Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tractor vs Roller Coaster

Momentary break to post a quick sketch of my hubby in the field.  This was drawn shortly before the roller coaster plummeted and we took my pop-in-law back to the hospital last week.  Lots of little ups and big downs since then.  Coasting right now and that's not so bad.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Oxygen Mask

Rollercoaster medical stuff.  Ongoing home renovation.  Sketchbook Skool.  Everyday life.  In all honesty, it can be a bit much.  I whined in Skool that it's been difficult finding time for daily journaling and when I did have time, my mind was in "No" mode.  "How do I fight this?"  My query was answered by Danny Gregory - our main Skool instructor.  He kindly responded that journaling during critical times can be the best times:  "Making art may be the best way to slow down, take a breath, and unwind. It's not selfish if it makes you feel in balance. 
Failing that, give yourself a break. If it's not a welcome distraction or a way of getting insight, then maybe you are seeing trying to draw as yet one more burden, one challenge too many."

I read that and my first response was "Hey, I don't want to give up!"  Then, "Well, maybe I should back off."  Then, "No, I need to rediscover the zen in sketching."  So, I picked up my small Moleskine and a pen, walked into the garage, and sat on the floor.  My husband likes home repair and carpentry, but I find it mostly tedious.  He's seriously crazy busy with work and worry about his Dad.  The baseboards must be done before the carpet guys come on Monday.  So, I'm sanding baseboards.  I needed to sketch the blasted sander.  As usual, I started out tense and annoyed.  However, each mark was less forced and a certain calm settled in.  Adding the bits of watercolor balanced the scales and I was ready to return to reality.  Sketching with pen is a little wonky, but I honestly don't care. 

In case of emergency -
Put your oxygen mask on first so you can then helps those around you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sketchbook Skool Bravery

Home renovation continues along with worrying about my pop-in-law's medical issues.  We're on another roller coaster ride.  C'est la vie.

Along with the ceiling painting and pharmacy runs - Sketchbook Skool started Friday.  This six week course is taught by six different artists who keep impressive illustrated journals.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the videos of their processes and learning new techniques.  Week one is already quite inspiring in spite of my lack of homework time.

I finally did a little sketch yesterday and an illustrated page this evening.  If this is going to be a long term habit, it needs to be less time consuming than the pages I did for last year's online watercolor journaling class.  So, I tried less for perfection (whatever that is) and more for just getting the image on paper and adding journaling.  This took maybe 30 minutes.

I was feeling awfully intimidated from the moment I entered the class a few days late and saw all the absolutely fantabulous pages, some by very seasoned artists.  Then I got over it.  I had an inkling I wasn't the only one, so I posted the following to the group's Facebook page:

An observation on feeling intimidated: 
The fantastic work of my klassmates was ridiculously intimidating at first.  I'm a little out of practice, but not a beginner.  Still, I kept thinking "I have no time.  How can I measure up?"  I've seen some similar comments.  I finally kind of yelled at myself "We are all unique & this is NOT a competition!"  Then I did a 5 minute sketch between errands.  Skool is about learning a wonderful lifelong habit.  In addition to our teachers, we learn from each other.  Every artist has their OWN voice and journey.  How boring if we were all at the same point of the journey and drawing in the same style. 
I'm blown away by the beginners diving right in.  You rock!  Anyone out there still hesitating?  Just start - pen to paper and then share.  Don't imagine your page has to be perfect (that's impossible anyway) or even recognizable.  It's YOUR life and YOUR art.  You know we'll be supportive and kind - offering advice when requested.  Get to it!

That was earlier this evening.  So far over 60 people have liked it and there are a bunch of "me too" comments.  Wow!  I guess it's obvious I wasn't the only one feeling intimidated.  By the way, some of my classmates really are brand new to drawing and they are doing fine.  So, random reader, you can do this too.  Grab a pen and slowly draw something simple.  Add a few words.  Illustrated journaling - it's a good thing.

Update:  127 likes and 37 comments.  Yeah, I'm definitely not alone.  Really digging the camaraderie.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Work in Progress

Update:  The medical issues with my pop-in-law kicked me out of the Drawing on the Right Side momentum.  I've done two pages of that book in the last month.  The (almost) daily little drawings in the journal continue.  Sketchbook Skool starts Friday - YAY!

The biggest news of the day, however,  is not what I'm drawing, but where I shall be doing so.  I rearranged the guest room last fall to include a little art space.  It's a nice little space with supplies nearby, but still very bedroom-ish.

We recently decided it is finally time to replace the worn carpet throughout the upstairs.  YES!  My husband suggested more durable hard flooring for my studio area. (grin)  I said - as long as we're redoing the floor, I might as well replace the dated bedroomey wallpaper with neutral paint.  He said - as long as we're ripping up carpet, we might as well refinish the baseboards.  And - as long as we have the room bare, we might as well remove the popcorn ceiling.  And - as long as we're removing that popcorn ceiling, we might as well do the same to the other two bedrooms.  And - the kitchen will then have the last of the popcorn ceiling, so we should fix that.  And - as long as we're in the kitchen working...   It doesn't end.  My husband loves updating... a lot.
That photo above is the before and below is ... Tadah!

No, it's not done, but it is about half way - just the ceiling and closets to paint before the floor goes in.  This is the cause of blog neglect and lack of drawing.  The flooring should be done by Friday.  The furnishings will take a bit longer since my hubby is building me shelves out of old fence wood (more grinning).

Back to painting - Benjamin Moore latex, not Winsor Newton watercolor.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Procrastination - Digitized & Immortalized

Eight weeks have zoomed by since I sent off the little brown book for the Sketchbook Project.  I searched their digital library today and my book is now digitized.  Eep!  

I have not looked at the photos taken prior to sending the book - an attempt to make it seem "new" when finally viewing it online.  I began clicking through the pages...  Oh man, how I wish I'd not procrastinated away precious drawing time!  The cartoon figures made me want to yell "I really can draw!"  Sigh.  Another lesson learned.  Motivation for next year perhaps, or at least to keep on sketching and hopefully improving.

If there is a bright spot, the middle isn't too bad - including the appearance of my duck-talking groom.  Regardless of my regrets, here's my sketchbook story in all it's procrastination glory:

The Sketchbook Project mobile library will be traveling around the US starting this month and continuing into the fall.  I would love to see the work of other artists in person, but alas, it does not stop nearby.  If anyone else is interested in seeing my book or any of the many, many others, this link will take you to the full schedule. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Life Happens - Draw It

It's hard to get on a roll when life keeps happening.  We unexpectedly admitted my pop-in-law to the hospital for heart-related issues Tuesday.  He's getting better and will be going home soon.  I could've been sketching while tests were happening, but I lose interest when in coping mode - something to work on.

Back to the trek.  In addition to working through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain...

I'm tackling my list of must-read art books - because that jungle grows daily.  The latest library trip unearthed a shortish book on John Singer Sargent, a fat book of illustrators from 1900 to 1960, and Webb on Watercolor, which has great tips on painting your own interpretation instead of exactly what you see.  The issues mentioned last time happened when I got to the "encounter" (now-you-do-it) pages.  Not quite ready for his loose style.  Instead, I will dive into One Watercolor a Day - a birthday gift from my dear husband.  I also happily discovered our library has Guptill's Rendering in Pen and Ink.  Yes!  Saving that until Drawing on the Right Side is complete.

I have been adding to the Live Simply planner nearly every day.  About a year ago I posted tiny drawings from a very tiny calendar.  I got halfway through the year with that one.  I'm hoping to make it all the way through this year.

There was a photo shoot Sunday.  Of course, you-know-who had to check it out.

Some entries were done rather quickly after a crazy or stressful day, as in the first photo below.  My team was awful, awful, awful and I was very vocal.  There is more (sloppy) writing than drawing on some days and others are mostly sketches - like supper on the stove.

I recorded our first portrait without the kids.  My sweater had a long cowl-type affair in front and long beads that are now immortalized as a strange medallion or something.  Also, this is not the best likeness of my husband, but it's just a sketch, so I'm posting it anyway.

I leave my planner on the end table now instead of the night stand, so I have all evening to remember it.  I still sometimes procrastinate & have to catch up.  It's amazing how much you forget after just a day.

I also signed up for Sketchbook Skool (and you can too because it's for everyone regardless of drawing skills or lack thereof).  That starts in April and we can chat about it more then.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dread Not, Draw More

Looking at the past few weeks, it might appear this artist is veering off course or losing focus... or something.  Not to worry.  I'm still trekking - still finding my way - still making it up as we go.

I had a minor epiphany last week.  You know when you're dreading something and that dread climbs on your shoulders and pulls down your arms until you grow exhausted from the weight of it?  Yeah.  That feeling kept hitting me as I contemplated a certain watercolor exercise.  Ridiculousness.  Some trepidation or discomfort is expected with new steps and I'm sure my inner critic was exaggerating the dread, but it was just too much.  Perhaps I was jumping in too far beyond my current abilities and comfort zone.  Whatever it was, I gave myself permission to step back and change course.   Hence the minor epiphany:  New paths will cause some anxiety, but they must also cause some excitement.  The good must outweigh the discomfort.

My goal is to do something to stay on the road every day.  Currently, I'm about 1/3 through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  The exercises are not difficult, but they are revealing some intriguing things I never really thought about when I'm drawing.  I highly recommend this book to anyone with any desire to learn to draw or improve their skills.

My drawing table yesterday: Drawing on the Right Side workbook on the page I just completed, remnants from the Sketchbook Project and a small card my sis sent me.  The card illustration is a stick version of DaVinci's Vitruvian Man by Jeffrey Metzner.  Check him out here.  The animations are hilarious, especially The Scream.

Up close...

Several ongoing adventures are keeping me busy and I'll share them soon.  Right now, it's time to draw.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thursday Thoughts - I got nothin'

What?  It's Thursday already!?  No, can't be.  Really?  Well, we're working on taxes in preparation for the FAFSA due date next week.  There is barely time for art.  I definitely don't have time to be brilliant or witty or even annoying.

Note to self and random rare reader:  I'm sure we're all disappointed, but Thursday Thoughts will now appear on a sporadic basis.  The brain refuses to perform on command.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday Thoughts - Just Do It

Two thoughts today:

1.  The best way to forget every brilliant thought you've ever had?  Decide to share a little of your special wisdom every week.

2.  The only true failure is the failure to try.
     (This artist's version of an oft-stated idea.  I should have this tattooed on my forehead)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Right Side... Upside Down

A few years ago (or so I thought), my sister sent me the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  Yet another nudge from my family.  I recently paged through my stash of books, deciding which one to tackle, and found the original message she sent along with the gift... in 2001.  "Are you kidding me?!"  (I said out loud to my ever-present pets.)  Yet another reminder to stop putting crap off, er, I mean, stop procrastinating.  Criminy.

So, last week I sat down with the accompanying workbook (which I found on sale sort of recently and yes, it was sort of recently because the copyright is 2012), anyway, I grabbed that and the book and began.  Drawing on the Right Side is aimed at people who think they can't draw.  I know I can draw, I just want to get better.  At first I was reluctant to share that I was working my way through this "beginners" book - kind of snobbish of me don't ya' think?  Oh, what the heck.  This is my journey and that's what I'm doing now and you know what?  I'm actually appreciating how it's helping me understand my artistic struggles.

The first assignment is to draw a self portrait - to later compare with the one you do at the end of the book.

The book instructs to add notes.  I did so and included the fact that I sketched this right after a haircut.  It's going to be like those makeover commercials:  Before is sad and pale and flat.  After is happy and bright and fluffy.  Well, we'll see if the after is happy.  As noted, self portraits tend to be rather solemn.

A few pages later, the assignment is to copy a drawing upside down.  I mean, you are right side up and the image is upside down.  This photo is not upside down.  Well, the image is, but it's supposed to be like that.  The workbook is right side up.  I feel like I'm going into an Abbott and Costello routine here.

Starting at the top (upside down bottom) and drawing line by line, you aren't looking a what the image actually is.  This disengages the part of the brain that wants objects to be recognizable.  It becomes easier to draw without the pressure of making the lines immediately look like something.  Other than my Picasso man being slightly wider and longer, it worked out well.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thursday Thoughts ~ Homework

Homework can be eh.

Self-assigned homework can be YEAH!

I sent this photo to my daughter after she sent me one of her homework-covered desk.

Watercolor mixing chart in process.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

I had a random thought today and a half-baked idea appeared.  I'm running with it.  Semi-humorous or sort of insightful art-related thoughts or observations occasionally pop into my brain.  "Hey, I should share that."  I then either forget the brilliant thought, or it morphs into a larger post.  Since I had the current thought on a Thursday, I have decided to start a weekly feature.  Let's call it "Thoughtful Thursday."  It's a working title.

Today's thought:

If sitting/sleeping/bathing on art books infused your bones with skill and talent, 
my cat would be simply awesome.

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