Monday, January 31, 2011

Feeling A Bit Grumpy?!

Shorebird in Watercolor
Handmade Sketchbook
5.5 x 5.5 inches
Cold weather getting you down?! Gray days piling up on you? Well.......come and take an "Imaginary Trip to the Beach!" Feel the warm, gentle breezes blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico, sink your toes in the sand, watch the waterbirds race along the edge of the waves and forget about all that snow!

Please click here for more information on the trip! We're leaving tomorrow, so hurry!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Last Call For Ireland!!

Watercolor of St. Patrick's Cross
Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook
3.5 x 8.5 inches

All aboard for An Imaginary Trip to Ireland!! 'Tis wet, cold and windy in Ireland today,* but oh, the beauty of such a wind-swept land! Complete with ruins, leprechauns tales of old, and legends of giants, the Emerald Isle is destination not to be missed. 

Come and join me on a glorious imaginary trip through this wonderful country. We leave* on January 31st and return* on March 10th. We'll be sketching the gorgeous coast and castle ruins as well as in the modern city of Dublin. For more information about the trip, please visit here.

Let me know if I can answer any questions.


*We're not really in Ireland and we're not actually leaving as this is all "imaginary!!"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sometimes, You Just Gotta Move!

2 minute sketches from Davis Park
Watercolor and Ink
Handbook Watercolor Sketchbook
I've been itching to get outside. Between the inclement weather and inside obligations, I've been having a tough time getting there. Yesterday, I had a small window of time and went to Davis Park. It's not the most scenic of places, but it was outside and that was the main requirement. The other reason I wanted to get outside was so I could move. As in walk!

I admire the artists that I see posting sketches from their daily walkabouts. They call it "sketchercise" or something like that. I find myself in a state of struggle whenever I try to sketch when I'm out walking (for the purposes of exercise) and I think it shows in the sketches above. What I want to sketch doesn't generally show up an area or at a time when I'd be willing to stop. Going back to those areas would mean another loop and I didn't have the time.

My "solution" was to impose a 2-minute time limit on myself—IF I was going to try and accomplish both tasks. Sigh. Although I can't say that the sketching was all that successful, I do feel better having been out in the gale force winds, letting it blow some of the cobwebs in my brain around.

The frost-burnt oak leaves truly glowed in the intermittent sun. I heard the call of the redwing black bird as well as saw and heard a pair of Sandhill Cranes. I may have seen a vireo but am not sure if that's what it was.

Sketching aside, it was pure bliss for the few minutes I was out there!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Part Two of Elva Paulson's Interview... now posted over on the 100 Paintings Challenge Blog! Please be sure to check it out for some wonderful inspiration as well as Elva's blog, Elva's Field Notes!
Oregon Coast by Elva Paulson
watercolor and ink
You'll find the first part of the interview here!
Bison by Elva Paulson
pen, ink and watercolor wash

Monday, January 24, 2011

"It's Fun to Have Fun....

My first carved stamp - Fleur-de-lis!
The second was the leaf motif.

...But you have to know how!"

The quote is from Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat book, and could not be more right. I was reintroduced to the quote reading Gretchen Rubin's blog, The Happiness Project, with a book by the same name. This particular post deals with what we think *should* be fun vs. what is really fun to us as individuals. The two are not necessarily the same thing.

On Friday, I had an opportunity to meet up with a friend for lunch. One of the first fun things I've done in the last two weeks. Those weeks have included technology nightmares along the lines of hard drive disk failure....while talking, the realization crystalized before my eyes that I hadn't been having much fun lately! (Gosh, really?! Sometimes it takes a smack from the obvious for me to take notice of said obvious!)

Since it was Friday and I was going to be without my computer for a while, I decided I needed to have some "fun." Oh my goodness....I was rather lost. What was fun? What did I want to do? I had no idea! I retreated to the office and got on the (old) computer and started surfacing the 'net. Fun? No. Procrastination.

I stumbled across a post by Aimee of Artsyville about carving inexpensive erasers from the dollar store into stamps and thought, "Hey, that sounds like fun!" Almost as quickly I dismissed the idea as I don't really use stamps in my artwork. What caught and held my attention was her comment about needing a mindset switch. Something totally different from what I normally do. And a switch it definitely was!
More stamps carved from erasers from the dollar store!

Long story made shorter, I needed to go to the library on Saturday...the dollar store was on the now I had the erasers. I already had several Xacto® knives so I was good to go. When Chris saw my project he mentioned an Xacto set he'd given me some time back that had carving tools in it—score! I was set to carve my heart out and I did!

The other thing that started me on this path was my recent trip to NOLA....I brought back a wine cork from a bottle of wine Kathy of Catching Happiness and I shared while there. I had the wild idea of turning it into a stamp.....and I did! With a NOLA motif, no less....(KJ, one of these is for you!)
The two fleur-de-lis stamps are from the same cork.
The bird on the right is the first synthetic cork I carved.
The swirls on the bottom stamped bird were done with a gel ink pen.

Well, one fun idea leads to another and another and soon I was carving more wine corks except these were the synthetic corks made from a thermoplastic elastomer. Such fun! I had three of these synthetic corks and all had slightly different properties that gave varying results!

I have to say this was great fun and it felt good great to fill the "well" rather than to constantly draw from it. Next, I'll be to integrating some of the designs into my sketchbooks! More fun!
Two more synthetic corks with their carvings

So what do you find fun and do for fun—just for you?!! Please sure....I need to have more fun!

P.S. If you decide to try this, be very, very, very, very careful with sharp instruments.....just sayin'......

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Fabulous Finish to the 100 Paintings Challenge

Please join me over at the 100 Paintings Challenge Blog for a wonderfully inspiring interview with Elva Paulson! Elva has just completed the challenge and shares a bit about the long and winding road she's traveled to where she is today.
by Elva Paulson
You'll find more of Elva's wonderful stories over on her personal blog, Elva's Field Notes. Do be sure to stop by—you won't be disappointed!
Foggy Woods
by Elva Paulson

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oh! The Things That You See!

Memory Sketch of the Loooong Toenails
As an artist, if you observe well, you will be amazed at what you see. You may also be amazed at what your brain finds fascinating and will NOT leave alone even though there's no good reason to dwell on it!

The foot above is a memory sketch of a young woman's foot from the restaurant where I had lunch yesterday. The memory sketch is not the best, but it captured my fascination with her toenails—French manicure and all! Now, this is Florida and we wear sandals almost all year round so seeing toenails painted in exotic colors and with elaborate detail is not unusual.

What was unusual was the length of her toenails. They must have extended at least a quarter of an inch (6mm) PAST the end of her toes!!! They looked far more like fingernails than toenails and I found myself totally captivated.

As I traveled through the rest of the day, my thoughts kept returning to her toes. I had questions. Many questions, but since she was a complete stranger to me, I don't think she would have appreciated me showing up tableside to ask her.

I wanted to know if she had trouble wearing closed toed shoes, did she ever wear close toed shoes and how long did it take to grow toenails that long?! Did she have trouble with them breaking or with ingrown toenails? Yes, vulgar, I know, but I did wonder.
Too-late-to-be-sketching-at-night sketch
of my own foot
Still thinking about those toenails at 11:00 last night, I decided to sketch my own foot, giving myself really long toenails. And before you ask, no my foot is not that misshaped. This is what comes of sketching too late at night rather than going to bed after a long day! Unfortunately, it did nothing to resolve my questions or curiosity.

AND because I was so totally fascinated with the long toenails, I just had to share as I knew you'd want to know too!! ;•)  

P.S. When Chris observed the scans of the two sketches, he remarked that it "appeared" as if the feet were actually stomping on the paper because of the wrinkles from the water and the way the paper dried!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Time for a Change!

I'm in the mood for hearts! Can you tell?! The new blog header was inspired by a necklace I purchased on my recent trip to NOLA—it's made up of all kinds of hearts, both brass and glass. These are the same chickadees that were in the last header with the letters strung across between them. I painted the hearts in watercolor on a separate piece of paper. Then digitally, I added them to the "rope" between the birds!

Hope you like them!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Word Play: Love Reigns

I love a "play on words" and when I heard the words "love reigns" it sparked an artistic thought that led to a painted thought in my journal. This is what I started with:

 I liked the idea of the hearts floating down as if it were raining. I decided to go a bit further with this but realized my idea wasn't going to work the way I currently had journal positioned. I turned it counter clockwise one step so that "Love Reigns" now ran along the side rather than the top. Then I added the words "Love Grows" on the opposite side going down the left side:

When I first "conceptualized" this piece, my thoughts ran along the lines of what works with rain/reign besides falling rain or hearts and my answer was an umbrella. But rather than having the umbrella protecting something from rain/love, I turned the piece over to "catch" all the love pouring down:
When I put the three elements together on the page and added the word "Where" on the left side, this is what the finished page looked like:

Another cool thing about this is that I can break the elements apart and use them to create a Valentine Day card! The finished size of the page is 5.5 inches square which is not a standard card size. By using my scanner and photo editing software, I can easily downsize and rearrange the art to fit on any size card I want it to! Interested in learning more? Come join me for the Valentine Cards eClass starting tomorrow, January 18th! More information here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Research for A Possible New Class...

....would you answer a few questions for me? I'm researching a new class and I'm curious if this is something that would be of interest to anyone besides me.

Do you have a relationship with your muse and if so, how would you describe it? (i.e. don't have a muse, don't know my muse, I think I saw her once, acquaintances, friends, best friends, enemies, I hate her guts)

Do you think having a relationship, or a better relationship, with your muse would improve your creativity?

If you don't want to post your answers in the comment section, please click the email button over on the left sidebar.

Thanks for the help!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quick! Sketch Faster!!

Chili's Ballerina
Watercolor and Copic® Ink Multiliner
in Scrap/Scratch Paper Sketchbook
I happen to have my scrap/scratch sketchbook out and open the other day when this young lady came in for lunch at Chili's. She was a live first. When they all sat down, she was up on her knees, bouncing around like she was on a trampoline, chattering a mile a minute. By the time I finished capturing the few details I could, she had sunk! All I could see of her was the very tip top of her head over the back of bench! 

I would have loved to have captured some of her tutu as it was pink and frothy and full of sequins, but it wasn't to be. The sketch above was done over about 10 minutes and is really a conglomeration of poses as she wasn't still more than 10 seconds at the time. I don't think her age comes across in this as she was maybe 4 years old. How I aged the back of her head I don't know, but the sketch makes her look older—to me.  

Two things that dawned on that day were a) if I hadn't had my sketchbook out and open this sketch probably wouldn't have happened and b) I need to make a more focused effort to be prepared for "moments" like this! They're too much fun to miss!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fleur-de-Lis, Hearts and Shamrocks!!

What in the world do fleur-de-lis, hearts and shamrocks have in common? They mark the BRAND NEW LOCATIONS and classes on the Winter 2011 schedule for! Come join the fun!

We're starting out the year with a Valentine Cards Mini eClass that focuses on using our journal art for dual (or triple or quadruple...) purposes! We'll be exploring the idea of making cards for Valentine's Day and beyond. This class begins next week on the 18th. If you'd like more information, please visit the Mini eClass page for more information!

Then we're heading off for an Imaginary Trip to Ireland!! The Emerald Isle beckons with crumbled ruins, megalithic passages and coastal views that will still away your breath....and your heart! We'll be leaving on January 31st! For more information, please visit an "Imaginary Trip to Ireland!"

No winter would be complete without an Imaginary Visit to the Beach! We'll sink our toes in the sand while sitting in the warm sunshine, listening to the gentle waves rolling up on the shore. We'll explore the area, the wildlife and beach life for a glorious 5 weeks! Want to play?! There's more information here. This visit begins on February 1st.

Before you can blink, we'll be on our way to New Orleans! An Imaginary Trip to New Orleans gets underway on February 22nd and will include visits to old courtyards, the French Quarter and the Garden District! We'll even get acquainted with this thing called Mardi Gras! Come and join in the fun! For more information, please visit here.

There's nothing quite like England in the Springtime, so that's next on our agenda! Cottage gardens and pubs, castle ruins and ancient doorways to another time and place...come and join the fun! The "Imaginary Trip to England" begins on March 1st! For more information please visit here.

To see a quick overview of all these classes, please visit the Winter i•Trav•e•logue! As always, please let me know if I can answer any questions!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Kelly Riccetti's Interview at 100 Paintings Challenge!

Please join me over on the 100 Paintings Challenge Blog to read the interview with Kelly Riccetti, our most recent champion of the challenge. Kelly has just completed 100 paintings in a year and will being going for another 100 in 2011!
© Kelly Riccetti

© Kelly Riccetti
Kelly is also a brilliant photographer and you can see some of her awesome photos her blog!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Egads! It's Only the 5th!

And I've already fallen off the "resolutions/goals" wagon! LOL! That didn't take long, now did it?!

Pineapple Journal
Roughly 5 x 1.5 inches
"Oh well. Guess I can throw in the towel and go sit on the couch now. Things that might have been, well, guess it won't be happenin' this year. Tough luck."

You know what that sounds like to me? Perfectionism...if I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it at all.

As a recovering perfectionist, I've heard this mantra in my mind all too often. I still have those tendencies and I suspect I always will. In moments inattention or fear (like when I'm thinking about doing something new for the first time), I really have to watch my "mind language" so that I don't slip down that slippery slope and become paralyzed with fear.

So if you're like me and have taken the tumble early, welcome to the imperfect side of life! Feel free to be yourself, to love you for all that you are—warts, fun, mistakes, successes, follies and all things that make you, YOU! Kick your shoes off and stay a while! It's a whole lot more fun over here than it ever was over there on the perfect side of things.

I haven't been in the studio much these last few days. The "Love Grows" piece is part of a journal page in the Pineapple Journal that I'll be sharing more about in the next few days (hopefully). (Here's a has to do with classes!) Once I move through the "business" stuff in the next few days, I'll be back to posting more regularly. And who knows, maybe some info about the new class schedule!

Whether you've already fallen off the "wagon" or you're still on track, I hope you're having a phenomenal week!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

It's Here! It's Here!!

Handbook Watercolor Journal
3.5 x 8.5 inches
The new year is here, safe and sound! Bear is very tired and needs a long winter's nap.....

Hope your year arrived in your favorite "style" and you are enjoying the day. For now, I think I'll join Bear for a nap!

P.S. The clock in the background is a nod to Sue's (LoveItaly) wonderful clock illustration. I think I need more practice!