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!
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 :)
It's amazing to me how quickly time passes. It was 2 months ago to the day that we lost our beloved Kagero. The sharpness of the loss has eased a little but there is definitely a constant undercurrent of sadness. I know that feeling will eventually lift but it's just so heavy right now. But I am so very grateful for my art. It's not only given me a distraction from the grief but also an outlet. I've been spurred to learn more, grow more, experiment more and I think the results are pretty cool.
Today's contribution was actually completed pretty early today, which I'm happy about. I really want to do some reading and it's sometimes frustrating to feel like I have to choose between art and reading. So, I shall read tonight! I've mentioned before that having an abundance of ideas can be overwhelming and sometimes even paralyzing. Today was one of those days. I have at least 2 projects in progress but I just wasn't feeling like working on those. I considered starting several new projects but just couldn't get behind any of them today. I'm still waiting for access to my free Craftsy class so I couldn't start that either. So, I decided I just needed to play but play can be so hard to do. It can be so hard to let go of outcomes/expectations/judgements. I do think I had moments in this process where I was able to let go and just see what happened but it was definitely challenging. But I do like how it came out. It looks playful to me. I like the color choices and the sense of movement. I'll keep looking at it and see if I still like it. I was thinking during the process that if I didn't end up caring for the end result, I could always use it as a background for a collage or cut it into pieces and use them separately or even together. In fact, as I'm typing this I thinking about how interesting it could be to cut it up and reassemble it in a different configuration. Hmmmmmm.....
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.
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.
As an artist, I guess I would be remiss to not make a drawing of my dog. I did a lot of drawing as a kid but what it really amounted to was copying the drawing examples from how-to draw books and drawing Disney characters from books. I was proud that I had enough skill to copy them without tracing them...I think I have a pretty good eye naturally but I avoided trying to draw living things or pictures of living things because I just didn't think I could. Thankfully, I'm shifting out of that belief and as I continue to draw and sketch things from life and from pictures, I'm feeling more confident that I can develop my eye and my drawing skills to include more realistic things. While I'm not really that into drawing or painting realistically (I like my wonky depictions of reality better, they are quirky, like me!), I do want to do a portrait (or 20) of my beloved Kagero that is realistic. I know, though, that I need practice, practice, practice. So, today's idea and sketch was born from the desire to start practicing and the desire to create it came over me so quickly, I just grabbed paper that was sitting next to me, rather than going for my sketchbook! This sketch wasn't based on any particular kind of dog. I think I started out trying to do a shih-tzu (Kagero was a shih-tzu/jack russell mix) but it quickly became a mutt. I tried looking at pictures of other dogs but I really just wanted to freehand a dog. It's not great but I at least it looks like a dog :)
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!
Ugh...today was a rough one. I've been doing "better" the last few days but today was difficult. The sadness was overwhelming at times and it was hard to even think of something to create. It was getting down to the wire of missing another day and I think it's really important for me to be consistent with this project so I had to think of something. So, I opted to go for a simple technique that most of us do when we had art classes in elementary school...blowing ink with a straw. I just used my sketchbook that isn't great for water media but whatever. I applied drops of various colors of acrylic ink and blew them around the paper until they soaked into the paper. I don't love it but I don't hate it either. I also worked on some watercolor pages but one I'm not willing to post cause it really sucks and the other one is drying right now, so maybe I'll post it tomorrow. I just keep trying to remind myself that this project is really about play, practice and creativity...
I feel like I've been doing well grieving for my sweet pooch. I have a great support system in my husband, mom and friends. My husband is, of course, grieving for Kagero, too, so I don't want him to feel responsible for always being strong for me so I've sought out some additional support in the form of a pet loss support group offered by a local pet hospital, Dove Lewis. I'm not typically a joiner and being an introvert, it's often difficult for me to put myself out there to strangers and to be in situations where I have to interact with people without the buffer of someone I know also around. I got there super early (1.5 hours ahead of the start) so I figured I'd use the time doing some urban sketching. The lobby of Dove Lewis is nice, spacious so I was able to find a quiet corner with a big window to draw in. Luckily, there was an interesting building across the street and I had a mostly unobstructed view of it. I started this sketch with pencil and definitely erased a lot but once I felt I had a good handle on it, I started to ink the outlines. I had to stop to go to the group session so I picked up once I got back home and then added the color. I like this one. I think I'm getting better at drawing what I'm seeing but it's still nice and loose.
The group session went well and I feel like it helped to share my sweet girl with others, to receive support from them and to offer support to those who are also hurting. I'll probably go to another one.