Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Art of the Handwritten Note

Je souhaite à mes amis Francophones et Francophiles 
un joyeux 1er mai! Je vous envoie un brin de muguet virtuel!
Speaking of virtual cards verses the handwritten: 
The book, The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication begins with: 

"When I mention the handwritten note to any group of otherwise optimistic and intelligent people, I almost always hear someone say, 'It's a dying art.' Wrong! It's not dying, it's healthier than ever. But it certainly is an art, because it brings out the best in both the person who creates it and the person who looks at it."

I am blessed to participate in this art. I sometimes lapse in keeping up my end, even though I so love creating, sending & receiving handmade notes, cards & letters.  I also resort to typing sometimes because of easy editing, spell check & dictionaries, especially when writing in French. I do understand why computers have pushed out writing by hand.
But what's this about penmanship no longer being offered in public schools?? Perhaps someone can explain this evolution to me...We're not all talented for calligraphy, but aren't there times when we still need to write by hand? Perhaps a former generation bemoaned the day when inkwells were taken out of the schools, & I am just an old fashioned member of my generation.

For me, those letters for copying that were posted above the chalkboard in grade school where magical. I grew up seeing my grandmother's handwriting, she being two generations before me & European, & I loved it. Below is a page from one of my grandmother's journals. She was Polish, but it is a poem by French poet Rimbaud. (THAT is a WHOLE other story.)
My cursive writing has degenerated these days & I've been re-inspired by a gorgeous handwritten note from a penpal  (Merci, mon amie!)  The Art of the Handwritten Note is also reminding me that handwriting is not only a means to an end for me, it's pleasant in its own right. Or should I say, "In it's own write."

Thursday, April 28, 2016

French Homework: My Style of Dining in Paris

 I wrote it all in French: Assignment: Describe a favorite meal. I'm not a cook so I wrote about my favorite meals when in Paris:  "La cuisine à emporter", take out food, but not McD's. Asian traiteurs, the neighborhoods of Rue Cler, Rue de la Huchette, & Rue Mouffetard with such varieties of fresh, ready made food! Boulangeries everywhere with more than just bread: sandwiches with fresh ingredients, quiche, salads, soupes. Guichets, windows with counters, where you can watch your crêpe being made, or where you can buy Middle Eastern food. The Monoprix grocery & department store. Oh! And the outdoor markets for fruits, vegetables, cheese, bread, & regional dishes~ & lots of French language to hear.

Where to eat? I admit I have eaten crêpes from the guichets standing on the sidewalks. But benches, oh the benches! They are in the the grand parks with magnificent statues, but also in church courtyards & along sidewalks, and near so many architectural wonders!  (And probably other places I have yet to discover...) If it is raining? Portez toujours un parapluie!

Why not eat in restaurants while traveling? Obviously to save money, lots, (which you can then spend on books & scarves!) There's more: by eating outdoors  you can spend more time enjoying the amazing buildings & action of Paris. Benches are my friends & support while sketching, & also my favorite form of restaurant.

I recently learned the expression, "se mettre dans la peau de quelqu'un.", to place yourself in another's skin, to see their point of view. I understand that restaurants are a big form of entertainment for many tourists, so I know my way is not for everyone.    
N'importe où, bon appétit!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Drawing: Natural or Learned?

 A dear Blogger, La Table de Nana, (who has a most beautiful, creative, happy, loving blog), asked:
"Did you learn to sketch/draw with movement 
or was this natural for you?"

I replied on the previous post, but have thought more about it:

I do observational drawing by feeling the movement & gesture. It is my natural tendency, but I only found it when I was learning by the methods of Kimon Nicolaides in The Natural Way to Draw, 1st published in 1941!  I was lucky that my high school art teacher used this method because it was great for us minority kinesthetic & right brained learners. I think the book is best used in a class or group because students can pose for one another & someone can call time limits for the quick gesture studies. 

My college drawing teacher also emphasized perceiving your subject by physically feeling it rather than just visually aligning things. 

But a drawing can call for different approaches, in my opinion, so integrating the knowledge of diverse techniques & elements such as formal perspective is valuable. 

Finding a process & a medium that best matches one's own nature, as with anything in life, is important. For me, line, a sort of scribbling, is my favorite art element. If you only gave me one drawing tool to use with paper, it would be a fine ink pen. (But please, don't take away my colors!)

I seek out drawings to which I am intuitively attracted  as a way to discover my own inclinations. The drawings of Vincent Van Gogh have such linear energy, such feeling, such movement, as do the sensitively rendered drawings of Rembrandt.  

 (I should not be showing master drawings in the same post as my own sketch, but it is important not to compare one's work, & to just stay centered on what one truly loves to do.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Portland Sunday Morning: A park & a bakery

I don't get back to my old city as often as I used to. But I've been attending monthly Saturday French workshops at my old school, The Language Exchange. 
I still like to get up early to go sketching. Above, from my car, a Sunday morning sketch at Bug Light Park, South Portland. There are oil storage tanks behind this park, as SP is a pretty industrial city, but it has preserved some great shore front space for the public. 
Bug Light has lots of outdoor benches, but downtown does not. So next time I'm in Portland, I will try sketching from my parked car, before the meters kick in. This time, I found an indoor bench at Standard Baking Co., where I ate my raisin roll & watched a steady stream of customers.

Such animated comings & goings, interchanges & transactions! As in French boulangeries, which are the inspiration for this bakery, everything is created daily, right there, in the wee hours of the morning. Standard delivers to restaurants & cafés each day, but buying these pretty & fragrant works of art directly, along with morning coffee, is a fresh & energetic way to start the day! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Storyboard for French Homework: Le stylo plume

 Story-board, un Scénarimage, un Scénario-maquette
with 6 panels pasted onto an accordion fold book.

The writing assignment: To imagine shopping for an item, conversing in French with a shop person, using the comparative & superlative forms. Students "shopped" for things like L.L.Bean Boots, a birdhouse, &,  moi: 
For a fountain pen in Paris.
An American tourist greets the salesperson in a Parisian stationery shop with "Bonjour Madame," & she says she's searching for a good fountain pen. She explains that in the U.S. people don't write with fountain pens as much as they used to, & the U.S. doesn't have as many stationery stores as France does! 
The salesperson shows several pens & compares their attributes. Our tourist comments on the fact that her writing is better with a fountain pen than with a felt pen & it's the worst with a ballpoint pen. 
The vendeuse comments that with fountain pens one needs to use smooth papers of good quality.
The sales person invites the tourist to try some pens (without ink), to see how they feel. She also tells the tourist that she speaks French well. (Is she just flattering her? wonders the tourist, but she enjoys cinversing.) The salesperson asks the tourist where she's from. They chat...
After having purchased her new fountain pen the tourist departs & the two women exchange parting salutations. The salesperson tells the tourist to enjoy her new pen & to enjoy the rest of her stay in Paris.
The tourist does enjoy the rest of her stay, 
using her new pen to write & sketch her impressions of beautiful Paris, its landmarks, & its activity. 

(Click on on the drawings if you would like to read 
my flawed French.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mount Desert Island: Early Spring

It's early Spring & I am spending more time outdoors on this beautiful Maine coast. We finally made it to
Mount Desert Island. View from the town park in Bar Harbor. 
The carriage paths and trails were closed due to being wet and soft, but the boat launch at the end of
Eagle Lake, across from Cadillac & the Bubbles, was open. 

 Yesterday I pulled out my old pre-digital photo prints of MDI. I have started sketching from these photos
as well as sketching on location. I'll never forget the first time I saw the wondrous arrangements of rocks on the trails of Acadia, called rock cairns. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My 7th Grade Science Project

I just FINISHED & delivered (Yay!!) a project for an open art show with the theme of Art & Science. (2 of the sub-themes: "intense scrutiny of a subject" & "artistic interpretation of scientific investigation.") I paid tribute to my 7th Grade Science Project: A painted color wheel on canvas that you could spin to show that "the presence of all colors is white." Did my 7th grade wheel show that concept? Maybe not too much, but what it did show was how much I loved color & how scientific knowledge could expand my love. After all these years, I am still madly in love with color & color theory. 
The simple collage turned out to look like a child's work, which makes sense. It's part revisiting 7th grade, & part research to review what it is about color theory, especially in relation to painting, that is important to me today. I also loved thinking about the intersection of science & art & the differences. (If you are curious, you can click on the art above & maybe read some of my abbreviated thoughts on the subject...)
The initial notes were spontaneous & fun. But during the process of the finished work, there was literally some blood (cutting myself on the frame) & literally some tears, dealing with my personal stumbling blocks. The work is not a masterpiece, but the satisfaction in exploring & expressing my thoughts about a beloved subject, as well as persisting to the end in a process that was out of my comfort zone, THAT was wonderful.

Monday, April 4, 2016

More Sketches from The Yellow Book...

...the one with the too thin pages...
Who knew that it would be so much fun to use. 
(though my next book will have heavier weight pages)
The yellow book accompanies me on my frequent library visits.
Quiet, calm, & with a view, 
the reference room of The Belfast Free Library 
is a great place to sketch.
Yesterday, while waiting for a Gordon Bok & Carol Rohl concert at the Camden Library,
I used the super fine Slicci pen instead of Durapoint.
With a lighter line, 
my colors had to do more of the defining than ink lines. 
Colored pencil is not ideal on these pages 
but they are way too thin for watercolor.
For you local folks, our 1st meeting at the library will be on Monday, April 11, 10-Noon. 
Free & open to the public, bring own materials! 
Free to stay in the library or wander around 
Beautiful Downtown Belfast!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Happy Dance!

And may you have a happy day!
Bonne Journée!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sketchbook Wandering at the Library

Once the workshops & the show were over I found myself going back to sketching with new energy & inspiration. By teaching, I learn, by sharing, I get inspired.

J & I are regulars in the reading room of the Camden Library. He reads his newspapers, I sketch still life compositions of readers! (the above reader is not my J...) My noisy brain quiets in the midst of soft symphonies of crinkling newspapers & silent pauses. Libraries still bring me such pleasure!    

At my Art of the Sketchbook Journal workshops, people asked about materials. Except for favorite brushes, Winsor Newton watercolors & Prismacolor pencils, they vary. it keeps my sketching fresh.
Recently I tried a new Rhodia blank book, seduced by the colorful covers displayed at my local Fiddlehead Artisan Supply. The pages were very thin & I thought I wouldn't be able to make them work. But with The Test of the Pens, I found one that worked nicely. It bleeds through the backside, which means I get  fewer pages to use, but it's OK, because this book elicits pleasant sketches. With its pretty yellow cover, it calls me often. You want that in a book...

Amusez-vous bien, mes amis, et à bientôt !

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Coming Back • Looking Back • Moving Forward

That is moi, at a recent workshop I gave on The Art of the Sketchbook Journal, in conjunction with a show of my work at my library. Looking back, moving forward, while in the present moment. Pas mal!
I had 2 display cases of some of my sketchbook journals.
Detail from display case
I shared 16 of my original Sketchbook Wandering pages. The show, was held in my small town Maine library & so I enjoyed many direct responses, encounters, & invitations from sharing right in my own community.  
Detail from the wall display

 It was different to see the pages on paper & all at once rather than online. 
They reminded me of pages in a paper book... 

One of the most gratifying aspects was that I got to share what I know about this joyful means of expression in two workshops, & to see others doing it. Soon the Belfast Free Library will be presenting a monthly sketch group, hosted by yours truly! More news to come! 

After some months of envisioning a new blog, with a million different title possibilities & organizing principles that I have recorded in my paper journal, I realized that I didn't need to abandon my dear friend, Sketchbook Wandering, at all! I had only needed some time & distance to tend to some other adventures. So, after this post, I'm visualizing the posts to come as a sort of Sketchbook Wandering: Chapter 2.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

(Blog) Home for the Holidays: Card-Making

A little forest of mini Evergreen Christmas cards.
Each card is unique, though a member of the same forest.

My mini good luck charm Dopey thinks it's his little forest! 
It is until we send out the trees to their new homes. 

Cut Outs and Paper Dolls:
The trees reminded me how I love cut-outs. To see my old post, "Paris Paper Dolls", click HERE.
Or, click Here to see my old post 
"Paper Doll Story in Progress".

So, Happy Holidays to All, and to All Happy Creating,
no matter what your medium!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sketchbook Wandering: The Last Post

How I hate endings, but,
the time has come to end this blog. 
It's been such a wonderful experience
with some gifts that I never expected, 
including making some new friends & penpals, 
in this state, in this country, & in Europe!

I've loved following your blogs regularly 
& receiving comments. 
I've loved sharing my process & my little drawings.
Sketchbook Wandering taught me a lot.

I am Wandering less these days, 
but continue to carry my Sketchbook.
I'm enjoying my art & other involvements here, 
close to home.

There are pictures to be drawn,
pages to be written, & new surprises to come!
A friend says each morning as she arises, "Yippee!" 
I say, "Hura!" "Youpi!" & "Yippee!"

I'll leave the blog up & check in from time to time,
so if any of you wonderful correspondents wish 
to leave me notes, I will love that!

Do zobacznia, au revoir, & may we meet again!  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lake Megunticook: Island in Autumn

I sat in my car by the side of Lake Megunticook, sketching. 
I then made this painting back home, 
from the sketch & from memory. No photo.
Sketching on location gave me
an excuse to be immersed in the colors, movement, 
changing light, & air for more than a passing moment.
Good for the soul.

A gorgeous bouquet from Autumn!

So grateful.
It's one of my favorite spots in the whole world.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Language Exchange of Portland Maine

Meet La Fofolle. The idea of her 
as well as her name came from 
Valérie Guillet, the founder of 
Portland Maine's Language Exchange. 
She is part of the new logo & website for the school 
& its wonderful Immersion Programs & Trips.

To see her in her context, 
& to check out the school's offerings Click HERE .

La Fofolle is full of joy because at the school 
she has learned to communicate in the native language 
of the foreign country in which she is travelling! 
And she gets to learn more of that language 
when she travels with
The Language Exchange's Immersion trips!

Click Here to visit the Photo Gallery of 
Valérie’s magificent photos of past Immersion Trips.
My favorite happened to be the Lavendar Trip en Provence.
  It was one of the most enchanting experiences of my life!
The day we went into the mountains to see, to experience 
& to smell the amazing fields of lavender 
I'd forgotten to bring my camera. 
So I had to sketch like never before!
But now I am delighted to see Valérie's photos in her gallery!