Sketchbook Chat #5: Ordinary Drawings from an Ordinary Life

It is my desire to resume my Sketchbook Chats, so I’m picking up where I left off and offering you the fifth one!

I was out in my backyard drawing the rhododendron bush that is showing off right by our deck. I had planned to video more outside there, but alas, a neighbor began to mow his lawn, so I came indoors to show more sketches, drawings, paintings, all from my sketchbooks over the last several weeks.

I hope you are continuing to draw and sketch your life, finding beauty along the way!

Enjoy!

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

Wind Walking

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any of my poetry. Oh I do have these little rhyming ditties trot through my head now and again. Most of the time I just roll my eyes and go on about my day. But this one “blew through” my head as I woke this morning complete with an illustration. 🙂

I woke to the wind howling in the trees.

“Come walk with me! Won’t you, pretty please?”

I answered the wind by stepping out the door.

Now my hat and scarf…they are no more.

-jpe 2.9.2017

I love wind. Do you? I always have. It seems to call to me, beckon me outdoors, even if just for a bit. Today I shall walk in it. It’s supposed to stick around for the entire day…fun! I s’pose I wouldn’t like wind so much if I lived where the Mistral blows for days and days on end. Although, if I were in Provence, I know I wouldn’t mind it AT ALL!! 🙂

Anyway, I’m headed out the door. I think I’ll leave my hat and scarf inside. 🙂

Who cares about the hair, right? 🙂

(Let’s see just how many smiley faces I can include in one post!)

Did you know that I have a book of my little rhyming poems?

It’s titled Words On A Line. 🙂

Have an Artful Day!!

What I Really Want for Christmas

eyestosee

The month of December is filled with distractions.  I’m moving from here to there to yonder with increased speed. Lights and tinsel pulling my eyes from where my feet are planted. To-do lists lengthening with each passing day. Longings abound for more provision, more peace, and an ability to make just the right holiday celebration for my family. On top of all of that, my own desires and wishes for things I don’t allow myself to purchase throughout the year seem to bob to the surface waving gleefully at me.

I recently wrote a letter to Santa and posted it on Instagram. It’s a tongue-in-cheek-though-based-on-truth letter from my inner artist child to whomever might read about the visions of sparkly, colorful batts of wool and glittery drop spindles that dance in my head. It’s true. Having recently dipped my big toe into spinning and weaving, I am now being pulled into a colorful, sparkly world (much like the glitz and glow of Christmas itself!) dreaming of all the supplies for this new-to-me craft. In between all the shopping and wrapping, visions of wool and spindles and looms are prancing in my wee head.

It all gets me to thinking though. What is it I really want for Christmas? A stocking full of bright-colored wool and spindles will likely not bring the provision and peace I long for daily. When I stop and breathe and drop into a space of present-ness, I can experience the ache for those good things which cannot fit into a stocking. Healing, wholeness, rest, and provision…in essence Peace on earth and Goodwill toward men. Yes, this is what I want.

And when I sit in this place long enough, I begin to realize that I actually do have all of these things, in some measure (not in their fullness), right now, right here where I am in life. In the midst of all that is going on in my family, in the lives of loved ones and friends, I can see bits of this healing and provision, some small, some big. The deep things I long for are actually afoot as Christ comes to us daily, Emmanuel with us. I just need eyes to see it.

whatiwantforxmas

This week, as these visions of wool and spindles dance in my head, I’m taking an extra moment to breathe and pull back the distracting curtain of holiday hoopla to really look for the presents that are in many ways already mine in Christ. They are yours too! The thing is…even though woolly batts and spindles are not THE thing, somehow Christ comes to us in and through them, as we make things with our hands. This is not meant as a justification for buying stuff. It is merely a recognition that even in the good things that we want in our stockings, glittery and sparkly though they be,  He comes to us and offers something far more beautiful and amazing – His own self, the Christ child, the babe in the manger.

I want eyes to see. Yes, that would be a lovely gift in my stocking this year and every year. A deepening ability to see Him, in and through and beyond all the goodness in my life, as well as in all the pain and hardship too.

A Very Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

***

“Lord, purge our eyes to see
Within the seed a tree
Within the glowing egg a bird
Within the shroud a butterfly.
Till, taught by such we see
Beyond all creatures, Thee…”

Christina Rossetti, 1830-1894
English poet

Every Common Bush

morningvespers

Earth is crammed with heaven,

and every common bush afire with God;

but only he who sees takes off his shoes.”

-Elizabeth Barret Browning

I’m waking early these days. I haven’t been able to pinpoint why until this morning. Usually, when I start waking up early, it’s due to worries and cares vying for brain space, feeble attempts to solve each problem. This is not the case lately. I’m awake and alive with a desire or anticipation of something…

lamppostlight

I quietly make my way downstairs, slipper-footed, make a pot of coffee, and assume my position on the floor. This has become my favorite spot for Morning Vespers – a space for listening, praying, pondering, treasuring all that I’ve been given, and all that will be granted today. It is a centering space where I ground myself to what is true, knit the words of Christ into my heart, and draw upon His grace for the day.

roanokedrive

I do, literally, draw. Each morning, at least one simple drawing of something around me, right where I am, here where I live and move and have my being. Ordinary, every day things. I used to think, in my early years as an artist, that I had to find the spectacular to draw. I thought I needed the perfect subject matter, the lighting just-so, a favorable composition. For many years now, it is the common ordinary things of my own small life that become burning bushes. As I begin the day, I re-commit to this practice of looking for the “burning bushes”, taking off my shoes and drawing them (the bushes…and the shoes!), knowing that even here is holy ground.

einsteindraw

I think it is the beginning of Advent that has me up so early with a feeling of anticipation and longing. My temptation is to look for something big to happen, something amazing, something grand. But as I draw the ordinary common-place things of my life, I’m reminded that it is the small and insignificant things that Christ comes to inhabit. It is right here, in small towns, in barns and mangers, in the hearts of ordinary people, shepherds as well as wise men.

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Advent is one of my favorite seasons. It really seems like there are burning bushes everywhere – all of earth aflame with God. I want eyes to see these bushes, a heart peeled and looking for them, and hands ready to draw them into my sketchbook and life.

xmastree2016

As I draw, I hear Him calling my name. And like Moses, I answer – Here I am. (Ex. 3:4)

*****

Won’t you join me this Advent, in drawing the common bushes in your life? I’d love to know if you are doing this! And if you are posting your drawings somewhere, let me know so I can walk with you this Advent.

To view these daily drawings, visit me on Instagram.

In the Presence of a Tree

frontyardplum

I sat in the presence of a tree today
to lean in, to listen to
what it has to say.

To draw from its lines a story of the tree
with pen and brush in hand,
my sketchbook on my knee.

It offered me a leaf, with limb bent low,
and dindled and quivered
glad for me to know.

It drew itself up tall, proud against the sky.
Then settled for the portrait
breathing out a sigh.

My lines caress its roots, mark each scar around the trunk.
Then out on limby ledges,
each a mystery to debunk.

I hear the breeze of ages past, dance from leaf to leaf.
My pen records the music
on a bark-made sheaf.

-jpe

*****

I hope you get to sit in the presence of a tree today!

(The above is today’s drawing for #inktober!)

FINALLY!!

SketchbookChat

SKETCHBOOK CHAT #4!

Drawings from a two-day sketch crawl in Boone, NC with my parents!

Tips and techniques for you to try as well!

Enjoy!

Artfully Yours,

Jennifer

Drawing to See

Railing

I was railing at no one and everything, howling at the just-up sun, grappling with the ongoing sense that my life is out of control (even though it isn’t). I know this song and dance. I’ve heard it many times before. I’ve railed so many times in my life now that it sounds like an irritating whine, a bothersome drone of “woe is me, I can’t seem to do all I need and want to do”, like some melodramatic housewife with the back of her hand to her forehead, wilting into a heap. Ugh.

I knew what to do. Draw. Just draw. Just sit down and draw what’s right in front of me. I  took  myself out on the back deck after a very early run to the grocery store (cuz I can’t seem to fit it all in ya know) and I sat with pens in hand poised over the blank Moleskine page.

That railing. Goodness. Such an obstruction to my view. Do I ignore it and draw as if it isn’t there? No. It’s too in-your-face. Gotta just go with it. It is unmovable and I’ll just have to work with it somehow… Thicker brush tip pen for the railing. Thinner Sharpie fine-liner for everything else. Here I am. All here. Lost in lines. the weight of all my attention begins to fall…into this chair, this sketchbook, my surroundings, the birch tree, the neighbor’s truck and car, the street, the leaves, my foot and the mailboxes. Heart rate has slowed. Following a line does this to me. It takes the spun-up flurry of broad, generalized, and often grossly exaggerated thoughts and brings it down to here, now. Right at this moment all is well! Really…all is well and good. And the next and foreseeable moments are all good too. Where does that railing in me come from?

And then I see it. Right on the page, directly in front of me. The railing to our deck. What once was a nuisance, an obstruction, prison bars keeping me from seeing the view, has now become a framework through which the view has structure and meaning. The railing sits there now as a solid boundary designed to protect and guard me from falling to injury. What once I wanted gone is now transformed into part of the landscape, a resting place for the eye as I look at my dashed off sketch. So much free-flowing leafage and vegetation anchored by the solidity of a deck railing.

This is the beauty of drawing. It anchors my jangly and driven thoughts. Provides a framework for all the free-flow of living, protects and guards me from bolting off into the world without a safety net.

If you are railing today…DRAW! If there’s a railing in your way…DRAW!

Find a railing of some sort somewhere and sit near it, draw through it, around it, over it and consider the possibility that the obstructions in your life might just have a beauty of their own if you could only see it and surrender to it (that’s the hard part!). It’s crazy that, for me, it takes drawing it to make me see the railing of my life as necessary anchors and protection rather than prison-box obstruction.

Draw to be able to see what cannot be seen with just your eyes.

Draw to see beyond and through the railings!

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If you’re interested in developing further an ability to see life with an artful eye, this little Primer is a place to start. 🙂

What Do You See?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When it snows, I’m like a bear in winter. No, I do not sleep. In fact I sleep less than usual. But that is because I go into a kind of creative hibernation. So much of what I see just before and during the snowstorm gets translated into something I can touch and feel. It may seem crazy to go on snowy walks and see collaged papers in the landscape, but there it is. Or to look into my stash of yarns and see a poncho. Much like Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, I’ll tell you if you ask me What I See. But I’ll likely tell you in mediums, colors, and textures. Here goes..

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

(click the highlighted words to watch my little movie:)

BeforetheStorm

I see lines looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

Chevron Poncho

I see colors & textures looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

CollageSmithHollow

I see collaged papers looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

SocksontheLoop

I see warm feet looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

DrawingtheDark

I see shapes of dark & light looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

WatercolorWinterTrees

I see watercolors looking at me!

Genevieve, Genevieve, what do you see?

Lucy&Chevron

I see a kitty looking at me!

Everywhere, everywhere, what do I see?

I see beauty looking at me.

*********

What do YOU see?

Beaufort Treasures

PaintingBeaufort

I’ve been at my drawing table today reliving wonderful memories from a trip to Beaufort with a friend last week. Though I had only taken my Prismacolor Fine Liner Pens, the memories came leaping to life as I added color just now. I am once again reminded how grateful I am for this sketchbook and for a practice of drawcumenting my life in it. I honestly don’t think I would experience (or remember) even half the beauty of my life without this practice of drawing it, painting it, collaging, recording the everyday and not-so everyday of life.

Getting out of town is not an everyday event for me. Especially to go with a friend, without husband or kids. It was absolutely delightful to go on this lovely jaunt with a fellow artist. Her name is Jennifer also. We painted and knitted the town “red”. Well, maybe not exactly cadmium red, but cerulean, sienna, gamboge and a host of other exquisite colors in yarn and in paint.

JM'sSunroom

Jennifer’s beach house is a sweet cottage near the waterfront in Beaufort. Though the first morning was wet and rainy (which was marvelous for knitting inside in her cozy sunroom drawn above), the rest of the time was spent in glorious sunshine either on the waterfront or at the ocean.

BeaufortInletTrees

This little spot was at the end of a street in Beaufort. The bent trees framed the water’s view. How wonderful it was to sit and be completely ensconced in my surroundings, drinking in the loveliness through the end of my pen.

BeaufortTreasures

At the beach, we walked and walked and picked up treasures. I wanted to be very selective and not return home with too many shells. I selected a few interesting shells (seen in the photo of my drawing table) and then sat to draw the horseshoe crab shell, the smaller crab shell with one eyeball attached, and the sea urchin. These seemed like special treasures, not your everyday finds at a beach.

I cannot share the other drawing I made while in Beaufort. I sat on the waterfront drawing a docked boat with all its many lines, shapes, tiny windows, masts, booms, rolled-up sails, etc. I should’ve snapped a photo of it before giving it to the boat owner. I had no idea he would walk up to us as we were drawing and begin a conversation. He seemed so appreciative of someone actually drawing his boat. There were a few other lovely conversations with passersby as well. You never know what friends you’ll make when you’re out with your sketchbook.

And you’ll never know what treasures you’ll find when you draw your life in a sketchbook.