Saturday, August 31, 2013

Centering - or - How My Daughter Inspired Me

Yesterday, after a few frustrating hours in the ceramics room, I wrote the following:
I HAVE been drawing, not enough, but I have.  I drew in a hospital waiting room yesterday.  More sketches will appear soon, but no photos ready at the moment. 
The pottery class is not only a kick in the pants, it is kicking my butt.  Frustrations galore.  I want to love it.  I already lost my mojo at the wheel.  Sometimes fine, but mostly lopsided aggravation.  Sigh.  I also don't know many of the standard procedures - like where certain tools are that haven't been discussed yet, but everybody else seems to know what they're doing.  They create much nicer pots and are at ease in the room.  Understandable, since most have taken this class at least once before.  It's like a dream where everyone knows what's going on and and you are clueless. I was there for 3 1/2 hours today working on my own - resulting in 2 small off-center cylinders and a few hesitantly stamped and carved pots from last week.  No mojo.  No comfort level (except while carving shapes out of one of the pots).  I feel ancient and challenged.  Rant over.  I'm sure it will get better as we go.  After all, there have been only 4 class periods.  Gotta' work on the patience level. 
Time to stop sulking and go sit at the "studio" desk.
My husband arrived home at that point and I clicked save.  A few dominoes fell after I closed the laptop.

First, I didn't go sit at the desk.  It was supper time and we decided to eat out.  Second, when we returned I noticed a package on the steps - a box of new art materials expected next week.  Woot!  I now have the supplies needed for two free online classes from Strathmore.  There was also a new sketchbook I couldn't resist after reading Shari Blaukopf's post about her Hand·Book sketchbook and Cretacolor graphite pencils.

Then, this morning I woke to a text from my daughter.  She had sketched in the wee hours of the morning - the second night she has done so & a new event for her.  I'm delighted she has been inspired.  Finally, one family member has taken advantage of my gifts last Christmas.

This was a reminder of how badly I've been slacking off with the daily sketching.  Spurred on by the new tools and especially my daughter's drawings, I sketched while watering the garden.  It doesn't change the status of my pottery skills, but it's nudged the journey back on track.

Remind me to do this again tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Place

What a week!  I remember now how badly I procrastinate homework, no matter how artsy it may be.  I'm remembering how much I like working solo in class instead of in groups or pairs.  I'm even worse now than I was in college at becoming so involved in what I'm doing I forget to stop and pay attention when the instructor talks.  I'm feeling a bit on edge knowing each class will involve a new process or technique.  The learning phase is grating on the perfection bone & I'm fighting it the best I can.

Okay, enough whining - back to the reason for this next post:  The other kick in the pants.

Drum roll please...

"Aggie Doodles Studio"
I HAVE STUDIO SPACE!  Well, it's still mostly guest room -  2/3 bedroom and 1/3 art space.  But hey - it's a lot better than the ottoman.

Last weekend the mood struck and I hauled the ancient drawing table upstairs.  Then, I used the moving man coasters and my wimpy muscles to rearrange furniture.  My hubby arrived after I'd moved everything except the bed and, following his input, we moved everything again.  I spent the rest of the day arranging art tools, books and papers.

The items on the table will soon be hanging above it on the wall - next to the Normal Rockwell print that looks so much like my parents.

Draw or get karate chopped!

The doorknob sign came with my autographed copy of James Gurney's "Color and Light."  Tis fabulous!  Also - I love that his handwriting is nearly as sloppy as mine.


I am surrounded with memorabilia.  I excel in nostalgia.  In other words, I keep way too many ridiculous and wonderful things.  I blame my pack rat dad.  Above the shelves of art books, you can see the book my sister wrote & I illustrated a few years ago.  In front of it are several items that remind me of Dad.  Middle shelf - my black and blue grade school pot and my daughter's light blue 5th grade pot.  The polka dot ball is actually a circa 1977 paper mache light bulb - turned into a maraca.  I still call it a light bulb for inspiration.  Get it?  Light bulb = idea!  Right?  Anyway -  My first clay head (high school freshman) looks out from the bottom shelf.

On the dresser - aka taboret - the pot holding my neglected pen nibs and the wide-eyed owl were crafted by my daughter.  In the photo below you'll see a cup gifted to me on Valentine's Day, again from my daughter.

I don't know why I have so many daughter pots and no son pots.  A search of the house turned up more by her, but only one solitary clay item sculpted by him - have to investigate this mystery.

The chalk lays in probably the first pot I ever made - in 1974.  I only know this because of the scrawl on the bottom.  I have no memory of making it.

The other two pots were bought at the university pottery sale.  The lava lamp is my husband's.  He is nicely letting it stay there since he actually forgot he had it.  The wheat is from one of our fields and was used as decoration for my father-in-law's 80th birthday party 7 years ago.  See - I save stuff.

While my tools are now in one room, much of my high school and college art work are stashed under our basement stairs.  My future goal is to redo the guest room to include space to store that as well.  At some point the carpet will probably need to go.  I'm a sloppy artist and regardless of my efforts otherwise, spatters and spills are my norm.  My hubby is helping me research lighting.  Right now I'm TRYING to focus on drawing skills, but I want to paint too and that requires neutral lighting - not too blue, not too yellow.  I also yearn for a real easel.  I found a reasonably priced metal easel, but I'm hoping to someday talk my carpentry-gifted spouse into make one for me for Christmas. *cheesy grin*

I found this about a year ago while cleaning a drawer. No idea where it came from originally, but I know it's meant to hang out with me in my new "studio."

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Getting My Hands Dirty

I have a couple of boot prints on my derriere.  The previously anticipated kick-in-the-pants events have occurred.  Because life is not terribly orderly - second kick first...

I casually told my husband, "I want to take the evening pottery throwing class on campus."  He said "But, that's not drawing."  "Yeah, but I want to try it again.  Plus, we get to etch and stuff on the pots."  I grinned.  He didn't object.

I logged into the enrollment page, then hesitated.  "You're not a college kid anymore. It's expensive.  You're busy.  Think how awkward this will be.  It's at supper time."  A kind voice from the TV interrupted the cranky voice.  Some guy was encouraging a friend to do as much as you can in this life.  Ignore the fear and go for it.  Okay already!  I signed up and paid my tuition.

Last night, loaded to the gills with trepidation and jitters and such, I walked into the familiar yet foreign ceramics room I left in the mid 80's.

Brief introductions (name, major & year) by all.  I was last.  "I was a senior in 1987."  Sheesh - none of these kids were even around then.  There were two fun-loving older ladies in many of my college studio classes.  I got a kick out of them, but they were "old."  That's me now.

We gathered our supplies and sat down at the wheels.  "I feel completely lost..." Yeah, I said that out loud to our professor, Linda.  The unwieldy lump of clay bumped around under my hands as the wheel spun.  It mocked my centering efforts.  Good grief - why did I sign up for this again?  My first pot was stumpy, lumpy and wiggly.  Linda was very complimentary and told me it was similar to a certain style of Japanese pots.  I can't remember the word she said, so I just went on a little google search.  It may have been wabi-sabi, which is all about imperfection and not just pots.  Anyway, I set my junior high pot aside and started on the next lump.

This time Josh, our graduate assistant teacher, watched my lop-sided beginning and recommended better hand positions and increasing the wheel speed.  Suddenly, it was a little easier.  I kinda' remember the feel of this now.  I think I can do this.  I kept pulling up the clay, not really sure if I should keep going or call it done.  The clay decided for me.  The thin sides did this odd flippy thing.  Linda told me "It's beautiful just like that."  Hmm, it was interesting.  I put the floppy-topped form in the drying area and grabbed a big lump for another go round.

I took my time with the next one.  The spinning form was much less bossy with my fingers.  "I think you're remembering now."  Yup.  Oh, I most definitely am still a beginner, but at least I could shape the turning clay without it wobbling off on it's own.

Within a couple of hours, I'd traveled down my well-worn creative path - excitement, fear, doubt, irritation, realization, perseverance, in-the-groove-ness.  I'm relieved to have moved beyond the first few stages - doesn't happen often enough.  I imagine many people fight this when trying anything new, creative or not.  It's too bad.  LIVE your life.  Don't be a spectator.

Next time - the first kick in the pants.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Old Cars - Fast Sketches - Slow Pants

It's been a little over two months since I decided to share the little blue sketchbook that was never meant for sharing.  These are the last pages completed prior to that post on June 4.  It may help to go back for a moment to refresh your memory.  I did.  I have to remind myself of little promises and grandiose statements, so I will actually follow through on at least a few of them.

So, back on that small town street, sketching old cars and trucks.  After the initial curiosity, the group would watch my scratching now and then, but they mostly observed the cars.  I continued to stop occasionally and sketch a few minutes before moving on down the street.

I'm growing accustomed to the wonkiness of pen sketching.  It's all out of whack, but has a certain character.

The water tower below is a direct result of one of the guys instructing me to "Quick, draw that water tower!"  So I did - real quick.  All of these sketches were done in a few minutes - five at best.  I'm not comfortable or brave enough yet to stop and sketch longer.  Too much attention and I don't want to hold back my companions that much.

The sketch on the right of the King Midget was going relatively well until the owner decided he should sit in the driver seat as I drew.  I wanted to say, um, can you move please?  But, again, not that brave and it was his car after all.  I just tried, unsuccessfully, to add him.  I courteously showed him the drawing and laughed.  "Very quick" I said.  He looked perplexed.  I moved on.

This sketch was all about the dice on the mirror.  Initially, that was all I wanted to put down on paper.  I have a hard time leaving things out.

Since the car sketching day, I've nearly filled the little blue sketchbook.  Some decent drawings, some awful and a few memorable quotes.  I'll share a few at some point - perhaps the combine sketch or the ones of Milo sprawled out on his back.

In the meantime, still in frozen mode.  I haven't done anything artsy for about a week and we can't have that!  I began reading Juliette Aristides book "Lessons in Classical Drawing."  The pages with the actual lessons are coming up soon and I can feel them anticipating my arrival.  Criminy.  Gotta' get over this ridiculous must-be-perfect thing already.  A few other kick-in-the-pants events are possibly coming soon.  I'll be back in a few days to let you know if there's a boot print on my jeans.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Slow Road to Styx

Little blue sketchbook - same road trip as the fading windmills:

This was a tiny bit of a pilgrimage.  I am a lifelong Styx fan who had never seen them live.  I discovered the current version of Styx, including a few original members, was playing within driving distance this past spring.  Off we went - full speed ahead! . . . until we hit road construction.

Our crawl along the highway delayed us enough to miss most of the opening act.  We did get to see REO Speedwagon (original members - energetic OLD guys!) before Styx played.  Cross that off the bucket list!

My family slept in the next morning, but I woke up unusually early.  So, I sketched the day-after view, including one crumpled up souvenir t-shirt.

We hit the art store later that day and I tested my purchases on the sketchbook pages.  Here you'll see the clearanced Graphitints, that, as noted in the last post, will fade.  Rats.

Update:  I just discovered that the Tombow markers tested on this page also fade easily.  Well, pooh.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Milo and the Fading Windmills

Milo interrupted the little blue sketchbook photo session to investigate the little blue ribbon.

These pages are from the first leg (& foot, heh heh) of another road trip.  New Derwent Inktense pencils were pulled fresh from the tin to create my traditional foot sketch and then a plethora of hugemongous windmills scattered along our route.  The Inktense pencils are used like watercolor pencils, but are generally much brighter when you pull the wet brush across them.  Lots of fun!  At least, I thought so at the time.

Then (dunt, dunt, DUM!) I came across a post on Roz Stendahl's blog explaining how badly these pencils fade - as in they fade to almost all gray.  WHAT?!  I quickly scanned through her posts reviewing Inktense and Graphitints (which I have a few of).  Not good news.  *pouty face*  But, I really like them!  *crossing arms*  I want them to keep their color!  *stomps feet*  No fair!

I have real troubles tossing things, especially plants and art tools.  I had a light bulb moment while typing this.  No tossing out.  Instead, I'll attempt monochromatic line & wash.  Only one "color" per sketch.  Hey - I just invented an experiment.  Time to grab some paper & get busy.  I'll leave the pages in the sun a few months and let you know how it turns out.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...