When I’m Not Writing, I’m Doing Something Useful (Writing 101, Day 11)

Someone once asked me why I didn’t have any useful hobbies.  I didn’t respond to the question.  It wasn’t worth my time.  In response, though, I have some questions of my own.

What is more useful than learning to see things from other people’s perspectives?  Reading does that.

What is more useful than creating something beautiful?  This happens every time I pick up a paintbrush.

Lately, I’ve spent a great deal of my free time writing.  I mean… what do you expect when your course is titled Writing 101?  But writing isn’t all I do.

I love books.  Those three words don’t even begin to describe my love for the written word.  I count myself among the world’s bibliophiles.  To read a book is akin to breathing.  As long as I can remember, I’ve been a reader.  Nothing has changed over the years.  College was awesome because it gave me an excuse to read all kinds of interesting books and get graded for it.  I used to be a one-book-at-a-time kind of girl.  Now I usually balance two or three at a time.  My bedroom has no less than six shelves–all full to the brim.  My “To-Read” list is endless.  In case you were wondering, right now I’m balancing a book of feminist essays, Love Does by Bob Geoff, and some fluffy YA fiction.

I also love art.  One of my favorite places during my semester in London was the National Gallery.  Whenever I had twenty minutes to kill, I’d duck in and spend time with Monet and Rembrandt.  But my love isn’t limited to viewing art.  I love creating it.  Like reading, I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember.  I got very serious about it when I was eleven and have been striving ever since.  A year ago, I picked up watercolors.  It’s been a blast learning the ins and outs of the new medium and combining it with my drawings.  My work isn’t high brow, art museum level.  It’s not even Art Major level.  But it doesn’t have to be.  I don’t make art to excel–I make art to fill me up.

Reading and painting bring me life.  They make me happy and they make others happy.  I love giving people hand-crafted art to put on their wall or hold their pages in a book.  What is more useful than touching the lives of the people you love?

This is just a sampling of some of the things I've painted recently.
This is just a sampling of some of the things I’ve painted recently.

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

Sketchbook Corner: End of Summer Haul

It’s been ages since I did one of these.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what to do with my art–especially my paintings.  In the last Sketchbook Corner, I mused on the possibility of selling my work at the small store attached to my family’s apple orchard.  Since then, I’ve decided not to sell my work.  I make art because I love it.  And I love to give it away.  Since I began painting a year ago, one of my favorite things aside from the joy of creation is to give a piece os my art to someone who will appreciate it.  Countless bookmarks and little landscapes have found their ways into the hands of people I care about.  The delight on their faces when they look at my work is more valuable than any money I’d make by selling.

Lately, I’ve been revisiting colored pencils.  I’ve avoided them for years, but picked up a set of new ones on a whim.  So far, I’ve been happy with them.  They are less time-consuming than watercolors and there are more color blending options.  Check out my usual batch of ladies and mermaids:

I’ve been doing my best to pick up my paints at least once a week.  I’ve been working on (more) ladies…

… as well as some nature.

I like doing Sketchbook Corners, but they’ve become infrequent.  Which is sad.  If you’re reading this, I am in need of feedback…

Would you prefer art posts that are large and substantial, but infrequent OR more frequent, small posts?  Please let me know!  Your feedback is appreciated!

Sketchbook Corner

One of my favorite features here on Keep Your Feet is Sketchbook Corner.  Since I’m participating in Blogging 101, I feel like I should explain the history of these posts.  They began sometime last fall during school.  Unless the class is completely gripping, I usually find myself needing to do something to do with my hands.  I took up doodling in the margins.  Eventually, I was struck by a thought: Why not share these on the blog?

Thus, Sketchbook Corner was born.  Every couple of months, I like to share the art I’ve been working on.  I’m no studio art major… just a self-taught artist who enjoys creating things.  My primary medium has always been pencils–I’ve been drawing for over ten years.  Over the past year, though, I’ve expanded into watercolors!

At least once a week, I put in a movie and settle down with my paints.  It’s a wonderful way to relax after a long day of work.  I enter my own little world and, for a while, time stops.  I’m always completely shocked when an episode of a show ends–did an hour really just pass?

Enough rambling from me… here is the art!

I’ve recently taken up colored pencils again and have been revisiting some old doodles in my sketchbook.  Here are some colored ones below:

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Top left: Ginny Weasley Bottom left: Random mermaid Right: Some of my original characters

I really enjoy painting bookmarks–they’re functional and make for great gifts!  Normally I paint people, but have recently pushed myself into the realm of flowers.  My dad told me that if I can find a way to market them, I could make larger flower paintings and sell them at our family’s apple orchard store in the fall!

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Other paintings… Be sure to click into the gallery to see my comments about them!

Stay tuned for another Sketchbook Corner in a month or so.  Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Wrap-Up

It’s only when you work full-time that you realize how absolutely splendid weekends are.  Despite it being rainy most of the past couple days, I’ve had some special moments.  Pajamas till noon, long bike rides, time with family.  Here’s a big conglomeration of it all.

Part I

Yesterday, I opened my copy of Persuasion by Jane Austen to find a wonderful surprise.  I bought it months ago at a thrift store and within the pages was a stack of photos that I can only assume belong to the book’s previous owner.  Most of the photos are of a bunch of young kids hanging out in summer.  Printing notes on the back tell me that they are from 2008.  It’s really special, finding photos that meant something to someone.

Who are these kids?

Which one owned the book?

Where are they now?

Do they still remember the good times they had together?

It’s a special thing, getting a glimpse into someone else’s memories.

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On another note, I hope to be discussing Persuasion in a few weeks during my weekly On the Shelf post.  I’ve got something else planned for this week, but Austen is coming!

Part II

I donated to my first Kickstarter campaign!  I’ve been trying to get better at financial giving and, instead of supporting a charity or ministry, I put my money to support one of my favorite bands.  Jenny & Tyler are a folksy husband/wife duo who sing lots of love sings and have a passion for social justice.  I saw them live in concert in October and loved every minute of it.  You can check out their music on YouTube and, if you like what you hear, donate to their Kickstarter campaign!  They’ll be using the money to fund a couple new albums and a tour!

Part III

I’m hoping to paint these tonight!  If I don’t get to them, I’ll for-sure paint them sometime this week.  I’m REALLY excited to see how the mermaid turns out.

Photo on 5-17-15 at 8.54 PM #5
(Sorry for the crappy photo quality… I had to use my computer’s camera ’cause uploading from my phone wasn’t working.)

Part IV

I made the poor decision to go into Goodwill and Half Price Books this afternoon, which means unnecessarily buying books I won’t get to reading for three years.  Still, I managed to snag an autographed copy of Sarah Dessen’s new book Saint Anything!!!  It’s been a LONG while since I’ve read any of Dessen’s work, but I was a big fan in high school.  This book was ridiculously overpriced, even for a discount store, but I can now display it next to my other autographed books.  (I’d like to note that this collection includes a first-edition, signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars.)

Part V

I got to see Pitch Perfect 2 on Friday.  It was pretty crude at points and didn’t have the most original plot, but I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard.

That’s it for my wrap-up.  Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Sketchbook Corner: End-of-College Edition

When I was ten, I decided that I would teach myself to draw.  Eleven years later, I’m still pushing myself to get better with my pencils.  At the beginning of this school year, I decided that I would teach myself to paint.  I’ve never been particularly good with the medium.  They’ve always felt like foreign territory.  I’ve never known what to do with all the colors.  But I’ve stuck to my goal and this post is a testament to how far I’ve come.

Because finals have been fairly low-key for me this semester, I’ve taken to my painting with a vengeance.  Lots of nights have been spent working and plowing through Game of Thrones.  (I’ve watched a season and a half in less than a week.  Yay college.)

First, I’ve been experimenting with variations of water and trees.  This image has been in my mind for a LONG time.  While driving home from the North Shore over Spring Break, I remember looking out on Lake Superior.  The lake was pure gold, reflecting the sunlight, and was framed by an assortment of purple-looking birch trees.  The gorgeous image stuck with me.

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My other paintings have been primarily of people.  As you can see, I’ve been really interested in pretty women in flowing dresses–particularly those of ancient Greek/Roman style.  Be sure to click on all the images in the gallery to see my comments on each of them.  Aside from the first, I used stock images as references for these from the wonderful Faestock on Deviantart.

This final painting found its origins in a sketch from my Shakespeare class.  We were discussing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the time and I found myself drawing fairies all over my notes.  Although I actually picture her a lot differently, here is my exploration of Titania.  She’s not quite finished–I want to revisit the background and give it more depth.  But I’m rather pleased!

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Now I’d like to know… which is your favorite and why?

Sketchbook Corner

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done one of these.  I’m proud to present more of my art!

I’ve been sketching more than usual lately.  Here are some snippets:

See the uncolored Cinderella sketch in the above gallery?  I transposed it to watercolor paper and here is the result.  I wish I had been more bold with some of the colors, but it’s a start!

IMG_4259Also, I’ve been continuing making bookmarks.  Just as I did with the Cinderella painting, I take doodles from my class notes, copy them on narrowly cut watercolor paper, and paint them in.  I love creating art that’s actually useful.  These sure brighten up my assigned reading.

Finally, this is a project I’ve spent this week working on.  We just finished reading and discussing Tennyson’s Idylls of the King in my Courtly Love class.  At the end of the poem, Camelot ultimately falls because of Guinevere’s infidelity with Lancelot.  This painting is one of the few instances where I consciously construct the image.  I put a lot of thought into her pose and color scheme.  The text is a quote from the end of Tennyson’s fantastic poem.

I want to know…

“Do what brings you life” has become my mantra of late.  It’s been on my mind a lot over the past week.  Last night, after a hectic all-over-the-place day, I spent some quality time painting and catching up on t.v. shows.  I felt so at peace.

As I was going to bed, I realized that I don’t want to simply dwell on what brings ME life.  So much of this blog is about me.  I want to go beyond myself.  I want to know, readers, what brings YOU life?  What makes you tick?  What brings you joy?  What are the things that you can’t imagine NOT doing?

Answer in the comments!  It will make my day!

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Last night’s painting. It’s nothing special, but I loved the time I spent making it. Lyrics are from Rend Collective.

 

From doodles to bookmarks

Artistically, I’ve been challenging myself to try new things.  Before this school year, I wasn’t much of a painter.  Pencils were my anchor and sketches my speciality.  I occasionally dabble in digital art, but drawing in Photoshop just isn’t the same.

Then I decided to teach myself watercolors.  Why?  For the challenge.  For the fun.  For the joy of doing something new.

On a different note, I’ve been struggling this semester with a lack of adequate bookmarks.  With three literature classes, I’m usually juggling three or four books at once.  Given the fact that bending pages makes me cringe,  I need lots of paper place holders.

So… why not combine my classroom doodling with watercolors?

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For the past few evenings, I’ve been copying my classroom doodles onto my special painting paper and have brought them to life.  My technique still needs refining.  I’m not fully satisfied with some of these.  With practice, I’ll hopefully find a method and style that works best.

Now, I have plenty of bookmarks to choose from.  Once I have enough of them, I might start giving them to friends as gifts.  Why not share the love?

(For more of my art, check out the link to a collection of related posts in the header!)

Sketchbook Corner (Watercolor Edition)

Or shall I say… Watercolor Corner?

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was a set of new watercolors from my little brother.  For the past few months, I’ve been scraping by on an eight-tint Crayola set that is five years old.  Yuck.  The new set has a massive array of colors and when I combine it with the big set of brushes I got for my birthday, I’m capable of achieving so much more with my paint.

I’ve been exploring some different techniques/subjects, which has been a blast.  Since this is a watercolor-only edition of SK and I’ve put a lot of thought and time into all these works, let’s take things one by one…

(Please excuse the crappy image quality)

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These mountains were the first thing I painted upon receiving my new paint.  I gave this one to my best friend as a belated Christmas gift.

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I had a blast painting this sunflower on Christmas day.  I gave it to my summer partner, Eva, (who loves yellow).

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This is my amateur attempt at capturing The Lonely Mountain from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  It took forever to paint–so many layers!  I rewatched one of the films while I painted, staying up WAY too late to finish.  But, gosh, am I pleased with the result!  I loved it so much I sent it home with my older brother, who shares my love of Tolkien.

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Okay, so the picture quality is REALLY crappy here.  It looks much better in person.  This was my first real attempt at painting people since getting the new brushes and paint.  I originally started out doing lots of people (see previous Sketchbook Corners for examples), but it was difficult with only one brush to work with.  I started this one on a whim–the basic sketch took only a couple minute.  I finished her up at a sleepover, which was actually pretty challenging as I had to balance the paints on my friend’s couch while avoiding her over-excited pomeranians.

Did this one last night as well.  I wanted to experiment more with painting people, and I'm quite pleased with the result!  I've been reading several YA fairytale retellings, so I imagine she's either Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or has a story of her own.

I painted this last night while watching the premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter with my mother. I wanted to experiment more with painting people, and I’m quite pleased with the result! I’ve been reading several YA fairytale retellings, so I imagine she’s either Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, or has a story of her own.

Finally…

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This took FOREVER.  I did the background and sketches of the trees before New Years and didn’t pick it back up until last night.  The details on the trees took what felt like hours.  And yes… it’s inspired by a Taylor Swift song.  (My favorite on her 1989 album).  Painting all the black got annoying and adding words with white felt like a risk, but I’m definitely pleased with the result!

That’s all for this edition of Sketchbook Corner!  Check by in a few weeks to see what else my hands come up with.  If you haven’t seen them, do look at my previous SK posts and see how I’ve improved!

Also, because I’m curious… What painting is your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Sketchbook Corner 4

Welcome to another edition of Sketchbook Corner, a feature where I share various doodles and artwork I’ve been creating.

Click the images to enter the galleries for a closer look at the art, as well as descriptions and comments.

Watercolors:

Sketchbook:

 Class Doodles:IMG_3398-0With finals hanging over our heads, my tendency to doodle in class has curbed a bit.  I spend most of class these days scribbling down as many notes as possible to help with final papers and tests.

That’s all for this edition of Sketchbook Corner!  Keep your eyes peeled for next time, which will probably be in a few weeks.

Previous edition:

Sketchbook Corner 3

(All sketches, doodles, and artwork belong to me.  Do not take and repost without permission.)