The completion, a new beginning and hope for a new connection…

My focus comes and goes in regards to my art. It is just about 5 days short of a month since my last post and I haven’t felt like I accomplished anything even though that isn’t really true.  It is difficult to remain focused when it feels like the world around me is falling apart. This is what prompted my latest art journal spread. I wrote a bit about it in my previous post when I started it and it has taken me almost a month to complete it. Here is the completed spread:

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The flowers are a collage of flowers from napkins. I added a bit of white acrylic paint for highlights on them and her hair and face. I added more layers to her face to create more depth. Most of it is watercolor, some of it is mixed with white acrylic paint. I didn’t make any notes on the process and because of the frame of mind I’ve been in over the past month, I don’t remember the different steps I took.

On a previous spread,IMG_1427 I had tried to work with watercolors similar to CeeCee in her videos but it came out just looking splotchy. I let it sit while I worked on the above spread and returned to it after it was completed.

To try and create a background on which I could work on because the current background was too bold, I used white acrylic paint with a really wet brush and brushed it over the watercolor. In the image on the left, you can get an idea of what the background looked like after it dried and the sketch I did on one side of the spread.

The next image is of the whole spread, after I started adding color. I started with the Elegant Writer pen and using a water brush to blend it out to create some shadow. I wasn’t happy with it so I decided to try watercolor. I am often surprised how well watercolor (Prang) works over the white acrylic paint that is painted over a watercolor layer. Because I use a really wet brush with acrylic paint, the watercolor layer reactivates a bit, so what happens is the watercolor mixes a bit with the acrylic paint. The acrylic paint I use is a really cheap white paint from the dollar store. Maybe that is why using watercolor on top of it after it is dry, works so well. The water and watercolor doesn’t bead up when applying over the dried layer. I really love that it works that way. I know people say that using watercolor on top of dried acrylic doesn’t work very well and maybe a layer of watercolor ground would be needed but not in this case.

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The puppy on the right side appeared to me from the shapes in the background. I drew the outline of the puppy first before sketching a face. I make decisions as I go, so at this point, I have no idea where this will go, other than I’ll probably continue to use the same process of Elegant Writer and then watercolor mostly so it will appear cohesive. I am leaning towards using the same colors throughout but we’ll see what happens.

The below image is something I am working on periodically. It started with spraying the page with watered down acrylic paint and Tulip Fabric Dye. Some of my spray bottles are slightly clogged which creates the larger splatters. Once it was dry, I used my compass with a pencil and drew overlapping circles. I am currently coloring in the shapes using Prisma Premier Colored pencils. Other than selecting the colors to use in a shape, the choice of shape to use the colors in, is fairly random. Where this will go from here is anyone’s guess.

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To elaborate a bit on what I wrote about in the first paragraph, I’ll mention a bit about my life. Right now it feels like it is in shambles if I’m given any time at all where I can sit still to reflect upon my life. Being laid off work over two years ago is still affecting me. It has been extremely difficult to find a job that will pay enough to pay my bills without having to pull from my retirement money. This leaves me frightened as to what will happen when that money runs out. Focusing on art is difficult at best with this always hovering over me.

Sometimes, life has a way of reminding us of things we need to pay attention to. In my job search, I remembered the saying that goes something like this which is credited to Albert Einstein “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. When I remembered this, I realized that is what I was doing in my job hunting. With that in mind, I started taking a bookkeeping course so I could add it to my resume and hopefully provide some credentials which will come to someone’s notice when applying for jobs. I hoped too that doing this on my own would show a future employer of my willingness to expand my skills and I have the initiative to do so on my own.

I am about half way through the bookkeeping course and have enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, I was running so high on the enjoyment and excitement of doing something that quite frankly excited my brain cells that at the half way point when I decided to give myself a couple days off, I dropped so suddenly, it was hard to recover. Now I’m taking it at a much better pace while still enjoying what I’m learning.

The hardest thing for me to do is to find enjoyment in life when I have pressing concerns weighing me down. I find it very difficult to focus on my art when I am in such a state of mind. I have read some people say how art helps them through times like this. I think it does for me as well, at least when I am able to set my concerns aside and let myself sink into my art. I’m working on trying to find ways to do that more often. I know it would help tremendously if I were able to find that one job which would provide not just the financial relief I need but also create a connection which would bring meaning back into my life. I applied for one job which I hope will do just that because it would help me support alternative learning for those who want a better way of life. What could be more meaningful than that for someone who loves learning and sharing what they learn?

 

Handmade stencils and life

I’ve been working on designing and creating my own stencils. In my previous post I wrote about two of those designs.  Since then I created two more designs and cut them out. Then I did a test to see how well they worked.

Below are pictures of the stencils after I tested them.

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The blue stencil (crosses) was cut out of a Casemate Index Divider. These are 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. letter size dividers which are generally used in notebooks. This divider is very thin and therefore quite flimsy. During testing this divider lifted a lot when dabbing with a makeup sponge which made it difficult to have clean edges (the paint got under the stencil). I also needed to have less paint on my makeup sponge.

The other three stencils were cut out of Avery Insertable Plastic Dividers. These are also 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. letter size dividers. They are thicker than the Casemate Index Divider. During testing these stencils stayed in place better and didn’t lift as easily when dabbing with a makeup sponge.

Here are pictures of the tests I did. I first spread a layer of acrylic paint over the page. Then I used black paint with the first two stencils.

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The third stencil I used white paint. It was a bit thinner than the black paint but also this stencil is the one that was cut out of the thinner divider material. I wasn’t as careful as I should have been when applying the paint which is why the edges are sloppy.

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The fourth test is a bit harder to see but shows up nicely on the white paint. I wanted to see how they would look layered and I like the effect. I used a magenta acrylic paint.

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What I learned from these stencils is I prefer the Avery dividers over the cheaper Casemate dividers for making stencils. I cut them out using a box cutter. I like the control I have over the larger handle of the box cutter and it was easier on my hands and wrist than a craft knife. Maybe in the future I’ll see if I can use my jpeg images of these stencils with my Silhouette to cut them out of actual stencil material. However, I have found hand cutting them is relaxing, enjoyable and a good mental distraction.

I like the idea of using just portions of these stencils for layering backgrounds as well as using them with my homemade gelli plate. I have several other stencil designs which I’ll be working on and cutting out over the next several weeks.

Unfortunately, this is about all I have accomplished since my last post. Life is taking precedence. Even when I have a few moments to be creative, it is difficult to focus. Creating the geometric designs and mandala type designs for my stencils helps to bring some creativity into my life and helps me to feel like I’m not avoiding my artwork entirely.

Tonight, as I write, this is really the first time I’ve picked up any paints since my last post where I had worked with watercolor. The reason for that isn’t easy to reveal. Sometimes I get in an emotional place where I have a difficult time finding any energy to work with paints. When I’m in such a place, all I want is for things to go well. Paints and I have this unstable relationship right now where I tend to go dark with them and then don’t know what to do next. This creates a sort of anxiety stress, so when I’m in an emotionally stressful place, I just don’t want to add any more stress. I, therefore, try and avoid it.

Of late, I’ve been on shaky ground. A lot of life requirements which could no longer be put off are causing stress and anxiety. Any little additional stress just compounds the situation. This is why I haven’t done much with paints lately. Drawing geometric shapes and mandalas help to de-stress me or at least give me a break from the stressors in life which I feel I have no control over.

I am trying to learn to let go. This isn’t easy for me. However, life/God/the Universe has a way of forcing the issue.

After I did the tests with my stencils I decided to play around with the page. In the process when trying to splatter some black paint, I ended up dropping the bottle and spilling a good amount of the paint on the page. Trust me when I say the amount of paint spilled had me just looking at my page and thinking I couldn’t make it any worse. Therefore, I thought what the heck and I decided to add water, let it run around the page a bit as I tilted it in all different directions, then blotted it with a paper towel. The resulting pattern in the black paint was fascinating.

What I didn’t tell you is I had kept the cutouts from the stencils. I thought some of them might make a good mask, especially the large and medium size crosses and the other odd shapes could be used with my gelli plate to make some interesting patterns.

When I was trying to decide what to do about all that black, I laid down the cross stencil over the page and really liked the patterns I saw in the large cross. This gave me the idea to try using the cutout of the large cross as a mask and sponge white paint around the outside of it. I did this three times. Then I used a wet wipe with some white paint to try and soften the edges.  I used a section of the cross stencil to paint some black crosses around the lower part of the page. I’m starting to like the page so I know I’m not done with it  yet. I did decide however to set it aside for now since it is around 1am.IMG_1382

I was wondering how my choice in reading and studying the bible would influence my creativity. I knew it would, just wasn’t sure how long or in what way. Therefore, I’m not surprised it has, just a bit surprised it is doing so already with having only started my studies just shy of a month ago.

I want to write a bit about how my studies are going so far. I’m up to Chapter 27 in Genesis. I have found that using McGee’s recordings in “Thru the Bible” series inspires me to study the scripture deeper. I am almost always mentally challenging McGee’s interpretation and I’ll admit I often do not agree with him. I am not sure if it is because of my lack of knowledge of the rest of the bible or if it is because he and I are very different people.

Listening to his recordings does two things. It reminds me why I don’t attend church and because they are recordings I can first read the scripture, then listen to the recordings, and then read the scripture again, looking at it deeper to hear what it is telling me. And I can replay the recordings or go back to certain parts of the recording to help me understand why I feel a certain way about what he says. I can’t do this when attending church and just listening to a sermon leaves me with feelings that I don’t understand and at a loss as to what to do with them. I’m realizing I need to take things apart, digest them and put them back together again in a way that makes sense to me. Thereby, creating my own interpretation.

For example, McGee speaks about the description given of Esau and Jacob. The bible describes Esau as a hairy man and Jacob as a smooth man. For those who don’t know, Esau and Jacob are twin brothers. McGee compared Esau to being like a caveman or a hippie. What one needs  to remember is McGee’s recordings started in 1967 for Thru the Bible and I keep this in mind when I listen to his recordings. He considered Esau like a hippie because from his perspective hippies were hairy (they had long hair) and didn’t bathe much. I guess in his eyes he felt cavemen and hippies to be very similar. I would disagree with this but I do so from the perspective of someone who was born in 1960.

I sometimes feel McGee has a closed mind. His comments regarding books outside of the bible and hippies are just two examples. When I read the description of Esau and Jacob, my interpretation was more of Esau being a man with a lot more body hair like some men have today, while Jacob had much less body hair like other men today.  I believe the description was meant to emphasize how different the two brothers were, not just in thought but also in physical form. Knowing they are twin brothers without this description might lead us to believe they were more alike than they were, so the description aids us in understanding the deeper nature of their conflict. To go even deeper is the fact that there is also a mention of Rebekah, their mother, feeling the strife between them even as she carried them prior to their birth. I don’t believe Esau was anything like a caveman or a hippie. This is where McGee and I disagree on a fundamental level.

I remember as a child being told the the reason the bible is considered a living bible is because everyone who reads and studies it will receive their own interpretation or  understanding of what the scriptures mean to them. Therefore, I use McGee’s recordings as a catalyst. Without that catalyst, I have no doubt my attempt to study the bible would end like all the other times I tried and gave up. This time is very different from the other times and I find myself drawn towards my studies first thing after waking if I have a couple hours available before going to work. I also find myself drawn to study more than one chapter at a time even if I’m short on time. I try not to do so because I don’t want to feel rushed. I’m both surprised and fascinated that this is happening.

In other news, last week, my daughter and I needed to go into Vancouver. While there we decided to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was our first time there. I am so glad we went. I got to see my very first Monet.

I was thrilled knowing I was standing in front of an actual Monet. I tried not to be disappointed. I couldn’t understand why I was disappointed. When I looked at it, I was left with a feeling that maybe it had lost its luster. It seemed dull or a bit out of focus when I looked at it and thought about other paintings but this is probably due to my lack of knowledge on Monet paintings. I have done a bit of research since then and discovered Monet did several paintings of the same subject in various conditions. I have no doubt the feelings invoked by the painting weren’t in fact disappointment but my reaction to the subject matter and the subdued nature of it.

What fascinated me even more about our trip through the art gallery was the exhibition “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” and my reaction to it. I don’t think I could do it justice in describing what it was about the exhibit that fascinated me. I could probably look at just one of the paintings for hours because of all the layers and fine details, and OMG the bright colors and patterns. My mind was blown away. All I could think was ‘how does he do that?!?!’ over and over again as I looked closer. In truth, when looking at the paintings at a distance the subject matter didn’t really fascinate me. It wasn’t until I got up close and saw the details. That is when the fascination kicked in.

I am so glad we went to Vancouver when we did and took the time to go to the art gallery. I’m enjoying my studies. Work is okay, I still enjoy interacting with all the people. Even though all of this seems to be going well, mentally I’m not in a good place right now. I honestly do not know how people do it. How do they live pay check to pay check trying to feed their family if they are only making minimum wage? Maybe it is worse for me because I had a really good paying job that I took for granted. All I can think about sometimes is that it should be a crime for people who work to not get paid enough to support themselves.

I saw a sign at a company once where I knew they paid minimum wage to the workers on the front line, which stated they supported a program to end child hunger. My first thought was, “then pay your workers enough so they can feed their children!”. Minimum wage doesn’t pay enough to enable the employee to support themselves let alone a family. It makes me sick when I think about it. I can’t tell you how helpless I feel to do anything about our current situation which if it doesn’t change could be quite devastating. And yet I know there are people who are in worse situations which I cannot even fathom right now. It scares me to death to think we could end up in one of those worse situations. I need to have some things done around the house but I’m afraid to spend the money and yet I know if I don’t those things could and will get worse. So, in a few weeks I’ll bite the bullet, find out how much it will cost, and spend the money.

I stopped writing this last night and went to bed. It was getting so late and I needed some distance to decide if I wanted to include all that I had written so far. I needed a fresh mind. At first, I thought I would delete a good bit of what I wrote since the intention of this blog was to be about my artwork. As I consider what I had written and whether I should delete anything, I ask myself, “Would I be denying the real artist within me by omitting anything I have written?” Yes, some of it is very personal. However, I cannot separate the rest of my life from my life as an artist. When I go out into the world, I do so as an artist. When I sit down to do a painting or drawing, I do so with the weight of my life and all that has influenced me, good and bad. Therefore, if I am to be true in my writing about being an artist, I need to include all areas of my life because no matter what it all influences what I create.

I also have to remember, I am not just an artist who draws or paints, I am also an artist who writes and a writer who is an artist. Writing helps me to process and that includes this blog.

When I worked or rather played around with my page last night, I got my hands into it. I had used a gift card for the first layer in spreading the paint I had dribbled all over the page in a haphazard manner. I can’t use a makeup sponge to dab on paint through a stencil or around a mask and not get paint on my fingers. I wasn’t liking how the splotches of color looked when I tried to add some layer of colors so I just started dribbling on paint and haphazardly smearing it around with my fingers. I didn’t use a brush at all on this page. The closest thing I used was a makeup sponge, a wet wipe and the gift card to move paint around. I still have some paint on me this morning. 🙂  Yes, I’m normally very fastidious about not getting too much paint on me and when I do to then get every bit off of me.

I am both fascinated and fearful of the changes which I am experiencing in my life. It is a scary place to be in right now. If it was just me, I think it wouldn’t be so frightening. Knowing I have the responsibility of my daughter and I am her sole support compounds the fear. Knowing I have a breaking point has me very weary and watchful that I avoid that breaking point at all costs. It is obvious I’m seeking answers, a resolution and a way through to a life that is less stressful or anxiety driven. For now, I’m doing what I can, which might mean that art takes a back seat if I have to work a second job to make ends meet.

If you have made it this far through my rambling and spilling out of my life, thank you. You are appreciated. Thanks for being here. ❤ ❤ ❤

~Patti

God, artwork, dreams and reality….

Wow, time seems to be having quite a bit of fun with me since my last post on the 3rd of April. My work schedule seems to reflect this. I had one day off on the 3rd, worked 1 day, then 2 days off, worked 1 day, then 2 more days off, then worked 8 days. During each of the two days I had work done on my car, my windshield replaced, and multiple recall items replaced. Thankfully, my insurance covered the windshield and the recall items didn’t cost me anything. While the car was worked on I worked hard doing a much needed cleaning of our home. I still have a bit more to do, however, it feels good that a majority of it has been done. In the midst of all of this I did some artwork, art journaling, designing and focused on a class and some other studying. I’m going to talk about these but not necessarily in that order.

I’ll tackle the studying part first, and if you aren’t interested feel free to skip down to the next topic.

STUDYING:

I’ll give a bit of background. I grew up protestant with a leaning towards Baptist and later non-denomination Christian. The very first church I remember going to wasn’t either one of these, and I’m not sure what denomination it was considered. I remember enjoying Church there because there was no preacher, just elders who ran the church and on occasion invited speakers to our Sunday services. Generally, Sunday service for the family was conducted with someone reading a passage from the bible and different members standing and reading from the bible, intermixed with singing gospel songs. There wasn’t anyone to tell us how to interpret the scripture. Even Sunday school for the kids was an adult reading from the Bible and then talking to the children about what was read, generally they were well known stories, like Noah and the Ark. I believe this early introduction to this type of congregation influenced my opinion of churches later on. I’m not sure what led my parents to switch from that church to a Baptist church but they did. The difference between the two was extreme though as a young person I wasn’t adept at working out why when I had been taught from an early age to not question my parents or adults. I just know I couldn’t fully integrate into the way these later churches were run, not even the non-denominational churches and I tried several of them. This was no reflection upon my belief in God, only in the very nature of how Churches are run and Preachers preach their sermons.

With this being said, it has been years since I stepped into a church. It never fails though that each time I have, I felt there was something fundamentally wrong, because every time I walked out of church I felt worse than when I walked into it. As the years passed I stopped attending church even though I didn’t stop believing in God. I have developed different names to represent God, such as, Universe, which usually is my way of saying Universal Intelligence, or Greater Being, or Great Unknown, and so forth. This is just my way of accepting that there is something unknowable that is greater than all of us. I consider myself spiritual and not religious.

When I am faced with the need to understand something, I don’t rely on what other people say or believe. That has never been my way. Consequently, I research, I observe, I experiment, and I do whatever I can to satisfy that need to understand. It doesn’t matter the topic. Whether it is how a certain art supply will work with or not work with another art supply, or if it is what makes certain people tick or respond in the way they do, including myself, and yes this includes understanding God.

I am often confused as to why I am driven to the need to understand something when I am not at other times. For instance, creativity has always been a part of my life. Throughout my life I’ve used various ways to bring creativity into it. Art, such as drawing and painting, were not part of this between the end of high school and until a few years ago. Oh, for brief periods of only a day or two or a week at the most I might have tried to get back into sketching but I was never driven to understand my need for it until a few years ago. Just as I’m driven now to understand more about God or more importantly my beliefs after years of being absent from any church.

I used to think those years were absent of all desire to understand. When I look back on it now, I believe those years were my period to observe and sometimes experiment. Experimenting was rare however. Observing takes years, at least my way of observing takes years because I’m observing everything around me and storing up inside, my response to what I have observed. Once enough is stored, it then drives me to research, and study whatever I can find, in order to understand what I have observed and continue to observe.

You are probably wondering why or how all of this is related to my belief in God. Well, I’ve spent my whole life observing and storing up information. Now, I am driven to try and understand which means research. I often make this decision subconsciously which the World or Universe, or if you prefer, God responds to. I had no sooner made this decision subconsciously when a resource was made known to me. That resource is a 5 year journey called “Thru the Bible” which contains five years of recordings with Dr. J. Vernon McGee where he takes you through the whole Bible. I tried several times to read the Bible on my own but usually got discouraged and stopped. I don’t think I made it through more than a couple books on my own.

This journey I began on the 5th of April is different from all my other attempts to read the Bible from the beginning to the end. I’m not saying I agree with everything McGee says in the recordings but what I am finding is because these are recordings I’m able to slow down, listen to what he says about the chapter I read, and allow my own intelligence and spiritual guidance to come to my own interpretation. I write down notes which contains my questions, how I understand what I read or what I’m lead to understand.

When I say lead, I’m not talking about just McGee’s comments because more often than not his comments spark more questions which are often not in alignment with his interpretation. I’m finally understanding that I am quite literal. If McGee’s interpretation contains within it something that is not stated in the scripture I just read and he gives no supporting scripture, I tend to discard his interpretation or parts of it, unless I come across scripture that later supports his interpretation. I know he comes from years and years of study, schooling and experience but that doesn’t mean he is right in everything he says. In fact, I often find he has very condescending and what I feel are judgemental statements which tend to rub me the wrong way. I take that as a sign to explore more and so I do.

I have considered not listening any further to his recordings, however, if I did, then I would not have the catalyst I need. I know this because I start my study period by first reading the chapter. After reading the chapter I usually have little insight. When I follow that by listening to the recordings for that chapter while making notes, I gain more insight and understanding. It doesn’t stop there, sometimes the rest of my day I find myself often contemplating what I am learning. If I only read the chapter I would probably lose out on a good 75% of what I learn when I allow McGee’s comments to trigger the opening of doors to further understanding.

This will be a three to five year journey of studying the Bible (from beginning to end) and possibly other resources as I come across them. I am curious if this will somehow work its way into my artwork and whether it will become a life long journey. I do know this journey will not be an easy one because it has already created some amazing shifts in my understanding and reality.

When I enter into something that creates such major shifts, time flows strangely and the world around me alters in unexpected ways.

ARTWORK:

Last time, I started a page in my watercolor art journal, in an attempt to go lighter with the watercolor pigments that I did on my previous page. I had shown this picture of the first layer of watercolor:

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Though the image shows a light blue in the colors there really wasn’t any. It was the untouched watercolor paper or areas barely touched by paint that showed up with a blue tint. Seeing this in the photo made me want to play with adding other colors.

You can see in the below image where I added some blue and some more yellow. In some places where the blue touched yellow, the mix created a green or blue-green color. I let some of the blue run or drip. I then let it dry.

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Once it was dry, I used a graphite pencil to create some shapes, then used white acrylic paint around the shapes, trying to bring them forward. I didn’t want to cover the whole background with this layer of white so I left some areas alone.

It has probably been a week since I worked on this page. I’m still trying to decide what to do next. I’m thinking doodles. In the meantime, and in between my studies and art journaling, I was lead to focusing on a class.

CLASS & Journaling:

In December 2017, I purchased the Art Bundle for Good. I learned about the Art Bundle in early 2017 and made my first purchase. The Art Bundle for Good is a project created or organized by John Bardos which provides some amazing art resources at an unbelievable discount and portions go to a worthy charity. When I first learned about it, I wasn’t sure about it but gave it a try and now I’m so glad I did. Having purchased two of the Art Bundles I’m amazed and thrilled with all that is included. I have resources that will last me for years so even if I can’t purchase another art class, there are enough courses in the two Art Bundles to keep me busy for a long time.

From one of these resources I received an email stating that Dream Lab was shutting down. I had only glanced at this opportunity when I went through the process to acquire the courses provided from the Art Bundle in December. I quickly emailed the owner, Andrea Schroeder asking if I would lose access to the courses. She quickly replied, stating no, that she was just altering the free course she had available, basically upgrading it and changing its name.

What this email did was to make me look at the courses I received from Andrea in the Art Bundle to see how they fit in my current life. I admit, I have been struggling with attracting what I want to have in my life, so when I saw the email and reviewed the courses, I thought “why not”. It couldn’t hurt. The course I’m talking about is “Creative Dream Incubator”. Her approach is very simple and what I love most about her lesson is the simplicity of it. Her artwork may not look like what I would create but it shows me that it doesn’t have to be elaborate or a masterpiece. People with little to no art skills can use her methods and techniques in helping to bring about a particular dream they may be struggling with developing and want to have in their life. I do believe it is based on the law of attraction but she takes it down to a more simplistic level for those who are not accustomed to or understanding what all is involved in the law of attraction. She provides simple tools you can learn to apply in your everyday life. I am up to module three. There are six modules in total.

I will admit that even with the simple methods I’m still learning how to apply them every day. I need to find ways that work for me. What I find interesting is in the artwork in particular I have added some of the steps before I read the module where she suggests adding particular things. So for me the artwork for supporting my dream comes naturally while the rest of the supporting elements doesn’t. I believe this is due to my being taught to not ask questions when I was a child and due to my environment causing me to focus on the negative instead of the positive things in life. I am hoping these methods will help me to alter that aspect of myself.

I won’t be adding pictures of this lesson for two reasons. The first is I feel the need to keep it private but wanted to write about the class in case others might be struggling with similar issues and want to give it a try. The other reason is Andrea worked hard on these courses and the pictures would be giving away too much of her hard work. I am recording my progress in my journal, which is the journal I use almost daily and my version of a bullet journal. This class isn’t just helping me with learning how to create my dream but it is also helping me to learn ways in which I can use my journal to support those dreams.

OTHER:

For a while now, I’ve had a couple things on my mind. Stencils/Masks and stamps. I read an article in the March/April 2018 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors called “Printing Lab: Carved Monotypes” by Dawn Emerson. Even before reading the article I have been wanting to find a way to make my own stamps. I have already made a few of my own stencils and masks, which I want to continue to do.

I don’t know why but this is something I keep putting off. There was a discussion in one of the groups on Facebook about copyright issues when using commercial stamps and stencils in artwork people want to sell. Like others I feel it is crazy when a product you buy can’t be used in your own artwork that you want to sell, especially if the person selling the artwork isn’t just selling a print of the image but has added their own artwork as well. I won’t go into the legalities of this. It is too complicated and too volatile of a topic.

I have in the past purchased some stencils and stamps. I use them only for my personal artwork. Since I don’t currently sell any artwork, it isn’t an issue. From the very start of getting into mixed media I have always felt the need to have everything in my artwork be my unique artwork. This is just one of the many reasons I also don’t do collage very much using commercially created items. I won’t get into that either. With wanting my artwork to be my own unique artwork it means if I want to use stenciling/masking or stamping techniques and collage techniques then I need to create my own. There is one benefit to making my own. I can do it cost effectively.

Below are two of my new stencil designs. I drew them on regular printer paper using pencil, then went over the final design in ink and scanned them into my computer. Scanning them serves a few purposes. It saves them in case the original copy gets destroyed. I can increase or decrease their size or even use just a portion of the design. I could potentially sell the design too. If printed at original size on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper there is a small border around the edge which may not show up in this image.

Stencil1 copy

Stencil2 copy

I hope to use some of my images from Inktober 2017 to create stamps. You can see the images from Inktober 2017 here.  This takes me back to the article I read in Cloth Paper Scissors. In the article the artist created a monoprint from an image she carved into wood. This gave me the idea to try and use my wood burning tool to carve an image into a small piece of wood, seal it, and use it as a sort of stamp. I haven’t tried this yet but plan to in the near future. I also picked up some carving material used to make stamps so I can experiment to decide which method works best. It is possible one works best for certain applications while the other works best for other types of applications. I’m excited to give this a try and see what develops.

I often feel like I’m not doing much when it comes to my creativity. To alleviate me of this perception I started listing in my daily journal the things I have done that day. Sometimes, it is true, that I haven’t done any artwork but there is creativity in almost everything we do. Sometimes I have to get creative in accomplishing the mundane things in my life. Creating this list also helps me to see when other things have taken precedent and it is generally easy to see why.

I leave you on that note now. My studies call to me as well as those mundane things in life that need to be taken care of. Feel free to comment. Hearing from those who take the time to read my post is one of the more simpler joys in life.

❤ ❤ ❤

My life and my art…

It has been 23 days since I last posted. My life has been a sort of mish-mash of things but mostly distracted with the efforts taken for the inevitable job search. It is a never ending roller-coaster ride. I won’t go into the details of the emotional pitfalls one can experience. I’ll just say that it has had an effect on my focus to create. I didn’t feel I had anything to write about until I at least finished one of the things I was working on.

Since my last post where I displayed my progress on my alternative to “The Compassionate Bear” bonus lesson from Life Book 2018 with Tamara Laporte, I have been making slow progress until I finally finished it today. Here are some closeups of the piece before the final step.

 

This is a full picture after the final step of writing the words on the page.

IMG_1351I don’t have any pictures showing the progress as I created it. This is where my job search sort of took me. All I wanted to do was sit down and work on something and not worry about anything else. I do have the one picture from my last post.

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It shows the inked in design with the start of some colored pencil. My previous post, describes the process I used to create this piece. The only addition was in using a Uni-ball AIR pen to add the writing.

I like the way colored pencil goes over watercolor. I don’t like how long it takes me to do a piece when I decide to add a lot of color with colored pencil. I started this back in the last half of February and only completed it today. It may have taken in total a few days over a month to complete. That is pretty long for me but not unusual when I work in colored pencil. Maybe some day I’ll find an alternative. If not, then I’ll consider it a lesson in patience to have the results I seek.

Another reason it took me so long was because I also started another project. This is one of those art journal pages where it starts out by dumping your brain onto the page first and then creating art over it. This dumping of my brain was about feeling frustrated over not being able to create the life I want or feel I need or deserve in this life. Having worked hard for over 30 years and being laid off, not being able to find a job that pays enough and slowly using up all the funds I had put aside for when I could retire is really, really hard on so many levels. I could probably use up an entire art journal dumping everything I feel inside and covering it up by creating artwork like this over the top of it.

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Sometime I’ll add words to the page, words of encouragement or something. This page went through several steps before it got to this point. The first, as I stated, was dumping my thoughts onto the page. I wrote my thoughts using inktense pencils in various colors. Once I completed dumping it all out onto the page, I used water to activate the intense pencil. While it was still wet I added white acrylic paint so it mixed in with the inktense, then let it dry.

I didn’t write down all the steps I took so at this point it becomes a bit blurry as to the order of what I did. I think I got it right. I took some white tissue paper I had used for gelli printing, tore them into pieces used them for collage on the page. After it dried, I drew the girl on with pencil and used black acrylic paint to add in the shading to create her features. I used various shades of yellow, brown, orange and white to create her hair. For the background, I added several colors of acrylic paint, blending with fingers and/or brush and again let it dry. Using spackle, since I don’t have texture paste, through two different stencils created some nice texture. Then I let it dry thoroughly. Golden fluid acrylic paint mixed with glazing medium applied with a wet brush then wiped or blotted off with a baby wipe created the pink color with the background peeking through. This all had a very matte finish, almost chalky feel to it due to most of the acrylic paint being cheap Craft Smart paint. I put down a layer of gloss medium and varnish and let it dry overnight. One of the reasons I did this was so I could do the next step.

For the final layer I used Faber-Castell PITT artist pens to add color to her eyes and lips and using my finger to blend created some shading around her hair and her body to help pop her a bit off the page as well as give some subtle blending to the shadows.

I chose the circular pattern stencil for the texture in the background in hopes it would give the illusion of her trying to conjure a world of her choosing. I think it works well. In saying this I think I came up with the words I will add later, “Make your life, your own.”

I worked on these two pages off and on, going back and forth between each one when I didn’t know what to do next or needed a break from colored pencils, or something needed time to dry.

I used to think that maybe creating whimsical faces wasn’t for me but I’m rethinking that now. Abstract, whimsical, life like or whatever have their place.  I’m tired of feeling like I’m fighting for every tiny step I take, whether that is in my art, in finding a job, or just doing everyday things in this life. Is it my imagination or does life get exceedingly harder the older you get?

I know doing artwork is supposed to be fun and for the most part I do get lost in it and enjoy it. Both of these pages though had moments which I didn’t enjoy so much. I think this is reflective of my life right now. I’m struggling with things which I think I shouldn’t have to struggle with and not sure why that is. Am I overthinking things? Am I trying to fight against the natural flow or direction I should be going in? When I look in the direction I am headed if I just let go, my anxiety skyrockets. Then I find myself freezing, locking myself in place to try and prevent it, whatever “it” is. But if I don’t move then nothing will happen and what results I foresee could be even worse.

I’m trying to understand this. I wonder why I feel my only hope is for a miracle and what or how did I learn to hope on miracles at all? If you were raised similar to the way I was, where you watched Disney movies and went to church every Sunday, the premise for these are this, a knight in shining armor or a prince will rescue you from your terrible life, or pray and your prayers will be answered. Then we were also taught work hard for what you want and you’ll be able to achieve it. All of these things I learned, relied upon and trusted in were blown into smithereens over the last few years. Granted the knight or prince was a falsehood anyway. Prayers are never answered in the way we would like them to be. But working hard should not be rewarded with being thrown out on the street.

I wanted this blog to be all about my artwork. I wanted to leave the rest of my personal life out of this blog. I’m finding it harder and harder to do that. The reason for that is if I embrace being an artist completely then my work as an artist is comprised of my entire life. Every artist has a period in their life where they struggle not just with their art but with various areas of their life. It is inevitable. Everyone’s struggle is different and appears in their art in different ways. They may never mention it or you may never really understand why their art might pull on your emotional strings but trust that when it does, it is because something they felt ended up in the piece and resonates with you.

My art isn’t just the paintings or drawings I do. My art is also writing. This means I can’t post my artwork without writing about it. Writing about it means exposing my life. So this blog will never be just about the paintings or drawings I create. It is about the life I create and how it bleeds into my writing and into my paintings and drawings.

I am in constant conflict within myself. I’m told we have two hemispheres in our brain and each hemisphere performs a different function. The left, controls the right side of our body and has to do with logic. The right, controls the left side of the our body and has to do with creativity and arts. When I take tests to determine which hemisphere is dominant, the results are almost always equal. If not equal, then the left is dominant but only by a degree or two. There are exercises to help people bring balance between the two hemispheres. I have never done them. I don’t need to. The conflict I feel ends up in a battle between my logical side and my creative side especially if they don’t agree.

There are people who probably can tell when they read what I write that I often use writing to help me resolve the conflict which occurs between my logical and creative sides. Writing about it helps me to slow down, not just so I can allow logic to take over but also so I can focus on how I feel, hopefully recognizing it for what it is trying to tell me. This is why interviews are difficult for me. It isn’t that I can’t think on the fly. It is that my thoughts flow too quickly sometimes too fast to grasp. On top of that, I often see several sides at once and without thorough examination it can be difficult to know which to focus upon.

I love writing. I love using writing and research to help me make decisions. These two together are probably my most valuable asset. If I don’t understand something, I research it. If I don’t have enough details about something, I research it. If I’m conflicted, I write about it. I journal a lot, almost every day.

One of the hardest things I’m coming to grips with right now is how to marry my creativity with my logic. I’ve been told I’m too logical by people who haven’t seen my creativity. When I heard this from people I would think being logical was bad and that I wasn’t creative at all. Over the past few months when considering these two, what seems like opposing forces, logic and creativity, I realized something. Behind the outwardly appearance of being logical there is creativity which helps me to sort through the logic and determine what is the best path or decision to make. Using creativity along with my logic, I’m able to view various elements which others, who only depend upon logic, might not see.

This is why I find joy in almost all forms of artwork whether it is abstract, mandalas, whimsical or life like. I can take the randomness of abstract and in its later stages bring in order from the chaos. In creating mandala, I’m able to start with an orderly progression and incorporate random elements later or not at all. In whimsical, I can add anything from abstract to logical forms and be totally random. Realistic is more of a challenge. I didn’t understand why until I was writing about this right now in my blog. Realism requires the logical side of my brain to be creative, if that is even possible or makes any sense. Logic deems that if I’m drawing a realistic portrait that the eyes have to look as near as possible like the eyes of the person I’m drawing. A shadow has to fall just as I see it on the person or the picture used for reference and so on. My creative side wants my logical side to stop being so precise and just enjoy what I’m doing. If I allow that to happen, I find what I create is far better than if I don’t.

Marrying creativity and logic is possible. It can be a struggle if we fight against it. It can cause us to sabotage whatever we are working towards. I no longer believe that one has to be more dominant than the other, or one has to exist and the other not. We are all creative. We are also all logical. We use logic with creativity and creativity with logic. There really is no separating the two. As much as some people think I’m too logical, they obviously don’t understand the working of my brain. I may present myself logically but it took creativity to get me there.

 

 

 

The madness of being a rock…

I’m not sure where this post will end up. I have a feeling I will spill more onto this page than people might want to hear. My intention for this blog is to talk about my journey as an artist but a person can’t do that without spilling their guts about other aspects of life because an artist can’t create art without life getting on the page or into the paint or ink or whatever medium is used.

I started this bear over two weeks ago. IMG_1307

About a week ago, on February 23rd, I finished him.

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On February 22nd, while waiting on portions of my bear to dry, I read an article, Creative Tarot Journaling Made Easy. I decided to select a prompt and give it a try.

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After completing the bear, I decided to create my alternative version to him in my own style.

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This is still a work in progress. It is taking much longer to complete than anticipated.

There is a story between all these layers. I can’t talk about these three pieces without filling in the story which exists between the layers. The layers represent the many layers which are occurring in my life. Mixed media art or any art for that matter isn’t just laying down layers of paint and then creating an image on the page. Every piece of art, no matter the medium, has the artist’s life interwoven within it. Unless you are an artist it might be difficult to comprehend exactly what I’m trying to express here. I’ll try but I’m afraid I might fail at really helping non-artists (if there really are any non-artists, everyone is creative in their own way) to understand.

I have had to learn to give myself some space in regards to working on my projects. What that means is, if I’m feeling resistance then I back off. Resistance comes in many forms and sometimes it is difficult to know the source of the resistance. I have to discover what that source is in order to move forward. Then, sometimes, moving forward takes time because there maybe a need to process something before I can release it into my artwork.

On February 14th, I heard some not so good news. It wasn’t awful but it has created a bit of friction emotionally for me. The news is that the income I’m receiving in my current job isn’t enough. This has triggered a return of anxiety which so far is manageable. That anxiety is rooted in varying aspects of my past, from childhood, to several relationships the worst being the last relationship I had, to fighting breast cancer, to being laid off and to the last of having trouble just getting a job. Knowing I need to go back to job hunting is also triggering depression. This has also taken the joy out of the job I’ve been doing. I thought it would be enough. To find out it isn’t has not been easy to accept.

The bear is my version of Tam’s Compassionate Bear lesson in Life Book 2018. The Universe has a way of timing things perfectly, for this lesson could not have come at a better time. It reminds me to be compassionate with myself, especially now after hearing the news and each time I apply for any jobs that are posted.  It is difficult to remain compassionate as the weeks go by without any calls for interviews. It is even more difficult to not allow emotions to surface relating to not being good enough. When I wrote in the previous paragraph that the job wasn’t enough, it made me realize that what I heard when I received the news was that I wasn’t good enough. Even though I know this is not true, old emotions arise from my past when circumstances made me feel that way.

There are so many emotions being triggered right now, some of them can be overwhelming. I could have written so many things on my Compassionate Bear and all of them would have felt fake even though they might be true. The one thing that felt true and seemed to put my unrest at ease was “You are loved.”

I posted this bear on the Life Book Facebook group and realized when I looked at the picture that he also looks a bit like a mouse. An interesting combination because though mice seem small and delicate they are quick and cunning. Bears may appear slow but they are strong and dangerous.

These are things I didn’t think about until just now, which is why I love to write about my art and my life together. I find insights like these which can help me deal with “life”. I have always felt an affinity towards bears because of my last name. There could not be two more opposite creatures, the bear and the mouse, and yet somehow they seem to fit together within my Gemini personality. I will be the first to admit that I have opposing forces strong within me which can make me appear to be a very complicated person. This might be why my individual style seems to be focused around mandalas which help me combine these forces into a central focus.

The hard part the past few weeks has been to not let the news suck me down into the emotional turmoil I felt for a year and a half after hearing the news of the workforce reduction I was caught up in. They don’t like using the words lay off anymore. Like a change of wording can make a person feel any better about such a situation. No it isn’t for the people being laid off to feel better. It is to make those making the decision to lay off workers feel better or not so bad. Okay, I went there. I didn’t mean to go there. But it hurts. I’m angry still after two years. And the news just reawakened all of those feelings.

Consequently, working on my art has been in small doses. I work on something for a bit, like on the bear, I would do a layer and then let it dry. Most times I let it dry far longer than it needed to. Meaning it was dry long before I returned to it.

During one of the breaks, the choice to do the Tarot drawing and then an art journal page on it was a good choice.IMG_1329

The prompt I chose was important to me. During a time when I was not feeling happy, I needed a reminder of what does make me happy. I don’t want to say I was surprised by the cards I pulled. Rather, I was, intrigued by what they confirmed.

My intent was to pull just one card but as things often happen with me, my intent isn’t what needed to happen. The Universe took over and I ended up with two cards in my hand. When I flipped them over at the same time, the first thing I noticed was they were both Major Arcana cards, IV The Emperor, and XVII The Star. I won’t go into my complete reading of these cards, some of it is too personal. I will tell you a bit about it because I feel it is important in regards to my current situation and my art journey.

What I came to understand from the cards is my happiness comes from balance, stability, reason, logic, harmony and hope. I put these things in overlapping large circles on my page because they all influence each other in one way or another. I used to listen to people who said I ‘think’ too much. When they would say this, I took it as a bad thing, and that my reasoning, and my logic were bad parts of myself which I needed to tone down or find a way to not rely on so much and learn to be less of these things in my life. Consequently, I fought against them. I would use logic and reasoning to understand something and then I would try and use a not so logical way of overcoming a situation or problem. Until I did this Tarot drawing, I didn’t realize how much logic and reasoning brought me happiness.  I also didn’t realize how much logic and reasoning also inspired hope.

I found it interesting to also note that my 2018 word ‘balance’ showed up. It makes sense that harmony and stability are part of my happiness. Those words just seem to go along with balance for me this year and have shown up in previous artwork since I chose the word balance.

What this reading did for me was tell me to stop fighting against the things I do naturally. To allow my instincts to guide me. I have always known that when I’m faced with a challenge my first instinct is to let logic and reasoning take over. I need to understand the situation and the best way I know how to do that is by use of logic and reasoning. Fighting against it means I throw myself into turmoil which just amplifies the emotions which I relate to stress. I end up feeling like my life is beyond my control.

The smaller circles on this page represent elements in my life that make me happy. I have a few more things to add to this page which will be other elements which can influence my happiness. They will end up being words that float around in the white space.

I enjoyed this exercise using Tarot cards and I may do more of them.

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This is my current work in progress. It is my alternative piece for the Compassionate Bear lesson. When I started it, all I knew was I would start it using the grid method I use for drawing mandalas and at its center I wanted a heart. The heart would represent the ‘You are loved’ statement on the bear. What I like about this design is I can add writing around the design if I feel the need to do so.

All of these pieces are done with Prang watercolor paint. The yellow however is Daler Rowney watercolor. I ran out of the Prang yellow so I substituted a Daler Rowney yellow from one of the yellows in the Simply watercolor tube set I have.

I’ll briefly describe the process for each:

Compassionate Bear: sketched in pencil on watercolor paper. I wanted a happy multi-colored bear so I used purples, blues, blue-green, yellow, magenta, green and white watercolor. India ink and dip pen for the black sketchy outline and marks, and tried some India ink using a brush for shading which was a bit tricky and I ended up layering over some of it with more watercolor because I didn’t like how it turned out. The white is either acrylic white paint or Uni-ball Signo broad gel pen.

What Makes Me Happy?:  Tombow markers for the title lettering. Using pencil and compass I created the circles, then Prang watercolor to fill them in and Tombow markers around the edges to define the edges better. Uni-ball AIR black pen for the words inside the circles. I’ll use the same pen when I add any words or phrases in the background.

Alternative to Compassionate Bear: using painters tape, taped the watercolor paper down to hardboard, thoroughly wet the paper and randomly added Prang watercolor paint, yellow, orange, red, red-orange and magenta. Let it dry completely. Using pencil, compass, and ruler lightly drew in a mandala grid. Pigma micron pen, permanently drew in the shapes I wanted that I had drawn in pencil in the grid, then added in patterns within the shapes using the same micron pen (size 01 or 03). I erased any pencil lines I didn’t want or need anymore. I am currently at the stage of using Prisma Colored Pencils to add shading and color to the various patterns. This always takes the longest.

As I stated earlier, I may add some writing around the design to support the ‘compassionate’ nature of this piece. I don’t really plan these pieces, they develop as I work on them. They sort of let me know what needs to be done next. Sometimes the next step doesn’t always make sense to me and I fight against it, like the blue I am adding now. It didn’t make sense when I felt the need to do it but somehow it works, even though there isn’t blue anywhere else in the piece.

I’m currently in an emotional place which feels like I’m struggling both artistically and in every day life and work. I try to tell myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be right now but it feels like a platitude. I feel like I’ll never get ahead and the reason for that is years and years of neglect and wasting the resources I had available to me. I would say more but I’m afraid I would sound like a whining brat and that isn’t where I am right now, or I  hope I’m not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is for some reason the Universe feels the need to put me through this turmoil when all I want in my life is peace and harmony. What I’m thinking right now is maybe what I’m supposed to learn is peace and harmony are always present even in the turmoil. Am I able to be that rock in the middle of a raging river and let the turmoil flow around me, letting the friction shape me into what I need to be even at the risk of being unseated? Ever wonder how the rocks got there in the first place? Some of them look like they were just plunked down in the middle of the river, while others look like they grew right out of the riverbed. In school, we learn they were there all along, appearing slowly over time as the water slowly eroded the soil and gravel around them.

I sometimes wonder how many artists really think about how their lives appear in their artwork or how their artwork helps them to understand their lives. Or do they paint or draw because if they don’t they will go mad?

 

 

Clues

I try to take clues from my surroundings. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds. In fact, it can be quite difficult. No matter what, everything that occurs in our mental space is colored by our experiences in life and we don’t often realize just how much our perception is manipulated by past experiences. Everything we see, everything we take in, is first filtered by our mental space. In order to perceive anything, our mind, our mental space must first process it. This includes our emotions. We feel but in order to know what we feel, we must first let our mind process those feelings.

I didn’t understand how true this was until this morning waking from a dream. A dream I so very much wanted to return to. It wasn’t an easy dream. In fact, it was colored with many difficult emotions. You might wonder why I would want to return to it. Who would want to purposefully return to experiencing difficult emotions. It was because there was truth in those emotions that in real life I avoided or refused to see.

This happens in my art too.

That is difficult for me to admit to but necessary. I’ve been struggling with my art lately. Struggling in the way of not knowing what I wanted to create. Taking classes is fine. The classes help me to try out different techniques. They help me decide if it is a technique I enjoy doing or not enjoy doing. That isn’t what I’m struggling with. What I’m struggling with is, what am I inspired to create?

I face this question every time I sit down to create something on my own without following a lesson. I think I fight against what I’m pulled towards. For some reason I have this mental block and if what I create isn’t unique in some way and yet still contain the elements I’m learning in class, then it isn’t art. I’m not sure I’m explaining that very well so I’ll try explaining a different way by maybe stepping through my mental process.

First, I’m doing lessons from Life Book 2018, sometimes I go back to my 2017 lessons for Life Book 2017 and Book of Days 2017 and do some classes there which I haven’t done yet, but for the most part, I’ve been focusing on Life Book 2018. I say this because when I approach a blank page to do my own ‘thing’, these lessons are foremost in my thoughts. Should I start my page by drawing a girl’s face? Should I just throw some paint on and try something abstract like I did a week or more ago? If I do either one of these how can I make it different, make it my own? At this point I get lost because I’m not sure what makes my art my own. I’m not sure what my own style is. I sometimes think about the art I did for Inktober 2017 when I focused on faces and loved the dark graphic nature of them with stark black and white. Could I incorporate that? Then I become even more lost because I honestly have problems trying to let go and just try things, just play with my mediums and tools.

Then I start wondering, are faces really my ‘thing’?  I made faces something I wanted to focus on because I wanted to get better at creating them. I would love to be able to look at a photograph or a real person and be able to draw them accurately. This goes back to my high school days of feeling like I could only do realism because I could never draw anything from my imagination. I had to draw something from a reference. I’m not saying that is bad. I’m just saying I was envious of those people who could sit down to a blank sheet of paper and sketch something from their mind without any reference and make it recognizable. I still feel envious of them.

However, I have since learned, that once I learn the elements needed to create something, then it isn’t too difficult to draw it from memory. For instance, after watching videos on how to develop proper proportions when drawing a face and how to draw each of the parts, like eyes, nose and mouth, I can now draw a face without a reference. Getting a face to look like a reference photo is still difficult but I believe this will improve with practice. This however isn’t what I am setting out to do when I look at a blank art journal page. This isn’t practice. This is me wanting to create something which I hope will turn out beautiful or at least something I will like and yet have some sort of meaning to me.

I have tried different things to help me decide on a focal image for a page. I’ve tried collage, where I find something from my week or some period in my life to put down on the page. Doing this helped me realize I’m not into documenting my life that way or into that type of collage.

I have tried just throwing down paint without anything in mind just to see where it will go. Most times they come out dark, or muddy, probably because I don’t reference a color wheel. Sometimes the paints I choose don’t go down the way I thought they would on the paper I use. Doing this does help me to learn what works or doesn’t work on the paper I’m using. When they are too dark, or too muddy, I tend to be unhappy with the process and tend to abandon it for a while instead of trying it again. That was before I realized I need to be more aware of the choice of colors or letting colors dry between layers so they don’t create mud. But again, this method can work for backgrounds but doesn’t help me with a focal point for my page.

I’ve asked myself at times what do I want represented in my page? Most times my mind is blank and my emotions are confused when I ask this question. I’ve asked myself why can’t I think of something in response to this question? I’m not sure. When I reach what seems to be an impasse, I start to question my ability to be creative. Maybe I’m not creative. Maybe I have no imagination. I can’t seem to think of even simple things to create and put on the page. This isn’t just for the focal image but sometimes for doodles.

To try and get past this impasse, I might sit down with the thought of just doodling. I used to sit in office meetings and watch a woman doodle on her note taking paper. I was envious of her ability to just turn the ink in her pen into such interesting designs on a scrap piece of paper. I’ve never been one to just doodle. So…. I then think about selecting some tangle patterns and doing some Zentangle inspired art. The step-by-step tangle patterns is what helped me get back into creating art.

Tangle patterns, following the step-by-step instructions, appeals to my mathematical, or logical mind. However, randomly putting them into a design which is begun by creating a string in a given space, results more often than not into a pattern of chaos which my logical mind rejects. Even my creative mind has problems enjoying the randomness of it. My artist mind prefers patterns that form a cohesive pattern.

After exploring tangles, I moved on to learning how to create mandalas. I watched video after video, especially on how to create the grid that enables the creator to be more symmetrical when creating a mandala. I also learned how to draw a mandala from seed. I will be honest. I prefer using a ruler, compass and protractor. The mandala appeals to me so much that I return to it again and again and especially when I don’t know what to do or need a change from the lessons I’m working on. I like the preciseness of using ruler, compass and protractor. And… geometric shapes… yum.

Let me explain, why I’m writing all of this. I could just write this in my personal journal. It would do the same for me. Actually that might not be true. In my personal journal I’m writing to myself, in a blog I’m writing to other people. I want to make it understandable for other people when they read it. There is a completely different thought process here or when writing an email to someone than in my personal journal.  So there is a reason behind writing here instead of in my journal, plus I thought maybe revealing my thought process would help a developing artist to know they aren’t alone if they struggle with something similar. Writing helps me to figure things out. It also helps me to get it out of the forever cycle that goes on inside of my head.  Writing this has also helped me to realize I could possibly be fighting against my natural creative process.

These things have been on my mind this year. They are compounded with the fact that I have a tendency towards seeking perfectionism. I am learning ways to let go of that but the tendency towards perfectionism can kill or undermine that ability to play and have fun. Playing and having fun are difficult for me and not solely because of my need for perfectionism. They were trampled down when I was a child. Playing, having fun was something discouraged. I have to reach deep in order to overcome what I was taught as a child. I’m trying to find simple ways to do that right now and teach myself to explore and play with my art supplies. This is the result of one of those sessions, now that I think about it, I think I need to set this up as maybe a weekly practice, to do just one thing that is purely of this nature:

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I first drew the mandala with pencil. I used Sakura Pigma Micron pen over the pencil lines I wanted to keep permanently. Then I erased the pencil. I then used my Elegant Writer to create darker lines and used a wet brush to make it bleed to create some shadows. The paper in my journal is not meant for wet medium. It is meant for drawing or writing, so using anything wet on it means the paper will buckle and I could risk it disintegrating, so I went light with the water and let the page dry before using anything wet again.

For the next layer, after the page was dry, I chose Inktense pencils, again activating them with my water brush and being careful to not use too much water. On this paper some of the Inktense didn’t blend or move very well. You can see this on the red Inktense on the background. They were dull and blotchy for the most part. I let this layer dry.

I needed to define the shapes more. I had become rather sloppy on the activation of the Inktense, so I wanted to firm up some of the lines while also trying to get the colors more vibrant. I remembered that my Inkjoy pens would bleed when I did my water test on them so I decided to make this flaw into an advantage. For each of the different areas I chose an Inkjoy pen color that would be closest to the color or complement it somehow.

For the yellow on the outside ring, I chose brown, and used a bit of water to make it bleed into the yellow. For the yellow on the inner pointed star shapes or triangular shapes I used a yellow green and again a bit of water. Blending the Inkjoys with water works WONDERFUL! I loved the effect and did it on the other areas, blending most of them with water. I did it in a way to leave the area along the line darker so it would have a gradient look. The last thing I did with the Inkjoys and water was to use orange around the outside of the mandala. This gave it a wonderful glowing appearance. I let this layer dry.

I wanted to add embellishments so using my Inkjoys again but without adding any water. I added in the green solid lines inside the star shape mimicking the pattern around by creating two thin lines and then a thicker line. I added some dots and then the yellow, orange and red sun patterns. Then I used a Tombow black marker to create the thicker and thinner black lines in the blue section around the outside of the mandala and considered it done.

I totally enjoyed just listening to what medium to use next while creating this mandala. If one didn’t work out the way I had hoped, then finding another medium that would enhance it or improve upon it worked well. Once I added the orange glow around the outside, I decided to leave the red alone. I like the random look of the red in the background. I used mediums together I never would have thought of if I hadn’t sat down to just ‘play’ and see what happens. I can’t say I was really free from worry or free from caring about whether it ended up badly, I just let myself accept that it might not turn out ‘perfect’ and see where that would take me.

I need to admit to myself that I try to force myself away from creating mandalas. That I think they aren’t worthwhile focal images. I look at the classes and see the artists/teachers drawing faces and I think I HAVE to draw a face. I see them putting words into abstract backgrounds and I think I HAVE to add words too.

I am wondering right now as I write this, what I would have created for my garden fairy if I had allowed myself to replace the idea of a fairy being a person or an image of a face, or an image of an elf and so on. Could I have created my page for this class using a mandala as the central focal point? Can I do this as well for the compassionate bear bonus lesson? Have I been fighting against my personal growth as an artist by avoiding what I am drawn towards creating?

IMG_1298When I created this page, the part that I loved best was when I added the spirals from stamps I had created and used the spiral stencil with the molding paste. AKA, mandalas.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to stop creating art with faces or other elements, I just need to find a way to use mandalas as a focal image if that is what I am called to do. Just because the instructor in a lesson is creating a whimsical girl, doesn’t mean I HAVE to do the same. Especially with the techniques Tam is teaching in Life Book and some of the other instructors are teaching. Life Book does include learning techniques and yes, learning how to create faces and other elements but mostly it is about using your art to process and let go or bring forward those things in life which you need to do something about.

I created a sketch of my compassionate bear from Tam’s bonus lesson for week 2 of Life Book 2018.

IMG_1307He’s cute. I like him. However… the question kept coming up in my thoughts, “Is this really what I want?” I thought about creating my dragon which hasn’t been easy to do. I don’t want to copy someone else’s design, and I don’t know how to create a whimsical character of a dragon. I’m working on it though. It will take some time and practice drawing in my sketch book before I’m ready to put it on watercolor paper to paint. In the meantime, I’ll paint my bear. I expect there will be changes to him before I do paint him. I’m not a heart type of girl, though I understand the symbolism of hearts and at times they do work with what I’m creating, just not sure I like it on my bear.

I am finding life interesting since I decided to honor my inner artist. Working and questioning my choices while using art to do so seems to ground me more. Art seems to invade all aspects of my life and my dreams which is nice.

Just the past couple days at work, I had thoughts that I should get into product package design because of the issues I see at work. I am exposed to thousands of products every day and often find issues that could be simply addressed.

For instance, certain cheese packaging has the barcode located where if the package shifts just a bit makes it impossible to scan. Packaging around individual mandarins makes it impossible to see the code because it is has an orange background around the code which is in clear packaging that lies over the orange of the mandarin. The code is impossible to see. Just a slight change in the coloring of the orange in the packaging would make the code stand out so the cashier can read it easily. There is a pet food package which puts the barcode at the top of the package. The default position for a package when a customer puts it on the belt is to stand it on its bottom and the cashier will normally just slide the package across the scanner in that position. With the barcode on the bottom or low on the side there is no need for the cashier to have to adjust the position of the package. With it on the top, it doesn’t scan the first time so the cashier tries again or has to look for where the barcode is and alter the position of the product. This might not sound like much of an issue but when a customer has over thirty or more products it interrupts the flow the cashier has for scanning products and getting the customer through the till in a timely manner.

These are things my artist eye catches and the new retailer employee in me would love to have changed. More often than not, it is obvious, those designing the product packaging have no idea the issues it causes cashiers. For large retailers, seconds to adjust packaging or to search for barcodes can cause delays and create lines at the till.

Before I got into retail, my understanding of how artists can make money was very limited. Now that I’m in retail and creating my own art, I see art everywhere. Any business that designs product packaging should have access to or hire an employee who has worked as a cashier. A cashier is intimately knowledgeable of the issues they face when scanning products or looking for the codes on products that need to be manually entered. I say this from personal knowledge. As an artist and a cashier, it is easy for me to imagine what small changes could be made to product packaging to make it easier for a cashier and I can visualize doing so with limited changes to the product.

I could not imagine sitting down as an artist and designing product packaging from scratch. I don’t have the skills in the various tools an artist would need to do that. But as a cashier and an artist it is easy to look at the package of a product and immediately visualize any issues the design could create for the retailer.

I know I’ve gone off on a rant but I think the rant was good. Though I subconsciously knew that artists had to be involved in packaging, it was something I didn’t think about. I knew they were in advertisement and usually companies dubbed it as marketing/advertisement and I just didn’t think about it in terms of product packaging. You see business logos and advertisements on signs and in commercials which just naturally overlaps with the product packaging. I’ve spent so much time lately on Facebook and reading blogs and other things about artists not able to sell their artwork that I didn’t think about how many artists there are in the world working in the background for all the various businesses. We aren’t all sitting at home in our own little studios creating our personal art. There are a huge number of us creating art for all the world to see to help businesses promote their services and/or their products.

I don’t know about anyone else but seeing it in this way shines a new light on the world as an artist. They are clues left by other artists letting us know, all things are possible if we just believe in ourselves.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. As an artist or someone recently creating art, what do you notice more of in the world that you didn’t see prior to creating art?

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Fairy from Life Book 2018 week 1

I chose to take a slightly different approach to Tam’s lesson for Life Book 2018 week 1 Tending to Your Dreams (Garden Fairy). I took some cues from her lesson and incorporated them into my page trying to make it my own.

Her lesson was about what to leave behind and what to bring forward from the previous year or years. I never really thought about it before other than, I just wanted the new year to be better than the year before. Especially if the year before had been a particularly rough year. If the previous year had been a really good one then I would just hope it would continue. Purposefully looking at what had been in my life and making a thoughtful choice on what to bring forward or leave behind had not been a process for me.  So, this was new to me.

With that said, I found this lesson interesting in that respect. Last year started out rough but did get better a little over half way through the year. I started to see changes I never expected but was very grateful to have happen. I chose to approach this lesson with care, thoughtfulness and purpose, therefore it took a great deal of time. I’m glad it did. If I learned nothing else from this lesson, I have learned I can create a piece of art that is loaded with personal meaning for me.

I made some other decisions. The first one was to not “copy” Tam’s drawings or even her techniques. When I copy a lesson as close to exacting as I can get with the materials I have, which is what I did last year, I discovered when I try to do my own artwork I have no idea what to do. This is because I’m not really learning other than I can copy someone’s work. I needed to allow myself to experiment on my own and learn from my own mistakes. The good I did learn from copying was just seeing how different products worked so I had an idea of how to use them. I just wasn’t learning how to incorporate colors and elements that worked for me.

The next thing I chose to do was to try working mostly in one medium. I know this is a  mixed media lesson but working with a lot of different mediums confuses my learning process. I’m not learning what a particular medium is capable of doing. I read an article about the best way to learn art and the different mediums is to focus on one medium at a time. Not only will it help with learning what that particular medium can do all on its own but integrating that learning is usually faster. Then I can switch to a different medium once I reach a level I am comfortable with and feel ready to move on. I’m fascinated with watercolor so I chose this as my main medium for this lesson.

The next decision was to allow my intuition to come forward to inform me of what elements I wanted on my page. I chose elements that would support the choices of what I wanted to bring forward or work on this year. I had already chosen the word BALANCE as my year word to focus on what I needed in my life. I incorporated the Yin Yang symbol to represent balance. I not only want a balance of my light and dark sides/nature, I want balance in all things in my life. It felt appropriate to place the symbol on my Elfin girl’s forehead located just above the third eye, to remind me I need balance not just in my thoughts but also in mental, emotional and spiritual realms.

In my meditation at the beginning of the year a dragon appeared. I understood what the dragon represented, strength, cunning and perseverance. These three things brought me out of a very rough period in my life and I wanted… needed to bring these things forward.

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This was the beginning of my sketch for the lesson. The Elfin girl just appeared as I worked on drawing my girl. The dragon took some time to figure out which I wrote about in my previous post. I wanted something to represent the garden she is tending but the flowers didn’t feel right.

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I erased the flowers and thought about what else I wanted to bring forward. I draw mandalas when I feel the need to become centered. I definitely wanted to continue this practice but I also wanted to incorporate them into my artwork. It seemed right to include one on this page.

I wanted something to represent harmony and happiness which is something I really need to manifest in my life. Tulips are my favorite flower. After rescuing some tulip bulbs that had been accidentally dug up by someone repairing our fence in our complex, I thought a couple of them would fit well not only in representing harmony and happiness but to honor those that were rescued.

I added some clouds to represent what I wanted to let go of. I had written in them those negative things that had been a major consumption of my energies last year. Then erased them but chose to keep the clouds. Too often, I suppress the negative emotions trying to forget they exist. I needed a reminder that I choose to let them go and not suppress them thus I chose to keep the clouds.

My ugly stage always begins with the skin tones. The skin tones never look right until I add hair color. I don’t have skin tone in my watercolors which means I have to mix it. My skin tones never come out the same but I’m okay with that. This is my first couple of layers.

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I tried to take pictures periodically as I progress with my painting with watercolors. It is obvious I missed taking some photos of a few layers but I did most of what you see in the picture below, in one sitting after the first layers above had dried.

I took my time letting some layers dry while I worked in other areas. I added some more shading first, then the colors to the eyes and mouth, then went back to add some more color to the skin by adding some yellow. The last thing I did was the hair. It was tricky. I started with red, blue and purple, doing a wet on wet technique to let it blend together and adding layer onto layer to get the color a bit brighter. After the hair dried I added some black layered on top, adding water to thin it out in places so the colors underneath would show through. In the skin tone I added some purple, blues and pinks. Purple and blue to add depth to the shading and pink to give depth to the lighter areas, along with a bit more yellow. The trick is to try and not make her look jaundiced.

I worked on the dragon next and chose a bit of turquoise green, adding yellow for highlights and some blues to darken the shaded areas. I let this all dry.

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In this next picture, I worked on the center of the mandala. I wanted it to have a bit of a gem appearance. Then I added the sun, some light blue for the sky, and light green for the ground. I chose not to do any collage but I wanted a layered look so I took some stencils and chose two different colors of blue (yes, watercolors), used a makeup sponge and dabbed on the colors through my stencils. I chose a darker green for the grass area and used another stencil. I added some light grey shading to the clouds. I let the paint dry between layers, and added some red and bit of brown to the sun to give it some texture too.

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Below is my finished page. I added some yellow to the clouds, a bit more grey and some blue through a stencil, then some white acrylic paint over top the clouds after the watercolor was dry. The black dots were made through a stencil using black watercolor paint. I had a homemade dragonfly stencil and dabbed purple, magenta and red watercolor paint through it. All the stencils I used on this page, except two (the two in the grass) were handmade by me including the flower.  I chose these because I wanted more layers on my background. I didn’t outline them or add any detail to them because I wanted them to blend into the background.

I painted my mandala and flowers with watercolors. Once all the watercolor paint was completely dry, I decided to use some different mediums for the details.

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I’m not adept enough with watercolor yet to make fine details which is why I said I would work MOSTLY in one medium. I knew for the details I would use other tools, other mediums. This is what I used:

  1. Prisma colored pencils, in the hair, over the watercolor paint in the mandala, flowers, dragon, clouds and her face.
  2. Gel pens, black and white, for some of the outlining and highlights.
  3. Acrylic paint for highlights, the swan, the white beads and a bit in the Yin Yang symbol.

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I didn’t mention the swan. I decided to add the swan. It has always been a favorite of mine and one of the first things I learned to draw by using the number 2 to start the sketch. Swans have always held a fascination for me. They represent grace and when I learned they mate for life, they became a symbol for me in regards to the kind of love I wanted to attract in my life.

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I am thrilled with my page. It has depth of meaning for me. It encompasses all that I hope for this year and in coming years. Most of all, it has shown me I am growing as an artist.

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I wanted to write about my experiences in between the different layers when I decided to make my own gelli plate but I’m going to save that for my next post. I think this one needs to be devoted to this project. She was such a pleasure to create. She deserves to have this post all to herself.

I have never spent so much time on one piece of art. At no time did I feel like I needed to rush so I could complete it. As I watched the weeks go by, as each week’s lesson was posted and others completing them within days, sometimes hours of them going up, I was satisfied to still be working on week one. Seeing what everyone else was creating just wets my appetite for the coming lessons which I know I will enjoy. Hopefully in the same way I enjoyed this one.

I did not feel compelled to start another lesson, although reading all the posts about one lesson using a gelli plate and people deciding whether to buy one or make one inspired me to consider what I would do. I then played around with options while I waited for layers to dry or during periods when I didn’t have time to work on my Garden Fairy between chores, work and just life but did have short periods to do other things. I will write about that soon in my next post.

Working this way was so very relaxing, no pressure, no guilt about not “keeping up”, even my inner critic was peaceful for the most part. She did surface occasionally, like during the ugly stages, or when I thought I had totally messed up when trying to add the swan.

Now that she is done, I’m looking forward to the next lesson and and can’t wait to see what develops from it.

I can’t stop…

I’ve been working on my drawing for Life Book 2018 week one “Garden Fairy” lesson with Tamara Laporte. I wanted to go in my own direction with this which is why I’m taking my time. I am so in love with my first sketch I wasn’t sure if I wanted to paint it. This is my first sketch, which was done on watercolor paper.

IMG_1267If you read my previous post you would know I was working on trying to draw the dragon. I couldn’t get the body right so I chose to have him leaning over her shoulder. When I added his scales is when I finally connected with him. As I drew the girl, she just seemed to call out for elfin ears.

The above picture shows how I roughly sketched in flowers but they didn’t feel right to me. This lesson is about considering what we want to leave behind and what we want to bring forward with us. Taking this into consideration I knew I needed to change the flowers, so I worked more on my drawing.

I love drawing mandalas. Therefore, I want to continue bringing mandalas into my artwork so I erased the flowers and added a mandala. I have plans for the center of my mandala.

Tulips are my favorite flower. Last year, I saved some bulbs when some work was being done which caused several bulbs to be dug up. The person doing the work in our complex didn’t seem to care and left them all lying exposed so I gathered them up and replanted them. I wanted to honor this and it felt right to include a couple tulips in my sketch.

IMG_1271This is where I stopped while I considered what I wanted to do. Since my sketch was drawn on watercolor paper, I didn’t want to waste it with a graphite drawing so I decided to see if I could recreate it on a lighter weight mixed media paper. The next picture is my attempt to do just that.

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She isn’t exactly like my first drawing. She is close enough and I think she came out rather well. I’ll work on her some more later. For now, this is where I stopped with my second drawing.

I can’t stop drawing her. I pulled out my sketchbook where I was working out the drawing of my dragon and drew another sketch of her. This time with a worried or concerned look on her face. I’m trying to learn different facial expressions and since I seemed to be obsessed with drawing her it made sense to try a different expression.IMG_1275

Then I took out my other journal where I not only draw but also write. A few days prior, I had put down some backgrounds using acrylic paint, mostly just using a card or palette knife to scrape the paint around. I had no idea what I would put on these backgrounds. In my previous post, I wrote about the first background I worked on where I created a mandala.  IMG_1258

On another page, I tried creating a mandala using the dot technique with paint but that didn’t come out so well. I wasn’t going to show it here but after thinking about it, I decided to show it. First, because I wouldn’t be authentic as an artist to just show the “good” stuff. If someone reading this is struggling with their art, they should see that we all struggle and have moments where what we work on doesn’t come out the way we want it to or even passably good. And, that is OKAY. So here it is, including my thoughts I had put on the page.

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I might get better with practice, and maybe this would have looked better with a black background which is what I have seen in all the dot techniques used to create mandalas or other dot artwork. Creating dots is harder than it looks. I used different sized brush handles. Even so, one has to remember that with each dot created if you don’t replenish the paint between each dot the subsequent dot will be smaller. If you don’t use the same “pressure” the dots can be different sizes. I didn’t expect perfection and knew this would take some practice. I also learned that maybe I should also create guidelines, at least in the beginning until I become better at it. For now, this isn’t something I want to pursue, even with this small sampling I realized I just don’t enjoy making dot after dot after dot, which might be why I’m not a fan of stippling, though I do use it occasionally.

A day or so ago, I drew another one of my elfin girls on the third page. I drew her in pencil first, and then I went over the pencil with an Elegant Writer pen meant for calligraphy. In my testing of my pens to see if they would bleed when wet, I found I loved the effect when the ink from this pen became wet. I wanted to play around with this. Here is the results. I added a bit of white to her eyes and for highlights but other than that, the shading is from using a small wet brush to make the ink from the Elegant Writer bleed. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW THIS TURNED OUT, so much so, I felt the need to write about it which is what brought me to writing this post.

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In regards to my previous drawings. I will eventually paint the first drawing that is on watercolor paper. The second that is on mixed media paper I plan to complete in graphite. I have a feeling I’m not done with drawing my elfin girl and expect she will turn up again and again. But… most of all, I have a love of INK and want to play more with it.

Other thoughts:

It may seem strange for me to still be working on week one of Life Book 2018. I see some people doing the lessons as soon as they are released. I started that way for Life Book 2017 which was fine if all I wanted to do was copy the lesson as close as I could with what was being taught. This worked well for the first half of the year. Starting a new job set me back a bit but I also realized, though I was learning by doing the lessons as they were taught, I needed to explore more on my own.

Copying exactly as a teacher instructs doesn’t allow for experimentation. It also doesn’t allow much for failures from making my own choices therefore I don’t learn what works and what doesn’t work. I don’t want to be copying a teacher’s styles and techniques my whole life so I need to learn what works or doesn’t work for me.

When I first considered Life Book as a course of instruction, I did so because I wanted to use art as a way to help me. It is hard to look at one’s life, thoughts and emotions and feel like one is out of control or felt as though they had wasted the majority of their life. I had so many feelings, not just about my past but what had transpired in the past few years, that I needed to find a way to process it all.

Most people who felt as I do or had gone through similar experiences would probably see a therapist. Believe me I considered it. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer and started the process of fighting it and recovery, I decided to see a therapist. I took my daughter with me for I felt she would benefit as well. This whole situation was terrifying to her. At no time during that session did I feel like this person would be able to help me or my daughter. I wasn’t expecting miracles in just one session but I did expect some effort on this person’s part to help us or to just give us an indication of how they might be able to help. In the end, the only thing we walked out with was the understanding that I was already doing what I needed to do. With this in mind I started looking into art as a way to help me do it even better. This is when I discovered Life Book.

I haven’t stopped with just Life Book. I look at other courses as well. I look at them to give me one of two things. Either they will help me learn how to art journal in a way which will help me work through my emotional journey, or they will help me increase my skills and gain further knowledge in various art techniques. The wonderful thing about Life Book is it does both and introduces me to a lot of wonderful teachers.

Last year, because my main focus was on just copying the art as close to exacting as I could, I didn’t learn as much as I had hoped to in the area of processing my emotions when working on my page. What I was processing was only the technical aspects of the techniques being taught. I wanted to change that. I didn’t want to do art, just to do art, I wanted to find ways to have my art and my emotions come together and express themselves on the page.

In consideration of this, I decided to chose a word for the year. I had never done this before. I decided to do this to see if it helped bring focus into my life and help provide direction. For 2018, I chose balance as my word for this year to try and bring more of a balance between the emotional art journey and the technical art journey. It also has the added benefit of helping me to focus on finding balance in all areas of my life.

Knowing this, I knew I couldn’t rush through my lessons. Let me explain something.

I have always wished I could think faster on my feet. Wishing it though has never resulted in it actually happening. Instead of wishing for it, I decided to understand myself better, which meant being honest with myself. I have no idea how people view me unless they tell me. During my life, I have had people tell me I am rather intelligent. While this might be true, I have to refrain from believing my inner critic when he/she tells me I’m not smart at all. After all, if I were smart I would think faster on my feet and be able to respond to people in the way I wish I could. That is if I would believe what my inner critic says.

I, however, have come to understand, First, I AM intelligent. Second, my intelligence demands that I take my time to consider what I know or don’t know, and sometimes if I need to know more, it requires research. Third, I am also not quick to understand my own emotions and sometimes it takes me a while to dig into them to understand what they are and what triggered them. Because of this, almost every situation I’m in, I am not quick to respond because my way of doing things is, first to understand what I am feeling, why I feel that way and to take time to think about it and not jump into quick conclusions or decisions. People wanting quick responses and quick answers get frustrated with me, and yes, I get the impression that they might think I’m dumb but this is because they do not know me and I don’t always think to say that I need to think about this before I answer. I will admit that sometimes I over think things, and sometimes it is difficult for people to understand why I need to think about something that should only require a simple answer.

There is no surprise that this is how I approach my own art. We are at the end of January and to know that week one has taken me four weeks and I’m still not complete isn’t a concern for me. In the past it might have been but that would have been before I took the time to do my own self-analysis to understand why I do things as I do or why I react to things as I do and so forth. Doing my own self-analysis doesn’t mean I am always right. In fact, there are times when I need to re-evaluate because something doesn’t add up to what I had previous thought about myself. There isn’t anything wrong with that and I am sure therapists are having to do this all the time with their clients. There is just no way someone can know everything there is to know about another person and besides, we humans whether we want to admit it or not, are changing all the time. I will be the first to admit that this is even true for myself.

I have no doubt there would be a lot of people who would argue this point. Their egos would want them to believe they know themselves implicitly. I love the part in The Matrix where Neo is told “Know thyself”. On one hand we already know everything there is to know about ourselves while on the other hand, we know absolutely nothing about who we really are.  Neo walks out of the room, so confused, believing he isn’t what people believe him to be. He doesn’t believe in himself. He doesn’t believe it until circumstances put him into a position where he has to reach inside of himself to be what he needs to be, proving to him that he has always had it inside of himself to be whatever he needs to be.

This is true for all of us. Sometimes what we need to be isn’t at all what we think we should be. It is no different for me in my art. I think my art should be realistic, not whimsical or even be mandalas. If someone had asked me back in high school what kind of artist I would be, I would have said my art would be ‘realism’. I had never heard of mandalas or at least I don’t remember hearing about them back then so I would not have even considered myself to be a mandala artist. And yet, that is what I have become. I also lean more towards whimsical at this stage which I would never have thought possible because back in high school I had trouble drawing anything from my imagination.

Why am I writing about all of this? First, because I need to explore the depths of these things for myself and writing is how I do that. Second, because this is just an example of how my mind works and why I am not quick on rebuttals or responses in various situations. I have to THINK about whatever it is that requires my response. My thought processes are not short. They can be long and involved and writing helps me to work my way through my thought processes.

I use the same process for my artwork. Consequently, I don’t expect immediate answers or results. I don’t sit down and immediately make decisions on what I’m going to create and then create it. Oh sometimes I do but most times like the Garden Fairy, I need to go through this process.

I knew when I first watched Tam’s Garden Fairy lesson that I would draw a female face but I knew it wouldn’t be a copy of the face she drew. I knew from my meditation that my animal would be a dragon. But that is all I knew. It took a while of thinking about my dragon to understand I didn’t want to copy a dragon I found online. To draw him took research of looking at various pictures then setting them aside to start sketching on my own and only referring to pictures once in a while to get shape and form properly in perspective. It took more contemplation on what I wanted to represent my garden.

The third reason I write about all of this is hopefully so other artists who are new to exploring their own abilities learn that there isn’t anything wrong with taking their time to complete a lesson. The wonderful thing about online classes, especially ones where you can download them or have lifetime access to them is this, you can do them in your own time, at your own speed and repeat them as often as you like AND do them in whatever form you want to do them in. Classroom instruction doesn’t give you this flexibility, nor do the online instructions which give you only a limited time access and no downloadable content. My advice especially for beginners is choose courses wisely and take advantage of YouTube’s free content.

I want to write about one other thing. I know this is getting long but after writing the above and having a break to go off and work and think about other things, I had this thought come to me. I don’t PHYSICALLY practice my artwork every day. I do THINK about my artwork EVERY day. If I’m not physically practicing, I am viewing other people’s artwork, reading about it or watching videos, or thinking about how I might go about doing some technique or trying different things. I might consider in my mind, what if, I do this, or what if, I do something else, or what if, I combine this and that. In my mind I’ll try and imagine what might be the result of doing that ‘what if’ and in some cases it might take me to my art table to see if what I imagined is in fact what happens. Most times though I’m thinking about sketching or painting, especially watercolor and how I blend, or push the paint around. In my mind, I’m creating a number of art pieces.

Here is where some people might consider me crazy, but it is a proven fact that athletes do improve from just meditating on running or doing whatever physical activity they want to do more than if they just practice it physically. I believe this is also true for artists. If it weren’t true then I could never explain how I improved in my portrait sketches after months of not physically doing any drawing and only thinking or using my imagination and creating sketches mentally. So don’t underestimate the power of the mind. If you don’t have the time to physically do the work, I bet you have plenty of mentally free time where you can do the work in your imagination. Waiting in lines at the grocery store for instance, or waiting in a doctor’s office when you don’t have a small travel pack of art materials to play around with. Or waiting in traffic. Or walking the dog. I could go on and on. My point here is I probably create more in my head than I do in physical substance and there isn’t anything wrong with that. In fact,  I believe it is key to learning and becoming a better artist. I just can’t stop…  I do it all the time, sometimes even in my sleep.

What do you think? Let me know. Or just write a comment to let me know you were here and read my post.

My Creative Beginning to 2018….

I ended 2017 with the intent of adding more color and art to my handwritten journal. I was doing ink drawings and adding some of my tangle drawings to the journal then writing about what I was creating which sometimes included comments about my life. This means my journal was generally black and white. I wanted color too.  So… in December I started using some cheap markers and trying to get creative on my pages.

I added calendars for the months since I started my job the end of July using various colored markers. Working is now a major part and joy of my life so I wanted it in my journal. On December 31st, I added an acrylic wash background using neon colors since they are very transparent. I wanted to see the lines on the right page to use as guidelines for my writing. I can’t write in a straight line unless I have lines to guide me. I ended the year with a celebration page for the good things that happened in 2017. I’m glad I did this because I tend to remember the bad things instead of the good things.

I still wish at times that I didn’t have to work but who wouldn’t when they love to do art?! To have nothing else to do but art would be such an adventure. I had that for a little over a year. Other than having to look for a job at the same time, my days were full of art and I loved every moment of it. It also helped with the anxiety of not finding a job.

I am surprised by how much I enjoy my job. I interact with people every day. Two days before Christmas I was asked to hand out chocolates to the customers. It was the best job EVER! I have always considered myself an introvert but doing this job and handing out the chocolates taught me that I can interact with strangers and not die in the process… lol.

I am also a Gemini. So to find this out about myself isn’t surprising. I have many times in my life seen two sides of myself which are in complete opposition of one another. There have been a couple people who have commented about this as well because of seeing me in different environments which reflect those oppositions. The best thing about this job is when I walk out the door at work, I leave it at the door. And when I walk in the door at work, I pick it back up. In my previous job of 33 years, the job went with me no matter where I was, which meant no breaks from it not even on vacations.

So yes, my daily life sometimes ends up in my handwritten journal which was originally intended to be just for writing about my artwork. That means it creeps into this blog as well which was also meant to be just about my art. No matter how hard you try, life does cross over into our art.

For 2018, I’m continuing in my journal from 2017, this is my first page which begins my chapter for 2018. I’m about 1/4 of the way into the journal. I created this today before I knew the group, I joined on Facebook has daily words for inspiration. The words for the first two days in 2018 are EXPRESS and VESSEL, so these words didn’t make it into my journal page.

I was exhausted after an 8 hour shift at work yesterday. I had no energy for doing anything creative on the 1st. This is also my first try at doing zendangles. I want to try and find balance this year in everything including in my art especially, between taking classes and doing my own art, so I’m trying things like this on my own.

IMG_1227I started the page by drawing in guidelines for my words using pencil, then added the words also in pencil. Then I added the background with an acrylic paint wash in neon colors. Once the paint dried, I went over the letters with cheap water based markers and the dangles are gel pens.

I had intended to erase the guidelines but forgot I wouldn’t be able to erase them after I put acrylic wash over them, so I improvised and went over the lines with gel pen then added the dangles. The hardest part was trying to figure out what patterns to use on the dangles. I have found I’m not very good at creating designs or patterns on my own. Hopefully, I’ll get better at it with practice.

In this journal, the left page is blank for artwork and the right page is lined for writing. I use a wash so I can still see the lines. I do artwork on the left and the right is for writing which I do over the acrylic wash with gel pen. I know I won’t be able to do this every day, however, I plan on doing something artistic whenever I want to write in my journal. If I have a lot to write about I generally do that on my computer and just do highlights in my handwritten journal.

As I mentioned, the first two words for this year are EXPRESS and VESSEL. Doing my journaling this way I hope to EXPRESS myself artistically more in 2018. Technically I consider my journals (both physical and digital) my VESSELS which contains many parts of me and my life. I want my physical journal to be more of a visual journal. Sometimes I include pictures of what I have created in my digital journal. This year I hope to add more pictures of my art into my digital journal so I have a record of what I have created.

I still plan on doing my ink drawings. My thoughts have been about wanting to incorporate my love of black ink with my love of color. This is something I’ll need to play around with this year. I also want to explore different ways of using ink in my drawings. So far I have just used a pen. I want to explore using a brush.

I enjoyed the dangling bits on this page even though it is obvious a beginner has done it. The challenge I had was in creating the different dangle patterns. I tried not to copy patterns I saw from other pictures but in the end I found myself doing just that. I need to find better balance and I didn’t have enough open space between the words, but that is okay. It was fun to do for the first time and is something I can play with while sitting down recovering from a long day at work.

On another note, I did another lesson from Life Book 2017, week 33, “Bloom into Spontaneous Collage” with Shelley Klammer. Her explanation of how she gathers collage materials for here spontaneous collage page helped me tremendously on creating this page. I am not a fan of collage but after doing this page, I realized, I do like collage just not so much in my artwork with paints. I sometimes have difficulty with my paints lifting.  This type of collage was fun to do. I may find myself doing something like this from time to time. I just don’t have much collage material.

IMG_1225Her method of doing these collage pages is more about intuitive collage. It isn’t about designing a page before you start or even picking a subject to collage about before selecting your collage pieces, which I think is why I liked it.

Doing it intuitively brings information from your subconscious to your conscious mind. Until I did this collage I was sure I didn’t have any dreams left. But this collage ended up being a dream board of sorts. Without thinking about it, I found myself selecting pictures that had some symbolic meaning to what I wanted for me and my daughter. It helped me to realize my dreams were not dead, they were just buried.

I find my dreams too hard to keep to the forefront of my thoughts. Since being laid off from my previous job of 33 years, I felt my dreams were impossible and it has become very difficult to think about them without sinking into depression. So learning those dreams are still alive was a relief while at the same time it hurts to realize they may never come true, at least not without some major changes in my life.

In Life Book, I work on single sheets of paper. At the end of Life Book, Tam shows how she binds her pages into a book. I have been considering this and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so a few months ago I looked up alternatives. I looked up alternatives because I didn’t want to permanently change my pages by adhering them to each other or to other paper in order to bind them into a book. I landed upon an idea I hope will work.

I want to create a book box for storing my artwork from Life Book. That way I can store the pages as loose pages and be able to take them out if I want to. This way too, I can use the back of my pages for a journal of sorts about the class for that particular piece. The issue I have is my pages are 9″ x 12″ and the chipboard I have is 12″ x 12″. I’m not sure I can create a book box that will hold the pages using the chipboard I have. If not, I may have to buy a different medium to create the book box. I’m thinking I could use hardboard which I can purchase at my local hardware store. I’ll just need to learn how to cut it down to the size I need. I have time to figure that all out since I’m only on week 34 of Life Book 2017.

It is my hope that this idea will work out well. If it does, then I will be able to use it for storing any other artwork I do on loose sheets of paper. There are other options but they all have their drawbacks. This one seems to be the one that will reassure me that my pages will stay intact without having to alter them in some way for storage.

I am glad 2017 is over. I want to move on and let go of the difficulty of the past couple of years. I am grateful for the time I had to bring art back into my life. The time I had without a job helped me to cement this need into my life and make it a priority so when I did get a job it wouldn’t be set aside again. These last two years have been a time of adjustment, of learning how to alter my priorities and choose what was important to me and how to make room for what is important.

Up until now I have never chosen a word to focus on for the year. I tried New Year’s resolutions several times to no avail. I’ve had years of no focus at all. For 2018, I decided to choose a word and see what happens. My choice is BALANCE and each month I plan on choosing another word to focus on for the month which supports my focus of BALANCE. For January, my word is BOUNDARIES. It is my hope, to focus on them, journal about them, research and then make choices I can incorporate into my life.

I’ve had issues with setting boundaries my whole life. In some of my art classes the topic of boundaries has come up so I decided it was time to learn about them and set some of my own. I know I have some boundaries but they have been arbitrary. It is time to put some reason behind them and make them a solid part of how I live my life.

This may seem strange to some people to think someone my age doesn’t have firm boundaries by now. It even sounds strange to me. It is something I have come to understand to be a source of issues I have run into in my life. Since deciding this, I have found myself dreaming about situations that reflect these issues I’ve had in my life. It is like my subconscious is showing me what I should have done in those situations instead of what I did do. It is showing me the boundaries I need to set. I find this rather interesting.

I sometimes think I should have been a psychologist or research scientist because of these remarkable things I notice about my mind and how it interacts with me and my universe. I notice it even more now. I’m not sure if that is a product of allowing my creativity to grow through art or if it is just this particular time in my life which finds this all very fascinating. Maybe a mixture of both. It is so very easy to discard these subtle truths as our imagination conjuring up something that could only be in a science fiction tale. I, however, prefer to believe in the impossible. Maybe that will carry over into other aspects of my life as well and I’ll find myself believing my dreams really can come true.

 

 

Thinking about the life of an artist…

I woke up this morning thinking about the life of an artist and I guess I could easily include the life of a writer in this as well. I consider myself both. I love both writing and creating art. Both journeys are pretty much in a learning phase and I wonder if that will ever change. My thoughts sort of went like this:

The life of an artist isn’t an easy one. Not only because most artists are assailed every moment by their inner critic and can be compounded greatly by their feelings of self-worth but also because artists, at least the artists I’m aware of, have a variety of issues that have nothing to do with art. Some may have mental health issues while others may have physical health issues. If any of these issues are severe enough to prevent an artist from employment then their issues maybe accompanied with financial concerns. But, even if an artist doesn’t have any of these issues, they still have to deal with every day life like the rest of the population who might not consider themselves artists and don’t pursue this creative adventure.

Note: replace artist with writer and these thoughts seem to be equally true for both. If one pursues being both an artist and a writer then there is even more to learn and less time to divide up into each adventure.

I, probably, love writing just as much as I love being an artist. I classify myself as a creative being. I didn’t always do so. I had my first real taste of being an artist during school from eighth grade until twelfth grade, thanks to a wonderful art teacher. Then because of needing to work and earn enough money to live off of I ventured off into the digital world of computers and never looked back until a few years ago. (That statement isn’t exactly true, I had moments of trying to pick up a pencil to draw but my inner critic always won and I would put the pencil back down and not try again for years.)

The one thing I never stopped doing was writing because our whole society and workforce requires it. For my personal life I would keep a handwritten journal or as they called it back then, a diary. I, however, was not consistent at it. Usually it would reappear in times of strife. If I really think about it, I never really stopped being creative. I might not have picked up a pencil much to draw but I did do other things, like learning to crochet which my mother started when I asked one day while I watched her crochet. I then took that further and taught myself how to knit since my mother didn’t know how. Knitting and crocheting have been a part of my life ever since with periods of abstinence.

Over the years I ventured into several avenues of creative categories. I tried polymer clay, making my own beads which were then made into jewelry. This took me into taking a jewelry repair class which I absolutely excelled at but never had the money to pursue. The equipment and supplies were just too costly plus no landlord would ever allow the combustible products on the property. Since I have, until recently, only rented the places we lived this wasn’t a viable option for me to pursue. It is still true today since I live in a townhouse complex under strata management. Besides I will not risk other people’s homes. I never checked but I’m sure the homeowners insurance would be rather costly if it included a jewelry repair workshop.

I also ventured into pottery. I learned slab and throwing skills for creating beautiful things out of clay. This is something else I fell completely in love with but when I moved away from the city where I lived, any new place I moved to didn’t seem to have the same opportunities at such a financially feasible cost. I miss it. Again having the equipment in the places where I live just isn’t possible and are quite costly and working with polymer clay just isn’t the same. I really love raku which involves flame/extreme heat which isn’t something you ask a landlord or strata council to approve.

I have always had a secret dream of owning my own home that isn’t under strata management, has a yard and not attached to another person’s home. If the yard was large enough and I had the funds, I have no doubt I would create a massive studio where I could pursue jewelry making and repair, as well as, pottery, and have a portion of it for my art. When I say my art, that can be anything from mixed media, watercolors, oil, graphite, charcoal, pencils, pens and inks of a mixed variety. I want my comfort too so I would need a comfortable sitting area and a screen for watching videos and sound system for listening to music. I have no doubt other artists have similar dreams. And because I LOVE books my home would contain a library.

The dilemma we artist’s face is often financial. Unless one is already well off financially that is. As you can see, after reading my secret dream and what I have learned along the way in my journey, being an artist doesn’t come cheaply. Though it can. Our, or at least mine, doesn’t except when I am forced into such a situation.

Learning to be an artist on a strict budget has been a challenge but not as big a challenge as I had first believed.  When I was laid off of a rather well paying job, and not earning any income for a year and half, now finding myself earning only minimum wage in a part time position, I have had to find ways to manage my creative life on a very small budget. Not having so much time to work in the love of my life, helps. It has greatly reduced the consumption of my art supplies. I can write as often as I like on my computer. It only takes up digital space so as long as I have enough hard drive space, I can write until my heart is content. Art supplies, can come cheap, but my artist has expensive tastes and loves the not so cheap art supplies, so those get purchased only when there is room in the budget which isn’t often.

The same goes for art courses. Like several of my artist acquaintances I have discovered I love to collect art classes so at any time when the urge hits, I can sit down and follow along on a class. Following along on a class means I don’t have to come up with my own idea. There are times I need that period of mindlessness to just do something creative, even if it isn’t from my own imagination.

Creating something from my own imagination can be quite difficult at times. That is a topic of another discussion but yes, it is part of an artist’s life which should be mentioned. I don’t think there is an artist out there who hasn’t faced their own issues with trying to create their own piece of art solely from their own imagination and not come up against a wall of doubt and sometimes a complete vacancy of ideas in the mind reflecting the completely blank canvas before them. The more the blank canvas is looked upon the blanker the imagination becomes. Breaking through is hard because it involves letting go and trusting one’s own instincts or intuition. Sometimes, especially in the learning stages of one’s journey, this doesn’t come easy and sometimes we don’t hear the intuitive thoughts at all.

I want to write, “now, back to the life of an artist not being easy” but I never left that topic, though it might seem as though I went off on a tangent, I haven’t really. Being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean you are a painter. I have touched upon a few other mediums artists can work in, there are other’s like wood, metal, textiles and so on. Artists can work in anything, even food, as long as one creates, they are an artist. When you consider it in that way, I don’t know of a single person who isn’t an artist or a creative. After all, we all are responsible for building/creating our own lives. There are just some people who feel the need to take that creativity further into a medium of their choice to create something which physically represents their state of being at the time they created it.

I might find people who disagree with me on the last statement. I would imagine some artists would say their creations don’t represent their state of being. I believe everyone is allowed their own opinion and if this is what they believe then I support them. I used to think this as well about my own creations but have since seen my own reality within those things I create. Sometimes that is difficult to admit, especially when what I created isn’t something I like. Generally if that is the case it is because I’m either not in a good place or I am trying to force it to be something I am not at the time. This is the part of the artist in me which isn’t easy to face. It also isn’t easy to write about. But if I am to be authentic and write about the life of an artist, then I need to include this as well.

Like any piece of art an artist creates, our journey goes through an ugly stage. We don’t often want to admit it. We often don’t want to look back and remember it either. But those ugly stages are when we have learned some very important things about ourselves and our abilities. If we give up during the ugly stage, then often it is because we don’t think we have the ability to make what appears ugly, beautiful. We also can’t look at it and see the beauty that lies within it. I’m not talking just about art. I’m also talking about life.

I think we have all heard a saying that goes something like this “we have the ability to make our lives anything we want it to be” or “our life is what we make of it”. Make means we create it. It also means we can destroy it. It can really be whatever we want ‘it’ to be but we first need to recognize the overall authority we have. Plus, we also need to recognize where we are in our skill level set. Don’t expect a masterpiece if you are only just beginning your journey. While at the same time, if you have perfected several skills don’t aspire to do something at the beginner level. This journey is about learning to create and learning is about improving your knowledge and skill. A journey is about movement not stagnation. Through each level, there will be ugly stages as we learn and perfect new skills.

I’ve been the worst at being hard on myself. Sometimes in my journey I have gone back to being a child and acting as a child or creating as a child. There isn’t anything wrong in doing so. Sometime we have to revisit old skill sets and mind sets in order to remember why we have left them behind. The journey of an artist is such a one and therefore will always be a difficult journey, a life that isn’t easy, because we choose to express ourselves outwardly by creating something that represents where we are in our journey, while others keep as much as possible internal. Those who also choose to put their artist works out in the world for others to witness also put themselves at risk. It is difficult enough to listen to our own internal doubts and self-flagellation all we can think of is that is what we will receive in return when we put our work on display. Sometimes that is true but more often it is not, or at least I hope it isn’t for all artists.

Artists don’t just have to face the battles of every day life, they have to face their inner battles over their work, not just to create it but also whether to let others see it, and if they do then to face their own inner demons again in making it public, then possibly again when someone chooses to say something unkind about their work. Artists take such comments to heart because their artwork is a reflection of them which is something not everyone understands.

It takes a brave person to live the life of an artist and an even braver one to put their work on display. I, however, think the world is a better place because of these brave souls.

This is always in the back of my mind whenever I display my own work. I don’t necessarily feel very brave, though some have said I am and also brave in writing about my art journey. I watched a movie recently titled “The Circle”. It deals with transparency. This is a very controversial topic which the movie does an excellent job in bringing out. Transparency is how I like to be in regards to my art and my journey as an artist. If what I write about can help an artist to have the courage to either be an artist or even show their artwork, then my time and work in writing about my art journey is worth it.

Since my last post, I worked on a few things. I worked more on the abstract flower page. I think I have reached the point where I am done working on it. Yes, more could be done with it but it is has served its purpose. It has helped me learn more of what works for me and what doesn’t. Plus I’m learning my own style of abstract flowers.

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I then watched week 30’s videos for Life Book 2017 and chose to do the bonus lesson titled “Practicing Radical Acceptance” with Samie Harding. I’m not usually into this type of art but in the end, I enjoyed it and like how it turned out. It might be something I do more of and would be in my private journal if I do. This class was more about learning to accept things in life even if you don’t agree with it so it can bring out a lot of emotions which some would want to keep private.

IMG_1197

Sometimes when I work on a class, I don’t realize the emotions that are brought up. When this happens, I usually feel the need to work on something that can center me and is something within my comfort zone. Working with mandalas and tangles do that for me. When I find myself resistant to doing another class or a harder piece of art is when I realize I need that comfort zone for a bit before moving on. So the next thing I worked on which took several days is this one:

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Abstract art which feels comfortable to me generally includes geometric shapes. This one started out with using a compass to draw circles of varying sizes and overlapping. Once I had the circles in place, then I proceeded to either make smaller circles within them or add in lines to divide the circles into parts like a pie and to connect the circles. Then it just took adding a few more lines to create a tangle I wanted or adding tangle patterns in the smaller circles. For the largest circle I altered the smaller circles so they became a spiral, then created the pattern.

This was a fun and soothing project. I was glad to have it to work on over several days while I worked my various hours at my job. I could work on it before I went to work or after I came home. It helped me to wind down after work and relax and I could work on it while streaming Netflix. I had discontinued our cable service as one of the things to cut back on expenses after being laid off of work. I am surprised how little I miss it. Netflix and CraveTV are our solutions to no more cable TV. I consider this part of the artist’s life because I choose to spend my money on art supplies instead of cable TV. Streaming programs I love while working on art then becomes my zen zone.

My final step in this one was to add some shading. I like this piece. I especially like the bolder lines and the stippling I did in the spiral. I am also understanding more of how repeating a pattern can improve the appearance of the overall piece. I often found myself questioning my first choices, or my intuitive thoughts. I have learned when those intuitive thoughts persist to just go with them. It is easier than trying to resist them. As I do this more and more, following my first intuitive thought is becoming easier so I find myself resisting less and less.

After writing all of this, a question just appeared in my mind, “What is my goal as an artist?” It wouldn’t be what many might think it is. It isn’t to sell my art, though at one time I thought maybe I would and I might still but that isn’t my goal. My goal is to create a harmonious life. That might sound strange to some but for me it makes perfect sense. I find peace, joy and contentment when I do something creative. This means as an artist I experience these things even with things I don’t like. I might find angst as something I also feel when something doesn’t turn out the way I like it but I’ve learned for even those things I don’t like, there is also contentment, joy and peace because I learn from them more than I probably learn for those things I do well and love.

When I wasn’t doing my art, my life wasn’t very harmonious. Facing difficult times was even harder. And my inner landscape felt like I had abandoned part of it. Now, as long as I’m doing something creative, my inner landscape feels whole. Don’t confuse whole with finished or complete. There will always be room for improvement and growth but at least now I feel like I’m working with the whole plant including its root and not just with pruning it’s branches.