Animals Colored pencil art Drawing International Fake Journal Month Sketchbook Pages

Cat Translation Spell (Never Mind!)

Cat Translation Spell, ink and colored pencil
Cat Translation Spell, ink and colored pencil

I’ve often wished I could understand what my cats were saying but I should have known! Fortunately the Cat Translation Spell has an Unspell to reverse the effects.

This is another page in my Fake Journal for International Fake Journal Month. I was excited to get to this page where the black paper transitions to the brown pages. It’s so much fun drawing with white and gold gel pen on the black and colored pencil works beautifully on both of these papers.

Acrylic Painting Bay Area Parks Landscape Oil Painting Outdoors/Landscape Painting Places Plein Air Walnut Creek

Borges Ranch Painted 3 Times in 3 Years: Seeing Progress

Borges Ranch View, Acrylic on canvas panel, 10"x12"
Borges Ranch View, Open Acrylics on canvas panel, 10x12" (studio painting)

It’s springtime in California and those famous “golden rolling hills” are actually a million shades of green right now, thanks to all the rain (which we probably won’t see again until next winter).  When my plein air group went to Borges Ranch in Walnut Creek last month for our paint out, I used the time to hike, sketch and take photos. Then I made the painting above in the studio from my photos memories of the day.

You can see my recent sketches of Borges here. The two Borges paintings below from 2009 and 2008 help me see that I am making progress.

March 2009; Plein air, Oil, 9x12"
Borges Ranch Plein Air, March 2008
March 2008, Plein Air, Oil (Ick!)

I really like going out sketching with the group and experiencing everything about the day without the frustration of trying to make a 2-hour painting as the light and scene changes completely. I’m better suited to doing sketches in the field and paintings in the studio.

Last Sunday I tried again to paint on site. I thoroughly enjoyed the sounds of birds, crickets and frogs in the meadow where I painted in the sun along the bay in Benicia. The painting was a 50-50 flop that might be salvageable but I took some photos which I altered in Photoshop to match my memories, from which I will make a painting

International Fake Journal Month Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

Janas (Fake) Journal: A Spell to Get Lean

Spell to Get Lean, gel pens & colored pencils
Spell to Get Lean, gel pens & colored pencils

Yes, sometimes it does seem like magic spells and the ability to decode hieroglyphics are required when trying to calculate how to lose weight and get lean. This spell worked: it caused a definite lean but not the right kind.  That’s why it’s important to be specific when designing spells, intentions or wishes.

Be Careful What You Wish For (funny but true!)

Years ago a friend told me that she’d found her husband by writing a detailed description of the right man and the universe brought her exactly what she asked for. She encouraged me to give it a try. I played along, half-jokingly jotting down what I was looking for in a guy: tall, dark and handsome; interested in art; works  in the mental health field (as I did then); physically fit, and likes kids (I was a recently divorced single mom).

The next day my sister called me (with no knowledge of my list) and said she had a friend from her gym she thought I should meet. He was a single dad who worked at a mental hospital; a tall, handsome, African-American guy. (By tall, dark and handsome I’d been picturing George Clooney, but this was OK too).

The three of us met at a pub. Art was basketball-player tall and fit though too ostentatiously dressed for my taste (my sister had only seen him in sweats) but that wasn’t the deal-breaker. The deal breaker was that he endlessly talked about himself, on and on and on all evening. Art seemed to have no interest in anything or anyone but himself.

Afterward, I marveled to my sister how he had all the qualities on that list I’d made except being interested in art. Then we looked at each other and cracked up! His name was Art and was he ever interested in Art!

Drawing Flower Art Gardening Ink and watercolor wash Painting Rose

Can’t Resist Those Roses

Irresistable Roses, ink & watercolor
Irresistable Roses, ink & watercolor

On a day that felt like a marathon of busyness I couldn’t resist pausing this afternoon to sketch roses from my favorite bush which was putting on a glorious show of snazzy blooms.

I like that I can turn my journal sideways and paint across the centerfold to double the size of my “canvas,” but it’s a little sad and distracting having that strong fold line across the middle. I’d thought of painting on a sheet of watercolor paper instead of in my journal but I had the silly idea that there wasn’t time for that and anyway my journal was feeling a little neglected.

I’ve spent the past couple of days catching up on non-art stuff, like cleaning the house from top to bottom, finally dealing with a pile of paper that needed filing or doing, and using the FURminator (best invention ever!) on my two cats, filling an entire empty Kleenex box with fur that would have been shed otherwise. I saved the big ball o’ fur, thinking it might be fun to use in an art project but  haven’t figured out what yet.

Berkeley Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Interiors Painting People Places Shop windows Sketchbook Pages

Sketching Solano Ave. in the 1700s and 1800s

La Farine Bakery, ink & watercolor
La Farine Bakery, ink & watercolor & piece of business card

Not the years 1700s-1800s, but the addresses. We started our Tuesday night sketchcrawl at La Farine Bakery (above), 1820 Solano Ave., Berkeley and two and half hours later we’d traveled only one block, ending at Kirin Restaurant, 1767 Solano Ave. Berkeley. It’s amazing how many interesting details there are to be seen and drawn on a street I’ve walked hundreds of times.

We only had 15 minutes to draw in the bakery since they were closing but the workday was just beginning for the baker who was tantalizing our noses with the mesmerizing scent of carmelizing sugar and butter. People rushed in and out, buying their bread for dinner. This lady (above) was in and out in less than two minutes.

Then we headed outside and were captivated by the art deco signage on the Powder Box Beauty Salon which will probably be gone soon since they are moving around the corner.

Powder Box Beauty Salon, ink and watercolor
Powder Box Beauty Salon, ink and watercolor

The wall is maroon tile and I spent way too much time drawing all the lines to indicate tile and then goofed when I drew the car parked in front of the building. I didn’t pay attention to how things lined up and accidentally parked the car on the sidewalk, halfway into the store.

This shop reminds me of one we used to pass on the way to my grandmother’s house when I was a kid. I used to get so annoyed at that shop’s name: “Lipstick Beauty Salon,” because it didn’t make any sense, and that started my life-long pet peeve of dumb business names.

Of course this was before the internet and the REALLY stupid business names that seem to be required for the web. They all sound like baby talk to me (picture a baby prattling, “Google, twitter, hulu, lulu, vimeo, gowalla.” (All successful web-based companies.)

Sue Johnson Custom Lampshades, ink & watercolor
Sue Johnson Custom Lamps, ink & watercolor

The sun had set and all the lit lamps at Sue Johnson’s shop were glowing in the windows. I’d never noticed the wonderful Spanish tiles and other decorative elements above the store windows, including a delicate mural of ivy leaves that I forgot to draw because I got so interested in the tree.

We finished up at Kirin Restaurant when it got too cold outside. Cathy eats there regularly so felt comfortable asking the host if we could come in and sketch and he graciously agreed. (That’s my cartoony version of Cathy on a bar stool, still wearing her gigantic. arctic puffy down jacket and signature baseball cap.) The kitchen is visible behind glass walls.

Kirin Restaurant, ink & watercolor
Kirin Restaurant, ink & watercolor
Colored pencil art Drawing International Fake Journal Month Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

Janas (Fake) Journal: Spell for Art Making

Play Your Art Instrument, gel pen and colored pencil
Play Your Art Instrument, gel pens and colored pencil

I heard an interview with musician Bobby McFerrin on NPR yesterday and he said something about work, play and creativity that really struck me. He was talking about having always just wanted to be a working musician (rather than a famous celebrity). Then he stopped to correct himself about the word “work” vs. the importance of “play”:

“When we’re doing our lessons, the teacher doesn’t say, ‘Ready, set, work.’ They say, ‘Ready, set, play,’ and I always took that word seriously.”

When I heard his spontaneous and inspired music, I understood exactly. Without the spirit of play, art becomes work, serious work. And serious isn’t fun. You rarely see the adjective serious describing something you want. It usually appears before words like illness, accident,  mistake, and problem.

Of course there are serious artists who make serious work. I watched a series about artists on PBS called “Art:21.” The producers must have told all the artists to refer to their paintings, sculptures, prints as “work”  (e.g. “I made this work last year…” or “This work is about…” or “When I am making work…”). It just sounded so pretentious, self-important and overly serious.

So now, when I find myself working hard (and enjoying it less) whether in the studio, the sketchbook or life in general, I will remember the spell for joyful art making and apply it once again.

If you want to try the spell too, all you have to do is open your mind, heart, spirit, eyes, arms and PLAY!

(For more information about International Fake Journal Month click here).

Animals Bookbinding Colored pencil art Drawing International Fake Journal Month Life in general People Sketchbook Pages

Janas (fake) Journal: How to Remove an Elephant Hat Spell

How to Remove an Elephant Hat Spell, Gel pen & colored pencil on black Canson drawing paper
How to Remove an Elephant Hat Spell, gel pens & colored pencils

For International Fake Journal Month 2010 I bound a journal with dark papers which, as you can see by the title below, is being filled with useful spells and unspells. I say that in passive voice because it is an alternate Jana who is filling it, one with great wisdom and special skills.

Janas (FAKE) Journal 2010, Book of Spells & Unspells
Janas(Fake)Journal, Book of Spells & Unspells

The papers I used to cover the book board is made of some kind of bark I think. It was in the special paper drawer at Dick Blick. Here is the full spread of the Elephant Hat spell page:

Elephant Hat Spell, full spread
Elephant Hat Spell, full spread

In case you’re wondering when one might need such a spell, it recently came in handy for me. At my day job I was used to changing hats constantly, putting on the desktop publishing hat, then the  finance hat, swapping that with the web-work hat, then the customer relations hat, database, marketing, etc.  Such is life in a small non-profit during difficult financial times.

But then the hats got sticky and I couldn’t get them off; I was wearing all the hats all the time. And one morning I noticed that one of the hats had a huge, heavy elephant on it. I was sinking fast. I needed help. I tried the Elephant Hat Removal Spell. Then I asked nicely.

I got the help I needed:  Half of those hats have been handed off and my schedule has been reduced to half time. The elephant disappeared and the hats are now a comfortable fit—when worn one at a time.