Friday, September 29, 2006

Estatic Painting

I'm reading The Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living. There's an entry in there about spending 10 minutes each day doing something you feel estatic about. So this was my 10 minutes for yesterday (which of course turned into more than 10 minutes!)

I painted this yesterday during a painting session with Sophie - it's leaf rubbings (2 oak leaves and an ivy leaf from our yard), crayon, children's Crayola pan watercolors, on regular Staples copy paper. The wax in the crayon resists the watercolor, so it takes a little planning, but it's fun. No pencils, no erasing, no drawing, just lots of paint.

Then, to make it more interesting, I threw on some salt, and then squirted it with Windex. The salt and ammonia leach the color out of the paper in splatters that I think help make it look more organic. Not sure what would happen if I did this with good watercolors and real watercolor paper, but that's next on my list of experiments. :)

(I should note that while I was doing this, across the table, Sophie was busy painting her entire arm and part of her face black. She had already done 5 paintings and decided it was time to move on to something else. Yes, I took pictures.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When it's Hard to Draw

I would love to write about being a mom and drawing with kids, but right now, frankly, it's hard to draw. Because of our family's work schedules, the kids are solely mine from lunch until 10:30 at night. I used to have helpers 5 evenings a week, now I only have one, one night a week. So at the end of a typical day with two teething twins, a precocious three year old, lots of whining (from them), cajoling (from me - they are still not potty trained and our oldest is fighting it with a vengeance), general willfullness, dinner, cleanup, a walk, board games, three bedtime stories later (not to mention prayers, brushing of teeth, etc.) - when all this is done and Paul is still teaching, I grab the kids' monitors and head for my sanctuary. My studio. The Tower.

It's a finshed attic, with slanted ceilings from being right under the roof, lumpy brown carpeting, and a tiny nook with a futon and little TV in it. Empty tea mugs gather around on the floor like a small crowd waiting expectantly for something to happen, for some great masterpiece to take place. I feel a tremendous sense of expectation - from nobody other than myself, mind you - to create something fabulous.

I let it go.

Creativity comes in waves for me. I have to accept that there are nights - and sometimes it may be for a whole week - that I am not going to paint, because I'm just too darn tired. I try to keep other projects on hand for times like this. I knit. I crochet. I doodle. I make lists - all pressure-free, creative things. I (gasp!) sometimes even throw in the towel and go to bed early for some much-needed rest so that I'll have an extra reserve for tomorrow's adventures.

Nobody ever promised motherhood would be easy. All I know is that I need to create to live, and that if I skimp on art, I am a cranky mama. If I am cranky with the kids, I don't feel like making art. An artist's date every week doesn't hurt either. It's a daily balancing act I've learned to live with and embrace - I can't imagine a fuller, richer life than the one I'm living now. I'll catch up on sleep next year.

Monday, September 25, 2006

How I spent my Saturday

My extremely talented brother-in-law is making a children's album, and had me sing backup on one of the songs.

I used to record on a regular basis, but it's been years, and after singing with a group, I was also not used to being the only person in front of the microphone. There's also a world of difference between singing weekly in church, and belting out a funky dance number in a recroding studio. So after I got over the stressing out, the perfectionism (mine!) and remembered that, hello, I can make mistakes, we'll just record over them - then I loosened up and had fun. I got to make up all the harmonies, and threw in extra bits in the middle - when I came out with, "Go boogie, dancing grandma", we both almost started snorting. :) If you can't be silly on a kid's album, where can you do it?


"If Jesus is your co-pilot, you should trade seats."

(great line I just overheard on new TV show, Studio 60)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Chalking Up a Storm

(Me, in the green hat, directing chalkers in the park)

This afternoon, watching some children's television (I love PBS!) I saw a feature on a pavement artist. Coming from a bit of a chalking background myself, I started tearing up listening to him explain the joy he feels when he finishes a painting, how he loves to mix the colors with his fingers and feel the sidewalk beneath him. It made me so eager to chalk up a storm - with the kids, natch - that way I can teach them how it's done!

Some eye-popping work to explore and inspire:

Kurt Wenner
Julian Beever
The Chalk Chics

Friday, September 15, 2006

Illustration Friday: Change

What does a potato have to do with change? Lots.

Genetically modified foods are everywhere - you've probably eaten them without knowing it. Big food companies fight to keep any information about GMOs off of labels, and also fight for other companies that have no GMOs to not be able to advertise that either. All because they (rightly) think that the general public would rather eat a real potato than one that's had its genes spliced, or crops that do nothing but make money for big businesses and rip off farmers (not to mention what they do to the environment.) Scary, huh? This is not the way food was meant to be.

Sorry, this is something I feel quite strongly about - I think most of this country has no idea what they put in their mouths. And big business likes it that way.

{Note, I am not even talking about organic food, factory farming, cruelty to animals, irradiated meat, or many other subjects I could go on about at great length. Check out some of the links below for information you won't be able to put down.}

Highly recommended reading:

Food Revolution by John Robbins - truly a life-changing book for me
All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki
And this link tells you what the stickers on your fruit mean so you know what to avoid

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I was asked recently what kind of supplies I use, and so I thought I'd dig around for the labels on the backs of some of my favorite things.

Watercolour sketchpad. My sketchpad of choice lately has been the Canson All-Media Book. It's acid-free, 90 lb. cold press paper that seems to take everything I throw at it: watercolour, ink, colored pencil, pastel, you name it. Mine's 9" x 12" and has 100 pages. This book is portable and lets me feel a lot freer to be experimental since I don't feel like I'm wasting a big sheet. I actually wish these did come in a bigger size. Which leads me to...

Watercolour pocket box. This is a wonderful travel box of watercolours that you can fit in your pocket. It's the Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Sketcher's Pocket Box. (phew!) It has 12 half pans of paint and comes with a tiny brush. When we went to Italy, I brought these and painted all my pictures with these tiny paints. They're really marvelous.

I'm eagerly awaiting my copy of The Watercolor Bible to be amazon-ing its way to me for even more watercolor fun.

I also draw with mechanical pencils, gummy erasers, and paint with whatever brushes are on sale and come in a pack.

What are your faves?