October 30, 2017: Making time for play with #Housesinthehood

When my paying work as a freelance writer feels more like day job than creative enterprise, I try to carve out at least a half-hour a day to write or draw just for fun. If I can hook my creative time into a new learning curve, all the better. 

Here’s what I’ve been up to “in the cracks” over the last couple of weeks: Inspired by artist/teacher Marc Taro Holmes, whose course “Travel Sketching in Mixed Media” I am taking from Craftsy.com, I’ve been using Holmes’s technique of laying down some lines in permanent ink, and then adding the watercolors – all in very loose, sketchy fashion.

I decided to draw a few houses from my neighborhood. My first sketch (left) was the house directly across from ours. The owners recently painted their steps and shutters pink, making for a nice visual contrast. I found, though, that as I sketched, the tree wanted the most attention and the steps and shutters became the supporting cast.

Next up: a little blue-gray bungalow just around the corner. It too has an oak out front, as do many homes in our ‘hood, but this time the sidewalk color and texture attracted my attention the most: 

On to another house, a lovely two-story brick that the owners have been bringing to life, inside and out. What I like about this little sketch is the warm palette of tans, yellows, pinks, and browns — with just a little cooler contrast of blue in the windows and along the wrought-iron railing: 

Next, just around the corner, a Tudor with a bright red door and, again, a lovely oak: 

Then a full-spread sketch of another house with a red door but in colonial style. I tried to capture the purple ash (upper left) in all its glory, with its translucent peaches, plums, corals, and lime greens. (Purple ashes are my favorites of the fall trees in Iowa — all the more so these days as the emerald ash borer threatens this species.) 

But a cropping of this sketch reveals the true main characters: once again, the signature oak, this time with two trunks. (Sorry, purple ash. I will try again next year, so you stay healthy.) 

When I sketch I try to use the same techniques I would if I were meditating: I bring a compassionate, non-judgmental, present-moment awareness to the process. Even as a budding artist I can tell there’s plenty wrong with these sketches, but I prefer to celebrate and share what I like about them. 

I’ll continue with my #housesinthehood series, I am sure. Taking taking time to “make stuff” nearly every day is part of my well-being and genetic make-up – plus it helps me maintain the energy I need when in day-job mode as a freelancer.