Sweet November

I haven’t decided what November really is for me. The words “Sweet November” have been imprinted in my mind ever since I saw the movie on TV–the original one with Anthony Newley and Sandy Dennis. I think it’s during the ending when credits begin rolling in that you hear Anthony Newley singing the song. I even remember the lyrics!

Sweet November,
they say you’re wintry and gray
and yet this love that you bring
is sweeter than Spring and warmer than May

I can’t remember November’s sunshine
more beautiful than today
fleeting, it’s true, but what can I do
to make sweet November stay?

Come December, 
when our November is through
I’ll face the Winter and smile
for I know that I’ll be thinking of you

When I remember November’s sunshine
I won’t mind December’s rain.
For me it’ll be like sweet November again.

I could be wrong but I think Mr. Newley wrote the song as well. I may have missed out on some of the lyrics, too, but those are the ones I remember.
November seems like a month where you’re holding your breath in anticipation of December 25th. You might be tempted to remind me about Thanksgiving but that’s a tradition that’s still new to me. I grew up with Christmas and New Year’s Day and that’s how it was for about 50 years for me.
November is when I tell myself I’ve begun to plan my gift-giving strategies too late. 
November used to be the time when my friend Cindy and I would brave the bazaars. She didn’t mind driving through Manila traffic and I didn’t mind that she drove like a Jeepney driver (to understand that, you might have to travel to the Philippines and ride on one of the Jeepneys). I miss those days. Cindy and I often think back to those days when we do get to talk.
November is when I pick up a couple of items for just-in-case gifts and am always thankful for when it’s crunch time on Christmas Eve and I realize I had unchecked names on my list.
November is also the name of a former student of mine who used to fill her journal with all sorts of angsty doodles which I genuinely enjoyed. Should I have been alarmed? Umm, no. She went on to be an amazing artist who loves cats and enjoys snail mail as I do.
And speaking of snail mail, November is when I try to get Christmas cards that have to get sent overseas out. I can see the pile I have to address from the corner of my eye. Maybe I’ll tackle them tonight. 
This year’s November began with unusually cold weather and lots of rain. They say it’ll be snowing which could make traveling for Thanksgiving a challenge. As I’m typing this entry up, the skies outside are gray but the cold has eased up and I’m able to put on one of my favorite made-in-India dresses and a light cardigan. That’s always good.
I doubt if I’ll ever think of November as sweet. I’d say it’s quite eventful specially since in these past few years, November has meant getting together with family and friends, some of whom drive all the way from Virginia! Even more recently, November now marks the birthdays of three very special little people–my first grandchild, Sophie, and my sister’s first grandchildren, Cole and Nate.
Maybe instead of sweet, November for me will always be frenzied and joyful and in some ways, bittersweet.
And in my usual Johnny-come-lately mode, here’s something I just put up on my Zazzle shop. Shameless advertising but hey, I’m my own marketing manager!

Playground Pony
Playground Pony by MopStudio
Browse Ponies Aprons online at Zazzle.com

Getting Things Done

I’m going to move out a bit farther on the limb and say that I’ve surprised myself by sticking to the Inktober routine. This is not to say I like the stuff that’s been churned out on the sketchbook I got (because it was cheap and on sale) at Michael’s. The whole point was to come up with something in ink every single day. I missed a couple of days and I even started late but for the most part, I’ve been showing up.

Showing up was today’s theme. It was the last of three that I’d been doing on cork trivets that had been one of my very first purchases from Ikea. The set of three sat on top of the fridge for a couple of years before I decided to bring them to my work area. Then they sat there for a few more months where I ignored them the way I ignored the junk mail that I swore I would use for collages. That’s how one becomes a pack rat. It’s seeing possibilities in junk and then saving them for a project that might never see the light of day that have the people you live with wondering if one day they’ll have to dig you out of stuff that should have been in the dumpster many Wednesdays ago. Wednesday is when the garbage truck comes in.

I’m not too sure when it was that the trivets made their way to my work table. I just know that when I was telling my husband that I’d have to get a new sketchbook because there were two pages left for Inktober entries, I found myself staring at the trivets.

What do draw? There are days when I already have an image in mind even before I pick up a pen. There are days when I sit there blankly staring at nothing wondering how the other Inktober participants can come up with such beautiful entries.

The day before, I clicked on an Oprah newsletter item because I felt I needed some encouragement. I’m one of those artists who’s highly suspicious of his or her own abilities. It must be because I’m at a mid-life stage where most of my peers are highly accomplished and about to retire whereas I’m still trying to start over. Anyway, there was an image that stayed with me in that newsletter. It was the picture of a mug with the words Why Not You. Those are the words that made it on the first trivet.

The next day, I knew what I wanted to put on the second trivet. I’d read them over and over again on so many blogs and articles and books. Show Up made sense to me and the words struck a chord. It was like the Aha! moment for me. To get myself out there, I first had to show up. 
You might think it’s the easiest thing in the world to do but it’s actually not–at least for me. I don’t want to get into the details of that one. Let’s just say I’m working on it. 
Then today I read another newsletter, this time from Uncommon Goods. I clicked on the tour to find out more about a couple of artists from the UK who were putting their art on tea towels which I find myself obsessing over lately. I like tea towels. One of them, Lahla Smart of The Food Guide mentioned the Disney quote: The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing
The thing about that quote is it’s the same quote on a Kim Klassen image that I started using as my computer wallpaper just last week. I don’t believe in coincidence. 
So now I have three trivets with messages that for the most part, must be meant for me. Inktober (and Instagram) forced me to draw every single day and to be accountable. I even made up for missed days whenever possible, kind of like when I miss a day on a Novena. 
There are four days left of Inktober. I’m probably going to miss it and at the same time feel some kind of relief that it’s over. I’m working on illustrations for a friend who’s starting a business and I’d like to get started on a project that I’ve had brewing for a while now. It’s time to show up for that one and I’ve got that pegged for November. Wish me luck and send me good thoughts!
And to those who have taken the time to “like” my Instagram entries, a huge THANK YOU! Those likes helped to keep me at it!



Just when I thought I was all done with challenges, Inktober came along. I  have to say that one of the best things about being part of a group (or a tribe) on Facebook is the sharing of resources, fun links, competitions, and events to keep you working on your art. Even better, challenges like Inktober force you to work in a medium that you might not necessarily use a lot.

I had begun filling up a new sketchbook with random illustrations when I got wind of Inktober. It was serendipitous in the sense that I’m not always brimming with ideas and blank pages can oftentimes overwhelm. Design briefs and deadlines make things easier. Of course it’s not as if Inktober provided ideas. It just removed having to decide what medium to use. I still had no theme or specific guide.
But here’s what it did and is still doing for me: it forces me to take some time off my schedule to sit and lay down lines. Then I post my work on Instagram because there has to be some accountability. I’m sure no one is waiting and eagerly keeping an eye on their Instagram feed to see what I will be posting next but I pretend it’s that way. Keeps me going!
Very often I get to sit with my sketchpad after dinner when I’ve plopped down on the Yogibo in front of the television. Sometimes whatever is on might give me an idea for an illustration but that’s rare. Given that most of the shows I watch are either sitcoms or thrillers, that’s probably a good thing. As an aside, there’s really not much that’s worth watching so if all else fails, I turn to my video collection and put on a musical. Or a lame horror movie on Netflix.
Moving along–here are the entries so far.
I happened to be working on designs for a line of products so I was still in a draw-the-veggies mode.

When I settle down with my sketchpad, I usually have my iPad with me as well. I was going through some home decor magazines on the Issuu app so this is what I came up with.

I must have been thinking about creating a design I can develop for fabric when I did this.

I like drawing little people. I’m going to color her later on.

This came from seeing Trick or Treat themed ads on the TV.

I think I decided to let go of the cutesy thing for a bit.

I always celebrate the coming of Fall. Also reminded me that I hadn’t changed my profile pic on Facebook to reflect that. 

Because I forgot to water my plants.

I was watching an episode of Gotham when she came to mind.
That’s it so far. If you do care to see what else will make it to the pages of my sketchbook, you can follow me on Instagram here. And if you happen to be participating, let me know so I can follow your work as well!