Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Monday?

Watercolor Journal page
5.5 x 7.5 inches

Hmmm, Monday. Not sure how that happened so quickly! Well, alright, if you insist.

Bring it on!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

That's Not A Word, It's Art!!

While having lunch with a friend yesterday, we pored over a couple of Nature Journaling/Sketchbooks she had found in a used bookstore and a project that I have on the go (more on the project in another post). We also discussed creating words as art and incorporating them into our journals. (The art above is from the Artful Journaling: Foundations online class.) She mentioned that she didn't like her handwriting and tended to shy away from using that type of art in her journals.

It took my muse a minute or three to catch my attention and pull me away from the conversation, but there she was, jumping up and down in the background throwing a tantrum, getting really steamed because she wanted to be "heard." Turns out she had a good idea to share (but then, she usually does!)

What she had to say was that you don't "write" art words, you "draw" shapes that just happen to look like letters. Just like you don't draw a tree, you draw a vertical line with some bumps on it and then more long lines in various directions and so on until you have a tree. When I "drew" the J in the piece above, I drew two long, curvy lines and connected them at the ends. Tada! I had a blade of grass fluttering in the breeze that just happens to resemble the letter J. How handy!!

For anyone who may be interested, Artful Journaling: Explorations will be starting in mid-July and there are just a few spaces left! I invite you to come and play with us—we've been having a brilliant time so far. If you are interested in the Foundations class, please let me know (send me an email or leave a comment). I have started a waiting list and when I have enough interest, I'll put both classes back on the schedule, probably in late summer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Look Who Stopped By!

We've been having some torrential downpours here lately (after 3 weeks of nothing!) and there have been a few afternoons where we've had water front property for a few hours. Still, I was a bit surprised to see our visitor when I went to pick up the mail.....

I'm not sure what type of turtle s/he is as I'm not up on my turtle identification facts; however, don't let anyone fool you—these creatures can move! In the space of 30 seconds it took me to turn around and go get my camera, s/he'd moved about 15 feet from where I originally spotted them! And if it wasn't 150º outside, I probably would have attempted a sketch out there, but it's just too darn hot! Besides, it will probably be raining in another 30 minutes or so!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Does Inspiration Look Like?

What inspires you? What makes you excited to create? I have recently discovered that messy, well-used, lived-in palettes inspire me! I've collected images of palettes for years and I always thought it was because of the wonderful colors all lined up in pretty rows like candy at the confectioner's shop. Instead, it seems the possibilities that are waiting to be discovered within the grains of pigment are far more exciting to me.

The messy, well-used look speaks of fun, challenges, and the pursuit of those possibilities!

This discovery came about kind of by accident. I went to move my palette that I use for the Imaginary Trips classes out of the way and as I stood gazing at the messy wells with paint splotches and splatters everywhere, I could feel a light hum begin to sing in my blood! Yes, I know this qualifies me for the lunatic fringe award, but still......there was something about it!

I used to be fanatical about keeping my palette clean.....obviously this is no longer a compulsion I suffer from!! I do try to keep the paints clean, but if I dip into a well with a dirty brush, I no longer panic. I've learned a lot about mixes......and fixing mistakes that way! (Not a recommended way of learning but highly effective.) I do try to keep the yellows clean because there aren't too many things that will spoil a painting faster than an icky yellow.

Instead, I find the "mud" left over from various paintings to often contain just the color I'm looking for! The grays are luminous and quite stunning. Or, if I want to throw in "something different," I'll often reach for leftover pigment from another painting session because I do hate to waste paint. This has led to some very intriguing paint combinations that I probably wouldn't have discovered any other way. Some of them are even successful!

Perhaps that's why I am so inspired by a messy, lived-in, well-used palette—all the possibilities it represents in not only new paintings, but new ways of seeing and combining pigment. Whatever it is, I hope to always feel that energy humming along in my blood whenever my eyes do chance upon my palette.

What inspires you?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


...what a delightful term! I stumbled across it in a December magazine that had been hiding in the piles on my desk. The article addresses taking a holiday time-out to keep from getting overwhelmed and starts off with be a uni-tasker even if you're a veteran multi-tasker. I found the article quite timely even though it's June.

Hmmm, I asked myself, am I a veteran multi-tasker? Well, as I considered this, I noted the bell on the dryer went off, the dishwasher still had 9 more minutes, and then the washer could get going, the camera battery was finished charging and could now be put back in the camera, and I had found most of the top of my desk. And it was only 9:47 in the morning! Multi-tasker? You bet your boots I am, but more to the point, do you know a woman who is not?!

In stark contrast, I watched my husband make peanut butter toast for breakfast the other morning. This is quite the undertaking and has to be done in a special order, with special bread and a special bowl (about 50 years old) in the proper order. Any deviation from the tradition and the whole process is doomed. I watched as he carried his toast—one half of a slice—one in each hand—one at the time—to the table. He makes 3 slices of toast. That's three trips for the toast alone. The coffee comes last and is another trip......

And I shake my head as I carry my 2 slices of toast, cut in half, to the table in one trip. My coffee is generally already there. In observing this, I note how much the man enjoys the process, the steps in creating the breakfast, and I think he may have the right of it as well. It is in enjoying the process that the end result is more satisfying or seems so.

Now, if I could just learn to enjoy the process of clearing away clutter and piles and not stressing about the other 217 things on the to-do list...........

Monday, June 14, 2010


Memory Sketch
Watercolor in 
Hobby Lobby Watercolor Journal
3.5" x 5.5"

I stepped into my studio last evening just in time to see this scamp darting across the floor with my favorite sable watercolor brush! When I told Chris about him, I called the little guy a gremlin. This led to a discussion about what makes a gremlins vs. mischievous faeries vs. hobgoblins vs. evil elves. I was perhaps calling him by the wrong name as I do believe he is more of a mischief maker than an gremlin. Besides, he wasn't green and I didn't see any warts.

Interestingly, Chris informed me he didn't have any of these mysterious creatures in his studio. He seem to think they were all mine and visited his studio when they became bored waiting for me to discover something missing. He also said if they were anything like him, they'd forget where they put stuff so he hoped they didn't take anything too important!

I regretfully informed him that as far as I knew faeries had no territorial boundaries, came and went as they pleased, and were not assigned nor attached to particular humans. It had far more to do with who they liked—or didn't. Fortunately for me, this guy dropped the brush as he rounded the trash bin and disappeared from sight. He didn't seem particularly scared of me. He just knew the game was up. This time.

On a more serious note (if you've made it this far), this was painted in the new watercolor journal from Hobby Lobby. So far I've learned that it does not take to repeated erasing very well. It tends to mar the paper rather easily. The journal also has a textured page and a less textured page. As long as you know this you can either plan ahead if you want to do a two page spread, or make your mind up it's not going to bother you if you want to stay in date order.

The only thing I can say so far is that when these are gone, I won't be making another trip to replace them. I still prefer them to Moleskines, but I really think I'd rather just make my own and be done with it. So close.....but then, that's probably what Mr. Brush Snatcher thought too!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A New Watercolor Journal!

If you've read the blog very long, you've heard me fuss about the Moleskine watercolor journals and the fact that I just really don't care for them. They're simply not my thing. However, it's nice to have a small compact journal like that to cart around when I'm out and about.

So when I read about Bonnie's find over on Flickr, I had to "see" for myself. She had found a watercolor journal at Hobby Lobby called The Art of Watercolor Journal. Anyway, nothing doing but I needed to lay my hands on one. As it turned out, when Chris and I went to the antique market last week, we took a 50 mile detour to Hobby Lobby, and purchased the journal!

I'm not sure what "handy crafted" is suppose to be and it doesn't say what kind of paper is inside, only that it is acid-free. I decided to go ahead with the purchase anyway. It is made very similar to the Moleskine's except with a rubberized cover. I suppose it's meant to be leather-like. Then again, maybe not.

What would determine the journal to be a keeper would be how the paper handled paint. Even though I have several other journals "on-the-go," I didn't hesitate to rip that wrapper off and get started painting inside.

I have to say that I have been pleased so far. I started with the first page of watercolor paper and painted a generic design as I always seem to have trouble making up my mind what should go on the first and last pages. I decided to paint a design similar to what you would see on a decorative end sheet. The paper curled a bit but not horribly. The paper handles paint much, much better than the Moleskine. That's a huge plus right there (for me). The paint did not drag or resist the paper.

Things were slightly different when I painted the back page though. The paint seemed to resist the sizing but only in certain places. Looking at the page on an angle, I could not see any glue or abnormal shine to the page, but there was definitely an inconsistency to the page. It took a couple of extra swipes with the brush to get the paint to adhere.
Until I painted that back page, I thought I'd found a new journal worth recommending to you. I'll have to do a few more pages before I can give it a thumbs up. Another plus in its favor is that the small size (3.75 x 5.5 inches) is only $7.00 and Hobby Lobby offers a 40% off coupon. Not a bad deal. If the pages are not funky. Stay tuned.......

Monday, June 7, 2010

What Does Your Inner Critic Look Like?!!

Have you noticed it gets kind of crowded in the studio or in your head, and sometimes it's rather hard to hear yourself think from all the noise? It's our Inner Critics!! Critics can keep up a running dialogue for hours, spewing negativity and making us feel lousy about ourselves, our art, just about everything. Would you like to silence the Inner Critic?!! How you ask? By drawing and painting your critic!

This critic happens to be mine. Some people have monsters for critics. Mine is a very real looking person. (I wish she looked more like the monster that she really is—then it wouldn't be so hard to ignore her!) She spends a great deal of time looking down her nose at everything I do, making hateful, hurtful comments. I've added some of the hateful things she says. You may recognize some of them! I've also included a quick shot of what she look's like on the inside should anyone be fooled (note the fangs)! She seldom smiles and her lips are almost always compressed into a thin line (note the frown lines). She tends to where her hair as if it is a tiara or crown. You'd think she was a queen. She sure thinks she is!

So think about it....what would your critic look like? Monster or person? Male or Female? Normal or not? What voice do you hear when your critic speaks? What do they say? Is it a voice from the past or from the present? These are all clues to what your critic looks and sounds like.

Once you have your critic painted, TAPE their mouth SHUT! Literally. With a piece of tape.

Then prop your painting in an area where you can see it while you're creating your artwork and every time your critic opens their mouth, point to the image and say, "Nope, sorry, you've been silenced! I don't want to hear it!"

This is an assignment we are using in the Artful Journaling: Foundations class, to overcome the clamor of voices from the Inner Critics that would hold us hostage from our creativity. I think you will find this exercise fun as well as wonderful therapy. I disappeared for a couple of hours to create mine. Chris had to come find me and when he looked at what I was doing, he broke into a big smile and said he needed to do that too!

Play, have fun, and make sure the critic has a mouth so you can tape it closed! I invite you to share your critic and link back here!

UPDATE: Some folks have a difficult time taping the mouth of their critic closed. An inverted glass or glass dome works just as well!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Wow, did that week blow through here or what? I can't believe it's Friday! I guess that's what happens when I launch a new class, work on a competition painting, and have a holiday all in the same week! Speaking of holidays, Memorial Day is the day of a huge outdoor antique/flea market about 60 miles north of where I live.

We've been going for years. We've honed the process of getting ready and getting out the door down to a science. You see, we get up at 4:45 AM and we're usually on the road by 5:30. A lot of people mistake that for diehard antique enthusiasts. We're not. Mostly we go to look and satisfy a curiosity about how our ancestors lived a 100 years ago.

No, we get up with the chickens because a) this is Florida and it's h.o.t. by 9 AM in the morning and b) it gets crowded. Very crowded. So imagine that it's 95º in the shade (except there is no shade) and you're spending the morning with a 1000 of your closest, hot, sweaty, grumpy, grouchy, argumentative, new best'd get up at 4:45 too!!

We always look for a "treasure" when we go. A treasure is a special find and money has little to do with it. It has more to do with the value it has to the person seeking/finding the treasure. Again, imagine finding something you've been looking for for years, maybe it's a deal or a steal or maybe it's just that you've finally, after all this time, after you'd nearly given up, that you found the item—that's a treasure!

It is uncommon to find a free treasure at an antique market, but that's exactly what happened on Monday. I was standing by a table with an array of military memorabilia waiting for Chris when I glanced down and something twinkling caught my eye. At first I thought it was a play of light off from an item in the cases, but that didn't feel right, so I stepped closer to take another look.....

And found a ladybug carcass! Now, remember, I said the treasure was valuable to the person who found it.....

To say I was surprised is an understatement. I mean, here I am in a sea of 50 acres of antiques and I find a ladybug. A dead ladybug. And I'm thrilled. Of course, I had no way to safely store it so I carefully cupped it in the palm of my hand and carried it back to the truck. I nestled it down on the lid of my coffee cup where I knew it would be safe until we reached home.
"Let Me Call You Sweetheart"
Watercolor in Moleskine Sketchbook

It was not until I went to sketch it in my Moleskine that I noticed the word "sweetheart"......