2017 Reading Update 2

Hello! I'm dreadfully behind on my quarterly reading updates, since we are almost done with the third quarter of the year, but I'm going to post this second quarter update anyway.

 If you didn't know, I'm obsessed with reading, so I thought it would be fun to do a little update each quarter with some stats, the most notable books I've read that month, and some general thoughts about my reading life. So here we go.

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First, because I am a huge nerd, some stats (as of July 1, 2017):

Total number of books read: 80

  • Adult Novels: 18
  • Young Adult Novels: 6
  • Children's Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 7.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 3.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 10
  • Graphic Trades: 21
  • Poetry Collections: 10

Number of books read in Q2 (April, May, and June): 40 

  • Adult Novels: 9
  • Young Adult Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 1.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 2.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 6
  • Graphic Trades: 8
  • Poetry Collections: 9

Where I got books from this quarter:

  • From the library: 55%
  • Gifts (including gift cards): 20%
  • Bought myself: 20%
  • Little Free Library: 5%

Total number of books I acquired in the first half of 2017: 31

  • Percentage of those books that I have read so far: 71% (pretty good!)

If you remember last quarter's update, I read exactly the same amount of books then (40). The breakdown was a little bit different this time though. I read fewer novels and more short pieces, like graphic novels and poetry collections. I did drastically increase the amount of poetry I read, thanks to my goal in April of reading a poem a day, which I kept up with. I also acquired far fewer books than I did in the first quarter and I read more of the books I acquired, because I knew I was moving and I didn't want more books to carry around with me. Because of that "read more books I own" project, I read a bit more nonfiction than I had in the previous quarter, which was another of my goals, so I'm pretty psyched about it. 

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Notable books I read this quarter (in the order that I read them):

Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, illustrated by Allen Crawford

This is such an incredibly stunning book, maybe the most beautiful book I own. Allen Crawford painstakingly handwrote and illustrated Walt Whitman's famous poem, Song of Myself from his collection Leaves of Grass. I kicked off my month of April poetry reading by reading this while consulting a typed copy of Song of Myself (the words in the handwritten edition go in all different directions, so I wanted to be able to see the original order) and it was a wonderful experience. I didn't completely love the poem in its entirety, but there were some incredible lines that have stayed with me, and Crawford's illustration is a massive jolt of artistic inspiration. I flip through it all the time, just to have a look.

Swan by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was by far my favorite poet that I was exposed to during my month of reading poetry. Her work is so simple, elegant, and profound. I've since read another of her books and will continue to do so, but Swan is my favorite so far. Her poetry is very accessible and I think a great place to start if you're interested in getting into poetry.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles

This was my favorite comic series that I started (and devoured) in this quarter. I'm a sucker for anything with gods and mythology, so this series is right up my alley.  The premise is that every 90 years twelve gods incarnate as humans and become megapowered performers and celebrities, but within two years they are all dead. The artwork and coloring in this series are great and the storyline means you will want to read all of them immediately. A new trade volume has been published since I read the first four and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

This short book is a novelization of the life of Margaret Cavendish, 17th century duchess, author, philosopher, poet, and scientist. The prose is magical and it is an incredible look at the inner life of a creative woman at a time when it was (even more) difficult to be an accomplished creative professional woman. It is a book that I am already excited to reread.

Supermutant Magic Academy, Indoor Voice, and This One Summer all by Jillian Tamakei

I super enjoyed everything I've read by Jillian Tamakei so far. She is a fantastic illustrator and I just love looking at her work. Suepermutant Magic Academy is a collection of her weird and wonderful webcomic about the weird and wonderful students and Supermutant Magic Academy. Indoor Voice is a tiny publication of her sketchbook (something I love peeking into). This One Summer is a graphic novel written by Tamakei's cousin, Mariko Tamaki, and illustrated by Jillian. The double page spreads in that book are breathtaking.

The Mothers by Britt Bennet

I'm so glad I found this book at my Little Free Library. I had heard great things about it, but I don't think I would have picked it up if if hasn't been for the LFL. I feel like too much explanation won't do this book justice, but know that it is beautifully written. Just go for it if you are at all interested in contemporary stories.

Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti

This is a collection of several of Paterniti's articles from over the years and Parterniti writes nonfiction like no other. He gets so close to his subjects and often writes in a unique style that makes his work so engaging. Many of the stories are incredibly sad (lots of tragic deaths and natural disasters), but they are absolutely worth reading.

Its hard to talk about my reading goals for the future when I'm almost done with the third quarter of this year. But I can tell you a little bit about how it has been going. As I anticipated, my reading dropped off steeply during the month of July when I was moving and traveling. But now I am back on the reading wagon and have read some great books recently! I've been reading more nonfiction, which I'm super happy about. 

One thing I would like to focus on for the rest of the year is internalizing/remembering more of what I read. I'm not really sure how to go about that. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the books I'm reading or how I'm reading them, but I want them to impact me more and to remember more. Let me know if you are also a book nerd and have any tips on how to go about that!

Thanks for checking in on my reading and I'll be back with another quarterly update soon (not several months after the fact)!

Colors of Ireland

Hello! 

It has been quite a while since I've posted here. I spent pretty much the entire month of July traveling, first on another cross country road trip and then on a family trip to Ireland.

My grandfather is from a small town in the very south of Ireland and my family and I traveled there to see where he came from. We also visited Galway and Dublin while we were there. I had never been to Ireland before and, naturally, I took a ton of pictures.

I kept thinking about how gorgeous all of the colors were everywhere. Obviously there was lots of green in the landscapes, but I was a big fan of the colorful buildings, artwork, and other vignettes. On the last morning of our trip I was up early and trying not to wake up my sister, so I spent some time on my phone, importing photos into the Adobe Capture app and creating color palettes out of them.

The app is free, and picks out the dominant colors in your photos, create palettes, and add them to your Library, which you can use in other Adobe programs, like Photoshop and Illustrator. 

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I created a bunch of palettes, and I think they look great all together and on individual projects. I thought I'd share some of the photos I took, the palettes I made from them, and the work that I made using those palettes. 

I loved this little salon in my grandfather's hometown. I didn't get a great photo of it, but it makes a wonderful palette. I made this little eyes pattern out of it.

I love this wall and post office box combo.

I loved these colorful buildings in Kenmare. This is not a palette I would ever go for on my own, but I think it looks great here, and I can't wait to try something out with it.

More wonderful buildings all over the country.

Of course, there were lots of landscape photos.

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I used just part of the forest-y palette above to make this clover pattern.

The photos don't need to be travel-centric to make great palettes. I like this one of reading with a cup of tea.

One tip I have is to try out photos that you're drawn to, even if you're not sure that they will make a great palette. I love this near-rainbow that came out of this photo of my lunch.

Have you ever used the Adobe Capture app or something similar to make palettes? All the colors just make me so happy, and I hope they make you happy too. I'm so excited to keep playing with these palettes. 

Zines!

The first time I listed zine packs in my shop, they sold out before I could even write about them, but I definitely wanted to document my process a little bit here, so here's a post all about my first zine!

how can i not zine

If you're not familiar with zines, they are small magazines. Some are printed professionally, but many are made from photocopies, put together by hand and bound with staples, which is exactly what mine is. I have been fascinated by zines for many years, and I have amassed quite a collection by artists that I love, and I've wanted to make one of my own for just as long.

For my first zine, titled How Can I Not?, I wanted to start out with something personal, must like the work I used to make in art journals (and am trying to get back to). I've included lists, quotes that I keep thinking about, short phrases that reflect my thoughts, and pages of only artwork. 

how can i not zine

The process of making the zine was much harder than I thought it would be at first. With the broad theme of "personal thoughts" my idea was to just make lots of work and take things I was thinking about and turn them into pages, but it didn't really go that way. It took me quite a while to come up with ideas, create work that I liked enough to put include in the zine, and put it together in a way that flowed nicely. My zine is 20 pages long, and although the books themselves are small and don't seem extremely long, 20 pages worth of artwork is no small amount to make.

One challenge was for me to work in black and white. As I'm sure you can tell, color is very central to what I usually make, but I decided to make this one in black and white. This definitely made some things simpler, but I also found it very difficult. I struggled to add interest without relying on color, and color is often what inspires me, so it was sometimes difficult to come up with ideas. 

In the end, I'm really happy with and proud of the result. I feel like How Can I Not? really does reflect me (in a small way) and what's going in my mind around the time that I'm releasing it. I find these kind of peeks into other people's brains, so hopefully my zines are similarly interesting for people who like me or my art or just like zines.

You can buy How Can I Not? in my shop. I've included it in a pack with stickers and original mini paintings (which is a really great deal if I do say so myself). I'm closing the shop at the end of June and won't reopen until August, and I'm not sure if I'll restock these zines when I do, so get yours now if you're interested!

Let's Talk About Sketchbooks Volume 8

It has been so long since I've had a sketchbook to share. 

I have really gotten away from art journaling in the past year when I started to work on loose sheets of paper or tearing out pages from my sketchbook to scan. This shift is mostly great because it means that I'm focusing more on making work that I can sell and developing my digital skills with scanned-in work. But I really miss making art that lives in a book and the more personal work that comes out when I'm art journaling is so valuable to me. I made a point of getting back into it in the last month or so and it has been great. 

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So here's the book. It's a Moleskine cahier that I started in August 2016. When I was almost finished I painted the cover white (covering up a pink paint job that I did not like, which you can kind of see showing through) and added this rad Nefertiti sticker from Salad Days Pins.

I started this book as a place to use up extra acrylic paint but dropped that plan almost immediately when I decided to use it as an art journal instead. These first two pages reflect that original purpose, plus some extra doodling.

The pages in this book are actually very thin, so in many places I stuck pages together or added mixed media paper on top of the page to give it some more heft. The drawing on the left (of Joan of Arc, naturally) is on mixed media paper that I glued into the book.

Because I was working on so many projects on loose paper I tried to use the book as a place to keep some samples of what I was working on at the time. The painting on the left is one of a series of watercolors that I pasted in. The page on the right is heavily inspired by Katie Licht's Cut and Paste class at Studio Calico, which I was taking at the time. I am such a fan of Katie's work, so getting to learn about her process was amazing.

This is a completely unfinished page. I tried out a few ideas and didn't feel the need to continue with either of them, so I just left them that way.

On the left is another Cut and Paste inspired page, using papers that I painted. On the right is another collage using paper that I drew patterns on myself (the eyes are a rubber stamp that I carved years ago - you can see it in use in a different journal here).

More Cut and Paste inspired pages, this time with a more minimal approach.

I had intended on journaling on this whole spread, but I never did. Now, I like it the way it is.

I liked the way that these 3 pages worked as a spread. I cut holes into the blue page on the right so that the polka dots on the page behind it show through.

More collages, using papers that I painted myself. This blue, green, and yellow color scheme is different for me, but I love how it looks.

More examples of what I was working on. I was scraping layers of paint onto paper using a credit card, and then painting over it so that the layers show through in the negaative space.

More collages that didn't work out so well and a pattern that I love in pink.

More examples of current work that I glued in. This was an early study for what would become a series of abstract watercolors that are now in my shop

One of the drawings from my Draw a Lady Daily project. I did most of them in other notebooks, but one day this was the only one I had with me. When I closed the book, some of the paint marker rubbed off on the opposite page, so I covered it with a pattern.

Trying to get back to journaling like I used to, with lots of bold lettering. And another scraped paint background on the right.

I have loved incorporating photos into my journals and doodling on them. What I tried on this photo turned out looking more like stink lines though. The stickers say "blurry & happy" because that's what I am in this photo. I'm trying to remember that I can be happy even when things are blurry.

Practicing mixing acrylic colors. And some minimalist collage.

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More color mixing practice, paint pen doodling, and the Mary Oliver quote that I want everywhere.

The evolution of a pattern. I doodled the big eye when I didn't know what to draw and then decided to make it into a pattern.

More paint pen patterns.

Thanks for checking out my sketchbook! If you share your sketchbook or art journal on your blog or Instagram or wherever, let me know, I love peeking inside other people's sketchbooks. Hopefully it won't be so long before I have another sketchbook to post.

Happening Now

Watching: Season 2 of Sense8. It is so so good - I'm already almost ready to rewatch.

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Working On: Zines! I've mentioned these before and it's taking some time, but my first zine is slowly coming together. It is definitely harder than I thought to come up with a cohesive body of work that flows together in a book, but I'm excited about how it's coming along. It is going to be full of drawings, paintings, words, photos, and collage.  I've also been working on some exciting projects for my fave ladies over at Obvi, and I'll be sure to share them when they're done. 

Listening: Johnny Cash and old Panic at the Disco (specifically their first two albums, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out and Pretty. Odd.)  Weird combination, I know, but that's what I'm into at the moment. 

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Returning To: Sketchbooking/art journaling. I've only been working in an art journal intermittently for the past few months, but I'm getting back into it now. I even have two on the go at the moment. It is taking some time to get back into the swing of using an art journal the way I used to, but it is always good for me. I'm hoping to generate lots of ideas, work through lots of feelings, and all that stuff.  

Reading: Graphic novels, Mary Oliver's poetry, and I'm just starting Becky Albertalli's new book, The Upside of Unrequited. I absolutely loved her first novel, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda (I wrote about it here) and I'm so excited to read it. You can keep up with what I'm reading every week in my Instagram stories.