Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Go Figure!

I'm baa-aack!  I'm crawling out of the slacker rut thanks in part to two kind of big deals.  First, my home studio room is really coming together - more on that later.  Second, tonight I attended ... drum roll please... an open figure drawing session!  What?!  Did that just happen?  Yes indeedy!  Thanks to a fellow got-my-art-degree-ages-ago artist friend who knows more creative people than I do.  We both went for the first time tonight and I was simultaneously nervous & excited.

How'd it go?  Quite well I think.  No masterpieces, but I'm going simply for practice.  Yes, I returned to sketching a couple of years ago, but figure drawing is a whole new ballgame.  With a 30 year span between college class and tonight's efforts, the charcoal stick is rather rusty and my drawing joints were creaking.  No matter.  Despite the frustration at my mediocre efforts, it was massively satisfying to work back into the graphite groove.  The next session is in two weeks.  I'm going back.  I kinda' can't believe this is a thing I get to do now.  Somebody pinch me.

1 minute warm up gesture drawings.  Charcoal on newsprint.

And a longer pose - about 30 minutes.  My perfectionist told me not to share, but I ignored her.  This is all about artistic growth.  There's plenty of room for that.

PS or disclaimer or notice or something - In the interest of the model's privacy and my own modest tendencies, figure drawing efforts shared here will be limited to more generic, unidentifiable sketches.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


I'm in a rut.  I apologize in advance for this relatively blah post, but the artist is not always happy or motivated.  Journeys tend to have stretches of boring highway, so...

Perhaps it's the Inktober challenge.  Perhaps it's just my normal irritating stop & go habit.  Perhaps I need a muse.  Perhaps I'm recovering from family Thanksgiving hubbub.  Perhaps the monkey is babbling in my ear.  Perhaps I'm just lazy.  Whatever haps it was, I barely drew in November.  There were a few random sketches and a weekend of illustrated journaling while visiting relatives.  Yawn.  I am a couch slug at this moment.  I have books to read, errands to run, sketching to do!  Sigh.  I'm not even motivated to share my travel journal.

How to break out of this do-nothing rut?  Crud.  I should just start doodling.  Instead my pen will probably wind up making some short term goals.  Maybe I'll be inspired?  Maybe I'll simply draw?  Hold that thought.  I gotta' go buy dog food.  Ah, the exciting tales of an artist-in-training.

Friday, November 7, 2014

An Introvert Slacker Artist Reviews Sketchbook Skool

Semester 3 of Sketchbook Skool is winding down.  I think it's high time for an honest evaluation, don't you?  Say yes.

I like it.  You will too.  It's neat.  Sign up.  The end.

Not enough?  Okay, because we all appreciate detail when considering life-changing commitments, (seriously, this can be life-changing) here's my long and riveting review.

colored pencil exercise - Beginnings
Sketchbook Skool is the brainchild of Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene.  Courses that encourage all folks to start an illustrated journal.  "Art for all."  Haven't drawn a line since childhood?  It's for you.  Graduated art school, then ignored art for decades?  Sign up.  Have your own studio/class/gallery?  You're invited too.  Sketchbook Skool is about keeping an illustrated journal.  It is every day "art."  It is not about creating "Art" to hang in a gallery.

Every one should be checking this out.  EH-VER-EE-WON.

Let me share right away the one issue that pops up as classes start every semester.  Hundreds sign up for each course - from total beginners to established professionals.  It can be daunting.  Professionals post lovely frame-ready pages and talk about commissions and galleries.  Or this appears: "I'm just beginning and I almost didn't post this because it's awful."  But, their "awful" is amazing and lovely and your brain goes all Jim Carey "Oh, COME ON!"  How can I now post my little cat sketch?  I struggled with this at times though I'm not a beginner.  Well, listen up 'cause here's the thing:  IT'S NOT ABOUT HOW WELL YOU CAN DRAW OR PAINT!  (Yes, I yell that at myself regularly.)  IT IS NOT A COMPETITION!  It's not even really about HOW to draw (though lessons are loaded with ideas and instruction).  The whole entire complete idea of SBS is TO draw.  This big illustrated idea is simply TO DRAW YOUR LIFE ... daily.  Little things, big things, people things, furry things, food things ... life things... daily.  (or almost daily)

museum sketching - Beginnings
Tommy Kane detailed style - Beginnings

collection in ballpoint pen - Seeing
So, what do you actually get for your 99 bucks?  Six artists flip through their sketchbooks, list their tools, and discuss styles and methods.  We look over their shoulder as each one shares a multitude of tips on fighting the inner critic and getting busy recording life.  Homework is assigned.  You are free to do or not do the homework.  You are free to post or not post your results.  Some instructors provide feedback.  Some do not.  SBS was not set up to critique student work.  This is made known in the FAQ section of the website, but always seems a bone of contention for some at the beginning of each course.  SBS is intended to let you hang out watching each instructor in the act - to learn from them by watching.  (Watching them is quite fabulous.)  Feedback on posted sketches is mainly from fellow students and, since many are professional artists, is actually a good thing.  Again, this is NOT about showing how well you can draw, but that you actually DID draw.

selfie week with Koosje - Seeing
There are three sessions, Beginnings, Seeing, and Storytelling, with a fourth in the works.  Head over to the SBS website to read about each one.  There is no specified order.  However, I liked the progression from getting started to how we see to telling the stories.  It seems a natural path.  If you truly are a beginner, I recommend Beginnings or Seeing first.  My opinion.  Others may disagree.

I was dealing with my pop-in-law's sudden awful illness through most of Beginnings. A few months later, I participated much more in Seeing.  I'm currently in Storytelling and happen to be in a funk - just don't feel like jumping in the water.   Humph.  I've watched the videos and done some homework.  Some Storytelling assignments involve drawing people in motion... in public.  At the moment, even though I'm excited to see what I can do, it grates on my introvert ways.  I'll get there.  This brings us to a great SBS bonus - LIFE-TIME ACCESS - to videos, comments, and Q&A.  The recent museum sketching came about entirely due to an April lesson in Beginnings.  I was able to review Roz Stendahl's videos ahead of the museum trip.  Knowing homework can be revisited eliminates unneeded stress.  In fact, I first discovered we have lifetime access shortly after my pop-in-law passed away and I'd missed a good portion of Beginnings.  I nearly cried.

watercolor sketching in the great outdoors - Seeing

So, why sign up?  Because it truly can be life-changing.  Honest - cross my heart.  Some classmates have gone from never drawing to daily meaningful sketching.  Notice I didn't say beautiful - not what this is about.  Sloppy and sketchy or neat and detailed, doesn't matter as long as you just DO it.  SBS definitely pushed me to sketch more loosely and more often.  Keeping a written journal is good for you.  Adding or substituting illustration is better.  Some people draw small and write a lot.  Others draw big and write almost nothing.  There is no right or wrong - whatever works for you, and that can change daily.  The more I sketch, the more I notice the stuff of life, even when not sketching.  Past drawings, great or awful, help me remember the moment better - sounds, sights, smells, emotion.  Keeping an illustrated journal is good for heart, mind, body & soul.  This is true especially as we age.  I'm not making that up.  Go read this.

illustrated recipe - Storytelling
Keeping this honest, there is one issue I wish could be addressed.  When I first heard of SBS, I thought - "How cool is this?!"  Perfect class for non-artsy people and a way slackers can get back to it.  I didn't imagine professionals would sign up.  I now understand why they need motivation like anybody else.  However, observing the people interacting in the class, it seems there are fewer "I never could draw" people.  That's the group I would like to see engaged more by the "art for all" theme.  Perhaps letting actual beginners choose an "I can't draw - beginners only" version or Facebook group?  Or, we can just keep hammering away that initial skill is not necessary.  That said, I continue to urge non-drawers to try Sketchbook Skool.  It is a highly encouraging group.  We are constantly reminded this is about developing a habit, not making "Art."  Sign up and, if you like, I'll be your sponsor or mentor or something.  I'll be your cheerleader!

The last feature that actually figures quite large in my appreciation of this class is the Facebook group for class members only.  The camaraderie and support within this group is uplifting.  I've learned plenty of new things from my classmates here, in addition to the SBS lessons.  It is a very active crew - during and between classes.  My SBS peeps totally get the need for yet another sketchbook.  Priceless.

fast reportage-style parade sketching - Storytelling

PS:  I viewed the  Storytelling week six videos after writing the words above.  Wowza!  They are jam-packed with travel journaling ideas from Danny Gregory - ideas that could be used for a cross-country vacation, cross town trip, or stroll to the kitchen.  My favorite week of this semester was Melanie Reim's reportage, but Danny just stuffed my brain with so much inspiration, I think he wins the Storytelling teacher trophy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

You can do it. Yes you can. Draw that story. You're the (wo)MAN!

Just so I don't throw the entire universe out of whack, I decided (wink, wink) to skip several days of inktober - sidetracked by various stuff I won't bore you with.  Nothing new to see here.  Let's move on.  Like the KC Royals, I'm not out of it yet.  A few inking days left.

Today kids, I want to share a little motivation... another PSA from the artist.

1)  Related to the last don't-let-mean-people-get-you-down post - go watch Adebanji Alade talk about what to do with those less than supportive comments and then watch "Life as an Artist."  To say he is inspiring is an understatement.  His main message: If you want to be an artist, then draw, draw, DRAW...  Every.  Single.  Day.

2)  James Gurney's is a masterful painter with an average guy delivery.  He's the kind neighbor who talks to everyone, but this neighbor is brilliant and oh so generous with his knowledge.  Yesterday he blogged about a sketching/painting trip in Texas.  http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2014/10/saturday-on-east-side-of-austin.html  He and his wife start out in search of interesting people to sketch.  They wind up on an ordinary street and he paints what seems to be an ordinary house.  He eloquently relays the story this simple house tells him as he is painting.  

THAT, my friends, is what illustrated journaling is all about.  Relaying the stories of things, places, people in the artist's own "words."  Tell the story.  Add words if needed.  Do it again tomorrow.

Friday, October 24, 2014


We interrupt your regularly scheduled inktober post for this rambling public service announcement...

Life isn't fair.  Some people are mean.  Take away their power.  Let go & live your life!

There seems a persistent theme in life, and especially in art circles.  "I was told I'm awful, so I can't ________."  It pops up as "the monkey" in our SBS discussions.  Who do you blame?  How do you overcome it?  The discussion ebbs & flows.  I had some brilliant thoughts about this.  As brilliance goes, it was a flash & I forgot the rest.  Dang.  Here's what I remember.

1) I have the power.

I was fortunate to have supportive parents and an art teacher who cheered me on.  College professors were relatively kind.  I was blessed.  However, I was also a shy awkward geek with a few close friends.  We were sometimes antagonized and mostly ignored by the "cool" kids.  We didn't let them rule our lives.  I still liked school.  I still participated.  Sure, I often felt sorry for myself, but that's called being a teenager.  Eventually I realized the only one who could make me feel better about me... was ME.  You know - you have to love yourself before others can - stuff like that.  Does that mean it's all sunshine & daisies now?  Of course not.  That annoying inner critic is always lurking.  A good support system helps, but I'm the only one who truly has the power to soften that voice.

2) Teachers/parents/humans are NOT all horrible because one of them was crappy to you.

A recent Sketchbook Skool assignment revolved around drawing your first day of school from imagination.  Many drew a less-than-great memory of mean teachers and /or critical parents.  My kindergarten & 1st grade teachers were kind.  My 2nd and 3rd grade teachers were completely awful.  One slapped a friend right out of her chair.  4th through 12th were mostly good, some great, none awful, well, except the monotone government teacher.  I've compared notes with friends and - public or private - some teachers suck & some teachers were miraculous, with a whole variety in between.  Pat yourself on the back for surviving the inept.  Report the awful.  Thrive with the good.  Isn't that really how it is with grownup life?  We share this world with some horrid evil people and some incredibly saintly folks.  I believe the rest of us fall in between and weigh the scale more heavily towards good.  You just have to look closely and SEE the human being in the sour faced stranger at the post office.  And, of course, behind the wrinkles in the mirror.

You have the power.  Life is beautiful, if you let it be.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Lap Model

Full blown "me" mode.  Slacking & procrastinating.  Playing catch up.  Sketches 17-20:

First up, a brush pen.  The uptight and grumpy inner critic growled.  "What up slacker?  Brush pen?!  You've barely used the thing - can't try something new.  It will take forEVER to be any good.  QUIT!"   It's obvious the artist was on edge here.  Too tight, too rushed, too eh.  I did warn that some of these could be kind of awful, so, yeah.  Since I am a novice with the brush pen, we shall call it a warm up page.

Continuing on with the brush pen, but with looser strokes and more focused on the task this time, even though I was simultaneously watching a Bronco game.  Fortunately they were doing quite well and not a close game, otherwise there would be no cat to sketch.

More Milo, now with my favorite Zebra F301.  I obviously put off sketching until feline paralysis kicked in.  (Also known as cat-on-lap syndrome.)  It's a nice treat to get more than the usual butt, back, & ears pose.

As I finished typing this, Milo returned to "his" lap.  I am trapped.  I'd take a photo to show you, but there are too many "Look at my goofy cat on my lap" pics on my phone.  See drawings above and right.  Since I can't get up, I guess it's nap time... or I could draw... the cat... again.

He's snoring now.  Supper may be late,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fossil Walk

Yesterday was National Fossil Day and our university museum declared it a free day.  My college self sketched in this museum eons ago.  I've always wanted to go back.  Also, I wasn't able to fully participate in Sketchbook Skool's  museum drawing lesson last April.   The planets aligned & pages of fossils & fur are now in my sketchbook.

6:30 pm  Gather sketchbooks and pens.
6:45 pm  Walk through museum doors with anxiety and excitement.
6:50 pm  Meander... Where to start?
6:52 pm  Empty area found.  With my back to a corner & Roz' warm up mantra in my ear, commence sketch of hugemongous leg bones.
6:55 pm  Two college guys appear nearby.  I start on a whale-ish skull and am distracted - hoping they ignore me.  Mojo gained is quickly fading & I move on.

Other than the fun coincidence of seeing my daughter's college friends, I was alone for about 30 glorious minutes.  Just me and some very old and very skinny buddies.

Then the program for kids ended and a constant trickle of families flowed through the museum.  I need to work on maintaining focus in the midst of varying distraction.  One more page of bones after the mammoth and I moved on to furry specimens.

I intended to sketch people too, but the kids were in zoom mode and I stuck with fur & antlers.  Six pages added and 40 minutes till closing.  The sketching bug was giving way to the food & couch bug.  I wrapped up with a page of blind contours.  Fun stuff.  A yearly museum pass sounds like a pretty cool deal right now.

Oh, and I'm counting these three pages for #inktober 14, 15 & 16.  Halfway there!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Couch with a View

One busy weekend later - three drawings behind.  Tonight was catch up time.  #Inktober 11, 12 & 13 complete.

A relatively quick view from the couch.

Milo moments.  Sleeping cats seem motionless... until you try to sketch them.

Milo chose to end the portrait session.  The headline of the yet-to-be read paper was perfectly positioned.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Skin & Bones

I missed a day.  (#inktober)  I didn't quit.  I win.

Day 7 - I like Halloween decorations that make you smile.  Day 8 - Foreshortened fingers.

Day 10 - View from the couch on a rainy autumn evening.  Farmer (and cat & dog) snoozing while the pen scratches away.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Berries & Boots

Inktober continues!

Day 4: Schwartzbeere (delicious local wild "black" berries that have overtaken my garden) using various pens.   The current Sketchbook Skool homework is illustrating a recipe.  I've picked a German fruity coffee cake called Kuchen.

Day 5:  Okay, the little scratches above the shoes happened on day 4.  It's wheat drilling (planting) time and we're rather busy here.  I neglected to take even 5 minutes to sketch on day 5.  Instead of beating myself up, I'm cheating.  Thankfully, there's no such thing as art jail.

And then tonight, after returning from the field - my worn old hiking boots.  Old non-geometrical stuff is great for late night I-don't-know-what-to-draw panic.

#inktober... 6 down, 25 to go

Friday, October 3, 2014

Inktober Begins

Advance Inktober warning: I will be limiting time spent on photo taking & photo correcting, depending on the busyness of the day.  It is easily a time sucker for me.  I apologize in advance for not-so-great shots.  I have also decided to throw caution to the wind (blown to the next state yesterday) and try different pens and techniques.  It's likely some of these are going to be kind of awful and I'm (mostly) fine with that.

For day one, a Tombow water soluble brush pen.  Naturally, Milo moved seconds after the pen touched the page.  Maybe 20 minutes later both pets were restless & the light faded, so we headed inside with an incomplete drawing.  The splotch is from today.  It's an iffy first page, but it IS a start.

Day 2 - Added another magnet to this ongoing ballpoint pen project.  This is in my comfort zone.

Day 3 - It's supposed to frost tonight, so I picked a bunch of tomatoes.  They lay on the counter and pretty much said "We are day 3."  I stuck with simple lines and used a few of the recently purchased Staedtler fine liners.  I need more of these pens.

Three down. 28 to go.  Oh, and I almost forgot the whole hashtag thing -  #inktober.  I hope I did that right.  Stop laughing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

August, September, Inktober

While in the time-sucking land of Facebook this afternoon, I clicked a link to the October sketching challenge Inktober.  I'm in.

The idea is to create an ink drawing every day in October and then share it online with the hashtag inktober.  I know me.  This is not so simple.  First, I'm awful at follow through.  Second, I spend ridiculous amounts of time editing a post.  Third, the next round of Sketchbook Skool starts Friday, further limiting "idle" time.

My house. My rules.

1.  Sketch in ink every day - any size - any pen. 

2.  Post the sketches every 3 days, so we should wind up with 10 updates by Halloween.

3.  No dessert until a sketch is done.  I'm serious about this.  Don't test me.

4.  If it just can't happen one day.  Don't give up.  Pick up a pen and get busy on the next day.

Join me.  At least a few of you artsy people know you can do this.  I can also hear some of you saying "Nope, I can't draw."  First, I don't believe you.  Second, okay, then just doodle.  Try some zentangles or stick figures.  Think of it as art therapy.

Here we go!

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