Tag Archives: children

Drawing for Inspiration

11 Oct

BOOK: Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) by Carla Sonheim

I keep running across the book Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) by Carla Sonheim and I am just itching to try it out.  Basically, Sonheim guides the reader through 52 projects, or “labs” as she calls them,  and offers techniques for creating playful and spontaneous drawings.  I love to draw and paint, but often feel confined by thinking I have to control every line of the pencil or stroke of the brush. I think these activities will be a great way to re-energize my creativity, hone my skills, and glean some new ones.

I picked the book up at my local library last week and got started.  At first I had to scramble for art supplies as I have already put most of them in storage in anticipation of our move.  But what I thought was a glitch turned out to be a blessing as I just have to work with what I’ve got instead of over-thinking it with myriad choices.  I still have an accessible box of watercolors and gouache paints.  I really don’t know where my sketchbooks are packed away so I went to the bookstore and got one on sale.  While I was at it, I allowed my 3 year-old to pick out a mini-sketchbook for herself.  It is now her new favorite accessory.  And so, with only my watercolors, some sharpie markers,  my sketchbook, and my kiddo, I have been taking some time to create.

I started with the book’s first assignment of drawing a cat…actually about 30 cats…and have also been inspired to draw some other creatures.  I have been creating birds and owls for years, but with the suggestions and techniques of Sonheim, I was able to break free of the fear that everything needs to be oober-controlled.  In fact, one of her suggestions is to draw with your weaker hand to loosen up the drawings.  Since last week, I have created with only my left hand!  It is quite liberating and I am yielding results that I have always desired in my work but had been trying to force.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fit these “labs” into my schedule, but I have found that it is just the opposite. The first assignment actually instructs the artist to draw “while sitting or lying in bed.”  So, I take some time at night, right before bed, and draw.  Or, in between cooking dinner or cleaning up the dishes, I run over to where my sketchbook sits open, draw a few characters, clear my mind, and then get back to the task at hand.  I have had so much fun with and extending the first lesson, that I am not yet ready to move onto the second.

What I really love is that I have been doing a lot of this drawing while spending time with my daughter.  (Mommy-hood side note confession: I don’t play well.  It’s not that I don’t like to play, but when it comes to playing with my three-year old, it can be brutal on one’s mental stamina.  Her attention span is either very short and we go from activity to activity or it is repetitive, and we are stuck on the same thing for such.a.long.time!!!!  Tea party for two, anyone?  Pull up a chair.  You’ll be here for, oh, about three hours or so!  When we play, I am often daydreaming about the other things that I should be doing or could be doing or want to be doing.  Sounds terrible but I know that I am not the only Mommy out there feeling this way!)  BUT, she has really taken to her little sketchbook we have just been spending great time drawing together.  She gets very involved in what she has been doing and I get lost in my own creations.  We stop every once in a while and check out the other one’s work and make comments, and then we get back to it.

Here is what I produced from that first “lab.”  I am also working on a project that combines what I have learned from this assignment with some of the drawings that I have been doing over the past few years.  Stay tuned for those.  As I move along, I will post my work.  I also have some plans for my daughter’s work, but that will come in time as well.

Cat sketches, watercolor and sharpie.

Owl sketches (and a stray cat), watercolor and sharpie.

Pig sketches, watercolor and sharpie.

It would be interesting to hear from others who might have  taken one of Carla Sonheim’s  online classes or used one of her books.  Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on the subject.

You can follow Carla’s blog here.

All images (c) Sneezing in Windy Places, 2012, unless otherwise noted.

What Happens on Wednesdays? I’ll Tell You on Thursday.

10 Feb

This book, as soon as it left the shelf of the public library and landed in the hands of my two-year-old daughter, instantly became her newest favorite title.  She has had many favorite books, each coming and going in phases, but I have to admit that I too love this book.  I love it enough to suggest rereads.  I love it enough to linger on the pages to take in the quaint and familiar illustrations of Lauren Castillo.  I love it enough to reach my “renewal” limit at the library.

The story follows a little girl through her typical Wednesday routine.  She recounts, with great detail, not only the happenings of the present, but also of the past.  But the recounts are mundane.  Trivial, really.  Past the…where we once saw an umbrella caught in a tree.  Past the bakery where we got that chocolate croissant. Perhaps that is why my daughter loves it so much.  She IS the little girl.  Most kids could put themselves in her place.  Kids cling to details.  They love to sniff out the things that all of us adults are missing as we go about with our eyes on the prize.  Focused, blinders on, staring straight ahead. We miss the small stuff.  They get it!  And they like to tell us about it.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have rushed my daughter off for a day of errand running, huffed and puffed all the way there and all the way back, roll my eyes numerous times, bitch and moan because traffic isn’t moving quick enough…and then get home and sit down with her for lunch and she will tell me about all of the wonderous/beautiful/fascinating things that I missed along the way.  “Mommy, that big yellow school bus was going fast.”  “Did the squirrel run onto Miss Vanessa’s porch?”

What a kick in the ass!  These are the moments when I just look at her in complete amazement.  Thank God for this little creature in my life.  Thank God for her ability to make me just stop and breathe and be sometimes.  I know that I don’t pick up on her ques all the time, but I catch them enough to know that I am moving way too fast.  At least my mind is.  My mind is a whirlwind.  My daughter’s body moves in the same manner. But her mind?  Her mind is able to stop when something is deemed important enough to clutch her attention.  The squirrel running across the porch.  The bubbles glistening on the bar of soap.  The random blue shirt lying inexplicably on the side of the road.  The windshield wipers rhythmically wiping.
From now on I need to pay more attention.  I want to be able to sit down on Thursday and tell someone what happened on Wednesday because as of right now, all I see is a blur behind me.

Mommy Hair

8 Feb

Do you remember the commercial for Suave shampoo?  The one where the woman balances her young son on her shoulders as he tousles her hair about?  Her disheveled hair acts an obvious metaphor for the scattered state-of-mind that is “motherhood.”

(Please note that I searched extensively–and somewhat obsessively–for this commercial.  I couldn’t even find a still frame of it.  If anyone knows of a place to find it, please let me know.) 

This is another version of the ad.  It is not the one that I remember, but it makes the same point.

Click image to watch commercial.

I first saw this commercial prior to being a mommy.  I remember the amusement I felt from watching the rambunctious little creature sit atop the mother’s shoulders and obliterate any resemblance of her sanity.  “Not me,” I thought.  “Cute commercial.  Makes me laugh, but not applicable.”

In fact, I was even bold enough to say to myself, “That will NEVER be me.  THAT child must be a demon to be acting in such a way.  THAT mother needs to shape up.  I will teach MY child manners and respect.  The mere fact that MY future child will spring forth from MY loins will mean that (s)he will automatically inherit MY respectful and well-behaving traits.  ”  (For the record, I have since learned that all of these pre-conceived notions and judgments of other people’s kids is a bunch of bull.  Kids are kids and they act as such.  Some worse than others, yes, but at one point all of us parents will find ourselves quietly sobbing in the bread aisle because the creature that you gave life to just tossed a carton of eggs into the back of the cart and so far you’ve only found ten of the twelve.   To all of those not-yet or soon-to-be parents out there, watch what you say about the behavior of others’ offspring because, believe me, those flippant words will come back to bite you in the ass one fine day.  And you WILL cry.)

Getting back to my first impressions of the commercial…back then, the minutes that ticked away each morning as I would blow-dry, brush, and flat iron my long locks into a sleek and straight submission were trivial.  There really wasn’t much thought given to the precious time that was mine.  All mine! (Insert maniacal laugh here).  I was in control.  I was in the driver’s seat.  And, literally, all I had to do was get in the driver’s seat of my car and get myself to work on time.  Totally doable!  Sure, I hated getting up early and having to drive 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how heavy traffic was each morning), but all I had to worry about was myself.

Now this commercial (specifically the scene described in my opening) plays through my head at least 4 times every half hour.  (Hello, flippant words.  Please make them gentle nibbles.  I’d hate to have huge bite marks on my ass.)

I AM that woman.  I AM the mother who uses words or phrases like “antsy,” “wiggly,” “fidgety,” “strong-willed,”  and “active” to describe her child.  How about “attention-disabled?”

Would. You.Please.Sit.Still.For.One.Second.While.I.Put.On.Your.Shoes?!!!!

These days, I am not only in charge of myself  but also of a living, breathing, and very speedy miniature human being who suddenly refuses to wear her shoes in the car, who sticks markers up her nose, and who asks  me the same damn question over and over and over again.   These are the kinds of things lead to delays in schedules.  These are the kinds of things that have me huffing and puffing as I attempt to accomplish a seemingly simple task, like fetching a few groceries or putting on matching socks.

And my hair?  I am also still in charge that.  While I can’t give it all of the love and attention that I used to, I do believe that I should at least look like I’m trying.  If, for no other reason, than to make sure that when my child thrusts her limp body from my arms toward the hard pavement of the parking lot as I attempt to get her into the car,  while screaming “NOOOO” at the top of her lungs (true story), I don’t look like I’m a crazy woman trying to abduct her.   But, these days I have opted for a wavy look.  It chops about 30 minutes off of the primping phase each day.  I also subscribe to the “wash- only-when-visibly-greasy” method.

As for plans and schedules, they need to be flexible.  Strict timelines get thrown out the window.  The only schedule I can adhere to is being 15 minutes late for most everything!  Sorry, playdate friends.  Actually, I am not sorry because I know that you understand.  We are all mommies and we don’t judge…right?…because we’ve all been there?…because we all have a chair in the crazy corner?  Right?

On a serious note, I do know from talking to many friends that I am not alone on this.  And, while our offspring may cause some moments of mental anxiety, they are still really cute…when they are sleeping.  Despite my daughter’s ability to make me wish for a padded room some days, I like to think that these are the traits that will allow her to thrive in life.  I know that she is using my husband and me as her places of comfort as she figures out how to navigate life’s unpredictable path.  And, at the end of every day, no matter how stressful it may have been, I give my miniature human being as many kisses as she will allow and hug her until she tries to break free.  Some nights, as I lay beside her in her bed talking about what we did that day, I even allow her to tousle my hair.

Here are some other Suave commercials that bring a smile to my face.  Enjoy!

Click on image to watch commercial.

Click on image to watch commercial.