Urban Sketching: Winter Street

Winter_StreetI did this at the end of last week. If you walk down that street now, the trees have LEAVES on them!


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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




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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:


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


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


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Winter Beasts

Well, despite the media’s excitement, this “blizzard” — Hercules, they’re calling “him”–  that supposedly blasted us last night seems to have come and gone in the night, and now the sun is shining and the seagulls (can someone please explain to me what the seagulls are doing here? I don’t live at the beach!) are swooping.

Yesterday, I found myself frantically flipping through my sketchbooks from 2013 in search of some notes I scribbled down about an idea for a project I was saving for the future. That future is now…but the notes I once wrote are no where to be found.  It seems I was a rather disorganized lady in the beginning of 2013. My search yesterday was a good reminder of the progress I made throughout the year — progress in becoming more organized with my art business. Frantic searches for my materials and notes used to be a fairly common experience for me in the beginning of my freelance career. Nowadays, however, such events are rare (with the exception of yesterday, which was a result of my FORMER disorganization anyway). Presently, I’m more likely to be found frantically searching for the onion powder in the back of the spice cabinet than for anything business related. So, WAHOO for that!

In my searches, I found some quick sketches of arctic animals, mainly polar bears, that I did last February. I remember being very amused by how lumpy and, quite frankly, dumb, polar bears look when they’re sitting down. (Of course they don’t seem so dumb when they decide to go maul a walrus). These sketches aren’t anything fancy, just exercises in observing shapes and contours. In any case, they seem appropriate for today’s snow day, so I’m sharing some of them with you. I hope you see what I meant about the polar bears:


Happy Friday, and don’t forget to stay warm! It’s cccccccoooooooollllllldddd out there.

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What I’m Thankful For…

I hate to be the one to say it, but we all know it’s true: November would be a terrible month if it weren’t for Thanksgiving. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh. Perhaps.

I was going to make you all a nice doodle filled with haphazard renderings of all the things I’m thankful for, but several days of icy cold November spit rain got me down. Instead, I decided to embrace my negativity and tell it like it is. So here goes.

In New Jersey (where I currently live), November looks like this:



…and I didn’t even include the rain that was making all the gray-ness grayer. Once the leaves on the trees are gone, a person really starts to notice just how many electrical wires there are everywhere. That’s what November’s about: twiggy trees shivering amongst telephone poles and wires, with an occasional gathering of birds huddled up on a power line for warmth. Sometimes I find it aesthetically interesting that there are so many cords a’dangling all throughout the sky. But mostly, things look pretty bleak until we get some snowfall to brighten things up.

BUT THEN…we have Thanksgiving! We glance at the calendar and see it shining like a beacon of calorific glory: November the 28th, 2013. At that moment, we know that somehow, somehow we’ll get through this most dark and dreary of months. And so, we “put our heads down and power through” (to coin one of my husband’s favorite phrases), daily baiting our weary souls with the prospect of future feasting and family. We survive until Thanksgiving, and then we’re home free, riding the buoyancy of the holidays until the New Year starts and we realize “oh yeah, January exists…”

I love Thanksgiving because I love pausing for a day to be warm and comfortable with my family and loved ones. Fine fine, I won’t pretend that I don’t also like the pumpkin pie and stuffing (and the sauerkraut that I insist must be present at every Thanksgiving dinner), but seriously, we all know that these would be meaningless without the flavor of family-togetherness that imbues them.

I know, I know, this is a lot of words. I’ll boil it all down into one happy phrase for anyone wishing there were some Sparknotes:

This year, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving.

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Fall is for Sweaters

Another thing I love about Fall is that I get to start wearing sweaters again. There is something tremendously comforting about a good, hearty turtle neck.

I’m not the only one who seeks comfort when the chill of Autumn descends upon us. Our cats want to be cozy, too, and they become much more snuggly as a result. Hey, I won’t complain!

So here’s an illustration of both those things: turtle neck sweaters and snuggly cats (presented to you in Fall colors, of course). I hope you like it!



Oh, and one more thing. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Fall is so bittersweet. At this time of year,I find life and all the world to be overwhelmingly beautiful–to the point that it’s almost heartbreaking. It hurts to feel so much love, gratitude, and joy about being alive because I can’t contain all that emotion in my body. Then I get sad because I realize that in my entire lifetime, I’ll never be able to fully express how much I love people. And I’ll never have time to make artwork about all the things that move me (like kids in sweatshirts frolicking with their mommies in pumpkin patches).

You know what else I find bittersweet? Crows. They’re somewhat creepy, with their glassy eyes and their huge clawed feet, but they’re also hilarious when they squawk at each other like opinionated sailors. Have you ever seen one with its beak open, panting on a hot day? Like I said, hilarious.

Anyway, this is my tribute to the crows. Their blackness adds a nice touch to the brightly-colored trees outside my window.

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Autumn Sketches

Happy Friday, all!

I have a few doodles to show you this week:



The above picture is the view I see each morning when I’m eating breakfast. I sketched it out while eating my oatmeal and then turned it into an ink and watercolor illustration later. I was amused by all the lines, angles, and patterns that occur in the manmade parts of the view.  There’s the doorframe, the curb, the siding, the shingles, the balcony rungs…etc.  When I made the version above, I decided that using color only for the “organic”, blobby stuff would help emphasize the stark linear look of the buildings. That’s one of the things I enjoy observing in life —  the visual contrast between man-made patterns and organic patterns.

The rest of my sketches were just little experiments. I went for a walk and noticed how some trees’ leaves change in random clusters (rather sporadically), while others seem to transition from summer to fall with a smooth gradient bleeding down from top to bottom.  The gradient reminded me of watercolors mixing, so I played with that a little when I got home.





I hope you enjoy these! Isn’t Autumn inspiring? I THINK SO!


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