Explorations, my stay-cation

This week is spring break for the island schools, and my husband and son are up North skiing. I stayed home with the dogs to work. However, part of me decided since it was vacation week, I would take a break from my daily sketches and start experimenting with collage and mixed media at night, a vacation from my usual routine.

I had some sketches that I’d printed out when I was first learning how to use my printer, and they did not print right. I decided to see what would happen if I applied collage techniques and painted back in to them.

It was a struggle and a mess. For example, I tried applying masking tape to mask the edges and keep them clean, but the tape stuck and tore at the paper, so I ended up painting the edges as well. I pasted one drawing on top of the other, but didn’t line them up correctly and it stuck on skewed. With no idea what I was doing, I doodled on the piece with pen, painted into it with acrylics, added charcoal pencil, and pasted cut up sketches on it.





Each time I put a mark on the piece, it ended up not at all as I’d intended, one accident after another. Fingers sticky from glue and paint, I experimented and finally filled it to capacity.

Last night (and today) I worked on a piece entirely from my imagination. I drew wall paper patterns and layered them in the drawing, added an abstract figure reading, added some crows, and then printed the drawing and pasted, painted and drew back over it.


My visual vocabulary is so very different when I’m not trying to draw what I see, but rather am just putting marks on a canvas. The disparity bothers me. I hope if I keep experimenting and working at it that a more unified voice will emerge.


I want to keep exploring this direction of expression – so I’m extending my stay-cation past the spring break week, and am looking forward to more accidents, surprises and challenges.

Dodger’s Hole illustration


This is an illustration that the Vineyard Gazette asked me to do for their new “Streetwise” series, short columns that research the history of different neighborhoods on the island. The second article is about Dodger’s Hole and mentioned spring peepers and snapping turtles. I worked on it instead of my daily sketch, and incorporated earlier studies of the frogs.

Daily Sketch, February 16, 2015


I visited my daughter in Quincy, MA this weekend, and they had almost two more feet of snow fall Saturday night. Walking Sunday late afternoon, I was struck by the beauty of the light hitting the houses contrasting against the shadows on the snow drifts.

Daily Sketch, February 13, 2015


I wanted to make a valentine for my husband. I started with an image of hands, envisioning corny phrases like, “I give you my heart” or “you hold my heart”, thinking I’d work a heart into the image, but I ended up with a frog, which probably does not give the right message. Now it is more like, “if I kiss this, will it turn back in to a prince?”, or “take me as I am, I’m yours.”


Daily Sketch, February 12, 2015


A very quick drawing tonight..

With all of the snow, my dogs need to be walked where it has been plowed, which means leash walking. We go round and round and round our neighborhood. This is often my view.

A drawing in progress 5

I am drawing using an wacom intuos tablet, a stylus, and Painter 15 software.

I like to start with a neutral color canvas, so that I can draw in darks and lights.

Here are screen shots from a drawing in progress, February 11, 2015.

My computer screen is large enough that I can easily view my reference photo beside the drawing canvas, which facilitates sketching from it.

For this drawing, I created a dark brown canvas to start.

I then created a new layer and started a rough sketch with the fine point pen brush. I use the fine point pen brush for the whole drawing.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 8.23.34 PM

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Once I have a rough sketch of the composition, I start blocking in solid colors on a new layer. I work with an opacity of around 30 on these brushes, so that the background canvas shows through.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 8.37.28 PM

As I start adding in details, I create new layers for each grouping of details.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 8.40.19 PM I added the ukulele strings on their own layer. With the brush tool in painter, one can choose straight edge or free hand. Most of the drawing uses free hand, but for the strings and edges that truly need to be straight, I switch to the straight edge brush. By drawing the strings on their own layer, I can draw/paint under them if I need to add colors to the fret or body of the instrument.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 9.24.29 PM

This screen shot below shows my layers at this point. The sketch is still very rough.

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At this point I zoom in to the photograph, and in to my canvas so that I can put in more detail and clean up the scribbly-ness of what was put down from the more distant view. My eyesight is not great, so being able to zoom in to view the detail is an amazing luxury.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.33.32 PM

This shows all the layers that I was working with at this point in the drawing. The beauty of working in layers is that you can draw under a layer that has already been created, or manipulate the opacity of a layer, or turn it off completely. The process is very facile.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 11.52.49 PM

Daily Sketch, February 8, 2015


Yesterday, I treated myself to an all day workshop on collage taught by Alexandra Sheldon at her studio in Cambridge, MA. http://alexandrasheldon.com/index.php?page=bio&display=311

It was a very fun class and taught me some basic techniques used in making a collage. After transferring and painting on papers to use in our collages, she had us work on multiple 4 x 4 inch pieces of heavier stock. It was refreshing to work non-digitally and completely abstractly, without thought to anything except texture, color and pattern.

She encouraged us to put our finished pieces in to a blank book or journal, one square per page.

At some point I hope to combine my digitally drawings with collage techniques.