"studio"

Paining Again After a Long Time Away

It's been two years, maybe even more, since I broke out my large glass palette.  I can't believe that it's been so long since I really sat down and painted.  Painted for me, painted for fun.  Not for a present, not for an order.  Just for me to have some time to myself, creatively, emotionally, spiritually.  I cracked open some seriously old oil paints (hello, I haven't been used in almost 7 years!) and gave up on the bottle of linseed oil that I just can't open for the life of me.  I had just a dribble of mineral spirits, so I settled for stinky, headache inducing Turpentine instead.  Most of my brushes were stiff and a little crusty, so I only had two decent ones to choose from, plus a knife.  My mom has my table top easel and my standing easel, so I had to make shift something to set my canvas on.  Man, looking back I feel like I should have quit while I was ahead, and gone to the store to get better supplies.

Even though the conditions weren't prime for painting, I didn't let that stop me.  I wanted to get my fingers messy, smell the oil paints, create something.  I squished out little bits of the couple colours I had, poured out some of my turpentine in a jar, and started getting some colour on the canvas.  It felt good!  I didn't have any kind of plan, I was going completely abstract, and I didn't care too much about my colours mixing.  I started with thin washed out layers of colour, and covered the whole canvas with swashes and dabs and blobs.  I started going in heavier after that, working the paint with my knife, scraping it across the canvas.  I really love the sound that a palette knife makes as it travels across the rough canvas.  It brings me back to the time I first used oils, first used a knife, first worked on stretched canvas.  I feel so blessed with the various mediums and techniques I've been able to try in my short life.

I'm not sharing bits of the piece I started working on just yet, as I'm not totally comfortable with it at the moment.  For now it's hanging on a nail on the wall of my studio, drying before I can put more layers and more colours down on the canvas.  I'm thinking about switching up my mediums a bit and going in with some vibrant fluid acrylics and lots of white.  I want to experiment with more mark making techniques than just a brush and knife.  I want to paint with my fingers, brushes, found items around the house.  I want to write messages and cover them up.  I want to share secrets in those layers, secrets only I will know are there.  I love the beauty of layering paint, the evolution of a painting, and the whole process in general.

I'm so glad that I broke out my palette again.  It had been way, way too long.


Tools of the Trade: Books I

Today I wanted to share some of my favourite books that I draw inspiration from, or use as references and guides.  I've accumulated these over the last little while, and have them up on the shelf right over my desk so that I can reach them easily.  

First up is the Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory.  It's literally a little book, full of letters from many different artists in the lettering world.  There's so many different styles that people all over the world have managed to come up with, and it's such an inspiration to see how people create their unique letters.
Up next is Calligraphy Studio: The Ultimate Introduction to the Art of Hand Lettering by Christopher Calderhead.  I'm so glad that I purchased this book.  It's taught me so much about lettering, and the formation of letters.  The first day I dug into this book, I spent the whole morning in the hammock pouring through the pages of this book.  I learned so much more than just how to do calligraphy, but I now understand the different weights of the lines of letters, the similarity between different 'families' of letters, as well as pen holding techniques and paper placement under your hand.
This is The Calligrapher's Bible: 100 Complete Alphabets and How to Draw Them by David Harris.  It's a book filled with all sorts of different styles of calligraphy alphabets.  To be honest, I haven't used this book as much as the one above, mostly because I make up my own alphabets, but I still find it very helpful to see the different shapes that letters can take.
1000 Artist Journal Pages: Personal Pages and Inspiration by Dawn DeVries Sokol is a book I picked up a couple years ago while I was in Anthopologie for the first time.  I never knew that they sold books there!  Man, I wanted to take so many of them home.  Unfortunately, I'm not made of money, so I settles on just one.  At the time, I was seriously into art journals (and still am a little bit, just not as hardcore as before), and I loved looking at the different pages that other people created.  There's lots of blogs that feature art journals online, but there's something about having a page in front of you to touch.  I wish that the pages weren't just photographs, and that I could feel all the textures.  I guess that's why I'll just have to make my own!
Water Paper Paint: Exploring Creativity with Watercolour and Mixed Media by Heather Smith Jones makes watercolour look like magic.  Not only does this book have awesome examples by different artists, but it's full of different techniques that you can do with watercolour.  I think that watercolour is often an unappreciated medium, since it's usually the first kind of painting we do as kids (remember these palettes, or these books??)  But it's technically pretty challenging.  You can't really hide your mistakes as easily, like with oil or acrylic.  Plus you don't usually paint anything white, you just leave the paper to show through.  I've been doing it for a while, and still have so much to learn.
Dreaming from the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art by Melanie Testa is another book full of different mixed media techniques to fill my journal with.  The page below shows one of my favourite things, carving your own stamps from linoleum.  I love making stamps, and using them.  We used them lots for our wedding, and I even made a little set for my niece for her birthday a couple months ago.  I remember the first time I carved linoleum.  I was in grade 5, and it was really hard lino.  We didn't use a hot plate (like I did in high school with the hard lino), and I'm surprised that none of us kids stabbed ourselves with the carving knives.  I still have mine kicking around somehwere.  Anyway, back to the book.  When I bought this, I actually thought that it was going to have something to do with dreams, but it doesn't.  I'm still happy with the book, but I was hoping that it was about re-creating dreams you've had onto the pages of my journal.  I guess I'll just make up my own rules.  That's what art really is anyway, isn't it?

Finally, it's Drawing for the Human Body: An Anatomical Guide by Ginovanni Civardi, which I bought not only to have as a reference, but also just because the drawings inside are done so beautifully.  It holds nothing to a real life model, but it helps me a little bit in understanding the body.  I really miss my life-drawing classes, and long to find one near this town.  When I use this book, or any other image as a life drawing reference, my bodies end up all wonky, but when I use a real human as a reference, I somehow manage to push out way better work.  This book is super handy though, because it covers so many different movements and positions that the body can contort into, and helps me understand the relationships between the different body parts.  Wow, my description of this book is starting to sound really sexual.  This book is not that, even if there are boobies in it.
Where do you art inspirations come from?  Do you prefer to take classes, learn from books, or watch tutorials online?  Are you a shy art learner, never showing you mistakes, only the polished final projects?  Or do you let people look at your sketchbook?  For the longest time I would always keep my sketchbook closed to other's eyes, but now I don't care.  It's all part of the art process, and rough sketches are so beautiful.

Studio Tour

This week I was fortunate enough to get a new desk and big shelving unit for my closet in the studio!  After getting everything all configured and in it's new happy home, I thought that I'd snap a few pics to share my creative space with you!  I'm so so so much happier with this new layout, and Josh is too.  You see, I'd take over the kitchen table on a regular basis.  I used to have a giant drafting table in this little corner, which was great for pencil sketching and markers, but when I started into the inks and watercolours, having a slanted table just wasn't cutting it.  Sure, I had made all these masking tape structures that would hold little cups and palettes of paint level, but it just looked ridiculous, and needless to say, wasn't the safest environment for keeping paint from spilling.  So usually I'd just set up on the kitchen table.  I think Josh hated it, even though he didn't really show it.  It was fine for the warm days where we could eat outside, but otherwise, I was a big old table hog.  So now we are a happy little family, since I've moved my workspace back into the office with a new flat desk!
Here's the whole view.  Yes, it's teeny.  But we live in a teeny house, and this is really all the space that I need!
This wall is right next to the window, and in the mornings we get wonderful light streaming through.  I tend to really enjoy labelling things, so all those cans have a purpose, and everyone knows it.  
Here's a close up of my little cork board.  It's not totally full yet, which I guess is a good thing...it leaves room for new stuff I find!  The Chi Rho patch (from the band Psalters), Jesus icon, are Facedown Records sticker, are all from the late Cornerstone Festival.  You can see the post I wrote about the fest, and it's importance in my life, here.  These are all little reminders about my favourite place, and why I am who I am.  
This is the first piece of my own work from Daughter Zion Designs that I have up in our house.  I don't know why it took me this long to hand something I made up on our walls, besides little cheeky notes, but it did.  I thought that it was important to love the work that you do enough to hang it up in your own space.  So that's what I did.  
This is another patch from the band Psalters (seriously, the most worshipful hippies I know of).  I thought that it was a great message, filled with the words of Jesus, to have hanging in front of me day in and day out.  I know that I don't belong in the world forever, and therefore I need know which kingdom I strive to be part of.  Even though my Etsy and (eventually) my blog are to help make a little money, I need to remember that money isn't everything, and that I need to know that I'm ok if I don't have it.  The rest of the verses outline the same kind of living that I strive for.  I don't need to be flashy and have fancy things.  They're all going to burn one day anyway.  I just need to know that what I do have everyday is a completely grace-filled blessing.
I moved all my inks out of the drawer unit beside the desk and onto the shelf over top of the workspace.  I like having them there so much more, because I can see all the colours, be reminded to expand into a different colour palette, and just be inspired by my supplies.  Same with the pencil holder below.  I have my favourite coloured markers, finelines, pencils, brush pens, white gel pens, nibbed pens and brushes.  Sure I have all the same things up on the wall to my left, but these are the few that get used the most.
Above my inks are some inspiration pieces that I absolutely love.  The 'I am a daughter of the King' I drew myself, copied by something I came across forever ago on Pinterest.  I loved it, but not the way it was coloured, so I decided to practice some lettering in a style I never do, and keep it just for me.  Next up are Tattooed Ariel and Ron Swanson, drawn by the talented Julia Walck.  You can find other pieces by her on  her Etsy.  I grabbed these a while ago, so I'm not sure if they're still available.  Try sending her a convo if you're really interested, because it doesn't hurt to ask!  Finally is Horizon by Charmaine Olivia.  I also have her Kudra sitting on my desk (you can see it hiding by my computer in the first pic).  I love her style, colour use, and Charmaine's mermaid hair.  If you don't know of her, I really suggest you check her out.
The metal R I got for Christmas one year from my mom.  It's from Urban Outfitters.  The Wolf Am I print is by an old school mate, Jennifer Moffatt, who is a tattoo artist in Toronto at New Tribe.  I remember Jen and her sister, Sara, being so talented all through school, and always looked forward to seeing the work they would produce as they got older and more practiced.  Jen's skills did not disappoint.  It was a chore to score this print (and a couple others) from her, but I'm so glad that I did.  Not only does 'Wolf Am I' hold other meanings from me, especially through the mewithoutYou song, but I just swoon over the way she makes her black ink fade so smoothly to the white paper.
 I was so excited to set this up in the closet that's right next to my desk.  It means that I finally have a set space where I can store all my shipping supplies, as well as extra papers and office-y things.  I was squealing at Ikea when I found those grey boxes that A) fit two side by side in the shelf, and B) would hold my 5x7 cards perfectly!

I hope that you liked this little glimpse into my work space.  If you ever need me, you will definitely be able to find me here, because I love it so much, I just never want to leave!

Bonus:  Even though I barely ever drink, the boys brought some of these over last weekend, and I thought that the can was just so lovely!  The taste was also just as lovely, as I stole a little sip from Josh's can.  They boys decided that it was too sweet and girly for them, and went back to their 'man' drinks (whatever that means), but I thought it was delicious.
 And below, I grabbed a quick snapshot of the dragon we have in our front window playing in the sunshine behind the curtains this week.  Josh's sister picked this guy up for him while she was in China a couple years ago, and I love it.