Tag Archives: art

On our walls | at the Cape

After three or four consecutive weekends in the city, we are back at the Cape, enjoying the peace and quiet of the off season.  Since closing on the house here in mid-October, we’ve been down as many weekends as possible.  We’ve made a lot of progress in some areas, but in other areas, maybe not so much… both kids’ rooms sort of look like the second child’s room in this hilarious BuzzFeed post that I can’t stop scrolling through. 

We have some really fun things up on our walls, though, so I figured we could start there. It’s been so fun to start from scratch, building an inexpensive collection of pieces we truly love. I think that’s really the only rule that matters when building an art collection: Buy what you love.

I’ve linked to products when possible, mostly because I think everyone needs at least one of Elizabeth May’s seagulls in their home.  Please note that some links are referral or affiliate links.

KITCHEN

on our walls kitchen

The first things to grace our walls were these Elizabeth May seagull prints (Seagull 15 + Seagull 16).  I absolutely love her style, and just saw that she has new Barack Obama and Joe Biden prints for sale in her Etsy shop so…. they will be joining us soon, along with her Maya Angelou and Susan B. Anthony portraits.  

Cool/important people art party at the Cape!

I used these brass matted Target frames throughout the house.  I am obsessed.

LIVING ROOM

living room on our walls

  • Photos of Grace, Nick + Clark,  all taken at the Cape
  • Minted signed print (Mid-summertime by Emily Jeffords) + a photo of Grace birdwatching with “the giant ‘noculars'” at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History 

*You can use your Ebates account for cash back at Minted (PSA for those not already using Ebates: sign up for an Ebates account and go to their website when shopping online– by going through them first, you’ll earn cash back at many of the sites you usually shop.  For me, that’s diapers.com, LOFT, Nordstrom, Minted, Athleta, etc.)

CapeAbilities flag

We have this Cape Cod flag, made by Cape Abilities participants, hanging on the wall heading upstairs.  Proceeds from these flags (this size was $35) support the organization, which serves individuals with disabilities on Cape Cod through a range of programs.  If you’re on the Cape, I highly recommend a trip to their farm in Dennis and store in Yarmouth.  They do wonderful work.

GUEST ROOM/DEN

guest room on our walls

I normally wouldn’t paint over someone else’s work… but I figured a mass market paint-by-number is fair game, right?  You can find similar vintage paintings at thrift stores and on Etsy or ebay, often with wooden frames, for $20 or so.  I used leftover paint from another project and simply blocked off a third of the image with blue painters tape and added a single coat of paint so that the original painting is still visible up close.

OUR BEDROOM

our bedroom on our walls

I hadn’t planned to hang the tapestry and Top Knot print together, or even in the same room… but then I saw them side by side and loved the repetition of those red stripes. The rest of our room is super white and restful, so these pieces punch things up a bit.

The tapestry is from the Pillowfort kids line at Target, but it totally works in a grown-up room.  Kids decor is often less expensive… and more cool.

GRACE’S ROOM

Grace on our walls

Grace fell in love with this swan (and her tutu), and who could blame her?  The framed print is actually a Valentine’s Day card that cost $3 ($15 including the frame). Framing greeting cards is an easy, low commitment way to add a little something to your walls.

NICK’S ROOM

Nick on our walls

One of the artists for Modern Map Art generously sent us this print, which I thought would work perfectly in Nick’s room (I’m going for a mostly navy vibe in there).  There are several options for Boston, all in local team color ways.  My photo doesn’t do the print justice, so I recommend checking out their website to see more detailed shots.  They sell similar prints for cities all over the globe, as well as some really cool ski maps.

I love how major and local streets have been painted over the map in red.  It’s really bold and graphic and I think it pairs well with the anchor tapestry (another kids department find).  

Plus, it’s nice to have a little Southie with us at the Cape. 

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite piece of art or inexpensive decor tip?

 

 

Today: Get Messy Thursdays | Words, Week 4

I got completely swept up in this week’s prompts and the chance to focus on favorite childhood stories.  We grew up in a house full of books, with parents who loved to read to us, so there was a lot to draw from.

I zeroed in on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden partly because I had seven thousand flowers cut out and ready to be used, but mostly because it is such a good story.  And while it certainly appealed to my imagination as a child, it really imparts quite grown up lessons on treating others well.  Maybe I’ll re-read it.  After I do, like, the important and necessary things.

Get Messy Thursdays | Season of Words, Week 4

This is where the magic mess happens.

I’ve always loved the look of fold-out pages in other people’s sketchbooks.  It seemed fitting to have something hidden away when drawing inspiration from The Secret Garden.  Unfortunately, I am not a genius when it comes to spatial relations and math and planning and measuring.  I taped together three pages of cold pressed watercolor, which I folded accordion style, and then labeled and re-labeled and re-re-labeled them until I got the proper layout.

And it still wasn’t quite right.  But there’s little time for perfection when working against the ever unpredictable “When will nap time be over?” clock.  So I just made do.

Materials used: Exacto knife, stamp, StazOn ink (grey), Sakura Koi brush pen (pale pink), Faber Castell PITT pen (black, 1.5)

This is how the pages will look — all tucked in and unassuming– once we finish this season of the Get Messy Art Journal program and I bind my altered book.  

The keyhole cut-out gives you a little peek at the inner spread, which is aptly… floral.  I used as many of my favorite passages from the story as I could throughout the pages.  I have no idea why I used that doily stamp.  So there’s that.

Materials used: [In addition to those listed below the keyhole page] Pages from Combray, Strathmore Artists Tiles (black, trimmed in half), Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white), glue stick.

These are the outer pages (obvi… I think).  I forgot a quotation mark on the right hand page.  Please forgive me.  Or just pretend it’s there.  

One day I will stop being obsessed with white hand-lettering on a black surface.  Today is not that day.  Also, I want my own secret garden.  Like, immediately.  

Materials used: Windsor and Newton professional watercolor tubes (ivory black, cerulean blue and Windsor violet), magazine cut outs, glue stick, Sakura Gelly Roll pen (white).

And whaaa-bam!  Here is the inner spread.  I wanted it to look lush and sort of mysterious.  The only mystery I am detecting at the moment (get it… mysteries… detectives…) is, Why did I include an owl atop that floral arrangement?  Like, wouldn’t that be the scariest thing ever to come home to?  Well, maybe not ever… but it would be weird. 

The passage scattered throughout the pages is just beautiful and perfect.  It’s about the fleeting moments when we feel like we will live forever.  Doesn’t that make you want to re-read all your favorite childhood books?

Who wants to have a Secret Garden book club with me?

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Making my first batch of switchel (now that sounds mysterious)
  • These Halloween costumes based on kids books are amazing via The House That Lars Built
  • Prenatal yoga in the living room, with a toddler, Frenchie and stuffed animal audience

What childhood classic are you dying to re-read?

Today: 24 hours in Birmingham, Alabama.

I spent a quick 24 hours in Birmingham, Alabama two weeks ago, wrapping up my final few days of work with a visit to one of the city’s middle schools.  I was able to fit in a bit of exploring between meetings and thought I’d share a few highlights.

First and foremost, people in the city could not have been more warm and welcoming.  We tend to stay out each other’s way up here, so it always takes a minute to realize that when someone in an elevator wishes you a nice day… that’s all they’re doing.  They’re not trying to get you to donate to Save the Whales, or sell you something, or steal your handbag.  It’s a refreshing change.  (Though I do sort of prefer keeping to myself.)

Oh hi, Boston College.

The Tutwiler

I stayed Downtown at the historic Tutwiler Hotel, which is now owned by Hampton Inn (love that free breakfast and wifi).  It was a quick drive to the school and airport (less than 10 minutes to both) and was within walking distance of the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Civil Rights Institute, the Board of Education, and the Birmingham Public Library.  It was the perfect home base for my short visit.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail

The trail includes more than 200 detailed signs (each featuring photographs, historical information, and quotes from Civil Rights leaders) and connects 70 places of importance to the 1963 Birmingham Civil Rights Campaign.  The trail begins at the Civil Rights Institute, which was just a few blocks from where I was staying, so I made sure to check out a number of the signs after dinner — really moving and beautifully designed.

Dining

Being a vegetarian (and a rather choosy one, at that), I am not always the best person to make restaurant recommendations.  And in fact, I wouldn’t recommend the place where we ate dinner the night we were in town (can’t win ’em all!).  But, a bit of Southern hospitality at its finest: a gentleman overheard me and a co-worker chatting about dinner plans our connecting flight from Atlanta to Birmingham, and tracked me down at the baggage claim with two recommendations, Bottega and Hot and Hot Fish Club.  He seemed to know what he was talking about (which is more than I can say for myself).

Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens

We stopped at Arlington on our way from the airport to our hotel.  The house is open for visitors most days, but I believe you need to schedule a tour in advance if you’d like to have a guide with you.  We picked up some information at the visitors center after buying our tickets and toured the house and gardens on our own.

Arlington is the only former plantation home still standing in the area.  The gardens were pretty, and the magnolia trees on the property were extraordinary.  Most of the furniture has been replaced and it seems like a number of outbuildings (including a reproduction of the original kitchen house)were added for weddings and other special events hosted on there.  I am not sure what I was expecting (and perhaps we caught things on an off day), but there was sort of a weird commercialized, scrubbed up vibe there.  

Birmingham Museum of Art

I saved the pots best for last.

One of my favorite places to go when visiting a new city is their art museum.  I was so impressed by the Birmingham Museum of Art and how accessible it is.  Both museum entry and parking are free, and the museum itself is bright, airy and really easy to navigate.  It was perfectly unpretentious (Detroit Institute of Arts is similar — I am obsessed with that place), which is how I like my museums. The African ceramics pictured above are from the collection of Birmingham artist Dick Jemison.  I just love how they are displayed; it struck me as a room full of personalities.  

There are several hands-on art areas throughout the museum, as well as a dedicated art space for children, making this a great place for families to visit.  They also have a restaurant on site, and a fantastic gift shop (I picked up a small sketch book and some Monks Meditation tea from Huntsville, Alabama’s Piper & Leaf).

It was a busy, but really lovely 24 hours!

Also On Tap for Today:

What is your favorite local (or far off) museum?

 

 

 

 

Today: Spring spruce-up.

I’ve been putting off spring cleaning (and Lord, do those closets need to be addressed) for weeks, but now that it’s finally warm enough to open the windows and let some fresh air in, I’m running out of excuses.  It’s time to step away from the spring cleaning Pinterest boards and actually, well… do some cleaning.

Unless, of course… I come up with some other way to procrastinate.  The lovely folks at Minted reached out at the perfect time with the opportunity to do a little window wall art shopping.  I’ve ordered all kinds of holiday cards and invitations from Minted, but hadn’t ordered any prints or photos from them before.  

After a few minutes, it became clear I could spend hours scrolling through their art section.  And maybe I did.  Instead of washing windows.  

Spring Spruce-up with Minted

gallery wall

We’ve been adding to this little collection of photos and prints here and there, and I’m excited to add a few new pieces this spring.  Minted offered me a credit to my account to do a little shopping and sprucing up, in exchange for sharing some of my favorite items here.  

I’m eyeing the constellation and birthstone prints for Grace’s room.  I like that they’re personal, without being childish.  So many of their art prints would make lovely gifts for spring birthdays, weddings and showers.  Oh, and Mother’s Day (hint, hint). 

Alright.  Time to clean.  Just kidding… it’s time to decorate Easter eggs.  And then make up 900 other things to do when I’m done.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s on your spring to-do list?

Today: Get Messy Art Journal | Blog Hop

The first season of the Get Messy Art Journal program is wrapping up, so I’ve been catching up on missed prompts and pages before the next season starts.  

I love all the mess um… character my sketch book has developed over the past six weeks.

Recent Get Messy posts:

New pages

This week there are no new prompts to tackle, so I’m sharing a few pages (as well as some previously shared favorites) I worked on lately while playing catch up, as well as links to fellow Get Messy members’ pages for added inspiration.

Materials used: Black tempera paint, pink washi tape, a magazine clipping, watercolors and a nearly dead Sharpie.

This was my take on the 5 Love Languages prompt.  I had never heard of this before, but after taking the quiz, it seems I am all about words.  And I hate gifts (bahshashdhahdha).  I picked up a set of Crayola tempera paint for another project (bubble painting!) and couldn’t resist throwing a bit of black down on these pages.  I tried to follow this tutorial for plastic bag printmaking from Alisa Burke… but halfway through Grace dropped an entire bowl of peas on Clark’s head.  So.  That didn’t really pan out.  Nevertheless, I like how those inky smudges turned out.

Oh, and I had by sketchbook upside down when I was working on these pages.  By accident.  Not in some irreverent, artsy way.  Can’t win ’em all.

That semi-go-with-the-flow-ness?  That’s new.  And it’s good.  It’s probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned during this first season — that creating something is better than creating nothing.  And that perfectionism can be a real barrier to art making.  And, like… life in general.

Materials used:  Red paint pen from Blick (a freebie during one of their sales), bubble wrap with black and pink ink, white gesso (which got all mixed up with the black ink when I dragged it across the page with some cardboard), washi tape,  pre-cut watercolor paper, black ink spray, black Micron, magazine clippings and… even more pink ink.

Clearly, I was on a pink kick.  I really like the ink splatter on the right hand side (I used a straw the expedite the splattering/dripping process) and had fun experimenting with layers and starting with pre-made (by myself, like a day or two before) backgrounds.

Materials used: Strips of scrapbook paper from a Studio Calico kit, grey watercolor and and a grey sign pen, yellow and gold watercolors and a set of alphabet stamps from the Target Dollar Spot (that special, special place), and half a random envelope.

I love secret hiding places (in our future home, there will be a secret door covered with a old timey looking bookshelf) and tucked little love notes to Nick and Grace in the envelope.  This has been a year of soul searching and prioritizing and making tough but good decisions.

I’m still working on finding a balance between crap everywhere and sufficient white space.  I think it’s the claustrophobic in me, but I crave lots of white space… but I also crave an end product that looks like I actually made an effort.

Materials used: Faber Castel Pitt pen, blue watercolors with a waterbrush, magazine clippings… AND LAMINATED GLITTER (can’t stop, won’t stop).

This is my favorite of the four pages.  And not just because of the glitter.  But that helps. I’ve had that quote kicking around for ages (it’s from an old issue of Yoga Journal, I think), but this page felt like the perfect place for it to land.  On the surface, it’s kind of depressing… but I think it’s also really empowering.  When you find your place, you know.  Stick with it, my friends.  Anyway, the quote is:

Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely.  And we must pay attention.  We must act.  This little corner of the world is ours to transform.  This little corner of the world is ours to save.

–Stephen Cope, from The Great Work of Your Life

While the subject matter this week isn’t exactly light and fluffy, I’ve been all about playing.  Playing with new materials, playing with new techniques, and playing with new messes all over our condo.

A few favorites from the Get Messy Art Journal Season of Love

But wait… there’s more…

Get Messy Art Journal | Blog Hop

I’ve loved learning new techniques and really appreciated the motivation that comes with weekly prompts.  Best of all, though, is the community of members.  My favorite thing to do lately is scroll through all the #getmessyartjournal Instagram posts and swoon over what everyone else is creating.  

For more Get Messy Art Journal pages and all kinds of inspiration…. hop on over to the following blogs:

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Making a spring bucket list… and a spring cleaning list
  • Yes, please: Key lime pie on a stick from The Kitchn
  • My bracket is official busted 

What’s on your must list for your amazing, imaginary dream home?  

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram 32.

For the first time since living in South Boston, we didn’t head out to watch the parade.  Instead, I was being that mom at the pediatrician’s office.  We got a contagious illness report from daycare this week (the dreaded conjunctivitis is going around), so when Grace started rubbing her eyes, I started becoming a nutcase.  A word of advice: Don’t Google “pink eye” at three in the morning.

The nurse I spoke with this morning encouraged us to come in today, just in case.  By the time 2 o’clock rolled around, I started to wonder if it was more likely Grace had accidentally squirted yogurt into her own eye, or that part of her bagel got in there or something.  Needless to say: no conjunctivitis.  I love our pediatrician, though (and the fact that they’ll see us on Sundays).  We had no trouble getting out of Southie, but heading back in during the parade proved to be a bit more challenging.  

One of the (presumably many) upsides to not being infected and being out and about?  We had a little impromptu visit with my sister and brother-in-law during which Grace tried to eat a crayon and I learned that Selection Saturday is actually Selection Sunday.  And I wonder why people don’t invite me to join their March Madness pools.

Oh but before I say anything else, sorry for talking about pink eye.  I promise we did non-gross things this weekend too.  Like the things pictured below.

The Weekend According to Instagram 32

  1. First things first:  The snow is melting… AND THINGS ARE GROWING.  I spotted these little sprouts alongside our driveway on Sunday afternoon and literally shrieked in delight.  I immediately emailed a photo to my husband and our neighbors.  And I’m now taking bets on who thinks I’m crazier, our neighbors or Grace’s pediatrician.  This weekend was great for my personal brand.  Whatever that means.
  2. Our neighborhood is ready for St. Patrick’s Day.  I don’t want to live any where else.  Most of the time.  
  3. A little weekend doodling.  Watercolor + pen + birds.
  4. I am obsessed with the artwork on these seed packets from the Hudson Valley Seed Library.  I am kicking myself for not buying their calendar at the Flower Show.
  5. Aaaand another photo from this year’s Boston Flower and Garden Show.  Nick and I always talk about living in a tiny house one day, and I think I found the one this weekend.  Technically, I think this is more of a garden shed, but I am pretty sure there’s room for Grace and Clark’s imaginary bunkbeds. And if I take after my maternal grandfather at all (which I hope I do), I’m only going to get shorter so…. I think it will work.   
  6. After the Flower Show, we ducked out of the rain and grabbed tacos across the street at Rosa Mexicana.  Aren’t my lunch dates adorable?
  7. I started Saturday morning with a big cup of organic peppermint amour and some to do list-ing.  Of the 900 things on the list for the weekend, I think I accomplished 3.  One of those things was “make a to do list.”  Can’t win ’em all.
  8. A peek at my art journal (you’ll find more pages here and here).
  9. Did anyone else read Richard Scarry books as a kid?  They were a family favorite of ours.  I ordered a copy of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever for Grace and seriously… it’s the best word book ever.  Not surprisingly, her favorite page is the one where the bear gets dressed.  She is all about her shoes these days.

Also On Tap for Today:

How was your Selection Sunday weekend? 

Today: My favorite online classes.

I spend a lot of time in schools for work, which often makes me miss… being in school.  It also probably explains why I’ve had a cold for six months.  I’m pretty sure I always loved being a student.  Even in middle school, when I had a broken ankle and braces and glasses and an uggo haircut all at the same time.

My favorite online classes for art, photography and creativity

By the time I made it to college, got my math requirement out of the way (dark times), and had the freedom and flexibility to take classes that actually interested me… that’s when things got really good.  I studied French and Fine Arts, which means I did a lot of reading, a lot of writing, a lot of memorizing facts, a lot of dissecting other people’s artwork, and a tiny bit of drawing.  I went to museums and starred at microfiche.  I learned how to translate contracts, took a semester of Arabic, recited poems, and yes… performed a puppet show in Medieval French (probably both the worst and best moment of my years at BC).

As grown ups, there are plenty of opportunities to take classes in person (the BCAE comes to mind), but I really love the flexibility of online classes.  Here are a few of my favorites for those of you looking to infuse a bit of creativity into your day.  Or night.  Or train commute.  Or whatev.

Nicole’s Classes

You may remember my posts from last winter (here and here) when I took the Floral Arranging 101 class through Nicole’s Classes.  While I worked quite a bit while I was on maternity leave, I also found myself with both time to fill (namely, those 2 hour stints when Grace was sound asleep… and yes, I know, sleep when the baby sleeps) and a desire to keep my brain as engaged as possible.

 Their classes include photography, design, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, and each class runs live for 2-4 weeks.  For the 4 week floral arranging class, for example, we worked through one lesson and assignment each week.  What sets Nicole’s Classes apart, is that it is an app that you download and install on your computer.  Within the app, you’ll find the course(s) that you registered for, video lessons and a gallery to share your course work.  There is a high level of engagement in these galleries from both instructors and classmates, and I found the feedback on each project I posted to be so helpful.  

Classes range from $125-325, but there is also a lot of great free content on the Nicole’s Classes website, including these great tutorials.

Craftsy

I’m currently taking a self-paced DSLR basics class on Craftsy.  They roped me in with a New Year’s sale– I believe I paid $25 for Basics of Digital Photography, which includes 9 lessons and hours and hours of video instruction.  After years of shooting in manual (and… having lost my camera manual, despite downloading it, like, six times), I am trying to step up my game a bit.

In addition to photography classes, Craftsy has self-paced classes in:

  • Art (painting, drawing)
  • Cake decorating
  • Food and cooking
  • Home and garden
  • Jewelry
  • Paper crafts
  • Yarn and fiber arts

All classes are web-based, and you can jump back into your lesson whenever you have time.  I’ve found the class to be very user-friendly and love that, like Nicole’s Classes, there is a lot of interaction with other students and the instructor (there is a chat area on the class’ home screen) and a dedicated project gallery for the class.

Craftsy also features a community marketplace where you can buy patterns from independent designers, view projects from other classes and read articles on their blog (two recent posts: create a custom wirework heartbeat necklace and vegan caesar salad with roasted chickpeas and almonds).

Alisa Burke online classes

Alisa Burke is one of my go-to ladies for creative inspiration.  Her classes are fun, accessible and inexpensive and cover everything from technique (lots of watercolor and ink), to sketching prompts, to sourcing unexpected tools and materials. 

Alisa releases new classes each season (many of them with seasonal themes such as summer sketching) and each class includes video lessons, text and visual examples.  While most of her classes are for visual artists (of all levels, truly), she also offers several classes for those who own creative businesses.  

Oh, and her blog is definitely worth a visit — lots of stunning photography of the West Coast, tutorials, family art-making, interviews with other artists, etc.

Recommended reading

If an online class isn’t in the cards, here are a few of my favorite books that might help you make room for creativity:

You know what they say.  You’re never too old to get an awful middle school haircut to learn.

Also On Tap for Today:

Have you ever taken an online class?  Favorites/Wish list classes?

Today: Making room for creativity.

I first started blogging in 2006 or 2007 because I was feeling a bit stuck and needed a creative outlet that didn’t require expensive supplies or an expansive workspace.  I’ve always gravitated toward writing and other forms of expression and thrive when I have projects to keep me busy, challenged and creatively engaged.  If I don’t have at least 56 projects going, I get bored.  And when I get bored, I get cranky.  And when I get cranky, welp… I’m sorry.

Lately, I’ve been craving something a little messier than writing.  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the recent snapshots of my sketchbook.  I was hesitant to share those photos at first, but something I’m working on lately is letting go of perfection (Lord, is that ever a process.).  Like, in all facets of life.  So far, that’s not going perfectly so well.

As a student, I had a tendency to re-do and re-re-do and re-re-re-do drawings and paintings, trying to “fix” every imperfection.  A certain drawing professor (whom my sister and I grew to both love and be terrified of) once called my drawings overwrought.  I would have been upset, but I was too busy fending off that random girl in our class who kept stealing our artists tape.

Now that I’m a grown-up (and no one’s after my tape stash), I get it.  Also: I consider myself more of a casual dabbler than an artist, and I’ve decided casual dabblers can make as many mistakes as they want.

Back on topic: I need room to be creative.  Like, even more than I need Junior Mints.  Or Diet Coke.  Or clean socks (we all know I hate socks, so that was kind of a bad example).  You don’t need to be a painter or an opera singer to be creative.  And often times that creativity comes naturally. Other times you may be stuck when working on a new recipe or article or trying to problem solve at work.

Believe it or not, creativity can be learned.  (and, according to this Forbes article “creativity is far and away the most important skill needed to ‘thrive.'”)  You don’t need to wear all black, or have some sort of emo haircut, or be in the drama club (though all those things are perfectly good).  You don’t need to be a “creative type” to be creative or to benefit from creative thinking or practices.

Hopefully these ideas will help you make a little bit of room in your brains (or day, or spirit, or whatev) for creative solutions and projects.

Making room for creativity

Rethink your routine

Like most humans, I’ve caught myself making the old “I don’t have time” excuse.  Real talk: If “x” (whether that’s doodling, or running, or eating well, or calling your mum) is important, you can make time.  I promise.  It’s possible.

If you’re adding something new to your day, like a sketching routine or revisiting the piano lessons of your childhood, you may need to reconfigure your schedule a bit.  I wish there were a magic way to add an hour to your day, or a day to your week, but let’s be serious.  I am not a magician (and frankly, they creep me out).  There are only 24 hours in the day.  If you want more time, you need to either wake up earlier, or stay up later.  Or you know, skip 20 minutes of television watching (that’s not an admonishment, I’m thinking specifically of my undying devotion to Jeopardy!).

I’m a fan of that quiet time in the morning when Grace has gone back to sleep for a bit (hopefully) after eating at 4 or 5 AM and the sun is just starting to rise in Boston (…it was less lovely this winter when it was still pitch black, but hey).  If I am not dead tired, I’ll putter around the condo a bit or grab some tea on the deck and watch the sky put on a show.  For me, everything feels possible in the morning.  For others, this may be true at night.

Carve our your time and protect it.

Arm yourself

Carry a sketch pad, or journal, or violin, or wooden birdhouses and paint… or whatever with you.  That way, when inspiration (or a free five minutes between meetings) strikes, you are armed and ready.  On second thought, leave the birdhouses and paint at home.  That project got a little messy.

A note about sketchpads:  If possible, I recommend buying a few in person (like, in a real store rather than buying them online) mostly so you can get a feel (literally) for the paper quality.  Inexpensive is good, but cheap and flimsy is maybe not so good.  Check out a few different brands and be sure you like the weight and texture.  If you’re using ink or watercolors, you may want to invest in a sketchbook designed for mixed or wet media.

I have a little travel watercolor set that I just love, some pens and a few sketchpads that fit easily into my handbag (which, in truth, is gigantic – but I think they’d fit in a normal sized bag too… especially if you remove the diapers, the wipes and Sophie the giraffe).  I usually draw first, and that add color later.

Accept a challenge

It takes all of two minutes on Pinterest or Instagram and you’ll find enough doodle-a-day or photo-a-day prompts to last you ’til 2033.  While participating in challenges like these can be fun in real-time, I always feel a wee bit guilty when I lose momentum and  forget to post a photo… on the second day.  Using challenge prompts for inspiration, instead, eliminates the guilt factor.  Scroll through a list the next time you find yourself asking, “What should I draw?” or “What should I write about?” or “What should I name my new harmonica jam?”

You might also consider creating your own sort of challenge.  Maybe you want to commit to writing daily, even if it’s a line or two.  Or perhaps you’d like to blog or vlog (I will forever think those two words are weird) for a month.  Deadlines and due dates and schedules can be helpful to some, but limiting to others.  As Plato and a bunch of other old people used to say, Know thyself.

Set it to shuffle mode

Yes, I am talking about music.  And yes, I am talking about other things too.  Lately I’ve been both enjoying and being overwhelmingly mortified by my digital music library.  I got bored with my playlists and started defaulting to shuffle, so my commute usually sounds something like this:

  • Weird Christmas song
  • Tupac
  • A song about (but not by) Tupac
  • Michael Jackson
  • The soundtrack to Summer Heights High
  • Ambient Reiki or yoga music
  • Sad Whitney Houston song
  • More Michael Jackson
  • Jock Jams
  • Another weird Christmas song
  • An awesome Christmas song
  • Three different versions of Raffi’s “Baby Beluga”
  • Another sad Whitney Houston song
  • A HIDDEN GEM!

Those hidden gems – the songs you haven’t heard in ages – make the embarrassment of having downloaded an entire Glee album (But seriously, when did I do that? I never liked the show.) worthwhile.  Those songs might remind you of a specific time, place or person and may help to inspire your next project.

Other ways you can embrace shuffle mode: Open the newspaper (they still exist, I assure you) and read the first article you land on.  Scroll through your phone and call the first person you see (it helps to maybe do a clean sweep of your phone and delete those randoms — you know: first name “Mary”, last name “From Yoga Class 2011”– first).  Close your eyes, point to the menu, and order (disclaimer: not safe if you have food allergies).

 Enjoy a change of scenery

I’m a big believer in the power of a simple change of scenery.  We’re lucky that we can see the ocean from one side of our condo, and skyscrapers from the other.  If you look directly out the front of our building, you’ll likely see one of my neighbors running some sort of insurance scam involving a neck brace and various other medical accessories, but that’s another story.

Regardless, one way to get creatively “unstuck” is to move.  Duh.  Take a quick walk, make a day trip to the country, visit a farm and pet some animals, enjoy a friend’s garden, spend the afternoon in the library or a bookstore reading through travel books, go for a hike, take a nap on the beach.  When you’ve got new or different things to look at, your perspective is bound to change.

Oh, and this should go without saying, but… please don’t be like,

“Elizabeth!  I took your advice!  I saw sort of a weird, dark, kind of dangerous looking alley… and, um, I thought it might inspire me… so I walked down it.  And now I am missing my wallet.  AND AN EAR!”

Very Van Gogh, but also very NOT OKAY.  Be careful and be safe.  Think with your right brain while using your left brain.  Please.

Pick up your camera.  Or don’t.

These days, quite a bit of life is experienced from behind the screens of our smart phones or tablets (do I need to mention Google Glasses?  Does anyone out there wear them?).  On one hand, I love being able to take a quick photo of something that grabs my attention or type a quick note about a book title or upcoming event.  On the other hand, I know I miss all kinds of things by being glued to my phone.  I try to use my actual camera as much as possible for this reason.  I only dig it out when I want to capture something… and I see those “somethings” because I am not preoccupied by looking at my camera.  Mostly because it’s just a camera.  It can’t text my sister a sloth pic.

Wheewwww.  This was a long one.  Think of everything you could have created and accomplished if you didn’t bother to read this post.  My apologies.

Also On Tap for Today:

How do you make room for creativity in your day?  What are you working on lately?

Today: The Weekend According to Instagram XXVIII

We made a quick trip to Maine this weekend to see Nick’s parents, and made it back to the city in time for our niece’s birthday party.  By the time Sunday evening rolled around, I was ready to face plant into bed… but forced myself to do laundry first.  You know, so I would have something to wear come Monday morning.

Oh, and before we dig into my own Instagram feed, I came across something worth sharing this morning: Brendon and Danielle are hosting a fantastic yoga challenge (starting today) that focuses on modifications.  I love that there is room for everyone to practice in yoga, and this challenge reflects that.

Okay.  Let’s look at pictures of my trunk.  And the harbor.  And my dog.

The Weekend According to Instagram XXVIII

Follow me on Instagram: @ElizabethEv

  1. This is what “packing light” looks like these days.  After visiting my parents on the Cape over the 4th, we had a pretty good sense of what was necessary and what we could leave home.  I am not sure why I packed 100 diapers for a 36 hour trip, but hey. In addition to the obvious (ye olde Pack ‘N Play), we have a couple baby items that have been great for travel: this Skip Hop outdoor blanket which folds up beautifully and easily wipes clean (bonus points for for detachable insulated bag – we used this for Grace’s rash guard and swim diaper last weekend) and the Puj Flyte infant bath, which also folds up (sensing a theme?) and fits in most sinks.  I was afraid Grace had outgrown the Flyte (we used it for her first few baths at home), but it actually works even better now that she’s, welp… sturdier.
  2. I will never tire of this view. Dusk in Boothbay Harbor is just incredible.  I remember one of my art history professors in college talking about how the light in Maine is magic.  I thought he was high.  Now I think he was just telling the truth (also, he could have been high).
  3. Other magical things in Maine: This aptly named “Little House” nestled just along the harbor.  When I’m old I want to live in a little house (specifically: a tiny house).
  4. I’ve been sharing pages from my sketchbook lately on Instagram.  I’ve always loved to draw, but I’m finding it especially productive as a way to quiet my brain a bit at the end of the day.  I’m the first to admit that I’m tightly wound and the last few months?  On another level.  I’ve been breaking out some paper, a pen and a set of watercolors most nights after Grace goes to sleep (and, inevitably, before she wakes up again).  There were a few Audubon field guides at the cottage (plus, like… real birds outside…), hence the, um... birdoodles.
  5. An old, old wooden ship.
  6. Clark loves heading North.  He also loves pretending to play guard dog behind decorative screen doors.
  7. How I close out the weekend: brewing a pitcher of peppermint tea to sip cold throughout the week.  Super refreshing.  The Yogi Tea quotes help.
  8. New animal obsession: hedgehogs.  I picked up this set of notecards at Target (no surprise there).  More hedgehog cuteness: Biddy the Hedgehog’s Instagram account.  He fits in the palm of your hand, he visits National Parks, he is magnificent.
  9. Aaaaaaand a tiny OOTD: Grace’s party dress for her cousin’s birthday.  Wouldn’t be a party without a bow.

Hope you had a lovely weekend, too.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Today: Two giant hearts.

Jim Dine's Two Big Black Hearts (and one complete weirdo)

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I was scrolling through my While 29 list the other day and realized I’d better get cracking.  My 29th year is almost half over, after all.  With warm, sunny days upon us, I’m in a more adventurous mood.  I think my hibernation period might be over (until next winter).  I hopped over to the deCordova‘s website to check their hours this morning, as the museum was one of my “to visits,” and saw that Bank of America was sponsoring free admission this weekend through their Museum on Us program.  The program runs the first full weekend of each month.  Perhaps a fraction of my bank fees are doing some good, rather than padding some rich old man’s pocket?

I love things that cost… free… and I’ve been wanting to check out the deCordova since my quirky drawing professor had an installation there.  That was 2004.  I’ve been busy, but not that busy.  Needless to say, my professor’s installation is long gone, but it was well worth the visit, regardless.  Side bar: My sister and I took that drawing class together.  She was an eager freshman, and I was a hungover senior.  By some miracle of creativity, an all-nighter before my final critique and a mountain of BS, I got an A.

Back to the deCordova.  We arrived just before 11 and had no wait at the drive-through admission booth.  We flashed our BOA cards, were given maps, and headed to the main parking lot.  We visited the museum itself first, and then wandered the grounds.

The museum and sculpture park are tucked around the corner from the center of Lincoln.  The juxtaposition of old farm homes and looming, modern sculpture is quite fun.  A few of my favorite sights:

Mirror image sculptures inside and outside the museum

The rooftop terrace

My favorite piece, John Wilson's Eternal Presence

Exploring Ron Rudnicki's Rain Gates

Rick Brown's Butterfly Effect

Douglas Kornfeld's Ozymandias (and my boyfriendias)

A chipmunk enjoys Alfred Duca's Pegasus

I took quite a few pictures, so if you’re interested in checking out the rest, hop on over to Facebook. The deCordova provided the perfect escape from the city, and a great chance to wake up my brain a bit.  I picked up a set of watercolor pencils on a whim last week, and am now itching to crack open a fresh sketchpad.

Maybe I could teach my own drawing class?  A sketchball teaches sketching… it has a nice ring to it.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite museum to visit?  Are you a fan of modern art?