February 01, 2017

February News and Calendar Free Download


I feel like we had the longest January ever! The Christmas holidays are by now a long distance memory and we are already longing for the first signs of spring.


I have been busy painting lately; the more I do it, the less I feel the pressure to make a masterpiece everytime I pick up a brush. My preferred subjects are dried leaves and small branches; anything that doesn't tilt or fade overnight. And I'm getting obsessed with olive green!


I have also started an annual perpetual nature journal. It is a simple concept that doesn't require too much energy and most of all doesn't have to be completed in a year. Basically you take a blank journal, I'm using Stillman and Birn Zata Series, and date the first page to represent the first week of January (Jan 1-7). Then continue dating the pages to represent each week until you get back to January. Each week you put an entry, it could be a sketch, a painting, some notes, and carry on to the following year by turning the journal to the current week and entering a new drawing.


I'm currently working on a new website and shop, which I'm hoping to launch by the end of the month. Fingers crossed I don't get swamped by too much coding.

Enjoy your free monthly calendar. Click on the image below to download. 

January 13, 2017

January Calendar Free Download

I know we are already halfway through January, but I finally dug out that illustrated monthly calendar that I started back in September. Since I'm still working on some of the months, I will make each calendar available for download every first day of the month. 
Click on the image below to download. Enjoy!


July 08, 2016

2-week holiday sketchbook challenge

The holiday season is upon us and like every year I like to set out some plans for creating memories and recording the summer time in a way that is not just taking pictures and let them sit on my laptop for the years to come. I love travel journals, but with a busy family schedule during the holidays is becoming more and more difficult to set aside the time to fill in a sketchbook.
This summer I'm going to try a different approach and inspired by Sara Midda's South of France - A sketchbook, I've put together an easy sketchbook challenge to help me make a visual record of my two week summer holiday. 

How does it work
The challenge is open to everyone interested in creating a holiday sketchbook. 
It contains a total of 7 prompts + 1 for the cover page. Each prompt will be developed over two days on a two-page spread to give me, and you, the chance to plan the page, gather informations and make up the time to complete it.
I will be using mainly watercolours, but really any other material or technique (photos, collages, etc) will do.

List of (suggested) materials
  • 8 loose sheets of paper (I will be using A4 watercolour sheets)
  • pencil + eraser + pencil sharpener (I will be using an HB pencil)
  • black sketching pen (I will be using a Staedtler 0.1 black liner)
  • brushes (10mm flat sable, no. 5 round sable, no.1 round synthetic)
  • watercolours (I will be using a travel set I made out of a mint tin, containing: winsor yellow, indian yellow, scarlet lake, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, french ultramarine, turquoise, winsor green blue shade, olive green, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, titanium white)

List of prompts
  • Cover Page: Create a front page for your sketchbook. It could be a fun and colourful front cover or a more descriptive one, adding places and dates of your holiday.
  • Colour Chart: Create one or more colour palette based on the surroundings. It could be based on the colours of a landscape, a garden, a house, whatever catches your eyes, or all of the above. Next to each colour write down the object it refers to; i.e. olive tree, rose, shatter, plate, sky, etc.
  • Food: Create a page to depict the local food. It could be seasonal food, a special recipe, a list of favourite plates, a restaurant menu, your breakfast, a holiday treat.
  • Weather: Create a page to take notes about the weather during your holiday. It could be a weather legend, a 24-hour pie chart with the sky's colour for each slice, the weather forecast for the 2-week holiday.
  • Journaling: Create a page for your journaling notes to include facts, quotes, dooddles, weather, feelings, daily routine.
  • Landscapes: Create a set of thumbnails to show the surrounding landscapes or local sceneries (beachscapes, cityscapes, local markets, etc)
  • Patterns: Look for patterns around you and create a series of small thumbnails adding some notes.
  • A collection of...: Create a spread of objects that caught your attention. It could be something from nature (flowers, plants, trees, fruits, stones, etc.), from the surroundings (house numbers, windows, signs, etc) or simple objects (vases, bags, shoes, mugs, etc).

I've created 2 different downloadable summaries of the prompts to use as a reference (look at the end of the post), so you can have it with you the whole time during your holiday.

There's really no right way of doing this; you can finish off each page spread or leave blank spaces to add things later on; you can add more prompts or complete the given ones within a week. 
The challenge can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

I will be posting each prompt and my personal take on it on Instagram every other day starting Friday 15 July 2016.

Everyone is welcome to join in! Simply use the prompts as your inspiration and use the hashtag #2weekholidaysketchbook if you are posting your pages on Instagram so we can all see your work and tag me @marina_cerra if you are joining in. 

You are more than welcome to do this challenge on your own blog, just link back to this post. Thanks! Also let me know in the comments if you decide to join in; I'd love to see where your creativity takes you. Feel free to share the list and invite your friends to join along with you.

Happy creative holiday!


Downloadable jpgs (for personal use only)

June 20, 2016

Working through the middle of a project

 I'm one of those people who tends to jump right into a project with a lot of enthusiasm, hard work and big ideas. But also, with not enough planning and thinking through it. This leads most often than not to be completely burned out half way through the process, bringing depression, self doubts and the lot.
I had already recognised a few years ago, that short term projects do work best for me as the initial momentum is enough to get me to the end; we are talking monthly commitments tops. Although, even in those instances, sometimes my interest shifts after a few days or weeks.
I guess it is totally normal to feel like this at times, but I felt the need to dig a big deeper and figure out why this happens.
I recently started listening to some podcasts while driving back home after my morning school run, and a few weeks back I came across the Creative Pep Talks by Andy J. Miller. In one of the episodes (sorry couldn't figure out which one was) he talked about the some of the key factors one should have to accomplish anything. And apart from familiar terms, like skills, planning, etc. the phrase the most resonated with me was "knowing the whys". Knowing why you are doing some particular project, why you are committing to this particular job, why you do things the way you do it.
It is not always easy to answer, at least in my case, but asking oneself the question at the beginning of a project (and maybe writing it down) I think will help keeping in mind the end goal, and will serve as a motivation to get through the hard part of it. 
When I started my #100daysofleaves, the idea was to, and I quote, "commit to something just for fun". Well, the fun ended about half way through it, when I realised there were other things I wanted to do and spend time on. The motivation, the why, behind starting this project was not strong enough and not well thought to keep me afloat during the dry spell. We are now on day 64 out of 100, and I just posted on Instagram my group picture for the past 4 days....
Clearly I feel like there is no point in carrying on with this project, yet my tendency to self destruction and stubbornness is keeping me from leaving it.
I also feel that the failure for not keeping it up is equally depressing that the failure for doing a bad job. So there's no win here.
However, finding new motivations, creating new goals and actually shifting the why of this commitment from "doing something just for fun" to "create something good everyday", or "make a small leaf painting everyday", could bring the spark back and help me reach the end in a much better state than I feel right now.
What keeps you motivated throughout a project? Any tips you want to share?
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