My New Painting: Continuing to Experiment with Acrylic

There is a quilt on our bed that my mom made for us when we got married. It’s made with batik fabric (fabric hand-dyed using a wax-resist technique), so each patch is different from the rest. It’s the sort of visual feast that I could look at for hours (if I had the time). In some spots, the dye is particularly saturated, or it’s more green than in other areas. Elsewhere, the colors have mixed spontaneously into unexpected shades of magenta and blue and purple that end up reminding me of the sunset in Minnesota when I was 17 years old. Indeed, as a visual object alone, the quilt is a treasure.

Then I start thinking about the unseen layers of the quilt. How it’s filled with my mom’s love. A warm and symbolic way for her to wrap her kid up in a comforting embrace and make everything okay forever, even though her daughter is supposedly grown up (because hey!, moms never stop being moms and daughters never stop being daughters). And it’s a reminder of Grandma, too: The Matriarch Quilter, with her contagious curiosity and her unfailing sense of humor. (Hi Grandma!, if you’re reading this). And it’s a sparkly little beam of excitement that perhaps someday, I’ll have a kid that I make a quilt for. (And then I find myself already hoping, with some desperation, that my kid will be able to feel the love that’s layered into their quilt — that love that feels too big to express, no matter how many times I try to).

Beholding this quilt; snuggling under it; sharing it with my husband and our cats; seeing it every morning in the different light of fall, winter, spring, and summer — it’s one of those deeper-than-you’d-expect experiences that comes with living life with your eyes and heart open. It’s one of those experiences that I wanted to share with others.

So I painted this:

Miko_Final copy

I’m sure there’s a ton of skeptics who, if they heard me and saw what I make, would think that I’m just a sentimentalist who gushes nonsense about marshmallow fluff and ponies and unicorns that eat rainbows. But I’m not.

I just hope this painting gets you to see and feel a little bit about what I’m always talking about with this blog. There are a lot of interesting things to be seen and felt in the world. As an artist (and a human), I always find myself wanting to celebrate and explore the complex beauty of the everyday things that surround me. I can’t help it. That’s why I set out to paint this. Because the quilt inspired me. I wanted to play around with the colors and textures and patterns of an object that I love, just to experience what happened along the way.

So, don’t be afraid to look at things — to really look, and experience how they affect you. You never know where “looking” will take your mind and your spirit.

The Jungle of My Mind, Plus A Commissioned Jungle-Themed Painting

Hi folks! Hope you’ve been having a good summer!

Summer, with its shameless abundance of visual splendors, is a wonderful and dangerous time for my creative brain. Every thing I look at– be it a homegrown tomato, one of the neighbor’s perfect marigolds, or the ever-changing cloudscape– inspires an idea for some piece of art that I could make, if only I had infinite time, energy, and concentration. A five minute walk down the sidewalk turns into a bombardment of ideas. They hit me one after another with such speed that they knock the wind out of me, leaving me (mentally) sprawled out on the sidewalk, grasping, with great futility, to capture them all before they escape beyond reach. Don’t get me wrong, it’s truly exhilarating to have my brain go into creative hyperdrive each summer. But I have to be careful or else the excitement gets TOO big, the ideas come TOO fast, and I get TOO attached to each and every one of them. Then I crash, hard, when I have to face the reality that I can’t conceivably pay artistic homage to every inspiration I have.

Thankfully, I can maneuver through Summer’s jungle of ideas just fine as long as I remember to “let it go”. Don’t get too attached to my ideas. Don’t fool myself into thinking that I have to create every painting that I’m inspired to make. It’s another one of those secrets to living a balanced and fulfilling life, a secret discovered through art-making but applicable to all things:

Let. It. Go. (cue “Frozen” music).

Speaking of jungles, here’s one I created for a client who wanted to hang some “animal art” in her son’s bedroom. It’s done in gauche and ink.

Jungle_Illustration

I’m particularly fond of the frog.

Birthday Hippo

Hey there! Long time no see.

Since I’ve been busy with larger acrylic paintings lately, I haven’t made much time to do any doodles or illustrations. I need to force myself to do them, though. It’s good practice, and it frees up my mind and my creativity. Plus, I like to have stuff to share with you!

But hey, today I do have something to share!

Here’s a birthday hippo that I made for a greeting card. Is today your birthday? HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Today’s NOT your birthday? HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANYWAY!

Birthday_Hippo

All my love,

Jacque.

 

 

Some Sketches (and 5 Reasons Why You Should Sketch)

I’m going to try to post more of the sketches that I do throughout the week, just in case anyone is interested in seeing that aspect of the creative process. So, here are some sketches of the lilies my husband bought me when I returned home after being away for a week. (Isn’t he great?). (Also, feel free to enjoy the mysteriousness of the notes I scribbled to myself on the corner of the page):

Lily_Sketches

 

There are MANY reasons why I sketch. Here are 5 that I can think of off the top of my head:

1) To keep up on my drawing skills. Like any skill, a person’s ability to draw can get out of shape. I sketch so that I can keep my skills at a certain level. Then I don’t have to put energy into re-discovering how to draw every time I have a commission.

2) To improve my powers of observation. Sketching increases my awareness of all things visual. Things like shadow, light, texture, form…

3) To discover new techniques. It seems there are ALWAYS more things that I can learn about my art-making materials. Sketching helps me learn different ways that I can use my pencils, pens, and brushes to get certain effects.

4) To connect to my surroundings and the present moment. It can be a rather meditative and spirit-nurturing experience!

5) To take quick note of something interesting, whether it be an interesting composition, object, scene, or idea. Noting such things helps me to remember ideas that I want to use for future projects.

Sharing my sketches is something I’ve been reluctant to do. It means that I have to swallow my pride. There’s a large part of me that doesn’t want to reveal the not-so-pretty things that regularly show up amongst my doodles. I am, after all, trying to show you why I’m a GOOD artist, not a bad one. But another part of me thinks that maybe, just maybe, you’ll find my sketches interesting enough to be worth looking at from time to time– the same way you’d find watching a behind-the-scenes documentary of a band or movie interesting.

Maybe?

Well anyway, sketching is part of being an artist. And making mistakes and BAD looking drawings is part of being an artist. Goodness knows, we all need to be realistic about how “perfect” we really aren’t. Then, making “mistakes” isn’t so scary! If everything is part of the process, then there’s no such things as “mistakes”! Just opportunities to learn.

And isn’t learning great?!

Oh, and since you listened to me ramble just now, here’s a bonus sketch of a birch tree.

Birch_Tree

M’kay, bye.

Illustration Friday: Spark

The theme for Illustration Friday this week is “Spark.”

First I thought I’d draw the sparks that (I imagine) will one day explode out of the tangles of electrical cords that fill our apartment. But then I decided not to tempt fate and ended up making something a little less ominous.

So instead of exploding homes, here’s an illustration of an exploding heart. You know, like sparks flying during love at first sight!

IllustrationFriday_Spark

 

Spring Preview: Iris Watercolor Painting

I’m about to head up to Vermont to go skiing for a week, but before I do, I want to leave you with a little reminder of what there is to look forward to in the coming months.

SPRING! It’s coming, I promise. And with it, flowers!

…like this iris that I painted in watercolor…

Iris

So do not despair! Put your winter coat back on and tough it out for a few more weeks. Soon, Nature will unveil what she’s been working on these last few months. She’s a superb artist, after all. And generous one, since after she reveals her fine artwork, all us little human artists get to copy it and use it as inspiration for our own “creations”.

 

 

Doodles from the Archives: Winter Musk Oxen and Spring Tulips

I’m feeling a bit under the weather this week. As a result, I’ve slowed down artistic production in favor of getting acquainted with the couch. I have a hard time being sick because I don’t like doing nothing…it makes me feel guilty (even though I shouldn’t). Yesterday, I found myself engaged in the following dialogue with myself:

Me: I don’t feel well, I should probably just stop trying to “work” and let myself do nothing. Maybe I’ll actually be able to fall asleep. You know, like a nap?

Myself: Yeah, but you have stuff to do. Here’s a list of 100 things that I just made up that you should feel stressed about not doing RIGHT NOW. Also, I’m continuing to add to this list as we speak. And if you don’t do these things…well, you can’t even imagine how terrible that would be…

Me: But, these are all deadlines made up…can’t I just put them aside for right now and think about them more rationally when I’m feeling better?

Myself: No, you procrastinating fool! Have you no pride?! You’re useless!

Me: I have enough pride to take care of myself when I need taking care of. I’m going to go take a nap. Get lost.

Myself: Suit yourself. But riddle me this Batman: Does the President of the United States take sick days?

Me: …..?….(slumps off in defeat)……

In order to prove to myself that I wasn’t useless, I looked back through the piles of old sketchbooks I have accumulated over the years. It’s always an uplifting surprise to find the gems that are hiding among the pages. It serves as mental protection against all those times when I feel like I’m “creating nothing good”, because I look back and see that, even in moments when I felt like I was just making scribbles to pass the time, I was actually creating pretty interesting things.

Even the little things — like the doodles that seemed insignificant when I first made them — can bring brightness to a grumpy, mucous-y day. 

Ok, ok, on to the art. These are from some sketchbooks I filled in college. Consider this a celebration of the upcoming change of seasons.

First, we have a winter-themed page of Musk Oxen drawings:

MuskOxen_Doodle

Followed by a colored pencil drawing (or design or whatever) of some tulips, in anticipation of spring:

Spring_Tulips

Enjoy! (and I’ll be less negative next time, I promise) :)

 

Illustration Friday: Twisted

The theme for this week’s Illustration Friday is “Twisted”. So here is a pen and ink illustration of some Ring-Tailed Lemurs!

IllustrationFriday_Lemurs_2According to Wikipedia, male ring-tails “will participate in stink fights by impregnating their tail with their scent and wafting it at opponents.” How…fun…

I also learned that ring-tails are very social, intelligent, and adorable. I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of them today — I just couldn’t stop! They’re so funny looking! If you’re ever feeling gloomy after too many days of winter, I highly recommend Googling ring-tails. It will lift your spirits.

Now I want to snuggle with one…

…or five or six.