Revisiting portraiture

Art

Wow, life has been crazy! Aside from wedding planning (less than 90 days away, oh my gosh!) and getting settled in our new house (home art studio is coming along nicely) I’ve also been cast as the lead in my community theater’s production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Breaking gender rules, which, I love!

So while I’ve had little time on my hands outside of work and rehearsal, I’m proud of myself for making time to revisit something I haven’t done in a while: portraiture. Specifically, graphite portraiture.

I’ve never been a huge fan of drawing in pencil — I’m a lefty so, ya know, graphite tends to leave my entire drawing hand coated in grey dust — but I do LOVE doing portrait work in this medium.

After seeing the new Fantastic Beasts trailer flash across my TV, I was feeling inspired.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love this franchise and this character in particular, and had a lot of fun setting aside a couple of hours to do this drawing.

I’m looking forward to having more free time after next weekend following the conclusion of “Willy Wonka” and sharing photos of my developing home art studio!

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And Always Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

Art

As I’ve come to learn at the ripe old age of 24, the most difficult aspect of being an adult is making decisions.

I am, by nature, a somewhat indecisive person and can be hesitant to dive in to new experiences, opportunities, etc. I always find myself seeking the perfect answer or opportunity, and drive myself crazy wondering if I’ll know said opportunity when it comes along.

But being an adult also means coming to terms with the fact that nothing is ever perfect and that you’ll never know the answer to everything. Rather, you just have to go with the knowledge that is in front of you and make the best decision that you can.

For me, this past year has been full of BIG decisions and plenty of opportunity for me to get outside of my comfort zone.

Between the decision of saying “Yes..”

…and the decision to become a homeowner…

I’m getting better at being decisive.

Growing up, my mother always told me to go with my gut and it’s something I took to heart. The voice inside you and literal “gut feeling” often knows better than your brain does.

Reflecting on this advice and my recent life events, I got thinking about how, funny enough, my mother’s favorite Disney character has always been Jiminy Cricket. Focusing on following my gut and letting my conscience be my guide I was inspired to do this quick sketch:

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What started out as a quick pen sketch, developed further through a layer of colored pencil I threw over top of him to give him a pop of fun and flair.

I love how cartoon sketches can be so simple, yet also challenging. There is a certain level of difficulty that comes with capturing a character’s likeness through a limited number of lines.

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Thanks for your words of wisdom, Mom. I know it will continue to serve me in this crazy journey we call life!

P.S. You can expect to see this one in your Christmas stocking!

 

 

 

Old memories, new adventures and peonies

Art

With only 4 months left until our wedding, I’m happy to be getting down to the planning details. Big picture stuff is fun — but there’s something about planning the small stuff that makes everything feel more real.

Recently, we sat down with our wedding florist and we talked a lot of details.

Although I had come to the meeting prepared with a general idea and photos I had printed off of Pinterest, I wasn’t entirely prepared to map out what color the ribbon around my bouquet would be, or what variety of greenery would accompany the mens’ boutonnieres.

And so – before our second meeting – I did more research.

Needless to say, I’ve had flowers on the brain.

The drawing I’m sharing today was the last I ever did at our recently sold house. While I’m super excited to be over the house-selling process and in our new home, our first house together will always hold a special place in my heart. It was our first home together: where we had our first date, shared our first Christmas and first brought Auggie home to meet his big brother, Skeeter.

It’s also where Andy gave me flowers for the first time – a hand-picked bunch of peonies.

In this house, we were lucky to have peonies lining our driveway. It was these flowers that inspired the ink drawing I’m sharing today.

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This drawing isn’t anything fancy. It’s something I completed quickly, with a ballpoint ben pulled out of the desk drawer. It’s natural, sweet and not entirely unlike how I will remember our time in 12 Summit Street.

When Andy and I first started dating we didn’t have a lot of money. We couldn’t afford to spend our hard-earned dollars on flowers. But the gesture of that hand-picked bouquet spoke volumes. It was one of the first, I knew he was the one moments.

That bouquet still remains the best I’ve ever received.

 

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While we can’t hold onto past lives and past homes, I’m glad I have this drawing to remember our house by. For me, it holds a special memory from our early dating days.

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Here’s to a new home, a new stage in life and the opportunity to capture in all through art.

“Seamster Mouse” – Freehand Embroidery, Nostalgia & Everyday Magic

Art

I’ve been told that as a toddler I used to watch “Cinderella” relentlessly. I’d sit totally enraptured, watching Ella’s story unfold in the 1950’s classic before asking my mother if we could watch it again. And again…and again.

While admittedly I’m a lover of just about all Disney tales, “Cinderella” will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s impossible for me to watch the film without feeling nostalgic – remembering all the times I watched it with my mother and grandmother, lost in the magic that came to a woman who persevered through hardship with courage and kindness.

My latest embroidery piece has ties to  the “Cinderella” story and was inspired by her rodent friends who gallantly help her sew the dress she first intends to wear to the Prince’s ball.

This piece was just about 2 months in the making (who’d have thought mouse hair would take so long to embroider?) but I do believe Seamster Mouse looks better in color. He’s come a long way since his initial sketch!

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Unlike in the movie where the mice help “Cinderelly” with the original dress that gets torn by her stepmother and step sisters, I imagine this mouse might be helping with the final product. This is hinted at in the blue thread wound on the spool next to him.

The challenges of this embroidery were 1. making a mouse look cute (not creepy) and 2. the use of metallic thread in the represented sewing needle. If you’ve never used metallic embroidery thread before, I highly recommend that you proceed with patience and wine! It’s constantly fraying ends are enough to drive a novice embroiderer positively mad.

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But perhaps the biggest challenge was giving the piece a strong sense of story. I wanted viewers to wonder who this mouse was and what exactly he was up to with that needle and thread. Similar to my other fiber pieces, I wanted to instill the theme of everyday magic.

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I love that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at this piece and I love that it reminds me of one of my favorite stories. Perhaps most of all, I love that it reminds me of my own upcoming wedding and fairytale soon to come.

A Drawing Inspired by the Late Alexander McQueen

Art

It’s finally April and although it doesn’t feel like it in New York, I am so incredibly ready for spring. Unsurprisingly, this yearning is finding its way into my work.

Today I’m sharing a recent drawing of mine that plays homage to the transition period between winter and spring – although the weather may start to warm, we must always endure the inevitable period of rain and mud before the flowers begin to bloom .

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This drawing which hints to the described seasonal transition was also directly inspired by the late Alexander McQueen – a fashion designer who was more artist than designer. See the original here:

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I was so taken with this piece when I first saw it. The dress felt like the perfect mix between high fashion and a fairy’s ensemble, and you can’t help but be drawn in by the contrast between structural and organic elements.

It reminds me of something a character might wear in a modern “Alice in Wonderland.”

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Like many of my recent drawings, the piece was created using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. I’ve really taken to drawing watercolor-styled flowers with this media and enjoyed switching back and forth from blending smooth, organic shapes to going back in with sharpened tips to restructure and add detail.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Alexander McQueen, I highly recommend you check out the book Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. This compilation of his pieces was first introduced to me during my undergraduate studies by my Fiber Arts Professor and is brimming with inspiration.

You can’t be a modern artist without appreciating McQueen; it just isn’t possible!

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Fingers crossed that spring is on the horizon!

Wedding-Inspired Artwork

Art

Lately I’ve been so incredibly immersed in wedding planning! While at first I found the whole process to be entirely overwhelming, time has given me the chance to willingly tackle the challenge and over the past couple of months I have really, truly been enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime planning experience.

Food, music, flowers and pretty dresses… seriously, so much fun!

With the majority of my brain focused on planning the perfectly romantic, elegant day, it’s not surprising that the wedding genre has found its way into my artwork.

Keep scrolling to check out my most recent wedding-inspired sketches:

A SKETCH A DAY

Art

As mentioned in my last post, this year I’m committed to sketching more. This means sketching as a means of learning and inspiration, not as a practice for finished pieces.

To help myself commit to this resolution, I’ve been challenging myself to complete a sketch a day. Whether it’s a 5-minute study or a more complete work, I’m determined to pick up a pencil (or pen, or brush) once a day and visually jot down my thoughts.

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll see that I’m doing alright in my self-inflicted challenge.

Drawing quick studies of my dog…

…drawing inspiration from what’s on TV…

…and replicating what can be found in the books in my library.

I’m even throwing in some of my favorite characters!

And while I may not be sketching every single day, I’m certainly doing more than I was. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

I challenge you to challenge yourself!

Whether it’s drawing, writing, or crafting, I challenge you to make more time for yourself and the things that you love.

A Beastly Sketch

Art

I’m always promoting the act of sketching. Not every drawing should be a finished piece and we should all learn to sketch out of habit as a way of learning, as a way of reflecting and as a way of observing the world around us.

The more we draw, the better we get at 99% of art forms. Period. Sketch for sketching sake.

That being said, I’m not always great at following my own advice. Do as I say, not as I do – yada, yada, yada.

I get it. If you’re like me, you want every sketch to lead to something grand. Something more than a fleeting thought. Ultimately, something more than a sketch!

But sketches are meant to be unfinished – that’s what makes them magical! Because documenting fleeting, unfinished thoughts on paper help us learn which direction we want to go in and can sometimes lead to the grandest ideas of all.

One of my resolutions for 2018 is to sketch more. Fearless sketching, totally unafraid of the prospect that some sketches will end up being nothing more than a few hasty scribbles on a piece of paper.

This weekend I held true to my resolution and flipped through my sketchbook pages rapidly, producing a number of very quick, very rough drawings. I drew ideas as fast as they came to me. And through this process, found some inspiration.

Portraiture. Faces. Taking a break from inanimate objects (which I do so love) and focusing back on the living and breathing.

Feeling inspired, I kept sketching. And actually did create a sketch I deemed worth sharing:

I love “Beauty and the Beast” and was drawn to capturing Beast’s half-human nature. (Admittedly, humanoid creatures have always been a fascination of mine.)

Because of this care-free sketch-session I’m feeling more inspired than I have weeks. Thank goodness I received a pile of sketchbooks for Christmas!

Stitching Mythology: the White Stag

Art

I’m sure everyone can relate when I say that it’s always difficult to get back into the every-day routine post-holidays. With the close of the hustle and bustle also comes the inevitable energy crash.

It has definitely taken me some recovery time this year to get back to my normal routine, but I am happy to share that with this frigid don’t-leave-the-house-because-it’s-way-too-cold-outside weekend also came the time and energy to re-focus on my work.

My un-finished nutcracker embroidery is way too seasonal to work on in January, so I decided to put him away for the year, to be finished next December.

Looking to start something new, I drew inspiration from the -30 degree Fahrenheit weather outside and sketched the outline for a new fiber piece:

Now, before you start thinking that I’ve turned into a hunting-crazed Central New-Yorker, I’d like to clarify that what I have in mind for this piece is much more magical than a taxidermy deer head.

In fact, the white stag has a firm footing in mythology found in several cultures. It is often a symbol for purity and good fortune, and in Celtic myth is said to be a sign that the otherworld is near. The white hart is also a staple element in Arthurian legend.

I love the stories that accompany this seemingly ordinary animal and am looking forward to making this piece magical in subtle ways. There’s certainly more of a challenge in making a stag appear magical than there is in doing the same with a dragon.

Here’s to many cold New York nights ahead that will be spent working on this piece!

FOR THE LOVE OF SNOW

Art

Words cannot explain how excited I was to have a white Christmas this year! With all the Christmases of my childhood having been buried under several feet of snow, the green holidays we have experienced lately have left me feeling – ironically – a tad blue.

This year in New York, much to my excitement, we were surprised with a dusting Christmas Eve which continued through Christmas morning.

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Those of us who had the pleasure of growing up in chillier climates know that to a child, snow is just about one of the most wonderful things there is, especially around the holidays. Snow days, sledding, building snow people… the possibilities are truly endless!

Combining the everyday magic of the element with my excitement for this year’s beautifully white Christmas, I was inspired to create my most recent colored pencil drawing:

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Living in a seriously snowy region, a favorite pastime of the adults in my community is complaining about the winter weather. “It’s difficult to drive in,” “I hate shoveling,” “I’m freezing,” etc., etc. Another beautiful thing dissected and tarnished by the pessimistic eye of adulthood.

In this drawing, I was aiming to capture the love of snow that some of us (myself included) have managed to hold onto into adulthood and perhaps remind others that even as adults, we can still find magic in our everyday lives.