Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 in Review and the Healing Power of a Sketchbook

2010 started the year off on the wrong foot, literally. A fall, right before Christmas 2009, changed my life in a way I definitely wasn't expecting nor was I prepared for, as accidents have a way of doing. As you can see from the x-ray above, I shattered the ankle and also, shifted it out of alignment; this photo was right after my surgery. Broken bones can be painful, but ankles are brutal. The pain was unspeakable, worse than giving birth. And it went on and on. I was non-weight bearing for two months and when I could finally start to put weight on it, it was like I never walked my entire life and I had to relearn everything.

Pain has a way of taking over your life. I couldn't stand at an easel. Even sitting up at a desk was painful for the longest time. As soon as I put the foot down, the pain started. For several months, I couldn't read, paint, I couldn't even sketch, I couldn't focus on anything, I don't know how I got through the day focusing on my job. I was couch potato and a IPhone App Games junkie. It got me through. Pain meds just made me sick so I did without and vegged.

In March, I was determined to do something, anything, to help me get some movement back. I went back to bellydancing, hobbling on two crutches in the door, escorted by my husband. I had a walker in case I needed to grab it for balance and I struggled through my first session back. I am so grateful for Jessamina for taking me in such a damaged state. I couldn't walk but I managed a few bellydancing steps. I'll never forget when I could take my first steps again, omigod, I was WALKING, if you wanted to call it was more of a gimp.

My husband built me a new studio. Built this wonderful workbench/table that stores my mat cutter, paper/supplies and doubles as a large workspace. I hobbled around and found a stool at an antique store that I cleaned up and put a new fabric cover on so when I sit at my desk, I have something to prop my foot up with...

I started a local sketch club, so sketching became my healing process. One can have a lot of anger and frustration when dealing with a life changing incident. You go through a process and stages of confusion, anger, resignation, helplessness and a LOT of "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME?" Sketching was my outlet. It put me on autopilot. I could sketch and create without really having to think about it, just record what I see in front of me. It kept my drawing skills and artist's "eye" in tune while my body and my psyche healed.

I joined the Art House CoOp Sketchbook Project again. It was my project, my outlet, my way of venting on the page. The pages were very thin weight, didn't hold a lot of media the challenge was the paper itself and how to conquer it... I tried things I never tried before. Collage, mixed media, even pan pastels. I made a lot of mistakes and learned from them.

I managed to take a workshop with Terry Ludwig; it was wonderful and he was such a great instructor and such a nice person. It was a struggle for me, to stand at an easel all day was brutal. Pain makes you crabby, too, but I was pleased with my accomplishments despite dealing with the discomfort coming from the ankle. The pain from taking the class and issues I was having had the doctor request a CT Scan because by October, we thought I should be showing some improvement. Walking and standing was painful, only thing that wasn't too bad was riding my bike.

CT Scan showed healed bone, but other issues. Pretty much the bottom line is I screwed it up big time and it's something I was going to have to live with.

In November I joined an Art Every Day blog, and it was a great exercise in determination for me. I filled my Art House CoOp Sketchbook during November and was left with some embellishing to do before submitting the book back to Art House.

Overall, the 2010 sketchbook and sketch outings were my therapy. It helped me cope with a lot in 2010 and gave me a creative outlet. I always kept a sketchbook on me, used them a lot for thumbnails when I paint, but in 2010, I completed one that was a project and filled a regular hard back sketchbook in a span of a few months, two in one year was a major accomplishment. It was my creative outlet and part of my healing process, not just a testing ground for a larger work. I could do them anywhere and anytime and didn't require much, sometimes, just a pen was good enough to record what I was seeing. It was my record for the year and I even tried telling stories with my creativity on the page.

Sketchbooks are an artist's best friend. Don't leave home without yours....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In the city today....

We took a day off and went into the city to see the Macy's windows, visit Bryant Park, and other areas decked out for the season.

We went down to Times Square and I looked down the street where snuggled nicely between two skyscrapers, was the moon.

It was windy and FREEZING in Times Square so I wasn't pulling out the sketchbook, but I did this sketch from memory with my pastels, on black paper.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sketch Night at the Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Company

Went out this evening to the Roast Coffee and Tea Company with my local sketch group. The coffee grinder was gone but there was a Christmas Tree...I never took the time to do a Christmas Tree before so I sketched this one tonight. We were discussing that we had so much Christmas activities to do, that it's nice just to stop and take some time to sketch.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Activities of the past couple of days

It's been an interesting past couple of days. Went into the city (NYC) yesterday and worked from there, right across the street from Chelsea Market. I love the Chelsea area, it's still like a neighborhood. Lunch time, hubby and I went to Chelsea Market to get a salad and of course, we had to indulge in one of Eleni's Cupcakes at their Chelsea location. Yum! We brought a Red velvet cupcake home for our daughter because that's her favorite.

Looking out thewindow later in the afternoon, I saw movie trucks parked across the street. They were setting up a movie set right in front of the market. They were putting down fake snow! I was so amazed, I never thought of how they managed to get snow on a movie set, the put it there when they need it, LOL. That was pretty neat.

We ventured over to Kremer's pigments so I could pick up some for egg tempera. It's much easier to pick it out in person.

Then we headed over to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. It was awesome this year (Pictured above)
We also visited this amazing store called Anthropologie, if you are over that way, check it out, it's a neat store.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Sketchbook Page

Went out with the sketch group this evening and we met over at the coffee shop. Worked on a journal type page to demonstrate to the group how to collage a sketch book page. Had a little fun with a paint pen doing the snowflakes.

Came up with some more ideas based on yesterday's sketch but couldn't get to them because a certain puppy wanted my full attention this evening when I came home from the sketch group. I just got her to sleep 10 minutes ago.

I haven't decided what I want to do with the open space yet so I am leaving it alone for now.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 30 - The last page...

Well this is the last day of Art Every Day Month - November 2010. This is a page out of my regular sketchbook.....I saw this photo with bird silhouettes and something triggered a memory about snow, trees and the dark....I played with this idea in my sketchbook, and I could hear what I was I thinking but I couldn't picture it and kept going until I got close. As I worked this, I tried to think of some things my uncle taught me about drawing trees. I remember him giving me a lesson on doing trees when I was a teenager. He said trees are living things, each with their own shape. So, I dedicate this sketch to him for a lesson that has stayed with me...and I finally remembered the scene playing in my head that triggered the sketch above, it's from the movie "Polar Express," in the dark, when the little girl's ticket was flying through the forest, land's in the eagle's nest, animals calling in the background, that magical quiet that snow brings....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 29 - The Chloe Pages

Puppies are a tough subject, I have 4 pages of Chloe sleeping, these were the best 2 of the's tough to sketch an animal when they are constantly changing position. Chloe is sleeping on her two blankets, the cuddly pink one and the soft brown one. Interesting thing about Chloe's color, she's considered "fawn," but she has a lot of pink tones and has pink skin, even a pink nose.

I wish I had sketched my Troy (RIP) as much as I sketch Chloe. If you have a pet you love dearly, sketch them often.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 28 - Greek Mythology

I finished a book recently that was tied to French Impressionist times and a painting based on a Greek Myth...this sort of led me to work on this page based on Greek gods and other characters...once in a while as artists, we have issues with the Scylla and Charybdis, better known in modern times as a rock and a hard place. I haven't decided yet what more I may want to add to this page.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 26 - Vegging Out

Tough day today....stepdaughter had a gall bladder attack early Wednesday morning, needed immediate surgery so they told her to get through Thanksgiving and come back this we were over in the ER early this AM waiting on her surgery, which was done around 1 PM ish...She's spending the night in the hospital, we are home now sitting by the fire trying to recover from the day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 25 - Thanksgiving

Because it's Thanksgiving, I decided to keep it simple. We finished dinner, finished dessert, and I even finished baking that Pumpkin Bread I made out of the extra pumpkin in the can. I sat down to enjoy a cup of tea...and I sketched in that pumpkin bread that is looking too tasty to leave for breakfast tomorrow....time to relax and veg out.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 24 - The End of the Art House Sketchbook

Finally, the last sketch of my Art House sketch book. I went over to the coffee house this evening because I wanted the last sketch in the book to be at a Sketch Club outing...I was going to add color to the roaster, but I didn't want to ruin the sketch on the back page.

OK, so now the fun begins, all the embellishments for the mixed media pages and to decorate the cover. Then the scanning of all the pages in their final form. Then the book hits the mail....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My website, finally! I put the basics together and I will be tweaking as I go but here it is!

Art Every Day Month - Day 23 - Testing out Strathmore's Visual Journal

I purchased three of the new Strathmore Visual Journals to test out. I don't usually use a spiral bound sketchbook because spiral pages slide and can smear more delicate mediums, but I picked these up to test drive them for my sketch group. This watercolor sketch was done on the 140lb cold press Visual Journal. Page buckled slightly but not too bad. Has a nice texture so that you can use the paper as part of the sketch. Handled layers and washes well. This was my first test drive, I'll see how it handles ink and other wet media, plus two sided work. Very reasonably priced, got it at Jerry's Artarama for a whopping $3.96 for 22 sheets of 5 .5 x 8 inch sheets of sturdy 140 lb watercolor paper in a wire bound sketchbook. Not a bad buy.

The sketch is from a photo that I took with my IPhone one morning during the summer. It's one of the rock jetties that border the Patchogue River, looking out toward Fire Island, in the distance.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 22 - In my personal sketchbook

I have three pages left in my Art House sketch book, I am leaving them to be closed by how they were opened, with a Sketch Club sketch, so I am working in my personal sketchbook this evening...I pulled up a photo that I took over the summer that I have been wanting to play with for a while....My Hand-book sketchbook has sturdier paper, but you can't beat it to a pulp, which is what I did tonight unintentionally and messed up the setting sun a little...I had the Stravinsky's Firebird Suite playing in the background, conducted by Ricardo Muti with the Philly Orchestra, I MISS him. He's an awesome conductor.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 21 - Autumn Journal Page

Only have a few pages left in the Art House Sketchbook...I quickly put this page together this evening because we weren't home all day. I have a few things more I do to journal type pages...with this book being three pages short of full, I will have plenty of time before January to go back in and embellish these.

Also, Monday is usually my goals posting day, and I am happy to say I managed to sneak in time this weekend to work on my website and I should be uploading that some time this week.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 20 - Pan Pastel Sketch

Tonight, the sunset was looking pretty colorful so I quickly took a photo and sketched this real quick with my pan pastels. I am trying to see what I can do with them, what limitations that they have, what advantages. I used pastel pencils for the trees and the house...this is only a sketch but it's a good exercise on using a medium I am familiar with in a different form, but getting acquainted with in this pan form.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 19 - What goes in my personal sketchbook...

The sketchbook pages that I have been doing for this November project are in my Art House CoOp sketchbook which will be sent to the CoOp in Brooklyn where it will join thousands of others and go on a tour around the US. When it comes back, it will be part of a permanent sketchbook library. I like the idea that something I am doing will be hand's on for the public to enjoy.

However, my private sketchbook, the one I really use, is used for a lot of things, not just sketches, but notes, and other ephemera gets glued in there, plus, it's also used for the more technical side of being an artist. What you are seeing here is my color mixing exercises and a personal journal page that I am still fussing with.

Tonight I was testing the two new pan pastel colors I got from Jerry's, the Chromium Oxide Green and Violet X Dark. I did smudges of them on the sketch book page, then went over them with another color in my pan pastel collection. What you are seeing is a blending of colors. We do this to get an idea of what will happen when we mix a color with another, then keep records for future reference when we are looking for that certain color later when we are painting. Not the more glamourous side of being an artist, but it's necessary to educate yourself in the language of color. So I took the time this evening to work on my technical, instead applicational, skills and you get a peek into my working sketchbook.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 18 - Testing out some new pan pastel colors

I ordered two new Pan Pastel colors, I have the full set of base colors, except that I didn't have Chromium Oxide Green, which is a warmer green that is useful for landscapes and I also ordered Violet X-dark because I like Indigo and wanted to see if I could mix Indigo myself.

This little pan pastel sketch (with pastel pencils for fine tuning) is perfect for trying out the new green. My little yellow friend in the middle used to visit my house in Jersey along with the rest of his family to eat the seeds from the sunflowers that grew outside the house every year. I used to love hearing their cheery, happy chirps as they emptied all the seed heads that I grew for them every year.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 17 - George Wybenga's Demo

I was at the South Bay Artist Association's monthly meeting tonight, I am a member and we had a special Demo of creative mat cutting and gift box making given by George Wybenga. It was a great demo and it was nice to learn more about George. He has a book that has all the different templates for making all sorts of boxes. It was awesome and of course I forgot the title but I can search his name on line. He also has done about 250 paintings of train cabooses and hopes to get those published.

I sketched this at the demo and didn't finish, George is in the middle and I needed to tweak him a lot (he was moving a lot, of course), but folks wanted to see my sketch book so it got passed around and the demo was over by the time I got it back, but I have the gesture of what was going on. My perspective is s little off but I wasn't going for accuracy tonight, I was trying to remember the demo better by sketching it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 16 - Whipping up something

Sometimes, it's a good thing I have a sketch book to screw things up in so that I don't feel so bad when something disastrous happens. Yesterday's sketch at the coffee shop was done with what I thought was a waterproof ink fountain pen, well, that wasn't the case. I tried to gesso the back of the page to hide the leaked pen marks from the other side and because the gesso was wet, the inked sketch on the other side looks like a wash instead of a drawing now. I've learned not to get upset about mishaps, but it still doesn't prevent me from being a little annoyed at myself for not testing it first.

It didn't gesso well at all, so what I ended up doing was pasting down a collage, I whipped up this little gem as a pick me up. I'll call it a night on my laptop, and maybe sit by the TV to embellish these collages with some gel pens and other stuff and have some fun with it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 15....At the Coffee Shop

Our local coffee shop had open mic night for poetry. We got there just after they finished, we were running behind because hubby had public transportation issues coming home tonight. We got a cup of java, listened to some Beatles, sang along and laughed at the antics of the poetry folks, who were socializing after their readings. I sketched them, which was very much like sketching fish in a fish tank because they were constantly moving, LOL. It's tough to sketch the public because they aren't posing for you so the pose can frequently change depending on your subject having the "fidgets." It's a good exercise, though.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 14....The Red Maple Tree

We have a red maple tree on our front lawn...I was putzing around this morning in the house, and my husband came in from outside to get me. He wanted to show me how pretty the red maple in front of the house looked this thing I know, he has a chair and a crate set up for me and I am outside sketching the tree. I used my pan pastels and my pastel pencils for this one.

My husband is my biggest fan and is constantly looking for things for me to sketch and paint. Our tree out front is beautiful and this time of year, it's a bright red. It has a nice shape, so it was fun to put on paper.

Two more pages done in my Art House CoOp sketch book!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 13....The Paintworks in Voorhees NJ

This watercolor sketch, with some ink for detail, was done very quickly as the sun was setting, the last of the "golden hour." I pretty much got this done by the skin of my teeth, balancing the sketchbook and my watercolor palette precariously on my sketch bag and sketch box , as a make shift easel. If this was a painting, I would have corrected a few things, but this is just a color sketch and I could probably do a painting from the information I set down here plus what I remember from the scene. That's the advantage of doing sketches on location, you retain a lot in memory.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 12....Results of my visit to AC Moore

I went to AC Moore tonight. I was on a mission for a certain type of sketchbook that I wanted to test out, went to Michael's first, then AC Moore, neither had the item. I miss PEARL ART!!! I guess I'll have to order on line. However, I spotted some stamps and some nifty paper that I just had to try out....and GLUE DOTS. Glue dots are so cool! But PVA glue works much better for this type of project, I am finding out...

Doing this page made me think of the disclaimer "Do not try this at home..." This is more like, do not try this with your good clothes on. At AC Moore, I picked up a glue dots, a packet of printed card stock paper (great for collage), and two holiday type stamps, one that says "Merry Christmas," always one that is useful, and the other has the Misfits from Rudolph that says "Misfits Have More Fun..."
Priceless, LOL.

Got them home and just had to try them out, what the heck, pulled out Naphthol Crimson and Hooker's Green Permanent Hue (both are liquid acrylics, the kind you pour on) and spread them on the page with an old credit card. Interesting mix.....and messy.

Added some collage bits, some pan pastel shading and took white pan pastel and smeared it on the stamps and pressed it on the page and got a really cool result.

This image is dark, but when I get done with embellishments, it will look completely different....17 pages to go in my Art House Sketch book!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 11....More for the Chloe Pages

Here's Chloe in a pose that I could swear she's saying "I'm too sexy for my dress...."

And at the same time, will roll over and try to scrape it off, LOL. They are supposed to keep her warm, but since she's turbo puppy all day, I would say she doesn't need them unless she is keeping still.

That was her Halloween Dress...she didn't scare anyone but had a lot of people telling her how cute she was on Halloween.

Now, what to wear for Thanksgiving.......

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 10....Art in the Coffee Shop

Tonight, I was out with my sketch group, which basically was just one other person tonight plus someone who came along to check us out. Sometimes we get a lot of people, sometimes not... We were at the Roast Coffee and Tea Trading Company on Main Street In Patchogue. I did this pen and ink sketch while we were talking all sorts of artsy topics. I was going to watercolor it but I think I like it just the way it is.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 9....The Chloe Pages

The Art House CoOp Sketchbook is a Moleskine Cahier book, which is a softcover book with very thin paper. It's not the right sort of paper for wet media, but I have been working around this issue by coating the underside of the paper, after using watercolor on one side, with gesso so I can use it for something else. If I want to use watercolor, I coat it with absorbent ground on top of the gesso.

After I do this, I prep with a color wash on a few pages to work ahead so I can get right into the next phase...this was a page I prepped in purple, which afterwards, I though would look good with Chloe.

I sketched Chloe in another sketchbook, then I photocopied the sketch and glued it down along with little cameos of Chloe for the border. Again, this is the 2nd stage, further stages will be occurring as I work through the book. More embellishments to come....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 8....Behind the Scenes for the Elegant Lady story

The Elegant Lady lived in the times of Renoir and Degas and all their cronies. Before she "moved up" in the world, she hung out with the rest of the artistic crowd, which included theatrical people, dancers and writers along with the painters. During the summer, they would board the train to the country, many to a place known as La Grenouillere, the Frog Pond. This was many of the rustic places along the Seine where Parisians would go to enjoy their summers in the sun, they would don swim suits and swim or they would have boat races. It was a Sunday past time. Many of the Impressionists, were known to hang out here, or also paint scenes here.

Many liked to dine at La Maisson Fournaise, which was the location of Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party."

This sketchbook page is my homage to La Grenouillere. The Elegant Lady would just DIE if her society knew she hung out here and flopped around in the crowds in a swim suit or hung out with sweaty men fresh from competing in boat races. She no longer lives in France so that life is behind her....or is it?

This page is also still a work in progress. My sketch/journal pages are layered, I might glue more things on, add gel pen embellishments and other ephemera. I will write in some of the elegant lady story, and just have more fun with it. If this was a painting, I work on it and when I am done, I walk away, but these type pages, I like to see what else I can build them up with. I come back to them at a later time and add more.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 7....Changing it up

Today's page I switched it up...we'll get back to the elegant lady during the week, I need printer paper to photocopy some of the scraps I want to use for the elegant lady pages...I ran out of printer paper so I had to change it up. I found a fragment of a leaf outside, the color caught my eye, so I brought that in and glued it to the page. I also decided to do a small sketch of Chloe so I can glue that into the page as well. Sort of mixing the collage, mixed media with a traditional sketch. I like how the newspaper print looks as a border so I've been doing that a lot the past few days.

As I am doing these, I am experimenting with techniques I would not have normally tried. This specific page was previously gesso'd then I covered it with absorbent ground so watercolor would adhere to it....I painted Ultramarine Blue and let it dry, then I was watching Avatar and a scene gave me an idea. I dropped paint drops onto that page, they were very wet so I dabbed the page with a paper towel and it left the spots you see here. I didn't mean to do that, but sometimes you get lucky with accidents.

One thing about doing this Art Every Day Month, the ideas are just flowing and I am learning some things just by playing with materials and techniques outside of my normal comfort zone.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 6....

Well I have to fill my Art house sketchbook and mail it out after the New Year, so many of my current activities are in that book. I am having a little fun with the "elegant lady" sketchbook pages. I never thought of telling a story with my art and I am having fun with it.

Tonight's page for Art Every Day Month, is scenes from the time that the "elegant lady" lived. It was also the time for many things in Paris, from where she lived her younger years as a show girl.

Basically, I do two types of pages in my sketchbooks these days. One is the straight up sketching or traditional sketchbook work, and I also do collage/mixed media pages to change things up and to stir the creative juices a bit. This page is of the 2nd type. I start with the basic set up you see here, and go back in and embellish the page and I will add more to the story on this one. In my personal sketchbook, I put daily activities, thoughts and other writings on my pages.

When the entire art house sketchbook is complete, I will be scanning in the whole book and posting the scanned, polished pages on my Art house coop site, the link and more info will come when the book is close to completion. For now, I am posting these current ones as my art every day accomplishments with further embellishments to come...

Art Every Day Month - Day 5....The story continues

Another journal page added to my Art House Sketch book....I decided to continue the story of the elegant you a glimpse of her past...her wild life as a French show girl...hanging out with such a crowd, which included some artists such as Monsieur Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec...Such scandalous behavior, I believe she also was paid to pose for them.....This page isn't actually is taking me a while to think this process through to tell a bit of the story.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 4....Things aren't always what they seem

Recently, my husband and I had discussed a situation that made us think of the quote "Methinks thou dost protest too much...." That led me to think of an idea that helped me produce this page in my sketchbook...The woman is from high society, she travels in the most elite circles, yet...the small image is portrayed as a French Show girl, which is the elegant woman's past life....Hence the title, "things aren't always as they seem..."

Things in life, people you know, aren't always as they seem and it made me think of how I could portray this in art....I don't know how many times we've heard "don't take this personal but...." In the movie "You've Got Mail," Kathleen chastises Joe because he tells her it wasn't personal that he put her out of business. She tells him, "All it means is it's not personal to you, but it's personal to me, it's personal to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway?" This elegant woman in my art is trying to hide her past, she is not what everyone thinks she is...which may one day catch up to her, when something personal happens to her....

There may be more to this story.....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Art Every Day Month - Day 3

I worked on this in my Art House Sketch Book and as part of my Sketch Club Outing. We set up a still life in my kitchen, now I must confess, painting a still life hasn't been my thing, but it's always good to challenge myself. This started out as all watercolor, I hated the background so I simplified it with gouache. I am not sure what else I want to do with this yet, but here's what I have so far.....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Art Every Day Month

Well, I am going to give this my best shot. I joined an Art Every Day Month (November) on a blog I stumbled was supposed to start yesterday but I missed a day, so here's my submission, a quick sketch of Chloe, who was constantly changing position as she gnawed her bone and I attempted to get her on paper....I took a quick IPhone photo so I could get this submitted before I went to bed, it's still too damp to scan...Chloe was on her bed chewing her curly chewy, which is actually an all-natural dried cow tendon. Gross, but she likes them.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another day sketching in the rain

I can't say it was a beautiful day in the neighborhood yesterday because Mother Nature decided to give us some much needed rain, all day. Still, I braved the elements and went over to Swan Lake to sketch....I did this one pretty quickly because it was working up to be a down pour...But it was fun to try to capture the drab colorless day.

Another two pages filled in my Art House Coop Sketchbook............only thing bad about these sketch books is the paper is so thin, everything bleeds through. I've been trying several techniques to beef up the pages....I'll be posting those as they are complete, some of these beefy pages are works in progress....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The book -The Journal Junkies Workshop

I just read "The Journal Junkies Workshop" by Eric M Scott and David R Modler. I purchased it from North Light's a keeper. There are many similar books out there that tell you how to journal or keep a sketchbook. I've read many of them, once you read a few they all seem to sound similar, but I liked how they gave "newbies" some step by step instructions that build from chapter to chapter, so the skills you learn in one chapter, carries over and they show you how to take it to the next level. That was nicely done.

There were a few techniques that I don't remember seeing before like doing a transfer with packing tape. That was pretty cool. There were a few other things that make this book handy, but you'll have to get it and check it out yourself.

This is a good book to keep in your art book library and would be handy for non-art teachers if they would like to include journaling into their curriculum. Some of the techniques would carry over nicely to a classroom or to a journaling/ sketch group, and would be perfect for art school instructors to entice college art students to keep a sketchbook. This book wouldn't be a bad book to use as a textbook for sketchbooking or journaling and it's reasonable, it has simple and easy to follow instructions.

Happy Reading and sketchbooking..

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weekly goals, a day late

Normally I like to post this on Monday:

I can't believe I still haven't created my new website yet.....On the TO DO list.

Facebook posts intermittently, I post when I can or when I remember.

Work is coming along very well on the Art house sketchbook...getting there, I might just get this done without cramming at deadline! Have about 30 pages left to do! I just prepped about 8 pages for mixed media work.

Egg Tempera...winter's coming, indoor recreation!

Personal sketch book, might get this one done in the same year!

Big to do, learn to make my own sketchbook!

Oh, and Chloe is above modeling one of her outfits....

Monday, October 25, 2010

Everyday Stuff/Haunted Gallery/PAC Arts Festival

Isn't it amazing how you can make things more difficult for yourself sometimes, for instance, taking quick pictures to post on a blog or other digital venue....I've been trying to take pictures with either my camera or my IPhone to quickly pop something on line....and making more work for myself when I am trying to lean over to take a picture of my sketchbook and I am getting shadows of myself because of the way I have to get the book to lie flat and how the lighting is in my studio in the evenings...instead of making life easier by just SCANNING the image! (Head smack) Why didn't I think of that before? The above image was sketched in my Art House Sketch Book during last week's sketch outing and I scanned it in with the scanner on my printer.

This week past week was pretty full. Bellydancing, sketching with the group, doing other chores in the studio, catching up on my reading. Friday evening, I participated in the Brookhaven Arts Council/Phoenix Gallery's "Haunted Gallery." It was fun and neat...the school kids in Bellport painted some murals and left boxes for artists to add their touches....I brought my pastels and added a spooky cemetery, added a ghost walking a lonely road and my favorite, (I couldn't resist) was adding my touch to a spider web that one class painted...I had to add a fly with a human head, being attacked by a black widow, I almost added the "Help MEEEEE" but I figured some parent might get upset, LOL....a touch of Good Ol' Vincent Price.

We had the Patchogue Arts Council Arts Festival which went well. Our Sketch Club was given a window to show off what we've been doing. It was nice that we were added to the Walking Arts Tour. I was glad some of the artists that have been sketching (or painting) got the opportunity to show off some of their stuff.

As far as meeting goals, the Art House Sketch book is moving along, above is two pages from that. I worked in my sketchbook, gesso'd and prepped a few more page for free style or for sketches that could be done on the back page of another sketch. The pages are thin so they need to be beefed up so I have a bunch of pages I beefed up. I was going to color them up and use them for the free style (collagey stuff) but I may try a few pages to see how the absorbent ground holds up with watercolor sketches.

My regular sketch book is also being used, I'm trying to add entries and other ephemera nightly. Plus, I am trying to document what I am doing so that I can show the sketch club folks other techniques I've learned to play in your sketchbook. As the weather and standard time drives us indoors in the evening, we need to have other sketchbook activities.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good book on sketching

Just finished a pretty decent book about artist's who keep sketchbooks, An Illustrated Life, by Danny Gregory. I thought it was great to read about other artist's that sketched, what they sketched in, what materials they used, whether they used a commercially made or homemade sketchbook, etc.

The pretty common thread was that they liked to do it, it improved drawing skills, creativity, kept records of an artist life but many of them say that it records your growth as an artist and that all pages, good or bad, should be kept in the book so as an artist, you can see how you have grown as an artist.

Some are private, some don't mind who reads them. Some use them for work, some for pleasure, some for both. Many common comments about using them to record vacations and special events make them more memorable in a sketchbook than a photograph.

This book is a recommended read for those who sketch, and those who don't......You could even sketch little princesses, like Chloe, pictured above.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What is there to like about Jersey

I was catching up with an old friend that I haven't spoken to in a while, and talking with my friend made me remember some things that I liked about living in South Jersey.

Like the Jersey Devil....Jersey has some pretty awesome folk tales, the best being the story of the Jersey devil. My kids learned Jersey Devil lore in school, how cool is that? My friend from the Philly Sketch Club, Rik Viola, did the original painting for the really neat Jersey Devil poster hanging in my studio. My son and his friends, being the typical Jersey teenagers, would go on Jersey Devil road trips (of course I didn't find out until after....) into the Pine Barrens, looking for the Jersey son claims that he and his two identical twin friends, saw the Jersey Devil near their old house in Berlin neighbors had a group that they called Stubums, and I used to participate in the group activities like barbecues and Phillies games...they would host overnight camp outs in the Pine Barrens for Jersey Devil hunts. I didn't go on those, that was sort of tempting fate. I never asked if they saw anything. There's just some things you'd rather not know.

There are parts of South Jersey where you can drive down a lonely road for quite a ways a not see one house, and on a dark autumn evening, you're thinking to yourself, "if I break down, I'm screwed." With the Jersey Devil flying around, breaking down would not be a good thing.....

Go to Fortescue. Look for it on a map. Try driving out there. Boy, is that a remote place, that's a place that you think, "If these people out here have a medical emergency, they have a LONG way to go for help!" Imagine that on cold moonless night....yikes.

The legendary "Blue Hole." Heard about the place, wanted to go, haven't been there yet. Folks I worked with knew exactly where it was and how to get there. No one swims there, they say the Jersey Devil likes the water there. I'll visit in the summer during the day.

Then there is a road in Atco where drivers claim to see a ghostly lady walking on the road at night....of course my son had to check that one out....

Down in that area past Atco, is a town called Tabernacle, located in an awesome woodsy area....spooky and just ripe for ghost stories...we used to go apple picking and raspberry picking over there. Don't wanna be there on the roads at night....might run into that ghostly lady on the way back............that place is eerie even when we played soccer games there during the day. It's in Burlington County, one of the haunts of the Jersey Devil.

There's some great haunted houses/farms, like Creamy Acres, that are in the perfect area to promote the mystique of Halloween. Better gas up before going, no Super WAWA in that area.

Jersey is a happening place in the summer, folks traveling to the Jersey Shore and it bustles with people in the summer, the roads heavy with people heading back and forth, quiet roads in the winter are busy in the summer, people making stops at diners and produce stands on the way... but once summer is gone, the only thing left is gamblers on the AC Expressway heading down to see if they can make it big in Atlantic City or heading back to Philly with empty pockets, with those signs on the Expressway that say "STAY AWAKE" STAY ALIVE" to remind you that you are still in Jersey; don't fall asleep until you reach the Philly side of the Walt Whitman Bridge, the Jersey Devil doesn't seem to cross the Delaware... the side roads are quiet and almost remote at night, just ripe for the spooky story, it would be best if you aren't a local, to stick to the Expressway.... those dark frosty nights are the times that the Jersey Devil seems to like best and are the best time to go Jersey Devil hunting, or get out of South Jersey while you still can.

Who knows, he may introduce himself.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Studio catching up and clean up

My daughter is recovering from knee surgery. She injured it last month when soccer season started at school. We took her over yesterday morning and the procedure was done to fix her torn ACL. Having your 15 year old go into surgery isn't just scary for the teenager, it's scary for the mom, too. Because of her surgery, we are home this weekend instead of normally out and about on weekends. This has been a good time to catch up on reading those emails, blogs, magazines and other paperwork and "to do" stuff.

I read a really good article about studio lighting in The Artist Magazine October 2010. The November 2010 issue, which I already received, had a great article about winter painting and what gear to wear to keep warm. I FB'd a friend to ask about pastels in the winter because I don't really want to buy oils just to paint in the cold, so it would be nice to know what other pastelists are doing to paint in the winter.

I actually had time to chat in Facebook. I found out via FB that a friend that I lost touch with had passed away. I was very upset about that for two reasons, that I won't be able to talk to her anymore and that no one told me she was even sick and she had passed away.

Studio Clean up and paperwork is no fun but it is part of the business side of being an artist and it's better to be organized so that things don't slip through the cracks. Some paperwork I was able to toss out, others became reminders in my calendar. This is Autumn and Halloween time so paintings need to be done that reflect the season. And Halloween paintings are always fun to paint. So, with all the paperwork and self inflicted required reading out of the way, I can get my mind focused on some fun Halloween paintings...I'm thinking pumpkins this year. So cleaning up also gave me time to think of new projects.

The whole process of cleansing, even if it's your personal space, also helps cleanse the mind of clutter and gives you time to birth new ideas. I read on The Painters Keys latest post about preventing choking in your career, no matter whether your career is professional sports or something else... the way to break the "choke," researchers are finding, is to it's cleansing to clear the mind and singing to focus it and bring it back to what it's been trained to do.....hmmm, didn't Disney have something about whistling while you work? Interesting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Things to be grateful for....

I attend a bellydancing class on Tuesdays at the Goddess Shop in Sayville. I've been going since I was still on crutches, the physical therapist thought it would be good for me and it has been. I go for the exercise, the stretching of muscles that you wouldn't normally stretch, including the ones in my ankle. I go for the company; we have a really great group of ladies and we share some common bonds.

It's interesting that we all seem to have found this shop, either by stumbling on it, or by word of mouth. We come together and we share our lives with the rest of the group. We had a few new people today and Jess tried out something new by having us sit for a meditation at the end of the dancing session. The meditation had us focus on what we were grateful for in ourselves and our lives. It really made me think of what it is that I was grateful myself, I am grateful that I can paint and I can draw, because it's what I like to do best. I am grateful to have such a wonderful husband who encourages me to paint and arranges my life and activities so I can paint. I am grateful that he loves me enough to let us bring a pup like Chloe into our life, even with the few sleepless nights when she isn't feeling well. I am grateful for my daughter, that she is such a sensible teenage in a time of no sense among teens. I am grateful to have my son, who is away attending college at my alma mater. I am grateful for my mother, who never ceases in her encouragement of me living a creative life. I am grateful to the lady who's 40 years of experience of breeding brings wonderful Chihuahuas like Chloe into peoples lives.... And that I can send pictures of her out to people to make them smile, too.

I am grateful that my husband took me down to Cape May County to attend Terry Ludwig's workshop. Terry is a wonderful person and a pleasure to take a workshop with and I love his pastel line. I am grateful for the rain that forced us inside into Stan Sperlak's Gallery/Studio so we had to paint from photos. All the time I spent outside painting and sketching plein air taught me what I needed to know in order to know how to use the photos as a tool and a guide to paint convincing scenes. If it wasn't for the rain, I wouldn't have rediscovered that resource again! I am grateful for those pastels of Terry's that my husband bought me.

I am grateful to be able to paint by Cape May Bird Observatory again, where I have painted so many times before. While we were there painting, I got see tons of Monarch butterflies and learned how they are tagged and that it can take them as little as an hour and a half to cross the Delaware Bay. And for the laughs of just being in that workshop.

Take time to stop and remember all the things you are grateful for....take time to smile at the simple things in life, like a pup terrorizing her owner's shoe or that butterfly that travels further than most humans.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Terry Ludwig class Day two

Here's the painting I completed in Terry's class, Day two. Two years ago, I went on a pumpkin patch excursion with coworkers and took a photo because I thought it would make a fun painting. Stan tried to print it out for me but since it came from a cell phone, it wouldn't print I found this photo that Stan took which was similar to the photo of the field that I took a picture of...

I just envisioned this painting of a pumpkin field and it was so much fun to paint.

Today's class was wild, Stan's foreman, Cory, posed for Terry for a portrait Demo. It turned out to be a very humorous session, you just had to be Vegas, what happens in Terry's classes stays in Terry's class...

We went to see Stan's show in Cape May...stunning. We all went out to eat at the little Mexican restaurant, Gecko's. Lot's of fun and great food.

On Wednesady, hopefully, we'll be out Plein Air painting at Cape May Lighthouse, one of my favorite spots.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Goals for the week of 9/27

Well since I am in Terry's class this's what my goals are for this week:

1) to learn what I can, enjoy the class and have fun

2) Try to post what I can on my blog and on FB

3) Come home with all new ideas

4) Paint more of what I love, South Jersey

Next week, I will be back to my regularly scheduled goals.

Yesterday in Terry Ludwig's class

I am participating in Terry Ludwig's pastel workshop. I got the opportunity at the last minute to attend when someone dropped out. I originally didn't plan to go because normally I attend Paint Annapolis, but this year I didn't go to Paint Annapolis. Stan Sperlak hosted the workshop for the Maryland Pastel Society.

It rained buckets and we had to set up in Stan's studio space and greenhouse that was attached. Terry painted a demo for us from a photo that Stan had on hand. Because we were painting indoors, we had to paint from photos so we pillaged the box of prints that Stan provided.

I selected one of an orchard and farm stand (above) and painted that. It was such a typical Jersey Fresh type of produce stand that it caught my eye. The sun came out briefly and cooked us in the greenhouse. Stan's employees took the time to pull a cover over to give us some shade. It was a typical rainy Jersey Shore day in September complete with the humidity.

Terry is an entertaining and informative instructor. It's always good for an artist to get out and work with other artists and this was no exception. We've been shown how to remake a broken pastel, Stan showed us how he frames his paintings without's a great workshop.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here's what I did last Wednesday with with the sketch group

Artists are always learning new techniques, refining skills and trying new things, and that's what a sketchbook is for. Sometimes it is difficult to open up what you are doing in your sketchbook to the world, because sketchbooks are for trying things out, recording information and the equivalent to taking notes of places you've been or scenes that you might want to paint at a later time. We aren't trying to create the Mona Lisa in our sketchbooks.

Here's an example of that. This sketch was done in our local cemetery...I was trying out a technique where I don't draw things out in pencil first...I just painted freehand right on the page. It's a daring move and forces you to just paint without preliminary marks on the page. I am also using the Niji watercolor brush which is still a new "animal" for me. The brush has a water well stored in the handle and you are not painting as you would if you were dipping your brush in a reservoir. I still don't have the Niji brush technique refined just yet. That's the purpose of the sketchbook, to refine something that is unfamiliar.

As you can see, I had some issues with the angel's face because I was working with a large brush and should have switched to a smaller tipped instead of a total failure, I whipped out my Micron pens and refined a few things.

If at first you don't succeed, move on and try again....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Goals for the week of 9/20

Brr, chilly this week.

This week's goals are (some are repeat goals and will be for a while)

1) Still have to convert over to my new website. I am catching up on some things, like postings, the website will come....

2)I am doing better posting on Facebook. Even found one of my former coworkers/friend from an old job. It was good to catch up. I run blogs, this one and the one for my sketch club, which is chock full of useful info. is the link.

3) Hey, getting some of the Art House pages, goal being met.

4) I want to work on some Egg Tempera paintings, get out and see if I can withstand plein air painting again .... My goal, at least one painting a week...

5) I am meeting my sketchbook goal, need to meet the journaling goal. Showed my personal sketchbook to my sketch club members, they want to learn some of the things I have been trying.

6) Learn how to make my own sketchbook. Picked up a few books on how to do this. Might take a class.

Now that summer is over, it's getting easier to work on this list.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Out and about

I try to do as much sketching as I can when I am out and about....we went to the Jets game at the Meadowlands back in August, then went into NYC, Chelsea area to grab a bite and I did this from the cafe where we were sitting....another sketch in my Art House CoOp Sketchbook....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cross blogging

I started a sketch club under the umbrella of the Patchogue Arts Council and I created and run the blog. I post some interesting stuff over there and one of the interesting posts right now is about what to look for in artist materials, if you want to check that out, go to

Above is a sketch I did when I was out with the folks last week. It was chilly and Chloe kept chewing on my pen cap. Tonight we are headed to sketch in the local cemetery. COOL.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Monday Goal List for the week of 9/13

I feel like Bill Murray on Groundhog Day....Well it's September, AGAIN. What a bummer summer is over. When it's summer, all you want to do is spend your days OUT of the house. Then the chill and shorter days drive us indoors. My sketch group is looking for some indoor venues for the colder shorter evenings and some weekends so we can get out when there is some daylight.

This week's goals are (some are repeat goals)

1) I still have to work on that new website! Having spent any time working on it at all because we were enjoying the nice warm summer evenings

2)Minimum of two posts a week on my blog and try to post at least once a day to my FB page. Wow, I haven't been on FB for a while. Blog is being revved back up again now that summer is over. Boy it was tough posting or even getting into the studio when all I wanted to do was get OUT.

3) Get some of my Art house pages posted up here...getting ready to post some....I have lots of pictures, just haven't posted them.

4)Work on some Egg Tempera paintings, get out and see if I can withstand plein air painting again .... My goal, at least one painting a week...I did a study last week outside of Greenport.

5) I MET my sketchbook goal, need to meet the journaling goal.

6) Learn how to make my own sketchbook.

Well there's the list, lets see how it changes week to week now that summer is over.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Still playing catch up

Chloe is asleep at the moment. I got back early from sketching since the light is going away quicker, I am getting more studio time and more time to blog. However, little Chloe had other ideas and I spent some quality time with her. She'll only be a puppy for a short time. She's been beating up the $1 toy we picked her up from Target.
Getting back on track. It's been an interesting summer. I've had a painting accepted into the Walking Arts Tour here in Patchogue. I've been asked to be a trustee for the South Bay Artist Association. I helped launch a Paint Out here on the South Shore that I was so excited about. I've been out sketching every week with my Sketch Group which I really enjoy. I just need to post those up here.
Days are getting shorter and although it's still nice out to paint, it also means with the shorter days that there will be more time spent in the studio in the evenings than out sketching or painting plein air. Which means more blog posts, yay! I tried doing it from my phone but gave up for now. Time to get back on track with my to do list!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Review of Colorfin Pan pastels

This past Christmas, I got the Pan Pastels Painting set as a gift from my husband. I haven't quite "painted" with these yet, but I have been using them in my Art House Co-Op Sketchbook.

So far, as a sketch medium, I give them high marks on a lot of points. First, they blend well. I have the basic artist colors set and the sketches above were done with the basic set. They blend nicely, I have the blending tools set. I tried using a regular cosmetic applicator to see how they would perform, and they work much better with the tools created specifically for these pastels.

Even though they are in a sketch book, they haven't smeared. The Art House Co-Op sketchbook is a Moleskine Cahier thin bound sketchbook and the pan pastels perform well on those thin pages... I can even write over them with my Sakura Micron pens. I can also use pastel pencils over top for more detail.

I like them for spontaneously sketching. I would definitely purchase more pans to add more colors to my palette. I plan to add them to my plein air pastel kit to give me the options to work on regular pastel paper, which I normally don't use because of the lack of tooth, but that's not an issue with pan pastels and I can layer color on top of the base that these pastels provide. What's nice is they blend similarly to how I mix colors in watercolor. I was very impressed with them and really like them.

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