I mentioned yesterday that I fallen back on bad habits and really need to recommit to developing as an artist. So, I got started earlier today and did some playing around with some watercolor paints. I love how watercolors look but I've resisted them because they can be hard to control and I've been so worried about "making mistakes" that I just thought maybe I should just avoid them. That damn perfectionist makes me crazy! So, I thought today was a good day to just jump in and see what happens. I saw a great tutorial for watercolor flowers yesterday and set out to give them a try. I think some of them in the first image look interesting...not bad for a first try. I also like the second image...they're like spider mums and a little bud. I've purchased a watercolor Craftsy class and have borrowed some Kindle books on watercolor techniques so I'm going to work on this.
I really do want to work toward finding my artistic voice, though I suspect I have several (multiple art personalities?) since I like such a variety of media. As I'm wrapping up my 16th week of this project, I'm recommitting to discovering my artistic self and working each day in earnest to learn as much about myself and art-making so that I can become the artist I know myself to be.
Yes, I'm still tooting my own horn over this...I won, I won, I won! For someone just getting started on an art career, winning the first art contest entered is a huge boost! When I found out I won, I asked my contact at Craftsy if they would send a certificate or something that I could use in promoting myself. She said they haven't done that before but it's a great idea and she'd see what they could come up with. So, today, I got an email with this image/badge made especially for me! BOOM!!! WINNER!!
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.....
OMG!!! I've mentioned Craftsy on here before. I took that colored pencil class that I didn't like so much and they graciously refunded. I saw that they were running a contest last month for cityscapes and since I was in the midst of drawing those myself I thought it apropos timing. I entered my Kagero's (worm's) eye view drawing (posted again below) just for kicks. I thought it'd be great just to have more eyes on my drawing but really had no expectations of winning. Then last weekend "The Drawing Club" Facebook page (which is run by Craftsy) posted my picture in marketing the contest and I was so excited to see that! That post got more than 1.7K likes! The contest ended on the 26th, when a committee at Craftsy would evaluate the submissions and declare a winner. Earlier today I wondered if they had decided yet. Then this afternoon I got an email from them saying that I had won and that they loved my drawing!!!! I won! I won, I won, I won!! OMG! This was the first contest I've entered and I won!!! So crazy exciting!! This is such a huge boost to my confidence! I'm now an award-winning artist :) You can read their lovely blog post here
Since finding out about this, I've just been too excited to do anything. I'm planning to expand my Zentangle workshop offerings to include classes in shading and color. I spent today working on lesson plans and samples for a color class using colored pencils (I'm planning separate workshops for watercolor, acrylic ink, marker techniques, etc) and I got started thinking about teaching shading. I started some samples using the Kunstler pattern (named for artist Juliana Kunstler). So, not so much art was made today but I really want to start offering more advanced classes so I gotta start somewhere!!
Ok...first things first. I sent an email last night to Craftsy customer service with feedback on the colored pencil class. I very kindly detailed the issues/problems I had with the class and suggested that they might want to review it for improvements. Craftsy does have a 100% money back guarantee but the policy says a refund must be requested within 30 days of purchase. I bought this class back in early May so I knew I was outside of the 30 days and noted that in my email. I wasn't expecting a refund at all. I'll give Craftsy props, though...I did get a refund and a very nice email letting me know that they want customers to learn and grow through the classes they offer and since I didn't experience that, they would refund my money. So, yay Craftsy!
Now today has been an off day. As I've said repeatedly by now, I'm a terrible sleeper and the last couple of nights have been particularly bad. Not only was I super tired today, I think I slept in a weird position or something cause the muscles around my right shoulder blade feel tight and achy. I'm right handed so I didn't really feel like drawing today. But I really didn't want to get off track with my daily art project so I sat down for a few minutes and sketched the Portland skyline and colored it with colored pencils. It's another one of those quirky sketches of mine :)
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.