Nature and Sketching

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the woods lately. If you follow me on instagram, you are probably aware of that fact. If you want further proof, check out my SW adventure blog, Southwest Direction.

Sometimes I don’t walk very far, even if I’m gone for a long time. The environment is so different here that almost everything I see is new and exciting and catches my attention. Then I must stop, look, maybe take a photo, and maybe collect a few rocks, flowers or leaves.

I’ve started to take photos of some of those collected treasures once I get back to the cabin.

lichen on rocs

variety of wildflowers


When I collected several oak leaves, the wind was too crazy to even think about making an arrangement to photograph outside, so I drew them instead.

oak leaves

I take many more photos than those that I post onto instagram or my adventure blog. Sometimes the beauty I saw in person just doesn’t quite translate to pixels on a small screen. One photo that I was particularly enchanted by was a “miniature landscape” that I found along the shore of Luna Lake.

miniature landscape photo

One night when I couldn’t sleep, I decided to try sketching the mini landscape to see if I could capture some of the magic that had initially captivated me.

Part way through sketching, I took a quick photo of the drawing before taking a break.

miniature landscape in progress

A little later I finished it.

miniature landscape

It’s amazing to me how different the two stages of the drawing are. The final is more finished and anchored on the page, while the first stage feels looser and airier. I don’t know that I have a favorite, but I thought the change was interesting!

I think I’m also soaking up inspiration in a less direct way. I’ve been doodling a bit everyday.


I was particularly drawn to the upside-down V shapes on the left of the page, so I did a more complete pattern on another page in my sketchbook.

tents or forest

I wasn’t consciously aware of the inspiration source, but someone on instagram mentioned that it reminded them of tents or a forest, and I think that’s just perfect! The surrounding nature is definitely starting to knit itself into my subconscious, and I for one am glad for it! I can’t wait to see what will come through next!

Pattern A Day Challenge

I’ve been having a great time creating a pattern every day. I’m posting my daily pattern on instagram and twitter, and I do a round up at the end of the month on this blog. I wanted to write a general post about the challenge, since I’ve had a few people interested in joining me, and wanting to know more about it.

patterns from pattern a day october

There is only one rule: make a pattern everyday!

This project actually started back in August in a slightly different form. I participated in Doodle-a-Day-August started by Rhianna Wurman. It was great, and I love the way it challenged me to think differently and stretch myself and my drawing to fit the themes. However, having the daily set theme was sometimes too much to deal with, and I had more than a few “catch up sessions”. Even that was ok, but with a busy month in September, I didn’t think I’d be able to stick with it. In just a month I’d grown to love being creative everyday, so instead of opting out entirely, I adjusted the challenge to suit.

For September I set a couple of paramaters: I would use a specific sketchbook that had exactly 30 pages, and a set of IKEA gel pens I’d recently acquired. Those were the only “rules” other than creating a pattern everyday.

For October’s challenge, I changed the parameters slightly. I’m using a larger sketchbook, and working with watercolor and occasionally adding details with grey ink in a rapidograph pen (although as the month has gone on it’s more watercolor, less ink).

I’m not sure what media I’ll be using next month. I’m considering copic markers and zig writers, but I’ll wait til it’s November to decide.

If you’d like to join me, that would be great! I’d really love to see what you create. Tag your photo on instagram and/or twitter with #patternadayoct (for this month) and #patternadaynov (for next month). I’ve been using #patternaday as well, regardless of the month.

I like to use the challenge as an opportunity to try out a different medium, or limit myself in some way with a few preset guidelines. If you usually work with a lot of color, maybe try only black and white patterns for the month. If you are very comfortable with oil pastels, try out markers. Ultimately that part of the challenge is up to you though. Feel free to use the same materials that I use in a particular month, set your own parameters, or just be completely open and free with it.

Looking forward to lots of patterns in November!

Arizona So Far and Road Trip Highlights

I made it to Arizona! So far it’s been great!

By now I feel pretty well settled in the cabin. I needed a couple of days to just recuperate from my long road trip. Tired of being cooped up in my car, I wanted to be out in nature. I investigated the area around the cabin, taking walks and lots of photos. It’s so pretty here!

Aspen and Pine near the cabin
These are aspen and pine trees near the cabin.

Luna Lake
Luna Lake is just across the highway from the neighborhood where the cabin is.

I’m so glad to finally be here, and I’m enjoying the beauty of this area immensely. However, there were a few highlights from my road trip too.

The first chance I had to do some exploring was in Alabama. That day’s drive was only about 7 hours, so I there was enough daylight left for me to check out Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I got there just in time for sunset; a spectacular sight from the scenic overlook.

Sunset at Pinnacle Mountain State Park

The park was open an hour after sunset, so I took a quick hike down the trail from the overlook, and was delighted to find a “fairly corral” that someone had made with moss, sticks and pine cones.

Fairy Corral

Isn’t it the cutest?

I stopped at a rest stop in Texas, near Amarillo. It was perched on the edge of the Palo Duro Canyon which is the second largest canyon in the US. For the first time, I really had the feeling that the environment and vegetation was remarkably different from the east coast.

Texas near Amarillo

I had a great time throughout my road trip, but the real jewel of my experience was my stop in New Mexico. I stayed the night in Moriarty, NM and woke up at 3am to drive a half an hour over to Albuquerque to go to the International Balloon Fiesta. Ever since I first heard about this festival when I was little, I’ve wanted to go see it, but I never gave much thought to actually going. By pure accident I stumbled upon an article that mentioned the festival and the fact that it was happening around the time I was planning to drive out to Arizona! I adjusted my schedule, leaving a day early in order to get out there in time to attend the very last session, early Sunday morning.

I was lucky–after a week of iffy weather and some days with high wind, I went to the festival, and the weather was perfect for the launch. Clear skies and very little wind. I arrived at 5am, and waited around until they launched the first balloons in the Dawn Patrol. The first dozen or so balloons launch while it’s still dark. They illuminate the balloons intermittently, and it’s a beautiful sight to see!

Dawn Patrol

Isn’t it cool how they glow?

As the sun rose and the day grew brighter, the rest of the balloons began to take off for the mass ascension. At the peak there were about 600 balloons in the air! Incredible!

Hot Air Balloons!

The Albuquerque balloon festival is unique in that you can walk around the field as the balloons are taking off. It was awesome to be able to get close to the baskets and watch how the crew began the inflation process, until finally they were ready for lift off.

I was completely giddy the entire time I was there. It was literally a dream come true.

The next day, I did some grocery shopping in Santa Fe, and eventually got on the road to head over to Alpine. Because of the late start, I knew I would arrive in the dark. I was a little nervous about it, but I found the cabin easily. It felt so good to finally not sleep in a hotel!

I’ve been settling in since. I took a quick trip over to Springerville to pick up a few supplies I’d forgotten while near Albuquerque. On the way back, I swung by the White Mountain Wildlife Area. I took a “quick” 1 mile hike, which took me up to the top of the mountain to a point that overlooks the valley. More prettiness!

View from the top

I actually didn’t realize that the trail would go up so high, but with some huffing and puffing (the altitude is 8,000+ feet, which I’m not quite used to yet!) I made it to the top, and it was so worth it.

I made it to the top of the mountain! Hello!

More adventures await, and I’ve actually been writing in more detail and sharing lots of photos on a new tumblr I set up for my SW adventure:

I hope you’ll check it out, but I will also be posting more general updates here every now and then.

Road Trip and Adventure: Maryland to Arizona

I’m in Tennessee right now! I’m on my way to Arizona!

sw patterns

I’m not even sure where to start, because as sudden as this might seem to you if you’re hearing about it for the first time, it feels almost as sudden to me.

I’d been planning a lengthy trip to Berlin for this fall, but for several reasons, it just didn’t work out. The idea to go out to Arizona instead popped up somewhere along the way. As time went on and Berlin started to look less likely, the Arizona idea became a solid option. For the past few weeks I’ve been preparing for the trip little by little, but without getting too invested in it. Part of me wasn’t sure that it would actually happen, and even up until late last week I still wasn’t 100% sure. Since I’m in Tennessee, I think it’s safe to say that yes, it’s happening! I’m going to Arizona!

Now that I’m on the way, I’m so very excited! I need a change of pace, and I need to see new things. I can get stuck in a rut if I stay in one place for too long, and I find that long-ish trips are good for me to reset and re-imagine my life and my goals.

I’ve been questioning whether a creative career path is really right for me. Whether I “have what it takes” or have the personality to really commit to it and make things happen. My goal for the next month or two is to get stuff done. I have several projects that I’ve had in my head, and they always seem to be put on the back burner. I have the best of intentions of doing something with them, but other tasks always seem to take priority, or else my laziness, procrastination and self doubt get in the way.

Ok, so I’m getting a little philosophical here, but essentially, it’s time for action! I’m giving myself this time, and if I still don’t make progress on at least some of my goals, I’m going to pursue other career possibilities. But for now, creativity and adventure await!

I’ll be driving to Arizona by way of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico.

I’ll be staying at my brother’s cabin which is in a little town in Arizona right across the border from New Mexico.


Although you might not think of pine trees when you think of Arizona, the cabin is most definitely in the woods!

Looking north

There are open areas and mountains nearby. Mountains!

The drive to Luna Lake

I got everything done that needed doing before I left: got my car checked out and a couple tires replaced, bought new hiking shoes, mapped my route, packed up clothes and art supplies, made a road trip playlist, etc.


Today was my longest driving day at 9 hours. I got on the road at around 8am and took my time getting here, stopping for breaks as often as I wanted. I had a lot of good music and the gorgeous scenery of the Smoky Mountains to keep me going.

My next stop will be in Arkansas. I booked a hotel near a state park, so I’m planning to get on the road early to have the chance to check out some scenic spots while there’s still daylight.

If I have internet in any of the hotels along the way, I’ll likely update here again, otherwise it’ll have to wait til I get internet setup at the cabin. Either way, I’m looking forward to sharing more of my road trip and Arizona adventure!

Pattern a Day September

Last month I did a doodle a day. I had a lot of fun with it, but I knew I would be busy and traveling in September, so I changed my daily challenge slightly to be a pattern a day without any particular theme. I used a sketchbook I got from my friend, Beverly, and my only “rule” was to use a set of IKEA gel pens for each pattern.

There were a few days when I didn’t have internet access, so I couldn’t upload a photo of that day’s pattern to instagram, but I’m proud to say that except for one very long (18 hours+) Sunday where I was helping my mom at a trade show, I did draw one pattern everyday!

After drawing so many floral and organic doodles in August, I was ready for some angles. The fact that I was using grid paper also contributed to the geometric styles that showed up in my patterns throughout the month.



There were also a number of patterns that I created where I used the grid for the structure of the pattern, and looser lines and quicker strokes for the drawing.



Although I had fun exploring line and texture within geometric forms, nature-inspired patterns weren’t entirely left out this month!

Day 5 Pattern a Day September


You can see all the other patterns from the month in the flicker set.

This was the perfect challenge for my busy September. The only thing I missed from the August challenge was the camaraderie that came from doing a doodle a day along with other artists on instagram. However, because drawing a pattern a day is sustainable for me, and it’s a good way for me to be creative and keep the ideas coming, I’ve decided to do another month of patterns! One of my instagram friends, Dina Thanki (@dinathanki on twitter and instagram), has even decided to join me for the month!

If you are on instagram or twitter and care to create a pattern a day too, use the tag #patternadayoct to play along. September was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to more daily creativity in October!