Energized!

After two months of setting up painting at various dining tables throughout our stint in temporary housing I am energized by my newly set up art studio! I have a filled palette for my studio and I am ready to paint all day long. In fact that is pretty much what my Monday looked like.  

Life drawing drop in is tonight. Since today is Charlotte's day home with me I really need that time out to focus on art. I need to pack my bag with the right collection of supplies.  

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Settling into our new space.

It's lovely here in Oxford now that we are no longer tripping over each other in temporary housing. Just tripping over boxes, but we are making progress moving in and prioritizing certain rooms over others. I could get used to this living room view and space.  

My studio is comfortable and I was able to spend the morning painting. It's a good life out here.  

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Holding Time

That is what my life here is here as we wait for our stuff to arrive so we can move into our apartment. Over a month in temporary housing and our furniture and possessions just arrived and now we begin the hard work of unpacking and moving in. We got rid of a ton of stuff when we left Boston, but apparently not enough! 

Thankful for a Thai food lunch break between hours of unpacking. This is easily the best food we have had since moving and it is just down the street from our apartment.  

Thankful for a Thai food lunch break between hours of unpacking. This is easily the best food we have had since moving and it is just down the street from our apartment.  

My best morning yet!

Weekend Morning Pages and schedule keeping are hard, especially in temporary housing with no personal space. But this Monday morning is the best morning I have had since moving out of our house in JP nearly two months ago. While their dad showered I made lunch for the girls and helped get them out the door, then I was showered and dressed and not feeling groggy or sick before eight. Ready to have a productive day planning for the week ahead. I made a cup of tea that I don't desperately need for once and as the skies clear up here in Oxford. The movers come with our stuff on Wednesday morning and I will be moving us in during the rest of the week while the kids are in school. My studio space along with everything else! I am so ready. What are you ready and waiting for? If I were back in Boston I would be preoccupied with waiting for the snow to melt. 

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I'm ready for my boat...

The boat shipment filled with the bulk of my art supplies that is taking it's sweet time getting to the UK. It didn't even leave Boston until two weeks after we left the country and isn't due until later this week, then it needs to clear customs. I am regretting some of my air shipment decisions. I wish I had included more art supplies. Especially watercolor sketchbooks and tubes of paint.  I'm comepletly out of thick tough watercolor sketchbook pages and have been on a roll with the watercolor sketching. Today I went looking for an affordable option to tide me over while I wait and I found nothing but an old stock Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. Of course I bought it immediately since the old paper is supposed to be a lot better. But this is a very nice book and not inexpensive. No doodles for it! It might come with me to Paris or Rome though! 

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One month in England

It's been a month already! It has been a long and challenging month with stress and illness. But good things are ahead and I am very excited to stretch my creativity in England and the rest of Europe. In a month I will be all moved into my new art studio and it will be spring. Spring and flowers in March! I can hardly contain my excitement.  

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A little break from illness with a road trip to Stonehenge

We are happily going car free in the UK, but for our first two months here the company that moved us out here is paying for a rental car. Being so sick for weeks on end has meant that we haven't been able to use the rental for the little road trips that we planned. Until this past Sunday when we went to Stonehenge! Over a million people pass through the Stonehenge site every year despite it being a bit of a pain to get to if you don't have a car, and still a bit of a pain with a car. But it is only about an hour and I could finally breathe without breaking into a coughing fit or gagging, but I wasn't ready for a trip to London. So we piled in the car and went to Stonehenge and it was really cool! They have very few signs for it along the way and we lost our wireless directions halfway there but we knew we were going in the right direction when we saw a bunch of big rocks arranged in a circle from the highway. From there we headed to the visitor center and took a shuttle bus to Stonehenge. I am typically not a fan of those little recorded devices that museums give out or sell but they gave them to us and they seemed to really help the children get into the idea of seeing a bunch of big old rocks. I grew up seeing Stonehenge in every history book and now I have seen it, sketched it and taken a selfie with my family in front of it. Next weekend we are going to London! Another one hour road trip.

Stonehenge sketch. Watercolor and grey colored pencil in a pocket moleskine watercolor book.  

Stonehenge sketch. Watercolor and grey colored pencil in a pocket moleskine watercolor book.  

Stonehenge surprises us as we drive on the highway. 

Stonehenge surprises us as we drive on the highway. 

Recovery

We expected moving to a new country with small children to be difficult. And it has been difficult, but mostly in ways that we didn't anticipate. Back to back illnesses for me has killed my sketching in Oxford groove. But I'm finally starting to feel better enough to start drawing again. Not outside yet, too much congestion for that. But it will come soon enough and I will enjoy it! 

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My history with art cards

I've been making small art cards as a way to help generate and try out new ideas for many years now. I have a collection of artist trading cards that I traded for, some that I purchased and I have sold many of my own. These days I am coming up with creative ways to give them to people that I meet. Seems like moving to a new country is a great chance to start giving out little tastes of art while practicing my skills in small low commitment ways. 

Transient

Missing Juno the possibly historic storm.

You might have heard that the Northeast United States from NY to Maine is getting hammered by what is being built up as a "historic" storm. The Boston area is supposed to get the worst of it with up to three feet of snow. I lived in Boston for nearly twelve years and weathered many blizzards during those years. I lived in the Chicago area before that and       weathered storms there as well, but it was always harder in Boston because getting in your car and driving isn't a simple choice during good weather and it flat out is not a choice in bad weather. The infrastructure in the entire Boston area is so bad that storms are crippling in a way I did not experience in the equally snowy Midwest.  

The thing is I moved to the much more boring climate of the United Kingdom a little over two weeks ago. During the winter the temperature hovers around 40 degrees and it might rain. It's all rather boring. Grateful to be bored as I think of my friends back in the Northeast and hoping that none of them lose power and stay safe and warm. 

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One of our many blizzards in Boston. This one is going to miss the rest of us not so much.  

Vulnerable

Last weekend me and my youngest got sick and on Tuesday night our internet went out. It didn't get fixed until Friday. Having just moved abroad the Internet has been our lifeline to our old life and our friends. Please never leave me again wifi! Feeling healthy again means more Oxford exploring. Looking forward to making a full recovery this weekend. Happy Friday!

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It's really pretty here. And quirky. I like that mix! 

Getting Settled

Everyday I get a little more comfortable and everyday I spend a little more time with my creativity. These past two weeks have been very hard and very densely filled with moving out, temporary housing, a red eye transatlantic flight with children, more temporary housing, jet lag, new school, new job, cultural adjustment and then finally illness. All in just a two week time span! Today as the sick haze lifts and life is beginning to feel normal again I am rediscovering myself and what drives me forward. A new and improved self that isn't frustrated and longing change like I had been back home. After so many years Boston had become my home and I loved it. But I was also struggling and had wanted to make a big change for years. Well, here is my big change and I am appreciating it. Doesn't make it less hard at times and doesn't make me miss our friends any less, but I can't think of a better place for me to grow as an artist at this point in my life. We still don't move into our apartment until mid to late February but we are expecting our air shipment to be delivered today and it has some extra art supplies for me on it as well as toys for the children. What wonderful timing! 

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Inspiration abounds everywhere.

A week ago we were winding things down in Boston, now we are getting settled in Oxford. Jet lag was rough and I am only now feeling mostly recovered and sleeping properly. Missing my art studio, especially a couple of bottled inks for fountain pens and dipping. But mostly the dining table in the temporary apartment is working well. Spent my first day exploring by myself and was frankly too awestruck by the amazing buildings to sketch them. But soon. Very soon. Right now I am busy taking it all in. 

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My next art studio...

Will sadly not have an outdoor space to draw and paint in while I sip my afternoon tea. But it will be significantly larger than my last well loved space and I will learn from the mistakes I made setting up space the last two times when I set it up for creativity. 

After nearly twelve happy years in Boston mLee art has to Oxford UK with her family and couldn't be more thrilled. Sad to be leaving behind so many connections and friends in Boston. Boston has been a good home and a great place for our children and my art but excited for this adventure and the many adventures to follow.

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Brilliant Idea. Genius. Binder Clips.

I love my watercolor brushes and treating them well is important to me. Treating them right so they give me their best for years to come. But my space is small and I would rather spend my hard earned money on paint and brushes rather than fancy brush storage. I like to keep my most used supplies as close as possible. Enter the binder clip. Low tech yet they pretty perfect for all sorts of jobs, including good brush storage. 

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Small yet mighty, my current art space in the UK

My current art space my be small but it contains my essentials and is accessible. As I start to get used to my new time zone I will spend more and more time with the contents of this drawer. Doing so should help me cope with the loss of my community and general homesickness as we all adjust to our new lives over here. When is it going to start feeling real?

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Messy desk, creative New Year.

Lately I have been too preoccupied to clean up at the end of each creative session. They blend into each other and there is a mess growing in my art studio. The art studio that is getting packed up and moved across the ocean next week. A little mess is okay with me as long as I keep creating. So far 2015 is off to a great start. I am excited about where my art is going to take me. 

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Thank you 2014! Welcoming 2015 with much excitement.

Saying a fond and grateful goodbye to the year 2014 today. It was a year of finding a new artistic voice and growing my skills and confidence. It was a year of saying goodbye to a current life, city, friends and country and it was a year of me often unconsciously self-sabotaging myself. I am going to say goodbye and thank you to all the piles of good from 2014 and thank and learn from my very personal mistakes. I am ready to wrap up things here in Boston and start our adventure in Europe. Just thinking about the inspiration for my art that I am sure to discover has me super excited and ready to get started. 

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An Inky Challenge for 2015

I have been debating this idea for awhile now but I have decided to go for a daily ink challenge for 2015. I am still working out the details but I think the big things are that every day I need to make something with ink in 30 minutes or less. The #inktober challenge started off slow and difficult but midway through I hit a groove and ended up learning and growing through the challenge and missing it when it was over. My biggest artistic goal for 2015 is to improve my drawing skills and this should do the trick nicely. A year of daily ink is likely to be even more challenging than a month, but hopefully even more rewarding as well! I am excited to start and keeping it up during our travels should be interesting.

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