Thursday, July 29, 2010

Illustrating My Newest Book: Drawing Phase Revealed!

Illustrations for my newest book are coming along, and this week I finished the full-size drawings in pencil. Here’s how that gets done:

First, I get my supplies together for this step. I like to use a #2 pencil since its soft enough to draw without scratching the paper surface but not so soft that its dark and difficult to erase. Sometimes I use a mechanical-style pencil, only because I get annoyed at having to constantly sharpen. But whatever pencil type or brand an artist wants or likes to use is fine. When I do have to sharpen I use an electric pencil sharpener and/or a very good hand sharpener to get the right amount of point. My favorite paper is a very good quality Strathmore cold press watercolor stock since I love the texture and it is a good workable weight (140 lbs.). I try to buy it in a block if I can which means the sheets are bound with adhesive instead of a ring binding. And because all artists have to deal with “renovations” (not mistakes!), I love Staedler erasers the best, and I always have a clickable one ready which is great for tiny erasing jobs. I use a kneaded eraser once in a while, too, which looks a little bit like silly putty. I’ll also be using some masking tape later on, so add that to the list of supplies, too.

My trick to getting the drawings ready is to cut a piece of cardboard to the spread size, which in my case is 17.5 x 11.5 (The book will be 8.5 x 11 inches when closed, there is usually about 1/4 inch bleed edge for printing.). Then I trace the cardboard and mark the center for a page gutter reference (where the book’s fold will be). Then I measure about an inch all around and trim off excess paper to make the sheets easier to handle and digitally scan later. I also like to tape the papers to boards right away since I prefer to draw with the boards titled sometimes as opposed to flat on a table (taping will also be important later in the painting process). I use whatever I have for boards: masonite drawing boards, foam core boards, heavy cardboard...

Then the drawing starts. I use photos and my sketches to help me draw exactly what will work, and I have to make sure I am leaving space for text. I draw very lightly with my pencil at first to make sure things are in the right place, then I darken the composition a bit when I’ve got what I want. I try to make sure the composition and images capture what I had in mind in my sketch even if it is not exact. This is the best time to make changes to the drawings, so if something doesn’t seem to work the way I want it to, I need to figure it out now!!

When getting started on a really important stage of my art, I remind myself to be fearless. A blank piece of paper can play mind tricks on you, so you just have to dive in and do it. I also find that if I am not focused or able to concentrate I can spend a long time on art work only to have it come out not so fabulous or I even might make some serious mistakes. I make sure I take frequent breaks and if my head isn’t in it, I might as well put it aside and go back to it later. One hour of excellent focus is better than eight hours of distracted frustration.

So with my pencil drawings complete, I’m ready to start adding color! More on that in another blog post coming soon...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Carousel Magic!

Along with my sister-in-law, three nieces and one nephew, I finally had a chance yesterday to see and ride the “Wildlife Carousel” which had its Grand Opening on July 24, 2010 at Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford, MA.

First, about the zoo: The Buttonwood Park Zoo is located right off of Rte 140 South in New Bedford and has been renovated since my childhood days when I used to to go with my family. There are a number of great animal exhibits including bears, seals, bison, and “Buttonwood Farm” which often has baby animals on view. My favorite is the elephant compound, which has two females, Emily and Ruth. Emily was the main zoo attraction when I was a little girl, and she went to another zoo for a while during the renovation several years ago, so seeing her now is extra special. The zoo is small enough that even young children can see the entire zoo without mom and dad having stroller fatigue, and there is a mini-train ride for those who like to take in the scenic views. There animal sculptures everywhere and beautiful natural landscaping throughout. The bathrooms are very clean, and the concession area is indoors, air conditioned, and has good food at a reasonable price. Zoo admission is $3 for kids (kids under 3 years: free), $6 for adults (you can get a family pass for a very reasonable price, too). Parking is free!

Back to the Wildlife Carousel: In addition to being an extra fun activity at the zoo, this carousel is an amazing piece of art as well. Each of the fiberglass animals is hand painted and includes wildlife creatures such as an eagle, a zebra, a hummingbird, a giraffe, a seal, and more. The top and center of the carousel is patriotic red, white, and blue with gold eagles and trim. There is traditional carousel music that plays and lights, too! The zoo is considering having the carousel open one night a week. How magical, to ride that carousel all lit up on a starry night! I have great memories of the zoo from when I was a kid, but thanks to sponsors and a lot of work, this zoo has become better than ever. The carousel is just one more thing about Buttonwood Park that will create wonderful memories for kids and adults, too!

So we paid our $2 ticket price (adults who stand next to small children on the ride are not charged) and waited for the next ride. My nephew Grady chose a reindeer, Emily chose a horse, Lily chose a roaring tiger, and me and my niece Abby took the double seat which when needed serves as a handicapped accessible seating area as well (Abby initially wanted to ride the giraffe, but had second thoughts when she saw that it looked so tall!). I rode along on the bench with Abby and soon all of the animals filled up with carousel riders of all ages.

The animals are so new and glossy they shine in the sun. They are colorful and as beautiful close up as they are in the pictures I’d seen. When everyone was secured with safety belts, the bell rang, the music cranked up, and we were off! It was great fun and there were smiles all around!

Both fiberglass and wooden carousels are produced today in various places around the U.S. and Europe. Carousels can be made to order and can even be custom-built for a specific location. There are also places that sell antique carousels. Master carvers who create the figures for these amazing art works are highly respected and in great demand. To get an idea of what goes into building a carousel, visit The Carousel Works web Shop Tour! Carousel makers are also experts at restoring old carousels so that generations can enjoy them for years to come. Many of the carousel museums and manufacturers offer classes in the art form, which sounds like a lot of fun, too.

I’ve added some links to some web sites that have interesting info and pictures of carousels if you’d like to learn more...
The Carousel Works
Herschell Carrousel Museum
Brass Ring Entertainment
National Carousel Association
The Carousel Museum

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Sea Maiden: My Accordion Book in Progress!

This has been a summer of such beautiful weather here in Southeastern, MA! What better time to think about the ocean? I put aside my full-size Floyd drawings for the moment to work on the accordion-style book I started in my Drawn to the Sea class a few weeks ago (see blog entries July 5-10). The story is titled “The Sea Maiden” and I wrote in on the waterfront in New Bedford. It is about a woman, formed of sea and sand, who tries to leave her beloved ocean. Needless to say, it’s a bad idea! She returns to the ocean and rejoices!

I assembled the accordion book for this project during the class. An accordion book is a Japanese-style of book binding that has folded and connected pages. The covers are covered with fabric in a stone pattern, and I added a brown batik edge with mossy-looking yarn as accents. A long paper or several glued together need to be folded and attached to the covers, then the book contents can be added.

Using micron pen (a permanent marker, like a Sharpie minus the stink) I wrote the story out by hand in my regular handwriting, spacing out sections of the text based on where I wanted the images to go. Then I lightly drew the images in pencil and traced over them in micron pen. I wanted the effect to be very free-form and loose, almost as if there hadn’t been a pencil sketch at all (not brave enough to just wing it!). I erased the pencil lines, then... what to do about color??

I could’ve left the illustrations black and white but I wanted it to seem really magical, so of course I opted for sparkles! After some testing on scrap paper, I used superfine glitter in different pastel colors as accents on the illustrations. Paper/craft gel glue and a paintbrush made it easy to put the glitter exactly where I wanted it. Okay, I am covered with glitter, and there is glitter sticking to other parts of the book of its own accord, and glitter on my table and probably on my dogs, but, whatever! I also took some craft sand, mixed it with some glitter, and used that in some places. It was a lot of fun to do and I think it worked for the most part the way I wanted it to. Now it has to dry completely so the pages don’t stick together when the book is folded up.

Last step will be to add a ribbon to fasten it closed and a sea shell accent on the front. Hopefully I’ll find the perfect shell on my trip to the beach tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Children’s Book Review: The Bella the Great Series Premiere

Children's Book Review: Bella Goes Bump in the Night (2010) by Derek and Gina Roché, Illustrations by Jonathan Ashley

Reviewed by: Kristine Daniels

There are wonderful gems emerging in the world of independent children’s book publishing today, and Bella Goes Bump in the Night is one of them. Bella Goes Bump... is the first book in the new “Bella the Great” series, featuring a character based on the young daughter of authors Derek and Gina Roché. Be ready to be swept up into the spectacular adventures of an ordinary little girl with a fantastic imagination.

Composed in rhyming poetry, this first story begins at Bella’s bedtime as she is imagining the spooky creatures that inhabit the dark. She and her faithful stuffed bunny find themselves drawn into Bella’s own fantasy world of ghosties, dragons, spiders, unicorns and fairies. Bella is not afraid of these creatures; on the contrary, even the spookiest ghouls become her friends. As she enjoys a tea party with her supernatural crew, we are reminded that our imaginations are “limited only by what one pretends”, and that even beasts that look strange on the outside can be sweet on the inside when you get to know them. Children with night-time fears and their parents will appreciate how brave Bella turns her runaway fantasies into funny escapades and heartwarming friendships.

A perfect bedtime or campfire story, Bella Goes Bump in the Night is appropriate as a read-to for younger children. The whimsical verse will have readers laughing out loud; and the creature factor may also appeal to a slightly older age group than would typically be drawn to picture books. This is thanks especially to the outstanding illustrations by Jonathan Ashley. The images are beautifully rendered with a sense of humor, elegant detail, and color work reminiscent of Maxfield Parrish. Characters are drawn with sensitivity and wit, whether Ashley is depicting the most ghoulish beast or the believable little-girl charm of Bella herself. The whimsical yet eerie illustrations set the perfect mood for Bella’s fantasy world.

The whole family will want to gather around with blankets and flashlights to read this book together. Produced by the Roché’s independent press BellaBoGia Publishing, Bella Goes Bump in the Night is available through the Bella the Great secure online store and also as an ipad e-book download from itunes. Visit the Bella the Great web site for more information.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Illustrating Floyd: Getting Started

It’s time to get my second Floyd book going so I thought I’d share a bit of my process as I go along. The second book in my series of three is titled Floyd and the Mysterious Night Time Noise and I plan to have it released in spring of 2011.

This is not the only way an illustrator might create a book project, but this is the method that works really well for me. Today I’m writing about the beginning stages, which starts with the sketching phase.

Even before I start the first sketches, there are a few important things to have ready. My manuscript is typed and edited first (thanks to my dedicated editor Andrea Melo!). Next, I break the manuscript up into sections that will work within the number of pages I plan to have. This is important since the cost of book production depends partly on how many pages the book will be. Due to the printing and book construction process, pages are always printed in multiples of 4 (28, 32, 36...). You can have a book that ends on an odd number of pages, but then you may have blank/wasted pages. Finally, I print out a copy of the manuscript from my computer.

Now I start the art work with thumbnail sketches. Thumbnail sketches are small practice sketches that artists often use to plan composition. I create a thumbnail box in pencil that is the same dimensions as what the spread will be, but reduced in scale. A spread, by the way, is the the two pages in the book that will face each other. It works really well to design the composition knowing how images on those pages will span or visually compliment each other. I like to put one thumbnail box on each page of my sketchbook in the order of the story, so it works a little bit like a story board.

I also lightly draw a line in the center of the thumbnail so I know where the page fold will be. It is not a good idea to draw images on the page fold unless it is really carefully composed, so its important to know how your space works in what will be near the page “gutter” area.

Next I print out my manuscript and cut out the sections used for each spread. I glue them below the thumbnail, so I can keep track of the story and know exactly what text I’m illustrating. Even though I wrote the story, I don’t have it 100% memorized. Sometime the text may get edited further at this point, but I try to have it as close as possible to the final version.

I also create a thumbnail for the cover design. My pencil design shows Floyd looking up at the night sky and uses my original Floyd title font as seen on the first book, Floyd and the Irresistible Cookie.

Now I draw the compositions for each spread in pencil, using just a few sketchy lines. These drawings don’t take a long time to do, but I may go back and change parts of them as I go along. I try to vary the images and views, especially when it comes to Floyd, Tiny and Larue, so the pictures do not seem too repetitive. I put the text in as just sketchy lines with key words so I generally know where I will put the words when I do the typesetting in Photoshop later. I don’t work from photos just yet; I’ll do that when I get to the more detailed work of the final paintings.

At this point, if I were working with a publisher or author, I would have those preliminary thumbnail sketches approved before going onto the final full-scale illustrations. But I’m self-publishing, so I just have to ask me!
Me: How do you think those thumbnails look?
Me: Great! How many do you have done?
Me: Ummmm...
I have a few more of those thumbnails to work on so I’m getting back to work!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 5 of Drawn to the Sea: Edges and Beginnings

The last day of this truly unique class experience was yesterday and I’ve had some hours to think about what to write. These entries over the last week have been pretty much “news, sports, and weather” in my mind because the really personal stuff happened in our discussions, my journal, the moments of being there with those people, in those places we went to physically, mentally, and emotionally. I know those who were there know exactly what I mean. It’s not really possible to describe the really profound moments, so I’ll just savor them. And there are some things that should just be between the people who were there, and they will remain that way for all of us, I think.

We started the day focusing on how we now apply our experiences to our classrooms and how we keep the energy and inspiration going after the week is over. Then over several hours we listened to each person describe their experiences and share some of their work. I am seldom at a loss for words (my friends will be shocked by that, I know) but I had a difficult time deciding how to say what ended up being for me so multi-faceted and it will take me weeks and maybe months to really process everything fully. Most of the work I did is at the edge of being created, just a possibility of an art work right now. I did read a story that I wrote that sort of sums up a deeply personal revelation I had during the week. I won’t post it here today, but the story symbolized to me, as an artist and person, that if I am true to who I am fundamentally, I will have peace with myself and in myself and in this world.

This week I’ve talked about my experience and shown my work only. I have been consciously careful about violating the trust and privacy of the people learning along with me. Yesterday some members of the group were generous and open enough to allow me to photograph them and some of their work so I can share it here. I’m not going to attempt to describe the work spaces and pieces on each artist's behalf, but if anyone has questions or would like to comment on their own stuff, you can certainly comment at the end of the blog and I welcome you to do that.

I just heard a quote this morning: “Adventure requires a trusted guide.” Ginny, Jack, Peter, Mary Ellen, thank you for being encouraging, trustworthy, spiritual, honest, and accepting guides. I am so deeply grateful. And to all of the group, your acceptance and willingness to share was so genuine and surprising to me. I can’t wait to see you all in September. And I'll be working with Jack, Ginny, Polly Z. and others in the near future looking at ways to best use technology like blogs and web-based sharing for teachers, so I'm looking forward to that.

Okay, on a side note, throughout the week people talked about “things that just happen” in this class. There were some amazing connections and coincidences. This week a lot of my personal contemplation has been around my insecurity about if I am doing what I should be doing as an artist and teacher. So, at the end of the day Jack rolled in a big cart of books and we were allowed to choose one. Whoo-hoo, free books! I got to the book cart and I saw this orange book and I thought, NO WAY. Only my husband knows (until today) that two or three months ago, I starting writing a book, young adult novel, centered around Hawaiian shark folklore. (My close friends know I’m deathly terrified of squirrels but I adore Great White sharks.) I’ve wondered if I should bother doing this, I’m not really a “writer”, etc., etc. I have been starting to do research on the culture and deities and all that but of course, in class this week I haven’t been thinking about that little project at all. So I saw this orange book and the title is Hawaiian Mythology. I grabbed it. It’s my sign.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 5: Hold That Thought

Thanks to everyone who has been following this blog all week. Today was Day 5 of Drawn by the Sea. I am going to take a break tonight and post the blog entry about this last day of class tomorrow. Until then, be well...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 4: Oceans and Skies

It’s Thursday, and my time in Drawn to the Sea is almost over. Day 4 was filled with lots of great experiences, though, starting with a trip to the New Bedford Ocean Explorium.

In a former bank building, the oceanarium's exhibits feature both tropical and local sea life and interactive displays. There are two expansive Arthur Moniz murals as well depicting the harbor imagined panoramically in its natural state and its current developed state.

I spent some time with the sea horses which are the same ones from the photograph I used for some of my Day 1 drawings. They are incredibly quick and expressive when they move, and Dr. Welty told me they might actually be doing a sort of courting ritual. I sketched them in pencil, trying to capture their motion, which is something I could only have known from seeing them in person.

I also thought it was interesting that these creatures intertwined with each other and the seaweed since this week I found myself noticing connections with how all of this ocean life interconnects and is multi-layered, so to speak. Then I consider how my life also has connecting experiences, layered in various depths and multi-faceted, like the ocean itself.

After sea life sketching, we headed over to the New Bedford Art Museum where we were given an overview of the John James Audubon exhibit by one of the museum’s founders. This collection of prints showed an amazing range of creatures, foliage, and habitats. Audubon sketched from life by staking out these birds in the wild. His art is amazingly dramatic and detailed. The exhibit is open through September if you want to see it in person. I highly recommend you stop by!!

Looking at the art work in both places, I thought about how I observe things as an artist. I view things differently if I am looking at objects I already know about(or think I know about) versus objects I am looking at for the first time or have no idea about. I also realized that I am a fairly scientific person. I plan and organize and analyze things, and I do that even when I am in a creative process. So this week, I have been making peace with the idea that my ideas can evolve, be put on hold, reinvent themselves, and still be viable. I can also have works that are incomplete and yet are artistically valid and meaningful since they encompass the excitement of the possibilities of what those art work will be. And also to believe that they will eventually BE.

Back at the classroom, we had a full afternoon of studio time. I worked on several projects, none of which I expect to complete by Friday, but I will be able to continue these pieces on my own. With so many resources and experiences to draw from and be inspired by as I go, I look forward to how they will unfold. I have learned to find projects being “not done” (yet) exciting and not stressful.

Tomorrow I’ll conclude this series of entries (until one more class meeting in September) about my experience in this course, including pictures of my in-progress works. I am sad the week is ending but I think I can sustain what energy and inspiration I’ve received and hope to share more about what I am taking from this class in the weeks and months that follow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 3: On the Waterfront

Day 3 of Drawn to the Sea began with a presentation by artist/educator Peter C. Stone focusing on symbols and mythology in art and how that is tied to nature and human beings. We were able to see in person some of the original paintings featured in his book Sanctuaries, and he also discussed how he writes and journals to help form his artistic ideas. We were given several points to consider as we headed out to the New Bedford waterfront to explore, draw or write. Peter suggested to hold off taking pictures until we’d had a chance to draw and experience what we were seeing first. And so we got all of our gear together and set off.

Today it was slightly cooler outside, and we got to travel in style in a fancy bus with A/C! We arrived at the Waterfront Visitor’s Center at Pier 3 and Jack Crowley gave us some info about the working waterfront, which seems to me is like a huge machine working simultaneously with nature and the environment.

The Visitor’s Center, which was the long-time fishermen’s auction house and later the harbor master’s headquarters, has some great history and information about the fishing industry which is still such an important part of our area’s economy and environment.

A few of my classmates and I started out by going to the top of the pedestrian walkway next to that building. You can cross Rte 18 and walk over to the historic downtown area from there, but we were there for the view. Looking across I could see the hazy skyline of Fairhaven and the many fishing boats in port and moving on the water. I could also see the masts of the Schooner Ernestina, and that’s where we headed next.

Just a short walk and I boarded the old vessel which has been partly restored. A guide pointed out to me these amazing prisms that were embedded into the ship floors and such to reflect light in the cabins. I also noticed how amazing it was that some of the same technology and hardware that was used a hundred or so years ago is still relevant and operational today. I have been thinking about ocean and ancient connections, so that was another little revelation.

I sat in the shade on the dock near the Ernestina and instead of sketching I wrote a myth which is a personal allegory of my connection to the ocean. It evolved pretty quickly in my head, and I had to get it down some where, so I am grateful for these beautiful journal sketchbooks we were given to do so. I think I may turn this writing into a handmade book, which Ginny Freyermuth showed us how to make yesterday.

Back in class, we had some studio time, and then another presentation from Peter Stone who posed some seriously deep questions related to how art can be a real language, a language made entirely of symbolic images. Symbols can also have multiple meanings and layered meanings, many of which are rooted in ancient and indigenous traditions. Peter is a wonderful storyteller and so knowledgeable about this topic; but he is also generous in sharing what he knows, how he creates, and and how symbols are woven throughout his artwork.

Peter also talked about how everything on our earth is connected both spiritually and scientifically when we consider how life follows a cyclical pattern. I was very intrigued in the idea that every part of the organic world is connected, but also that how we create art can be approached as a cyclical evolutionary process. Peter shared some of his sketchbook journaling process with me and encouraged me to try writing down dreams or ideas right away, at any moment in a journal that I keep ready. I think I’ll try that!

So Day 3 went by even faster than the first days, which I didn’t think was possible, and tomorrow we are going back to New Bedford to the Ocean Explorium where we’ll visit some of the creatures in Ginny’s photos from Day 1, and a special visit to the New Bedford Art Museum where we’ll get to the the John James Audubon exhibit. For now, I am going to work on some beading for my weaving and some sketching for a triptych which I am creating from some of my Fort photos-- oh, and sleep somewhere in there!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Drawn to the Sea: Day 2

Today was Day 2 of Drawn to the Sea. (If you haven’t read Monday’s post, check it out so you know what is going on!) Though it was sweltering hot, we fearless creative teachers braved the elements to take a field trip to Fort Phoenix, Fairhaven! With the help of Science Guy Dr. Dave Welty coming to the rescue with digital camera technical difficulties, plus lots of water and sunscreen, we boarded a yellow bus and drove down to the shore.

Armed with words of inspiration from Ginny and Mary Ellen, Jack encouraged us to find some shade (yes there are some good spots especially behind the fort next to the hurricane dike) and we were off to collect ocean relics, sketch, paint, journal, photograph...

I took a few pictures of some interesting spots. I love the rock moss and the textures of different objects that find themselves in little still-lifes along the sand.

I did some sketching and writing, too and also got to chat with a few of my fellow students during those two hours. It’s really nice to get to talk with people who are open to being creative and love teaching, too.

And everyone made it through the heat with a damaged digital camera being the only injury to report. We are hearty folk!

So after the beach, I’m thinking about a few things that I’m inspired by...
...the possibilities of change the ocean represents even as it seems ancient
...the feeling of a connection to the sea, to some humanity that the ocean shares with us
...gratitude for the senses to appreciate the power and beauty of nature and for people who help me to stop and see it
...the ocean layers as I look through the water, numerous and different and all at once visible, and how that might reflect me as a person

Following a delicious lunch catered by Shipyard Galley (thanks for taking good care of us, Jack!), I took out my sketchbook for a while. I wrote and created a watercolor painting from a memory of watching a rare meteor shower out in East Fairhaven several years ago around 2:30 in the morning one cold night.

At the end of class, it was inspiring to me that everyone shared something about their experience today with the rest of the group, be it writing, art, insights, weavings. It is a brave thing to do, and helps others to be brave enough to express themselves. It’s also really nice to be surrounded by people who are supportive and positive about what is going on with their own work and others’. I’m excited to see what some of my classmates’ creations-in-progress will become at the end of the week. I’m curious as to what mine will look like, too!

Tomorrow I will bring in my rock (more on that later) and I am going to sign off to read Peter Stone’s very beautiful book of paintings and written reflections, Sanctuaries, before our day tomorrow with Peter on the New Bedford waterfront!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Back to the Beach with Ocean-Inspired Art: Day 1

I’m on break from my summer illustration project and taking on the role of fearless art student!!! Today was Day 1 of the course I’m taking this week called Drawn to the Sea: Art, Science and the Nature of Seeing though UMD/CUSP and Connecting Oceans Academy. So far, being an art student again has been pretty fantastic.

We met today in the former AT&T building in Fairhaven where we had some course intro by scientist Jack Crowley and artist Virginia Freyermuth. Both Jack and Ginny are also experts at providing teachers with very meaningful experiences that they can bring back to the classroom. Also facilitating our creative processes are teacher and textile artist Mary Ellen Nochimow and artist Peter Stone.

Today I was one of several art educators in the group, but there were also lots of teachers of other grade levels/disciplines. The atmosphere is totally supportive of everyone creating, writing, and being expressive. The majority of the group has already taken this class before and have had to come back, so that’s a really good sign!

When we arrived we could choose a studio space which had lots of supplies all ready for us and books, too. The course is inspired by the work and writing of environmentalist Rachel Carson, and I’m looking forward to reading more about her work.

At different points during the day, we broke into groups for some demonstrations by Ginny and Mary Ellen. Even though I'm in student mode, I am always interested in seeing not just what people are teaching, but how they are teaching it. How does the person describe what they are doing? How much is explained in instruction, how much left to discovery?

Today I began working on scientific observational drawings. I tried out a beautiful golden spotted seahorse which Ginny had photographed at the Ocean Explorium (also known as the Oceanarium) in New Bedford. I drew him in pencil, and I am working on a pen version, then maybe color. I'm still thinking about how to deal with some seaweed in the background of the pen drawing do that it doesn't take focus away from the seahorse. Maybe I'll use stippling or keep it in pencil...

I’m also trying out some weaving. (My experience with textile design is mainly quilting so this is much more organic and out of the box for me). I’ll leave you with a picture of the in-process weaving which is inspired by the ocean’s edge. (Trying to figure out how to make some skinny black seaweed weave the way I want it to without breaking.) When it's done, I want the weaving to express the feeling of the ocean creeping up on the sand.

Now it’s time to sew the top of my weaving to hold a cool piece of drift wood I got from from Mary Ellen’s stick collection. Tomorrow we are going to Fort Phoenix to draw for a couple of hours. It may be hot, but that never stopped me from going to the beach! More tomorrow...