Wandering and Watching

Today I’m sharing some sketches I’ve made while out and about town. They are field sketches, so to speak, of my new environment here in the Northeast.

It takes discipline to actually sit down and sketch when I’m out walking. I get all hyped up on creative adrenaline while I’m walking through this Smörgåsbord of textures, patterns, colors, and action, and instead of calming down and focusing on any one thing, I keep walking and making an infinitely long mental list of things to come back and draw later, with the hope that someday I might find myself feeling more disciplined.

But, really, I know I’ll only be more disciplined tomorrow if I practice it today. So I’ve been reigning myself in with one simple rule: Every time I go out, I have to draw SOMETHING, even if it’s just a 10 second sketch. It’s been a good enough guideline for me so far. It keeps me from getting caught up in the expectation that I could possibly draw everything I see, and that is very freeing, since holding on to such expectations sets me up to feel disappointed rather than appreciative of the experience at hand. And, obviously, my rule is good because it keeps me from drawing nothing. It’s fun to brainstorm creative ideas, but it’s also fun (and more productive) to create. My rule has helped me balance between the two.Salem Houses SpringTrolley Depot

Salem Common
St Nicholas Church

 

 

 

Winter leftovers and a Welcome to Spring!

Hiydee hey.

Spring has burst onto the scene here in Massachusetts and it’s a glorious thing. Gone be the winter coats! Gone be the ritual struggles to bundle up before leaving the house! Suddenly it’s so easy to just grab my sketchbook and walk out the door.  And let me tell you, this city of ours has some excellent fodder for my HUNGRY herd of creative, over-wintered brain cows…

But before I get to sharing the first-fruits of my quest to become Salem’s resident sketcher (I’ll be like that guy you see everywhere who is always taking photos to document events, only I’ll be more of a wind-blown looking lady who always has a sketchbook, a runny nose {allergies! can’t complain though because, woo spring!} and a mustard stain on the boob of her shirt {what can I say, I love a good sauce}), let me first say goodbye to winter by sharing some snippets and doodles that I didn’t get around to posting earlier. They’re not necessarily wintery in content, but still, they were done in the days when inspiration had to come from things other than the splendid experience of being outside.

How few lines does it take to capture "essence of cat"?

How few lines does it take to capture “essence of cat”?

"Hello, Lobster. I think you are delicious."

“Hello, Lobster. I think you are delicious.”

Bouquet from my husband! A good remedy for stubborn dreary moods.

Bouquet from my husband! A good remedy for stubborn dreary moods.

Inspired by an old timey exhibit at the local Peabody Essex Museum, I went home and pretended I was a silversmith, engraving decorative silverware for classy, cake-serving ladies.

Inspired by an old timey exhibit at the local Peabody Essex Museum, I went home and pretended I was a silversmith, engraving decorative silverware for classy, cake-serving ladies.

In another life, my husband has a seafood restaurant named "Fishenelli's". One morning, I needed something to doodle, so I decided to make it's logo.

In another life, my husband has a seafood restaurant named “Fishenelli’s”. One morning, I needed something to doodle, so I decided to make its logo.

Winter rain.

Winter rain.

These are winter’s remnants. Now get ready, Salem! I’ve got a sketchbook and one million creative itches to scratch. I’ll be watching you.

Watercolor Painting: Fall Leaves

Here’s something that has been a long time coming, but after many interruptions and distractions, it’s finally complete! Prints of it will be available on Etsy soon, but if you are interested in buying one, let me know!

Leaves_9x12

Now perhaps it’s time to move on to a piece that is a bit more seasonally appropriate.

 

Some “Moving” Thoughts & First Impressions

2 weeks ago, my husband and I packed up and moved. It was tiring and a little stressful and so far, totally worth it. During the packing process, I managed to make a little time (or was I procrastinating with the packing and cleaning?) to do some doodles of my “moving” thoughts (“Moving!” Get it? Eh? Eh?) . They were just light-hearted observations about the funny things you think about when you’re packing and looking at your life laid out in accumulations of stuff and boxes…

Moving_Doodle


In case you can’t read my scribbles:

Right now, life is all packing and boxes and check lists…and existential questions of “Do I need this?” and “Why do I have so much stuff?”

You laugh when you realize that you’re, without doubt, keeping the giant jar of buttons, but not sure whether to keep the computer or not…

…and sometimes you find yourself on Google Maps, checking how close the nearest Dairy Queens, Pizza Huts, and YMCA’s are to your future home, because when the prospect of the BIG moving day seems too overwhelming to handle, apparently these are the lights at the end of the tunnel.

But not really. The light at the end is much more than those! It’s just oddly exhilarating, for some reason, to know that if you have to bribe yourself to pack up, load the truck, haul off, unload, and do it all in one day, you can do it with a Blizzard.

(**Note that I don’t actually care that much for Dairy Queen OR Pizza Hut, but I find it novel to live near them now, since I have not had them easily accessible to me before…)


 

Pizza and ice cream were not the only dumb things I thought about while packing. It seems that daydreaming about such trifling matters, such as the ones below, was how I kept myself from feeling too stressed out and grumpy.

Moving_Doodle_2Anyway. That’s all in the past. We moved in, we were tired, and then we recovered. Some boxes are unpacked. Some are not.

But now we have new digs to explore! I’ve taken a liking to the colorful colonial houses in Massachusetts. Here are some doodles from the last week. I doodle houses while I eat breakfast. What a way to start each day!

Salem_Houses_4 Salem_Houses_3Salem_Houses_1 Salem_House_2

I’ve also been working on finishing up a meticulous watercolor painting that’s been in the works for a while and searching around for artistic opportunities in my new area. These Boston suburbs seem pretty happy to celebrate artists! I see good things ahead :)

Welp…I hope you enjoyed today’s mundane musings. See you next time!

 

Commissioned Watercolor Painting: In Honor of Dad and Dog

Recently, I was approached by a client with a particularly heart-felt request. Her husband had just lost his father and his beloved dog within a short time frame. She asked if I would create a piece that featured the two loved ones in an atmosphere suggestive of heaven, to remind her husband that his Dad and dear dog, Lillie, were there waiting for him, peaceful and together.

I was honored to be given such a commission. It’s projects like this that are the most rewarding: projects where I am given the opportunity to make things that touch people in meaningful and personal ways — ways that go beyond words and speak straight to the heart. It felt so uniting, so wonderfully human, to be able to reach out to someone in this way. It was also a very powerful experience to be entrusted to pay homage to two clearly respected and beloved individuals. Even though I did not know them, I inevitably felt like I was connected to them. Working on this piece, I was filled with gratitude for the positive influence they clearly had on their family, and how that influence had spread to me as well, giving me the chance to do meaningful work. It was another one of those awe inspiring experiences that shows how much one life affects many others. Here we all are, moving through life, creating ripples and currents along the way, whether we know it or not, and (I know, I know, I conclude with this all the time): that is a beautiful thing.

Lil&Dad_Blog

And here it is, matted and framed:

Lil&Dad_Framed_Blog

Recent Sketches and Artistic Life Lessons

Eee! I’m so excited! I’ve finally started to make sketching a regular habit in my day-to-day routine. (It’s a habit that I’ve been meaning to cultivate for a long time).

Why? Because I was hoping that sketching would pacify the frenetic voice in my brain that is always yelling “Draw (paint) this! Draw that! And that over there, too! And WHOA!!!…wouldn’t THAT make a great art project?! What’s the matter, missy, can’t keep up?! Chop chop!”

It’s the exhilaration of finding everything I see to be just. so. darn. interesting, and wanting to give due attention to it all. It’s a blessing to see and feel this way — who doesn’t like feeling creative and inspired? But it can also be very crushing. I constantly have to remind myself not to get caught up in thinking that I actually can and must draw everything. And I have to discipline myself to focus on completing whatever serious art I’m working on (you know, like the bigger projects – commissions and my growing body of fine art paintings), even though my imagination has already moved on to the next 3 or 4 things that I want to paint.

So I started sketching more – while eating, while on the potty…(oops, too much information?…) – hoping that doing so would declutter my head and allow me to focus more on my serious art projects without feeling so hyped up on other ideas.

Well, what do you know? Sketching hasn’t stopped the madness. In fact, now, when I look around me, I see even MORE possible art projects. Sketching (as I’ve said before) increases my awareness of how interesting life is, so of course, my plan has only left me with eyes even bigger than they were before. It’s like that saying: “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” only in reference to visual snacks. So now I feel even more excited about making art, but also feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions instead of a mere thousand.

So then I sat down to think about why it’s SOOO important to me that I get everything out there on the paper. Why do I feel awful when I don’t get around to creating things? And I stumbled upon this:

The desire I have to “draw it all” is really a desire to share and connect with people. I want to show you all how great things are, make you feel the greatness too, so you don’t miss it. It’s the same desire that makes me want to cook “all the things” for my husband, to make people laugh, and to understand whomever I’m conversing with.

And you feel it, too. It’s the desire that pulls you towards doing and saying what you think is meaningful. Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel selfish pursuing your creative dreams, fearing that what you contribute won’t be of value to the world, that it will just be a waste. BUT THAT’S WRONG. Things are never black and white. Creating is selfish and it’s not. Yeah, I get to revel in the joy of making stuff. And of COURSE I share my art with the hope that you give me compliments and make me feel like I’m doing good things. But that’s just the surface stuff. Deep down, it’s the sharing itself that I really come back for, over and over again. I want to give YOU things — things like awareness, beauty, and appreciation for the simple goodness that surrounds you. Making art, and feeling chronically angsty about making ALL of it, is at the core, just the unquenchable longing to connect with you. To understand and be understood.

So I’ll keep sketching, even though it didn’t serve the purpose I had hoped it would. And I’ll share some of my sketches from time to time because, even though they are nothing to brag about, they help achieve the goal that this whole crazy art making adventure is aimed towards: connecting, communicating, and giving.

AAAND I’ll keep feeling crazy over needing to make more…

….and more…

…and more.

…but that’s kind of a beautiful feeling, I decided.

WinterTrees_Sketch WinterTrees2_sketch Teapots_Sketch_Inked Teapot_Sketch_1
Teapot_3
 Fruits_sketchApartment_Snow_sketchTable_sketchCats_Bathtub_Sketch

Travel Sketch: the Italian Alps

I really like the idea of keeping travel sketchbooks. Part of what I love about traveling is all the artistic inspiration I get from observing nature, people, architecture, culture — how life unfolds, in general, in places the world over. When I’m traveling, though, I end up struggling to actually keep a sketchbook because I’m so busy taking it all in. There are so many stimuli, and I feel so immersed in the experience that I can’t sit still long enough to draw it. The thought of trying to translate a slice of it onto paper overwhelms me because I’m afraid that it won’t do justice to the realtime experience that I’m having.  And of course, I’m self conscious about making something…ugly.

But whenever I DO manage to sketch places I visit, I always really appreciate it afterwards. A sketch is able to capture “the feel” of a moment and place in a way that a photo cannot. Looking back at my travel sketches brings me back to that snippet of time, and I suddenly remember details like what thoughts I was having and what the sounds were like on the street. I often say that sketching is an excellent way to slow down and appreciate, on a deep level, what is going on around you. The act of doing it helps attach you to the moment, so that when you look at the sketches later, you remember (quite viscerally actually) so, so many things that you thought you’d forgotten.

So I’m going to be less self conscious and do more travel sketches. But in the meantime, I’ve been doing some sketches based on photos I took from past travels, and it has been a worthy exercise too. It also helps me remember the experience and reminds me how much I appreciate life. As always, art brings me back to the realization that to simply exist in this world is a rich, heart-filling adventure.

This is somewhere in the Italian Alps. June 2013:

ItalySketch