Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

To all my friends around the globe, I wish you peace and happiness during this Christmas season and for the new year. May 2012 be filled with inspiration, adventure, and creativity galore! I'm grateful for all those who stop by to visit, leave kind words, and generously share their artistic lives. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You Had Me at Creepy-Ass

Imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon this hilarious little book by Stacey Leigh Brooks in the new book section at my local library. There it was, squeezed in between larger and more serious books, on the art and craft shelf.  I couldn't help but be intrigued by the creepy-ass title.

This book reminds me of the awkward family photo web site where entertainment abounds with nothing more than a simple photo combined with a humorous caption. Instead of actual people, the subject here is toys made to resemble people. And boy are they creepy!

Who among us hasn't been creeped out by one of these so-called playthings at some point in their life? I was reminded of my own creepy-ass doll experience that I blogged about here.

If you want to experience more creepy-ass dolls, check out the creepy-ass dolls Tumblr site.

Who Knew? Seriously.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What's Thanksgiving without a Pilgrim?

Well, hello Pilgrim! It's been a while since we've seen you here. What would Thanksgiving be without at least one pilgrim at the dinner table? Right? I know, I know. Thanksgiving is over and I'm behind as usual.

In fact, it was time to pause and reflect in Pilgrim about two months ago but I'm just getting to it now. Why? Because, as you can read above, I'm afflicted with 75% syndrome. As soon as any project reaches this point, I run out of steam, inspiration, and interest. I'm ready to move on. I like starting projects so much more than finishing them.

The dilemma I'm reflecting upon is whether I should try to catch up and finish Pilgrim in 2011 as I had originally planned....or if I should forget about my self-imposed deadline and just finish it whenever. Of course, that leads me to wonder if I will ever finish it at all, or if it will end up amongst all the other unfinished projects in my studio. What should I do? Advice? Anyone? Anyone?

This page was the first I did in Pilgrim with my brand new Lamy Safari fountain pen. It arrived in the mail from Germany on Wednesday and I haven't stopped using it since! I bought it for sketching since it's the pen of choice for so many urban sketchers, but it works well for lettering too. It glides across the paper much better than a marker and I'm still getting used to the feel of it. I can refill it with waterproof ink, so no more dried out markers. So far I have to say I LOVE IT!!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adventure Journal #2

A while back, I completed my first adventure journal and blogged about it here. I finally finished up adventure journal #2 which chronicles a weekend visit to DC to visit our son.

The day began with the much anticipated wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I thought it was a big enough event to warrant a mention in the journal. I like the idea of including a bit of history into an adventure journal.

Under the flap I included a list of the essential items needed for a road trip along with a bit of what has become standard road trip dialog.

He drives and I assist with the small, but important, tasks best left to the passenger.

I worked on the journal whenever I could during the weekend, but also made copious notes to help me remember all the details long after the trip.

I incorporated a few photos into the journal that I altered electronically and printed on my home computer.

I also like to incorporate business cards, menus, or napkins from places where we eat. In this case, the restaurant didn't have any of those items available, so I had to find the logo online and draw it myself.

This is what I imagined Lincoln might be thinking about.

That's my son buying train tickets from a very complicated looking vending machine.

This was my husband's reaction upon seeing the Washington monument. Including funny quotes has become a favorite part of these little adventure journals. The memories are priceless.

I got to spend a little time in the Corcoran Art Museum and saw some absolutely fabulous modern art up close and personal.

As it turned out, the weekend began with one historical event and ended with another. Lucky for me I was able to record both of these events along with my own personal memories of these couple of days.

Next up--adventure journal #3 which is still in progress. Stay tuned to find out what I did in Pittsburgh recently.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let’s Go to the Movies

I watched a lot of movies this summer. You might even say I went on a bit of a binge. It started innocently enough—as most adventures do—when I bought some old art books at a local used book sale. That purchase made me realize that there are huge gaping holes in my knowledge of art and artists. I took a few art history classes in college but all I remember is a darkened room, poor quality slides, an instructor who spoke in a monotone, and the ridiculous memorization of names, titles, dates and periods.

I got the brilliant idea to create my own learning experience and decided to start at my go-to place for learning—the public library. I checked out a few books on some of my favorite artists and started reading. However, I find reading about art to be a difficult task so next I went to my second go-to place for learning—google. I searched for movies about art and came up with a large list that I then requested from the library.

I thought I would share with you the movies I watched over the summer in case you are looking for some art-related education and/or entertainment. A lot of these are documentaries and I discovered that I absolutely LOVE documentaries.  I created this spread in Pilgrim where I recorded all the movies (and a few books too). Here they are in no particular order:

Exit Through the Gift Shop – Documentary or mockumentary? Watch and decide for yourself. I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining and thought provoking look at street art as seen through the lens of the eccentric Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles. 

Pollack -  Ed Harris stars as abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. A great movie!

Basquiat - Jean-Michel Basquiat started as a street artist in NYC and had a meteoric rise to fame as a painter in the 80s. Friend to Andy Warhol, he died tragically of an overdose in 1988.

My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown - A drama starring Daniel Day Lewis as the title character, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy who could only control his left foot. He uses his foot to paint and write and becomes an accomplished artist and author. I liked this movie although I thought it was more about family and perseverance than about art. I wanted to see more art.

Lust for Life - A classic 1956 film starring Kirk Douglas as the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.

Crumb - I never really liked the art of illustrator and comic artist Robert Crumb and now I know why. If you think your family is messed up then you need to watch this film. Holy crap.


Rivers and Tides - Watch as British artist Andy Goldsworthy creates fantastic outdoor sculptures from rocks, twigs, flowers, and icicles. This man has more patience than a saint.
The Cool School - A documentary about the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles which opened in 1957 and launched modern art on the west coast.

Beautiful Losers - This film focuses on the work of a group of artists with a DIY style of street art.

American Splendor – The story of local home boy and quirky comic book creator Harvey Pekar. I think Harvey can only be described as a curmudgeon.

My Kid Could Paint That – Is four-year-old Marla Olmsted a child prodigy of modern art or is it just an elaborate scam? Watch this documentary and decide for yourself. Like Exit Through the Gift Shop, this film will make you question the validity and value of the art market.

How to Draw a Bunny – A documentary about the life and art of Ray Johnson, often considered the father of mail art. It appears that his life was as much a riddle as his art.

Vincent and Theo - Another movie about Van Gogh, but this one looks at the relationship with his brother Theo whose financial support enabled him to focus on painting.

Brush with Genius - Apparently Van Gogh is a popular subject for movie makers. Personally, I would watch every movie ever made about the man.

The Yellow House - An interesting book about the nine weeks that Van Gogh and Gauguin spent living and working together in Arles, France.

Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film - Four solid hours of video that examines the life and work of legendary pop artist Andy Warhol. The first disc focuses on his early life and everything that came before the soup cans that launched him into super stardom. The second disc focuses on life after instantaneous fame. This film inspired a visit to the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh recently.

Herb and Dorothy - The story of the Vogels, a likeable and legendary couple who amassed an enormous collection of contemporary art on a very modest budget and then donated it all to the National Gallery of Art. Philanthropic and adorable at the same time.

The Horse's Mouth - One of the strangest movies I've ever seen in my life. There's nothing else I can say about it.

As you can see from these pages, I also watched a few movies completely unrelated to art and read the "dragon tattoo" trilogy of books. Whew! I told you I went on a binge.

Are there any other good art movies I missed? Let me know if you have any to recommend.

Speaking of movies, quite a few have been filmed here locally lately including one where my friend Laura’s house was chosen as a location. Laura completely restored a fabulous arts and crafts bungalow a few years back. At the time, I was doing a lot of mosaic work and she asked if I would like to collaborate with her to mosaic the fireplace in her living room. We worked on it on and off for months and now there is a chance that it might end up in a movie!! The movie won’t be released until next fall but I’m crossing my fingers that the fireplace gets at least a few seconds of glory.

Most of the clutter you see in the room is part of the movie “set” and not Laura’s decorating. The room was made to look retro 70s. I can't believe I have to wait another whole year until the movie is released to see if our fireplace gets its "15 minutes (or seconds) of fame."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

So Many Things to Love

I've been a little MIA lately and I don't really know why. Maybe I've been distracted by a messy house, an upcoming craft show, or too many rainy days in a row. Or maybe I've been distracted by making this list of things you gotta love.

Yeah, let's just go with that.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Big Ideas vs Dumb Crap

Have you ever found yourself caught between these two worthy opponents? These are the guys that battle it out to see who can win over your time, energy and focus.  They dance around your life bobbing and weaving to see who can knock the other one out. In one corner you have BIG IDEAS who fights with pure adrenalin and creative agility. In the other corner you have DUMB CRAP who leads with a wicked left hook and mundane practicality. Lately, DUMB CRAP has been kicking the--well, um crap--out of BIG IDEAS. But BIG IDEAS isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. It's not over until the fat lady sings. Right?

BIG IDEAS did manage to make a few little blank books to sell at the fair.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Books - They're Not Just for Reading

Libraries are a great place to spend a rainy afternoon--especially if you're looking for a new subject to sketch. While wandering through the stacks, I discovered that the library contains a good share of old and obscure books. Luckily, those make for very some interesting sketching. Kindlers Literatur Lexicon is an encyclopedia of world literature that I'm sure would be very helpful--if you can read German.

The angle is a bit off, but here's how the books looked on the shelf.

I also came across this beauty titled Gleanings for the Curious from the Harvest Fields of Literature by Charles Carroll Bombaugh published in 1875. I count myself among the curious, so this seemed like a book for me. Apparently Bombaugh was enthralled with language so he compiled a book filled with "miscellanea of the omnium-gatherum sort." 

What sort of miscellanea might you find in this book? Well, things like odd and uncommon epigrams, facetious drolleries, whimsical mottoes, and merry tales and fables. There are chapter headings such as alphabetical whims, palindromes, macaronic verse, emblematic poetry, paronomesia, and puritan peculiarities.

I don't know what most of these words mean, but they are certainly curious and so much fun to say!


A little online research tells me that this book might not be as obscure as I initially thought. However, C.C. Bombaugh remains a bit of a mystery since I could find very little information about the man who has aroused my curiosity about whims, drolleries and peculiarities.  Is there anyone out there familiar with this book or its author?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Quiet Places to Sketch

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic, so it's nice to get away once in a while and find a nice, quiet place to sketch. I'm still working towards my goal of learning urban sketching, so outdoor scenes are especially good practice. This little area is a popular lunch spot at work.

This spot is hidden away in the far corner of an outdoor reading garden. It's another great place to enjoy lunch and sketching.

I sat on my front steps and sketched this one evening while waiting for my husband to come home from work. It's a view of the driveway and neighbor's house and one that I've seen countless times over the nearly 30 years that we've lived in our house. I love the fact that this view is now preserved in my sketchbook forever.

Sometimes you have to find a quiet indoor spot when the weather doesn't allow for outdoor sketching. I think all sketching is good practice no matter the place or subject matter. I hope to enjoy more lunchtime sketching for as long as I can before the weather keeps me indoors for good.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I think this quote by Sean Reichle perfectly illustrates the meaning of influence. Think about it and choose your friends carefully.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Pilgrim's Soul

Pilgrim has been a little neglected lately since I've been sketching a lot in my watercolor Moleskine.  I looked around the house for an everyday object to sketch in Pilgrim and came up with the reliable old soup can. It worked for Andy Warhol, right?

I debated between chicken noodle and tomato, and the noodle won out. This sketch was done over a background sprayed with pigment inks in pink and red. The can was painted with gouache, watercolor, and twinkling H2Os. This time I decided to skip the black ink and use only paint to sketch the soup can. I tried to make the can recognizable while using as little detail as possible. I was going more for personality than realism. (Honest, I was.)  I kind of like the pinkness of it--so NOT Andy Warhol.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Everyday Objects

I have a few more sketches of everyday objects to share with you. I'm NOT a germaphobe and rarely use this stuff, but when I sketch at lunch I'm limited to "office" items. I just like the gooey green goopiness of it. You can tell from the bottle that other people in the office are far more concerned about germs than I am.

Like many of you, we've been having quite a heat wave during the past few weeks. I can't even tell you how many of these I've consumed lately.

This cactus looks like it was probably pretty easy to sketch, right? WRONG! It was harder and took longer than the first two sketches combined. The problem was that after a while I couldn't figure out what part of the sketch was cactus leaves and what part was the space between cactus leaves. It was like one of those optical illusions that make your eyes go buggy. I kind of gave up somewhere in the middle, and since I was already an hour into the sketch, decided to just call it finished.

Sketching is a funny thing. At first it's downright frightening. Then, once you start having some fun with it, it becomes addicting. You start to look at everything around you and think about sketching it in your mind. I  am thoroughly enjoying this "everyday" diversion.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I recently became re-acquainted with my watercolor Moleskine and went on a little sketching spree. It all started quite innocently--as most of my art adventures do. I was working on my second adventure journal, and although I think these little journals are a great way to record the events, memories, details, and ephemera from a trip, the one thing they lack is a sense of "place." Since I envision these adventure journals as baby steps to real travel journals, I realized that I need to learn how to sketch.

I'm not talking about sketches like these. I'm talking about the kind of sketches featured on the urban sketchers blog. Holy moley! I want to be an urban sketcher when I grow up! I've been on a few sketch crawls in the past and found them to be incredibly challenging events resulting in mediocre sketches. Instead of feeling inspired and motivated to make progress, I felt like it was just another art form I would probably never be able to master. I've spent my entire life thinking I can't draw worth a darn. (I think that's why I find abstract art so appealing.)

But I also spent a lot of time hating my attempts at hand lettering and never thought I would be good at that either. A lot of practice turned that around and I'm now quite happy to write to my heart's content. I have to believe that I can also improve at sketching--or anything else I set my mind to--if I'm willing to work at at without giving up. My friend Cathy and I are now on a mission to become urban sketchers. We're dedicating a few lunch hours a week to get outside and sketch.

This is one of my first attempts. It's a building that is being demolished. At this point the windows had been removed and they were starting to demo the interior. The day after I sketched this the whole section with the doors was gone. My main objective here was to practice perspective since that's always been a struggle for me. It's not too bad but it feels pretty lifeless to me. After this sketch I tried to concentrate on a looser, more spontaneous and colorful style. Cathy went on vacation and the weather was crappy, so I had to resort to sketching at my desk where I did the salt water taffy and my paint palette.

We got together after work one day and decided to see what we could accomplish in 30 minutes. We set a timer and stopped sketching when it went off. (I added the text later.) That night I did the travel watercolor set and the wine bucket. It was so hard for me to stop at the end of 30 minutes because I have a tendency to want to add "just a little bit more." But I'm happy I forced myself to stop because the sketches are definitely looser than they would be otherwise. I wrote the name of the wine we drank on the sketch. It's good stuff and you can find it at Whole Foods.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that The Sketchbook Challenge theme for August is EVERYDAY OBJECTS and I just so happen to have a group of them right here. What a lucky coincidence, eh?

I'm still trying to figure out the best way to go about sketching and have been experimenting with different tools and techniques. I'm viewing this as a true challenge and learning experience. I know I won't be happy with every sketch, but hopefully it will get me closer to becoming the awesome urban sketcher I'm hoping to be.