Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Special Request

I got a beautiful card in the mail today, with a little ladybug on the front that had angel wings and a halo.  Now if those weren't the two very things that my Mom loved best (ladybugs and angels), instantly I thought of her.  The card said, "Sending a little guardian angel your way. . . to protect and care for you everyday.  Signed, "From your Mom and Me".

And of course I knew right away who the sender was, my sweet Aunt Diane.  She has been sending me out of the blue cards like this my whole life.  She's a special lady I tell ya, and I bet I wouldn't even be interested in art if it wasn't for her.  She was the one who fostered the budding artist in me from the very beginning, with many museum trips and art starter kits.  She would gather all the newspaper clippings she could find about art, and send them to me in the mail.  And she still hangs all of my artwork from various stages of my life, all over her house.  I could go on and on about all the wonderful things she's done for me, and how incredibly kind she is!

So when I got this special request written in the card, "Have you ever done a painting of a ladybug?  I'd love to see one!"  I did just that.  In honor of my Mom's memory and for my Aunt Di.  The painting is on a teeny tiny canvas, 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", and will be on it's way in the mail to her in a few days!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cactus Monday: Prickly Pear Bloom

Yesterday I went out and got myself a new Moleskine sketchbook and some new pens for sketching.  I really had my eyes peeled for a watercolor Moleskine, but didn't find one.  So I decided to see how it worked on the first page, a heavier stock.  I also wanted to get a set of Windsor and Newton watercolors in palette form so I can easily stash them in my purse with the Moleskine along with a portable brush that is hollow to act as a water reservoir.  Have you ever seen them?  They are pretty cool!  The only one I could find was this extremely cheap set found here.  Determined to make this work, I tried it with what supplies I had.  You can't tell, but the page is really wavy from the water. . . and I knew that would happen.  I just had to do it anyway and get it out of my system! 

Do you ever do that?  Ignore the rules and try to make your idea happen anyway, and use whatever you have on hand to make it work?  Well, I feel much more satisfied that I tried, I'll tell you that! 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saturday sketching with the Phoenix sketch group

Charcoal and ink on chipboard

Charcoal on chipboard
Yesterday I met up with the sketch group in Phoenix at Vision Gallery for some life drawing.  These two sketches are the last two 30 minute poses that I'm content with.  I say content, because I still feel there's room for improvement with my sketches.  Its so funny how you can get so easily out of practice if you are not continuously working in all different mediums and sketching all of the time.  

I found myself bringing an array of different drawing supplies and surfaces to see what works best.  Out of the different charcoals, graphite pencils and even watercolors, I wound up grabbing an ink pen not intended for drawing and found that I liked that best, go figure!  I also really like the idea of a darker surface to add white highlights.  

I've been hearing about using chipboard from other bloggers and YouTube demonstrations that my group organizer Annie has been posting.  Having a stock-pile of that stuff for a few years intending to use it for binding books, I put it to good use for a drawing surface.  I love the drama it creates with the speckled texture and light and dark charcoals and ink.  

Getting back into drawing without the trusty Wacom tablet feels great!  Not to mention finding a drawing group and making other creative friends in the area.  I'm so glad I found my little sketch group!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

IF: Early

 Early Birds on a Century Plant, squawkin' away very early in the morning.

So yeah, they say that the early bird gets the worm.  I am surprised of just how many early birds live in Phoenix and squawk and sing and chirp and coo very early before the sun rises outside my bedroom window.  Thanks early birds for waking me up hours before my alarm clock goes off!  I work from home now and I like to sleep in, you know.  Your songs are pretty and very different from the birds back home in Baltimore, but that is just too freakin' early guys. 

The birds they sing at break of day, "Start again!" I hear them say.  -Leonard Cohen

So I guess I need to become an early bird too.  Are you an early bird?  I've always been more of a nocturnal creature myself.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cactus Monday: Sketchcrawl!

Organ Pipe Cactus under a Mesquite tree - Conté and ink.  

Garden scene with a mountain view - Ebony pencil.

Last Saturday, I attended my very first Sketchcrawl at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  Sketchcrawl is a worldwide event where artists gather from all corners of the world and join in a day of sketching and journaling, and then share their work on the online sketchcrawl forum.  I encourage all of my artist friends to get on the forum, find your city and join!  The next worldwide Sketchcrawl will be on Saturday, July 31st.  

I have met some wonderful people and had great conversations.  We also exchanged useful techniques as well as each others' supplies to try out.  I can't wait to try a new method for the next Sketchcrawl and my idea of sketchbook journaling has since changed forever.  I have been so busy working digitally, that I sort of forgot how it feels to get back to the basics with raw materials and get my hands dirty.  Although I felt a little rusty, it felt great to be sketching again.

I found out about the Sketchcrawl through a drawing group in the Phoenix area called Sketchy Doodle, and I'm looking forward to more drawing sessions.  A big thanks to my new sketch pal, Annie for being the group organizer.  Pop over to her blog and say hello, and check out her art.  Being an Arizona resident, I think she would have fun with the Cactus Monday group as well!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cactus Monday: Messing with Cholla

Well hello there you cute and cuddly Teddy Bear Cholla!  You are so cute and plush and little and fuzzy, but I've got your number now you slick little cacti!  

Above is a picture of my husband poking at this little Cholla with a stick, testing the theory that it jumps.  It didn't.  And of course he thinks I'm crazy because I swear a spider jumped on me once years ago as well as this particular type of cacti, most recently.  We have a long running joke that just got a little funnier of awkward things jumping on me, that aren't supposed to jump in his opinion.

But as my fellow cactuteers know, Chollas DO in fact jump, (so do spiders!) and latch their little segments onto you, through your clothes and into their host's skin.  OUCH!!!  Just think of it like the force of a magnet near metal, once you slightly brush their little spines.  Slick little devils.

I took this photo at the Desert Botanical Garden just yesterday, as well as many others.  There are so many beautiful pictures I have taken from yesterday, that I have to pace myself and post just a few at a time!  This botanical garden has it all.  From abundant wildlife, gorgeous blooms, rolling scenic landscapes, mountains and all species of cacti.  Beautiful sculptures can bee seen throughout, and a Chihuly glass installation greets you as you enter the garden.  Did I ever mention that Chihuly is the sole inspiration of my glass blowing hobby?!!!  Just 15 minutes from my house, I got a yearly membership.  I plan on doing lots of reflecting there as well as photo shoots, plein air painting and sketching.  If you can't find me, that's where I'll be!  In cactus heaven.

Update:  I will be at the garden this Saturday at 8am joining a sketchcrawl.  And if any near-by fellow Cactuteers would like to participate, that would be sweet!  I've got one free guest pass just for you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cactus Monday: In Bloom

There are more blooms and explosions of color here in the desert than I expected, and that makes me happy.  This is a wild cactus of some variety I found in South Mountain Park, with a pretty yellow flower.  Upon leaving the path to get a good macro shot of this cactus, I discovered that my jeans were COVERED in tiny cactus needles up to my knees!  Everything around here has thorns.  Even of the grass-like variety!  They have hooks on the tips that latched on my clothes and were proven tough to get out.  Looking back at this incident last week, it makes me laugh.  But I was a pretty grouchy girl that day, covered in pricklies!  Lesson 1 learned, beware of desert brush. . . it bites!