Friday, August 27, 2010


I have been freaking out thinking about my Sketchbook Project sketchbook a lot the last few days. What to do? Where to go with it?

When in doubt, make a list. Or that is my motto at the very least. The sketchbook arrived and it was a great size, but the paper was like negative weight. I found this blog which actually tested different medium on the paper and photographed the back of the paper. It isn't pretty. (Maken Art: Sketchbook Project 2010.)I am so grateful to the blog author for testing this all out for us coming in late in the game.

So the paper is a problem, especially for someone like me who is a watercolor illustrator. can't watercolor on it. Shit. I also had the idea that some pages would be mixed media, some illustrations, others funkier. I just don't want to be limited to a medium by the paper. I began by doubling sheets and gluing them together. They bubbled and were not really attractive or usable. Double shit.

I read on Curls o Fred that Rachel rebound hers. She said she had experience doing this, but it really seemed like the only option save pasting 140lb watercolor paper to each page, which I imagine would have looked totally ghetto at the end of the day. Not that I'm not into the Ghet-to, but I just wanted the viewer to focus on my work, rather than the craptastic suck that is my journal. I emailed Rachel and found some stuff on line. In the end, I had to head into the city and check out Utrecht on my own. And what a sacrifice! To go to an incredible art store to shop for something.

I am being sarcastic. Of course. My husband had the day off yesterday, so he took the kids for a long hike/playground/running thing, and I headed off. I brought my current Sketchbook pieces. The sketchbook. The paper I have pre-folded for the inside (to check fatness). My poem and thumbnails to guesstimate the page count.

I got there at an ungodly hour for the art school art store (9a), which was great, because one of the girls asked if I needed help and she guided me on the process. She really really was trying her damnedest to talk me out of rebinding, one thing she said was, "Oh, oh, why not glue all the pages together and make on page that pops up?" Ever have your consciousness expanded suddenly? Yeah. I could suddenly imagine my book three-dimensionally.

I bought all the binding stuff anyway, and some YUPO paper. Anyone ever work with this paper? It is 74 lb. shiny watercolor paper. I thought I would try an illustration on it, and maybe bind my book with it, since it is much thinner than traditional watercolor paper. It is really cool paper. I have to play with it more, because the marketing campaign seems to be how YUPO paper creates effects unattainable in other watercolor paper and never ever warps, which seems to be true. I just made a typical Angie sketch of a jizo. The colors were much more muted than I was used to and keeping a color was difficult. I usually lay down a base wash on my paintings, then come in with other colors for the background. That was like trying to herd kittens, the colors I was so used to achieving drifted away and lay atop the paper. This morning though, the painting is a really cool consistency. I also think you can erase? this painting. I have to do more research and the sketchbook project is not the place to conduct it.

As originally intended, I decided just to bind it with the 140 lb. cold-pressed Arches paper I had sitting around. I have a few pads of 9" x12" paper from when the local art nook had a sale, so I used to the ones I pre-folded to check thickness. I unbound the old one, then laid everything out. I first glued some watercolor paper to the inside cover to reinforce it, and give me an extra spread. I then punched holes in the crease with an awl. I used the same holes that already existed in my cover. And I guess I didn't secure the paper well enough, because the line was off kilter with the crease I had created. *sigh* So, I pre-cut, but didn't pre-fold, new paper. I guess those 9"x 12" pages with holes in it will be cut down for 4" x 6" postcard sized paper. Though last night in bed, I thought maybe I should make a little thumbnail book of my sketchbook project for myself first, play with images and paintings then recreate it in the bigger Sketchbook piece. I guess I liked making the book, because right after finishing it, I was thinking of doing another one. Good sign.

Interestingly, I could not find a description of the stitch one used for binding with only one signature, so I just used a backstitch, but later remembered I should have used a blanket stitch. Whatever. It looks strong. And then I folded it and eh, voila!

It was both much easier and more of a pain in the ass than I imagined. I hope it stays.

Here is the completed book, complete with all the supplies and scraps and the bourbon on the rocks that it took to finish it.

And here are some of my thumbnails from my poem. Still contemplating whether or not the poem is what I want to use. I keep rewriting it. My theme is "I'm sorry I forgot you."

Last night in bed, I kept thinking of this line that I thought I wanted to incorporate into my sketchbook with the theme, "I'm sorry I lost you."

When she said 'I am sorry you lost your baby', it gave me hope that one afternoon I would lift the cushion and find you smiling and giggling. "Oh, there you are, you silly baby." And later, when I would be putting you to sleep in my arms, I would whisper, "I am sorry I lost you, my darling. How could I be so bloody foolish?"

Monday, August 23, 2010


Beezus and Thor.
2.5" x 3.5"

Beezus and Thor.
2.5" x 3.5"

I love painting my children, and I love painting ATC, so this is a natural pairing. I actually have been thinking about painting Thor so much lately because his default facial expression right now is so much like a cartoon (see right), I am always thinking about painting it. I have about fifty pictures of him in this exact facial expression. So, this weekend I gave it a shot. The top one is the first one I did, and I was not happy with it. I stopped using ink to outline my ATC illustrations. I don't know. I just like the look of all watercolor and realized it was more a function of my crappy brushes than my abilities, so I bought a good brush for outlining my figures. Anyway, the mouth of this one ran a bit and I "fixed it", if you can call it fixing it when it still looks wonky. Beezus also claims that she has too much hair and it is not yellow enough. (Critics come in small packages.) So, I painted another one between bathtime and bedtime, so it is a quicky. 

I also did a few needle felted projects this weekend, which I am thinking of listing on my Etsy site as pins, or magnets. I haven't decided.

Bacon and eggs.
3.5" x 2.5"

2.5"x 2"

Maguro Nigiri Sushi.
2" x 1"

And to wrap up, I would give a (small) finger for some sushi right now. So, after posting this, I am starving--Maguro Nigiri. Get in my Belly.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I have been painting and working on some very personal pieces that I don't want to share here just yet. Maybe never? I don't know. Sometimes paintings for those grieving feel so personal, and I feel protective of the subjects and the people receiving them. But I have been painting. Everyday. I feel much more confident in my stroke. I love the feeling of confidence in myself. It is such a fleeting feeling some weeks, but this week is here.

For some reason, today, I kind of want to share some of my inspiration here. This picture is of the wall behind my drawing table. For some reason, when I look at any one of these pieces, it makes me feel something, which is why it ended up on my wall.

 I will start at the top left corner, which is a photograph called The Mummer by Thomas Dodd. He is an amazing photographer. I live outside of Philadelphia, and we have a Mummer's parade every New Year's Day and for some reason, I was drawn to the creepy ethereal quality of this piece. Is this a child? A woman? A man? An adult? I don't know. Magic. The next piece going clockwise is a picture my daughter drew. Beatrice is three years old. 3.4 as I like to say.  Three years and four months, and for the last few months, her painting and drawing abilities have really exploded. I have been hanging her work on the wall behind my drawing table. She explained this piece like this, "This is a chef. A mean chef. No one will come to his restaurant. That is why he is so grumpy." The next piece is hers too. It is explained this way, "This is a picture of the rain and a picture of me grumpy because I don't like the rain. And I am in my house and there is the rain spout outside our window." The next piece was a poster I ordered off of Etsy by Please Be Still Jen. I actually exchanged some emails with her when I ordered it because I blogged about it. I had just found out I was pregnant after my second daughter's death and was so friggin' anxious, and I ordered it and move it around my house to the room I use most. I also took some photographs of myself with this poster. I put it below. Alright going around in a circle. My daughter's painting of a pink alien, which is about the cutest alien ever. The next piece she did too. She traced her hand, then drew a picture of her face smiling and saying Hi. I love that she came up with the idea to do this all by herself. I thought it was quite clever. The next piece came in Please Be Still Jen's package with the poster and it is a postcard that simply says, "You are Lovely." To which I reply every morning when I sit down, "Why, thank you." And about that is a beautiful postcard that Rachel made for me of my daughter's Lucia's name. It just brings her into this space and Rachel made this out of the blue for me, which touched me beyond words. And the last piece I ordered off of Red Bubble from Mother Henna's site. It is just so beautiful and I love her. Kara is an inspiration and so is her little geisha.

So, what are your inspirations? I would love to see your inspirational pieces in your art creation spaces. Link below.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Mizuko jizo with Bodhi and Noah. 22"x 30". Watercolor.

Here are some of the closeups of the piece:

Jizo with the twin boys, and their names hidden in the lotus leaves. I love their sweet faces.

I have been working on Bodhi and Noah's pieces for a while. I felt honored and peaceful to be painting for their mama. Beautiful boys will very much be missed.

Remembering Bodhi and Noah.
July 7, 2010.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Remember a few days ago when I showed that huge painting in the dining room? Well, today was family day. No computers. No blackberries. No phone calls. Just unadulterated family time. It is an experiment. We went for a hike. Collected things for our family altar. Read books. Played games. Which to be honest, we found it slightly challenging at times. What to do? We usually have activities, then spend some alone time, or individual times with the kids, then family time again. it is bloody hot here, so outside activities were slightly limited. After our hike, we realized that the mosquitos were awful on top of the God-awful humidity. So we wanted inside projects. I suggested we do a family painting and we just paint over the whole painting and create something together, but Sam loved the colors of the original and the "You are my Sunshine." Sam was so timid when we started. He didn't want to do anything, so he took red and began painting on top of the red. First he started with a circle, then some designs in it. I kept yelling at them, "YOu can't mess this up. Just go for it. It is a family project. Paint, splash. Do anything. Cut out pictures and paste them to the canvas." I finally got them to really play with the paint. Sam made this cool design that looks Native American, he used some black, which he hated, so I gave him a brayer and told him to roll the design, and it came out looking like spray paint. I pasted small prayer flags to the piece, to show that I wanted our family to have wishes whispered on the wind, and I used an old linoleum block design of the Buddha and stamped Gold Buddhas all over it them rolled them out. Beatrice used white and red and yellow and just painted on top of everything. You can see her pinkish contribution on the top middle of the canvas. Sam also painted little stick figures of our family in the corner, with Lucy by his leg, which broke my heart a little. All in all, it was a great day.  

I have been really re-inspired with my jizos from Janis' gift this past week. The top jizo is a commission. The canvas didn't work for the mama either (The one from last week), so I thought I would go a different route. It still needs the beautiful poem she wants written on it. I am slightly nervous about the writing, which can always make or break these jizo paintings. I also somehow managed to squeeze two more watercolor jizos into my afternoon while no one was looking.

Mizuko jizo and twins. 22" x30" Watercolor.

Close up of jizo. Watercolor.

Jizo with lotus. 7"x10". Watercolor

Meditating jizo. 4"x6". Watercolor.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


There is little that I like more than inspiration with my morning coffee. I will just preface this by saying I had to leave my house at 9am and still, the watercolors beckoned me with their hypnotic siren song. I blame my friend Janis. My beautiful, wise, amazing friend Janis who sent this incredible book to me. Here is the story behind it, which is charming in and of itself:

As you may know, I am de-cluttering. I found a catalog I bought when I was in Japan, I visited an exhibition at a temple and liked what I saw from the artist (also a monk) and bought it. I thought you may enjoy it. I've translated the titles (on post-it's) as much of what I can- Japanese having borrowed some characters from the Chinese. That was my first trip to Japan and it had a special place in my heart. I went because I was broken hearted, and did not want to have to say goodbye to a boy I really liked, but was not ready for a relationship then, even though he very much liked me too.  I found great solace in Japan, esp in the bamboo groves and the temple. Still, I cannot hold on to everything, and when I looked over the catalog it made me think of you, and decided to send it to you.
I received it yesterday, and it is enchanting. I know nothing of kanji, but I love calligraphy, and mostly it is calligraphy scrolls. I instantly thought of ten things to do with these pieces, and then ten more when I put it down.

Of course, this morning when I was drinking my coffee and trying to get out of the house by 9am, I somehow thought that it might be a good time to paint a card or two based on this little page I found in the monk catalogue.

Yep. those are two jizos flanking a Guan Yin. As most of you know, mizuko jizo has become very important to me in my grief, and painting them are like little meditations. So, I used this inspiration for some gesture watercolors, and well, they took over my desk.

Each has a different gesture or expression. I am in love.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

08.04.10 Talking about ATCs.

I have been wanting to do this for a while, but today, I received an email from Ines with so much excitement for Artist Trading Cards (ATCs). I love them too. I wish I had more time to create more of them, and explore more detailed smaller works. We did an ATC trade a few months ago, which was really awesome. I love exchanging work. Anyway, I just had been leaning my ATCs against various things on my desk, or hanging them with a magnet on my metal filing cabinets. I wanted to show y'all what I am doing with my beautiful ATCs, received and made.

First off, I found ATC size matted frames at Michael's for some ridiculously small amount of money, like less than four bucks. I have this very strange space between two windows and had intended on hanging some ATCs there, but haven't quite gotten around to it. So, for now they are on my sideboard.

For the rest of them, I found this incredible ATC journal on Etsy. It was very reasonably priced. So, I bought it. And here is what I got so far from trades, the ripple project and my own creations. You may recognize some of these from posting on here or my blog.

I taped a small envelope on the inside of the front cover to house the ATCs I meant to trade, am still working on, or in this case, the ones I donated on ripple, but no one bid on them. So sad. (Not the least bit surprised, but still sad.)

I also tape them on top, so that I can lift them and see the information of who it is made.  And in my ATC searches, I found a very cool ATC information stamp, which I am now using for the back of the cards.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Purple Heart. 8"x8". Watercolor.

Finally got the correct dimensions and kept it simple this time. It is just the purple heart with her name in the background and some of the same words as the last piece. I am happy with the way it turned out. I had grand ideas of using a linoleum cut block to press a buddha image over this, and layer some colors, but in the end, I just kept it simple. I also was a dumb ass yesterday and published my everyday post at 365. Ugh. I hate when I do that. If all my blogs didn't have the same name, that might help. Maybe they should be still life. stiller life, and stillest life.

I hear my husband blaring Sweet Home Alabama in his workshop, so I suppose that means he is no longer watching the children. Lynyrd Skynyrd is sign that Mama's work is never done. I feel creative today, so this might not be the last you hear from me.


Little Bea. 2.5"x3.5". Watercolor.

A wee artist trading card for my beekeeping friend who I love. Just wanted her to have a little something in the middle of the summer.

Meditating Banshee. 9"x12". Watercolor and ink.

I began this piece as a traveling journal sketch, playing with perspective and flow. I didn't like the movement of the figure eight, but I love the prayers and poem flowing around her. And the names of all my children which comes from her. One of the poems reads, "I prayed for each of you like whispers on the wind."

Travel Journal II. 8"x 9.5". Mixed Media.

I actually began this piece thinking it would not be mixed media at all, but as I began layering colors. i thought to layer images that were important in my grief journey--calaveras, myself painted as a calavera, jizos, ladybugs, moons and solstice images, mexican lottery cards, then bits of paper, silver paint. I also didn't intend for the flowing of energy from the arms to be an upside down heart, but when it began revealing its shape, I went with it. The writing around the edge reads, "This may not always look like love from the outside, but turn my days upside down and it is always a heart with all of you right in the center. Even when I have no intention of talking about you, my words tied together, turn upside down and become a huge love knot to you and your sister and brother. always there is love."
Of course, I drew the page limits for the travel journal, and began painting, and it is too big, so I have to do another paintings for the journal. Phooey.

Travel Journal Sketch. 8.5"x 11". Ink.

This was the original sketch.

You are my Sunshine. 24"x48". Acrylic and Mixed Media.

I bought this two foot by four foot canvas at the craft store for my huge dining room wall. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I wanted it to be bright and bold and not much else. I was going to work on something with Beezus, but ended up just taking the brush and rollers and some gold paint and going to town. The top right corner says, "You are my sunshine." It is a song we sing to each other often in our house. Here is the painting in context of our larger kitchen/dining room experience. We knocked down the wall and redid our entire kitchen a few years ago. Actually, we started the renovation the weekend after I found out I was pregnant with Lucia. I remember being afraid of the dust. We just wanted it done for her. That was 2008, I suppose. I am not sure why I am telling that story just that the art was the last thing we thought about and now it is hung.