Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Breathing a Bit Easier...Taking Care of Business!

Exploring images of Irish dolmens yesterday...one is the Brownshill dolmen on the right, and I have no idea where the other is...

I had a couple of pieces of business that were keeping me from immersing myself in working on the class on Meaning-full Journaling I've mentioned here before...at least let's just blame them, okay?  One of them had been hanging fire, as a friend used to say, for weeks (well, months, really), and the other just came up yesterday, but I needed to DEAL with them.

Clear the decks, AND my mind.

I've received an inquiry about republishing a couple of my out of print books as eBooks--honestly, the initial contact was months ago when I was still reeling from the two deaths in the family and I just didn't want to think about it.  I finally restablished contact a few weeks ago and we're in the contract-negotiation phase now.

Let me just say that I HATE reviewing contracts.  I've dealt with dozens of them and you'd think it would be a piece of cake by now, but...it isn't.  The wording's confusing, publishing changes, and eBooks work differently from print books, of course.  Not exactly rivetting reading, either, frankly.

So my beloved Author's Guild, to which I've belonged for decades, looked over the contract and offered some brilliant suggestions, which I needed to get into the form I could send to the publisher.
And then I couldn't find their email with the original contract.  I DID find my printed-out version, so had to enter all the requests and changes onto that, then transcribe.

Are you asleep yet?

Anyway, finally DONE, and sent off...the other publisher who contacted me about those same books hasn't responded, so we'll see where we go from here.  I'll announce here if it works out!

The other thing I needed to deal with and consider was an offer to illustrate a proposed Quarto Book, on birds.  Those books are gorgeous, well-designed, elegant, beautifully printed...they like my work, and they sound lovely to work with.

But it had a deadline that would mean some real nose-to-grindstone time as well as putting off the class, and I just wasn't willing.  Those things always take more energy and time than I originally set aside for them.  (My "80-100" illustrations for The Walker's Companion, years ago, turned into nearly 300, as I recall...not all of which were used, I think.)

And frankly, I'm just not in the place where I want to fit anyone else's timetable or requirements any more.  Or anyone else's ideas!  I've got plenty of my own...

I don't know how long it will take me to actually get the class ready to go, but I want to put my love and energy there.  I want to make it worth it.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Urban Nature, where I spend 80% of my waking hours!

I am delighted that after some years of work and thought, we've managed to create a tiny nature sanctuary right here in our old neighborhood.  We attract many species of birds, as well as raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and the very occasional white tail deer and fox.  We plant flowers to attract butterflies and bees, and there are many species of wildflowers and useful wild plants on our little lot.

Plus WONDERFUl sketching opportunities!  There is much more to our urban environment than buildings and people.

I do quick on the spot gesture sketches and often add color as the birds stay around.

I make my own art supplies from things that grow in my little sanctuary...note the more practical dip pens on the right!

My feeders are usually busier than this!

I learn a lot about my environment by sketching what I find...in this case, a woodpecker's burrow caused the limb to break off so I could see how the nest was made.

Birds DO move fast, but we can sketch their basic shapes, just like people in a cafe or airport terminal, and add color as we have the chance.  I like to list the birds I see on any given day...

And record special events like this!  A white tail deer chasing my cat through the woods.  I was able to dash down their shapes as I watched, then added my familiar trees once they'd boogied on out of there...

Pilieated woodpeckers are making a comeback!  I've sketched him several times...even on my feeder, though I was told this big bird doesn't come to feeders.

These guys are ALWAYS good for a laugh, as well as fast sketching practice.  Here, mostly a Prismacolor dark grey pencil with washes added...

This kind of peanut feeder attracts a lot of birds...

I'm even doing a backyard Materia Medica of all the useful herbs and plants...

I've learned a terrific amount about what grows even here in town, and what benefits they offer.

 What nature can you find in YOUR urban environment?  It's precious, and we are nourished by it.

* I put this post on our Urban Sketchers Midwest blog as well, but I thought you might enjoy it here too, in case you don't see that one!

There is a program that gives certification for this kind of effort from the National Wildlife Federation, well worth looking into if you are interested.

And enjoy this site, The Urban Wilderness, for more inspiration--one man's effort in Kansas City's populous Brookside area. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pixel Pixies...

...that's what brilliant fantasy writer Charles de Lint calls them.  And sure enough, they're out to drive me NUTS.  Next they'll be making fairie knots in my hair while I sleep...

 We've been going fishing a lot this summer and fall, and whenever we can in the winter.  They stock trout at Fountain Bluff in Liberty, so of course my husband was trying out his Japanese Tenkara rig and practicing his casting.  AND catching fish...

And I sketch.  Not all that thrilling, there, but good practice...

This is the basic view...and I've painted it 4-5 times now.
I used several different techniques on the journal page above and decided to do some close-ups, so scanned the page and cropped a few, with details.

...and from somewhere, in my computer, words from a long-ago demonstration superimposed themselves on the images.
This one...FIT. 

That IS pretty much what I did there...wet in wet, bare tree limbs done with lines scraped in...(the lighter tree shapes were blotted but apparently the Pixel Pixies couldn't find that kind of caption...)

...but as if that wasn't enough...THIS one pretty much fit, too.  "Palette grays" are created when you pick up whatever's on your palette and mix it together to make a neutral tint.  Yep.  Like these...

...and just to prove (okay, to my own satisfaction!) that it WAS the pixies and I'm not just totally batshit crazy and I added text then forgot about it...the one above didn't fit.  It was just wandering around somewhere in the innards of my computer and got slapped into place.  NO salt at all in the sky wash...

So here's the capper.  If I looked in Windows Explorer at the file called My Scans, the above three images with text didn't exist.  If I went in through Picasa's viewer, they did. 


So I did a "save as" in Picasa, named them something diffrent, and there they were, in my scans folder.  In Windows.

Oh yeah, and one of the images I'd planned to use in the Art Tip I was working on today?  The one that was in my file, oh, say, half an hour ago?  Gone.  First it was there, then it was a black square, then...poof!

Oh, and Spell Check has disappeared in Blogger today...

Ya know? 

I'm babbling...

Definitely time to turn the thing over to the pixies and go grab a carrot juice or something...

That Upcoming Class on Meaning-full Journaling...

I just keep writing...ideas keep popping into my head, in my studio, in bed, at the computer, in the shower...I'm beginning to wonder if I'll be able to actually stop and launch the thing!  6 more pages written today...

And yes, this is how I prepare for a class.  Scribble, scribble, note, cross out, arrows, boxes, transcribe, print, scribble on THAT...retype with changes...

Take photos, choose sketches, make lists...

And of course I'll be adding my visual on how to tip in pages...if I can find it...and shoot photos of the journal I DID so much of that in...

This one will be one of the shots to illustrate thoughts on using other methods to produce meaningful journal images.  I made most of these stamps myself, things that resonate with me, but some are special commercial ones, too...
I'm compiling my Resources Document on journaling and art...books and such...and resisting the urge to include everything out that's there!  Mostly I am only including the ones I actually own and that have proven personally meaningful over the years.  One, The New Diary by Tristine Rainer, was published in the late 70s, but it's as timely as tomorrow's sunrise.

And of course I just ordered another book on the subject...siiiigh...

(If you have a personal favorite, I'd love to hear about it...)


The class will take place here on blogger; I'll set up a new blog just for class members and make everyone co-contributors so everyone will be able to post, share journal pages (if they wish), ask questions, whatever.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

And yes, finally some new stuff up in my eBay shop...

And continuing with my Discardia efforts...my beloved little shed studio is bursting at the seams!  The book case is FULL and there are stacks all over the floor, so beginning to thin the herd again.  

There are some of the best recent sketching and drawing books (urban sketching and otherwise) along with some of my OWN--our inventory closet could use some clearing out, too. 

Some of the other wonderful books include those by James Hobbs, Thomas Thorspecken and Katherine Tyrrell, and believe me I HATE to part with books!  Ouch, ouch, ouch...

So please check out my eBay store and see if you can find something you like!  I'll be adding more as I get photos shot, so bookmark my site, please.


January 1 "Compass Readings"

So, as noted on Facebook, I did find time on January 1 for my semi-annual taking stock "compass readings"...not MUCH time, but a bit. 
I've been doing that on New Year's Day and my birthday for maybe 30 years now. I don't make resolutions or set goals; life offers pressures and challenges enough, really. I don't need to pile more on my plate.

This is one reason I don't do "challenges," either, those lists of art ideas, or weight loss challenges, or writing challenges, or 30-whatevers-in-30-days things, or fitness challenges; FitBit is a tool, not a bludgeon, and I don't care to shame anyone or BE shamed.  

(And okay, yes, tempted by the Whole 30 idea, but...maybe not.)
I need room for flexibility and spontaneity. I need to be open, to listen.  I've always felt constrained, trapped, even, by too many things on the schedule, even if they're likely to be pleasurable.
So my compass readings are simply looking back over the past year, from the vantage point of this reading to the last, and considering where I've been.  If it feels right.  If I feel I'm still going in the right direction.  Conscience, family, creativity, work, love, satisfaction, all figure into those "feelings."  
Sometimes I get "direction" as to course corrections I might need to make.  Sometimes simply confirmation that this is right, for me.  
Almost always, the BEING there is confirmation in itself.  As I added on my note, above:  "Here.  Here.  Always HERE."  Not Watkins Mill lake per se--though that's been a frequent destination--but OUT there.  In nature.  Listening.  Being.  


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