Inktober

I had my first time completing Inktober, this year!  I was thrilled. It was very difficult to complete my assignment some days.  The prompts that I used were from Instagram.  They were all adjectives like mysterious or fat.  I would do a quick Google or Pinterest search and then a quick sketch.  I wouldn't allow myself to use graphite but I do have a gray Derwent pen that I would use and then go over with a black pen.  My favorite image ended up being a landscape with a boat in the background.  For this one, I used acrylic ink and painted it on.  I rarely spent more than half an hour on a sketch as I wanted it to be a brief exercise.  I did watercolor on most of the days in October, as well.  I found that after watercolor, the sketching seemed so much more confined!  It was a great challenge.  I look forward to next year!

The art show

It's been a couple of weeks but I didn't get a chance to write about my first art show!! It was a success!  I even sold some notecards.  I had a beautiful table and I'm glad I put so much time planning my table before the school year started.  Here was the bad thing; bubbles! Big giant science bubbles that were being blown right into all my art! It would have been funny if I wasn't being so crabby!! The bubbles were moved down and it really was a great evening in the end.  Got some really nice comments on my art work. 

Ellis Island teacups

This month our assignment for MATS (Make Art that Sells) Bootcamp was to design a teacup or mug with an image from Ellis Island.  We are given trend boards with color themes, ideas to collect references and quotes.  Have I mentioned how much I am loving Bootcamp?  While looking through reference photos, I was inspired by the images of children who were sent to America during the World Wars.  Parents sent Jewish children and others to try to get them away from the attacks in Europe.  Some children went with siblings.  Others traveled in large groups of other children.  Just imagine for a moment, sending your child across the world.  The trip on the ship was at least a week.  Imagine being one of these children, just old enough to go off to school on their own and being sent across the sea.  Some photos show children smiling from ear to ear.  Others show somber faces.  It was quite interesting.  One photo that I know will stick in my heart for a long time showed three little ones maybe three years old.  They were examining the tag around their necks.  These were their id tags.  They looked like cardboard tags, like Paddington's tag.  My heart broke for these families.  I created an image of a teacup and teapot set that stacks.  It's meant to be a souvenir to remember these brave children of Ellis Island.  I posted the image on this site, too.

Alphabet book

I've written about motivation.  I find it very helpful to have a daily task to post on Instagram.  Lately, I started the 100 days project.  I began doing a sketchbook page each day.  Then, inspired by other artists in my MATS Bootcamp class, I began doing an alphabet page each day.  I am currently on M already!  Each page is done in Jane Davenport watercolor.  I am painting a type of fruit of veg for each day!  My favs so far are asparagus and guava!  It has been so much fun!  I've been sharing on my facebook page Christine Benda Illustration and my Instagram by the same name.  I should also say that I am loving Bootcamp!  I've never done it before.  There is an assignment a month.  Last month was roses on a gardening themed journal with a quote.  I can't wait for June's assignment!

Art motivation via Instagram

So my last blog was really about struggling to find motivation.  I have to say I have found a great free motivator on Instagram. There are many prompts out there for sketchbooks.  I have been using these prompts all winter.  When I look back at my sketchbook, I see that daily sketchbook work has helped me create some awesome pieces that I can use for other pieces.  My favorite was the month challenge for December. That is a busy month but having a daily challenge really helped motivate me!

Making time for your art

I spent the month of December doing a watercolor each day.  I learned a lot about myself during that time.  I've learned that has become increasingly difficult to take time to do my art. I'm not sure if it's because I'm not taking a class or if the pressures of teaching are taking over or if I'm watching too much tv.  I'm not sure.  I will say that somethings have helped.  Posting my work on Instagram helps.  I also wrote my own prompt sketchbook.  I labeled every page of my new sketchbook with a thing to draw or paint and did a page a day.  I did good at that during most of January.  I even ordered business cards, postcards and stickers with some of my work.  Now I have to figure out who to send these to.  I guess I feel a little lost at what to work on next with my art.  Do you ever feel that way? 

The start of school and the pause of art

In the beginning of the school year, my art time is very limited.  We are entering our 5th week of class.  As a first grade teacher, I'm just beginning get my head above water.  Last week was the first time that I've sat down with my watercolors for a while.  It felt good to get out the brush and water and let it move around on the paper.  There is something so therapeutic to watercolors.  Today I finally got back onto my webpage and worked through some of the things I'd wanted to do here.  I have new things I still need to add but I made a start.  Next month I am beginning a children's book illustration class with Lilla Rogers.  I am so excited for this class!  I am trying to decide if I want to take another online class through CalArts.  Maybe just one class is a good idea for the fall. 

Global Talent Search

I've just completed my first ever entry in Lila Roger's Global Talent Search.  It is a contest where the final prize is representation with her agency.  The assignment was great! You were to design a teacup, saucer and napkin for a bakery that was opening a tea room.  You could do anything. There wasn't a theme. You were to work in your own style. I designed at least 5 different sets before I chose one. The judges pick just 50. Honestly, there were so many great entry I doubt I'll make the 50 but I'm glad I tried. It was a fun project!

Just go draw

Do you make everything too hard for yourself?  I do... I totally do all the time!  So today's blog is meant to inspire you to just go create.  Just go draw.  Here's a list of things to inspire you, use it or not, it's up to you but GO...CREATE...

1.  a phone (try an old cool phone)

2.  a panther (or jaguar)

3.  a child

4.  a daisy

5.  a bird

6.  your favorite mug

7.  your pet

8.  a piece of mail

9.  a skull

10. your imaginary friend

11.  rain

12.  the sun

13.  water in some form

14.  a princess

15.  a hedgehog

16. a world landmark

17.  do some handlettering

18.  your pen or pencil

19.  a box

20.  a pillow

Urban sketching equals finding your tribe

Do you feel like you just don't fit in? I honestly have felt that way on and off through out my life.  Actually for me it was more post-high school.  I went to a junior college on a full ride scholarship and then finished my degree at a local 4 year institution.  I lived at home and commuted to both schools.  So college was actually a very isolating experience.  In my twenties, I ran 5ks for a while and had a few friends who ran and we would all hang out.  I felt like I'd found my tribe and then I damaged my knee.  Bye bye running tribe. When I started drawing, I found a new passion.  I started seeing things differently.  I was as I tend to be, a little obsessed.  I drew rather badly, all the time.  This year I found a group of people who love to draw.  They are passionate and kind. They want to help you and love to share tips about everything from the best markers to the best restaurants.  They live right in Chicago so they are local.  They are Urban sketchers.  They are awesome! This weekend I had the chance to attend their yearly seminar.  We got tote bags full of art supply goodies (who doesn't love S.W.A.G.).  We had different classes to choose from uber talented teachers. Then we got to head out into a beautiful city on a beautiful day with our new tribe.  It was the best.  

New work spaces

I worked late last night.  I was on a mission!  My office is a mess.  It has paperwork piled up everywhere.  My new Wacom tablet was hanging off the computer table.  In order to work, I had to squeeze past piles of papers and art to reach my chair.  I was tired of trying to work in that space.  In fact, I never work in that space.  I always lug my computer downstairs (it is a laptop) and work at the kitchen table.  So, last night, I got to work!  I started unloading my bookshelves to begin finding a spot for my new-to-me art books.  I moved my computer to a different table so I can sit facing the room instead of the wall.  I know have an empty table!  I can paint, draw, and do paperwork on my empty table.  There's plenty of space for my Wacom tablet to fit next to my laptop.  There's more organizing that needs to be done but I am happy with the space. 

Creating

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

To believe impossible things is truly the work of all creatives, artists, writers, poets.  In fact it may be the secret in this world for those who create. Because sometimes the world is kind and sunny and joyful but sometimes the world is cruel and cold and stormy.  There are plenty of people who will tell you that you aren't good enough or you're not like this person or that person. And you're not! You are you! And you need to be the most you or more you as the caterpillar tells Alice. Otherwise you won't even recognize the you you are becoming! And it's hard. It's not hard in the back breaking sense of working on a farm all day. It's hard in your head more than anything else! So, what do you do, curl up and hide under the covers. Ok, maybe for a day but then you have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and keep going and be more you! You are the only you we've got on the planet and we need you!

Traveling and drawing

I recently returned from a trip to London. It was a great trip. I feel very blessed that I was able to spend this time traveling with my mom.  When I left I had planned to spend a lot of time painting and drawing. In reality, I only did a few doodles in my sketchbook. I think it was because we were traveling and sightseeing so much that we hardly stopped to eat! The times when we could have taken a few minutes and painted or drawn, it was cold or raining.  One thing we had planned that was such an awesome experience was sketching DaVinchi's Virgin of the Rocks at the National Gallery. That was fantastic!!! Happy travels!

Motivation and art work

I have a totally different day job.  I teach first graders.  I've been teaching for a long time.  I know how kids act and I know what to do to teach them.  I know my strengths and my weaknesses.  Art is so different than teaching in some ways.  In doing artwork, I feel so vulnerable.  As if I have painted my heart and soul into something.  I have to push myself to share my work sometimes.  After I've painted or gone through a process with a piece, I am so happy with the piece but there is always something about the piece that I can't get quite right.  Each time I do a drawing or a painting, I figure out different things that I hadn't even thought of before.   Sometimes, I will complete a piece and not be satisfied with it.  I have to hang on to it until I can go back and figure out what I need to do to rework the piece.   It is truly a way to go and stretch yourself.

Saturday morning sketches

I love sketching people. So on Saturday, I headed to my favorite coffee shop for some sketching. I just started a new sketchbook. I've been watching YouTube videos of CalArts sketchbook submissions.  I have gotten some great ideas from these videos. My new favorite thing is to use post it notes to add a colored background. I also used black ink to make a background. I spent almost two hours sketching and I got a few pages of people sitting and talking, lining up to order and working on their laptops. 

Watercolor

Watercolor wasn't my favorite.  I couldn't control it. It was too wet or too dry or not the right color.  It's taken awhile but I finally like watercolor. In the midst of a crazy week at school, I have found that I am craving getting that brush in my hand at the end of the day.  My brain doesn't get to rest from the day but a different side of my brain clicks in.  I can hear my inside voice trying to make sense of my work. I think my left brain is trying to verbalize what my right brain is already doing. Is the paint the right shade? Do I need more shadow? What if I try a little white? It's so fun!  And in a short time I have a little watercolor doodle.  Check them out on Instagram at cb4drawing 

Nests and Van Gogh

I've had the chance to see Van Gogh's special exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago twice already.  I love it.  It is a great insight into the artist and his work, especially focusing on the three bedroom paintings.  One thing I learned from the exhibit is that Van Gogh did a lot of drawings and paintings of birds nests.  An interesting concept for him to be painting since he lived in 37 different places in his 37 years of life.  I'm that age and I can't imagine moving that much!  I've only lived in three places.  He used to pay kids to collect nests for him to study.  Have you ever really looked at a nest?   They are very difficult to paint and draw.