Monday, September 30, 2013

Beneath My Feet

I chalked up a new art adventure Saturday - literally.  I stood, bent, squat, kneeled, sat & crawled over a 10' patch of sidewalk for about 4 hours drawing my first sidewalk art.  One week earlier I had no idea I would be doing this.

A month ago, my mother mentioned a chalk art contest during my hometown's Cornfestival.  I would be attending my class reunion at that time.  I said it sounded interesting, then promptly forgot about it.  Last Sunday, Mom mentioned she signed me up & did I still want to participate?  What?  My first reaction - "I can't do that!"  But here was another chance for a kick in the artist's pants, so I relented. 

Realism didn't feel doable for my first attempt, so I sketched up a whimsical scene the night before and am glad I went that route.  According to my creative cohorts, the sidewalk was too rough & too clean.  The pastel powder wasn't sticking as it should and would blow away as we worked.  Details just wouldn't hold well and the colors were not as intense.

In spite of the setbacks, I enjoyed my adventure and seeing everyone's pieces take shape.

This sun was by Karen, who was also a first-timer.  I love the colors and patterns.  She used a spray bottle of water to help the pastels stay.

I am impressed by the realism of the second photo.  Though Therese was disappointed with how her details kept blowing away, I was amazed by what she could accomplish on the rough concrete.  Something to strive for!  Therese was also very encouraging.  I owe this adventure mainly to her and my mother.  

The sidewalk across the street was filled with chalking kids.  These photos were taken the next day with my camera high above my head.  Mom and I both remarked how interesting the 3D effect was of the blocks in this first photo.  The images all look a little different from street level.  We didn't realize it was Mario until I looked through the photos on my camera! 

The Wolf Spirit is my favorite.  I don't know how old the artist was, but the imagination and use of color in this depiction of Native American folklore is fun!

And here's my whimsical tree...
It is faded from the chalk blowing away, but the flowers especially kept disappearing.

as seen from the street

from above
I didn't notice as I was snapping the picture, but now I see a bicycle tire mark along the bottom.  I wonder how long before the colors are worn & washed away.

a little perspective of the size of our squares... and a closer look at the tire mark
Cornfestival attendees were encouraged to vote for their favorites and I was surprised to learn I wound up with second place.  Second place came with a small cash prize.  I'm counting it as my first income as an artist.  Maybe I'll try this again sometime.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blessed Branches

This past week was endless.  I looked up at the clock mid afternoon Wednesday and thought "Man am I glad tomorrow is Saturday... wait.... dang."  Wishing for time to pass is wishing your life away and I try not to.  Sometimes life just throws you curve balls.

Thankfully, I can count numerous blessings in my life.  Today I de-stressed while canning strawberry peach jam.  Time to think and focus on creating homemade deliciousness - good for the soul.  I also want to draw or maybe paint the cluster of red-orange jars after supper tonight.  

Last weekend's blessing was a trip to the farm to prepare for drilling wheat.  (Not sure what that is?  Check out this older post on my other neglected blog of randomness.)  I grabbed my sketching supplies on the way out of the door that day.  At the farm - I hesitated only a bit.  What to draw?  What medium to use?   First the Pentel pocket brush.  Within 30 seconds, my husband walked to the grain truck (my subject) to move it.  Crap.  Speed sketch!  30 seconds more and the comical results needed written explanation.

The truck was now under the auger and the wheat began spilling into the bed.  It wasn't going anywhere for awhile.  I switched pens and settled in.  Forty eight additional minutes make a difference.  My husband and son will recognize, though, that part of the cab is out of whack.

The truck was nearly full then.  I finished up a few shaded areas and turned the page.  Next subject...

The old tree below was almost completely destroyed a couple of years ago.  The bare trunk refused to die.  Drawing the spindly limbs was a huge frustration at first.  I just kept scratching away and it started looking like something.

Life lesson today.  Change is inevitable.  Expected or not - it can be good or irritating or devastating.  Regardless, take stock of your blessings, be resilient and rely on loved ones.

This too shall pass and the scars will soon be covered with new branches.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hot Flashes & Reading Glasses

I am, of course, the eldest student in my pottery class.  A few gray hairs and wrinkles give me away, but hey now - I'm not out of my 40's yet people.  Some issues are not so apparent - like the ignored back pain last week while moving from throwing wheel to sink.  Back: "Oh, OW, stop moving!  That hurts!"  Brain: "Suck it up creaky old pansy."

Then there's the badly timed cooling failures.  I hesitated relaying this story.  The dreamer and the realist had a little chat first.  "What will younger readers think?"  "Young readers?  Really?"  (uncontrollable giggling)  "What about the guys?"  "Guys - as in men? ... reading this blog about art & stuff?"  "Yeah, there might be one every now and then." (laughter - can't talk - tears streaming)  "But it makes me feel old."  "So what?"  Thus, the realist convinced the dreamer to just do it already & stop being a nitwit.

Back to the busted thermostat.  I inherited my mother's obnoxiously sensitive body & hormones.  That means I get to go through the M word a little on the early side of normal.  Yup, menopause.  There, I said it.

Now, imagine sitting at a pottery wheel - in a circle of pottery wheels manned by kids who's parents I could've babysat.  La dee dah - how nicely the clay is dee doo... um... getting a little warm in here ... nobody else notices... hmm, yeah getting hotter ... aaand FWOOOOM!  75° in the room, but my furnace kicks in to, oh, lets say it's about ... 800 million degrees.  Tiny sweat beads form on the forehead, chin & back.  Don't let 'em see you sweat.  Casually pat back of hand to the forehead & chin.  Furnace shuts off & we're back to pretending we're young again.  Whew.

The latest event involved the reading glasses mentioned last fall.  We've been carving patterns into pots the past week.  Most of my carving was finished at home - with my reading glasses on.  Class time last night was strictly to finish up our carving.  I spread out my tools and picked up the pot ... "If you want this to look halfway decent, you know what you have to do."  (realist - she's so annoying)  Sigh.  Glasses on.  Maybe I look wise.  Yeah, we'll go with that.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Out Standing (sitting) in the Field

My "typos" drive me batty - fending off flies.
I sat in the pickup Sunday while my husband did fieldwork.  A ticker tape of "I should be drawing" sputtered through my mind as I sat waiting.  Did I draw?  Of course not.  Instead, I read the paper (tick tick tick) checked Facebook and email on my phone (tick tick tick) daydreamed... a lot.  (tick tick tick)  Why is it so blasted hard to start when I really do want to?  It's not a mystery.  That nagging voice insisting it won't be perfect so don't even try.  It's a sketchbook for Pete's sake!  It's not going to be hanging in some museum!  Yes, I do often have these internal arguments.

I finally pulled out my pen & a hand-sized Moleskine Cahier stashed in my purse specifically for these found moments.  What to draw?  The biting flies were persistent - hence the bug spray line drawing.  There's some satisfaction in quieting the voice - SILENCE!  Just as I was getting into the groove, the tractor pulled out of the field and rumbled down the road.  Time to stash the pen & put my shoes back on. (It was getting warm.)

A couple miles to the next field and parked again.  No hesitation this time.  A weathered wood post said matter-of-factly, "Me next."  It was an odd angle and the foreshortening was a challenge, but I dove right it.  We weren't there long and I didn't finish.  However, in the process, I realized something.  Though I have grown accustomed to, and will continue to use, the tidy dark Microns & Copics, a nice fine ballpoint is a better match for my sketching style.  Little discoveries like that make me smile.  Ahh - insight.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Failure is not Fatal

Tuesday night I found my pottery wheel mojo again.  It was more elusive Thursday.  The following two Winston Churchill quotes are stuck in my head.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal.  It's the courage to continue that counts."

"Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

I know he was definitely not referring to clay pots, but these wise words apply to my pottery throwing experience thus far...  Ugh - that's awful.  Yay - it's working.  Oh no - it's collapsing!  Ah - how lovely.  Bleh - not so much.  You get the picture.

I plan to sketch my pots and post the drawings, but haven't had the nerve to sit in a wide open classroom and whip out the sketchbook & pencil.  I'll get there - hopefully.  In the meantime, it's been awhile since I shared actual sketches, so here you go.

The garden sketch that resulted from my daughter's inspiration.  Cretacolor graphite pencils in my pocket Moleskine.

If the muses are failing, draw your feet.  It's kind of a mantra.  This is the first page in the Hand·Book sketchbook.  It is tucked away now until I finish the three other sketchbooks in progress, but I had to try it out with the new pencils first.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Where the Links Lead

I found something today that every single creative human should read, especially if you're an "I do it when I have time" creative.

The blogs I follow often link to another intriguing blog or article, which has a link to something else of interest.  This could go on endlessly.  Today it was James Gurney's post about Ernest Watson and his pencil techniques.  The comments section had a link to Kathy Hodges' Art and Nature post about the paper Mr. Watson used.  I then found her post about the struggles of painting when time allows.  In it, she linked to an Onion article "Find the thing you're most passionate about, then do it on nights and weekends for the rest of your life."

Go read it.  It's accurate, funny, sad and motivating.  Seriously - go read it.
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