Friday, 27 February 2015

Weekly drawings: week 9

St Hippolyte's Church Zell am See
{The tower of St. Hippolyte's Church}

We have spent the week in Zell am See, Austria, where my husband snowboarded and I relaxed with Little M and filled my sketchbook with Alpine views. 

I packed a minimalistic art kit: a tiny moleskine sketchbook, a few pens, pencils and brushes, and a small palette of watercolour paint.  I felt a bit confined by the small selection of supplies, but that's not a necessarily a bad thing when it comes to art. Sometimes limiting the options forces one to solve problems more creatively. 

I'm planning to do two travel posts in the next week to highlight the beauties of Zell am See and Salzburg.  But, for now, I'll just share my little sketches. 

{The mountains}

Stadt Platz, Sell am Zee, Medieval town
{A 16th century building on the town square}

{Experimenting with watercolour techniques}

Festung Hohensalzburg castle Salzburg drawing
{The Festung Hohensalzburg castle in Salzburg, started in 1077}

Related Posts

Sketches of Victoria Falls
Sketches of Dublin
Sketches of New York and Minneapolis
A Sketch of Bologna's leaning towers

Friday, 20 February 2015

Weekly Drawings: Week 8

{This picture expresses everything...}

This was the first week when, no matter now much I wanted to, I couldn't keep up with my resolution to draw every day.  

You know what? That's ok.  

I'll start again tonight, and keep going with my 365 drawing resolution. If, by the end of the year, there are 350 (or less) instead of 365, it doesn't really matter.  What matters is that the resolution gives me a reason to sharpen my pencils and open my ink pots.  

So here are 4 drawings for this week. That's still over half the days, so I think I'll consider it a success. (After all, the most important thing is that we're gentle with ourselves...)

I take all the photos with my iphone4 (geriatric, I know), and the pictures always look so crisp and light on my phone screen, but when I upload them here they appear blurry and dark.  I wonder why? 

And... we're off to the Austrian Alps tomorrow!  I'm sure my sketchbook will be filled with mountains and skiers/snowboarders. 

You can follow along in real time on my Facebook page or Instagram. ( @janeheinrichs ) 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


{Happy Valentines, belatedly!}

Reading //  I've just started the unabridged journals of Sylvia Plath. So far, she is struggling through her studies at Smith and having various rocky relationships with boys.  All the entries are written in her clear, strong, eloquent voice.  

Watching // Rubbish reality TV, which makes me feel terribly guilty. By the time 5pm rolls around, I'm exhausted and out of ways to keep Little M entertained.  So, we plonk down on the couch together and watch Dinner Date and the Real Housewives (of wherever...). 

Thinking about // What do do for Lent. One year I started to keep a gratitude journal, and wrote down 5 things I was thankful for each evening.  I'm thinking of doing that again this year, only hopefully I'll persevere for all 40 days this time! 

Anticipating // Our trip to Austria, and my first ever time in the Alps in winter. I won't ski, as I'm not in that frame of mind, but I'll sit by the fire, drink hot chocolate, and enjoy the scenery. 

Grateful for // The fluffy duvet that I'm curled under right now. There's nothing better than high quality bedding.  (And also, all your wonderfully insightful and supportive comments recently.  I haven't gotten a chance to respond to all of you, but your kind words mean so much to me.)

Noticing // That I am writing a lot of lists.  Supplies to pack for the trip.  Things to buy in our next grocery order.  Ways to make life easier.  Lists have the power to solve all problems. 

Working on // Writing a story for my own enjoyment.  This one has no deadline, and as of yet, no readers.  It's so wonderful to steal an hour (during naptime) and escape into this fantastical, imaginary world.  Maybe someday it will be finished. Maybe.

Knowing // That somehow, everything will be ok. 

What are you up to currently? 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Why I'm doing daily drawings

{All photos taken with my iphone4}

I'm not just doing daily drawings for the sake of a fun challenge; they are an essential part of my new existence as a mother.  

Just before Christmas I was diagnosed with post-natal depression. I felt like I couldn't recognize myself in my new role.  I went to my GP and was referred to a therapist.  The options seemed to be weekly therapy (which wasn't possible without childcare) or antidepressants.  I wasn't sure what I was feeling was acute or chronic enough to need medication, so I decided I needed to construct my own method for recovery. (Note: Had I thought what I was experiencing was severe enough, I would have accepted medication without question).

Daily drawings were my answer to the problem.  

So far I've managed to draw every day this year but one (when I was just too exhausted to lift a pencil).  Each small drawing is like a shot of creative happiness into my veins. This practise is, quite literally, art therapy. 

Do you have any creative endeavours that lift your spirits?  What are they?  I'd love to know. 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

How and why to keep a reading or book journal

When I was a teenager I discovered an old notebook of my grandmother's in which she had written down the title of every book she had read as a teenager in her gorgeous, florid handwriting.

Seeing her notebook inspired me, and shortly afterwards I bought a small notebook from our local dollar store and started keeping a reading journal of my own.  I have recorded 715 books that I read for pleasure since October 30, 1999 (which is weird, as I just realized that my daughter was born exactly 15 years later!).

I didn't realize when I started how much that little reading journal would influence my life. It has become a bibliography or road map tracking my personality, my worries, my likes, my dislikes and my fascinations.

Why you should keep a reading journal: 

1. To remember what you've read.  Sometimes I'll remember a story I read, but won't remember the title.  Or I'll want to recommend a book that I loved three years ago... It's handy to be able to open my notebook, flip to the relevant page, and find the title and author.

2. To track your changing personality and reading taste.  Certain books speak to us at certain times in our lives.  When I look back at the books I was reading a year ago, three years ago or 10 years ago I can see exactly who I was at that time and how those books nourished my personal quests.

3. To keep track of how much you've read. If you're like me, you are a competitive reader.  Each year I want to read more than the year before.  The goal isn't always more books, but to read with more discernment.  One year I read all of Shakespeare (except for the history plays).  Other years I have had other challenges for myself.  Keeping a reading journal keeps me accountable for my reading goals.

4. To record your impressions of a book.  My reading journal started out as a simple bibliography (Title, Author, Date Read), and hasn't expanded beyond that.  However, I also keep a "Commonplace Book" where I collect quotes and passages that inspire me.  This is like an extension of my reading journal.

5. It makes you a better reader and a better writer.  When you keep a book journal you are practising conscientious reading.  You're reading with purpose, and giving focused attention to something invariably makes you better at it.

How to keep a reading journal:

1. Selecting a container. The decision here is digital vs paper. When I started the digital world wasn't nearly as advanced as it is now.  I bought a little notebook from our local dollar store and started recording the books as simple bibliography entries. As that's how I started, I don't think I'm going to change my system.  You could get a slightly larger notebook and include your favourite quotes, if you wanted.

I know that Moleskine does a special reading journal notebook, which might be a nice option.

If you want to go digital, you could open a word document, or even use one of the reading log websites such as goodreads or librarything.  The thing with goodreads that frustrated me is that you can't record books twice, which means you can never record when you've re-read a book. (My husband always teases me about how often I re-read books.)

2. Decide how much or how little you want to record. This is completely up to you. Do you want to write a book review and collect quotes for each book? Or do you simply want to record the title, author and date you read it?  Those three entries are the absolute minimum.  You could also record how you acquired the book or who recommended it to you (bookstore, library, borrowed from friend, found on the train seat, etc). And you could have a system for rating the book.  I usually put a small dot beside titles I really enjoyed.

If you do decide to copy quotes, make sure you write down the page numbers for each one, or you'll never be able to find the original again (I've learned from my mistakes).

3. Number the books.  Your first entry will be # 1.  Then number each subsequent entry so that you can keep track of how many books you've read since you started.  I've read 715 books for pleasure since Oct, 1999.  I didn't include the innumerable books I had to read for academic papers and research, as all those books would have been recorded in the various research bibliographies appended to my essays and dissertations.

4. Record the book when you've finished it. If you don't, you'll lose track.

5. Keep a page or two at the back to record books you want to read. Whenever someone recommends a book, or I read a book review that sounds interesting, I write the title of the book down in the last pages of my reading journal.  That way I'm never stuck for something to read when I have no books on my bedside table.

Have you every kept a reading journal?  Do you have any tips? 

Friday, 6 February 2015

This week's daily drawings

I have somehow managed to keep up my daily drawing resolution.  So here are this week's drawings, in no particular order, from my iphone.  
You can see them come to life as I post them on Facebook and Instagram.


Thursday, 5 February 2015

Are you Happy Right Now?

How happy are you right now? In this moment?

Take a deep breath.  Close your eyes.  Then open them and look around.  Really take it all in.

Are you reading this on your laptop, sitting on your couch and sipping a cup of something? Or are you hunched over your cell phone on a bus, shoulders supporting your head (and all your worries)?

There are times when we feel like we have things more or less figured out: we have a daily routine, we're content, and we feel like we can handle whatever life throws us.  Other times life can feel difficult, overwhelming and confusing.

In those moments, do you know what really makes you happy? When it comes to an awareness about the little, specific things that bring a smile to our faces and contentment to our hearts we often draw a blank.

Can you list a few things that trigger a feeling of delight in your daily life?

I'll be honest: life right now has knocked me sideways. (Some of you may have already figured that out by reading between the lines).  Motherhood, as amazing as it is, is a huge adjustment, and I've never been one to enjoy change. I feel like I've forgotten what makes me happy in the storm of trying to cope with day to day challenges.

So, I've decided to approach life with the spirit of a detective to figure out what's missing.  It's difficult to experience happiness when we're not able to savour small moments or be aware of our surroundings.

We need to curate the happiness in our lives like a museum director.

So, in this quest I've discovered that I love:

Keeping a journal
Shoes (this surprised me, as I'm not much of a fashionista)
Sipping a glass of wine after dinner
Flowers on my coffee table (currently I have a blushing sunrise of roses and tulips)
Red polish on my toenails
Drawing, anything, every day (watch my facebook or instagram to keep up with those)
Reading (Books, blogs, magazines....)
Living in London
Poetry (my local library doesn't even have one poetry book aside from Shakespeare... so I need to go on a hunt)
Ballet (watching; dancing)
Yoga (I now do my sun salutations with Little M watching with amusement in her bouncy chair)
Snow (it snowed in London this week!)
Beautiful artwork hanging on our walls (we're starting to collect South African artists)
Hearing church bells pealing in Sunday morning 
Plus more (I'm still investigating, I'll keep you posted)

What do you love? Can you make a list of small things that bring a smile to your face? Maybe it's listening to your favourite album, or watching the sunset over the rooftops, or selecting the perfect croissant from your local bakery each morning... Get creative, put on your Sherlock cap and get thinking.

We should all investigate what our personal preferences are so that we can recognize and embrace moments of happiness that our unique to us.

Now... take another deep breath. And try to find one thing to do today that will fill you with child-like joy.

Bon courage!


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Valentines printables! and new daily routines

{PDF printable Valentine available HERE}

Today is a quiet day.  The snow is muffling the busy sounds of the city. All I can hear are the bewildered birds chirping on the pollarded trunks of the plane tree across the street. 

Baby is sleeping too, for which I am very grateful. 

A few years ago I remember reading a book (touted by Oprah) called Simple Steps. The basic premise was one would add 4 new habits each week, for several weeks (say 12, maybe).  I remember two of the habits for the first week were drinking water and cleaning out one drawer or cupboard. This book has stuck in my mind, because I feel like I need to make similar small, daily/weekly/monthly steps towards building a new healthy routine. 

Despite all my searching, I can't find that book anywhere now. It's almost like I imagined it, and it never existed at all. (It had a daisy on the cover, so if you know of it, please let me know where to find a copy!)

This week my simple steps are: drinking water, doing yoga (or a few ballet barre exercises) each morning, drawing each day and posting the sketches to instagram and facebook, and making a to-do list each evening (which I try to adhere to the next day).  

What are your small daily routines that keep you sane and on track? 

On my list today was to write a blog post... 

So here we go...

February is the month of love, and I thought I'd share these valentines printables I designed a year ago.  

I'd love to design a few more printables to post in my etsy shop this year. What types of things would you like? A few ideas I had were: perpetual calendars, recipe cards, party invites, thank-you cards, gift tags.... do any of you fabulous readers have any other suggestions? 

{PDF valentine available HERE}

Friday, 16 January 2015

A Drawing a Day update #2

I had intended to write a post for my usual Wednesday blog slot, but this week carried me away in a tidal wave of diapers, soothers, and unfolded laundry.

It's not that time is rushing, because it isn't.  In fact, I sometimes feel like time has never passed so slowly since Little M was born.  Each second seems new and strange, and something to adjust to. I'm grateful for the apparent change in pace, for I can savour each delightful moment in its fullness (both length and depth, for time is not just linear).

And, when I can, I sketch.

In time, I want to focus on writing as well. And I was thinking of writing a series of posts on journalling. Would that be of interest to anyone?

Follow the growing sketchbook on Instagram or Facebook.

Friday, 9 January 2015

A Drawing a Day

As you might expect, adjusting to life with a newborn hasn't been easy. Amidst all the joyful cooing and smiles, there are teary meltdowns and wakeful nights. At first I thought I would never be able to draw or write again. But as Little M grows, week by week, I'm finding that we're feeling more comfortable with each other and our new routines. 

As an effort to nourish all the creative facets of my soul, I'm trying to draw something every day. Even the smallest sketch, or the action of picking up my pencil, makes me feel more whole. 

I've been posting each tiny sketch on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and the words of encouragement from all my followers are giving me the courage to continue. If I can... if I'm brave enough... I want to challenge myself to post a drawing every day this year. 

Do you think I can?