Art Practice, Work and…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The joys and pitfalls of layering…

It was a busy day at work. Worked more hours this week than any week since I started my job this past July. Consequently, working on anything art related took a backseat. I spent the first day of my two days off mostly sleeping, trying to recoup my energy while treating head congestion. Luckily, the congestion seems to be subsiding and not advancing into anything major.

Yesterday was my second day off of work, and towards evening I decided to try and work on Week 32 of Life Book 2017. I started two pages at the same time trying to mimic what Jodi Ohl was teaching. However, one of them I started having issues with peeling paint off of the page after a variety of layers. The other one was way too dark to do anything with. I tossed the one that started peeling because it just got worse and worse no matter what I did. The second one I have kept for now probably just as a reminder of what not to do.

It was too late at night to try a third so I decided to wait until morning. Before going to bed, I hear clearly to work with what I love, which I knew meant to go with watercolor. When I got up in the morning that is exactly what I did. Here is the result:

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This isn’t anything like what Jodi Ohl taught but that wasn’t the point of the class. The class is called “Unveiling Yourself” which is what this piece did. The first two attempts taught me that acrylic paint isn’t my medium. It confirmed thoughts I have been having lately about acrylic paint. Acrylic paint for me is becoming a medium which I use as an enhancer so to speak. Let me explain the process I went through when I made this so maybe you will understand what I mean.

I started out with watercolor paper, taping it down to help prevent curling because I knew I would be using a lot of water at first. I wet the paper thoroughly and then added a light layer of watercolor for the background using yellow, red and blue. I let that dry.

The next layer I chose acrylic paint to use through my stencil. I chose brown, yellow orange, and red. I used another stencil to add some black dots. I used a makeup sponge and a light layer of acrylic through the stencils. Then I returned to using watercolor, yellow, purple, blue and red, to add a deeper color around the stenciled areas. Then some green in the area where I used the brown paint through the stencil. This was to bring some of them to the foreground. I let this layer dry.

The next layer I chose to use a brayer to layer on some white acrylic paint, and some gold acrylic paint. Then I chose handmade acrylic sprays, yellow, pink, red, blue, bronze and black. Each of the sprays ended up spraying differently due to their nozzles being slightly clogged. Some people don’t like when that happens but I like the randomness and unpredictability of it. In some places the black was way too much so I blotted it with a paper towel. I let this layer dry.

I stopped using paint at this point and picked up my gel pens. It is hard to see in the picture but I used green gel pen around the pattern on the brown stencil, orange around the yellow orange stencil and purple around the red stencil areas. Then added the stems and leaves with blue, teal and green gel pens. The last thing I did was use black stabilo all pencil and a wet brush to add some shadow.

I love the results I received from this process much better than the previous two attempts when using acrylic paints layered with glue for crackling effect, spackle for texture and paper collage. I had problems on one of them with the paint peeling after several layers. The other one ended up way too dark. This one looks a whole lot better in person. The only thing I might add to the process would be a couple more layers of watercolor and stencils using acrylic paint to give it more depth and interest. I, however, am thoroughly satisfied with how this one came out.

When I used acrylic paint in this process I used very light layer of paint, applying it with a makeup sponge. The issues I had with peeling was either due to too thick a layer of acrylic paint or not letting my page dry enough between layers. Or it could have been because of using glue to create the crackle effect. I will have to buy a crackle medium to see if I have any different results.  The thing is I had the absolute BEST crackle effect with the glue this time. I had large crackles and I had some really small crackling. It was absolutely scrumptious. Unfortunately, it isn’t visible any more on the page I kept. At least I know now how to create such an effect or that I can do it with the Elmer’s white glue all that I used. I just might not be able to layer too much over top or I have to make sure it dries thoroughly between all the layers.

The other thing that pictures don’t show is the physical texture. Using a mixture of watercolor and acrylic paint gives that page a very pleasing surface texture than a page that is done only with acrylic paint. I didn’t use any texture paste or collage or crackle mediums on this page and yet the texture on it is like the taste of food on my tongue except it is texture on my fingers. If that makes any sense. It just feels yummy.

I will definitely be experimenting with this process in the future.

I decided to include the picture of the page I kept that was too dark. The second picture is a close up of the crackling effect I got using just Elmer’s white glue all. I might be able to save this page but I’m afraid I would end up covering up the crackling effect. Or I might use it as collage on other pages, just not sure. This page taught me a lot which I will definitely be able to use on other pages.

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Watercolor and Shadow & Light

Have I ever mentioned how much I love working in watercolor? Just a bit of warning, this post is going to be all about watercolor and I may repeat myself several times, exclaiming just how much I love watercolor.

Since my last post I went on a journey. That journey began by viewing Week 31 of Life Book 2017 titled  Shine Your Light & Embrace Your Shadow with Andrea Gomoll. I cannot say enough about this class, however, I’ll have to resist saying too much as I don’t want to overstep. I didn’t have the supplies Andrea used so I made a selection out of what I do have. I selected Prang watercolors. I have their set of sixteen.

I need to talk about Prang watercolors for a minute. I heard about them from one of Barb Owen’s live streams. She used them in one of the projects she was showing and spoke about how vibrant the colors are.  I decided to buy a set and since they are inexpensive I chose to go with the largest set I could find which was a set of sixteen. They are considered a child’s watercolor set. Because I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy working with watercolors I decided to go with this cheap set. I had a different brand of watercolors around the house that my daughter had used for school but they were very poor. I think any other brand could not have been worse.

From my very first brush stroke I have been in awe of Prang. The vibrancy of the colors are amazing. After trying to use the crappy sets I had around the house of my daughter’s and having to coat my brush liberally with the colors, for some reason I keep expecting that from Prang and end up with way too much pigment on my brush. Trying to get a soft or pastel appearance from any of the colors is difficult for me. I get too color happy and just pile it on. LOL

I’m still on my first pans of the Prang set although the yellow is almost gone. I am finding I love yellow. I bought a new set of sixteen Prang watercolors which I hope will last longer and I hope I won’t start using until I learn to be less heavy handed. I have fallen in love with Prang so much I’m afraid it might be difficult to use any other watercolors, even the more expensive sets.

Since playing with Prang I decided to try a different brand. I chose a set of Daler Rowney Simply watercolors which come in a tube. Using them out of the tube was nice but I was afraid I was using too much and throwing way too much since I didn’t have a palette I could devote to just the Daler Rowney set. I heard you could squeeze the tubes into pans and let them dry and use them that way so I bought an inexpensive palette to give it a try. Since letting them dry, I have only tried using them once and wasn’t impressed. I gave up too quickly and switched back to Prang. I’ll have to try playing around with them again in the near future.

Because of the vibrancy of color in the Week 31 class I mentioned earlier, I decided to work with Prang. I had worked with it enough to know I could possibly recreate what the instructor was teaching and indeed they did. I love, love, love this class! Andrea is a great teacher. She took the time to demonstrate and discuss every step of her process in creating her page or art piece.  She made it easy to reproduce her results even though I wasn’t using the same products she was using. She even gave suggestions as to what you could use if you didn’t have exactly what she was using. This is what I created.

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My only disappointment with what I created was my lettering. I ran out of room for the word YOUR in “LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE”. There is an R at the end but when I cropped the picture I took, it removed part of it but that is okay. After all, this is about learning. In the future I could stamp the letters in reverse or use smaller letters. But definitely need to be more careful in my planning instead of just putting down the letters and hoping they will fit.

I loved this lesson so much, I had to create my own page. I pulled out my handmade art journal which I had made using watercolor paper. I decided to do a full two page spread but wasn’t sure exactly what I would do. I had an image in my mind of two faces (female) and heard in my head to create something that would represent my sun sign Gemini. Gemini being The Twins, I have always felt an affinity towards shadow and light, duality, and opposites or mirror images of everything. I am almost always in a conflicting state of mind because I can see both if not several sides of a situation, idea, belief and so on. I needed to reflect this in my spread.

I started out by drawing two faces on opposite pages. I wanted them to look as closely alike as I could while being mirror images of each other. One representing shadow and the other representing light. Their hair and background would merge to hopefully show there is no defining line between the two. Here is a photo of my complete spread:

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I will say again, both of my paintings were done with Prang watercolors. I can’t say enough about them, although recently I looked up their light fastness. From the tests I have seen others do with Prang, I wouldn’t want to create a painting for hanging on my wall because they will fade significantly. Using them for my art journal however should be fine. This means I need to start buying a small set of the more expensive watercolors to give them a try to see which ones I would enjoy using.

Did I say I really really LOVE working with watercolor?

This is a conundrum for me. In my day to day life, at work, at home, doing whatever I do, I want to have control or know exactly what will happen and how. This is exactly the opposite of what happens with watercolor. If you try and control watercolor you will either under work it or overwork it. To use watercolor you need to let go of the need to control and wait, watch and see what happens. Maybe the reason I love watercolor so much is because it finally lets me just let go and stop worrying about how perfect everything has to be. It frees me. It allows me to just be without expectations.

This is one of my first real attempts at using watercolor to do something other than just an abstract collection of colors that bled and merged together. This is what made me fall head over heels in love with watercolor. This was from a lesson in 21 Secrets, Tools & Techniques. The class is called Flowing Facial Features and taught by Jodi Ohl another magnificent teacher.

I still find myself hesitating when I think about doing something in watercolor. It can be so intimidating because of the need to just let go. Like I said earlier, my natural tendency is to try and control everything in my life so working with watercolor, even though I love it, comes with a challenge to step outside of my comfort zone. What I need to remember is I’m rarely disappointed in what I can create using watercolor.

These are two more pieces using watercolor. I absolutely enjoyed this class, another Life Book 2017 class. This one titled, Letting Your Story Surface, taught by a wonderful teacher, Mandy van Goeije.

It amazes me how many different ways there are to create art, even with just one medium, like watercolor. So far I haven’t found a technique or way of working with watercolor that I haven’t enjoyed.

Did I say how much I LOVE, love, LOVE watercolor? (I warned you… hahaha)

 

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.

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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.

 

Whoo Hooo…..

I’m finally back to exploring some art classes and using my paints. I feel like I’ve been separated from my paints for too long. It has, however, been a good break. I was able to explore using inks in Inktober so that was good.

I haven’t gotten much further with my last ink drawing. Here is my progress so far:

IMG_1194This one is taking a while which I don’t mind. I would rather take my time than rush through something and be unhappy with the results. That isn’t to say I’ll be happy with the results when I take my time but at least I know I will have given it my full attention. There is nothing worse than completing a project and knowing I could have done better if I hadn’t rushed through it.

This journal first started out to be just about my art with sketches or pictures of art I’ve done and writing about them. However, as life will be life, I often find myself including other things about my day in the handwritten part of this journal so, I decided as part of my art journal I would add in calendars. In the calendars I am including my work schedule and appointments, holidays and so forth which, in and of itself, is a sort of record keeping journal that can help explain my absence from creativity and handwriting in my journal.

I guess you could say it is a limited take on the bullet journal concept except I’m not tracking any bullet items. I tried that for almost a year and found it was too repetitive and too time consuming. It just took too much time away from the actual art I wanted to do. I suspect in time, this journal will start to include rough sketches of concepts I come up with which happens all too often and more often than not, get lost because I don’t put them down anywhere to be discovered later.

IMG_1182While working on the above ink drawing I was drawn towards a desire to use my paints. This is the result. The colors didn’t come out the way I had hoped they would, however, it did make me realize Christmas themes in the stores maybe having a subtle influence on me. I think its influence shows up in my color and shape choices. The center looks very much like a poinsettia, at least to me.

I knew I wanted some writing on this one but didn’t know what. A phrase came to mind just before bed so I wrote it down. It wasn’t until I was trying to figure out how to incorporate it into the page that I realized one letter would fit into each of the shapes. This was not planned. I love how this happens. I love when things just fall into place as if it had been painstakingly planned. It happens more often than anyone would think it would.

Because of my angst with the background and colors not working out the way I had hoped, I turned towards Life Book 2017, Week 29. I had recently watched the videos for week 29 so I went back to them to try out her technique for backgrounds. I had planned on doing the whole class but ended up with this page as a result. This girl insisted in being created upon this page after I had created the background using the technique from the class.

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I first painted the background using pink and yellow. Once it was dry, using graphite pencil, I drew her face. When I had much of her face drawn in, I used white paint to fill in her face. I could still see some of the drawing underneath the white pain. I then when back over it with graphite pencil once the paint was thoroughly dry. Most of what you see here for her face is all graphite over white paint. I added a bit of color to her eyes and lips and only used black ink in the darker areas of her face where I needed deeper shading. Her headdress was done over the pink and yellow background and is mostly done in ink, and Prisma Premier colored pencils, with some white paint for highlights. Oh yes, and some what paint for highlights in her face and eyes.

I know a lot of the issues I have with faces is because I sit with my art pad/paper on my lap and tilted at an angle. This throws off the lines I draw for proportions and trying to get things straight. I don’t see it until I take a photograph. I did in fact do some adjustments on her before I did anything that was permanent but she is still a bit off kilter. I’m okay with that. The more I draw faces, the more I will improve and find ways to catch these things before I get too far and it is too hard to change it. I still love her and think she is beautiful.

I started to go on to Week 30 in the Life Book classes and actually watched the videos but then decided I hadn’t really done the lesson for Week 29. Not in the way it was meant to be done. I decided to go back and do it for real this time. The lesson is called “The Story Within”. The artist is France Papillon. Her lesson is more about creating an abstract image of your story, whatever that might be at the time you sit down to create an art journal page. This is what I created when I really focused on what I learned from her instruction:

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The outer dark border was done digitally using Photoshop Elements 10. My page wasn’t dry enough yet to ink the outer edge so I did it digitally for the purpose of this post. I found myself surprised by how much I enjoyed the process of creating this page. When it was complete, I realized it very much represents where I am right now within my inner self and how I am connected to my past selves.

I often wonder whether I will remember what inspired me when I created a particular art journal page. This is why I started writing about what I create. This one in particular I want to remember so I wrote extensively about what it means to me. I keep two journals. One is handwritten and the other is digital. For about a year or so I was having wrist pain which limited my ability to keep a handwritten journal, therefore, to do the kind of writing I need to do, I started keeping a digital journal as well. Then I guess you could also include my blog as another type of journal. I still limit my handwriting because it can aggravate my wrist, so most of my journaling is done digitally. I miss doing it by hand though.

I am thrilled to be back using my paints again and mixing it up a bit with other art supplies. Adding texture and actual objects to my last page was more enjoyable than I had expected it to be. After thinking about it, I understand why. The objects have special meaning that brings the whole piece together. Before this, whenever I was following a class or trying to incorporate techniques of adding embellishments or found objects into something I was creating, there was no symbolism behind it. It was just something I added for no particular reason. With this page, each object, each splatter, each color was chosen to represent something meaningful to me while at the same time I was also trying some things out to see what would happen, and joyfully finding out, in all cases, what did happen, fit very well with what I was trying to create.

This is something I want to incorporate into my art practice every single day. I want what I create to have meaning to me. Up until now, if I sat down to draw a face, it was to just draw a face. If I sat down to draw a mandala, it was to just draw a mandala. If they came out good enough for me to be happy with what I did, then all the better but there was something missing. Each time I sat down to create something, I felt myself searching, trying to find something more, something to connect with. France Papillon’s class may have just helped me to figure out what that something is. Only time will tell if this is something that will stick with me.

That doesn’t mean I’ll be doing abstract art all the time. It just means, when I sit down to create, it will be with a different purpose in mind. It will be to find that story within, which needs to be told.

Selling art….

My journey as an artist had begun with just wanting to awaken my inner artist. This journey started by simply learning to doodle by following some simple step out instructions on tanglepatterns.com . This was simple enough and soon expanded into learning how to draw mandalas.

I couldn’t stop there and soon developed into a full fledged adventure into all different mediums in the art world. I learned about mixed media art which appealed to my inner artist because, and to be quite frank, I’m just not a one medium girl. Even though I had some preconceived ideas that some mediums wouldn’t get along with me very well, I was soon to discover those ideas had no foundation to stand upon.

I ventured into all sorts of mediums and found some I am falling in love with. Acrylics and watercolors are probably my top two favorites right now. I’m also learning I love abstract painting as well as portrait painting. Who knew the two would get along? I sure didn’t when I first started this adventure of mine.

There are other things I am discovering along the way. As the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens and that couldn’t be more true in my case.

When I lost my job of 33 years, I was devastated. I worked in a field where the youngest in our field were all of retirement age. I thought this gave me job security since I was one of the youngest. I soon learned this wasn’t the case. Finding a job in the same field meant moving, uprooting, and still facing the same job insecurity.

I wondered if I could earn any money from my artwork. I was doubtful. I wasn’t a fool to believe my art was anything close to being a master piece or even desirable to be mounted on someone’s wall. That didn’t stop me from continuing to do my own thing and create art the way I wanted to. I had to have faith that something would work out for me.

The harder I worked at finding a job in mainstream typical employment world, the more I found rejection and disappointment which fueled my desperate mind. Even the government services couldn’t help me in my present situation. It has to get much worse before they will step in to help. So, I began looking at alternatives.

Once I agreed to make an important step into devoting the rest of my life to my creativity and artwork, things started happening. I wanted, really wanted to be able to sign up for Ever After 2016, an art course put together by Tamara Laporte. She is a phenomenal artist. Her style is whimsical. When I first came across her, though I loved her work, I was sure it wasn’t my style. But, I decided to take one of her free courses. Mostly because she also believes in using artwork to help heal emotional trauma. I had blocks from way back in my childhood I had trouble getting past and I thought, why not, it couldn’t hurt. So I took her Art, Heart and Healing course. You can find a list of her classes here, including her free courses.

I was blown away by the class. The amount of content she offered for this free class was amazing, so I signed up for some more classes. While I was still able, I signed up for Life Book 2017, thinking it would be the last class I could ever pay for until I had some steady income coming in. I also thought it would give me something to focus on for 2017, something good and uplifting, if things didn’t go well in the job search.

Then I heard about Ever After 2017. I had heard a bit about Ever After 2016, bits and pieces which at first had not appealed to me, until I had actually completed the Art, Heart and Healing class. Then while doing the lessons in Life Book 2017, I became hooked. The more I learned about Ever After 2017, the more I wished I could purchase the course. What I love about Tam is once you purchase her courses they are available forever. You can download all the videos and files and have access to them forever. Plus they will be available online in your account for as long as the site is kept up and running. The point is, I can download them and have them even if she chooses to close up shop.

I wanted Ever After 2017. I didn’t see how I could afford it. Tam is a generous entrepreneur. She gathers a lot of different artists to participate in Ever After and each instructor was given the opportunity to give away a free seat in the class. They did a blog hop to promote the course and to give away the seats. I decided to follow the blog hop and for each instructor, I followed the instructions required to enter the give-away.

When one door closes, another door opens, AND IT DID! I WON A SEAT in the course.

Then as I continued to work on my art and research ways to promote my art, I discovered something else. I discovered from some posts in a Facebook group I am a part of, a discussion about a few websites that allow you to post your art and sell it on their range of products. I looked into a couple of the sites but focused on Society6.

You may have noticed the picture on my sidebar of a t-shirt with Society6 across the picture. The t-shirt is covered in my artwork. This is my actual handmade abstract artwork that can now be purchased on various products on Society6 . I have other artwork available there as well. It isn’t just clothing. They sell, phone covers, art prints on canvas, framed or not framed, pillows, comforters, shower curtains, on and on. Go check it out. I am blown away by how well my artwork looks on the t-shirt and leggings, as well as blankets and pillows and so much more. I would love to buy my own but that will have to wait until I am earning an income.

If you love my artwork, please share this post, and my Society6 store with anyone you know and tell them to share it too if they like it. Here are two pictures of t-shirts with two other designs.

   

~Patti

Merging Poetry with Art and more artwork…

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

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

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

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

silhouette

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

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

Mood Journaling Silhouette copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Patti

Learning so much!

I can’t begin to express the excitement I’m feeling over what I am learning. But most especially on how I’m seeing my skills develop. Where I once thought I would never enjoy watercolor, and thought I would make a horrible mess of it, I’m now learning I was completely wrong. I’ve never been so glad about being wrong about something in my life!

For the past week, I’ve been rather busy trying to catch up in some of my classes. I decided to focus on Life Book 2017’s lessons. The below pictures are from weeks 14, 15 and 16.

The Gifts in our Stories 2 copy     The Gifts in our Stories copy

I love these two girls. When looking back at my first girls from Life Book 2017, I can see so much improvement, especially in the coloring and shading of the skin. I’m thrilled to see this.

Honouring Your Story copy

I thoroughly enjoyed making this page. Learning to divide a page into sections even before I know what words I want to say was unbelievably satisfying. It made me expand my imagination to make the words fit. Whenever, I sit down to create a page with words and I already know what words I want to use, I’m usually organizing the page around the words. The words usually end up uniform and in straight lines. I totally love how the words on this page ended up in all different forms and direction.

My Story copy

OH, this one, I probably can’t say enough about. This one challenged my ability to work with watercolor and I found I loved the challenge. Creating something out of blotches of watercolor was pure fun.

Looking at the blotches or clouds of watercolor and trying to come up with an image was definitely a challenge. At first, I couldn’t see anything, or rather, I saw pieces of things that ‘could be’ but had trouble finding the rest of those pieces to fit it into a whole.

I did the background blotches of color one day, but it took waiting until several hours later to see the forms I really needed to pull from the page. I did three backgrounds in total, and on each one I was surprised what developed. I only completed this one. The other two are in progress. They only have the loose sketch which wouldn’t be visible on camera at this point.

The other two are also more complicated and I wanted to focus on the easier one to get the hang of the process. The other two will be worked on as time permits or as I’m drawn to them, in between my other lessons.

So far, this will make three projects I have in progress. I don’t fret over them not being done. I know in at least one case, I’m waiting for my skills and knowledge to grow. I have an idea of where I want to take it but not yet the skills to get it there. This is where patience takes over.

As far as the watercolor cloud backgrounds, well those two, I need to contemplate because of their complexity. I want to consider what direction I want to take them before I proceed.

The thing about my exploration into art over the past year is this….

I’m only just touching the tip of the iceberg so to speak. I’ve worked with acrylic paint, water soluble crayons, gouache, soft pastels, spray acrylics, spray inks, colored pencil, oil pastels, and more. I’ve done collage, created handmade journals, painted on canvas, created card decks, designed my own mandalas and created my own fabric paper, just to name a few.

I love it all, somethings, I may love more than others. For instance, I’m not that fond of collage, but sometimes it has its place and works well with what I want to do. I’m not crazy about gouache but that is probably more of needing to learn how to work with it. Today, I learned one way of using it which may work its way into my style.

The one thing I’m learning I love the most, which for my perfectionist personality is something oddly exhilarating. It is the unpredictability of much of what I create.

I have a logical and perfectionist mind, but I also have this wonderful part of my mind that loves to watch something happen that is quite unpredictable. I used to be so afraid of the unpredictable nature of things. In learning to love it in my art, I’m starting to appreciate it in life, which kind of blows away my logical side.

In some ways, I can’t help but think this is the true nature of the Gemini in me. I’ve always felt at odds with myself because of my inner conflicts. I can almost always see the two sides of a situation and understand both which makes it especially difficult to make a choice. My logical mind has to step in and weigh the pros and cons and hopefully make the right decision.

How does this factor into my art? Oh, boy, does it ever factor in. If , I let it, I could be stuck on making a choice between one color or the next or not using a color at all because of trying to predict the outcome and which would be best for the overall design.

That is why, what I’m learning this past year, has been so important to me. Learning to let go is HARD. Learning to let things flow as they will, without stepping in to guide its course or force things to go in a particular direction is even HARDER. It is why I’m only now stepping out of my comfort zone to explore creativity as it should be explored.

I’ll soon be 57 years old. I’m not a spring chicken any more. I’m also not too old to want to experiment with life, with my imagination and with how to change my perceptions of this world. Letting my creativity flourish is helping me to do just that. I’m loving every minute and even, at times, look forward to those clashes of thought and emotion when things look like they are going terribly wrong, to only find out, in the end, they were going terribly right and just as they needed to.

I just hope I can learn to approach life in the same way.

~Patti

Goauche Paint…

I have been putting off this lesson in Life Book 2017. Whenever a new medium is introduced in a lesson, I tend to procrastinate in doing the lesson. This time was no different.

I have never used goauche paint until now. I can’t say I’m a fan of it, at least not yet. I thought watercolor would be difficult to work with but I think goauche surpasses it. At one point during my painting, I hated the goauche paint. That may change if I work with it more.

My first difficulty was in blending. It often left the paint looking patchy. I had to do layer after layer to try and get a somewhat passable blend.I used Daler Rowney Simply Goauche paint, and a couple of the paints when squeezed out of the tubes was a bit watery. I discovered I could shake them in the tubes which might have helped.

This is my water girl, painted with goauche paints. For my first time with goauche I think it came out really well.

Solid Ground wm