Long week and #Inktober2017

It has been a long week of working seven days with one of those days being an eight hour shift on our Thanksgiving Holiday here in Canada. I don’t mind. It is a joy to interact with people, learn their plans for the holiday and helping them to find what they need to provide their holiday meal for their family.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep up with my Inktober sketches for those seven days. My work is very physical which means I end up very tired especially after an eight hour shift. It turned out easier than I thought it would. I believe this was due to my forethought of making each sketch conform to a small area on the page.

These are page 1 and page 2 of my #Inktober2017 sketches. The pages are 7″ x 10″ which includes the area where the pages are bound. Each square is approximately 2 1/2″ x 2 3/4″, therefore each sketch is relatively small.  Some of them took only 15 minutes or so to sketch while others took a bit longer.

One of the reasons I decided to attempt the #Inktober challenge this year was the fact that I could do them while sitting on my sofa, resting while watching videos. This was important because my hours for when I work fluctuate. I don’t go into work at the same time every day. Some days I go in as early as 7am, while other days I might go to work at 2 or 3 in the afternoon or other days as late as 6 or 7pm. Therefore, it was important for me to be able to do my sketches either before I went to work or after coming home and needing to put my feet up and rest for a couple hours.

I try to do more intricate artwork on my days off as well as write a blog post, but most of the time I end up not having time for both because what I couldn’t get done on the days I work is left to be done on my days off, which means running errands or getting housework done. I usually reserve one of my days off for doing laundry which sometimes means I can work on larger pieces or paint in between loads of laundry. Today was supposed to be one of those days, however, we have an appointment today which interferes with those plans, so I’m at least working on posting on my blog.

I mentioned in the last post that I was working on another tangle page. I’m not yet finished with it, but here it is so far:

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I basically used this page as a sort of practice with various tangle patterns and learning how to make the page feel cohesive by repeating different patterns in various sections. I still have some spaces to fill and shading to do.

What I find interesting is this… when I photograph something I work on and then place it here in my blog, my mind, for some unknown reason, sees it differently. Looking at this piece in the photo, I am better able to visualize some changes I could have made, or how I could have made it more cohesive. I might still be able to do it and may play around with it to see if I can.

The thing I love about tangles is the flexibility of working with them. They can become anything you want them to be. If you look at the bottom right section, I used that tangle in one of my #Inktober2017 sketches, in particular, the one dated 7October2017, for her hair. I changed it slightly but in essence it is the same tangle. I used a similar technique on 10October’s sketch.

I have today’s sketch to do yet which will be done later this afternoon or evening. For now, I need to get ready for our appointment and then do laundry and clean up from our late Thanksgiving dinner we had last night. I don’t always get to the cleanup right away. Yesterday, I was still recovering from working seven days straight. My body ached and I felt tired. At least, I had the energy to cook our long awaited meal and run a couple of errands while we waited for the ham to cook in the slow cooker. (I love my slow cooker.)

On top of this my daughter wasn’t feeling well the past few days. One of my mornings started about an hour earlier than expected with her waking up suddenly and throwing up. On days like that it is hard to leave for work even when she reassures me she is feeling better and will be okay. This maybe why I was compelled to draw such sad faces on a few of my girls for #Inktober.

I want to talk a bit about my sketches so far for #Inktober. I did decide to focus on faces. I just wasn’t sure how it would go. I thought I would incorporate tangles too, but again wasn’t sure how. I am intrigued by the progression of my sketches. The first few obviously reflect the mind of a beginner, someone who is searching or stretching outside of their comfort zone. Some of them not coming out as well as I would have liked them to be but persevering through those uncomfortable moments of wanting to just wad them up in a ball and throw them away.

I’m glad I didn’t.

I love seeing the progress I’m making. I also love certain things about each one and the movement into the more graphic design. The graphic nature of the last few faces I did and incorporating a mandala structure around them in a way represents what I learned in my mandala journey and its influence on my practice of drawing faces. The last sketch I did yesterday, though it isn’t as obvious still contains the graphic structure but now going back and using cross-hatching to add in more dimension.

I did not expect this to happen when I started #Inktober this year and chose faces. I just thought I would work on learning how to draw different facial expressions. I never imagined it would take this turn or journey into possibly discovering a style I would embrace as my own. I am intrigued where the rest of October will take me on this journey.

 

Mandalas, Doodles and being employed…

Art this past few weeks has consisted mostly of doodling. My doodles are mostly in the form of mandalas or start in the form of a mandala and then grow from there. I have done no painting or mixed media art and I’m feeling the absence of it in my life.

I’m on my fifth week of having returned to being employed. It is a part-time position which should pay enough to fill in the gaps financially which is a welcome relief. Part-time means I work anywhere from 20 hours to 24 hours with the occasional request to add more hours if I want when they need someone to fill in. My previous work was very sedentary. This position has me on my feet for the whole time except for breaks and lunches. I find myself extremely exhausted if I work 8 hours, but still tired after a 4 hour or 5 hour shift. In my 3rd week, I contracted a cold which hit me pretty hard, and I had to miss 4 shifts. I am still recovering but at least able to work.

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I have found it a bit difficult to switch my mind off after work and get into the mindset of doing any art.  This is why over the past few weeks I have only been able to produce pieces like I have pictured in this post of the mandala/doodles. I come home exhausted, my feet too sore to be on them any more than a few minutes, so I sit with them propped up while trying to decompress as I stream videos on cravetv or netflix and doodle in my journal. It is my hope as I become more comfortable with my new job and my body becomes more accustomed to the work, that I’ll be able to turn my focus towards my art.

Today and tomorrow are my days off and though I was given the option to work an extra four hours today, I turned it down. I knew I needed some self-care time for these two days to help further my recovery from my cold and I feel a deep need to do something more than doodling, possibly work on a mixed media piece for a class I haven’t had the motivation or time for these past few weeks.

My journaling has also taken a turn from expressing my concerns over finances to expressing my experiences and concerns over my new job. It is interesting how satisfying one concern can quickly turn into a different concern and need for journaling in order to get it out so we can focus on the things we need to.

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My new position is very public. I speak with probably a hundred or more people every day. Every single person is in a different frame of mind, some happy, some sad, some angry, some criticizing, many are a pleasure to talk to and can uplift in just the few minutes we interact together. I have no doubt this will eventually come out in my creativity in one form or another as I become more comfortable in what I’m doing.

In another aspect of my life, I live in a strata which has recently been doing some work to improve the appearance, making repairs and so forth. In one area of the yard some landscaping was done to cover some gaps under the fence where our dog could get out. Some earth was used to fill it in. Today, I noticed the earth that was used was taken from a corner which was elevated and in the spring tulips and daffodils would bloom. They apparently didn’t realize this and when I looked there were bulbs lying on top of the earth that had been dug up when they took some of the earth to fill in the gaps below the fence. To me these were little treasures I took and have now stored for the fall to replant. Hopefully, they will survive and bloom in the spring in their new location. I have hopes of adding a few small gardening plots around our patio and these will be a nice beginning and possibly inspiration for some art pieces in the spring next year.

I miss the many hours I had free to play with my art supplies and spend time on classes or watching videos to learn new techniques or skills. However, I am very grateful for the job and hopefully the end of my daily financial worries. My period of not working, being challenged financially, gave me some incentive to find alternatives for the more expensive art supplies. It also challenged me in ways I never expected and I am learning things about myself. Things I wanted to learn and things I never wanted to learn.

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Those things we never wanted to learn about ourselves, at least for me, are things which make me feel vulnerable. They make me feel helpless. It doesn’t mean I am helpless, it just means it makes me feel that way, if that makes any sense. At least until I find a way around it, or what I can do that will take that helpless feeling away. The most vulnerable thing to learn is when you find out you have a breaking point. The most strengthening thing to learn is when you find out you have a creative mind that will allow you to do what you need to do to avoid the breaking point.

When I felt like I had no structure in my life, when things felt chaotic and out of control, was when I found out focusing on art with structure, such as mandalas, or something with geometric shapes and structure, helped me to gain back a sense of control. I am only beginning to understand how art connects me with understanding myself and the world around me. It is an amazing thing to witness.

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Today, I want to cry…

Here is the thing about artists. Something I am learning about myself anyway. I’m not sure every artist feels this way. I just know I do… at least today.

I just watched a short video on how society kills creativity. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here. At the end of the video, I just wanted to cry, it brought up so many memories, not just about myself, but also about my daughter.

My daughter when she was three years old, drew these amazing abstract pieces of art. I remember asking her one day what one of her drawings was and was promptly told, “It’s a machine Mama.” I laminated that picture so I would be able to keep it forever because I knew in my gut her time in public school would change her art. It did.

The other thing the video brought to mind was how I feel sitting down to do any piece of art, whether it was a class assignment or something I wanted to do on my own. The feelings that arise within me as I sit in front of a blank sheet of paper, no matter what color, or even if there is something already draw on it and I need to add to it, are confined. They do not flow freely. It is difficult to describe this feeling. It is like knowing something is there but you can’t see it, you can feel it, but you can’t reach it. It is the most frustrating feeling in the world, at least for me.

Seeing the boy, turn to observe the violinist, the sense of awe and pure joy is what all artists should feel or it is what they WANT to feel at the beginning of everything they start, but instead, many, like me, feel confined, held back, as if there is something seeking to burst free but has been tightly locked up and we have lost the key to unlock it.

I don’t recall as single moment in my life where I have been told not to do something a particular way. I do recall being shown EXACTLY HOW to do something. Penmanship lessons in first and second grade are a perfect example. (I could give a million other examples of every lesson learned in and out of school.) Letters must slant just so. The tail on the last letter must curve up, just so. Only in later grades were any of us daring enough to try and add a curl to the end or to create larger ovals on our letters, or big loops on the tails of ‘y’s and ‘g’s.

I’m good at copying. If I am really meticulous I can recreate a lesson almost exactly as my teacher if I have the same supplies she/he does. I learned how to do this through years and years of watching others in school, in society, what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. So much so, when I try to let my imagination have free reign, my imagination suddenly finds itself halted in its tracks, not knowing what to do. Or, how to do it. Or where exactly someone’s instructions, or copying ends and my imagination starts.

I felt like crying at the end of the video because I could totally relate to both the child and the adult. I find myself today, having begun a new job just this week, relating so very much with the adult in the video. I could feel my color drain from me. I have spent the past year and half, not working, at least not in the ‘normal’ sense of a job. I spent that year and half working to discover and reawaken my inner artist. I worked on trying to break down the conditioning society has placed upon me since I was a small child. And now I find myself having to shrug back into that conditioning in order to step back into the workplace to bring in the money I need to take care of me and my daughter.

I try not to write about my personal life here on this blog. This blog is supposed to be about my art, my experience as an artist, and my journey. But, I would be remiss in leaving this out. I would be horribly remiss in leaving this part of my journey out.

I am not alone in this. I have no doubt there are hundreds if not thousands of artists out there who have to suppress this part of themselves in order to survive. In order to live and work to make ends meet. This is not what I want in my life any more.

I worked my first full day on Tuesday, came home exhausted, with no energy to create. Towards the end of the evening I could barely keep my eyes open after just putting a few pen strokes on my journal page I have in progress. Today, I found it very difficult to get focused for working on my journal page so I decided to be brave and try working on sewing.

I won’t go into describing the sewing project right now other than to say it is supposed to be a quilted pillow cover. I may go into describing it in another post but not now. This was something I could easily stop and start during my day as I had to go to an appointment and ended up in an out of the house while running errands.

Writing this post tonight has me in tears for many reasons. I feel as though I am losing ground on what I have accomplished over the past year and a half. I feel as though I am reverting back to that person who was so bound up and lost in the business world and so out of touch from her inner artist. I haven’t had a chance to work on the Mandala Madness course which has also made me sad and heartbroken. Ever After 2017 which I won a seat in has also had to take a backseat. This is only the first week of returning to the workforce and I feel like I have gone into mourning over the loss of a close friend.

I feel the color drain from me. I feel like the child handing over the final lesson where he has finally written his letters as he was instructed to write them, without any creativity. I feel like I’m in a world where all is repetitive, dull, grey and somewhere there stands the violinist in a tiny little spot, under a small colorful tree, which no one sees as they go about their day.

It is hard to move forward in the world when there is so much grey around you, reminding you, and discouraging you from creating your own colorful world. It can be like trying to break through a thick brick wall, to only have another brick thrown over the tiny hole you have created that gives you that tiny bit of hope that you are on the right path.