Day Thirty

Alphabet Series
Continuing the series or theme idea, here is an example of the little alphabet sketches I did a couple of years ago.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I did the drawings from things I could actually look at.

It made me look at things in a different way.  I paid more attention to objects in my life, looking at everything to see if I wanted it for the series, and how I might place it in the very small format. 

Fun stuff like self-imposed challenges gets us going when we think we don't have anything to paint.  Don't get all hung up like I did on  how to put it on the page  - across  the page spread? Up and down in columns?  Just DO IT.


Day Twenty-nine

Sometimes in my journal classes, I'll have my students look around for certain objects that interest them and paint several.  It's a way of "collecting" things we like.  Some of the collections have been stones, flower containers, ginger bread trim on cottages, windows, flags  -  just to name a few.

I have been "collecting" salt and pepper shakers everywhere I go. I do them in restaurants, even if I have done them before, or they are identical to some others.  I guess I am collecting the experience more than the salt shakers. You'll find an even better variety in your friends' homes too.

If you're a little housebound (at least you're probably not out on the beach looking for stones) this time of year because of winter coming on,  there are always things around you that are colorful and fun to sketch.
For example:
January - chairs, interiors
February - fabric folds, lace, patterns, curtains, tablecloths
March - perspective, buildings, streets, doorways
April - trees
May - figures - people and pets
June - lawn chairs, window boxes, planters
July - gardens, gates and fences
August - produce, farm markets, sunflowers
September - clouds, landscape,
October - fall vegetables
November - dishes, silverware, glassware, tablescapes
December - dinner ingredients, labels, bottles and jars

If you have some prompts, themes, or a series you have done, we would love to hear about it.


Day Twenty-eight

 Themes and Prompts
Ooops - back on Day Fifteen I said we would talk about themes.  Sorry.

There are a few ways to use themes as thought starters  -  or painting starters  -  prompts. Themes can easily turn into a series.  If you're doing a series, you almost always have something in mind to paint.
  • A few years ago in the winter I did some little sketches in my journal using the alphabet. The sketches were only about two inches square.  The self-imposed criteria was that the subject had to be something real  -  something I could look at and draw.
  • Sometimes I have used a grid to set up some themes for a long weekend.  I would use ideas such as "simple pleasures", "light and shadows", "tastes", "just being here".   Art Escapes by Dory Kanter is where I read about this idea.
  • For some reason a few years ago, in the back of one of my sketchbooks, I made a list of my 100 favorite things.  The list grew, of course.  It would make a pretty good reference for painting and journaling ideas.
  • There are always the simple, quick sketches you can do in restaurants  -  the salt and pepper shakers everywhere you go, your water glass, your lunch.
  • Then there are subjects such as gates, doors, gardens, figures, every view from your porch .  .  . 
  • And the more obscure themes such as passions, random thoughts, gratitude, spiritual . . . 
  • There is always that view from a window every day for a year  -  watching the seasons change.
 The possibilities are endless.

In the next day or two, I'll explain a little more about each of these and show some examples.  Creative writers use prompts, and I think they work well for visual artists too. 


Day Twenty-seven

Wrapping up Thanksgiving Weekend
This is a sampling of the day, sketched on a journal page.  

We did manage to get another lunch out of the leftovers, but we've hit bottom now.  Well, there are two pieces of pie left.  Tomorrow I will have to go to the grocery again.  Aren't you always amazed that you have to go to the grocery store a few days after Thanksgiving??!!  Planning, shopping, cooking  .  .  .  didn't you think that would take care of it for awhile?

I hope you're all set to start a new week.  Do you have some sketching plans lined up?  Maybe illustrate your to-do list?  Your shopping list? 

Tomorrow I'm going to post some ideas that I hope will inspire your journaling habit.


Day Twenty-six

My Little Studio Mannequin
I'm just doing things today like watering plants, putting away the silverware, gathering up the tablecloths. Things are in disarray in every room of the house, but I don't want to rush into anything.  I do have a couple of paintings buzzing around inside my head, and I don't want to lose that buzzing.

It was very dark and rainy today and felt nice and cozy inside.  We had enough leftovers for lunch, but I suppose I may have to come up with something for dinner.  Then, again, maybe not.  Wow  -  feeling so lazy!

I do have to mat some paintings, and I have to make space to do it, so that will get me going.  It will feel good to get back on track.  And my new classes start next week!


Day Twenty-five

My Kitchen Window Sill
I just thought I would show you a picture of where I have spent a lot of time in the past three days  -  and loved every minute of it.  We had a great family Thanksgiving!   We all grocery-shopped a lot, ate a LOT, cleaned up a lot . . . 

Now everyone has left, and it is pretty quiet here  -  except for the dishwasher running.

Maybe it's time to settle down and watch a movie.  I'll sketch something tomorrow.  Promise. 



Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!
We have been eating ALL day. That bingo turkey was fabulous.

During dinner we Skyped with our son in Afghanistan.  Sooooo far away!

Sorry, no pictures today -  we need to get in a few more games of dominoes before bed-time. 
I hope everyone had a nice day.


Day Twenty-Three

Pumpkin Pie
I know I should have sketched this, but I have reached the limit of my creativity for today.  The local granddaughters and I have been to the grocery, made a salad, made two pumpkin pies, and set the table (very creatively, I might add) for Thanksgiving dinner.  And we threw in fixing burgers for dinner tonight, playing Mario Kart, making place cards for the table, and I think somebody watched a movie in there somewhere.  This has all been since about 4:30 this afternoon, and it is now almost 9:00.

I don't make the prettiest pie crust in the world, but I manage to get it in the pan, and it manages to hold the filling  -  and it is really pretty tasty.  Good enough for me.

Is everyone in the United States cooking tonight?


Day Twenty-two

Giverny, France, 1993
Yesterday I started a new sketchbook.  Starting a new book makes me think fondly of the ones that have gone before it, and this is the one that started it all.

It was a fabulous trip.  We painted in Monet's garden in the evenings after it closed.  We stayed in a rented house and did our own cooking and had to get groceries in the next town  -  we didn't have a car.  Once we hitched a ride on a vegetable truck.  A little old grandma lived downstairs, and sometimes she would come up to see us.  She always had a dog and two geese following along.  She didn't speak any English but somehow we managed to communicate.  One of her geese would make a bee-line to our pantry and pull out the bread.  I went with two artist friends and the house was full of artists coming and going.  We stayed about two and a half weeks  -  it was beginning to feel like home. Every spring I get a little homesick for the place.  I've never gone back.  It was one of those experiences that couldn't be duplicated.  Maybe because they wouldn't want those crazy Americans back in the neighborhood.

Okay  -  back to reality.  Back to cooking.  Back to digging out the table linens.


Day Twenty One

A New Orchid Blossom in a New Sketchbook
I thought I should sketch the orchid blossom, because somewhere along the line I'll want to know when it started to bloom again.

Last year when I received it in February, I did a couple of watercolor sketches of it.  It bloomed until July!  I had never had an orchid like this, and I was very surprised that they bloom for months!  When it was finished, I cut the stalks back, and a new one grew  -  and here we go  -  it's blooming again.

This is a contour drawing (continuous line) done mostly while looking at the subject, not the paper.  Although I do check the paper once in awhile to make sure I'm making the right connections.  A contour sketch does take some concentration, and I must admit, I was thinking more about  the grocery run I had to make in a few minutes.  But I say any line is better than no line.


Day Twenty

Apple Crisp
Could there be anything more colorless?  But it was pretty tasty!

This afternoon I have been getting things ready for Thanksgiving dinner.  I baked the sweet potatoes and the squash, fixed the fillings for two apples pies, and mixed up the crust for those and two pumpkin pies.  I put everything in freezer bags, and I'm that much ahead of the power curve.  In the middle of all this, I figured a few more apples sliced up into a pan for apple crisp was no big deal. 

Our son, in Afghanistan, says he'll be thinking of us on Thanksgiving trying to replicate his green bean casserole. Oh  -  you mean there's a trick to it?  A secret ingredient?  You can bet we will be thinking of him too  -  green bean casserole or not.

What did you sketch this weekend?


Day Nineteen

I love lemons.  They are ridiculously expensive by the piece  -  something like 79 cents each. I think that is a lot for a couple of table spoons of juice.  A bag of seven was 2.99.  I put them in a big fat glass vase on the kitchen counter so I can see and smell them.  Before they go bad (I hope I'm paying attention) I'll squeeze them and freeze the juice and some of the zest.

I really have to get with it, and get things together for Thanksgiving.  I worked on my list today.  That's something, huh?  I cleaned the fridge. 

Who's cooking?  Are you ready?


Day Eighteen

A Pile of Paintings
I have a pile of paintings that need to be framed, so I ordered frames today, and will give the measurements to my husband so he can cut the mats and glass.  There's one thing off my to-do list. And onto his.

I also sent out and posted the information for upcoming classes.  Another thing off the list. 

And then I went to the grocery store.  That never really gets off the list,does it?  While I was standing in the check-out line, a customer came up to me and asked if I wanted the coupon she had for $4.50 off $55 worth of groceries.  Sure!  How nice.

My friend, Karen, called, laughing hysterically. She was at a fund raising bingo event and had won a turkey.  There is something pretty funny about playing bingo for a turkey  -  and winning.  I mean does anyone even play bingo anymore?  Well, I'm not knocking it  -  because she can't use the turkey, it is now in our fridge and will be coming here to dinner. I guess that should be AS dinner, not TO dinner.  Thanks, Karen!

Are you sketching?  Sketch some of the things you bring home from the grocery store, and some of the pretty dishes we all dig out of the cupboards this time of year.  It only takes a minute or two to do a contour drawing.


Day Seventeen

Salt and Pepper Shakers
My friend, Cathy, called this morning to say she was in town running errands  -  how about lunch?  Today is Thursday, so they weren't serving their fabulous tomato Gorgonzola soup, and their loaded potato soup looked like it might be loaded with everything I am trying not to eat  -  cheese, milk, cream, butter - Yum.  I ordered my favorite sandwich - hummus, roasted peppers, artichokes. . .so good!  It was warm and cozy in the restaurant and we could have stayed all day, but life goes on.

November 17th.  I just realized when I wrote the date in my sketchbook, today is the anniversary of the day my husband and I met.   Years and years ago.  He was in the Air Force, and when I met him, he was on his way from Key West to Omaha.  He was gone for another year and when he came home we decided to get married.  In the few months before our wedding, he worked nights and weekends and I worked days, so we still didn't see each other.  How well could we have possibly known each other?  Well enough, I'd say!  Tonight is spaghetti night.  I'll put candles on the table.


Day Sixteen

A Simplified View Along the Shoreline
11 X 15 Watercolor

When I did this painting, I kept in mind my reason for painting it.  It wasn't to render the cottage in detail, but to show the color of the cottage and the way it sets along the shoreline of the lake.  There was another cottage to the left that I had put in the sketch, but it really didn't add anything to the composition.  The simpler, the better.

If this had been a commission, it would have been another story.  I would have paid attention to the detail of the red cottage, and I would have done the setting differently.  In other words, I would have shown a bit of the cottage next door to give the red cottage a sense of place in the "neighborhood".

We had some snow and sleet late this afternoon  -  enough to stick on the rooftops.  It may still be there, but I'm not looking.  It's almost Thanksgiving, which means it will start snowing seriously any day now.  That's okay  -  we don't have hurricanes, earthquakes, floods .   .   .    A couple of years ago I did some winter landscapes.  That was fun.  Maybe I'll do some this year.  No, I don't do them on location.  I've said it before  -  I'm all about comfort.


Day Fifteen

Color Scheme
I am not really a color scheme kind of girl.  I don't like to be locked in to two or three colors in a room.  A little bit of everything feels more comfortable to me.

My husband and I saw a picture of a bedroom with a red door, and we have to have it.  I'll paint a little bed-side table the same color  -  WHEN I find it.  I don't love all reds, in fact I don't live with much red, so I'll know the perfect color when I see it.  Yesterday as I was leaving the flower shop after my volunteer flower arranging thing, I walked past the trash bin and there was this beautiful coral/red gerbera daisy.  Close.  Needs to be "rusted" just a touch, but not orange  .   .   .

This morning one of the members of one of the groups I teach in the summer called to plan out next year's schedule.  Fun.  It makes a Northern Michigan winter feel a lot less bleak when I'm planning summer lessons.  I know  -  live in the moment, but those moments are good planning moments.

How about thinking up some themes for winter sketching?  We'll talk about that tomorrow.
Carry your sketchbook. Open it. Sketch in it.


Day Fourteen

Peppers and Wine
and some of my favorite things  -  garlic, lime, lemon, and fresh herbs.

This is a painting I did for an auction with a wine and food theme at the art center this past summer .  It was about six by six inches, matted twelve by twelve.

Here we are, nearly half way through the blog-everyday-in-November thing and I don't seem to be gathering momentum, do I?  It was a busy day, okay?  I was trying to get a couple of pieces of furniture second coated to get them out of the way, I did my afternoon of volunteering at the flower shop, my husband came home feeling crummy with a cold, our middle granddaughter is spending the night and had a lot of homework and needed help.  How can they possibly think I am the one to help with the math!!??  I'm going to put a sign on the back door  -  "please take off your shoes and leave your math homework on the back porch".  Just kidding about the shoes.


Day Thirteen

I spent the day painting furniture.  It doesn't matter what you paint, right?  Just as long as that paintbrush is moving?  A couple more days of furniture and then it will be walls.

This is the point where I always get bogged down  -  things get torn up, and then I don't know how to follow through to finish.  I'll just keep painting.  I bought a gallon of white paint for window, door, etc. trim and a gallon of black for furniture.  That's going to go a long way  -  I won't have to get back to real life for a long time.  I may get a little sick of black furniture before the gallon is runs out. 

Did you sketch something this weekend?  Anything?  Keep it simple  -  it's supposed to be fun!


Day Twelve

Saturday Night Pizza
Our fat, dairy, white flour, and meat splurge of the week.  We are trying to lower our cholesterol, so all week we are pretty good about sticking to a healthy diet. Saturday nights we treat ourselves to pizza.  Sometimes we make our own, but often we are in the middle of some weekend project, and suddenly we are tired and hungry, and it's time for pizza.

This weekend's project is way off track.  While we were in the middle of discussing the re-do of the kitchen and dining room, we decided to redecorate the bedroom.  We spent the day cleaning closets, painting window trim, getting rid of things that really didn't need to be in there, buying paint, going over paint chips, and looking at carpet, mudding some bad spots in the plaster, and on and on.  It was fun -  of course we aren't finished, but I'm hoping this doesn't drag on too long.  Things can do that around here. 

I hope you're treating your sketchbooks to pizza or dinner out.  I hope you're treating yourselves to a nice relaxing weekend  -  or a nice productive weekend  -  whatever feels good.


Day Eleven

The Last of the Red Hot Blossoms 
This has been on its way out for quite awhile, but this last blossom is really hanging on.  It's a great color  -  somewhere between red and "hot" coral.  I think it is a Kalanchoe Calandiva.  If the leaves stay nice, I may try to keep it going to see if it will blossom again.  It can live with my messy geraniums that I keep shuffling around.

A strange day today  -  it feels like a Saturday.  My husband took the day off, and Middle Granddaughter was here because there was no school. It is one of those things that throws off the days of the week  -  in a nice way.

Day eleven of blogging every day in November.  I have nothing exciting to say or show, but I am hanging in there.  I can tell from my stats that you are too.  Thank you for "listening".


Day Ten

Indigo Sky
This is a scribbly little watercolor done in my sketchbook on Strathmore drawing paper.

More than anything else, I was trying to record the contrast of colors as I looked out the front window.  It is raining/sleeting/snowing, and the sun is shining very brightly periodically, but the sky is VERY dark in the north.  A very interesting, beautiful, dramatic day  - and I can hear geese "barking" as they head south, away from that black sky.  They don't know what they'll be missing.  Just as I don't know what I'll be missing where ever it is that they go.

I did dig out a couple of Julia Cameron books and I'm feeling more creative already.  Is Julia Cameron my little creativity pill?  She's one of those "just do it" people, and I need that once in awhile.  I have always said you can paint whether you are in the mood or not.  I guess I just forgot my own advice for a week or two (or more).

Now I'm going to round up some objects for a still life for this afternoon's class.  It's a warm colors kind of day  -  maybe with a little glass added to the set-up.  Maybe the round bottle with the plant cuttings from my post a couple of days ago, and a few pieces of pottery.  We'll just see what falls together.

Happy painting!


Day Nine

The Living Room Window
This is a very quick contour drawing with a little color.  Just do it. 

We talked in class this morning about jump starting creativity .  We all know it is just a matter of doing it.  It certainly doesn't have to be a masterpiece  -  it just has to be SOMETHING.  We spent a lot of time mixing greens.  Greens are always tricky and get us thinking about what colors do in a mix.

I dug out a couple of Julia Cameron books  -  The Artist's Way and The Right to Write. I may not have time to read them  -  I'll be too busy painting.


Day Eight

A Contour Drawing in my Sketchbook
This is ink on drawing paper. Sometimes I will do watercolor on this paper, and sometimes I just like the look of the ink.

I am in kind of an uncreative funk.  I figure if I just get my pen, pencil, or brush moving, I'll work my way out of it.  I am in a dry spell and don't have a plan, so I've decided I just move on without a plan.  One of my very favorite quotes is by Julia Cameron: "You may find yourself to be temporarily without a vehicle -  just keep walking."  Maybe it's time to read Julia Cameron again.  She wrote The Artist's Way, and several other very similar books.  So similar, in fact, that if you've read one, you've read them all, but I like her style, so I have read them all

Tomorrow I have class.  They'll get me going.  Actually, I had better get going before that  -  they are paying me to get them going.  No problem  -  it is always easier to have a plan for someone else.


Day Seven

In My Studio
While puttering around and going through old sketches, I came across this drawing I had done a few years ago.  It seemed appropriate to post while I was going through sketches in my studio.  Also because I didn't do anything else to post today.

It was a nice sunny day here, but I went out to buy windshield washer fluid (good to 20 below) and boots.  I'm ready.  I had a whole list of things to accomplish today, but you know how it goes.

Now I am helping with 5th grade math homework.  Thank goodness for calculators!


Day Six

Very Small Demonstrations
These are a few little demonstrations that I'll stick in my lesson demo binder.  I have various categories  -  figures, color mixing, fabric folds, negative spaces .   .   .  I know you didn't need to know that, but remember, I am trying to blog everyday for the month of November, and I have to say something.  Because I am going through "stuff", as mentioned in yesterday's post, it seemed fairly appropriate to say that.

I just looked at my studio clock and realized I have not changed the time on it, so I have an extra hour.  Fun.  However, I am afraid in that extra hour, I still won't know what to fix to eat.  Okay, I get it  -  it is not that I don't know WHAT to cook  -  it's that I don't WANT to.  So now the question is  -  what do I WANT to cook when I make up my mind that I DO want to cook?  A nap will help.


Day Five

Brushes and Palette
It's a lazy day here, which is really pretty nice.  I've been going through stacks of papers, shredding and filing.  I've been throwing away all those little scraps of watercolor paper that I do little demos on  -  a cloud, a wave, a leaf .  .  .  It really all piles up, and by the time I sort through it, it is all unnecessary and not where I would find it anyway. 

When I sort through things and spiff up my painting area, it always inspires me to really get painting.  My goal, of course, is to get through the sorting process in a hurry, so I don't lose the inspiration.  I come across sketches and lesson plans that I had forgotten about, and if I don't hurry, they'll get shuffled into another pile, to be forgotten again. 

Okay, here I go, back to the drawing board  -  literally.

How is your weekend?  What is inspiring you?


Day Four

Little Chairs
Are these "little dolls chairs", "little doll's chairs", "little dolls' chairs", or "little doll chairs"?

A student brought these to me for drawing props. This a  contour drawing I in my sketchbook.  I didn't have enough concentration left to finish the right side, so I just threw in a border.  Works for me.  Don't forget, when you are drawing in your sketchbook, it is your sketchbook  -  you can do anything you want.

The cream sauce I made last night worked out great. I used olive oil, whole wheat flour and unsweetened almond milk.  I also used some onions, mushrooms, and, of course, garlic.  

We have SUNSHINE today.  Maybe I should get out there and soak it up before it turns to snow.  At least when it snows I won't have to feel guilty about the yard work I am not going to do.


Day Three

Day three of Blogging-Everyday-In-November.  I know I should be linking to the website that does this challenge  -  maybe tomorrow.

We got a lot of things discussed in class this afternoon  -  everything from the body found in the creek a short distance from here to Herman Cain's smoking ad.  Oh yeah  -  we did discuss triads and color mixing for a minute.

Now I'm going to go try to make a mushroom cream sauce using almond milk.  What do you think?  Is it possible? I'll let you know tomorrow how it comes out.  In the meantime,  sketch some little thing  -  a piece of fruit, a mushroom.


Day Two

 Today in class we played around with various triads.  We do this every once in awhile.  I feel it kind of simplifies things  -  gets us back to basics as far as color mixing is concerned.

A triad is the use of the three primary colors - red, blue, and yellow  -  or some variation of the primaries.  A very basic triad is ultramarine blue, quinacridone red, and lemon yellow.  A stronger, more dramatic triad might be pthalo blue, quinacridone burnt scarlet, and quinacridone gold.  Using a triad (as opposed to using the whole palette full of colors) sets the mood of a painting, and makes for a pleasing harmony of colors.

It has been very dark and raining all day.  I have little princesses in sparkly dresses here today, playing Christmas carols ( ! ) on the piano.


Day One

 “Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and
paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”
Robert Fulghum

For a couple of reasons I'm posting this picture of me as a five year old (?) again.  Every couple of years I post this because, first, I really like the quote and the picture reminds me of who I really am (some things never change) and the second reason  -  I CAN NOT FIND MY CAMERA CORD! 

This is the first day of Blogging Everyday in November  -  and for the month I am going to try to be aware of wonder.  My sketchbook helps me do that  -  it makes me much more aware of things around me.  I'm always looking for shapes and color, and beauty in general.

On my way now to pick up a friend to go to the grocery.  We are cooking together tonight, so we are shopping together too.  Spaghetti night at the Carey's.

Be aware of wonder!