Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SMASH* Book Update

As usual, it's been some time since my last SMASH* book update. I have quite a few pages on the go, plus four more completely filled spreads. You can see the first two spreads here. And here are the next five:

Pages 6 & 7 - a bit of a memorial to Pat's grandma

Pages 8 & 9 - a place for all my fruit stickers

Pages 10 & 11 - a fabulous collection of odds and ends

Pages 12 & 13 - an incomplete spread, with more fruit stickers

Pages 14 & 15 - another mishmash of ephemera and concert tickets

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Birthday Wishlist

My birthday is less than a month away! Here's a list of a few things I wouldn't mind unwrapping:

An ice cream maker - or better, the ice cream maker attachment for my mixer.

A nice silver / leather watch.

Books are always a safe bet - like The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls or J.K. Rowling's "new" book, The Cuckoo's Calling (I promise I won't buy these before my birthday).

I can always use new clothes, especially work dresses.

Another pair of Toms (love my grey ones!). Size 8.

Canning cookbooks - like "Food in Jars, Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round" by Marisa McClellan or "Canning for a New Generation, Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry" by Liana Krissoff - and supplies (tongs, stock pot insert, lids).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finding a Routine

As you may or may not have noticed, I have yet to find my groove here. I'm so busy at work just trying to catch up. The girl I replaced (she no longer works for us) basically stopped following up on things in February (hence why she isn't working for us anymore). So that's where I am, trying to catch up, on top of keeping up with things I need to do immediately (requesting tissue, bringing samples to the appropriate lab for processing, meetings, etc). It's been more than a little hectic! I have been getting tons of positive feedback though; my new team members (as well as the old) seem to really like me and think I'm doing a great job. So that helps a lot when I need to get up in the morning!

And while I really love working 9-5 now, I haven't been able to fit in much art (or reading), let alone blogging. I miss it, but when I get home at night, I just want to unwind reading blogs, cooking, watching a few shows and then it's time for bed.

It really is just a matter of finding a new routine, fitting more into my day. But setting a new routine is hard. It takes repetition - months of repetition in my case. I seem to be "good" for a few days, maybe a week, and then the next I'm off the wagon again. I need to be more consistent!

While mulling over this blog post, I thought a list of things to do / work on would be helpful.

  1. Yoga. As soon as I wake up - before coffee, before showering, before anything else. Yoga. Start with 10 minutes and go from there.
  2. Starting using my agenda again. There's even a whole section of blank pages for quick sketches "on the road" - use it.
  3. Blog planner. I forgot about it somewhere in June, but it's so helpful to keep track of ideas for blog posts.
  4. Sit down at my craft desk at some point each evening. Inspiration will come when surrounded by all my supplies. Even if only for 10 minutes, creating must happen daily.
  5. Turn on my laptop while I'm at my desk - blogging will happen. 
  6. Take tons of photos every weekend so that blogging is more enjoyable and much easier. 
  7. Review my goals (monthly goals, seasonal goals, yearly goals, 27 List, etc) on a regular basis. Seeing the things I want to work on, in writing, is a great incentive.
Do you have any helpful tips on setting a new routine?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sketchbook Pages: Sunset Fields

Since "My Creative Space" is no longer being hosted over at Village Voice, I was debating whether I'd continue with it as well. Lately, I feel as though my blog is drifting in a slightly different, less structured, direction than it has been in the past. And I'm ok with that. So "My Creative Space" will no longer be restricted to Thursday - it'll be whenever I feel like it! At the same time, "My Creative Space" was often sketchbook-related, which conflicts with my "Sketchbook Pages" series. My conclusion? Anything in my sketchbooks gets this label, whereas anything else (particularly art pieces with step-by-step process photos) will fall under "My Creative Space".

Anyway, enough administrative stuff, here's a peek at the latest page in my sketchbook (this one is the extra-long, 6"x12" Strathmore watercolour 400 series).

Sunday, I really had an itch to get out the paint. So that's what I did. I'm really kicking myself that I didn't take photos along the way though - the background may have only had two steps, but I really would have liked to capture just how the second layer changed the first. I guess I'll just have to repeat the technique!
As I said, the first layer was paint. I started with phthalo blue mixed with some gesso, and nearly covered the entire two pages. I blended in a bit of permanent red violet on the extreme right side. Then I used my dry brayer to roll some azo-orange on top (just a bit for a patchy look, picking up the texture in the thick paper).

All I could think was sunset, but the placement of colours was all wrong, so I gathered some fiery gelatos (red, orange and shimmery melon) and added pops of colour here and there. I meant to keep it here-and-there, but soon, I was washing it all the way across, satisfying my sky-on-fire vision. These photos don't even come close to showing how vibrantly juicy and shimmery the gelatos are (and make them seem less even)... I love playing with those little sticks of colour! 
It took me a second or two before I determined where I wanted to go next, but ultimately it was inspired by nature. Lately, during my walks to the subway station to and from work, I've been staring at the wild flowers and grasses that grow alongside the train tracks. I've sketched some and decided to silhouette them against this sunset page. I accomplished this using collage for the "wheat" - I cut the spindle shapes from patterned green paper. I finished the stalks with a dark olive green glaze (permanent green light + burnt sienna + glazing medium) and a quick doodle with a black pen. 
I love the bright simplicity of this page. I'll definitely be exploring this theme some more!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hiking: Humber Arboretum

Yesterday, I wanted to go for a hike. It had been a while - since we were out West I think - much too long! In Hamilton, hiking was easy: there's a trail or waterfall just around the corner, no matter what part of the city you find yourself in.

Toronto feels so much more urban (obviously); finding a quiet, green setting is definitely harder. But, after a quick Google search and a short drive, we found Humber Arboretum just 20 minutes North. These gardens can't really compare to the Royal Botanical Gardens and their Arboretum (in Burlington), but, for being in the middle of the city, I really can't complain (especially since, in contrast, it was free). It did feel, and importantly, sound and smell, like I was in the country instead of the city. There were tons of plants, trees and paths to discover and even some wildlife beyond birds. It was pretty and relaxing and we'll definitely have to go back sometime soon!

I took over 80 pictures - here are six of them, chosen at random (I made a list of the file numbers and chose six without looking at which pictures I was choosing):
I love nature - enjoy it as often as you can! It's so inspiring!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sketchbook Pages: Quick Collage

Well, we had a bit of a rainstorm around these parts. Torrential downpours and flooding to be more expansive. It was pretty crazy! My first walk home from my new 9-5 shift and it's in the pouring rain... I was drenched by the time I got home; the umbrella was absolutely no help (that isn't fair - it did help, until it collapsed in the wind about 5 steps from the entrance to our apartment, where my hair was soaked in the seconds it took to retrieve the hat that flew off my head). I literally wrung water out of my undies when I finally made it through the door.

Then we lost power. And it didn't come back until 3:30 this afternoon, nearly 24 hours later. Crazy! The subway trains weren't running, Bloor street right behind our place was closed due to flooding (I walked under the bridges where it was flooded last night - there was an insane amount of water flowing down there!), and the GO train wasn't stopping at the nearest stations. I felt like a bit of a wimp after what's been going on in Calgary, but I stayed home today.

Pat wasn't so lucky. First off, he was on the subway when the power went out last night, so he was stuck for a bit. Finally, they pulled into the nearest station - three stops from ours. They were organizing shuttle buses but Pat decided not to wait around and walked for at least 30 minutes to make it home. Luckily it wasn't raining as hard by this point, but still a miserable half hour that's for sure. He said people were still lined up waiting for buses when he passed our station... so at least it was worth it. He also went to work today and said it wasn't so bad. The shuttle buses were excruciatingly slow and the train wasn't running even after power came on this afternoon, but he made it alright. My parents called him a true Northern boy.

Anyway, I had a quiet day at home, mostly catching up on some reading. I don't have nearly as much reading time as during my 1-9 shift! The trains are more full at rush hour, so I don't always get a seat for more than half my trip on the way home, and I'm often not in the mood for reading so early in the morning. I'm also eating lunch with co-workers now, which is really nice, but not conducive to reading. But that's ok - I'm still confident I can make it to 50 books again this year!

After all that, I will finally get to the sketchbook pages I was talking about in the title of this post. I finished my travel sketchbook over the weekend, so I thought I'd share a few of the last pages I filled... expect more (doodled ones) tomorrow!
First, some really quick collages. I was cleaning off my desk a bit, using up some scraps. Instead of glue, I just used masking tape to hold everything in place. A bit of pen doodling finished it up. I love quick collages like this - they're very satisfying.

This is the very last page of the book. It was created on Pat's and my anniversary, like the previous page, so I wanted to go with that theme. I picked out a few images / patterns for their feel together (the scarf was first, and I chose it because it's warm and cozy, similar to our relationship). Then I skimmed through my envelope of words and these just fell into place. I particularly like the "utility + craft" bit - I think it sort of describes Pat and me perfectly! A bit of washi tape and doodling brought it all to this very happy place.