Note to Self : Listen to Sports Radio More Often

Recently I was driving my husband's truck around town

(truth: we missed trash day after Christmas and had to take care of that). Per normal, sports radio was playing and, because I like to have an occasional informed conversation about sports, kept listening.

 After a former NFL pace kicker, Shayne Graham, started chatting with a local radio host, I almost turned it. "This is not helping increase my sports knowledge," was the thought that flitted across my mind before traffic distracted me and the channel stayed where it was. 

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 As it turns out

what this guy shared was lots better than random sports knowledge. Somehow he started talking about the mental game and the pressure that is tied up in the position of the person responsible for kicking the extra point. The phrase, "The pain of missing is ten times more intense the high of making it 100 times in a row," made me stop and pay attention. "Wait," I thought, "I'm not the only one that puts much more weight on negative occurrences?"

He went on to say that when it's time to actually go out and make that high stress kick, he had music going through his head. He explained that pre-game was the time for analyzing the wind speed and direction, the location of his target points and knowing the quirks of whatever stadium he happened to be playing. But when it's time to actually put that information to the test, he can't overthink it, which is the reason for the music.  

Just a disclaimer, I am the least sporty person I know.

I will occasionally do yoga, kayak, and snow ski but even these are outdoor activities, definitely not major sports with teams and rules and, most importantly, competition. Certain sorts of competition make me crumble. I really dislike that pressure. 

Which makes it even more interesting that, after hearing how this Pro Bowl level football kicker talk about his process, I totally related to what he said. Over-think, over-analyze, research research research: and then totally just let go and let your body, muscles, and spirit do what it knows what and how to do. 

But the bigger story for me was this:

There is always something to learn.

I give curiosity and learning lots of lip service but then discount things that don't quite hit my "standards" (sports radio). Here's to ignoring those standards and staying curious.

Ps. I wanted to link to the audio of the original interview but can't find the file. I will update it something changes.  

Note to Self : Why the Fact That My Hair is Pink Matters

As we were signing off from a text message

that was quickly reaching past 11pm, a friend said, "Rest easy. Maybe the pink hair gives you a bump in the artistic direction." 

The "rest easy" part came because I had shared with her the fact that I wasn't able to sleep past 4 am earlier that day because the day before I had dyed my hair pastel pink. 

The "bump in the artistic direction" came because she had been praising the work I have been doing through my daily kitchen illustration project  {#myillustratedkitchen on Instagram}. 

And her text made me smile because she is one of those people who we all need in our lives: they can be forthright, they can be funny, but most often they just encourage you and make you smile.  

But as I thought about it, I realized that it wasn't my pink hair giving me some special artistic magic.

It was the opposite.

It is the fact that I grew up wanting to be an artist but never having the courage or self-confidence to even admit that outloud. It is the fact that I have always been worried about how people perceive me and what people think. It is the fact that growing up in a small town, I tried my hardest to fit into the "nice (if slightly nerdy) girl" box: long blonde hair, blue eyes, doesn't say a lot but smiles plenty, and doesn't mind it when someone looks over her shoulder on the civics test.

It's only been since I've been intentionally pursuing art

over the past year that the desire to stay in that box has dissipated. And I'm still nice. And I still smile a lot. But the desire to look and (and more importantly) act a certain way that is expected is less of a steering force in my life. 

{Notice I said, "less". I would not have gotten up at 4am if I didn't care about certain people's reaction. }

Part of my experience with not just making art but actively seeking out opportunities to show it or sale it or have it published has made me more courageous. And that's the things about living in the "nice girl" box- it's safe. No one is going to attack you for being the nice girl.

But people might attack you

if they see you doing something that they don't think is appropriate. Friends, family, or random internet or coffee shop strangers may see what you're doing, immediately dismiss your work and say, "she just paints flowers." Those same people may condone you for painting instead of going to the library with your son. Or they may make light of accomplishments that you poured your heart and soul into. Or they may totally ignore it.

And the chance of all these things happening is scary... until they happen. You realize that instead of immediately dying of a broken heart you have a cut. Sometimes it's minor emergency that requires the attention of other people, but more often than not it's an annoying (ie. painful but harmless) papercut.  

Claiming my title

as an artist has helped me realize how tough I can be and every time I revive a cut I step a bit farther from that box. Because people can't make a difference while trapped in a box. And that's part of why we're here, right? 

I got pink hair because I've wanted to have bubblegum pink hair for a while but I've always been too afraid. Growing less afraid, stepping away from the box, allowing my courage to give me the artistic bump I need: those are the reasons I should rest easy. 

Illustrated Grocery List + Cookbook Review : Moosewood Restaurant Favorites

When I first read

through the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook, my thought was, "This is not for me."

You see, it's a vegetarian cookbook. I am not a vegetarian. In fact, I raised beef cattle throughout my childhood. Meat was front and center of our plates.

And though my grandmother loved fresh vegetables, it has never been my thing. 

So imagine my surprise when it was this recipe, a simple vegetable stew became my gateway drug to vegetarian cooking. 

It is the whole experience :

the smell of fresh cut vegetables that envelops the kitchen before the cooking even starts, the visual beauty of all the colors on display bubbling in the pot, the intense warmth (but not hot/spicy) of the spices that are foreign but recognizable to a Southern American palette. 

I have included the recipe, straight from the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites cookbook, below.

Caribbean Stew

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fresh hot pepper, minced
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded and chopped bell peppers {I like yellow because it adds color!}
    (3/4-inch pieces)
  • several fresh thyme sprigs OR
    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes (3/4-inch cubes)
  • one 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups finely chopped kale
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Warm the oil in a covered soup pot on low heat.

Add the onions with the salt, the nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, and hot peppers and thyme, if using dried and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the cabbage and bell peppers, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes and enough water to just cover them, 1 or 2 cups.
If using fresh thyme, tie the springs into a little bundle with kitchen string and add it to pot.
Bring to a boil and cook at a rapid simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Add the tomatoes, kale, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro and simmer for a final 10 minutes.
Remove and discard the thyme springs.

Breathe in the sweet vegetable goodness. Stare in amazement at the perfectly cooked sweet potatoes. Eat. Try not to grin too hard when your husband decides that kale is actually pretty good.

Business of Art - Style and Substance

Before last year I had always looked to memories of my grandparent's beloved National Geography magazines with their hyper-realistic images as proof of the fact that, "I can't draw." This was even though I saw and acknowledged and appreciated and maybe even loved other's work that was anything but photorealistic.

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Which is why a nugget from my Intro to Studio Art class was so valuable. This was not a class about art technique. It's point was not to teach a student "how to draw/ paint/ sculpt" but to simply allow the student opportunities to draw and paint and sculpt. 

I went into the class wanting to "learn how" so I was frustrated that I was in the "Art for Dummies" class. Yep. That's what I called it in my head. Because I say really rude things in my head. All the time. 

Anyway, I stayed in this particular class at the urging of my friend MJ... and because the other class didn't work with my babysitter's availability. 

It was during one of the first classes that the instructor answered a question that I hadn't heard. It was one of those situations that you tune in only because of realize that the answer applies to you. Looking back, I assume the other student asked, "I want to do x but I don't know if that will work. What do you think? Will it work?"

The instructor, who requested that we address him as "Teacher" began by telling the student that he didn't possess the answer to that question. He explained that it was the decision of the artist.  

He went on to explain that as long as everything is similar and cohesive and intentional then that is the artist's "style" and as such the artist can do whatever it is that she deems appropriate. 

And it seems simple. The same judgey voice that called the class "Art for Dummies" answered Teacher's reply with a very sharp, "Thanks. For nothing. Not a helpful answer. " 

But me, the quiet real me who was sitting in the class with one earbud in listening to Sylvan Esso, she started nodding her at and saying, "Of course."

It was the thing the gave me permission to say, "I don't draw photo realistic images. That's okay. That's not my style."

That day- I didn't immediately have a style. Today, as I write this post I'm still working on honing my style. But tomorrow and all the tomorrows after that, I will be able to look back on that day as the day I started to claim my title of artist. 

A Year of Wine : Wishing You a "Not That Bad" 2017

I have a project in mind.

In this project, I document different parts of the upcoming year by illustrating the wine and tasting notes associated with it.

I have no clue how this project will work. (How often? Which wines? Which occasions?)

But sometimes you have to shift out of "park" and trust that your destination will find you. 

Here's January.

Photoshop Magic : How to Delete a Scanned Paper Background

Over on Instagram, I was recently asked how I "got the paper to come out so white in this photo". The lady thought that I had posted a picture that I had taken of my sketchbook. I explained to her that I was actaully doing some photoshop magic I had learned via Skillshare

But the conversation got me to thinking about how this is one teeny tiny part of Photoshop that I've learned in the last three months that has helped me tremendously in how I and others see my work. I'd love to be able to share this one "trick" of Photoshop to help you.


1. Scan illustrated image in at 600 DPI. {This is generally way too big for the things I want to do with it but "better safe than sorry" is my general art/technology motto.}

2. Open the scan in Photoshop.

3. Duplicate the background layer. 

4. Name the bottom layer "just in case" and then turn it off, i.e. click the eye icon so it's not visible.
Name the top layer "working" and make sure this layer is selected during the next steps.

 

5. Select the magic wand tool.
Check that the tolerance is set to 20.

6. Click a portion of the image that is paper. This should cause the paper around your illustration to be selected.

Press the delete button. {If the "just in case" layer is off, this should leave a white and grey background around your illustration.}

7. Create a new layer.

8. With the new layer selected, click the "new layer button".
When given an option, select "solid color".
When asked to choose the color, select "#000000".
Click "ok".

9. Pull this layer below your illustration. This will cause the "galaxy spots" to appear {the white paper texture that the magic wand tool missed}.

10. Select the illustration layer and then use the eraser tool to erase the spots and any other non-illustration part of the scan.

11. Turn off {make invisible} the black fill layer.

12. Use the marquee tool to select the image.

13. Copy and paste the selection to a new file.

Tada!

14. Do a happy dance. Share on social media / in the mail / at your favorite retail store as your heart desires. 


ABOUT

Paige is an artist who has just recently taken a deep dive into learning Photoshop on Skillshare so that she can become a better illustrator. http://skl.sh/2epc0ri <<< this link will allow you to do the same on Skillshare for 3 months and 99 cents. 

Check it out.