Studio Musings

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Accepting the Challenge

It's been a long time (read several years) since I participated in an art challenge. But I ran across this one at the Art Bead Scene three days ago. Tari of selected two paintings from John Anster Fitzgerald - (1819? – 1906), The Captive Robin and The Storm as the starting point. You can see both on the challenge page.

The Captive Robin, depicting a fairy court in rich, autumnal colors gathered around a table with what I think is a robins egg sitting on a leaf plate, with the poor robin bound in a berry vines in the lower left of the painting.

I found myself wondering, what happened to the robin? And then, what if he were rescued? If you were going to go up against the fae, I'd need a fairie stone. Or perhaps I'd done the fae a favor sometime in the past, for which they'd given me a token of their appreciation, which I could attempt to exchange for the robins freedom, along with some other gifts, of course.

One never enters the fairy court empty handed. The question of 'what happened next' kept nagging at me, begging to be answered. And so this necklace was born. Since the deadline for this entry was today, I didn't have a lot of time. The color scheme is an amalgam of the two paintings. The bead work is a mixture of freeform peyote stitch and right angle weave. I left it more open and airy than my typical work, as I found myself thinking of tree roots and vines. Am I trying to weave a net to catch the fae or unwind the robin's bindings?

A resin cabochon with the suspended image of a feather/fern/leaf (the stamp I carved is a feather, but the coloring I used makes it look more fern-like) became my 'fairy token' and the primary focus for the piece. I used right angle weave to capture it. The second photo is of the back of the cabochon as I'm almost done encasing it in RAW.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year Reflections

As 2011 fast approaches, I find myself looking back over the previous year and looking forward towards the new. Thumbing through last year's morning pages, I found I'd written "Lack of fear, openness to spirit and love of community" on the inside front cover. I'm not sure if it's a quote, and if it is, from whom. But it makes a good mission statement for the coming year.

Lack of fear. 2010 was an exercise in continuing despite my internal fears. Writing Freeform Peyote Beading, I considered abandoning the project at least twice a month over the nine months of active work.

"No one will like it", my inner critic wailed, "What if I finish the book and it sucks?" At each stage - writing the manuscript, laying out the pages, sending the final draft out for critiques and proofing, sending the final, final draft to Createspace, accepting the galley proof and activating the book for sale - I was tempted to simply quit. So I can't say that I was fearless, but I can say that for once, I didn't let my fears paralyze me. Let's continue that trend in 2011!

Openness to spirit. What exactly does this mean? That's one for meditation. Listen to what calls out to be created. However one defines spirit, being open - to inspiration, to serendipity, to ideas, to possibilities - is essential.

Love of community. For some time now, I've been quite insular in my art production, even with the studio space. That's one of the things I'm hoping to change in 2011. I'd like to become more active in both my local community here in Seattle, specifically with the Northwest Bead Society and the Pacific Northwest Needle Arts Guild, but also with the larger online community. I'm almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of beading blogs out there, and am happily exploring the online community.

So there are my goals for 2011. Keep on keeping on.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

You know you're an artist when....

You know you're an artist when your husband gives you an upright belt sander, a book on beetles, and letter & number die stamps, and you're pleased as punch. Or at least, that's my take on my Christmas haul.

Okay, so I'm a rather eclectic artist, I will admit. Even my friends who know me well looked at me oddly when they saw the belt sander under the tree. It's something I've wanted since my stint at Penland in 2008 and the few days we spent in Robert Dancik's class. The belt sander makes it so much easier to work with concrete, resins, epoxys and paper mache to make specialty cabochons, beads, and other unique focal items for my work. And more than anything, it's simply fun to play with! Isn't that what Christmas is about?

The book on beetles is Living Jewels 2, an absolutely amazing collection of macro photos by photographer Poul Beckman. The colors, designs and patterns are simply stunning, and a definite source for inspiration. Sometimes a little disturbing, but that can be good too. This is a large book, over 13 inches tall, and several of the beetles span the entire page - there are even a few that fill a two-page spread. As beautiful as they are, I am eternally grateful that they come much smaller in real life! Makes me want to break out the oil sticks.

So what wonderful oddness did you find under your tree?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oil Stick Article Reprinted

I'm a little slow sometimes, but thanks to an email from a friend, I just discovered that Quilting Arts once again reprinted my article, Working with Oil Sticks, that I wrote for the magazine back in 2004. This time, it's part of an ebook titled "Five Surface Design Techniques" that you can download for free if you sign up for their site. It was announced back in January on their blog, Quilting Daily.

As I've been seriously considering tackling oil sticks as my next major writing project, it's great to see that there's still interest in my original article. I've learned so much since then!

Thanks Margaret for pointing me towards the post. And thank you Pokey - I love to see my name in print! Maybe this will be the impetus I need to finally add a surface design gallery to my website. After the new year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Free Snowflake Instructions

Here's a holiday treat for those of you who've asked me about instructions on making the beaded snowflakes. You can thank Joe for this one as he keeps suggesting I add how-to articles to my website.

I don't want to consider how much time I've just put into this, but I do think it turned out well. I won't guarantee the written instructions are bullet-proof, but they should work well with the diagrams.

The instructions are on my website rather than my blog because I have more control over the layout, and it was rather complex, meshing the illustrations with the pictures.

If you decide to try out the instructions, I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Snowflakes and Stars

Tomorrow's the holiday party for the Sead Bead group of the Northwest Bead Society. And I needed to bring a 'bead-related' gift for the gift exchange. Hmm.... I could bring beads, or a pretty cabachon, but that seems to be copping out, somehow.

So I decided to make something small and seasonal. What could be more seasonal than snowflakes? Except I think I've created a monster. These are so fun to experiment with, and stitch up so fast compared to the beading I usually do! (Especially if I don't bother to finish off the ends, as you'll note trailing threads from several of these). It's interesting to see what makes a particular design read 'star' and another 'snowflake'.

The string of stars at bottom left was an interesting challenge - the first one worked from the center out as normal. But the other two, I had work from the outside in, twisting the brain just a touch. It's worked with size 15s.

The earrings are supposed to be my gift. But I may have to do a little more experimentation before I'm certain.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

52,470 Words in 30 Days

52,470 words: my final count before calling it quits last night, the last day November and night of NaNoWriMo . I'd passed the 50,000 mark; the NaNoWriMo win the night before, but pressed on because there's a LOT of story left to write, and I wanted to see just how far I could get before they called it quits and barred the gates to updates.

Waiting for me when I won; a video of the Letters and Light staff clapping and shouting 'you won' and a wide selection of winner web badges and a printable certificate. It's amazing how satisfying such simple things can be!

Wow! During the other eleven months of the year, it's easy to forget the adrenaline rush of this event. I am definitely a geek; extreme sports hold no interest, but a hard and fast deadline for a challenging artistic endeavor; that can get my blood pumping.

Since this is my second year participating, I went back and read through some of last year's blog entries to see how the two experiences compared. One major difference stood out immediately: this time I truly enjoyed my story, not just the process. The first few days I struggled to get into the story. Returning from a week-long trip, I'd lost the flow and struggled again (raising the temptation to give up), but by the start of the fourth week, the story took on a life of its own. And from there, I won't say it was smooth sailing, but it was satisfying, even when it was a struggle. Sitting down to write, I was excited to find out 'what happened next - the particulars. Last year, by the fourth week, I hated my story and wanted to start over and only continued because I wanted to 'win'.

Like last year, I'm only halfway through the story. But with this one, there's a reasonably strong chance that I'll continue writing, though not at November's pace. But maybe, just maybe, I'll actually have something ready enough to take advantage of Createspace's free proof offer this year. (A winner goody - good through June, 2011). We'll see.... In the meantime, I'll just bask in my personal victory.

Last year, my participation in NaNoWriMo gave me both the resources (it's how I found my publisher) and courage to publish my first book. Wonder what far-reaching changes this year will bring?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I've Caught Up!

For the first time since my trip to see family at Walt Disney World the second week of November, I have caught up to the suggested cumulative word count to finish NaNoWriMo on time. Yeah!

At the worst point, when I returned from my trip, I was 10,862 words behind. The tracking stats helpfully informed me that 'at this rate' I'd be finished on December 19th. Ouch! Definitely not good! Since then I've been steadily whittling away at the wordcount, trying to average 2000-3000 words per day.

And just a moment ago, I passed the recommended word total for today. Exciting enough I had to share. I'm now sitting pretty at 45,065 words. Only three days left to reach 50,000 and a Nanowrimo win. Too bad I'm only half-way through the actual story. Sigh. Back to writing....

Conversations at the Coffee Shop

Conversations with Warren, one of the baristas at El Diablo, can range the gammit from modern events to great literature to regional cuisine to points unknown. This morning, it was literature, begun with Warren's comment that when he got snowed in, he planted paperwhites. As opposed to say Mary Shelley who wrote Frankenstein over the course of a 'wet, ungenial summer' as part of an informal writing competition.

Talk then turned to Percy's Ozymandias which, Warren shared, was the product of yet another competition. Warren's comment that the runner-ups poem wasn't shabby either led me to an internet search. Here's the competition, also titled Ozymandias:
In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desert knows:
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,"
The King of Kings; this mighty City shows"
The wonders of my hand." The City's gone,
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.
We wonder, and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragments huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

by Horace Smith

I liked the poem, so I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tracking Amazon Sales Rankings

Sunday, I finally had the bright idea of doing a google search for 'tracking amazon rankings'. Turns out, there are number of options. Some are free, some by subscription. Some update hourly; many of the subscription services have a free version that tracks on a less frequent basis.

I decided to try out two different free services to start: NovelRank, which works on a donation basis, and TitleZ, which is free while still in beta. Why these two? Because I could test drive them for free, and because they promised frequent updates.

I have to say, of the two, so far I'm impressed with NovelRank. It has the most frequent updates, their data is well-formated and easy to read, and matches up well with my own tracking. To top it off, I like the site and their blog has some great ideas for authors.

At left is a screenshot from NovelRank, taken just a few minutes ago. Unfortunately, I started tracking well after my lowest (best) ranking Saturday morning, but at least we're set going forward. Guess what that dip means?

In comparison, here's a screenshot from TitleZ, taken just a few minutes later. The updates are obviously less frequent and only provide best and worst 'snapshots' (the best is inaccurate in this case) and running averages. I also couldn't find controls to change the dates shown on their graphs, either.

Neither seem to track rankings when a book hits the top 100 list in its category, which is too bad. But at least this is a start!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Click of Doom

One click. That's all it took; just one misplaced click of the mouse and I've just sent spam to over one hundred souls whose sole misfortune was to have sent email to my gmail account. Ouch!

It all started with Amazon this morning. With a few minutes to spare before I had to catch the bus, I logged on to Amazon to check my book's rankings. And couldn't believe my eyes. For that brief moment, my book, FreeForm Peyote Beading, was ranked #34,059 in Amazon's bestseller list, not bad for a self-published book in an extremely niche market. But more amazing and wonderful, it was ranked #34 in my category! Oh my god! I did a little happy dance. I did a major happy dance.

And it answered the question I'd asked myself a couple weeks before - if I were to set up a Facebook page for my book, what would I post? Many authors are doing this these days, but books don't change much, so I was at a bit of a loss. Now I had something definitely newsworthy. And no where to put it. Hmmm.....

Fast forward to mid-day. I had carefully crafted a letter to an editor of a beading magazine I particularly admire, asking her to consider reviewing my book. But before I hit send, I thought it wise to have a writer friend look it over. Calling her to discuss the letter, she suggested that rather than sending it cold, I should use Linked-in to find a connection to a publisher/editor and send it that way as the current 'socially acceptable' way to make a cold call.

Sigh. I'd never considered, when I decided to write a book just how much I'd need to learn about the internet. I consider myself fairly computer savvy. I maintain my own website and this blog, I have a facebook account. But as a solo-artist and landlord, I've never really worried about Linked-in, until now.

So, this evening I sat down and set up a Linked-in account. It connected to my gmail account and suggested a whole slew of email addresses, many of which I didn't even recognize. I spent a good ten minutes paring the list down to people I knew. Great! Then I logged onto my yahoo mail to track down an Linked-in request I'd received some time ago. In the process of accepting the invitation, Linked-in made me sign in again, then threw up the same list I had just processed at the same time my cat (yes, I was working on this at home on my couch) jumped in my lap. Really. And I clicked. The send all button. Oh no!

No 'are you sure', no opportunity to change my mind. Just done. Now I'm almost afraid to check my gmail account.

So, if you happened upon my blog trying to figure out who in the world this Karen Williams you received a Linked-in request from is, mea culpa. I'm not usually in the habit of sending spam. But since you're already here, feel free to check out my blog. And if you happen to know a magazine editor interested in books on beading, I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Passing of an Era

Monday, the giant elm at the corner of our rental property on Capitol Hill came down. It was a planned take down, luckily, orchestrated by Seattle Tree Preservation. Well over a century in age, with a trunk diameter estimated at 60" by the city arborist and a ninety foot canopy spread, our tree was one of the neighborhood landmarks.

The takedown was a very noisy, big toys sort of ballet involving at least six guys, dueling chain saws, a cherry picker, a crane, two shredder/chippers, a couple of pickup trucks and a more ropes than a tall ship. The level of coordination was impressive; they actually made it look almost easy. Almost.

This all started back in August, with a certified letter from the city. I can say from experience, it was rather daunting, signing for that envelope, wondering what's inside. Turns out, the city arborist had condemned our tree and sent the letter giving us 30 days to have it removed. Of course, the letter arrived while we had guests, and just before we were supposed to leave on vacation. Panicking, I called Nolan, city's arborist. Turns out, just by calling him, I gave myself more time. He used the deadline to create a sense of urgency so that people would actually respond to his letters. Well it worked.

According to Nolan, the tree was beyond saving. In a very patient voice he explained that before writing his letter, he had taken a core sample and sent it to a lab which confirmed the diagnosis of Dutch Elm Disease.The tree was effectively dead, and would pose a hazard once the winter wind storms began.

But I still wasn't sure I believed him. Sure, in July I'd noticed that the tree didn't look as good as it had the previous year, that it had fewer leaves and looked a bit 'sad'. But I chalked it up to summer drought, especially as the leaves seemed to be coming back.

It took me a month, and visits by independent arborists to accept the verdict and collect bids. Taking down a tree that size is not cheap! Nor is it something you want to leave to the lowest bidder. I selected Seattle Tree Service based upon price, their proposed plan of action, and their willingness and interest in working with another local company to salvage as much of the wood as possible.

It then took another month and a half to coordinate the shindig. Once I had the permit from the city, which Nolan helpfully provided free of charge, Seattle Tree Preservation took it from there. Before they could schedule the work, Seattle City Light had to come out and trim branches away from some power lines. More delays. Then we had to submit a traffic plan as the street would need to be closed for the day. Another wait. Finally, a little over three months after the initial letter, down it came.

And that evening, safe at home, I listened to the winds blowing outside and reflected on how grateful I was that I didn't have to worry about falling limbs. But it will take a while before I get used to the new skyscape.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Have the Power

Brainstorming about my writing while riding the bus last week, my secondary characters started acting in surprising ways, going in entirely new directions I hadn't envisioned during my initial plotting. As I played with what might happen and repeatedly asked the question 'how would this character react if....', the results differed significantly from other versions of the story. Trying to decide what to do, it suddenly sank in that this version is my story and I have the ultimate control. I actually laughed out loud, it was such a wonderful realization.

Up until then, I'd felt constrained by previous versions. But that's not necessary; just because characters acted one way in another version, doesn't mean they have to act that way in mine. So simple, and so powerful!

There will be similarities in plot, otherwise it wouldn't be a retelling. But HOW they react to the circumstances in which they find themselves, and even the particulars of those circumstances; those are entirely under my control. I knew this to be true for an original story, but somehow I hadn't quite believed it of a retelling.

Woo Hoo! I have the power; if I can envision it, I can try and write it. That has to be one of the major lures of becoming an author. Let's hope for clear vision!

Halfway Point

Work on the choker is about at the halfway point. The stitching is starting to fill out and I've begun actively moving colors. I've added some freeform right angle weave to give a few areas a more open, airy look, though I haven't yet decided how I will finish those areas off.

This and the following closeup both show the start of some right angle weave lacework. It needs another layer to be really effective. And I may outline the lacework with more peyote stitch. Will have to see as we go.

I'll work the next layer of right angle weave offset a half step from the first row.

A doubled cupped curve emphasizes one of my smaller accent beads adding a nice three-dimensionality.

I've finished the stitching around the Jasper focal bead. Now I simply need to build up the beadwork to either side until it balances and visually supports my focus. Once I've got that, its time to add some surface bridges.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

6668 Words

That's my word count goal for today. Before my head hits the pillow, I hope to be 6668 words into my NaNoWriMo project. 7,000 would be even better. After three days of writing, I'm currently sitting at 4417 words.

To say the first two and a half days were a struggle would be an understatement. I made it through Day One by sticking to a narrative voice, telling myself I was writing the prologue, Beau's history. The voice matched the old fairy tales perfectly. And would have been a perfectly dreadful way in which to write a full-length novel.

"The babe chose to make its appearance in the depths of winter during the worst blizzard in living memory. Knowing his wife’s time was near, the merchant had sent for the midwife before the winds had risen above a murmur, as the first flakes danced earthward on the swelling storm. "
Now mind you, I'm not saying that my writing's good - far from it. But, having reread several of the earliest versions of Beauty and the Beast just before I got started, I can say it matches that style quite nicely.

What I wanted was to get inside Beau's head, to see and write about the world through his eyes. But he remained stubbornly mute, staunchly allowing the narrator to do all the work. I started to doubt I could even write from his perspective. Or any other character's perspective for that matter.

So I took a detour, and opened one of my other project files instead. This file was scarcely longer in terms of word count. But here was the third person perspective I'd been seeking. What's more, much to my surprise, I rather liked the writing. Turns out, I hadn't bothered to finish that particular scene. So before I knew what I was about, I was writing. I wasn't supposed to be working on THAT project, but I was writing. Something that had been a slog for two and a half days was suddenly proceeding with ease. So I stuck with it until the words slowed and the scene drew to a close.

And the amazing thing is, when I returned to Beau, he was ready to talk. Our relationship is still a little rocky, but I think we're getting somewhere. We'll see how writing goes today.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

NaNoWriMo T Minus One and Counting

Gentle (and not so gentle) writers, rev your engines: NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. NaNoWriMo challenges you, me and everyone crazy enough to take part to write a 50,000 word novel in the space of 30 days. That breaks down to a 'measly' 1,667 words per day.

Last year, I topped out at around 60,000 words. My half-finished novel boasted a plot that was slipperier than a greased pig with holes the size of Lake Michigan. It was an ugly, deformed little baby. But it was my baby. And I did it. Just by the act of writing, I learned a lot.

Last year's participation in NaNoWriMo led almost directly to this year's published book. While I didn't start work on Freeform Peyote Beading until January of 2010, NaNoWriMo is how I first learned of and their printing options, including full-color interiors. And it's where I developed the confidence to tackle the challenge of producing a full-length book. It may be a while before my novel-writing skills are up to the task, but a technical book was just the right speed.

Last year I attempted a fantasy adventure with world-building and the works. This year, I'm going for something different. Like many authors these days, I've decided to try my hand at retelling a classic fairy tale with a twist. I've settled on Beauty and the Beast, and my question is what would happen to the story if the roles were reversed? If the Beast were a woman, and 'Beauty' a man?

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Hate to Broach the Subject or Mispellings Happen

They say it's almost impossible to proof your own work. I hate to admit it, but whomever 'they' are, I fear they're right. When rereading my work, I see what I expect, instead of what is actually there.

Thankfully, I roped several good friends and family into helping me proof what I thought was the final edit of my book. Their comments and corrections instigated a substantial reworking, including nine additional pages extending the last chapter.

However, in my rush to get the book to print the additions were denied an external proofing. And hence, I cringe every time I open the book to page 64, where instead of a brooch (a pin-on piece of jewelry) I have a broach. Little did I know I'd created a beaded tool used to cut, puncture or pierce - guess I was going for form over function. Sigh....

Createspace wouldn't be happy with me if I sent them an updated interior just to fix the spelling error. Guess I'll have to wait for my next edition.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Next Up....

With inspiration slow to strike this month, I'm working on a companion piece to my Leopard Jasper bracelet. When finished, the new piece should be a choker. It may not be my choker (despite careful measurements I fear it will be too loose), but it will be _someone's_ choker. And it will be beautiful.

That last line is my mantra while working on a freeform peyote piece, because they never start out beautiful. If I'm lucky, there might be brief hints of beauty every now and then during stitching. Maybe.

After several rows of stitching, it looks more like a bumpy worm than a necklace. If I were a standard bead stringer, I'd likely give it up as a lost cause. At this point, it's all about faith and perseverance. And the finished bracelet sitting on my worktable cheering me on.

But I love the leopard jasper focal bead. Purchased as a set of three, the stones in both the bracelet and my latest project set the tone. Aren't the colors and striations gorgeous? This one is more striped where the bracelet's stone has very leopard-like spots.

(The third in the set looks nothing like its siblings - I think the milkman brought it.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I've Got Sales!

Okay, this could become addictive.

In the process of trying to put together publicity materials for my book, I logged into my account. There, I was waylayed by a single line of text - "October Earned Royalties".

Unlike September, this headline was followed by a number greater than zero - five to be exact. I stared at that number, grinning like a lunatic. Five copies of my book, FreeForm Peyote Beading, had sold online. And then, as I fiddled around, trying to see what additional sales information I could track down (they were all sold via Amazon - the first on October 1st), the number suddenly switched from five to six!

In truth, I thought I'd receive monthly sales reports. This is far more dangerous - being able to check on sales whenever I want. I almost wish I hadn't discovered that!

On a related topic, I have to admit I'm curious how the purchasers found my book. Were they friends or family who've heard about my project for the past ten months? Or was it purely through search? Inquiring minds would love to know....

p.s. Yes, I know that the title of this post is grammatically incorrect - blame that on AOL

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Embarrassment of Riches

My Moms conspired (with Dad's help of course), to deliver what I sincerely hope is a good portion of Lynnie's bead stash when Dad & Mom drove out to Seattle for the cruise. (I have heard rumors that this may just be the tip of the iceberg).

Somehow it doesn't look quite so impressive in this picture, with all the baggies of beads spread across my cutting table. But trust me, they were plenty! It took most of my limited time in the studio the later half of September to get them sorted into my stash, while trying not to drool over all the wonderful colors. Yummy!

Sorted into - who am I kidding - the additions very nearly doubled my stash. And I've never considered myself to be lacking in supplies.

And to top it all, despite my fondness for bead shopping, much of my 'pre-September' stash also had Lynnie's stamp on it. She introduced me to beading on our first meeting - and not too much later, she gave me a tray of beads, which seemed like untold riches, and which I still have.

Originally, I used the beads simply to decorate my art quilts & fabric embroideries, but slowly I began making more and more complex jewelry. Twenty years later, I swear this tray is like the fishes and loaves - I've used the beads for so many different projects, and yet I'd say most of the containers are still well over half full. They're all Japanese seed beads, with a nice rounded shape and huge thread holes, so they're a dream to use.

Thank you Lynnie, for my extravagance of riches! And for introducing me to beading in the first place.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm on Amazon!

Or at least my book, FreeForm Peyote Beading, is!

It went live with last week, official publication date September 17, 2010. But I've been waiting to actually see it on Amazon - checking each morning to see if it was there yet.

And this morning, it was!

Lot's to do yet. Still updating my website. Need to figure out how to add the look-inside on Amazon. Just finalized the date for my release party - Saturday, October 23. (Takes me far longer to get copies of my book than someone on Amazon). I have postcards printing at Kinko's. Once the website is fully updated, need to start talking to bead stores, and sending out letters to magazines and such. But for now, I'm walking on air - my book is live on Amazon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More Alaskan Sketches

I'm not sure I'd recommend the particular Moleskine I brought along for this trip. The blank, cream-colored pages warped terribly with the slightest addition of water. Watercolors and markers both bled through to the other side such that I had to skip pages between spreads.

But on the other hand, the book, at 3.5" x 5.5", was wonderfully pocket-sized and quite slim, which made it easy to pack, and easy to use.

I don't guarantee the spelling of any of the place names on these pages. They're mostly gleaned from navigational announcements by the ship's onboard naturalist.

Each thumbnail is linked to a larger, almost full-sized copy of the original image.

The line drawing is of the Chilkoot mountains, outside of Skagway - they reminded me of something out of a classic Chinese painting, with their ragged cliffs rising out of the mists.

The other three are from Glacier Bay. Everything about Glacier Bay fascinated me - the murky blue-green water filled with glacial runoff, the forests which grew younger and younger the further back into Glacier Bay we went, as we followed the retreat of the glaciers, and of course the mountains and the glaciers themselves.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Where'd You Get the Book?

"Where'd you get the book?"

I'd sat down on a bench in Ketchikan next to one of the locals in order to add a little color to one of my sketches. We'd exchanged some pleasantries - he'd moved to Ketchikan three years before and loved it; I was there for a day, temporarily disgorged from one of the five huge cruise ships in port.

His question about my sketchbook startled me; was he interested in drawing, did he not know where to buy his own? So I showed him the cover - just a moleskin, one of the slim ones that come three to a pack. But he insisted, "No, where did you get the book?"

It took another couple of rounds of question and inadequate answers before I understood his meaning - he thought I'd bought a coloring book of sorts - a book of line sketches that I was proceeding to paint with my little watercolor box! Startled at the realization, I made some sort of fumbling reply - blank book, line sketches, watercolors, see here's my pen. But underneath, I couldn't help giggling with glee. Someone thought I'd bought my sketches!

I only really sketch on vacation, and rarely landscapes or cityscapes, since I'm more of a detail person. But this time around, my sketches were filled with cloud capped moutains ranging down to the sea, with a few oddball sketches, like the very rough one I was working on of Creek Street, thrown in. His belief that my sketches were worthy of publishing, even as a coloring book, made me smile, and the smile just wouldn't fade.

And yes, there were both salmon and seals in Creek Street, though only the salmon made it into my sketch (and you can't see either in the photo taken with my iphone).