This week I went to the Van Gogh Immersive in NYC. The Immersive is a series of rooms where the walls are screens. Van Gogh’s work has been made into a moving animation. On the screens his paintings and elements from his paintings move and pulse and transform from one to another to music. The movements sometimes makes it feel as if you are riding in an elevator. You are surrounded by the images on all four sides and in one room the images are also projected on the floor!
The projection plays on a half hour loop. We walked in to a bizarre screen of illustrated flies buzzing around. I immediately thought, “Well this is trippy.” We watched the projection two times, from different rooms. My favorite scenes were the sunflowers, the irises and a brick wall, that was made up of a rainbow of colors.
I have exciting plans for 2021 and I want you to be a part of them! Last New Year’s we had the privilege of visiting Paris. It was amazing. After the trip I revisited my photos and memories by painting them. Instead of doing it alone, I developed the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program so participants could virtually “visit” Paris and improve upon their watercolor skills. This year – I’m so excited – I’m expanding on the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program by also offering online zoom lessons.* We can meet and paint together! It is going to be so fun. Zoom lessons will start mid January. Please note – the zoom lessons will be an additional fee.
You can start the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program at any time. If you are interested in the upcoming small group zoom lessons please email me and let me know. There is no commitment at this point – I just want to make sure you receive all the details!
*The zoom lessons will be an additional cost to the current “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program. The zoom lessons are not included in the cost of the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program.
December can be a crazy month as we prepare for the holidays. I don’t even need to remind you that things are extra stressful this year. One of my favorite things to do in December is to create every single day.
Creativity is very important to me, but life always seems to want to pull me away from it. I should say I let life (and Netflix) pull me away. Because December is such a full month, I find it the most important time to recommit to creativity. I encourage you to the same. Just 15 minutes a day can be such a stress reliever!
For the last few years, I’ve created an illustration each day in December. This year I’m trying a new medium – block printing. I’ve gotten a head start – I organized my tools, watched a few YouTube videos, sketched a few ideas. I’ve even carved two small designs!
In the past my goal was to post a completed illustration each day. This year I simply want to work in the new medium for at least 15 minutes a day. I have to admit it’s hard to be a beginner! That first day carving my linoleum block felt so awkward. But I know from experience that a month of focusing on one thing can lead to real progress.
I hope you’ll join me in creating every day!
There are a lot of great kits to get you started with a new medium in this blog post.
Thanksgiving is going to be different this year. No more gathering with extended family. We’ll be home, just the five of us. Although we are limited, it is still important to celebrate and make it special. Two of my kids are coming home for college. Being together is always a reason to celebrate!
Creative Ideas to make Thanksgiving more fun this year:
Baked Goods Drop Off
Even though we can’t be with our extended family – it would be really nice to bake things and drop them off on Thanksgiving morning. Show them we are thinking of them. This “Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread” recipe is my favorite. Pumpkin bread with a nice card would be so sweet! Baking and making cards would be great activities to get everyone in the spirit prior to Thanksgiving Day.
Watch the Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is always on in our house on Thanksgiving. Even though it won’t be a “parade” but prerecorded segments – I’ll gladly tune in as we prepare our Thanksgiving meal.
Set the Table
Even though our gatherings will be smaller, go all out – china, crystal. Whatever nice stuff you have – use it! Collect acorns and fall leaves to add to your table and make it more festive. Get the kids involved in creating handmade decorations!
Don’t Skimp on the Sides
You might be tempted to go simpler with your menu – don’t! Make all the favorites. Get the kids involved!
We always go around the table on Thanksgiving and tell everyone what we are grateful for. 2020 has certainly reminded us what is important. Despite the circumstances we have a lot to be grateful for. These gratitude cards are available in my Etsy shop.
It’s nice to linger at the table on Thanksgiving, but sometimes that’s harder with little kids. Crayons and paper did the trick when our kids were small and we went out to eat. Here are a few Thanksgiving coloring pages available on Etsy to extend your table time.
The Thanksgiving Walk
In my husband’s family it used to be a tradition to take a walk between the Thanksgiving meal and dessert. This year it would be especially nice, as we could walk with family that live nearby, while still keeping socially distanced.
After a walk and dessert, it would be awesome to take a “stroll down memory lane” and watch a slideshow or look through photos of previous Thanksgivings. The years go fast and the kids get so big!
Thanksgiving Art Project
How about an art project? This printable step by step tutorial for painting a turkey in watercolor is fun for all ages! Or create a realistic leaf with watercolor. Or create a fall paper quilt and see how different each family member’s quilt turns out! All projects are available in my Etsy shop.
Want to make it a full on paint night? Paint a Turkey on canvas with acrylics. Watch my process on YouTube:
Thanksgiving Family Movie
After eating a big meal, it’s nice to rest on the couch and watch a movie together. Just like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade ushers in the Christmas season with Santa, Thanksgiving night puts me in the mood for a Holiday classic like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Elf.” Or maybe we’ll watch a family classic like Indiana Jones or … hmmm. Time for us to each make a list of ideas!
If you’ve been creating for a while – whatever the medium – I encourage you to take time to look through your work. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by your progress and proud of the work you’ve created.
When I first started painting I realized that while you are working on something you are hypercritical of a piece. It makes sense – you are working at it to achieve the best work you can. After some time passes, when you are “removed” from a piece, you can appreciate it with a less critical eye.
There is so much to learn from simply reviewing our work – what subjects and themes we are interested in, new phases in our style or technique, what areas we may want to work on, pieces we’d like to finish, and ideas for new projects.
I’ve been reviewing my watercolor paintings and recent sketchbook work from the last 7 months. It’s like a time capsule. So much good stuff from such a weird time in the world! I enjoyed the Monet inspired practice work I did. So fun! It was inspired by “The Masters” week from my “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program.
As I collected and reviewed my paintings, I decided to restock my shop with a selection of original paintings. Keep an eye out for the restock announcement because with originals – once a painting is sold it’s gone!
Wood burning – I love this wood burned acorn by Italian Artist Liliia of SorrisoDesign. “The design is hand drawn, then carefully and lovingly burned into the solid wood bead with pyrography technique.”
I love watercolor – how you can add more and more water, how easily it spreads on the paper. I occasionally paint with acrylics but find myself struggling with them. They don’t spread as easily and you can’t add too much water because it breaks down the paint. Last weekend I took an online acrylic class “Acrylic Painting: Abstract Landscapes” with Megan Elizabeth, which focused on painting a seascape.
Often I try to figure things out myself, but I thought it would be a fun project for the weekend and might provide some insight into my own struggles with acrylics. The class, which is suitable for beginners, is easy to follow. I enjoyed learning how someone else approaches painting a seascape – which is my favorite subject. The biggest take away for me was observing the paints Megan uses – which are much more fluid than the heavy body ones I have. And she doesn’t mix her colors. She blends on the canvas. I’m always struggling with mixing the right color and then running out and not having enough. Definitely food for thought when I try my next seascape canvas.
Taking a class often reveals nuggets that can enhance your own art practice. They might not even be a key element to the lesson, but have value to you at for where you are in your art practice. I’ll never forget taking Val Webb’s Drawing Children class where she explained the nuances of a child’s face. I realized drawing (or painting) something involves knowing your subject really, really well. I applied this lesson to seascapes and spent more time observing the ocean.
Ultimately we take advice from others and roll it into the way we prefer to do things. I’ve been watching YouTube videos on how to hold a brush and they reveal differing opinions. It’s good to know other options on how do things and then you can decide what works best for you.
I’ve been thinking I need a creative project to help motivate me during self quarantine, especially since things don’t seem to be opening up any time soon. If this is going to continue – for 2 weeks, a month, more? – it would be nice to have something to do, practice a skill, and work towards a goal or final product.
It’s a challenge to pick a project. I definitely have ideas, but it’s like standing at a fork in the road and not knowing which direction to take. Here’s how to pick a creative project:
Step 1. Write down all the ideas that have been floating around your head.
Step 2. Evaluate the ideas. Which items are things you really want to work on? Which project would yield results you’d be especially excited about? Which project could you see yourself being excited about every day?
Here’s my list so far:
Drawing Lesson – Continue developing my online drawing lesson.
iPad drawing – practice
Color Wheel Book – Continue working on – illustrate
Clay – Learn polymer clay and create sea creatures (as an example for in person art camp project).
Watercolor – work on a specific subject or in specific colors
Video – Create another video promo.
My list is often filled with things I think I should do or would like the final results of, but not things I feel like working on EVERY DAY.
Having trouble picking one idea? Sometimes we don’t know until we try. Spend a day sampling the project ideas you are most interested in. Spend 15-20 minutes on each project. Which one sparks the most interest and excitement?
Step 3. Pick a project. Make a decision and stick with it.
Step 4. Plan your creative time. Pick the time (and place) that you will work on this project. It’s easier to remember and make it happen if it’s every day at the same time. Things don’t happen if you don’t plan for them to happen.
Step 5. Follow through! Every project has peaks and valleys. Push through the hard days, do the work and the results will follow. Even 15 minutes a day adds up and is progress!
These days I can’t blame lack of time for a lack of painting. Being stuck at home, I’ve got nothing but time. What I am struggling with is what to paint. Sometimes it seems easier to go on my iPad than to figure out an idea.
Coincidentally my son asked me the other day, “Do you always know what you’re going to paint?” As I indicated, the answer is no, and it can be a real roadblock. When you are out and about, experiencing life, you are soaking up inspiration. Nowadays, not so much.
Here are some ways to find creative inspiration during self quarantine:
Go outside (in whatever way is safe for your situation). Walk around your neighborhood, or your yard, or sit by a window. The birds, trees, flowers, clouds, all provide inspiration. Absorb it, and take photos.
Look through your phone. What inspiration did you capture on your phone that you never drew or painted? Now you have time. I’ve made albums on my phone to separate inspiration photos.
Technique. Perhaps there is a technique you admire others doing. Try it! Find reference photo appropriate to that technique and practice. I admire paintings with sun dappled water, so I found a photo and tried it.
Catalogs. I keep catalogs to use as reference. Athletic attire ones have great figures to practice from, and sometimes great scenery. Recently I painted a skier and mountains from an ad in a magazine. I also painted a woman doing a headstand. I love the Burpee plant and seed catalog, such beautiful flowers and vegetables to paint!
Look around your home. Walk slowly around your home and see if there are any interesting subjects or arrangements to paint. Try to look at your space with fresh eyes. Or paint or draw an ordinary scene like the couch with a lamp, but add interesting wallpaper to it. Reimagine your space.
Set up a still life. Create an interesting composition with things in your home. The refrigerator is a great source of interesting looking things. Cut some fruit in half.
Portraits. In self quarantine with loved ones? Make them the subject of your next project.
Color. Try a project where it’s less about what you are painting and more about the color palette you are using. You could even recreate a painting you’ve done before but with a different color palette. In my “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program we explore painting using Monet’s winter palette. It is such an interesting exercise!