Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gifting Yourself

I bought myself some Christmas gifts.  I always do. You know how hard it is NOT to find that perfect item you need while shopping for others!?  I resist most of the time, but I'm only human after all.  I did a lot of my shopping online in my attempts to simplify and it was awesome.  It really did make my life so much easier.  I'm so glad Al Gore invented the Internet!
From the comfort of my home, while watching a "White Christmas" I clicked and ticked items off my gift list. No traffic or road rage to deal with. No being cut off by rabid parking place stalkers. No lines a mile long. And no temptation to buy things I saw while looking for something else. Yes, shopping online was awesome.

While I avoided many of the temptations that await in the stores  it's unfortunately just as easy, if not easier, to find those must have items for yourself online.  And I haven't even shared with you my obsession with books. While nothing beats going in an actual bookstore (much like holding an actual book as opposed to a kindle or nook), Amazon has every book ever made-- I swear. I found books I never knew I needed. (or existed) You only need type words in the search bar and wallah! Merry Christmas to me!

My mother had the same issue.  When they moved here across the country at 79 & 80 years of age, she refused--after all the years of tossing anything my dad could pry from her hands for one of their 20+ moves--to get rid of any of her books. And if you've ever moved books you know they are H.E.A.V.Y!! (I should have kept more of them). But I have my own problems. And books. I've tried over the years to reign in my obsession. When I can I buy them for the kindle. Unfortunately I have to re-buy really good books so I can actually hold them. I love to read and I love a good book.  There's nothing like a book.  Books are like old friends. Did I mention I love books?

So I indulged my indulgence and bought two books. But not fiction. Books on Art.  I'm not sure why I needed (let's be clear, need is not what this is about!) any more art books. I have a library of them already. I used to tell myself I needed them to keep my teaching fresh. Since I'm not teaching now, I can't really find a good excuse except that they will both inspire. That little library I have is a vast source of inspiration.  At any time, if I need a little motivation or inspiration, I can find it within the pages of these books. I have books on technique, color, mediums, books filled with the wisdom of other artist, all of which can trigger a painting or unblock my artist block.

Both my purchases are by artists I admire: A Painting a Day, by Carol Marine and Urban Sketching, by Marc Taro Holmes. Carol Marine is one of the original daily painters of the website www.dailypaintworks.com. Originally, there were only a few painters who began selling their small daily paintings on their website.  I've been following them for years, but it has since morphed into an online gallery and auction site for anyone who wants to pay to join. I miss the old days and their humble beginnings. In a way I feel like they sold out to the money making machine that is the Internet.

Getting back to the subject of the book.  Carol writes about the discipline of painting daily and some of the lessons learned by doing so.  Will this inspire me to paint daily?  Probably not.  Unless, like a New Year's resolution, I begin with enthusiasm only to crash and burn under the pressure of unreasonable expectations and exhaustion! Carol addresses this as well. I am really enjoying it and it has inspired me (as have other things) to do smaller work more often.  We shall see.

Urban Sketching is still en route and I anxiously await its arrival.  My son subscribed to Amazon prime as a student to get his school books and I am using his account to hasten shipping the objects of my addiction(s). I was able to sample the gist of this book in a Craftsy class online I took last summer.  My interest in sketching on location was piqued by the class and I expect the book to help in some of the finer points. I will give you more details after I have it in my hot little hands!! I've been using pen and ink with my watercolors more these days and so of course I bought two new fountain pens as well. I didn't indulge in the new limited edition Lamy Safari in Neon Coral.  Instead I purchased two inexpensive pens to use with different ink while on location. But guess what??  Amazon, being the helpful company they are, has a wish list where you can save all the stuff you decided must wait!  Such a thoughtful company. (my next post will be about excess!)

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a couple of small sketches from my sketchbook with you that I did over the holidays. Quick and small is my mantra these days and I managed to find some time in the busy holiday season for these small works. My thoughts for this post were about being kind to yourself.  About giving yourself small gifts of time and art.  It doesn't have to cost a lot or come from Amazon. It can be as simple as a walk in the woods or a quiet cup of tea in the middle of a busy day. These things fuel the mind and keep us ready to create. I'm learning this truth more each day.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas that was filled with faith, family, friends and --food? Because even though it's fun to talk about what we give or receive or in this case gift ourselves, we all know the season is about so much more.  Simplifying the holiday's really did make them more meaningful and intentional for me. I am finding a less is more approach is giving me the space to really enjoy all that I already posses.

I look forward to blogging for you in the new year.  Let's make this new year one the we intentionally fill with creativity and art!!  Happy New Year!


  1. do let us know about the books..i too have the addiction. after I lost my home in the 2004 hurricane Ivan my girlfriends ask me what I needed from them...my request was for them to send me two books from their bookshelves, as I had lost all my books...it helped to have previously loved books to start my collection back. after 10 years I have a very healthy collection again, way too many...I signed up for the 30 pics in 30 days, some days you can do more than one and that is ok, just do 30 in 30 days..i hope to focus on the daily method...working hard to do plein air more and more, due to traveling..do let me know how the urban sketching book is..hugs and love Deborah

    1. I remember you telling me that about losing your books. Good luck with the 30/30-it's a great exercise and you will enjoy it!!

  2. Why oh why do you always see things you want when shopping for others but can't tell them a thing you want when they ask? I'm a bookaholic too, especially art books.

    1. Ha! So true--it's because we don't really need anything, but shopping reminds us what we want!! Bookaholic is a perfect term!! Enjoy the new year!

  3. Thank you Michelle, I wish the same blessings and creativity for the new year! Seems Amazon has pulled many of us in! Addicted to art supplies, art books, Etc. I have been ATTEMPTING to do the small sketch a day for a while. Some with watercolor, some without...but just trying to keep the creativity flowing from my fingers. It is fun to go back and look at the quick 5 or 10 minute drawings that I have done thru the year. I can see the progress made, and the fear diminished!

    So again, I thank you for sharing your journey, and look forward to all the wonderful blogs to come in 2016! Let's enjoy the journey!

    1. Those practices will teach you and stretch you like few others. As I've shared before, the beauty of the sketchbook is that it can be private and you can allow yourself to be imperfect, which is really the way to learn and grow. Keep it up in 2016 and watch yourself improve!!