With 2022 coming to a close, I'm thinking about what's coming up for 2023. 2022 involved a lot of contemplation as I felt stuck and then had breakthroughs as an artist. I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my work so it's never an easy process to look at my own paintings. But my first priority in 2023, as always, is painting. I want to go deeper into my own style as an artist and to see what works I can produce directly from nature.
The next thing on my mind is to prepare for my 3 month artist residency at Claude Monet's estate in Giverny, France. I was awarded the Munn Fellowship back in 2021 so it's been quite a countdown and has given me ample time to focus on my craft and artistic goals. I can't even really describe how much this award means to me; I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self all the things I'm doing now. And also to gain recognition for my en plein air work has really been amazing. I'm currently planning some extra projects to do while I'm in France so I can share my experience with others--this includes a book/memoir and possibly a video series so stay tuned for more details..
This Fellowship means that I need to postpone my final semester at the Florence Academy of Art. So, I'll be traveling to Florence during the summer of 2024 to finish my Master's Degree. Being a student again at such a great school has also been a dream come true for me.
As a teacher, I'm also very glad to continue teaching painting and drawing in person at the Ridgewood Community School. My last semester was fantastic and I was able to connect and share knowledge with a lot of wonderful people. I plan to always teach because it's a way for me to continue growing and learning as well.
I'm also marking my 10th year of blogging since I started this blog back in 2013. I was just a young pup at the Pennsylvania Academy back then when I decided to make a website and start a blog to document my work. Since then, I've written about art techniques, materials, art history, teaching, traveling, my philosophies and lots of other topics. I love writing so this blog has been a sanctuary for me to document my journey.
In addition to my blogging and private journaling, I've also started to write more poetry. I started writing poetry when I was a teenager and it's just something I do for myself and I really enjoy it. I filled a full book of poems in 2022 and I started another longer book that will take up 2023. Who knows, maybe I'll even try to publish some someday.
Well, I guess that's a good way to wrap up 2022 and to see what's coming down the road in 2023. I hope everyone has a very Happy New Year and to stay motivated as another year comes into focus.
Yesterday I was at Barnes & Noble and stumbled upon a new and intriguing Studio Ghibli book. I pride myself on my Ghibli collection, but I hadn't heard of this book before - not surprising considering that the book was printed only last year in 2021.
The book, Studio Ghibli: The Complete Works, is basically an encyclopedia of all things Ghibli. I just started reading it last night so I'm still reviewing it, but it contains facts, trivia, movie synopses, history, interviews, movie stills, poster designs and other fun bonuses.
I first heard about Studio Ghibli when I was in college and have been obsessed with their movies and artwork for over 10 years now. Their films and particularly the work of Hayao Miyazaki have really inspired me as an artist so I'm really glad that I spotted this book and plan to enjoy all the great information inside.
I just received a set of Schmincke Horadam watercolors, which is an early Christmas present to myself. The set includes 12 colors (5ml tubes) in a solidly built folding palette. I'm always trying out various brands and have found that I like the semi-moist quality of M. Graham & Co. and Sennelier; these two brands are honey-based and allow easy rewetting of the colors. Schmincke is not honey based, but does have similar properties to the brands I prefer. I'm not too picky about the brands I use (I also enjoy Winsor & Newton), but I find Daniel Smith's watercolors to be too difficult to rewet once they're dry.
This set by Schmincke has a full range of colors and each is vivid and lays very nicely on the paper. I was particularly impressed with the ivory black because it laid down really dark and didn't lighten too much as it dried. I know some artists don't use blacks and browns in watercolor, but I find black to be quite useful. Another nice touch is the inclusion of a color chart so you can see the colors in all their glory.
I don't quite know how to explain the fact that these tubes and colors also feel nice. As a painter, I usually follow my instincts and have a more intuitive approach so my feelings are very important to me. As I also mentioned, I like colors that rewet easily and this set does this extremely well. I would definitely recommend this set and this brand to other watercolorists who want bright, vivid pigments that rewet easily. Well done Germany!
Recent Sketches, D.C. and at Home
Here are some recent sketches from my D.C trip and of more mundane subjects at home. I always like drawing interesting shapes and value patterns that catch my eye. It's also nice to sketch specific subjects and to think of my sketchbook as a visual journey; this is why I almost always date my drawings and include a little description.
What I enjoy about sketching is just the complete freedom of it. I like the fact that it's such a simple pastime which requires just pencil and paper. It just feels good to move the pencil on the paper and not to worry about the final results. Sketching also allows me to observe the world around me and to find the beauty in simple things. I could go on for ages about what sketching means to me.
My fall semester of teaching is nearing completion so I'll be sketching and painting more as the winter sets in.