Ongoing progress…

It has been ten days since my last post. Time slips by in varying degrees of progression. Sometimes fast and sometimes not so fast. I’m finding it difficult to get back into the art courses I was taking before I started my new job. I know I’ll get back into them and possibly I’ll need to do it in stages by focusing on a course that is less complicated or more in line with what I want to develop. Basically, my focus since beginning my new job has been mandalas. They started out simple, or what I consider simple for myself and have gained in complexity. Today’s post is about the last two pages I have been working on.

This is a picture of the first one, which I believe I showed in my previous post.

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For me this is more complex because it isn’t a single mandala and the mandalas are intersecting. I drew the circles first, then bisected them with the grid lines which I extended out past the furthest most circle to the edges of the paper or almost to the edges. Then I began adding patterns to the different sections. Once I was finished with the patterns I added bits of shading. Here is my progress so far, which I am not sure if it is complete at this stage or not but right now I feel no need to add anything more to it.

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When I reached this point in this piece, I started another. The next one I started in my larger art journal. The page is probably twice the size of this one. I felt driven to go even more complex because the simple mandalas were no longer challenging to me. I have taken pictures of this one so far in my progression and it is not complete yet.

This is the first picture I took after I had all the inking done or at least almost done. there are two elements at the top and bottom which call to me to make it darker and add something to them. I am still contemplating what to do with them. This page is about 10 1/2″ x 14″.

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I always start my drawings in pencil first, then I ink over them. Some of the elements and patterns added later are done in ink without any pencil. This challenges me to deal with whatever ends up on the page and accepting it as it is or finding ways to incorporate it. The triangles with the circular pattern in them is an example of this. I didn’t like the first one I did. If I had done it in pencil first I would have erased it and chosen something different. Doing it in ink first made me accept what I did and then work with it. I find I am liking them more so now after adding some of the darker elements to them.

These two pictures are the beginnings of adding shading using the warm shades of grey Prisma colored pencils in an attempt to achieve a 3D effect in the grid of the diamond shapes on the outer edge of the mandala.

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As it happens when I start trying to create a certain effect, I don’t often see it as I’m working on it. Most times I have to step away from what I’m working on and come back to it a few minutes later in order to see if what I was doing actually created the effect I wanted to achieve.

The next two pictures are closeups of different parts of the page. I am still deciding what to do. Choosing to use colored pencils for the shading was a hard choice to make. I love my black and white ink work but this one is calling out to me to add color. So instead of using graphite for the shading I decided to use colored pencils.

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When I look at this piece in it entirety so far, my imagination automatically adds color to various elements. How much color I will add, I am not sure of right now. I want to retain some black and white elements while others call for color.

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Having reached this point today with this piece, I have found myself searching for what I’ll be working on next. Adding color will take some time and I know from experience I will want to work on something else as I take breaks from adding the color. This stage is more like coloring in a coloring book which for me doesn’t hold much interest. I’m slowly understanding why that is.

I thought at one time I would love working with colored pencils. However, I am learning something quite interesting about myself. I have always felt an affinity towards water. Therefore, it is not surprising to discover I love working with watercolors. Or using art supplies that can be manipulated by adding water. If I’m not using colored pencils with a liquid or wet product I find them uninspiring even though I can achieve interesting blending by using blending pencils, white or light colored pencils or blending stumps.

One of the other reasons colored pencils don’t appeal to me is they are hard on my wrist. Graphite pencils and ink pens are as well. I can do the work in stages with graphite and ink, whereas colored pencils, especially when coloring in a repeated pattern, I feel I need to complete all the same pattern in one sitting in order to achieve the same result. This can make my wrist very painful. Using brushes and watercolor or art supplies that can be manipulated with water requires a much lighter grip and therefore less stress upon my wrist.

As an artist, it is very frustrating to find myself limited or having to limit myself in order to avoid pain. It is compounded by the understanding that no one really knows what is causing the pain. At first my doctor thought it was a ganglion but the ultrasound disproved that. Then he thought it was arthritis but the x-rays results indicate my bones are healthy with no sign of arthritis. I was sent to a physiotherapist when my doctor then thought it was tendonitis. My physiotherapist feels it isn’t tendonitis and maybe arthritis even though my x-rays show no sign of it. I am hoping over time it will get better and the pain will go away. I take frequent breaks when I’m using a pen or pencil type object and the pain starts. I used to push through the pain and continue working but, that seems to just make it worse so now frequent breaks will have to suffice. Which is why, adding color to this last mandala page will take time and I will find something else to work on when I need to take breaks.

I look at my watercolor facial features study and I want to do more of them or work on watercolor portraits. I showed these in an earlier post and often find myself revisiting them as I have them on display on my mantle.

I find myself hesitant on trying this again or trying a portrait. It is silly to be so afraid of doing something because I’m afraid I won’t be able to repeat what I did before or do something as well as I did before. I sometimes feel like this was a fluke because it was my first in doing facial features in watercolor. In fact, it was my first real attempt at doing anything conceivably realistic in watercolor. It is ridiculous though to feel this way, because I took a break of days if not a week between a couple of these and I was still able to reproduce what I had learned.

I have this strange fear of experimenting with anything, of doing anything remotely creative with art supplies in which I have not already seen someone else do. Even then because it is all new to me, I have this irrational fear of something going terribly wrong. You would think my hands would fall off, or my arms would break or maybe I would go blind if I tried anything new and was not hugely successful at it. I have even let myself imagine just letting go and drawing a wonky face with eyes all askew just to get past this fear and yet I can’t seem to bring myself to do even that.

I am not sure if we develop a perfectionist personality from our environment growing up or if we are born with it. All I know is, I have a tendency to not do something out of fear of it not being perfect when I’m done with it. When I think about it, I have flashes of memory from my childhood of when I didn’t do something well enough to satisfy a parent or someone important to me. Perfectionism is a killer of creativity. Getting past it is a struggle every single time I try to pick up a tool to create something. It infects every part of my life and keeps me from progressing… IF I ALLOW IT….

I HAVE TO MAKE A CONSCIOUS DECISION EVERY MOMENT IN EVERYTHING I DO TO NOT ALLOW THIS PERFECTIONIST MENTALITY TO GET IN MY WAY OF MOVING FORWARD. It is my hope, my next post will be a post about drawing portraits and the next one after that, in doing them in watercolor. I do however retain the right to change my mind and allow myself to be inspired by whatever seems right for the moment.

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