Trading cards as a quick fix

I can't always find time (or make time) to paint something big.  Often, a "painting snack" will have to do. 

I bought a bundle of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs -- tiny 2.5" x 3.5" canvases) months ago to trade with friends -- and looking at the unopened packages filled me with guilt.

ATC1 copy 

So I ripped one open and decided to make a mini-painting for myself, as a light snack. For a summery theme, I based it on a photo of my son jumping off a swim platform.  For simplicity, I only used 3 paint colors: white, paynes gray and burnt umber.

I'm not trading this card, but keeping it, to remind myself that making art doesn't have to wait for a groundbreaking idea, or a huge chunk of time to execute it.

Fresh from the Farmers Market


For an understanding of where food comes from, for great conversations, for the freshest produce, you can't beat a farmer's market.  For painters, there's yet another reason -- beautiful, irregularly shaped produce that you can't find in a store. This bunch of multicolor radishes caught my eye. Watercolor was the only handy option - I had to sketch and paint them fast before they went into a salad.  

My only hesitation in "buying the whole farm" at a market are the dollar bills in my pocket (they don't take plastic), my small family, and the fact that I can't paint everything before I eat it.  Just as well.  I'll be back next week.

License to Doodle -- and about time too...

My friend Kim recently taught a Zentangle workshop with a group of enthusiastic teens.  I'm as skeptical as a teenager when looking at new artistic concepts, so I had to give it a try, especially after hearing it described as "yoga for the mind"...  


Now I'm smitten with Zentangles (I'm also a new fan of

Zentangles haven't improved my drafting skills, and I've yet to feel the full-on benefits of the mind-yoga connection, but I find the hands-on repetition soothing and meditative.  Sometimes, after a long day,  my brain is too tapped out to paint.  Or I don't have my watercolor/pastel/sewing supplies handy.  Zentangles are a good solution.  Plus, I found that I can watch a few kids on the beach while I'm doing them -- I'm a lousy lifeguard when I'm painting...

Uncovering patterns through sketching

There's nothing like drawing with numb fingers at the edge of the ski lift to focus the mind.  First, there's no time to overthink the subject matter.  Second, if you don't simplify the drawing, and uncover the patterns, you'll freeze before you finish.  Good thing all skiers look similar bundled up with gear -- makes it ok to combine the skier from one chair with one on the next one...

Sketching from a moving vehicle

India sketchbook2 
I took my sketchbook on a recent tour of south India.  With a jam-packed itinerary, I didn't get to paint anything serious, just sketch scenery from the window of a bus or train.  I was forced to take it all in and put it down on paper as fast as I could.   It was disappointing not to create a "masterpiece" with all the vibrant colors I saw, but the process of rapid-fire sketching was a reward in itself.