Trying not to get discouraged

For 2016, I made a commitment to myself to make a drawing every day. Some days, it is more of a doodle, on other days I try to sketch an object or face. My comfort zone is in plants and the natural world. I love flowers and leaves, stones and sticks. I would not say I have any expertise or skill, but I just enjoy drawing those objects.

The thing is, I have a desire to create portraits – not necessarily of any particular individual, but more abstracted, such as Misty Mawn, Gillian Lee Smith, or Jeanne Oliver.  Even though I ultimately want to paint more abstractedly, I long to capture an actual likeness.  I have been trying to draw a self portrait and have not even come close yet.  I try not to get discouraged, but simply recognize that I need practice.

January 28, 2016

January 28, 2016

This was today’s drawing that started as a self-portrait, until I got the nose way too long.  There are times that I regret committing to posting my drawings every day on Instagram, and posting them in my blog as well.  It is a lesson in humility for sure!

Reminding myself to practice, then practice some more…





Here are my other drawings since my last posting:

January 26, 2016

January 26, 2016

This began as Georgia O’Keefe.  She has such an interesting face, I so wish I could accurately capture it.

I love painting and drawing from Buddha sculptures.  It transports me to a calm and tranquil place…

January 27, 2016

January 27, 2016

I have some Buddha paintings I did a couple of years ago that I posted about in December 2013 and January 2014.








I also played with some paper clay this week.  I formed some small hearts that I painted with acrylic ink after the hearts air dried.  These have such a smooth feel to them, like stone, but so light weight.


Snow and a Story Board

Here in the Washington, DC area we enjoyed a near record breaking blizzard which started Friday afternoon (January 23) and continued until late Saturday night.  This is what 22″ of snow looks like:

BlizzardJan2016BackPatioThe snow piled high on the patio table looking like a loaf of very white bread.  I kept up the shoveling of my sidewalk throughout the storm, which saved me from back breaking work if I had waited until the storm end.  Since I have no driveway, I parked my car in a nearby parking garage to make room for the snow plows and to eliminate the trouble of digging it out.  A neighbor did not.

BlizzardJan2016BuriedCarSome areas had over 30 inches from this system known as Winter Storm Jonas.  I am so thankful that it was cold, so the snow was not too wet.  Therefore, we had few issues with power outages.  We are still clearing out today although my town had the roads clear by Sunday morning.

On my walk yesterday, I found this Sweet Gum tree “gumball” fruit packed with snow.

BlizzardJan2016Gumball Snowstorms are a good time for making art, and I just happened to have started a new class this week – Reflections: Paint Your Story by Jeanne Oliver.  One task for this week is to create a Story Board using old family photos, personal photos and/or magazine images of places and objects that relate to my life.  This brought up so many emotions as I collected materials for my board.  Family members that I miss and those that have changed.  Places I long to be.  Events I had forgotten.  I also placed my attention on the colors within the images in order to create a palette for painting.  Clearly I will need to include chartreuse, teal, and that gorgeous Sedona red/orange rock.

MyStoryBoardThe Story Board was a wonderful, if time consuming exercise which I know will have an impact on my work from this class.

Here are my daily drawings:

January 23

January 23

January 24

January 24

January 25

January 25

Great day to be inside making art!

This weekend has the potential for the greatest snow accumulation in a single event in Washington DC since 1922!  It looks like we might get 2 feet or more.  Luckily it is quite cold so the snow isn’t too heavy.  We are hoping to minimize the potential for power outages.

It is a great day to be inside drinking tea and making art.  This afternoon, I will be playing with paper clay – a moldable, air drying medium.  This is part of my current goal to work through Misty Mawn’s book Unfurling, and lead the discussion for the Art Journal Emporium Book Club.  I am doing a chapter a week and blogging on the AJE site.  Volunteering to lead the book club for January and February means I can’t get lazy, I am pushing myself to make several projects from each chapter.  I am having fun so far!

These are the stamps I carved last week:

Hand carved stamps

Hand carved stamps

Then I made an Artist Trading Card (ATC) using one of the stamps, deli paper printed with a Gelli plate, an image from Tumblefish Studios, and words from Tim Holtz.

ATC-with-StampThese are my latest daily drawings:

January 19 - Folk Birds

January 19 – Folk Birds

January 20 - Snowy Owl

January 20 – Snowy Owl – ink and graphite

January 21 - Pen and Ink with Pan Pastels

January 21 – Pen and Ink with Pan Pastels

January 22 - Pen and Ink Iris

January 22 – Pen and Ink Iris


















Well, back out to shovel some more, then play with paper clay.




Pocket Wheel

Just before Christmas I received my newest spinning wheel – a Pocket Wheel.

PocketWheelThese are made by hand by Jon McCoy in Oak Harbor, Washington, on Whidbey Island. The wheel is only 18 inches high and weighs a mere 6 pounds. I would never have thought it was possible to spin efficiently on such a small wheel until I tried out a friend’s Pocket Wheel. It spins smoothly and easily. In fact, I sit back a bit more than with my other wheels and it is quite comfortable. I put my name on the waiting list last January, and it was worth the long wait.

One can customize the wood for the wheel, the frame, and the treadles.  I choose Maple for the frame and Quilted Maple for the wheel and treadles.  While it won’t actually fit in my pocket, it does stow neatly into a zipped extra large tote bag and I can easily take it with me to spinning get-togethers.

Here is my first yarn spun on the wheel: 75% Blue Faced Leicester wool and 25% silk.  FirstonPocketWheel







For my daily drawings yesterday and today, I created self portraits.  While they don’t look exactly like me, I enjoyed the process of creating the shadows and highlights of the face and capturing the details.  Today I experimented with a more expressive style, using scribbling to build up the shadow areas.  I was not feeling so despondent as the image appears!  As I played with how I held the pencil I varied the amount pressure I applied.  When I loosened up my grip I also relaxed my desire to control the outcome.

January 17 Self Portrait

January 17 Self Portrait

January 18 Expressive Self Portrait

January 18 Expressive Self Portrait

I am not sure that capturing an accurate likeness is very important to me.  I much prefer the unique styles of artists like Pam Carriker, Misty Mawn, and Gillian Lee Smith.  My greatest aspiration would be to develop my own style, like these amazing artists have done.  The work of each is so distinctively their own.  I think that is part of what this year of drawing every day is about for me.

What if?

I like to play the “What If” game, especially the “What if I win the lottery” game. This week, the lottery was over a billion dollars which generated long lines at the shops selling tickets. People chatted nervously as they tried to fill out their forms for the Powerball for the first time. I never did get it right and went with random numbers. Everyone looked so hopeful.

What would you do with a billion dollars? I would set up trust funds for my children that matched what they earned (can’t make life too easy); give some to friends and family to ease their lives a bit; set up a foundation for causes that matter to me, quit my job and buy an old school or warehouse and turn it into art studios and a gallery, where artists could have low rent in exchange for giving free art classes to kids. I would also get a trailer and travel to all of the National Parks in the USA and Canada, drawing and painting, spinning and knitting along the way.

I did not win, of course, but I thought, how can I act in a small way as if I had won. What do I want most for myself? I want to be an artist full time. While I do need to keep my job for now, I am thankful that I can create art three days a week, and snatch moments here and there on the other days. So, I focus on that and continue to draw every day.

My Daily Drawings (sounds like a lottery name, doesn’t it?):


A doodle and a quick portrait that ended up looking a bit like Pippi Longstocking.  Funny what comes up when drawing.Jan_14_2016

I love birds and plan to do many drawings of all kinds of birds.  This is a raven.  Jan_15_2016

It is a nice change to focus in on one element of the face, looking at each tiny detail.

Jan_16a_2016 Jan_16b_2016

I tried two blind contour drawings today, using a vintage photograph as my reference image.  A blind contour drawing involves looking only at the reference, not at the paper, and using one, continuous line.  In the first, I used a Pentel brush pen, in the second a Derwent Graphitone 6B pencil.  Doing a blind contour drawing takes so much pressure off drawing, since it cannot possibly look well proportioned, but comes out funky, yet interesting in many ways.  For example, I really like the lines of the dress in the ink drawing.

I have four lovely days of freedom because of the holiday.  It is nice to be living the life of an artist, even without winning the lottery!

Enjoying the Quiet

Now that the holidays are over, I am relishing the quiet time of January.  I love the short, cold days – perfect for drawing, creating fiber art, or napping!

Here are my Daily Drawings:

Pear - January 8

Pear – January 8

Pine Cone - January 9

Pine Cone – January 9

Vintage Portrait - January 10

Vintage Portrait – January 10

Figure Painting in Charcoal - January 11

Figure Painting in Charcoal – January 11

It is difficult to post all of my daily drawings.  My critical mind makes it uncomfortable to post drawings I don’t like.  I can’t say that I am proud of any of these drawings, but I am proud of myself for drawing each day.  I remind myself that I am practicing daily in order to grow as an artist.  Not everything has to look good.  I am hoping that by the end of the year though, I will see drastic improvement!

I am also finding time to weave again.  I love Saori weaving.  Misao Jo founded the Saori style of weaving in 1969.  It represents a completely freestyle form of weaving, adding in bits of fiber in an unplanned, spontaneous manner.  There are no rules, in fact, many traditional weaving rules are broken.  Of course, I love having no rules.  I can add any size or type of fiber even strips of fabric, randomly change direction, leave gaps, beat it tightly, or loosely, whatever I am feeling in the moment.  It is very Zen, very relaxing.  Some Saori artists change it up frequently, adding bits and pieces, even doing a tapestry style of weaving in the middle of their fabric.  I love that, but, I also love keeping it in simple stripes, adding in a new color when I run out of one, or feel the urge to change.  No thought, just instinct.

Saori_April7_2015Saori_April5_2015It is a thrifty form of weaving too, because I can use up all of my odds and ends!


Making Drawings

Well, so far, so good. A week of drawings, one each day. Only 359 to go!

Jan_3_2016January 3, 2016

The drawing above is influenced by Pam Carriker’s book: “Mixed Media Portraits”.

In my quest to make a drawing a day for 2016, I originally thought I would post only those I like, therefore taking the pressure off a bit. Instead I am going to post all of them – the good, the bad, the mediocre. I think it is important to know that all artists make bad drawings, especially as they are learning. So, in an effort to make other artists feel better about their work, I will post all of my daily drawings this year! 🙂

Jan_4_2016January 4, 2016

I love making doodles and am particularly enamored of Lisa Congdon’s work at the moment.  I love her seemingly carefree illustrations.  They are lighthearted, colorful, detailed, and fun!  I especially covet her California arm tattoo!

Jan_5_2016January 5, 2016

Jan_6_2016January 6, 2016

For the lotus drawing, I played a little with my Stabilo All pencil and some water.

Jan_7_2016January 7, 2016

Today, I turned again to more Lisa Congdon inspired play.  This is directly from her current CreativeBug course “January Drawing Challenge: 31 Days of Drawing”.

Posting my daily drawings on my blog helps to create accountability for me, so I thought I would post my other goals for the Year of Transformation.

Goals for 2016:

  1. Draw every day
  2. Blog two times a week
  3. Open an Etsy shop
  4. Lose 30 pounds/increase healthy eating/exercise more
  5. Live within my budget – reduce debt by 20%
  6. Practice cello every day once the bone in my left pinky finger heals

Health and money are always at the top of the list of those things most people would like to improve in their lives.  We know what we have to do, why is it so hard to do it?  Creativity is the other area that I am focusing my energy on – this is what brings me JOY!