Tag Archives: drawing

New Year’s Eve Eve

The last time I wrote a blog post, it was Christmas Eve Eve and I was wondering how I would ever get all my Christmas wrapping done. Now it’s New Year’s Eve Eve and I can report that I did manage to wrap everything and still get some sleep on Christmas Eve. I’m pretty sure A Christmas Story was still on its first run-through when I crawled into bed, but I couldn’t swear to it. I was bleary-eyed by then. I hope I don’t cut it quite so close next year, but I’m glad I pulled it off one more time.

I even managed to keep up with the sketch-a-day challenge. My drawings are not fancy but I have done one every day in the month of December and that makes me happy. The first year I joined the challenge, it seemed crazy to add one more thing to my already overloaded schedule, but I took it on and it gave me a nice spot of relaxation in each December day. Now I can’t imagine December without it. When I’m drawing, I’m not thinking about schedules or shopping or wrapping or baking. I’m just thinking about that one little object I’ve chosen to draw and how to capture it on paper.

My left brain gets a rest and my right brain gets to have fun. I sketch the most ordinary things but they become unique and special as I get to know them well enough to draw them.

Banana

Banana


This isn’t just any banana. It’s the particular banana that was in my house December fifteenth, with it’s bits of green and little brown spots. And this is a specific green pepper that we bought so we could make chili for the family taffy pull on the nineteenth.
Green Pepper

Green Pepper


Peanut Butter Kiss

Peanut Butter Kiss


This is the taffy. I was exhausted that day, so it’s a simple pencil sketch and I just noticed that I dated it wrong. I drew it on the nineteenth, not the twentieth. On the twentieth, I drew a cookie.
Peppermint Swirl Cookie

Peppermint Swirl Cookie


I have been hoping the daily drawings would lead me gently back to painting. I still need to do forty plein air paintings before my next birthday and my next birthday is thirty-nine days away. I still intend to do it, but I know it’s going to be a crazy five weeks if I manage to make it happen. The drawings do help. They remind me that I always have trouble starting things but I’m pretty good at finishing them. They remind me that making art is a gift to myself. It gets me through tough times and it makes happy times happier.

It heals me. It doesn’t need to do anything else.

Waiting for a Train

Wednesdays keep showing up, even in December. This is the second Wednesday in December and I still haven’t begun my Christmas preparations. My husband has put lights on the outside of the house, but we have done nothing to the inside of the house. We don’t have a tree. I haven’t baked any cookies. I haven’t done any serious shopping and all the wrapping supplies are still in the attic.

I’m starting to feel a bit worried that this is going to be another frantic, last-minute Christmas, but at least I’m keeping up with the sketch-a-day challenge. Every day, I pick up my sketchbook and my colored pencils and I take a little sketch break. So far, I’ve drawn a lot of leaves and a couple of fruits and a nut. That’s what we have around this time of year in Florida.

I took my daughter to the grocery store today and I finally remembered to pick up some small, round fruits while I was there. Soon I will be adding more drawings of fruit to my sketchbook. An unexpectedly magical thing happened on the way back from the grocery store. Our route crosses a railroad track and we saw as we approached it that the bars were down, though we couldn’t see a train yet.

The person in front of us decided it was time to turn around and choose a different route. We stayed, waiting to see if it would be a freight train or a passenger train. We listened for the whistle. When we heard it, we turned in that direction to see what kind of train was approaching.

“Hmmm…,” we said, “…not a freight. Must be an Amtrak.” That thought made us happy because an Amtrak goes by a whole lot faster than a freight. We waited. As the train got closer, we started to see that it was not an Amtrak. It was way cooler than that.

Circus Train

Circus Train


It was longer than an Amtrak but we didn’t mind.

December Drawings

I was at my chorale rehearsal the other night and one of my fellow altos asked me if I was still painting. I didn’t know what to say, because I want to be painting, but I haven’t painted anything since before my big trip out West in September. I don’t know why I’m not painting. I’m just not painting. I am now officially way behind on my blog goal. I set the goal of painting fifty plein air paintings before my next birthday. I had to clean up my painting gear to make my house pretty for the big Thanksgiving gathering and that gave me a chance to count my paintings.

I have done ten. Ten whole paintings, from February through November. That means I have to come up with forty between now and next February eighth. I haven’t counted the days between now and February eighth, but I know that a lot of them happen in December. So does Christmas. We are a family that celebrates Christmas, so I tend to be ridiculously busy in December. There’s the shopping and the baking and the decorating and the wrapping. There are chorale concerts, the ones I love the most and look forward to all year.

I am beginning to be afraid I will find myself trying to paint every day in January. January, even in Florida, is a cold month. I live in North Florida, so we get honest-to-goodness freezes in January. Some days will be balmy, but most will be cold or, at least, chilly. I knew this was a real possibility when I set the goal, but I hoped the possibility would motivate me to paint more often during the year.

I didn’t expect taking my paints outdoors to be so much more intimidating than painting in my dining room. The paints dry faster outdoors. Bugs fly into them. The wind might blow the canvas off the easel. I need to be able to choose pretty days for this, but I have procrastinated myself into a corner and now I will have to take whatever days come. Trial by fire. Trial by ice. I brought this upon myself and I will see it through, but there is one special thing this month that will help me work up to it.

Every December, my niece, Grace, invites me to participate in her Sketch-a-Day Challenge. When I think of forty plein air paintings by February, that seems daunting. One sketch each day in December seems much more manageable. It’s a commitment I have made for the past two years and I found that it gave me a nice little break, each day, from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I do simple drawings so my inner critic stays quiet, and I give myself permission to do them badly.

Today is the second day of December, so I have done two drawings. These have reminded me that I love drawing and I love color. They give me hope that I will find my way back to painting.

Yellow leaf

Yellow leaf


Green leaf

Green leaf


Meanwhile, I need to go shopping for some round fruit. I’m going to get tired of drawing the leaves I find in my front yard.

More Drawings

Wednesday is blog day. I just realized I have set myself up to be posting on Christmas Eve. I sure hope all the things I’ve been putting off will be done by then. We have a tree, but it’s not in the house yet. I’ve barely started my shopping and I’ve only baked three kinds of cookies, out of twelve I intend to bake.

On the upside, I’ve kept up with the December Daily Drawing Challenge. There have been more fruits and vegetables floating in space. There have been leaves. One ambitious day, I drew an entire potted plant. It was fun because I drew it last year, when it only had two leaves. Now it has ten and I managed to capture eight of them. I’m happy with this drawing.

Arrowhead Plant

Arrowhead Plant


I’m also happy with this onion.
Onion

Onion


It was a challenge because I was working with a small set of watercolor pencils. The only brown in the set is dark umber and that’s not very useful when drawing an onion. I had to blend yellows and oranges to get this done and I like the way it turned out.

Then there’s this lime.

Lime

Lime


A green fruit is a bit easier because there are three shades of green in my tin of twelve watercolor pencils. Three greens – an embarrassment of riches!

I don’t have a lot of words left in me today, so I’m going to wrap it up now. The Daily Drawing Challenge is not what’s keeping me from getting my Christmas shopping, decorating and baking done. That’s my own lethargy. The Daily Drawing Challenge is the good part of my day, the time when, against all odds, I actually get something done. Thanks again, Grace. I’m enjoying this!

Challenges

I was so busy last week making pies and posting about making pies that I forgot to mention a couple of other things that happened between that post and the one before it. The first was that I won NaNoWriMo. I wrote fifty thousand words. They’re not very coherent words, but there are fifty thousand of them and I wrote them all myself, so they count.
Winner-2014-Web-Banner
The other was that I painted. If you were looking closely at the “before” picture of my table in last week’s post, you saw my painting. I still want to share it in close-up here so I can count it.

Gourd and Turban Squash

Gourd and Turban Squash


My friend, Sarah, of Full-Time Writer Mom, gave me the gourd and I picked up the turban squash on clearance because I thought the gourd needed a friend for support. Literally. The squash was a whole lot easier to paint than the gourd. I let all the little bumps intimidate me, so the basic shape is a bit off, but I still had a good time painting it and that’s what matters.

I’ve joined a new challenge for December. This one comes from my niece, Grace, and it’s a “sketch-a-day” challenge. I don’t think I’ll be sharing all of my daily sketches in my blog, but here are the first three so you can see how it’s going.

Turban Squash

Turban Squash


Goofy Gourd

Goofy Gourd


Apple

Apple


I made use of the turban squash for my first sketch and the gourd for my second. My third is of an apple from my refrigerator. So far, my theme appears to be “Fruits and Vegetables Floating in Space.” For me, the sketch-a-day challenge is not about creating great art, it’s about presence and commitment. Drawing something – anything – is a way to bring myself into the here and now. It improves my mood and makes my whole day a better day.

I’m looking forward to lots of good days in December. They will be crazy busy, of course, but if I manage a sketch every day, there will be a small oasis of peace in each one of those crazy busy days. I’m ready to show up for that.

Sketching and Beyond

I have finished the December drawing challenge. Leaves were working for me and December is the time when the leaves turn and fall in Florida, so I figured I would finish out the month with leaf drawings. Last Saturday, my husband and I went on an afternoon walk around our neighborhood and I watched for pretty leaves on the ground as we walked. That’s how I found the red, green and yellow one I drew on December twenty-eighth.

Leaf 12 28 13

Leaf 12 28 13


The bright red one I drew on the twenty-ninth was also found on that walk.
Leaf 12 29 13

Leaf 12 29 13


On the thirtieth, I pulled a green one from a plant in my back yard.
Leaf 12 30 13

Leaf 12 30 13


The next day was the last day of the challenge and I thought I would find another leaf to draw, but then I realized I was tired of drawing leaves and I looked around for an alternative. My eye fell on our Christmas tree, a fat and fluffy white pine that was probably the most perfectly shaped tree we have ever had. The perfection was broken only by a single branch, which stuck straight up while the branches all around it bent gracefully towards the floor in a smooth, symmetrical cone. I had put a single red ball on that branch. When I saw it on New Year’s Eve, it reminded me of the adorable little tree in the Charlie Brown Christmas special and I decided to draw that instead of a leaf.
12 31 13

12 31 13


Now the December challenge has been met and I’m closing in on another challenge. My List of Fifty Things is up to forty-nine. My sixtieth birthday is still a month away and, thanks to my niece and her drawing challenge, all I need to think about now are the Big Three. I said when I started this blog that I wanted to do fifty creative things before my sixtieth birthday and they had to include an art quilt, an art doll and a 16” x 20” painting. The idea was that I would be working on those three things throughout the year, while I also did other, smaller creative things.
Of course that was the idea, but I’m not at all surprised that I’m down to just a few weeks and I haven’t done a single one of the Big Three. It’s more surprising to me that I actually have forty-nine things on my List of Fifty Things. I was completely stuck and I was doing mostly nothing when I started this blog and challenged myself to do fifty creative things in my sixtieth year. I’m pleased with where I am at this point and still absolutely determined to finish the challenge before February eighth.
Thank you, Grace Makley, for setting up the sketch-a-day challenge that brought my list to forty-nine. Now that my milestone birthday is breathing down my neck, I will be putting my attention into the Big Three. I do love a deadline.

Still Sketching

Yes! I have kept up with the “Sketch a Day” challenge I mentioned in my last blog post. It seems to fit into my day pretty well, even with all the added activities of the Christmas season. Every day, in the midst of all the crazy shopping, decorating and baking, I get a half-hour or so of calm, quiet drawing time. Who knew that squeezing an extra activity into my already full schedule could be such a gift?
We started the week with a family trip to the Jacksonville Landing to enjoy Tuba Christmas. On the walk back to our car, we passed a dogwood tree covered in red leaves. I picked one and tucked it into my purse so I could draw it later.

Dogwood leaf

Dogwood leaf


The next day I looked around my kitchen and found a frog-shaped toothpick holder. That was fun!
Toothpick holder

Toothpick holder


Next came an orange from my refrigerator. It was an ingredient in one of my twelve kinds of Christmas cookies, but before I used it, I drew it.
Orange

Orange


After that, I looked around the kitchen again and found another frog. This one is a dish scrubber.
Dish scrubber

Dish scrubber


I got ambitious the next day and put several golden grape tomatoes into a tiny bowl. That’s practically a still life, there.
Grape tomatoes

Grape tomatoes


The next day, I was in a rush, so I chose a round fruit – an apple from the refrigerator.
Apple

Apple


Today was also a very busy day, so I chose something round again – a bright red tomato.
Tomato

Tomato


I’m really hoping Santa brings me some more watercolor pencils. Some day, I hope to draw something purple.

Sketching Again

I’ve been sketching. My niece, Grace, finished the November challenge of writing fifty thousand words for NaNoWriMo and then decided she wanted a new challenge for December. She’s doing a sketch every day and she invited others to join her. I didn’t immediately jump on that bandwagon because I didn’t even hear about it until the second or third of the month, so I figured it was too late. Then she published a blog post where she suggested that others who wanted to join the challenge could just start with the day they saw that post and continue through December thirty-first. I still didn’t officially say, “I’m in,” but I did draw that day. That was the day I drew the leaf I showed in my last blog post.
The next day, I had an evening Chorale concert with a four o’clock rehearsal. I knew there would be some time in between when I would be sitting around and waiting, so I threw my sketchbook and my watercolor pencils into my Chorale bag with my music. When the time came, I was in a dressing room which had absolutely nothing in it that looked as if it would be fun to draw. I ended up drawing a red top and black skirt that were hanging in an open closet. You can see that I was not really enjoying that drawing, but I did draw.

The dressing room

The dressing room


That was two days in a row. The next day, I found something more fun to draw – a plant growing near our bird feeder. The birds planted it, so we’re not sure what it is, but I did enjoy drawing it.
Strange plant

Strange plant


The next day, I drew the last marigold. Green things go well; yellow things, not so well. I only have one yellow in my box of twelve watercolor pencils, so shading is a problem. I still enjoyed it more than the hanging thing.
The last marigold

The last marigold


Then came the biscuit. I drew it because it was there.
Biscuit

Biscuit


The next day, I looked in the refrigerator. Ah…a carrot! That was fun.
Carrot

Carrot


Another day, another trip to the refrigerator. I found a half of a tomato.
Cut tomato

Cut tomato


Today, I drew an onion.
Onion

Onion


I’ve managed a drawing a day for a week. Maybe I really can keep this up until December thirty-first.
All right, Grace – I’m in!

New Toys

This blog, by design, is not about the tie-dye business. Some day, we’re going to have a web site for the tie-dye business and I intend to have a blog there about the tie-dye business, but this blog is about creative pursuits other than making tie-dye. Still, the tie-dye business does sometimes lead us into other creative pursuits. Recently, it led us into Office Depot, where we were hoping to find a sign that would let folks know that we are now able to take credit cards. They did not have such a sign, but they did have something else: Prismacolor Watercolor pencils. On clearance.

Perhaps a stronger person could have resisted those pencils, but I could not. In my overstuffed creative space were many kinds of art supplies, but no watercolor pencils. Watercolor crayons, yes; watercolor pencils, no. And they were ON CLEARANCE. I had to have them. My daughter (who is also my business partner) talked me into buying some for her, too. What can I say? They were on clearance.

I thought I would take them right home and draw something with them, but it actually took me more than a week to get brave enough to try them out. My husband had bought some peaches at the grocery store, and when I saw them sitting on the kitchen counter in all their red and gold glory, I decided it was time to brave the blank page and give those pencils a try. I chose one perfect peach and found my small sketchbook. Then I opened up my brand new pencils. They were already sharpened and utterly beautiful. Drawing with them felt comfortable and intuitive. There are only twelve of them, so deciding which one to use was uncomplicated. With that limited selection, there was usually only one that would even work for what I was trying to capture, so that was the one I grabbed. It was fun to try for different effects by layering colors on top of each other and I really liked the way my peach turned out. I decided to take a picture of it before adding any water.

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Then the fun really started, when I filled my water container and found a brush so I could play with the watercolor effect. I quickly learned that I needed to wipe the wet brush on a paper towel before applying it to my drawing. Too much water would just lift the color right off or send it running down the page – definitely not what I wanted to do. It was also important to rinse the brush between colors, or they would get muddy in a hurry. Fortunately, I could lift off the unwanted muddy color as easily as the much-wanted pretty color. Whew! Here’s the finished peach:

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I am happy with this peach. Since I am never happy with any of my attempts at art, that’s saying quite a lot. I was happy enough when I finished it that I started looking around for something else I could draw with my watercolor pencils. I found that my husband had cut a pine cone lily and put in in a handmade vase on the kitchen table. My left brain was worried again because it looked pretty complicated, but my right brain decided to go for it.

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I like it. I’ve done two colorful drawings in one week and I actually like both of them. Maybe there’s hope for me after all.

The Saving of Clay Jam

I may not have done a lot of creative things this week, but I did save Clay Jam. That ought to count for something. It’s an entire world, after all. I didn’t even buy my way through any of the levels. That was not really an option after my five-year-old grandson got his hands on the iPad and spent all my clay on power plays. I had stopped playing Clay Jam weeks ago because I had activated the Peter Principle by rising to the level of my own incompetence, a level that required me to squash four flying saucers in a row. I knew I could spend clay to skip it, but that felt like cheating. It was only a game, anyway, so I just left it alone and congratulated myself for escaping the addiction. Then my grandsons came for a visit. I thought the younger one was playing a coloring game. I looked away and when I looked back, he was busy spending all my clay on Clay Jam.

Once the boys went home, I found myself re-intrigued by Clay Jam, because I wanted to earn back the clay. Also, it was the last day of the week that had passed since I put up that blog post saying I was determined to blog once a week, no matter what. That meant I should be composing a blog post, so I needed a procrastination strategy — fast! Clay Jam fit the bill. It’s colorful, it’s funny and it’s full of cute monsters. I still had four levels to beat before Ishihara would be gone and the world would be saved. I was pretty sure I couldn’t beat any of them with skill alone, but I needed to earn back a lot of clay before I could afford to buy my way through, so I did have something I could accomplish. I also had plenty of power plays, which are quite helpful when one is trying to earn massive quantities of clay. Thanks to my grandson, the game was fun again.

It turned out my incompetency level was a bit higher than I thought. I did eventually manage to squash four flying saucers in a row and that led me to the next challenge, which was to bounce off four ground mouths in a row. That one really was beyond my skill, so it’s a good thing I beat it by accident. I honestly had no idea I had done it until the little check mark popped up at the end. I still don’t know how I did it, but after I said, “What?”, I said, “Woo Hoo!!”

Two levels later, I saved all of Clay Jam by knocking Ishihara more than 850 meters. You see, I do have an accomplishment to report this week. Also, I drew a squash blossom.

squashblossom

I think I may need more Prismacolor pencils.