Sketchbook Memory

Mixed-media sketchbook pages using graphite, collage, acrylic, and latex.

Mixed-media sketchbook pages using graphite, collage, acrylic, and latex.

I recently said goodbye to my sweet cat, Emily. She was my constant cat friend for 18 years. Emily was also a convenient model and became the subject of many drawings and paintings over the years. Right after she passed away, I came across these preparatory works that were originally studies for paintings, so I decided to collage them into my sketchbook. The drawings were a bit smudged and faded, like a memory. I decided on a mixed-media approach to further emphasize the fleetingness of time, and to also reflect my emotional response to losing Emily. The paint is acrylic and latex, and the drawings are adhered and layered with acrylic and glaze medium. I was trying to capture the essence of our time without overthinking the process.

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One Big Show

One Big Show The end-of-year art extravaganza is upon us! So proud of our students and ready (almost) to hang the show. The drawing and painting students exhibit over 200 works of art! That’s not including the photography or sculpture!

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Summer Sketching Season is Here!

Cat Drawing

Inspired by a statuette at the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri

A visit to the Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri yielded this sketch of a statue of Bastet. The Egyptian cat goddess is one of my favorite museum subjects so I have quite a few versions of Bastet in various sketchbooks from different museum visits.
During the summer is when I do most of my traveling and I love the fresh perspective I get when I go to new or familiar places. I find interest in the the ordinary and am often inspired by things I encounter.

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Best Moments!

Positive reinforcement doesn’t just apply to dealing with dogs.

Best Moment AwardWow! I want to take a moment to thank We Live in a Flat for acknowledging my recent post, A Walk in the Park, with a “Best Moments” award. Taking a cue from my nominator, I would like to thank my awesome husband, Neil, who is always willing to go for a walk.

Since I’m new to getting awesome awards from strangers posted to my blog, I need to find out what protocol is next and most appropriate. So while I do some research, please take a moment to check out We Live in a Flat and the fun dogs thereabouts.

I’ll be back soon !

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A Walk in the Park

Ink and watercolor on Fabriano HP 140.

Ink and watercolor on Arches HP 140

Here’s a mind map I created based on a walk I took in a local park. It was the second assignment for the online Creativity Crash Course through Stanford. The idea was to go for a walk and observe the location as though you were on high alert, or in elevated participation in one’s walking experience. I’m the one in the middle.

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A Head Full of Bees

Carol Parker Mittal

Mixed-media image created by scanning original paintings and drawings and then  layering them in Photoshop.

Here’s a design I completed as an assignment for an online course I’m taking through Stanford University. The class is called A Crash Course on Creativity and the first prompt was to create a book cover for your autobiography. This is my solution to the problem which required an image, a title, and a subtitle. The process was truly thought-provoking as I considered all of the possible iterations of myself that I could portray. Things like, “I Wish I Were Ironman, but I’m Really Thor,” or “The Nine Lives of a Not-So-Crazy Cat Lady.” Ultimately, and with help from people who know me really well (Neil, my husband, Wendy, my best friend, and Danny, my brother) I decided to go with the attributes that have been most constant throughout my entire life– some features of my personality, and making art.

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Make Art Like You’re Working

Carol Parker Mittal

A page from my work notebook.
Carol Parker Mittal

Here are some pages from my work notebook. It’s part sketchbook, part scrapbook, part notepad. Here’s where I make to-do lists, record ideas for lessons, and keep track of anything else I need to remember. I also paste in images I find interesting, notes from students, comics, scraps of decorated paper. I use colored pens, watercolor, and pencils. I doodle, make sketches, turn my book sideways, and otherwise manipulate the page in and around the notes. The extra arty part doesn’t take much time. In long meetings, I make patterns and drawings around the to-do lists. (Believe it or not, I focus better when I’m doodling.) Other times I take my book home and paint some of the pages with watercolor prior to using the pages for work. This activity makes some of the necessary organizational elements to my work a lot more fun. Plus, because it’s visually organized, I’m more likely to remember all the things I’m supposed to remember. For more ideas about how to make work more fun, you should check out The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week by Summer Pierre.

Carol Parker Mittal

Hand made paper attached to my work notebook. Carol Parker Mittal

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Cats for a Friend

Watercolor Painting

Blitzen and Hemingway

A friend asked me to create a portrait as a gift for his sister-in-law of her cats who had passed away. So, here are Hemingway and Blitzen as I interpreted them. I worked from multiple photos of the two cats and asked questions about their interactions and personality traits.  For me, this is important work because to memorialize someone’s beloved pets is a dubious responsibility. As the artist, I wanted to capture the essence and relationship of the cats, as well as create a mood that was respectful. I had fun making the painting because I like the challenge of combining the idea, intention, technique, and composition into a unified piece.

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Five Minute Drawing- Buildings

Tower of the AmericasSan Antonio, Texas

Tower of the Americas
San Antonio, Texas

I just signed up for The Sketchbook Project’s project! All you have to do is draw a picture of the tallest building in your city in five minutes and submit it to their site. Here’s my entry– The Tower of the Americas in San Antonio, Texas is 750 ft. tall and was built in 1968.

To learn about this and other inspirations go to:

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Remembering Art Teachers

Think about your art teacher when you were a school kid. Hopefully, you remember that person as a someone who inspired you to create–something– even if you were not artistically inclined. I remember Mr. Fisher, my elementary art teacher who let me help organize supplies in the art room. He encouraged me to keep drawing and always had time to provide feedback on the art I showed him after school.  I remember Mr. Kraley, my high school art teacher who always expected excellence and didn’t tolerate a lot of nonsense. He pushed me to always do my best.

Art teachers do what they do because they love art and they love sharing their enthusiasm about creating with others. It’s an exhausting, often thankless, misunderstood profession on one hand, and a rewarding, affirming energizing livelihood on the other.

Once a year art teachers from all over the state gather for the annual Texas Art Education Association convention. Held in San Antonio this year, attendance included about 1,500 art educators! Imagine that many artists and teachers all in one place. (I’ll pause while you contemplate.) Okay! Yes, it’s crazy, creative, energizing madness of the best kind. Teachers come to revive their spirits taking sessions in curriculum, instruction, assessment, and management. There are hands-on workshops in every medium imaginable for every grade level-Painting for elementary, colored pencil for middle school, drawing sessions for high school students, classes in pedagogy for college students studying to be art teachers. There are keynote lectures presented by nationally known artists and educators. The exhibition hall is packed with art supply vendors offering freebies and deep discounts on art supplies, books, and goods.  Daily and evening tours and events showcase the local museums, galleries, artists, and landmarks. Basically, it’s an all-out art extravaganza. It is an energizing and renewing time for the teachers who attend. The convention allows for networking, reconnecting with the art spirit, and a way to improve as an artist and a teacher.

If you are a teacher please click on the tab above – Art Teachers. I have posted the presentation materials for the workshops I presented at the TAEA convention. Feel free to use them for your own teaching. If you are not an art teacher, I hope you have a positive memory of someone who encouraged you to use your creativity or taught you how to see the world in a unique way.

Thank you to Mr. Fisher and Mr. Kraley and all art teachers everywhere!

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