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

The Traffic Can Wait

I sit in a car. A lot.

It is not my favorite thing to do. At all.

On good days I can lay hold of the fact that all this driving around is actually due to great blessing in my life –

*an active, healthy,  involved-in-everything teenager.

*lots of classes in neighboring towns guiding women along their fiber journeys.

*errands to procure necessary provisions for a family.

But most of the time, in-between the grumbling, huffing and occasional involuntary expletive, I’m hunkered down, eyes-to-road, thinking where-to-next?

Unless I stop.

I have drawn before (as in the above drawing), these little aberrations of sight and wonder when I happen to turn my head left, out the driver’s side window and look. I don’t do it on purpose usually. It is often with a sigh and a desire to get off this flippin’ traffic-filled road and get on with the real stuff of life, that I turn my head.

I’m not expecting this. At all. But somehow in the fog of my negative thoughts, as I’m stopped in that never-ending automotive line, I can see…

A lovely meandering line of tracks, leading from underneath the bridge I’m on, up into rolling hills where light is carving out distinct shapes on a winter-hued landscape. How I would love to hop out of the car and go. To get on that train and follow those tracks to other towns, states, see the world a bit.

I’m enchanted by the view beside me, right where I am, even as my reverie is broken both by the formidable cement railing barring my jump onto the train, but also by the honking behind me as the traffic has grown impatient with my imagined train trip.

I get back into gear and lurch froward, smiling at the gift of being forced to stop in the midst of what I loathe, and being offered a view, a spot of beauty along my daily highway.

I need to stop and look more often as I drive.

The traffic will just have to wait.

P.S. I do not sit there in traffic drawing. Although perhaps I should! 🙂  I snap a picture with my phone to draw from later, thus a second gift of insight for the day.

Oh No… I think I’ve ruined it!

This is such a regular thought that goes marching through my head as I create, that I am used to it now, and I’ve even grown to expect it. It wasn’t always so. There were years that  a fair panic would nearly shut me down completely when this thought would blaze its way into my consciousness as I painted or knitted. Nowadays, I have the thought less frequently and I’m better able to say “yeah, yeah I know, it might all fall apart here, but let’s just wait and see, or let me just try this…” And 9 times out of 10 the painting resolves itself, or I figure out how to bring about a satisfying stopping point. :0)

In both the above painting and in my recently completed weaving, I’ve had to deal with this pesky thought. Watercolor has a mind all its own. Add to that my own purposeful slap-dashery approach and you’ll likely have numerous points where the thing feels totally out of control! I now know that usually a press of paper-towel and a fresh splash of color will do the trick of wrangling the watery hues into some semblance of an exuberant image. This is actually what I love most – a painting or drawing that teeters on the edge of chaos, yet somehow holds together.

I’m finding this to be true in weaving as well! How delightful to be able to work with fibers in a manner quite similar to painting. I do not plan it all out. That is not how I like to work. I like to have a general , overall feeling or gist to a painting or weaving, and then dive in with an intuitive search for that initial feel and/or look. Personally, this is exciting to me! So when I have that pesky thought that I may have ruined it, it is an opportunity to do a couple of things:

1. LET GO of my original, albeit loose, plan or idea.

2. USE whatever I’m perceiving as ruined as the basis for something new.

3. CONTINUE working with a Well-I’m-not-sure-where-this-is-going, but-I’ll-see-it-to-the-end attitude.

Most of the time, I’m satisfied with the outcome of drawings and paintings that go through this “ruined” phase. And this weaving is also resolving quite nicely even though I’ve had this thought more than once as I added colors and textures. Perhaps, when we are new to a craft, this pesky thought bothers us more frequently. It’s good to remember…

It’s not ruined……it’s only re-routed.

It isn’t a failure…..it’s an opportunity.

It isn’t hopeless…..from this point on magic and mystery ensues!

Here’s to a day of magic and mystery as we weave our lives with color and grace amid the “ruins”!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

InkTober UnderWay

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#InkTober is proving to be such fun for me! I saw that it was coming up a few days before October began from Liz Steele’s Instagram feed. I thought it would be a great opportunity to just play with ink of all kinds…pens, washes, even a splash of color if I wanted to. I got a head start on things, warming up as it were, getting set with some of my favorite tools for drawing.

I try to show in the photo of each drawing, what I have used to make it. Thus far my go-to is a Faber Castell Brush Pen, an Artist’s Loft .05 Fine Liner Pen, a black watercolor crayon and a water brush. The crayon is only used as ink, activated by swiping the water brush on the tip before applying to the page. Really totally fun!!

I am keeping open to the possibility of color, as October should begin to show some color around our area soon. But thus far, I am so loving the black of ink on white paper. Love, love, LOVE it!!

Every now and then I’m posting some thoughts over on A Pilgrim’s Draw. Do follow along there as well as Instagram for my inky journey through October.

And seriously…you should join in, if you haven’t already!! Jake Parker, the initiator of #InkTober says you can do the marathon (all 31 days), the half-marathon (every other day) or any combo you like. He even offers prompts to guide you should you wish to do that.

I just like the simplicity of one (or more:) drawings a day in ink. Just ink. 🙂

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

P.S. If you haven’t heard of Liz Steele, you should check out her website and classes she offers! She is a true powerhouse for watercolor sketching as well as perspective in drawing architecture!

Sketchbook Chat #2

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FINALLY!!

The second Sketchbook Chat is now up on You Tube for you to enjoy!

Sketchbook Chat #2

Here are some links of a couple of things I mention in this chat:

Danny Gregory’s website

A Pilgrim’s Draw

Camino Bakery

Thank you again for spending your time with me in these little video-blogs! I truly am trying to make these shorter. But alas, after three tries on this one, it was still longer than the first!! Just make a cup of tea and pull up a chair to enjoy seeing another completed sketchbook of mine.

And please do feel free to share this with others you know who might enjoy this!!

Thank you so much,

Jennifer

Sketchbook Chat!

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I am excited to offer a new way to share my sketchbook with you! This is the first in a series of Sketchbook Chats where I will share with you anywhere from a few pages in my sketchbooks or a tour of a whole one (as you will see here). My aim is to inspire you to drawcument your life in a sketchbook as well!

For now, I am not planning on this being a regular thing as life will surely interrupt whatever weekly or monthly schedule I choose. I am purposing to make these little videos UNDER 10 minutes. Well, I’ve already gone over on that with this first one! But rest assured, they will certainly be short and sweet from here on! This one is longer as I wanted to share a Grand Tour of the sketchbook that includes my recent Stay-At-Home Pilgrimage which I posted daily over on APilgrimsDraw.wordpress.com.

Sketchbook Chat #1

Please share this video with others you think might enjoy it! And subscribe to my You Tube channel so you can receive each Chat as they are created.

Feel free to leave here in the comment section any questions you might have for me to answer in future Sketchbook Chats.

I do so hope this is inspiring and helpful to you!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

P.S. Things I’m working on… a. shorter videos! b. not waving hands in front of sketchbook c. being sure to put lipstick on entire lips and not just part! lol.:)

The Real Intent Behind an Art Show

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There are numerous reasons why artists want to have and be a part of Art Shows. One may be a very simple desire to recoup some of the cost that goes into the making of their creations. Another might be to go beyond that and actually make a profit. Some artists may wish to develop a following, extend their list of collectors. Others desire to receive favorable reviews of their technical expertise. But I have a feeling that most artists and creative folks have a desire and intent underlying all these things.

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I cannot speak for every artist. But as for me, my real intent in having an Art Show is so that you might see what I see. Regardless of whether you walk out of the show with anything in your hands, my desire is that you might get a glimpse of the beauty, joy and wonder that has been found in living an everyday life in an everyday town. Sharing what I make is not about “See what I can do”, but rather “See what I have seen”, and “Revel in the beauty that’s right under our feet.”

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(detail of larger Freeform Crochet Landscape)

Art Shows, museums, exhibits and galleries are meant to be reminders to us all that no matter how bleak life may seem, beauty still exists! If you find yourself fearful in the aftermath of the Paris tragedy, weighed down with personal concerns, heavy hearted with unwelcome news…go find an art showing somewhere. Spend some time taking in how that artist sees his/her world. Let that art speak to you and remind you of what is true, good, and wise. You just might leave with a lighter step, a brighter countenance, and hope for what lies ahead.

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You Are Invited!

Jennifer Edwards

Annual Art Show & Book Signing

Saturday, November 21, 2015

4-7 pm

Southwinds Gallery

West Mountain Street. Kernersville, NC

*21 New Paintings *2 Embroidered Line Drawings *Freeform Crochet Landscape *New Card Sets *Book Signing *and more!

Living Now

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The difficulty of living now on this side of sickness and surgery, has been  well…living. I know that sounds crazy and messed up. But there it is.

In sickness or trial of any kind, there’s an intensity to life. A laser sharp focus. No matter how yucky the circumstance may be, there’s nevertheless a funneling of all our faculties to get well, to get through it, figure out how to get to the other side of it, etc. And when we do, the exquisiteness of being on “the other side” (healthy, or pain free) gives way to daily living. This everyday mundane almost imperceptibly scatters dust on our single-minded focus. We begin to use the familiar words “busy”, “scattered”, over-committed” and quite likely we are. We may feel dull, fuzzy-headed, lacking purpose. Re-entering the flow of life after having gone on an adventure (however difficult and painful it may have been) can be disorienting. It might be likened to returning from the battle field. “OK, now what?!” is the question that haunts you , especially when the adventure changed you in some way shape or form. “How do I now live?” is a question worth exploring especially if you want to honor what you have learned and experienced, and not forget the intensity and bits of truth you received while in the trenches.

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There is a hefty amount of verbiage these days that calls us to GRAND living. Living large, seeking adventure, playing big, rising strong, radical living, big magic, finding your passion, defying small, do what lights you up, don’t waste your life. Please, do not hear me wrong on this. I have found and continue to find encouragement in the discussions within these topics. Yet the overall timbre to these calls to arms leaves me a bit perplexed and flat. Is there room in these manifestos for living an ordinary life? For finding beauty and adventure while playing small? For rising from the rubble of difficulty still weak and uncertain? For discovering magic in scrubbing toilets? For being enabled to live your life, just as it is now, right where it is now, with a sense that here, right here, is where I can find beauty and light. Is there a place for radically living your life as it is now without having to sell everything and live in a tent? Is there a way to actually live the humdrum, everyday, same ole same ole in such a way that imbues it with joy, light, and love? Could we, instead of being called to go do something big and radical so that we won’t “waste our lives”, could we actually live the life we’ve got, the day in and day out, the daily struggles and numbing normalcies with an eye toward beauty? Right here. Right Now.

That’s a bit of magic I could go for!!

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I’m headed somewhere with this…stay tuned. 🙂

Join in the discussion in the comment section if you like.

The first drawing is of the waning flower pots on the front steps of our home. I often need go no further than my front door to find beauty. But I have to be reminded of this. Every Day.

The second drawing is of the Ciener Botanical Gardens here in my small town of Kernersville, NC. Again…a bit of Giverny right here where I live.

Cast On

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Here’s where it all starts. Make a slip knot and begin.

Cast on a desired number of stitches and then work the rest of the piece from there.

There’s no way around it really. You have to cast on. Even if it’s only two stitches. Or two hundred. This is how we begin.

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Yet it can cause a good bit of consternation. Which cast on should I use? The pattern may or may not say. If I’m designing, I must consider which one will yield the desired edge both in stretch and in braid. For folks new to knitting, the cast on, once left behind for rows of knit and purl, is often forgotten when the next project is begun. How did I cast on? If I use Long Tail, then just how much yarn do I need to leave in order to have enough for the cast on? So many questions and uncertainties.

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It is true also in drawing and painting. How shall I begin? Where do I start on the page? What medium will I start with? Do I fill the whole page? or only part of it? If I start here, will I have enough room for the subject? For some, this very beginning part can create such a storm of questions that paralysis sets in all too soon.

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Yet for me, the beginning is perhaps the most exciting part. Two needles, or a hook, and some lovely yarn. A blank page and a pen. Such possibilities. Anticipation. A bit of chocolate helps!

Even if the initial idea gets frogged only a few rows into it, or the sketch needs to be started over again, the fun is in the diving in, the beginning, the start of something new. This is one of the many reasons I love making things. Each and every day I have an opportunity to start something fresh and new and exciting and different,  in yarn or paint, on needles or in a sketchbook, with a hook or with a canvas.

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Looking around at my studio right now I might have to admit to too many beginnings. I know I will finish them. I usually do. All in good time.

But right now, I just have to start a new crochet design that’s been banging around in my head. It all began with casting on another shoulder cozy (first photo) and in no more than four or five rows my fingers knew this yarn was wanting to be crocheted into something else entirely.

Ok. So here we go. Starting something new. Again.

Perhaps you can start something new today! I’d love to hear about it if you do!!

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Notes on the above photos: First photo’s yarn has now been frogged and is being crocheted into a new vest design. Second photo is the start of a brioche cowl I have finished and plan on teaching in October (watch for details about the classes in my monthly Knitterly Arts Newsletter!) Third photo is a line drawing of a recent visit to our Ciener Botanical Gardens. Fourth photo is the beginning foundation chain and first rows in a recent crochet design I hope will be available in pattern soon! Fifth photo is my first foray into embroidering my own drawings. Should be fun!

Knitting Up the Un-Ravelled Sleave…

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After last week’s move of three kids into their new “homes”, I’ve needed this week to mend.  Oldest daughter is now happily situated at Wingate University for her final year. Middle son is LOVING his first days as a freshman at East Carolina University. And youngest is enjoying her new “big kid” room she moved into across the hall.  My hands seemed to need soft cozy fibers as much as I could possibly give them this week. With every knitted stitch and crocheted loop, it felt as if the very fibers of  my being were being knitted back together; the unravelled, frayed ends woven in and smoothed out. Even the enormous task of weaving in the ends on a recently finished project (pictured above and below) was soothing and enjoyable.

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Shakespeare wrote: “Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care…” Although he speaks of “sleep” as the agent of healing here, his choice of words intimate that knitting has that quality of mending what care often frays. All too often my life feels like the first picture. It’s good to know that is only ONE side of the matter. There IS another side…one with beauty, order, structure and functionality. Actually, I see beauty in the underside too, even with all the ends hanging loose!

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*I finished this updated version of my design/pattern called Dreamy Poncho! Oh how I wish it would get cool enough to wear this thing! So many greens that are truly yummy!

*The painting behind me seems to go with the Poncho so well!! It is of the field at the top of our neighborhood. I painted it a few years ago when the morning glory’s were in bloom. I noticed several days ago on my walk that they are blooming now. I love the seasons, the change in colors, the varying greens in the landscape as well as in fibers.