Inktober 2018: Wild Things in New York City

For this year’s Inktober, I drew a series of wild things in New York City, from fish in Chinatown markets to lavender on Governor’s Island to parakeets that reside in Southern Brooklyn. What I really liked about this year’s challenge was that I told myself I could only use one box of Blick Brush markers and a single black pen. Restricting color made me more resourceful in needing to use texture, layered colors, and black pen brush strokes with fast drawing techniques to give the impression of what I wanted. I also enjoyed forcing myself to draw something with color every day. I don’t feel the same about each drawing, some were made quit fast or at coffee shops even while on vacation, but a few I really love now. I see them each as a beginning of a larger idea just maybe.

I’m now gearing up to work on a portfolio for 10 to 12 images for the SCBWI New York Conference in February. I’m pretty nervous! But I found a lot of inspiration from this Inktober challenge for that. I’m thinking I might want to do a lot of New York City wildlife scenes for my portfolio, maybe turtles in Central Park or raccoons sneaking into trash cans.

Summer Vegetables Free Pattern

I'm in the middle of moving all of my possessions but I'm not letting that stop my constant art school of life approach to learning always.

I've been having a lot of fun making patterns recently, using old sketches, work doodles, and even things I've found on random pieces of paper. This one of summer vegetables I made from an unfinished sketch at least three years old. I'm loving my new color palate here.

Download the free summer vegetable pattern, too.

 

 

Free Watermelon Desktop Background for July

New York City is experiencing a heat wave this week that I've taken off from work to putz around both at home in Massachusetts and in the emptied out city. It's meant a lot of moving from subway car to subway car until I find the actually cold one, as well as a deep appreciation rain today.

For July forth, I didn't do much in the way of celebratory, besides margaritas for dinner and watching the distant Jersey City fireworks from the 79th street pier. But I'm fully in support of doing nothing for holidays. 

I don't think I've taken enough time to appreciate a staycation in New York, especially in the summer. Right now I'm nursing a bad burn from a day trip yesterday to Sandy Hook beach, watching the World Cup, and making art in my air conditioned apartment. Later I think I'll venture out, maybe buy some watermelon, and get my nails done. I love a lazy, summer life in New York City (even if for just a few days.)

Download a free watermelon desktop wallpaper for July.

Goodnight Glaser's Bakery

 

When I worked on the Upper East Side I used to take walks over to Glaser's to get a donut or a black and white cookie. The 116 year old bakeshop is a wondrous blast from the past with that teal green sign, the intricate inside, and of course, those iconic New York City cookies. They were even featured in a Mad Men episode.

When I heard they were closing a few months ago, I made a strategic decision to go early to get my last black and white. I'm glad I had my little goodbye back in April. I carried a box home with two cookies on the crosstown bus like a funeral rite.

The sunsetting of Glaser's makes me think of the book I'm currently reading, St. Mark's Is Dead by Ada Calhoun, a great rumination on the constant change of New York City seen through one of the city's most iconic streets.  Calhoun strikes a nice balance of nostalgia for the wonders of the past city and thinking forward on the nature of urban change. She shows us how the city has always lamented "those newcomers" ruining everything, with residents wishing for the mythical past.

I'm stuck then somewhere between loving the ever changing, ever contentious, beat of New York City and feeling pretty downtrodden that the commercial rent is so high that all we get are banks and big brand pharmacies. I understand why a family would want to end their 116 year old store because generations change and grow, that's kinda the American story too, but perhaps it would be less sad if we knew the diversity of stores in New York could keep going.

--

Glaser's Bakery 1670 1st Avenue New York, NY 10128

Free Cats Desktop Wallpaper for June

Happy June!

I want to illustrate a full children's book dummy about a New York City bodega cat this summer. So here's a wallpaper I made with my sketchbook studies I've done for the project. Repeat patterns are a great way to keep me occupied and slowly chipping away at the goal while binge watching an  TV show.

Download the cat desktop wallpaper.

A Coney Island of the Mind

 

When I was in ninth grade, with extremely frizzy hair and a strange sense of style that only the early aughts could produce, I met a librarian who told me about poetry. It was a simple breakthrough in my life of books.

This librarian helped me finish an assignment for my honors english class one afternoon at our town's public library. She also serendipitously told me I should I read Lawrence Ferlinghetti's A Coney of the Island of the Mind, too

Up until that point, I'd really never had an adult show me the good stuff in reading beyond me stealing my mom's Oprah paperbacks. It ushered in a desire not just for poetry but for all kinds of books I'd hadn't been thinking about.

I loved Ferlinghetti's anti-classical form instantly, how what he wrote spoke to feelings I'd had about living in our times even if we experienced different Americas. He was nothing like the sonnets we were learning in class. I didn't need to track his literary devices. I didn't even know who or what the beats were, but I felt like I could actually read what he wrote.

I bought his book on my own after returning that library copy. I never really loved Kerouac or the other beats after that. It was always A Coney Island of the Mind for me.

Even today, I think about his style, especially in this weird time and place in the world. I still have my copy that I move with me from apartment to apartment. Once in San Francisco, I stopped in City Lights hoping I'd get a sighting of him.  Maybe I will someday.

--

I am waiting for my case to come up   
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting   
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier   
and I am waiting   
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

(excerpt from I Am Waiting, Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

Free Lemon Desktop Wallpaper for May

Happy Almost Summer! I'm wearing a great vintage dress today that I thought I'd have to wait until the actual summer to wear because it's going to be in the 80s.  I also made a thrifted (Poshmark, you devil you!) purchase of bright yellow saltwater sandals that kind of match this months free wallpaper. Now I'm thinking I need them in gold, too?

In honor of that summer feeling, download my lemons wallpaper repeat pattern for your desktop.

I'd gladly take a trip to Cinque Terre Italy right now, to eat a slice of lemon olive oil cake.

Inspiration for Upstate NY Adventures

For the past few years I've made time to get away to various parts of the Catskills and Hudson valley for adventures in the summer and fall . I just happened upon this fast watercolor sketch  after I climbed up Overlook Mountain sometime ago which made me a bit wistful for the close to home getaways.

I'm looking for inspiration, especially for this coming summer season that are right outside the city's door step.

Send me your ideas! I've been inspired by Only Living Girl in New York's trips to the farther afield Lake George area.

Upstate Weekend Trips Ideas Near New York City

By train:

Hudson for antiquing Cold Spring for a hike and small town Beacon for contemporary art

By car: A Summer in the Hudson Valley Ashokan for the Reservoir Big Indian NY for The Peekamoose Restaurant New Paltz to tour the cideries Westkill for the Spruceton Inn and Westkill Brewing  Woodstock for Overlook Mountain and Bread Alone

Gray's Papaya on 72nd Street

Gray's Papaya on 72nd. The best part of this year of living on the Upper West Side is exploring all The Very New York Institutions that exist up here on a casual basis. It's been fun to just see movies at Lincoln Center, walk by the farmer's market at The Natural History Museum, and sit for a slice of cheese cake at Cafe Lalo.

And in the this neighborhood, the intersection of 72nd Street feels like one of the most cinematic and iconic. Perhaps I feel this way because of You've Got Mail but I also learned that it's a background in Die Hard, too. I think my subconscious remembers that scene.

The yellow and bright Gray's Papaya at 72nd is a perfect storefront symbol for the neighborhood, an open 24/7 stalwart on the corner beaming in yellow and painted signs.

Now that the spring is really here, I feel a craving for a hot dog with mustard, but never ketchup. Yep, that's how I like my papaya dog.

-- Gray's Papaya  2090 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Inspiration from Women Artists

March is Women's History month! So in honor,  here are a few articles I've saved over the past year or so to remind myself that the path to being an artist (or whatever you want to call it) is long and varied. It's also good to feel positive about women making it for their work and art whenever I'm feeling stuck or confused. It's not a competition, but a journey.

-

Illustrator Yuko Shimizu on starting a creative career in your 30s and keeping home and work life separate

"From one point of view, I’ve succeeded, because I am making a living doing this. But even if I didn’t, the bottom line is that at least I have tried. If we try really hard and things don’t work out the way we want them to, we can move on. ."

Surface Pattern Designer Khristian A. Howell

"You would think I spend most of my day creating this fun artwork, right? Actually most of my days are filled with reviewing contracts, managing current licensing relationships, developing new licensing relationships, and researching (trends, what’s in the market, etc.) Everyday is different, which I love.

Two Artists Built a Website to Help Women Illustrators Get More Work

"Like many game-changing ideas, Women Who Draw started in a bathroom. “I was literally sitting on the toilet, looking through a stack of a well-known magazine that uses illustration on the cover,” Rothman, an illustrator based in Brooklyn, remembers. “That’s when I realized: I recognized most of the cover illustrators—but none of them were women.”"

Sunday Vibes

My Sunday vibes this wintry day are:

Listening to electro pop of The Stars on There is No Love in Fluorescent Love 

Thinking about making a cold soba noodle salad for the week

Drawing and coloring with Blick brush markers (above illustration.) They're more affordable than Copic markers but just as great.

Reading The History of Wolves and Call me By Your Name.

Exploring Woodside, Queens on a wintry afternoon trip.

 

Absolute Bagels

Bagels are a reason I can't leave New York. Growing up in pretty basic New England town, we had one guy who made bagels the New York Way. They were good, not great, but chewy in a much better way than most non-metro area bagels tend to be. Then I moved to New York and started eating Bagel Bob's all the time. Hello, pimento olive cream cheese. A bagel love affair began in my life and has yet to cease.

Currently my favorite bagels are found at the edge of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights at Absolute Bagels. This is a non-frills, kinda grimy, bagel cafe.It is not meant for Instagram selfies with matcha and pink walls. But they are one of the best in New York according to Eater!

The bagels are just right: they're chewy, not too big, not too small, salty and perfectly New York-ish. You can literally watch as the bagels are boiled and baked here, emerging from the giant oven like little golden nuggets of joy. The everything bagel is perfectly garlicky and salty, which is my real taste test for a bagel. If there is no salt I am done, that's it. Your bagel is dead to me.

I can't describe it actually but you just know what a good bagel is when you take that first bite.

Spring for the Thai iced tea if you're an iconoclast. It makes a good bagel friend.

__

Absolute Bagel 2788 Broadway, 108th St.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cereal Milk Always and Forever

I feel like the scene of instagramable softserve has exploded in the past five years.  I'm a fan of one of the originals in that very important life category (I kid) namely Momofuku Milk Bar's cereal milk. I'm also partial because I live very close to their Upper West Side location so I'm constantly sneaking in trips, even in the winter.

The cereal milk flavor typifies a flavor profile I love: it starts out weird and then sinks right into umami addiction. I love when things are oddly salty and oddly sweet all at once. The layers are perfect here, too You get the crunchies on the top AND the bottom.

_

Momofuku Milk Bar Many locations across NYC

Provence in the Off-Season

I love traveling in what my travel guru Rick Steve's calls as the off-season in Europe. So we did just that for the first time last year, over brisk but sunny Thanksgiving, skipping the American traditions for Barcelona (post to come) and the south of France

There are upsides to traveling in the off-season in Provence. Sure, you're not going to be frolicking in the fields of lavender but we found everything to be quieter, giving us slice of life somewhere else. Our Airbnb was cheaper than it would be in summer, too.

My main advice for off-season travel in the region is to prepare for weather, as well as to look up times for anything in case it's closed or on a different schedule. I had to buy a sweater for a few brisker days. But the beauty of French living is all the sidewalk cafes still go strong in the late fall. I love those heat lamps and intrepid patio diners!

We picked medieval Aix en Provence for our main spot of exploration, a beautiful Provencal city close to Marseille known for it's fountains and inspiring a later in life Cezanne.

From there we drove around the Luberon for a day, which is known for some of the most famous of the provencal hill towns. We picked a few off-the-beaten-path ones. The towns in the off-season were full of closed up stores, quiet beautiful streets, impressive views, and a lot of cats among smattering of year-round residents.

Another day we drove to Avignon for some medieval and papal history. I ate a particularly good tartine there, too. On a next trip I'd love to stay in Avignon as well. It was very charming. Since Also we drank some great Cote du Rhone wines.

We only rented a car for a few days to be more relaxed about our travels. Thankfully the Aix buses run everywhere, making it quite easy to get around without a car.

We spent a day too in Marseilles because it's easily reached from Aix bus bus. We just roamed around the old port. Something about that city, a city doesn't get the same kind of love as other French locales, really hooked me. It's has that mythical ancient crossroads port city aura about it. Also the Moroccan food was plentiful appealing to my budget friendly sense. It was cold and windy, but the blue Mediterranean

We saw only a small slice of the region in our five days. I'd love to come back to hike the Calanques or spend more time around the Rhone river valley sipping wines, or even hike around Montagne Sainte-Victoire. Something about the landscape, the colors, the air, and that proximity to the sea keeps me dreaming of an alternative life in a small Provencal hill town.

_

To Do: 

Aix en Provence  Markets everyday People watching on Cours Mirabeau Le Grillon for a local cafe to drink on the terrace Fromagerie Lemarié for the best goat cheese ever Musee Granet Confiserie Brémond for sweets Weiber for sweets, too Saint Saveur Le Bidule for burgers

Luberon Loumarin Cucuron Ansouis

Avignon Pont d'Avignon Les Halles Market Tartines at Ginette and Marcel 

Marseilles Moroccan food! So many options, I forgot which little place we went into in the neighborhood.  Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations for the view (skip the museum, the view is free!)

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