It has been 23 days since I last posted. My life has been a sort of mish-mash of things but mostly distracted with the efforts taken for the inevitable job search. It is a never ending roller-coaster ride. I won’t go into the details of the emotional pitfalls one can experience. I’ll just say that it has had an effect on my focus to create. I didn’t feel I had anything to write about until I at least finished one of the things I was working on.
Since my last post where I displayed my progress on my alternative to “The Compassionate Bear” bonus lesson from Life Book 2018 with Tamara Laporte, I have been making slow progress until I finally finished it today. Here are some closeups of the piece before the final step.
This is a full picture after the final step of writing the words on the page.
I don’t have any pictures showing the progress as I created it. This is where my job search sort of took me. All I wanted to do was sit down and work on something and not worry about anything else. I do have the one picture from my last post.
It shows the inked in design with the start of some colored pencil. My previous post, describes the process I used to create this piece. The only addition was in using a Uni-ball AIR pen to add the writing.
I like the way colored pencil goes over watercolor. I don’t like how long it takes me to do a piece when I decide to add a lot of color with colored pencil. I started this back in the last half of February and only completed it today. It may have taken in total a few days over a month to complete. That is pretty long for me but not unusual when I work in colored pencil. Maybe some day I’ll find an alternative. If not, then I’ll consider it a lesson in patience to have the results I seek.
Another reason it took me so long was because I also started another project. This is one of those art journal pages where it starts out by dumping your brain onto the page first and then creating art over it. This dumping of my brain was about feeling frustrated over not being able to create the life I want or feel I need or deserve in this life. Having worked hard for over 30 years and being laid off, not being able to find a job that pays enough and slowly using up all the funds I had put aside for when I could retire is really, really hard on so many levels. I could probably use up an entire art journal dumping everything I feel inside and covering it up by creating artwork like this over the top of it.
Sometime I’ll add words to the page, words of encouragement or something. This page went through several steps before it got to this point. The first, as I stated, was dumping my thoughts onto the page. I wrote my thoughts using inktense pencils in various colors. Once I completed dumping it all out onto the page, I used water to activate the intense pencil. While it was still wet I added white acrylic paint so it mixed in with the inktense, then let it dry.
I didn’t write down all the steps I took so at this point it becomes a bit blurry as to the order of what I did. I think I got it right. I took some white tissue paper I had used for gelli printing, tore them into pieces used them for collage on the page. After it dried, I drew the girl on with pencil and used black acrylic paint to add in the shading to create her features. I used various shades of yellow, brown, orange and white to create her hair. For the background, I added several colors of acrylic paint, blending with fingers and/or brush and again let it dry. Using spackle, since I don’t have texture paste, through two different stencils created some nice texture. Then I let it dry thoroughly. Golden fluid acrylic paint mixed with glazing medium applied with a wet brush then wiped or blotted off with a baby wipe created the pink color with the background peeking through. This all had a very matte finish, almost chalky feel to it due to most of the acrylic paint being cheap Craft Smart paint. I put down a layer of gloss medium and varnish and let it dry overnight. One of the reasons I did this was so I could do the next step.
For the final layer I used Faber-Castell PITT artist pens to add color to her eyes and lips and using my finger to blend created some shading around her hair and her body to help pop her a bit off the page as well as give some subtle blending to the shadows.
I chose the circular pattern stencil for the texture in the background in hopes it would give the illusion of her trying to conjure a world of her choosing. I think it works well. In saying this I think I came up with the words I will add later, “Make your life, your own.”
I worked on these two pages off and on, going back and forth between each one when I didn’t know what to do next or needed a break from colored pencils, or something needed time to dry.
I used to think that maybe creating whimsical faces wasn’t for me but I’m rethinking that now. Abstract, whimsical, life like or whatever have their place. I’m tired of feeling like I’m fighting for every tiny step I take, whether that is in my art, in finding a job, or just doing everyday things in this life. Is it my imagination or does life get exceedingly harder the older you get?
I know doing artwork is supposed to be fun and for the most part I do get lost in it and enjoy it. Both of these pages though had moments which I didn’t enjoy so much. I think this is reflective of my life right now. I’m struggling with things which I think I shouldn’t have to struggle with and not sure why that is. Am I overthinking things? Am I trying to fight against the natural flow or direction I should be going in? When I look in the direction I am headed if I just let go, my anxiety skyrockets. Then I find myself freezing, locking myself in place to try and prevent it, whatever “it” is. But if I don’t move then nothing will happen and what results I foresee could be even worse.
I’m trying to understand this. I wonder why I feel my only hope is for a miracle and what or how did I learn to hope on miracles at all? If you were raised similar to the way I was, where you watched Disney movies and went to church every Sunday, the premise for these are this, a knight in shining armor or a prince will rescue you from your terrible life, or pray and your prayers will be answered. Then we were also taught work hard for what you want and you’ll be able to achieve it. All of these things I learned, relied upon and trusted in were blown into smithereens over the last few years. Granted the knight or prince was a falsehood anyway. Prayers are never answered in the way we would like them to be. But working hard should not be rewarded with being thrown out on the street.
I wanted this blog to be all about my artwork. I wanted to leave the rest of my personal life out of this blog. I’m finding it harder and harder to do that. The reason for that is if I embrace being an artist completely then my work as an artist is comprised of my entire life. Every artist has a period in their life where they struggle not just with their art but with various areas of their life. It is inevitable. Everyone’s struggle is different and appears in their art in different ways. They may never mention it or you may never really understand why their art might pull on your emotional strings but trust that when it does, it is because something they felt ended up in the piece and resonates with you.
My art isn’t just the paintings or drawings I do. My art is also writing. This means I can’t post my artwork without writing about it. Writing about it means exposing my life. So this blog will never be just about the paintings or drawings I create. It is about the life I create and how it bleeds into my writing and into my paintings and drawings.
I am in constant conflict within myself. I’m told we have two hemispheres in our brain and each hemisphere performs a different function. The left, controls the right side of our body and has to do with logic. The right, controls the left side of the our body and has to do with creativity and arts. When I take tests to determine which hemisphere is dominant, the results are almost always equal. If not equal, then the left is dominant but only by a degree or two. There are exercises to help people bring balance between the two hemispheres. I have never done them. I don’t need to. The conflict I feel ends up in a battle between my logical side and my creative side especially if they don’t agree.
There are people who probably can tell when they read what I write that I often use writing to help me resolve the conflict which occurs between my logical and creative sides. Writing about it helps me to slow down, not just so I can allow logic to take over but also so I can focus on how I feel, hopefully recognizing it for what it is trying to tell me. This is why interviews are difficult for me. It isn’t that I can’t think on the fly. It is that my thoughts flow too quickly sometimes too fast to grasp. On top of that, I often see several sides at once and without thorough examination it can be difficult to know which to focus upon.
I love writing. I love using writing and research to help me make decisions. These two together are probably my most valuable asset. If I don’t understand something, I research it. If I don’t have enough details about something, I research it. If I’m conflicted, I write about it. I journal a lot, almost every day.
One of the hardest things I’m coming to grips with right now is how to marry my creativity with my logic. I’ve been told I’m too logical by people who haven’t seen my creativity. When I heard this from people I would think being logical was bad and that I wasn’t creative at all. Over the past few months when considering these two, what seems like opposing forces, logic and creativity, I realized something. Behind the outwardly appearance of being logical there is creativity which helps me to sort through the logic and determine what is the best path or decision to make. Using creativity along with my logic, I’m able to view various elements which others, who only depend upon logic, might not see.
This is why I find joy in almost all forms of artwork whether it is abstract, mandalas, whimsical or life like. I can take the randomness of abstract and in its later stages bring in order from the chaos. In creating mandala, I’m able to start with an orderly progression and incorporate random elements later or not at all. In whimsical, I can add anything from abstract to logical forms and be totally random. Realistic is more of a challenge. I didn’t understand why until I was writing about this right now in my blog. Realism requires the logical side of my brain to be creative, if that is even possible or makes any sense. Logic deems that if I’m drawing a realistic portrait that the eyes have to look as near as possible like the eyes of the person I’m drawing. A shadow has to fall just as I see it on the person or the picture used for reference and so on. My creative side wants my logical side to stop being so precise and just enjoy what I’m doing. If I allow that to happen, I find what I create is far better than if I don’t.
Marrying creativity and logic is possible. It can be a struggle if we fight against it. It can cause us to sabotage whatever we are working towards. I no longer believe that one has to be more dominant than the other, or one has to exist and the other not. We are all creative. We are also all logical. We use logic with creativity and creativity with logic. There really is no separating the two. As much as some people think I’m too logical, they obviously don’t understand the working of my brain. I may present myself logically but it took creativity to get me there.