Tuesday, May 29, 2018

WINNER of the Travel Sketch Kit Giveaway

You're the winner of the
tavel sketching watercolor kit

Please contact me to claim your prize and tell me what rainbow of colors you'd like in your new travel palette.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

GIVEAWAY! Travel Sketching Watercolor Kit

Summer's almost here and I've got travel sketching on my mind, so I thought this might be the perfect time to do a sketch kit GIVEAWAY for you, my loyal Everyday Artist followers.

I picked up some goodies when I was at Cheap Joe's a couple of weeks ago, and they could be yours just for leaving a comment on this post.

Here's what's included in this travel sketching watercolor kit:

To enter the drawing for the watercolor kit, 
please leave a comment. 
I'd love to hear about where you'll be 
traveling this summer.

(Winner will be selected May 29, 2018)

I'll be taking my art supplies on lots of fun trips this summer and fall. First off is Maine, where I'll be teaching two back-to-back painting workshops.

Sketch from a 2016 trip to Maine (10" x 7", ink & watercolor in a Stillman & Birn Alpha series sketchbook)

Then there's a family beach vacation in July (not much time for painting when there are four young children clamoring for attention, but I hope to squeeze in a sketch or two).

Sketch from last year's beach trip (9" x 12", ink & watercolor in an Aquabee Super Deluxe sketchbook)

August will find me back in Boone, NC, for a "Step-by-Step Watercolor" workshop. (This class is full, but if you put your name on the waiting list, you just might get in!)

May 2018 class at Cheap Joe's

Then I'll be gearing up for a fantastic trip to Italy where I'll be teaching two workshops. The first is on the beautiful island of Sicily where we'll be sketching soaring mountains, windmills, ancient Greek ruins, and picturesque seaside villages.

There are a few spots left on this workshop tour. Read all about it here.  Dates are September 15-22, 2018.

Then I'm off to Northern Italy for a workshop with The Blue Walk. During this weeklong tour, we'll visit Milan, Rapallo, Cinque Terre, and Lake Como, enjoying the unique character of each of these places. Sketching, touring, eating, shopping, relaxing - we'll do it all! Why not join us? It's going to be a feast for the senses.

If a week just isn't enough for you, join me for the optional three-day extension of the Northern Italy tour which will take us to Padua, Verona, and Venice.

Interested? Find out more here. Dates are September 22-October 2, 2018.

My last workshop of 2018 will be in San Clemente, CA, where I'll debut my newest class,  "Sketchbook Journaling Explorations", at San Clemente Art Supply. This class should be a lot of fun. We'll be playing around with new tools and techniques to mix things up a bit in our sketchbook journals. Visit the US Workshops page for a full class description.

Happy summer sketching! Remember to enter the sketch kit giveaway by leaving a comment. 

Good luck!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Notes from Boone

Last week was a whirlwind of travel and teaching, but I'm back home now and ready to share with you some of the fun that I had teaching a five-day "Sketchbook Journaling Comes to Life" workshop at Cheap Joe's Art Stuff in Boone, North Carolina.

Spring was in full swing as we traveled from western Pennsylvania through West Virginia and into the mountains of Virginia...

past barns and cows...

and fields of wildflowers...

to the cute little town of Boone, North Carolina, nestled in among the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We arrived Sunday evening and checked into our hotel. My mom came along on this trip - she's my favorite traveling companion. My students always love her, too.

During the next few hours I ran into several of my students in the hotel lobby, on the elevator, and at the grocery store down the road. They all recognized me from online photos. (I felt like a movie star with paparazzi!) Everyone was so excited about the class - some had been waiting over a year for it. Oh, the anticipation!

I arrived at Cheap Joe's early Monday morning, so I could set up before the students arrived...

I still get such a kick out of this!

Before long the tables were filled with happy sketchers from all over the country...

I knew they were excited about everything they were going to learn during the week, but I think part of the draw for any Cheap Joe's class is this....

the outlet store that's right next door to the classroom. There was a whole lotta shoppin' goin' on throughout the week (but I refuse to divulge any names or dollar amounts!)

Class ran from 9 to 4 every day, and I packed those hours with so much information that everyone's heads were swimming, but luckily I gave them each a 50-page handbook containing all the information I was sharing, so they could relax, look, and listen without furiously scribbling notes.

This was a hard-working group, and their sketches were proof of that. I was impressed with the way they took what they were learning and put it into practice, creating colorful, personal, beautifully designed sketchbook pages.

Click here to open an album of student sketches. 

I guarantee you'll be inspired!

My friend Wendy came to visit while I was in Boone, and we stayed up way too late talking the two nights she was there. It added something special to my week, having a chance to catch up with her.

My mother Saundra, me, and Wendy

The lunches were catered for us each day right in the classroom, giving us more time to paint, rather than having to run out for food. The meals were delicious - my favorite was the southern barbecue!

The best part of every day was show-and-tell time. I love seeing how each person interprets an assignment, putting a personal spin on it that is uniquely their own. (See their work here.)

They inspire each other (and me!) and their sketches add a richness to the class that would be missing if I were the only person sharing my work.

Thursday after lunch we had a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cheap Joe's art gallery, offices, and distribution center.

Ann and Sue look longingly at shelves and shelves of art supplies

It's a catalogue come to life!

Paints, anyone?

This is where orders are packed and shipped...

Did you know that Cheap Joe's makes their own Kilimanjaro and American Journey watercolor sketchbooks and blocks right there in Boone? The beautiful European-made paper is cut to size on this machine...

then the sheets of paper and cardboard are stacked and compressed before glue is brushed on the sides. After the glue dries, they are cut apart and the covers are applied. It's all done by one woman in Boone.

Before I took the warehouse tour I had assumed that the sketchbooks and watercolor blocks were made in a factory overseas, but Joe likes to keep fabrication in-house when he can. And I like knowing that the Kilimanjaro watercolor sketchbook I'm using was made by a lady in the hills of North Carolina.

The art gallery in the office area at Cheap Joe's is filled with wonderful paintings from many of the instructors who teach there - it's a treat to see the work of these world-famous artists up close.

And I got a kick out of this framed letter from President George W. Bush to Joe Miller.

We all had a fantastic week in Boone. I made plenty of new friends, and I think many of them will continue sketching long after the afterglow from the class wears off. They're hooked!

This sketch of Terry's was one of my favorites - isn't it awesome?

A workshop at Cheap Joe's is an experience you won't forget. The facilities are the best I've found and the staff aims to make each person comfortable and happy while they're there. They even gave us free gifts each day during the week! If you haven't taken a workshop at Cheap Joe's yet, I encourage you to check out their catalogue of 2018 & 2019 classes here.

I'll be returning to Boone to teach a watercolor class in August, but it's already full with a waiting list. In 2020 I'll be repeating both of my 2018 workshops at Cheap Joe's. Registration for them will open the first week of January 2019. Here are the dates:

May 11-15, 2020
Sketchbook Journaling Comes to Life

May 18-22, 2020
Step-by-Step Watercolor

So put them on your calendar and be sure to sign up early, because they fill fast.

Meanwhile, there are still a few spots open on my Italy trips this September. Click on the European Workshops tab for all the details. And I have lots of other workshops scheduled for 2018 and 2019. Read about them the US Workshops page. I hope to see you at one of them!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

April Calendar Sketch

I had so much fun last month keeping a daily sketched calendar that I decided to continue with the month of April. (Read about my March 2018 calendar here.)

Click to enlarge

Never one to get stuck in a rut, I changed my layout to reflect the essence of April. It's a month of high hopes and deep disappointments, of fickle weather and happy surprises. It's a month of ups and downs - daffodils nodding their heads in a soft spring breeze in the morning, and, that evening, winds so strong that they shake the house.

But I survived those thirty capricious days, sketching a little something every day to remember them.

I began this calendar page by trying out a new art material, Con-Tact paper! I first drew some guidelines on my page, so I could line up the tilted squares. I used the layout detailed in this blog post. I cut thirty 1-1/4" squares (with an Xacto knife and cutting mat), peeled off the paper backing and, eyeballing the angles, I stuck them down on the page, rubbing each one firmly in place and offsetting the Con-Tact paper squares from the penciled-in squares I had drawn.

This is a 12" x 9" American Journey Journaling Sketchbook from Cheap Joe's. It has twenty pages of 140 lb. hot-pressed Saunders Waterford watercolor paper. The paper has some tooth to it, rather than being smooth like most hot-pressed watercolor papers.

The next step was to mix up some watercolor paint in a fine mist spray bottle. I first spritzed on yellow paint, to give the page a nice warm glow. After it was dry, I sprayed on sap green.

When the paint was completely dry, I peeled away the Con-Tact paper to reveal thirty little calendar squares, waiting to be filled.

It was exciting for me to see all those empty spaces, not knowing what would happen during that month and what I would choose to paint. Oh, the possibilities!

April 1st was Easter, and we had the whole family over for an Easter egg hunt and a big ham dinner. I have four grandchildren, ages 2-11, so it was a fun day and the perfect choice for day 1 on my calendar.

Easter may have been sunny and pleasant, but the next day we awoke to a winter wonderland, with several inches of snow covering every branch and twig. It was beautiful!

The next day the snow melted, and we were treated to a hodge-podge of thunder, rain, and hail!

On the 4th of April, I had no choice but to try to depict the wind in my sketch-of-the-day. Our house sits on a hill, and the wind blew so hard that day that the windows were rattling and the walls were shaking. It was a memorable wind!

Chickadees entertain us all winter long at the bird feeders outside our kitchen window, so I included one in my sketch for day 5. Throughout the month I tried to come up with unique ways to include the date in my calendar squares, and this in one of my favorites.

This next sketch may look like a root beer float, but it's really a cappuccino freddo, my daily morning wake-up coffee drink. I first tasted cappuccino freddo in Athens, and now I'm hooked. I make it with instant Nescafe espresso powder and organic milk each morning, and sip it while I paint.

On April 7th I had a visit from the grandkids. We played games, baked a cake, and had fun playing outside. I love being a grandma!

Chocolate cake with caramel frosting is so-o-o-o yummy. It deserved a spot on the calendar.

A portrait of our Golden Retriever, Buckley, was the subject for April 9th. He likes lying next to my chair as I paint. He's the perfect painting buddy - always supportive and never critical.

My grandkids played hooky from school on the 10th & 11th so we could all go to Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio. It's a huge indoor water park with pools, slides, a lazy river, and fun activities for the kids. We had a great time, but they never did convince me to go down the BIG waterslide. I'm a chicken at heart.

The weather warmed up on the 12th and dried out the garden so we could till it. I use the word "we" very loosely. You can see who's pictured with the tiller in his hands...Fred. I shoveled and raked the dirt into rows and planted strawberry plants, sugar snaps, and lettuce. By the end of the month, everything was growing nicely.

My daughter is being featured in a business magazine this summer, and they did the photo shoot at my house on the 14th. So exciting!

The daffodils started blooming by the middle of the month...

and I tried a new recipe for Cowboy Caviar, a bean salad-type dish that's yummy with tortilla chips.

After all the pretty spring weather earlier in the week, it was a shock to the system to see snow falling again on the 17th.

The next day, the snow melted and Fred and I got to work tackling the jungle of plants around the house. Pruning, pulling, chopping, hauling - man, that's hard work!

On the 19th, I went on a mission to find enough matching folding chairs for a seating area in my teaching studio. I found what I wanted at Target, but then had to go to every Target store within 60 miles to cobble together the number of chairs that I needed. I was all over the map...

On day 20, I think I finally went over the edge in my efforts to include a lot of information in a 1-1/4" square. I drew a grocery cart filled to overflowing with food. After it was finished, I held it up and looked at it and thought, "You must be crazy! I think you've finally lost it. You don't need to put EVERYTHING in the picture!" (I do like the way I oh-so-cleverly included the date on the bag of potatoes, though.)

I learned my lesson and kept things simpler the next day when I painted the seed packets from the flower seeds I started indoors...

Sunday the 22nd was my grandson Nicholas's 7th birthday. He was born on Good Friday and Earth Day, a very special little boy, indeed. He loves all things outer space, so he had a sun-and-planets birthday cake.

Our Alpine Lake Painting Retreat began the next day in Terra Alta, WV, and since it was a rare sunny day, we all headed to Swallow Falls State Park for a little plein air sketching. The water was high due to all the spring rains, so the falls were spectacular. (This is the one day out of the month that I forgot to put a date on my square. When I realized my omission, I decided I didn't want to ruin my little sketch, so I left it off.)

By the way, here's the sketch I did that day at the park...

Ink & watercolor in a 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" Stillman and Birn softcover Zeta series sketchbook

It was a relief to work a bit larger after spending so much time on the tiny calendar squares for the past two months. And the Zeta paper always forces me to paint looser, it seems. The paint slides around on the paper, and I don't layer as much, so it ends up looking more spontaneous.

We had a tasty lunch the next day at the Cornish Cafe in Oakland, MD, and did a little shopping before we headed back to Alpine Lake. We can't paint all the time! (Can you spot the date on this sketch?)

The rain stopped long enough on the 25th for us to venture out for a walk along the lake, where we spotted a lone loon swimming offshore. We tried playing loon calls on our cell phones to try to entice it to come closer, but it maintained a safe distance from the "loony" ladies on the shore.

The last full day of the painting retreat was the 26th (I'll share what I painted in an upcoming post), and I spent hours painting, so I chose my sketchbook and palette as my calendar subject that day.

In the flowerbeds at our rental cottage were several groupings of hellebores, or Lenten roses. It was the first time I had ever seen that flower up close, and the colors were simply luscious. I enjoyed seeing them everytime I went in and out the front door, so I wanted to include them in my sketch.

Back home after the retreat, it was time to do laundry, and I was so happy to have a sunny day that I decided to hang clothes outside on the line to dry. Do you love sketching laundry as much as I do?

April's full moon came on the 29th of the month. It's called the pink moon because the moss pink, or creeping phlox, blooms at this time each year. I drew and painted this sketch of the full moon, trees, and hills, then thought it looked too empty, so I added a white-tailed deer. (They may look sweet and picturesque, but they devour my daylilies and azaleas like we eat chocolate chip cookies!)

And finally.......the pink azalea just off the stone patio on the south side of our house is always the first one to burst into bloom. It somehow escaped the notice of the neighborhood herd this winter and is now covered with blossoms. Spring finally feels like it's here to stay.

30 days! Another month completed.

All those days, all those little moments, they make up a life, and it's worth it to me to take the time to memorialize them with pen and paint. They may not be important in the whole great big scheme of things, but I treasure the life we've made here. The everyday life of everyday people. It's worth celebrating, even if it's only in little 1-1/4" squares.

Doing this project has made me slow down for a few minutes each day and reflect. It's kept me from going through my days on auto pilot. And, looking back, I see the richness that's there. I see family and friends, pets and wildlife, fun events, and quiet moments.  These are the real things in life, and this is why I journal - to press the pause button and be grateful, to tell the story of my everyday life.

Normal day, 
let me be aware of the treasure you are. 
Let me learn from you, love you, 
bless you before you depart. 
Let me not pass you by 
in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. 
Let me hold you while I may, 
for it may not always be so. 
One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, 
or bury my face in the pillow, 
or stretch myself taut, 
or raise my hands to the sky 
and want, 
more than all the world, 
your return.

― Mary Jean Irion

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