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

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?

 

 

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.

Art Journal spread completed

I’ve been working on my art journal spread which I spoke about in my previous post.  This is the progress of my page at the end of that post, you can read about it here.

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My next step was to consider background and hair. I wanted to use watercolor paints and my attempts were less than satisfactory. It ended up too bright in a dark sort of way which meant the white or black pen I wanted to use to draw in her hair didn’t work. It became rather invisible.

To try and fix the situation, I decided to use white acrylic paint with a fairly wet brush. This meant the watercolor would then mix with the white paint creating a soft pastel background. Once dry, my black Sakura gelly roll pen then showed up nicely.  I often had issues with the pen skipping which at first I worked hard to try and avoid. Eventually gave up when I realized I liked the effect it had with the pattern in the hair.

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Once I completed the hair with the black pen, I realized I wanted more color in the hair so I went back to my watercolor paints. I applied a small amount of the dark purple to the areas I felt would be shaded or darker, then using a wet brush I blended the color out to give a gradient appearance.  I added more color, some pinkish purple, and a bluish color (sorry don’t know the names, they are colors in the Prang watercolor set of 16 colors) around the darker purple leaving some areas white for highlights. I really loved how this turned out.

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I learned about Prang watercolors from Barb Owen. Since I have a very tight budget I decided to give them a try. I didn’t originally use the Prang set when I started the background with watercolors. I decided to try a Daler Rowney watercolor set I had gotten a while back that were in tubes of 24. I bought a palette so I could squeeze some of the paint out to dry and then see how well they worked. I have to say I was disappointed in the Daler Rowney. In  fact, so disappoint, I switched to using the Prang set when my first attempt at using watercolor (Daler Rowney) failed.

It may be I just need to practice with the Daler Rowney set to get the hang of them but Prang is so vibrant it was difficult to switch to using Daler Rowney. The rest of the page when I say I use watercolor, I am using Prang watercolor.

For the opposite page, I first wanted flowers and tried more watercolors but it was an immediate fail. I am sure the fail was because of trying to use watercolor over acrylic paint without applying a watercolor ground first, so I went over it again with white acrylic paint. Before the acrylic paint was completely dry I added another layer with a wash of watercolor which mixed with the white acrylic paint. I dabbed at it occasionally with a paper towel. Below is the result.

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You might wonder why I added the watercolor paint to the acrylic paint. First, the addition of more white acrylic paint meant what color had been in the background had disappeared even more and I wanted more color. Second, I wanted to see what would happen. My Prang set is almost used up so I wasn’t worried if some acrylic paint ended up in the watercolor paint. I became rather sloppy in my application but it was FUN!

I really liked the result and was trying to decide what else I wanted to do. I was still thinking about flowers when I saw a blog about an interesting technique. You can see the blog post here.

I tried a few things differently since I was working on top of acrylic paint. I eventually found what worked.  The biggest obstacle was in trying to figure out what pens or paint pens to use. I used Sakura gelly roll black pen for the initial drawing of the circles and lines. I tried using Faber-Castell markers, alcohol markers, and Permapaque markers but didn’t like any of them. Plus I was afraid of drying up the tips of the pens. Eventually, I decided to use a small paint brush and white acrylic paint to color the straight lines, to make them stand out more from the background. Then I used a Sharpe oil based paint pen for filling in the circles with black.

Once it was dry, I tried using charcoal to try and create the translucent effect but because the acrylic paint didn’t have enough tooth, it wiped right back off. My hands were covered in the charcoal more than the page. I wiped off the charcoal by just lightly wiping my hand across the page. What was left on the page, I left alone. I resorted to using graphite by rubbing the graphite onto the tip of a blending stump and then rubbing it on the page. I only covered the areas outside of the circles with the graphite.

My last step was to use darker shading of graphite around the circles and where the lines overlapped other lines to try and give it a 3D effect. To fix the graphite I sprayed the spread with workable fixative. I used workable fixative in case I wanted to add anything else to the page.

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I may actually journal on the page by using either a white pen in the black circles or a black pen in the white lines. It would make an interesting journal page.

So far she is my favorite. She posed interesting challenges for me and I found I could do what people have been saying  which is if you don’t like it you can always paint over it.

I lost track of time while doing this art journal spread. I worked on it over several days. I know I started her before October ended but exactly what day, I’m not sure. I generally don’t spread something out this long, however with work, and #inktober going on when I started her I wanted to see if I could work on her in small doses. Instead of drying her with my heat gun between layers, I put her aside and let her dry naturally, usually over night. I only worked on her in October after I did my inktober drawing and if I had some time to spare.

When #Inktober was over, she became my main focus and is all I worked on until she was finished. I finished her yesterday other than the writing I may add later. I think her hair is my favorite part of her, that is, if I had to choose a particular technique from this art journal page. Otherwise, I love her in her completeness for what she represents of my art journey.

Note to self: I had to be careful of not drying out the tip of the markers I used. I am hoping I didn’t ruin any of them. They all still functioned after I used them and in some cases not as well as when I had started with them.

I need to learn ways of layering and using products that will help lock in a layer and give me a better surface for using other products on, hopefully reducing the chance of ruining a product. I considered using clear gesso, or matte medium but in the end didn’t use either. In some areas when I went back to go over the black gel pen lines on the lines due to the white acrylic paint covering some of them up, my pen would cause some of the paint to come up. I think the clear gesso or matte medium would have prevented this but I wasn’t sure how well my pen would work over top of either product. I do have an Art Techniques and Test journal (my Effy Grimoire version) which showed either of the products would have been a good choice, but I didn’t refer to it when working on this spread. I just went with my gut instinct.

One of the reasons I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I didn’t test what would happen if I applied clear gesso or matte medium over top of gel pen or some of the other pens I had applied to the page. I was afraid of, in particular, the gel pen smearing. Effy Wild addresses some of this in a couple of her lessons which I need to go back and make some notes about but I also need to add to my grimoire by testing what happens when particular products are applied over top of different pens.

Another reason I didn’t refer to my Art Techniques and Test journal is because I wanted to just experiment on the page. I wanted to find out if I could fix my own mistakes or work from just pure instinct. I think I was successful on both accounts.

The other things I learned:

  • when in doubt check my Art Techniques and Test journal
  • when it isn’t in my Art Techniques and Test journal, then add it
  • let myself experiment on my art journal page
  • let myself fail

I am not at all disappointed in this art journal spread. In fact, I love it. When I compare it to my previous art journal page in this book which was created from one of Effy Wild’s BOD2017 lessons, I can see so much improvement.

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The difference between this art journal page and the one I just created is, this one was done by following a lesson. The one at the start of this article was done completely from my own imagination. The Effy lesson one was done around June 2017, so there is only about 4 months separating the two.

There are so many factors that separate these two pages. I think I’m more invested in pages I design and create on my own than I am when I’m doing one from a lesson. I don’t really consider something I have done from an art lesson as my own work. Therefore, I think I work harder on trying to do a good job on my own designs. Inktober, dare I say Inktober has been a powerful influence for me this year and I think it shows in this spread.

There is something here I cannot ignore. Following a lesson is wonderful for helping me to gain confidence in my ability to do something someone else is demonstrating. What it doesn’t do is give me confidence in my ability to create something completely on my own. Inktober is a demonstration of that this year.

In the page from Effy’s lesson I can’t even begin to tell you how I did it, but in the page I created all on my own, I can visualize almost every single step I took and the issues I ran into. I can’t help but wonder if one of the reasons I haven’t been doing any more of the classes is because of this.

Don’t get me wrong. I love doing the lessons and yes they have helped me immensely in taking that next step in my art journey. It just feels as though my journey needs to move forward more on my own than in following someone’s instruction. What these lessons have given me is the courage to step out on my own, without them I probably would have given up.

This is something I will need to think on for a while to decide if buying more of the art course offerings is something I want to do, or do I want to spend the next year just playing around on my own to see what develops.

What I keep hearing from that inner voice that tells me what to do is this. Do buy what I can afford in the art course offerings but do so only if it provides what I need for furthering my art journey in the direction I visualize myself going while challenging me to try something new and different. In other words, don’t keep buying the same thing and expecting my skill to grow if the courses don’t offer anything more.

This is paraphrased, of course. My inner dialogue is quite different and difficult to put in writing. It is comprised of a mixture of images, words and feelings/emotions. The wonderful thing about this is only I need to understand it.

This inner dialogue is also based on a lot of what I have learned over the past year from my purchasing experience. After having purchased a couple of courses which could not be saved and had a limited period to access them, it became quite clear to me this doesn’t work well for me. Logically, if I purchase a digital class, I feel it should be accessible to me for as long as I want and as often as I would like to view it. I know some art teachers don’t feel this way about their courses and feel they should be offered like courses are in college or live in a classroom setting. I think they miss out on a lot of students because of this.

I totally love the idea of buying a course and having permanent access to it. I have considered monthly or yearly memberships but this doesn’t work for me because of losing the access to the classes if I need to end the membership. I totally get the membership option that appeals to art/craft instructors, unfortunately, this doesn’t work for me and my budget. The other reason it doesn’t work is in the cases of the sites I’ve had an opportunity to look at, the membership doesn’t provide a good enough value for those courses that interest me. Basically, buying the individual courses would be better for my budget than buying a membership.

As stated, I will need to think about what art course offerings I will want to invest in for this coming year. I may find that list to be quite short, especially if I feel a need to pursue my art on my own to see what develops. The good thing is, most of the courses that appeal to me can be purchased over the next ten months or so because they are year long courses. Granted I might not get a discount but I can spread them out so it isn’t a huge hit on my budget at one time and I get more bang for my buck with these types of offerings. On top of that, I can take my time to decide if it is something I want after I experiment with playing around on my own for a while.

So much to think about and time will probably fly so fast I’ll wonder where the year went. That is how I feel about this year. Where did it go? It feels like it had been spring only a couple months ago not six or seven months ago.

By the way, since I started my job, my art supplies have suddenly stopped dwindling. Where I once thought I would never be able to keep up with my art supplies to have on hand for the art I was creating, I now find myself worried my supplies might get old before I have a chance to use them. Such an about face in such a short period of time. It is challenging for my mind and emotions to keep up with. I’m glad though. It means I have plenty to work with over the next several months and I’m still enjoying my job.

 

#Inktober faces and tangles…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here she is completed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art classes and more faces…

As part of the blog hop for Let’s Face It 2018 where one is introduced to the various artists who will be teaching in the course next year and being able to enter to win a seat, Toni Burt asked a question, you can see her blog post here. She wants those entering the giveaway to leave a comment telling her why you love creating faces. Here is my response:

Why I love creating faces? I never asked myself why I wanted to create faces. All I knew was faces were very difficult, sometimes impossible for me to pick up a pencil and begin. The thought of doing so created all this negative talk in my head that caused me to undermine what I am capable of doing. I have never liked it when someone told me I couldn’t do something. When someone would say that, it was like being given a key to do it anyway and prove them wrong, that I could do it. But somehow when the voices in my head told me I couldn’t do it, the words would leave me feeling defenseless, weak, and believing I couldn’t. The words and voice didn’t come with a key or drive to prove the voices wrong. Drawing faces is about taking back my power, about showing myself there isn’t anything to fear. It is about finding that window into my soul through the eyes of the portrait I’ve created. When I look at her/him, I see a part of me looking back, the part of me I can be proud of. This is why I love creating faces. Thanks for asking the question and making me think about the why.

What I don’t say, is this, I have felt a deep drive lately to draw faces. It started once I took one of Tamara Laporte’s courses. It was most likely the free course I took called “Art, Heart and Healing”. She made it so easy to draw a whimsical face, I felt for sure if I could do that lesson then I could learn how to draw more realistic faces. I never considered the “why” of it.

Since high school art class I wanted to become better at drawing people. I had the same art teacher since eighth grade, Thomas McFarland. I don’t know how he did it. How he was able to find this ability within me when no one throughout my years of school was able to do it. I still remember some of my very first classes with him and the projects he inspired the students to do. Each time I found myself amazed at what I created. The first one was to draw an animal, find a picture of an animal we wanted to draw. I have a love of horses and so I chose a young colt to draw that was resting on the ground. Another was to pair off with other students and draw their face but to use black construction paper and white chalk. I was paired with a girl who had wild curly hair, octagon shaped glasses because no one else wanted to pair with her and thought she would be difficult to draw. Then another in a later grade was to create something that would then be used as a template to carve into a tile made of a soft material which could then be used to make prints from. I chose bicycle parts. He loved it so much he asked if he could keep it. I of course said yes. I was thrilled beyond belief that he would want something I created! I wonder to this day what he did with the art he kept. The last project I remember was to do a self-portrait. I drew myself sitting on my bed drawing, which was a drawing of me drawing myself looking into the mirror as I did my self-portrait. I had on an old pair of jeans and I remember the challenge in drawing my face, my hand (which appeared larger because it was closer to the mirror) and the seam detail of the leg of my jeans in the fold by the knee.

These memories are over forty years old and yet I remember them in fine detail. My memories of my more recent pieces are not so clearly remembered. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I still have them to look at. I have none of my drawings from high school. I let someone convince me that letting go of my past was what I needed to do which included getting rid of all the precious things that went along with those memories. It is the biggest regret of my life.

I haven’t spoken to my teacher since graduating high school. I think if I were ever to do so I would tell him thank you for helping me discover my inner artist. Even though I spent almost 30 years rarely picking up a pencil to draw, I remember him and what I learned from his classes. He is a part of every drawing, painting, art journal page, or doodle I create. He has been the one nudging me throughout my life telling me I CAN DO IT. It is his face I see, his voice I hear drowning out all my negative thoughts. It is his smile I see when I complete a project knowing I’ve done my best and feel the joy in what I created.

These memories and what I am discovering about myself now, is why I pursue learning as much as I can from other artists. It is why I watch recorded videos and live streams even when they are not instructional. Observing is just another way for our minds to learn. It is why I seek out instructional videos and courses I can afford to buy or do everything possible to try and win a seat in those courses I want but may not be able to afford.

For 2018, it is my hope I can include Life Book 2018, Let’s Face It 2018 and Paint Your Heart and Soul 2018 to my art journey. Each of these courses are or have had blog hop giveaways. They are also giving an early bird discount which I hope to take advantage of over the next couple months if I have the funds to purchase them if I don’t win a spot. I have had to make some hard choices in what courses I wanted for next year. I had hoped I could include many other courses but unfortunately my budget requires me to be very selective. This is even more true this year since my daughter is now enrolled in a school program where she does all her schooling from home and I will need to purchase resources for her as well.

In regards to my art and what I have worked on since my last post, this is a picture of Exercise 2 from Let’s Face It 2016 – Kara Only course. It is a drawing of a face without using a reference photo. In other words, it is completely from my imagination and was done WITHOUT following any videos. I love how she turned out. It is meant to be another benchmark drawing so we can gauge our progress.

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This next picture is a work in progress and is from the Fabulous Faces course, week 2 where color is added to the graphite sketch. Tam introduced a tilt in the head which I chose to do as well.

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I used Neocolor II crayons, Staedtler Watercolor pencils and graphite drawing pencil. I have some more detail to add to her hair and I may add some deeper shading to her face.

I am going to try to do all my lessons for Fabulous Faces and Let’s Face It in the same art journal which is 5.5″ x 8″. However, my first lesson in Fabulous Faces was done in a different journal, all the rest though will be created in this one. I wasn’t sure how the paper would respond to wet medium. With this lesson I discovered it can pill if I’m not careful. It responds similarly to watercolor paper even though it states “draw” on the label and nothing about watercolor. It is 160lb paper. It is good to know going forward. I am glad it works well with wet medium. It didn’t buckle very much which is a good thing. The journal is from the Bee Paper Company and is part of the “bee creative.” art journal series. I’m not an affiliate. I mention it in case anyone is interested in what paper or journal I’m using. Here is a picture of the label from the journal:

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Just a note about the price, I’m in Canada which is where I purchased it, the price will be different in the US. The front side of the paper has more texture than the back side which is nice. If I want a smoother paper for drawing, I can use the back of the page. The textured side is good for painting.

I am enjoying my return to focusing on faces. I had started trying to focus on faces the end of 2016, and into 2017 with some starts and stops along the way. The other courses I was involved with distracted me, and they may again when I return to those lessons as well. For now, it is nice to just focus on faces. In a way, it makes sense I would move from mandalas to faces, from one round subject to another slightly different and somewhat round subject. Can a face be considered a mandala? Maybe not in the traditional sense of a mandala but in an abstract form of a mandala I would say yes. After all they both have their proportions and quadrants so to speak.

Time to close this post for now. Barb Owen will soon begin her live stream and I have missed too many of late due to my new job. I catch her when I can. I’m glad today is one of those days I can.

~Patti

Always finding something new to learn…

This might be a little difficult to see but I decided to write about this little piece I sketched. This came about after watching Flora Bowley’s session in Woman Unleashed Online Retreat. Her session is about shifting perspective. What you do is start creating marks on the page, then turn it 90 degrees, make some more marks, turn it again another 90 degrees, and just keep doing that until you feel you are done. Flora does this with paintings, and in the session she used different materials to make her marks, sometimes layering over part if not the entire piece obliterating some things entirely.

I chose to just use a mechanical pencil with blue lead. Her style is intuitive painting, therefore this process is about just putting down whatever comes to mind. No planning, just doing. The only thing I planned was to just use the one pencil, no paints, just pencil, just sketching.

I have seen some amazing drawings, some would call them zentangle inspired or just doodles, or fantasy gardens and so forth. I have tried to create my own but always had problems trying to organize it all on the page.

When using Flora’s intuitive technique, even though I was just sketching, I felt a sudden freedom from trying to place anything just right on the page. Turning the page 90 degrees gave me a different perspective and allowed me to place marks in places I normally would not place marks if I kept the page oriented in the same direction all the time.

Creative Revolution Shifting Perspective with Flora Bowley copy

I may decide later to go over it in ink, but for now it will stay as it is. I’m rather swamped right now with so many things happening which require my attention, many of them time sensitive, but all good.

~Patti

More watercolor facial studies….

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

nose copy

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

lips copy

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

right eye copy

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

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

collage 2 copy

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

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

~Patti

Loving Watercolor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here it is:

Flowing Facial Features study 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Patti

Bloom’n Hand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bloom'n Hand copy

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

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

~Patti