If you follow my other blog – which is dedicated to art where I work in a series or on a very specific project – you will have seen that I have just embarked on a new art challenge. If you don’t follow me there then I shall explain that my personal challenge for this year is to draw as many Star Wars characters as possible, my goal being at least 100.
Incidentally, my internet connection at home has been messing around and I have, therefore, not been very present online lately as a result. I can only deal with doing so much on my phone. The problem seems to have been resolved and fingers crossed it will continue to function. I look forward to reading and engaging with you all properly again.
I like to work in series of illustrations for several reasons. This year, I have decided to take on my biggest art challenge yet: I am going to draw a series of at least 100 Star Wars illustrations, aiming for 150. My kids helped me generate a list of 180 prompts before I felt overwhelmed and stopped them. We could definitely keep going to 200. To begin with, however, I am going to focus on just the first 100.
Why Star Wars? I was born in the 1970s so Star Wars so I am literally a lifelong fan of Star Wars. Furthermore, I am married to an absolute Star Wars nut and we are the parents of four Star Wars nerds. As a family, we spend quite a lot of time consuming Star Wars in its various formats and discussing Star Wars. It, therefore, seemed like an obvious subject for…
As a parent, I am almost neurotically eager about providing my children with opportunities I did not have. I want to expose my children to all sorts of experiences because you never know what might stick and spark a lifelong interest. You don’t know what things click with you unless you try them, right? I did not grow up with much access to live music and I had not seen a live orchestral performance until I was an adult. We, therefore, try to grab opportunities for our children to experience live music.
One such opportunity arose this weekend as the Philadelphia Orchestra were performing music from Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ at the Kimmel Center. The teenagers opted out but our youngest son was enthusiastic about the idea so we went as a trio. This was my first time returning to the Kimmel Center since we took the kids to a Halloween themed orchestral performance back in 2016. I think the conductor – Aram Demirjian – was also the conductor of that previous show. He’s adept at communicating ideas to a multigenerational audience. My husband has taken our middle two sons to showings of ‘Star Wars’ movies with the score played by a live orchestra but, for our youngest son and me, this was a first experience of seeing an orchestra perform the soundtrack to a film. It was fascinating to see how the conductor used an iPad playing the movie with various symbols and lines on it to prompt his conducting initially, presumably to get the starting point spot on and set the rhythm, but quickly stopped having to look at that guide once everyone had the flow. You can tell I am not a musician because of the limitations of my vocabulary.
The Philadelphia Orchestra provided the original soundtrack to ‘Fantasia’, at that time led by conductor Leopold Stokowski. It was, therefore, pretty cool to be hearing that same orchestra, albeit with different personnel of course, perform that soundtrack live. What I had not known previously, however, was that the music for the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment was the only one not provided by the Philadelphia Orchestra so we were, therefore, hearing them perform that part of the film for the first time. Obviously the majority of the music was from the 1940 ‘Fantasia’. However, they snuck in a piece from ‘Fantasia 2000’. Igor Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ happens to be one of my favourite pieces of classical music so I found myself feeling strangely emotional hearing it performed live for the first time. Strangely enough, another of my favourite pieces of classical music is Debussy’s ‘Clair de Lune’ and, though it does not feature in either ‘Fantasia’ movie, that piece formed part of the performance we saw. That was pretty magical.
All three of us enjoyed the experience. The Philadelphia Orchestra is superb and the Kimmel is a nice performance space. There was also a really nice vibe and energy in the auditorium as everyone was engaged and enthralled, with kids and adults alike giggling at the animations and clapping enthusiastically. Most importantly to me, our youngest son really enjoyed the experience.
Trigger Warning: This blog post contains photos of spiders and other bugs.
Happy New Year!
This brief blog post is a precis of the last Pict family escapades of 2019, what we got up to over winter break. We were not overly ambitious or adventurous, choosing to stick fairly close to home and keeping each outing brief, because our focus was on quality family time, enjoying each other’s company, and relaxing after what has been a stressful, chaotic, and busy few months.
The first family event of winter break was a cinema trip to see ‘Rise of Skywalker’. We are a family of Star Wars nerds. Mr Pict and I have loved it since we were kids and so we introduced it to each of the boys when they were babies. We, therefore, had to see the latest installment in the saga as soon as we possibly could.
Mr Pict and I took our youngest son into Philly to see the Christmas lights and wander around the market that sets up near city hall every holiday season. The light show that projects images onto the facade of city hall is well done, though the accompanying music could have been louder. I really detest crowds but at least the throngs were all people in good spirits and nobody was in a particular rush. It did, however, make me appreciate the relative peace and quiet of the adjacent garden space with its antler clad figures and twinkling fairy lights. We had a wander around the market stalls, just taking in the sights, sounds, and smells. We were not making any purchases so didn’t have to get involved with any jostling and thankfully we didn’t need any refreshments because the queues for food were astounding. The whole area of the city had a good buzz to it. I think maybe sparkling lights make everything feel better.
We had a lovely Christmas Day, full of fun and feasting. My personal highlight was receiving a Little Baby Yoda made for me by my 14 year old son.
Mr Pict took our 12 year old skiing in the Poconos. I have never had an interest in skiing but Mr Pict introduced all of the boys to the sport a few years ago. Our current 12 year old is the only one who took to it so a day of skiing has become an annual event for the two of them.
Finally, we had some tickets for the Insectarium so we took a trip there just before the new year. Our only previous visit there had been in our first winter in Pennsylvania, almost exactly six years ago. It was the subject of one of my early blog posts. Much of the Insectarium was the same but the building has also expanded so it includes a butterfly pavilion. We enjoyed wandering among the large butterflies, most of which were the same species. I cannot remember the name of them but they were large with brown patterned wings which opened up to reveal a stunning, shiny blue. They also seemed to be fond of eating oranges. The absolute highlight of our time there for my youngest son and me, however, was being permitted to hold a tarantula. We loved it. I was completely smitten.
That concludes my round up of the last embers of 2019. Let’s see what is in store for us in 2020.
Thank you for finding and reading my blog and interacting with me for another year. I shall not be sorry to say goodbye to 2019 – something I feel like I think every single year. Is that why we look forward to the new year, because every single year of adulthood is just mentally taxing and emotionally exhausting? Anyway, let’s see what 2020 has to offer.
From my family to yours, enjoy the festive season – whether or however you celebrate – I hope you dust off the cobwebs of 2019 and I wish you all the very best for 2020.
PS Is 2020 the year in which I become the shortest member of my family?
If my calculations are correct, then this is the 50th illustration in my Rainbow Art Journal. If my assessment is correct, it is going to take me several years to actually complete every single page in this particular art journal and complete this rainbow themed project. I need to pick up the pace. This page was super quick and easy to work on because all of that background layering of green paint had accumulated as side projects over time. When I have some leftover paint (or scraps of paper or whatever) I have just been lobbing them on a page in this art journal and that way some pages just fill up over time. Therefore, when I was in a coffee shop with my local art journaling group, this page was ready and waiting for me to add to it. Maybe it’s the time of year – Rudolph and all that – but I almost immediately thought about drawing a deer skeleton. Part of my inspiration certainly came from the Ouroboros I drew a couple of years ago. That illustration was more effective, perhaps because it could pass as more anatomically correct. This deer skeleton is, however, weirdly proportioned and overall looks pretty dorky and derpy. But that’s OK. Whimsically weird has its charms too.
This page in the green section of my Rainbow Art Journal was created in response to an Art Snacks challenge. I actually painted it all the way back in April 2018. At the time, thought I might add more to it but, given I did not, I am considering it done. All the green is ink used at different levels of dilution and the orange is a watercolour pencil. Green and orange are among my least used colours but I actually quite like the combination of the two here.
For the first page in the fully green section of my Rainbow Art Journal (as opposed to the transition page) I wanted to work entirely in green (excepting a little black ink). I, therefore, decided to draw one of my sprite figures. I have a fondness for moss so decided my illustration would depict a moss sprite. I also used it as an experiment in layering my green watercolour paints. For the body I used a wet-in-wet technique and as such achieved lots of blossoms and pigment blooms where the different greens puddled and met each other. For the hair, I allowed a layer to completely dry before I added the next layer of paint.