Archive for the 'before coffee' Category

Journal ponderings

Years ago, I kept journals, mostly working thru the processes of: getting through school, adjusting to a messy adulthood (my 20s were intense), and moving sideways into a career. Now, I have a mix of (1) sketch notebooks, (2) basic notebooks (for writing notes during meetings), and (3) notebooks where I jot down notes for short stories. I’m starting to think again about combining category 1 and 3.

My notebooks are motly for my eyes. They are not as amazing and beautiful as these notebooks by artist José Naranja. Check out these links:

…..and get inspired.

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Getting stitchy with it

pjs-fish.jpgI’m sewing up a pair of comfy pjs, using fish-patterned fabric. Unfortunately no serger or attachment for my old Singer to allow me to do an overlock stitch or zigzag*, so I’ve been doing some of the finishing stitches by hand, based on a couture book. But legs are very, very long, as is the outside hem, so I’ve been making up new words for this Fresh Prince classic while I stitch**, and “getting stitchy with it”. It’s taking a while, but better to handstitch on this than work on my knit lace shawl while my gauge is off.

Pattern: Kwik Sew K3602. The fabric is new to me: a stretchy knit cotton. So I’m trying my best to get a hang of it, mostly because I fell in love with the fish.

*Yes, I know I can buy attachments that can go on my model 404 Slant Needle, but part of me wishes I knew where I’d stored the original that came with my machine. I found the buttonhole attachment, and I’m thrilled.

**All apologies to the writer of the original tune. Bet they never thought something as uncool as this could happen, and now I’m imagining a retirement community where this and other music (LL Cool J, Salt ‘n’ Peppa, Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Coolio, Madonna and Aerosmith) is piped into the dining halls. Hopefully there will either be a quiet room, or you can upgrade to classical, choral, or jazz on days when you’re not feeling up to 80s and 90s pop. [For those of you who do dystopian fiction, I think that’s a writing assignment in and of itself. What will we grimly to cling to with nostalgia as the world changes, and who else will be impacted by this choice?]

 

The Power of Art Supplies

scouringrush

Sometimes, during rainy days, I practice using print materials.

Never underestimate the power of art supplies to allow kids to dream, teens to learn, and adults to grow. In college, I started out as an art major then switched degrees (keeping the art minor). I’ve carried what I learned from the classes (skills and a sense of space) along to every workday. I am not a professional artist.

But I still take tiny art vacations that allow me to reset my creative soul / sense of self / internal rhythm.

I’ve suggested taking art vacations to people who felt stressed, and one of the people I spoke with at a conference said, “That sounds interesting, how do you do that?” I had to stop and explain a little, but it occurs to me that busy professionals might want to take a mental vacation from their work cell phones. So let’s all unplug and focus on the page.

Gather your supplies prior to your next work trip, day trip or vacation. Like fishers collecting their gear or a photographer getting her kit together…

  • Pencils (2B are fine, as are colored pencils — but make sure you have eraser and a sharpener)
  • Pens (some people use ballpoints; you can also use markers or a Sharpie)
  • If you have watercolors, a brush, and watercolor paper, bring them along (along with a plastic cup for water)
  • Grab a leftover pad of sketch paper, plain paper, or recycling paper
  • Bring a list of parks and museums near your hotel
  • A bag to carry your supplies

Here’s the beauty of an art vacation: you don’t need to be a serious artist. It’s a vacation, where you use a different part of your brain.

If it’s raining, go to a museum and find something that inspires you that’s close to a bench. Draw what you’re looking at, or jot down images of how a painting makes you feel. Museums often have policies about the use of pen or marker, but you can always play around with your pencils and fill in with ink later.

bee-sketch

Quick sketches don’t have to be perfect; you can also snap a photo to sketch later.

If the weather is good, grab your hat and something to sit on, and sketch whatever interests you. If you want to experiment with watercolors, try wetting the paper with a brush and flowing the colors behind your pencil sketch. If your pen has waterproof ink, experiment with drawing in the sketch in the foreground, once the background is dry.

When I go on my vacations, my kit is normally packed from weekend day trips. My sketchbooks are a jumble of watercolor samples (mixing paint), ink drawings of the neighbors’ houses, colored pencil doodles of flowers at a historical museum, smudgy pencil sketches from a tavern in Europe. I challenge myself to at least a half to full hour of sketching during a trip, so I have a break from driving or talking with family. Experiment with what works for you.

Mostly: Have fun. Borrow your kids’ art supplies, and experiment. No one’s grading you, and you just may rekindle some of the joy from school art day.

A Brief Dip into Interior Decoration

Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MDWhile it’s still too cold to go out and laze in the sunshine (brisk walks yes, but not sitting to sketch yet), I’m doing a bit of fantasy interior decoration. Current ideas: get taller bookshelves to take the place of the smaller shelving units crowding the floor space. I think (maybe) we could sneak the roll-top desk into the living room if there were fewer bits of furniture.

Unclutter, neaten, straighten. Go one step forward, and then regroup with the vacuum cleaner. Get out the graph paper, and work out where to move what we have.

So far, I’ve only begun vacuuming and laundry. Probably that’s as far as I will get today (beyond the graph paper). Once the gale is done, I will get outside again. In the meantime, sieze the day and grab a broom.

And when it gets too dark to see the dust, I suggest browsing the Ikea site, or daydreaming about scenes like this:

Book and Bed in Tokyo

https://inhabitat.com/book-and-bed-offers-a-novel-lodging-experience-for-readers-in-tokyo/

Beautiful University Libraries

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/stunning-university-libraries-slideshow

 

Planning for early 2018

It’s a cold, wintry day here on the east coast. I’m trying to work up enthusiasm for today’s walk. While I delay on my errands, I’m drinking hot tea and making plans for February (and January too). It’s sort of a tale of more and less:

  1. The Great Backyard Bird Count is over President’s Day weekend. Maybe I could do some short road trips to look for raptors? If you’re interested in participating, it’s a worldwide effort. More details here: http://gbbc.birdcount.org/
  2. More exercise (thanks to gingerbread cookies, this is needed more than ever). I’m considering hiking trails nearby, as well as places with indoor pools. There might be a chance of spotting wildlife, due to the reduced green cover. If you want to explore winter wildlife, check out these ideas and bundle up.
  3. More art and creativity. Visits to museums; making space/time for more drawing/painting/printing; working on some short story ideas.
  4. More volunteering. Seriously thinking about ways to make the world a better place. It’s a nice chaser to the stress of last year.
  5. Reduce the stash of yarn. I sent some finished knits off as Christmas gifts in 2017 and I’m getting charity hats ready to send away (one needs blocking, one needs finishing). I’m matching well-marinated yarn to knit projects, and trying to figure out what yarn is unlikely to ever be knit into something by me ever (on the pile to donate). Sometime next week, I’ll probably post some of my photos of projects, with details about patterns.
  6. Less clutter. This is a tedious, ongoing project that involves going into the unheated attic to find things that are missing or things I want to remove from the house. Today I may recycle/sort a whole mess of paper in my toasty office while listening to my music collection over the wind’s roar.

What are you making space for in 2018? Any cool ideas you want to add to your life? Or are there things you need to let go?

Wishing you all the best this shiny new year. If you’re further north, in the Boston area, hope you have electricity and heat.

 

Autumn ebbs

pumpkinAutumn arrives with October, rising then ebbing

Like a tidal river;

We watch the skies for rain, scan trees for turning leaves…

Worry about winter.

When, really… autumn continues to dance with summer,

Impishly backtracking

Until summer boils our brains, and autumn chills our bones.

 

 

Hilde Domin – reading

Thanks to Buchmerkur Schroersche Berlin [Link here], I have started searching for English/German side by side publications of Hilde Domin’s poetry. I’ve stumbled onto the poems translated by Meg Taylor and Elke Heckel online here. Autumn eyes/Herbstaugen is particularly lovely.

I’ve also been enjoying a book on Harlem by Jonathan Gill. From the first altercation between the people already living there and the Dutch, to its place in history as a place for Jewish and Irish immigrants to start out, race clashes, and the Harlem Renaissance. The book continues through 400 years, and I’ve only reached the jazz era. 🙂 But it’s all history we didn’t learn in school, so I’ve been having a great time learning how much I didn’t know.


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