I have several pieces of those inky drawings I did last week that just didn't work and that I decided to cut into pieces. When I started painting again last year, it was really thanks to the work of Flora Bowley. She is one of my favorite artists and I just love her style...vibrant colors, organic imagery, they are so lovely (and so is she...I had the pleasure of meeting her twice since she also lives in Portland!). Having fallen in love with her work, I of course just had to learn how to make art like hers. I bought her book and made a very lovely painting (that actually looks nothing like her work, the second image below). Then I took her online course and made another lovely painting (again nothing like hers, the third image below). I just really struggled with the imagery part. Her process is amazing and there are definitely many aspects that I continue to employ but I have come to realize (and have posted about before) that her style is simply not mine and I can't force myself into that hole. But I decided to try again with imposing imagery on top of the abstract work but not worrying about laying color over color...just focus on the images and making them stand out.
I picked out one of the leftover drawing pieces and just started drawing in flower shapes on top of the dried ink/paint with pencil. Then I added in the stems and vase. With a brush, I painted white acrylic ink around the pencil marks. I used the ink because I wanted to keep it fairly transparent so you can still see something of the abstract patterns underneath it. Once the shapes took form, I used green acrylic ink for the vines and to outline and shade the stems, and pink acrylic ink to give the petals more definition. I also used some diluted acrylic inks in a couple of colors to make the vase form more cohesive. Finally, I added in the white details/highlights on the flowers and vase. I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out. Like most of my projects, I had to employ a lot of trust, perseverance and persistence. It's so easy to let that critical voice win and to just stop/give up but once again, I prevailed and the result is pretty much how I imagined after I had drawn in the objects. I think I'll have to make more of these...maybe with different colors to cover the background..
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!
I'm so excited to have this one finished! It turned out so much better than I thought it would/could. There were so many hours invested in this piece but so very worth it. I love the cartoony/illustrative effect. I love the colors and the shading, oh I just love this one. I love all the choices I made and that I kept with it. I loved doing all the tiny little details and I loved the coloring. Wow...it's so exciting to have something I made look so cool! This is also the end of week 8 of my daily art project. I'm so thrilled at my persistence and my commitment. I'm so proud of myself. I can't wait to see what I come up with next!
Got started on this one earlier today so that I was sure I could get it finished and posted as early as possible. It still took many hours but these are so much fun to work on so the time just flies by and except for the fact that my hand is sore (maybe a bit too much drawing these days...and my iron grip doesn't really help either). I started this daily art practice with the desire to just get into the habit of making art daily...I mean, I can't really call myself an artist if I don't actually make art, right? I definitely think I'm in the groove now as far as consistency of art making but what I'm really gaining through this process is connection to my artistic intuition and to trust that little voice. I had several starts and stops with this piece. I already had the poem created but I just couldn't think of what to do with the art part. Truth is, though, so much of art making seems to be (for me at least) beyond thought. I scribbled a few lines on the page, thinking I'd go one direction but found other inspiration in those lines and went in a totally different direction. After I had the main items drawn in I started thinking about the background and again ended up in a different place than where I started. Finally, I had imagined that this would be all just black and white (or cream since that's the color of the paper), using just the black pen and graphite shading but as I was just getting ready to start that shading, I had a sense that I should use color instead. I'm so glad I listened to that small voice because I think the color helps those focal items pop more than pencil shading would have, especially since the background ended up being more prominent than I first thought it would. I like this piece. I love the poem and while the background is kind of busy, I love the dimension in it and in the focal items. This item is for sale for $80 plus S&H. Please email me if you'd like to buy it now...I'll likely have it posted on my Etsy shop shortly. Please consider supporting an independent artist :)
Here's the poem:
“Miracle” from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
we commit ourselves to uncertainties
compelled to live,
reverencing our life,
All change is a miracle;
a miracle which is taking place every instant.
YAY! A new drawing today for my daily art project. I'll still be working on the flowers but I just had to do something new. I also did something different today and I think I need to keep doing this. I started working on this drawing around 8am, finishing around 10:15. Typically, I goof around on the computer until at least 10am and maybe get started working on something then but likely later than that. I didn't even open the laptop today until just a little bit ago (10:35 or so) to download the photo and start this post. It feels so good to have a finished drawing already done! I'm going to have to keep doing that...starting earlier in the day. I still have time to start another project and to work on the flowers, too. Awesome!
I did work from life on this drawing. Cherries are my favorite fruit but cherry season is super short, and they are really pricey! I purchased a bag a couple of weeks ago and was horribly disappointed with them. They were either flavorless or kinda sour. I stopped in Albertson's this morning to get some turkey breast and they had cherries on sale so I figured it was worth another shot. These are delicious! As I thought about what I was going to draw today, I realized the cherries would present an interesting challenge. So, I put some in a bowl and set to work. I still find drawing from observation/life to be challenging. It's sometimes difficult to gauge proportion and perspective but the only way to get better is to practice! I had two light sources so there were lots of higlights on the cherries and double shadow under the bowl. I opted to just color the cherries and leave the rest in graphite. As with many prior projects, this was an exercise in persistence and trust. I started with the stems and those were pretty easy. Then I moved on to the cherries. I first outlined each cherry lightly with purple and then started coloring in with red. I was disappointed at this point because it was hard to differentiate between each of them and I wasn't entirely sure how to proceed. I stopped for a minute or two and seriously considered cutting my losses and moving on to a different drawing. But part of me told me I really had nothing to lose by continuing so, I grabbed a different shade of red and added that on. I was thinking about where the cherries overlapped and how that area would be darker and focused coloring those areas darker. They started taking shape. I moved on to a third shade of red and this is when I saw each cherry start to emerge. I was so happy to have stuck with it. Once I felt they were done, I moved on to the bowl and shadow. I thought about coloring the background, table and bowl but I really wanted the cherries to stand out so I opted to just shade with graphite.. The bowl shape is kinda wonky but I like how this turned out. I've mentioned before that I'm not into photorealism so I wasn't going for a realistic representation of the cherries but I did want them to be recognizable and I think I accomplished that. I'm happy with this drawing and pleased with myself for sticking with it!
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!