November 28, 2012

Sketch Play Date [3]

Here is the final of the three pages I created on a recent sketch play date.
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I love the questions kids ask. There is a honest curiosity in their questions. No ulterior-motives. Made a little friend on this sketch session. I had prepped the paper with a fluid acrylic wash. Ink, markers and acrylics.

November 27, 2012

Sketch Play Date [2]

This is page two out of three that I sketched on a recent sketch play date.
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Remember those transverse and longitudinal sections of plants we used to do in Biology class? I loved doing those. The glass flowers collection at HMNM is fabulous, and I've got a thing for ovaries. Love how this page turned out. I had earlier prepped the pages with fluid acrylics and stencils for the background. Pen, markers, acrylics.

November 26, 2012

Road to A2

I love road trips. I remember the excitement of long roads trips from Mombasa to Nyeri in Kenya. My parents would pack the car with luggage, lots of tasty food, and sleepy kids. We started out before sunrise, and woke up on the road.

When you are a kid in Kenya, seeing elephants, and giraffes, and hippos, and ostriches, etc. was one of the fun things about a road trip. Another cherished tradition were our fave stops - Hunters Lodge with those glorious peacocks comes to mind.

Today was a road trip day - we drove out to Ann Arbor, Michigan. A journey of about 12 hours. We still set out before sunrise, and the car is packed with snacks, and music, and audio books. I do quick sketches in my journal - though not while driving! The wildlife consists of deer, cows, migrating geese and various birds of prey. Yes, the speed of travel is much faster than my childhood sojourns, but the level of excitement is similar. Highlights included sunrise, sunset, and snow squalls.

There is something on the human scale about car travel. Your body adjusts to the new scenery gradually. There is not that jarring shock that often arises from a plane ride of a similar duration. Though I must confess that my rump is not used to all that sitting. Am delighted to have arrived. More from the road later.

Sketch Play Date [1]

I met up with some new friends at the Harvard Natural History Museum yesterday for a sketching play date. Jaime, Anna, Alexandria and I walked around sketching what caught our fancy. We compared notes on materials and techniques - sometimes that can be the most fun part. I often spend much of my creative time alone, so really love when I can meet up with like minded people. BTW, if you have not visited this museum, and you live in the Boston area, you gotta go. Trust me. Just go. You can thank me later.
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Here is page one of three that I did yesterday. I had previously slapped on some fluid acrylics for a background - sometimes all that white paper can be intimidating. I could have spent all day, maybe two or three, at the mollusks exhibit. As an island girl, guess that is not really surprising. Ink, markers, watercolor pencils, and acrylics.

November 25, 2012

Life long learning

One of the wonderful things that the internet enables is online education. Love the idea and think it is going to revolutionize education around the world. You no longer need to walk into a building, you can learn from the comfort of your own home at your own pace. And free courses can reach millions who would otherwise not be able to afford an education.

So, as part of my life long learning project, I've signed up for a free course at Coursera. I learn new things all the time, but realize that there are areas that have huge gaps - astronomy being one. Yes, I could do what I always do and check out books and videos from my library and read up on the topic myself, but I've decided to try a structured learning of the material. The class I signed up for, Introduction to Astronomy, starts Nov 27 and run for 9 weeks. It is taught by a professor at DuKe University, and the course description says:

"In this class, we will be studying, quite literally, everything in the universe.  We will start with "classical" astronomy, describing the night sky and organizing what we see as was done in ancient times.  We will then embark on a journey, starting here on Earth and progressing outward, to study the Solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the wonderful and strange objects we observe in deep space, such as black holes, quasars, and supernovae.  We will end with some discussion of what scientists know today about the universe as a whole.  Along the way we will introduce some of the methods, theoretical and experimental, that have been used to understand all of this, from Newton's laws, through our understanding of light and matter, to Einstein's theory of relativity, and from Galileo's telescope to WMAP."

Sounds fascinating no? This will be my first experience with Coursera, though have already signed up for another class that starts up in Feburary. More on that later.

Have you jumped on the online education train? What courses are you taking?

November 24, 2012

Recent Reads

113. Daytripper
We don't remember days, we remember moments. Why are some moments more significant than others? Is it because we paid more attention? This wonderful graphic novel explores the big questions - Who are we? What is our origin mythology? Who are these strangers we call family? How varied are the lives that we might live? The book explores these themes as short stories of alternate realities. Beautifully illustrated, and wonderfully nuanced writing. Rating: 4 stars.

114. Still Life With Crows
My fave FBI agent is out in the Kansas cornfields chasing a serial killer. A very different setting than the usual NYC one. I really like the Pendergast series, but was not impressed with this one at all. Realized after I finished the audio (wonderfully narrated by Rene Aberjonois), that I was listening to an abridged version. 6 hours versus 16 hours might make a difference in the story flow I think. Sigh. What exactly is the point of abridged versions again? Rating: 2 stars.

115. The Handmaid's Tale
This book has been giving me nightmares. The writing is incredible - though I'm going to have to re-read it I think - was distracted by the actual story to pause and let the writing soak in. A fascinating, and creepy, and disturbing story, and yet so believable, down to your very bones. Hence the nightmares. Rating: 5 stars.

116. Le Road Trip
This is a wonderful book for armchair travel. Make a fire, brew a pot of tea, pick a pastry, and settle in for a fun couple of hours. This illustrated travel journal reflects on the highs and lows of travel and love. A fun romp through parts of France. Rating: 4 stars

November 23, 2012


As we, here in the US, celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, I'm spending Black Friday marching to the beat of a different drummer. No traffic jams, and shopping malls, and rude, unhappy people for me.

I am thankful that there is really nothing that I need. Sure there are things that I want, but how often do we take the time to consider all that we already have?

If you recall a post from earlier this month, I'm following along with Deepak Chopra's 21-Day Meditation Challenge. I can honestly say that my brain is being re-wired. And in a good way. Now, don't get me wrong - my monkey mind still comes out to play and throw things about - but as a whole, I am a better person for it. If you are doing the challenge too I'd love to hear your thoughts.

So today I am thankful. For loved ones. For friends. For health. For having everything I need. For beauty. For nature. For great books. And for you. You out there in the blog-o-sphere, who check in regularly  who leave comments, who inspire me each and every day with your creativeness, and grit, and generosity  Thank you. Or as my peeps say, asante sana.

November 22, 2012

Journal page

Don't these black boxes look like TVs? I saw this ancient piece of art in a museum in Turkey and was captivated with it. This is my interpretation of the piece. Wonder if the ancients predicted TVs. And that with thousands of channels there would be almost nothing worth watching.
Pen and watercolors.

November 21, 2012

Remember This

Art journaling is one of my fave things to do with my nieces.
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Digital supplies: layered template and png file from Ali Edwards; papers from Katie Pertiet.

November 20, 2012

World Book Night 2013

I love this program and have selected my books already. Are you a giver?
You can learn more here.

November 19, 2012

The sugar hill

Remember how I recently said that I was listening to something that was blowing my mind? It is about the latest research on sugar. I've been paying attention to sugar for a couple of years now. Started by removing easy sources - white foods, sweets, candy, etc. And I notice a difference. My system burns cleaner. I feel better. I have more clarity. I'm not yet at the point where I eschew sugar all together, but my friends, I think I am slowing inching my way in that direction. You can listen to Steve Gibson talk about his experience with the sugar hill here.
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Pen and watercolors.

November 18, 2012

Top 10 lies in online dating

From everything I hear about online dating, it is a jungle out there. But it would never occur to me that someone would lie about loving museums!

"If everyone who says they 'love museums' and 'go to them all the time' were telling the truth, every museum in the world would look like Walmart on Black Friday," says Vice's Brian Moylan. Daters run the risk of sounding boring if they have only a couple hobbies, so many "interests" are exaggerated.

Click here to see the other top 10 lies.

November 17, 2012

Journal page

I love graphic novels. They sure have come a long way from the comics I used to read as a kid.
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It is always fun to try sketches from a book. Style is such a personal thing. Ink and markers.

November 16, 2012

Play Date

Had my nephews Luke and Jonah over for a play date recently, and we lucked out with a really mild day. Luke is almost 10. Jonah almost 8. They grow up so fast.
Activities included a 3 mile walk in the park, shooting bows and arrows, learning how to use crossbows, soccer drills, and table tennis competitions. Being an aunt is one of my fave, fave things. Love these boys.

November 15, 2012

Journal page

There is something wonderful about abstract art. Everytime I look at this wood sculpture, I see something different. Sometimes it looks like a woman, other times a cat, or some Egyptian artifact.
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A quick sketch while watching a good game between the Pats and Bills. I need something to do during all those commercials. When you don't watch much TV, they seem interminable. Pen and watercolors.

November 14, 2012

Reading right now

So many books, so little time.
Am currently reading The Handmaid's Tale on my nook, The Wake, and Le Road Trip in print. Each of these is so different from the other, and yet each so good in their own way. Need to pick my next audio book. What are you reading right now? Anything good?

November 13, 2012

Journal page

When I don't feel well, I take out my journal and paints and play. It always lifts my spirits. Feeling much better today. How wonderful a feeling that is.
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Pen and watercolors

November 11, 2012

Recent Reads

109. Gone Girl
This was probably the most hyped book this summer, so I waited until all the noise died down before I started it. Expectations can be set too high. I listened to the audio version, which was wonderfully narrated by Julia Whelan and Kirby Heyborne.

Gone Girl is the story of two of the most unlikable, selfish, dysfunctional, and narcissistic people I think I have ever read in literature. On the day of their 5th anniversary, the wife goes missing. And the ride begins. The pace is good, and the author makes some clever observations of human nature, but on the whole I don't think I would have finished this book if I had been reading it in print. The audio however is an enjoyable, if disturbing, ride. Am glad to have their voices out of my head. Rating: 3 stars.

110. A Storm of Swords
This is book #3 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Oh, the twists and turns of this story. I find myself struggling not to get too attached to characters. And failing. And find myself talking aloud to characters. And saying no, no, noooooo.

Winter is coming! Rating: 4 stars.

I read the Urban Sketchers blog, where you get to see the world, one sketch at a time. The book has wonderful sketches from artists around the world, and is chock-full of tips, advice and inspiration. Makes me want to sketch everything in sight. I loved everything about this book. Rating: 5 stars.

112. 1493
I loved the first half of this book, but have gotten bogged down on the second half. Might come back to it - it is really wonderfully narrated. But putting it aside in my DNF pile for now.

November 10, 2012

A sign of the times

What does it say about our times when even dogs have anxiety?
And how does this help exactly? Does it feel like a tight hug?

November 9, 2012


Been under the weather the past several days. Throwing in the towel and going to see the doc today. My lungs are not sounding good. Funny how art work can be foreshadowing. These sketches reflect exactly how I feel.
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Pen and watercolors.

November 7, 2012

Play Date

We had my nephews over for a play date yesterday.

It was election day, so we went in to vote. No lines at all in our town. The kids were fascinated by the entire process. We discussed who they would vote for if they could, and also talked about the pros and cons of the three ballot questions. Our civic duty done, we spent the rest of the day discussing books, going for a walk, climbing trees, making a fire, and playing monopoly. And before we knew it, it was time for them to go home. Good thing we have another play date scheduled for next week.

November 6, 2012

Journal page

The thing about aging, is that it beats the alternative. Popular culture seems to demand that we spend loads of time, and money pretending to be young. Like somehow we will cheat time. I for one do not buy into this notion. Age as gracefully as possible - that is my motto. And if that means that I now have to dangle reading glasses around my neck, so I'm not constantly looking for them, so be it.
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There is something wonderful about faces with character. Pencil and watercolors.

November 5, 2012

Reading right now

I've got several books going right now. A Storm of Swords on my nook, 1493 on audio (iPod), The Art of Urban Sketching in print, and I dip into A Passion for Books on my nook every now and then.
What are you reading right now? Anything good?

November 4, 2012

Turkey Travel Journal

Here is a short video of my completed Turkey Travel Journal.

If the embedded video does not work, click here.
Click here to see how I make this type of journal.

November 3, 2012

Bellagio Collage

A family tradition when I'm in Las Vegas is a visit to the Bellagio. We admire the creative works of art in the botanical garden, and then proceed to sample the edible works of art at Jean-Philippe. Yummy.
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November 2, 2012

Hello November

I love the start of each month. It is a time to reflect on the months past, and set goals for the months to come.

As part of my goals for this month, I have signed up for a 21 day meditation challenge. Starting Nov 5. Care to join me? Learn more about this free program here. 

November 1, 2012

Trick or Treat

And just like that another month has flown by. Am holding on for dear life. Need to spend more time running or meditating - time always seem to move at a crawl then.

I love quaint American traditions - like Halloween - where kids dress up and walk up to strangers homes and ask for candy. I mean think about that for a moment. Do kids really need to be given more sugar? Well, kids aside, I'm getting smarter in my old age. Bought way less candy, so was left with only five at the end of the night. Better than having bags of the stuff that I constantly have to pit my non-existent willpower against.

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Spent some time at my local book store with hot tea, magazines, and my journal. Sketched images that caught my eye and then made them my own. Added the watercolor at home while listening to something that is blowing my mind. Will share soon.