Category Archives: studio blog



I’m not inspired to write today, or often actually. But ‘practice’ means honoring your intention, whether you want to or not, whether or not you feel inspired, whether or not the results will be worth showing anyone.

I’ve been thinking about housework lately. I had a house full of people over the holiday, which is a shift from the mostly quiet, peaceful routine I enjoy. I was reminded of my mothering days, with all the chores of making the house a functional, healthy, appealing place to be for my family. Housekeeping is an art. I’m not talking about the fancy magazine stuff, just the basic practice of noticing, paying attention, constantly figuring out how to make things work smoothly and happily as possible. Managing time and resources continually. If you’re lucky enough as I was not to need a full time paying job to make ends meet, your home can become a manifestation of your creative energy.

I think about this now, as I’ve had a few years of the freedom to prioritize getting into my studio every day. A friend of mine has a plaque over her sink that reads “Art Before Dishes”. It’s a good reminder for a busy person to make sure they give themself that time. But doing the dishes is part of the art of keeping the home healthy, safe, welcoming to others. It’s always a balancing act.

Unlike with the practice of housekeeping, where the work goes unnoticed unless it’s left undone for too long, I’ve chosen to basically show all the work of my art practice, posting my daily drawings. Whether or not I was inspired, whether or not the results are anything to be proud of. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ve probably seen plenty of misses, and seen times when I rework things different ways, runs of various themes, stretches when I focus on something and then points when I take breaks from that focus. I suppose it’s like being in the house while someone practices an instrument. Every once in a while you might hear some real music, but there’s an awful lot of awkward working through phrases over and over until they become part of a song.

I really hope that showing my work will at least be interesting; everyone’s journey is different, and I often wonder how someone got to where they are with their art. As I try to be open and unapologetic about what I’m doing, maybe it will encourage someone else toward dedicated exploration of their chosen practice.

Here are my daily drawings since my last studio blog post:


another post, another critic


In the past couple of weeks when I’ve had enough time, I’ve been continuing experiments in layering ink over crayon and scraping back into it, trying to gain more control. Especially I want to have bright, jewell-like colors set against the darkness. Sometimes I wonder if I should just be painting on black velvet.

I’ve had a piece off to the side to work on while I wait for the ink to dry, it’s finally done enough to post.


In the rest of my life I’m learning more about how to speak up as an activist, as so many of my friends feel suddenly called upon to do. There’s a sense of urgency and at the same time unreality that permeates the outer sphere of my awareness, the part that connects to the big world of national and international news.

In the smaller sphere of my local, tangible life, I’m spending much time with good friends belting out songs that speak of hope and of getting through the tough times of the human condition. There’s this stark dissonance between the comfort and relative ease of my little life, and my awareness of so many who are cold, hungry, threatened by war, suffering indignities. I’m one of the very privileged people, and have some resources to spare. So one of my inner critics tells me, this is no time to be drawing flowers and dancers. What good to the world is this practice of mine?

I really don’t know if there’s an answer to that.  I tell that critic to get out of my way go join the others in some other room,  while I sit over here and work on whatever this silly, useless thing is. It absorbs and satisfies me. A friend tells me that seeing my drawings posted brings her joy. And I think it probably doesn’t harm anyone. Maybe that’s enough for now.

Here are the drawings I’ve posted since my last studio blog entry. The final rehearsals  and the shows over the past weekend occupied much of my time, so there are a few quick and sketchy drawings in the middle. Coming out the other side it’s felt good to have more time to spend, though I’m still not satisfied with how my experiments are coming out.

colors under the dark

It seems to me that my dive into wax resist drawings has a darkness that’s suited to the mood of the times. The layers have a metaphoric resonance. First the hard pencil lines engraved into the paper provide the drawing with a structure. The next layer is colorful wax crayon, mirroring my deliberate embrace of optimism. All is then covered by the black sludge of ink, which needs to sit and dry till it forms a shell. Crappy stuff happens in this big old world, and it sometimes overwhelms everything. But then I scrape that darkness back off, finding the colors beneath, which glow all the more profoundly when they are offset by the dark.

It doesn’t show up in the scans I post, but I’m using fat glitter crayolas in almost all of the drawings, so they have a little sparkle that reminds me of the cheesy advent calendars for which I am a sucker.

My studio surfaces are getting cluttered with stuff dumped and not sorted. I’ve spent the past week and a half staying connected with my various communities as well as I can. It’s a very good time to check in with the people you care about and make sure they’re doing OK. I don’t think there’s much I can say that hasn’t been said better elsewhere, but if you’re reading this, I thank you for being a part of what has kept me going on this daily practice. Sometimes bad stuff hits where you live, and you just have to do your best to take care of what you can, fix what you can, protect what you can, and do whatever makes life worth living.

Here are the drawings I posted in the last week:

I can’t resist resist

I lately stumbled back into playing with wax resist techniques in my daily drawings. It’s been a while since I dug into this, and my daily drawings are giving me a chance to do some more focused exploration into how to get the results that I like. I’m still a ways from satisfied, but the journey is great fun. I took some snapshots as I went along on one of my recent drawings to give an idea of my process.


The first layer is colors ( I think water colors in this case) and lines drawn with hard (8h) pencil. A layer of Neocolor I crayons (the non-water-soluble kind) and/or oil pastels goes over that.


That gets covered with ink. In some drawings I use watercolor instead.


The ink gets scraped off after it’s dry. This is the “uncovering buried treasure” part of the drawing that I enjoy so much. Sorry about the unfocused photo!


In this drawing I wanted to play with scratchboard techniques, so I went back over some parts with more ink.


Here is about where I ended up.

One side effect of my recent run of resists is that I got time to finish up a drawing I started last summer, while waiting for the ink to dry. I was looking at “zen tangles” with my sister-in-law, and drew a couple  of line drawings to fill in with patterns. More dancing princesses!


…..And… here are the drawings I posted in the past week all in a bunch:



Princesses are Blockade Runners.

For a while I was embarrassed about drawing pretty girls in fancy clothes. One of my inner critics insists that this is schoolgirl doodling, not Serious Art. This well educated voice informs me that Art should be intelligent and provocative. My unpolished splats of drawings do not really count. I should not show anything unless it could rise to some level of professionalism, and I could write an essay about it that would be worthy of Art Journals and Galleries.

If I listened to this critic, I would just give up. What they want is not even something I want to do, never mind feel capable of. This critic informed me for years that I would never be a Real Artist.

My Princesses are blockade runners.

Sometimes they help me get a drawing done when I’m stuck on the blank page. They remind me to get over myself and purely have some fun with the drawing. If I’m thinking that Art is hard and Artists have to be a lot smarter, more focussed, more talented than I am, a Princess can remind me that the task at hand is not to be great but to get something onto the paper.

Princesses emerge to please the child that loved The Princess and the Goblin, The Rose and the Ring, the Blue Fairy Book, The Secret Garden, The Silver Curlew.

They please the little girl who wanted to be a vallerina, and dance, and make everyone happy, happy, happy. (Which is the origin of my secret fascination with tutus – the kind that stick straight out like an Elizabethan ruff).

They remind me not to take myself and my drawing practice so seriously. That little girl is still in me, wanting to dance and laugh and sing all the livelong day. These days she’s trying to keep her joyful presence where I can always reach it, even through the anxiety, fatigue, pain, sorrow and irritation that seem to be such ready companions.

Here are my drawings from the past week:

Tricking myself into carrying on

Over the long weekend I went to a gathering that I’ve gone to annually for a number of years now. Attendees spend the weekend in “clans”, using focused activities to do whatever personal work is in front of them. In 2009 I was in the Otter clan, working with the idea of establishing daily practice. That’s when I formed the intention of making a drawing every day, and actually did the first drawings.

One of the earliest obstacles to daily practice was facing my own expectations. I got to the end of a day, exhausted and just wanting to go sleep; didn’t think I had a drawing in me. My husband observed that I never said I had to draw something excellent, just that I had to draw something. Even if it was just a circle on a page. Don’t let myself off the hook for doing something each day. As it turns out, some of those 30 second doodles are wonderfully amusing or evocative! A thing I tell myself at the beginning or early stages, when I’m faced with a blank page or something that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is that there is always something interesting to see, wherever you are. There’s not really a way to fail.

Soon after I started the practice, I decided to post the drawings as a form of accountability. I made a decision early on not to apologize or self-critique the drawings I post. I’m simply showing what I came up with during my drawing time, not exhibiting polished and finished products. The odd bits and shortcomings I might see are actually a part of what I’m trying to convey – they show the process, point out places I might want to explore. This is part of what I tell myself when I post drawings I’m not especially pleased with or proud of. Sometimes I post drawings I really feel are throw-aways, but get comments that show me things I didn’t even see I had done. So much of this practice has been about finding tricks that help me to get out of my own way.

It’s been seven years now, which seems like a good number. That’s long enough for me to see some contours of the journey. I’ve had time to watch myself deal with resistance and discouragement, and time to develop some confidence. It’s also long enough that I feel this is a part of my life now, it’s just one of the things that I do.

My drawings from the past week. I brought limited drawing supplies along to Twilight Covening, which often prompts me to stretch a little. Being out of my studio sometimes offers the chance to do more observational work, but it turned out that I didn’t have much time to focus or be alone. I took time where I could, often while listening to conversations among friends. What came out on the page is memory, dream and mood.




Cat basket

I’m collecting and arranging songs for a community theater Christmas show called Welcome Yule! It’s kept me from doing visual art, but here’s a look at my “studio” this past week:


I’m learning how to use Noteworthy to write scores, so I can set up recordings for cast members to practice with. Always feels good to learn new skills, despite the moments of aggravation!

In my study I have another cat-inspired piece that I made a couple of years ago, after the original cat tree was done.



I started with the crown of a bush that had a  nest-like shape. Wove a platform for the cats to sleep on, then made little woven spots among the branches to keep the sense of peeking out from between leaves. I was trying to make something that the cats would like to use, and that I would like to have inside the house to look at.

still under construction
I have a helper
Here’s the finished basket


It lives in my study, where the cats still use it for naps.

Here are my daily drawings from the past week:

daily-page-16-1005 daily-page-16-1004 daily-page-16-1003 daily-page-16-1002 daily-page-16-1001 daily-page-16-0930 daily-page-16-0929



hat’s my studio update for the past week!

Cheers until next time …Kate



A New Cat Tree

I’ve had a week that kept me too busy to put extra time into studio work. That’s my report for this week. But I’ll take the opportunity to report on some past work. This is the second full sized “cat tree” I’ve built, finally finished to my satisfaction over the summer.

The original cat tree was made from roots dug out from under the house we lived in, when we put in a basement. Wrack and Ruin were new kittens, and I wanted to keep them inside. The structure of wood and twine made a good play gym for them. It lived in the kitchen and I finished building it there.

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The original cat tree in my old kitchen

When we moved, the new house didn’t have space for the old cat tree, so it now lives in my studio, next to my drawing table. The cats sometimes perch there to nap while I work. Meanwhile, I collected some mountain laurel branches from various woods that I love, and started tying them together.

So what makes a cat tree? It has to be big enough to climb, and balanced enough so that it doesn’t fall over with cats perched in it. There have to be places to snooze, and places to explore. Places to hang toys, and different ways to climb up and down. Finally, it has to look appealing enough that I’d want to live with it.

New cat tree under construction

This is mid-way finished; the structure is pretty much set up and I’m working on the esthetic details. I love weaving and tying, and get annoyed by ends hanging out. The whole thing ends up being sort of a sampler of knots and wraps.

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Detail of new cat tree

So now I have two of these things in my studio, which is more than I need. How do you find a home for something like this? Maybe I’ll put it in my Etsy shop just for grins, though I have no idea how much to charge and can’t imagine how to handle shipping….

At least now it’s been seen by a few more people; Thanks for looking!

Also, here are the drawings I posted in the past week.


Preview of a future post about one of my studio projects

I started posting my drawings as a way of keeping myself accountable for drawing something every day. Five years on, this is pretty much built into my routine. Even when I struggle with the blank paper, I still look forward to my (usually) evening drawing time and don’t feel the day is complete without it.

I want to expand on this foundation, spending more time in my studio doing other projects.

I’ve always struggled with the feeling that making art is self-indulgent, and there are many more useful and important things I could be doing with my time. That feeling is probably never going to go away, any more than the chorus of critics in my head whenever I make a drawing.

If I’ve learned anything from my drawing practice, it’s that the most important thing is just to do it, whatever it is. So here’s my declaration of commitment to doing other work in my studio and telling you about it about once a week.

Here are my daily drawings from the past week; they should link to the original posts.

Kind of fun to see a visual diary of the past week!

Until next time, happy autumnal equinox (if you’re in the northern hemisphere)

xoxox from Kate the ayespider  😉


Greeting cards are ready!

Some of the drawings look pretty OK as pictures on greeting cards. I’ve put a few assortments together and listed them in my Etsy shop,

You can also see the assortments in the “greeting card gallery” that I added to the menu above this post. Of course, if there are any other pictures you’d really like to have as a card you can always contact me and say so.

Printing technology these days is so great, I’m amazed at how affordable it is to get really satisfying, pleasing reproductions. It’s also really fun to play with card-sized versions of the pictures and seeing how they go together, and what themes develop. Somehow I can see it better when it’s on paper than on a computer screen.

Anyway, ta-da! that has been done.