Wednesday, December 31, 2008
This handsome nutcracker prince is the keeper of the goals. Here's how he thought it all went down:
1. Have fun, relax, experiment, explore and enjoy.
This was the most important goal, because if it's not fun why do it? This is a hobby, a relaxation and joy and there is no room for shoulds, musts and havetos. And enjoy it I did. I used different kinds of papers, used pigment pens, brush pens, watercolor pencils. I drew in public and outside, I used borders and lettering for a more illustrated look. I practiced line drawing and black and white drawing.
2. Take a class. Learn proper technique. I signed up for Kate's watercolor pencil class in February. It took a while, but I have come to love these pencils. They have unique qualities and in some cases are the absolute best medium for the task. For working outside and in public, they rule!
3. Continue to do the EDM challenges weekly, and try to do one of the ones that I have not yet done. Although I didn't complete all the challenges, I made a real effort to do as many as I could, and I also did some of the past ones, often doing two a week.
4. Begin including people and urban landscapes in my repertoire. I did not achive this. I discovered that there are lots of outside factors included in this - like crappy weather, and working from photos is a whole different thing than working in real life.
5. Use lots of color because lots of color makes me happy (see goal #1). I did work hard at creating and using bright bold dark colors.
It was a good year, and setting some suggestions like this clarified why I was going down this road and where I wanted to end up. For now, I have no destination in sight, but I'm simply enjoying the journey.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Take a deep breath. In this season that lends itself to mania, perfectionism, and frenzy, take this moment to let it all go. Exhale. Think about what is important to you, what you value. Chances are it didn't cost a lot of money. (And even if it did, chances are that's not the real reason you treasure it.) The things that are of real value are honor, integrity, honesty, love, self-respect, respect for others. As parts of our world spiral down into violence, hatred and depravity, we need to stand up for the better part of humanity. To let love and honor and respect shine as beacons against the darkness.
Take a deep breath.
Savor the simple pleasures.
Shine your light against the darkness.
Thank you to all who have visited this blog. I wish you all the best and hope we can continue sharing creativity throughout the next year. You are all clear shining lights of inspiration.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This is from the photo for Virtual Sketch Date this month. I hesitated over doing this one because I don't do landscapes well. I want to do them well, but I don't. I decided to go ahead because if I never practice landscapes I will never do them well. And I did miss the mark on this one, as I never achieved that dreary wintery look of the photo. This sketch is entirely too bright and cheerful. From a previous class I took, I learned not to make trees all the same height. i said to myself "make the trees different heights, make the trees different heights" over and over. And look at the trees - all the same height...sigh. Even still, I think it's better than my last attempt. The lesson learned from this is practice and repeat and practice, and don't make the trees all the same height!
The original photo is here http://virtualsketchdate.blogspot.com/
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
This spread is done in my new journal "Curiosity journal" with handmade rag paper. The paper is tinted pink, with little flecks of straw or wood here and there. It is very soft and absorbant and has an odd finely ribbed texture. It's a bit hard to draw on because the texture sends the pencil skittering crazily and the tip also gets caught in the ribbing making it hard to draw a smooth curve. I finally used a glass to trace around to get a credible circle. The watercolor pencils do not go on smoothly at all, plain pencil crayons worked better. I call this the Curiosity Journal because my plan is to research things that pique my interest and then illustrate and write a bit about them. The last lunar eclipse in February was very clear and bright in my part of the world, and I wanted to illustrate the transitional phases. The next lunar eclipse is on December 21, 2010.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
One of my art goals for this year was to experiment with different media, especially papers and pens. I started with this Moleskine sketchbook - it has an odd color, and very smooth paper. It took some while to get used to it. Then I got some brush pens and I like them a lot. This is a sketch of a new journal that I bought at the 10,000 Villages sale. All items are handmade and imported from developing countries under Fair Trade agreements. The cover is made of rice paper, and the paper inside is made from recycled fabrics. It's very soft and absorbant and finely ribbed, and the medium that woks best with it is colored pencils. It's quite small only 5x6". I use it for my Curiosity Journal, the one where I write and illustrate things that interest me or pique my imagination to do a little research about the subject. I sketched this book using Crayola marker pens which created the look of the pleated, crinkled rice paper on the cover. It's a cute and cheerful little journal and I like it a lot. I'm enjoying this experimentation with new things. It's quite liberating!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
This is Faber Castell brush pens in the Moleskine sketchbook I'm really liking these brush pens. They work really well on the smooth paper of this sketchbook. And the colors are lovely and clean and fresh.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Procrastination was my major strategy when it came to this challenge. How to draw noodles without getting lost in the sinuous curves of a whole bowlful of fettucine or rotini? Trying to imagine it made my head hurt. I tried to think of ways to simplify the process, and thought that maybe I could just do the last bite of spaghetti twirled around a fork. That was less difficult to imagine. As I walked home from work, I also idly imagined that maybe Shawn will have started supper and maybe he chose to made spaghetti. What are the odds of that? When I got home, I saw a big pot of water on the stove - the pot in which we usually cook spaghetti. Could it be? "What's for supper?", I asked casually, wanting to believe that all the planets fell into the proper alignment to grant my wishes. "Spaghetti", he said. Seriously, how awesome is that? So after I ate, I set up this little still life on my lovely Corel Irises plate. It was meant to be.
This is done with my brand new Faber Castell brush pens. They are gonna take a little getting used to as far as technique goes. But I like them so far.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This is the sketch I did of the photo for October's Virtual Sketch date. It was taken by Belinda Lindhardt. I missed the deadline for the actual sketchdate, so I was unsure of whether I could post it or not. But I enjoyed doing this so much that I wanted to share it. The photo was so stunning that it inspired me. Those of you who have read this blog before know how fruits and vegetables make my artistic soul sing, and I knew I had to do it. I enjoyed every minute of this process. This is why I paint!
Belinda's lovely blog is here.
Watercolor in Moleskine watercolor journal 5x7"
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This was a timely challenge for me. We recently changed our cable TV provider and bundled all our services together with the new digital TV offerings. So now we have 155 channels, and these shiny new, universal remotes. Everyone knows that the person who controls the remote, controls everything. And absolute power corrupts absolutely. In our house, we have two TVs and two remotes. I live with a news junkie whose favorite channel is Business News Network, and he now has a whole range of news channels to surf including European and Asian news and business. He's a happy guy as he's been recovering from knee surgery and has been off work and bored. I get the network channels and Space and Scream. I know it sounds as if we never speak to each other, but that's not so. We come together for movies and the Food Network!
Staedtler fine line pen and watercolor pencil in Moleskine sketchbook. No water was wasted in the execution of this sketch.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
This is watercolor and micron pen in the Moleskine sketchbook. There's not much to say about this one, except that I really liked the way the shadows of the tines lay. This would be a very meager posting if not for the fact that I've been tagged in one of those blog games that floats endlessly about cyberspace. EWian, a member of the EDM group has kindly asked to know more about by having me reveal six random things about myself. You can find EWian's six random things here
For those who want to know about me, here goes:
I work as a library technician in a college/university. I've been there for 16! years, and mostly still look forward to going to work every day. Of course, having 3 months off each summer has a lot to do with that.
I am an avid gardener, and although I live in townhouse condo, I do my best with the small space I have. My neighbors have told me that I single handedly improved the condo appearance by upping the standards for those who live around me. Now we all garden together, and have created a lovely spot.
I also love to cook and bake bread. I recently wore out my old bread machine. Buns are rising even as I type this.
I'm a Gossip Girl addict. I can't stop watching it. Seriously! What's wrong with me?
I love to travel and am currently researching Mediterranean cruises. Previous trips included 3 jaunts to various parts of Mexico.
And lastly, I secretly wish I was a much more exciting person!
Here are some people I would like to know more about:
And lastly, an open invitation to all the newcomers to EDM. I would love to learn more about you!
The rules:1. Link to the person or persons who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
This is what the swimming pool looked like the last time I was in it for Deep Water workout class. Usually the pool is divided into three sections. One half of the pool is dedicated to the Cascades swim team. They are young kids who are very enthusiastic and noisily cheer each other on and occasionally break into a spontaneous game of Marco Polo. The other half of the pool has our class at the deep end. We use music and an instructor's encouragement and leadership. The shallow end is used for little kids' individual swimming lessons. It's a very noisy and energetic place. Last week the Cascade kids were on a break and when I came in this lone beachball was floating rather florlornly on the surface. It looked so lonely and sad, and the pool seemed that way too until we came in. Our noise and turbulence made the ball bob up and down a little and it seemed to dance on the surface. It seemed the perfect thing for this challenge.
Watercolor pencil in Moleskine 5"x7".
Sunday, October 26, 2008
This is a baked potato the way it was meant to be. Baked in a real oven, not a microwave. Garnished with a glob of sour cream - real sour cream, not that no fat abomination that I try to (lie to) tell myself tastes the same as the real thing. Chives, preferably fresh from the garden. Bits of crumbled bacon - real bacon and not that edible oil product that masquerades as bacon. And a liberal grind of black peppers. Yes, I'm a baked potato snob, and I'm not afraid to admit it. There's really no substitue for genuine, fresh ingredients. As someone who loves to cook (and eat), I am constantly dismayed by the plethora of "fake" ingredients that are in the stores. Often they are marketed as being convenient or fast. But don't you have to wonder what's in a product that never, ever goes bad? And isn't it preferable to have a small amount of whole fat products rather than a lot of modified products with parts taken out? If the flavor is left in food, perhaps we would need less of it to be satisfied. And maybe they wouldn't need to add a lot of corn syrup to cover up the lack of natural taste. I ponder these things in the grocery store, and am trying to buy more local and natural ingredients. It just tastes better.
Watercolor pencil, micron pen, in the Moleskine sketchbook. 5"x7"
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Deep Water Workout is my favorite exercise class. It's the one I have been able to stick with for 5 years now, twice a week. The pool is a heated salt water pool, and the water is silky smooth and soft. It feel wonderful against your skin, although it wreaks havoc with your bathing suit. I drew this suit as one of my favorites for its bright colors, but it's rapidly losing its structural integrity due to the salt. The Aquabells are made of styrofoam and are light as feathers outside of the water, but in the water the resistance is about 15 pounds - way more than I can lift in the gym. The belts keep us afloat in the deep water. But the noodle is my nemesis. Yeah, that benign pool noodle beloved of children everywhere becomes an instrument of torture in Deep Water class. The instructors actually expect us to stand on the noodle while in the water! It is impossible! Children love the pool noodle because when they try to stand on it, it dumps them face first into the drink, and causes much hilarity. The same thing happens to grown-up women when they are conned into believing that standing on this noodle is a terrific exercise for abdominal muscles. Much hilarity ensues, as we too are dumped face first into the drink. So not only do we get a workout, but we are reminded that grownups need to play, too.
Watercolor pencils in the Moleskine sketchbook.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
As I walked home from work one day, I noticed all the autumn leaves on the trees and on the ground. Of course, they needed to be drawn. I chose carefully, looking at shapes and colors and patterns. I'm not sure what was more fun - the selecting or the drawing. As much as I mourn the passing of summer and the death of my garden, I celebrate the changing of the seasons and the cycle of life. For how would we appreciate the warmth and bounty of summer without knowing the chill and nudity of winter. And though I grumble about the cold and the winds of winter, I really like living in a country with such discrete seasons. It's always changing and always interesting. Each season has it's own beauty and charm, and it's one of the things that makes me want to draw and paint. To try and capture the ever-changing face of nature.
This is watercolorpencil in the Moleskine journal. At first, I didn't like this journal much, but it's grown on me. Although it still scans oddly, I've found that having the black lines as an anchor point tends to balance out the scan some.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
This is my pallette of water color paints. In real life, it's a lot messier than that. This was a real exercise in perspective. I struggled quite a bit with all those corners and angles, and trying to convey "shiny white" surface. It was a real challenge, but as usual, I learned quite a bit. It always seems that the harder it is, the more I learn. There was a lot of erasing and re-placing of lines that forced me to look closely at the angles, and draw what I really see and not how I think it should look. Good challenge all around.
I had been without Internet access for about three weeks. I'm not one who is on the computer all day everyday, so I didn't realize how much a part of my life it had become. It was difficult to run my daily life - paying bills, renewing library books, looking up recipes and crossword puzzle clues (yeah, I cheat a bit!), communicating through emails, posting to this blog, and participating in the weekly challenges. So now I'm much more appreciative of the sense of community there is in being "connected". Rather than being isolating as so many think, it really opens up the world to you. And that can't be a bad thing - to be able to join a group of like minded people with the same interests as you, to discuss, to share, to teach, to learn, to participate. Isn't that what community is all about?
Monday, September 15, 2008
Monday, September 08, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I am back at work after about 3 months off. To ease myself back into it, I went in the afternoon to the beautiful little rose garden we have on campus. There is a water fountain, and beside it is a small gazebo with two benches facing one another. It is a lovely spot for solitary contemplation, or the sharing of secrets with friends. It was the perfect park bench to draw, there in the shade of the honeysuckle vine, with the scent of roses, and gentle flow of the water. Aaah, perfection itself! The angle of the arms and legs on that wretched bench drove me crazy. I tried and tried, gowing ever more frustrated. Finally, I gave up and sought to soothe myself with a walk around the pond. Where, to my chagrin, there were a great many other park benches, none of which had arms like the ones that had just defeated me! "Oh well", I lied to myself, "that's why they call it a challenge. I'm sure I learned a lot." I'm not sure I did, but after a while, I managed to clean it up a lot and added some color. It's still not quite right, especially on the right side, but I hope it conveys the tranquility of the spot (when I'm not there drawing).
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
I took up drawing again, mostly because I was inspired by the flowers growing in my small garden. I had wanted a cottage type garden, and had planted daisies, delphiniums and roses. The daisies are my favorite perennial - cheerful, persistent and worry free.
Botanical: Bellis perennis (LINN.) Family: N.O. Compositae
Synonyms---Bruisewort. (Scotch) Bairnwort. (Welsh) Llygad y Dydd (Eye of the Day).
Parts Used---Root, leaves.
Historically used as a cure for fresh wounds in an ointment applied externally, and against inflammatory disorders of the liver, taken internally by distilling in water.
To the Daisy
"In youth from rock to rock I went,
From hill to hill in discontent
Of pleasure high and turbulent,
Most pleased when most uneasy;
But now my own delights I make,--
My thirst at every rill can slake,
And gladly Nature's love partake,
Of Thee, sweet Daisy!
- William Wordsworth
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
This is a display of bags of coffee beans at Starbucks. It was in front of the big cushy armchair I chose to sit in, and with my resolve to draw in public it seemed appropriate to just draw what was in front of me. This turned out to be quite a learning experience on so many levels. When I set up to draw at home, I spend a lot of time placing the objects, moving them around, adding and subtracting elements, looking for the perfect shadows and highlights and anchor point. By anchor point I mean the specific point at which I start the drawing, and the point against which I measure all other lines and angles. I hadn't realized how important that anchor point was until here, when I had an immovable position and an immovable object. The display case was against the window and the only source of light was the overhead lights, creating a real flatness and lack of shadows. I began drawing this at the top of the sign, and as I drew downwards, I became aware of how the point of view changed. The bags on the top shelf were above my eye level and all I could see was the front of them. As I went down, and my perspective changed, so did what I could see of the bags. Below eye level, I could see the tops and sides of the bags as well. Because I was in public and a bit nervous about it, I drew as quickly as I could. I also used a finer pen. I think I did achieve a less stilted and formal drawing than the previous one. But I learned a lot, and I really had fun doing it. I will definitely be doing it again. There are so many coffee shops!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
I took my first trip to the Farmers' Market yesterday, just in time to catch the first shipment of B.C. cherries. Oh, how wonderful! The cherry orchards in the Okanagan area were hit by frost and cold temperatures and some of the crops were destroyed. The damage was hit and miss, though, so some survived and I was delighted to see them (as were many others, those beauties were flying off the tables!) It's a good thing we are never forced to pick a "favorite" fruit or vegetable, because it seems that whatever is on the table at the Market is my current favorite. And of course, they were perfect for this week's challenge - that voluptuous shape, the luscious mysterious colors, the bold sheen. Watercolor in Moleskine.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Today is Canada Day, celebrating our nation's 141st birthday. This year also marks the 400th birthday of Quebec City, founded by Samuel de Champlain in 1608. It is the first place in Canada where European settlers spent the entire winter. It has recently been declared a World Heritage site. This year is also the 250th anniversary of the first parliamentary procedure, taking place in what is now Nova Scotia, and is considered the earliest democratic process in North America. Happy Birthday, Canada, the true north strong and free!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
There are so many things that shout "summer" to me. Living in a winter country as I do, summer is short, sweet, and something that you wring every last drop out of. I even keep track of the "firsts" of every summer:
- first gin and tonic (because you can only drink G&Ts in the summer)
- first full day wearing flip flops (the day you don't have to start off wearing socks)
- first harvest of rhubarb
- first day you can drink morning coffee on the patio
- first cutting of the new grass
- first robin in the birdbath
But it's really watermelon that is the quintessential taste and smell of summer. I know that we can have watermelon all year long now, but when I was a kid we waited for summer to have watermelon. It was like the reward for surviving the six foot high snowdrifts. And the best part was when you went to the freezer and got the snowball that you made from those six foot drifts and stashed away in there last January, hoping your mom hadn't found it thrown it out. Eating watermelon and a snowball - yep, that says summer to me. I don't think I would enjoy summer nearly as much if I didn't have winter.
This is watercolor in the Moleskine watercolor journal. I wanted to experiment with gettting the sparkly texture of the watermelon, so I used lots of water to create blooms. It does give the effect of those slightly mushy parts of the melon. I think salt would have worked as well.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
After a long, bleak winter the garden is beginning to wake to the warmth of the sun and the spring rains. Most of the perennials are peeking above ground, but only the intrepid tulips are blooming. They got a big dump of snow on their tender leaves awhile ago, so the leaves are quite twisted and discolored. And then the blooms were threatened by a day of extreme heat. I cut these to spare them and they brightened the kitchen for a week. The pink one has the loveliest green tips and stripes down the center of the petals.
But that was the first step down the slippery slope of Calgary gardening. Even though I knew it was too soon, I could not resist these dahlias. They were so spectacular that I also knew that if I waited for two ore weeks, they would be gone. So the next day I went and got them, and there were only two of the rose ones left. And then of course, they looked so gorgeous and so lonely out there... well, I'm sure you know how this story ends. With me hovering and covering. We did, however wait until today to buy the rest of the annuals. I no sooner got them in the ground, then it began to rain again. Aah, it's good to be in the dirt and the rain. It's where I belong.
"Paradise lost can only be regained by those who remember it" --Andre Hardellet
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
"Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen." Robert Bresson
And then I scanned it...
Honestly, in real life it does not look like that! I have been struggling with this Moleskine drawing journal and it's given me nothing but grief. The color throws me off, and in this case it really threw the scanner off. It's about nine shades too yellow and the delicate blues and grays of the pussywillows don't show up at all. So then I tried something with blue shades in it. This is the one thing that is blooming in my garden but was buried under the latest snowfall on Friday. It's better, but again there's too much yellow in the scan and the blues and violets are washed out.
I think this journal is not for me. I think I will use it for my everyday writing journal, and go back to the Aquabee sketchbook and the Moleskine watercolor journal with white paper. Sometimes, things just don't work out the way you want them to.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
And yes, I did buy it a new blue dress and some soft earbuds, but it's just so cute!
This is Staedtler pen and watercolor pencil in the Moleskine sketch journal. I have in the past been unsure if I like the paper color, but the cerulean blue sure shows up and scans better on this color than on the white paper.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
The reason I wanted to paint this is that for the last seven or eight years, a pair of Canada geese has come to the outside courtyard of the college where I work, to nest in one of the large concrete planters. It's a good spot because it juts out over the lower courtyard, and can't be reached by curious bystanders. Once the goslings are hatched, the proud parents march them through the courtyard, down the steps, and out to the pond in the back. We are all quite protective of these geese, but unfortunately last year, the female was killed, probably by a coyote. This is the first year for a long time that the college community has not come together to look out the window at the nest, and marvel at the renewing of nature right in front of us. Perhaps the male will be back with a new mate, but I really hope not. There are two many aggressive coyotes around now, and I think none of the little ones would survive. So I will miss them, but I will remember them in this small way.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
This is done with water color pencils in the Moleskin water color journal. It is part of my homework for Watercolor Pencil magic, the chapter on water and skies. In the three weeks of the class, this is the only thing that seemed good enough to post here. It has been a truly humbling experience, albeit a valuable one.