Posts Tagged ‘making art’

Crayons and paper and pens — oh my!

In art, beauty, design on January 29, 2012 at 1:04 am
Art Show - DSC 0035 ep

Image by Eric.Parker via Flickr

This week I did one of my favorite things ever.

I ordered personal stationery for myself, and another set for Jose and I, at Scriptura, a lovely shop in New Orleans where I last bought these things in 2004. Some stores are so perfect you can’t wait to go back, and this is one. You perch on a cane stool at a wide wooden table and their helpful staff spend as much time as you need — while the letterpress printer from 1906 clanks away in the back room.

Now that’s my kind of shopping: personal, attentive, quirky, historic and stylish!

Mine will be white cards with a lime green border, my name printed in a soft orange. Ours are kelly green (!) printed in navy blue. Total cost, just over $100. Score!

I stocked up in Chicago in November at Blick, a 101-year-old store that was totally intoxicating. I bought felt pens with brush tips, an art book, several great binders to hold my loose recipes.

There are such lovely papers to be found, everywhere I travel. Toronto has the Japanese Paper Place, Florence offers gorgeous marbled papers at Il Papiro and the art supply section at Paris’ BHV. Ooooh la la!

There are few things that make me so completely happy as knowing I have lots of gorgeous paper, pens, watercolor, pens, brushes, and my camera…beauty just waiting to explode out of my fingertips.

When we have dinner parties, I make individual place cards for everyone. At Christmas, I make and send out some of our own home-made cards as well. This year was a fun photo I took of Jose — who is not a huge hulking guy — carrying in our tree on his shoulder. Another year it was a photo he took of two canoes, one red, one green.

I grew up in a home full of creativity and feel bereft if I don’t have ready access to the tools of making stuff. My Dad paints, sculpts, works in silver, oil, etching, engraving….The only medium he doesn’t work in, ironically, is photography (although he was a film director for a living.)

We traveled across Canada by car the summer I was 15, sleeping in motels or our tent, and he filmed and I drew. I treasure my drawings from my travels as much as my photos: a temple in northern Thailand, a glass of Guinness in the Aran Islands, a sculpture in Paris, a courtyard in Queretaro.

Drawing, and painting, makes you sloooooow down and really look at whatever it is you are appreciating.

Here’s a fun New York Times story about one of my favorite art supply shops anywhere, Lee’s, on 57th. Street in Manhattan.

Do you love art supplies?

Have a great source to share?

Ready, Set, Draw! Not Your Gun — Your Pencil

In art on May 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Image by englishsnow via Flickr

This sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday…at Wave Hill, a gorgeous garden in the Bronx. It’s a free day of drawing, tomorrow. As the site suggests, drawing something forces you to slooooow down and really look at an object or a person or a place.

I’ve started a Friday morning drawing class, three hours, working with colored pencils, one of my favorite media. Last week we drew an apple. This week, the teacher was late and one of my classmates brought in 3 spectacular purple flowers from her garden — two iris and something I didn’t recognize. So we drew that.


Flowers are difficult! Lots of detail and minuscule streaks and shades, palest yellow and white. I blew the refraction effect of the stems in water — they look like they’ve moved to the side — but maybe I’ll fix it next week.

The teacher, who’s a bit ferocious, actually liked my piece, which was neat. I did it small and controlled, while my flower-bearing friend created huge, blowsy blooms blasting off the paper. It’s fascinating to see how differently we each see the same things, even side by side, and how we translate them onto paper.

After about two hours, we all get up and walk about the room to see what others are up to. There is a man who sits to my immediate left, doing a large drawing of a photo he took in his native Haiti. His style is loose, free, gorgeous, inspiring. I love being surrounded by talent. One woman is painting a butterfly on a bush, another a cat in a window. All of which demand technical skill, but — most important — the willingness and the ability to look at something really closely and for a long time.

If there is any skill we’re losing, even disdaining, in an era of continuous partial attention and screens filled with “reality” television, this is it.

“What’s happening here?” the teacher asked me, gently, pointing to a blank spot on my drawing. “Um, I wimped out,” I admitted. I didn’t quite know what to do, so I stopped. She helped me see the solution — erasing and moving a line — and I started again.

It’s so regenerating to learn, or re-learn, something creative.  I used to draw for hours every day after I came home from high school. I’ve really missed it. But, being a workaholic, could barely stand the idea of three hours not working on a weekday. Pshaw!

Nothing I’ve done in years is making me as happy.

If you haven’t drawn something in years, sit still for an hour and try it (again.) It does take time, and patience, (and a good eraser and a thick piece of drawing paper.)It doesn’t have to be “good” or realistic. It just has to be yours, and pleasurable to do.

Whether you try to capture the essence of  your kid or your cat or an apple, you’ll never see it quite the same way again.


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