Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Exciting News! My Studio is Ready for "Prime Time!"

Over the past several years, I have been lucky enough to utilize a room in my house for studio space, but until recently it was shared with a lot of other things (storage, filing for taxes, home files, etc.). I never truly had a full room devoted to creating art- UNTIL NOW!

This has not come all at once for sure. It has been a process that has been coming for almost a decade, and contains supplies that I have accumulated over the past twenty years or more, but about two or three months ago, my family and I decided to move the behemoth piece of furniture which housed my computer and all of our home files out of our eat-in kitchen area and add it to my studio.

It makes so much sense, because much of my graphic art and photography is tied to my computer use, and I also run a website about dogs and do all the graphics for that site as well. I need a quiet place to write for my site, and since I already had a space I was using (albeit badly) for my studio, combining all my "stuff" in one place was a good plan.

I used to have a smaller room on our first floor, but my husband convinced me to swap rooms with the one he was using for an office/guest bedroom.

We decided to sell the bed that was in the room, since I could use the space more efficiently on a daily basis, and we could figure out an air bed for the few times a year when we might have guests. I really pushed for getting rid of the bed, and fortunately, my husband agreed.

He wanted the first floor room I had been using for a studio, because he can see when UPS is coming to deliver packages for his business, and he can bring business associates more easily to that room if need be (a very rare necessity, but still valid), rather than traipse them through the house to the 2nd floor, where he previously had his office. Also, my studio is not always the neatest room in the house, so if I am in the middle of craziness, it doesn't have to be on view for the whole world to see.

I ended up with a larger, sunnier space AND a walk-in closet for storage! I lost a built in bookshelf, but with the computer armoire being added to the room, that helped me have book storage. I also converted two shelves in my closet for book and sketchpad storage. We moved the home files out of my studio and into his office, which made more sense all the way around, and now we are BOTH happy. YAY!

For additional storage, I keep paper stacked in sheets on the top of the armoire, which is a large, flat space, and have purchased eight flat plastic bins to store other necessities.

My husband built me my work table, an L-shaped wooden counter, with seating for three. It is a multi-purpose work area. I use it for watercolor painting, scrapbooking with my daughter, and even for making glass beads with a hothead torch setup, and other jewelry items.

My drawing/drafting table is on wheels, and my favorite place to draw.

For painting on boards and canvases, I utilize a very heavy-duty folding easel for my studio- the Mabef M-32. It is great, because I can fold it up and get it out of the way. I can also utilize it outdoors for sketching and painting on location. I really enjoy products that have multi-functionality.

Since I teach several classes every week, I have all my resources at my fingertips for lesson plan preparation- my computer, books, and art supplies. The only thing I don't have is a color copier, but Staples is just a few miles away, and so I usually stop in and and make the necessary handouts for my classes on my way to teach. I print out the originals from my printer, but find it is more economical to run copies elsewhere.

Here are some additional pictures of my studio. I hope you like looking at them. I always enjoy seeing other people's work spaces, and I feel very fortunate to have such a lovely, useful one myself now. I just finished it over the Memorial Day weekend, and got a new chair to replace my folding chair. Much better for the long hours at the computer when I am writing away!

Besides having some of my own artwork on the walls, I also have some of my daughter's art and sculpture from many different ages and stages (she is now eleven). There are a few important mementos of my childhood (a little Owl and Pussycat figurine set), as well as some things that were my mom's. Her name was Madonna, and she just passed away two years ago. It makes me feel good to have her monogram jewelry box, and a bronze tree that used to be in her room on display in my studio. The tree used to hold ceramic birds, none of which survived intact, but I have a seashell propped in its branches because she used to collect shells, and I also have the passkey hanging there that I used to use to enter the assisted living facility where she lived. Mom lost her memory, which slowly declined over the final ten years of her life, and I feel better having some things near me that keep my memories of her alive on a daily basis.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

SDIM- Otis, our Pug

I just did a spread for my Gratitude sketch journal about the newest member of our family, adopted two days before Christmas 2007.

Otis, our pug, belonged to neighbors two doors down, but he walked into our garage just before my daughter's big Nutcracker ballet performance, and when we tried to return him we found out that his owners were moving and were looking for a home for him.

He is great in all ways except that he wasn't totally housebroken. He is 3-1/2, and set in his ways, so this has caused us much consternation, but we are getting there. He is used to having three long walks a day, and more if he doesn't go to the bathroom right away. This is nearly impossible for us, so trying to get him to jibe with the routines of our other two dogs has been the big goal.

Anyway, here is a sketch of Otis along with some of my journaling.... It is Conte' pencil (3B) and three shades of Conte' crayon from my portrait set in my hand.print sketch journal.

SOME days in May (or SDIM!)

OK folks,
Although I applaud each and every one of you wonderful people that has been able to keep up with the EDIM challenge, and I love French Toast Girl for contributing the great idea to try it, I have fallen woefully behind in my Every Day in May sketch Journal plans.

I fretted about this- even posted about it on the EDM forum, and the fabulous, smart, encouraging people there told me I was worrying too much and to not let it stop me from moving forward.

I decided that I would approach this as a SOME Days in May challenge, and do the best I could.

Turns out, I was slightly in denial when I thought I could do this in the month of May. It is one of my busiest months as I gear down for the summer, with the wrapping-up of two of the classes that I teach, my daughter's end-of-the-school year activities and my volunteer efforts. By mid-month, I was realizing that, even though I loved the whole idea of drawing everyday, I was having trouble keeping up with my day-to-day responsibilities of life in order to keep the EDIM challenge going. My priorities were getting a little skewed.

SDIM makes much more sense to me right now.

I altered French Toast Girl's Every Day in May logo, and I hope she will think it is funny and not be offended by my lightweight approach to the challenge. It seems to be the right thing to do for me anyway....

I have been able to get a few drawings done since I last posted, so I will upload them and include them in this post.

The first one was done as a demo for one of my classes. I was showing how you can use a water wash with Conte' crayon. This particular drawing was done on watercolor paper, drawn with a black Conte' crayon, and then clear water was applied to create the different tones for the wash. I worked from a stock photo, so it is not from life.

The second illustration was done when I spent last weekend at the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando with the Girl Scout troop I am the Asst. Troop Leader for. I know it sounds crazy- why weren't we camping, right? We were actually spending our cookie money proceeds on a trip for the troop.

The Nick Hotel had some built in activities for the MANY Girl Scout troops that were there. Parts of it were really fun, but being in that crazy Orlando atmosphere made me know that one night was all I can really handle of the Mousetown. Too many people, too much indulgence, and "fun" found everywhere outside yourself (the worst part, in my opinion).

One of my biggest goals as a parent is to help my daughter find ways to beat boredom besides automatically going to TV, computer, Ipod and Nintendo DS. I feel that, if she can learn to find more interactive ways to create her fun, it will be beneficial to her later on in life.

I was listening to a podcast episode of This American Life a few days ago, and they mentioned that the average American watches 25 hours a week of television. I seriously can't imagine that, but that is what they said. As a family, we watch less than half of that and it STILL feels like too much to me. I'm not dissing TV. I do admit to liking it. I just think that if we cut down on it, it frees up much more time to do something useful and creative. Ok, I am stepping down off the soapbox now, I promise!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Every Day in May #13 -My Husband

This drawing was quite a challenge, and my inner critic is still screaming at me for posting it.

I sketched my husband today while he was working on his computer, and he kept moving and changing his position. He even changed his glasses once while I was doing the drawing, but I asked him to put the first ones back on.

Clearly, the drawing definitely has issues, but I am trying to lighten up and not be so perfectionistic about every stinkin' thing, so here my drawings is- warts and all. (Though I an assure you HE doesn't have any warts!)

I have a great husband, and I love that I have been with him for almost 28 years now. We met when I was just eighteen and did a lot of growing up together along the way.

We have a great life together, and I am so grateful to have him as my life partner. He is funny, honest, loyal and dedicated. He is a great father to our daughter.

Today (and most every day,) I am grateful for my marriage to this wonderful guy.

Pencil and Micron pen in hand.print journal

Every Day in May #12 - Ornamentation

I just love squiggly, swirly be-jeweled things.

Before I started focusing on drawing and painting again, I had a jewelry business for several years where I created pieces from sterling silver, pearls, glass and semi-precious beads and sold them.

I am drawn to highly ornamental work, even though much of my own artwork, except for the jewelry I made, does not reflect that. Here's a little tribute to ornamentation in my Gratitude sketch journal. Micron pen and watercolor wash.

Every Day in May #11 -Music

I am so grateful to have music in my life.

First of all, I am a big music lover- especially from singer-songwriters that can really write great songs. But classical, pop, rock, straight-ahead jazz- I love it all.

Music offers a great escape. It can change my mood almost instantaneously. It has the power to cheer, and it also has the power to bring full-on memories that can reduce me to tears. It gets me outside of myself.

Nowadays, I am more of an artist than a musician, but there was a time when I was part of a girl-band trio for three years, and we played our music all over Florida From White Springs at the top of the state on down to Ft. Lauderdale in South Florida.

We were a contemporary folk trio, and it was a good time while it lasted, but it got hard to keep up rehearsals and performances after we had children, and our opinions about the music started to clash a little, so it became less and less fun. It sure didn't pay the bills, so I gave it up after one of our members decided to move away from the area.

I taught music for three years too. Now I sing at my church, but music takes a lot of focus, and it is hard for me to do both art and music justice, so art is the clear attention-getter for me.

I enjoy what other people write and perform. That's not such a bad thing. Music has many facets and it brings a lot of different things to me. I am grateful for music.

Every Day in May #10 - Mother's Day

I got a little behind in posting my Every Day in May drawings, but am ready to upload a few day's worth.

I had sketched on Mother's Day, while my husband and daughter had me out, but it was a bit more difficult to do than I thought it would be.

They were eager to spend time with me, and I wanted to hang out with them and not be focused on drawing. When my daughter asked if she could do a little drawing for me in my book, I thought- how perfect!

On Mother's Day it was all about being grateful for my daughter.

This is Micron Pen 01 and watercolor in a hand.print journal.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Every Day in May #9- Being Pampered

Mother's Day is tomorrow, and my family is so sweet. They made me a great dinner tonight- planned it, cooked it and cleaned it up! Who could ask for more?!

I was happy to have the time to do two drawings today for the Every Day in May challenge. I'm only one behind now for my goal of having a total of 31 drawings for the month in my Gratitude sketch journal.

It's late, and I am pretty tired for some reason, so I don't feel like writing a lot write now.

Tomorrow, we are taking a drive down to Ft. Myers to visit the Edison summer estate. It's an amazing place, and I haven't been there for at least twenty years. I'm looking forward to getting some sketches in while there.

I am also looking forward to spending time with my husband and daughter. They are always so good to me, and that makes me feel grateful tonight.

Every Day in May #8- Living in Ozona ( ie. paradise)

I was really in a painting mood today and wanted to break out the acrylics, but I am going for a somewhat cohesive look in my Gratitude sketch journal, so I decided on the drawing/illustration style I have been using so far in the journal, using the Micron pens and watercolor.

I primarily used a Micron 01, but I wanted some thicker lines in certain places and added a 08 Zig Millennium line for those. I drew some, painted some, and then drew some more over the painted areas, but found that my pen (especially the thin 01) didn't like going over the painted paper. Maybe it just wasn't dry enough.

I'm up in my studio, listening to the sound of Osprey outside. They have a very distinct call. In fact, it is a bit surprising to hear their high-pitched, rapid-fire cheep cheep cheep since they are a more powerful bird. If you are unfamiliar with osprey, they are birds of prey and are something like a hawk or eagle. I often seeing them fly with a fish in their talons. They like to be up high, and build their massive nests up in tall trees, and many times build them on platforms that have been supplied at the tops of telephone poles for them.

Just across the street, we are fortunate to have a nest in view. Unfortunately, I can't quite see it from my studio window, but I can hear them out there. Just about 1/4 mile down the road is a large marina, and a osprey couple builds a nest there on top of the marina sign every year. It is built amazingly low for an osprey nest and you can get a really great view of their goings-on.

I LOVE the tiny little town where I live. It's called Ozona (I know, the name is funny but I like it!) We have been here now in this house for the past eleven years. Prior to that, my husband and I moved around in Florida a lot because of our jobs, and never had a place longer than about two years or so.

We've put roots down here, and have called Ozona home, and it feels really nice when you live in a house that you know that you will keep for a long while.

We can paint our rooms whatever colors we like and not have to worry about keeping them neutral for re-sale. We can build things the way we like them for our family and the dogs (a dog run, for example).

I live one street over from one of my sisters, and I can tell you that it is a wonderful thing to have her so close by. We get together frequently, and it is nice for my daughter to have her aunt and uncle right around the corner.

Whenever I am out gardening or in the front yard doing something, neighbors honk and wave. I know a lot of people here, another advantage of staying in a place for a long time.

Ozona also attracts a lot of artists and creative types. We have writers and musicians, etc, as well as a good number of visual artists living here. It is a tiny, quirky, old-Florida, go out on the front porch and sit a spell kind of place.

Ozona is lovely, and I am grateful to live here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Every Day in May #7- My English Springer Spaniel, Sofie

This is my first Academy Award-style thank you in my Gratitude journal. You know, of course , certain times during the 31 days of May I must thank my family, my dogs, The Academy.... (well, maybe not the Academy.) I just have to! Because I am grateful for them all.

Today Sofie became the subject of my gratitude.

You know when you have several children, how you always have to make sure that you spread the love around as equally as possible or feelings get hurt? Well I only have one human child so the human child part is easy, but I also have three furry ones, and I realized today that I had been slighting Sofie.

Sofie is somewhat easy to slight, because unlike every other English Springer Spaniel I have ever heard of, she is not much of a cuddle-bucket. She remains aloof, waiting for us to bestow our affections on her queenly presence.

We don't know anything about her background- don't even really know how old she is. She is a rescue from English Springer Rescue of America, and she hid under our bed for a good part of the first month she was here. Now she NEVER hides, and basically rules the roost. I think it was all in her master plan to wrap us around her fuzzy paw.

In her own way she gets jealous, though, and she is very sweet and funny. Nearly every day she does something to make me laugh.

We make up songs about her, dress her up (I have an eleven year old, remember), and play endless games of throw and retrieve in the swimming pool. She is a swimming and diving maniac. If you'd like to see her in action, check out this funny video I made of her swimming.

Sofie is a bit of a celeb. One of my friends shoots stock photos of my daughter a lot, and she snapped a few of Sofie at the end of a shoot and uploaded them to iStock. Lo and behold, about a year later, I was browsing through the bargain books in Books a Million, and I came across a photo of Sofie that my friend had taken that day! Of course I couldn't tell anyone there (They'd be like SURE- that's your dog....), but I was so excited and bought three copies of the book.

Here is a a scan of the book, and yes- that really is my dog, my pool, my dog's toy!

So, for celebrity Springers, and especially sweet ones like Sofie who make me laugh and require me to beg for her affections, I am grateful.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Every Day In May #6- A Good Haircut

Well, this was a funny one, I think. I hadn't done a self-portrait in quite a while, and certainly NEVER one in pen and watercolor, so the results are a mixed bag. My daughter thinks it looks like me, but my husband doesn't. My drawing looks like sort of a "cartoon me" to me, but it was still very fun to play with- and that is what it's all about, right!??

The temps here in Florida are starting to rise, and soon we will all be melting as summer arrives and stays, and stays, and stays.. I am a veteran of the heat, having lived in various parts of Florida since I was five years old, but I am still not used to the heat and humidity combo we have.

I took a picture of a really cute short haircut from a magazine into a brand new stylist (to me) and asked her if she would cut my hair like the picture. She was a little worried and kept asking me- "Are you SURE you want it that short?" I was sure, and five or six inches later, I had a cute, new haircut. Let me tell you, it is FREEING to lose that hair!!

So YAY for short hair in Florida! Short hair is what I'm grateful for today. :)

I decided to upload a photo (taken this AM), so you could see what I really look like.

My drawing was done from a mirror, so my hairstyle is reversed. I was also looking down at my sketchpad, so it is a also a different angle. Even with all of those "disclaimers", it doesn't look all that much like me! Who cares! I still like my short haircut.

It's a beautiful day

The sun is shining and there's a nice breeze blowing. If I could just get away from the sound of someone's leaf blower, it'd be PERFECT!!

I am putting the last minute touches on my lesson plans for today. I have my long teaching day on Thursdays, so will have to wait until this evening to get to my Gratitude journal sketches. I'd love to get two done this evening, though, so I can slowly catch up and have a drawing for every day of the month. I started on the 4th, so I am a few days behind.

My pug is snoring next to my feet, resting his head on a plastic hanger. I am crazy about him, but he is a bit of a weirdo (my daughter's description, not mine!). He chews plastic hangers like they were Nylabones or something. It is pretty funny, watching him trying to negotiate small spaces while carrying a hanger with him. He's an odd duck, but we love him nonetheless. There is a long story that I might share with you sometime about how we acquired this pug (our THIRD dog---- yep, we are crazy dog people here). We weren't looking for him, but he certainly found us and weasled his way into our dog-lovin' hearts (the little weirdo).

Anyway, if you like dogs, pop on over and check out my dog site sometime. You can find the link on the right sidebar of my blog. I'll check back in later tonight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Every Day in May #5- Every Day Matters

This morning, I was reading through some of the comments I have gotten from many of you wonderful people about my blog and my work, and I felt so good about it all. It made me feel really grateful for this recent foray into daily drawing that was basically spurred on from reading through Every Day Matters posts, so I decided to make an entry in my Gratitude sketch journal about it.

Doing these little daily drawings and journaling has given me a small tidbit of creativity to look forward to doing during the course of each day.

Today, I decided right away what I would do, but it took me until late this evening to finish it. I worked a little on it between other tasks and commitments, and it never felt like a chore. It was what I wish I could have spent more time doing. Some days are just busier than others, and today was one of those for me.

But if we give in to the day-to-day grind without including art, we never improve with our skills. For me, it seems the more I do, the more I WANT to do. Every day does matter so much- especially with art. I am so grateful to be able to express myself in this way.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Every Day in May #4- A Powerful Book

So far, all of my gratefulness entries in my Gratitude sketch journal have been pretty lighthearted, but today I was pondering gratitude for something much more simple yet important- something that most of us take for granted every day- having our basic needs met, and being safe and free from oppression.

I just finished the short biography Night last evening by Elie Wiesel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as other many other impressive awards and medals. His name is truly synonymous with the word "survivor," He lost his entire family in the Holocaust, and would have died also at age 16, if not for the liberation of the death camp at Buchenwald on April 11, 1945.

I have read books and seen movies about the Holocaust, but when I visited the National Holocaust Museum last month and saw the most incredible exhibit there, I felt like I had experienced the information in a much more personal way. I watched the tape rolling while it showed the list of one after one of the over 400 laws that were passed when the Nazis took power, stripping everything away from the Jewish people, little by little. First, things as strange as not allowing them to buy eggs, then requiring their identification with the wearing of the gold star, and then much, much worse.

These people were financially destroyed first, quickly followed by the most inhuman of acts, meant to destroy them mentally and physically, until they had given all they could give. Once that happened, they were either left for dead or were taken to be killed. It is still hard to wrap my mind around the craziness of all of this, and the sheer evilness of it too.

This sketch is vastly different from my last Every Day in May sketch (the one of Spring, and my Gerber daisies. It is much darker.

I used a Micron 01 pen, but penciled in a few lines to help me stay on track. The text was difficult to draw. Being "perfect" is not my forte.

For some reason, as I did the dark hatching and crosshatching, the drawings of Edward Gorey popped into my head. Maybe it was just all that black crosshatching.

Night made me sad as I read it, but it also made me very grateful to have the life I live.

19th Worldwide Sketchcrawl- Are You Sketchcrawling Yet?

Saturday, June 21st marks the next Worldwide Sketchcrawl. If you're not sure exactly WHAT a sketchcrawl is, I have the site for you! Check out the Sketchcrawl site for the best and final word on all things"sketchcrawl."

In a nutshell, a sketchcrawl is a meeting-up of people who enjoy drawing and sketching what they see. They get together at a designated place and time, and spend part of a day or a whole day crawling the area and making sketches of whatever interests them. Some people sketch together and stay with the group, and others venture out on their own, but usually everyone comes back together to share the sketches they made with one another.

Check out the Sketchcrawl site to see what might be going on in your area. If nothing shows up in the forum, consider organizing a sketchcrawl group of your own to participate in the event. Of course you can sketchcrawl at any time, but it is fun to be a part of something big like this and see what others have done all over the world on the same day. Sketchers the world over upload their sketchbook entries from the crawl, and you can upload your pics as well!

I am organizing a sketchcrawl in the Tampa Bay area on the west coast of Florida to take place in downtown Dunedin, Pinellas County. I have not posted particulars yet, but it will take place on the same days as the 19th Worldwide Sketchcrawl on June 21, 2008. Here is my forum post, with what I have so far about the crawl in the Tampa Bay area. More will be posted as we get closer to the date, so check back there for more information. Please contact me via the blog if you are interested. We would love to have you in the group!

I am thinking of having anyone who wants to join us, meet at a still-to-be-decided location in Dunedin at 9:00 AM that day. We will sketch until lunchtime and meet-up to share, and for those who still want to keep going, have an afternoon crawl that goes until 3:00 or 4:00. We can meet at Kelley's for a 'tini, beer or a soda and look at the fruits of our labor at the end of the day.

I am psyched. I hope we get a good turnout for the crawl!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Every Day in May #3- Spring

Every time I walk up my sidewalk, I can't help but look at the flowers that are blooming like crazy in my front garden.

I am a habitual plant killer, as I tend to neglect them, but the flowers on the corner of my house get watered every day because I walk past them so often. They are lucky and I am lucky, I guess, because they are multiplying and growing bigger every day

I have a big, beautiful pot of Gerber daisies blooming wild shades of pink right now. I did my best to capture them before the bugs bit me alive outside. I had to paint from memory lest I end up being eaten up by the gnats and mosquitos- a Florida hazard.

This was done with Micron pen in my hand.book journal, and painted with watercolor paints (Winsor Newton, Daler-Rowney and Holbein mostly.) I like the hand.book journal pretty well for this project, but am a bit disappointed that it doesn't take washes better. The paper buckles quite a bit. Still looking for the utopian sketchbook... List your favorite journals and papers here, if you care to comment.

Every Day in May #2- Dancin' Shoes

I was thinking today about how I am grateful in many ways for the opportunities my daughter has had through dance.

Beginning in Kindergarten or so, she started lessons in ballet, and has continued ballet and tap and progressed to pointe last year, five years after she first started.

She does really well in dance, and that's great. She loves it- that's the main thing. Will she make a career out of it when she gets older? Probably not. But I love that she has a positive activity that she can share with her friends at this confusing age, as she readies to enter her teen years.

Dance has made her body strong, has given her a good self image, and has afforded some great opportunities to dance with professional dancers in several versions of the Nutcracker- with the Miami City Ballet two years ago, and with the Moscow Ballet this past Christmas.

I decided to draw her pointe shoes, and tried something new for me here- I didn't pencil in any shapes first- just "went for it" with the Micron 05.

I have definitely been a "pencil and paper" gal myself. Drawing in graphite is my comfort zone, for sure. Hatching and crosshatching are somewhat new for me. Of course, I tried them long ago (you don't want to know how long ago) in college drawing classes, but I have never been a big fan of working that way myself.

Lately though, I gaze in awe at the fabulous pen and ink sketches I have seen in the EDM forums and elsewhere in some of the sketchbook pools on Flickr. It is pretty darn inspiring.

So I have decided that I too want to hatch and crosshatch! Yes! I can do it it! - at least I will try it and give it a go. I found out that it is pretty fun after all, especially when you throw a little watercolor on it.

I'm still behind in the EDinM challenge, and hope to do another sketch of gratefulness tonight. Yep- I'm grateful for the fun of art. Isn't art fun?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Every Day in May #1

I'm jumping on the "Every Day in May" bandwagon, along with many of my new acquaintances from the Every Day Matters forum.

I thought it would be fun to do daily sketches for things that crossed my mind that made me happy that day, so my theme is Gratitude.

I am a few sketches behind, since I am just beginning this on May 4th, but plan to do a few extra to "catch up" and get my 31 drawings done for my little Gratitude sketch journal.

I chose to start a new journal for this- a Handbook brand that is in the square format. So far so good, but I've just done the intro pages, so am counting that for Day 1. Kinda silly, kinda fun, nothing too deep today. I was thinking as I made dinner that I was grateful for olive oil. Hmm....