For the last couple of days I've talked about not quitting things so easily so I did those colored pencil exercises figuring they would lead to more learning. However., after viewing the rest of the videos for the Craftsy colored pencil class, I've decided to quit. Thank goodness I got that class on the super cheap. I do not recommend it! Here are some of my issues...there's a supply list provided that one would come to believe is complete and yet in each lesson, she uses supplies that were not on the list and that now must be either found or purchased in order to proceed. Um...ok...how hard would it be to amend the supply list and post an updated version so that students can be prepared from day one? Another issue I have with the class is the teacher's delivery. She's clearly a very talented artist but her speaking style is very halting rather than fluid which was distracting to me. It seemed like she wasn't really sure what she was going to say and was under prepared to teach this content, but this could just be how she talks. I expected this class to be about learning techniques to help me develop my drawing skills (the class is called "Drawing with Colored Pencils") and yet there was very little actual instruction, mostly a lot of watching her color with the pencils. She talked about being experimental and playful, which is an important aspect of art making and one that I could use more, but I purchased this class thinking that I would be learning more specific techniques like blending, strokes, etc to develop my understanding and experience with this medium. This class was very short on those things. So, after viewing the videos for the next 3 exercises, I opted out. One reason being that I didn't have all of the supplies necessary and I'm done buying supplies just for this class. Another reason being that I didn't feel like she adequately explained how to complete the exercises and I just couldn't handle listening to her again. So, I quit...this class anyway.
I still want to learn better colored pencil techniques so I pulled out a couple of books on colored pencils that I've had for years and decided to start from the beginning. I may not do all of the exercises in these books but I'll do ones that attract my attention. I also have more Craftsy classes to do so I'll shift to those soon, too.
Well, here's today's daily art contribution. One of the first exercises in one of the books is to explore texture and tone using one colored pencil, creating an orange. I had problems with this exercise. First, I didn't have the same color of pencil used in the book and the one I ended up using didn't get deep enough tones despite how many layers I put down. So, I ended up using a couple of other pencils, too. Another issue I had was that I was drawing from a picture of a drawing rather than from life. I'm not into photorealism so I'm not bothered by it not looking exactly like an orange in every detail but I think it would have been better to have drawn an actual orange. Also, the drawing I was using as a reference didin't have a shadow but I wanted to include one so I did, but since I didn't have a reference for it, it turned out funky. Then I didn't like it floating out there in the space of the paper so I opted to add in the background to include a table. That really messed it up....oops! Finally, the paper was not the right one for colored pencil. It has too much texture so I'll try a smoother Bristol paper next time. So, many lessons learned in this one. I was tempted to not post it and try to do something else instead but I need to own the crap I create as much as the pretty things I create. They can't all be winners!
So, today's entry is the second exercise in my online colored pencil class. It starts with this grid, which contains 144 small squares. Then we use 6 colored pencils (2 blues, 2 reds, 2 yellows), plus white and a blending pencil in any number of combinations to fill these 144 squares. This exercise isn't about color theory but rather about experimentation and play, employing curiosity when combining colors for each square. At first, I thought, ok, no biggie, this'll be interesting and probably quick. When the teacher said that this exercise could take up to 6 hours to complete, I scoffed. How could this possibly take that long? Well, I'd say this took at least that long. Now, I didn't work on it without breaks but it's definitely more time consuming than I first thought. My title for this post...this did get a little tedious and I had to employ much patience and even perseverance to make it to the end. Since I have a tendency to quit things I'm not enjoying, I committed to finishing this. The teacher said it's totally possible to have 144 unique combinations of colors from these 8 pencils but to not worry about devising a "system" of color combinations, just to let the ideas flow, to experiment and play. I thought, ok...let's see what happens. Maybe she's right...maybe it is possible to have 144 unique colors but since I didn't bother devising a "system" I quickly forgot what combinations I'd already tried so I'm certain I have repeating colors. Oh well...I do find it interesting to look at but I'm so glad it's done!
It can be so easy to be an "expert" at something (even when you aren't really) and yet so hard to approach something with fresh eyes and an open attitude. Our egos are powerful...at least mine is! So the title of this post...Beginner's Mind. It is a term/concept used in Zen Buddhism that refers to the dropping of our preconceptions and allowing ourselves to be open and eager to studying a subject, especially one that we feel we may already know at an advanced level; to approach that subject as if we were a beginner. This is how I'm feeling today and it applies to today's contribution to my daily art project.
A few months ago, I bought several fine art Craftsy classes for $10 each (a steal!), but I haven't yet started any of them. One reason I think I've put them off was after quickly surveying the exercises, I just felt like I was more "advanced" beyond some of them and figured I didn't need them but I still didn't then move on to the later exercises either. Buoyed by the success of my Derwent Art Academy lessons (some of which were also very basic), I figured it was time to finally tackle the Craftsy classes. I opted to start with the colored pencil class since I'm so enamored with the colored pencil birds I've been working on, maybe I can learn some helpful techniques with this class? Beginner's Mind comes into play with the first couple of exercises. in this class. One of which is today's contribution, the other is likely to be tomorrow's contribution. I resisted doing these because they are so "simple" and elementary, my ego kept saying that I'm beyond these exercises...more advanced and, therefore, don't need to do them. But yesterday, I had an epiphany...there is much to be gained by dropping my egoistic perspective and allowing myself to experience these basic lessons. Honestly, I've never actually done these exercises before, and while yes, I've done more advanced techniques than are required for these exercises, I do get to experience the medium in a different way. So, I am willing to approach these lessons (in this class and all others) with Beginner's Mind...I don't know everything, can't know everything and I am not "above" learning from every opportunity.
Some days feel so rich with creative energy and others definitely do not...this day is one of the latter. I'm pushing forward, however, and trying to get some stuff done. I think some of what is dragging me down is that I'm tired. I've never been a great sleeper but the last week has been crappier than usual. I really need more sleep and I hope to get some this weekend. I'm also realizing that I need to get my crap together to find ways to generate more income from my art. It just sucks that in many ways, it takes money to make money. For example, I'd like to offer reproductions of some of my artwork and possibly integrate them into some other products like journal covers, greeting cards, etc but I need to invest in getting good scans or photos of my artwork to make these reproductions/products with. Ugh! But, I can't worry about that right now...the money will come and I need to focus on producing art right now.
Today's contribution to my daily art project is a quick drawing of my dog, Kagero. I plan to do a full, freehand portrait of her (probably multiples) but I wanted to come up with a more simple line drawing of her face. I have literally hundreds, maybe even a thousand+ photos of her. I found one that was a closeup of her face, adjusted the lighting so that I could see most of her face and features clearly. I then traces the general outlines onto tracing paper. Then I used the printed photo as reference to refine the details, add some of the shading, etc. I like how this looks for a simple reproduction. I tried a couple of times to make more simple line drawings but they really lost her character and personality so I'm scrapping that idea for now. I might figure out how to make this idea work later.
The other photo below is of my palette. I use a large sheet of glass on a white table as my palette for acrylic painting. After I've finished painting, I let the paint dry and then scrape it off with a razor, paint scraper. As I stood over the table this morning, planning to clean it, I was struck by the beauty of the colors and textures left from my painting session last week. I love the way they've blended, revealing a variety of values and shades. I also love that you can see my finger marks, since I used my fingers to paint with that day. I just had to take a photo.
Derwent's art academy has been such a blessing in that it has exposed me to techniques I've never tried before and likely would not have given a chance. Today's assignment (the last one!) was to do Sgraffito (scratching) with oil pastels. The teacher said to just use her picture of her cats as the reference image but I like dogs better so I used a pic of a Scottish Terrier instead. Layers of different colors of oil pastel are laid down onto the paper and then the image is drawn in using an embossing tool. Then either the background is scratched away with the embossing tool to expose the colors underneath leaving the dog in silhouette (like mine below) or the dog is scratched away leaving the background darker. I chose colors based on my current preferred pallet of blues and purples. The top layer is the darkest value and before scratching it's hard to tell that there are other colors of various values below it. I realized after I started scratching, however, that I should have used a much darker color on the final layer so there would be greater contrast between the dog and the background but otherwise, I think it looks cool! I'm not entirely sure how or where I'd use this technique in future projects...oil pastels are kinda messy (in a different way from the hard/chalky ones) so it definitely would need to be fixed in some way. I guess I should look up info on how to preserve oil pastels.
I'm super excited to have finished this series of lessons. As I mentioned over and over again, I'm not super great at sticking with things, especially when I feel doubtful about being able to manage the tasks. I guess the fact that it was free and includes a free set of pencils upon completion (bonus!) was enough for me to push myself a bit. I really do have to reflect upon what I've gained through just these 6 lessons. First, I've proven to myself that I can complete something that I start. I realize this is really an absurd idea since there are so many things I've completed in my life, I mean I graduated with a Master's degree for crying out loud!, but I find it so easy to quit when I'm attempting to make art. This is so ridiculous, of course, since I feel so great when I'm making art, especially when my ideas are turning out great. Second, I can successfully try new techniques, even things that look really difficult or complex, with fantastic results. This doesn't mean I've mastered a technique the first time, I'll need to keep practicing to get better and better. But, I tried something new and the world didn't end and I didn't die from doubt and fear. Third, I've been so inspired by the colored pencil on black paper project. I've talked at length in previous posts about what I've learned through that process but if it hadn't been for this art academy, I'm not sure I would have tried this technique. While right now, I'm digging the colorful birds on the black paper and I'm working on a series of them now, I'm also seeing possibilities in doing series of butterflies, tropical fish, flowers and who knows what else in colored pencil on black paper. Inspiration is an amazing thing and after years and years of artist's block, it feels incredible to finally be inspired. Fourth, I feel more connected to my creative process and art making after doing this art academy than I have in, I don't know, forever! I was talking to my dad on the phone this afternoon and he told me how much he likes my colored pencil birds and after telling him about how great it's been making them and trusting that they will emerge from the paper, he said how happy he is to hear the excitement in my voice as I'm talking about them...that he never heard that when I was in college (thanks, Dad, I love you!). And he's right...I've not felt this excited about "work" ever before in my life. While I try to live my life without regrets, if I could go back and be an art major instead of a psychology major...I would seriously consider it. Ultimately, I'd probably not change a thing but the message to me and the message I'd like to convey to anyone who might be reading this. is...nurture the artists in your life, especially those who are still children. Let's stop forcing people into boxes that don't fit them and let them know that they can choose to do the things that make them most happy, that make them feel most at home in their hearts. Life isn't only about how much money you make, how big your house is or that you're driving the newest model of a luxury car. If those things are what's truly important to you, that's cool but I was absolutely miserable chasing these t
Thanks for reading! I'm off to find more free technique classes and stay tuned as the daily art project continues!
Wow...four weeks of daily art done. I guess I would have hit a month 3 days ago but since I missed three days a couple weeks back, I had to push it out a bit. I really think that this has been the most consistent I've ever been at pretty much any endeavor in my life.. I didn't set an end date when I began. I figure I'll let it go once I feel like I'm able to consistently step up to the canvas or worktable without the "pressure" of this daily art project. So, I'll keep posting because even if no one is reading, it's keeping me accountable to have somewhere to put this besides Facebook.
Today's addition to the project is 2 Zentangle tiles. Today hasn't been the easiest day. I strongly suspect that Wednesdays will be challenging until my grief substantially abates. It's been better than last Wednesday, just a few tears here and there instead of hardcore sobbing but there's also a general sense of sadness that hasn't been there on other days in the last week or so. I know it's going to take time to work through my grief...that little dog meant the world to me...so I'm choosing to be gentle with myself when I need to. The Zentangle tiles were an "easy" option, something I didn't need to think much about, plus, I haven't received the last lesson in the Art Academy so I didn't have that to work on today. I might choose to start something else later but maybe not. I'm thinking of either reading a book or starting a knitting project.
So, here's today's addition to my project (two Zentangle tiles) and a compilation of week 4's art.
Now that my "work week" has begun (with yesterday really just being an extension of the weekend) I'm committing to spending more time on my art and less time procrastinating. In any given day, I've wasted much time watching TV, surfing the internet, etc...all while avoiding making art. But if I want to make my dream of being a thriving (not just working) artist come true, sitting around not making art isn't going to get me there. So, onward and upward!
Today felt like progress, if not a success. I did spend more time than intended this morning on the internet but I was finally able to pull myself away and get started. I began my art time with the 5th lesson from Derwent's Art Academy on color mixing using watercolors. I don't feel like my finished product is up to par but I'll post it at the end, anyway. There are areas of this painting that I like...the small trees in the background and the large trunk/grassy area around the large trunk. What I don't care for is how the leaves of the large tree turned out. I think I got the area too wet and the colors just ran together too much. But I can't expect to be good at everything at first and I just need to keep practicing.
Because I was able to tear myself away from the computer earlier in the day than usual, I was able to start...and finish another colored pencil bird on black paper. I've picked out several pictures of birds that I think are pretty and that will stand out on the black paper. Yesterday's picture/posting was a compilation of the sketches from those pictures. I chose one to work on today. I know I mentioned this in the post about the second bird I completed but this idea became even more salient for me today...trust, trust, trust.
I actually had a bit of a false start on this bird. After I sketched the form on the black paper, I realized that it was shifted too far to the left and the tail was too short to balance it out. I hate to admit this, but in the past, this little slip would have been enough for me to give up on it. My inner critic (and I suspect many other people's critics, too) can be really harsh and abusive. It's interesting that we allow ourselves to talk to us in ways we'd never let anyone else get away with. Anyway, in the past, I've just listened to that critic and taken what it's saying as truth but not this time. I just took a breath and grabbed another sheet of paper, sketched it again and moved forward. What's crazy though, is the need to suspend that judgement over and over and over again through these pieces. These birds are created through layers of colored pencil and the first few, in my opinion, just look like crap and I think I'm never going to get it to look how I want. But like the last bird, I just decided over and over to trust...trust the process, trust myself, trust that the magic will happen...and then it does and the bird emerges from the page....and I'm happy!
Today my husband and I celebrated our anniversary so I decided to take an easy day art-wise and not get into any new projects yet. We decided to go bowling...we figured out that it's been at least 6 years since we last went bowling. So, no, we're not good at it ;). But we had fun nonetheless! I personally think we should follow golf rules where the lowest score wins...
Below are a few pics...one from each game we played (we played 2) and one where the damn shoe kept eating my sock...I blame my performance on the shoe!
But in the interest of keeping up with my daily art project, I wanted to post something and not lose momentum. Like I said yesterday, I'm really enjoying the colorful birds on the black paper and am planning to do more of them. So, I decided to do some preliminary sketches of several birds to get a sense of their shapes and proportion before I commit them to the dark paper (where erasing is ill advised). I really wish I had taken up sketching earlier...I'm digging it :)
It's interesting when a project feels like a success and I know I want to try something else with those techniques that the fear and doubt creep in almost immediately...like I'd never be able to replicate that success again so why bother? How absurd is that? Why would that thought even occur to me? After last night's bird on black paper piece was done, I thought it would be great to try other colorful birds on black paper...maybe do a series of them. I'd really like to finally build up a portfolio of consistent work and try to exhibit in a coffee shop or even a gallery soon. I need to get my work out there! So, today I spent some time looking for some reference pictures of colorful birds and found several that I wanted to try. As soon as I thought that it was time to sit down and draw already, the doubts creeped in. I'm pretty sure I found plenty of things to do that wasn't making art to distract me but I persevered and finally sat down to get to work. I started with a quick pencil sketch of the bird on white paper to get an idea of the shape of the bird and then picked out the colors I wanted to use. Then I got started. Even as I worked, I kept having doubts but I was able to keep myself from getting frustrated. I worried about not getting the colors "right" and as the pencil built up in layers, the wax of the pencils made it seem like I wasn't going to be able to get the texture I wanted to differentiate the feathers. But this one was really a testament to trusting the process. I kept working, listening to my inner voice as I chose what color to use where and, importantly when to stop. As I stood up and looked at it from a distance, I was so pleased with the result...did I really just create this? So happy I didn't let those doubts and fears stop me from using these techniques again! Also, I used one of the stamps I made of Kagero's paw print in my signature. So, happy I can include her in my work!
I didn't really expect to do a second drawing today but I ended up trying the second option on the 4th lesson in the Art Academy, a Blue Tit bird on black paper. Of course, the paper is different than the white and also has a texture but it seemed easier to overcome that texture on this one. I did do this one with a different brand of colored pencil than the rooster. I still ended up with wax buildup but it was different and didn't seem to be the same kind of obstacle that it was on the other one. I really like how this one turned out! The colored pencil on the black paper is so vivid and really pops!