Art Practice, Work and…

I started writing this post last week. I’m not sure what happened. Something got in the way. Either it was my mental space or something else entirely. This is where I began last week:

I am finding it difficult to believe two weeks has passed since my last post. It isn’t easy trying to describe the past couple of weeks. I had to look at my calendar to remember what has consumed my life these past fourteen days. Out of the fourteen days, I worked eleven days. The last stretch was seven days long. On the last day, yesterday (16th), I was so looking forward to my time off the last hour and a half of work felt like three hours. My mind no longer wanted to think. Upon arriving home, I made myself and my daughter a cup of hot chocolate and sat down to let myself unwind and let my body and mind absorb the fact that I have two days off.

I have so many things I need to do and yet my mind bulks at wanting to do any of them because it would eat up my personal time for myself during these two days off. I decided to focus on one thing which means seeing my doctor for a prescription refill. This means half my day today will be spent driving to see my Naturopath for the refill and getting my daughter’s supplements evaluated and resupplied. Expenses which are no longer covered by insurance. Changes I have to learn to work into my new budget. Only time will tell how hard this hits.

The rest of the things I need to do will need to be addressed as time allows and as my finances allow. They will get done, one at a time, just maybe not as quickly as they would have been done in the past.  This seems to be the case for everything in my life these days.

This is also how my art journey is also progressing.  Although, in retrospect, as I looked back at the images I had to include since my last post, I had done more than I had first thought.IMG_1245

The image of the tulip is from Week 34 of Life Book 2017 “Be Bold” with Gwenn Seemel. This was way outside of my comfort zone. I generally prefer realism, using colors that are the colors in the real life object I am creating and using a solid application. To go outside of the natural colors is difficult for me and I had trouble doing the crosshatching technique the instructor did. I ended up just letting my strokes come naturally to me while varying slightly with the colors. I doubt I will use this technique again or very often.

Make Your Mark2This next piece is from Life Book 2018, Week 1, “Make Your Mark (Warm Up)” with Tamara Laporte. I felt much better about this one. The layering and colors I felt came out better than some of my past pieces even with the addition of collage. I created the symbol myself, loosely basing it off of the Ayurveda symbol of harmony and balance. I wanted to include my word for 2018 , balance, in this piece. I added the colors that closely represented the words balance, harmony and happiness. This is what I hope to bring about for 2018.

 

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These next two images are works in progress. With my work schedule such as it was, I needed to work on something that would help center me and allow me to work on it in small pieces while I sat with my feet up, resting them from long hours of standing. Mandalas and Circles seem to help me to center myself. Working with tangles enables me to work in broken periods of time.

I also started adding color, whether it is an acrylic wash background, or a different color of ink, or using prisma colored pencils, it helps me to feel like I am allowing my inner artist the food and fuel she needs.

I have been slowly working on these over the past couple of weeks. I haven’t felt hurried to complete either one of them.IMG_1258

For this one, with the acrylic background, I used neon colors because they are more transparent than the regular acrylic colors. I added some patterns using a silicone pot holder that had a sort of honeycomb pattern to it and then overlayed a bit of white using a wet wipe to put it on thinner. This gave a more muted background for me to draw the mandala. Then added premier prisma color pencil. I may add some more color over time.

I have never studied mandalas and lately I am finding I have a deep desire to get into learning more about them. I have a couple books in mind to get and hope a class that went on last year will be made available again soon. I want to understand more about how they relate to our inner self and how they can teach us more about ourselves. I believe this extends back into Carl Jung’s teachings as well which I had delved into a few years ago. It is time for me to return to those studies.

Here is where I stopped and didn’t return to it until today (23rd).

Today, I find myself in an emotional state I very much dislike. This state is one where I feel almost constant anxiety and anything I haven’t done or need to get done and I’m not working on or seeing to, becomes a focus of my inner critic to berate me on what an awful person I am. I am in this place right now and feel powerless to do anything about it. I’ll explain something which may help to put some light onto this situation.

I’m in my late fifties. I’m completely menopausal. While going through Peri-menopause I discovered my lowered progesterone causes me acute anxiety and sometimes panic attacks. Things that normally don’t bother me on a day to day basis can become overwhelming during low progesterone periods which can become worse with stress (emotional or physical). My Naturopath recommends I take natural progesterone supplements and take them cyclic, meaning I go off of them about five days to try and mimic my body’s way of cycling hormones. When we first discovered I was definitely in Peri-menopause we decided to put me on a complete range of hormones. I had to go off of all those hormones except thyroid and progesterone due to my diagnosis of breast cancer, so I am trying to handle this by just using progesterone. When I was on the whole range of hormones I felt so much better but the doctors will only prescribe progesterone and thyroid now due to my cancer diagnosis. By the way, I know without a doubt that adding the full range of hormones didn’t cause my cancer, I had the lump before starting the hormone treatment.

Today is only day two of not taking my progesterone during the five day period.

I made that sentence separate to emphasize this fact. DAY TWO. This started happening recently where my emotions start plummeting severely within only a day or two of stopping my progesterone so much so that in at least one case I returned to taking my progesterone on the evening of day two because the anxiety and my emotional well-being just got too bad. I may do that tonight too. I absolutely hate feeling this way. That other time I saw an immediate change the next day so this is not my imagination. Today, I am trying something a bit different by trying a slightly lower dosage instead of going back completely at my full dose to see if that helps. In my studies I have learned that our hormones fluctuate in a cyclic manner. If they are working properly in our prime they do not deplete completely they just slowly cycle down and then cycle back up over a period of time and we always have some of all our hormones all the time.  For women this is generally related to our woman’s cycle. In Peri-menopuase and menopause our hormones can deplete so badly we may not have any for varying periods or at all. It is much harder for men because they don’t have the obvious signs like women do for their reproductive period in their lives to teach them what this cycle is.

What I hate about this most is how this effects my life and especially the creative aspect of my life. I can’t think straight. I often forget things and I rarely have control of my inner critic which means it might have full reign. When my inner critic has full reign then I often have difficulty working on anything new where my skills are lacking. For instance, I have been wanting to draw a dragon, which I have never done before. I don’t want to copy someone’s design of a dragon. I want to create my own design. Yesterday, when I finally picked up my pencil to work on it after having studied some drawings online, it took several tries. My attempts felt child-like. I sketched across four pages in my sketchbook, four different versions. Each try, I put my pencil down afterwards, sometimes after only drawing a circle for the head and walking away from it, sometimes for a few hours before returning to it. I can’t repeat what went on in my head during each of these attempts. A repeating theme though was about giving up, and I can’t do this.

When my inner critic gets involved it isn’t just words I hear. Sometimes I don’t hear words at all. I FEEL. I FEEL VERY STRONGLY. Those feelings sit heavy and hard like a rock in my chest and my head feels like it will explode. I can write about this now because I feel it as I write this. My inner critic tells me I’m getting too personal. I’m talking about things I shouldn’t be saying on this blog. That this blog is supposed to be to show my art, not to reveal my inner pain. But it doesn’t just say this, it makes me FEEL it. It doesn’t make me feel shame for feeling these things. It makes me feel shame for revealing them to those who will read this and it makes me afraid I’ll be laughed at or shunned or think less of for showing my weakness.

All these feelings are so much stronger today than they are when I’m on my progesterone. It doesn’t mean I don’t have them when I’m on my progesterone. It just means the progesterone helps me to put them into a more manageable place and lets me feel the GOOD feelings more than the BAD feelings.

Today, I want to hide away from the world. I don’t want to be around people. I hear the verbal criticisms I have received in my lifetime louder today when most days they are silent or just whispers. Today, I just want to wrap myself up in a warm blanket and turn up the TV so I can’t hear the words in my head and watch shows that will make me feel differently and better than I feel right now. Which means I have to choose the shows I watch wisely or they will just bring out the voices even louder and the feelings even stronger. The same goes with my artwork which is why I tend to work on things I know best, like my mandalas.

I generally don’t show my rough sketches or failed attempts at something I tried to create so doing this is stepping outside of my comfort zone. Here are my attempts at creating my dragon. I wanted something different because of the piece I plan on including it in is my week 1 class of Life Book 2018, the Garden Fairy.

IMG_1265I decided not to worry too much about taking a good picture. I just wanted a couple pictures that would reveal my struggle. In all of my sketches you can see I erased quite frequently and tried again and again to get something I liked. My very first attempt is actually the image on the right in the first picture. It didn’t look that way in the beginning. In fact, I came back to it after working on the other three. It had a partial body to go with it which I removed. I like how it now looks like the dragon is snuggled up to the neck of the girl I’ll draw, protecting her.IMG_1266

These two were just an attempt to figure out what angle I wanted because I wanted my dragon to end up sitting on the shoulder of the girl I will have in my final sketch. This may change to the snuggle image, but this was all done before that sketch morphed into it’s form to snuggle.

You might wonder why a dragon. Part of week one is a meditation and in my meditation I was surprised to find my animal to appear as a dragon. I want this represented in my art piece. Even though in my meditation my dragon had the appearance of a dragon like in DragonHeart the movie, I wanted a less imposing dragon for my art journal page since this will be more of a whimsical art piece or at least I think it will be. My first drawing was the closest to what I wanted so I returned to it to work on it some more. I am not totally happy with it right now but it is close enough to begin my art journal page using the suggestions from the week 1 class “Garden Fairy” of Life Book 2018.

I wanted to somehow explain my art process and how life, emotions, physical health can have an impact on that process. I don’t have a set process. I try to do something creative every day but what that something will be isn’t something I plan ahead of time. I don’t set down any rules that say okay, I’ll draw something every day, or I’ll paint something every day or I’ll do some art journaling every day or I’ll work on an art lesson each day or every week. That isn’t how it works for me.

Because my work schedule isn’t for the same set of hours five days a week, I can’t set a particular time to sit down to be creative or work on the classes. I can’t even set a particular time to write my blog. I do try and write a blog post on a day I’m not working because it does take time. It just doesn’t always work out that way and sometimes I miss a week or two. After my two days off, I have another seven days I work in a row which ends with the last day being an eight hour day with only one day off. This will be especially hard for me. I’ll be exhausted at the end of those seven days with not much time to recover. Luckily the other days are four hour shifts with about three of them being morning shifts. I like those because they give me the rest of the day to work on art in between the other chores I need to do. This is also why I will never ‘keep up’ with any of the art course I take.

There is one other thing to mention. I used to rush my way through the art classes but since I decided to incorporate the possibility of not copying them exactly, I find I need time to consider what I’ll do. This might take a few hours or it can take weeks. It depends on so many different factors going on. One of them being like trying to work out the dragon sketches, sometimes it is about deciding what I want included in my art journal page. These things go on all the time in the back of my thought processes while I’m doing other things like work or chores or errands. It isn’t until I feel ready to put pencil to paper that I begin like I did with the actual sketching of the dragon. That dragon was in my thoughts since I meditated more than a couple weeks ago.

I think I am already beginning to feel the smaller dose of progesterone working and slowly lifting the dark shadowy blanket permeating me. This is good. Today, I have chores to do and I plan on working on my sketch for my Garden Fairy. I want to make this page my own which means not sitting down and copying exactly what Tam created in her class but using her ideas and finding a way to design and create my own art journal page.

I welcome comments and love reading them. I’m not good at asking people questions to invite discussion but I would like to hear your thoughts and would love to hear about your own experiences especially if anything I wrote here brought things to mind. If  you don’t want your comments public, you can reach me through my contact page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Inktober faces and tangles…

It is day 2 of October. For me this means the second day of #Inktober2017. I did this challenge last year when I wasn’t working. Even so, it was a challenge to work on it every day. I was glad I did for various reasons. This year, I decided to give it another go. With it comes the challenge of doing something every day even on the days I am working. I have no doubt some days will be easier than other days to complete an ink drawing so I decided to try and keep it simple.

I have a journal which has 7″ x 10″ pages. The drawing surface is more like 6″ x 10″ because of the coiled spine. Each page for #Inktober2017 will be divided into sections of about 2 1/2″ x 2 3/4″, giving me about 6 quadrants to create a small ink drawing on each page. This may morph as the days go by but for my first page this is how it is laid out. I expect each drawing will take only about 15 minutes at the most to create, though I don’t plan on timing any of them. Some could take longer depending on what I decide to create. But, most likely, they will end up being simple drawings, especially on the days I have to work.

With my focus of late being on learning how to draw faces, I thought it would be good to draw faces for each day in October.  I also enjoy drawing tangles, so I thought about trying to incorporate tangles for each day as well.  This is day 1. I did stippling for shading and the scrolled feather tangle for the hair.1Oct

This is day 2. I used a sort of scribble technique for the shading and the spangle tangle for a sort of hair or frame around the face. 2Oct

Both of these sketches took very little time and they are perfect examples of persevering through a drawing which I had no love for. In fact, I disliked both of them throughout the majority of their creation. For the second one I was tempted to discard the whole page which included day 1’s drawing. I am glad I didn’t succumb to the temptation. Neither of my sketches are perfect, and though I had various levels of dislike for them as I worked on them, in the end, I like them better than I thought I would.

I felt myself mentally going through an interesting process. In the beginning, I strive for perfection or at least as perfect as I am able to get it. I hope the drawing will be something I am proud of and love. When I realize it isn’t going as well as I had hoped, I get a bit angry with myself while at the same time I try to not be hard on myself. I go through an internal discussion with myself, telling myself not to give up on it yet. I will also find myself trying to convince myself that I am in a learning process and to not expect perfection, to just continue, it isn’t a lost cause, and maybe I could save it or it won’t be as bad as I think it will be.

Once I finally accept the imperfections, it somehow frees me to just let go. It isn’t perfect so why continue to try for perfection. This is when I let go on day 2 and introduced just scribbling to create a bit of shadow to give some depth to the face. If I had continued to try for perfection I would never have dared to try the shading as I did. It might have taken many months or I might never have discovered how scribbling can be so freeing and create such marvelous character to a sketch. Oh, I’ve seen it in other people’s work, I just never would have dared try it in my own drawings. How could I have ever imagined creating scribbly lines instead of neat and “just so” perfect placement, would make my inner artist squirm in delight?

The shading came last, it came after trying to add in the spangle tangle. When the tangle ended up looking all rough and oddly shaped, and to me simply just a mess, it was what finally broke me free and let me scribble.

Did I say I was a perfectionist? Imagine if you will, being a person who feels compelled to have perfectly straight lines, or perfectly round circles, or the exact placement of eyes or exactly perfectly shaped nostrils. What it must be like to face each imperfectly placed mark. The conversation they must have with themselves, silently within their mind. Until… they finally reach a point where it is all useless but instead of throwing it away, they say ‘the heck with it’ and just let the pencil or pen fly, go where it just wants to go, no longer caring about the end result. Then… then… to suddenly look at what is created and realizing…  yes… yes… that… that… is what was needed… that is what was needed to be learned or done on this particular piece. Then wondering, will you ever be able to do it again, or will it take having to go through the process again and again and again before the perfectionist finally steps aside and allows the free flow of creativity to occur.

I wonder how many people experience this during #Inktober….

As stated earlier and in previous blogs my focus is on learning how to create faces. I showed this one (from the week 2 class in Fabulous Faces by Tamara Laporte) in my previous post. I didn’t consider it finished and it took days for me to get back to it.

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Here she is completed.

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I used Neocolor II, Staedtler watercolor pencils, vanilla and white Craft Smart acrylic paint, and Prisma Color Pencils with a bit of graphite pencil. The more I work on faces which are more whimsical in nature, the more I love them. I don’t have to worry about getting them to look exactly like a reference picture (if I use one). That is the nice thing about learning to draw whimsical or directly from my imagination.

There was a time when I never thought I would be able to draw anything from my imagination. I always felt like I needed to have a picture or the real thing to draw from. When I did use a picture or real life, then I felt like it had to look exactly like it was in the picture or real life. I still have that issue when using something as a reference. I no longer have an issue with drawing from memory or my imagination. It is freeing in many ways. The issue with drawing from memory or imagination is whether you want to create something anatomically correct. If you do, then you need to study anatomy or find information on proper dimensions and placement for various parts and pieces whether it is animal, plant or inanimate objects. The nice thing about whimsical or fantasy, it is totally up to your imagination and doesn’t have to be anatomically correct.

Some day, maybe, I’ll find myself drawing some really outlandish creatures or characters. I love the idea of that.

I loved how my girl turned out. I love the colors I used. I am finding, I have a natural knack for selecting colors. I love everything about her and my skill at shading is improving. Looking at the first picture and comparing it to the completed picture shows a vast difference. I’m glad I took her further. I almost didn’t. Seeing how the additional layers created more depth definitely reinforces what the instructors in other classes have said. Layer, layer, layer… the more you layer the more depth that is created.

There is one more journal page I created. I do love drawing tangles. I have always loved seeing other people’s tangle creations, and especially love pages where someone creates a whole garden type image. I have attempted to create some of my own and failed miserably at it. I can’t seem to find a cohesive way to incorporate what I want so it ends up looking all disjointed. My mind just doesn’t seem to work that way.

On the other hand, this method seems to work well for me. Creating quadrants and having elements which link them all together seems to be very pleasing to my creative mind. I loved working on this piece and watching it develop. It is what gave me the idea of creating quadrants on a page for #Inktober. In some ways, this makes me think of looking through a pane glass window, you know those old windows which had small panes set into a wood frame that are put together to make a larger window. I love this and someone who saw it thought it would look good etched in glass. I think so too.

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I have no doubt this will not be the last one done like this. I am already working on another one.

There is one thing I’m learning about my art journey and my life. I am finding, if my life is chaotic or quite complex at moments, then I prefer doing art which is simple or soothing to me. Trying to do a complex piece of art when my life is already complex just seems to increase the stress level. When that happens I don’t enjoy my art so much. It is important to me that I can find peace and relaxation in my art, at least for the majority of it, in troubling or difficult times. Even so, no matter what I work on, there is always something in it which challenges me. Depending on the degree of challenge, it can put me on edge or it can be a catalyst which helps me to break down barriers or paralysis or blocks. Sometimes a simple piece of art which doesn’t challenge me very much artwise, can give me the courage to face a completely separate issue in life. It is strange how that works.

So… the next time you feel challenged in life, pick up an art supply and do something that instills peace and joy. You never know what doors it will open, or what courage may arise from it.

More watercolor facial studies….

In my last post I talked about the first watercolor facial study I did for a 21 Secrets class I took. Repeating the technique was not so easy on my next watercolor study which was focused on the nose, a feature I often have difficulty with. I didn’t have any left over skin tone mix from the first one, and several days had gone by, so the skin tones do not match.

nose copy

On the same day, I also worked on a study of the mouth, mostly just the lips.

lips copy

Several more days passed before I worked on the last one, which was the left eye. This one I actually worked on today. In the class, Jodi Ohl demonstrated both the dry method and the wet method for applying watercolor to the paper and though her wet method ended up very loose, mind did not.

right eye copy

I started all of them by wetting the paper first and then applying the watercolor. I will admit the perfectionist in me immediately started trying to control exactly where the colors went. If you haven’t worked with watercolor, then you don’t know how ridiculous that statement sounds. On this last one I tried to be looser than all the others ones and was not very successful. Loose technique in anything, just may not be my style. I’m working on it though. I’m better at loose technique when it is abstract.

After I completed my watercolor study today and it dried, I decided to see how all four of the pieces looked displayed together. Here is what it looks like:

collage 2 copy

She is a bit wonky but that is to be expected since I didn’t lay down all four pieces of watercolor paper and sketch her out first so all portions would be symmetrical. Even so, I like how they all look in a collage. I may mount them this way permanently but not sure at this time.

My next venture in watercolor? Maybe, I’ll try to do her whole face and see if she ends up looking anything like the reference photo.

~Patti

Loving Watercolor

Watercolor is quickly becoming my favorite of all paints to work with. I don’t know how to express the joy I feel every time I work with it. Today was no different.

Most of my watercolor experience has been only recently in the past year. It started with just playing around with watercolor pencils a year ago when I discovered bullet journals. I decided to use watercolor pencils to decorate my pages. I knew absolutely nothing at that time about how to work with watercolor pencils, let alone watercolor paint.

I came across videos on YouTube but my general interest at the time was mixed media, so I was hopping around all over the place watching videos on all different types of mediums. I think the only medium I haven’t touched is oil paints. Some day I might but not right now. I have too many types of mediums I want to perfect my skills within.

I think when I was a teenager watercolor terrified me. I think this because when I returned to studying art, in the past year or so, watercolor was the last thing I considered pursuing other than just simply playing around with it. I never thought I would pursue it as a medium I would desire for any serious art.

Isn’t that how it works sometimes? The things we least desire or think we have the remotest chance of being even close to good at, ends up being that one thing that makes our hearts soar and our souls sing. This is what I’m finding with watercolor.

About a year ago, I purchased 21 Secrets “Tools and Techniques” course. One of it’s lessons is by Jodi Ohl, called Flowing Facial Features. I have probably put off doing this lesson for at least three months if not more. Guess the medium yet? The word ‘flow’ should give you an indication. If you guessed, watercolor, you would be correct.

I studied her videos, watching them in their entirety probably three if not four times before I attempted just one facial feature study. Why did I wait so long? Trepidation for one. My inner critic for another. My perfectionist personality for another. I knew very little about watercolor. I didn’t even know what it meant by stretch the watercolor paper, or how to tape down watercolor paper properly. I tried one time with some painters tape but the tape ended up releasing from all the soaking in the water.

I finally found a video on how to properly prepare for doing a watercolor painting, thanks to Lindsay Weirich’s YouTube video. She has a wordpress blog too.  She does live streams on YouTube, which I try to catch as often as I can.  I don’t know how many videos of hers I have watched before I felt confident enough to try my first facial feature study.

Here it is:

Flowing Facial Features study 1

I had a couple issues, that involved retaining the white spaces, especially the white highlights in the eye. My paint ended up bleeding into the space I had reserved for the highlight so when I finished with the watercolor paints, I used colored pencil to bring out the highlight more. White for the highlight and some black around the highlight and pupil to bring it out more.

I also, over worked the eyelashes but once overworked I couldn’t undo it, so I used some black colored pencil to try and bring forward some eyelashes hoping the rest might look like shadows or would recede enough to not distract. Lesson learned though for the next eye on my facial studies.

I have three more sketches I did for the facial feature studies. Another eye with a partial nose, a nose with a partial eye, and the lips. In the end, I hope they will create a full face when tiled together.

What I learned while working on this piece was even if it looks like the color is too dark when I apply it to paper, it isn’t the end of the world. I can lift some of it up to lighten it. Something I’m learning to do without scrubbing and pilling the paper. After working with acrylics it is sometimes hard to remember to not apply pressure when doing a slight bit of scrubbing.

I love that Jodi Ohl recommended focusing on one facial feature. It took the pressure off of trying to paint a full face. I need to take this approach in other things like drawing. I become overwhelmed when I consider creating a large piece, even if it is just a face with all its features. It can be rather daunting.

I used to think watercolors were unforgiving and difficult to keep some semblance of control over. That is the perfectionist within me wanting everything to come out perfectly. She doesn’t believe that something that will bleed and move around on its own could end up in all the right places creating a beautiful piece of art. I’m working on proving her wrong. I think I made a beautiful start at it today.

Feel free to leave a comment if you feel moved to do so.

~Patti

Bloom’n Hand

Artists are faced with all sorts of challenges, not just trying to find ways to deal with their inner critic. Though the inner critic can be rather creative in its way of manipulating the artist. Every inner critic has its own unique way of working its interference in trying to protect the artist. This is by no means, the only challenge some artists have to face.

Of late, I have become aware of just how many artists within the online communities I am part of are working through their own challenges. Some of them face mental illness, while others face physical limitations. Some face both, while others face their own demons in the guise of their inner critic.

These challenges are in no way small or insignificant. For each of us, they are powerful. The type of power they wield, depends upon the artist. Some artists are completely controlled by their challenges, while other artists work hard at controlling and utilizing their challenges to create beautiful and sometimes startling pieces of art. You can find examples of this all over the internet all the way from masters to novice. No one is immune.

I am also not immune. Up until recently I have not had any physical impediments as a challenge that has hampered my journey as an artist and writer. Today, I find myself struggling with the use of my dominant hand, consequently, I am trying to train my left hand to do much of what I have relied upon my right hand to do for my whole life.

My inner critic is having a wonderful time with this. As you maybe able to imagine, she can’t find anything worthwhile in what I create when I use my left hand. I’ll prove her wrong eventually. For now, I’m learning to mentally accept what maybe a permanent impediment.

On Sundays, I usually start thinking about my weekly spread, sometimes referred to as an MDS or multi-day spread. A term I learned from Effy Wild’s Book of Days course and Boot Camp. By the way, if you want to experience a free lesson by Effy Wild, check out her Book of Days Boot Camp. It is amazing. You can find a link to the class on her right sidebar here. The amount of content for a free class is unbelievable. While I was thinking about what I wanted as a focal image, my dominant hand was prominent in my mind, so I decided to have it as my focal image. I traced it and here is the result:

Bloom'n Hand copy

This piece was done in watercolor, Faber-Castell Pitt pens, Posca pens, and Uniball Signo white gel pen. It is a sort of play on words and an attempt to feel positive about my dominant hand.

I am not sure if this will be my weekly spread or just an art journal page honoring my dominant hand. Or possibly both. I may pick it up at the end of the week and just journal about my week all over it. Or it may stay as it is.

~Patti

 

Watercolor cloud story telling…

I did an earlier painting using this process from a class I took. During the class, I did three pages with the watercolor technique that forms a sort of abstract cloud. My earlier painting was posted here.

Yesterday, and today, I took the two pages left from the class and completed the painting and the story which came out during the painting of each one. Here are the two paintings:

I have really enjoyed this process.

Another class involved blind contour. I was really resistant to doing this class. I was resistant because I thought it would be a waste of paper and I wouldn’t be able to do it very well. I was both right and wrong. The class involved doing a blind contour of a reference. I chose a bamboo plant, once the drawing is done, to then paint in the different sections in the line drawing.

This turned out better than I thought it would. I really liked how it looked but the next steps went like this. Journal over your painting. The suggestion was to journal about blind contouring but you can journal about anything. Then paint over it lightly, covering about 90% of the painting and journaling. Once dry, do another blind contour over the paint.

I really loved how my painting looked with the journaling over it. I was tempted to stop at that point. However, I was determined to do the whole class, so I continued. I painted over it and chose using a Neocolor II for the blind contouring, then I painted it and it came out like the first picture.

I absolutely hated it.

I decided to do it again, only this time stop at the end of the journaling. The second picture below is my second blind contour before the journaling. I love it even with the journaling I did later. It kind of makes me think of a short story written over a painting representing the story. I like the thought of that.

This last is from a class on creating a journal page. I used homemade texture paste which I don’t use near often enough. I love the feel of the texture and how the texture takes the paint. I’m not fond of collage, however, a collage of something I created with my own two hands felt good and I like the affect.

Create Something Every Day copy

I finally got caught up in my classes. This is a relief. I felt pressured to get caught up though the pressure was coming only from me. I didn’t feel like I should work on other things until I got caught up. It was hard to balance my day and focus on other things knowing I was falling behind in my classes. Now that I’m caught up, I should be able to focus on some of my own ideas.

~Patti

Merging Poetry with Art and more artwork…

I have been playing around with the concept of merging my mixed media art with my poetry.  I have been wanting to find a way to do this for a while now. I have added some of my poetry to a couple of my art journal pages but something felt missing.

The below spread is from a lesson on Mood Journaling from Book of Days 2017 by Effy Wild. The concept is when something is bothering you, to sit down and just let yourself go, feel your emotions, and just reach for whatever paint color immediately comes to mind. Then just slap it on the page, making marks with whatever medium you reach for and allowing your mood to express itself through the application of the medium. Her lesson is much more descriptive of the process of how to do this and I’m hoping I’m not revealing too much by the description I have given so far.

For this piece I really didn’t have any strong emotions but did tap into some of the feelings I have. The point is to tap into your feelings and get them out. This is usually what is behind my poetry as well, which is what made me think about using the mood journaling process to help me merge my poetry with my art.

Once I completed the lesson, this is what I ended up with:

silhouette

At first, I considered using it as a spread for an MDS (Multi Day Spread) for journaling my week. Then one of the individuals in the class Facebook group suggested it would be a good spread for reflection. I liked this idea. Then I thought about a poem I had written earlier in the month and thought it would go well with the spread.

I chose to add a second silhouette, making it look like she was on the other side of the window. Then, I took a picture, imported it to my editor on my computer and added the text from my poem to see how it would look. Here is the result:

Mood Journaling Silhouette copy

I like it. I like it a lot, although the wonkiness of the boxes kind of bothers me. That perfectionist side of me being too critical but, it will do. I plan on using the spread to add text about what I learn about myself, positive things. Things that are insightful and uplifting.

At first I wasn’t sure how I would add the poetry text to my actual page. I did some calculations and found if I place a line every 1/4 inch I can have 36 spaces for writing which is just enough to fit the poem in the same way it appears above, only it will be written in my handwriting.  I won’t be placing any other pictures of it here, because the rest will be very personal.

I do, however, love this process. When I read a poem I have written, I can usually tap into the original emotions I had when I wrote the piece . I should be able to use this same process to create a mixed media page which will become the background for the poem. Maybe one day I can turn them into a book of mixed media poetry.

Give Your Story to Wisdom copyI worked on some other art lessons this week from Life Book 2017 organized by Tamara Laporte. This first one is a lesson given my Tamara. I love her whimsical animals. She gives them all human eyes. My daughter thinks my elephant looks cute but creepy with its human eyes. I sort of like her.

Intuitive warrior copyThe next lesson is also from Life Book, the teacher Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici, is the Intuitive Warrior. I am loving all the different techniques I’m learning. I would not have considered using the colors I have in this piece if it wasn’t for this class.

Less is More copyThis last is a lesson by  Melissa Dinwiddie on Less is More. I’m not crazy about how this one came out. Abstract painting doesn’t come easy to me. This is something I will need to work on if I want better results. I think I used too many different colors and too large a canvas. The instructor used small canvas so this minimalist approach seemed to look better. Or, maybe I should have had a larger variety in shape sizes. It is something to consider if I want to do another piece like this.

My journey into meeting my inner artist has been and continues to be an interesting one. I’m learning a lot about what makes me happy in my artwork. I love it when I can do a face or in this case, the face of an elephant and have the shading come out so well. I am learning, I’m not a fan of collage, especially not when it comes to mixing different decorative pattern paper together. It doesn’t come out looking right to me. I have yet to put my finger on exactly what or why that is. I do, however, love collaging with old text paper. I’m learning the more I work with watercolor, and other water soluble products the more I love them and the easier it becomes to work with them, this includes acrylic paint.

This week has been the best. Finding a technique I may actually be able to use to mix my writing with my art is a feeling I find difficult to describe. Oh, heck, it makes me happy. And, I just realized, the last piece I don’t like so much? That technique will also have a place in merging with my writing. I almost missed it. Looking at it just now, I realized, with a little practice, it could become a very dynamic technique that will merge well with my writing. giving plenty of white space for text.

The other great part of my week has been, I have finally narrowed down a process for editing my ink drawings. I was getting frustrated over not having crisp, clean lines, that looked like a print shop created them. I finally realized, “Hey, these are hand drawn pieces. I don’t want them to look like they were made by a computer digital program. I don’t want them to be perfect in that way. I want them to be perfect in the imperfections that come with something made by hand.” These will be my one of a kind hand drawn pieces which once I have the majority of them edited, I can sell individually or in a collection for people who like to de-stress by coloring or just want an ink print. The editing I’m doing is to mainly clean up any stray marks and to make sure they will print clearly when enlarged.  I have over fifty drawings I can convert to digital files, most of them are mandalas. I’m looking forward to when I can open up a web store to sell them.

~Patti

Designed and made by hand…

I created my first greeting card ever. It is a thank you card. I have an intended recipient for the card. I absolutely LOVED making this card. At first, I tried just making it on plain card stock but soon discovered why those who make cards do their artwork on a separate piece of paper first and then adhere it to the card stock. The watercolors I was using bled through the card stock which would interfere with the writing space on the inside of the card. So, I started again.

I cut down a piece of watercolor paper to 3 3/4″ x 5″ so it would have a nice border around it when I adhered it to the card stock. I used a wet-on-wet technique using Prang watercolors. I am falling in love with Prang watercolors. They are so vibrant as you can see in this card.

I have learned to let watercolor dry on its own for the most part. Especially if I want to get the granulation, blending and bleeding that occurs over time when you let it dry without the aid of a heat gun. Believe me, there is a difference.  Half of the blending and bleeding you see in this card would not have occurred if I had dried it with a heat gun immediately after putting down the watercolor.

Partially through the drying, I used a paper towel to dab up some of the excess water once the blending and bleeding had done its thing.  This left some added texture in the watercolor paint which I totally fell in love with.

Once it was completely dry, I used Permapaque black marker to write the words. Then a Signo Uniball white pen for the highlights on the letters. The last step was to use a final fixative, oh yeah, and dark blue ink around the edges.Thank you Card copy

I used double sided tape to adhere the piece of watercolor paper to the card stock. This was not a pre-made folded card. I used an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of 65 lb. card stock and cut it in half to 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″, then folded it so the card would be 4 1/2″ x 5 1/2″. This created a 1/4″ border around the watercolor paper.

That is all there was to it. Simple and easy.

I also made the envelope out of 65 lb. card stock. You can see it peeking out behind the card.

Have I said how much I love the feeling of creating something beautiful completely with my own hands? That includes, not using stencils or stamps made by other people. This card, other than the paper, is completely designed and made by my own hands. It is such a wonderful feeling.

I am in love with this card. It will be so difficult to mail it to its recipient. However, it is for a good cause and I think they will appreciate it just as much as I do.

I realized when starting to write this post, I forgot to post the completion of one of the pieces I posted that was in progress. So here it is.

Mirror of the Soul copyThis is the piece in which I showed the beginning sketch here, for Effy Wild’s “Mirror of the Soul” lesson in Kiala’s Pull, Pen, Paint course. Again, I used Prang watercolors to paint the image, as well as, some gel pen for highlights and added details.

This was only my second time painting a horse’s head. Sometime, I’m going to find some videos or courses on drawing and painting animals. Though I like how they came out, I know I can do better.

The inspiration for this painting was my Soul card, VII The Chariot, which also happens to be my Personality card. I feel a sort of affinity for the card and feel it has a special message for me whenever it turns up.

I may do more cards. In fact, I’ve been looking up printing options for playing cards. I’m thinking about having a deck printed up using one of the images from the back of this card deck I made by hand. I love playing with this card deck. It gives me such pleasure knowing I created it. It has a completely different feel to it than a regular playing card deck. To have an actual card deck printed up from my designs would be awesome.

20170424_Card Deck

Have a fabulous day.

~Patti

Challenges and chances to win a seat in Ever After

Life isn’t without its challenges. Neither is art. Every day when I wake up, the first thought that enters my mind is “what will I do today?” This is such a broad question but for me it is directly related to my creativity. If, I’m not creating, then I feel lost, as if I have been disconnected from my anchor.

When I don’t know what to do, I generally fall back on classes I have available for me to learn from or work along with an amazing artist. One of those artists is Tamara Laporte. She has many classes I want to take, including her upcoming class of Ever After.

The desire to take her classes isn’t just for what I will learn in art and art techniques. The main reason is because of her personality. She radiates love. Her laughter is contagious. I find her hands beautiful and an inspiration to me that no matter my circumstances I will always be able to be creative.

Tamara Laporte is having a give-away for her Ever After course. You can read about the course here. They are conducting a blog hop with the various teachers participating in Ever After and each teacher is giving away a seat in the class. I write about this because I want everyone who reads this to have a chance at winning a seat.

I was introduced to Tamara’s work after researching online art courses. She has a free art course “Art, Heart and Healing” which you can find here at the bottom of her page. I am all about learning all I can about the way a teacher instructs before buying any of their paid classes. Most instructors give just a mini course which at times can be misleading as to how good a teacher they are, so I was impressed that “Art, Heart and Healing” is a free 4 week class. It is larger than Tam’s mini classes and a full blown class on its own with lots of content.

I am not a whimsical type artist, or I didn’t think I was. I’m not so sure now. The point I’m making is when I started taking “Art, Heart and Healing” it was when I was trying to find my way back into being able to do art like I had in my high school art classes. For some reason starting in grade 8, Mr. McFarland, awakened something in me I never knew I had. Having him as my art teacher until I graduated high school was the best thing that ever happened to me and I believed I was an artist. After high school, it was difficult to make that connection and I doubted myself as an artist.

Even though Tamara Laporte’s style isn’t really my style, the whimsical nature of her work drew me in. It didn’t have to be perfect. Everything didn’t have to be anatomically correct. I always attempted realism and my inability to create anything even close to realism was what my inner critic had a field day with. Doing Tam’s classes and hearing her say it doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, get messy, accept what you think are mistakes, helped me respond to my inner critic in a way that helped me continue and create imperfect pieces of art. In fact, watching her make her own mistakes and how she worked with them, helped free me from my perfectionist.

I credit Tam and a few other artists, like Christy Sobolewski, and Effy Wild, for helping me re-awaken my inner artist and believe in her again, but I will never forget Mr. McFarland’s influence. This is an important journey for me and is why I created this blog to write about it.

I often face challenges when I try new mediums, or when I attempt to draw a face or an animal. I often have to let go of my perfectionist, and my natural proclivity towards details. The best advice I ever heard was when beginning a drawing, forget about the details. Start with a loose sketch, drawing just the shapes making adjustments to get them sorted out where you want them to be. Then you can begin to build upon the details.

My eye for detail generally has me immediately diving in deep. I might decide to draw a whole face but as soon as I put pencil to paper, I’m suddenly drawing just one eye in all its fine details, then the next thing I know I find out it is in the wrong position on the page. I do have to consciously put aside my attention to detail when I first begin a sketch. I have learned, if I don’t, then frustration and angst will eventually follow.

This piece of advice came from this youtube video.

I’ve learned a lot over this past year. I would have to say, the most important thing I’ve learned is how to face challenges. There have been many. Thanks to teachers like Tam, Christy and Effy, the challenges within my art, my creativity, aren’t so impossible to overcome anymore.

I hope you will check out Tam’s new class Ever After. I know I have not been disappointed in any of her classes and generally feel her content far exceeds the price of admission.

I am currently working on two drawings which I plan on painting. I haven’t decided on what medium I’ll use yet. Both are on watercolor paper which means I can use any medium I have.  I am leaning towards watercolor and augmenting it with a bit of acrylic paint, especially for highlights.

This first image is from Pull, Pen, Paint a course provided by Kiala Givehand. Thisi s my beginning sketch for Effy Wild’s course in week 4, titled “Mirrors of the Soul”. It is an inspired art journal page using our Soul card as inspiration. My soul card happens to also be my personality card, The Chariot. This is still a work in progress.

PPP Chariot inspired art copy

This second image is a drawing I created in mid-March. It is also a work in progress. I’m still making decisions on what else needs to be included in the sketch, and I have the challenge of how to do the background and retain the image of the mandala. Then how to bring that image forward. I will most likely go over everything in permanent ink before adding any paint. I love these ladies. I’m not sure where they came from but I am connected to them.

women of the universe unite copy

Being an artist is also physically challenging. I wasn’t prepared for the abuse our bodies can experience while creating art.  Pain has become a constant in my life except during some moments when I am creating art. I am fascinated by this.

~Patti

 

Changes…

I’m working on updating my website. Changes are needed. I never liked how it functioned from the time I created it which might be why I’ve been so absent.

I’m a perfectionist trying to learn how to be a non-perfectionist. Imperfections can be beautiful, endearing and creatively brilliant. This is why I do not throw away any completed art work even if I don’t like it. Looking back I will see how my journey has changed not just my skills but me as a person.

For instance, I’m working on creating art journal pages from Journal52 prompts. The below are from Week 6 Dream and Week 7 Dawn. I’m working in mixed media which is a challenge because it involves learning how all the different mediums respond to each other in all their various combinations. Sometimes you just go with it to see what happens.

wk6-dream

Dream was made with watercolors, and water soluble crayons and a bit of acrylic paint, paint pens and gel pens.  I love how this one came out. The bright colors are beautiful and it is probably one of the best I’ve done so far of skin tones. This was all layered over a collage of text paper.

wk7-dawn

Dawn was done with acrylic paint, all except for the collage of text paper which was layered on first. I am fond of this one when I look at the actual painting. When I look at pictures taken of it, then I’m not fond of it. The picture shows a definite need for learning how to blend acrylics and also how to achieve a ‘glow’. For my first attempt, I think it isn’t bad.

I have been learning on my own about mixed media art which started with true intent about a year ago. I’ve been very selective about paying for e-courses that would give me the most high quality instruction and supplementing it with free video instruction from various artists.

In 2014, almost 3 years ago, I started just trying to awaken my inner artist by doodling, learning tangle patterns and putting them together to make designs. I started with things like this…

dsc_0010

Which eventually moved into mandalas, like this…

Eventually adding color…

I have to admit that mandalas have become something I love to do and I go back to them again and again when I’m seeking inspiration.

I heard someone the other day, talking about taking a class and given the suggestion to use a reference photo. She said the problem with her using reference photos is it brings out the perfectionist in her. Using a photo and her perfectionist wants to recreate it in all its fine details, perfectly.

I get this.  Every time I use a reference photo, I feel the same desire come over me. The Dawn art journal spread was created from a reference photo. It will never be comparable to it in likeness and my perfectionist finds it very difficult to appreciate its roughness and imperfections.

Can you believe living like this in every day life? Do we chastise ourselves if we place our foot down imperfectly upon the ground as we walk to the corner store? Do we dislike our hair if we brush it back from our face and every strand isn’t perfectly placed?

The point is, what I want needs to be functional and pleasing to the eye. Therefore, I selected a different theme for the website. As I try it out, if it doesn’t serve me well then it may change again. It may morph over time, just as my art will definitely morph.

This is my place to talk about my creativity. What I love to do. I want to express my joy in what I create. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and share your own creativity.

~Patti