Hello August...

Oh hello August,

What have you done with July?

Despite what feels like an early arrival, I welcome you. Perhaps you will bring a bit more summer weather our way? Last weekend's weather was perfect, BTW. I took an outdoor nap in the shade, dipped my feet in a cool babbling river and enjoyed a night on the town chasing a 45-ton half-dragon/half-horse creature through the streets of Ottawa. Yes, more weather like last weekend please.

Cassie napping in the shade last weekend. Shortly before I snapped the photo I was napping with her.

Cassie napping in the shade last weekend. Shortly before I snapped the photo I was napping with her.

I am grateful that the head cold that came about during the month of July has left so I can fully enjoy you. Summer colds suck. No one wants to slurp chicken noodle soup when it's 30+ Celsius outside (that's about 85+ Fahrenheit, for my American friends).

But the cold is gone and I feel re-energized. Onward.

I look forward to our time together, August. Aside from a trip to my beloved East coast the books are open. Farmer's market, maybe a movie at the drive-in, more outdoor naps, I look forward to it all.

I practice openness to your unfolding. Being a planner this doesn't always come naturally to me, but I practice because it's often been my experience that letting things unfold brings ease.

ease [ēz] NOUN 1. absence of difficulty or effort synonyms: effortlessness, no trouble, simplicity, deftness 2. absence of rigidity or discomfort; poise 3. freedom from worries or problems, especially about one's material situation synonyms: peace, calm, tranquility, serenity, repose

more synonyms: restfulness, quiet, security, comfort, affluence, wealth, prosperity, luxury, plenty, comfort, contentment, enjoyment, well-being

Yes, ease sound good.

So welcome, August. I think we will have a splendid time together.

Here's to your unfolding,

Stephanie

xo

PS - Despite my belly-aching about my summer cold I am not really upset with July. It came with many gifts. I've posted snapshots of a few favourites below just to let you know that we are still on good terms.

PPS - Tell July I said hi.

Saying goodbye to a favourite lake after a week's holiday. Photo by D.

Saying goodbye to a favourite lake after a week's holiday. Photo by D.

Twenty cousins and aunts spanning four generations and travelling from three provinces gathered in Quebec City for a reunion weekend and the only good photo I have is this one of my Sunday morning hotel coffee.

Twenty cousins and aunts spanning four generations and travelling from three provinces gathered in Quebec City for a reunion weekend and the only good photo I have is this one of my Sunday morning hotel coffee.

Each year I am floored by these scarlet flowers in the garden. They are a sight to behold. Crocosmia, Lucifer.

Each year I am floored by these scarlet flowers in the garden. They are a sight to behold. Crocosmia, Lucifer.

A sleek and light new-to-us dining suite (vintage 1952). After pining for the "perfect" one for a few years I found it on Kijiji. I want to caress it every time I sit down for a meal.

A sleek and light new-to-us dining suite (vintage 1952). After pining for the "perfect" one for a few years I found it on Kijiji. I want to caress it every time I sit down for a meal.

Broken wing.

Broken wing.

LongMa on Ottawa's Elgin Street on a Saturday night, part of a theatrical production by France's La Machine. It was magical. For an entire weekend there was a collective suspension of reality across the city and we became enchanted with giant robotic creatures. This amazing photo by D.

LongMa on Ottawa's Elgin Street on a Saturday night, part of a theatrical production by France's La Machine. It was magical. For an entire weekend there was a collective suspension of reality across the city and we became enchanted with giant robotic creatures. This amazing photo by D.

They make me happy. That is all.

They make me happy. That is all.

Sketches from the Cube, Flora Edition

Last year I sketched 100 faces and pinned them to my grey cubicle wall.

Sketches from the Cube was born.

Recognizing the benefits of giving myself these creative breaks during a heavy left-brain workday, it didn't take me long to start another round of Sketches from the Cube, this time Flora edition.

My cubicle wall covered in flowers.

My cubicle wall covered in flowers.

I LOVED this one. It was fun and easy and extremely satisfying.

Because of vacation and leave, a new job and a few office moves it took me nine months to complete my 100 sketches, but I did it! And my cubicle, spirits and productivity were all the better for it.

The tools

  • one mix media sketchbook with 7"x10" sheets of 98lb/160g paper (I chose a higher quality paper for this edition to leave myself the option of playing with watercolours if I wanted to, but in the end I stuck to line drawings.)
  • one black Sharpie
  • one used wildflower book found in the freebie bin at a used bookstore: Plants of Waterton-Glacier National Parks and the Canadian Rockies

The process

  • pull a blank sheet from my sketchbook and gently tear it in half or quarters (I started by sketching on half sheets, but quickly realized that it would be hard to fit 100 sketches of that size on my cubicle wall so I mixed it up with smaller 3 1/2"x5" pieces.)
  • flip through my wildflower book and choose a photo that speaks to me
  • sketch it quickly, no fuss
  • repeat the process once more to create two sketches per sitting

The results

  • 100 floral line drawings, sketched one sitting at a time
  • a new-found love of floral line drawings
  • positive feedback from colleagues and a request for one of my drawings when I moved on to another job, to which I readily said YES
  • an increase in challenge later in the game, where instead of choosing just one image to sketch I combined two or three
  • increased confidence in my ability to draw and meet a set goal
Day 11

Day 11

Day 40 = Day 11 + Day 18

Day 40 = Day 11 + Day 18

Day 18

Day 18

The takeaways

This second edition reinforced the lessons learned in my previous experiment:

  1. You don't need fancy tools to make art (but too cheap isn't good either).
  2. You don't need a lot of time to make art.
  3. Pinning art on your cubicle wall is an amazing conversation starter.
  4. Regular practice leads to progress.
  5. That being said, there will be "off" days.
  6. Sharing incremental results is a good motivator.
  7. Completing 100 instances of something builds confidence.
  8. Bringing an art practice to the office reminds you that you are more than your day job.

What next?

Work has been busy and I am feeling a need to start a new round of sketches. I'm toying with a few subjects, possibly bringing in a bit of colour this time.

But I must set myself up for success: keep it simple, keep it portable and keep it FUN.

Fun is important!

In the meantime I leave you with a few favourite sketches and an invitation to consider an experiment of your own. What could YOU create from the cube?

Day 1

Day 1

Day 20

Day 20

Day 50

Day 50

Day 10

Day 10

Day 49

Day 49

Day 3

Day 3

Day 31

Day 31

Day 50

Day 50