What I'm about to say might be "out there" for some people. I've never really been into butterflies. They're pretty and all but I've never really had the fascination with them like as decorations or adornments, etc. The only thing I can really recall about butterflies is from a Simpsons episode where they go to Italy, run into Sideshow Bob and his kid, who's set on vendetta, is chasing after a butterfly saying "Vendetta, Farfalle Vendetta". My husband and I cracked up at that. Of course, butterflies represent change and transformation. I'm getting to the "out there" part...in the days after our beloved dog died, we were "buzzed" by several butterflies. We just had this sense that Kagero was sending them to us to give comfort. She, in our beliefs, had transformed from a physical being to a spiritual one and was telling us that she was not only ok, but still with us. Since then, I've regularly noticed butterflies, especially white ones (she was primarily white colored). Since then, not surprisingly, I've thought about incorporating butterflies into my work but nothing has felt like the right opportunity....until today. I decided that one of my ink-stained pieces of paper would look lovely with a butterfly. I think this will be very beautiful when it's done. I often forget to take progress pictures so I managed to remember today and posted the first 3 stages above. I haven't talked about my grief much lately, but it's still very present in my daily life but I'm managing/coping with it. It feels really good to be finding another way to honor her in my work. I miss her every minute.
Crystal Moody, who is working on a year of creative habits, mentioned the Collect app in a blog post. It's a way to keep a visual diary of each day. Here's my collage for the work I created/worked on in August. I took the 2nd off as a vacation day and some days have more than one pic uploaded but it's pretty cool to see all of my work all at once!
Holy crap it's awesome to sell my art! I decided that my koi drawing was done without adding anything more. I really like how it turned out. Well, so did lots of my friends on Facebook, one of whom decided she had to have it. It's so exciting to move people with my work. What's interesting about this piece is that it came so easily. I've been wanting to do something with koi fish (I have other works in mind) and it just seemed to make sense to use the patterns of the ink stained paper to form the koi's skin. I drew the fish and painted around it. Just these two actions drew rave reviews. So much so that it just seemed too easy...like I hadn't actually done anything to this piece but other pieces that I spend hours upon hours working on draw crickets. It feels like I just simply don't know what people will like. I can't remember if I've talked about it previously here but I know I've discussed this with my husband...that the pieces I seem to like the least, other people like the best and the ones I'm particularly proud of seem to draw little to no reaction. I think I'm going to start taking note of what reactions come to see if there's a pattern...maybe there's not but I still wonder.
A couple weeks ago, I discovered a blog by another artist doing a daily creative project. Crystal Moody is doing a year-long project and started it in January so she's much farther in. You can find her blog here. I've spent the last couple of days reading most of her posts and I feel like she is a kindred spirit. So many of the things she's written about, I too have either written about, thought about or discussed with others. Her fears, resistance, discoveries, etc resonate with me so completely. Please check her blog out. Her work, both written and visual, inspires me!
Now for today's work. I've decided to keep up with the drawings on the ink stained paper. I've opted to let the ones I made yesterday dry a little longer so I used the last piece of one of the very busy inky/painted pages that I cut up last week. The other drawings have had more representational elements (flowers and the fish). This one was calling for something more abstract. As I looked at the page, I could see areas of the ink drawing that were prominent and wanted to stand out. Then I thought about scribbly ovals to isolate them and then obscure the rest of the background with the white acrylic ink. I like the simplicity of this composition juxtaposed with the complexity of the underlying patterns. I think I'm going to keep working with this style. These last 4 pieces have been smaller, 5.5" x 7" but I think I'm ready to go bigger. I can't wait to see what comes next! Oh yeah, and I've completed 12 weeks of this daily art project! So crazy!
Once again, I'm inspired by Tara Leaver. She posted a pic of her sketchbook where she's working on a rainy street scene with oil pastel. I love hers (click on her name above to see the post) and decided to try it myself. I used water soluble oil pastels. Mine definitely looks different from hers but I like it. I wish I had used sturdier paper since I ended up using so much water but I didn't really expect to use that much when I started it. The goal was abstraction but I think this ended up being impressionistic. I do like it and maybe I'll try it again with different media and see what happens with it. I really do love abstraction, which makes sense since I'm not so much a fan of realism/ultra realism.
I've hit week 11. I think every week I say the same thing...the time goes by so fast. I'm so happy I started this project. I'm still grieving the loss of my dog and will likely be grieving for a while. There are still daily tears but it feel so good to be able to shift my focus onto my art. I think it keeps me from falling into self-pity but isn't the kind of distraction that keeps me from feeling the pain. I loved her so much and everyday wish I could have her back but I know that isn't possible and wallowing in her loss doesn't honor her so I choose to keep throwing myself into my art, to learn as much as I can, to find my voice. So, this project goes on...for how long, who knows? I hope you'll stick with me :)
Day 60...officially 2 months into my daily art practice. I guess I would be at 63 days had it not been for that bad week at the beginning of June when we lost our sweet dog but I'm really proud of myself that I didn't let that become an obstacle for me. I've learned a lot over the last 2 months, as I hope I've adequately relayed. What's been great about this is feeling like I'm connecting to my true self everyday. I guess there have been days when I haven't really felt like making art but when I've felt like that I'm usually tired, maybe a bit cranky, sometimes having a pity party, but once I sit down to work on something, even if it's just sketching some ideas, I start to feel better about those other things. I've been trying to do sitting meditation for years and I'm sure I just give up too easily but I typically find myself just dozing off or full on falling asleep, even with guided meditations. I get frustrated and just stop. But I'm finding more and more that when I'm drawing, especially stuff like my cityscapes which use such intricate linework, that I'm able to focus on that so much that I can mentally sit back and observe my thoughts, much like they say to do in sitting meditation...watch them come and go like clouds. The activity of making art really does help to ground me in the present moment, which I think is why it helps me feel better, when I'm feeling upset or angsty....those things that I'm agonizing about or catasrophizing in my mind haven't happened, everything is perfectly ok right here, right now in this very moment. Then I can't help but feel grateful for this moment, for the ability to make art in this moment, for all the abundance (material and immaterial) that surrounds me in this moment. How amazing is my life? Very...very.
I worked more on the Zentangle inspired drawing today, but I was a little tired of the green so I opted to shift to the pinks on the Purk pods. I thought I'd get them all done today in just a couple of hours, but not so much. I've never really clocked how much time I spend working on my drawings but today I just happened to notice the clock when I sat down to work. I spent 2 hours, pretty much straight through, on that one pod and putting down the base layer on the other two. That may not seem like a long time, but I really did think I'd get all 3 of them done today in that couple of hours. Imagine my surprise when I saw how much time had passed and only one was done. It's interesting because I know that hours pass when I work, but once I'm in the flow, I don't really notice how much time really goes by. So, more hours are ahead for me as I continue to color.
I'm giving a Zentangle lesson tomorrow and was thinking about what I want to teach tomorrow and decided to create a Bunzo (that's the pattern name on the tile below) monotangle in a spiral formation. Bunzo is one of my very favorite tangles/patterns but it's one that I just have to remind myself to trust along the way. I always feel really funky about it while I'm working on it because my inner critic likes to chime in on how ugly it looks and how I should just give up. But I know once the spaces are colored in, shaded and highlighted, it will look cool, so I keep at it. I just love this one!
Six whole weeks of my daily art project done. If there weren't pictures to prove it, I'd be inclined to deny that it's even happened! I'm so proud of myself for sticking with this. I didn't have a plan when I started this project, no end date in mind. As I've made it through each day, I've realized that I'm gaining so much from this project that it just doesn't make sense to stop yet. It's giving me reason to learn new techniques, try new things, push myself beyond my known limits and blogging about it has given me space to reflect on each project, to think about my creative process and to critique my own art to figure out what I like and what I don't like.. I'm not the most public of people so it's been a little bit of a hurdle to share my feelings about so many things in this public way but I feel like I'm growing through this project in multiple ways.
Today's drawing is another work in progress but I expect to be done with it tomorrow and will post the final as tomorrow's project. I discovered some videos about perspective drawing and just loved the one that demonstrated this perspective. It's often referred to as "worm's eye view" as opposed to "bird's eye view". I've decided to call this "Kagero's Eye View" instead. When I finished drawing in my buildings (it's not any city in particular, just imagined by me), I imagined Kagero walking among these buildings, looking up and seeking this view of the buildings and the sky. It made me smile, which was amazing since Wednesday's have been rough for me. I definitely prefer smiling when I think about her rather than bursting into tears. So, here's today's installment, "Kagero's Eye View". Below this is my week 6 compilation (I'm still working on those flowers...).
Today marks 5 weeks done of my daily art project. It's kind of crazy! When the day began, I had plans to complete a couple of creations but the day had other plans for me. As I've mentioned on each previous Wednesday since we lost our dog, this day has been harder than any other day of the week. It's a stark reminder of how many weeks have passed (4 at this point). A friend emailed me to see how I'm holding up and I told her that I struggle with Wednesdays and she suggested that instead of letting this day get me down, I should use it as a day to celebrate Kagero instead. I'm not sure how I'll do this but I'm going to try this for next week. I was also feeling very overwhelmed and inadequate as an artist this morning. I feel like there's so much I don't know, so much I need to learn and I'll never make great art. I've been receiving some creativity coaching from Tara Leaver, who is an amazing artist herself, and she sent an email today checking in on my progress. I detailed to her how I was feeling and she really helped me to move through this funk. It'll probably come back again (this crap seems really common for artists) but she also reminded me that I'm grieving and that I have to practice self-care during this time and not beat myself up. When she said that, I realized that my "zest" to learn new things/feeling frustrated by a seeming lack of progress is me trying to push through and/or totally avoid my grief, neither of which help me much. So, I opted to just go with the flow today. After it being quite hot here yesterday, this morning was cool and overcast, perfect for a walk. I walked several blocks to a nearby elementary school and played on the swings for a bit. I watched a guy play ball with his dog and then I set out again for home. I didn't wear my earphones for music on this walk, just tried to be as present as possible, listening to the sounds around me, smelling the fragrance of nearby flowers, watching squirrels scamper about. It was very peaceful, pleasant. I hope the weather will cooperate more often in the mornings for more walks. When I got home, I thought about starting a new project but I just couldn't pry myself away from the computer. I got inspired, though to list some items in my Etsy shop, you can find me here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/kierstansart I hope to add more items soon. Then, with some time left in the afternoon, I opted to sketch out some ideas to finish my Joan Miro inspired painting (which is today's contribution to my daily art project). I started this way back at the beginning of my daily art project, day 3 was a Miro inspired sketch. It was time to finish this piece, so I came up with a design I liked and went for it. I had already prepped the background with diluted blue gouache. I penciled in my design and decided to draw it in with waterproof black ink and a dip pen with nib. I don't have much experience with these yet and, unfortunately, my lines are a bit off, too think in some places, too scratchy in others. Then I added in the colors. Once those were dry I reinforced some of the black lines and called it done. It's not as "precise" as I'd like it to be but that's ok. It's all about learning and I definitely learned that I need to practice with the dip pen to learn how to use it better. I do like Miro's style and may look for more inspiration from his work. I'm also including the week 5 compilation of each of this week's pieces.
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.
Crazy...three weeks done. I managed to get each day done this week. I wasn't sure if today would happen, though. It was a rough day. I lost my dear Kagero on Wednesday 2 weeks ago and I suspect Wednesdays are going to be difficult for the near future. But I had a lesson to complete for the Derwent Art Academy so I decided to do that this evening for today's creation. It was a lesson on perspective. I totally get the concept of perspective but I seem to struggle a bit with its execution so I definitely need to spend more time practicing. Here's today's work and a compilation of week 3's work.
I'm so glad I started this daily art practice before I lost my dog. Even though I missed a few days in that first week, I feel like committing to it has helped me keep going and not give in to frustration, procrastination, fear and overwhelming grief. I'm still mourning and I guess I'll grieve her loss for a long time to come but making art is giving me an outlet and even distraction sometimes. I think today's project started with me getting out some pain and putting it onto the canvas and I ended up liking what I saw. I really liked the color combination of blues, turquoise, and purples of the last painting so I knew I wanted to use those again but I didn't know where it would go. I liked the effect of using my fingers last time so I loaded up my fingers and started applying the paint to the canvas using the same smooth motions as the last painting. I just wasn't feeling that though and I quickly started smearing the paint around then I started "drumming" my fingers on the canvas and I loved the texture that emerged. I just followed my gut in picking up more colors, darker ones, lighter ones, white, using the same motion but creating more contrast. The drumming was quick and expressive, it felt like I was working something out on a non-verbal level and I really love the result.
The photos, unfortunately, just don't do this painting justice. I'm struggling with getting the lighting just right to give accurate colors and contrast and not reflect off the glossy paint. It's really much better looking in person!