Why I like drawing with pens

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Guess where I drew this? Yup, when I was getting my hair highlighted! Since much of the summer has been spent away from the studio, I have been working a lot in my sketchbooks. I can easily stick a sketchbook and a pen into my purse or backpack and am good to go.

I like drawing with pen, usually a Micron 03 archival pen or Pigma archival brush pen, because it forces me to keep things fresh and think about the deliberate use of line. Things just happen in pen, both good and bad, and I have to start over with a new drawing if I want to make changes rather than re-work it or erase.

This is an idea I’m working on for Niagara Falls. First I had the idea of the waterfall hairdo, then the idea to add the wedding couple.

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Then the idea of falling off a wedding cake like a cliff. Also I added an embroidered dress I saw in the movie Kamikaze Girls (great funny quirky movie, my new all-time fav!) but it doesn’t look like a wedding dress, so may have to do a little wedding gown research.

Also, there’s not room for the groom on the wedding cake, so may have to re-think him too. In my overly-complicated way of thinking, I’d love to add a bunch of bridesmaids running for the bouquet, but I know I don’t have time for that.

We’re talking Really Big Hair

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Another drawing for my new series, Wish You Were Hair. I don’t know why, but I’ve always had a fascination with monuments of the world — written about them in my term papers, constructed clay monuments in ceramics, traveled to see them in person.

Now these world monuments are starting to appear in my quilts. They have mysteriously collided with my interest in hair stylists and the results have crash-landed in my studio. I’ve been doodling ideas throughout the summer and am trying to preserve the spontaneity of the original sketches as I convert them to fabric.

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Working on a series

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Australian quilt top is done, but instead of quilting right away, I’m moving on to designing the next one. I’m trying to keep my momentum up to finish a series.  Some artists may think only of one piece at a time. But maybe because I’m married to a sculptor — I have in my mind an installation view of a series of work, and each piece will be part of the overall concept.

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Notes and sketches from the Creamery Arts Center. It’s kind of an odd gallery space, irregular and broken spaces. I’m working back and forth, between sketches in my notebooks, drawings on the computer, and the actual fabric constructions on the wall.

No, I haven’t taken up smoking…

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…but I’ve been collecting retro melamine ashtrays that make great brush/water holders for painting. And they come in great colors (I have bigger yellow and green ones at my studio.)

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This is a small one, which is good for travel, especially on a boat where your brushes might roll overboard. The watercolor pencils roll also, but at least they float when they hit the water, so you have time to dive in and retrieve them.

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Also for travel, I like using old watercolor tins to carry small brushes. They work better than anything new I can find, and add a nice flavor to the process.

Creative To Do Lists

Since recently I’ve had little time to make art, I got the idea to make creative to-do lists in my moleskine. The idea was to do an experimental page each morning, and since it was only a to-do list, I felt no inhibitions about creating a great work of art. It was merely a chance to experiment with different media.

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Each day that I did a new page, I immediately felt a weight lifted off my shoulders and was able to go about my day with new energy. Now I’m trying to decide if I should continue the habit. Am I the only one who is constantly tinkering with my schedule, hoping to find the perfect creative routine?

Mojo Hair and Clairefontaine Sketchbooks

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I finally realized that my constant obsession with trying new hair salons is actually research. This weekend I visited a place called Mojo Pie Hair Salon that felt a little like walking into a Tim Burton goes to New Orleans theme, and had plenty of time to do these ten pages of sketches while getting a new stripy attitude on my head.

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It’s tough to draw people in motion, but sharpens the senses and makes one more observant. I came away with a lot of visual information that I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

sketchbook2.jpgSomeone asked about my sketchbooks. I often carry a small moleskine, but my real favorite is this sketchbook by Clairefontaine (read some interesting trivia about the French company here — talk about archival! I love the story of Frankie T.)

The sketchbook fits in a medium-sized purse, and has nice white paper that scans very well. And it’s cheap, four bucks at my local National Art Shoppe.

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Plus, it’s landscape. I have a theory that some people see the world in portrait and some in landscape orientation. I definitely see it in landscape. How do you see the world?

Important Notes from Another Meeting

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Lately I’ve been fascinated by drawing ears and noses. Since I’ve drawing in my sketchbooks on a regular basis, I’ve noticed an improvement since last November’s drawings. Since I draw with a pen, I’m thinking more carefully about each line as I make it.

Also, I often complain that I have bad handwriting, but never want to practice writing. It’s interesting that seems to be improving also as a side-effect of the drawing.

Drawing from Life

drawing-from-life.jpgThis is a terrific book that I picked up in Seattle and since have been slowly relishing each page. Unlike many survey books that devote little more than a superficial paragraph and single photo for each subject, there are many photos from each journal featured, along with Jennifer New’s in-depth profile of each journal-keeper’s motivation, inspiration, and how keeping art journals over many years has impacted their work and life.

Not just artists are featured — in the mix of 31 journals, there are those of scientists, a psychologist, a film-maker, musicians, an architect, a quilt-maker, and more. New divides the journals up into categories of methodology: observation, reflection, exploration, and creation, with an introductory essay for each section. There is also an introduction siting journal-keepers through history, and the soft-binding, rounded corners, and ghostly grid background on all the interior the pages gave me the pleasant feeling that I was actually reading from a journal.

This book has given me new insight into what I could achieve from keeping a more regular journal and has inspired me to draw every day. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to opportunities to get stuck in odd places or at parties without anyone to talk to, so I can whip out my journal and start gathering visual information. (click on a thumbnail for larger view)

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