Monday, January 18, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: 2015 Amber Altered Book

Here are the few pages I completed in my Amber altered book in 2015. None of these feel particularly "done" to me (which may be why I never thought to post about them last year - and why I didn't date 3/4 of them), but I doubt I'll be going back to any of them. New year, new slate, right?

Since I didn't keep track of the steps I took to create these pages, I'm not positive on all the layers involved. I did start by taping the spine with masking tape and may or may not have gessoed before starting. Otherwise, I'm guessing based on the textures I can see.

Autumn Gold
This is my favourite of the four in this post. I love the rich jewel tones. I do remember wanting to make this page all about the fall colours - definitely achieved that goal! I can tell I started with collage and added some major texture with gel medium and a circle stencil. I can see a splatter of India ink and a generous helping of iridescent copper light. I distinctly remember trying to highlight the circle texture with the metallic copper paint.

This is my only page with a date - October 2015.

Chilly Drips
I started with collage for this page too - and definitely used lots of washi tape (I recognize some of the patterns under there). It's possible this is an all-washi tape collage actually. I then muted everything with gesso before dripping turquoise Liquitex paint pen and purple India ink from the top and bottom respectively. Then I scribbled words into all the gaps using a white Sharpie.

It didn't feel finished, so I didn't date the page.. I think I worked on it around the same time as the previous and next pages, but I have no idea what the order is.

Abstract Florals
I was cleaning up my office and came across some old stickers - this page started there. There's no gesso underneath, but there is a heavy layer on top. I used a dry brush and worked vertically for the background, which gave some nice texture in the aqua paint. I wanted very rough, abstract flowers, so I painted those mostly with my finger. Lastly, I doodled wildly with a black pen and silver Sharpie. I was going for a very loose, primitive feel.

Again - it didn't feel done, so no date. Hate when I do that!

Vivid Contrast
This page has quite the timeline. Back when I first bought my turquoise Liquitex paint pen, I initially tried it out on this page. Later, I added some other bright colours (in blocks - I think I was using up paint from other project... a theme for this page!)... and then left it. For years! Over the holidays, I was working on another project and had leftover paint - it only seemed appropriate to add it to this page. First, I covered most of the page with black paint (gritty with fiber paste). Then I added splashes of red, orange, peach, pink and gold. And again, left it. Definitely not a "done" page, but still pretty, don't you think?

This year, my goal is to finally finished this book and start a new one. This time, I'm going to start at the beginning instead of jumping around throughout the book - it was a fun suggestion, but I prefer to be chronological and don't really have those "first page" jitters that this more random style eliminates. I just need to find an older book with sewn signatures and a subject I don't mind completely obliterating - a catchy title I can use helps too!

Have you ever altered a book? I'd love to see and hear about it!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sketchbook Pages: Randoms from 2015

The last sketchbook pages I posted about were from early spring 2015 - here's a sampling from the rest of the year!
A pretty typical look into my sketchbooks: words and quotes, recipes and lists, doodles, sketched girls and the occasional collage or drawing. Overall though, there isn't that much to show because I wasn't that artistically prolific in 2015. I aim to change that this year. In fact, I already have quite a few pages filled! I'll try to keep more on top of posting those too!

I have a few more pages from 2015 to show - these from my Amber altered book - but they deserve their own post. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Word of the Year

My yearly thesaurus browsing commenced with:
And quickly spiralled into:

Two words kept coming back to me this year: dynamic and sharp. Dynamic is just a really good word - it coveys momentum and progress and just sounds good when you say it. But then, so does sharp. It's short, quick and to the point. It's smart and well put together. It's honed and ready. And as much as I want to be all about movement this year, I feel that being sharp and honing my current set of skills is more important for 2016. I also think it progresses nicely with my 2015 word of patience.

This year I aim to be sharp. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016 Goals

Well... I'm kind of dreading this "Goals" recap. I started out the year pretty well, but things quickly derailed when we moved into our house. I actually completely forgot about these goals (and also forgot to create a "30 Things Before Turning 30" list.. which is kind of disappointing, but perhaps it's time to give them up? Something to ponder.. but first, the dreaded recap).

15 Goals for 2015:
  1. Read 25 books I already own (as of January 1st).
  2. Exercise three times a week (AKA get back into my gym routine).
  3. Practice yoga at least three time weekly.
  4. Master making pasta from scratch.
  5. Eat more healthily: less take-out, less processed/pre-packaged foods, less sugar, less pop, more fruits and veg, bring lunch to work everyday, etc.
  6. Find a good farmer's market / exotic food store in order to create new flavours and recipes.
  7. Organize my life: downsize wardrobe, craft room, kitchen, decorations, etc.
  8. Fill at least six sketchbooks and finish my Amber art book.
  9. Finish at least two cross-stitch projects.
  10. Practice sewing on my new (to me) machine and serger.
  11. Don't buy a single card - make them instead. Try to make gifts too.
  12. Blog at least twice weekly.
  13. Date night weekly.
  14. Travel to a new place.
  15. Spend less time online / on my phone. 
What I did manage to accomplish from this list:

  • I read over 25 books (but not many were owned prior to January)
  • I did eat a lot better (but not nearly as much as I really want)
  • I did find some different and more exotic spices and veggies (but just at a couple of local grocery stores - I did find a farmer's market stall though, and it's lovely)
  • Pat and I semi-regularly go out for lunch/dinner (or take in, or go to shows, on walks, skating, etc) and I would say it's probably pretty close to weekly. I'll call it a win!
So not bad for having basically forgotten about it altogether, right?

Anyhow, I tried to make my goals for 2016 a little more direct - measurable and achievable. I deliberately added the last one in so that I can feel even better about how many goals I cross out this year!

16 Goals for 2016:

  1. Read 30 books.
  2. Try 16 new Ottolenghi recipes.
  3. Try 16 new (loose-leaf) teas.
  4. Put up shelves and organize craft room. Make it inspiring.
  5. Finish Amber art book - this year I WILL!
  6. Work in sketchbook daily.
  7. Blog weekly.
  8. Finish 2 cross-stitch samplers.
  9. Travel somewhere new.
  10. Sign up for and pass my SOCRA certification.
  11. Make an inventory of all my books.
  12. Wake up earlier and practice yoga every morning.
  13. Make a weekly meal plan and prep veggies on the weekend.
  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).

What are your goals for this year?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Recap

Usually I use my year of blogging to recap and remember what I did all year... not so much for 2015. If you consider my blogging life a reflection of my real life, all I did this past year was create a few sketchbook pages and rearrange new furniture! Not far off - the new house was a big part of our year - but there was some other stuff going on too.

  • buying our new home! (and lots of new furniture)
  • asking for and receiving a promotion and raise
  • weddings (Pat's cousin and sister) and babies (friends, co-workers and Pat's cousins)
  • Shows:
    • February: Mozart and Chopin (TSO)
    • June: The Sleeping Beauty (ballet)
    • October: Beethoven Symphony 5 (TSO)
    • December: The Arcs (concert)
  • a day relaxing at the spa
  • celebrating our one year anniversary with a fancy dinner out (and surprise diamond earrings)

When I look back on the year, I also like to look at what I was reading and see if I met my reading goals. For 2015, I wanted to work on reading books I already owned... instead, I bought a lot of new books and borrowed quite a few as well. Oh well! Eventually I will read everything in my library!

Books I read in 2015:
  1. Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Haruki Murakami - The Strange Library
  3. Jeanette Walls - The Silver Star
  4. Molly Peacock - Alphabétique
  5. Jessie Burton - The Miniaturist
  6. Arthur Nersesian - The Fuck-Up
  7. Emma Healey - Elizabeth is Missing
  8. Thomas King - The Back of the Turtle
  9. Jonas Jonasson - The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
  10. Haruki Murakami - Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World
  11. Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  12. Douglas Adams - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  13. Douglas Adams - Life, the Universe and Everything
  14. Douglas Adams - So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
  15. Douglas Adams - Mostly Harmless
  16. Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett - A House in the Sky
  17. Jonas Karlsson - The Room
  18. Khaled Hosseini - A Thousand Splendid Suns
  19. Siddhartha Mukherjee - The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
  20. Mark Haddon - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
  21. Keigo Higashino - Naoko
  22. Mark Z. Danielewski - The Familiar
  23. Rebecca Skloot - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  24. Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale
  25. Kazuo Ishiguro - The Buried Giant
  26. Jandy Nelson - I'll Give You the Sun
  27. Erik Larson - The Devil in the White City
  28. Haruki Murakami - Norwegian Wood
  29. André Alexis - Fifteen Dogs
  30. Anne Fadiman - The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
  31. Neil Smith - Boo
  32. Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner
  33. Alice Hoffman - The Museum of Extraordinary Things
  • Book club books
  • Second time reading 
  • authors I've read before
  • books I borrowed
  • 31 new (to me)
  • 2 re-read (both for book club)
  • 7 for book club 
  • 6 authors I've read before
  • 4 really weird books (2, 4, 10, 22)
  • 5 borrowed books
  • 5 non-fiction (16, 19, 23, 27, 30)
OK, I'll stop there! I've read some pretty great books this year and have big plans for 2016! I'm just finalizing my list of goals and I'll be posting those soon!

How was your 2015?

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it's already the new year?! What happened to 2015???

It's snowing prettily here, making a perfect opportunity to draft a list of goals for the year.

What are your plans for 2016?