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Art Girls’ Road Trip

by abby on March 8, 2016 | Comment

Eric Carle workshop
{Painted tissue paper that our workshop created}

Artists need artists. Last weekend, myself and 3 other wonderful creative ladies took a road trip to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Northhampton, MA!

Our goal was 2-fold: The first goal was to visit this museum whose intention is to share the beauty of the artwork of illustrators of children’s picture books. Carle and his late wife, Barbara, said it best themselves with this quote on the wall when you enter the museum:quote from Eric carle at Picture Book art museum

The second goal of this trip was to take a workshop where we would practice the technique of painting tissue paper to create our own textures in the same manner that Carle uses to create his own art. The art studio was a lovely room with an entire wall of windows. Half the room is open for children and families to come and create artwork all day long. We had a few short leg visitors wander over to our painting tables while we created.

Art Studio at Eric Carle Picture book art museum
{The wall of natural light in the art studio}

art studio
{I adore the twig alphabet in the art studio}

We had an hour to create several patterned tissue papers. There were no rules, it all happened quickly. The decision making of layering the paint was a bit intense, but also therapeutic since you had to make the choice and then move on. We evened listened to classical music, just as Carle does when he creates.

Once the papers were all dry, each participant selected 9 pieces of textured paper to create a hanging window shade. Here are my papers and my final window shade:

pained paper from workshop at Eric Carle Museum

Abby with her painted paper window shade

After the workshop we toured the gallery which had a fun A to Z exhibit of Eric Carle’s collages that described his life. Did you know he as born in Syracuse, NY?! I enjoyed seeing the illustrations in person. In books there’s a separation from the art, but when viewing the art in a gallery you could see the human hand again in the illustrations.

Abby and Kari
{As you can see, my friend, Kari, and I are all smiles!}

Overall, I was delighted to visit this museum and check The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art off my “to-do trip list”. I know I shall be back this Fall for the Robert McCloskey show (think Make Way for Ducklings). It was a happy, art filled road trip with a great group of gals.

Travel Sketches: France Part 2

by abby on June 19, 2015 | Comment

Paris Flower Boxes
{The flower boxes were everywhere in Paris. Aren’t they gorgeous?!}

Hello Friends!

On this trip to France, I made an effort to capture moments of beauty with my sketchbook and camera too. I want to share with you about a dozen photo sketches from this collection. It’s a combination of photographs of visual beauty and personal spiritual beauty (you know things that make you say “ohhhhh and make you happy”. Enjoy!

Notre Dame
{She’s a beauty all around, but I do love her side view best.}

Sennelier Art store
{You guys this is where Cezanne and Picasso bought their art supplies! Oh yes, I came away with a set of chalk pastels. Eeeee!}

Degas Dancer Pastel
{Seeing Degas originals and other works from the Impressionists was an amazing moment. When I walked into the gallery at the Orsay Museum I choked up a little.}

Kids Book Store Paris
{There was a French kids’ bookstore in the neighborhood we stayed in Paris. It was fun to browse the colorful picture books all in French.}

Stain Glass from Forte La Lotte
{Caught this moment in the chapel when we visited Fort La Latte, a medieval fort along the English Channel.}

Suuny Breakfast Table
{Our sunny breakfast table during our Dinan stay. Nice way to start the day, right?}

Dinan House
{The detailing on the old wood houses in Dinan, Brittany was so whimsical.}

Old Windmill
{We stopped to this working windmill during a country drive. It’s still grinding grain to make flour! She’s a good ol’ gal.}

Picked Wild Flowers
{I’m all smiles with freshly picked wild flower in my pocket given to me by D.}

Rain Boots
{Awwwww! I found this row of boots in the hallway of our last apartment in La Trinite. Adorable.}

la Trinite sur Met Sunset
{Ahhh, a pastel sunset.}

Eiffel Tower
{The Eiffel Tower is spectacular when lit up at night!}

Have a great weekend!

Travel Sketches: France Part 1

by abby on June 16, 2015 | Comment

{It’s been a dream of mine to actually see and visit Mont St. Michel in France.}

Bonjour mes amis!
I’ve just returned from an amazing trip with my husband to France! The art, architecture, food, landscape were all so beautiful and inspiring. I am bursting with stories and smiles from our travels (and so is my husband too). I know I can’t share it all with you, but I did want to share a few highlights.

Tiny Sketch Book
{My smallest travel sketchbook.}

I now prefer to travel with several sketchbooks and a mini watercolor set too. This allows me to do “en plein air” drawing and painting when the moment strikes me. D is so wonderful about napping or exploring on his own when I need to stay put and draw. Paris and the coast of Brittany offered so many moments of beauty. Here are a few of my mini drawings:
{We could see the top of the Eiffel Tower from our Paris apartment window.}

{Of course I had to draw the Abbey Island of Mont St. Michel—so beautiful.}

{ In the medieval down of Dinan, Brittany, D and I had a picnic down by the port. I took a moment to draw the row of building along the water.}

I’m an ocean girl. I love to see the water meet the land. The coast of Brittany both along the English Channel and the Atlantic was breathtaking.

Brittany Coastline
{Look at the teal water color! I never knew it would be this brilliant.}

D caught me sitting and painting at the peninsula point of Cap Frehel. It’s a rare opportunity when a bench is positioned perfectly to capture the view I want! The ragged coast was still gorgeous even with the wind and the clouds rolling in that afternoon.


Here is one of those watercolor sketches from that sitting:


Ahhh, just seeing these photos again makes me giddy. If you haven’t seen this part of France you really need to. There is such beauty in the world.

More soon!

Pencils are Awesome

by abby on April 10, 2015 | Comment

pencil sketch of watering can
{Pencil sketch in my journal}

I love pencils! No surprise right, being an artist? Graphite or colored, there is something delicious and utterly satisfying about dragging the tip of a pencil across paper.

I have always loved them starting back in early grade school. I would collect neon decorated graphite pencils. As an adult, I still have a few special ones: a skull and cross bone pencil and pencils with well-known Penguin authors on them, like Oscar Wilde. I think part of my love of pencils is the texture and the simplicity of use. No high-techness required.

The happy news is that there are lots of us pencil lovers out there! In fact, there is a shop in New York City that sells only pencils. It’s called: CW Pencil Enterprise and its run by Caroline Weaver.

photo of cups of various pencils in all colors
{photo from Gothamist}

It’s like being in a candy store! You can purchase the pencils online, but I absolutely want to step into the shop at 100a Forsyth Street Street in Manhattan.

Oh and the other fun thing in the works: a pencil of the month club! Yes! Weaver explains: “This is definitely in the works and will start in May or June. I’ll send a really special pencil (old or new) each month along with its story. Stories are really important with pencils—aside from its physical characteristics which often vary rather subtly, it’s what sets them apart from each other.”

It’s the little things in life, right?

Do you have a favorite pencil?

Michelangelo Mini-moon

by abby on November 7, 2014 | Comment

Kensington neighborhood
{Toronto supports street art!}

After the wedding D and I took a trip to Toronto for a few days to enjoy being married. I hadn’t been there in more than 10 years and D was excited to show me his favorite “Brooklynesque” neighborhood. We stayed near the university and the vibe was great. There were lots of intriguing art and clothing shops which were mingled in between coffee and tea houses and restaurants and bars. We did feel like we were back in New York City—except that everyone was super friendly and liked to chat with you!

Michelangelo at AGO

Our trip happened to correspond to a fantastic art exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was a show of 30 of Michelangelo’s drawings from his private studio collection from Florance! Yay! D is a big art appreciator, especially of the old masters, so he was eager to see this show too.

And what a show it was! There was a great modern twist to the exhibition design. It was a beautiful blend of a classicly hung art show and an interactive museum exhibit. The first thing I noticed was that Italian classical music floated in the air in the gallery.

chalk drawing of female head by old master
{My absolute favorite drawing of the show. I could look at this all day long…}

Michelangelo’s red chalk drawings were shown in simple dark blue wood frames with a hit of gold leaf on the beveled edges. Among the framed art were a few large flat screen panels showing enlargements of his smaller drawings and sharing collections of quotes that Michelangelo had said.

The show also emphasized that his drawings were a unique look at his in-process thinking. You could say his imperfections (though it was hard to see them.). There were several quotes by Michelangelo that spoke to the difficulty of the Creative, that art does not come easy. Instead it is the result of many hours of hard work and struggle.(ah-huh!)

Art Gallery of Ontario

It might seem silly, but knowing that even the Old Master, Michelangelo, had trouble with his drawings and clients made him crazy at times made be feel a little better about my own work and business. No matter the age, all artists have the same mountains to climb and must combat the same doubts. Grazie Michelangelo.

Do you have a favorite Old Master Artist?

Color Color Everywhere

by abby on August 1, 2014 | Comment

photo of bright blue heels and a green wedding dress

I had a whirlwind weekend in New York City last week for my best friend’s Brooklyn wedding. She is also a lover of color and decided to wear a beautiful light green dress with brilliant blue shoes to her wedding! Gorgeous, right?! All her bridesmaid wore blue dresses too.

photo of Abby with glasses and vintage styled curly hair

Oh and then there was my stylish vintage curly hair! Love this look with my dark frame glasses. So chic!

Abby standing in front of the Madeline show at NYC Historical Museum
{Look what I got to see!}

In between helping her with all her last minute wedding preparations (like hanging a rainbow of Pantone swatches for place cards) and the actual wedding day, I was able to sneak into Manhattan to see the exhibit: Madeline in New York: The Artwork of Ludwig Bemelmans! It was worth all the effort to get there. The show was delightful and you truly felt like you were stepping into the pages of Madeline.

There were many iconic paintings of the Madeline books (think 12 little girls in 2 straight lines!). I also learned that Bemelmans used gouache to create his paintings. So cool! He usually worked in a combination of gouache with ink or crayon. There were areas of his painting where you could see he had to collage a correction into it. I love being able to see the thinking behind a painting.

The show itself was well designed, too. The museum created large fabric screens with Bemelmans line drawings to activate the gallery space. And there were collections of book dummies and tiny sketches that showed the creative process on how Bemelmans developed the characters in the Madeline books, too. I would highly recommend that you and your children see the show.

What is your favorite color? Leave a note in the comments! (In case you are wondering, mine is teal.)

My next art trip destination

by abby on July 15, 2014 | Comment

photo of art exhibition of Ludwig Bemelmans
{from Publisher’s Weekly article on the Madeline show}

I just heard about an amazing art exhibition in New York City. The New York Historical Society is hosting a show of the artwork of Ludwig Bemelmans—you know the author and illustrator of the Madeline series! The show is themed on how New York City influenced his artwork.

Although his colorful and impressionistic artwork reflects the Parisian life, he actually created this artwork in a New York City apartment. (To brighten up the dreary gray city he even painted his windows!) Louise Mirrer, the president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, said that his art suggests “an immigrant reimagining a Europe he knew” as a child. She continues that even though the Madeline books are set in France, the protagonist’s “fearless and funky” spirit is of a New Yorker. I totally agree.

The art show is paired with all sorts of biographical information and antecedents that chronicle Bemelmans’s life in New York, first as an immigrant from Austria, then as a an well known author/illustrator with all his posh acquaintances he had befriended through the years. It sounds fascinating!

The Madeleine exhibit is on display until October 19th and is sponsored by the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. If you aren’t able to make it to NYC, you can see the show at the Carle Museum in November.

Was MADELINE a favorite series of yours?

On the road to . . .

by abby on July 8, 2014 | Comment

poster of Hatch Show Print store

This has been a summer of traveling! I was on the road again for a week long road trip to Nashville, Tennessee with my best friend. One of our stops in Nashville was to visit the famous letterpress shop: HATCH SHOW PRINT Do you know of it?

photo of wall of letterpress posters

Hatch Show Print has been producing eye-catching letterpress posters for decades now. They have developed a distinct Americana style, featuring large bold wood-block type with minimal colors. Hatch Show Print is most know for creating advertising posters for famous country and blues/jazz musicians, but their “bread and butter” posters of groceries, filling stations, and other southern culture themes are also beautiful.

photo of letterpress studio in Nashville

The studio has recently moved into the first floor of the new Country Music Museum. You can see the print makers at work through large glass windows. It’s probably the most clean print studio I have ever seen!

Hatch linocut block

Hatch Show Print has a wonderful shop and gallery. In the shop they were displaying a lovely lino cut block. There is such talent in this studio! I couldn’t leave without a print of my own, so I bought this vertical one:

photo of Hatch Show Print vertical print

I still have to figure out a place for it in my home. I have an itch to redo the pictures in the living room. My style is changing and I feel ready for new wall art. Perhaps this print will be just right?!

Where are you traveling to this summer?

My Artist Day-Brandywine Museum

by abby on June 10, 2014 | Comment

andrew wyeth studio
{Brandywine Museum of Art}

My first solo art date was a success! It was a beautiful day to take a road trip down to Chadds Ford, PA. I arrived a little later than I had hoped, but thankfully the Brandywine Museum isn’t a large place and I was able to see all the artwork that I wanted and got a tour of Andrew, “Andy”, Wyeth’s studio!

studio located in Chadds Ford, PA
{The Studio}

The museum is tucked away among trees and sits right along a river. (I’m thinking it might be the Brandywine river?). The museum has 3 floors and each floor greets you with a bank of glass windows over looking the river. It’s glorious!

This museum is so unique in that it showcases 3 generations of artists from 1 family. There were galleries of first generation illustrator: NC Wyeth.

oil painting from treasure island
{NC Wyeth worked mostly in oil paints}

He is most famous for this 18 oil painting for Scribner’s TREASURE ISLAND edition. He then taught his youngest son, Andrew to paint. Andrew preferred to work in tempera paint and watercolor. I’m inclined to prefer his watercolor paintings. They are a little looser and more energetic.

2 watercolor painting of lobster man and green ferns by Andrew Wyeth
{2 of my favorite watercolors hanging on the wall}.

I love peering closely at the layering of color. There were so many unexpected hues— touches of aquamarine and reds in both the large areas of browns and greens. He was so confident in his brushwork too!

Andrew then taught his son, Jamie, to paint. We saw the “classroom” in Andrew’s studio house where Jamie took his lessons, as well as paint the famous JFK portrait. Did you know that Jamie took on this commission at only 18 years of age?! Incredible! The talent was definitely passed down.

Though I have to say, when I think of Jamie Wyeth’s work, I do think of this pig painting first. hehe

oil painting portrait of pig by Jamie Wyeth
{Den-Den, the pig,accidentally ate 22 tubes of oil paint on Jamie’s visit}

This was my first introduction to his work. My family has a story linked to it when visiting the Boston Museum of Art when I was a little girl and my brother was even smaller.

I had the best of intentions of sitting along the river beside the museum and doing a little watercolor painting. However, with my delay in getting down to the museum and my rush to get inside, I sadly neglected to refill my water bottle and hence, no water for the watercolor! Siiiigh. I did sit down and do a few sketches in colored pencil. Not quite as satisfying, but still it felt good to be drawing outside.

brandywine museum river
{river view from a shaded rock}

I stretched out my time at the museum by following a path along the river beside the building. It was such sunny day that I knew I wanted to at least sit outside and take in the natural world for a few moments. While I sat on a rock, I sketch the river view in front of me.

brandywine scuplture

There was a large bronze rabbit sculpture tucked away in a shaded grove. I saw him when the bus drove back from Andrew Wyeth’s studio. He had such personality I couldn’t help but draw him.

It was a happy art day all in all. I feel rejuvenated and inspired! I will certainly be back to the Brandywine Museum next Spring to see a retrospective of Jamie Wyeth’s work. This is a show not to be missed!

How was your weekend?

The Perfect Day

by abby on October 1, 2013 | Comment

abby in warrior 1 pose on beach
{me doing a few sun salutations}

I’ve had the most perfect day of my life. D surprised me with a trip to one of my favorite places on earth—Cape May, NJ! During the weekend I had the opportunity to start my day with D and walk along the beach to find shells. It was very quiet with only the birds and the sea to keep us company. I was inspired to do a few sun salutations at the end of our walk. It has always been a dream of mine to do yoga while on the beach.

photo of man and lady's legs in the sand
{what a view!}

We had a delicious brunch on the porch of The Mad Batter and then we headed back to the beach for a little sun and surf. I took this opportunity to do a little painting, too. I find the beach and the ocean so inspiring. I think it might be because I’m more relaxed there and the creativity just flows.

Cape May ocean sketch of beach

watercolor postcard of waves on beach

The day progressed into a beautiful sunset and D suggested we get dressed for dinner and take another stroll on the beach to enjoy the sunset.
Abby walking in sunset
{strolling along the beach at sunset}

With the sky filled with pinks and purples, D then took my hand and got down on one knee to propose! I was so shocked and giddy all at the same time! I, of course, said YES and he handed me a lovely white shell (from earlier in the day) and inside the shell was a ring. It was the most amazing moment.

Abby and Dennis engagement photo
{we’re getting married!}

We headed back to our B&B to toast the next stage of our lives! As you can see, we both are extraordinarily happy.