Wednesday, May 20, 2020

In His Own Words


I drew this several days ago and added lots of quotes from President Trump since the virus came to the USA. Or at least since we've known it's here. I try to always listen to him whenever he speaks, hard as it is with his rambling style, because I can decide what I think instead of relying on a recap by the news.  As much as he complains about the press, all of the press actually makes him sound more concise in their effort to distill the main points of his speech.

When I draw political or religious or social leaders, I like to put their words around them rather than my opinion, though on some pages when I'm trying to sort something out, I might journal in written form about what's going on in the news.

This is not a political blog, but journaling is about recording life, and politics is part of that, for better and for worse. So, even if you don't agree with my take on something, it's no matter....do pages with your take. That's what journaling is all about.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Yard work while sheltering..


A couple of days ago, it rained all day, then two days of sun,and my lawn grew a foot! Usually I barely have time to mow my yard during the months the shop is open. But now, even with making masks, I can take a break and mow and plant some little marigolds I picked up. The reason we are all locked down is very serious, but I think it's wise to try and notice and appreciate the way we are slowed down, and what good things it adds, as well as the losses.  I'm trying to learn the lessons in all of it.

Lately, I've been drawing from life more, in the spirit of urban sketching. But now I'm kind of combining drawing from life and drawing from photos, because I want to include myself in the drawing. Sometimes I find a photo reference, like I found a picture of a woman mowing the lawn, and as I was drawing her I made her more curvy like me,  gave her shaggy hair like mine, and made the lawn mower look more like mine. Then I drew my yard around her/me. It's pretty much an experiment. I guess I could take pictures of myself, but that would be complicated and I'd probably never do the drawing if I had to do all of that.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Masks in my Covid19 Journal


I have been spending a lot of time at my sewing machine making masks. I stated out making them for my SO's daughter who is a nurse, and it's taken on a life of it's own since then. Today I ran out of elastic again, but I have a spool that is supposed to arrive tomorrow, so I can continue filling orders. I drew this tonight, from a photo I took of myself when I was trying one on and figuring out how to make them. I tweaked it so it was comfortable and easy to breathe through. The original pattern is free at https://www.craftpassion.com/ , but now I make them a little bit differently even though I still use her pattern.

And here is a gem by Shel Silverstein...about a different kind of mask:

Monday, April 06, 2020

How Soap Works! and Ta-Da! Lists

 I did a little reading about soap! We are washing our hands like crazy and I wanted to know if soap destroys the virus or just washes it away. It destroys it! I does not even have to be antibacterial soap either...this is a virus not a bacteria. These pages show how it works to tear the virus apart and how it makes it easy to wash the remains of the virus down the drain. Oh yeah, you gotta love science!

Ta-Da!!! That's what we sing when we've accomplished something! Sometimes it can feel like the days are just sliding by without our regular schedule. A long time ago I started doing Ta-da lists. This is not a To-do list. You add to a Ta-da list whenever you finish something during the day.  On bad days when I'm sick or down, I'll say "Ta-da! I took a shower and brushed my teeth!" Very versatile!

Stay well everyone. Stay home and don't forget to get some fresh air each day. It's a mood lifter!

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Pandemic Times

Okie dokie. Well, we are living quite a different life style these days, aren't we? No appointments, no eating out, no visiting in person, no shopping except groceries, no work for many of us. Obviously my souvenir shop is closed...I'm staying in place and hopefully helping to flatten that curve.

When the "shelter in place" was ordered by the governor my parents were visiting. I was already spending most of my time alone at home or with Jeff at his place before they came, so we were not exposed to many people. We really locked down when my parents got here. I'm not sure when my shop will open up this summer if at all, since we would not want to encourage people to travel until it's safe. So in the meantime, I started drawing in a new journal all about this odd time in our lives.


 Here is a quick sketch of Dad watching the news. Sorry dad...I was tense about drawing again. He's much more handsome in person. Dad has to go to dialysis each day, so he is the only one who regularly sees other people. Watching the news and press briefings is an important part of the day. Things change quickly. Weird things are said. More weird things are said that contradict the previous weirdness. Thank God for Dr. Fauci and the other scientists who stick to facts as we know them with this new virus that they are researching on the fly.

One group I'm in prompted us to do the view out the window. These are the sliders in the kitchen. Greta loves to lay there and watch the squirrels.

My favorite position to watch movies and the ever important news coming out.

Mom watching the news snuggled up in blankets.

While my parents were here this became a super important room. I was cooking more; Jeff came over and cooked for us a couple of times. We don't eat out...seems safer to eat food prepared here. I don't normally use Clorox often, but these days, it's not even put away. It reminds me to keep those counters clean.

Jeff making dinner for us. My friends and family all understand they should not expect any sketches to actually look like them. I'm not a portrait artist, that's for sure. He was deep frying fish caught by a friend last summer. I should also draw my freezer...I love that I have lots of meat in there and don't have to shop as much.

This is about the shortage of personal protective equipment. My heart is breaking for our medical professionals and that they are having to work with out the proper equipment to stay safe and with out the equipment to treat patients either! It's like soldiers going into battle with no guns or protective gear. Jeff's daughter is a nurse, and many friends are in the medical profession. This issue is a constant worry on a personal level.

One day I went to the store, then went to the parking lot at the museum complex where my shop is. I drew my favorite exhibit, which is this 1966 school bus conversion that was built and owned by artist Bob Waldmire.

I stayed in my Jeep while I drew. That's good social distancing...but there weren't many people out anyway. Most of the time it's rather eerie how few people are out, but that's a good thing. Flatten that curve. On nice days people are everywhere on foot and on bicycles, and even a few motorcycles. People are home, so they are taking the time to ride bikes with the kids, walk the dogs, meeting neighbors at talking ....each person well over six feet from the next. It seems we are apart, but somehow also together more.

 This is again, my favorite spot. Jeff calls it my nest, because I have knitting and books and something to drink nearby. I drew this after my parents left. I was a bit lonely and got teary when they left...these days, you never know when you might see someone again. So far they are still allowing travel, if necessary, but we don't want to spread this virus or have anyone bring it here either. If a loved one gets sick with COVID-19 and needs to be hospitalized, they will not allow you to visit your loved one in a hospital.

Also Greta, who gets impatient with all this drawing going on.

La Mex is one of my favorite restaurants in town. Most restaurants are still doing delivery and carryout. Not sure about La Mex though. I heard they boarded up for security because they are on the edge of town. Good thinking!

Well, that is it for now. I still have a few more pages that need to be photographed, but I will share them soon. Stay safe everyone. Stay home...save lives. Seems odd but it's so true.

Pandemic Times

Oh what a time we are having around the world these days. I have been drawing up a storm while we are under a "shelter in place" order here in Illinois. I will also be listing some art for sale, as my shop at the Route 66 Museum, "Home Again," is closed until it is safe to reopen. Of course, this is having an effect as I usually depend on the shop to help make ends meet.  I still want you to be able to buy my work, and I can ship it to you.

This painting I painted up at the lake is available through the Pontiac Community Art Center. I can process the sale though the center (even though it is closed), and ship this to your home. You can see a post about it's creation here: Making Art at the Lake.  It is priced at $135. I will send it to you with the shipping free if you live in the United States. If you are outside the USA, I will cover part of the shipping up to 20 dollars  with you covering the rest. If you desire this painting please email me at harbincole@gmail.com. We can process this using your credit card and I will carefully package it using gloves and a mask.

Thank you for supporting my business all the time and a special "Thank You!" if you can purchase during this covid-19 crisis. Be well, my friends!

This is a mixed media painting using acrylics and pastels.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019


I’m working on turning some doodles into stamps.  I’m still a beginner at stamp carving. But even crude carving has a certain charm to it. At least think it does! Every little bit is a bit more practice.

I'm daydreaming about an adventure I have coming up. Can you guess what it is? I'll post about it soon. Doodling and daydreaming go together pretty darn well. Below the sketch are some pics from my decorations last year.




Monday, August 05, 2019

Last week I had the chance to get away to our little cottage in Michigan. I met my sister up there. We'd both brought some art projects and reading materials, but we ended up concentrating on one book she'd brought up and had been working from. So we had our own little art retreat! The book is "Expressive Flower Painting" by Lynn Whipple. She has a unique approach and I will show some pics, but not all the steps...you will need to buy or check out the book to get all the details.
Here I'm making the first layer. There are many layers to the process, and this may or may not show in the finished painting.
This is my inspiration photo. I would never have picked something so complicated, but her process is more about painting it the way you see it and your impression of it.


Here are some more steps....you are layering drawings and colors with soft pastels...turning your canvas as you go. I was seriously having trouble letting go and doing this. I guess I'm a control freak.
Finally you pick one orientation and start painting in your darkest darks and then your flowers and your lightest lights. Different folks seem to all do this their own way. I was trying not to get too literal as that is my usual hangup.  In this photo you can see the table top is the layers below showing and I was hoping to somehow keep those layers, but in the end I wasn't happy with the colors in it.


Here I was going back in with the soft pastels to add some definition and detail to the flowers.

The background wasn't working for me, so I changed it to a green. Our porch at the lake is a light green and I was inspired by that. I also changed the table....I could have left the layers showing as the table top, but it didn't seem to work well with all the pink I'd put in the flowers.  

When I sat back and looked at this I was shocked that I'd made this! It is very different from what I usually do: ink drawings and watercolors in a sketchbook. I'd been so angsty during some of these stages, and that tells me I was stepping outside my comfort zone. But of course that's where the learning and growth happens! We started this at 10 pm and worked straight though the night...full of adrenaline! After finishing we crashed. 



The next few days we kayaked, swam, picked roadside flowers and some from the yard, visited with neighbors, and also did a bit more art...
Jennifer was working on painting a water lily. She'd already completed two paintings using Lynn's method. I didn't get a pic of them all together, but maybe it's not too late. 


I used a small canvas and tried to do one bloom. At one point I almost threw it out, but then when I added the pastels I liked it again! So if you go get Lynn's book, try all the steps, and just keep going even if it feels like a mess at some stages. There is not much background to play with on this one, so I used the sides too and added polka dots for fun.

If you ever get a chance to get away from your normal routine (by yourself or with someone with similar interests) to focus on your art, I'd recommend it! It's unusual to get to concentrate fully for several days with no interruptions...at least it is in my life, and I have a feeling I'm not alone in that.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Notre Dame, lower Puna, Volcanoes, Fires, and Change


I draw often, but I find when I'm upset, I draw more...sometimes obsessively. I think it helps me work though things and process the feelings.  It could be that I'm just an obsessive sort, but I like the prior explanation better, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 😄


The day Notre Dame was burning, like the rest of the world, I was in shock. I suppose I kind of take it for granted that the things I see that have been relatively the same for hundreds or thousands of years will still be there when I go back. Never take anything for granted. I could not stop thinking about it, and checking the news when I could while at work. I ended up making a drawing from one of my photos. It's very wonky and I totally lost track of where things were in relation to each other, but it doesn't matter. I channeled some of that nervous energy into making a little drawing in my book. While I drew, I thought about how we sat at the cafe on the corner across the street and drank mulled wine and sketched the cathedral. I'm sooo glad we did sketch that day. 


Part of the reason I started sketching again (way back when my kids were still in school) was because when I sketch, I remember things so much better. I have to really slow down and observe the scene. Later when I look at a sketch, I can remember just how it felt to sit there: what the sounds were, how the breeze (or lack of it) felt, how the temperature was. I wanted to remember things more completely. 

On my trips to Hawaii, I always made time to go swim in this warm pond, heated by the volcanic action beneath the earth, with ocean waves splashing over into the pool at one end. It was a special place. I made this sketch one year while I was there by myself.  Then last year, a large chunk of lower Puna was covered over in lava from the eruption of  Kīlauea. This place and the tide pools where I snorkeled, homes, one of my favorite restaurants for lunch, and other special places are now completely under tons of lava. Though I knew it could happen, I never really expected those places to disappear. I'm so glad I sketched while I was actually sitting there in the shade of the palms.  

Of course, sometimes it's not just places that change. My dogs pass away with their shorter doggie lives. Some of my human loved ones have passed away too. My children grew from babies to teenagers to young adults and are now in their late twenties and early thirties. Homes are bought and sold and remodeled. My own body goes back and forth from thin to heavy. Towns and buildings change with the times. As the saying goes: the only constant in life is change. 


I'm one of those people who is rather shy about sketching in front of other people, so I don't do it as often as I'd like. But now I'm going to try and remember to go ahead and sketch on the spot. You never know when things will change and maybe even be gone. Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero (Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow). Draw it today.  







Saturday, April 13, 2019

Draw Daily

Yep, trying to get back to drawing daily, even if it's just little sketch or contour drawing. I haven't been doing too well at it! So here is today's little sketch on a page about what I'd like to do in the future and improving my health. Soooo...if I can get on the bike often this summer, I might end up looking like my sketch! That would feel great!
I've been doing quite a bit of cutting and pasting on my pages too. It helps me get a whole idea down quicker because I'm not a speedy sketcher, and if I'm going to get back to sketching each day, it often needs to be a quick exercise.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Hard at work on a new project





So for a while now, I've been working on a project that I had to keep quiet about until it was announced. I was so excited to get a call to work on a Route 66 Passport for the entire route that will be coming out this spring! I have done the illustrations for each state and the overall map. It has been a super fun project. When it's all printed and put together, I'll post again, but it should be in the stores in April!


Friday, March 01, 2019

New Art Studio!


Holy cow, it's been a long while since I posted. I went though a period of no computer, when I had to do everything on my phone. I don't know how all these young'uns do it all on their phone, but I have no patience for that tiny screen! So I lost my blogging mojo. But I have still been working on my art and at the shop, and cool things have been happening!

For one thing I was juried in to the Pontiac Community Art Center. I can be a bit of a hermit..well, a lot of a hermit, and this has me stepping out and meeting a wonderful community of artists here in our town. I even have a studio space upstairs, where I have been spending quite a bit of time over the last month or so. As you can see I have a window, and it's north facing....lovely light. John Fitzgerald is the artist in charge of the studio spaces and that is his beautiful large painting on the wall and his painting spot on the left.  If you live in Pontiac, or get a chance to visit, you should definitely stop by the Pontiac Community Art Center and check out all the wonderful artwork by local artists!

The art center was a 1960s insurance office, and it looked it when they bought the building, but the members worked, and are working so hard to transform the building. This winter they added heat and a restroom to the space upstairs, which makes it soo much nicer to work up there! They also repurposed much of the old woodwork from when it was the Busy Bee Cafe many, many years ago...keeping the history of the building on site, and used in a new way!

While I've been organizing and moving supplies from home to the studio, I have found things like this drawing of the cowboy motel which I made a few years ago, and it got lost in the shuffle. There are lots of benefits to getting things in order....or at least better order.