This May calendar is coming to you a day late (sorry)… but it doesn’t matter if you’re a dollar short. Because you can download it for free. Or whatever.
If you’re down with the whole coloring book craze, this one’s for you. And if you hate the rainbow and are a strictly black and white kind of person, this one’s for you too (just skip the coloring part… obvi).
Materials used: Black watercolor paint (Winsor + Newton professional, ivory black), round brush (size 2), Micron pen (black, 01), Canson mixed media paper (160g)
You know you’ve been listening to more Prince than usual when your two-year-old starts singing “Purple Rain” to her Fisher Price farm animals. It’s making mealternately very happy and a bit depressed.
Materials used: Golden fluid acrylics (Dioxazine Purple), Handmade Modern acrylic paint (lavender, violet), Winsor + Newton professional watercolor (ivory black)
I think I’ve always loved Prince’s music. And while “Purple Rain” is sort of an obvious song to single out, it’s been an important part of nearly every race I’ve started (and finished). Long, short and everything in between.
Being a bit of a sponge person, I used to get way too wrapped up in the starting line energy (and all the weird vibes that come from other people being nervous, excited, and/or trying out new Gu. Or stretches. Or Spandex). In the corral before my first marathon, a woman told me she was going to run despite not training (like, at all) and I think I pulled every worry muscle in my body just listening to her.
I’d start each race all wrapped up in everything going on around me, inevitably running too fast, and nearly expiring by mile two.
I knew early on that I needed a strategy. (For the record: I don’t mean that in a competitive or high performing way… I mostly mean that in a “figure out how to keep running without dying” kind of way.) I must’ve had my iPod set to shuffle during a run (or maybe I intentionally picked “Purple Rain,” but I don’t think so), but as soon as I heard “I didn’t mean to cause you any sorrow,” I knew Prince would join me for the rest of my races.
“Purple Rain” is just slow enough to keep my heart rate low and pace on target. And when all 8 minutes and 24 seconds have passed, I’m approaching my first mile and first third of a 5k. And if I could do math, I’d tell you how much of a 10k or marathon would be left. But I can’t (do math, that is). Like so much of Prince’s music, the song is somehow uplifting, confusing, bittersweet, sad, and weird all at once. In other words, it’s the perfect soundtrack to all the things that might pop into my head on any given run.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the music itself. If I wasn’t positive I’d be an even worse musician than I am a runner, “Purple Rain” would have convinced me to take up guitar lessons.
While I’m saddened that so many talented people have left the Earth lately, I’m grateful we can still take them along on our runs, our races, our walks, our adventures, our drives and our day-to-days.
So, we know I both fear and loathe Las Vegas going to the dentist, right? And that I semi-accidentally didn’t go for several years? And that, ironically, I broke a tooth (more accurately: an old filling fell out) while flossing, prompting an emergency visit to that place of fear and loathing? (If you didn’t know those things, consider yourself fully caught up.)
Materials used: Pentel brush pen (pink)… and, um… that’s it.
It’s been a year, and I’ve stuck with regular cleaning appointments and approximately 800 other appointments to replace various old dental work and (shame on me) tend to one or two… fine, three cavities. I have one more visit to go and then I’m done with my treatment plan, which feels mostly good.
The last couple appointments, though, have been especially uncomfortable and annoying. A temporary crown fell out twice in one day. Oh, and a dental assistant tried to pull out a permanent tooth instead of the loosening a different temporary crown. It was all I could do to not flee the office and cry in my car. Or stress eat an extra gluten-y donut. I know it’s silly, but I can feel my heart rate quicken even thinking about being in the dentist’s chair.
If you’re wondering what the H the dentist has to do with art-making, welp… Not much. But I did find my mind wandering away from the drill and that annoying suction thing and toward my sketchbook. I thought about what I would paint or draw or paste if I wasn’t, you know, at the dentist. Much of what I made in the last week or two was cooked up there. And that cooking up (along with a pair of noise canceling headphones and some Led Zeppelin) got me through those appointments.
This is a super roundabout way of saying that you don’t need to be sitting before an easel to be creative. And creative thought can be just as powerful and transformative as the actual act of creating. You simply need to be open to possibility. (Dental insurance doesn’t hurt though.)
Anyway… Here’s what I made.
What I made | 005
Materials used: Gifted scrapbook paper, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), gel medium (matte), scissors (obvi)
I come back to this poem often. When Graham (a fellow Get Messy member) sent me a beautiful packet of pink papers, I started snipping and doodling away. Sometimes pages feel like they make themselves.
I weirdly enjoy drawing hearts and regret not being a better student in biology. Just think what else I would be able to draw if I had spent more time paying attention and less time being grossed out and/or fainting.
Materials used: Strathmore Artists Tile (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), magazine pages (Edible Boston), Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, random alphabet stencil, Micron 01 (black)
This is an old work (and one I’ve shared before, I think), but it feels sort of like a cousin to the one above. And I get the same comfort from reading Wendell Berry that I do Rumi, so I thought it worth sharing again. I recently came across this recording of Berry reciting the poem quoted here. It’s just perfect.
Other writers and poets that I constantly return to: Thomas Merton, Mary Oliver, and Hafez.
Materials used: Starthmore Artigan paper (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), gel medium (matte), magazine pages (WSJ magazine).
Another collage, and more evidence that I don’t really know what body parts look like. For the record: that’s a head. With ears. And a neck.
Moving on: How divine are these words? They sort of stop me in my tracks. And I have a crush on my own handwriting.
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, round brushes (2 and 6, I believe).
Just some good ol’ watercolor doodling while watching The Americans. (I am convinced Clark, who came to us by way of Russia, is a spy waiting to be activated.)
Materials used: [top] Micron 08 (black), acrylic and watercolor paints, colored card stock, glue stick [bottom] Magazine image (Real Simple), black acrylic paint, colored card stock, gel medium (matte), glue stick
I really love how these two turned out. They’re sort of half flower show, half yoga class inspired.
P.S. The next Get Messy Art Journal season starts next week — it’s a collaboration with 30Lists and should be really interesting. A new season is a great time to join Get Messy, especially if you’re looking to jump start your own creative routine. No emergency trips to the dentist required.
It’s 70 degrees and the sun is shining in Boston, so we’re making a dash for the Harbor Walk (it’s where we do our best puppy watching). I’ll leave you with a few sunny creations from the past week or so.
What I made | 004
Materials used: Small hardbound sketchbook, watercolors, round brushes (sizes 2 and 6), Winsor and Newton drawing ink and acrylic paint.
I’ve been following along with Courtney Pilgrim’s Make Your Mark prompts — they’re the perfect way to keep up with a daily creative practice. The last painting (sort of abstracted storm clouds) is my favorite, so far. I think a weather series would be fun. The senior citizen in me just loves a good weather forecast. And trips to the post office.
Materials used: Acrylic paint, black gesso, watercolors, Winsor and Newton drawing ink, white gel pen, and a pair of small + extremely sharp scissors (I’ve got the wounds to prove it).
I can’t believe the first Get Messy Art Journal season of the year is already winding down. I’ve filled this sketchbook with lots of bright colors and happy sayings, though these pages are a bit moodier than others. The quote about breaking through is from a recent Elephant Journal post. It just seemed right to cut the edges of that page, and I’m quite pleased with how it turned out.
Materials used: Cold pressed watercolor paper (9 x 12), watercolor paint and a round #2 brush.
These paintings for Grace and our two nieces came together really quickly (as things must during Grace’s naps, which are getting shorter and shorter). I almost made one for Clark… but no.
What I made this week: A crappy video. Olé! (I’ll embed it below for your viewing pleasure so you can mock me.) I also made some other stuff. Mostly all on the same night. Nick and I caught up on Homeland (by watching 900 episodes), and I was afraid to go to bed since Carrie and Saul’s escapades usually give me ridiculous nightmares.
So I made a bunch of stuff, and then went to bed. And had nightmares about the toxicity of acrylic paint. Whatever, man. Here’s what I made.
This sketchbook goes from subdued (this page) to extra jazzy (everything that follows) very quickly. The quote is from No Mud, No Lotus and the pen is from college. Those things seem to last forever.
Materials used: Sharpie permanent marker, magazine cut-out, the Wall Street Journal, Micron pen (black 01), acrylic paint, glue stick
We recently started receiving someone else’s WSJ. After three calls to their customer service line and just as many promises that delivery would be stopped, it’s still showing up on our door step (and piling up in our building’s lobby).
One of the Get Messy Art Journal program’s recent prompts was street art-inspired, so I used a page of our magically appearing newspaper as a background. I’m quite pleased with the hand lettering and I’m glad I hung onto that random hummingbird cut out (which, I’m fairly certain, came from a car ad).
That’s supposed to say “trembling”… not t-r-e-m-f-l-i-n-g. The b looks like an f… and I meant to fix it, but forgot. Anyway, you get the point.
The right hand page is another Get Messy-inspired page. I loved scrolling through Instagram to see how everyone else used that same quote (hi, Julia). And I love cutting up my sketchbook a bit so other pages peek through.
On the flip side, a great quote about happiness and and door… and some of the coral acrylic paint that I accidentally spilled all over my palette, thus necessitating I use far more of it than planned. (I sort of wish I had spilled the sky blue instead… can’t win ’em all.) Plus a bunch of windows… and a door.
Materials used: [Left side] Handmade Modern acrylic paint (platinum, from Target), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes (moved around the page with a paper straw), Uni Posca paint pen (black); [Right side] Winsor and Newton watercolor paint (black), acrylic paint, Gelly Roll pen (white)
Some brain wave-ish watercolors, a “good ideas” light bulb and more cut pages.
Materials used: [Left side] All pink everything… Winsor and Newton pigment markers, Sakura Koi brush pens, Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen, acrylic paint, watercolor paint; [Right side] Grey acrylic paint, paper scraps (cut into cone flower shapes), white Gelly Roll pen, glue stick
Materials used: Gel printing plate, acrylic paint, string, cardstock circle, gold leaf, Uni Posca paint pen (yellow), Micron (purple, 01… I think).
Lastly, I’m finally starting to get a hang of my Gelli plate (used for making mono prints). I’ve had one for ages, but never liked anything I made with it. I think I was over-thinking the process… which is kind of how I roll.
I really like these two pages though. I added a bit of leftover gold leaf and some doodling to make the circle look more like the moon.
This week I accomplished a whole lot of half-things. Which is to say, I started a lot, but finished a little. I feel like I’ve been washing the same load of laundry for a month. And I’ve been reading the same paragraph of the same book for just as long (incidentally, it’s a very good paragraph and a very good book). I don’t get much done these days.
I leave a trail of unfinished thoughts, ideas, sentences, bowls of cereal, and yes… piles of laundry in my wake. On the best of days, it’s sort of funny. On the worst of days, it’s sort of demoralizing. I feel like someone who doesn’t follow through. Someone who is unreliable. Someone who can’t be counted on.
And then I (mostly) get a grip.
When Grace was a newborn, I remember how much it helped to accomplish one thing a day. Sometimes that was taking a shower, sometimes it was a trip to the library. As time passed, we were able to accomplish more, but even the tiniest accomplishments went a long way towards building my confidence as a new mom.
So I am reminded to both keep trying and to manage my expectations. And to not start so many things that can’t be finished.
This part of life is crazy, but it’s also really short. And there is so much that is never finished. The big things, like the work and joy of being a parent.
This is turning into something waaaay more emo than I intended. Sorry. Here’s what I made. Or, more accurately, what I started making.
What I made | 002
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Winsor and Newton drawing ink (974 white), Royal Taklon brush (round 7), Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbook (11 in. x 14 in.).
The new season of the Get Messy Art Journal (click to join or learn more!) just started and the theme is happiness. Much of what I made this week is inspired by the first set of prompts (thanks, Julia!), including this painting of the sky. I love looking up (literally and, like, figuratively) and I love that Grace has taken to pointing out the moon and stars as soon as she spots them.
So I guess the sky counts as my “happy place,” or one of them, at least. Few things make me happier than a clear, star-filled sky. I don’t however, like to think about what’s beyond those stars. Outer space totally freaks me out. And don’t even start with me about aliens.
Materials used: Posca paint pen (grey), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Winsor and Newton gouache, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbooks (11 in. x 14 in. and 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.).
“Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”
Materials used: Sakura gelly roll pen (black), Handmade Modern acrylic paint from Target, Golden high flow acrylic paint (I mixed a few shades to get his pale robin’s egg-ish blue), Strathmore 400 series bound sketchbook (8.5 in. x 5.5 in.).
These coneflowers (a.k.a. echinacea) are one of my favorite things to draw from memory. And I love Thomas Merton. And order (or some resemblance of order) definitely contributes to my happiness. I’m hoping to finish up the lettering on that page sometime this week this century.
Materials used: Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, sea salt (it creates a fun effect with wet watercolors), Micron pen (black 01), black gesso, a cardboard box and x-acto knife (to make the bird stencil).
One of my favorite parts of the Get Messy program is the weekly tutorials shared by members. This week, Vanessa shared tips on making your own stencils. I got really fancy resourceful and cut these hawks out of an empty Cheerios box. The quote is another one from No Mud, No Lotus:
“The French have a song they like to sing, “Qu’est-ce qu’on attend pour être heureux?” (What are you waiting for in order to be happy?) You can be happy right here and right now.”
I don’t particularly like how this page turned out, so I will likely turn it into something else. Or (let’s be serious) trash it.
Materials used: Posca paint pen (black), 900 different acrylic paints, white gesso, Strathmore 300 series mixed media sketchbooks (11 in. x 14 in.), Winsor and Newton professional watercolor paint (Opera Rose).
I had an idea about where I wanted this to go. And then I got carried away. Thank goodness for gesso. I like that you can almost see all the ridiculous flowers I painted, and that their full ridiculousness is obscured by a wash of gesso.
This has “work in progress” written all over it.
Materials used: Everything I own that is both pink and an art supply. (I can provide specifics if you’re really interested, but…)
I saved the most pink and the most finished piece for last. I sort of love how this turned out. It makes me happy. And what more could you ask for?
This year, I thought I’d continue to share a weekly look at recent paintings, drawings and illustrations. Rather than keep posts like this limited to my art journal, I plan to keep things a bit more open-ended, knowing that some weeks I might make time for something really sort of great… and other weeks, I might be lucky to doodle on a napkin.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been caught up in patterns and repetition and have stuck with a single paintbrush, a small palette of watercolors, a few bottles of drawing ink and two identical watercolor sketchbooks. And 900 paper towels.
These days, my ego is a bit more fragile than usual. I chock it up to the lack of sleep and constant second-guessing that comes with caring for a newborn and a toddler. And while I’m so much more confident the second time around, I still catching myself repeating that new mom refrain (be gentle to yourself) over and over.
And so I’m not in the mood to try anything new. Or risk making something totally ugly. Or need to clean up a bunch of supplies. I want to be pleased with what I make.
There’s something really relaxing about doing the same thing over and over. And being done when I run out of time or paper or brain power. This is what gentle art-making looks like for me.
(For the record: Now that we’re nearing a month of newborn-related sleep deprivation, everything I say and do is the funniest thing ever… to me, at least. It would seem my siblings feel differently. Either that or their phones are broken in such a way that they cannot reply to my hilarious bitmoji texts.)
January goals and a printable calendar
Materials used: Micron pen (black 01), Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens, Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolors, random craft paint (acrylic), good old Microsoft Word (for the calendar table)
My questionable comedienne status aside, it is New Year’s Day and I’ve got January goals and a printable calendar to share with you. Rather than setting year-long resolutions, I’m sticking to monthly goals and intentions. Mostly because I can barely imagine what tomorrow will bring, let alone how many days I can deprive myself of Diet Coke come November.
The calendar is a part of a larger goal I have to both make and share more art. Please feel free to share, download and print as you like. Consider it a gift to offset the un-funny Adele joke above. And unless I completely space out, I’ll draw and paint a new calendar for you on the first of each month.
Join a new parish (this is sort of major, and in the works — we love our current parish, but will be moving to one in our own neighborhood this year)
Participate in at least one of my fitness group’s social activities (the group has monthly birthday parties for kids, a mom’s night out, recipe swaps, etc.) rather than ducking out right after the workout, as I’ve done in the past #awkwardfaceemoji
Share at least one friend’s blog post or project per week
Here’s to a productive, happy, healthy, sort-of-hilarious month.