December 09, 2015

Sketchcrawling in Rome

Everyday I get to drive past the Appia Antica. Some days I stop along the way for a quick sketch. 

Paper: this pocket watercolour Moleskine.
Colour: Winsor & Newton artists' water colours. I made myself a tiny colour box using an old mint tin and watercolours pans.
Brush: these Koi water brushes.

August 01, 2015

One year on

A year ago today we took a cab to the hospital at around 8am to have an induction and get labour started. I don't remember vividly that morning; the only thing I knew for sure was that I thought we had waited long enough (too long!) and that I wanted you out as soon as possible. I was feeling a bit frustrated as all my pregnant friends had given birth already and I was the only one left still with a huge belly. You were 10 days overdue and were not giving any signs to wanting to meet us. It was hot, everyone had already left town to go on holiday and the streets were empty. We checked into A&E and waited together with other 6 couples. It was a very long wait and only one topic to talk about: babies! Around midday we finally got our room and at 2pm we headed to the delivery room to get induced. We stayed there for two hours but nothing happened if not just us taking pictures, looking at the beautiful views across Rome from the window, complaining about the heat and wondering what would be happening next. We got sent back to our room and spent the rest of the afternoon chit chatting with our room mates who were expecting twins and booked for a c-section the next day. I was due for another induction shot at 8pm, but at 7.30 while talking with our friends my water broke. We waited about 15 minutes before calling the midwife and by the time she arrived contractions had started. I remember leaning against the bed frame trying to remember what I had learned at yoga classes, the bee breath, the golden thread exercise, and so many other things I didn't know I'd be able to remember. All the delivery rooms were full and we were assigned to the emergency one. I remember being able to walk out the door of our room and all of a sudden contractions getting too painful I needed a wheelchair. I took my time to get off the chair and climb to the bed, I wanted to stand, but they made me lay down. There were about 10 people in that tiny room and so much light I could hardly find Gianluca's face. I was conscious the whole time, I remember exactly what I was going through; the pushing, the pain, me saying: "I don't want this baby anymore..", and just like that you were born at 8.50pm on August 1st. They put you on my chest, I looked at you and said to your dad you were absolutely beautiful! It was a strange feeling, different from what I experienced the first time around; it was love at first sight. So here you are, one year later, walking, talking, laughing and making our lives full. Happy first birthday my sweet little one!
With love, mama.

July 26, 2015

Colouring pages

Everyone seems to be obsessed with adult colouring book these days. And to be honest some of them are so beautifully drawn that it is a bit intimidating to even start colouring. Considering my love for gardens and flowers, there are two books that I particularly recommend:
Art therapy: extraordinary gardens by Sofie Leblanc; and
Secret Garden: an inky treasure hunt and colouring book by Johanna Basford.
Inspired by these books and by some vintage fabrics I had around I gave line work a try and made two colouring pages.
I printed them out using different types of paper and had so much fun using different colouring techniques. Even Olivia gave it a go and asked for more copies a few times.
If you want to give it a go yourself, feel free to download a copy and let me know how it goes. Tag me along if you are sharing your coloured pages on Instagram (marina_cerra) so I can see it too.
 Happy colouring!

July 23, 2015

Blog re-design

I'm currently working on updating this blog. It will take a while before things are final, and since I haven't figure out what to change and how, this space will be a work in progress for some time.  I hope I will get a new final look soon. In the meantime, please be patient!

July 20, 2015

Creating with kids

I never had a fixed routine for making art at home; and since it was (still is!) just a hobby I used  to squeeze in some time only when I felt like it. Of course things have changed tremendously since having kids, and funnily enough, my desire to paint has increased as much as my spare time has become almost not existent.
Recently, I have been browsing the internet trying to find out how people with kids manage to find some time to dedicate to their hobbies or interests, without neglecting their children. I asked some artist mums for advice and they told me the key is to either work while they are asleep or involve them too (or call a sitter!). 
Working in the evening has become more difficult as the only thing I'm able to do after the never ending and exhausting afternoon is to just sit and watch some tv or go to sleep.  Early morning rise is not really an option...waking up even earlier than 6.30am is just cruel. So what I have been left with is my littlest's nap times while my eldest is at school. This worked out great until the school holidays! Now that they are both at home, using that time has necessarily meant involving my daughter in the process too.
Unfortunately this option doesn't always work; kids get distracted easily or sometimes they are just not interest. But it's always worth a try, so more often than not I give it a go.
On a regular day, as soon as her brother is down for a nap, I ask Olivia if she wants to do dome painting with me. Most of the time she gets excited enough to say yes with no hesitation. I normally set us up on the big table in our dining room where we spend a good half hour painting, drawing and colouring. She usually works on her own piece, while I work on mine, and although I have to deal with few interruptions, most of the time I manage to get something done. Of course this is not always the case; sometimes she asks me to do stuff together, either me colouring on her book or her using my tools. But that's ok too, it gives me that peace of mind to recharge doing something I like.
There are other times when her brother wants to join in, but that's a different story which I still have to figure out how to tackle!
A few tips I want to share with you that I learned along the way:
1. prepare your own stuff first and then your kids's otherwise by the time you are ready to start, they are already bored and want to move onto something else! 
2. Create an area in your house where they can keep all their painting stuff ready so that they can create whenever they fill like. We use a small coffee table in a corner of our living room where she keeps an easel, her colouring books, pencils, paints, etc.
3. Let them use your tools once in a while. I found that my daughter loves to copy what I do and that of course means using the exact same materials. That doesn't include my expensive brushes or watercolours or paper, but I have a few sketchbooks, old brushes and paper scraps that she's allowed to use when we paint together.
4. Let them explore different mediums and techniques. They get more engaged if they are trying something new and might stay focused for longer.
Hope you'll find this useful!

What works for you? Do you have any useful tips you'd like to share? 
 Happy creating!

July 09, 2015

July: Around here

This year summer caught us by surprise. We headed up to the mountains for a long weekend, but the epic heat wave forced us to make our stay a little longer.
Ten days on and, apart from having the kids with me all day long, we are enjoying this early and unexpected summer holiday. 
Hope the season is being kind to you! How are you escaping the heat this summer?

May 24, 2015

A day at the beach

Last weekend we made the most of the beautiful weather; we loaded the car and headed to the beach. It was a bit windy and the water a little chilly for a dive, but surely the kids enjoyed playing with the sand on the endless and almost empty beach. We ended the day with a pizza over a spectacular sunset dreaming about the summer to come.  Here's to a beautiful day!
Remembering our first day at the beach with a quick watercolour sketch in my weekly art journal. Happy Sunday!

May 17, 2015

A peak inside my new b/w sketchbook

As I don't have already enough on plate these days, I bought myself this white gel ink pen to try out. I had some black paper scraps and started doodling. The results were very effective and loved the white marks on the black background.
So I thought I'd buy a pocket moleskine with black pages, but couldn't find one easily, so I made my own little book (about 12x12cm) to experiment with instead.  I used this sheet of black paper and this black hemp cord to coptic stitch the pages together. For the cover I used some cardstock covered with a sheet of paper designed by Suzy Ultman for The Book for Paper Lovers 2.
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