Inktober2018

Somewhere around day 18 I had the thought that I should have been blogging my daily drawings, but by then, well I decided to wait until the end and post them all together.

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This is my first year participating in the Inktober challenge. I rarely sketch at all let alone draw or sketch every day.  Generally when I prep for a painting I jot down a couple stick figures or some simple lines to plan my composition and then I jump right into painting. So the daily act of drawing something was quite new to me.

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Following the prompts for each day was interesting as well. I tried to stay away from the mundane or more common images for the specified word, but some days it was just easier to do something simple. I saw so many people doing full scale pen and ink paintings, and quite exquisite drawings – DAILY, even full page cartoons. I applaud them all. I was lucky to get the simplest sketch done without breaking blood vessels in my brain. Still, I think as the month waned I took a little more time to create better drawings and to give more thought to interpreting the word prompts. All in all it was a great exercise.

Inktober

I will try to continue to sketch daily on my own through the end of the year. Who knows, this might really turn into a very good habit.

*Note: we are 11 days into the new month and I have only added 1 new drawing to my sketchbook. But in my defense, I have nearly completed a new painting so I’m going to call it a win. 😉

A Measure of Success

How do you measure success? For me, the measure of my success is gauged by how much I’ve grown in a specific area. Like a fitness plan, if the goal is to lose weight and I can see the pounds coming off, then voila, success!

My constant goal is to be better at executing my art and in that vein, I subject my paintings to constant comparisons – sometimes to that of other artists but more often to art I’ve created previously because I am only as good as my last painting. We all have our favorites and then there are those creations that are recycled or painted over – much to my husband’s chagrin – because I have no desire to hold on to works that I feel are subpar or that I’ve lost interest in.

Then there are those that, at the time of creation, I thought were fairly good (sometimes great). Those are the pieces I hold onto even though I sometimes cringe as they pale in comparison to more recent work. I keep them because they are great indicators of my growth, therefore my success as an artist.

When I think of growth, I’m not talking changing my style of painting or making art. A change in style is acceptable and expected as an artist matures, but a noticeable change in technique, composition, color harmony, etc., are, I feel, better indicators of growth, therefore success. Often when I look at some of my earlier works, I think “do over” and challenge myself to a rematch.

There are not many things in life that allow us the privilege of a do-over. Luckily for us artists, do-overs are available at any time. All we need is a fresh canvas, piece of paper, sketchpad, chalk board, piece of clay, wood, some wire, cloth, yarn – whatever our medium, and we can start again, and again, and again until we think we’ve got it right…

Until the next time we stop to measure our growth.

Which brings me to these two paintings. I am still not overjoyed with my execution of the hands on the lower image, but boy oh boy, I think I’ve traveled a great distance towards crossing the line of success with this painting. As for the top painting, which is well over 10 years old, I am planning a do-over very soon. I’ll keep you posted.

As long as I continue to work at my craft in earnest and I can see some growth, I am happy. Sometimes I grow by skips and hops, other times by leaps and bounds! Either way, with growth success is eminent.

What yardstick or scale do you use to measure your success? Drop me line below.

Spin Cycle

(2 rights don’t make a wrong)

Fathers and sons
Caught up in a spin cycle
Heavy loads with
Temperatures rising
Debating euphemisms
And imagined truths
Ideologies
In a whirlpool
spun out and
Hung out to dry
In a world pool.
No fluff.

Ancestors agitated
Visionaries aggravated
Fruit-of-their-loins
Clotheslined by
Societal “norms”
So oxy clean
They’re oxymorons.
More on principle
More fodder for the principal.
Old school
New school
Home schooled
School of hard knocks.
No time for recess.

Cool down
Tumble
Tumble
Low heat
But never quite dry
Never really clean
Slowly revolving
Quickly evolving

Wash.
Rinse.
Repeat.

 

March Madness

Every year during the month of March I celebrate my birthday with some whimsical make believe adventure. Last year I “cruised” around the world sailing to various countries on multiple continents (a virtual bucket list of vacations) and posted gorgeous pics that I borrowed from the internet. The year before was filled with very colorful hot air balloons in all shapes and sizes and colors, photographed during spectacular sunsets, beautiful sun rises, rainbow colored skies, and over breathtaking landscapes.

I like to refer to this year’s fun as the celebrity edition (My brother said I had too much time on my hands, :-p) So for every day in March this year, I chose a celebrity whose birthday was that day and inserted myself into photos with them. Each with a caption that identified them via song lyrics, movie titles, or quotes and together we sent out birthday wishes to all of my friends.

This little exercise was particularly therapeutic for me as I had been experiencing a mental block with creating my own original art and this proved to be cathartic while providing me a creative outlet needed to maintain a daily routine – and my sanity. For everyone that played along thank you. I hope to be back to creating new original works real soon.

 

If You Have It, Flaunt It

 Time to dust off unused treasures.

Do you have a set of china that you only pull out once or twice a year if ever? How about a gorgeous piece of jewelry that you only wear on special occasions? An antique chair that no one sits in?

I have a set of china that I’ve owned for over 30 years. It used to be service for 12 but now it’s more like service for 9 ½ .  In the beginning I pulled the china out only for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Then I started using it more often when the kids were teenagers (hence the reduction in pieces).  Now, the kids are grown and gone, but I’ll still set the table for a date night with my husband;  Sunday dinner; when having guests over for any reason; or “just because”.

I learned long ago that having something just for the sake of having it adds no value to my life. We acquire and hold on to things because they appeal to us somehow – because of their beauty, their functionality, or simply because someone dear to us has given it as a gift. But for these things to be truly special in our lives we must USE them.

I say that I learned this long ago, but funny, how lessons learned can quickly be forgotten. Or, if not forgotten, then not universally applied. Some time ago, I’m guessing between 6-9 years, my boss at the time (who was also a great friend – more friend than supervisor) gave me a Christmas present. It was the most exquisite sketch book I have ever owned. Yes, a sketchbook. Although we worked in real estate he knew that my true passion was art, and the thought that he put into this gift simply blew me away. It has been my most cherished sketchbook ever. Cherished yet void of sketches.

I always laugh when people marvel at my art and say “I can’t even draw a stick figure”. If they only knew. You see, my “sketches” are nothing more than doodles and stick figures and notes. For me they are meant only to be the road map for my finished painting. More likely than not, I will end up taking a detour in the middle of that painting and I make corrections and modifications as I go along so I don’t usually waste time with a full-blown drawing.

Imagine my excitement and awe when he gave me this sketch book, this masterpiece of heavy, sketchbookdeep burgundy colored, leather, hand-stamped and polished, filled with handmade papers stitched in, each and every page separated by a vellum sheet. My God, how could I just put doodles and stick figures in it? I would never, ever deface such beauty.

So I put it in a special place in my studio, kept it dusted and protected for so many years…

As I approach the second anniversary of my dear friend’s passing I’ve decided it is time to fill my sketchbook.  How could I let sit and be barren for so long? Well, it’s a new year and I’ve decided to create some new sketches – drawings with meaning, drawings that I take my time with, drawings from which I will actually learn something. And if an occasional doodle or stick figure finds it way there, so be it. If a painting happens to emerge from any of my new sketches, all the better.

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Nelson Mandela

In honor of Tim R. Taylor who passed away on February 10, 2012 and in honor of Black History Month, I’ve added what I think is a deserving first drawing to my prized sketchbook, my rendering of Nelson Mandela. Tim, if you didn’t know just how much I love my sketchbook, I hope you do now. Thank you, Boss. I miss you.

Tell me about your unused treasures that are waiting to be what they were meant to be.

Wishing you Joy in the New Year

At the end of every year  I try to purge old files and do a general cleaning of my office and inevitably I come across something that I had tucked away in a book, a corner, or a drawer that I was going to get to “later”. This year I uncovered a few poems from an old friend that I have not seen nor heard from in many years. 

We both belonged to a writer’s group that met up every couple of months or so and as writers do, we exchanged thoughts, fleshed out ideas, shared our writings, encouraged each other, and practiced our craft. It was great fellowship and highly inspirational. I don’t know where she is these days but this poem is the PERFECT opening act for this New Year. And I’d like to use her words to express my sentiment for you in 2014.

BTW, if anyone out there knows Lori C. Fraind, tell her I’m looking for her and would love to read her new works.

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Insist

On joy, Consist

Of joy. Persist

With joy. Be kissed

By joy. Exist

In joy.

Smudge your forehead

With joy. Beat your breasts

With joy. Splash your pulse points

With joy. Get joy

Under your fingernails.

Make joy

Your fragrance. Your best protection

Is joy. Your most powerful suit

Is joy.

Let the dawn

Bring joy. Make the day

Bright joy. See the sunset

With joy.

Your best revenge

Is joy. Bridge your differences

With joy. Hurdle your obstacles

With joy. Meet your challenges

With joy. Leap headlong to your goals

With joy.

Exist

In joy. Be kissed

By joy. Persist

With joy. Consist

Of joy. Insist

On joy.

–Joy, 1996

Perception

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I took an old painting off the wall the other day and set it on its side on the floor while I hung another in its place. I don’t quite remember when I created it and even though I’ve received many compliments on it over the years, I never really liked it.  It’s an OK painting, OK enough to display but not OK enough to sign. There was always something about it that, to me, wasn’t quite right.

 As I stepped back to look at the newly hung art, my eye caught that painting on the floor, on its side, and I thought “wow”! It was a totally new painting. And suddenly I loved it. It used to be an abstract painting that didn’t quite hit its mark, but now…

 My particular abstraction began as a beach scene. The problem I had with it was that it looked like a seascape gone wrong. It wasn’t rendered well enough to be realistic and not abstract enough to be, well, abstract.  Being a realist artist, I generally see things in abstract painting that may or may not be intended and subsequently I have trouble seeing abstractly. 

 I made a comment recently that I wanted to attempt to create an abstract painting and hoped that I wouldn’t fail at it miserably. Some people questioned “failure” because by all accounts it would be “abstract”, so who would know (hint, the artist ALWAYS knows).  So I felt obligated to explain that, contrary to popular belief, an abstract painting is so much more than paint thrown onto a canvas – that much thought goes into the process and execution. As much as a realistic drawing or painting can be poorly rendered, so too can an abstract.

But here is one of the things I love most about abstract paintings – there is no “right” side up. You can display them anyway you want.  Sure, they are most likely painted from a certain perspective by the artist and exhibited that way to others – as the artist sees it – but when you break it down that old adage still holds true,  it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

 I recall Maya Angelou saying once that “when someone tells you who they are, believe them.”  I think that holds true of art as well.  Art can be both timeless and timely. However you look at it, if it’s saying something to you, it’s safe to believe  what you experience from it.  For me, I have a new perspective based solely on what the painting says to me. If perchance it moves into someone else’s collection, the new owner may hear a different story, see another angle. Fortunately, it’s finally an abstract and the only “right side up” is the side that speaks and says, “this is who I am.” 

Now I look at my new painting and only see remnants of its former self and eventually those too will disappear.  Moreover, I see an abstract I feel comfortable  enough to sign.  It’s still not at the top of my creative achievements but it’s a start.