Sketchbook Project 2013

For the first time I had a sketchbook project without a theme. When I signed up the themes were very generic such as “sketchbook,” “chap book,” or “travelogue”. I assumed “sketchbook” would be the most fitting, but since it was an option, I chose, “undecided” so I could decide later. Before I sent off my book, I noticed that they added several more options for themes that were more like the themes they’ve offered in the past. Some of these are “dwellings,” “creatures,” and “lists”. Of the options offered, “diagrams” felt like it would fit the most as an after-the-fact choice, but it also didn’t feel quite right. I wonder if they’ll let me keep it as undecided?

As with the Sketchbook Project Limited Edition that I completed in 24 hours, I was down to just a couple of days until the deadline before I had a chance to start my 2013 submission. As luck would have it, I decided to use block printing as my technique for January’s daily patterns, so the choice to use the same stamps in the sketchbook was an easy one! This technique was even faster than the collages I created for the Sketchbook Project LE, and over the course of 2 days, I leisurely filled my empty book with lots of color, pattern and texture.

The cover was created bit by bit as I worked with various colors on the main pages of the book. I feel lucky that the composition turned out as balanced as it did!

Sketchbook Project 2012 Cover

The inside front and back covers were embellished with paint marker since I didn’t have time to carve stamps with all the letters or words I would have needed!

Sketchbook Project 2013 Inside Front Cover

Sketchbook Project 2013 Inside Back Cover

I named the project “Block & Print” to match up with the title pattern that started with “Lines & Grids” and “Cut & Create” of my last two Sketchbook Projects.

The inside back cover shares a hint of things to come. Notice I direct people to check out anikastarmer.com. There isn’t actually anything there at the moment, but there will be! More news to come about that soon!

Most of the pages feature several colors and two or three different stamps, with printing on both sides of the spread. Often I printed the stamps quickly and then smooshed the pages together to make secondary impressions on the opposite page. Sometimes those secondary marks were pretty subtle, but they lend another layer of texture to the overall composition.

Pages 3-4

Pages 7-8

A few pages seemed “just right” after I finished up using one stamp with one color.

Pages 15-16

Pages 13-14

There was really only one spread that I felt was a little less than successful, and yet it is also one of my favorites in some ways!

Pages 11-12

I really love the way the pattern on the right of the stacked triangles turned out, and the bolder yellow print on the left would have been a good fit as its pair, but oh how I wish I hadn’t smooshed the wet yellow paint onto the triangles. The yellow smudges are a visual distraction that muddies up the bright pattern, and it would have been stronger without that extra element. That said, I recognize that this entire sketchbook really was a collection of printed sketches and experiments, and although in my mind this isn’t exactly “perfect” I can still appreciate it for the overall experience!

Take a look at the video of the entire book, with a little explanation of my process and some of the stamps!

Art House Co-op is restructuring the way they are going to do the next installations of the Sketchbook Project, focusing on specific tours with a certain number of spots available for each. I’m not sure if I will participate again or not. Maybe if a tour title “speaks to me” or something.

Have you participated in this or other Sketchbook Projects? Do you think you’ll participate in the future? If you have your 2013 book online, I would love for you to share a link in the comments!

List It Tuesday: Culinary Traditions

Today I was catching up on comments on this blog (sometimes it takes me a while, but almost always I respond!) and made my way over to Daringhue.com where I saw that Tricia wrote a “List it Tuesday” post based on a topic provided by Aimee over at Artsyville.

I didn’t realize it before I read her post, but I really needed something purely fun to do today, and this seems fun. Usually lists totally overwhelm me. I’ve tried and failed to write up lists of “14 Things People Probably Don’t Know About You” or “Things I’m Afraid To Tell You” or “Goals”. Haha.

But seriously, I think I have a hard time remembering interesting thing about myself when there’s pressure to do so, but today’s topic is about food, I can write about food. The actual topic is “Culinary Traditions,” but I think this list is going to be more like “Food Memories”. Is that the same thing? We’ll see.

1. My mom is German and her culinary traditions definitely influenced my food culture in the past and today. I’ve had the great treat of visiting Germany several times in my life, and the greater treat of eating German food in Germany. I don’t even know where to start! I have so many good memories of my times in Germany, and many, many of them revolve around food. Here are a few highlights that come to mind:

  • Kaffee Trinken (literally translates to “Coffee Drinking” but is more like “Tea Time” or “Afternoon Coffee”. Each and every day, tea or coffee and some kind of cake is served at 4pm either at home or out at a cafe. But seriously, this really happened everyday! You can imagine my 10 year old self’s delight!
  • I could write an ode to the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorten (Black Forest Cakes) of the world. If it was an option on the menu or at the bakery, to me it was the only option.
  • The ice cream in my grandmother’s freezer. In particular the tartufo and black currant varieties.
  • The weird frozen mushroom pizzas that were kind of good and kind of like cardboard that I couldn’t get enough of.
  • The schinken (ham)! And the wurst (sausages)! Funny side story: when my cousin who lives in Hamburg was told that we lived near Washington, she thought it was called “Wurst und Schinken” and was very interested in visiting.
  • Milk, fresh from the one cow in my Grandparent’s village. I once went with my Grandfather to get the milk and I saw the actual cow from which it came. I was very impressed by this.
  • Kirschsaft (cherry juice) that you could only buy at health food/vitamin stores. It was pure cherry juice with no apple juice filler, and is probably the most delicious liquid in the world.
  • Baumkuchen which translates to “tree cake”. Baumkuchen is going to get its own main list item.
  • Ritter Sport Trauben Nuss Chocolate and just chocolate in general.
  • Wasser Brötchen (literally translates to water rolls) are the basic breakfast/sandwich rolls in Germany. The baker in my Grandparent’s village made them with milk, not water, and they were the best!

2. Baumkuchen is cooked in a really unique manner. A thin layer of batter is rolled onto a rotating spindle and baked. The layer bakes quickly, and then more batter is added. The baking continues in this manner, layer by layer until it’s done, then it’s covered in chocolate! The outside of each layer browns as it bakes, so when you slice it you can see the rings, much like a tree! I found a video that is kind of long, but gives you a much better idea of what I’m talking about. German bakers make baumkuchen around the holidays, so they are really a special treat. If you ever come across baumkuchen in an Asian market, don’t be tempted. I made the mistake once, and it is nothing like the real thing. In search of that special taste, I found a recipe a few years ago for “baumkuchen spitzen” or “tree cake corners”. Instead of baking on a rotating cylinder, you can build up flat layers on a cookie sheet, using the top broiler to cook each layer quickly. They turned out wonderfully and have since become a holiday tradition.

3. My brother James wrote a food blog at one point. I was just checking it out again, and it’s really good. I kinda forgot how good it is! He was very creative with his recipes, and his writing was pretty frank and funny (check out his post on wasser brotchen failure for a chuckle). He actually tried out his own version of baumkuchen that he admits didn’t turn out so awesome and gave me a shout out for having better results! Ha! Although he doesn’t have time to keep up with his food blog anymore, he’s still an awesome cook, and I always love going over to his house for dinner. Some of my best recent food memories are at his house, trying out a new Indian recipe he’s been tinkering with, taste testing his latest ice cream experiments, or simply sitting and chatting over a cup of tea or some cheese.

4. I, myself, was very interested in cooking and baking from a young age. When I was 5, my kindergarten class put together a cookbook of favorite recipes from all the mom’s of the kids in the class. Our contribution was my grandmother’s southern pound cake recipe, and even at that age, I’d already helped my mom bake many of them! Brownies were my specialty, and I experimented with different recipes. I even tried a “microwave” brownie recipe, which wasn’t so good, but definitely fun! I officially made up my first recipe when I was 11. I made “lemon sage chicken” for my oldest brother (who is 10 years older than me), and I felt very satisfied when he proclaimed how delicious it was. Now, years later, I wonder if it actually was any good. Maybe I should make it again and find out! In recent years, my focus has been more on cooking than baking. I like to cook simple food well, and have investigated new ways to cook meat, seafood, and veggies that diverge from the “old standards” that I grew up with. One of the biggest revelations is how much I like brussel sprouts and red cabbage when they are not cooked to death in a pressure cooker, which was my mom’s usual way of preparing them. That leads me to my next point.

5. My mom’s a good cook, and of course I learned a lot about cooking from her, but I have crated my own versons of many of her tried and true recipes. I’d say we are both intuitive when cooking, and we both take risks, but we approach cooking in different ways. If I had to sum it up, I’d say that I am more precise and pay attention to details, whereas she is much more carefree and puts ingredients together just to see how it’ll turn out.

6. When my dad was left to his own devices, he had 2 go-to “recipes” if you can even call them that. He would cook eggs in a frittata style with whatever was on hand, usually including some kind of meat and cheese, or he would cook “hamburger”. Not *A* hamburger, but hamburger. He’d fry up hamburger meat. No frills. Sometimes I’ll cook up one of these dishes when I’m short on time, and I can practically hear my mom saying, “you really are your father’s daughter!”

I think that’ll do for now. I have a lot more memories that I could share that revolve around food, but I think the ones listed are the most prominent, and probably the most influential to the way I approach cooking and eating.

I know this is pretty different from my regular posts. Lots of writing, and no images, but I hope you enjoyed the little peek into my Culinary History!

If you’d like to see more lists, check out the others participating on Artsyville!

Pattern a Day December

December was certainly a crazy month in a lot of ways. I was still in Alpine, Arizona, and took a mini vacation to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Then I drove across the country back to Maryland, got home and got sick, and somehow managed to prepare for the holidays and celebrate them successfully! In the midst of all that, I created a pattern everyday.

I didn’t bother posting photos while I was staying in hotels with crummy lighting on my road trip home, but by working with simple tools–a watersoluble carbon block, a brush, and paper–I was able to stay creative every day, even after driving for 10 hours, or spending most of the day in bed with the chills.

Because of my choice of medium for the month, all my patterns were black, white, and/or grey. I know I already mentioned it in my December round up post of other artist’s patterns, but since I was only working with one “color,” I was especially glad that other people were making lots of vibrantly colorful patterns in December. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love black and white, especially in pattern form, but I also love a little variety!

One of the things that was most eye opening, especially when I considered the way I approached creating patterns in November, was how much the medium and color (or lack thereof) drives the way I create a pattern, and ultimately the imagery that I put down on paper.

In November many of my patterns had a lot of depth and complexity, while most of my December patterns tended to be more flat and graphic.

November/December pattern comparison

I don’t think either is necessarily better than other, it was just interesting to reflect on my processes over the past few months and recognize the difference!

At times I felt like some of the patterns I made weren’t my most creative, which is ok. This challenge was never about producing something ground breaking everyday, it is simply about creating everyday. I think as part of that, there will naturally be times when the work is excellent, while other times when it’s just so so. To me what is important is that I get in the habit of working with my hands everyday, as my natural tendency often leaves ideas stuck in my head for days or even weeks before I get around to getting them down on paper.

That said, there were definitely days I got excited about–especially the days where I tried out an idea that in my head I thought was a little odd or unattractive, but the results were sometimes quite striking.

Day 11 Pattern a Day December

Day 14 Pattern a Day December

Most of the patterns this month were abstract. Either focusing on form or the texture of the water soluble carbon.

Day 6 Pattern a Day December

Day 21 Pattern a Day December

I did manage to sneak in a few that were representational, and most of those were inspired by the season.

Day 9 Pattern a Day December

Day 22 Pattern a Day December

One of my favorites was the pattern I created on New Year’s Eve. Although abstract, it really captures the festive feeling of a New Year celebration.

Day 31 Pattern a Day December

I like to think of this as a good omen for the year ahead, which I hope to fill with even more patterns! I’m not necessarily intending to make this a year-long commitment, but you never know! Bit by bit, month by month, I might just get there!

See the rest of the patterns in my Pattern a Day December set on flickr, and check out the Pattern a Day group for more patterns and lots of inspiration.

Happy New Year!

Pattern a Day December Round Up!

What a whirlwind December was! It was a busy month, but in the end, I was surprised by how easy it was to make a pattern everyday. And I wasn’t the only one! A bunch of other awesome creatives joined in and contributed a huge variety of colorful patterns to the mix. I thought it would be fun to share a few patterns from group that came together in December.

Sarah Rowe shared a beautiful variety of textures and colors using watercolor, marker, and even some collage!

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Minerva wins the award for the cutest patterns! Aren’t they adorable?

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Julie Tillman contributed a variety of styles of patterns in December. I love the donuts!

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Natalie Davies delivered some awesome bright colors and fun patterns. I also love that she shared the markers and pens she used for each pattern in her photos!

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Tammy from Daisy Yellow was an enthusiastic participant in the pattern challenge, using watercolor for her patterns.

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Tricia from Daring Hue gave the challenge a second try in December, and this time she made one every day!

Pattern A Day Challenge - December 7-8
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Barbara Wanhill’s patterns were all inspired from events that happened during her day.

Dec 6
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Jeannine Saylor drew, stamped, and painted her nature inspired patterns.

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Carin Cullen created layers of texture as well as pattern.

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Rachel Kinbar had a really unique approach to pattern making, and it was always fun to see what she shared.

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Carlene Taylor Simmons drew some awesome patterns with marker and pen.

Part of today's #letsmakepatterns #patternadaydec
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Connie Hozvicka from Dirty Footprints Studio drew a few mandala style patterns.

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D. Schuyler created colorful, geometric patterns, among others.

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Rachel from Staunch Studio created a daily pattern on her iPad!

December pattern no. 14 Trying out the paper app.
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Becky Canham went with a holiday theme for the month of December, which really helped me to get into the holiday spirit!

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I hadn’t planned for it to become a group project, but I’m happy it did! When I started creating daily patterns, it was something I did on my own as a way to get me doing what I love every day. Little by little it has caught on, and it’s exciting to see so many beautiful patterns everyday, especially in December since I chose to do only black and white patterns.

If you’re on instagram, check out the #patternadaydec tag to see even more awesome patterns from last month, and #patternadayjan to see this month’s ongoing daily patterns. There is also a Pattern a Day group on flickr where you can see even more patterns!

Change in Plans for Pattern a Day January

In my last post I wrote that I planned to create my January patterns using watercolor backgrounds with paint marker details. For some reason, once it got down to it, I wasn’t really feeling the watercolor. Maybe I just needed more of a change from using water based media last month. When I saw that Tricia from Daring Hue was doing hand carved stamps this month, it seemed like too much of a coincidence since it’s one of the ideas I’d initially considered for January.

When I saw Tricia’s first January pattern, I mentioned that I’d been thinking about doing block prints too, and Tricia encouraged me, so I dug out the block printing supplies I bought a while ago. I only have one block and 2 colors of ink, but I made the most of what I had to get me started.

I cut a 2×2 inch piece off the block and cut that into 3 triangles, then carved some detail lines on the two smaller triangles.

carving a block for printing/stamping

pink ink on black palette

I used these to create my first 2 patterns for January today.

Day 1 Pattern a Day January

Day 2 Pattern a Day January

I had to play catch up today because Otto gave me a scare on the 1st, and I spent the evening at the emergency vet instead of at home making patterns. I’m happy to say that he is doing very well now. His back was out which was causing him a lot of pain. He got some pain meds from the vet, and after a visit to the chiropractor today, he should be good as new. Phew!

Otto is on the mend.

Let’s Make Patterns in January!

A new month in a new year is upon us, and I will be doing another month of daily patterns!

Let's Make Patterns in January!

Last month my friend Tricia from Daring Hue created watercolor backgrounds and added patterns to the color. I really loved the idea and how the patterns turned out, so this month I’m taking inspiration from her and will be creating a watercolor background everyday and then adding a pattern to the page with white, grey, and/or black acrylic marker.

I would love for you to join me and create your own pattern everyday. You can use any media at any size you want. Feel tree to tailor this challenge to suit you, your schedule, and what you want to accomplish. There are very few set in stone rules, besides the obvious: make patterns. Even if you can’t get a pattern done every single day, I’d love to have you join the fun when you can!

If you’ll be playing along, be sure to tag your patterns on instagram and twitter with #letsmakepatterns and/or #patternadayjan!

There is also a flickr group now, so if you post photos over there, please add your photos to the pool!

Starting the year off with lots of patterns seems like a good start for 2013. I hope to see daily patterns from you too!