April 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 04.22.14

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April 22, 2014

Journal pages: Faces

I am obessessed with drawing faces. I see an interesting face, and my first thought is "I want to draw that". Now, I do not claim to draw them well, but over time with my almost daily practice, I can see that I am developing a style of sorts. So here are my most recent faces. As always, click on images to view larger.

Inspired by HONY.

Self Portrait done while looking in a mirror. A sister in an alternate universe maybe?

Another selfie done same day, same mirror, a couple of hours later. Looks more like me, but not quite.

Inspired by HONY.

I watch GLEE. It is not as good as the first season, but I still watch it.

Inspired by HONY.

This sketch was done in my cheapo writing/sketching journal using black and blue pens and a blue highlighter for that blue hair.
You can see a video of my 2014 journal plans here.

April 21, 2014

Recent Reads

46. One Watercolor a Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity Using Watercolor, Pattern, and Design
A really fun way to explore ways to play with watercolors. The book has some great exercises, and examples of how various artists capture the same subject. Rating: 4 stars.

47. Incidents in the Night: Volume 1
Book blurb: David B. understands that subconsciously we search books for magics that will help us avoid being confronted by our own mortality, and he has made this the conscious subject of Incidents in the Night.

This graphic novel starts with a man dreaming. He dreams about finding a particular series of books, and when he awakes, he wanders the Paris bookstores in search of said books. History, mythology, literature, and a murder mystery all play a role in how this story unfolds. I loved the black and white illustrations, but found myself confused at various times in the story. Maybe something is lost in the translation? Rating: 3 stars.

48. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Running
A little dated, but still a good resource for the beginning runner. Skipped the marathon and other sections that are not applicable to me.

So, I knew this, but was reminded again that we burn about 100 calories per mile. Whether one walks or runs. Hopefully one can run more miles than one walks in the same time, so more calories. But still 100 calories per mile. So that Starbucks scone is the equivalent of 4 miles? Sigh. Rating: 3 stars.

49. The Martian
Originally self-published in 2012, this debut novel got purchased by Crown and re-published this year.

The story is about an astronaut who is left for dead on Mars. Turns out he is not dead, but will he survive? To write more is to give away some of the fun in discovering what happens next. 

It is clear that the author is a nerd, and I mean that as a complement. This is the kind of sci-fi that I enjoy - no green aliens, just human skill and ingenuity working out how to survive in a tough situation. And let's face it, it does not get harsher than being stranded on Mars while everyone thinks you are dead. The science and math is great, and I'd hope that teachers in middle school can look past some of the language and recommend this book to their students. Seeing how all those potentially boring classes could save your life - what better lesson plan could one ask for?

I found this a highly entertaining and fast read, and though the weakness of a debut author are evident, it is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. I hear the movie rights has been optioned. Cannot wait. Rating: 4 stars.

April 20, 2014

Eduardo Salavisa. A drawer of the daily

Someone in Sketchbook Skool posted a link to this video, and I wanted to share it. Why? It just makes me happy. Let me know if it makes you happy too.

April 19, 2014

Journal pages

I continue to play with colored pencils. They are harder to use then it would seem, but I have fun none-the-less.

I write on both sides of the paper, and find that the colored pencil transfers when I do that. A simple solution is to have a sheet of wax paper between the pages with colored pencil. Any kind of paper would work as a buffer really. After I am several pages away, I find that I can remove the wax paper and there is no longer a transfer problem. 

This one makes me smile. Not good perspective, or accurate, but for a fast sketch, it captures a moment in time. And that is what it is all about isn't it?

These sketches was done in my cheapo writing/sketching journal using colored pencils and pen.
You can see a video of my 2014 journal plans here.

April 17, 2014

Paddy & Nico

The most delightful thing I saw on the web this week.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

April 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 04.16.14

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April 15, 2014

Journal page

Part 2 of my homework assignment for Sketchbook Skool this week was to go out and sketch. I had plans to meet up with friends for Sunday dinner in Harvard Square, so decided to get there early and do some people sketching at The Coop. Love this bookstore.

 My first victim, I mean target, was this guy.

 A quick sketch with my G2 - don't have to worry about waterproof ink with colored pencils. Turned around and sketched this woman next.

Decided that I needed a third person to round out my session. Added some text and border and I was done.

It is always a little nerve wracking to sketch/paint in public. Interesting that I never have this issue while writing. Do it all the time. It is almost like I am waiting to get busted by the artist police: sorry ma'am, but we need to confiscate your art supplies. Like how this turned out. Am thinking that it would be fun to sketch the environs too. Next time.

This sketch was done in my cheapo writing/sketching journal using colored pencils and pen.
You can see a video of my 2014 journal plans here.

April 14, 2014

Recent Reads

42. The Walking Dead, Vol. 03: Safety Behind Bars
Volume 3 contains issues 13-18.

Our weary, dirty and hungry band of survivors stumble upon a prison. Sure it is filled with zombies, but they move slowly and are easily dispatched. And there might be food inside. Could our motley crew have found a new home? What they certainly find is something more dangerous than zombies: each other. Rating: 3 stars.

43. The End
Blurb: The End is a collection of short strips about loss, paralysis, waiting, and transformation.

This is probably not the graphic memoir I'd recommend picking up in the middle of the night when you cannot fall back asleep. But then again, it might be the perfect one to read while the house is dark, and the only illumination in the room is from your book light falling on the page. The book is assembled from the author's sketchbook in the year following the death of his partner, and is a lovely meditation on love, and loss, and grief, and life. Rating: 4 stars.

44. The Winter People
Here is a blurb: a simmering literary thriller about ghostly secrets, dark choices, and the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters . . . sometimes too unbreakable.

When will I ever learn to not fall for the hype?

West Hall, Vermont is a town with issues. A place where people mysteriously disappear, and ghosts seem to walk among the living. I really liked the premise of the book, and quite liked that the story unfolds in two time periods: the 1900s and present day. However, in my opinion, the author dilutes the strength of that technique with too many narrators who do not add to the story.

There is too much telling in this book, and not enough showing. At no point in the story did I feel immersed in it, and while I liked that the main characters were all women, none of them were compelling. If like me you were thrilled with The Monkey's Paw, and had to sleep with the lights on while reading Pet Semetary, you too might find this book disappointing. Rating: 2 stars.

45. The Walking Dead, Vol.4: The Heart's Desire
Volume 4 contains issues 19-24.

The action starts right away with the arrival of a woman with two zombies on a chain. Relationships change, lots of action, but not much development to the story line. This is the least interesting volume in the series so far. Rating: 2 stars.

April 13, 2014

Journal page: Sketchbook Skool Week 2

The thing about taking a class is that it pushes you outside your comfort zone. This week our instructor is Koosje Koene, and one of the homework assignments is to sketch with colored pencils. Now I've got several sets around, bought years ago, and hardly ever used. Perfect nudge to use art supplies I already have in my stash. 

In case you could not tell, these are apples and a lime. I got the colors right, but clearly need to work on my form and tone. However, I realized that I love my Prismacolor pencils. So creamy, they glide on like butter on hot toast. Will certainly be playing with them this year.

This sketch was done in my cheapo writing/sketching journal using colored pencils and pen.
You can see a video of my 2014 journal plans here.

April 11, 2014

Journal page

When I started drawing a couple of years ago, I dared not try faces. But they kept calling to me, so I dipped my toes in. Needless to say, they were not the most attractive portraits of people, but I actually slowed down enough to really look at their faces. I continue to have mixed results with faces, but then the other day, I drew this one.

As part of Sketchbook Skool homework, I drew and wrote about an experience with my nephew. And this actually looks like him. Even he recognized himself. Also wrote about a book discussion we had on FaceTime. Am inordinately proud of this drawing. 

This sketch was done in my cheapo writing/sketching journal using PITT pens.
You can see a video of my 2014 journal plans here.

April 10, 2014

Cinemascope: Divergent

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 2014.

Plot line: In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.

This movie is based on book #1 of the Divergent trilogy, a dystopian young adult set of books that is quite fun to read. Book #1 is the best book in the trilogy in my opinion, so I was interested to see how well the movie turned out. Had a movie and dinner date with 11 year old Luke, and we both agreed that the movie was good, but the book is better.

A couple of things that I found interesting:
1. Shailene Woodley, who plays Tris, is also the lead girl in The Fault in Our Stars movie scheduled to be released later this year. And was it just me, or was a pony tail a distraction during all those fighting scenes?
2. Ansel Elgort, who plays her brother in this movie, is the Shailene's love interest in TFIOS. Strange. Kinda like Hollywood had no other options for actors for their YA movies this year.

You can see the movie trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

April 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 04.09.14

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April 8, 2014

Journal pages: Faces

I don't draw faces very well, but I still love sketching them. Interesting faces call to me, and I sketch people from videos I watch or blogs I read. I am happy if there is a bit of the sketch that captures the essence of what drew me to that face. Here are some of the faces that I found interesting lately.

Anita Hill on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Danny Gregory video talking about Sketchbook Skool.

Inspired by Roz. I love how she captures faces.

I watched a video of this artist and his work.

Daily inspiration from HONY. Loved her expression.

Watched a video of this artist and her work.

Daily inspiration from HONY.

There sketches were all done in my cheapo writing/sketching journal using PITT pens.
You can see a video of my 2014 journal plans here.

April 7, 2014

Recent Reads

37. The Walking Dead, Vol. 02: Miles Behind Us
Volume 2 contains issues 7-12.

The zombie epidemic continues, and we follow along as our band of survivors seek food and shelter, fending off attacks as best they can. While not as interesting as the first book in the series, this installment moves the story and characters along. An interesting exploration of how people react differently to grief and shock, and the morality of killing zombies. Rating: 3 stars.

38. Journey
This little gem of a book is a picture book for children. It has no words, so every reader will make up a slightly different story as they "read" it. And you might get a different perspective with each re-read. 

This is the story of lonely girl who draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and enters a world full of magical adventures and a few dangers. I so loved how the story captures the magical worlds that reading a book, or creating art can immerse us in. The art beautifully illustrates the wonder in discovering the magic within ourselves. Rating: 4 stars.

39. The Swan Gondola
I really liked his earlier book, The Coffins of Little Hope, so was looking forward to this one.

I am not a quitter, but at page 261, I have decided to throw in the towel. This story started out so well, and I love the setting of the 1898 Omaha World's Fair. However, the main characters are not well fleshed out, I found the romance boring, and I lost interest with where the story was headed. I've made myself sit down with it several times after I lost interest, but to no avail.

On the plus side, there are some luminous passages, and I love some of the imagery the author conjured up. Also, there are some really interesting minor characters. I really wanted to love this book, but alas did not.  Rating: 1 star.

40. Ideas & Inspirations for Art Journals & Sketchbooks
This books is 64 pages of examples of how the author keeps her art journal, and while I liked the colorful pages, this is not my style. This might be a good resource if you are a newbie to keeping an art journal, and looking for some ideas on how to get started. Rating: 2 stars

41. I Want to Show You More
I'm not a fan of the short story, as they often feel rushed and ultimately not satisfying to me. You probably already know this about me, and were wondering why I picked up yet another collection. 

So imagine my delight when I started this book, and found myself having to slow down to stop from binge reading it in one sitting. These interlocking stories explore God, sex, religion, faith, love, infidelity, parenting, aging, loss, running, well, the human condition really, albeit a privileged one. Sure, some stories are stronger than others, but each and every one had me pause somewhere in the reading, and re-read a line or two. The juxtaposition of the surreal with the horribly realistic is so well done, and the honesty of the writing is such a breath of fresh air. 

Here is my advice if you decide to read it: Do not read it all in one sitting. Stay soft while reading this collection. Remind yourself that we are all human, and fallible, and doing the best we can. Can you read these stories without being judgy? Try it and let me know. Rating: 4 stars.

April 5, 2014

Art Journaling with DIY Stencils (Video)

I'm in the midst of a stencil making jag. Sure that are plenty of stencils you can buy, but making your own is so easy. I'll share my tips and tricks for DIY stencils.

If the embedded link does not work, click here.
You can see a video of my 2014 journal plans here.

April 4, 2014

Journal page

I've been trying to sketch regularly, and I can see improvements. This is my little Gorilla Pod tripod, and it was actually fun to do all that cross hatching while listening to a podcast.

Done in my cheapo writing journal. Trust me when I tell you that buying and hoarding all those supplies do you no good. Take them out. Play with them. This is not something that will be put on the walls of MOMA, just a way to get my hands and eyes dancing together. Added the dash of red with a marker. I am inordinately pleased with this page.

April 3, 2014

Cinemascope: Heat

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.

Released in 1995.

Plot line: A group of professional bank robbers start to feel the heat from police when they unknowingly leave a clue at their latest heist.

This is an oldie but goodie that I recently watched for the third of fourth time. Al Pacino and Robert De Niro at the height of their acting careers if you ask me. Be warned that it is a long movie, so have plenty of snacks, and settle in for a really good story that makes you wish Hollywood still made movies this good.

You can see the movie trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a movie worth watching.

April 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 04.02.14

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April 1, 2014

One Little Word 2014: March

And just like that another month is over.

As you might recall, my word for this year is Cultivate. I am taking a more laid back approach to my word this year. Am picking a theme for each month, and then seeing where I end up.

My focus this month was to cultivate authenticity

"Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen." [The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown].

As girls and women, we get messages from a very young age about being "good". We must be a good girl, a good daughter, a good wife, a good sister, a good mother, a good person. But what does being good really mean? My experience has lead me to believe that being good is not a moral imperative, rather it is fitting into whatever restrictions our families, society and/or our community deems is right for us. What they are comfortable with. 

When we are good, we are often not real. We hide our light, we make ourselves smaller, we accommodate, we compartmentalize, we numb, we disconnect. I was startled when I realized that I was doing these things to make other people more comfortable. So over the decades I have been dismantling this good girl self to find out who I was underneath.

I've worked on being authentic for decades with varying success. And you know what my biggest challenge has been? Trying not to hurt someone else's feeling. My own feelings be damned. And it always comes back to bite me in the ass. 

This month, I paid attention to when I was letting something go that really needed to be addressed, because I did not want to hurt someone's feelings. I paid attention to how I felt before and after I addressed the situation, and learned much about my own internal messages and fears about conflict and accountability. About not being a good girl.

Here is what I am learning: We are responsible for our actions. We are not responsible for how other people feel or respond to our actions. Even writing that makes me uncomfortable. But there is truth in that, so I am making different choices.

I read something a long time ago that has stayed with me: Your opinion of me is none of my business. 
Surely not said by a good girl.

These are some of the ways I cultivated authenticity this month. How do you do it?

March 31, 2014

Recent Reads

32. Hera: The Goddess and her Glory (Olympians, #3)
This graphic novel is the third volume in the Olympians series for kids.

So Hera. Jealous. Bitchy. Well, she certainly had reason to be. I mean she was married to Zeus. Womanizer Zeus. I was looking forward to reading about Hera, and while there is a little bit about her, this book is more about Heracles. Don't get me wrong, he is an interesting character, and my childhood crush Jason - he of the Golden Fleece - has a cameo, but I wanted more Hera and less boys. You know what I mean? This is a fun read with wonderful illustrations. Rating: 3 stars.

33. Hades: Lord of the Dead(Olympians, #4)
This graphic novel is the fourth volume in the Olympians series for kids.

Talk about a destination vacation. The book starts with a tour of the Underworld after death, but it turns out that this is really a story about Demeter and Persephone. This mother daughter story has long been a favorite of mine, and I do quite like the twist the author gave the relationship between Persephone and Hades. A fun read with wonderful illustrations. Rating: 3 stars.

34. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
This is a foodie graphic memoir. The author's parents are foodies, and raised their daughter on things you would not normally see a kid eat. She might have been raised a gourmand, but watch out when she is exposed to salt, sugar and fat. Is there room for both? 

While I found this a fun read, it read like a short story collection which is not my fave writing form. The art while simple, is colorful and cheery, and I think reflects the theme of this book well. I especially liked the illustrated recipes at the end of each chapter. Rating: 3 stars

35. No Excuses Art Journaling: Making Time for Creativity
From the blurb: Using a day planner as your art journal, you'll find daily, weekly and monthly prompts that you can adapt to fit your real-life, busy schedule. Along the way, you'll learn fun and convenient techniques to add sketching, watercolor painting, collage and more into your journal, all while setting goals, creating art and chronicling your unique life.

This book is probably really good for the absolute beginner to art journaling. If you have never done it before, this book has simple instructions, prompts, and colorful examples to get you inspired. It is a little too contrived for my tastes, but I did enjoy seeing how various guest artists interpreted the prompts.  Rating: 2 stars.

36. The Walking Dead, Vol. 01: Days Gone Bye
Volume 1 contains issues 1-6.

The story starts with Officer Rick Grimes getting shot in the line of duty. When he wakes up in the hospital several weeks later, the world is not the same. Zombies! Are there any humans left? Will he find his wife and son?

I watched Season 1 of the TV series, so I knew what was going to happen. This is a fun, if grizzly read, and the black and white illustrations work really well. I plan on reading the rest of these books, though I gave up on the TV series. Rating: 3 stars.

March 30, 2014

2014 Journals (Video)

I'm trying something new with my journals this year. Some ideas are working better than others, so I thought I'd share my process and the journals I am using this year.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.

March 29, 2014

Sketchbook Skool

I signed up for Sketchbook Skool. Don't know what that is? Read more about it here

Other than one instructor, I already follow the blogs of everyone teaching. Love their work, and am so excited for classes to start on April 4. Are you taking this class as well? 

March 28, 2014

Journal page

I decided to do a quick sketch of Lisa while listening to an interview with her. Love her artwork.

So, if this was a mug shot, you would not pick Lisa in a line-up, but there are bits that looks like her. I am pleased with that. Tried more shading, liked some sections better than others. This was done with pen in my cheapo writing journal.

March 27, 2014

Cinemascope: Waste Land

Cinemascope is a regular blog post where I will share with you movies and TV shows I think are worth watching.
Released in 2010. 

Plot line: An uplifting feature documentary highlighting the transformative power of art and the beauty of the human spirit.

This is really quite a remarkable story of human spirit and resilience and art. "Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of "catadores": self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz's initial objective was to "paint" the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives."

You can see the trailer here. If you have yet to see it, this is a documentary worth watching.

March 26, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: 03.26.14

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March 25, 2014

Journal page

The Sketchbook Challenge theme this month is Warm/Cool. Decided to use a stencil I had recently made to create a journal page to reflect the theme.

Acrylic paints, home made stencil and pen.

March 24, 2014

Recent Reads

28. The Madonnas of Echo Park
This was my book club selection this month, and it certainly gave us lots to talk about.

The setting is Echo Park, a Los Angeles neighborhood, and the characters are Mexican-Americans of various ages and legal status who live there. The cover labels this book a novel, which I felt was misleading as it is an interconnected story collection. Each chapter is a story from a different person's point of view, and in my opinion you need to know that going in, otherwise it is a confusing read.

I thought the author skillfully writes little vignettes, and it is not until you finish the book, and step back that you see the whole portrait he has created of a place, a time, and a people. Like any story collection, there are ones that I loved, and ones I did not, but overall, I liked it.

P.S. If you read this, read all the way through to the Q&A with the author, to learn more about the author's note that kicks off this collection. Rating: 3 stars.

29. Brave Intuitive Painting-Let Go, Be Bold, Unfold!: Techniques for Uncovering Your Own Unique Painting Style
Yeah, well if like me the title got you all excited, you might be disappointed with this book. It has wonderful photos, and I like the art the author creates, but the language is too flowery for my tastes, and while there are a few painting tips, there was not much cohesion or structure to this book. This read like a workshop put to paper, and there seems to be much lost in translation. Rating: 2 stars.

30. Stash & Smash: Art Journal Ideas
A collection of ideas on how to make and keep a stash book. A good source if you have never kept a journal, but nothing new in it for me. Rating: 2 stars.

31. The Dark
A school vacation week sleepover with my nephews is the perfect time to read books like this one.

From the jacket: Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark is not afraid of Laszlo. Laszlo lives in a house. The dark lives in the basement....

This is a fun picture book for younger readers, and the artwork is wonderful. Rating: 3 stars.

March 22, 2014

The Winners Of The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards Have Been Announced

I do not even have words to describe how amazing these are.

If you are looking for inspiration, you can see the winning photos here.

March 21, 2014

Easy Peasy Art Journal for Kids

I made one signature art journals for my cousin's kids last year, and recently realized that I had not shared the video describing how I made them. These are quick and easy to make, and so much fun to play in.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.