An update letter to my dear readers

Dear readers,

Has it really been four months since I opened the virtual door to my studio and shared what was going within it? Wowzahs.

Let me tell you, I knew this year would be busy but I really miss sharing my day to day – or at least week to week – progress with you. I don’t think there is an easy way to catch you up on all my work but I will try my best to give you a taste. I apologize for the poor quality of the photographs : I’m using my phone camera to maximize efficiency!

1. Illustration for the biology textbook has been an ongoing project since the Christmas/holiday season. This consists of researching, traditional sketching and working with digital illustration programs. I usually spend my mornings on this project. Below is a drawing in progress from the past week.

biology textbook illustration in progress
biology textbook illustration in progress

2. Next, I give you three 8 x 10″ oil paintings in progress that are being worked en plein air in my town, Portales, New Mexico. (They’re just sitting on my easel to dry between painting sessions… it’s the only place my cats don’t seem to mess with them!) They belong to a series of paintings of the Southwest I have been developing sporadically for the last few years . Working on them has been a nice complement to my “Portraits of Portales” project which I focussed on all autumn, and have tried to make a bit of time for in 2014.

en plein air paintings from Southwest series - in progress
en plein air paintings from Southwest series – in progress

I believe I have mentioned the “Portraits of Portales” project before and will certainly mention it again. My intention is to publish them in book form, rather than display them in a gallery. This will heighten the intimacy of the pieces and embrace my intention of creating a “keepsake” of this small town. But I will share more on that project at a later date. This week it has not been worked on so no progress pics here for you!

3. Also still in the works is my Crafty Coloring Book. I only decided this week that it needed to be pulled to the top of my priority list after the biology textbook illustrations. It’s delightfully fun to work on and provides a break from the technical illustration while still keeping me “in shape” drawing-wise.

portion of a coloring book drawing in progress
portion of a coloring book drawing in progress

4. Lastly, I have been spending my evenings finalizing three new knitted shawl designs. Two are in the test-knitting phase and the third is close behind. The motivation behind this project? A fast-approaching deadline!

Detail of the Happy Happy Shawl in progress
Detail of the Happy Happy Shawl in progress

On April 1st the Multicraftual Podcast Ravelry group will be casting on any of my knitted designs. For two months participants will post their progress and finished object pictures in the corresponding group discussion threads to win prizes. There will be coupon codes for discounted pattern prices and other random goodness distributed via the video podcast I host with my long-distance bestie Liby Ball. If you are interested in watching our podcast while sitting down with your own knitting or crocheting, go check out the Multicraftual blog or subscribe on iTunes!

As you can see, if you’ve read this far… I’m keeping busy! In fact… a little too busy. I’m the kind of person who can sprout in every direction and need intense pruning to look at all respectable. I’m currently reading “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen. Perhaps I will give a review on that when I finish it… hahahahahaha… first I will have to learn how to reign in my many projects, harness my creativity and GET THINGS DONE.

Wish me luck!!

If you’d like, tell me about what projects you’re working on and what creative activities you’re most excited about in the comments section below. Are you a see-one-project-through-to-the-finish-line kind of person, or a wildly-sprouting-crazy-face like myself? It’s time I get to know YOU more and try to enhance the online creative community.

Thanks so much for reading!

Jessie

First Quilt… and its very adorable “tester”

I finished my first quilt yesterday night!

I took the free “Block of the Month” quilting class on Craftsy.com and loved it. The video-tutorial style class teaches you how to piece more than 12 different quilt blocks, how to do basic machine quilting techniques and how to finish your quilt. For free. wowza.

I decided after making 10 or 11 blocks that I should stop there and make a small quilt to start. As my first quilting project ever (not counting the tiny bit of hand-stitching I used to do with my mom back in the day) it was far less intimidating than a full-sized quilt.

The result is a colorful, kinda sloppy and kinda lovely lap quilt. Was it a success? The ultimate test was giving Dragon access to it…

Hm… then I suppose I just got side-tracked and obsessed with her cuteness because there are more pictures of the kitty than the quilt! oops.

Well, you’ll likely see more of this quilt pop up in future paintings, but I will also try to post a picture of the entire quilt in the near future.

Yup, she loves it. Check out my free-motion stipple stitch action in the border!
Yup, she loves it… 
Cuteness #2
… and I love her…
Check out my free-motion stipple stitch action in the border!
Check out my free-motion stipple stitch action in the border.
Quilts double as caves... in case you didn't know.
Quilts double as caves… in case you didn’t know.

 

Morning Glories

I had a great painting day today. The subject matter just sort of came to me and before I even thought about it I had already gone outside, plucked some morning glories off my vines and begun painting! That’s the joy about studies: I try not to think too much about them. The whole point of studies is just to get me in there and working, free up my hand and warm up my eyes.

The fun part was realizing that I had a small window of time before the blooms completely closed up. The three of them sit now in my studio in their jar, all closed up and looking like they’re huddled to keep warm in the middle of a snow storm. Tomorrow I expect to see them open and smiling happily back at me again.

Morning Glories, oil/canvas, 8 x 10"
Morning Glories, oil/canvas, 8 x 10″

Blanket Landscape Study 1

I don’t know if you realized, but I went missing for a few weeks! I had my brother-in-law and his new wife visit us in the middle of their Southwest USA Road trip extraordinaire! We enjoyed dining on a balcony overlooking the plaza in Santa Fe while a mariachi band played and people strolled with dogs and lazed with family on the grass. We then drove south to Cloudcroft, New Mexico where we camped for two days in the wooded mountains. A day trip to White Sands National Monument provided many beautiful photographs and I came home inspired anew.

Back at home I struggled to get myself back in the studio. It is so easy when one is sans-structure to find a million other things to keep oneself busy. Cleaning, cooking, and recovering from a five-day bout of poison ivy or poison oak or poison something (argh!!) filled my time.

I finally realized that it was the big half-finished canvas that was keeping me out of the studio (see Quilted Lake post). A project of that kind is daunting to me and can freeze me up if not completed within a few days of commencing. It’s not that I don’t want to be painting, it’s just hard to find that freshness that the work had in the beginning.

I did some research on the web and discovered there is a term for the way I like to paint. “alla prima”:

Wet-on-wet, or alla prima (Italian, meaning at first attempt), is a painting technique, used mostly in oil painting in which layers of wet paint are applied to previous layers of wet paint. This technique requires a fast way of working, because the work has to be finished before the first layers have dried. It may also be referred to as ‘direct painting’ or the French term au premier coup (at first stroke).

Thank you Wikipedia.

I know you’re probably shaking your head at me because someone who did a Bachelor of Fine Arts should really have already been familiar with the term, but somehow I missed that one… whoops.

Anyway, learning this term somehow brought validity to my preferred painting habits and I’ve plotted a way to keep myself painting, and ENJOYING painting in the near future.

In terms of today’s work, I feel that my recent traveling and sight-seeing has informed my painting and that the landscape is finding its way into my small world in the studio.

That’s all I’m going to say for now and before I sign off I will give you the option of seeing images of:

a) the gorgeous desert area in Southwestern NM called White Sands

b) the evils of poisonous plants

c) today’s painting progress

JUST KIDDING! I’ll pick for you and I’m picking “a” and “c”. Count yourself lucky.

White Sands National Monument
White Sands National Monument
Blanket Landscape Study 1, oil/canvas, 8 x 10"
Blanket Landscape Study 1, oil/canvas, 8 x 10″