Monday, September 28, 2009

journal alternatives

Well, folks, I think I am almost recovered from this illness.
I keep getting crazy headaches and still feel  a bit sore, but the rest
of the symptoms have abated. I've been napping like nobody's
business! My daughter's now down with her annual cough, and we're
trying to figure out how to best treat it and prevent a winter full of sickness.

On the artistic side of things, I have been trying to live by the motto:
"Work with what you have".
Not easy for a shopping fiend like myself (with a tender spot for art supplies),
but the fact that things have been really tight lately helps constrain any temptation.
And let's be real here: I have plenty of art supplies.
Part of what I like about 'work with what you have' is the way it forces me to
be more creative in getting the results I want.

So, all that said, my favorite sketchbook is the Raffine ArtSketch (at right in photo).
The backing and the double spiral are very sturdy, and the paper holds up well to
all sorts of paint applications, whether watercolor, gouache, or acrylic. It works
well with pencil and ink, as well, so it's just fine for plain old journaling. I prefer the
5.5" x 8.5" 48 page version, because it fits in my bag perfectly, scans well, and is 
neither cumbersome nor overwhelmingly large to work on. Unfortunately, this
particular sketchbook is only sold by ASW Express and

I was hoping to pick up a new Raffine sketchbook before my upcoming vacation, but in an attempt to honor 'work with what you have', I decided to alter a book instead and see how that works for the next journal/sketchbook. I had already glued clumps of 2-3 pages together throughout the book with acrylic gel medium, and today I started covering the pages with gesso to prepare them for the next stage of alteration. I'm also considering the possibility of cutting down some watercolor paper and looking for a smallish 3-5 ring binder, but I'm not sure how the binder will fit in my little backpack; they always seem kind of bulky. I realize that these aren't the important questions in the grand scheme of things, but I really do think about them, and they do seem to have some impact on how and if I will create the next thing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

hello, autumn!

I've been under the weather since last Thursday with some kind of cold/flu thingy.
I feel like I've gone through complete mitochondrial shutdown today -- am having
a hard time holding my head up or moving at all. I managed to get the girls to school
this morning and then slept until 1:30 this afternoon. I forgot this part of fall, but it seems inevitable.

Monday, September 21, 2009

last day of summer

As far as I can tell, today is the last official day of summer.
Now, if you will recall, I did some planning going into this summer break.
I was hoping to enjoy my kids, teach them a few things, and
keep this blog online. Here's how it went:
One of the best parts of summer was the house sitting. It gave my kids a fresh
opportunity to play together with no other alternatives, gave us consolidated
nuclear family time, and created a nice ebb and flow of contact
with the other people in our community house. Another highlight was
our family playing together. We went swimming, made ice cream, read books out loud,
learned how to throw a frisbee, and played games on the Wii.
At the beginning of summer, Julie & I came up with a plan for
chores and housecleaning for the kids, and I like how that went.
The three children and one teenager pitched in both inside the house and out
and made the weekly houseclean a whole lot faster and more fun.
Reading up on parenting helped me to pre-think things
(and communicate in advance) instead of just reacting, and reminded me to work
in some positive incentives. I actually had such a good, relaxing time with my
kiddos that I was sad to see summer coming to a close.
As for the blog, posts became pretty few and far between by the end.
In fact, I only made it through 38 of my 75 sketching assignments.
I think I got hung up on the faces and on my attempt to work in grayscale.
I just love color! Also, maybe one of the reasons I do this whole thing is to catch my
life as it goes by; something that doesn't meld well with pre-assigned drawings,
even if they are of things in my own realm. Still, I may keep working my way through
these as the next season unfolds -- I would like to finish what I've started!
Anyway, I'm glad to be past the heat waves and heading into the temperate autumn
we see around here. And maybe, I hope, into a new daily rhythm blown in by the fall.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

final thoughts on the sugar cookie

The leftover flower cookies turned into single-layer lollipops,
which was plenty of cookie, let me tell you.
The cool thing I discovered is that if you take thick royal icing,
pipe it around the edge (use a squeeze bottle for candy making,
not a cake decorating bag -- much easier on the hands!), and let it
dry, you can then thin the rest of the icing with water and "flood"
the center of the cookie. Mix up a batch of icing in an alternate
color and pipe designs on while the first layer is still wet, and it
settles in to make a smooth finish.

Friday, September 18, 2009

flowers abound

Here's the finished product!
I made these with the Wilton Stackable Flower cookie cutter set.
It comes with the base flower shape, a petal shape, and the bee.
The stems are just candy sticks -- they're paper, but they bake up fine.
I used Martha Stewart's recipe for cookies & icing, and here's what I learned:
I like the cookies better with salted butter than unsalted, because the
icing really sweetens things up. Also, using brandy instead of milk makes
the dough easier to work when it comes out of the fridge. Finally, I prefer
sugar cookies when they're 1/4" thick instead of 1/8". You have to cook 'em
a little longer to get that golden edge, but it makes for a good, soft center.
Oh -- the thing I'm most excited about with these is that I figured out how to
color them without any chemical food dyes. The purple is from frozen
blueberries, and the yellow bee is from turmeric (with chocolate stripes).
How cool is that?

Here's a classroom's worth of sugar cookies.
It's been my art project for the week, and yes, if I start
complaining about not having enough time to paint,
you can remind me of this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

sugar cookies galore

Ashton's birthday is this week, so I spent today rolling and
cutting out cookies for her classroom celebration.
I think the finished product will be super cute. I'll post it soon!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

... and i think that'll do it.

When we got to Sedona with our camera bag in hand, we quickly discovered
that we had left the battery charger behind. So these sketches are all
the visual evidence we have of our trip! Anyway, that about wraps it up.
I hope you have enjoyed this slide show of our family vacation (yawn).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

sedona sketches

While we were in Sedona, we headed up to the eensy weensy airport.
It's worth visiting because of the lookout point nextdoor, which overlooks
a nice vista of rock outcroppings and overlapping mountains. It's like seeing
an outer edge of the Grand Canyon, which may be exactly what it is.
The little airport seems to be purposed toward Grand Canyon air tours
and the like, in fact. This is one of the eensy weensy planes used for such tours.
More to come...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Quiet Times

One of the things I really enjoyed about our little vacation was
the kids living into the space. They would just pull out their toys
and books and play quietly for stretches of time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Family Vaycay

So we just came back from a little family vacation to Sedona, AZ.
That's about a four (or with kids, six) hour's drive from Tucson,
and while only slightly cooler, it was very beautiful.
The city is surrounded by gorgeous rock formations and red rock.
On the two afternoons we were there, clouds built up across the
sky to cool things off and give a bit of a lightning show.
This watercolor sketch is from a hike we took -- I was aiming to
capture some of the rock outcroppings, but we wound up in a dry
riverbed where the clouds were the main view, so here they are.