Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Colorful Catch-Up

Since my last blog post, I went to Las Vegas for work:

Helped set up the Soul Flower booth there at the POOL tradeshow:


Watched the entire Breaking Bad series:

Saw a couple of really gorgeous sunsets in DC:

Ate at least a half dozen ZPizza Berkeley Vegan pizzas (our new favorite restaurant in DC):

Went to DC VegFest to support some vegan food trucks:

Visited the mysterious colorful repurposed church art gallery, Blind Whino, here in DC for a Creative Mornings talk:

Discovered my new favorite kind of flower, Lantana (I LOVE the colors!):

Visited a full DC row house for the first time in my life (I had only ever seen a basement). We dropped in on a random open house, where the rowhouse was on the market for $865,000. It looked similar to this:

Created a logo for the fictitious clothing line Dumbure Couture (see the videos here):

And that was my August/September/half of October!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Sketchbook-a-Week Update: Book 1 Finished!

It's hard for me to believe, but I actually filled my entire first sketchbook - all in the past 7 days!


Today I'm starting Book #2, which is a much larger notebook (about twice as big), and it has grid lines on the pages.


This doodle sums up the week:


I fell behind on the weekend, and didn't really catch up again until Wednesday night. But I managed to fill my sketchbook with all sorts of random stuff. Here's an assortment!


Lunch (I watched a part of a Project Runway episode during lunch, which explains the quote):

List of nutrient dense foods while watching this video of Dr. Joel Fuhrman:

A reminder from Dr. Fuhrman that salad is the main dish! GOMBS is his acronym for good foods to make your meals out of:

I used a lot of Crayola colored pencils in this sketchbook. One day I picked up a blue pencil, looked at the name, and it was cerulean. It reminded me of this scene from the movie Devil Wears Prada. So I put the movie on --of course I own it :) and watched that scene again, pausing at two different moments to capture Andy and Miranda.

A crazy sketch of Tim Gunn while watching Project Runway:

I did a couple of these 21 Day Drawing Challenges that are being posted daily right now. Day 1 was Draw a Cat. We were instructed to draw a couple of studies first before doing the final drawing. All of these cats are from Pinterest.

In the end, I did two cat drawings: one close up so I could draw those cute tiny kitty teeth(!) and another kawaii-inspired cat:

I wrote a lot in this sketchbook. There are pages and pages of journaling and random thoughts, none of which I'm sharing here. But here's an illustrated journal entry:

I filled a bunch of pages with collages. I'm kind of obsessed. Collage is one of my long-time loves that I just can't get away from. Over and over again, I gravitate toward collage, and end up decoupaging all my stuff.

Themes above: Princess, Sparkly, Blue Techno, Colorful, Desert Natural Earthy, Moonlight Sonata.
Themes below: Français, Gold, Pink Colorful, Autumn, Witchy Woman, Rocker Chic.


I only did 3 OotD (outfit of the day) drawings, but they're cute:

Last night, I had over a dozen pages to fill in order to finish the sketchbook. Time was running out. I felt SO close, I knew I had to just do whatever to finish. So I just doodled some shapes, patterns, and lines. This is my definition of "doodling":

And that's it!

On to week 2...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

50 Sketchbook Prompts for Inspiration

Sketchbooking, journaling, writing, drawing, doodling, listing... My Sketchbook-a-Week Challenge starts tomorrow (August 1st) and I'm surprisingly really excited to do all those creative activities. It feels like a good thing to actually be looking forward to starting this thing.

Yesterday I cleared out the clutter and filled my left-side desk drawer with a bunch of art supplies that I have on hand. I think it'll help to have all of this stuff within arm's reach.

my desk drawer full of art supplies

Before the challenge begins, I wanted to make a list for myself of some prompts and inspiration that I can revisit if I feel the need.

Sketchbook inspiration:

  1. outfit of the day sketches, like these from Skulleigh
  2. make a moodboard for a fashion line with cutouts from magazines
  3. hand letter a quote
  4. draw what you eat
  5. write 3 stream-of-consciousness pages of Morning Pages first thing in the morning
  6. find inspiration from Creative Rehab's 30 Days of Writing Challenge (also starting Friday!)
  7. draw something from this Draw Me board
  8. draw a portrait of yourself in a mirror making the ugliest face possible
  9. draw some made-up ugly faces
  10. blueprint the plans for an altar sculpture of some sort
  11. draw fairies
  12. learn how to draw chibis
  13. write/draw some content for a zine
  14. fill a page full of faces
  15. go a little Wreck This Journal on your sketchbook and start messing it up
  16. copy something cute/kawaii
  17. sketch portraits of girl characters i like: Matilda, Wednesday, Belle, Alice, Dorothy, Amélie, Daria, Hermione...
  18. color a page as full of color as possible
  19. pick an object that reminds you of childhood, draw it and write your memories of it
  20. share your story behind an old photo
  21. pick a common first name and list all the people you can think of with that name
  22. see: everyday life journaling prompts
  23. draw a map of your hometown from memory (street names, landmarks, your schools, friends' houses, etc)
  24. draw everything in your purse/bag
  25. create a page of rich texture
  26. for calm & clarity, just make dots... or lines
  27. draw girls in outfits & decorate the heck out of their clothes
  28. make a list of all the people who have step foot in your home - how many can you remember?
  29. outline your hand, then doodle in it
  30. illustrate a recipe
  31. make a grid, then fill the boxes with drawings of things in your space
  32. cut out a photo from a magazine & doodle on top of it - aka "doodle bomb"
  33. Rorschach with watercolor and draw what you see
  34. learn about something new and take notes on what you learn
  35. two words: visual note-taking
  36. list all the places you've fallen asleep besides your own home
  37. draw your own mandala and color it in
  38. keep a tea journal
  39. make a color swatch collage
  40. watch a movie. pause it randomly. quickly sketch the scene.
  41. make a list of things you're good at
  42. 50 things to be happy about
  43. gratitude journal
  44. go someplace and draw your surroundings
  45. make a pseudo pinboard in your sketchbook with pictures from magazines
  46. make lists based on past 30 Days of Lists prompts
  47. more: themes from Sketchbook Challenge
  48. more: topics from Illustration Friday
  49. more: 40 journaling prompts
  50. jumping off point: random sentence
some of my favorite drawing & writing tools

Alrighty then, I think 50 is enough for now. Happy creating to everyone doing challenges in August!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sketchbook-a-Week Challenge in August

Honestly, I'm a bit reluctant about this challenge. It's super ambitious. (But also kind of exciting!) I picked up a book from my library called The Sketchbook Challenge, which offers prompts and technique ideas to help spark your creativity. Even before reading more than 5 pages of the intro, an idea hatched in my brain: fill 1 sketchbook a week, for 4 weeks in a row.


My idea is to completely immerse myself in drawing/writing/doodling/listing/collaging in my sketchbooks to the point of delirium. Then, after the challenge is over, my hands will automatically grab a pen and flip to a new page in my sketchbook to start thinking through drawing. I'll have done it SO much, that I just can't help myself. The habit is stuck. Right?

That's the idea, anyway.

It could also go the opposite way in that I completely hate doing the pages. I struggle daily, angrily scribbling something meaningless page after page, just to fill my quota for the day. But could I hate it, day after day? Rarely am I mad at something for more than a couple of days. Usually (sometimes slowly), I get over my stuckness, and release whatever is dragging me down. Wouldn't I also do that throughout the weeks of this challenge? Isn't that the point?

My relationship with sketchbooking is rocky. I've almost always kept written journals, and even when I take a long break from writing I still return to it pretty regularly. Sketching is love-hate. It's always been an assignment in art classes. It's advice I hear again and again from artists and other creative people: "always keep a sketchbook!" "I can't live without my sketchbook!"



I love sketchbooks. And I love all my old sketchbooks. But there's a persistent block I have when it comes to actually making marks on paper. The pages are too clean, the book is too precious, my ideas are too unimportant, my dreams too crippled to be recorded, my hands and mind too distracted... But I see their potential, and I believe in their power. It's like knowing that eating vegetables is good for your health and body, but instead passing on the veggies in exchange for junky potato chips. You know better, but that doesn't mean it's easy to do better.

Lately, I've started watching all the old episodes of Project Runway from the beginning of the show. They push those designers, over and over again. It's a fashion designing marathon for the duration of the show. Yeah, they struggle with every challenge. They come close to having breakdowns, they second-guess their vision, they tear the garment apart and start over again, and run into creative problems at every turn. Yet, the designers who push through and are persistent and work hard to listen to their gut and deliver again and again, are the ones who win.

I guess this is my Project Runway of sketchbooking. In the end, there can only be one winner and it can only be me. But I'm not guaranteed a win unless I keep up on completing my pages each week. My plan is this:

Fill one sketchbook per week. In order to fill the book by the end of the week, I divided up a rough page count per day that I should aim for. It's about 20 pages per day. Um, yeah. This is why I'm reluctant about this challenge.

I have 4 sketchbooks. One is brand new (minus a few pages in the front), and the other 3 are old and have been sitting in storage for years. YEARS. I figured this is a good time to try to fill them up. And if I completely tank and spew a bunch of pointless crap on the pages, well, at least they got used instead of staying blank forever. Even drivel is more interesting than nothing.


For experimentation and variety, the books' dimensions vary. And their page types are different: 2 are lined, 1 is gridded, and 1 is bare. I prefer bare, but we'll see what happens with the lines. In a way, having it be lined helps me overcome that "block" a little bit (instead of seeing pristine pages). It feels less like an expensive, fancy artist's sketchbook and more like a kid's crappy, boogery school notebook.

"Creativity is not a talent. It is a way operating."
~John Cleese


This quote sums up what this challenge is all about. How can I expect myself to be creative, day after day, if I'm not in the habit of one of the most basic of creative activities? It's not about being perfect or producing amazing pages; it's about showing up. Keeping a sketchbook and downloading my thoughts and ideas into it daily is a tool I'm confident I can wield successfully and that will only help to enrich my creative life and work.

I start Friday.
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