Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Getting Ready for Taiwan: Art Pack

I'm leaving for Taiwan in the morning! I’m pretty much all packed, ready to go, and have even shopped for, and prepared, a dozen meals for my husband to eat while I’m gone.  In other words, just put me on the plane. 

It seems like I’ve been getting ready for this trip for months, concentrating mainly on choosing and gathering the right art supplies. My dithering had a lot to do with the fact that I’ve never been a big fan of plein air sketching or painting. Past experiences of trying to sketch outdoors usually include me being (in no particular order): too hot, too cold, too thirsty, hungry, under attack from various evil insects, struggling to keep my paper flat and dirt-free from a wind that never stops blowing, and then by the time I've got everything under control I desperately need to find the restroom. I’m hoping this trip will be different, or at least teach me some better survival skills. 

Another big factor in choosing my supplies is they had to fit in my travel purse without being too heavy or bulky. So what I've narrowed the kit down to is:
  • A Stillman and Birn Epsilon 6"x 8” sketchbook. After weeks of experimenting with various papers, this seemed to be the very best book for both dry and wet media, as well as giving me plenty of pages for journaling. The paper has a lovely smooth finish and suits me well.
  • A large striped rubber band to keep my sketchbook closed and the pages protected from all the other stuff in my purse (and the wind once I'm outside). This one is from Smash products and has a nice jaunty flair, don't you think?
  • A zippered pencil case to carry:
  • 1 Caran d’Ache techno B pencil.
  • 1 Caran d’Ache watersoluble graphite B pencil.
  • 1 mechanical Bic pencil with rubber grip and extra leads inside the pencil.
  • 1 Caran d’Ache red watercolor pencil.
  • 6 Faber and Castell watercolor Art Grip pencils (yellow, blue, brown, violet, and 2 greens because I couldn’t decide which green I liked best).
  • 1 waterbrush--this one has a large-size tip, but a short handle, perfect for packing.
  • 1 black gel pen (from my favorite coffee store: Moon’s Tea and Coffee here in ABQ).
  • 1 Uniball BLX Siglo pen in green ink (for journaling).
  • 1 glue stick (for collaging).
  • 1 double pencil sharpener.
  • 1 kneaded eraser.
And that’s it! I figure if there’s anything else I’ll need, I can purchase it there, but I think this should cover all possibilities and sudden inspirations. Thanks for visiting; see you in a couple of weeks!

Tip of the Day:  Travel light--it's so easy to be tempted into carrying an entire art studio's worth of supplies for a day of sketching or even writing. In the last few weeks as part of my travel-prep I've been sketching with a black ballpoint pen--and I loved the results. Sometimes simple really can be better.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Barcelona Beads

I leave for Taiwan in two weeks. TWO WEEKS! My head is swimming with lists: mosquito repellent, buy currency, don't forget bathing suit. Don't forget PASSPORT! I've been having nightmares about missing the flight, being captured en route by the Japanese Royal Family (seriously, this is true), and forgetting just about every item I plan to take with me. 

The only thing that has kept me relatively sane these last few days has been taking the time to play with my bead collection. And I'm pretty happy with the results, starting with a necklace that I made with beads I bought during my 2013 vacation to Barcelona. The loose beads have been sitting in a drawer all this time, waiting for me to finally get my beading tools, but here they are now ready for Spring 2015.

Following my plan to title each of my necklaces as I make them, this one is called "Barcelona Morning Stroll." Here's another view against a black background. (Unfortunately, I'm not a very good photographer so the pics aren't capturing the light the way I'd like to share.)

Remembering my trip and the store where I bought the beads in the city's Gothic Quarter will always make them special to me, but more than that is the way the finished necklace just looks like Barcelona. The colors and shapes remind me of the intricate Gaudi and art nouveau architecture; the beaches; the prolific mosaic-work; the colorful and imaginative graffiti, and all of it steeped in such intense and magical sunlight.

Beading for me has turned out to be a great way to relax and stay focused. It's also helping me with my artwork in general, giving me a chance to play with composition, design, color choices, and finding my favorite palettes. Another nice thing I'm learning about the beading world is the sense of comfort and ease. Unlike writing, which can seem to take forever to see a piece in print, or visual artwork where the true value lies too often in the eye of the beholder, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are so straightforward. Once they're finished, they're finished. Of course you can always un-string them and start over with a new idea or design, but that seems awfully compulsive to me when there's such a huge variety of new beads out there for fresh exploration.

Which is one of the ways I want to use my time in Taiwan: looking for new beads to string! High on my shopping itinerary is discovering a great bead store featuring jade, pearls, and all kinds of unique little Asian charms and findings. Until then, however, I'm staying calm-ish by working on a new piece using beads I bought right here in town and that  I've titled "Albuquerque Sunrise." 

Okay, now to check that I really, really do have my passport . . .  yes, here it is, okay . . . deep breath . . . Taiwan in two weeks . . . 

Tip of the Day: It's fun to search out a specific item while traveling, but unless you're good at time management, it can quickly turn into a nightmare. I remember one trip I took with several other women to Frankfurt, Germany when one member of our party had her heart set on finding a certain type of ceramic cookware. We must have gone to every store in the city until we found it at the last store open before the end of the day. I was astonished at how badly she wanted it, how boring it was to look for it, and how heavy and awkward the covered clay dish was to pack and take home. 

Although I want to find beads in Taiwan, I'm not going to go out of my way (or comfort zone) to purchase them, and I'm certainly not bringing home more than I can carry. It may turn out that the best I can do is to simply sketch some designs based on my travels and use them as patterns for beads I can buy here in Albuquerque. In other words, travel light--it's the memories that make a trip, not the "stuff."