Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kayaks, Summer Sketches, Cherry Blossoms & ICAD 2016

Watercolor sketch done at the lake.  Travel palette holds the watercolor mixes.

Summer is a crazy kind of different!

The daily routine is just not the same.  What time do we get up now?  When is lunch?  What should we eat? (Can't I just go back out to my art room?)  Can we really call it a routine?  Like making my way through a darkened room, I am feeling my way through the non-scheduled months.  It's a feat to keep some sort of routine especially where art is related!  It's easier if I'm being flexible.  In the back of my mind, there's a commitment to not relapse into an artistic drought.  At this time last summer, my art room was just beginning to be situated for daily use.  Many new routines and goals are in progress now.  While I want to hold on to making art, I don't want to miss the joys of summer!  Children are at home for the summer days.  We all adjust.  I embrace life in this season.  These days zip by and won't be back again!

We've got two kayaks this season; they are such a great addition to our family time on the area lakes/reservoirs.  We'll have many summer afternoons spent on the water.  There's just something so therapeutic about water.  A few strokes of the paddle and I'm in the middle of this expanse of water.  A new perspective of the land and the surface below makes me want to take pause and soak it up.  Now that our kids are in their teens, we focus on what will interest them so they'll look forward to family getaways.  Here, we think we've scored in that department!  They have always loved the water, but the days of rolling up your pant legs and wading along the shore are gone.

Two kayaks on the lake shore, one green and one blue.  Summer spent on the water is relaxing.

One green kayak sitting in the grass beside the lake.  Where shore meets water, a tree stands rooted at the edge of the water.

Sun glistens off the water's surface and the nose of the blue kayak.  The mountains all pale blue gray are at the horizon.

As sun sets low in the sky, its bright light reflects of the water.  Two kayaks in the foreground.

A flock of geese fly overhead in a wide-V formation.  They fly over the lake several times, perhaps catching bugs in the air.

The artist and her husband, out on the lake in kayaks.

That brings me to how travel intersects with art!  My art bag is packed and ready to go!  For years, I have packed and toted a bag of art supplies faithfully.  The bag stayed unused during most trips.  While I had great intentions, most often, I found I just didn't have the desire to do anything but take photographs.  This year, things have changed.  I am being more persistent and intentional as I build creating art into a regular habit.  My watercolor travel kit has been used twice now this summer. Another camp trip is coming soon and I hope to bring out the brushes and paints once again.  This time, I am contemplating whether to bring the plein air folds down to fit a box with carry handle and straps.  With a little effort, once packed up, it takes up very little room.  It couldn't hurt to just try!

A windy day on the lake, the mountains in the distance.  Tall grasses stand in the foreground.

Artist's two teens kayak over the mild white caps on the lake.

The lake landscape as seen from the picnic site.  It's a lovely view to paint!

The pages of this sketchbook are lightweight watercolor paper, maybe 90 lb. weight.  It has an elastic strap which came in handy the day I painted this quick watercolor painting.  The elastic can wrap across the bottom edge and hold the page down on a windy this day at the lake!

Watercolor sketch done at the lake.  Travel palette holds the watercolor mixes.

Yesterday, I spent several hours cutting large sheets of 300 lb. watercolor paper into smaller dimensions of 11" x 14", 8" x 10", 5" x 7", and 4" x 6" for future paintings.  I had some large sheets (22" x 30") of 140 lb. paper which I no longer use for my paintings.  While I work very wet, the lighter weight paper buckles too much and even flattening processes do not flatten it completely.  I did divide the 140 lb. paper into smaller sizes and I'll use them for travel and quick sketches.  I think the lighter weight paper would still work well with watercolor pencils, chalk pastels, ink and charcoal.

Shown below, the papers bottom left to right, Arches 300 lb. (heavier weight & thicker) watercolor paper, Fabriano Uno 140 lb. watercolor paper , and Arches 140 lb. watercolor paper.

A view of the artist's work table shows watercolor paper stacks, sketches, photo references, palette and paint tubes.

I am gradually making progress in preparations for the next series of watercolor paintings, cherry blossoms!  I've got a few sketches ready now.  I have art reference photos edited and printed.  There are several so the next step is more sketching.  With quite a few new watercolor pigments from Daniel Smith, I'd like to make time to make some color mixing charts.  I'm wondering about the fantastic possibilities and how they could work into this series.  So when much of the drawing has been finished, I'll be transferring the sketches to watercolor paper.  There will be photos and perhaps a video to record the process!  I'm having issues with my tablet being so out of date that it cannot manage with storage space.  There's a new tablet in the future...just so undecided and conservative right now.  I'm sure we'll come up with a solution!

Cherry blossom sketches, photo references, and palette on the artist's work table.

A closer view of the sketches and photo references.

A closer view of the watercolor tubes resting on a decorative tray.

I continue to create on index cards for the ICAD 2016 challenge.  I am not keeping up with one a day...weekends are not getting an index card.  I may not be current but I keep at it, doing what I am able; it is coming much easier.  With a focus on continuing, tuning out whether I'm caught up, the challenge is a great discipline.  I'm learning how to give some time to creating without so much self-inflicted pressure.  This is for fun, not to frame; make something and move on.

Last year, I was very frustrated with using watercolors on index cards.  It's difficult!  Plain index cards are such a light weight of paper and buckling is unavoidable.  Following a suggestion from Amy and her Creative Mom Podcast, I ordered the Smead card guides.  They are manila color (I chose 3" x 5") and much thicker.  I had heard of others coating the cards with gesso to give more stiffness to the paper.  By mixing in a bit of watercolor with the gesso, the card has a beautiful base coat.  If you want to try this, I suggest mixing it on a paper or styrofoam plate.  Keeping the gesso away from your artist palette is important.  With the disposable plates, clean up is easy.  Clean the art brushes really well when done.

Supplies I love right now:  Stazon black solvent ink pad, Derwent sketching pencil Light Wash HB (water soluble), watercolor pencils, silver Uni-Ball pen, Sharpie black fine point marker and pen.  I have a large collection of rubber stamps that are included on some cards.  Washi tapes are great, and there's a copper design that I love most of all.  I have a couple of white pens but would like to pick up another Uni-Ball pen in white.  The Uni-Ball pens will roll smoothly even on the gesso coated (more texture) index card.

I didn't think I could leave the mess for this ongoing project; I have an urge to clean it up and make it all tidy.  I don't need the work space for watercolor painting.  I'm going to try moving between projects across the room.  Will it work?  I'm going to find out!  Here's what I've got so far:

ICAD 2016:  Cards 1 - 6 by Christy Sheeler

ICAD 2016:  Cards 7 - 10 by Christy Sheeler

ICAD 2016, Cards 11 - 16.  Six index cards completed by Christy Sheeler.

ICAD June 15, pressed violas, collaged papers and washi tape, and the words, "Sometimes... the hardest part is to begin!"

ICAD June 16, Pressed violas on a gesso, chalk and stamped background.

ICAD June 17, A collage on pale yellow gesso and watercolor background.  Stamped script, flower and bird.

ICAD June 20, Orange gesso and watercolor background, stamped and punched details, silver pen, copper heart stamp.

ICAD June 21, pressed violas and excerpts from a poem by Irene Thompson.

ICAD June 22, yellow and kraft brown with accents of orange.  Hope, noun, a feeling of expectation.

So, that wraps up my artist's journal for the week!  Saturday, two days from now, will mark one full year since I made this commitment to myself and my art.  When I recall the many goals that have been set and reached, I am amazed.  I'm celebrating my artist anniversary of pursuing art with determination.  I continue to seek creativity each day though there are plenty of interruptions.  It's a great lesson in flexibility!  Breathe, take stock, begin again!

I hope you've found something here to inspire you and your quest for the creative life!  Are you keeping on with the pursuit?  If you've gotten out of the habit, that's okay.  Just start again.  I've been there.  I've set it aside and picked it back up again.  Many times.  It's not easy but it's worth it!

Until the next time...


She must make art.

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