Sketchbook Sunday: Coffee completes me

Has anyone seen that Weight Watchers commercial where Oprah yells, “I LOVE BREAD!”? Well, if I were in any commercial, I would yell, COFFEE! In fact, I say that at least once a day. I’m not me until I have it—especially during the weeks that are nonstop go, go, go.

The week coming up is that for sure—have to exercise, give a talk on social media, teach an art class, take my teenager to his first two-hour driver’s education class (thank God it’s just the classroom stuff for now), more exercise, a journaling workshop and, of course, that grown up stuff (work, grocery shopping, cooking, blah, blah, blah). Whew!


So it is only fitting that I decided to pay homage to my coffee mug in the sketchbook today. As you can see from this photos, I also love to design and paint coffee mugs at my local pottery paint place.


What’s that one food or drink that you love and can’t do without every day? Leave a comment and let me know. Also share a link to your sketchbook each Sunday, if you want.

Constant change

The theme for September’s Creative Every Day Challenge is “time.” This piece,  “Constant/Change” (colored pencil on paper),  was inspired by the theme. I created it as I thought about the change of seasons as time goes by.

My artist statement in the making

This week I took another major step forward in creating and revising my artist statement, with the help of other artists at Part 2 of the Artistic Cartel Meetup sponsored by the Artful Phoenix in North Attleboro, Mass.

Recently, it became even more clear how important a good artist statement is. I applied to get into a juried show and was rejected. When I got the general generic email about why my artwork didn’t make it, I emailed back asking for specifics. The exhibit’s coordinator told me that in addition to looking at the quality of the work and how well all the entries come together as a cohesive exhibit, jurors rely on the artist statement to truly comprehend what an artist is doing. The statement can make or break you when it comes to getting into a show, the person said.

Wow. Scary, huh?

I don’t know whether I’m done with my statement, but at least I feel that it is in better shape than the one I had before and better than the one I sent with my entry form for the show that rejected my work.

My struggle has been trying to nail down what I’m doing as an artist. If I had my choice I would just say something like–“I do what I want, when I want, depending on how I feel that day—kind of like a chef walking into a market, seeing what looks good that day and then deciding what she will cook.” But I don’t think that would do. So, here is what I have now as a statement. I would love your thoughts and feedback. What do you think?


I am driven by an unrelenting curiosity and a desire to play with a variety of mark-making materials and concepts revolving around the spirit of women. These givers of life are beautiful, powerful and mysterious beings, who deserve to be honored and explored in every medium possible.

As I create art, I leave open my journey, allowing myself to receive what comes to head, heart and hand. My aim is to immerse myself in the process of creating, to explore the colors, subjects and materials that most excite me in the moment. Opening myself often leads me to create acrylic-based mixed media collage pieces that showcase women.

The openness of being present also leads me to create artwork that reflects my fascination with the rejuvenative nature of circles as well as the unspoken language of patterns—from the Kente cloth of my unknown African ancestors to the patchwork quilts created by my Alabama grandmother.

Most of my pieces are imbued with a texture that invites viewers to come closer to see the work and possibly touch it, thus creating a connection between viewers and me.

(Above is a drawing from my sketchbook, Sharpie marker on paper, “Three Divided.” Click on the image to see it large.)

Yummy art

Food and art. Two of my favorite things. I indulged both today at the Rhode Island Food Fights cupcake competition. Bakers from all Rhode Island competed to present the most delicious cupcake. And artists displayed cupcake related art for sale in a silent auction. My creation was this Sharpie marker work on paper, “Cupcake Goddess.” It didn’t sell, but I got to eat all the cupcakes I wanted for free. Sweet!

Sharpie art

I love Sharpie markers. Surprisingly, they make a great little tool to create art. I’ve been using them for a while in my sketchbook drawings. They are so vibrant and juicy in color. I happened upon a large variety pack of Caribbean colors when I was in Staples trying to resist my addiction to buying school supplies (even though I’m not in school). Hmm….I’ll stop now. I sound like an ad. This is my latest little drawing, “Speak.”

Winter layers

The theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge for December is winter. Winter is absolutely not my favorite month, even though I have lived in New England since 1989. That’s because I’m from the south–where black top pavement melts in the sun and a “cold” day requires a light sweater. I will never get used to the cold, the snow, the darkness of the New England winter. I will always rebel against wearing tights and socks. So as I thought about this theme I just kept thinking about how much I like warmth and sunshine. And the idea of these layers came to me. So, here, I give you “Layered Lady” (in Sharpie marker). She looks pretty but pissed that it’s winter, don’t you think? Maybe that would have been a better title “Pretty but Pissed.” Nah.

Spark 13: “Escalation”

Escalation: phenomenon of something getting more intense step by step.

I’m participating in Spark: art from writing, writing from art. It’s an event in which artists and writers respond to each other’s works over a 10-day period. This one is from September 21 through September 31. Participants sign up and the organizer e-mails the inspiration piece for the works that will be created. Each person gets a different piece. Artists get words, writers get art for inspiration. This time, we had the choice of honoring a young writer who has participated in Spark in the past. She recently died suddenly. I didn’t know her, but her work definitely sparks emotions. In fact, when this poem was offered as one of the choices for inspiration I asked for more choices. The honest nakedness of it touched such a tender place in me that I wanted to turn away. But I realized that this is exactly what good writing is supposed to do. Good art should shake you, should linger in your heart and head, even disturb you. I hope I’ve done justice to her poem (which she wrote in response to a photo of a staircase) with this black and white pencil drawing that I call “Escalation.”

Farewell, stairwell
By Charisse Cecil

I’m ready.

I’m standing in these slotted
shadows, leaning against this
cinderblock wall that is coated in countless layers
of paint vainly attempting to cover generations
of ubiquitous crew tags and psychedelic

Under this metal staircase, where I used to huddle
with my girls, harmonize to hip hop soul
pop rhythm & blues slow jams and practice
lyrical freestyles in an impermeable cipher
that the boys could not enter unprepared
for verbal battle.

The light shone through the slats and created
stripes across my loose-leaf paper,
shining on my algebra homework
brightly enough for T. to copy my answers
while I crushed on him so hard
that I didn’t mind doing all the work.

Tucked  inside that acute angle under the stairs
with T., I tasted my first kiss – a heady blend
of heat, his sour apple Jolly Rancher
and my pink lemonade Bubble Yum
that made all those late nights of memorizing
theorems and formulas worth every
missed must-see TV show and girly conference call.

Whenever I hear the crunch of broken glass
and discarded Newport filters underfoot,
I remember the night L. forced me to my knees
under those stairs and pressed my face
against his open fly, when he was supposed to be watching
me while my mom went around the corner for groceries.

Under this stairwell, I learned one source of my power
that will take me beyond this stairwell and these shadowy halls.
The power is in my mouth –
to recite rules or rhymes,
to sing songs or wail battle cries,
to give ardent pleasure or exact excruciating pain.

CED: Queen of Hearts

The theme for the month of August for the Creative Every Day Challenge is “red.” I love red because of its boldness. I often work in bright colors so this theme fits me perfectly. This weekend I worked on two pieces in red. One is a drawing that will be a reminder to me that time to do my artwork can be found anywhere, if I look for it; the other is a card that is a tribute to a friend, my art buddy, with whom I spent Saturday being artsy and having a fabulous time. (I got the paper for the card on our art store trip.)

My drawing is a mixed media work in colored pencil, sharpie and pencil. I began working on it a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t been able to really sit down and finish it. I finally got the bulk of the color on it on Saturday as I sat in the parking lot of Lowe’s at 5:30 a.m.–no make up on, wild ponytail–waiting for the store to open at 6 a.m. so I could take advantage of the tax-free holiday and return home to get on my computer to apply for a state rebate for the new refrigerator that I bought. (Ridiculous what some people will do for a good deal, right?) So there I was, half asleep, working my little color pencils.

I mention this because my art buddy and I talked about “time” this weekend–how there is never, ever, enough of it to do all the things we want. We both have so many creative ideas buzzing in our heads, poking and prodding us all the time, but, ah, time…. But I told my very talented friend that I’ve decided that there is not some magical Time Fairy Godmother who is going to swoop down and bestow upon us perfect blocks of time to get our artwork done. So we have to just steal those little moments here and there to accomplish little goals that build up to finished pieces. Coming to terms with that has helped me do what I can when I can, and freed me from feeling guilty about not being able to get EVERYTHING done all the time. And sometimes this is not pretty. Sometimes choosing to steal some art time means the dishes will sit in the sink or the laundry will remain unfolded, but, hey, sorry cups and saucers and wrinkled blouse, I choose me. And, how blessed are we to have so much talent and creative ideas that we have to struggle to find buckets of time to hold it all?

The drawing is called “Queen of Hearts.” Note the sweetness of the face and the condition of the hearts. 🙂

Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.

My drawing is in Oprah’s magazine!

Blue (the July theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge) is my favorite color this month. The cover of the August issue of O magazine has a blue backdrop, AND one of my drawings is in the magazine! While reading an interview featuring gal pal Gayle talking to Oprah about her last season of the show, I was inspired by Oprah’s words on facing challenges. I created a drawing based on that inspiration, which I blogged about here. The magazine editors decided to include my comment and my drawing in the letter’s section on page 30 (click here Art in O-2) to see a pdf of the page of the magazine cover and my art. I’m very honored. Prints and cards of the image are available here. Larger prints/posters are available here.

Creating in blue

The theme for the month of July for the Creative Every Day Challenge is “blue.” I’m a very big-bold-color kind of girl, so I don’t tend to create much using the color blue. But I’m liking this challenging push to use the color. It’s strangely liberating to limit the color scheme.

It’s so interesting to think about the emotional characteristics colors tend to come with. Blue, of course, immediately makes me think of “the blues,” as in depression, but it also makes me think of peace and serenity, and clouds and being uplifted. I also see a bit of passion in blue–moonlight and romance.

So I’ve been very busy exploring blue during my vacation. All of these mixed media works (watercolor pencil, pencil and ink) are about 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Working small gave me an opportunity to quickly explore and move on again, which has been a lot of fun. Enjoy.

Greeting cards and prints featuring these images are available at here.