Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: Recently Finished

I haven't been around here much lately - it's always difficult to justify spending time on the computer when it's so gorgeous outside! Never mind that work has been crazy busy and other things are happening around here that I'll share in another post.

Anyway, to get back into the blogging rhythm, here are two random sketchbook pages from my recently finished book:
I sketched out this rough tree on our trip North to visit family for Easter. I was inspired mostly by the shape of some evergreens and wanted to keep it simple, so I just used a bit of cross-hatching to distinguish the needles from the bark. I'm really happy with how it turned out and want to experiment a bit more with this style.

I'm still turning to mandalas most of the time, and I decided this one needed to be more of a flower. I used a few markers to add colour and really make things pop. I particularly love how the pink petals and yellow polka-dot centre turned out.

Besides mandalas, I've also been doodling lots of birds lately... but I'll save that for my next post. Hope everyone had a great weekend and is looking forward to the long weekend next week (I know I am)!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

2016 Goals: April

Oof. April was BUSY. To say the least. Not only did work pick up in a big way, but we had plans every weekend. More on that later (maybe... if I find time! Ha! I'll try, promise!).

Here's my progress on my goals for this year:

16 GOALS FOR 2016:
  1. Read 30 books. 10/30
  2. Try 16 new Ottolenghi recipes. 2/16
  3. Try 16 new (loose-leaf) teas. 14/16 
  4. Put up shelves and organize craft room. Make it inspiring. No new progress over last month... now that it's getting nice out, this is going to be even more difficult... We shall see what I can do!
  5. Finish Amber art book - this year I WILL! Only a few pages left!
  6. Work in sketchbook daily. This still isn't daily, but it's certainly picking up now that I'm done my exam!
  7. Blog weekly. Well I called it last month. Let's try harder this month, shall we?
  8. Finish 2 cross-stitch samplers. Hey, I did finish a panel in my storybook sampler! Bonus points for me!
  9. Travel somewhere new. Might have made some plans along these lines.. more later once things are finalized!
  10. Sign up for and pass my SOCRA certification. Well I took the test and feel good about it. A few more weeks before I get my results!
  11. Make an inventory of all my books.
  12. Wake up earlier and practice yoga every morning. The yoga retreat certainly helped with this plan, although it's becoming an evening thing since I have to be at work early most days now..
  13. Make a weekly meal plan and prep veggies on the weekend. Keeping up with this one pretty consistently.
  14. Get rid of junk we never use (i.e. downsize our "things") and organize storage and spare spaces. 
  15. Work on making the backyard nicer (plant flowers, landscape, garden).
  16. Set reminders in my phone to make me check in on my goals at least monthly (and blog about it). DONE + 4/12 monthly reviews.
What goals have you crossed off your list lately?

Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 Goals: March

Here's my progress on my goals for this year:

16 GOALS FOR 2016:
  1. Read 30 books. 7/30
  2. Try 16 new Ottolenghi recipes. 2/16
  3. Try 16 new (loose-leaf) teas. 11/16 - ordered 3 new ones from David's Tea this month (plus I got 3 free samples - I'm going to cross this goal off soon... and then concentrate on drinking all the tea I have now!).
  4. Put up shelves and organize craft room. Make it inspiring. Put up one shelf for canvases / paintings and organized quite a bit. I've even been down there painting, which feels wonderful! Just need to put up another shelf or two and organize a few more things.
  5. Finish Amber art book - this year I WILL! Only a few pages left!
  6. Work in sketchbook daily. This still isn't daily, more like weekly, but since I'm studying more right now, I'll give myself a pass.
  7. Blog weekly. Not great this month, and April is going to be crazy, so we'll see how it goes..
  8. Finish 2 cross-stitch samplers.
  9. Travel somewhere new.
  10. Sign up for and pass my SOCRA certification. Studying my butt off for April 30th.
  11. Make an inventory of all my books.
  12. Wake up earlier and practice yoga every morning. Have been more consistent with this, and have also added a rowing workout at least 3 times a week. Only a few more weeks until our yoga retreat!
  13. Make a weekly meal plan and prep veggies on the weekend. Keeping up with this one pretty consistently.
  14. Get rid of junk we never use (i.e. downsize our "things") and organize storage and spare spaces. The spare bedroom and our offices are looking much better than last month! Still need to work on organizing and decluttering more.
  15. Work on making the backyard nicer (plant flowers, landscape, garden).
  16. Set reminders in my phone to make me check in on my goals at least monthly (and blog about it). DONE + 3/12 monthly reviews.
I love these monthly updates! Such a great reminder of what I want to accomplish this year!

What goals have you crossed off your list lately?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: Chapter One

I've finished another page in my Amber altered book - that leaves only a few pages until the book is complete! I started on this one after spending some time organizing my craft room - it felt really good to sit down at my relatively clean desk and have everything at my finger tips. I also remembered to take progress photos as I went, which is my favourite way to document these pages.

First, I filled in the background with some paint I inherited from my aunt. I chose to use turquoise, dark green, grey and white and blended them together, leaving the "Chapter 1" visible through a thin layer of grey.

Next, I collaged some strips of grey and green paint swatches - the ombre kind with half a dozen shades, from light to dark. Next, I layered a bit more of the same paint (except for the turquoise) on top in order to push the collage elements back. I used a palette knife to create a different effect from the first layer.

At this point, I decided where I wanted to go with the page: pink/red flowers would really pop on the grey/green. So I tore some "petals" out of a coral patterned paper and glued them down with gel medium.

To make the flowers look more cohesive, I painted over them with a few shades of pink that I mixed with red, pink and white paint (unfortunately, red is the hardest colour for me to photograph! It looks much prettier than these photos show).

I used more of the dark green and grey paint, as well as some brown, to paint in stems, grass and darken the edges of the page.

I was really happy with the spread now, all it needed was a bit of texture and a touch of definition. I started with stamping some chevron and arrow patterns in the same grey paint, as well as white and black. I used some of the black to darken the background in a few areas. Then I splattered the page with white and black ink.

Lastly, to make the flowers feel a bit more "finished", I doodled around them with a black pen.

Another page in this book that makes my heart sing! I can't wait to finish the last few pages so that I can show a recap of the entire book!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: Purple Painted Mandalas

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to try my hand at painting mandalas next. I went ahead in my altered Amber book (trying to finish it so I can cross that goal off my list! Only 6 pages left!):
Of course I didn't take any in-progress shots, but I have a vague recollection of the layers I took:
  1. Tape spine with masking tape.
  2. Random collage using bits lying around my desk.
  3. Paint (mix of light blue and dark purple to end up with lilac).
  4. Paint mandalas (dark purple with glazing medium for extra shine and to make the paint more fluid).
  5. Add details with Sharpies of various sizes (black, white and silver).
  6. Fill in the background (smudging a blue Faber-Castell Pitt pen).
I totally winged it when I painted these. I started with a thicker brush and progressively switches to thinner ones as I went on. Once the big flowers were done, I filled in the rest of the space with smaller flowers, circles and dots. I absolutely LOVE how this turned out! I might just have to try painting mandalas on a few more pages as I finish this book!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: Mandalas

I've always loved mandalas / detailed, layered flowers. I've been sketching them for as long as I can remember. So when I saw Alisa Burke was releasing an online class called Mandala Magic, I jumped all over it. First of all, I love her art! She makes gorgeous florals / mandalas and is very inspiring. The class was a lot of fun - full of great little tips and different ways to make mandalas.

Anyhow, I started being more conscious about drawing mandalas before I went though the course. I even blogged about the first one here.
As I mentioned in that previous post, I've dedicated this grey-papered sketchbook entirely to mandalas. Here are the more "formal" ones I've added to that book after watching some of the videos in the class:
If I had to choose, the third one from the top is my favourite (so far). The last one doesn't quite feel complete to me, but I'm not sure what to add just yet so I'm sitting on it. I love the meditative process that these entail!

Anyhow, there was also a section on less formal mandalas, and these I've doodled in different places. Here's a sampling from my "everyday" sketchbook, but I've also been doodling these on random pieces of paper (while listening to talks at a conference for example).
Next, I want to experiment with painting these (in my Amber altered book that needs finishing!).

Do you have mandala madness? If so, I'd love to see them - leave a link in the comments!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

2016 Goals: February

Let's take another look on how I'm progressing with my goals.

16 GOALS FOR 2016:
  1. Read 30 books. 4 down.
  2. Try 16 new Ottolenghi recipes. 2 down.
  3. Try 16 new (loose-leaf) teas. Around 7 down... haven't exactly kept track (I mean, I'm keeping track in my David's Tea Menu but haven't differentiated between December and January)..
  4. Put up shelves and organize craft room. Make it inspiring. Started cleaning up, just need to add some shelves to the wall and complete the organization. I'll share pictures when it's done.
  5. Finish Amber art book - this year I WILL!
  6. Work in sketchbook daily. This still isn't daily, more like weekly, but since I'm studying more right now, I'll give myself a pass.
  7. Blog weekly. Getting there.
  8. Finish 2 cross-stitch samplers.
  9. Travel somewhere new.
  10. Sign up for and pass my SOCRA certification. Studying my butt off for April 30th.
  11. Make an inventory of all my books.
  12. Wake up earlier and practice yoga every morning. This I need to start doing consistently - only a month and a half until the yoga retreat I signed up for with mom!
  13. Make a weekly meal plan and prep veggies on the weekend. Keeping up with this one pretty consistently.
  14. Get rid of junk we never use (i.e. downsize our "things") and organize storage and spare spaces.We worked on organizing the spare bedroom this past weekend - have three big bags of old clothes to bring to Good Will!
  15. Work on making the backyard nicer (plant flowers, landscape, garden).
  16. Set reminders in my phone to make me check in on my goals at least monthly (and blog about it). DONE! Now I just need to stay on top of blogging about it each month.
Not as much progress as last month, but I've been concentrating on #10 right now, so I'll play catch up once that's done. This monthly reminder is perfect - there are a few in there that I need to start working on, and a few that have plans in the works for later this year.

How do you stay on top of your goals?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Spring Decor

As promised, here are a few closer-up shots of my spring arrangements. First, the sideboard:
The gorgeous berry bowl was a Christmas gift from my mom and the bunny plate a perfect match I found at Winners.

Funny story: when I picked up that bunny plate, Winners only had two: this green/yellow one and a purple/yellow one. I bought both, and gifted the purple one to my mom with some bunny dish towels. I brought the gift up a few weekends ago and mom surprised me with a gift of her own: a bunny bowl (picked up at Winners). She bought me the pink one and kept the blue. The apple certainly didn't fall far from the tree, eh?
This is the state of my table - I'm studying for SOCRA and have this lovely textbook spread out on the table. Also spread out: the Settlers of Catan card game (Pat and I have been playing a lot lately - so much fun!). In the far corner you can see my "center" piece:
There's the cute bunny bowl from mom (along with some adorable rabbit salt and pepper shakers and beautiful silver candlesticks from Pat's memere)!

Lastly, here's another shot of the boat:
That's right - something else has finally been hung on the wall! Pat found this clock at HomeSense - I think it's a great fit!

Are you ready for spring?