Journaling and art practice…

I enjoy working in this particular journal because one side of the page is blank for drawing while the other side of the page has lines for writing. Most of my journaling these days is done in a word document on my computer due to my wrist pain but occasionally I like to do some handwritten journaling which makes this journal perfect for doing just that along with practicing my art.

I generally write about my art but sometimes some personal elements creep in which is why I won’t show the handwritten side of the page in this blog. I have only recently decided to treat my handwriting more as art than writing to try and add some artistic elements to the written side of the page. I’m using some very poor pens which is frustrating. I wanted to use them up but will probably end up throwing them away before the ink is all used. They were cheap so it won’t be a huge waste, just a disappointment. I dislike throwing away something before it is completely used up.

 
I can also adhere some small individual pieces I’ve been creating to practice some tangle patterns and white on black technique. Black and white and white and black has been a secret love of mine since art class in school when our teacher had us take black construction paper and white chalk to create a portrait of a classmate. Sometimes I wish I still had my art from school but alas that isn’t the case.

These black and white tangles are part of the Project Pack #1 series of videos on YouTube, you can find them here. I started doing this a couple days ago and have done about two a day. I’m not buying the Zentangle package you can purchase to go with the Project Pack videos so I don’t have all the supplies they mention. I am using what I have. For the black paper I am using 8 1/2″ x 11″ 65lb card stock cut into four pieces, then I round the corners with my corner punch. I have a Sakura white gelly roll 08, white charcoal pencil and a tortillion. Sometimes a graphite pencil is used to add some shading like in the first spiral.

The white on black is a lot of fun and I wanted to keep what I’m doing so I used double sided tape to adhere them into my journal. This might cause me some issues with drawing on the following pages but I’m sure I’ll find a solution around that, possibly putting a layer of a couple papers between the pages will be enough to resolve any texture issues.

I need to talk about this page:

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This is my pride and joy the past couple of days as I watched it develop. I have tried, unsuccessfully to create a drawing of flower bunches or a sort of abstract garden. I found it quite frustrating to try and find ways to incorporate different designs into one piece and make it look cohesive. I finally had an idea of trying to think of it as a mandala, by creating one central flower, then branching out from it adding different elements. This seems to be the solution I was looking for.

I am now able to visualize how I can do this on a larger scale by creating three or four main focal images and working out from each of them. It might become a challenge when the designs meet at some point but I’m sure it will work itself out.

This piece is still a work in progress. Even so, I am thrilled with how it looks now and would be perfectly happy if this is all the further I took it. I will mention when I first started drawing it, I was less than pleased. It looked rather ‘blah’. The central part of the main flower didn’t seem to work for me even after the first initial inking of the basic design. I was sure this would end up in a rather ‘blah’ final piece.

Then something happened. I kept going because I remembered how ‘blah’ some of my drawings for Inktober looked until I added in some bolder lines and shading elements, so I persevered. When I added in the stippling to the center of the main flower, everything started coming together. The bolder lines, the checkerboard pattern, then the lines in the petals of the flowers, one after the other brought more depth and dimension to the piece. This thrilled me to no end.

I’m not done with it yet. I will, most likely, add more to it. Not sure what at this time though I do want to experiment with different elements of different shapes. Even if I do something that doesn’t quite fit, I know it will be okay because it will be something I will learn from.

This mandala is something I started working on towards the end of the journal spread from my previous post. I find after working on something so challenging I need something to help me relax or center myself again. Mandalas seem to help me do that.

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I don’t work each mandala the same. Sometimes I approach each one quite differently. After putting in my grid and guidelines, the guidelines being the major shapes within the mandala, I ended up working from a variety of locations. Usually, I work from the inside to the outside and on rare occasions from the outside to the inside. This one just seems to call to be from a variety of locations.

Sometimes, I look at this one and feel it is complete and at other times when I look at the details, it feels like there is a lack of detail and incomplete. I may come back at a later time and add to it but my focus right now is on my flower page above. I don’t always feel like I have to finish something I create and that is okay.

One of these days I’ll get the nerve up to create on a much larger scale. I feel pulled towards creating one of my mandalas on a wall in my house. It is frightening to think about it because no two mandalas are ever alike. I can try to recreate one of my own but it is never identical, which is scary when considering creating one on a permanent space like a wall. Yes, I can paint over it if i don’t like it but to be honest, I’ve never painted walls in my home so just the thought of needing to do so is also a bit scary. I think I’ll work my way up to it by just going to larger and larger paper, and then canvas. Maybe I’ll just save up to buy a large canvas which I can then hang on my wall.

 

The End of #Inktober2017, and moving on…

October is over which means #Inktober has ended. I find myself with conflicting feelings. I love that I was able to complete #Inktober. I’m sad that it is over. In some ways I miss it, while in other ways I’m glad it is over so I can move on to using what I learned, during #Inktober, in my other art. I want to move on to working on larger pieces though they will still be in one of my many art journals, they will be larger than the 2 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ spaces I blocked out for my #Inktober pieces.

I did, however, choose to do the last #Inktober drawing a bit larger. I used the whole page instead of blocking off a small section and wasting the rest of the page. So with no more delay here are my pages from #Inktober2017:

I sort of cheated on the last page. I added some graphite shading to it so it is not 100% ink. I’m also not sure I am totally done with it. It is still calling for something more, especially in the square spirals. They need more drama to them. Just not sure how to do that yet.

Towards the end of October, I was feeling a strong pull to do something with color. Because I’ve been learning a lot from Tamara Laporte and her use of Neocolor II and acrylic paint, those are usually my go-to art supplies, especially when creating faces. I pulled out my handmade art journal I had originally created for BOD2017 (Book of Days 2017). When I created it, I used watercolor paper, so now it is my journal for when I want to use wet medium. I have been so enjoying my #Inktober faces I immediately went to drawing a face in my BOD journal for the intent of adding color with paint. Here is my progress so far:

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I started first with Neocolor II, salmon. Then added SmartCraft vanilla. I left it to dry over night, then added more Neocolor II, and acrylic paint. I don’t remember all the colors I used, and I left it to dry over night between each of the layers. There is probably four or five layers. Of the Neocolor II’s I used paynes grey, indigo blue, salmon, phthalocyanine green, yellow green, malachite green, emerald green, purple, carmine, raw umber, ocher, brown, black and light grey.  I only used vanilla and white acrylic paint. Obviously, I’m not afraid of mixing and overlaying a lot of color but I do so lightly and sometimes using vanilla or white acrylic paint to blend and smooth out the Neocolor II.

Once all the layers were dry, I still wasn’t happy with it. It didn’t have the depth of shading I wanted so I pulled out my Prisma Premier colored pencils. I can’t even begin to tell you what all the colors were that I used. Most of them were very similar in color to the Neocolor IIs I used. But for the eyes I first started by adding black Posca paint pen for the pupils and on the edge of the upper eyelid and a bit on the nostrils of her nose.  I also added vanilla and white acrylic paint for the highlights on her face before adding colored pencil. I waited on the highlights in her eyes until I was almost done.

Then I went to town just layering colored pencil with lots of the similar colors to the Neocolor IIs and using either a blending stump or a blending pencil to help smooth out some of the colored pencil. In the end, I stopped using the blending stump and blender pencil and just added color with the pencils.

I did not use a reference photo when I added color. This is completely from my imagination and the next steps will be too. I plan on using watercolor for the rest of the page. It will span into the full spread of the two pages but what will develop is completely unknown at this time.

I don’t plan my art work. At the most I might start out by thinking I’ll do a face, or I’ll do a mandala, or I’ll do an abstract collage of doodles or as in one of my pages I decided to partition it off into six equal parts with a border between each of the parts, but that is as much as my planning goes for these days.

Once I make that choice, if it is a face, I’ll decide what angle I want. If it is a mandala, I’ll decide if I want one or multiple mandalas. Then I’ll decide if I want the face or the mandala to be center of the page or to one side, if one side then which and so on. I make decisions as I go. I do start them all with pencil first. When I say I decide, it is more of an intuitive decision. I don’t make the decision on what I think the end result will look like. I go by what my intuition is telling me.

I guess in some ways, I create my art the way I go through life. I do think ahead and try to imagine where I want it to go and sometimes I make choices that will help me to get there. But where I think it might go, rarely is where it ends up. And most times what my intuition tells me to do rarely fits with anything I’ve visualized.

However, my main focus is on the now and doing what I feel needs to be done next. I have not done any huge studies of what colors blend well together to make other colors. I go on intuition when it comes to what color to use next. I don’t generally do any test swatches to make sure they will mix well together. I just add them to my page. I do start small and if I don’t like it, then I’ll go for another color. For the most part, I don’t do that very often. I’ve learned my intuition is usually right on target. It is when I try and alter what my intuition tells me that it goes wrong.

#Inktober was so much fun and carried with it such a variety of emotions with each drawing. The ones I thought I disliked at the beginning, I now find beautiful in their own way. I understand how they represent my search for own style. I was surprised when the graphic style started to appear and very pleased when I saw the results. Then mixing them with mandalas and tangles. It was like bringing all the things I love together in one piece of art. My inner artist was dancing a jig inside she was so pleased, especially with day 31.

I have heard other artists talk about how their emotions appear in their art. I rarely ever saw this happen in my art until now. It is subtle. And sometimes, it is surprising. It can be surprising because sometimes what appears in my art isn’t how I thought I was feeling. Take for instance, day 15. This was during the most active time of the “Me Too” movement on Facebook and I was seeing a lot of posts about it. I had a mixture of emotions about what I was seeing in my news feed along with it and some of the discussions between people for and against Trump. It took me by surprise when my drawing ended up appearing as if she was in prayer and possibly spiritual in nature.

On the surface, I was frustrated and angry by the Trump posts because when I stepped back from the emotions of it all, it was difficult to tell the difference between the opposing parties. The hate and bigotry, mud slinging and name calling was going on from both sides and it just made me sick.

On the surface, when I read all the various “Me Too” stories, I was saddened and sickened by how many there were and so fearful that those two little words, “Me Too”, would become a trigger for someone instead of comforting words.

To find these feelings manifesting into a picture that for me reflects my spirit in prayer was calming and soothing. It helped me to realize that deep inside I was in prayer over all the turmoil going on. I have no formal religion though I grew up in a Baptist church and then a non-denominational church in my teens and adult years, I was surprised to find this drawing containing elements that are associated with religions I have not been a part of but do respect. I love it for that reason.

I know there are people who use art to release their emotions. I use writing to do that. It seems that art for me is becoming a doorway I can open to discover what is going on even deeper within myself. I can use writing to do that as well but I have also found writing can keep me from moving deeper if I don’t intentionally ask myself the important questions. Art, however, requires no questions, just an opening of the soul. The nice thing about art though is it doesn’t have to be a conscious opening. Therefore, it isn’t invasive. It is less scary. And if you really love watching how the mediums blend and mix together it can be very comforting and a joyful experience.

Month of October

Most evenings, and in some cases days, I sit on my sofa and draw while either streaming art videos or watching Blue Bloods on Cravetv. That is when I’m not working. Blue Bloods has become a favorite to watch. I love the whole family dynamic. I loved watching Magnum PI when it was out and wish Cravetv or Netflix had the whole series. Tom Selleck’s character in Blue Bloods is a step up and I love this character even more. There is something about a strong male character with honorable characteristics and integrity that appeal to my heart and soul. While at the same time, he is able to admit to making mistakes. I think too, I’ve learned more about the minds of men while watching this show than I have in real life. Most men I know don’t reveal what they reveal on the show.

I watch the show more for the family and relationship dynamics than I do for the action and adventure in the law stories (and yes, I do love action and adventure and law shows).  I haven’t read anything about this series before I started watching it and have only come to the conclusion (on my own) that the law stories are only there to support the real stories playing out in the relationships between the characters, which is how it should be. When I think about Blue Bloods and the various series of CSI, it stands out even more. CSI’s foundation are the crimes, where Blue Bloods foundation is family. I like both of them but I think I love Blue Bloods even more because of this.

I didn’t mean to do a review of the program I’ve been watching almost non-stop, but this post is about October and the show has become a major portion of what I am focused on this month. The other focus is Inktober.

Inktober has mostly taken up my sketch time. I don’t mind. In fact, I am enjoying the challenge of coming up with something new each day. With my focus being on faces, and my skill level being pretty much that of a novice, I find myself feeling as though I’m repeating myself, that is until I flip through the pages of my sketches.

With that being said here are my 3 pages so far:

They are in order of creation. You might have noticed that I started out with front facing portraits, then switched to three-quarter facing portraits. This is because I am working on the Fabulous Faces course created by Tamara Laporte. Week three is learning how to draw and paint the three-quarter face. I want to move on, and I might because what I’m working on is the drawing of them. She includes how to paint them as well but since I’m working on Inktober, I think I’ll move on to the next week and go back after October to focus on painting the faces. It isn’t that I don’t want to paint. I just want to focus on how to draw them first.

This is my first sketch following her instruction for week three, my next sketches were all done in inktober:

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There is graphite smeared all over the page. This is part of the process when I’m learning. I don’t worry about the graphite smearing not until I get better at what I’m drawing, then I try to be cleaner with my sketches. I still need to work on getting the angles and placement right which I think I did better in the last two #inktober sketches shown in my pages above.

I noticed I tend to draw faces looking in the same direction so I made a point to change them up a bit. I don’t know if it is because I learned to draw them in that direction first or if it is because I’m right handed or what. I do know at first it feels uncomfortable to try drawing something in the opposite direction so when I practice I try changing it up a bit so I don’t end up in a set pattern and so I become comfortable drawing faces in various directions.

I still want to work on different facial expressions. They are a challenge. They don’t come naturally. What comes naturally is the neutral expression in most of the faces I’ve drawn this month. I know it all will become easier as I practice more and more.

The other thing I started to do which I can do while sitting on my sofa is to create a reference journal for the tangles I like. Here is my first page which I created last night.

Page 1Sometimes I just want to flip through pages to find a design I like instead of searching through countless tangles online. I find I don’t remember the names of the tangles very well which means finding the ones I enjoy drawing can be frustrating, so having a reference will be handy.

I made the journal for my tangles by finding a printable grid online. I print it on both sides of regular printer paper. Then I fold it in half so I can use it to create signatures. I used a medium weight cardstock for a sort of cover for each signature. This is mainly to give each signature some protection and a more solid structure. I haven’t sewn them together yet. I thought it would be easier to draw on the pages before they were bound. I am also still considering how I will bind them. I’m considering the type of binding they use in the traveler’s notebooks either twine or elastic and just slip them in so they will be easy to slip in and out when using them for references when I’m working on a project. I don’t plan on having the tangles in any particular order, so they won’t be alphabetical. It would be too difficult to add new tangles I come across, so they will just end up in a random order.

I am not creating detailed step-outs. I’m doing only minimal step-outs, just enough to help me remember how to draw them. This is mainly for space purposes. I want several tangles on each page and since I will have their names over each one it will be easy to look up more details if I need them.

You might wonder why I am printing up the grid instead of buying grid paper. I have a couple of reasons for this. Lately, I have been unable to find grid paper on a decently weighted paper that my pigma micron pen won’t bleed through or ghost through. I have also found it difficult to find the size grid I want. If I do find the size grid I want usually the other side of the paper has a different grid size. I want both sides to have the same size grid. Having a printable means as long as I have printer paper and ink for my printer, I can print up my grid whenever I need more grid paper. Those are most of my reasons. I may explore the dot grid at some point if I can find a printable for it.

Once the idea of trying to find a printable for a dot grid was in my head, I couldn’t resist looking for one. I found it and probably by the time I’m ready to write another blog post, I will have incorporated it into my tangle journal signatures and have some step-outs drawn on a page or two. I may mix it in with the regular grid paper so I have options depending on what tangle I’m wanting to add to my journal.

As I fill out pages and have enough completed for a signature, I’ll bind the pages into the signature by sewing them. I think I’ll keep each signature as its own entity, especially if I use the binding system they use in traveler’s notebook covers. I can always give it a try and if I don’t like it, I can bind the signatures together within a hardcover using coptic stitch or some other stitch.

At one time, I was creating individual cards for tangles and drawing the step-outs on one side of the card. I was doing this so I would have a deck of cards I could draw from when I just wanted to pull a random tangle to create an abstract drawing. I have 56 cards so far which is a nice start but I realized something after I created them.

I don’t do random very well.

I like planning for effect. I think my #Inktober sketches reflect this very well. Every single one was an experiment with effect. I didn’t randomly pull something out of a deck of cards and use it. It was done intuitively.  Only three out of the sketches were done from a reference photo (8th,10th and 12th) and those were done in order to try and incorporate different facial expressions. The rest of their sketch was all intuitive, meaning I chose what popped into my head. Sometimes, I tried to resist what popped into my head but I soon learned resistance was futile. Whatever popped into my head, did so with persistence and stayed until I did what it wanted, then it left making room for something else to pop in. Then the cycle repeated itself until I decided the sketch was complete.

I need to wrap this up. I still have my #Inktober drawing to do for today and I have mother duties I need to attend to including cooking dinner.

 

 

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.

Madness, I say, Madness and a cute little guy…

I’ve been working on two projects this week, or should I say two classes. One from Mandala Madness and the other from Ever After 2017.

I’ll start with Mandala Madness:

These mandalas were grown from planting a seed and are from classes 7 and 8. This isn’t the first time I drew mandalas from a seed, and probably not the first time I used colored ink to do so. It is, however, the first time I was able to have them come out looking like I used a grid and not just freehand. No grid was involved with the making of these mandalas.

Just for clarification, the bright pink along one side is the washi tape I used to hide the seam where they are connected to the hinge. They have already been mounted into a signature. I now have two complete signatures and can’t wait for the rest to be done so I can bind them into a book. Not sure I like the bright pink, but I can change that later if I want.

These pages are also pocket pages so I can slip in any loose mandalas I create that are small enough to slip inside. I love how these pages feel. They have substance to them. They are not flimsy pages by any means which means the end resulting journal will have some weight to it. I will most likely use heavy cardstock but more likely chipboard for the book cover so it will have the appearance of a hard cover book. If you haven’t guessed it already, I will most likely create a mandala on the front cover, maybe even the back cover.

I usually don’t talk about personal things here. I’m going to make an exception to that for a moment. First, I’m so grateful to Barb Owen for building these classes not just for all the things I’m learning in them but also because mandalas have been an integral part of my stress relief and anxiety release process. This class has helped me to remain sane through a difficult period which is riddled with so many challenges I can’t go into right now. I will mention one.

I experience daily pain in the wrist of my dominant hand. This pain increases with the use of pens or pencils or similar objects to create/write with. We have done ultrasound and x-rays which all indicate I have a very healthy bones, so the prognosis is possibly tendonitis. I see a physiotherapist today and hopefully they will give me some helpful information and suggestions. I mention this because making mandalas may come to a screeching halt. I may be required to give it a rest, which will mean no drawing, at least with my dominant hand. I’ve been practicing with my non-dominant hand but the results are less than satisfactory and mentally an unbelievable challenge to create just a straight line. I haven’t been able to bring myself to attempt a mandala with my non-dominant hand. It is too frightening to think about what it could come out looking like.

With that said, I have found certain mediums not so painful, watercolors for one, or water soluble products which require only a light touch with a wet brush to activate. Working on other projects/classes are not so pain ridden, though they can be if I’m not careful.

One of these is Ever After 2017 which I must say is challenging in many ways. The option I have contains style development classes too so it doesn’t just challenge me in regards to my artistic abilities. It challenges me to dig deep inside to discover the reasons why I create and what I like and don’t like about something I’m working on. I’m pushed to do things as close as possible to the instructor’s lessons even if I don’t like part of the lesson. That, however, was not the case with this little bonus lesson on creating a cute bear. I so love Tam’s style. She makes it easy to create “cute” and have fun doing it.

Cute Bear

Normally this isn’t something I would come up with on my own but she makes me wish I did with extreme frequency. I tend toward realism even when I try to be whimsical or characteristic in my creations. What I’m realizing is, I am very good at copying, or rather following an instructor’s lesson almost exactly even when it is something I don’t enjoy.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy creating this adorable little guy. I’m glad there was no collage involved. I would leave collage out of any lesson if I thought it would still come out looking great but some lessons are based on the collage. It isn’t the doing of the collage which I don’t like. It is just that I don’t have an abundance of pretty papers to use and I’m not great at selecting different patterns that will look good together. I lean more towards using old text pages from books because there is no risk of offending the eyes because of poor color and pattern choices. (Okay, yes, I love, I mean absolutely LOVE the look of text behind my artwork.) Yes, I know, working with colorful pattern paper in collage is something I need to work on which is why, for now, I do the collage when instructed to do so in a lesson.

Speaking of not having an abundance of pretty papers for collage. The one thing I’m learning from Barb (from her live streams) is how to create such pretty papers instead of buying them. Or altering those not so pretty pattern papers to make them gorgeous. She has often mentioned how she likes to make all the things she uses in her projects, including the pretty papers. Before I ever knew Barb existed and I had started on my art journey, I knew I wanted to create my artwork from only those things I created, excluding paints, mediums and the tools, such as paint brushes, and palette knives and so forth. What I mean is, pretty papers, stamps, stencils, stickers and so forth, I want to be all my own creations. I don’t want to have to worry about copyright infringement if someone would ever want to buy something I created, or if I wanted to market it in a print of some sort. Besides, there is something special about being able to say, “I made that completely with my own hands and every pattern is of my own making.”

So… if I’m given the directive later today to rest my dominant hand, meaning stop using it to the point of excruciating pain, then I may focus on creating pretty paper using my non-dominant hand which could make for interesting abstract designs seeing as how I can’t draw a straight line for my life with my left hand.

Enjoying myself….

I started writing this post a few days ago. I was interrupted before my first sentence was completed. Coming back to it today, I had no idea where I was headed in that interrupted sentence. I scrapped it and now I’m starting again.

Yes, I am enjoying myself. I’ve been learning. I’ve been arting. I’ve been getting messy. I also may have broken one or two toes in the midst of all the fun, or if not broken, then badly sprained. My right foot is rather colorful at the moment. Thankfully, the swelling is down and it isn’t as painful to walk. I am still being very cautious. I stopped taking Advil. The last one I took was yesterday morning. I have pictures but not sure people would really want to see them. The two toes involved are my small toe and the one next to it. They are quite colorfully bruised along with a major section above them on the top of my foot. Stairs are not very friendly to my toes apparently.

Enough about my toes and on to my art.  I’ve been focusing on a couple of things.

First, I’ve been working on learning how to draw faces. Mostly I’ve been learning from Tamara Laporte’s classes, Effy Wild’s classes, and Christy Sobolewski’s YouTube videos she had up. Christy is moving off of YouTube and hopefully her plans will include keeping what she had available free on YouTube, free on her new platform too. That is yet to be known for sure by me.

These ladies all teach whimsical faces which is a great detour for me, because since I found out I could draw in 8th grade, I’ve only done realism, which could be quite daunting for a new artist with confidence issues. Doing whimsical helped me to let go of perfectionism and just have fun. Though of course that was and is a constant battle for me.

I feel a deep need to return to realism, so I turned to Alphonso Dunn which I discovered on YouTube way back in my early meanderings through YouTube when trying to spark my inner artist back to life. I followed him but rarely went back to his videos. He, however, has been lurking behind every face drawing taunting me to come back to him.

So….. I did…

I watched his video “Beginner Portrait Drawing E1” several times. I first watched it all the way through to just absorb it all. Then I watched it again and  made notes in my Art Techniques Journal, drawing a face with all the proportions noted and lines, etc as he did it in the  video. Then I watched it again and made notes in OneNotes where I could make notes and insert screen shots of the different steps. Sort of creating my own digital step-by-step instruction book. Then while referring to my Journal and OneNotes, I made my first sketch. It was rough and not for anyone’s eyes but mine.

The below pictures are of my 2nd and 3rd drawings done last night using my Pilot Color Eno mechanical pencil, following Alphonso’s proportions instructions. The first in purple and the second in blue colored lead. Thanks to Dede Willingham always discussing how she prefers drawing with blue lead and how it doesn’t smear, convincing me to give it a try. I love, love, love the colored lead for drawing and not having the messiness of the graphite. Graphite has its place and I’ll still use it. For now, I’ll be using these colored leads.

Page 6 & 7

The two together in My Faces Sketchbook, I handmade. (Love this journal for this purpose.)

Page 6

First drawing, done with purple lead.

Page 7

Second portrait, done in blue lead.

I’m still trying to figure out how the faces came out so differently. I used the same proportions. The difference may be in the eyes, since that is the first thing I draw once I create the vertical guide line and find the center point. I don’t establish a horizontal line with the width first but let the size of the eyes determine the width, so that might be why they are different. I want to know so when it comes to doing a wider face versus a narrower face I’ll have the right technique in place and won’t be fumbling around to make it happen.

Drawing faces is now on my list of daily practices at least until I can do one without having to fumble through thinking about proportions.

Second, I’ve been taking Life Book 2017 lessons. I haven’t been working too hard on trying to stay up with the lessons each week. It has been a challenge to try and stay focused due to some medication I’ve been taking. It has the side effect of making me really sleepy. I’m finally getting off of it and it takes some times to get it out of my system. I didn’t want to attempt the more challenging lessons while my brain was so fogged in. Now that the fog is beginning to lift, I have more confidence in applying myself to the lessons.

I won’t be describing the process for these because that should come from the instructors. If you are interested in learning how to do something like this then click here.

Flowers of Gratitude final

This is one of the lessons. As you can see it has a whimsical feel to it. I love learning both whimsical and realism. My mind doesn’t naturally create whimsical which is why these lessons are a challenge for me in one way, and yet fun in other ways, and also provide me the ability to relax more than when I do realism. They both though will awaken my inner critic who just loves to tell me I’m not doing things right or won’t be good enough.

For instance, when I look at this journal page, my eyes want to go directly to the flower in the hair of the girl on the right. The flower to me is all wrong and my inner critic loves to point it out to me and make it the focus as to why this particular journal page is garbage. There are other things too my inner critic loves to point out while I sit back and look at this with pride seeing how much I’m improving. I have it sitting on my mantel to remind me every day, nothing has to be perfect in order for me to love it.

This is another class where we learned about shading. I love these flowers. This is one journal page my inner critic has nothing to say about.

shading and highlighting

Then, I do things like this from Life Book which shouts out to me to listen more often to that little voice inside which encourages me to try things even though I don’t have the exact supplies the instructor uses. I had none of the supplies except for maybe one, other than the colorful paper to use for collage. I improvised with the supplies I had on hand and was able to create similar results as the instructor. This journal page is a reminder that supplies are just that, supplies, it is up to the artist in how to use them. Just because one artist creates something one way, doesn’t mean I can’t create something similar doing it another way.

Roots Down Branches Up

Roots Down, Branches Up, is a piece which can be used in many ways, such as, genealogy chart, charting progress as an artist, recovery from trauma, anything that focuses on root/foundation, where you are now, and where you want to go in the future. Thanks to Effy for this lesson.

This week, though painful in one way, has been very enjoyable in other ways. I’m learning a lot in my practice. I’m growing as a person and as an artist. I’m learning techniques which can be done in a variety of ways, and artwork that can be utilized in many more ways.

Third, this one is recent, as in the past couple of days. I’ve been hearing/seeing “The Artist’s Way” many times since the beginning of this year. I was curious, so I looked into it, found the book, and purchased it. It is important for me to learn to get past all the negative talk in my head which holds me back. I started yesterday with my first morning pages, and today I start my first week in this course. I’ve committed myself to the twelve weeks. I have no idea where this will take me. It is my hope, to a good and wonderful place, though I know it might be difficult at times.

These are the three main things I am focusing on. There are others like Book of Days 2017, and doing some artwork that is just from me and not from a class. I have so many other things I want to do as well, writing being one of them. Writing this blog is part of it and for now, my goal is to post once a week. If I can do it more often, then great, if not, I want, at the least, to post once a week. And yet, still more and more things, I want to do. They will come.

~Patti