more sketches

Spent a couple of hours at the zoo again this week….  here’s a few sketches.

This is Rembrandt.  He is a screech owl who lost an eye and is now hanging out at the zoo with his volunteer educating the public.  He is absolutely lovely.  and tiny. Though I think those talons could do some damage if they had to.

There is a feed the giraffe station now at the zoo which is really cool.  For a buck you can give the giraffe a cracker.  The giraffes don’t seem to mind and it brings them right up close for sketching.

We caught this old guy napping.  So tender.  And somewhat human I think.  There is a certain person-ness to primates at the zoo.  Especially the orangutans.

That’s all for now.  Off to practice some music!!


It’s a delicate balance, this work thing.  On the one hand, over-scheduling myself can put me in the position of not having enough time and energy to make quality work (while still keeping up with life itself.)  On the other hand, too little work to do makes for artistic stagnancy and that can quickly spiral into dangerous psychological territory.  Ideally, if I can pluck away at some larger ideas while staying loose with smaller daily things I can stay balanced enough to do my best work as artist, mama, wife and friend.

Recently I signed up to be a part of The Sketchbook Project out of Brooklyn, New York.  This is a really great project that I consider to be something of a community art project.  None of the artists donating sketchbooks to this project are getting paid, in fact we paid to do this.  But here is how I look at it.  It’s exercise.  People spend billions of dollars each year on exercise for their bodies, why not pay a small fee and a bit of time each day to exercise your inner artist?  The first step in all this for me is to gesso all the pages in the book which is a moleskin brand blank book.

Generally I don’t use the moleskin books because of the paper.  Great for writing or even just pencil or pen drawing, but it doesn’t take watercolor very well.  With the gesso on the pages, they become more like blank slates that I plan to do collage work and maybe some paintings as semi daily exercises outside of my own sketchbook work (which try as I might not to, I still can take too seriously).  The book is due back to Brooklyn by January 2011 and will have a life of it’s own once out of my hands.  It’s good for me to do this sort of thing and let it go.

My theme for the Sketchbook Project is “I am a Scavenger”.  This is pretty much true, from nature bits to quotes to my own ideas, I am constantly scavenging around for new and potentially usable stuff…

Meanwhile, I have been working on an embroidery for a quilt I am making for a special show in the fall.  Here is the beginning…. just blocking in colors and getting the generic form of a howling wolf into place.  Already I love her and she seems to have some wonderful personality.  I will post more on this project as it comes nearer to fruition.  If any of you blog readers are crocheters or thrift store shoppers, I am looking for crocheted doilies (approx.3″-8″ diameter) to be a part of this piece as well.  Please contact me if you’d like to contribute!

But for now, I am back into the studio to draw my new favorite thing I read about in a book last night…. cave pearls!!!  (I think cave formations will translate nicely into wax this fall!)

mere sketches

Yesterday I went to the zoo.  I used to go all of the time with my kids when they were younger and before that I worked there as a teen and young adult.  I love the zoo.  It is the perfect place to go practice my drawing skills.  In the interest of practicing what I preach more by getting out and drawing more, I got myself a pass and plan to go as often as I can.  My friend Dan and I drew a number of animals during our visit.  His capacity for drawing far exceeds my own.  I consider my drawings “mere” sketches.

There are meerkats now in the cat house and they watch as the people stroll by.  They have great seriousness of purpose in their watchfulness.

Many animals, such as the snow leopard and the monitor lizard, could be found sleeping which makes them easier to draw.  But it is also fun to try and capture them awake and moving, like this Sumatran rhinoceros.  He had a mud bath, ate some leaves, and took a walk around his environment.  He is still a baby to a certain extent and I think it shows in his demeanor.

So for what it’s worth, here are a few sketches from yesterday’s zoo trip.  Bear in mind, they are mere sketches.  I’ll post more as they gather in my sketchbook.  practice, practice, practice.

A new sketchbook begins… and other news

It’s summer.  A new more relaxed schedule involving mostly running kids from here to there in between making art.  I love summer for this.  Ever since my Art Academy class ended in the spring, I have been looking forward to sinking my teeth (and pens and paints) into my new re-purposed sketch-journal that I made with book maker Cody Calhoun.  I finally got into it over the weekend while on a trip to Detroit for a feis (an Irish Dance competition… tis the season right now).  The paper we used to fill the journals is perfection for what I like to do which is write and watercolor.  I am in love.  And feeling productive.  It’s a refreshing breath of fresh air.

There is nothing like a road trip to wake up the senses.  This is especially the case when traveling from one distinct landscape to another very different one.  As we traveled north toward Michigan, the land leveled out and we saw all sorts of tall grasses which were growing in the marshy ground leading up to the lakes.  Some of this grass is apparently invasive but I don’t know enough about it to know the difference.  To an artist’s eye, it just seemed like a nice place for some red winged black birds to perch and swing in the breeze.

Meanwhile, some feisanna are longer than others…. I had some time to sketch while we waited for competitions to start….

I love pines silhouetted against a dusky sky…..

It feels great to be drawing on a daily basis again.  Intellectually I know that drawing everyday is good for me personally and professionally from all of the work with Drawing Down the Vision.  Why I seem to lose my way and get bogged down by life at times forgetting the subtle power of my sketchbook…. I may never know.  Must have something to do with being a human bean.

But enough about the sketchbook for a minute.  Here’s the news…. a few months ago, in the midst of my work on the ArtWorks mural, I applied for a residency at Mammoth Cave National Park on the off chance that I might have the privilege of spending a month there making art and teaching people how to “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints” with a sketchbook and pen.  Today I got the call from them that my application was chosen based on my portfolio and proposal for work I’d like to do there.  I am honored and humbled and tremendously excited to go explore the caves and work with the folks who work at Mammoth Cave all year round.

What a cool thing to look forward to…. I’ll keep you posted.  (I simply cannot stop grinning.)    🙂