In the groove

It’s a very brisk morning out there (it’s warmed up a bit to the current 9 degrees) and I am eternally grateful to be in charge of my own schedule.  And also eternally grateful to friends who crochet…

One on my lap, one round my shoulders as I sit here and work.  Woven love.  Nothing like it!!

I’ve taken today off from my job-work to pull together some art-work for an upcoming show at UC Clermont’s lovely gallery space called Nature in Art. (opening March 6 from 4-5pm, if you are local)  My good friend Bruno Zabaglio (awesome website HERE) is curating this show and I am honored and excited to be a part of it.  It’s been quite awhile since I have shown any new work and the majority of it won’t be finished until just before the show but I am for once not in a total panic about getting finished in time.  Which is nice.  The ideas barely began to flow in time, but now that they are flowing… well, work begets work.  So it’s down to measuring, and committing to specific works to be included, and then of course back to late night painting.  Which I love.  (no pics quite yet…. but soon….)

All of this in between the Job-Work which looks a bit like this (only cooler): How Concertina’s Are Made and this: A Day in the life of Frisch Marionettes (only more exhausting)….

And of course the sketch-work, which looks a bit like…..

So I am up to 22 days in my #Draw2013 sketch everyday project and it’s going well.  Work DOES beget work.  In spite of falling temperatures, I stopped at the zoo on my way home from job-work yesterday and spent some time with a few of the animals on display there.  There was  a hearty little group of birds (and their keepers!) called Keas who were actually outside greeting visitors.  I sketched them a bit as they attempted to nibble my earring and the buttons on my boots.  I absolutely love these guys and their intrepid, curious, quirky personalities.

But it was too cold to stay out drawing too very long and so it was time to head indoors and visit those animals.  The bird house was exceptionally warm and comfy and Linda and I spent much time there drawing the various wild species there.

After the bird house, a quick stop at the Jungle Trails exhibit to catch some primates in action.

and in action they were!!  The Coquerel’s Sifakas were hard to capture on paper.  Mama and Dad were busy with their now adolescent youngster who was always moving.  Oh, how I remember those days….

And so I will leave you now with these little doodles, as I go off to work with the deeper work.  But the doodles are important.  They are keeping me in practice for the Taos trip which is coming around the bend.  We already have a nice crew of participants who will begin getting to know each other online in preparation for the workshop.  We have folks from Cincinnati, of course, but also from as far flung as Florida and California.  Won’t you join us?  It’s as simple as keeping your eyes wide open and learning to capture what you see and feel into a beautiful travel journal.  This is something ANYONE can do.  If you can sign your name, you can draw!! More info HERE: TAOS Travel-Journal WORKSHOP June 2013

Do feel free to contact me personally with any questions…

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.)

On steep learning curves

Since this most recent New Year began, I have been quietly doing a little experiment.  I wondered on January 1, if I might be able to do a small sketch of some sort, everyday, and post it on the bite-sized social media posts, like the Facebook Page and the Twitter Page.  Since this is a snap-shot kind of operation, I was doing this from my smart phone and was feeling pretty cocky for having figured out how to post to multiple places with one quick swipe.  Or so I thought.  While I was able to get each of the sketches up on facebook, for some reason, they never made it to twitter like they do when I post from my laptop.  This little computer snafu, combined with some linkage issues with my new friends over at the Cincinnati Illustrator’s Blog (still figuring that one out) have decidedly put me in my place when it comes to the virtual world.

I am not someone meant to do work on the computer.  The computer is simply a tool I have had to learn a little bit about in order to spread the word about my work.  And so I have, and so I do.  But it’s a steep learning curve.  Every time I turn around, there is some new fangled thing I am supposed to try in order to get more connected, etc.  The cool thing is, I AM more connected.  I follow the doings of inspiring people on Twitter and beyond, and keep track of the blogs of writers and artists I may never meet in person, but whose work gives me pause for thought or reason to follow a lead.  I am deeply grateful for this.  And so I will continue to wrestle with this machine, as best I can.

All of that said, my work is much more about the physical world.  I like to draw in a real book, on real paper.  I love the smell of paint and what watercolor does when it first hits the page.  One of the illustrators at our last lunch paid me a complement about the sketches I capture in my book.  He said, ‘These little drawings are so fresh.  You don’t need anything more than that.”  I am trying to hang onto that thought when I begin to panic that my website is between worlds at the moment (old website/newer blog – still not finished!), or that I don’t seem to utilize things like hashtags and what nots as well as others seem to.  Or that all I do is sketch these days, with very little Finished Fine Art Work.  In the end, I can only do what I can do amidst this busy life of mine.  And so, below, are days 1-12 of my #Draw2013 experiment.  Today is Day 13, and I haven’t drawn/posted yet.  But I will.  Something, even if it’s small and quick.  For this is what our lives are made of.  Micromovements in the right direction.  And drawing every day is the direction I want to go.

Day 1  a quick sketch of iris, and it occurs to me, I should draw every day in 2013…. wonder if I can keep it up….

Day 2  Maddie gets her wisdom teeth out.  I do a quick sketch in the oral surgeon’s waiting room.

Day 3  Really enjoyed my time home over the holidays.  Got to spend time drawing a rather cuddly orange cat

Day 4  Idea sketching for some work I’m developing…

Day 5  Got to hang out with the girls for Epiphany.  Did a sketch as we ate, drank and were merry

Day 6  And so it’s back to the grind.  When much of my life is spent behind the wheel of the car taking kids to and fro.  This I captured outside the dance studio waiting for Maddie to finish up at class.

Day 7  Need to spend more time in Over The Rhine, downtown.  Beautiful old buildings!!  Alas, not much time to sketch this day so it was a quick one.

Day 8   Favorite thing to draw.  Dogs

Day 9   Studio day.  Drew the Ash Tree out back

Day 10  Drew some wasps in a next that my dear friend Arthur gave to me.  They were frozen by the chemical wasp killer.  

Day 11   Puppets.  All day.  But did manage a sketch and some art work in between!

Day 12   Went out to catch the Young Lions Jazz Quintet at Blue Wisp Jazz Club.  It was pretty dark, but I managed to capture a loose sketch.

I’ll keep you posted in the weeks to come with more drawings.  The lot of them will be up on my facebook page so you can follow them there.  What are your goals this New Year?  Remember that bite-sized micromovements are the best way to get things done!

In praise of a dose of whimsy

For the Epiphany, a few of us gathered to celebrate the Manifestation of the Divine with some decadent food, delectable treats whimsical decor, and of course, hours and hours of chit chat.  With all of our various family obligations over the holidays, time with our closest friends sometimes gets pushed back.  So we treated ourselves to a celebration.

We burned fragrant Greek incense….

And feasted on foods that feed body and soul.

We honored the Greek mythological Persephone’s journey to the underworld, adding to our mix of traditions we felt like celebrating.

For some reason, pom-poms seemed in order.  So I made some to share….

There were other gifts as well, such as home made puppy treaties….

Which some folks could smell the minute they were in the house.

Some gifts honored and celebrated our words for the year… mine is FOCUS. What’s yours?

I still have a few more friends I need to catch up with since the holiday which I think is a fabulous way to avoid feeling cooped up in the winter months.  Lighting some candles and operating under a banner of whimsy for a time, along with some delicious foods, can keep us soul-nourished until the first signs of spring appear and we know Persephone has rejoined us up here in our world.  Wishing you warmth and whimsy during these cold winter months.



Happy New Year everyone!  Wow. 2013.  How can that even be?  The holidays have come and gone with gatherings and guests to celebrate the season.  We had much music in the house…

… and we were granted our winter wish for snow a few times over the break from work and school schedules.  Of course we took full advantage of this.

The kids were granted an exceptionally long seeming break this year which has led to what feels like enough space for the obligatory seasonal activities, as well as some much needed down time, among other things…  One of them had her wisdom teeth out the other day, while the other is going through the proverbial tooth-pulling of the college application process.  Neither of these things is for the parental faint of heart.

Amidst all of this seasonal din and down time, I’ve managed to spend the better part of the last few days combing thru dozens of old sketchbooks and journals for a project I have due later this winter.  This is some work that I have been sketching and ruminating upon, but that has taken me through a rabbit warren of notions and ideas before becoming only recently, quasi-workable.  Even so, art work is a liquid thing and I can only attempt to capture it, best I can with vessels and tools at hand.

I am not sure what caused things to chink into place with this project (or even if I trust that they truly have!).  Maybe it’s the availability of some time to move at my own pace, time to write in my book and look around at my world as an observer.

As I looked over literally years of work in my sketchbooks, it dawned on me how dry this past year was for me in many ways.  On the one hand, I worked a great deal – the Taos trip, puppets, concertinas… the list goes on.  But very little Art Work really.  At least not the soul-feeding, vulnerable, juicy stuff I have normally cultivated.  There are probably a number of reasons for this.  First, the work that is getting done takes a good bit of time and energy, which I recognize.  But I believe there is some self sabotage in there too.  I’ve written in the past about the complicated relationship I have with my art school experience, with Art (capital A) in general, for that matter.  I have not shown much of my own work in a gallery setting since graduating.  The work I have shown has often been fraught with grief processing that I may never complete.  Over the years, both during and after art school, I have often been paralyzed with anxieties and insecurities surrounding my own processes and products.  Are they good enough?  Are they original enough? are they… Enough?

What does it mean to create something?  What place does originality play in art these days where everything, from movies to music, seems re-purposed, re-cycled, re-processed into whatever’s cool at the moment.  And ‘cool’.  That’s a whole other concept that I don’t understand nor have ever fit into.  And instead of working more to figure all this out I think I have been in somewhat of a lock down mode.  Working on surface things like my day jobs.  Conveniently not sketching as much as I might normally.  Or forgetting to blog as much – at least in a deep, vulnerable way that I have in the past.

But while this is all the case, it is also the case that I continue to be a part of a community of artists who buoy me up and light my way as I chart these waters.  One of them pointed me in the direction of this book:

With advice such as this:

and this:

suddenly, I am not so worried about feeling like a phony artist.  Or one who is something other than original.  This is an earth shattering book for someone who nursed at the bosom of insecurity and anxiety in school – grade school thru art school.  It tastes a bit like freedom.  At the end of the day, no one owns oil paint, or the art of quilting or embroidery.  Or watercolors.  We all can have our own voice in these media (and beyond!!) if we just give it a shot.  The hilarious thing is, I teach this!  I know this stuff on an intellectual level.  And yet…. I can fall into the lint trap of avoidance when I get to feeling small.  It’s a sneaky thing, smallness.

I feel like I have stepped through a door just recently….

And I am fortunate that on the other side of this door, there are those with a light to light my way down the rabbit hole…

And down the rabbit hole I go.  I’m exploring an old fairy tale that I have pondered for ages, that of the Selkie.  As it turns out, I have a ton of stuff in my old sketchbooks that have given me a new avenue for exploration and I am excited to see what reconfiguring these old thoughts and drawings will come to.  There will be a painting or two and perhaps some newly dug up artifacts of a soulful creature that has been looking for her place in the world.

I look forward to sharing these with you on this blog and just blogging more  deeply in general.  I’ve taken recently to bite sized updates on the twitter and facebook feeds which is fine here and there, but lacks depth over time.  I thoroughly enjoy reading the blogs I keep up with and want to continue adding my voice to that rich tapestry of words and experience.  Speaking of other blogs, I will be sponsoring one of my favorite blogs 6512 and Growing this winter.  I love Rachel’s writing on motherhood and gardening – her art is LIFE!!  I look forward to getting to know some of her readers out there in the Great West.

Anyway, as my mom says, that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  For now at least.  The new year seems to have broken me open.  I am grateful for it.  Peace to you and yours in 2013.  Let’s keep each other posted!