Winter has been typical New England-style with periods of rain, snow, ice and an occasional 70 degree day thrown in just to confuse you into thinking that spring is just around the corner (it's not). I have tried to keep art a main focus when I am not planning projects for my fourth and fifth graders. Before Christmas my art-making consisted of gift-making and messing around in my sketchbook. I was out of commission for a few weeks after a nasty slip on the ice that left me with a broken wrist- on my dominant left-hand. Now that it is January and I am (mostly) healed, I have gotten back into creating for myself, my newest piece being a Venice scene that brought me right back to those charming water-logged canals. I have also kept Italy in my thoughts by cooking some of my favorites that I tried- including Cacio De Pepe, perfect winter comfort food!
Last week Brad and I just came home from a fantastic trip to Italy-(see travels) a trip that we had been planning together since March. Upon coming home I looked around to find snippets of ideas of where to go and especially where to EAT! I was thinking about how different the two of us are when it comes to planning things. Two years ago when we were planning our wedding Brad had everything organized into a spreadsheet that he updated accordingly- no pictures, but practical information organized in a neat orderly fashion (even his notes were typed in a "notes" column in the spreadsheet). My planning consisted of vision boards with colors, pinned flowers and pages cut from bridal magazines. I had watercolor paper with color schemes and themes, and scattered notes on whatever random legal pad I could find when I had a spark of inspiration. The same went for our planning of the Italy trip- he opened up Excel and I opened up my sketchbook. Planning in this way helps me to get excited about something that is about to happen, and for him having the piece of mind of a document with all the accessible information is what makes him feel happy and in control. We make a perfect travel pair because he can deal with the nitty-gritty train schedules and I can find off-the beaten path places to eat or see! (atlasobscura.com is my go-to for the wonderfully weird)
Everyone has heard of Pinterest right? Well long before the internet became this valuable source of material, I was cutting and collecting from magazines and other paper sources. I compiled all of these snippets into something called my Dream Book. I call it my tactile Pinterest. In this book I also write down notes involving goals, self-improvement, wishes and even recipes. I have been working on this Dream Book since college and as dorky as it sounds it has really helped boost my confidence to see some of the things I have accomplished! Every few years/months or whenever I feel I need to do a self-assessment, I make a wandering mind map of my accomplishments, hobbies and goals. I like to make this book super colorful and I don't limit what I can dream up. This book is a safe space for all of my outrageous ideas. I use pictures from home and garden magazines to give myself inspiration to design rooms in my house, even if I can't afford the things I put down, the point of my Dream Book is to be a dumping ground of all the things I hope for.
Any time I have a vacation week I try to build in a day or two without any plans around all my other appointments and jam-packed visits with friends and family. For this July vacation I only had today with absolutely nothing planned. Usually I get wrapped up in the vortex of cleaning the entire house, but today was a beautiful day, so after getting my oil changed and doing the daily essentials (dishes, laundry, picking up scattered cat toys) I decided to head to downtown Wickford (the small harbor-side village in my town) and snap some pictures for painting. I also looked around the shops and got some art inspiration from the galleries and resisted buying things. When I went home I finished up the collage painting I had been working on and decided to use one of my photos from the day as inspiration for a new painting/collage piece. I love building the layers of paper to create texture on my paintings.
There's something about a newly organized, clean studio space that just makes me want to create! (and inevitably make a mess again!) I was thumbing through some old unfinished drawings and I happened upon this beautiful sketch I made, apparently in 2014, of a Masai woman with a basket on her head. For awhile I was very interested in these striking African portraits of different native groups throughout Africa. Almost on impulse, I decided to carve around the drawing with an Xacto and mount it to a canvas using scraps of 1970's-era National Geographics for the background colors. I may not know where this piece is going, but it sure is fun to mess around!
Slowly my basement is starting to lose old junky items and is actually looking like a somewhat usable space! As an artist and art teacher, hoarding for sure is in my blood and I have countless boxes and drawers of found ephemera and started projects that I know one day I will eventually get back to :/ I have gotten better about being ruthless with my disposal - recently I burned an entire dresser that had broken drawers and was a beast to move. I also had these flat file metal drawers that I know are usually stupid expensive to buy new so I held onto these old beat up ones that were donated to me by a friend. I knew they needed a lot of TLC. Fortunately my husband loves diving into a new project, so he spray-painted them, spruced them up and put them on a rolling workbench unit with a nice thick counter-top. It's coming along great, hopefully I can keep my "collecting" in check!
Last weekend was a moment of resolution for me. After many years of wanting to complete a degree and initially choosing a college that lost its accreditation part-way through my program, I finally graduated with my Masters in Art Education from Boston University. As convenient as it would have been to follow a clear-cut career path, I am so glad I pushed through and stood behind what I believe in and what I love!