Thursday, September 27, 2007

Toothpaste pingpong

I'm a Crest kid!

Diving into a new sketchbook without worrying about committing to that perfect first mark on that pristine first page.

I like the format that Karen Blados uses for her daily sketches. And Jane's sketch journals are really nice snippets of her days. Illustrated lives, indeed.

Maybe this way I can get away with spending less time typing, documenting the little daily stories. The blank white block for entering text with the blinking cursor is like that brand new white sheet of drawing paper. I try to find those perfect words for that perfect, pristing new (digital) page... As much as I enjoy the crafting of words, I also need to streamline my days a little bit, when I can.

And besides, some of these daily drawings seem so naked all by themselves on the pages of my sketch book, hanging out there all by their lonesome.

Thursday already? Wuf! Heading into the stretch towards the weekend.. have a good one out there. -w

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Twists and turns

Last night we had meetings at school rather than classes. It was a nice break, to meet colleagues, learn about what’s going on w/the school, be re-energized about teaching and learning. There’s a lot of focus on Student Learning Outcomes at both the schools I teach at: What do we want our students to do, feel, know – at the end of our classes? The focus is less on providing instruction (ie, data dump), and more on encouraging learning. Wouldn't it be great to motivate self-teaching?

I got there early and got to eat dinner and sketch for a little bit along the reflecting pool and added color when I got home. Arty note: Since I have two mini paint sets, I decided to fill one with tube watercolor paint and try working with that, rather than the solid pans. I fight with the pans, I’ll admit. They normally win, not me. So the tube paint in the little wells will dry out enough that you can take the kit with you with little or less fear that it’ll spill out and goop up your art bag and all the precious arty materials in it. The w/c paints will soften with even just a little bit of water. I had heard this and went, “Really? I can use the tube paint? And still be neat?”. Yes, it really does work that way. Cool.

Tube paint in what used to hold solid pans of paint.

I have to say, though, that I was *so* excited by all this pigment that I could finally use so easily, that the intensity of colors here isn’t really what I had envisioned in my mind.

Reflecting pool at PCC

"Ick. Too much.
The blue. It bothers me."

I flipped through my sketchbook, which I finished off this morning. Most of the early sketches from about the past year were in just ink, or graphite pencil. Lots of gnarly trees. Not so much color. So that’s a new thing to play with more and fine-tune.

I wanted to loosen up for some work I need to do today and went out on the patio to sketch the row of plants that J has. I enjoy using this continuous-line quilting approach to drawing; sort of like drawing in script. My intent was to scan this then print out pages and work with the color – lots of nice gradations from green, yellow and red in the broad leaves. I grabbed my brush pen, and went back in for, what? I’m not sure, maybe emphasis. The much thicker lines really changed the character of the line work in a way I’m not sure I wanted. So, realizing this, I did a couple more quick sketches to capture gesture and to try to discern what I thought about the different pen weights, independently and/or used together. I’m going to work on this more, linework, in my work and my ‘play’.

"blah blah blah!" Is anyone still reading? Or are you just watching the sketches go by?

I added blocks of color in photoshop to a scan of the first two-page sketch and the sketch bothers me, well, ... less. [impish shrug]

I’m going to print up some of the b&w line drawings and play with color (paint) more, too. Later.
Because... in the middle of finishing off my sketchbook and quick sketching, I started sneezing. Fall is in the air, and something in that air, on the patio, makes me sneeze and sniffle!

I wouldn’t say that it’s been a discontented last 24 hrs of art, though (well, aside from the itchy nose. That’s pretty distracting). It’s amazing that you can always come back to working with the basics: Lines, color. The journey, like the art, has gesture, twists, stops and starts, splashes of color that you didn’t expect. Working through the process, I have to say, is what makes it really fun for me. And, of course, for me, the play - - very happily - - inspires the work part, too.

So ... dow, I hab to go blow by dose and ged to worg. Have a good one. -w

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Or maybe a

spot of tea?

I was doing some study sketches for a personal project I'm working on and ended up taking some reference photos to make life easier. Then, I found myself taking more photos that I didn't quite think of taking when I started. And then, I found myself playing with Photoshop ...

This falls into the "Oh, I wonder what that does (click!)" method of learning software. Kind of hunt-and-peck; not very efficient, but fun, all the same:

teacup from J's really pretty china set

You're wondering, aren't you, where this project is going? I've been thinking about this for a while. Let me finish and I'll get back to you. Might take a bit. It'll be fun. Promise.

Anyway, and then I sort of got really distracted from the immediate task at hand ...

in the heat of the desert...

And so it goes..

Monday, September 24, 2007

Two cups of coffee

one of the Starbucks variety

and one of the cheaper, mix-from-the-tin variety.

from over the weekend.

This quote search inspired by

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of... being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Monday, September 17, 2007


... to me!

When was the last time you saw a 4" diameter birthday cake?
Isn't that just the cutest?
Weren't you wondering why I was coming into all this good stuff?

Just back from a weekend up in the Owens Valley and beyond. We stopped for an afternoon meandering through Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite), where I discovered ...

... where Blind Contour Sheep come from.

We stopped by Lake Sabrina, outside of Bishop.

See the photos:


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Secret hopes

What do you secretly hope for?

- a portable/table easel
- sushi
- a new wallet
- great, funky/designer-y black leather shoes
- a completely guilt-free afternoon at Burke Williams spa
- getting my car cd player fixed
- ginger blossoms
- some time with Jack
- something really purple to wear. Stylish, but purple.

And then, sometimes, well, gosh, just lookit!

A paintbox (Karen claps, “Yay! Finally!”)
and some really, *really* cute shoes.

There are deeper wishes, indeed, (balance, affordable healthcare, quiet, strength, financial security...)
but for today, I’m going to keep it light here, and just share some of the fun stuff that’s come my way.

Here's a really nice read about even better secret hopes that come true.

xox, -w

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not bad, just unfinished

This is from earlier in the spring, at Descanso. I was never happy with how this little postcard-sized painted sketch had ended up at the end of that morning. I was putzing around this weekend and decided to try and deepen some of the colors, then added some ink linework. I'm happier with it now. I mean, happier with it enough to share.
I have a hard time throwing out some of the bad; hoping that at some point I can rework it, make it better. Does that make me a hopeless optimist, or a hopeless packrat?

Okay, don’t answer that.

The creative process takes practice to work with, and so hard to explain.

A designer friend of mine went on an interview and sent me her thoughts on it. She said, I think, knowing that it’s something that I would cover in my classes, that one thing she wishes that we’d learned in (design) school is how to better manage conversations with other disciplines, especially those that think more linearly, like engineers, business people. We’re accustomed to communicating our ideas in drawings and words, but forget how very different our language can be. Ideas like “emotion”, “brainstorm”, “concepts”, “experience” – they’re so basic ideas to me that I can’t imagine that someone else can’t grasp what I’m trying to convey. I forget, sometimes, the blank, not-getting-it-at-all stares. “Emotion”? I took a good long pause and am taking this to heart; this term, my students and I will be practicing not only conveying who we are, but trying to build bridges as designers, helping others understand our process, our value.

It underscores for me how much I treasure being able to connect with other creative, visual people. I’ll bet if I say that I’m going to get, say, new carpeting (Karen goes, “Oooo! Finally! Remodeling!”), and say to you that I’m thinking of a medium grey, that if continue and say it’s going to be about a … 70% cool grey, that a lot of you would be nodding, “Ooooh. Yes I see”. I like being able to communicate that kind of subtle preciseness. We try so hard to make our work really meaningful and really spot-on, and sometimes it connects with people, for reasons they can’t quite understand or explain. That’s so gratifying to see. Sometimes people can’t see what the heck you’re trying to do, and no matter how you try to explain it, neither you nor your work makes a connection. Argh.

Everybody wants to be heard; whatever the language. I’d forgotten what a special language it is that the artistic speak and feel. When my guy talks about the golden sunlight of the morning, and how it’s so soft and clear, bringing out the texture of the mountains, my knees go weak and I melt.

Oh, and we’re not actually getting new carpet, btw.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Soggy cereal

I was planning to do a graphite pencil sketch of the buncha bananas that we have, when I sat down for breakfast, but this looked like more fun. I’ve been working on ellipses with my class, and the banana slices seemed remarkably more appealing when I looked back and forth between the bananas and my cereal bowl (Not that the ellipses are very good. The slices just seemed more cheery). If I had done this in graphite, instead of a quick study in pen, my cereal would’ve been even more soggy. This, and the Snickers, speak loudly of the perils of trying to draw what you’re eating.

Arty notes: I’m enjoying doing sketches with my copic drawing pens, using the Talons opaque watercolor pan set (would that make it, pretty much, pan gouache?), and my Niji waterbrushes (water-filled). The opaque paint seems to go onto the moleskine sketchbook pages a lot more easily than normal watercolor paint, doesn’t bead up. The Talons set was one of the very few I could find; I’m not sure what quality it really is, but it seems to be working for me, finally.

Here are some thoughts on metaphors working in my life right now.

Making peace with some of these art materials – the pan gouache (but who can spell it correctly the first time?) and Niji brushes. I’ve been complaining about them for a while. And suddenly, they’re working well, together. Or, more accurately, I should say: I’m working well with them, together. It’s not them, but me; I’ve made peace with them and am enjoying doing quick little sketches here and there. You fight and fight, but when you just relax (Cesar Millan would say, “Sh!”), it’s easier to make peace. So many things that we all struggle with that we can’t get to work, but when you stop trying to force things, things suddenly and neatly fall into place.

And running. Oh, the metaphors are endless: You have to be able to walk before you run. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You know it feels great, but hate to drag yourself out of bed to do it. Slow and steady wins the race. Train slowly; don’t try to overdo it. Watch what you eat to fuel your body correctly. Remember to stretch and cool down. [sigh] I’m back putting time on the treadmill, trying to build up time. Yes, I know: Outdoors is better, the fresh air... Okay, but I like running, and the treadmill is just way more gentle on my joints. So there. On my off days, I do try to get outside, before the school traffic builds, for a nice long walk.
A walk’s as good as a run.

How’s that for mixing metaphors? And yet, it works, huh?

What have you been fighting against that maybe you could afford to just settle in with?
What long-term goal is out there that you could approach, slow and steady?

What foods would you love to draw, but just know it would be easier to just enjoy one thing at a time; either the food, or the drawing of it?

What metaphors seem to be recurring themes in your life?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Not that I was setting out to actually draw the Snickers bar.
But you can see how improbable a task that would've been, if that's what I had in mind, can't you?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I thought they were pine cones, too, but

... Well, gee, of course they’re sheep.

I’m minding my own business, you know, s l e e p i n g , when *poingk!* I’m suddenly wide awake at 3 am.

With thoughts of sheep.


I’m blinking, in the dark, “Go back to sleeeeep. Sleeep! SleeeeEEEp! SheeeeEEEp!”


This is your fault, you know, ahem, Jane. Power of suggestion and all.
Wait? What's that? Amidst the gleeful laughter, I hear you chirping that at least I got an early start to the day... Right?

Okay, I'm going to take a nap... While I'm doing that, amuse yourself with more blind contour creatures