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Sketchbooks

I have been working and practicing in my sketchbooks a lot more this year. While I am still in love with mixed media and art journal type pages, I am really trying to improve my sketching, in an actual drawing type way!

I have signed up for some classes, a couple I have completed and some (ok many) are in process and some (ok too many) are waiting to be started.

Are you a class taker? Do you feel they benefit your skill building? I find that some do and some don’t. I particularly enjoy classes which are vague enough to let you run with your style and preferences and provide ideas and inspiration. Classes I try to avoid (no always successfully) are the ones where you end up with a very similar body or piece of work to everyone else in the class including the teacher.

One of my favourite ways of working and learning in my sketchbook is the weekly (Friday at various times) art club held on Instagram live by The Good Ship Illustration, it is an hour of timed drawing with themes like ‘draw with your non dominant hand’, ‘continuous line drawing’ or my all time favourite ‘draw with a stick’. We are literally drawing anything in front of us and it is pure sketching practice.

I feel like I have lost my creating mojo a little bit lately so I thought that if I had a look through this year’s sketchbooks and had a little chat here on my blog, it might help! Would you believe it, I think it has helped. Just laying out a few sketchbooks and seeing the pages I like and of course the ones I am not so keen on has made me realize what I want to do more of.

Happy creating and happy Saturday!

Books I have read, am reading and want to read.

I always have a pile of books to wade through and wade through them I rarely do! There are so many great books at the library I want to borrow them all and read them so I borrow them and sometimes read them and sometimes don’t.

Is this a common problem? I think it may be. The joy of the library is that if I don’t read what I borrow I can at least come back and borrow again.

There are a couple in here which I bought so of course I will never get around to reading them! Don’t you find that the pressure of a borrowed book makes you read it rather than the luxury of owning it and putting it to the bottom of the pile because the library books need to be read and returned. This is why I don’t buy novels, I would never read them! In fact the only time I do treat myself to a novel is when I go on vacation as I would never trust myself with a library book on holiday!

I have found some beauties at the library recently like the new David Hockney book ‘Spring Cannot be Cancelled’ which is informative and to this aspiring artist it is sparking all of the ideas. One of the funniest books I have read (I listened to it but you know what I mean) was ‘The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman’ by Julietta Henderson, it is clever, full of wonderful heartfelt characters, is whip smart and hilarious! I loved that is it so ‘English’ in the writing, it made me quite homesick.

I really want to read ‘The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym’ but this is one I own so it may be a vacation read even though it is a nice hefty size! My current read is ‘Great Circle’ by Maggie Shipstead which grabbed my attention in the first few pages and I hope it continues that way. It is a popular library book so I had better get reading!

Do you have a pile? Are you a library book borrower or do you hunt down the bargains?

Happy Monday x

Creative Block Removal in 100 pages of Mark Making.

I have been feeling less than creative of late, I want to make all the things and get all the ideas but nothing is happening, I feel like I am achieving nothing.

Instagram pals are doing all the amazing art and I am thinking I should be doing this too, but I am not.

Yesterday I decided on a whim to get 100 pieces of paper, from old book pages to watercolour paper, and just set myself the goal of making marks on each until all 100 had something on them. I kept it simple and focused on black and white medium.

I seemed to zoom through the first 50 pieces, sloshing ink and paint about and making marks with posca pens. The middle was slower, I was still trying to do something ‘new’ on each piece. Once I let myself follow one idea across a few pieces of paper, I got back into the flow and the final bunch were soon finished.

I ended up with 107 pieces of paper with marks, paint blobs, faces, figures and collage.

I did not create anything of genius but I did make something and the final images are the ones I like best, they are super simple abstract figures and I couldn’t stop painting them even though I was using one of my least favourite inks and a large dagger brush which has felt unwieldy before but for these figures it was perfect. Each one took literally a few seconds and I think that is why I like them so much, some looked just plain weird but the ones which actually look like a person are full of character.

It just shows that sometimes it takes a whole pile of ‘meh’ to get to ‘oh, I like these’.

I hope your Thursday is going well and you are full of inspiration!

Happy Thursday x

The 100 Day Project 2021

Ok, this year I am going to finish. This is my 100 day project mantra to be repeated from January 31st when the project starts until it finishes, er, 100 days later, I haven’t looked at the finish date!!

I have completed the 100 Day Project at least four times in previous years, so I know I can do it and this year I will.

So what to do for 100 days? I mean I could literally choose anything from knitting to yoga via mono prints and oil paintings.

I had a few ideas which started with painting with watercolours which evolved into painting with watercolors in series of 10 themes. This further evolved into ‘100 days of series’ which would be series of themes/media such as collage, watercolour, gel printing etc.

Then as I walked back from Target today I thought maybe I would enjoy ‘100 days of collage’ but as a series of themes, so the 100 days would be broken down into 10 sets of 10 days and each group would have a theme. For example, ten days of making collage fodder (good way to start off I think) followed by ten days of monochrome collage, then ten days of gel print collage, ten days of found word collage and so on. So now I just need to think up a relevant hashtag for my project!

I am hoping this will allow me to complete the 100 days by breaking it down into bite size chunks and making it less overwhelming and I will finish!

Are you joining in the 100 day project this year? I am quite pleased with the earlier start date. What are you planning to do for 100 days? Share your hashtags in the comments or on Instagram so I can follow along with your project.

Taking Stock October 2020

I haven’t written for a while, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to ‘take stock’. This is a super fun quick exercise which was dreamt up by the wonderful Pip at Meet Me At Mikes. It is a nice way to record what you are up to and lovely to look back on. Some of the answers I do quickly and with few words and some I have to come back to.

If you fancy a go, I have a blank list at the end of the post.

Making : Books, I have just finished a very comprehensive and very satisfying online class called ‘Booklove’ with Rachel Hazell who is The Travelling Bookbinder.

Cooking : Dahl for dinner tomorrow. I have soaked the beans and lentils and I am ready to get cooking!

Drinking : Pumpkin coffee made with Trader Joes ground coffee with frothy milk. I find that I often love all things pumpkin spice flavoured about now and then I soon lose interest, so I shall see how I feel about pumpkin coffee in a week!

Reading: I have just finished reading ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ by Richard Osman and really enjoyed it, I have just started ‘Bright and Dangerous Objects’ by Anneliese Mackintosh which is good so far! I am reading lots of books on my iPad via the Libby app which I have connected to my local libraries so I get the pick of so many great books. I always said I would never read a digital book, so I was wrong about that.

Wanting: A minute to myself!

Looking: At seeds flying around the back garden like fairy dust, of course they are going to make me sneeze, but they are pretty when there are so many floating about.

Playing: With sticks! I have fallen in love with sketching with a stick, I pick one up from the woodland floor, check for bugs, bring it home and use it with a pot of ink to make marks and sketches.

Deciding: When to make Pumpkin Cream cheese muffins? Someday this week, maybe tomorrow….

Wishing: Everything was back to the old normal, I miss it.

Enjoying: The warm sunshine and blue sky of today.

Waiting: For ink to dry takes ages!

Liking: The Podcast ‘Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend’, my friend recommended it and it is hilarious, just what I need when I am walking around the neighbourhood.

Wondering: If people think I am mad as I walk the streets laughing to myself as I listen to a funny podcast!

Loving: All things Autumn.

Pondering: When to get new winter gloves, usually I am too late and there are none in the shops by the time I go to get some, my old ones are full of holes!

Considering: Making a new sketchbook/art journal.

Buying: Paper to make books, I just love it!

Watching: ‘Ghosts’ from the BBC on HBO Max, it is very funny.

Hoping: For a good weekend.

Marvelling: At the way the weather can be freezing cold one day and literally the next day is t shirt weather!

Cringing: At nothing, thankfully!

Needing: To go places, I want to catch the train and take my sketchbook somewhere. Maybe soon.

Questioning: Most things, I am a bit of a ‘questioner’. This is probably why I don’t really like ‘mystery’ books! I always find the unanswered questions!!

Smelling: The soil from re-potting a new plant.

Wearing: Comfy ‘not going to work today’ clothes, t shirt and wide leg jersey joggers.

Following: The dog through the woods on our morning walks, she likes to do all the sniffing and I get to wander behind her!

Noticing: I am chilly, need a cardi.

Knowing: Less and less, is how it feels!

Thinking: Which colour to add to my growing granny square crochet blanket next?

Admiring: The moon which I keep seeing in the morning in the distance, I love to see the moon in daytime skies.

Sorting: Winter clothes which I have just swapped for my summer clothes and sent some off to the charity shop.

Getting: On with cooking dinners for the days I work too late to cook when I get home. I like to have dinner all ready to heat up with no bother.

Bookmarking: Magazines as I never read the whole thing at once. I am currently reading ‘Flow’ and ‘The Gentlewoman’ and both have bookmarks! The library has a magazine digital access app and there are so many good ones I can hardly keep up! I love ‘Grazia’, ‘BBC Good Food’, UK ‘Vogue’ and Australian ‘Frankie’ to name a few.

Coveting: Furry lined Birkenstocks! However, the truth is they would be far too hot for me and my hot feet.

Disliking: That it is colder inside than out, I want to lift the roof off for an hour then put it back when the sun goes down.

Opening: Lots of spices to make my Dahl Makhani with.

Giggling: With joy as the new season of ‘Schitts Creek’ is on Netflix!

Feeling: Good!

Snacking: On a Chunky Fudge Salted Caramel Kit Kat, very nice!

Helping: My neighbours get their library books, I work at the library and deliver books to one of my elderly neighbours.

Hearing: An airplane flying over, I wonder where they are off to.

Happy Tuesday x

Here is a list for you!

Making :

Cooking :

Drinking :

Reading:

Wanting:

Looking:

Playing:

Deciding:

Wishing:

Enjoying:

Waiting:

Liking:

Wondering:

Loving:

Pondering:

Considering:

Buying:

Watching:

Hoping:

Marvelling:

Cringing:

Needing:

Questioning:

Smelling:

Wearing:

Following:

Noticing:

Knowing:

Thinking:

Admiring:

Sorting:

Getting:

Bookmarking:

Coveting:

Disliking:

Opening:

Giggling:

Feeling:

Snacking:

Helping:

Hearing:

Things I am doing and reading and making.

What are you doing in these strange and new times we find ourselves in. What are we all doing to stay sane, to use our time wisely and productively?

I have been working on a few projects for the library (where I work part time in the normal world) but is of course closed now until we don’t know when.  I like to have the focus of these projects because they are not optional but still fun to complete, not a class I found on Instagram which I may or may not finish.  Having said that I have found so much goodness on the inter webs and most of it via Instagram.

I made sourdough bread from a starter my friend shared with me and I have sown zinnia seeds given to me by the same lovely lady!  It is nice to be in a time of sharing and helping, I have made  some sketchbooks and given them to friends and shared novels when I finished them.  I do like to think that most of us would be doing all of this anyway but somehow we are more grateful during a united unwanted situation like this pandemic.

So what have I been doing apart from making bread and planting flowers?  Well I am glad you asked!

I have read ‘The Mercies’ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, ‘The American Fiancee’ by Eric Dupont which was a monster of a book but such a wonderful story. ‘Writers and Lovers’ by Lily King is the first book I have ever read on the iPad via Hoopla Digital and I did enjoy it.  I like that I had access to a shiny new release on Hoopla but I am not totally converted, there is nothing like your favourite bookmark charting your progress through a book and turning the paper pages.  The next book I am about to read is also on Hoopla and is ‘The Case of the Missing Books’ by Ian Sansom which I am really looking forward to as it sounds quirky and interesting and it is set in a mobile library! There are 4 books in this series, so I hope I like them, maybe I will start to enjoy digital books.

There are lots of art classes around as well, some free, some new, some existing and some created just for lockdown creating.

Some of my favourites are Amy Maricle’s Facebook live classes which are on her Mindful Art page and well worth checking out.  Jeanne Oliver offers a generous amount of free classes along with a huge array of great value classes with instruction from a variety of talented artists.  A class I am very much enjoying is Misty Mawn’s Watercolour class which is cram packed with so much information, I am taking it slowly because I don’t want to miss a thing and I want to practice all the exercises and it is proving to be well worth it.

As a spin off from Misty’s class I want to make my own watercolour paints!  She has a section in the main class about making your own paints which is something I have been wanted to do for a while.  I have some pigment on the way and I am planning to have a go at the weekend, so watch this space!

I am always making books anyway and I am making more and more small books ranging from simple accordion books inspired by The Traveling Bookbinder to the sewn coverless books I love to make from the tutorial from Peg and Awl.  These books make it easy to fill them and are not intimidating to use.  I can use the paper I love for the project I am planning!

These are a few of the things I am entertaining myself with, how about you?

Happy Wednesday x

The 100 day project 2020

The 100 day project starts tomorrow and I am in! I have done the project for about 5 years now and I have always got into it and ended up with a nice chunk of work. Some themes worked better than others and I hope this years will be a winner!

In the past I have drawn mandalas and recorded ideas and last year I did 100 days of blueand I think this and the first mandala year are my favorites.  

This year I have made a book and I am going to fill it with 100 days of black and white.  This way it will have a theme but I will also have enough scope for lots of ideas to fill it with.

Inside my book is mainly plain drawing and watercolor paper with a few sheets of vintage ledger paper.

The tutorial for this book style is from the wonderful and gorgeous Peg and Awl website.

Are you doing the 100 Day Project?  What are you doing?  Do tell!

Happy Monday x

Colour Found

When I watched Kasia Avery at Everything Art UK using Stabilo Woody crayon/pencils in her art journal pages I thought ‘Hang on, I have seen those before and I am pretty sure I still have some’.  I scurried off to see where mine were and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had quite a nice collection of colours.

I used them last when I was at Trent Polytechnic, soon to be Nottingham Trent University (yes I am that old!) way back in 1989-91.  The course was BA (hons) Fashion design and the illustrations were always on paper and lugged about in a giant black art folder which clunked my ankles on a regular basis!

They were a joy to use then and they are still as lovely now, I am super pleased I kept them and I will use them until I can’t sharpen them any more.

Happy Sunday x

Estate sale finds from the weekend.

I do like a full estate sale and this one was full, full of dolls and beanie babies! Thankfully it was also full of old paper and books!

It was pretty local and my husband had been the day before and picked me up this box of photos and the scrapbook full of film make up research from 1941. When he suggested going again on Saturday, I ditched my yoga class for some bargains.

I found a modern paper cutter for $2 which was a good start but a bit boring. I seemed to wade through dolls, beanies and Garfield paraphernalia for the next few rooms and was beginning to feel deflated. The basement was full of Christmas decorations and some books so I had a browse through the books. I picked up a couple from the 1960’s which I can use images from and maybe use the covers for a sketchbook. I am not sure I have any plans for the 1966 calendar but it has some beautiful paintings in it.

One last look through the old old old books and I spotted this giant ledger at the back for $4.00. It had newspaper clippings stuck in like a scrapbook but the last few pages were original but empty ledger pages, so I decided to buy it. On closer inspection when I got it home, I noticed that under the clippings on the first few pages were ledger entries from the late 1800’s to 1920. The clippings were from around 1930, so I can remove the newspaper and use it in my collages and the ledger papers will be great to use too!

This last photo shows how I use ledger paper in my sketchbook. It adds a lovely background for collages and sketches.

Do you enjoy an estate sale? What do you look for?

Happy Monday x

The Books I read in 2019

These are most of the books I read in 2019, only ‘most’ are in this pile because I own two which I can’t find for the life of me, I even wonder if they have been donated. The others are new at the library and all checked out and I forgot to add one to the pile!

They are not a ‘best of’ selection as they are all the ones I read from the first page to the last.  I don’t finish a book if I don’t like it, so these are those I liked (and finished). I remember them all except one and I have more favorites than not.

Where the Crawdad’s Sing by Delia Owens.  I was late to this party as I didn’t really fancy it to be honest, but I am very happy that I eventually read it as I liked it, great characters helped by the main character’s talent for sketching and observing.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn.  This was a classic case of judging a book by it’s cover which is beautiful and the book is worth a read even though I did get a little irritated by the couple featured at times.  I don’t usually read much non fiction but this has made me look more at the non fiction shelves.

Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam.  This was an ‘in-between reads’ book.  I had nothing to read as the books I was waiting for had not arrived and I needed a book right now, so I scoured the shelves at the library and this one popped out.  It sounded ok, so I took it home, it was an entertaining read and a good ‘in between’ book.

The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas.  There was a lot of backwards and forwards in this book as you may well expect.  It was well written and easy to keep up with all the characters and times, even though I did have to hop back a few times to establish the time we were in!

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.  Another ‘in between’ book found on the Waterstones website when I was looking for a ‘right now’ book.  This is not at all the sort of book I usually read, I have no interest in the ‘who did it and why and when will we find out’ type of story and yet here I was with a classic whodunnit in my hands.  I enjoyed it and it was a satisfying read. This was my last book of the year and it is set over New Year, so that was appropriate.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames. I enjoyed this book although I noted when I had finished ‘good, but quite bleak in parts’.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.  I know, I know, late to the party doesn’t even count on this one, everyone had gone home to bed by the time I arrived!  I read this beauty on holiday, in large print as that was all the local Cape Cod library had where we were staying and I loved it so much.  It is crying out to be a film directed by Wes Anderson, I just hope someone is on this!     Oh, I just did some looking on the Google-webs and it is going to be a mini series with Kenneth Branagh, I’ll take it!

Little by Edward Carey. This book caught my eye early in the year as it is written by the same man who wrote the ‘Iremonger’ series which my youngest son loved when he was about 10 or 11.  I dove right in and loved it.  It is a historical fiction novel about Madame Tussaud and her beginnings.  It is just the right combination of dark, clever and historical for me.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I grabbed this as soon as it landed on the library shelf and devoured it!  The story romps along and the characters are wonderful and full of life. Another one which would make a fabulous film.

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion.  I have read the other two Rosie/Don books so it was only good manners to read this one too.  I liked it but didn’t love it.

Akin by Emma Donoghue.  I spotted this on my director’s desk and was so happy to see a new book by Ms Donoghue.  I love loved ‘The Wonder’ and couldn’t wait to read this new book.  It was not disappointing, very good story and relatable characters.

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger.  Ok this is the one, I saw it on my list of books read (I note them in my planner) and I don’t remember reading it!  I looked at the synopsis on Amazon and yes I definitely read it as it did ring a bell,  and I must have liked it otherwise I would not have finished it.

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.  I started this warily as I wasn’t sure it was my thing and I didn’t love the ending, but I did get to the ending!  Liked it but didn’t love it. Don’t need a movie of this one…

The books not pictured but read are:

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett.  Loved this one, loved the cover, loved the story.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.  I made notes from this book, wrote down quotes. I never ever do this but this was so visual and the story is astounding and wonderful and wondrous.

The Girl who saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. I am the worst for owning a book and then never reading it which is how this book came to be on my shelf for so long before I read it.  It is full of story and character, packed to the edges of each page with interesting stuff to read and story to follow.  I couldn’t find it to add it to the pile which makes me think I donated it.  I hope the next person to read it loves it too.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan.  This was the first book of the year and I liked it but not my favourite.  Another one I owned and then donated (I think).

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Funny, clever, original and relatable.  Such a good book.

Queeny Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan.  Almost my last book of the year and what a cracker, it is heartwarming but not sappy, the characters leap off the page and there are enough twists and turns to be interesting but not frustrating. I loved that it is set in Brighton, England which is somewhere I love!

That is my books of 2019, did you read some of the same ones?  What did you read in 2019?  I am always collecting book recommendations.

Happy Thursday x