Monday, June 9, 2008

Around here

Some sketches and paintings of things around my house and town.


I grew up in a small town in western New York. It was so small we didn't even have a McDonald's until I was 12 years old.

When I was growing up, I couldn't wait to be old enough to move away. Then, while in college, my parents sold the house I grew up in and I was suddenly homesick. I decided to do my senior project in college as a series of drawings and paintings of my hometown. Nowdays, every so often I'm able to go back and add sketches to my collection.

Mediums are ink, colored pencil and oil pastel.

Travel sketchbook: Morton Arboretum

One of my favorite places in the Chicago area, so it's not a true travel sketchbook because it's nearby... though going there always felt like a vacation. There are acres and acres of prairie and forest with a few gardens mixed in. I used to be a member and loved to go early before my classes started (I earned a certificate in botanical art from the Arboretum) and walk the trails.

Travel sketchbook: Santa Fe

One of my favorite places on earth is Santa Fe, New Mexico. When I was 27 I decided to take a vacation by myself and settled on Santa Fe after reading about its significant fine arts culture. Plus Georgia O'Keeffe had a house there, and so many artists currently call it home.

Being from the east, I was also intrigued with the landscape of the southwest, so different from anything I had ever seen. Imagining a place with no green fields, no woods, no rivers and streams, but instead red soil, scrub brush and cactus, seemed foreign to me. I ended up loving it so much I almost moved there.

Impulsive decisions seemed par for the course for me in my 20s. When I graduated from college in New York State, I decided to move to Chicago. I didn't have any family here, only knew three people in the whole city, and didn't even have a place to stay when I and my two suitcases arrived in June. I've told the story so many times since then, and everyone's response is, "you are so brave!" I think it's more the blind certainty of youth. I figured, if things didn't work out, I'd just buy a return ticket to Rochester, no big deal.

Here it is 13 years later, I'm married, own a house, have a kid and another on the way. I think things worked out quite well. Now, set in my ways and secure in my life, I can't believe I was ever that type of person who could move 1/3 of the way across the country or spend a week in New Orleans or New Mexico alone. I'm kind of proud of it, I think.

More old stuff

All this old stuff is motivation to get away from the computer and make some new stuff to post. I tried a little sketch the other day of a tree, and wow am I rusty.

Drawing is a little like riding a bike or swimming. If you don't do it regularly, it's not that you ever really forget how, but it takes time to get back to the level you were at before you gave it up for other, more pressing concerns (in my case, instead of art I've been busy mostly chasing my daughter around and making her get down off the tables and since she's learned to climb.)

In fall 2003 I started on a program to earn a certificate in botanical art, and finally completed it in November 2007. It was even more fun than art school in the early 90s. Now I'm wondering, what next?

Travel sketchbook: New Orleans

My husband and I honeymooned to New Orleans and took a short cruise from there to Mexico. I carried along my favorite little 6x6" spiral bound sketchbook and did quite a bit of drawing while we were there.

I used a Micron Pigma pen and my Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolor field box ( which I'd refilled with better quality paints. It has 12 half pans, a water bottle, water cup, mixing areas, and a travel brush -- it's the best art supply I ever bought!

Here are some of the sketches: watercolor only or watercolor and ink.

Some old stuff

I am going to try out this art blogging stuff and see how it goes. Intentions are to post new stuff frequently... but I am ashamed to say all my sketchbooks have gone untouched since mid-April. My 17 month old daughter, a diabetic cat, occasional freelance graphic design work, house stuff, and my husband really do provide excellent opportunities for procrastination... sigh... but here goes nothin'!

A bit about me: I'm a lapsed artist (BFA painting & drawing 1995, certificate in botanical illustration 2007), self employed graphic designer and, more rarely, an illustrator, living in the western Chicago suburbs. I grew up in western New York State and love nature. My favorite subjects are landscapes, plants, and animals. Favorite mediums are oil pastels, graphite, colored pencil, watercolor, and quick little drawings in my sketchbook (usually Micron Pigma pen and watercolor).

Here are some sketches from about 1996 to this past winter, in no particular order.