I have this "problem" and I've talked about it before. Now, I guess it's really a good "problem" to have but it perplexes me still. It seems like at some point every week, I get to a point where I have just too many ideas and I can't decide where to start. I guess the problem doesn't really lie in the abundance of ideas part of the equation but rather in the inability to decide. I haven't figured out why I get so stuck in this situation. I was stuck for YEARS with no ideas at all and now I have so many I still end up paralyzed. I'm thinking there has to be fear in there somewhere..."what if I pick the wrong idea?", "what if I mess it up this time and then never come back to it?", "what if I end up wasting materials?"...I'm certain there are many others. Why are these "what if" questions always skewed negatively? I would much rather think "what if it's amazing?!", "what if I sell it for a ton of money?!", "what if I love it and decide to make more?!". That feels so much better...I think I really need to be aware when those negative questions are coming and shift them!
I hit that paralyzed state again this morning as I tried to come up with what to work on today. I settled on playing around with my PanPastels. I've had these for more than a year now but hadn't even opened them. I've worked with pastels before, both hard and soft, and I like them but these are different...even have special tools for application. I've looked around online a bit for some techniques/tips but didn't really find anything compelling to do so I just figured I start with a flower. The application is kind of wonky and I don't really like how big the applicators are. I guess my paper was also just a little rough because one side of one of the sponges tore a little. I know these are made especially for use with the PanPastels but I'm not a fan of them so far although I do love how rich and vibrant the colors themselves come out. I think I need to keep playing to see how to build up layers, get nice shading, etc. I only have the six pans shown in the picture but I think I'll be adding them to my wishlist!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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'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!
Today was my first day back in my painting studio in months...pretty much since Kagero got sick earlier this year. I avoided painting for many reasons, the typical fear of sucking at it but also because she followed me around everywhere I went and wanted to hang out with me. That was awesome, of course, but the studio wasn't the best place for her to comfortably hang out so I just tried to confine my art making to things I could do while sitting on the sofa with her comfortably ensconced on the ottoman or next to me on the sofa. So, today felt like the day to head back to that studio and face my fears. I'm not really interested in making representational paintings. I love abstracts and have gravitated to more intuitive painting techniques and teachers. I really love playing around with colors with no plan. I started working on this canvas last year just adding layer after layer, waiting for it to really speak to me. It now looks nothing like the canvas I put on the wall this morning...and that's totally ok by me! I had no idea what to do with it so I just started putting some colors on it, covering what was underneath. I quickly put the brushes down and just painted with my hands. Do not underestimate the power of fingerpainting...I think it allowed me to really connect to the paint, the canvas, and the moment in a way using the brushes hadn't. When I finally stepped back a few feet to see what was evolving, I thought it looked like a stormy sky...perfect!
When I started this daily art project, I intended to make small drawings/paintings in my sketchbook just to have accomplished something creative every day. I've decided, now, to include anything that I create in a given day toward this project since the whole point of it is to create art. I'll keep doing small things in my sketchbooks, especially to practice new techniques and explore ideas and I'll keep posting my progress here. I'm really grateful for you visiting my blog, reading my posts and feel free to comment (though I will have to approve comments to keep the negativity out).
Here's today's painting which is acrylic on canvas, 24"x24" and a compilation of this week's (plus a few non-art days) creations.