After breakfast blues

I apologize in advance for the blue mood of this post. The Covid news is grim these days in Canada. And in many other parts of the world. It’s hard to remain upbeat. And for many people, hard to find motivation to draw. I hear this so often from friends and students. One way I tackle this is by making sure I draw something every day. I don’t always post the drawings I do because sometimes they’re just scribbles on my iPad, but for me it is the routine of it that is important.

You don’t need a fancy setup to draw every day. Just draw what’s in front of you. Keep a pencil and sketchbook handy. Do it first, if you find that the day goes by quickly and you can’t find time to draw. Keep it simple. Draw virtually with friends. Try new materials. Don’t worry about the end result.

For today’s drawing workout, I picked up a water-soluble pencil in Permanent Blue (Museum Aquarelle from Caran d’Ache). Of all the water-soluble pencils I’ve tried, these are my favourites because they release so much colour and they make beautiful darks. Sketched after breakfast in a Handbook Watercolour Journal 8″ x 8″.


54 Comments on “After breakfast blues”

  1. Michele says:

    Thank you for these words.

    Like

  2. Andrea Rule says:

    Shari You are right that it is hard to do art in this demanding time. But living in America, and getting rid of the dumpster in the White House, with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris moving in January has given me hope for America. Which, frankly I lost the lat 4 years. So, you are not alone in not being motivated to paint. I had a double whammy of negativity with the virus and the dumpster. But, hey we got rid of the dumpster, and in time, we will live to perhaps live differently with the virus.

    I feel like alot of cancelling this year was what I had to accept. And I have, slowly grown to appreciate more. I do have a spiritual practice and it has kicked in (after Biden even more) which got me to focus on my mind. Think positive thoughts I read. Wow! I was kind flunking that one so now I am doing better. I am a practicing buddhist and I have always gone there when the suffering seemed to overwhelm me. So I rarely share that with people but these times give us more options to be open and caring. Because suffering if only looked at thru the ego is tough. When it is looked at as my practice it is a lesson that leaves my heart stronger,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,not weaker.

    I did not mean to go on, but groundlessness is not a bad place in buddhism. It is your friend and you get to accept it when you are ready. All too often as I was younger I ignored it. Now I kinda find it my friend. It’s been with us now for 8 friggin months…………so we get to know it better…………….

    Be well, stay 6′ apart, wash your hands and wear a mask. That is our task now. And we will get thru this. Besides, I have other Canadian friends and they are like you. Kind and giving. You are a great teacher and I love reading your posts. I am sure you miss the way you taught in the past, but guess what. You will always be a teacher. I got your water online class and now am ready to actually DO IT. Wow,. What a concept

    Another strong message buddhist taught me…………….lower your expectations………….that is so true and really not all that hard. ciao Namaste, Andrea Ru

    Like

    • Andrea, thanks for sharing what you are going through too. It’s interesting to read your comments, especially the ones about finding ways to cope during these difficult times. For me the pandemic has had different stages. The shock and novelty in the beginning, the long limbo in the middle when nothing seemed to change, then some nice times when we could see friends outside during the summer, and now back to a long slog of lockdowns plus the harsh winter (for us Canadians). I think if you don’t have a way to cope, it makes it even harder. Glad you have your spiritual practice, and hoping that helps you stay positive. Certainly better times are on the horizon, right???

      Like

  3. Dianne Kubik says:

    It has been difficult for certain. Like you however, if I take time each day to do some art, I truly find peace in this tumultuous time. Thanks for your lovely sketches and encouraging comments.

    Like

  4. Sue Anne Bottomley says:

    Thank you for your continued posts. I get energy from them. Besides a couple of long term art projects (books) I have been making acrylic paintings to give family members for holiday gifts. They live far away, like LA and Alberta, so these paintings are happy memories based on sketches of New Hampshire where I live.

    Like

    • Sue Anne, it’s great to hear that you are working on paintings that will be gifted to family. What could be better than that? I’m sure they will be thrilled to see places they know and experienced with you, especially if you can’t be together. I think it’s going to be a tough holiday season for everyone, don’t you? I think that here in Quebec we will still be under some type of lockdown. Gatherings will be small or nonexistent. But we do what we have to do to get through this.
      Thanks for writing!

      Like

  5. -N- says:

    Where I am, at this stage of my life, not much has really changed for either my husband or myself. Reasonable socializing, precautions, but if it weren’t for our daily routines, I think it could be a very different situation. Like you, I make it a point of painting / drawing daily, as well as other hobbies and activities. It is the occupation of the mind and hands that help out during these difficult times. Online classes add to the mix of learning and doing. Being in SoCal, at least the weather is amenable to be outdoors a lot, which is also a big help.

    Obviously, you have been busy with your online courses, and your live classes come January should prove a boon to you and your students. A couple of thoughts about that – it may be good to record some things for your students to view so they can watch and watch again – I tried an online live course and found it worthless. Learning involves doing, and watching a “how to” is very helpful if it can be watched more than once, such as a solely live class couldn’t offer. My MIL takes online beading classes with both live and prerecorded techniques which show what is being taught, and she has been very happy with them, and being able to review and practice content.

    Like

    • Thanks so much for writing N. I’m sorry I can’t refer to you by name because on my blog all I see is -N-.
      Yes, all routines are important these days. Glad you have found interesting ways to keep busy too.
      For me the other pieces of the puzzle is exercise. I feel that both drawing and exercise keep me sane. So it is not just the mind and hands but the body too. Thanks so much for your thoughts about the January Zoom classes. I thought about them a lot before launching the idea. For me, the idea is not to do a long demo for people to watch. People can get that from my online classes. The idea is more about connections, about discussions, about interacting while drawing and painting. And judging from the overwhelmingly positive response, it is not just me who is missing that connection. And yes, the sessions will be recorded so people can refer to them again. Sometimes people paint along with me and then realize they missing seeing me do something, so being able to refer to the Zoom recording will be great. I’m glad to hear that you are keeping busy and can still get out a lot. It’s getting colder here but I will still be doing lots of car sketching when the snow falls. Stay healthy and keep drawing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • -N- says:

        Thanks for the time to reply. I think you are a WP blogger, so if you look at my commentary link you should be able to Sherlock the mystery! I go by -N- as I like being more incognito than public. So, -N- does fine by me!

        Also, I think your class will be a great success for all involved. I admit to being a bit wary as the online class I took was worthless, but the teacher was also new and didn’t really get much support from the school, nor had taught much. As a teacher, I understand that and knew that was a potential issue when I enrolled.

        On the other hand, I have enrolled in a few of your online classes and have enjoyed them. Good resources are necessary for all in these dark days in all endeavors.

        Cheers!
        -N-

        Like

  6. Thanks for articulating so well what so many of us are feeling.
    You are right about drawing, anything, daily. I always feel a bit better when I do, even if just a scribble.
    This is a beautiful drawing. So sensitive.

    Like

    • Thank you my friend. Usually I try to be positive but the news is getting bleaker every time I turn on the radio. It’s hard not to get emotional about it. And yes, even a scribble on paper helps.

      Like

  7. Judy Sopher says:

    Lovely shades of blue and lovely painting. I like the idea of just taking water soluble colored pencils and a water brush to really travel light to sketch. That is, if I ever get better with a water brush. Even sketching or painting around the house is easier. This is such a fantastic study in various tones.

    Like

    • Judy, I use a regular brush with this. Even if it’s a water-soluble pencil I am working with, I still want the brush to carry a good amount of water. Water brushes never hold enough for me. The only time I ever use them is in airports or museums where I can’t carry water. Last one I used was so unsatisfactory that I threw it out in the middle of my sketch. Hope your eye issues are resolved and that you vision is good for painting.

      Like

  8. nikiraa says:

    Love it! You are right, sometimes it’s hard to lift a pencil and the day is flying by and all what’s left is deep unsatisfactory from not drawing anything. And no-one to share with such feelings. I am learning things on iPad.

    Like

  9. Jann Gumbiner says:

    I appreciate your sincerity. Give me that any day over false cheerfulness. I get SAD, seasonal affective disorder, when the sky gets gray so I cannot live in Oregon, for example, Personally, I think art is a perfect medium for any form of self-expression: anger, sadness, or joy.

    And your blues are amazing. The contrast and depth you got out of pencils is so beautiful. And, your title is clever. Keep drawing. We depend on you!

    Like

    • Jann, thanks so much for writing. I know people with SAD as well, and realize how hard it can be. I don’t think I could live anywhere with months of gray either It gets cold here in Montreal but at least we have many sunny days that I rely on for my snow paintings. Stay well and keep on drawing. I depend on hearing from you too!!

      Like

  10. Lynn Urquhart says:

    Your posts are always an inspiration, Shari. Thank you. Times are so tough right now that one can’t underestimate how important it is to summon up the energy to do what we know makes us feel better – like art and exercise. Your idea of virtual painting with friends is one that my friend in NYC and I have taken up every Saturday over Zoom. Something to look forward to and take our minds for a little while away from the way things are, just like maintaining endorphin making habits for the body and mind.

    Like

    • Lynn, thank you so much for writing. I was thinking of you recently and remembering the yoga audio files you sent me. I’ve started doing some yoga, finally, and it is really helping too. As is running outdoors. And this winter we will certainly be cross country skiing and snowshoeing as soon as the snow falls. Anything to get outside. I know how important exercise is for you too and hopefully you’ll still be active after biking season is over. And if your NYC friend is the one I know, please say hi for me. So glad to hear that you are painting together.

      Like

      • Lynn Urquhart says:

        Yes it is Robbie (and another friend from NYC we met in Boca joins us) and I’ll say hi this aft! Yoga, x-country skiing, walking and cycling (outside when it’s not too icy and indoors on Zwift) are my go to physical things.

        Like

  11. Tim C says:

    Shari: While motivation currently can be in short supply these days,I look forward to your frequent posts and use them to answer the “What should I draw?” question. At times, I’ve even tried to copy your pieces in an effort to keep drawing. I’d love to see some of your sketches as well. I’m not sure who’s keeping you motivated, but you’re re-charging a lot of us. A thousand thank yous.

    Like

    • Oh Tim, thank you. A thousand times. This means a lot to me. I feel very fortunate to be able to read and respond to comments. That certainly keeps me going. As for finding motivation, I scroll through Instagram a lot to see what other people are doing and how they stay motivated. I also go back to my bookshelf to get motivation. The paintings of John Yardley always make me happy because he says so little with so few strokes. If I sit with my John Yardley book for an hour, it instantly makes me want to pick up a brush.

      Like

  12. mcammeehan says:

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Like

  13. Anna Pavlova says:

    Shari, you’re an inspiration to beginners like me! I love your watercolor courses. if not for those, I would’ve given up. I wonder if you’d consider a class on how to use water soluble pencils? I have a Faber Castell watercolor set but I don’t think I use them quite right, even though sounds pretty basic. I am also struggling with greenish-brown lake water (as opposed to more blue water) with tree reflections. Maybe you have some tips on that 🙂

    Like

  14. Soni says:

    When I see “Sketchbook” email my heart leaps, when I begin sinking at weird hours or odd times my despair is lifted by my great Shari Online Library and any blogs I might want to review. But what makes you so really special and inspirational are your texts within your blogs.

    You sharing this mental anguish has given me another spiritual tool to use for pushback to climb out of that crippling inertia. Reading all these wonderful responses we’re sharing here – well, it’s just priceless. We’re dealing successfully with a mental crisis thanks to you and so many others like you.

    what a great legacy – having your name lift so many many spirits who will then spread theirs.

    Like

    • Soni, I had to read what you wrote several times because I was so touched. I’m overwhelmed by the response to this post. Your thoughtfulness, like everyone else who commented, has left me speechless. If you were standing in front of me and we didn’t have to social distance, I would give you a huge hug.

      Like

      • Soni says:

        wow – just read this today and now i’m overwhelmed – you’ve been a spiritual hug for years but i’m floating above earth herein

        hugs back & best wishes always

        Like

  15. I am not sure what to say…because even though life seems close to normal in Australia on the surface…it is not. We have not suffered like the rest of the world. I guess one benefit to being an island. My heart remains heavy. I lost my sketching drive as a result of our lockdown earlier in the year. I sketch or draw everyday and was inspired to do so when I started to follow your blog years ago. My hear sinks when I read the news of the world each morning. Your daily emails and online courses have lifted me throughout 2020. It is without doubt I am not the only one. I hope our words can lift you. ((hugs)) and thank you.

    Like

    • Carmel, thank you so much. Yes, you have been following and commenting for a long time. And we were even supposed to meet this year : (
      I don’t think it matter where you live, we are all affected by this. And as you can see from the responses to this post, we are all so lucky that art keeps us connected.
      I am overwhelmed and a bit speechless today, while reading these comments.
      Sending hugs back to you.

      Like

  16. Ginny says:

    After Inktober I ran out of a daily reason to draw something. Things do seem very bleak, but I truly think they will improve now that science has a chance to work its medical magic. Drawing, sketching, and painting are ways to get through all this with some degree of grace. The worst response would be to stop drawing.

    Caron d’Ache Museum Aquarelle pencils are such fun to play with. I have trouble with some colors becoming a bit more opaque than I’d like, but the saturation is great. The blues are especially nice compared to other brands.

    Thank you for your posts. Even on blue days, they are lovely.

    Like

    • HI Ginny,
      Three cheers for science!!
      I’m glad to hear that you did Inktober. I didn’t do it this year because I’ve been working on so many watercolour sketches for my courses and it’s really hard to switch gears, but I love following along to see what people do. I especially like when people work in a series. Do you know Johanna Krimmel? I think is she JayKay on Instagram. She drew this series of fish in an aquarium. She is amazing with india ink. See if you have a look at her work.
      Thanks for writing.
      Shari

      Like

  17. loisajay says:

    Please no apologies, Shari! As very much a beginner, I love seeing your posts in my Inbox. The minimal use of color, the way you describe what materials you use and how to use them–that’s huge to someone like me. With each photo you post, I always (delusionally!) think–“That looks easy!” Ha! It’s not, but the fact that you provide so much detail and enthusiasm makes every post so enjoyable. Blues…..they are beautiful. Keep on, Shari. Smiles down here in sunny Florida. 😀

    Like

    • Wow, thank you so much Lois. I have been reading the comments from this post slowly, and trying to take the time to respond. I know you’ve been commenting on my blog for a long time, and you should know how much I appreciate it.
      Hope all is well in Florida.
      Shari

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Nancy Blasberg says:

    Shari- I’ve been working on your Sketching Structure in the Garden video. It’s so enjoyable. And you are right, it’s hard to feel the freedom to paint right now because we are all under this threat of the pandemic. No need to apologize – I feel just as you do. Thanks for your inspiring posts each day. Nancy

    Like

    • Nancy, thanks so much for writing. And for taking the class.
      Let’s hope things will improve for all of us soon. Now there are two vaccines on the way, so maybe a little light at the end of the tunnel.
      Shari

      Like

  19. Nancy Blasberg says:

    Shari- I’ve been working on your Sketching Structure in the Garden video. It’s so enjoyable. And you are right, it’s hard to feel the freedom to paint right now because we are all under this threat of the pandemic. No need to apologize – I feel just as you do. Thanks for your inspiring posts each day. Nancy

    Like

  20. Sarah says:

    Your work is so inspiring and your words ring true with all of us! We are all feeling the drag of Covid with the holidays and winter upon us, as the #’s are rising. However, we are so blessed to have our Art as therapy. I agree that a daily routine of painting is so helpful…. I haven’t painted as much as I have this year! Be well, stay safe and thank you for sharing your beautiful work!

    Like

    • Sarah, thank you for writing. I agree, we are all so lucky to have art in our lives. Don’t know what I would do if I didn’t draw! Let’s hope those numbers start going in the opposite direction soon.
      Shari

      Like

  21. Bernadette says:

    Thanks for posting as often as you do. Your paintings always inspire and encourage me to keep on trying. I now keep a sketchbook in my car and draw whenever I have to wait there for an extended time. I’ve sketched lots of cars in parking lots that I never would have tried to draw before! I also keep a sketchbook, pen and markers in the living room and try to catch a pose of our cat while he sleeps.
    I found that initially in this time of isolation, I was more inclined to draw and paint. As time went on, it was harder to keep being motivated, to be creative.
    I recently renewed my membership at Cleveland Botanical Gardens. I now go once or twice a week to paint. I sometimes meet there with 2 painter friends…with masks and at a safe distance. I have also gone alone.
    Painting or drawing routinely helps me to paint more often, at home or in my car. I find a joy just in creating and learning as I go. It helps give purpose to my days.

    “After breakfast blues” is beautiful….blue is my all time favorite color!

    Thanks for helping to keep us motivated by your example.

    Like

    • Bernadette, I have also come to look forward to hearing from you. This blog is not a one way street. By hearing from people and reading the comments, I feel that I get as much out of it as you do. There are so many people who I have never met but I feel that I know many of you just by the way you express yourselves here. In appreciation. Shari

      Like

  22. Donna says:

    You are so right to start the day with some form of art. If I could only discipline myself to do this!!! life keeps interfering. The blue was beautiful. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Like

  23. Starr Mifsud says:

    Thanks for your inspiration and motivation. The blue sketch is beautiful.

    Like

  24. Denise says:

    Shari, “blue”or not, all of your posts are inspiring and encouraging. Thank you for all you do for your fans and admirers!

    Like

  25. Thank you Shari for your inspiration in these terrible times, always look forward to your posts !

    Like

  26. Like you, Shari, I know that having a routine and sketching something every day is so important to my mental state right now. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It can just be like this…what is right in front of us. I don’t really have to be “inspired” by a scene. Once I start I just seem to get into it. I think it helps that for many, many years I’ve been part of the WetCanvas community and I participate in their “Art from Life” forum with a group that does scavenger hunts. We get a list of 26 items to sketch about once a week. So I’ve sketched all kinds of things…even toilets. lol It is the lines and shapes and tones that make any item or subject come to life. Thanks for being so inspiring. I love the color and shading in this!!!

    Like

    • Joan, thank you for writing and for being a long time follower. You know how much I appreciate hearing from you. I know that sketching has been a constant in your life too, even during difficult times. Stay well!!

      Like


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