Recently I have felt the familiar feeling of being in a bit of a rut. It is winter time with dark, cold weather, so maybe this is to be expected. But I try not to wallow in it for long. These ruts usually accompany a time when I am busy in all aspects of my life except the art and suddenly I glance at my sketchbook and realize that perhaps days have gone by since I have drawn anything. This is not acceptable.

With the Art Academy sketchjournal class a go in February, I am conscious of needing to have something to show my students. Sure, there are years of journals and I will bring these to share, but there is nothing more magical than the current book being lugged around in my back pack everyday, collecting tidbits from my daily life. It’s important work. This is what the point of the class is after all.

So today I took some much needed time to re-engage my poor lonely sketchbook. I drew some dogs, wrote about and drew my cool new bird feeder (those little dudes actually eat while upside down, it’s really pretty cool). I wrote down a couple of quotes I found inspiring (my favorite was “What is truer than truth? The Story.” wow. Here’s where I found the link to it originally… another wow.) and glued in a picture of magnified carrot seeds I found on the National Geographic website. It has been a busy day.

Nearing the end of it, I feel the rut sensation lifting just a bit. I am getting ready to cook a yummy meal for a friend who counts among his skills the tuning of errant piano keys. I plan to light a fire in the fire place. Life is good. My sketchbook helps me see that.

Survival skill


I love lists. They are what get me through a hectic week with too much on my plate and not enough time or brain space to fit it all in. Lately the lists have been overly long, and the things that wind up not getting done on these lists tend to be the art related things: practice music, work in sketch book, etc.

As always, my greatest struggle is to create balance in my life between what needs to get done, what I want to do, and what is actually possible. My goal is to pay closer attention to the order of events on my to do lists and better prioritize them. As much as household chores and such need to be done to save my sanity, so too do I need to keep up with my daily art chores of sketching and writing to keep ideas flowing in the studio.

This past weekend the kids and I went to see the musical Wicked downtown. As expected, it was an incredible production that all of us found thrillifying. Attending something like Wicked reminds me what the creative pursuit is all about and helps me to keep my art well filled. It is incredible that what started out as someone’s notion to interpret a book into a musical, has become a phenomenon in and of itself.

One other bit of exciting news is that the minimum 5 people have signed up to take my sketch-journaling class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. So in February I will embark on teaching a few folks about what I find so satisfying in keeping a sketchbook. I guess that means that my own sketchbook needs to be at the top of my own priority list in the coming weeks!!

Puppets and such

Today was the monthly Family Saturday program at the Carnegie Center for Visual and Performing Arts. As usual, kids and their accompanying grown-ups had a blast creating one-of-a-kind works of art surrounding the loose theme of puppetry. We made felt monsters, sock and paper bag hand puppets, shadow puppets and some simple marionettes based on a design by puppet maker/performer extraordinaire, Kevin Frisch.


I became interested in puppetry when I made a marionette of Alberto Giacometti for an art history project in art school. After that project I decided to learn more about the legacy and craft behind the art of puppetry and joined the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild. Through the connection with this wonderful group of talented people I am learning more all the time about puppets, puppet making, and puppet performing. I even got a job with the local chapter of the Red Cross performing a tornado safety puppet show during the spring season.

Another perk of being part of the Puppetry Guild is the sharing of cool stuff with other people interested in the art of puppetry. My friend Lisa sent out a link to an interesting blog called 3 Quarks Daily. In this particular entry, the author shows a video of a giant puppet show put on in London by the French puppet theater company called the Royal de Luxe. It is enchanting. The Little Girl Giant is so tremendously alive, in a way that is difficult to describe, but this blog does a good job of it.

Whether a puppet is a simple sock character or a giant engineering marvel, the magic lies in the coming alive of something inanimate. This magic is what draws me to puppetry as an artist. I am thrilled that I got to share a little bit of the magic of puppetry with the families who visit Carnegie’s Family Saturday. Hopefully they enjoyed it as much as I did!

sabotaging boundaries

There is a nasty habit of mine where I find myself in a position of having taken on too much, in too many arenas, and then feel crushed by my self-imposed deadlines and responsibilities. This is a cyclical thing that I am coming to realize is a form of self-sabotage.

Every now and then, I need to re-stage my boundaries, tidy up my commitments and give myself some breathing room to work on new ideas. This week I finished up a stop motion video that Kim Taylor and I have been working on. I was interested in making some fun videos with her as a way to learn a little about a new media and to try out some new software. The second of our two videos is now done and it has been a tremendous amount of fun. (The strange image below is the link…)


I also finished up some simple drawings for the new Riley School website which is being given a make-over.


These activities have been worthwhile projects for their potential in getting my work “out there” as well as for the new skills I have learned in doing them. Finishing these and some other smaller projects will hopefully free up some space in my head and on my desk for Art (Capital A) as well as make more time for my “paying gigs” which get busier as spring approaches.

Being an artist requires constant vigilance to keep a successful balance. I am reminded of a unicycle rider…

a dog in the hand


Today saw us getting back into a normal routine: kids back to school and me trying to get a little work done in between the rest of life. The puppies are growing like weeds. Suddenly, much like my teenage son, the pups have these unbelievably large feet – bigger even than Caskie’s more petite, though full grown, feet. It seems these dogs are going to be HUGE!

Nowadays I spend a lot of time just watching and drawing these amazing animals with whom I am fortunate to share my home. It’s much like being a new mom all over again where my days (and nights) are ruled by the feeding, pooping and sleeping schedules of these new beings. Iris has a new kennel all her own to be in when it is night time or when we leave the house. She has cried and cried in recent nights, most likely missing the company of her brother (in the kennel right next to hers) but frankly, there didn’t seem to be enough room for the both of them in there any more! And so we continue this pattern of minor adjustments on a daily basis.

In the art realm I am feeling sluggish and lacking the protective boundaries I had around my work before the holidays. That said, I have made some more instrument drawings which may or may not be used in the new Riley School of Irish Music website, and that has been a good exercise. Also good is my new sketchbook which, with every drawing, becomes more alive with activity.

In the coming weeks my goal is to get back to pre-puppy working hours and return to work on projects that have been simmering on the back-burner for perhaps a bit too long. There is nothing like ringing in a New Year to spur a gal on to getting her act together!!

what to do with all that poop


With the arrival of 2 new pups, the level of poop production here at Chez Bogard has skyrocketed. It is disturbing to me how much goes into the garbage, which then of course, heads to the landfill. So I did a little digging, so to speak, and found a relatively simple solution for the disposal of 3 dog’s worth of poop.

City Farmer is a Vancouver, BC non profit that provides information and assistance to urban farmers in that area of the world. I happened upon them during my poop research and found directions to create a home spun dog poop composter which returns the waste back to the earth naturally. This site has all kinds of interesting articles about urban garden issues and is worth a virtual stroll to check it out.

The tricky thing with pet animal waste is that there are some rather nasty microorganisms in it that render it unable to be composted for normal garden use. In other words, just throwing Fido’s waste onto the back yard compost heap then later spreading over your tomato patch just isn’t a healthy option. The only way to do it is to get it down deep into the ground, much like a composting toilet might do with human waste.

Below are the instructions. It is a fairly simple process that will hopefully save hundreds of pounds of waste from hitting the landfill.


back into the swing of things….


Happy 2008! I am grateful to be sitting here writing on this snowy January day, finally feeling somewhat human again after the holidays and being down with a cold. Today in the mail my final Christmas gift arrived from Joseph, Oregon. This is the issue of the Moonlight Chronicles by Dan Price that I blogged about a few days ago. What a treat! I have only just glanced at it as I am saving the real pouring over it for later, when I can spend some time with it next to this evening’s fire. The stickers were an added bonus and I have divvied them up among the kids.

Meanwhile, my own sketchy work continues. I have been breaking in the new sketch book by installing my signature pocket in the back of the book and making a design of sorts on the front cover. Since I made this book from scratch this time, “messing with it” to really make it my sketchbook was a more difficult task than just altering the average blank book. Now that I have done it however, the book feels even more my own and I have once again tackled that new-blank-book-syndrome that so many people feel when starting a new journal. Here’s the cover. I drew on it and glued some threads I had laying around.


And lastly, here’s a daily dog. Caskie is still my favorite to draw, simply because he is so darn scribbly himself.

To the folks who read my blog on a regular basis, thanks again. Your support and well wishes are what make it a pleasure to blog at all. Best wishes for a safe, prosperous, healthy New Year.


puppy portal


The other night I had a dream about sketchbooking and in the dream, some of the pages were cut out with squares, like little windows that gave a peek into the images on the following pages. I love this idea and decided to try it in the “real world”. I’m happy with the results and plan to use this nifty idea again in the future.


Here are River and Iris on the towel where we set all the puddle boots when we come in from out in the yard, which is, currently, a boggy, muddy mess. (as are all three pups, much of the time!)

Simple gifts

The gifts are all opened here at Chez Bogard and we are settling into the quietude of Christmas vacation. No work or school schedules to worry about for a few days and we all have our new presents to play with. However, one of my favorite gifts has yet to arrive. My husband sent away to Dan Price to get a copy of his long-running sketch series, The Moonlight Chronicles.

When I first began keeping a sketchbook in earnest years ago, we stumbled upon Dan’s delightful work in Backpacker magazine. Over the years I have collected his numerous books about his art and life and have admired his “hobo-artist” approach to things. Dan is one of the artists upon whose work I have kept an eye while developing my own style of sketch journaling. I have given countless copies of his How To Make a Journal of Your Life to various fellow artists in the hopes that his down-to-earth approach to successfully keeping a sketch book will inspire folks to make their own. I am looking forward to getting a “real” copy of The Moonlight Chronicles in the mail from Dan himself.


part rabbit warren, part spin on art & life & etc. art, illustrations & workshops by amy bogard