Mixing it up

Some days seem to call for mixing things up. I answered the call and used a combination of art supplies (pen & ink, watercolour paint, inktense blocks and watersoluble graphite) to create a page of overlapping sketches of random things.

And ……. VOILA!

Finally, a frother!

So, this coffee lover has been looking at frothers online for a while and there are some pretty pricey ones, especially those that come with holders/stands – who wouldn’t want a frother with a stand right?

I’m glad I didn’t rush to purchase one of those on Amazon because while browser-shopping at Excellent Stores – Holy Crapoli ! there is a frother at a reasonable price.

It doesn’t come with a stand, but NP, I can rig up something myself.

So, I frothed milk for my coffee this morning.

What’s up with these two strange things?

It’s fascinating to me how I’ve changed over the years. Some old thoughts and inclinations remained making me feel safe and comfortable as I navigated difficult situations. Equally fascinating is how I’ve adopted and cultivated new perspectives, new approaches and out-of-my-comfort-zone practices, which were born out of fear, pain, heartbreak, disappointment, success, a sense of adventure and a desire to be more authentic in my relationships, lifestyle and my creative outlets.

Not all of the changes are grand or all-encompassing but they strike a cord and made me wonder.

Two strange things about myself I’ve noticed a while now:

  1. A surprising departure from my love of language and my obsession with correct grammar –

Why “surprising”? Well, because I have acknowledged and embraced my not-too-severe OCD, I can’t begin to explain why I feel so comfortable writing sentences void of the “I” at the beginning of sentences when posting my sketches on Instagram. Examples: “Sketched my breakfast before eat it this morning.” “Refilled my fountain pens and decided to sketch them.” “Rummaged through my box of watercolour tubes and found this colour which I haven’t seen in a while.” “Have no excuse for having so many palettes.” “Came across an interesting old photo and ….” Now, everytime I type the first word (verb) in sentences like these, I am acutely aware of the faux pas but for some strange reason, I feel no compunction to correct it. It’s almost as if my brain says, “Oh what the heck!” And, I leave it as is. Why? I know this for sure – I definitely enjoy the deviation as it feels playful to bend/break rules sometimes and this one in particular. It might be a reflection of my mindset at 65 years old – appearances be damned. Since it doesn’t happen here on my blog, I am leaning towards the idea that it is a creative thing, connected to sharing my sketches on Instagram.

2. A weird penchant to sketch on the diagonal –

I open my sketchbook and proceed to sketch on the diagonal. Weird huh? But looking at the finished piece I find it so much more interesting at that angle. However, since I don’t plan to sketch on the diagonal, I always wonder why I do it automatically, instinctively. Well, if I ever figure it out, I’ll share. I welcome your thoughts on this though. Feel free to hit me up in the comments. I’m not inclined to use slangs but *Hit me up* popped in my head, and, well, what da heck!

Take a look at a few of my February sketches done on the diagonal.

Have you noticed any strange, instinctive inclinations in your creative practice (writing, sketching, journaling, etc.) that surprises you, annoys you, fascinates you, invigorates you, makes you feel playful and adventurous?

Shopping my kitchen for things to sketch

Spending a lot of one’s time in the same space can dim one’s view of the significance of items in that space.

When it comes to sketching, especially in this time of COVID and restricted outdoor movements, the sameness of our days can render us feeling HOHUM, uninspired and singing that old song, “There’s nothing here to sketch”.

Most often, it’s not just a matter of  the objects we see and use every day, some “new thing” we purchased, a long-lost or long-forgotten item we found in a box or the unchanging landscape of our spaces. Rather, it may just be a matter of taking a moment to identify, acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the simple and mundane things around us and a willingness to shift our perspective of those things and see them as a way to share a glimpse into our day, which may ultimately, tell a story of the spaces in our lives.  

My kitchen is my favourite space to shop for things to sketch and it never disappoints. The countertop, cabinets, draws, shelves and my array of baskets hold a wide variety of useful – and yes, interesting – things that help to manage my day, prep my food, clean, decorate, etc. etc. etc.

Whenever, I feel lost looking at a bland page in my sketchbook, I just have to “get out of my own head and take a moment to consider the things I see. Sometimes, when the “looking-around” yields not viable subjects, I go treasure-hunting in the stash of rarely-used small gadgets and appliances, a draw with baking stuff (measuring spoons and cups, flour sifter, spatulas, pastry thingy, etc. or the junk basket I keep on to of the refrigerator.

Earlier this week, I settled into my chair at the kitchen table for my daily sketching session and set out my art supplies. I decided that I will not waste a moment wondering what to sketch. Instead, I immediately turned my chair around and perused the countertop, confident that the kitchen view would not disappoint.

Sketch one

The spoon rest I gave my husband for Christmas (he is the chief cook). I especially love that I was able to capture it’s unusual blue colour. After lunch, I left half of an avocado to add to my salad for dinner.

Sketch two is more-or-less, how this section of the countertop looks on any given day with –

Dried orange-peel in a saucer, waiting to be stored in a glass jar, Mr. Coffee Percolator, holder with cooking utensils, my granddaughter’s lunchbag (with her vital supplies for the day) and the ever-mundane dish drainer).

Enhancing my tea-time

Coffee lover? Yes I am. But I also enjoy drinking tea.

While coffee is my preference for early mornings, breakfast and mid-mornings, I love having tea in the afternoon. “Afternoon tea, right?

To me, tea-time says self-care and can include reading, journaling, meditating, dreaming ….. Although silence and solitude seem to lend themselves to sipping a lovely tea, music and chatting with a BFF can enhance the tea-time experience.

My tea-time ritual may include reading, journaling, crocheting, dreaming and sometimes even sketching; it all depends on what my mind and heart need that day.

Now, I can just as easily have tea-time in my bed or at the kitchen table. However, my favourite place to enjoy my afternoon tea is in the living room, in my armchair. With windows open and curtain billowing in the cool afternoon breeze, I settle in for an hour (sometimes more). A rainy afternoon with a chill in the area requiring a sweater and a throw …. oh the added comfort, pampering, bliss.

Browsing http://www.teaforte.com recently, I came across an oval bamboo tea tray and it was love at first sight. An after-Christmas gift to myself seemed appropriate, important, necessary. My oval bamboo tea tray has arrived and tea-time is going to be a little extra special with the tray to hold a candle, a teacup and maybe a slice of cake or a few biscuits.

And look, a sketch of the tray. Of course!

Word For The Year – Flow

The writer, note-taker, designer, organizer, planner in me wants to fight this word I’ve chosen as my WFY -Word for the Year. Yet, so far, I’ve held to it, albeit in a loose sort for way.

While I’m gonna go with the “flow” with respect to my art and art practice, I’m leaving other areas of my life open. If the flow feels comfortable, I’ll acquiesce. If not, I’ll let my OCD tendencies ride.


Midway through my 7-year art adventure (I began January 2014) I was inspired to shake off the hold perfectionism and self-doubt had on me and gradually take control of my art and art practice. Some days I succeed. Some days, not so much. It’s not all bad going back and forth – breaking free of the mental shackles for a few days and then letting them hold me back for a while. Actually, I find that paging through a completed sketchbook is quite a interesting, when I see a combination of planned and “structured” sketches along with loose, playful, wonkie ones.


When COVID came a-calling last year, schools were the first to go into complete lockdown and the three grandchildren came over every day. After a few weeks, online classes kicked into high gear. The two older ones took to it like ducks to water. The young ‘un, well, being almost at the end of her kindergarten experience, she was free, alive and active all day, which disrupted my art sessions leaving me distracted and a bit frustrated because I couldn’t focus. Because she fancied herself “an artist like granny” I allowed her to join me for my morning art sessions. We drew and painted together and what fun we had. She learned to paint and I learned to be patient, to not hold too tightly to those intensely personal and jealously guarded morning hours, when I am most creative. We really bonded during those long months of lockdown, followed by partial restrictions and so on and so on. What a strange time! What a strange year!

New normal in more ways than one

So 2021 is here and schools have not yet reopened. The grandchildren are back here again after the Christmas vacation. Thankfully, the young ‘un is more focused on her iPad, toys and spending time with her grandfather, leaving him completely pooped by the time her parents return from work.
Though I’d been down this road before, it still took me a couple of days to settle back into this new normal. But armed with my WFY “flow”, I am easing into spreading out my session. I’m no longer holding hard and fast and obsessively to the dedicated morning hours. Instead, I spend a shorter time in the morning and after lunch and siesta, I return to my art studio/kitchen table for a longer afternoon session.

I throughly enjoy sketching several items on a page, telling a short story of my day, or a moment or the items I sketch. Flipping through my sketchbooks, I see a still life I styled, a specific view of my kitchen, utensils and tools, food I ate, am eating, craving or inspired by a photo, impromptu capture of disparage items or art supplies on my table or somewhere else in my home, e/tc.

The 2021 “flow”

Surprisingly, for the most part, the January “flow” has been whispering in my ear, “sketch one item on a page” and I’ve been listening. Even more surprising, I have neither questioned nor resisted. I look around, identify something and begin. Oh joy! The third sketch is proof that I’m not taking the whispers of the “flow” too literally either. If I think an additional item or two makes for a more pleasing/interesting sketch/page, I go with that flow (of thought). After all. I believe that an important element of flow, is keeping things loose, which may require adjusting the very idea the flow may present. Yes?

Wanna see a few of my January “flow” sketches?

And this one (inspired by a tri-colour coffee mug my son-in-law gave me in December). I outlined the mug in watercolour pencils and used a travel brush to fill in the colour. Gosh it was such fun to bypass pencil and pen & ink and mix pencil brands. The second photo shows what I used: Albrecht Durer Magnus and Staedtler Noris Club watercolour pencils and a Size 10 Escoda Ultimo travel brush, which I haven’t touched since, uuummm ….. Well, let’s just say, it’s been a minute.

Sentimental Treasure – miniature bell

My mother loved Christmas and cherished it’s true meaning. But she also embraced many of the ways people celebrated the season. She was always excited to do any major painting or just minor touch ups, sew new curtains, put up and decorate the Christmas tree and especially the cooking and baking, all while Christmas songs and carols played in the background and filtered throughout the house.

Oh the excitement, the joy and anticipation at our house with the voices of Jim Reeves (her favorite) Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, and others of her era ensured that my dad, brother, sister and I were eager, inspired and happy to help her with her list of Christmas chores.

Needless to say, there were different traditions when I got married but when I had children, I incorporated some of the traditions from my childhood Christmas into the mix of the new ones our family formed.

However, after she died, the Christmas holidays always came with emptiness and sadness – sometimes with a tinge, other times with a wave. Sometimes I think it’s gotten better, not as intense but more often than not, it doesn’t feel that way at all. The reality is that often those flashing moments of the hole left by her absence surfaces in the midst of the most joyful activities and I have to pause or stop to deal the emotions, which sometimes elicits a floodgate of unrelenting tears. I wonder, it’s been 20 years this year, will I ever be able to celebrate the Christmas holidays without the heart aching emotions and tears?

From early December, my mom and I would often call each other to ask,”Have you smelled Christmas yet?” We would laugh at our silliness but just that simple thing, that simple silly tradition, always intensified the “Christmas Fever”.

As I caught the whiff of Christmas in the air this morning, I felt a tinge of sadness (especially potent at this time of year). I glanced across at a miniature antique bell she gave me a few years before she died. I brought to the kitchen table, placed it ever so lovingly and carefully on a sheet of white paper, to catch the morning light through the south-facing window to my right and sketched it.

I loosely sketched the bell directly with watercolour, adding several layers, leaving areas of white for highlights. I thought it needed some definition, so I drew some lines using a dip pen.

So, in rememberance of and as a tribute to my mom this Christmas season, I share this sketch of an extra special sentimental treasure, thinking of the ringing of the bells at Christmas.