Friday, December 19, 2014

Nightly Five Minutes

Firstly, welcome to my new blog location! I made the move so the url matches my other social media accounts (i.e. my Instagram). I've imported all the previous content so nothing is missing and simplified the background to better match my website.

I've been having a devil of a time sketching everyday while juggling a wiggly baby so a few days ago I came up with a plan. Every night before going to sleep I sketch for exactly 5 minutes. I take about a minute to get my head in the game and come up with an idea before tapping go on my timer. Short, sweet and easy peasy. Nightly 5 minute sketching has already taught me a few things:
  • 5 minutes is a hella short time to self impose restriction and so far things rarely turn out as I intend. Sounds like a familiar life lesson....
  • The short time really allows me to get out of my head not leave any time for second guessing.
  • Even though it's such a short time completing it consistently every night feels sooo good.

I'm sure I'll learn a great deal more as time passes. I imagine this idea of setting aside a simple 5 minutes a night towards something you haven't been able to find time for could be used for almost anything. Writing, exercising, woodworking, cleaning, research, crocheting, etc. I bet as time goes by 5 minutes will organically grow to 10, 15, 20 minutes and so on. Already on day three of my nightly sketching I spent an extra 5ish minutes before hand playing around with a previous 5 minute sketch.

I've been posting my sketches most nights on my Instagram.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thoughts on Consumption

Create more than you consume.
That sentence really strikes a chord with me. I struggle with that so much. As a visual artist I don't think consumption is limited to just what is viewed either, but what is taken in by all the senses. Especially nowadays with Pinterest, Spotify and podcasts always at my fingertips it's hard to reign in the binging. All I seem to do most days is consume, consume, consume. And I'm not talking about drinking in nature, I'm talking about over feasting on what has been created by human.

To an extent, as an artist, I need to consume in order to create. I need to let my brain drink in the surrounding sights and sounds, feelings and textures in order to have something for my brain to process into my own expression, my own art. I'm not sure I could create without consuming. If I locked myself in a cabin Thoreau-style I'm sure I could continue creating for a while, but since most of my subject matter revolves arounds humans it wouldn't last long. I thrive on interactions to inform my art. Heck I'd wager than every single artist needs to keep at least a toe in society in order to stay relevant.

Where one spends their time and how much of that time is spent on consuming is such an important balance to strike. Much like food fueling the body, one has to be intentional to be able to fuel one's creative soul in a healthy way. If I'm being honest, I have to admit my consumption is not healthy. I'm fat and bloated with the amount and rate at which I consume. I'm calling myself out. I consume junk at such a rapid and staggering pace in hope of finding that "one magical bit" of inspiration. But that one magical piece to rival all others doesn't simply exist in one single place hidden in the pages of the internet. Great inspiration exists in the mind. Great inspiration is accessed by showing up to a blank page armed only with a pen and taking that pen to the page to create even when creating is hard and the output sucks. Great inspiration is cultivated with fresh air, human connections, new experiences and seasoned with a hardy dose of variety.

Everyone likely has their own innate balance and formula for healthy consumption. I'm not sure what mine is. It probably involves seeing more things live/first hand, focusing more on my other sense rather than relying so heavily on sight to experience the world and getting back to reading novels to let my imagination wander. I look forward to experimenting to discover a good balance for myself which I've already started to do. Slowly but surely.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

November Reminiscing

Well I was quite the instagram slacker in November. Not for a lack of taking pictures, but just a lack of taking pictures that featured something other than my baby. Oops. I'll work on that I swear.
After two months I was hoping to have a better handle on getting a substantial amount of work done, but nope. Kid knows what he likes and he likes eating and being held. I've decided to make my goals for December stupid simple: get more done than I did last month and document the proof.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

September and October Reminiscing

Getting back into the swing of things is slow. I'm currently in between several thoughts as an artist and I'm not entirely sure which way to turn. The pressure to make the "right" choice is distracting me from making any choice. I know I just need to start going in a direction and time will sort things out as long as I'm moving forward. Hopefully in the next couple weeks I'll gain enough forward momentum for things to shake out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Baby + Workbench!

Well that was a fun surprise. Our little bundle, that I had carried close to nine months, decided to come three weeks early. With everyone saying over and over again that the first one is always late I was kind of banking on that fact. Part of me had an inkling that I wasn't going to be so lucky, but I ignored that little voice of mine. Oops. It's now been a little over a month and I'm smitten with our little one. I wasn't sure how smoothly the transition from normal person to mother would go for me, but it's been great. Yay for hormones! We're just starting to come out of our little bubble and get back into the swing of things. This week we took our first trip to NCMA to see the art and I was head-over-heels for this installation of African carved heads.

A few weeks ago, with the help of my husband, I was able to built myself a workbench from start to finish in between feeding the little one. It was the best feeling! I cobbled the design of the workbench from a few places. I used these plans as my blueprint for how to join all the pieces and I used the plans from here for added a bottom shelf, but I also added a healthy dash of my own flair for good measure. I drew up my plans in my trust graph paper notebook like always before buying wood.

For various reasons I decided to make the workbench 28"deep by 48"long by 35"tall. One reason being that I hoped to be able to wheel the workbench around the house for projects, but I forgot to test it so I'm not confident the workbench will fit through the tight corners of the hallway. Oops. The frame is made from pine 2x4s and joined together using pocket holes.
The top is two pieces of 11/32" pine plywood glued and nailed together with wire nails. I made the top thick so I wouldn't have to have additional framing under for support. The top is screwed to the frame from above with wood screws. The bottom shelf is a single piece of 11/32" pine plywood and has framing underneath for support. The shelf is also screwed simply from the top with wood screws.

I plan on adding a few bells and whistles too down the line (outfeed support, pipe clamp storageshallow boxes on wheels and maybe locking wheels). The studio is still mostly a disaster, but this workbench has gone a long way in making a dent in the chaos. Little by little I plan on continuing to chip away at the rubble to create order.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Latest: a Love of Woodworking

Nothing on the art front to report this week besides a handful of subpar doodles and lettering sketches. Instead I've been creating with wood. I love building useful things with my hands out of wood. The process is always so gratifying for me. Even when the final product doesn't function exactly like I hoped I still love working with wood and learning. My first house was trimmed entirely in Southern yellow pine and since living there I have fallen hard for the distinct wood grain. Every time I go to the hardware store I pause to pet and gaze at the wide and wavy grain. The age and style of the new house (1950s ranch) doesn't lend well to building everything out of Southern yellow pine, but I did put up a shelf in the bedroom for nostalgia.

With a little one on the way, I'm quite sensitive to the fact that a smooth working house is paramount. Once the little tik pops out there will be no more "oh hey we could really use blank, let me just build that quick". So I'm trying to knock out as many building projects that will make home life easier and that our wallets can handle.

Yesterday I built a much requested nightstand for my husband's side of the bed. It's simple, inexpensive and I love it. I made it from a single 1"x12" pine board that was 8 feet long. The lovely people at Home Depot did the cutting for me and I glued, clamped and nailed it together with 2" finishing nails. As soon as I get the thumbs up from my husband after he's done testing the nightstand I'll putty the nail holes, sand and shellac the whole thing to finish the piece. Then I'll go pick up another board and build one for my side of the bed.

Most of the rest of my woodworking energies are going towards things for in our future babe's room. Thus far I've built a simple wooden ledge above a chalkboard wall and constructed a folding growth chart which will be filled in after the birth with details like name, birth date, etc. Next on the list is to finish building the shelving unit and baby bed I designed.

Hopefully next week I'll take the time to break in the chalkboard wall. Someone has to do it, right?

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Reminiscing

My time and energy during August was torn between many things. Getting my studio in functioning order, preparing for a baby coming in two months, and of course squeezing in much needed naps to keep my body working. I haven't been as productive in the studio as I thought I would, but things are slowly progressing so I'm reminding myself to go easy on myself. My September art goals are to get more sketching in, do a chalkboard drawing for fun, blog here weekly and organize my studio at least a tiny bit more. Slow and steady.

From the archives > some old artwork

Monday, August 25, 2014

New Studio: Interim Desk

I had this huge impressive plan to get my studio in shape and share the whole process over a few posts. Having recently moved states, the studio has been a disaster of stacked boxes since the move at the end of June.

Step one was going to be build a wall-to-wall desk on the far wall of the living room for our computers so I could reclaim my studio desk which is acting as interim computer desk. Then life happened. The water heater died and all our money went not to replacing the water heater (it was covered under our home warranty), but to plumbing upgrades needed for the new water heater to make everything up-to-code. No money = no studio desk....or does it? Being pretty down about lack of funds to get the studio in order, I turned to Craigslist in hopes to find free or cheap desk or table. While I couldn't find anything for free I did find a couple tables for $10-20 dollars that could work temporarily. My thought was to buy something that worked for now and ditch it when I saved up the money to build the desk for the living room so I could reclaim my studio desk. I recently read an article/blogpost about living on less and the last woman's advice really reminded how I should be making our pennies count: Get creative and fix everything! There is great pride in that. The same woman also reminded me of the simple fact, "Never use money you don’t have". Those ideas floating in my head forced me to get up and try to make my studio work for me without spending any money. When we moved I was forced to leave almost all my scrap wood behind and I didn't think I would be able to do much of anything with the space, but I was so pleasantly wrong.

After several hours of organizing it now looks more or less like a studio in at least one corner while the rest of the room still looks like a storage unit.Yes those are stacked plastic totes with random pieces of plywood acting as my glorious desk. I never thought I would be so happy to have such a shady looking set up, but I'm loving it. I still have to get creative in taming the rest of the room, but I'm happily pleased with the baby steps that are taking place so far.

My ability to turn the studio into something cozy and functional after being sure it was hopeless reminds me of exactly how I feel before I start a new piece that I know is out of my comfort zone. I always hem and haw, drag my feet and procrastinate. BUT as soon as I dig in and start the actual piece everything almost always falls into place by the end and I wonder why I took so long to start in the first place.

My first morning after getting my "desk" set up I gathered breakfast and hunkered down in my studio and it felt so very good. First breakfast in the new space: priceless.

Monday, August 4, 2014

February thru July Reminiscing

I am slowly coming out of my unplanned hiatus. The first half of this year turned out to be full of all kinds of happy surprises. The highlights are as follows:
  • I'm pregnant, but it turns out pregnancy isn't my cup of tea. Can't wait for the tiny human to show up at the end of October though.
  • I've recently escaped the great north and relocated with my little growing family to sunny, warm North Carolina. The whole move has consumed an enormous amount of time from house hunting trips to packing up our whole house and unpacking it all again (still not done with that last bit either).
  • Having recently moved, my new studio is still buried under boxes and waiting for me to build a new desk and some addition storage so I can start unpacking. BUT the new studio is bigger!

I'm so grateful to leave the long, grey days of Wisconsin behind in favor for the sunny warmth of North Carolina. While Wisconsin can be grey, overcast for days on end so far North Carolina can't seem to stay grey for a whole day even when it's rainy. I have a whole new city to explore that seems to be brimming with possibilities for an artist. I'm excited to slowly dive in and see what I find in-between all the naps I have to take because I've learned growing a baby is hard work.

Now that I've emerged from the fog of life I hope to jump right back into posting weekly. If I had to hazard a guess as to what the next few months would look like on this blog I would say one might see pages from my sketchbook, the development of my new studio, features about other artists I'm stalking (perhaps with an emphasis on North Carolina artists?) and continuing my monthly recaps complete with highlights from my instagram account among other things.

From the archives > some old sketchbookings

Saturday, February 15, 2014

First Piece of 2014

'Cloud Study 1'. 3.5in x 5.75in. Watercolor on paper. 2014

In other news, currently digging:
   "Bust Your Knee Caps" by Pomplamoose
   Rainy Mood website because rain really does make everything better

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January Reminiscing

January did not turn out to be a very productive month even though I did relaunch my full website.  Here are a few of my January favorites from my instagram. I recently tripped on this blog by Erin Boyle which I've greatly enjoying reading through.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

2014: A Year of Preparing

One month in. Hurray for the New Year.

I'm always making lists. If you've ever seen my studio you'll notice there are post-it notes and papers tacked up every where and piles of notebooks stashed in different places all of which contain lists. Some of the lists are even repeats. It's a sickness that keeps me sane.
Post-it notes and paper lists galore
2013 you started out on the right foot then tripped repeatedly throughout the middle and yet somehow managed to get back on the right foot before the end of the year. I did some pretty large things in 2013. In no particular order I turned oldish which actually rocks, figured out how marriage works, conquered new dietary restrictions, changed up my employment, got all new shiny windows installed in the house and opened my etsy storefront. While I didn't find complete balance as was my goal for 2013 I did get much much closer which feels great.

2014 my hopes for you are vast. I will always have thoughts of balance in my head, but this next year I'm going to direct my focus on preparing. The beginning of 2014 has found me floundering about a bit aimlessly. While I have some ideas of what I want my future to hold there is no way of telling. During church a couple months ago I wrote the following in my sketchbook:
"Do what God asks you to do today because what he has you do today will prepare you for what he has for you tomorrow. He is preparing you RIGHT NOW for the deeds he has in store for you. -Me"
Waiting for the future only seems to produce a future of more waiting. My greatest accomplishments have consistently been when I was committed to doing regardless of knowing where I would land. Doing seems to get the wheels turning and once chugging along at a good pace I can course correct. To cease doing always results in train-wrecks and makes the future seem farther and farther away. So for me the best way to prepare for the future is to focus on the present and the best way to focus on the present is by doing. Being intentional, mindful and present is the plan. I'm not going to worry one bit about what I "should" be doing just as long as I'm doing. Here are a couple things that I've started doing:
   1. I want to be able to give back to the community down the line. I want to learn a useful skill that may help me give back outside of art. I think the fresh experiences a new skill will bring will only help to enrich my art. To begin I've started to learn a new language with the hopes that in 2-3 years I'll be fluent and can volunteer.
   2. I want to ensure I have a diverse stream of income in the future. Exploring different artistic outlets (lettering, hand-painting objects, embroidery hoop painting) will enrich my normal painting habits at the very least, but could also lead to different income streams. I'm banking on the fact that with time some doors will naturally open while others naturally close.

For the blog last year I listed three specific actions I wanted to accomplish:
   A) "... showing up here more than never." Check. Showed up 10+ times.
   B) "I hope to expand the diversity of my content..." Check. Featured Alasko.
   C) "I intent to share photos of my studio on a regular basis..." Oops.
2 out of 3 is not bad at all in my book. And since I like lists so much I'm going to do another one. A) I aim to achieve a regular blogging schedule. My track record is lousy, but I'm going to start small and try for 1 post a week. Once I get that down pat I might try to make that one post a week always happen on the same day and time of the week. B) I never want to apologize on this blog for not posting. I find it tiring to read blogs which always seem to start with some variation of "Oh sorry I haven't been around!" Instead I hope to just post and if there are any unforeseen absents I will simply explain if I feel the need no apology included. C) And now to completely contradict my first point, I no longer want to commit to doing something "soon", "the future" or at all on this blog. Gone will be the day of me saying I'm going to do something and then not following through. From here on out I'm not going to say anything about what I'm going to do and focus solely on what I have done or what I'm currently doing. Consistency and delivery is the name of the game for this blog.

Cheers to the New Year.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

As Promised

Shiny, fully redesigned, mobile friendly website UP! If anything looks shady let me know.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

December Reminiscing

The last two weeks of December were spent in blissful relaxation enjoying the holidays and soaking up family. I am now entertaining the idea of reviewing each month at the end (or beginning of the next month). Grab a handful of photos from my instagram, point out any highlights and bam done. Short and sweet. Here are a few of my favorites from December.