December 2009 Archives


A small handful of nuts dropped onto the table. We are home again.

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In-flight magazine coils back on itself like some kind of seashell. (I already miss the ocean.)


Right now I can hear surf, insect sounds, someone in my family breathing in sleep. I am warm. I am trying to store up all the senses of being in Hawai'i, all this aloha, so that I can remember it when I'm walking home from work next week in snow flurries. Tomorrow we'll go for a long walk at the National Tropical Botanical Garden - and then later in the day board the first of three planes back to Pittsburgh. Not sure about internet access en route, so I may not post tomorrow's drawing until we're home.



Crossing the road, of course. We see them everywhere. (And hear them at all hours, too.)



The palm trees, telephone pole, and ocean at the end of the road.

Five years ago, I bought myself a black-bound Moleskine sketchbook, and drew a picture of my coffee cup in the bookstore cafe. I wanted to learn how to draw, and people told me that the best way to get better at drawing was to draw every day. I hadn't really drawn since junior high school. I loved photography, studied it some, took photographs, but didn't draw. Other people drew, and I wished I could, but I didn't.

So as an early New Year's resolution, or as a late Christmas present, on December 27, 2004, I began to draw. I turned the page and drew the next day, and then the next. I drew in ink, so I couldn't erase. One day, I really didn't like the drawing, and I remember that I almost wrote on the picture, pointing out where it had gone wrong, but just in time, I realized that I could do that on every picture, and there would never be an end to it, so I made another rule for myself, which was that I couldn't criticize the drawings. So in the beginning, there were three rules: 1) draw every day, 2) don't erase, and 3) don't criticize the result. After 28 days of drawing every day, I was so excited to see how my work had changed that I made a slide show of the pictures, and posted it to my blog. And then I liked the next day's drawing, so I posted that, and realized that I could just post each day's sketch as I finished it. After a year I began making my own sketchbooks instead of buying them, so that I could get paper that I liked for a price I could afford. And I kept drawing. At 1000 days I made a short video. Sometimes in the past five years I've had computer trouble, or blog software trouble, or I've been traveling without internet access - but the daily drawings have continued, even if sometimes the posting has to catch up. (There are still some pockets of broken links around the blog - housekeeping I will try to get straightened out in the new year...)

And here I am today. Thank you all for your company along the way, thank you for your comments, advice, silent presence, and encouragement. I'm looking forward to the next five years of drawing, and beyond. As my wish for 2010, if there's anything you've wanted to learn to do, please don't worry about whether you will be any good at it. Just find a way to start doing it anyway, and then keep on doing it. Just keep going, and going, and I promise you will surprise yourself...



On the lawn.

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Down by the beach at the end of the road. Vacation means time to draw clouds during daylight, and then being too busy to post until much later at night!


Listening to Christmas carols after everyone else has gone to bed. Rain on foliage outside. Murmur of children not yet asleep. A burst of laughter, then quiet again.



Fallen on the lawn. Youngest niece wants to pick it up. I tell her I'm almost done with my picture. We talk about the flower. "Auntie Joan draws flowers, doesn't she..." "Yes."

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Brush pen and ink let me move away from detail and focus on shapes and spaces.

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People have been taking turns with the ukulele we brought along. The tone is sweet - whether or not the next chord is predictable - many songs in the key of enthusiasm.


A quiet day. Read. Went for a very short walk. Watched a curtain blowing. Listened to children laughing.



Light breezes and warm weather after a very long day of traveling. (I've read about the tremendous snowstorm on the east coast, and don't mean to be gloating - I'm just grateful that our flights got us out ahead of the weather.)



View of the seat pocket in front of me: magazines and newspapers on the very local horizon.


Nearly packed for our departure. Sketchbook, pens, camera, tickets... computer and phone both charging. Tomorrow, I'll try to draw en route.

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I like these clips. They come in lots of sizes. The mechanics are simple. The handles pivot and can even be detached.

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Youngest person in the house had the flu today, but was feeling better by evening.

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Last year, a reader asked if I'd ever made a calendar. Hmm. So now, for friends and family, I've made a printable calendar for 2010, using some of my drawings of Pittsburgh from the past few years. You are welcome to download the .pdf here, if you'd like one of your own, or one to share with a friend.

(And if you want to give someone an original drawing, let me know...)



The end of the term brings plenty of extra reading.


Eventually we remember to buy kleenex.

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Even with a house now full of Christmas cookies, these are so sweet, so perfect after dinner.


Sometimes you need to start small. (Just keep going.)

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Fuzzy blue homemade slippers keep my feet warm at night. (We did have some snow, but nothing stayed on the ground.)


Steady wind outside, then sudden gusts, then back to steady wind sound again. The temperature is dropping, and children and I hope for snow.



Black and green nail polish, used to paint details onto board game pieces.


Small ornament folded for our table-top tree.

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Fighting off the cold with cups of tea and rest.


Tangled. I get interested in the constituent shapes.


Back in season. We roll them across the table to each other at the end of a holiday meal. We eat them like candy.


In celebration of the season.


Putting my feet up and then drawing them without really looking at the paper was just the right thing to do a the end of the day. The process slowed me down and went well with the sounds of steady rain falling on the street outside.


The rough-cut edge of a piece of plasterboard looks like a snow-covered mountain range. We're patching a ceiling. As a friend would say, our results are "far from good, but good from afar." I think about the powdered gypsum in the wallboard, and remember that real mountain ranges are also made of minerals.

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