So, we don't get too much crazy winter weather here in the Portland area. Every couple of years we get some snow and we get some ice from time to time. Today was one of those icy days. The forecast called for snow but that didn't happen at my house. We got sleet and freezing rain instead. It came down pretty steadily all day but we had a brief break this afternoon. Since tomorrow is trash day, we took advantage of this break to take it out. While in the back yard, I saw this lovely scene...a leaf shedding it's icy cover but they are still clinging together. So beautiful!
Ugh...feeling like hell but trying to create as much as I can. Today, I decided to play around with blind contours. These drawings are made by not looking at the paper at all (I cover my drawing hand with the previous page in my sketchbook to remove the temptation to peek) while you are drawing, only following the edges of the object with your eyes and trying to have your hand follow that movement. I had grabbed a bunch of squashes/gourdes at the store the other day so I set out to draw them. The leaves turned out really well...I promise I didn't peek once! Blind contours are funky with the emphasis on fun! Hoping for better health tomorrow!
Ok, turns out it's really hard to be creative when I feel like total crap. I think I've managed to develop a sinus infection to go along with my tonsillitis so I guess it's good they gave me antibiotics yesterday. I did manage to work on a couple of things, albeit continuations on the tree theme. I finished Grandma's birthday card and decided to develop some more leaf/season ideas with the blown watercolor branches in one of my sketchbooks. I'm also reading the book in the picture to work on my drawing skills. Now off to bed!
Fall is my favorite season and it actually seems to be arriving on time here in Portland! It's been a warm summer and dry here (I know it's hotter elsewhere but I moved here for the clouds and rain) and I've been white knuckling it for a bit so I'm so excited for the change. Starting tomorrow, we're supposed to have rain and much cooler temps for the foreseeable future! Every year on Facebook, I post a poem or quote about autumn as an ode to my favorite season. This year, however, I opted for a visual ode. I saw a tutorial on The Postman's Knock blog this weekend for creating a tree using watercolor and a straw to blow the paint across the page to make the branches, It took me a couple of tries but I totally nailed it and I just love the result! I used pearlescent watercolor paint for the leaves so they sparkle. I'm totally going to do more of these trees...there are so many options! This is 4.5" x 6".
I'm feeling better now that I've recommitted to my project and my learning/discovery process. I didn't get a chance to start as early this morning as I wanted but I'm so pleased with what I produced and learned that it's a very successful day. Now, I'm going to sign off and read some books...art books, of course :)
13 weeks in the bag and it keeps on going! I made the blue ink-stained paper a couple of weeks ago but wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it, so I figured it best to wait for inspiration to strike. I really loved the koi I did last week and feel drawn (no pun intended) to do more of them. I think the inky paper looks kind of like water so it makes sense to use it for the koi. In the other ink paintings I've done, I've let the colors form the objects by obscuring the rest of the background but I want to preserve the background in this one so I'll be painting the koi with more opaque paint, covering the blue where the fish will be. I'm thinking I want to use white, cream, yellows, reds and oranges on the fish to create a nice contrast between the background and the fish. I sketched out some compositions to get an idea of how to set up the painting. I'm leaning toward the composition with two fish, which will be different colors to set them apart from one another since they are so close in proximity to each other. We'll see :)
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.
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 was feeling pretty darn good about my artistic development with this daily art project...until today. My inner critic is slamming me pretty hard with this one, but I won't let it win, I'll just have to practice more. Today's drawing is from lesson 4 of the Art Academy using colored pencils. I'm not sure where I "went wrong" but I suspect that my pencils might be too soft and the paper has too much texture. I just couldn't seem to get smooth coverage and I think the wax from the pencils just built up too much and ceased to blend nicely. But I do see some wins with this one...it's recognizable as a rooster and it's the first time I've sketched a foundation using circles and ovals and then building up the form of the animal using the pencil strokes rather than drawing the outline of the bird first and coloring it in from there. I've seen people sketch like that; using ovals, circles, lines, etc but I've never learned how to use them myself. So, yay! I'll take those wins and keep practicing...but maybe with other paper and pencils...
I've read through several resources on how to cope with the loss of a pet (although she was so much more than a pet to me) and all of them have suggested getting out into nature because it helps us be more present and in the moment rather than stuck in our heads, ruminating on past events that are likely causing more pain. The weekend was more bearable because my husband was home and I wasn't alone. But with him at work, the house was just too quiet and too lonely this morning. So, I set out on a walk. I had to stop by the post office first but then I wandered into downtown Lake Oswego. I walked along Lakewood Bay and then around into a neighborhood. I came upon a smallish park that had a shaded picnic table (I despise the sun and I had waited too long to start my walk so the morning clouds had burned off already). I had brought my sketching stuff with me figuring I'd sketch something near the water but there just weren't any shady spots to stop and I didn't really feel compelled to draw anything I was seeing around there anyway. As I sat at the picnic table, I figured the scene in front of me was as good as any, especially since this is all about practice anyway. I decided just to sketch with color and not with pen or pencil. I did get some Vitamin N (Nature) today and that was nice. I really hope some cloudy days would come along, they always make me happier.