Week 2 in my yearlong sketchbook practice.
Week 2 in my yearlong sketchbook practice.
Week 2 in my yearlong sketchbook practice.
The little owl pattern is available! Say hello to Mr. Littles and Mr. Biggles.
The pattern includes instructions for a little owl and 3! pattern sizes – a 4.5 inch owl, a 5.5 inch owl and a 6.5 inch owl.
The owls make perfect captains for paper mache ships, the small size works well with the small ship and the medium owl works well with the large ship. The photo below is the small owl in the small ship.
I hope you make owls! If you do I’d love to see – you can email photos to me at ann at ann wood handmade dot com. And I’m already working on the next two patterns – fabric sail boats and March lambs – you can check back here or join the mailing list if you’d like an email when new patterns are available.
I can’t think about myself creatively without thinking of my childhood and my memories of it. I think this is the richest part of my mind, a library of detailed and evocative images I return to again and again. For my creative life it is the place that everything comes from. Everything. It runs deeply through all of what I make – whether it is my intention or not.
When I approach it directly – when I go looking for those images and sensations and moods and textures and attempt to express them, as purely as I can, I sometimes lose my self consciousness, my judgmental self gets out of the way. I think it has to do with the quality of memory itself – shadowy and shifting, elusive and sometimes fragmentary – it requires patience, careful listening and something slower and quieter from me.
It’s something I’m curious about – these impressions of experiences that my brain made and kept. I’m curious about all these pictures that exist in my mind and nowhere else and I wonder how to express them as fully as I can without my current perspective and judgements getting in the way.
The image above is from my “this is where i am from” series: I remember when I was 10 or so, alone in my room, noticing that I was experiencing an exquisite moment. I was lying on my bed reading Anne of Greene Gables. It was late in the day on a Sunday and almost to cold too have the window open- but not quite.
Week 1 in my yearlong sketchbook practice.
I’m working on a group of paper mache ships – all three from my ship pattern collection. I like to paper mache in the evening – all those little pieces of paper – it’s relaxing and meditative and I wake up to lovely dry ships – ready for paint and sails. I always start with a layer of brown paper and usually finish with a layer of newsprint – I’m working over a cardboard armature so 2 layers is enough.
I gathered some scraps for patching sails and making flags – these ships are going to be pale and romantic and have owl captains. If you’re waiting for the little owl pattern it’s almost here – after some testing I needed to revise the pattern a little – there was an unnecessary complication. I’m doing some re-shoots and it will be available next week – you can join the mailing list if you’d like to be notified as soon as new patterns are available ( I’ve got a lamb pattern in the works too).
I also want to share one of my favorite artists working with paper mache with you : Michelle Lassaline. I love all her work and the masks especially – they have such presence. This image is so enchanting and mysterious and captivating, the detail of the painted hands…..
I was planning to share some artist’s sketchbooks I admire today. And I still am – but as I began to put the post together the idea to make room for my own daily sketchbook practice crept up. I take notes all the time and I make lists, lots and lots of lists – sometimes that’s the first glimmer of a new project for me, a big list or pages and pages of scribbled notes, but I do not, and have not had a consistent sketchbook practice even though I think it’s an incredibly valuable thing. I’m not sure why not – scared of it I think. The books below are a couple of my favorites and there is a remarkable collection of artist sketchbooks here.
And Mia Christopher:
The closest I’ve come is the cardboard horse project – it was kind of like a sketchbook – they could be anything, I experimented, they reflect where I was in a given moment, I got ideas – so many ideas and sometimes it was painful, sometimes it was a chore and sometimes I loved it.
* I’m already too busy and usually panicked about time. It’s adding another thing to my already giant to do list.
* Daily practices – even small ones – are guaranteed to be hard sometimes.
* I love a record – a reflection of the day.
* I have a deep craving to make marks on paper
* This year – My Big Creative Year has to do with moving towards something — searching for something I need that I’m not giving myself or a place I haven’t gotten to – reaching. I have a strong sense that this small daily practice will move me in the right direction, it feels like a gift to myself, medicine.
* I am making it small, physically small, so it doesn’t scare me away. And instead of an actual sketchbook I’ve made myself a stack of 4 and 1/2 inch squares and I have a little box to file them in.
* I’m committing to one year – beginning yesterday, Sunday 2/15/2015.
* The question of sharing it – for the moment I will – I’ll post all the week’s entries here every Saturday. The promise to share is important, I need the accountability. It will probably feel embarrassing often and if it is too painful for me or seems too tedious for you I’ll create a separate page for it so that you have the option to visit or not visit rather than posting on the blog.
There are no other rules – just making marks. It doesn’t have to be fancy or intricate or detailed; I can glue stuff, scribble, splatter, draw – anything – I just need to show up and make marks on paper and I’ve got to do it every day.
Here are Sunday’s and today’s :
Check back on Saturday if you like for all seven of week 1 – and if you’d like to join me in this experiment or you already have a regular sketchbook practice you feel like sharing – let me know – I’d love to see.
I’m working on several blue creatures including a solemn blue fox made from textiles courtesy of Sri Threads in glorious shades of indigo (except for his velvety nose – I used a bit of a midnight blue Edwardian jacket).
I’m also making plans for my botanical workshop at Squam this June. I loved teaching this class last fall – the specimens in the photo below were a gift from a student in last September’s class- treasures.
I collected inspiration for some new projects/experiments for the upcoming spring class at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (it’s spectacular) this past fall. This is an Eastern Shooting Star – gone to seed – strange and lovely.
I had never seen either of these before – if you know of other strange and wonderful botanicals please share – I’d love to see. I’m looking forward to the class and the time in the forest. It’s terrible to wish time away but I can’t wait for spring. Fiddleheads and frog chirps and mushrooms – all of it. And P. S. (a couple days early) – Happy Valentine’s Day!
I started collecting words accidentally. I almost always cut paper for paper mache ships in a particular way. For my top layer I like newsprint, cut rather than torn. I separate my strips by text size and weight and I prefer that the strips are horizontal – flowing with the text. When I’m cutting newspaper, things invariably jump out at me. There is some mood or meaning, some sensation or memory evoked by a word or phrase. And so I save them.
The original intention was to use them on ships and boats and I do, but something else happens when I take out my box of words - I get all sorts of new ideas. It has become an intentional practice. When I’m wandering and inviting inspiration I sort through the box – a single word can spark something, shift my direction just a little, send me to a place I would not have gotten to, intersections appear.
It is a kind of listening.
I love the happenstance of it.
I still enjoy bundling up a couple little birds and taking them out for a photo in Prospect Park. 9 years in, I still enjoy it. Even on a day as frigid as it was – I think they enjoy getting out…..
So far it has been a pretty wintery winter and this feels like the depths of it. I’m having persistent fantasies of warmer days and the smell of the forest. I took the photo below in the Adirondacks and it’s one of my favorites. It’s an enchanted spot – I would not be surprised at all to see a fairy or an elf or a gnome appear on the mossy little path.
I know that I could be more efficient and accomplish what I must in far less time than I do. I’m losing hours and hours that could be spent on play and exploration and experimenting. For the last couple months I’ve been recording how I spend my time in excruciating detail. I recorded what my task was, how long I spent on it, what I accomplished, how often and by what I was distracted and how much time I spent in those distractions – even if they were small. It was a tedious and imperfect process that I did not enjoy but It has been enlightening.
I’ve got issues…..
I respond very well to structure – always have. When I’m teaching at Squam I can get a ton of stuff done, I’m happy, efficient, productive and relaxed – even though I’m super busy, I am in a place of ease. I would do very well living at summer camp permanently. At home I have not created much meaningful structure for myself. I’m surrounded by distractions and even more importantly I don’t have clearly defined work hours – that has me feeling like I’m working constantly when I’m really not. This is what’s really going on:
I am smarter and more creative in the morning, so that work has to come first – even if there is busy work that feels urgent. That stuff will always be there and will always feel urgent.
Also known as the internet…. I knew it was a problem but keeping a written log highlighted how much of a problem it is. What are these interruptions really costing me in time, focus and serenity?
I’m better with exercise. My brain and everything else works better when I’m consistent about it. I can focus for longer periods of time, I’m sharper, quicker and have more energy. The difference in my productivity is remarkable – the time investment is worth it. Always.
This is a real trouble spot. I waste a lot of time on email – looking at it, organizing, categorizing, flagging messages, and feeling guilty, embarrassed and overwhelmed. By the time I actually do something about it I’ve handled an email a number of times, stuff gets lost, overlooked etc. – in all that shuffling I’ve created confusion for myself and annoyance and inconvenience for others. I’m making a cumbersome and overwhelming task more cumbersome and more overwhelming by not just dealing with it once.
Just the awareness, observations and exercise of recording my days is having an effect on me. I think it would be a mistake to tackle all 5 issues full-on, all at once though, so I’m picking one to to work on this week: Email.
My big, scary, tangled inbox mess. I will handle email once. I won’t check it until I’m ready to deal with it immediately. And I’m committing an additional 30 minutes everyday to work on the current inbox debacle. I’ll let you know how it goes.