What I made | 007 sounds so… James Bond. I assure you what follows is less secret agent and more… lady making a mess on her coffee table. I’ve been completely swept up in Mary Ann Moss’ Oh My Gouache class and have been using gouache in place of my usual watercolors, acrylics and inks. I even made my own sketchbook (Who am I?) and promptly began painting ships in bottles… and bottles of Polar Seltzer.
So this post is all gouache, nothing but the gouache. So help me, gouache.
No need for more nonsense. Here’s what I made recently:
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
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.
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?
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.
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
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…
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.
Materials used: Cold-pressed watercolor paper, Winsor and Newton professional watercolors, and a super crappy paint brush from a set of approximately 900 (it set me back a whopping $2.00 #treatyoself).
I won’t turn down a good night’s sleep, two snuggly babies, and a cold and long-running IV of Diet Coke, however.
I hope you are enjoying a peaceful day filled with love.
Also On Tap for Today:
Listening to the Happy Holidays playlist on Spotify
[So… most of this post was thrown together well before yesterday’s tragic events in San Bernardino. This is not a post about grief or guns. But those things, rather than paint and sketchbooks, are what I’m actually thinking about today.]
This week was sort of half-baked, creating-wise. I messed around a lot, threw out or painted over a bunch of art work crap, and sort of followed the prompts for this week’s Get Messy Art Journal program.
Semi-related: All of my art supplies now live on this cart, which tucks into our front hall closet, when they’re not strewn about our coffee table. City living at its finest.
Get Messy Thursdays | Magic, Week 3
This was sort of a warm-up for some of the other things I worked on this week, and an attempt to get a bit more comfortable with the journaling aspect of art journaling. I used my tiny black Moleskine album for a few quick sketches and projects. I like not having to paint the pages black (something I often end up doing), but the size (3.5 x 5.5) is not super functional. I like big sketchbooks… and I cannot lie. Also, I clearly cannot comprehend measurements… because I thought I was ordering this album.
Another quick one. Nick ordered a burrito from our friendly neighborhood Mexican/Chinese restaurant (every neighborhood needs one… maybe) and I stole the fortune from his cookie. Does anyone like the actual taste of fortune cookies? No, right? Regardless: your special way of doing things is magic. Or whatever.
File this under “super random.” But magic. If it actually happened.
This page is a work in progress, but it’s supposed to be an abstract of the brain’s hemispheres. Pretend, if you can, that it doesn’t look like a technicolor bowl of worms. I planned to pair it with another quote (about the power of positive thought) from The Secret Garden, but I got distracted. By what… I can’t remember. Probably because these days, my actual brain feels as wacky as this one looks.
And speaking of brains, here’s my attempt at mapping my own insides. I took some liberties with my silhouette (a slightly less pointy nose and three fewer chins than I currently have), but the things floating around in my brain that make me me are pretty accurate. I think.
Once I broke out the paint and brush pens, I was on a roll. I like when that happens. Unfortunately… it rarely happens.
Get Messy Art Journal | Magic, Week 2
Materials used: Sakura Koi watercolors and brush pens, Micron pens (black 1, 01 and 03), clear alphabet stamps
I’m especially happy with the way the crystal ball turned out. The purple sort of reminds me of a Magic 8 ball. I wish I had one of those kicking around these days — mostly because I’d like something to tell me definitively when this baby plans to arrive and give me permission to eat another bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream and help me decide between black yoga pants or black leggings.
I’ve always found magicians and that sort of magic to be creepy and my one encounter with a supposed psychic was really bizarre (she thought I was a flight attendant, but knew my grandfather’s name)– but I do think what we believe is our reality. And that extends beyond card tricks and ladies being sawed in half.
If we believe in myths or rumors or love stories, they’re as good as real. That kind of power is magic when it’s positive. We should believe more good things about ourselves.
Materials used: Clear alphabet stamps, Sakura Koi brush pens and Pigma brush pens, Sakura Gelly Roll pens (white and gold), Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers, magazine cut outs, paper scraps (for the crowns), Elmers glue stick (no need to be fancy)
True Life: I made this while watching a dog show on television. On a Friday night. The glamour of my life abounds. Also, a Frenchie won the non-sporting group (whatever that means) and the little thing was so cute that my out-of-control hormones almost tricked me into reserving a bulldog brother for Clark online… but fortunately (for everyone), my hands were too busy with the cutting and pasting and doodling and stamping.
This one is more fairy tale than magic, but I’m guessing a wolf would need some sort of magical power to talk, right? And, then like, eat a Grandma and then dress up like her? Regardless, most fairy tales are dark, dark, dark… and terrifying.
The trees outside our house have lost all their leaves, so used them as a guide when sketching the background. I think they turned out sufficiently creepy. Oh, and red is usually not my thing… but maybe it should be.
This quote has always been one of my favorites (and you know how I feel about doodling in white on black paper and, like, cutting stuff out when I should be doing other things).
Gratitude really does unlock the fullness of life. I’m grateful for a day like Thanksgiving to spend reflecting on all that is good in this life. I have so much to be thankful for, and in an ever challenging world, never has this been more apparent.
I have the love of family and friends, good health and good heath care, a peaceful and safe home, plenty of food to eat and clothes to wear, an education and all kinds of things to keep me occupied and interested, a stash of watercolor paints, and a generally secure life. What I have is enough, and more.
I’m thankful to each of you, and wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving.