Tag Archives: mamablog

My Writing Process {Link Up}

Last week Angie asked if anyone was interested in talking about their writing process on their blogs, and I thought it sounded interesting. She posted questions and her answers; now it’s my turn to answer the same questions.

What am I working on now?

issue five title croppedI have a column due for the next issue of Home/School/Life magazine, and I’m aiming to have Issue Five of Art Together ready in late September or early October. Although the e-zine is oriented on art activities, it involves quite a bit of writing, some of which requires research. It all needs to be written clearly, in what I hope is an engaging style, and edited and proof-read.

I work out my own thoughts/problems in my journal writing. I don’t share that. Some days all I write in my journal is a brief jotting of the day’s events, something I’ve been doing daily for almost two years now. I enjoy looking back on that the most, I think.

My blog writing is mainly sharing about the surface of our lives–art and homeschooling adventures–but I occasionally go deeper.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

The obvious answer is that, as a unique individual–as we all are–with a unique background and personal history, my writing is different in the way all writing that comes from a place of honesty is. Nobody else can write exactly what I write.

As for my perspective as it relates to writing about art, I see lots of writing that focuses on setting up crafts for kids to do, or tutorials for adults who want to make art, but very little encouraging adults and kids to experiment together with open-ended art-making from a similar starting point of exploration and adventure. The benefits of stepping back, as an adult, and exploring together with children, rather than taking on the role as holder of knowledge that must be imparted, are huge. That’s always been my style, from before I had my own kids and I was working in what is known as “informal education.” It was instinctual; it felt right. I had no idea it was so outside the norm at the time and is still seen by many as such.

my writing process at amyhoodarts.com

Tools of the trade.

Why do I write what I do?

I write about art, process, and ways to explore both with kids because I feel so strongly that art-making is valuable for adults and kids alike. I write because I want to demystify it all–from art supplies to techniques to terms. I write because too many people seem to be peering through the window of ART, wanting to join in but having no idea how–or lacking confidence because someone, at some point, told them they weren’t artistic or creative. I want to take these folks by the hand, explain things so they don’t feel intimidated, and set them up to play. That’s why I write the zine. I heard from parents who wanted to encourage their kids’ interest in art but felt unsure, and I want to help them not only support their kids but find their own way into exploring their creative side.

But the true and short answer to why I write at all is because I often have no idea what I’m really thinking until I write it out–but that’s also another sort of writing entirely.

How does my writing process work?

I draft in my head, usually. If it’s a column, article, zine segment, or blog post, I typically know what I’m going to write by the time I sit down at the computer. Everything but blog posts generally goes through several drafts of revisions after that. I am most likely to draft in my head in the shower or while I run, although I try not to do that while running because that’s my time to clear my head. I’m not afraid of revising and never have been–I will ruthlessly cut whole swaths of text for the greater good.

my writing process at amyhoodarts.com

More tools of the trade.

Journal writing just happens–with a pen, in a Moleskine hardcover notebook. From head to hand to pen to paper, with no forethought or pre-drafting.

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I always feel awkward naming or asking individuals to participate in things like this, so instead–if these questions interest you, I encourage you to take the time to write out your answers. And then if you want to share them, please let me know and I’ll add a link to your post.

Paint Labs #4 and #11

I’m still working on the activities in Paint Lab, here and there. I full well know I have a problem focusing on just one area at a time. I’ve given up fighting it; I’ll just embrace it. So lots of things are always half done, and this month in particular it’s felt like I’ve been slogging along, mostly mired in my own head, spinning my wheels. I’ve been doing a lot of reading; dog days indeed. This also accounts for the quiet here. Days have been just sort of slipping by…

Anyway. I did paint lab #4, which involved acrylic glazing medium, a squeegee, and a canvas panel, a while ago.

paint lab #4 at amyhoodarts.com

Then I decided to add a couple of tree-ish things.

paint lab #4 with tree at amyhoodarts.com

I’m not sure about any of it, but these exercises are just that–exercises. Trying things out.

This week I did paint lab #11, “Masking Fluid Exploration,” in my sketchbook. I decided to use that day’s Spoonflower prompt, arrow, as the shape. I’ve done a few of the Spoonflower prompts; I’ve done more in my head, but as I said, August is like quicksand or something. I’m keeping track of them and I will pull them out for inspiration in the future even if I don’t get to them on the day they’re posted.

paint lab #11 at amyhoodarts.com

This was my first experimentation with proper masking fluid. I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories of destroyed paper and so on, but it peeled up easily. My sketchbook contains Strathmore 500 series mixed media paper, and I bought the Utrecht store brand of masking fluid last time we were there. Again, this was, as the lab title says, simply exploration. It will take more of it before I really get a feel for how it can be used beyond the obvious use of maintaining highlights.

I have more things and thoughts to share but we’ll have to see how long it takes given my apparent August torpor.

Watercolor Sketches + Shop Update

The final two watercolor sketches from last week. I only missed one day, Thursday, so I ended up with six total for the week.

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

I thought it would be fun to show the process, so I took photos along the way while making the strawberry sketch. I did this one Saturday evening, so the lighting isn’t the best. Before I share all those photos, though, I wanted to let you know that hand-stamped blank cards and lino prints and watercolors are now available in the shop. It took a bit of self-talk (and some encouraging talk by other people) to list the prints and watercolors. It feels different from the other products. They serve no purpose other than to hang on the wall; it’s a public declaration of my belief that my artwork is worthy of offering for sale. That’s not easy to do. (Which I only share because I think it’s better for all of us creative types if we admit when we feel a bit wobbly. Everybody does, you know.)

On to the strawberries.

still life set up at amyhoodarts.com

The still life set up.

initial pencil sketch at amyhoodarts.com

Initial pencil sketch.

traced over with ink at amyhoodarts.com

Traced over with ink (copic multiliner).

first wash of watercolor at amyhoodarts.com

First wash of watercolor.

more color added at amyhoodarts.com

More color added.

almost done at amyhoodarts.com

Almost done.

 

just needs to dry at amyhoodarts.com

Just needs to dry.

It takes a while to complete one because of the waiting time in between layers of color. If you add wet watercolors next to (or on top of) wet watercolor, it’ll bleed together. Sometimes that’s exactly what you want. Other times, it’s not, so it needs to dry first. You can see I have the paper taped down to a board (it’s a clipboard). I leave it that way until it dries. It helps keep it from curling too much.

In some ways this makes it a perfect type of painting for me to do. I’m always getting interrupted anyway. However, I’ve also gotten very good at telling the interrupter that I’m drawing/painting and I’ll get to them in a few minutes. All of my kids are old enough for me to be able to do this, generally. And they all respect the process, for the most part.

Two More Watercolor Sketches

Tuesday’s sketch was of a flower through a magnifying loupe. I don’t know what kind of flower it is; it’s the sort that would be in the background of an arrangement, just a nondescript spray of yellow, nothing much…until you look at it closely. Then it’s a world of tiny yellow petals, sticky sap, delicate stems.

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

Wednesday’s sketch is of black-eyed Susans rescued from a local meadow–which is supposed to be open space managed by the town–right before it was mowed right to the ground. I’m so sad about this, and curious–it’s the wrong time of year for meadow mowing for management, so what are they doing? Town hall referred me to the head of the conservation commission, who hasn’t returned my message yet.

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

These flowers look very different from the ones I bought Sunday, so either I mis-identified those, or they’re a cultivated version as opposed to the wild ones. At any rate, I like these, with their protruding center and drooping petals, better. I loved drawing them.

I didn’t manage a sketch on Thursday. We spent six hours at the beach, some of that time with friends (yay!), and after dinner I went to the market, because it’s much easier to do it with just my 12yo than with all three children. But I have a picture of a feisty blue crab to share with you, found by my 10yo at the salt pond.

blue crab at amyhoodarts.com

I hope your week is ending on a good note! Enjoy the weekend!

Odds + Ends

I wanted to share some neat things we’ve found in the yard lately. This is one wing from, I’m pretty sure, an io moth.

io moth wing

That’s all I found. I don’t know what happened to the rest of it. Eaten?

This luna moth was hanging out on the screen of our slider one night. I’d never gotten a good look at the underneath bits of a luna moth before. Its legs and body are so…leggy, and fat!

luna moth

I was hoping it would still be there in the morning so the kids could see more than just this underexposed picture, but it was gone.

This is a super cool plant, and it’s growing in our backyard! What a treat.

monotropa uniflora

It’s Monotropa uniflora, and it’s a plant, not a fungus. It has no chlorophyll, however, so lives in conditions in which it can absorb nutrients right from rotting things in the soil. We have rich soil! My 10yo was impressed that I knew what this was, but it’s the sort of thing, once you learn this, you don’t forget it.

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I’ve slowly worked up to being able to run between 3 and 5 miles, no more often than every other day. My mantra since I was cleared to begin running again after the whole shin splint thing has been, Not too far, not too fast, not too often. So I’m not running every day like I was last summer, but it’s okay. I don’t need it every day like I did last summer. I want to make sure it’s there when I do need it, though, which is why I’m not pushing it. Ok, this isn’t totally true. I’m not dogging it, either. I’m incapable of not trying to get faster. I’m not as fast as I was right before I got shin splints, but I’m faster than I was at the same time last summer. I like running. I like what my body can do. I like the feeling of working hard. And I like the head-clearing. I’m too mindful of the benefits of running, though, to push it to the point where I can’t do it again.

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I’m keeping up, so far, with my goal of one watercolor sketch per day this week. By yesterday I was looking forward to drawing time the way I usually look forward to coffee–in other words, a strong yearning with a bit of desperation thrown in. I’ll show you more sketches in a bit. We’re having a busy week–busy doing, seeing, going; meeting with friends; playing and making art. Not so much time for blogging.

Watercolor Sketches

I quietly–well, not so quietly anymore, since I’m saying so here–set myself the challenge of making a watercolor sketch every day this week. I’m not sure I’ll make it, as we have a couple of long out-of-the-house days this week, including today, Tuesday. But I’ve completed two in a row, and that’s Something. Here’s the one I did Sunday, of a flower bought from the on-your-honor stand down the road, which I went to in the pouring rain because I wanted some flowers to draw. While I drew and painted, Ghostbusters was on in the background–the rest of the family was watching it. It was a nice way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

5×7 watercolor sketch of a black-eyed Susan.

And this is the one I did Monday morning, while more or less leaving my kids to their own devices. My daughter drew and painted the flowers Monday morning as well, but she was almost done by the time I began. This flower wasn’t purchased; I found Turk’s-cap Lilies growing on the side of road next to the freshwater wetland, on the property that nobody wants to buy because it would be so hard to build on it. I love that wetland! And I was delighted to find these flowers. I snipped just two to take home with me.

watercolor sketch at amyhoodarts.com

5×7 watercolor sketch of Turk’s-cap Lilies.

These were difficult to draw, and I don’t think my hesitancy did me any favors. I may try this one again.

I am really enjoying my watercolors.

Making + Listening::14/2014

Lots of photos to share this week, some of which are better than others in terms of quality. First up, my daughter’s embroidery from a few weeks ago, that I have neglected to share. She drew on the felt with the nifty disappearing-ink fabric marker and then embroidered over her lines. (We just don’t go in for embroidering other people’s patterns here!)

5yo's embroidery at amyhoodarts.com

Drawing and embroidery by G, age 5.

This is a fairy–the semi-circles on the sides are wings. I love this–she has preserved her own drawing in fabric and floss!! (I helped with the eyes–I did the French knots. But she did the rest herself.) This was completely her idea. I think of all those Pinterest-type projects that have adults transferring kids’ drawings to fabric to embroider or turn into pillows and I look at my daughter’s self-created, self-directed activity with her own drawing that she then embroidered herself, and it’s just perfection. So much better than if I had embroidered it. Her small capable hands did this.

Those wonderful hands of hers also learned how to use the knitting tower this week.

using the knitting tower at amyhoodarts.com

Blurry cell-phone picture of G using the knitting tower.

We’ve had this for years and years and neither boy was ever much interested, but, much like her mama, G likes to make things with her hands, and she took to this right away. While she was sitting there finger knitting, I was working on a knotted, beaded ankle bracelet.

knotted anklet in progress at amyhoodarts.com

Another blurry cell phone picture, of my knotted anklet in progress.

This started with making a beachy bracelet out of string while we were at the beach one day, using directions from the book Summer Crafts by Marjorie Galen (a used bookstore find several years ago, and I love it; it also inspired our hot rocks).

Beachy knotted bracelet at amyhoodarts.com

Beachy bracelet.

After making that one, I made a few more (just to keep my hands busy), and then I wondered if I could add beads. I have a necklace purchased a while ago that looks very similar to this simple knotting, but with beads. So I bought some thin hemp string and got to work. This is the finished anklet (and I’m out of body lotion for my legs, as I’m sure you can tell by this close-up photo).

knotted beaded anklet at amyhoodarts.com

I LOVE THIS ANKLET.

We’re not done yet! I also finished a baby sweater and hat this week. It’s for one of my husband’s co-workers. Gah it’s so cute!!

baby sweater + hat at amyhoodarts.com

The details are on Ravelry. I hardly knit at all these days unless I’m making something as a gift. It was nice to pick up the needles again–this little sweater worked up fast, too. I began it on the second day of the Tour de France, and they’re not done cycling yet.

Finally, yesterday I added “draw and paint sunflowers” on my to-do list. Do you do that–add on the fun things to your list, to give the same importance as the chores? I do. I cleaned the bathrooms yesterday as well, but I made sure drawing and painting was also a priority. My daughter sat next to me and we both quietly looked, drew, and painted for quite some time. Here’s my finished page.

Sunflower sketchbook page at amyhoodarts.com

As for listening, I got to hear the most amazing (and at times inane) conversations Tuesday as we sat in traffic on 95. We visited the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, and instead of 90 minutes each way it was at least two hours. That’s a lot of car time! (Thanks, Massachusetts, for the construction.) My boys finished the books they’d brought well before we got anywhere near home, so they began discussing who they’d pick for a multi-universe superhero all-star team (that’s what it sounded like, anyway–both DC and Marvel characters, who would your top 20 be and why?). After a while they exhausted that topic and moved onto discussing which body part they’d willingly give up if necessary. (My practical 12yo said appendix. Mine’s already been removed and I don’t miss it at all.) That conversation quickly veered into the surreal. Four hours of driving with three kids. The things you overhear.

Phew! I’m linking up with Jen again this week. How about you? What are you making? Overhear any good conversations lately?

Shop Update (Part 1)

Another quick announcement post to let you know I’ve completed part one of the week’s planned shop update, listing all the pockets I’ve sewn recently. So currently in stock are some sweet whimsical flowers…

(They’re also available in blues and purples.)

…chickens are back…

…and there are several nautical themed pouches, inspired by my Rhode Island summers.

I’ve also added some large pockets, and I’m well stocked on pencil pouches in time for (I can barely even type this, sorry, I know it’s July) back-to-school shopping.

Part 2 of the update will happen within a few days–I have some hand-printed cards and notebooks to add. But I promise the next post will be about what I’m making and doing, not about what I’m selling. (I’m uncomfortable with the salesperson’s hat on, can you tell??)

First Steps in Free-Motion Quilting

I decided I wanted to experiment with free-motion quilting. I want to draw with my sewing machine. This makes sense as a continuation of using embroidery as a line medium. It’s different, but related. Anyway, Sarah recommended this book.

book photo

So I borrowed it from the library. Right away I realized I didn’t have the right foot for my sewing machine, but my local quilting store had a darning foot that had been part of a trade-in, and the owner just…let me have it. It goes onto the machine completely differently from any of the other feet I’ve used, but my manual had directions. Once that was on, I followed the directions in the book for making first stitches on a practice pad.

free-motion quilting practice at amyhoodarts.com

I didn’t do too badly with the back and forth lines, but when I got to the swirls, some of those stitches were really uneven.

varying stitch lengths

Yikes–some really long ones in there! This is the point of practice, of course. Now check out the back of the practice pad.

Bobbin snot. It's a problem.

Bobbin snot. It’s a problem.

Whoa. But isn’t it interesting that it’s only in one direction? No bobbin snarls when I was pulling the fabric towards me, just when I was pushing it away. Hmm. I went to the trouble-shooting section of the book and tried the easiest-sounding solution first–I raised the feed dogs back up. And this is what happened:

better back2

 

The first lines have some loops on the back. Again, checking the book, I adjusted the needle tension and then continued on. Much better! That seemed to fix things.

I wanted to share all this because learning something new requires practice and trial and error, and I wanted to show these first wobbly steps. What I want to be able to do and what I can do at this moment are very far apart indeed, but the only way to get from one to the other is to keep practicing.

I’m linking up with Jen for Making + Listening, even though I didn’t title it that way. As for the listening part, it’s been all Phil and Paul and the Tour this week–one of my favorite times of the year.

Drawing Practice

There’s no big mystery to drawing. It’s simply looking very closely with a pen or pencil in hand. Last week, Lori of Camp Creek Blog emailed out daily drawing prompts, but I saved them until this week when I could focus a little more. Many of the prompts are for items I’ve already drawn on my own or through one class or another, but sometimes it’s easier to just go draw what you’re told instead of looking around for something on your own. So I’m trying to, this week.

Day one was hands–first through blind contour, then contour.

Blind contour drawing of my left hand.

Blind contour drawing of my left hand.

Contour drawing of my left hand.

Contour drawing of my left hand.

The second prompt was to draw something from nature. I chose some skate egg cases.

Skate egg case drawing.

Skate egg case drawing.

And day three was to draw something from the kitchen. I chose a pair of tongs. I had some trouble with the rounded, toothed scoop part, especially on the left.

Kitchen tongs.

Kitchen tongs.

That’s the angle I drew it at, so that’s the angle I photographed it at.

I like drawing, and more drawing leads to better drawing, so I plan to finish out the week’s worth of prompts this week. So far none of the kids have sat down to draw next to me (this week), but after observing me drawing the tongs, my daughter went into her room with her sketchbook and drew her Hello Kitty jewelry box. All the kids already draw, though, some more often than others, from imagination and from observation.