12 March 2018

How many people in five days?!

There's this thing that urban sketchers do every year this week, called "one week 100 people," in which you try to sketch as many people as possible, hoping to hit 100 of them before five days is up. Don't ask me why it's called "one week" when it's actually only five days, I asked the organizers and they didn't answer.

Anyway, I thought this year, Why not give it a shot? I could use some practice drawing people, especially people in motion. So I drew a few. And I emphasize, "a few." Even though I optimistically tagged them with #oneweek100people2018 every time I posted them, I knew from the beginning it wasn't going to happen. But, here are the ones I managed to capture.

Some people at the local deli. Most of them were walking past, so they were super quick.

I went to dinner thinking I could capture a lot of people at the restaurant, but because I was early-birding it at 4:30 (had to go back to work at 6 p.m.), there was only this couple and me!

Caught my co-worker, David, while we were waiting for a meeting to start. He was not amused.

And the final one was on Friday morning, waiting for physical therapy,
across the room from my therapist, Hannah, and another patient.

So, I count 12 people, not even a full day's worth. But...12 more than I would have done had no one said to me, #oneweek100people. I'll make a better effort next year!

07 March 2018

Spring (almost)

No new drawings or paintings to post today (I went back to work full-time on Monday, so....), but I do have some results of my brief but satisfying foray into gardening last week:

The paperwhites grew up and bloomed!

Also, it's Daffodil Days at Trader Joe's ($1.25 a bunch), so my house is festooned.
Here are some...

Happy Spring! (almost)

Here's an old painting I did during a TJ's extravaganza a few years back,
just so we're not totally artless in this post...

05 March 2018

She cooks!

This weekend, instead of drawing my cooking (or someone else's), I spent a lot of time actually cooking. On Saturday night, I was going to a get-together with some people with whom I used to work, all of whom have scattered their different ways but like to check in from time to time; and none of them are enthusiastic cooks. Someone proposed pizza, but as a teen librarian all I could groan loudly was "noooooo!" because I am petitioned to order (and eat) pizza on every possible occasion. So I said I would bring a main dish if others would do salad and dessert.

After pondering my options for a while, I decided to make a dish that has become a signature for me but which I seldom make because of the effort and expense. But it's so yummy (albeit incredibly rich and undoubtedly fattening) that I decided to let fate decide: If I went to Trader Joe's and they had packages of fresh organic basil, I would make it, but if they didn't, I would figure out something else. The reason is, the entire recipe is based on freshly made basil pesto, and I refuse to use some jar of stuff someone else has concocted.

Trader Joe's had the basil, so three hours later I delivered my "Green Lasagna" to the dinner, where it was met with great appreciation and all leftovers went home with various people except for one lone square. I'm not going to share that recipe here right now, but suffice it to say that it's full of pesto, various kinds of cheeses and nuts, and green noodles. It's supposed to be spinach lasagna noodles, but I can't ever find them, so I usually end up making it with spinach fettucini, which comes out more tender anyhow.

I did, however, think ahead, and since I bought two big packages of the basil, I doubled the amount of pesto needed for the recipe, and kept back half for myself. I had plans for it. It was Oscar Sunday today, and I decided that I wanted to forego the snacks and instead prepare myself a sumptuous dinner.

This afternoon during commercial breaks from "Live on the Red Carpet," I cut up a bunch of vegetables into small chunks: red potatoes, onion, and carrots in one batch, and small red peppers, eggplant, broccoli, and mushrooms in a second batch. I mixed up some olive oil with some balsamic vinegar, cumin seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds, and coated the first batch, then roasted the veg on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 25 minutes. Then I did the same with the second batch, but for about 15 instead, since those are softer vegetables.

Trader Joe's was lacking one thing when I went there on my shopping trip Saturday morning: no puff pastry. But I didn't want to make a special trip just for that, so instead I bought a package with two pie crusts, and I thawed them in the refrigerator, then brought them to room temperature about the time the veg were done roasting.

I laid out (or tried to lay out) a pie crust in a pie pan. Rather than descending whole from its paper wrapping, the thing came to pieces in my hands, so it was rather a matter of taking the remaining large strip and putting it down as a base, and then tacking all the random pieces of dough back on around the edges—kind of a mess, but I did it. Then I spread a thick layer of pesto all over the pie crust. I added a bit of ricotta cheese I had left over from yesterday's lasagna, and then dumped in half the roasted vegetables. I pulled the pie crust and random strips up around the veg untl they were pretty well covered, and then stabbed the crust here and there so it would cook without getting puffy, and put it in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes.

It was delicious. I ate about a third of it, and put the rest in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch. I used the second pie crust and made an identical one to have as leftovers the rest of the week.

And now, all that's left is...the dishes. Which is why I don't cook very often.

I do have an illustration planned: I'm going to do a simple one for just the pesto, and then on the right side make a list of all the many ways you can use pesto. But tonight I was preoccupied with the Academy Awards and didn't step away to make any art. Soon, though.

Meanwhile, here are some favorite dresses from the evening:

Lupita in "Wakanda forever" garb was gorgeous!

Allison Janney was perhaps most dramatic!

But I really loved all the white, cream, nude and blush gowns of
the evening, especially this one worn by Mary J. Blige...

And this one on Allison Williams. Gorgeous.

The show always has its moments...but let's face it, we really watch for the fashion.

25 February 2018

They Draw and Cook

Recently, because of Sketchbook Skool, I discovered Nate and Salli, who run two websites: http://www.theydrawandcook.com, and http://www.theydrawandtravel.com. I discovered the travel one first, because I'm taking a map-making class from Nate on Sketchbook Skool so I can teach it this summer for Teen Summer Reading; and then I went exploring and found his other (first) love, cooking and drawing.

For both of the sites, you are welcome to do your own recipe or your own map and post it. It's a kind of catalog of illustrating styles to get business for illustrators...or in my case, it's just another place to pamper my vanity by posting my work!

I have a map in the works, but today I gave in to the impulse to make a recipe for theydrawandcook. I spent about 2.5 hours at it, and here is my result:

They have a specific (kind of awkward) format for the recipes (16.667 inches x 6.25 inches, with a small gutter) because, after you publish 30 of them on the site, they will consider publishing a book of your recipes! Alternatively, they occasionally do a specific theme (right now they're working on soups, stews, and chilis), and will publish one recipe from each of their artists who have drawn an appropriate one. So it could lead to publication, and yes, maybe some other work as well. I'm not focused on either of those things; and if you saw the quality of other people's work on both websites (go and look, you will enjoy it!), you would tell me not to hold my breath! I just want to work some out for the challenge of it, but I wouldn't say no if either of those things happened.

Anyway, this one, as I said, is my fledgling effort, and most likely one I will do over. The writing is too large and the other elements too small, making it a bit bland, and I want to work that out. Also, I can't decide whether to put a border on it, or wash in a background color, or what. So I'm going to ponder it and do another version later.

I was mostly happy with the watercolor portion of it. I love drawing onions and mushrooms, and eggs are a challenge I keep taking on with varying success. The Parmesan could look a little more cheesy, in my opinion, but I'm not going to nitpick this, being my first effort. Parenthetically, it's a good recipe, my favorite for weekend brunch, and you should try it out!

Micron pens in sepia, brown, and black; watercolors; and pencil (mostly erased).

Getting some mojo back

I would have said that I didn't have the energy or the focus to do an illustration, especially after work on a Monday, after everything that's been happening the past few weeks; but then my cousin messaged me and offered an assignment: "I'm going to do a post on my blog about these no-bake chocolate bars, and I only have one picture to illustrate it. Do you think you could draw me a picture of some of the ingredients, to make it look more finished?" And while I grumbled and groused and said "I have nothing left at the end of the day, so it may not happen," I of course got sucked in, intrigued by which ingredients I had and which to choose and how to present them, and before you know it, it was done.

So here is my illustration for Kirsten and Kirsti's blog, The Swoon Society. It's not the first I've done, and hopefully it's not the last, because clearly I need an assignment to get the motor running. Also, I highly recommend you go copy down this recipe, because those bars are delectable!

19 February 2018

Bad Apples

I have previously expressed my frustration with continuing to feel limited by the circumstances of healing from this accident, but yesterday was a new low. It's a holiday weekend, and I want to be out in it, taking advantage of the lovely weather, meeting friends for breakfast, doing some urban sketching, taking on a project. Instead, yesterday was a day of persistent low-grade headache, previously uncatalogued contusions making themselves felt as the swelling goes down, and forced inaction, reading a book that isn't captivating me or trying to find something to watch on TV.

Parenthetically, as a person who was born in the 1950s, and lived for half my life with only 13 channels, you would think that subscriptions to HBO and Starz and Hulu and Netflicks, not to mention all the cable TV channels out there, would yield multiple options, but for some reason yesterday nothing suited me, and I channel-surfed restlessly. I was in such a foul mood that I picked a fight with a family member on Facebook, got all righteous, and did the equivalent of slamming the door (CNTRL Q) before sitting down and sulking some more. (Sorry.)

I finally concluded enough was enough, and decided to do what I needed to do, which was to get out of my own head by doing some drawing and painting. I didn't have the energy or the brainpower to take on something complicated, plus it was almost 4 p.m. and I would be losing the light on the patio (my favorite work space) in an hour or so, so I plunked down three apples on my patio table, did a quick and basic contour drawing in pen, and then set about watercoloring them.

The conclusion, an hour later, wasn't pretty: Messy, with color problems and overworked shadows—I couldn't have done a worse job if that's what I had set out to do. In desperation, I tried flicking some "confetti" paint over the whole thing to make it look festive, but it didn't; so I swished through all that with clear water and ended up with faded-out speckles behind my caricatures of apples.

I'm posting it anyway, because it did what I intended it to do: Got me out of my funk. I woke up today with a much improved attitude, and after breakfast, reading, and some Facebooking, I decided that I could well take on some projects if they were small.

First, I came up with a concept for a recipe I want to illustrate to post online on theydrawandcook.com. I made a list of all the ingredients, decided what item I would illustrate to go with each one, and began a preliminary layout. That wore me out for a while, so I read quietly for another half hour, but I wasn't satisfied any more to just sit still.

So...next I planted a pot of paperwhites for the kitchen. I had bought one of those Christmas kits for someone and forgotten I had it when it came time to give gifts, then discovered it later in a pile of stuff, so I rehydrated the soil, planted the bulbs (which had already begun to sprout inside their package), watered, and set them in the window.

This inspired me to do a small bit of gardening in the yard. In that same pile (from the nursery), I disovered some nasturtium seeds and some Crocosmia bulbs I had bought that I thought would be interesting to plant in the bed together, since the nasties grow low while the bulbs are tall and spiky, and they have similarly colored blossoms.

I went outside, found a pair of flip-flops and my big garden fork, and dug up the small bed that fronts my patio, then planted the bulbs at intervals (I had 18), followed by the nasturtium seeds, then watered it all in, changed back to my slippers and came inside. It took about 25 minutes, start to finish.

I am now nicely tired, rather than fretful, and am going to make myself a late lunch and read my book, able to feel like I am making more progress than just sitting up! Bad apples have their uses.

13 February 2018


After two weeks at home, doing not much, I'm returning to work this week, in a limited fashion. The plan is to do 15-20 hours for the next two weeks, thus easing gradually into a regular schedule. I'm not absolutely convinced I'm even ready for that, but I'm going to give it a shot tomorrow by working 4-9 and going to my 6+7 grade book club. We're discussing Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. (In which Cinderella is a cyborg, the prince is the incipient emperor of China, the moon is colonized, and the queen of the moon is the baddie. It's quite clever.)

It's frustrating to be off work, at home surrounded by so many things one could be doing, but not feeling up to doing them. Besides the obvious painful bruises, I had (and still have) less obvious aches and pains in muscles, nerves, and tendons, and intermittent low-grade headaches accompanied by fuzzy brain. So the most I have managed in two weeks is to read four books, binge-watch a couple of seasons of various TV programs, and do a few dishes when necessary. Every day but a couple, I had one or two specific errands to run—a trip to the chiropractor or the doctor, an appointment at the imaging place for an ultrasound, a stop at Enterprise to pick up a rental car, or swinging by the market because I was (once again) out of cat food; and after those errands, all I could do was lie down and nap away the afternoon.

So, I'm returning to work regretting that this was necessary entropy rather than productive time for art or projects. Today, I was resolved that on my last full day at home, I would at least make some art. But then I had paperwork to do for the lawyer, and an appointment to check out a physical therapy site, followed by a visit to the chiropractor, so no art materialized at home.

I did, however, end up having about half an hour between the PT visit and the chiro, so I stopped in at California Chicken Café to pick up a veggie wrap for my dinner (anticipating that I would be too tired to make any, which was a good guess), and while sitting there drinking an iced tea and waiting for the chiro to open, I made an urban sketch of fellow diners in my small sketchbook I keep in my purse.

I hope to have more energy back soon!