Art Journaling 2021

It’s been a cornucopia of art journaling workshops lately. The wonderful Estè MacLeod supplied the info about an incredible opportunity—something called Sketchbook Revival, which offers free art journaling classes by one or two different teachers each day. It’s so rich with fabulous techniques for thinking, not thinking, mark making, collage, rubber stamping, book creation and just playing. Here are a few that I did with that group. #sketchrevival #artjournaling

At the same time, I attended a class at Congregation Beth Sholom in SF—Art Journaling for the Jewish Soul with Debbie Bamberger. I learned so much and enjoyed playing. It’s hard for me to use these new techniques, I had to loosen up and push things. I just let things happen and many of the pieces didn’t work but that was the point for me. To just keep going. It’s exciting! #bethsholomsf

Adding to this post:
I finally dug into the rubber stamping project. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get to this but hadn’t had time. SO MUCH FUN! I loved the materials as well as the art itself. I used watercolor because I haven’t been able to get the ink pads yet but that’ll come. I’m sure this won’t be my last project with these. Thank you, Sarah Matthews!

Yosemite during the Pandemic

November 1, 2020. We gained an hour last night.

We’re here for our 18th Anniversary. Got here Thursday at dinner time. It’s beautiful and it’s different. We usually come to camp in late May or mid-September. Since it’s late in the season, we’re staying at the Lodge, right across from Yosemite Falls, which is completely dry. It’s only a teeny bit smoky. Many of the concessions are closed and those that are open require masks and are only doing takeout meals, to be eaten inside or out.

The mornings are really chilly (40’s). Friday, we ride our bikes to Mirror lake in the hand-freezing morning. I’m wearing gloves but Mitch has to suffer through it, so we switch to ride on the sunny side of the valley, which makes a big difference. Mirror Lake is a bed of dry sand. Many years ago, they used that to sand the roads in the Winter.

After Mirror Lake, we ride to our favorite spot, the stone bridge with the deep swimming hole. Mitch goes in for a dip, polar bear that he is.

It’s Halloween and we see several people wearing costumes. I wonder if there was a party somewhere but am told that people just want to dress up for the holiday—there isn’t anything “going on.”

Sunday, we leave the lodge at 9:30 and park at Curry Village to hike up Vernal Falls. I forgot that it’s the same loop we did eight years ago. I think it’s the most popular trail in Yosemite and is usually wet from the intense waterfall. This time of year, it’s not wet nor crowded.

It’s still a groaner getting up that steep flight of stairs. For the hike down, we opt to take the John Muir Trail, which is sublime in its own way. Some time, I’d like to go all the way to the top of Nevada Falls and check out Little Yosemite Valley which leads to the backside of Half Dome, where the final climb up that incredible rock begins. We meet some backpackers who came down from there. It sounds lovely and there’s a campsite. I am probably kidding myself that I’ll go but it’s nice to dream. 🙂

And being here in Yosemite has been overshadowed by the anxiety of the election. I put my phone on DND because I’ve been receiving a multitude of texts, emails and calls exhorting me to make calls and give more money. It’s a messed up time out there in the World. We are all nervous about the election and Covid seems to be here for the foreseeable future.

So we try to stay present and be with the serenity of the park. It is enough.

Flowers and Pods: finals

More drawings/paintings of imaginary flowers and seed pods. I really got into these!

This one was the final assignment, a mid-century inspired design. I used watercolor and dip pen. Also used a little masking fluid but it dries up so fast, I didn’t love using it.

Flowers A – Z

I loved my class with the incredible Este MacLeod and decided to take another one. I’m so inspired by the new techniques she introduced me to. This time, it was acrylic inks with the dip pen. I love the line that it makes and the bright colors.

In this exercise, I took my lower case letters and turned them into imaginary flowers. I tried to push myself to use new shapes.

Different Strokes

Form follows function

As an illustrator, I know that I should choose one style and be consistent with it so people can easily associate my work with me. But not all styles fit all functions.

I was recently asked to design a set of posters for San Francisco Strong (#sfstrong-posters) to illustrate the ways we can protect and support ourselves and others during our current pandemic. The small posters would go in people’s windows so I needed to have the work be bold, graphic and easily read from the street.

My sketch style has evolved over the years to what you see on the rest of my site, but back in my Kaua’i days, my work looked very different.

RedGinger4
Three beauties modeling my work

OldBizCardIn my first major entrepreneurial venture, Red Ginger, I designed and sold T-shirts, which I printed in my garage. At the time, my technique was to cut the drawing and lettering through a thin layer of laquer film that was stuck to acetate. After peeling off the positive areas, I adhered the laquer (with a nasty chemical) to the screen, removed the acetate and then squeegeed the ink through to the fabric. I had to use an x-acto knife as my primary tool (not quite as bad as using your finger as a stylus, but you get the idea).

Additionally, I employed a homemade system of two screens on hinges so I could make two color designs. It was a crude system that could not handle tight registration.

Studio1
The screens in my studio

Studio4
That’s me at the drawing board

Studio3
Everything dried out here on the patio

Due to these technical limitations, my style developed to include white lines between large color blocks.

RedGinger2
Another promo shot

RedGinger1
At Anahola Beach. That’s me, with the hair, on the left

HalleysComet
Full disclosure: not printed by me

Tahiti
Looking at these, I think they’re pretty simplistic but I still love them

 

Fast forward to today (you knew I’d get here at some point). I instinctively conceived of the #SFStrong.posters in this graphic style.

So that’s why they’re so different from my sketches. But actually, I think that most, if not all illustrators have many styles but they choose to put only one forward for the reason I mention above.

Do they wish they could mix it up more? Do they do that? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Stay safe, everyone.
Susan

 

6 Shoes (not feet)

While working a project of posters for Covid prevention in San Francisco (soon to be posted here), I went down a cockamamie rabbit hole. I thought that I’d use different shoes for the 6 foot recommended distancing but that didn’t work in my design at all. Instead, I reworked (and renamed) them. Gossamer comes from my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon of all time Hair Raising Hare.

6Shoes

Big Island 2020

The incredibly beautiful, serene Waipio Valley
Waipio Valley coastline. Looks like good surf. Heck, yeah!
Plenty of these big ass tree ferns in Volcano
Chillin’ in Kea’au. It was dark and I could barely see the paper while drawing/painting.
All these guys sunning on the South Side.
Love this flower
Pau hana at the Seafood Tiki Bar. These guys just off from work. Celebrating aloha Friday. Had no supplies on me. Used the back of my Long’s receipt and the busboy’s pen.

 

Lassen National Park

Lassen, from Summit Lake

I went to Lassen last Summer with my friends Liz and Jenna (sisters) and about 80 Oregonians, as part of a group called the Chemeketans. I was leery of vacationing with such a large number of people but Liz assured me that it was a great way to go. At a very reasonable price, with communal participation in setting up and breaking down camp, kitchen, meal and shower tents, the group provided the food, drink and facilities for an easy camping experience.

The weather was HOT at the outset

A cook and some helpers are paid and the rest of the jobs are done by campers. I was required to sign up for a few tasks during the week—I requested dish washing.

Liz was right—it was a luxury to wake up to a hot meal and return from a long day of hiking to find dinner all ready and waiting! Yowzah!

Fishing at Hat Creek, the campground where we stayed

Lassen is the least visited of the US National Parks. It’s an active volcano with “steaming fumaroles,” bubbling mud and sulfur pools. Hot stuff! As you can see from my paintings, in many areas, there are gorgeous creeks, lakes and meadows. I was struck by the beauty of the place.

Cliff Lake heather

Mount Lassen is 10,457 feet and in late July we had to pick our way over snow-covered trails at one of the trailheads. Luckily, we were an alert group of hikers and found markers on the trees. Trail crews were at work, a ways down, for the first time that season. We passed three pristine lakes and gorgeous wildflowers as we reached lower levels.

There were hundreds of these miniature froggies

The elevation was tough for us lowlanders. So we continued down the mountain and hitchhiked back to our car. We had no problem getting a ride—nobody was worried about picking up middle aged women with backpacks!

Quick sketch at Shadow Lake
Tortoise shell butterflies

I’d heard, through friends, that monarch butterflies were numerous at Lassen peak at that time of year and I really wanted to see them. We got lucky at another lake where tortoiseshell butterflies virtually covered the path. They differ from monarchs in that the underside of their wings is a dull brown and yellow but the tops are bright orange with black, much like the monarchs.

Camp fire, minus the fire

At the end of each day, all the Chemeketans would bring their folding chairs into a circle (around what would have been a fire if it weren’t Summer in California) and talk about the day’s hikes.

So many hikes, so little time 🙂

The Eyes Have It

Mitch said to me, “My left eye is cloudy—as if my glasses are dirty but I’m not wearing glasses.”

We were boarding a flight to San Juan, P.R., our destination alternative to a Hurricane soaked Big Island. Thus began a four-month ophthalmic odyssey involving around a dozen eye and retina appointments, two nasty procedures, two surgeries and the terror of temporary blindness. It’s been a tough year for my sweetie.

CoverWe got to know most of the doctors at the UCSF Ophthalmology department. With nothing to do but worry, I kept myself busy during the appointments by sketching.

Recovering from retina surgery is an ordeal. The patient has to keep his face down/parallel to the floor 90% of the time for four days. We rented a massage chair thing and apparatus for sleeping as well. 

The planets were aligned against us, as two weeks following the left eye surgery, the right eye retina tore as well. What are the odds? This took us…

1Opthalmology

4TheEyesHaveit21

2Opthalmology-3

DrAfshar

The ordeal—two torn retinas at the same time: blind man’s bluff for 4 months. The sketches are all from eye #2. And it doesn’t include the appointments in Puerto Rico. 

Thanks to the incredible Ophthalmology staff at UCSF for restoring Mitch’s sight! Now for a new prescription…

Let’s Finish This!

I’ve been consistently active since January 2016. We’re all tired from all the hard work of GOTV but there’s more work to do in Georgia to take a Senate majority. I decided to do a piece to motivate myself and my fellow citizens.

With apologies to Neil Leifer and in homage to Muhammad Ali.

Trip to Gualala on the Mendocino Coast

Through the fires of this year, we’ve occasionally considered moving from the Golden State. However, our trip to the coast reminded me how incredibly beautiful it is here in California.

Fish Rock Watch Tower at the Mendocino Stone Zone, Gualala, CA.

The weather was glorious and clear. We saw whale spouts out in the water, shooting stars in the clear night sky and ate fabulous food.

Pencil drawing of the Fish Rock Watch Tower

We were treated to a tour of the Mendocino Stone Zone, a place where host Peter Mullins brings in stonemasons from Scotland, Ireland, France and New England to create art within his property in the hills. Peter is a font of knowledge about stone and informed us of a seam of basalt in Windsor, not far from where we live.

Who knew that there were basalt columns in Windsor?

We stayed at Roseman Creek Ranch, which provided a fantastic, huge kitchen. We paid a little extra for the big wood oven to be fired up so we could make pizza and other yummies. What a treat it all was!

We stayed at the beautiful Roseman Creek Ranch.
Lee and Judy made a delicious dinner in the wood fired oven
So many implements in the kitchen. Fresh flowers from the greenhouse as well.

More Watercolor stamping and details

Here are some more pieces that I created during April of Covid time—May 2020. I was obsessed with watercolor stamping with cut potato pieces and carrots which I was taught in the #explorecolour class. So much fun!

I posted other pieces that were either assignments from the course here or inspired by them here. Thank you, Este Macleod!

Bouquet1WeirdOneSailboats

CleanedUp
This was a sheet of elements that I could use for the other pieces.

King Protea in the ‘hood

I’ve been captivated by a neighbor’s garden where king protea are blooming. Whenever I pass by, I am drawn to the flowers like a bee to honey and I just gape at them. This has brought me to paint them, of course. Here’s the series I completed.

KingProtea

Most of these were created with potato and carrots to stamp shapes in watercolor, with brush embellishments. I got really into the stamping technique.

KingProtea2

Protea
I was trying to get to the basic elements of the flower here. Thin line details were completed with watercolors in a dip pen.

KingProtea3

SketchbookProtea
This was the first one I did. Pent up desire to draw/paint these flowers just came out in one go.