Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What Will You Accomplish In 2015?

Ah, there's nothing like a brand new, pristine year to start us thinking about what's next, what we want to accomplish. 

Below is a simple graphic that I hope you'll print out and post somewhere you can see it on a regular basis once you fill in the blank. 
In case you're having some difficulty coming up with an idea, let me make some suggestions: 

Print out the list and cut out the sentiment that resonates most strongly with you then paste it to the first graphic. If your dream is not on there, write it out. 

I'd like to thank each of you who read the blog, leave comments, friend me on Facebook, send emails or contact me via Pinterest. You are the reason I do what I do and will continue to do. It wouldn't be much fun if I didn't have "imaginary friends" who liked to play with me!

I wish each of you the very best for 2015 and hope to celebrate all the great things we accomplish along the way. 

Stay safe and we'll see you next year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Wish For You...

This is still on the table, but it's just in time to wish you the very best of the season however you make celebrate.

It has been a fun year, made more so by each of you. While we may not have all met in person, you each are near and dear to me and I sometimes wonder where I'd be without you.

Lucky for me, I don't have to know the answer to that.

Wishing you and yours plenty of merry, sparkly and bright!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What To Do When The Creativity Won't Flow

Here's a post I've never thought to write before...

I've heard a number of people say they were "blocked" and even though they wanted to create, they just weren't able to.

You may have heard folks who write say they are block or you might have experienced being blocked yourself.

I haven't.

I've never been blocked. I've gone through periods where I didn't want to sketch, paint, draw or do anything else that required paper and paint, but I've never been blocked.

I think recognizing the lack of desire or resistance to creating in a journal is key.

Occasionally, I've allowed myself to get caught up in the "well, I should do this" or "I ought to do that," but to me that's not being blocked—that's guilt. And who better to guilt us than ourselves? For me, guilt almost NEVER works.

Perhaps my definition of being blocked is different from everyone else's.

Currently, I'm going through a period where I don't have the energy or a strong desire to sketch. Every time I pick up my journal, I feel resistant towards putting anything on the page. So, I lay it back down and walk away.

Part of my reluctance to sketch is that both of my parents have the flu and my mother actually wound up in the hospital for a few days. My father, brothers and I had to stay with her around the clock to make sure she didn't fall and she still managed to do that anyway. (She's banged and bruised but otherwise alright.)

Lots of folks sketch hospital equipment, interiors of rooms and their loved ones lying in a hospital bed in these circumstances…so far, I've not been able to bring myself to do that. That's simply not a memory I want in my sketchbook. (Hello, my name is Pollyanna.)

Rather than get upset about not wanting to sketch or not having the energy to sketch, I divert my creative energies, or what's left of them, into another form.

Instead of drawing, I cook or bak. I may do some sewing or rearrange my living room. All of these endeavors take some form of creativity, it's just that the process is not so obvious. Nor is the end result.

The other thing I know is that my need/desire/addiction to sketch, paint and create will flair again. Just like the sun will come up in the east. When it does, I'll pick up my journal like I never left off.

I believe having an unshakeable conviction that my creativity will never go away is the second important key to not being blocked.

I'm not sure, but I don't think it's possible to lose the creative streak in us…but I know a good many folks seem to think that way and I can't help but wonder if it's part of the reason for their block.

I'd also go so far as to say that it's perfectly okay to set down the journal and go off in pursuit of another creative activity. A steady diet of nothing but the same old thing gets pretty boring after a while.

Using a different approach or using a different medium can often be enough to kick the fire back up. Sometimes not.

I expect to be back to my regular journaling self in a few more days, a week at the most, but if I'm not, I'll continue to give myself permission to get over this slump.

And there's the third key—giving myself permission to feel what I feel and to move through it.

Of course, I have to be careful not to wallow too long or overindulge in the negative feelings that can accompany these bouts of not wanting to journal.

I hope these thoughts will help you navigate the minefield of guilt that often part of the busy holiday season. I also share these thoughts in the hopes that it may help someone else avoid the pain of feeling blocked when life gets a little too busy or downright overwhelming.

Be kind to yourself and be kind to others as we often have no idea what others are going through.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Flyin' By, Baby!

Much like today, our weather 22 years ago was mostly cloudy with a hint of rain with the sun playing hide and seek most of the day. Finally, on that day many long years ago, just before seven o'clock, a fine mist began to fall…and that's the day I married my best friend!

Sounds cheesy, right? You bet, but it just happens to also be the truth. He's still my best friend today!
A rare photo of a smile on his face!
You may know him as a mild-mannered, laid back guy named Chris, but don't be fooled! I thought it might be fun to show you some of his other "sides:"
He's got a great sense of adventure as long as it doesn't involve planes or long car rides…
He's almost always calm and is seldom surprised though he does occasionally pretend to be outraged…
Every once in a while he gets very reflective and when he comes back from his thoughts, he asks something profound like, "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be able to talk to animals?"
A good judge of character
He's not often fooled by people and the many facades they wear. When he focuses his attention on you, it's like you're the only one in the world. He may also have a touch of pirate blood in him...
He's seldom in a really bad mood, though occasionally he gets grumpy…but then who doesn't? He's also wildly amused by farts, burps and other body function noises…but then what guy isn't?
Hello, Mr. Serious
He can also be stern, intense, and he has a great "you're about to disappoint me" stare. But mostly, I know him by his smile and great sense of zany humor and love of animals:
The man and a canine bud from work
May the next 22 years be as fun and full as the first ones, I love you, Chris!! Thanks for being a good sport about me taking your pictures at lunch a few weeks ago. :)

(We'll be back to our normal programming next week.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Acorns and Wishes

Watercolor, watercolor pencil, ink and charcoal
The other morning I found myself in a parking lot full of acorns and you know I just had to pick some up!

And this time I had a good reason…I did a class last week at Keeton's Office and Art Supplies on Autumn's Garden and the bounty to be found there. We painted some of the acorns.

But I gotta tell you, I probably would have picked them up anyway as they were huge! I think they were from a red oak(?) and I fell in love with them.

Looking at an acorn, you usually see a hint of green, umber, ochres, yellows, a few golds and maybe some gray. Not so exciting when I look at all the fun colors I have in my palette.

So I decided a fantasy acorn was just what I needed to dispel the icky weather we've been having lately.

Above is the result of playing with all kinds of color as well as media. There's a little bit of everything in there.

I can't say I'm wild about the end result as it looks nothing like I had in my head, but I can say it was fun and it scratched the itch of painting an acorn.

Back in the parking lot, as I looked up into the tree I was standing under, I could see gobs and gobs of acorns still on the tree…a very bountiful crop this year…and I thought about Mother Nature's approach to the future.

She didn't put all her hope into one acorn, but into thousands and that was from just ONE tree!

She knew that some acorns would feed the woodland creatures and some would fall onto concrete for crazy humans like me to pick up.

Some would fall to the mower's blades and others would fall in an inhospitable environment, so she made sure there were enough that maybe, just maybe, a few of those acorns would grow into themselves to become big, strong oak trees.

I often find myself too focused on the one acorn rather than a more bountiful approach of several acorns. Perhaps you can relate?

However, I've been quite fortunate and blessed to find that my acorn has taken root and continues to grow daily ( Another acorn, Imaginary Trips Made Real, is thriving with a trip to the beach coming up in January—if you want to interrupt winter, there's still time! Click on the box at the top of the page for more info.

My friends and family are also blessings though some are more like squirrels than acorns. As we *supposably* slow down for the Thanksgiving holiday here in the states, I am taking stock of all of my acorns and how much they've grown this year.

Thanks to all of you who've come to be part of my world via classes, the blog, the internet and FB groups. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, I wish you the very best of blessings for the season.

May you find your acorns have grown as well.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Deciding What To Sketch In Your Journal

"Fall in Florida"
Ink and Watercolor
Stillman and Birn Zeta Sketchbook
5.5 x 8.5 inches
In a recent conversation with someone brand new to keeping a journal/sketchbook, I was asked the question, "How do you decide what to sketch? Where do you find inspiration?"

I have to say, I hedged a bit because there is no straightforward answer. My answer was a question, "What inspires you?" 

She shrugged and gave me a look that said she had no idea. She wasn't far enough along the creative journey to know yet.

It's hard when you're first starting out because you're juggling learning how to draw, creating a visual vocabulary, figuring out how many details to put in once you've figured out what to sketch, and then you're hit with another decision to make about how to fill the next page once the one you're working on is complete.

That's a lot to juggle. My suggestions to her went something like this:

When you're first starting out, I don't think it really matters what you fill the pages with but that you're filling the pages.

Before you get mad and leave, hear me out.

I have long advocated quantity over quality. By that, I mean you have to put in your mileage to get good at what you do (regardless of the skill you're trying to master), to discover what really inspires you because how can you know if you've never done this before?

After you've filled a few sketchbooks and your skills have started to develop, you can begin to take notice of the things that excite you and you want to add to your pages.

However, in the beginning, I suggest draw anything and everything even if you don't know how because that's how you'll learn and develop your skills.

It helps if you decide that your sketchbook is just for you and no one else when you take this approach. Decide that your sketchbook is your safe place to play, explore and learn…because learning often means not getting things right the first or the fifth time.

If you're concerned about others' criticism, dedicate the first page with a message that reads something like:
This is my sketchbook where I learn new skills, explore techniques and experiment with new mediums. Sometimes it's messy and sometimes, because I am learning and experimenting, my attempts are not successful. While you're invited into my private world, I ask that you not judge me nor my efforts. 
If you still receive criticism from someone, simply do not show them your work. It's your sketchbook.

With that said, don't confuse criticism with constructive feedback that can still feel like criticism. Look to their work to see if their comments are criticism or constructive feedback.

If you're still facing a challenge with what to draw, look around on the internet for prompts and challenges. Look on Facebook. You'll find plenty and often, you'll find a community that will support your efforts.
Close up of sketches

Take notice of the types of things you are attracted to and would like to sketch even if you don't sketch them well or are afraid to try…those are the things to focus on because the more you like what you're sketching, the more likely you are to continue sketching. If it's not fun, why do it?

I suggest tackling a wide range of subject matter—people, animals, cars, buildings, landscapes, cityscapes, the beach, mountains, and anything else that crosses your mind. You may hate drawing buildings but love drawing the people in front of the building. Pay attention to what excites you and that you yearn to sketch better.

Be sure not to let fear keep you from tackling something that attracts you. It's paper, time and a some ink, maybe some paint. If it doesn't work out, TURN THE PAGE. No big deal.

Sketching, for most of us, is a long evolution…skills, favorite materials, subject matter, it all changes if we stay on the creative path for long. Embrace the changes and keep sketching. It takes time, and a whole lot of pages, to get comfortable with yourself and your skills.

And never, ever, ever let fear keep you away from the page!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Playing Around With White Pens, Pencils, Markers, and Ink—Comparison

Experimenting with every "white-writing tool" I could find in the studio
I've had a white-lettering-on-black-paper project simmering on the back burner forever or so it seems. One of the things that has me dragging my feet is not knowing which tool (pen, pencil, marker or ink) to use. While cleaning up in the studio this weekend, I stumbled across the sheet of paper you see above (Arches text weight) as well as a couple of white pens I'd just purchased.

Deciding there was no time like the present, I sat down to play after I'd gathered as many white mark-making tools as I could find. In no particular order, I've posted close-ups of the results:
 I've been doing a lot of work with dip pens lately, so I gave a generic bottle of white ink I had a go on the left and right. Smears easily. Takes forever to get the right consistency and it took a long time to dry…hence the smearing. Could work well if you're the patient type. In the middle, I experimented with a Uni•POSCA® brush pen. Horrible control with no consistency to the ink…it's possible the ink is too old to be consistent as I've had the pen a while.
Using a Sakura® Gelly Roll pen worked very well. It takes patience to get a smooth line if you're attempting to create faux calligraphy. The Uni•Ball® Signo Angelic was the easiest pen I used and I like the results. The downside is it's a fine point and it would be really hard to do large lettering with this tip.
Since the Uni•Ball Signo Angelic worked so well, I thought the Uni•Ball Signo Broad would be even better. Wrong! You can see where the ink separated if you look at the graphic at the larger size. It also skipped like mad. Again, it's possible that the ink is old and with a new pen, it might work as well as the Angelic. (Hint: White gel pens get crotchety in their old age which is usually about 6 to 8 months.)
If I decide to go with a "chalkboard look," I will probably use a white charcoal pencil. This particular pencil seemed to have a hint of wax to it and the smearing was limited. Just below that is an example created by a Conté Pastel Pencil and it definitely, EASILY smeared! It would require a spray fixative to keep this from being a major pain in the backside and even then, it may still be smeary. However, it worked best for a chalk look.

Speaking of chalk, this Hampton Art® chalk marker gave a good result. It is not a truly opaque ink and allowed the paper to show through from below. I can think of several fun things to try with this effect.
Another great "chalk" example is a good, old china marker. Two caveats…it's hard to get good clean edges due to the challenge of sharpening the tip and second, if you make a mistake, it's there to stay due the large amount of wax in the lead. The Faber•Castell® Pitt Artist Pen was great for opacity coverage but the nib does not lend itself to any fancy writing. Also permanent. The Faber•Castell watercolor pencil would be wonderful for a chalky piece of work, especially shading. This has no water added to it. Not opaque, but still some fun possibilities there.
I think the most opaque and easiest pen to use was the Sharpie® Poster Pen. Once dry, you can easily fix any light areas. However, once it's dry, you're done because it's acrylic ink. The generic watercolor pencil was another good "chalky look." The Reminise® pen was easy to use and gave excellent results.
My final example is a Stablio® white watercolor crayon encased in wood. The dry result was awful so I added water. It didn't help much. For expressive marks these crayons make are fabulous, but they're not meant for this type of lettering.

Before you pick you tool, think about the final look of the project you're after to help you decide which tool to use. Test, test, test out your tools on your substrate before committing to the project—it can make a huge difference in the look and behavior of the pen or pencil you're using. I would have defaulted to the Uni•Ball Signo broad as it is my "go-to" white pen and I've have probably pulled my hair out before I was finished!

If your project is not going to be handled and touched, the charcoal and pastel pencils give excellent results and were great fun to play with if you're looking to create a chalkboard look.

Now that I've experimented and played, I'm more anxious than ever to get started and see what I can come up with on my project. I hope these results will get you to thinking about what you might do as well!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Event or Activity Journaling Results

Activity-Style Journaling
Journaled while out to lunch
Back on the 25th of September, I asked artists, art journalers, sketchbook keepers, and illustrated journal keepers to step forward and vote on whether they would classify themselves as an activity journal keeper or an event journal keeper.

An activity journal keeper is someone that keeps a journal as an activity much like someone would brush their teeth or eat a meal. It's just something they do without a prompt.

An event journal keeper is someone who journals about or because of a special event like travel, a birth, illness or growing an garden. Something external prompts them to journal.

The more I thought about this and the results of the poll, the more it seems to come down to whether the prompt is internally or externally driven. Some folks are compelled to create while others need a trigger to begin the process of creating.

The results were almost even for both categories:
18 votes for Activity journaling
17 votes for Event journaling

I have to say I am surprised! I thought there would be a leaning towards event-style journaling. Not a landslide, but I definitely expected it to have more votes. That's why it's good to ask and not assume.

Several folks commented that they fell into both categories as they had more than one journal going. I fall into both. I have a journal that goes with me everywhere and has a hodge-podge of subject matter in it such as the palm above.
Event-Style Journaling
A pinecone from my recent trip to Maine
I also create special journals for my travel and everything in them pertains to the trip—the anticipation and trip building, the actual trip itself, things I saw and experienced, and finally memories of the trip.

Regardless of where you are—just starting out or years into your journey—there is no right or wrong style. There is also the strong possibility that your style may change. It could easily move from event to activity and back again since a lot of our journaling often finds its origin in what's going on in our daily lives.

Thanks to all of you who voted and shared your thoughts with me about your particular style of journaling. This is part of a bigger project that is slowly taking form in the background. I'll share more as it takes on more life.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Saturday's Demo At Keeton's

Sketch and painting fast. The journaling was
added after the demo.
What fun! We had a blast Saturday at the demo on Art Journaling at Keeton's Office and Art Supplies in Bradenton. Lots of wonderful folks showed up and asked all kinds of questions.

We discussed art journaling, materials, tools, making mistakes, getting started, and everything in-between. My favorite question from the audience was "You don't tear out many pages from your journal, do you?"

My response was, "No, no I don't. My sketchbooks are for me and it gives me the opportunity to see where I've been and where I'm going." If I removed pages, it would be much harder to see progress whenever I looked back through them.

My wonderful husband was there as my wingman, cameraman, technical advisor, and all-around supporter. I could not do what I do without him! (Thanks, Honey!)

One of the funny (as in "odd") things to me is always "seeing" myself at one of these events. As I went through the photos (which I hated them all), I could not help but laugh at some of my expressions.

Some of them made me look like I was imploring someone to like my page, others looked like I smell something awful, about to sneeze or was savoring a wonderful bit of chocolate.

I decided to share some of the funnier ones. Most are slightly fuzzy as I moved around quite a bit proving to be a difficult subject to capture. I also noticed I was flapping my hands around in almost every frame.

Well, it was a demo after all!

I hope if you're local or in town, you can join me for "An Imaginary Visit To The Beach" on October 11th from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Calling All Art Journalers, Sketchbook Keepers and Illustrated Journal Keepers!!

If you are a keeper of a journal or sketchbook that has some combination of words AND art, I have something on my mind and I'd like to know what your thoughts are on the subject…

Is Art Journaling an Activity or an Event for YOU?

For the purposes of our discussion, Activity is defined as something that is embedded in your life like brushing your teeth, wearing a favorite piece of clothing. Chances are good you carry a journal with you all the time and may whip it out most any time to capture something that intrigues you.

An Event is defined as something that finds you in a certain place and that might be the only place you journal or perhaps the event only takes place at a certain time such as you only journal at night or when alone. Do you only journal after returning from vacation? That would be Event-style journaling. Do you only take advantage of your journal when no one was home? Again, that's Event-style journaling. Or when something significant has happened—birthday, new car, new baby, new puppy or kitten, etc. That would be Event-style journaling. You may or may not carry your journal all the time, but it's seldom you actually take it out when you're out and about.

If you find yourself in both categories, which style of journaling best describes your style?

One last comment…there is NO right or wrong answer. I'm looking for ideas on what the most common work style might be. If you have thoughts you'd like to add, please leave a comment!

Is Art Journaling An Activity Or An Event?

Monday, September 22, 2014

I'm Gonna Be Live And In Person On Saturday!!

I'm going to be doing a live demo (gulp!) on Art Journaling this Saturday at Keeton's Office & Art Supply!! If you're in the or near the Bradenton area, I hope you'll come and join me. 

At Saturday's Demo, I'm going to be demonstrating getting started in Art Journaling with just a few tools, a good sketchbook as well as discussing some of the common pitfalls folks new to art journaling often get caught in.

I'm also delighted to be doing 4 classes as an Introduction to Art Journaling. These classes are suitable for beginners to advanced artists interested in getting started with a journal:

Introduction To Art Journaling: A Visit To the Beach on Saturday, October 11th, from 9 am - 12 noon. It's always fun to capture our "found" treasures on a page! More info here
Come and visit the beach with me!
Introduction To Art Journaling: A Visit To The Bakery on Friday, October 24th, from 9 am - 12 noon. This will be so much fun because we get to eat the treats after we're finished journaling! More info here
Yummy treats from the bakery—what fun!
Introduction To Art Journaling: A Visit To The Farmer's Market on Saturday, November 8th, from 9 am - 12 noon. With lots of color from peppers, fresh citrus and veggies, it's fun to play around and see what we can create on the page. More info here
There's always such gorgeous color at the market!
Introduction To Art Journaling: A Visit To Autumn's Garden on Friday, November 21st, from 9 am - 12 noon. By the time November rolls around, I'm ready for cooler temperatures and for the trees to start showing color! More info here.
I can hardly wait for the temperatures to cool off
and the leaves to change!
The classes are going to be small with lots of individual attention and time to ask (and answer) lots of questions. I do hope you'll come and join me for some journaling fun!

Click here for directions to Keeton's (just enter your address at the top of the page).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Packing Up The Art Supplies...

Getting ready for my trip to Acadia National Park and trying to decide what to take is so much fun!

I'm not sure what your approach is, but more often than not, we artists seem to adopt the "more is way better" attitude when it comes to packing up for a trip on which we hope to get some sketching done. In fact, we often try to take the whole studio, never considering how much that's gonna weigh!

After the tickets for my trip were booked, I started setting "maybe" art supplies in a pile at the corner of my desk. This past weekend, I pulled them out and sorted them to see what it was that I thought I wanted to pack and schlepp across two airports. Here's the pile:
Possible art stuff for the trip—the sad thing is that this isn't even all of it! Click to enlarge.
Taking a closer look from the top right:
1. Storage baggies and a piece of brown paper from a brown sack.
2. Masking fluid. Ummm, yeah. Moving on...
3. Assortment of pens, pencils, water brushes, charcoal pencils, watercolor pencils, bamboo pens, white markers and colored ink pens, both permanent and non-waterproof.
4. Wrist band for wiping my brush.
5. Two small plastic boxes containing clips, erasers, kneaded erasers, white and wax crayons and small splatter brushes.
6. Leatherman tool. (This will go in the checked luggage. I don't want to get thrown off the plane before I even get to board.)
7. Sketchbook and palette.
8. Assortment of travel brushes.
9. A fountain pen.
10. White post notes and a see-thru ruler.
11. Stamps, stamp pads, extra decorative paper, and whatnot.
12. (which is not marked in the image) Wet wipes at the top middle of the image. Those will go. They're great for having on hand after I pick up something "icky."
13. And right below the wet wipes is a box with several document clips on top. The clips will go. The box probably won't make the cut.

I have to point out that even with what I've culled from the list above that's still too much stuff to lug around. And believe me when I say that unless you're going on an art trip with likeminded artists or have copious amounts of free time to sketch and paint, it's highly unlikely that the majority of stuff you drag along will ever see daylight. Also, it gets damn heavy. What started out weighing 9 ounces will feel more like 9 pounds by the time you get home!

A Different Approach
Rather than approaching the art supply selection process from the "how much can I take" end, I find I do much better if I pull out what I MUST HAVE—something to draw on, something to draw with, something to add color with and color in some form.

In other words, the basics.

The better I do on choosing the basics, the more "extras" I can take to play with if I get the time.

Let's take another look:
Necessary basics—art stuff I won't leave home without. Click to enlarge.
Again from the center top:
1. Leatherman tool. You never know when you're going to have to operate on some piece of equipment that has suddenly decided to be contrary.
2. Baggies and brown paper. Always be prepared to bring home unexpected (but messy) treasures. Likewise with the brown paper. You just never know when you might need to sketch something on brown paper…or cover up a major oops.
3. Document clips. Yep. That wind is wicked to fight when you're trying to hold everything in your lap.
4. Wrist band. With this item, I don't have to struggle with paper towels fluttering in the wind, dropping on the ground or flopping over onto the wet page.
5. Post-It Notes® in white. I won't take all 1,184 notes. Instead, I'll break off about 50 and fold up the last not to cover the sticky strip. Why notes? When I skip a page I use the notes to write down my thoughts on what will go on that page, weather conditions, etc. Why white? Because I'm using water and have found that if the colored notes get wet they are inclined to leave a colorful imprint on my page. Not cool.
6. Sketchbook with extra pages.
7. See-thru ruler. I seldom use it, but when I need a ruler, I need a ruler.
8. Palette. Self explanatory.
9. Water brushes. These will be tested before I go to make sure I don't have any duds or leakers. I use four brushes (small, medium, large, and flat tips) because the handles are all interchangeable. If I run out of water on one handle, I simply change the handles to the preferred tip and keep going.
10. Fountain pen. I still have to make a decision as to which one (or three) fountain pens I'll be taking plus ink. I say three because one is my workhorse for drawing while the other two are great for lettering. Decisions, decisions!
11. White pens, mechanical pencils, stick eraser and (missing from the image) black waterproof pens. I generally take a couple of white pens (permanent and non-permanent), a loaded mechanical pencil, stick eraser (though this item is not strictly necessary), and the missing black pens. I take the extra black pens to make sure I have backup if I should have an ornery fountain pen or lose a pen. If I draw while I'm flying, it won't be with a fountain pen as they don't like pressure.

What's not showing besides the black pens: scraps of Zeta paper for practice, scraps of tracing paper for testing ideas if necessary, white gouache, wet wipes and possibly one stamp and one stamp pad. Maybe a couple of pieces of decorative paper.

Because I'll be staying in one location most of the time, I am trying to decide if I want to take my travel brushes. I can always use a glass for a water container. It will most likely depend on the weight once it's all in my bag.
All art supplies with the exception of sharp pointy things have to go in the bag.
If it doesn't fit, it's not going!
Leaving The Studio Behind
One of the biggest challenges we face when we take it on the road is making the decision to leave the studio at home. For me, getting out and about is learning to use the tools I have as best as I can. That means doing without or making an item do something I didn't intend for it to do.

Sometimes I'm successful. Sometimes not, but I always learn something.

How do you decide what to take on a trip?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's A Celebration Over At!!

Oh My Goodness.

Five years? Really!?!

Yes, FIVE years has flown by and it's time for a celebration of EPIC proportions!

Okay, maybe not epic, but still fun!

I am going to be doing a very special Imaginary Visit to Acadia National Park that will have two bonus assignments (for a total of six visits), fun giveaways each week as well as special pricing for the class!

The class will start on Thursday, October 2nd and close on Thursday, November 20th. There will be lots of prizes* and some lucky folks will even get their class fees refunded.

It's my way of saying THANK YOU for all the good times we've had in the classes. The two sketches in the graphic above are from the very first classes I did at!

You may be wondering what Acadia National Park and five years of classes has to do with each other…well, I seem to have several 5's converging in my life at this time.
Bass Harbor Light House
As I prepared to make my grand entrance into my fifth decade, I was asked how I wanted to mark the "event." I've decided I want less stuff in my life and more experiences, so I opted for a trip instead.

I'm heading for the park and you're invited to come along!

If all goes well, the students may even get to drive the curriculum, but we'll have to wait and see if that works out.

It's a celebration for sure, but it won't be complete without y'all there to make it complete, so please come and join the fun!!

Click HERE to come celebrate!

*You do have to be enrolled to be eligible to win. Each person enrolled is eligible to win once. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Learning New Things I Probably Knew Once Upon A Time...

Maine Things
Double Spread in my Maine Sketchbook
Zeta Paper - 4.5 x 15 inches
Ink and watercolor
You think you know something and then you find out you don't. 

It's a little disconcerting. 

As an example, I thought Portland was Maine's capital. 

It was in 1831. 

Then they moved it to Augusta in 1832. 

I can't even come close to just having the dates confused. 

And I thought a fiddlehead was some kind of soft-shelled ocean crustacean.

Who knew?!

I didn't know there were over 60 lighthouses or head lights in Maine, but I can't say I'm surprised given all the rugged coastline they have.

And did you know there are more moose (why aren't they called meese?) in the state of Maine than there are humans in Portland?

See all this fun stuff I'm learning?

This, for me, is about getting maximum mileage out of a trip. It's about building anticipation. And I will never remember these interesting little tidbits 3 days from now, let alone 3 months, so putting them in the journal makes sense to me.

I've created a collaged spread of the various elements along with some representative artwork. None of these sketches have more than 15 minutes because it was more about the information than the sketch, BUT…by adding the sketches, I've made it a far more entertaining and interesting page.

How do you build up anticipation for your trips? Do you do any kind of "specialty" page?

Please share your ideas!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meet My New Dentist

Dr. Weber, I presume?
His name is Dr. Weber. 

He seems to have one very large and very bright eye. 

Every time that eye gets closer to me, I hear the words, "Open wide," in my left ear. 

I would be hard pressed to tell you exactly what his eye color might be as it's usually so bright I have to shut or overt my own eyes. 

He seems kinda tall and skinny with a dark complexion, but again, that's me trying to see past the glare. 

After a particular long visit yesterday, I came away with the impression that he was very intelligent. 

Maybe a bit otherworldly?

Still, I would have difficulty describing him to you.

So I drew you a picture instead!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes, I Forget I'm Suppose To Be Sketching

Shoes For Acadia
Acadia Sketchbook from Zeta Paper
Watercolor and Ink
7.5 x 4.5"
It doesn't happen too often anymore, but every once in a while, when I'm working in the studio with the music rocking and enough uninterrupted time, I forget I'm sketching.

When that happens, I turn a sketch into a painting.

Like the page above.

And normally, I'd say there's nothing wrong with that…unless I let the page become "precious" as this one did.

When I realized I was adding details to the stitching detail on the pink skimmers, I realized I'd gone a little overboard.


And actually, the painting was fine. It was the lettering I added afterwards that was the problem.

It looked horrid. I mean truly awful.

Maybe it looked worse because the sketches paintings weren't messy like usual.

I started off using the wrong pen. I knew better and I did it anyway.

What's worse is that I didn't stop when I saw it wasn't working.

My punishment was spending two days trying to find a way to successfully cover up the areas I'd written on.

While you can't tell it on screen, you could definitely tell it if you were to hold the page in your hands.

Just disgusting, I tell you.

Using a combination of watercolor ground and white acrylic, I brought enough of the white back to make the page work.

Rather than run the risk of more issues with trying to ink over my patches, I created a tag and glued it down over the most offensive area.

I suppose I may learn one of these days, but it hasn't happened yet so I can't say as I'm holding out much hope.

Anyway, I've got my shoes lined up for splashing around on mud flats and exploring tidal pools.

I've even packed some of my new socks!

Now, I just have to sit and wait for a few more days to fall off the calendar...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sometimes, It's The Little Things

Finished Journal Page
Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook
Ink and watercolor
5.5 x 8.5 
Do you ever lose track of the small "events" of your days? I do. And I'm guessing that may help to explain my fascination with the journal pages that are actually calendar pages that folks have drawn and doodled on.

Wish that I could and would, I know that I'm not disciplined (or interested) enough to follow through with week after week of calendar doodles and journaling.

Instead, I tried a different approach that seems to be moderately successful for me. The journal page you see above actually looked more like the one below until yesterday when I added the touches of color to it.

I started off with just writing about small things I wanted to remember with a very simple doodle like the skink tail. This is either the fourth or fifth LARGE skink that the kittens have captured in the house. Even without the tail, their bodies have been four to five inches long!

The other day, they caught another one. While I wrangled this one outside, Moby and Willis were having a joyous time tossing the still-wiggling tail around the kitchen. Blah. Ick. Yuck.

Because this event has happened a number of times, I went with Skink Tales rather than Tails as a fun jest.

A few days later, the mighty huntress, also know as Moby, was playing with something in the office behind my chair. Upon closer inspection it looked like a wasp with yellow rings on the tail. Not a yellow jacket, but something similar.

The huntress was not amused at the removal of her latest toy—it buzzed.

I drew it in and then added the journaling and date box before going on with other things.

Lastly, I bought some socks this week—$36 worth for $2.11! Nine pair of socks for two bucks! Score!

When I showed them to Chris to tell him about my great deal, he responded, "You've got Dr. Seuss socks!"

No doubt, these socks will forevermore be known as my Dr. Seuss socks.
Just the Ink
Platinum Carbon Black
Using Pilot Namiki Falcon and
Metropolitan Fountain Pens

After I filled the page, I added a few more notes about other events that didn't make it onto the page.

I then added watercolor to the small sketches. It was not my intent to add a lot of color, just something to liven up the page.

It wasn't lively enough so I added some splatter for more liveliness forgetting that some of the ink (red) was not permanent. It didn't run too badly, but it's a note for next time.

There's nothing earth shattering or gorgeous on the page, and yet I find myself oddly pleased to have captured some of the simple moments that make up my days. I didn't feel "trapped" by having to fill either.

By being flexible on the dates and when it was added, it made it more fun without any pressure.

I think I may just have to try this again!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Fun?!

Acadia National Park Sketchbook Cover
Stillman & Birn Zeta Paper
Watercolor and Ink
Going on a trip, for me, begins long before I ever get in the car or plane. It starts with the planning of the trip and once the tickets are purchased, I begin the long and lovely process of deciding which journal format I'm taking, the type of paper I'll be working on and what pigments to put in the palette (often, but not always, determined by the location).

"A-n-t-i-c-p-a-t-i-o-n is making me wait…"

As you might have guessed, I'm heading up towards Maine and the art you see above is the cover of my new sketchbook I'll be using.

I decided I wanted a long horizontal spread for the trip. Take a look over on Flickr at some of the panoramas and you'll know why I want this format! Here lately, my paper of choice has been Stillman & Birn's Zeta paper, but they don't make a horizontal themed sketchbook.

What they do make is loose sheets of paper, 22 x 30 inches!

And violá, I have the beginnings of my sketchbook. The folded page is 7.5 x 4.5 inches. A full spread will be 15 inches wide—plenty of room for some of those gorgeous views. You may be wondering about the size…let me explain:
Damaged paper
Unfortunately, when I received the paper from the art house, it was damaged. Since I'd already decided on the long format and to go against the grain with the pages, It was just a matter of adjusting the width to eliminate the damage at the bottom.

Over on Facebook, in the Artist's Journal Workshop group, Tina Koyama shared that she made signatures of paper, but them in a cover and then bound them together after they were complete rather than carry the entire sketchbook around at one time.

I decided to take that fabulous idea and run with it, but I needed a cover:
Leather Cover with an elastic loop close
If this puts you in mind of a Midori's Traveler's Journal then I did something right as that was my inspiration! I stumbled across those journals late in 2011. In mid-2012, I bought some leather, stamps and dye with the intentions of making my own. We already had a collection of tools for working with leather.

Ummm…I have no idea what happened to the intervening years so let's fast-forward to July 2014 and I finally got around to making my own journal. For those of you interested in making your own, there are a number of excellent YouTube videos on the subject.

The sketchbook allows me to carry two signatures of 4 pages each. I've already punched holes in the middle of the pages  and tied them together. This is only for the sake of carrying and so the pages don't move when I'm working across the spread.

When I finally complete my journaling from the trip, I will take all of my completed signatures and bind them with covers using the coptic binding method. (There are also a number of YouTube videos on this as well.) Using this method, I won't have a lot of unfinished pages and I won't have the bulk of the entire sketchbook to haul around.

One other plus will be that if by some odd chance I should lose the sketchbook (eek!) or drop it in the water (argh!), I won't lose all of my pages.

I'm only just getting started on this journal and I'm already having way too much fun and building my anticipation. Rather than have all the fun and then bombard you with all the pages at the end of the trip, I'm going to start sharing them now and along the way.

What do you do to prepare for your travels, anything special?