When Magic Happens

LovelyBeginning

It happens at various times along the way. Magic that is. Years ago, when I first swiped watercolor on a white page…I drew in my breath and held it as I watched the color move on the paper, blend with other colors. Something special was happening that was just for me. The magic of watercolor has never left me. It’s oozles and wazzles delight me endlessly.

SilverDappleClouds1

Then one day, again many years ago, I got out a wooden box filled with Rembrandt soft pastels that my grandmother had given me when I was  child. Holding a stick on its side, I swooshed the pigment on the page, and there it was again…that feeling that magic was afoot. In neither instance did this magical feeling have to do with WHAT I was creating on the paper. In fact, if you saw these early attempts, you would not be particularly impressed as they looked much like what a kindergarten artist might create. I did not care. The magic was in the process of putting color onto paper. Or was it in the seeing of these colors as they went onto paper? Or was it simply the initial discovery of new mediums?

SilverDappleCouds2

I have now been actively pursuing art-making for almost 20 years. Wow! That seems like a long time to me. You might think that the magic has worn off, the blush of first love at swiping color on a page might have become ho-hum over the years. It does, in some sense, become a normal state of enjoyment for an artist…surely this is what keeps us coming back to make more art! But there are still moments when our breath is taken away; we stand back in awe or delight at the page or canvas before us, and simply are amazed at the loveliness. It isn’t an arrogance or prideful thing. It is merely showing up to the page every day, being present for magic to happen. Some days you feel it. Some days not.

SilverDappleClouds3

And then there are days when the convergence of something new…or at least it feels new…suddenly hits you and you know that magic has happened once again. Its outside of you. It came through you. And it now exists in front of you. This is what happens when I put my favorite creamy pastels over top of random swooshes of watercolor.

SilverDappleFini

The first magical moment with this happened soon after our daughter’s wedding this summer. I had pulled out this neglected sketchbook from years ago. I had not made many marks in it for various reasons. Two, maybe three pages had a few half-hearted attempts. So with a what-the-heck attitude, I dashed on some random washes of watercolor, page after page, and let them dry.

CloudsCloseUp

As I was into abstraction over the summer, I swiped pastel over top of one of these pages and knew instantly…I was in love! I couldn’t make any more sketches or drawings that day due to its loveliness. I just walked by my drawing table often to gaze at the soft colors dancing around on top of the watercolor. The next day, I turned the page, and worked again in the same manner. Light touch. Gorgeous color. Again…magic!

SilverDappleClouds4

On and on, page after page now in this book, some abstract, some representational. This particular one, made last week after being blown away by the cloud formations at the top of our hill on Silver Dapple Lane. You see, the magic begins with inspiration, with beauty seen, with a desire to lasso it onto paper, or free it for interpretation, or something. But after I stepped back from trying to recreate what I saw and felt up on my favorite lane, I knew…

…magic!

It was there on the page.

I held my breath for only a little while, exhaling gratitude all day.

***Magic may also be due to the tea one drinks while painting! The message on this bag of Green Tea set the tone for this painting. Kinda cool!

Placemat Pattern for YOU!

PicotFanPlacemat1

Some years ago, my mom gave me a couple of white cotton placemats that my Grandma Bowen had crocheted. She was an avid maker (artist, knitter, crocheter, embroiderer), as is my mom, and now me, and well… my girls are makers too!! It’s lovely to have a heritage of creativity, art and making!

PicotFanPlacematIG

So for some time now I’ve wanted to figure out how Grandma made these placemats. Since I only have two of them, they are used as centerpiece “doilies” (you can see the white one under the wooden pedestal in my photos) and I’ve often wanted to have a set of them to use under plates.

PicotFanPlacemat2

I’ve worked it out now in pattern form to share with you! It’s FREE for you to print off and enjoy! Do let others know about it if you like this pattern, but please give credit where it is due! I changed the edging a bit since I love the fan stitch and added the picots in keeping with Grandma’s version.

PicotFanPlacemat4

I’m now working on a set of them in multiple colors! I have the Fiesta dishware so I thought it would be fun to crochet different colored placemats to mix and match with the plates. I can still use just one if I like for centerpiece decoration.

I hope you enjoy making a set of these for yourself or for a gift. They work up quite easily, round and round you go.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend!

Jennifer 

P.S. You might enjoy these other Free Patterns as well, or browse the ones for purchase Here!

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

My Trellis

BirthdaySky

There’s been lots of livin’ and therefore lots of drawin’!!

Somehow I thought life would slow down after the wedding, but since it hasn’t, filled to the brim with all good things, I’ve taken to drawing to slow down the moments a bit, to lean into all the goodness jam-packed into my days and weeks.

Even before my birthday last week, I had been drawing, drawing, drawing. Not even stopping long enough to Instagram them all!! Lately it feels as if I cannot get enough of it. Like there isn’t enough paper to catch all the lines and wrangle them into memories. Yet with each drawing, I can sense the haphazard jaunts of living being groomed into something more steady, upright, and ordered. Or at least somewhat ordered.

Marion&MeforTea

Drawing is a trellis for me. Laying down line after line, offers a solid trellis for the color and textures. Scaffolding is another good word for it…a solid form upon which to hang all manner of splashed-on, riotous color. Without a trellis, the vine just takes over. With a trellis, there’s peace, order, structure. I like structure.

ShatleySprings2016

Even without any color added. Just lines. Lots of lines. Line as the ultimate abstraction. I love them. Yes I do. I’m putting lines down every day. Must. Draw. I’m nearly half way finished in a brand new sketchbook I just recently purchased. Fun. Good medicine.

I’ll share more of them soon! In the meantime, I hope you are able to set down a trellis or two in your own sketchbook! Keep ’em flowing…hang onto them…cling to the trellis and you’ll grow a bit more every time.

All My Attention

BeachAdirondacks

Every drawing tells a story. It doesn’t matter whether it is abstract or representational, detailed or dashed off, unfinished or complete…it speaks of life in that moment, what was going on either in the artist’s physical world or in their feelings and thoughts. More often than not, it encompasses both.

CaptureLucy

I often feel like Irene, in the Princess and the Goblin, whose been given a near invisible thread to take with her into the world outside the castle and to follow where it leads so that she might be led back home. Life has a way of calling me out of my comfort zones regularly, which in turn creates a storm of thoughts and feelings that are not easily sorted out. The very best way I have to quiet the storm and be led through it (even good storms such as a wedding!) is to follow the lines of whatever is around me, pinning them down on paper as I can, catching them by the tail, and following them home.

RandyRelaxing

Bringing the full weight of all my attention to particular moments is what drawing affords me. Even knitting doesn’t quite rival this focus of mind and quieting of jumpy thoughts. I can still ruminate to beat the band whilst knitting and crocheting. (Unless of course I’m learning a new stitch pattern or following a chart, but even that is not the same.)

ToughGetGoing

I look back through this Moleskin and I can see so much that has happened in the past few months. Though there are no actual wedding drawings, I see and remember little moments leading up to it and beyond…that thread that reminds me I have a rope, a life-line, leading me in and through life’s big events as well as small ones.

bloom

I finally got around to reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic several weeks ago. The one thing that has stuck with me is a phrase she mentioned once or twice. “So here’s the part where I…” She recounts that after so many years of living this creative life, she now recognizes the patterns of her emotional and mental landscape that are repeated time and time again. This SO resonated with me! “So here’s the part where I get so busy I can hardly think straight let alone feel focused in my art.” “So here’s the part where I’m humming along with creative juices flowing daily.” “So here’s the part where I haven’t been able to create much and now that I can, I’m so backlogged with ideas I’m flailing around making anything and everything that comes to mind.” etc. etc.

JustUsThree

It is helpful in the midst of it all, to realize these patterns and that a thread runs through all of it, leading me out to a wide open space where I will regain a sense of harmony and direction in what I want to make. Drawing leads me through. Drawing makes all the jumpy thoughts and questions bed down for a time, allowing a sense of calm to flood back in.

MorningTea&Reading

I’ll keep following the line. I feel it already bringing me through the overgrown brush, the frenzied forest of life, and I know it will lead me out into that spacious place which may not be home yet, but a place to hang my hat for a time.

CienerAtLast

I sincerely hope that you too can follow a line today, pin it to paper, catch it by the tail and hang on for dear life, bringing the full weight of all your attention to small moments.  In so doing, your sketchbook will be a full, beautiful and rich account of the journey.

Be All Here

Sky&OceanOakIsland2016

I sat on the edge of the steps leading down to the ocean from our beach house. Saying goodbye is always hard. A week of family, fun, rest, relaxing, walking, reading, drawing and knitting…hard to top that.

I drank in the gorgeous sky above the water, trying to notice and take in everything about it so I could take it back with me, remember it, paint it when I returned home. It is how I could transition from this lovely week back to my everyday life. Even though I’d been drawing and painting it all week, I felt I had only just begun to capture the force, the movement, the textures and colors of the ocean and its ever-changing sky.

Water&SkyOakIsland2016

My intent this week was to make marks. I have a tendency to become seized with a love for a particular medium and I’m compelled to use it as much as possible over a period of time. For this week it was oil pastel and watercolor. An exciting and whimsical combination. Yet when I got home, I wanted just watercolor for the first image above. Just paint to depict how the ocean’s waves mirrored the sky’s clouds. Just a brush to sweep and flood the sky and water with the colors that reflect off of each other.

Sun&WavesOakIsland2016

There are too many qualities in the sky and ocean that make it necessary to limit oneself to just a few of them for depicting in paint and crayon. Color. Texture. Movement. This week was less about shape or perspective. Impressions. Emotion. Joy. Freedom. That’s what I was after. For my sketchbooks, as well as for my life.

I’m back at home, filled with gratitude in my heart and with numerous drawings in my sketchbooks. It is as if each one was drawing out of me the weariness that had accumulated over the past months. Each mark, sketch, swoosh of color unleashing burdens, yet harnessing peace, drawing all the color and light into myself, ready for what life has in store for the rest of the summer.

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P.S. I’m always hopeful that you will find drawing to be as immensely poignant and helpful to you as it is to me. I am renewed in my desire to draw daily as a way to bring my full attention to the life I have. I need this. We all need this. So I’m planning future blog posts on this topic, to encourage you, inspire you to draw, take up your brush and dip into the ocean of your life to see the beauty that lies therein.

You might enjoy this little video I made from a beach trip a few years ago. Same house, family, and fun.

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

Time

TimeforLife

I am realizing anew that there’s a time for every season under heaven.

fathersday-2

(photography courtesy of Hazel Kuehn Photography)

There’s a time for celebrating.

And a time for grieving the passing of an era.

WeatherAbstract

There’s a time for illness.

And a time for healing.

NevertheSame

There’s a time for making marks.

And a time for white open pages.

EpicRipOut

There’s a time for stitching.

And a time for ripping out.

TheBride&Me

(photography courtesy of Hazel Kuehn Photography)

There’s a time for gathering.

And a time for letting go.

Atimeforeverything

There’s a time for making the usual.

And there’s a time for trying something new.

***

There’s even a time for going to the beach.

I’m glad it’s that time!

I’m ready for it. I need it.

Looking forward to being with family and the restorative sound of the waves, warm sand in my toes, and days of walking, reading, stitching, drawing…

or not.

There will be time for everything.

Charcoal Love

HolidayTrio

I’m working through a batch of commission work, some of which is in charcoal. I love working with charcoal, especially portraiture. It is incredibly fun to watch a face emerge out of the ash on the page and to see personality peer back at you through the values. So much fun!

CloseUpRandyTrio

I realized I never fully shared with you the charcoal piece I created several weeks ago of my husband being a goofy uncle with two of our nieces at Christmas. They love to sit in his lap and laugh with him. The photo I had was the perfect challenge to try bringing to life a fun moment from the holidays.

BrynleyTrio

The easel and charred sticks are calling my name, so I’ll leave you with other close-ups of this three-person portrait.

AddyTrio

And by the way…if you’d like to follow me on my stay-at-home walking/drawing pilgrimage through Lent, I’d welcome your company! Consider joining in! It’s never too late to start a pilgrimage of your own.

UpCloseRandyTrio2

Happy Day to you!  and Buen Camino!

UpCloseAddyTrio

UpCloseBrynleyTrio2

If Knitted Socks Could Speak

TellingSock

I’m thinking about socks these days. How much I like to knit them. How much I like to wear them. How they go so many places as they’re being knitted. How they go even more places once they’re knitted and on my feet. They seem to be the perfect humble work…both the knitting and the wearing goes unseen mostly…and yet provides the most daily warmth and comfort of any of the other knits.

SketchbookSock

I imagine unraveling a hand-knitted sock, and letting it tell of all the places it had been while being knitted. Like a typewriter whose words are bound up in the ribbon, circling and looping round and round, forever sealed up. I like wearing a little bit of my recent history even as my feet carry me and my newest sock-on-the-needles project bag wherever I go.

MorningBeachKnit&Tea

This neon pair started at the beach this summer. They’ve seen a lot of life as well as times of neglect as I tended to other projects, both knitted and painted. They don’t seem to mind. The lure of knitting Christmasy socks propelled me to finish the final inches of the second sock. And now I’m happily knitting in all sorts of lovely holiday memories into this pair which I hope to have finished by Christmas Day. That will be quite a feat (feat, feet, ha!:) for sure!!

End&BeginSock

Perhaps you’re knitting socks too! Or crocheting them! Do tell of the capers yours socks have gotten into over the duration of their stitch-life!!

ChristmasSocksBegun

And…Happy Sock Knitting!

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The above sketch was made in my Yarn Project Only sketchbook. I’m thinking about logging the start and end dates of each pair of socks and all the significant and not-so-significant  events of my life as I knit them.

JDRF One Walk 2015

JDRFOneWalk2015

Stepping down into the throng of people lining up to Walk is always a bit emotional for me. To see a sea of fellow humans who are, in some fashion, walking this path of Type 1 Diabetes, is at once startling and comforting. Startling in the fact that this wretched disease touches so many lives, children as well as adults. Comforting to know that we are  not alone in the daily fight to manage blood sugars.

FriendsJDRFWalk2015

Though it drizzled rain for much of the morning, I felt a torrent of love and support for our daughter Maddie. She feels it too I’m sure. Friends and family from far and near came to walk with her. To say with their presence–We are here Maddie, to walk with you in the fight to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes and to support you and your family’s efforts to manage the disease.

UPforaCureJDRF2015

Our clever girl designed new t-shirts this year with a Harry Potter theme. In this sketch, she and her cousins and friends showed that they are indeed UP for a cure! Thanks Aunt Tracy for a great photo to draw from! Thank you RedHeaded T-shirts for printing Maddie’s design. And thank you , each and every one of you who donated money to Madeleine’s Army (formerly known as Maddie’s Mission). One day we will see a cure for this disease. We hope! But in the meantime, it is wonderful to know that Maddie has an army of people who love and support her in the daily challenge of living with Type 1 Diabetes.

Madeleine'sArmyT-shirt

Thank you!

With all my heart…Thank you.

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P.S. Because of your amazing donations, our daughter was able to walk the red carpet as a V1P!! This was a special treat for those teams who had raised over $1,000.

Also, her t-shirt design was awarded a gold medal for Most Artistic Design. Congrats Maddie!