Category Archives: Art and Creativity

What I made | 006

It’s been ages since I’ve shared what I made.  Grace and I spend plenty of time drawing things like “Dad with a stroller” and “Dad with shoes” and “Grace in a bed” and “Grace in a different bed” and “Baby Nick with a shoe” and “Mom in a bathing suit.”  My solo creative time, however, has been a bit limited lately.  Everything is a bit rushed, weird, slightly ugly, and mostly unfinished.

Oh, and I’ll spare you the bathing suit drawing.

WHAT I MADE | 006

thoughts become things

Materials used: Actual gouache (Holbein, jet black and Winsor and Newton, gold) and Holbein Acryla Gouache — which is not really gouache, but it is really fun to use (pale aqua, luminous lemon, pale peach and pale mint), Bee Paper cotton watercolor paper (6 x 9 inches, 140 lb)

Just a quick little doodle while thinking about… thinking.  And the power of thoughts.  Keep ’em positive, people.

portrait collage

Materials used: Random letter stickers, Pilot Varsity pen (pink, water soluble), magazine clippings, matte medium, watercolors

The new season of the Get Messy Art Journal program centers on the theme of introspection (much more my jam than last season, which just didn’t do it for me).  This is the first self portrait I’ve done in years.  It’s a bit wonky, but so am I.  So maybe it’s very true to life?

season of introspection

Materials used: Acrylic paint (sky blue and black), magazine clippings, matte medium, Micron (black 01), Gelly Roll pen (white), watercolors

I love that smiling, proud lady.  I’ve been holding onto that image for a while and figured it was time to put her somewhere more dignified than in a stack of tear-outs.

ink blot

Materials used: Acrylic paint (Golden heavy body + high flow), watercolor and gouache paint

I really liked this week’s Get Messy prompt around ink blots (members have access to a great tutorial from Vanessa on this).  The mix of paint made for some really fun texture.

Materials used: Goauche (a mix of brands — Holbein, Winsor and Newton, Plakkaatverf, Daler and Rowney), Bee Paper

The top paintings were inspired by this month’s painting-a-day challenge on Creative Bug, hosted by Jennifer Orkin Lewis, a favorite artist of mine.  I love these courses for their short and sweet videos — perfect for inspiring a daily art making practice.

And the bottom doodle was in preparation for Mary Ann Moss’ gouache class, which starts Friday.  Just a little playing around with paint mixing and experimenting with how much/how little gum arabic would prevent my gouache pans from cracking.  Judging by the crack-iness, I didn’t exactly handle it

Also On Tap for Today:

What are you making this week? A mess?  A new playlist?  Some cookies?

June goals + a printable calendar

June already?! Oh buoy… (Sorry.  No restraint.)  

And apparently I cannot paint numbers in a straight line.  Let’s just pretend I painted this aboard a wobbly sailboat.  Or something.  

JUNE GOALS + A PRINTABLE CALENDAR

printable June calendar On Tap for Today

Materials used: Canson watercolor paper, Winsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes, Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors (24 color set), Kissho Gansai Lumi watercolors (NEONS!).

Download your printable calendar for June here

Family

  • Complete a second 5k with the babes
  • Plan a few family day trips (including one for Father’s Day!)
  • Rejoin swimming lessons
  • Move Baby Nick into Grace’s room (hold me…)

Wellness

  • Track all meals and workouts (in an effort to be more mindful)
  • 4+ workouts a week
  • Log all runs/walks with Charity Miles
  • Make use of my workout/yoga Pinterest boards + magazines to mix up my home workouts

Home

  • De-clutter beauty products (because let’s be serious… all I really need is moisturizer, SPF, mascara + chapstick)
  • Come up with a more efficient packing system for workouts, class, day trips, etc. (my diaper bag is out of control at the end of the day)
  • Pack up winter clothes (toooooodles!)

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your June?

Don’t quit before the miracle | Midweek motivation

Because your Monday motivational pep talk (…to yourself) may have worn off, here’s a bit of mid-week motivation.

Don’t quit before the miracle.

don't quit before the miracle

Don’t quit before the miracle.  Keep working.  Keep praying.  Keep reaching.  Keep remembering to pack snacks.  And six changes of clothes.  Just in case.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your current mantra?  

Today: May goals + a printable calendar

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. 

may goals printable calendar

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).

printable may calendar coloring book free

Materials used: Black watercolor paint (Winsor + Newton professional, ivory black), round brush (size 2), Micron pen (black, 01), Canson mixed media paper (160g)

click here to download your free printable May calendar

May goals 

Family

  • Make plans to catch up with friends + babies
  • Complete a 5k with both kids
  • Look into a summer CSA/weekly share
  • More Cape time!

Wellness

  • Aiming for 50+ miles (running/walking) this month
  • Log water intake (I’ve been slacking… and I’m thirsty)
  • 4+ workouts a week
  • Continue with Sunday meal/workout planning

Home

  • Drop off Cradles to Crayons donation — Mama Beasts has a donation drive going on this month, and I finally finished cleaning out Grace and Nick’s (shared) closet.
  • Make plans to move baby Nick into Grace’s room
  • Is it too early to think about herb and tomato plants?  (Why did this list of goals turn into a list of things to Google?)

Okay.  Get the crayons out.  Let’s color.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your month?

Today: Running + Purple Rain.

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 me alternately 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.

prince and running

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.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your go-to running (or painting, or planting, or walking, or waiting) jam?

Today: April goals (and a printable calendar).

I didn’t feel like painting April showers, so I skipped right to the May flowers.  Hope you don’t mind.

April goals (and a printable calendar)

april calendar printable

Materials used: Winsor + Newton professional watercolors and gouache; round brushes (4 and 8), liner brush (0); super-inexpensive mixed media paper (from the kids’ craft aisle at Target)

click here to download your free, hand painted April calendar

April goals

Family

  • Set plans for Nick’s baptism
  • Pick a new Audubon sanctuary to visit this month
  • Make a “warmer weather” bucket list (because I never did this in March… semi-related, it’s going to snow next week…)
  • Day trip to the Cape

Wellness

  • Continue to workout at least twice in the real world and twice at home (per week) and increase weekly mileage
  • Increase low plank hold to 45 seconds, high plank to 2 minutes (gettin’ there!)
  • Continue to keep food diary (this is something I got back into a few weeks ago — it’s been really helpful… and eye-opening)

Home

  • Donate newborn and baby clothes (seeing as both my children are toddler-sized, including the four-month-old)
  • Consign or sell our single running stroller
  • Get the deck ready for spring/summer
  • Continue to meal plan on Sundays (it’s really helping to cut down food waste)

Bring on the April showers.  So we can cut to the May flowers.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s On Tap for your April?

Today: What I made | 005

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.)

its a good day to have a good day

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

rumi quote heartMaterials 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.

wendell berry peace of the wild things

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.

this too shall pass

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.  

watercolor pattern

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.)

root down to rise up

grow up

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.

Also On Tap for Today:

What did you make this week?  Which poems or stories or quotes do you keep coming back to?

Today: What I made | 004

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.

Also On Tap for Today:

What did you make this week?

Today: March goals (and a printable calendar).

It’s March 1st, which means

march goals printable calendar

Materials used: Zig Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors, Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen (black), round brushes (sizes 2 and 4)

You can download your March calendar here.

March goals 

Family

  • This is mortifying… but I still need to make Nick’s birth announcement…
  • Date night afternoon at the museum
  • Make a few playdates for Grace
  • Make a “warmer weather” bucket list

Wellness

  • Continue to workout at least twice in the real world and twice at home (per week)
  • Meet my fitbit goals (10,000 steps/30 minutes of activity/10 floors climbed) 5 days a week
  • Increase low plank hold to 45 seconds, high plank to 1 minute 
  • Register for 2 spring races
  • Less TV, more reading

Home

  • Organize and donate Nick’s too-small baby clothes 
  • Wash deck windows
  • Limit food waste

Community

  • Make plans with friends
  • Win March Madness (or whatever)
  • Enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Southie

I hope your March is… super.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on tap for your March?

Today: What I made | 003

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.

What I made | 003

what i made watercolor no mud no lotus

Materials used: Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen (blue) and Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolors

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.  

what i made

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).  

what i made

Materials used: [Left side] Acrylic paint, Micron pen (black 01); [Right side] Strathmore Artist Tiles (black), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), foil sheets, Micron pen (black 01)

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.

what i made

Materials used: [Left side] White velum, Micron (black 1), acrylic paint, Uni Posca paint pen (black); [Right side] Acrylic paint, magazine cut-outs, glue stick

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.

 

what i made

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.

what i made

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

The all pink page is sort of a little sister to something I made earlier this month and the right side is evidence that I can’t stop making cone flowers.

gelli plate what i made

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.

Ok… now for the video.

Art Journal Flip Through Video | February 2016

Art Journal Flip Through | February 2016 from Elizabeth D. on Vimeo.

I’m looking forward to making a few more of these videos and improving as I go.  I’m glad I managed to paint my nails before filming, though.  That’s got to count for something.  

Also On Tap for Today:

What did you make this week?