Holidays are O-V-E-R!

I don't have my own family (as in marriage/kids),
but the gift buying/wrapping/driving 9 hours/spending time with family
is tiring and emotionally draining.
This year, I had the 4 paintings for my Aunts that needed to be done
by Christmas as well.
The pressure I put on myself was too much.
I kept thinking and worrying about what my aunts would want,
what they would like.
What would look good hanging in their house,
even though I haven't even been in all their houses,
or feel like I know them as well as I "should" to be able to paint them something.
Brooklyn Bridge
This one, for my Aunt who lives in NYC took me the longest,
was the hardest, and was the most rewarding in the end.
She is SUCH a New Yorker through and through
and I wanted that conveyed through the painting for her.
My original plan was to do a NYC skyline, 
with the Brooklyn Bridge in front of it.
The lights aglow at night, with them shining into the water.
I did sketches, and realized how much I can NOT draw.
But after many sketches, I got a vague hint of how I wanted to draw it.
Translating onto canvas worked out well enough.
Then I tried painting my "vision," and I hated it.
It just wasn't me at all. I was trying to make
this painting look more realistic vs abstract,
and I just am not good enough to make it look well-done.
Next, I worked on my Aunt's painting who lives in Arizona.
Somehow, I forgot to take a picture of this!!! GRRRRRR.
Lets just use our imaginations, shall we? :)
I had a thought that I would have a flower as the central focus,
but with fun, happy colors. 
Colors that remind me of Arizona, and my Aunt,
who is bubbly and happy and positive.
Since my "vision" was more abstract,
I decided to just throw down those colors that reminded me of her and AZ.
Crimson. Teal. Orange. Yellow. Red.
I poured paint on a canvas, smooshed it around
and already loved it more than the other painting I had been laboring on.
*I wish I had the picture. I am going to hopefully get one from my Nonni*
I immediately loved this painting because it involved my favorite colors,
more abstract technique and I thought,
"Hmmm...maybe I need to stop worrying about what they will think,
but what makes me happy."
This is hard for me--but it was irrefutable proof that it made my artwork better.
The painting above is the result of that.
1,000 times better than what it was.
A little further onward, lend thy guiding hand to these dark steps
a little further on--John Milton
For my Aunt who lost her husband to cancer in May.
She's going through such a hard time, that I hope this quote can ease her pain a little.
For my Aunt that I feel like I know the least.
Hers was hard, and this was the first one completed--
before my ephiphany; therefore I like it the least.
My cousin told me she likes pinks and browns,
so that is all that I had to go on.

I am happy the holidays are over.
I am hoping 2011 will resolve in more focus on artwork
and what I want to do with it,
and less on spiraling into depressions and avoiding art when I should be embracing it.


Failing at Creativity

You wouldn't think someone could fail at creativity,
but I am pretty sure I do.

These paintings are for my aunts, for Christmas.
My Nonni asked me to do them in OCTOBER.
They should have been mailed like 3 days ago.
I bought the canvases about a month ago because I felt so guilty
for not having started.
A few weeks ago my Nonni told me I should probably unwrap them.
A week later, I did.
I did these paintings in the various forms as they are in 
one inspired saturday.
Every single day this week, what did I do?
Oh, laid in bed. Because THAT is the productive
way to spend my evenings.
Also, not to mention my Sketchbook, for the Sketchbook Project.
I still have about 40% left to acomplish before Jan 15.
yeah right.
My peak with that was when I traveled to Kansas
to visit a friend. I've half-drawn some stuff here and there,
but blech. I was so excited for this, and now I want
to throw it in the trash.


No more Haul-idays

Chronicle books announced their winner today,
and sadly it wasn't me.
Its ok, because I wasn't really expecting to win.
I've been a bad blogger, I'm sorry.
I am working on paintings for my aunts
which seem like they will NOT be done by christmas.
I finally actually started working on them last week,
and I'm in progress on all 4, but they probably need to be
at my Nonni's in two days. That is so not going to happen.
I also need to make a journal for my little cousin.
I'm not sure how I should do it, and whenever I make my own journals,
the stitching is always way too loose--no matter how much I pull
the strings taught :(
Plus, its so cold out!!!
All I want to do (and it usually wins) is curl up under my covers.


Want to win $500 worth of books?

 I thought so!
Chronicle Books is giving away a stash of books worth up to $500
to one lucky reader. Not only that, but it is YOUR book selection!
NOT ONLY THAT, but if you comment here (and like what you see)
you can win a copy of my list of books too!!!
How awesome is that? 
If you comment and you want to put this in your blog
(and unless you don't like books *gasp*, you should)
I will comment on yours! I like to increase chances of winning things :)
So here goes...my much debated list:
Handmade Nation: The rise of DIY Art, Craft and Design
Reprodepot Pattern Book: FLORA: 225 vintage-inspired  textile designs
The Paper Marbling Kit: Materials, Techniques and Projects
Graffiti Art Coloring Book  (Umm..AWESOME!)
Music Listography:Your Life in (play) Lists

Lennon Legend: An Illustrated Life of John Lennon
The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game (one of the artists is Dave Eggers...and I L-O-V-E his writing. Please read What is the What)
Sketchbooks: The Hidden Art of Designers, Illustrators, and Creatives
Angaza Afrika: African Art Now  (isn't the cover just lovely?)
Street Sketchbook: Inside the Journals of International Street and Grafitti Artists
Rex Ray: Art + Design
Patterns: New Surface Designs
1,000 Journals Project
Artist's Color Manual: The Complete Guide to Working with Color
Stencil 101 Decor
Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft

WHEW! That took awhile.
In my next post I will talk about all the art I am not making.


Coloring Birdies, and Painting Pottery

In case you haven't noticed, I love Eden's blog.
Last week, she did one of her awesome birdie drawings,
and decided to stop at the line drawing, 
letting us color in the little guys ourselves!!
I needed an activity where all I needed to do was
sift through my box of markers and color.
This picture doesn't show it, but the birdies "skin" is colored using sparkly gel pens.
Thanks Eden for this fun little activity. I loved it!
Sunset shot whilst driving home. I don't recommend doing this, but I couldn't resist
This weekend I went to Annapolis with some friends
to paint some pottery. I've never done that before, and it was F-U-N
My friends knew I desperately needed a fun day, 
and they are sweet enough to make it an arty day.
blank moon canvas and colors
working on the sun
friend #1
friend #2
rare shot of me working!


Zentagles a form of "cheating?"

I love the idea of Zentangles.
A structured form of doodling!
Perfect for people like me who's mind goes blank when trying to doodle.
I have never been a doodler, but when I ran across the
Zentangle website, I was awed. 
These were intricate pieces of artwork, and were structured!
The thing is, I feel guilty.
I would love to be able to let my mind go and make beautiful
doodles, like Eden or Lori or Dawn.
To me these are super-creative forces.
I have to think, plan for any sort of design.
With both of these Mandalas, much of it was Zentangle inspired,
or inspired by other doodlers around Flickr.
I like the end result, but it feels like cheating
What do you think?

On another note, I received War of Art by Debra!
I have made partially through the first chapter.
I have to read it in slow, small doses...Resistance at its finest!
Check out the lovely gifts Debra sent me!!
I have always coveted her handpainted papers, but to see them in person..
pure joy and happiness. 
And check out the awesome stitching!
The blue bookmark is this really cool plasticy material.
I hope that I can really take in the book.
Still slow going around here


NaNoJoMo, Colored Pencils and assorted thoughts

I was hoping I was getting my mojo back,
but it is coming ever so slowly in fits and starts.
At least I am still interested and inspired
even if I don't sit down at my art desk very often.
That being said, I have been intrigued by
Dawn Sokol's NaNoJoMo prompt for art journaling this month.
Every day (the idea taken from NaNoWrMo) she posts
a word prompt on her blog, and you just have to put
something down on the page. It doesn't have
to be a full spread, even a mark will do!
Of course, I'm a "gotta finish" this page
before I move onto the next kind of gal.
So, I've done Day One so far. Woops
Inception was the word.
I immediately thought of the movie, and knew I wanted
to try and draw the little spinny thingy that Leonardo DiCaprio
uses to ground him, lets him know he's not dreaming.
That movie was fantastic and surreal.
I really connected with having a solid object 
that keeps you grounded.
This may sound sort of crazy, but Jack does that for me.
At night if I have trouble sleeping, I can cuddle with Jack
and it calms me.
I have also been fascinated by the work people can do with colored pencils.
Arlene Steinberg
This is all done with colored pencils!
Fascinating is it?
I am amazed the perserverance that goes into colored pencil work.
It takes hours and hours of patiently layering light layers
of colors to get this look. I pretty much know I don't
have that kind of patience, yet  I want to try.
I bought a book called Painting Light with Colored Pencil
and played in my moleskine last night.
I am still brewing ideas for these paintings I have to make
for my aunts. 
I'm scared that they won't turn out good enough.


A finished painting

(edit: I took a better picture of this!)
This picture is a little blurry, but I F-I-N-A-L-L-Y
finished a painting for somebody else other than me.
I've had half done paintings just sitting,
letting fear overriding everything else.
I am still struggling, but had a nice talk with a friend the other day
and she demanded that I finish a painting!
She suggested that I treat paintings I make for other people
(and this is just family)
like I would if I were just "playing" in my art journal.
I let the fear of it not being good enough halt my creativity.
This is the watercolor before I added the ink.
A better representation of what it looks like.
I hated this painting for awhile.
I knew it needed more, but didn't know what.
Last night with a fresh state of mind I decided to Play.
I can't say this will always work, my Fear is great.
But I like the end result, and it got me out of my head.
(and into my heart!) teehehe.
A detail shot from my Music Book.
I played with gel and texture.
The lyrics by Ray LaMontagne, who speaks directly to my soul.
I get so tired staring at the walls,
weight so heavy and that mountain so tall.
Is there no one who will catch me if I fall?
Its more than I can take and wish I could fake it
or pretend like I don't know whats going on.
Somethings wrong, I'm trying to hold on,
just a little longer.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement on my last post.
I may not always write back, but I read them all, and each makes me smile.


Art Mentor

I have a wonderful, wonderful family.
A few weeks ago my aunt, who lives in NYC
and is a New Yorker in every way possible
AND works with artists as her career,
e-mailed me.
The title: "Art Mentor."
I was intrigued, and she basically said that she
has decided that I need an art mentor if I am going to sell my work...
(she holds steadfast to that about me, even if I don't)
She told me to stop doing my art journal pages
on both sides, basically told me that I need to get my shit together,
and that she was sending me a book to read.
I laughed as I read it, and wrote her back telling her she was QUITE bossy,
so now I am calling her Dictator MB.
A couple of days ago, I received this book.
I am about halfway through it and unsure how I feel about it.
It most definitely is interesting to read about artists
and the people who inspire them, especially Lewis Carroll.
Except, I don't know how this is going to inspire ME.
I wrote my aunt today telling her my thoughts so far,
and she wrote back "Its ok not to feel it.
What I want you to get from this is that you need inspiration,
to allow yourself to be eccentric if needed, or at least
be selfish about doing your art. You don't have to relate to any of them
but you do have to start immersing yourself in the pursuit of art.
So sayeth, MB"
I love this woman! Wise words, huh?
Also, my Nonni (my aunt's mom) is COMMISSIONING me!
Ok, so its my grandmother...but STILL. 
It is quite a project she has bestowed on me.
My family has gone through some rough times this past year,
and she said The Aunts (her 4 daughters) motto is "Onward,"
and she wants me to paint each of them a painting with
that word on it, and signed by me. lol.
She has explicitly stated that I am to keep track of how much
it costs for supplies and my worth because it is not an argument:
it is a sale.
I have some bossy women in my family!
I love, love love all my aunts.
They have all been mother figures for me in many different ways all my life.
This is such an honor.
Now if I can actually finish a project for another person, we'll be all set.
I have about a zillion unfinished projects that are for other people.
I can't do it. Fear? Probably.
And she wants this done in time so she can mail them for Christmas.
Help! I need inspiration, a kick in the ass, hugs, motivation....belief.
Oh, now that I've rambled for so long (sorry), here are a few things I 
have done in the past few days.
Oh Music Book, I've forgotten all about you.
You've sat on the shelf, sad and dusty.
Don't worry, I didn't completely forget--I have just been having a hard time.
Forgive me?
This is the first "piece" I have done in quite some time.
And in just a couple of evenings.
Record time.
I was browsing through Flickr and was inspired by
Bostinstuff's awesome work, which led me to Rettgrayson's awesome work.
Oh, the joys of Flickr!
Inspired by their use of color, and grid formatting
and a spontaneous idea to try and draw umbrellas (?)
this is what I came up with.
I needed it to be light and simple, so I took out my watercolor crayons.
Just a plain pencil and watercolor crayons and I kinda like it.
I am hoping oh so much that I am crawling out of that black hole.
I kinda need to...I've got family members bossing me around over here!
So please...I need some motivation and inspiration and belief that
I can pull off these paintings for my family.


I won!!!

I N-E-V-E-R win anything.
I seriously have the worst luck in the entire world.
I entered in my story of struggling with art
War of Art by Steven Pressfield.
And I won!
 I also got a wonderful halloween-themed card from
Eden, thanking me for support on her blog.
To me, it is not needed. She is amazing.
Her art is amazing!
Maybe this will help me out of my serious slump I'm in.
I've mostly been sleeping a lot.
I hope you stick around.


War of Art

I've heard about this book from quite a few
respected bloggers, and also the title just captures me.
I think of art a war for me.
It is a constant battle to believe I'm worthy, creative...etc.
I feel like I'm on a losing streak. 
posted a giveaway for this book.
Synchronicity at its best.
Plus she has the same exact music taste as me,
and well...that is always a bonus :)
So go over there and enter yourself to win this book!
(Or not, so I can...hehe)

PS: Thank you for your concern...I'm still in a rough spot,
and only time will tell how well I deal.
If I am away too long, feel free to come 
kick me in the ass.


Ugly Inside

Ever have something happen in which
all you want to do is nothing at all?
Except, its impossible.
You dont want to lay,
You don't want to watch tv,
You don't want to read,
You don't want to listen to your favorite music.
You certainly don't want to make art.
You want to scream and cry,
and yet...you stare at a wall?
This happened to me last week.
After staring at my wall and feeling only worse,
I decided I would take a piece of paper
and a pen and scribble (literally) out my thoughts.
Lots of swearing.
Lots of writing about how I kind of hate myself.
Pity party to the max.
Then, I forced myself to put it down in my journal.
I knew by throwing paint all over it
and being as angry and self-hating in the form of art
would make me feel better.
This wasn't easy, mind you...but I had few options.
Layer one. If you look closely you can see my writing.
I needed crimson and black, and scraped it furiously on the page.
A few more layers later...
The finished product, many layers later.
I wish you could really see all the colors that shine through.
I used all of my "ugly" colors, because that is how I feel.


Drawing Practice...

Want to see awful drawings?
I thought so.
I have been taking the lessons over at the
Wet Canvas Forums...
and its hard work,
and I suck!
reference photo (taken by me)

Actual drawing
first of all, horrible photo.
it is so blurry because i took it at night, indoors.
second of all, not one die is the same shape!!
third of all, the shading is atrocious
fourth of all, even though I wrote out all the lines so they hit the Vanishing Line,
there are a couple that are clearly incorrect.
I could go on, but I won't.

Ahh the (blurry, again) Chair Picture
I wrote my indiscretions right on the wall!
I really am struggling with posting this one, mainly because of its bluriness

Attempt one at drawing boxes in perspective.
The middle box is all sorts of messed up,
so I was asked to do it again!
There it is, again.
I was sick of these damn boxes, so I simplified it.
The perspective is at least correct.
Easier to understand in theory vs putting into practice.
 Ok, so I am editing this to say I wrote this
during a "pity party" moment!
Ha. I want to delete it, but I won't.
No one can be good all the time, right?