Sketch Every Day

Sketch Every Day: 12.31.11

Sketch Every Day: 12.31.11

Wow. I mean, WOW!!! I did it!!! Today completes my 365 Project. I have successfully sketched something EVERY.SINGLE.DAY for an ENTIRE year…and documented the journey here on this blog. This challenge taught me so much about myself, and the sketchbooks themselves have become special keepsakes…as they’ve captured my thoughts, feelings, memories, interests and ideas over this past year. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I was going to find time to do this every day. But once I got into the habit of taking a few minutes to focus on a sketch, whether it was while waiting in line, or during a lunch break, or before bed…I found that there was always a way to squeeze in this time for “me”…to reflect, to practice drawing, to doodle, to be inspired and to do something creative on a daily basis. The project wasn’t just about practicing my craft and trying to hone my skills, it was about learning to devote time to myself and to staying committed to the challenge of completing the project. I didn’t do this for anyone else, but I was very happy and humbled to learn that my daily sketches were enjoyed by others…and that it inspired some to start creative projects of their own. My boys, my nieces and nephew participated as well…and it was such a help to have their support and encouragement. Each day, one of them would remind me to do my sketch and suggest ideas, or send me their own sketches to feature along with mine. And almost every night before bed, my son, Mason, would ask to see my sketch of the day. The sketches became a way for me to express myself, to show how I was feeling or what I was thinking of on a particular day. On birthdays of my close family members and friends, I drew their portraits, and the post gave me the opportunity to tell them how much I love, admire, appreciate and am inspired by them. I cherish those sketches especially (even though they were not the best portraits), because doing the sketch on their birthdays really gave me a moment to reflect on how much they mean to me and how important they are to my life. The whole experience has really changed my life in that I’ve learned to be more aware and mindful of my daily life: the things that inspire me; how happy a daily dose of art and creativity really makes me; how important it is to make, create, produce anything…even something small or simple or imperfect. It’s all a reflection of me and it gave me purpose…I finally felt like I was living an artist’s life. In the words of Maya Angelou, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” And thanks to this 365 project, I think 2011 was a pretty creative year for me. Today’s sketch documented some plants we discovered during an interesting excursion my mom and dad-in-law treated us to on this New Year’s Eve day: a guided foraging hike in Lafayette, led by naturalist Kevin Feinstein (author of the book, “The Bay Area Forager”), showed us how to find and identify wild and native plants that are edible, safe, nourishing and sustaining. My boys are intrigued by survival shows, so they were very captivated by the things they learned on this hike…they really enjoyed the foraging aspect…finding, identifying and eating the plants. And Mason, who can sometimes be a picky eater…tried everything! Here are some photos from our unforgettable and very educational...

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Sketch Every Day: 12.30.11

Sketch Every Day: 12.30.11

12.30.11: A day with trains. Trains are a big deal in this family. Thanks to my father-in-law, my boys LOVE trains – watching them, riding them, running them, playing with them. And I have to say, I’m fascinated by them too…especially old steam locomotives, I find them to be beautiful and magnificent, marvelous machines from a by-gone era of transportation that most of us will never experience in this day and age of air travel, bullet trains and well, the automobile. Saying that Papa is a train aficionado, is an understatement. He must have steam and coal running through his veins, because he seems happiest when “chasing” trains, enthusiastically talking about these “ferro equines” (iron horses), or showing his vast model train collection. My husband recalls many childhood family vacations where traveling to see, ride or photograph some of these rare, historical machines in working order was the primary theme. The first thing our boys ask to do, upon arriving at Nana and Papa’s house, is “can we play with Papa’s trains?” Papa has converted the attic space of their home into a model train room…to display, play with, tinker/fix, and run his trains. It’s such a thrill for them to watch the trains go ’round and ’round the track. Every time we’re up for a visit, Nana and Papa take us to ride the small steam train at Tilden Park, which the boys enjoy so much…they want to ride it again and again. The boys have been to many train museums and model railroad displays, but they haven’t actually ridden a real train for transportation (well, except for BART). So it was a real treat when Papa and Nana took us to visit the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento…AND we rode an Amtrak train to get there! My sketch for today was done really quickly on the train ride back to Richmond, even though the ride was an hour and a half long. I wanted to enjoy the ride with my family, so the sketch was done really quickly in a few minutes. It was a nice surprise to get on the train and run into one of Isaac’s kindergarten classmates and his family, who happened to be heading from their grandparents’ home in Sacramento to visit family in San Jose. Small world, that we would run into someone we know from San Diego, who would be riding on the same train, at the same time and seated right next to us!  Isaac was really excited to see his buddy, but I don’t think he realized what a coincidence it was…what are the chances?! Here are some photos of our wonderful day of trains and walking through Old Sacramento, including some shots of pattern/texture I found interesting....

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Sketch Every Day: 12.29.11

Sketch Every Day: 12.29.11

  12.29.11: Pastries from Chinatown, Oakland, CA. The first thing my boys want to do when we take them to San Francisco, is go to Chinatown and get pastries. Boys after my own heart for sure! On our way from Nana & Papa’s house to spend the day in the City, we stopped by Oakland’s Chinatown to get the pastries and save on time (we’re in “vacation mode”, so we got a late start to our day)…plus we knew it would be easier to find parking. Rice cake, steamed & baked BBQ pork buns, sesame balls filled with sweet mung bean paste, mochi with sweet red bean or peanut, curry pies, moon cake with lotus seed paste. They (correction, “I”) wanted to eat it all! It’s all so yummy and very cheap. We picked up a pink cake box full of goodies for under $10. It was basically our lunch and dessert before heading into San Francisco for a little adventure in the City. Today’s sketch was of some of the pastries we enjoyed. These little bites are reminders of some of my favorite childhood comfort foods, special treats that hold a special place in my heart (and tummy), memories of childhood summers spent with my family in Taiwan, of day trips with my parents to have Dim Sum in L.A. And it makes me happy to know that my boys and I now share a similar memory. Perhaps one day they’ll look back on their childhood and remember how much fun we had walking past the colorful shops of Chinatown, experiencing the sights & sounds (& um, smells), learning about our Chinese culture and lifestyle, and piggin’ out on sticky rice cake and steamed buns. Here are some highlights of today’s adventure: Oakland Chinatown, Coit Tower (and the beautiful murals), The Painted Ladies at dusk, ice cream before dinner at Bi Rite Creamery (salted caramel is our favorite), followed by a quick browse through Bi Rite Market (seriously awesome market, the cheese & chocolate sections alone are incredible, beautiful produce, gourmet deli). It really was a fun day, spent with my loves, in one of my favorite cities in the...

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Sketch Every Day: 12.26.11 – 12.28.11

Sketch Every Day: 12.26.11 – 12.28.11

12.26.11: Lip gloss samples.  I received a gift of Clinique lip gloss from Aaron’s sister, Sonya…and needed a quick way to “test” the colors. Mango-thon is the winner for me.   12.27.11: Today my boys helped Nana harvest red chard from her garden. The colors and leaf structure are beautiful…and it was so delicious on our dinner plates.   12.28.11: I found these Eucalyptus seed pods during our hike on Angel Island today. The first one that caught my eye had a perfect quatrefoil shape in the center.  Then I noticed that each pod was different, some had a five petaled flower or a cross. I took a bunch of photos of interesting patterns and textures during our hike which I’ll share in another post. The natural occurring patterns and designs in nature are so intriguing and inspirational to me....

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Sketch Every Day: 12.25.11

Sketch Every Day: 12.25.11

Merry Christmas!  We LOVE spending Christmas at Nana & Papa’s.  What a wonderful day it was!  Our boys, surprisingly, slept in until 7:45 a.m. (I was expecting 6:00 a.m.,).  They were very happy with all the presents they received. Nana made a tasty Iberian omelet for breakfast, which we enjoyed with fresh homegrown persimmons from their friend’s property…while listening to a Bossa Nova breaks compilation by my brother-in-law (Mark, a.k.a. Question). I had a completely relaxing day spent doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (which I really needed after months of hard work and crazy deadlines)…except snack on delicious Christmas cookies, hang out in my pajamas/robe, call relatives to wish them a Merry Christmas, and watch the boys play with their toys and build Legos. Isaac enjoyed playing trains with Papa and feeding “Squirrelie”, a friendly neighborhood furry-tailed visitor; Mason and Aaron built ALL the Hero Factory and Lego sets that Santa brought; and Nana prepped for what became a truly unique and delicious dinner. We all stayed in our pjs ALL DAY and closed out the night with an AMAZING dinner and dessert prepared by Nana and Papa, and a little bit of family movie time, snuggled on the couch. It was a Perfect Christmas. As I did today’s sketch, after dinner, I noticed that a lot of our great day could be illustrated by words that start with “P”…...

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