These are some sketches of Reuben and Olivia, some Whippet dogs that I have gotten to know over the past few months. Whippets are extremely fidgety dogs and they have a lot of energy. This makes sketching them while awake both challenging and rewarding. I wish I had more opportunities like this to sketch living, moving things. I have a fear that my drawings might become cramped or static if I don’t get the practice.
Instead of looking forward to Christmas this year, I’m sorry to say that I’m sort of looking forward to when Christmas is over. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great family and a wonderful partner, and I haven’t had any traumatic childhood Christmas experiences. I have just become overwhelmed with it all. I am normally a “medium maintenance” kind of girl, but I have reverted to being high maintenance until Christmas is over.
I am trying, but struggling, to take it one day at a time. My temptation is to become preoccupied with January when all my Christmas art projects will be over, because I have so many other projects that I am itching to start. There is a very big project in particular that I have been thinking about for years now but I have never been ready to begin. I have been on this self improvement kick for a number of months now and I finally built up my confidence to jump into it, but my Christmas projects are a more pressing priority right now. I also signed up for Kate’s Courageous Year e-course partly because I want to keep up my motivation to actually finish this project. Also, I have been reading her blog for years now and I trust her integrity that she put something great together.
Blind Contour David. Ballpoint. 2005.
It’s not normal that I post a book review here, especially a non art related book. I recently finished reading The Power of Less by Leo Babauta (author of the famous Zen Habits blog) and I found it so helpful that I thought someone else out there might appreciate it as well. It focuses on how to achieve your goals in life and improve your effectiveness (not the same as efficiency) by single tasking and eliminating the unnecessary. I’ve read a few time management books before, but always walked away from them feeling inadequate and knowing that I’d never be able to achieve what they promised. What I loved the most about this book was that it was incredibly encouraging. His writing style also exemplifies what he’s talking about. The book is short and sweet. His writing is concise and he doesn’t waste time with many examples and entertaining intros.
These are the most helpful nuggets that I got:
Single Task. If you focus on one thing until it is finished, your work will be better quality because you’ll be paying attention to what you’re doing. You’ll also be doing things without constantly jumping to other tasks, so you will get things done faster too.
Focus on one goal at a time. I tend to become very energetic when first beginning a new endeavor and then quickly burn out and feel bad about myself when I fail. By only doing one thing at a time, it becomes easier to actually do it and make it a true and lasting habit. Going along with this idea, he suggests making daily goals very easy – too easy – in the beginning so that it keeps you motivated.
He gives a lot of helpful tips for how to come up with a system for dealing with common issues, like email and Internet addiction. His chapter “Simple Internet” really made me realize how addicted I am to the Internet and how much time I waste on it. I have already started to spend less time online, and have become more aware of my habits when I do. Since reading his book I have been able to keep my email inbox at work empty, which is pretty dramatic. At home I am working on keeping my bedroom clean. It is something I have been struggling with for years so I will be sure to report back on how this is going for me.
Northampton Garden, ink and wash in 10 x 7 watercolor sketchbook, 5/24/09
Mall Starbucks, ballpoint and marker in moleskine, 5/25/09
I went to Northampton on Sunday and made the top drawing of the garden while sitting outside the back entrance to Thorne’s Market. I wish I had done more actual sketching but I got really into this. By the time I spent an hour and a half on it, I wasn’t in the mood for more and I just wanted to do some shopping.
Some people came up to me while I was drawing this, including a crowd of children who sort of gasped and then started watching. They were all standing around and one of the older girls said “That is really good.” and then started yelling at the younger kids for blocking my view. It cracked me up. There was also this Asian man who looked over my shoulder when I was just beginning and then he came by again after some time and said “Your composition has changed!” He said this like it was a big surprise, but I just told him that I wasn’t done yet.
I didn’t do the watercolor until I was at home because I didn’t feel like lugging around more stuff with me. I have never painted while out and about and I definitely want to try it sometime this summer. I think that I would definitely have to plan it out though, to make sure that I have all necessary items with me but not too much stuff to be bulky.
On Monday I went to the mall and drew the bottom sketch at Starbucks. No one was sitting there long enough for me to make a good sketch, but I got a couple of people down pretty quickly. I also did some more shopping and got some new tops that are pretty extravagent for my tastes, as well as a lime green patent leather purse which holds my moleskine perfectly. The purse is on my “things to sketch list” so you can be expecting a drawing of it within the next couple of weeks. I must have been in an adventurous mood that day. Then I came home completely exhausted and made my new header image. I had one of my first wonderful weekends in a long time and the extra day was so nice.
I am now working on a pretty detailed pen and ink drawing of a woodland scene which I must finish this weekend for a looming deadline on Monday morning. If I don’t have it all done by my regular Saturday post, I will show you a WIP photo at least.
I often come to work early because the place is quiet and I can get myself situated. Sometimes I write in my journal; sometimes I sketch the contents of my cube. If you can’t tell what the contents are, the are (from left to right): my pop up pen holder that I got in India, mouse cord, stapler, heart shaped post it notes, a triangular shaped box that a pen came in, and a bag of hazelnut coffee. I really need to clean up my cube.
These are some sketches that I’ve done at Panera, on different occasions. I am going to have to find another weekend sketching spot pretty soon. The staff is starting to recognize me and I need to change things up. However, there are no independently run coffee shops, only chain stores like Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or McDonald’s. I’m considering my options, and which places have the most comfortable chairs.
It was a rainy Friday afternoon and I had come home from work to an empty house, relieved that the workweek was through but uncomfortable that I had nothing to do that weekend. I sat in my kitchen and sketched this while listening to Pink Moon by Nick Drake and generally feeling very melancholy. Nick Drake would probably make anyone feel melancholy though!
At the Radio Station, ballpoint and tombow marker, 4/10/09
Coffee, ballpoint and tombow marker, 4/10/09
I had Good Friday off from work, which was a welcome break. It gave me a chance to volunteer to answer phones for the Spring Pledge Drive of the Q 99.7. They are a listener supported station and stay on the air through donations. It felt good to lend my talents and help out. I met some cool people and got a chance to get out of my comfort zone a little bit. I did this from 6-9 am (I am a morning person!) and made a few sketches while I was there. I used a black ball point pen and a gray Tombow marker.
After my radio station experience, I drove around and did some exploring in and around Suffield, CT. I got a LOT of good ideas for future landscapes that I want to do. Suffield is a picture perfect New England small town. I didn’t do any sketching though because I had to drive to my parent’s house for the weekend. I had planned on participating in the 22nd Worldwide SketchCrawl, but I forgot that it was Easter Weekend. No offense to the sketchcrawl, but Easter is way more important! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter as well.
This is one of my favorite Scripture passages relating to Easter and what it means for us today:
When you were baptized, you were buried together with him. You were raised to life together with him by believing in God’s power. God raised Jesus from the dead. At one time you were dead in your sins. Your sinful nature was not circumcised. But God gave you new life together with Christ. He forgave us all of our sins. He wiped out the written Law with its rules. The Law was against us. It opposed us. He took it away and nailed it to the cross. He took away the weapons of the powers and authorities. He made a public show of them. He won the battle over them by dying on the cross.
I never used to think in terms of Quarters until I started paying more attention to the financial world. Now, I tend to measure my goals in terms of quarters instead of months or weeks. In terms of my art goals, Q1 was a mixed bag. I did a lot of work (definitely more than in 2008) but I was slightly derailed by some people who distracted me from my priorities and from myself.
This distraction left me being a bit lazy in terms of doing what I actually set out to do. I did a lot of sketching, making a lot of progress in the nine sketchbooks that I want to fill up. I also worked in a series on my portraits of men. It was a good exercise – I learned a lot about working in a series and next time around I am going to do things a lot differently. I am going to have more of a plan first and pace myself more because I don’t want to get burned out. I don’t want to feel pressured to produce work because I want to keep up with something. I want it to be a pleasure! I didn’t do any of the work that I wanted to do on Christmas gifts. I really need to get cracking on this one!
Considering recent events however, I am pleased with my progress. I am trying to be gentle with myself, because I deserve it. I have always been an underachiever in life, and I think that if I make easy goals for myself, I won’t be inspired to do more than I think I can. If it hadn’t been for my artwork, I don’t know how I would have made it through all the personal trials I have been through.
If someone doesn’t add to my life, I will edit them out of it. That is my new philosophy. The course my life has taken in the past year has left me with a confidence that I never knew I would possess. I am no longer so concerned with other people’s feelings that I will sacrifice myself for them.
This is a sketch that I made about a month ago in purple ball point pen. I would tweak the composition again if I were to do it again, but it was fun and good practice.
Costa del Sol, ball point on blank card, 3/2/2009
Sketching at the Jiffy Lube, ballpoint and tombow N95 in Moleskine, 3/28/09
I had to get my oil changed and it is usually the busiest on Saturday mornings because that it when a lot of people have spare time to take care of mundane things (like oil changes). They told me it was going to be a bit of a wait, but I was okay with that because I had my moleskine with me. I drew the shoes of the other customers and it was an interesting people watching/sketching experience. No one noticed or blinked an eye at the fact that I was shamelessly drawing them. I think it was because I was looking down, instead of at their faces!
The first one was a girl who was wearing flip flops. I still think it is too cold out for flip flops so this choice of footwear would not have been my first choice. She was driving a Honda Accord. The second person was a man with very grungy shoes. The shoes would have been very interesting to draw, but the guy himself used a lot of profanity and he kept fidgeting and stomping his feet. He was driving an Acura and (sorry to generalize about people, but) I have had some bad experiences with aggressive Acura drivers in the past! The next person was a woman wearing pink and grey Adidas sandals with socks. I am not the most fashionable person out there, but she needed a fashion intervention. I was then about to move onto the next shoe (of an Indian man wearing nice brown suede sneakers) but then they were finished with my car. I thought to myself that I wished that they had taken a little longer with my car because I wanted to finish my page!