Tag Archives: Daily Dog

Do what you can do

Today I have taken yet another day to do things slowly, to allow a plethora of new medicinals to take hold of this winter’s cold symptoms.  I stumbled upon a Keith Haring quote on the instagram page of Sketchbook Crafts which I know to be true and which I jotted into my own book, even as I chased the colors around my own sketchbook, doodling my magical canine beings.

Of late, I have pondered the notion of activism.  What can we do in the times ahead which are shaping up to be very different indeed. There are those who will march together on the day following the Inauguration of the vile new leader of the free world.   (Alas, I am signed up to take an art class, but my heart is with the marchers here in my town, and in DC.)

And there are those who use their fame and cultural influence for good (unlike some.)

But there are quieter avenues of activism as well.

The mere act of making some art feels like activism to me. As does teaching it to people who may think art is not theirs for the doing.  Open up one’s heart to their own making and there is no telling the sea changes which can occur.   In the coming weeks I am taking some remedial Spanish classes to re-learn a language I once spoke as a child.  This too feels like activism.  The class is in preparation for another trek down to Guatemala to do some sketching and exploring for future workshops there (stay tuned!!).  But I also would like to do more volunteer work in my community with folks who might not know English yet.  Small things, yes.  But perhaps they can stem the tide of where the election seems to be taking us.

So today, I do what I can do.  Everyday the light returns, as does my vim and vigor, and with that, some hope for better days.

 

Why we love a snowy day

 

 

Beneath the hill where the Red Wolf Howls….

redwolf howling 

There is a line of trees where Squirrel Folk dwell….

we know youre up there

On a snowy day we can clearly see the paths they have traveled and track their every move amongst the trees….

 

squirrel chase 3

Although we never catch them….

 

squirrel chase 2

We are always up for the chase….

 

squirrel chase

Which is good fodder for the artist’s little book of days.

 

Snowy day dogs sketch

And quite the excuse to nap a bit on the warm, radiant floor in the kitchen.

 

warm concrete is a doggie soul balm.

What do you love about snowy days?

Dog Dreams

It’s finally winter here, at least for now, and aside from the incessant not-quite-daylight quality of gray that permeates this time of year here, I welcome it.  It’s a little trickier to find stuff to draw (and not freeze one’s fingers off) so I turn to the dogs, as is often the case.  (click the pic below for a taste of what they might be dreaming of….)

Iris and River are the perfect models for sketching, unlike the zoo animals I encountered yesterday, who seemed to be constantly on the move.  (but dang, aren’t they precious???)

In spite of that motion, I did get a couple sketches made of the elephants….

It was such a treat to have the zoo mostly to ourselves.

Fellow illustrator, Linda Bittner (amazing website HERE) and I made a pact to sketch at the zoo, in spite of the cold weather and we were both glad to have made the effort.  We were rewarded with a warm Illustrator’s Group lunch afterwards where we shared recent work and slices of encouragement for everyone on this journey of Art as a Living.  My niece LuLu stopped by for a quick hello and we all agreed she is now an honorary member of the group.  (She’ll be awarded full membership when she can sit up straight in her high chair and hold her own tea cup.)

You may have met LuLu in this earlier sketch I posted on the twitter/facebook realm…

In other news, and in the interest of coming back ’round to this post’s title, I finally got my hands on the hard copy of my good friend Kim Taylor‘s new record, Love’s A Dog.

I’ve watched and listened to this body of work come to life over the last year or more and am so tickled to see it finally in print.  I love my girl Kim, and her amazing music.  Like many of my artist friends, she has more than one iron in the fire.  This week she’s out at the Sundance film festival promoting a film in which she plays a lead role, I Used To Be Darker.  There’s a ton of buzz going on about this indie film and I wish the team all the best as they strut their stuff out in Utah.  Go get ’em, girlie!!  (And then come home for a long walk with the dogs and a cup of coffee.)

Trends

Iris and I took a walk today in our local favorite woodsy place.  While most of what you’ll see in the woods right now is grey and brown (think mud…)

There are hints of green here and there and signs that our area might be trending toward spring.  This makes us very happy.  Especially when the sun is shining.

And so we explored the creek bed to see what recent torrential rains had rearranged.

We discovered what some site specific local sculptors had been up to.

All of this exploration lead to a really tuckered pup.

And a hungry me.  Thanks to a wonderful new friend (via another dear one – I am blessed with the best people in my life!), I have been on a bit of a smoothie kick lately.  The craving for green this time of year is more than in the woods or the cold frame.  It is in our very own bodies.  And it’s not just me, or Julie, or my family.  This trend is also alive and well across the pond where it is possibly grayer in winter than it is here.  I have been admiring the work of artist Michael Nobbs recently whose blog I discovered online.  His thoughts on creativity and working within one’s limits and boundaries are worth reading.  Wouldn’t you know, that as I was doodling the smoothie recipe below, a twitter post comes across that his blog for today is up…. and it’s about smoothies among other things.  Well Michael, I’m right there with you.  Here is the Jakk’s Magic Beans Recipe that is now in my sketchbook…

This all goes in a blender and get’s good and juicy.  The New York Times Style Magazine out last weekend showcased a place that sells this sort of green goodness to New Yorkers called the Juice Press.  People line up around the block to get one!  Yes, the trend toward green is definitely in fashion.

And so is watercolor…. This article from the Tate in the UK introduces us to a British man who painted watercolor paintings of the natural world around him.  These were shown only to close friends and never sold. Only recently have they become available for viewing.  According to broadcaster, naturalist and the article’s author, David Attenborough, these paintings were made for only one reason, and that is LOVE.  Love of the garden, love of painting.  Just love.  What a great reason to do anything.

Wishing you more green and sunshine in days to come.  (and some watercoloring should you be so inclined.)

What do i know?

“Science works with chunks and bits and pieces of things with the continuity presumed, and the artist works only with the continuities of things with the chunks and bits and pieces presumed.”

~Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance

Last week I traveled to New York City.  This was only my third visit to the ginormous metropolis but it was the most relaxed visit I’ve had thus far due to a comfortable home base and a good long time to stay in town, not to mention friendly locals.  The primary reason for the trip was to accompany my friend kim on a music trip but I also knew that it would afford me the opportunity for some time on my own to think, draw and write in my sketchbook.  The week was filled with music, coffee, more music, amazing salads, subway rides, dog parks, more coffee, lots of thinking, writing and a bit of drawing.  From an art making perspective it felt very deep and nourishing.  Un-rushed, with very little schedule to adhere to, I just wandered around NYC some, watched Kim make a few new songs, and thought a great deal about art making, my career, and this balancing act called life.  It occurred to me that I don’t often have so much time on my hands to think and it felt really great.

Lately I have been so wrapped up in the business of art and the teaching of art that I haven’t allowed much time for the making of art.  My sketchbook is a great place to keep myself drawing and noticing the world around me, but I have not spent enough time actually working on the more conceptually sound art work that is a bit like therapy to me.  It’s been months since a concept has grabbed a hold of me and begged to be made into some semblance of a body of work.  A visit to the American Museum of Natural History reminded me of what makes me tick artistically.   The displays at the museum are nothing short of art in and of themselves.  I really loved all of the fossilized bones in the paleontology wing.  I find myself looking at these collected specimens and wondering where people fit into the puzzle.  We are the cause of so much extinction and yet capable of such beauty as well.  This dichotomy is interesting and worth exploring through visual art.  I wondered why we are compelled to make art when so much of nature is so beautiful to look at already.  Like I said, deep deep stuff.  But good to ponder.  A bit existential maybe, but healthy over all I think.

Some early drawings….

I look forward to pouring over my photographs from AMNH and hitting the library for further inspiration.  As usual, the sketchbook is capturing whatever pours out.

Besides the museum, a trip to the Tompkins Square park was another fun venture which resulted in a few dog drawings.  It has been quite awhile since I have made a point to draw dogs.  I suppose there is just no one to draw quite like old Caskie.  But I need to get back into dog drawings.  They are tremendously good exercise.

All the while I doodled and pondered the trappings of the visual art world, Kim was hard at work in the studio writing and demo-ing, meeting with important people and doing a show.  It is interesting to me how much work goes into art.  All forms of art are so much more process laden than most people ever realize,  and music is no different.

One new song has a line in it, “What do I know?”  That’s a good question.  I am often so filled with questions about what’s around the bend, where to go from here, what next? etc. etc. etc.  But when I think about what I do know instead of what I don’t, or even can’t know, I find some comfort.

I know that I am incredibly grateful for what I have.  I know that I may love traveling but I also love coming home to my quiet little acre and the group of people that I love most.  I know that I love the work I do and that while it hasn’t paid much quite yet financially, it’s rewards have been priceless in the form of growth and experience.  I spend quite a chunk of my writing and thinking time contemplating the financial end of my work.  While in NYC, I met up with a fellow artist who is also straddling the lines between business and art and making a go at life as a working artist.  It’s an adventure ride for certain.  But we plug away at work we know is important.  This is all we can do.

aware

The above quote has been on my fridge for years.  It’s one of my favorites and I like to think I personify it in my life, at least part of the time.  Lately I have been thinking a lot about the act of drawing and how it applies to being aware and awake and alive.  A former student of mine and I have been researching creativity, its application in the work place and how the simple act of drawing can enhance, channel and release innovative thinking.  It has been an exciting and overwhelming project which we hope will enable us to bring our ideas into the corporate sphere, teaching people to collect their thoughts and ideas visually, by drawing in a sketchbook.

I have been diligently working in my own sketchbook in recent weeks to practice what I preach in some sense.  As school winds down into summer for the kids, my ideas are brewing for both my new project out in the “Real World”, as well as for studio plans.  My family and I have spent a great deal of time outdoors recently and that has given me fuel for the sketchbook as well as for my more academic research pursuits.  I am not sure how it works, (though I am currently doing a ton of reading about it) but the simple act of drawing, combined with walking and being outdoors is a magic tool for productivity and creative thinking.  It is my hope that I can successfully convey this notion to folks who have never tried drawing.  Drawing is one small way to be joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.  So is hiking and simply being outside.  At least for me.

Here are some Daily Dog Drawings from recent weeks….

We took Iris to the Red River Gorge for a long hike on the Wildcat Trail to Dog Fork Creek.  It was a great time, especially with only one dog.  Caskie is a little old for such a rough hike on difficult terrain, and River is still prone to running off and making a general nuisance of himself.  So we took just Iris and it was wonderful to spend the day just with her.  It turns out she likes fishing.  She would stare into the creek at the small minnows and then pounce on them.  I think given some time, she might have caught herself one.

The day after our day trip to the Gorge, Tony and I went on a rainy kayak trip with some friends, partly so I could test drive a boat that’s my size and for sale.  Paddling in the rain was surreal and sensual and I hope to do it again.  The temperature was warm enough that it was not uncomfortable and we all had a great time.  I am hoping to sell a couple of paintings at an upcoming show at the Art Academy so I can buy this boat…

Smoke

This is Smoke.   He is a greyhound belonging to a family who emailed me after reading the write-up about my dog drawings on the blog Dog Art Today.  It is difficult to draw a dog (or really much of anything for that matter) from a photograph.  But for me it is an interesting exercise now and then, especially when the picture is of such a graceful sinewy creature as Smoke.  I much prefer drawing from life, when I occupy the same physical and temporal space as my subject.  At the very least, if I draw from a photograph, I like to have been the one taking the pictures, capturing the images to study later on with my line drawings. That said, I still couldn’t resist sketching this beautiful dog.  I hardly do him justice, to be sure.

I have been in the studio a bunch lately.  Drawing some, gathering images to update my website gallery, working in wax, making baby gifts.  I am enjoying this time immensely, especially knowing that Tornado Season (in other words, puppet season/ full time work for awhile) is right around the corner.  I know that my studio time suffers in the spring as I am stretched far too thin with teaching, doing puppet shows and keeping up with my busy kids.  This will be Jeni’s and my 3rd season on the road with the Red Cross’s Wind Around the Toybox production.  It’s an intense season but it is just that, a season.  This year, I think we see it for what it is and we are ready for the hard work and high energy level these shows demands of us.  Last year we saw over 10,000 children in the Tri-State area, providing a not-so-scary approach to Tornado Safety for little people.  It’s a great job and I am lucky to have it.  Shows will start up in February sometime and go through May and it is during this time that I will have to fit studio art into the available little spaces I find here and there.  That will have to be enough.

Until then, however, all’s quiet, except for the howling wind outside.  I have a fire going in the fireplace, the wax table on means the windows have to be open and a fan on for exhaust, but I bundle up and play there while I have the opportunity.

resolutions

draw more

fret less

play more music

renew old friendships, nurture the new

find new outlets for this play that is my work

These are a few of the New Year’s resolutions that are floating around in my head.  I’m sure there will be more to come.  I’m sure I’ll be successful at some more than others.  But I am grateful for the coming of a new calendar year for the sense of a clean slate that it brings.  Time and its passing are relative. We can turn over a new leaf anytime we feel the need to shake things up a bit.  Perhaps that is my biggest hope for 2009, for myself and for others.  To remember that each new day brings the same promise and opportunity that a New Year does.  That each day deserves the same celebratory joy and commitment to a better life that we place upon January 1.  In the end, this is the only way to really live our lives.

Have a safe and happy New Year’s eve.

dog as muse

There is a lovely lack of structured time here in the studio this week with the kids off of school.  Everyone in the house is able to go about their business within the comforts of their own circadian rhythms – within reason, of course.  My 14 year old boy would gladly sleep all day and be up all night, which would make next week’s return to a normal school schedule excruciating.  I plan to get him up just after noon today.

I am always intrigued and somewhat enchanted by how much inspiration seems to head my way when I have the gift of unstructured time.  It is also amazing to me how much longer the days seems to last when they are not committed to the shackles of a regular schedule.  With the holidays finally calming down, I feel the deep need to get into the studio to work, but am a little rusty from lack of daily practice.  And so I turn to the nearest dog and draw.  Caskie is usually where I begin my artistic oiling (think Tin-Man in the Wizard of Oz).  He is basically a live scribble and really, really fun to draw – even when sleeping.

My friend Kim introduced me to a book called The Zen of Seeing: Seeing and Drawing as Meditation by Frederick Franck.  I love this notion of drawing as meditation.  Drawing requires a person to really observe something as the pen moves around the page.  How many people walk through the world each day, shackled to their daily schedules, not really seeing the world they live in?  It’s easy to do, and I am guilty of it myself at times when I have kids to take to school, jobs to do, errands to run.  The other night my husband and I went out to walk the dogs and he observed that the lit-up deer across the road actually move, ever so slowly, if one just watched for a bit.  The question then became, do all lit-up deer move?  Apparently not.  We’ve been watching.

My hope for the rest of this holiday break from routine is a continued awareness of myself in my surroundings.  Perhaps with the help of a daily dog, I can continue this sense of inspiration into the New Year.  Which reminds me, I need to get over to the office supply store for a new library date stamp.  2009 does not exist on my current one!

Happy New Year to everyone out there.  Go out for a walk, find something cool to look at and draw it.  It’s almost like yoga…

Sleep in heavenly peace…

Sometimes the blogosphere might seem like a lonely place.  But I have always known that I keep this blog mainly for my own entertainment and structure.  I appreciate looking back over time at both my website (to which I need to add some recent work!) as well as my blog and seeing a build up of work over time.  Trends and patterns are easier to note when seen in hindsight and amidst a bulk of work.

That said, it is only human to be a little bit tickled when someone else checks out my blog and likes what they see.  LA based artist, Moira McLaughlin has featured my Daily Dogs on her blog, Dog Art Today, a lovely and friendly place to check out all things relating to art involving dogs.  I highly recommend checking out Moira’s site and letting her know you have visited.  I can speak from experience, it’s nice to know we bloggers aren’t alone out there.

Today is Christmas Eve and the weather outside is indeed frightful.  Rain – sideways.  I am grateful that at least it is no longer freezing rain, which had caused me some worry for the holiday travelers.  However you are planning to spend this holiday, I sincerely hope it is a safe and cozy one.  In spite of the rain, it’s pretty cozy here.  Happy holidays to you and yours.