark and dirty from my childhood, and yet it was bright, clean, and fun in my community; I had a wonderful two hours giving undivided attention to my girls as we took turns and played games together.  Then I came home and gave my kitchen and laundry area a thorough housecleaning.  I cooked dinner for my family, and headed off to a prayer meeting, a group that meets monthly to pray for specific missionaries we are in relationship with in Asia.  By focusing on exercise, my children, my homemaking, and my religion/spiritual life, I balanced four of the most important "pieces" of my life; it doesn't always happen that the time in a day is so well used, but it feels very good when it is!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Our Lady of the Sketchbook

I've been developing an interest in the role of Mary within the Catholic faith. 
As a Protestant, I do not see any emphasis placed on Mary in worship--not prayer, not sermons, not songs.  And yet she is so central to Catholic worhip that it has made me curious about her.  Especially when she is so honored and revered within a system that does not seem to accord much power to women in general. 

While reading more about Mary and Catholicism in general, I have also been interested in the imagery of Mary that I've encountered. 
While my girls were in a library storytime recently, I picked up a few books from the kids' section, including The Lady of Guadalupe and Mary the Mother of Jesus, both written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola.  The pictures have bold lines and colors that I find immensely appealing.  Some of them have found their way into my sketchbook with greater and lesser results.
I am actually very pleased with how they came out, even though I see every fault loud and clear.  I think the colors are lovely and bright, and I love the boldness of the lines, mimicking de Paola's beautiful style.  I obviously can't draw a face to save my soul, and I labored over the hands until I just had to accept the results. 
There is some advantage to drawing with the audience that I do.  I drew the first picture with Bayla at my left elbow and Katy at my right.  At one point, Katy pressed, "Mommy, you sure are taking a long time to draw those hands!"  But I think it was good for her to see me draw, erase, draw, erase, and continue to draw again until I could accept the results. 
Having the girls there, though, forced me to accept the results sooner than I probably would have if I were on my own, so I could get the page done and move on. It's a sketchbook, after all!  I have lots more chances to master eyes, mouths, noses, and hands.  I'll get there!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

"See the Good in Everyone" Girls

I am involved in a couple different individual postcard swaps right now, and decided to create some cards with the girls I've been drawing lately in my sketchbook.  For the first postcard, I used the same faces and hairstyles as the girls I showed in my previous post
Before I created the second postcard, I spent some time online investigating some other possible hairstyles, which I recorded in my sketchbook.
From these notes, I created this second postcard:
I added the words using alphabet rubber stamps as a final step.  I consider this my "See the Good in Everyone" series, and each of the words highlights a characteristic to be found in each of the girls.  For one of the postcards, I focused on adjectives to describe the girls:
For the other postcard, I focused on nouns, naming the girls' positive qualities:
I am having fun creating all these little characters, and imagine I have a few more pieces in me to add to my See the Good in Everyone series.

Enjoy a creative weekend!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Working in a Sketchbook

I have long admired the work of Alisa Burke, who often shares "peeks" into her sketchbook on her blog.  Truth be told, I have often been a little overwhelmed by her seemingly unattainable talent!
I used watercolor and marker to re-create a page I saw in a newsletter from a local public garden.

Recently, she offered a free mini-course called "Finding Your Muse." After watching it, I was as impressed as ever by her work, but somehow it seems more accessible now that I had watched her in the process of creating her sketchbook pages from start to finish. Prompted by that video, and an offer of $10 off her classes, I signed up for her Sketchbook Delight eCourse. 
I have a rather bad track record with online classes: I have signed up for a couple that I've never made my way entirely through. (Thank goodness for the "unlimited access" feature of so many classes!) Alisa's class, though, has captured my imagination like none other, and I have no doubt that I will make my way straight through her lessons, which are chock-full of videos, still images, and invitational "homework assignments." 
I used watercolor to draw a recently-purchased aloe plant that sits on my kitchen counter.
Her main emphasis is on turning off the computer, closing the magazines, and looking to our own lives for drawing inspiration.
A closer look
Meanwhile, she has us trying out our supplies to decide what pencils, pens, and paints work best for our personal style. She has us exploring patterns and shapes in the objects around us. And she offers great advice for making a sketchbook page feel "finished," such as the frames she often places around the edges of her pages and the way she fills in open spaces with watercolor backgrounds--two pratices that I've already adopted in my own sketchbook.
I created a reference page to explore some of my pen and marker options for drawing in my sketchbook.  I've actually made quite a bit of use of this page as I've worked on other pages in my book.
I find myself looking forward to grabbing my sketchbook and working on a page each day with an enthusiasm I haven't really felt about any other creative pursuit. There is such a wonderful simplicity to working with a book, a pencil, a few black pens, a waterbrush, and a set of watercolor paints. Maybe it sounds like a large list of supplies, but in reality, it is all remarkably compact and mobile.

I created a reference page for my black pens, which are indispensible in the creation of my sketchbook pages.

Finally, I created a reference page for my pencils, exploring their varying hardnesses and shading capabilities.  They represent the first step in each of my sketchbook pages.

I love how the shading on these little balls turned out!
My daughter is mesmerized by Alisa's videos, as well as my own sketchbook efforts. She sits with me and watches as I draw and paint, sometimes re-creating elements of what she sees me doing on her own drawing paper. I never would have dreamed it possible (since drawing has long seemed completely out of my reach), but a daily sketchbook practice feels like something I could definitely adopt as part of my creative life!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Violette's Girls

I have returned to working in my sketchbook daily, which I am loving!  In the midst of my practice sketching, I received my September e-Newsletter from artist Violette Clark, called Violette's Creative Juice News.  In it, she shared a link to a free tutorial showing how she draws her signature faces, like the women featured in her book, Journal Bliss.

I really enjoyed watching her work, and grabbed my sketchbook to follow her lead:
I love the book title, Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself, by Patricia Lynn Reilly, so I incorporated these words into my picture. 
Perfect?  Absolutely not!  But I love the bold colors of her hair, eyes, and lips, and overall I thought she came out pretty well considering my total lack of experience with drawing people. 
I thought Violette's video tutorial made the whole process fun and do-able.  I went on to practice some other girls from her book, Journal Bliss.
My four-year-old sat leaning against me as I drew and used my watercolors (which was a feat in itself, as she wriggled and squirmed!), helping me make choices for hair and eye color, as well as skin tone. 
I like the hair on this one, above, the best, which I had not at all expected.  And I think the heart cheeks on this one, below, are sweet.
The one with the purple hair, below, is my vampire girl:  pale skin, cold blue lips.  A little creepy, but I like her hair quite well.
My daughter thought this one, below, looked angry about something.  I think she looks a little shy or distressed, like she's biting her lower lip. 
For each portrait, I drew first in pencil, then outlined in black Micron ink.  I went back and erased my pencil lines, and then added watercolor with my watercolor brush.  I then went back over the lines in black Micron pen again to brighten them up from the paint. 

I also used watercolor to fill in the portrait squares, as well as the frame around them, taking a cue from Alisa Burke who likes to fill in all the spaces on her sketchbook pages.  I am in the midst of taking her online course, Sketchbook Delight.  But that is news for another day's blog post!