Friday, October 31, 2014

Let's Go: Taiwan Trip with Artist Ming Franz

Spring Garden; Splash Ink Watercolor
with Gouache on Mulberry Paper

Happy Halloween! I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since my last blog post. Put it down to an overly-busy day job; going out of town for a bit; too many birthday parties to attend (including my blog's 6th anniversary--6 years!); getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2014 (cannot believe I've signed up again); and of course the fantastic Handsprings SCBWI conference here in Albuquerque last weekend--an amazing, and very tiring, event. I'll try to post some of my impressions from the conference next week, but for now my big news is:

I'm going to Taiwan next year! Best of all, there's still some room left on the tour for more friends of the arts to join up. Here's a sampling of info from the trip brochure:

Art and Scenic Tour of Taiwan with Ming Franz
March 25th to April 7, 2015

Ming Franz is an artist who is a native of Taiwan. This is her second tour leading artists to Taiwan. This tour will take you to visiting museums, art galleries, art studios and beautiful tropical Taiwan. 2 days flight, 12 days tour. 

Fees includes round trip air fare from San Francisco to Taipei, 12 days 4-5 star hotels, restaurants, tour bus and guide, all park and museum fees and tax, also basic medical insurance. Total is $3500 USD.  

Please go to her website to see the travel itinerary at, click on "Events" section. Feel free to contact her for questions at or 505-281-4956.

So what do you think?? Fun, or what?

I met Ming Franz last year when I took her Splash Ink Watercolor class through the UNM continuing education department. The class literally changed my entire approach to art-making, allowing me to be much more comfortable with who I am as an artist, rather than trying to constantly live up to my often unrealistic expectations. I know this is going to be a wonderful trip; I've never had the opportunity to visit any part of Asia, and I've never had the chance to seriously travel with other artists. I can't imagine what it must be like to be allowed to sketch unhindered and at leisure--usually my experiences have been people telling me to a) hurry up, and b) why can't you just take a photograph and draw at home? 

I really can't wait to start packing. In the meantime, we still have several months ahead, and I'm sure there's plenty to do till then, beginning, of course, with National Novel Writing Month tomorrow. Start flexing those plot muscles!

A Little Bird Told Me; Splash Ink Watercolor
 with Gouache on Mulberry Paper

Tip of the Day: Even if you can't make the trip, you can still be an "armchair traveler" by reading Ming's book, Splash Ink with Watercolor; Looking East, Painting West and visiting her website. Her artwork will inspire you on many levels. Personally I think they make amazing writing prompts. Just place your characters in one of her settings and let the magic begin!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Finishing the WIP and Visiting Open Space

From my sketchbook: 
"Open Space Farm Land." Watercolor Pencil.

Last week I finished the year-long revisions to my WIP, The Abyssal Plain. As in: finished, complete, all done. I can't believe this journey is finally over, at least the writing part of it. Soon I plan to begin my marketing, and after that I'm sure there will be more editorial changes to be made at some future date prior to publication. But for now, the book is written and ready to go. Which means I am now officially free to explore some new directions for awhile. So how apropos that I would recently visit a place called Open Space

Open Space is 30,000 undeveloped acres of land situated throughout Albuquerque with the intention that these acres stay wild and free and forever open to the public. Set somewhat in the center of it all is the Open Space Visitor's Center where I met up with the Colored Pencil Society for an afternoon of plein air drawing and painting. 

At first I was a bit nervous--plein air painting has never really been my thing, a topic I wrote about in my post Adventures in Travel Journaling. However, this time I remembered to bring a hat, sandwiches, water, and a sweater, and I was fine. More than fine--I sketched without getting a single bug bite, dirt smudge, or having to run to my car for refuge! 

It was good to be outdoors after all these weeks and months cooped up with my Alphasmart and more red pens than you can count. And it was also good to think about "open space" in more metaphorical and personal terms. For instance, what parts of my creative life can I keep open for new ideas, new methods, new subjects and mediums? Where do I want to stay open in my artwork, and why? And when do I have to follow the rules without neglecting my own individuality? 

These are good questions, and ones that I found myself thinking about while I was sketching the sun on the trees and watching the clouds float by. I also found myself thinking about what I want to do with the rest of this year. Some plans include:
  1. Writing a children's picture book set in Barcelona. 
  2. Designing and painting  illustrations for the book, even if it's just for my own fun. (Note for the curious: Sending a picture book manuscript with illustrations to a publisher is never recommended. Still, that doesn't mean I can't have some input at the end of the day, and the drawing does help me with the writing process.)
  3. Preparing and completing a piece of artwork for the upcoming Colored Pencil Society 2015 show here in Albuquerque--my first ever!
  4. Attending the October SCBWI conference, also here in Albuquerque. (I've signed up for all the picture book workshops.)
  5. Reading. Lots of reading.
  6. And of course, drafting my query and synopsis for The Abyssal Plain so I can begin submitting it to agents and editors early next year.
Looking at my list I almost feel like I'm embarking on a 3-month vacation. So what's on your Open Space list? Drop a line and let me know!

Tip of the Day: Collage can be an excellent way to cultivate and explore your own vision of creative open space. To give yourself plenty of room, try working with a format larger than your usual journal-sized page, for instance, a full-size piece of poster board or construction paper. Don't be in a rush to fill the paper, but do think of what will fill your spirit. Take your time to see what evolves, and what inspires you the most. Keep in mind that this isn't so much about being a "to-do" list as it is about finding what will keep you inspired and happy over the coming months. Enjoy!