First drops of paint

Often the fear of not knowing what to do or the fear of doing something wrong stops us in our tracks and keeps us from starting. If we can let go of this fear, we open ourselves up to a much larger world of expression – a world where anything is possible.
- Flora Bowley, Brave Intuitive Painting

I wasn’t sure where to start. I’ve wanted to ‘know how’ to paint I think my whole life. I’ve certainly said “If I could paint what is in my head” often enough. I get overwhelmed by the idea of creating a whole image and then do nothing which just leaves a void and a continued longing.

In the most recent issue of Art Journaling, Winter 2014, there was a spread by a woman who had a lifelong unrequited love affair with watercolors. Her attempts at using them were disappointing and unfulfilling but one day she decided she was going to master this medium and put all her other mediums away. “The materials were simple: watercolors, a waterrush, black ink pens, and a Moleskin diary.”

art-journaling-magazine-spread-stampington

Spread from Art Journaling, Winter 2014. Artist: Ginn Magante Barber

She set out just using one or two colors, feeling things out. The images in the spread were simple but lovely and looking at them and reading her words I thought ok, this I can do. This is simple, just to start. And I will be doing, not just wanting.

Different reds

Different reds

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Getting started and going for a swap!

The first project of the year will be a swap! The Sketchbook Project sets up these mini-projects to sign up for during the year outside of their self-titled, main project. The one I signed up for is called ‘The Ampersand Project‘:

Being that “&” means “and,” we feel like it’s the perfect character to symbolize an exchange that connects you and another person. Make a simple image that interprets this unique piece of our letter-set and we’ll send you the work of another participant in exchange.

They provide you with a board to use that is 5×7. Everyone in the project gets the same board to keep it consistent (and probably so someone doesn’t mail in a 7 foot sculpture although that would be cool). I started laying down some of the paper foundation tonight. I am going to use telephone book (remember those?!) paper as the foundation for the ampersand, building up the layers and then cutting out the shape of the ampersand so that you can see a scene behind it. I knew the paper from phone books was thin but it’s really thin – this may take quite a few layers to build up some thickness but I think it will be better as it will dry/harden more uniformly.

ampersand project card

My initial thoughts are to build up the layers, then cut the ampersand out (very carefully). I will paint a scene on the board and when you lay the cut out ampersand on the board, you will be able to see the scene behind it. Another possibility is to have the ampersand paper be cut in half and somehow hinge open to completely reveal the scene which has formed in my mind as a beach with a shipwreck in the distance.

ampersand-layer

After the base layers are built up the top layer would be of green foliage so it would look like you were looking through shrubbery onto the scene. Some issues I can think of immediately are the hinging aspect and the toggle to open close. Could be too fragile but I really like the idea.

ship-scene

Very quick sketch (those are palm trees with coconuts in the background!). This layer would probably be painted onto the board.

We will know how it all turns out by early February as I have to postmark it by Feb 15th!

What are you working on this month?

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Another Country: Costa Rica

A client of mine was generous – he flew the NY team members to Costa Rica for the holiday party and I even had an extra day for sight-seeing! Saw this pretty little creature at a reserve near the waterfall gardens we visited. Looking forward to going back someday and seeing more of the country for sure!

Blue Butterfly

Blue Butterfly, Costa Rica, December 2012

waterfall

Waterfall in Costa Rica, a damp gray morning but still lovely.

It was wet and rainy in the morning but the skies cleared up and were so lovely!

Costa Rican Sky

Costa Rican sky after a very rainy morning.

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The Bee’s Knees

I love my little bee! I couldn’t believe it when he landed right there on the bench and stayed there! I’m not sure if what he was doing was cleaning but he was there for a full minute or two and I was able to scoot in pretty close. I’m using a pinhole setting on my camera which is why there is a soft halo effect around him.

a little bee

a little bee at Menla Mountain, Summer 2012

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Yellow and Fragile

Yellow flower

Yellow flower, Menla Mountain, Summer 2012

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Fall takes hold

At a park in Adamstown, PA fall creeps in, continuing the cycles of nature. This was actually the weekend before Hurricane Sandy hit. It was overcast all weekend and the air was wet but still a beautiful day to be outside.

Fall Flowers

Fall Flowers in PA

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Luna

It’s been a very hectic two weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy but New York – human beings are resilient. We have a grasp on the extent of the damage and some is very severe and will take time to repair. Coney Island in the Rockaways was one of the worst. An image from a peaceful day back in September. With time, I hope that peace returns.

Luna ride sign from Coney Island

Luna ride sign from Coney Island, fall 2012

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Scarves unraveled and good foundations

I am working on a delicate, lovely scarf for someone who has made such an amazing  difference in my life. The yarn recommended for the pattern, Rowan kidsilk haze, had this lovely pink color called Grace and I knew that was it. That is what this person has brought to my life (I would name her but she might be reading!) It is the thinnest, softest yarn I have ever used and the hardest pattern I’ve ever worked.

divine lace scarf gauge swatch

divine lace scarf gauge swatch

After doing the gauge swatch, I knew that this yarn was not going to be easy to work with. I actually did a practice round with some cotton/poly blend yarn – I never do practice rounds. I just jump in and woo! come what may! Once I’d done the practice round, I cast-on the good stuff and worked one round of the pattern. Counting the stitches as I was going through I realized I didn’t have enough stitches so I adjusted the stitches to fall in the right place and then added them on in the final row of the pattern as it was a simple row of purling/knitting. Time passes…

I knew I was putting it off but I didn’t know why. Part of it, I’m sure, is the yarn/pattern combo but the other part is because I knew that the foundation wasn’t right. I couldn’t decide whether to unravel or keep going. I pulled it together this weekend, sat down and worked the first row of the pattern. If it went well, then I would keep going. What was already done really didn’t look so bad now. Well, after the first row of the pattern, I lost a stitch. So I took one off, added a stitch with a yarn-over, knit the final stitch and counted again. Still off by one stitch. I’m thinking not only can I not KNIT I can’t even COUNT! Ugh – ok. Time to unravel. It came down to this: the foundation just wasn’t right and if the foundation isn’t right, then the rest of it is going to be skewed. And maybe the recipient wouldn’t know it but I would and it was going to stop me from going forward.

Things don’t have to be perfect the first time out and I fight that – I want it to just happen, right out of the gate. Sometimes I don’t want to keep going because it’s not right the first time but that really never accomplishes anything, does it? You just end up with a bunch of half-assed stuff lying around in your brain and your life, taking up space and niggling at you.

So. I am unraveling the scarf and doing another practice round. It’s a hard pattern but I think the end result is going to be so soft and pretty that it’s going to be worth the extra effort. And I’ll feel better giving it knowing I spent the extra time. Stay tuned…

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New for Fall!

There was nothing between winter and summer to spruce up our bland hallway door – our building is fairly new but the hallways look like hotels or dorm rooms with no carpets. Light green doors, door number, bell, bland hallways. I put a mat in front of the door but sometimes you just need a little bit more. It’s much nicer to come home to a little personalization. The other apartments are following suit! There is a door with sugar skull decorations for Halloween/Dia de los Muertos! (you see what I mean about the doors…)

sugar skull masks

I dug around on the internet for some inspiration. I found some brown yarn in my stash (from a very early attempt at knitting a sweater… that didn’t go so well… ahem), found some floral stuff on sale at Michael’s and voila! Not-so-bland door for fall!

fall wreath

 

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Global Sketchbook Project Day

Today was the Sketchbook Project meet-up day at the Brooklyn Art Library. I almost didn’t go – it was such a perfect Sunday to do nothing. Just sunny enough, just breezy enough. Did I really want to go hang out with people I didn’t know, who might not even show? But I did go and I’m glad I went!

Initial Sketchings

For one thing, I got the first 3 layouts outlined for the 2013 Sketchbook Project. I wanted to do the sketchbook project last year but it didn’t happen. This gave me a good jump-start on the project. What will be interesting, of course, is to see how they actually end up from their little humble sketched beginnings.

Then I met a really great person who I intend to stay in touch with. She is here in New York for the summer for graphic design internship at Bon Appetit magazine (nice!). She was starting a new, personal sketchbook that would most likely document her time here and I made it into her book! I gave her my card to keep in touch and she gave me my own page as her first friend in New York. Sniffle. How could you not want to be in touch with someone who makes such a nice gesture?

On top of all that goodness, I bought a design book I had been wanting to read, There is Nothing Funny About Design, AND I came away with two small piece of collage that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Now THAT is a perfect Sunday!

Initial Sketchings

Initial Sketchings

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