Author: Ink Bottle Studio

Ink Bottle Studio is the jumping-off place for all my creative inklings, from stories and sketches to paintings and paper. And a little coffee. And pie.

Foxy Fall

img_0012It has been a busy last few months, with a bit of travel and fun mixed with plenty of work. Thought I’d share with y’all this character study for another upcoming children’s book illustration, which I donated to a local school raffle as part of a children’s literacy-themed prize.

Continuing to work on projects that have already been in progress, as well as a couple new things. Will post more photos as things shape up!

Mondrian in May

May was a busy month…had to end my school year early to undergo surgery in late May. We all know trying to cram the same amount of work into fewer days results in, at the very least, exhaustion, and most likely, crabbiness. I raise my hand, yes, to both here. However, in addition to my work-related obligations, I was bent on finishing the Mondrian-inspired piece I had started — and I did it!


Based on Mondrian’s Fox Trot B, our task, again under the tutelage of Nicole Arnold on Skillshare, was to recreate part of a Mondrian and then alter or personalize it in some way. I was pleased to have finished this — part of it before and part of it after surgery.

And now that I’m back up and around a bit more normally, I have re-committed to catching up on the 100-Day Project. I am up to Day 22, still 20 days behind, but I’m going to keep sketching till I catch up, and then I’m just going to keep going.

Paint, paper, fabric

So, my studio, where I dearly love to paint, is also where I love to create things with paper, and sometimes fabric as well. This past month or so has been a little of all three.

In April I wrapped up my second Skillshare abstract painting workshop under the tutelage of the awesome Nicole Arnold, creating this little beauty I call “John Deere Green.”

cropped JDG

I love these short-burst Skillshare workshops — Nicole is a great instructor and it’s just a great way to get some inspiration and motivation. And you get to see what other artists are doing, too. And I even won a prize — a wonderful box of original “Art-o-Mat” pieces by 10 different Art-o-Mat artists! I will post a photo when I finally settle on where I am going to display them. You can read about all the winners here.

Meanwhile, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Northern California region (of which I’ve been a member for 10 years now!) held a contest to create the banner logo for their newly-launched blog called the ACORN. I entered this all-paper and hand-lettered piece:Acorn Logo Contest Entry

I’m proud to say that although I didn’t win, I was one of three runners-up! You can see the blog and other runners-up here.

Then last week, my sweet niece graduated from UNLV, and she is a big Disneyland fan. So, her mother (who is also my sister!) and I collaborated on fabric choices to represent the five original lands of Disneyland, and an extra for Disneyland’s famous fireworks. Here’s what we came up with. Each canvas is 12×12 and ready for hanging.

fabric disney gift

My sister got away with not having gluey fingers….she and I did a LOT of searching for just the right fabrics, and I did all the sticky work! But it was all worth it because these were a big hit. Hey, college grads have to have something to hang on their walls besides that diploma. Top row, L-R: Frontierland, Main Street, fireworks. Bottom row, L-R: Tomorrowland, Adventureland and Fantasyland. My sister and I were especially thrilled to find fabric that resembled the merchandise bags from the 1970s/80s (our choice for Fantasyland).

And that’s just part of what I’ve been up to lately….still working on the 100-Day Project, where I am woefully behind, again. Back at it with Nicole Arnold in yet another workshop, this time studying Mondrian. And one day soon I’ll share my first attempt at stop-motion animation. 2016 has definitely been all different kinds of creative, that’s for sure!

100 Days

So, last month, I find out as it’s starting that there’s a cool thing on Instagram called The 100-Day Project (#the100dayproject). It began April 19 and goes through July 27. And, it’s pretty much what its name states: 100 days of some kind of creative endeavor. Every day. For, yes, 100 days. 

So I decided to do a pencil-on-paper sketch of some sort every day. Because life chomps at your heels some days, I admit I’ve fallen woefully behind at points in this first 17 days, but at this moment I’m caught up. The proof is at inkbottlestudio on Instagram. Above is yesterday’s contribution.

However, now I’m trying to decide if I want to switch to some other medium for the second 20 days. Maybe pen and ink. Maybe watercolor. I have three days to figure it out. Or, maybe I’ll go 25 with my pencil, which would buy me a week to decide. Damn. Who knew creativity could be so tough.

If you eventually see 50 pencil sketches, you’ll know my love of graphite outweighed my decision-making skills. I’m just glad I heard about it in time to join in…even if I do fall behind here and there. Trust me, it’ll happen again…

Back in the studio

Well, it’s been a tough, busy last six months, with the heartbreaking loss of my dad in August, but I’m back in my studio. Spent the fall sewing quilts for Christmas, and in November created this Christmas card — my first foray into card-making! Loved the whole experience, especially the arrival of the box at 8:45 p.m. the night it said it would arrive. As the evening wore on, I kept telling Mark, “Well, it’s not coming. I guess it’s just not coming today like it said. Bummer….” And when the spry, happy UPS delivery guy showed up well after dark, I wanted to hug him.


“Christmas Dream”  Gouache on watercolor paper, 2015

This is my first piece entirely in gouache, which I really enjoyed using. I loved creating our two dogs in a snowy landscape, something they’ve never (and probably never will!) experience, living here in California!

I also participated in a great workshop on abstract and modern art last month via Skillshare with a great instructor named Nicole Arnold, and created THIS:


“On Pink”  Acrylic  2016

We were to use a Kandinsky piece for inspiration, and I used “On White,” but strayed pretty far from that piece. I just had a great time creating abstract art, yet again. Anyone interested in modern art should look up Nicole on Skillshare. You can also visit her here: Nicole Arnold’s blog

I just told the folks at Skillshare that I love losing track of time working in my studio while something wonderful is playing on the speakers. Here’s to more of that.


SoCal Driving

Just returned from a few days in Southern California with my daughter, and on this trip in particular, I was surprised to find myself missing a few things about driving at home (a small, rural, Northern CA town):

1. The ability to pull over or turn around at will. When you’re driving in 3-lane traffic past endless strip malls and shopping centers, pulling over to the side of the road is NOT an option. Sorry, lady, pull into the nearest parking lot, make sure you get the hell out of everyone else’s way, and THEN you might be able to idle and do whatever it was that you couldn’t do while driving. And a u-turn? You might need a writ of Congress for that. You better be watching for that place you  wanted to pull into, because a good 5 minutes will pass if you have to turn around and go back to it.

2. Easy-to-negotiate gas stations. We have two gas stations in town, and if one is crowded, you go to the other. Even in Sacramento, it isn’t unusual to be able to just pull into an empty pump and get gas. For whatever reason, getting gas was not an easy task last week. Except for the closed, empty, 24-hour pumps we pulled into at 2 a.m. That one was a breeze.

3. PARKING. Oh, God, parking. Plotting your whole plan based on where you are going to park. Ugh. Not a big Northern CA problem, even in San Francisco, where there never seems to be a shortage of parking structures ready to take your money.

4. TRAFFIC. Speaking of plotting. Plotting your whole day’s driving to avoid heavy traffic. So not possible when you need to take Highway 5 back and forth from Orange County to LA. Ugh.

I have never minded driving in LA — been doing it since I was 20 — but I found myself feeling very burdened by the tasks of getting to and fro on this trip. I don’t usually suffer that, but this trip I longed for the simplicity of driving at home. I longed for the simple u-turn. Somewhere easy to ditch the car. Wishing we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted instead of having to leave THEN because that’s when the traffic would be at its lightest. All the iPads and smartphones in the world can’t stop the 5 (and the 405 and the 605) from being jammed up from 2 p.m. to well past dark.

It made me think, “Wow, am I really a country girl all along? Do I really prefer my little rural town where I feel at home but also feel so detached from the rest of the world?”

And then I realized, NO. I just prefer a city where there is excellent public transit, like New York or Paris or Rome, where you don’t need a car. You don’t spend 30 minutes driving from one Target to another 5 miles away to try to find the right size of black shoes for your daughter. You don’t have to leave at 1 p.m. to drive 30 miles to get from your home base to the concert you’re going to later that evening. Where it’s all within a few Metro stops. Or maybe more than a few stops. But it’s all there.

I love living in my little town. I love driving in rural Northern CA. But there’s something very soothing and inviting about city transit, where it’s all taken care of for you, just buy a ticket and get on, and get off where you need to, anytime, day or night. Whatever you need.

I had a ball last week, even with all the driving and parking and crazy turns. But what I wouldn’t give for about 72 percent of all the other cars to have been removed from the equation.

Picture Picture

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a quest for a big, gaudy frame to house some art in a particular spot here at home. Actually, to go outside by our pool. We have an ugly window in the side of our garage, which faces the pool — a perfect spot for some outdoor art with a frame to rival Versailles.

And where do we find the best gaudy frames (that we can afford)? Thrift shops, of course! Off I went in search of something I would never be caught dead REALLY looking for, but that would be perfect for the spot.

And in my own favorite local thrift shop, on my first try, I found it. The gaudy frame of my dreams. It was HUGE. It was faux gold. And in it was the heaviest mirror known to man. Good God, how did this mirror even stay on a wall? And the frame, which looks like wood, is actually plastic, which just adds to its complete and total cartoonishness. Seriously, like a movie prop. Perfect.

I bought The Gaudiness and took it home. It was the perfect size for the spot. I took out the mirror and put the frame around the painting I had created for this project, an abstract of various geometric shapes.

And it hit me.

My love of abstract art started with Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood.

Picture Picture.

For those who didn’t grow up watching Mister Rodgers, “Picture Picture” was a large picture frame on the wall inside his house that always displayed some sort of colorful artwork, usually abstract, when it wasn’t morphing into a video screen at Mister Rodgers’ command. When asked, Picture Picture showed interesting short films, usually how something is made, like the crayon-making short from the Crayola factory (everyone’s favorite, right?). The films never had dialogue or voice-over, but a jazz soundtrack (usually jazz pianist Johnny Costa) played throughout, which I also realize is probably the genesis of my love of jazz. But that’s another story.

Picture Picture with Mr Rodgers

As a child, I always wanted a Picture Picture on our wall, because I thought the dissolve from artwork to a moving film was just magical. And now I have software on my laptop to do exactly that, in a heartbeat. I never would have dreamed 40-something years ago, watching Mister Rodgers, that I would be able to make footage do that while sitting at my dining room table. Oh, but I can.

I also liked the fact that Picture Picture functioned while built into the wall, a far cry from our huge console TV of the 1970s that held a plant, a clock and our fishbowl, as well as TV Guide every week.

So, the huge frame isn’t going outside, for the elements to destroy it. It’s going somewhere in this house, with abstract art in it. Picture Picture style.

And the outdoor art project? A new plan is in the works, no frames required!

Just back from the past

Wow….you never know what you’ll find when you open boxes in your basement. Oy.

My mother was a saver. She saved big stuff, like all our projects. But she also saved crazy stuff, like papers from our school telling when the next parent-faculty club meeting was. She saved, well, everything. So, when we moved to this house, I actually threw away a lot of the parent-faculty club meeting notices and the like, and saved the good stuff. Mind you, it’s in dozens of different boxes in our basement, for various reasons, but it’s here.

So, today, when I went looking for something entirely different, I found two folders of “News” from second grade. They were four-line reports of what was going on that day, in January and February 1972. Mundane, trivial stuff. But the names included were the treasures….one of them a friend I haven’t seen in years. Another whose children ended in the same school classes as mine. Another one currently our neighbor who was our school librarian in 1972. I shot some photos of the pages and posted them on Facebook, tagging those I could. Comments abounded quickly. Everyone enjoys a trip backward every once in a while.

In the big world, it’s these little things, these little trips to the past, that stand out at the end of a day. I don’t advise anyone spend too terribly long going back….it can be so painful. But today’s short trip was fun, and fun to share it with others.