Draw & Stitch Together through Advent!

I marvel that it is holiday time once again. Somehow the seasons roll ’round more quickly and I know all too well how fast this wonderful season will fly by if I don’t take time to drink it in. I’m planning on stitching and drawing with the purpose of slowing myself down a bit, taking time to reflect on the season and make something slow and small.  I want to offer these to you as well.

The first is an Advent Shawl Crochet-a-Long. For any who like to crochet, this will be a simple crocheted piece made with a big hook and big yarn. Big stitches will allow you to take each one slowly because it won’t require much time to complete the directions for that week’s section of the Shawl. To read more specifics about this, and begin gathering your yarn, visit my blog A Knitter’s Grace and consider following there so that you can receive each weekly installment for the pattern.

For those of you who like to sketch, I’m offering drawing prompts for each day of December leading up to Christmas Day. You can draw something related to the prompt or just do your own thing. Download the PDF here, print it off and tuck it in your sketchbook. I’ll be posting my sketches on Instagram, so follow there too. Better yet…post your own sketches and use the hashtag #adventdraw to share your daily drawings.

To encourage you in your sketching through Advent, I have a special reduced price on my Discover Your Life Beautiful, One Drawing At A Time ebook & video course! Instead of the full price of $45, you can purchase it for $25 from now through Christmas Day! It is my way of saying Thank You for your presence here, for making and drawing with me throughout the years! Just click here for my ETSY shop. No need for a special code or anything. The price has been changed for the duration of the Season! It’s an immediate download…so enjoy!

I do not say this often enough…but I am grateful for you, dear reader! I wish you the happiest of Thanksgivings, and I hope to “see” you around the inter webs during Advent as we draw and stitch our way to a slower and more creative holiday.

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

 

A Jolly July!

July is here!!

And I’m super excited about this month for lots of reasons. There will be celebrations – the Fourth, our daughter’s half-birthday, and my own birthday at the end of the month. There will be travels – we are driving to Arkansas to pick up our son who is performing with Opera in the Ozarks; and I hope to travel to Virginia to visit with a childhood friend. I’m planning on drawing and sketching my way through the month, knitting up some pretty things, and stitching my drawings onto collaged fabric fragments (my recent obsession:).

To start off my birthday month with a bang, I’m offering a little present to you, Hobbit-style! For anything and everything in my ETSY shop, you may use the discount code HAPPYBIRTHDAY to receive 50% off the price! No, I haven’t gone nuts! Well, maybe I have…I’m setting my intention for this month to be a a jolly one, a true Christmas in July sort of celebration from the beginning to the end.

I do hope you will avail yourself of this once-in-a-blue-moon offer!! For cheap as chips, you can enhance your sketching and drawing practice by purchasing the Discover Your Life Beautiful, One Drawing At A Time ebook & video course. For pennies you can knit or crochet a lovely shawl or sweater, wrap or scarf. So go ahead and indulge! Use the above discount code when you check out. From now until the 31st of July! Enjoy!

I just returned from the Ocean’s Edge and I’m refueled and ready for this Jolly month. If you’d like to read all about the week by the Ocean and see some stitcherly goodness, plus drawings and sketches, visit The Silver Dapple, a new blog dedicated to an exciting medium as I stitch my drawings onto collaged fabric fragments. It’s slow stitching, but all the more savory in its slowness.

To catch all the drawings, watercolors, knitting and crocheting, stitching and whatever else strikes my fancy, do follow me on Instagram as that is where I tend to hang out the most. Above all, I hope you have a Jolly July making things with your hands! Indoors, outdoors, on the road or at home, may your month be an Artful one!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

Where Are You?

Every day I need to check in. Over the years I’ve wondered if this was a strange thing about myself…this need to check in, to take stock of where I am at a given moment, to breathe in and breathe out, to mark the moment, taking in the sights and scenery around me. Now I’m feeling pretty certain this isn’t strange, it’s really necessary and good. Not just for me, but for us all!

When life gets busy, full to the brim with all good stuff that doesn’t allow much time for checking in, I feel like I need these check-in moments more throughout the day. It’s all too easy to think that just going and going, running through the never ending to-do list without stopping to breathe and mark the moment, is ok for a season. For me, it’s not ok. I’ve got to touch base with where my feet are planted, what my surroundings are at a given moment, breathe into whatever my location is both in body and in spirit. My sketchbook is the best way I know to do this.

Right from the get-go of facing an empty page, I feel myself throttle down a few gears. Empty space. Wow. Just to be able to look at a space that isn’t filled up with stuff for a few moments is helpful. It isn’t scary to face this emptiness…it is welcome and peaceful. I begin to draw what I saw on my walk, or a memory from a day or two ago I don’t want to lose. Slowly, thoughtfully…line and paint working together to drive a stake in the ground as it were:

Here I am, right here, breathing, resting, open and receptive to the peace of this moment.

Sketching in a little book may not be your way of checking in with where you are. It may be sitting with a cup of tea and just resting for a bit, it might be working a few rows of knitting, or perhaps just taking a short walk, considering where your feet are falling and how your heart is beating. However it is you can check in, I hope you are able to carve out a few moments today, tomorrow and ongoing to ask yourself, “Where am I?”

And perhaps you can make a simple sketch of where you are and what’s happening underfoot, pinning and penning a root, an anchor, to steady you for the day ahead.

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

P.S. If you’re in need of any encouragement for this along the way, consider this ebook & video course for inspiration and instruction.

Remembering

It’s that time of year when I remember.

I don’t do it on purpose. It’s perhaps the imprint of that crazy wilderness pilgrimage to the hospital for three weeks and then home to slowly heal. Four years ago, my body was in decline, losing a battle with ulcerative colitis, and was eventually required to give up a colon or die. I suppose its ok that I do this remembering each year. Especially since the remembering is full of goodness and love and mercy. Yeah…you read that right…and I’m not just speaking in hyperbole here. I know and remember well the discomfort, the pain, the agony of body leading up to surgery as well as after. But alongside all of that, perhaps in equal portions to the yucky, was a goodness I actually find myself longing to return to.

I won’t go into all this goodness today. You can, if interested, read about some of it here and also here. But what characterizes that time in my life are two words – pilgrimage and unplugged. Even as symptoms worsened despite massive medicinal intake, I knew I was on a pilgrimage of some kind. I had never really been much of an observer of Lent, but that reality of walking into a desert was very real and somehow comforting at the time. I knew I was being led somewhere, though I had no inkling of what all would happen in my body. But I was aware of walking a path marked out for me and had an uncanny sense that I was right where I was supposed to be.

By necessity, I had to unplug from everything that made up my normal life. Teaching art to elementary kids eventually had to stop, eating became a struggle, getting things done around the house and for my family rapidly declined and then went away altogether as I entered the bleakest part of my wilderness sojourn. Walking the halls of Forsyth Hospital post-surgery became one of the truest images of a pilgrim’s walk – painful, humiliating, yet necessary and healing.

I’ve taken to drawing a couple of plugs around our house. Or rather…unplugged plugs. I suppose I’m drawn to what they represent – an unplugging from whatever I typically view as a life-giving source, to pull back and reevaluate what exactly it is I’m plugged into for “life” and consider where I might need to be rightly reoriented or plugged in. In some weird way, I know this attraction to unplugged plugs is because Lent is coming up (March 1) which is rather late compared to last year, and even to the year when my own wilderness walk took place in 2013.

It is time. It is time to walk in memory of past pilgrimages, while also marking the current one. It’s time to unplug somehow from what typically feeds me in order to consider more fully the Source of all energy and how I might plug into that.

I’m quite excited about my Lenten pilgrimage this year. Last year, I walked every day, drawing something each day from those walks and posting the reflection on A Pilgrim’s Draw. I’ll be doing something similar this year with a slightly different focus. I’ve already posted the basic trajectory for this drawing pilgrimage on that blog and am inviting folks there and here to join me! This year’s stay-at-home Lenten pilgrimage will be a blend of walking, drawing ordinary things, and reflection on a book I’ve just finished reading titled Liturgy of the Ordinary, by Tish Harrison Warren.

I’m realizing more and more that my daily practice of drawing and sketching in a sketchbook is a kind of liturgy. It’s a habit that has formed me and “drawn” me to see beyond the ordinary things, people or places I draw. As Tish writes:

“The often unseen and unsung ways we spend our time are what form us. Our mundane moments…shape us through habit and repetition, moment by passing moment, into people who spend their days and therefore their lives marked by the love of God.” pg. 32.

Wont’ you join me in this daily habit? If you need encouragement to develop and/or keep going in drawing your life in a sketchbook, consider walking through my new ebook and video course. Or just come along with me on a drawing pilgrimage through Lent, which you can read about and follow A Pilgrim’s Draw here and download a PDF of daily drawing prompts for Lent. You may want to unplug from drawing “life” via your iPhone and social media and instead plug into drawing your life in a sketchbook. You might also wish to purchase Warren’s book for reflection over the next 6 weeks or so.

It is likely that you have places you remember, either painful or beautiful (or both!). Let’s walk together the path marked out for us, drawing our ordinary lives, creating beauty from the everyday things around us, and remembering the goodness that’s at hand.

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time

I can’t believe it! I am so so excited to finally have these 12 lessons to offer to you! Years ago, I wrote a lesson a week on my blog. I called it Draw Your Life Mini Lessons. The response was positive and several asked for the lessons in book form. Though I made a couple of attempts at that, it just didn’t seem like the right container for the lessons. At the beginning of this year, I got the idea to expand the lessons into an ebook and video course. It is now complete and available in my ETSY shop.

The self-guided course is now called Discover Your Life Beautiful, One Drawing At A Time. It is the same 12 Lessons compiled into a 64-page ebook instantly downloaded upon purchase. Each lesson has a password protected video to view which offers more discussion on that Lesson’s topic as well as a look inside my sketchbooks, filled over the last ten years. The course is equal parts inspiration and motivation, tips and techniques, as well as instruction for four different approaches to drawing. As you move through the lessons you will come full circle to Draw Up A Chair and begin again and again.

The course is a comprehensive approach to seeking out and finding beauty in your everyday life. Everything from creative blocks you may experience, to tons of ideas for creating pages in your sketchbook, plus instruction for drawing in such a way that you experience your life more fully.

Of all the creative endeavors I enjoy, this practice of drawing my life is at the center. From this daily habit, I’m enabled to see my life for the beauty that may be out in the open or hidden from view. It takes drawing to uncover it sometimes, and sketching it celebrates the life I’ve been granted.

The overall emphasis in this course is DRAWING AS A PRACTICE, NOT AS A PRODUCT. My desire is that in working through the lessons, you will experience a freedom to drawcument your life without any burden to do so in a certain way or to have a polished product. We find love and beauty in the activity of drawing…not necessarily in the finished sketch.

I offer this course to you for the reasonable price of $45. My hope is that anyone might feel they can begin this life-affirming activity of sketching and drawing their life.

I would love to hear from you as to how it’s going, should you choose to purchase the course and work through the lessons. Whether you are a beginner at sketching or a seasoned artist, you will find something in this course to encourage and inspire you!

Click Here to visit my ETSY shop to purchase.

Enjoy!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

Draw What You Live

SoMuchtoLove2

For me, drawing my life is a direct link to loving my life. Take the above for example. I did not set about it with any thought that I needed to love my life more, or that I was going to find my heart pulled in the direction of my life, just as it is now, upon completing the drawing. I simply thought, “I want to make a drawing of the new table centerpiece”, having changed it from the winter one a few days ago.

I began. I arbitrarily chose the front and center beaker (of the Brambly Hedge tea set my mom gave me) to start following the contours, as I love to do. From there, the contours led me around to the knitted bunny I made a couple of years ago, to the little bird I received from a  friend when I was in the hospital last year, to the teapot, the tea cloth, the wooden stand my mother-in-law gave me, to the desert rose salt and pepper shakers and flower tea bag holder, to the tea light holders, the tea strainer, the crocheted-by-my grandmother cloth underneath. When I looked up after this, I realized it was not centered well at all. Lots of gaping space at the top. This happens a lot to me. Life has a way of being off center, a bit off kilter, much of the time.

So I did as I always do and set about to fill in that space. A line leading from the top of the teapot climbed up the wall where the molding to the opening of our kitchen begins. I followed contours of things on the right of this molding, where my painting of a girl knitting hangs on the wall, a fruit stand and lamp sit on an empty wine rack. (Must do something about that!)

As I looked farther out from the dining room, contours of the kitchen counter, the piano further beyond in Genevieve’s Workshop, the star bunting, the Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl hanging on my dress form named Genevieve also.

When I sat back and looked at it all, I breathed in…look at all that! So much I love contained in one little sketch. All of it radiating out from the table where my family sits and eats meals and shares their day and does homework and bills, where friends eat with us, and where we listen to Garrison Keiller on Saturday nights while we have dinner.

If you want to love the life you already have, to really see it for the beauty that is surely there, to wipe the dust off of everyday living (Picasso reference), then draw something in your life. Get lost in the contours of it. Then sit back and look at what your hand highlighted on the page.  You might be surprised at what you see.

**If you want any encouragement and motivation for Drawing Your Life, click here, to access 12 Mini Lessons. They are getting a ton of traffic these days from hither and yon. That is thrilling. Let’s Love the Life we Live, one drawing at a time!

A Drawing Morning

Trumpet&Leaf

In the flurry of activity surrounding all the good things happening these days, I found myself drawn to the Gardens here in town.  There were so many reasons why I should NOT go spend a morning to draw…piled laundry, dirty house, art “business” stuff to do, etc. But I knew I needed this. To sit in the quiet of the Gardens and use my pen to drink in the visual richness of an Autumn garden.

AutumnGardens

It was a bit nippy out there at 9:30 am…hence the fingerless knitted gloves…perfect for a chilly morning of drawing. I truly get lost in the lines I see before me. I love these drawings just as they are without color. But something drives me to add color…

AddingColor

A little bit at first. And then, as you can see in the first drawing…rich, dark color!  Mind you, I don’t want to overpower the lines too much! The lines are the THING and I don’t want color to take over.  I may have gone a bit too far in the end, but it pleases me and that’s the end of it. When you draw for the goodness, the benefit, and the experience of drawing, there need be no other criteria for your efforts other than whether it pleases you or not. It’s actually in the process of drawing, where it all happens.

CienerColor

What happens when I draw is this: My shoulders start to relax. I begin to hear better…listening to all the garden sounds. My heart rate slows.  Thoughts become clearer, less jumbled.  An inner strength arises to face the rest of day.  I was so in need of this yesterday.  I’m grateful for the two hour space I carved out to go to the Gardens and draw.

BigBoxoBooks

This week was a full one! My big box of books arrived! Etsy orders were filled! I read Genevieve and the Kite to a first grade class at my school! (More on this in another post!) And more preparations for an upcoming Craft and Artistry Bazaar here in Kernersville on Saturday, November 9th!! If you are able to come to this, it is sure to be a festive event, perfect for holiday shopping and picking up a copy or two of my new children’s book!:)  I also spoke with a local gallery owner who has offered to do a book signing event for me! I’m thrilled about this possibility and I’ll let you know more details as they evolve!

With all the goodness abounding, mixed in with everyday family living, I’m in need of time to draw, to regroup, to think and hear better, to find strength for it all. I hope you’ll join me in drawing your life, your gardens, your back yard, anything! May your weekend find you with pen or pencil in hand, even if it’s only for a moment or two.

P.S. We Walk for a Cure (JDRF) in one week!!! Thank you to all who have so generously given to Maddie’s Mission!! If you would still like to donate to this amazing cause, CLICK HERE! And remember…your name goes in a hat for a drawing for a copy of Genevieve and the Kite! Merci!

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #12

All the Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons have now been typed up, expanded, revised, updated and published into an ebook & video course for you!

Purchase this in my ETSY shop HERE.

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Edwards

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #11

All the Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons have now been typed up, expanded, revised, updated and published into an ebook & video course for you!

Purchase this in my ETSY shop HERE.

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Edwards

 

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #10

All the Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons have now been typed up, expanded, revised, updated and published into an ebook & video course for you!

Purchase this in my ETSY shop HERE.

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Edwards