Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring has sprung!

I'm just loving everything about this time of year, from the beautiful weather, to the amazing greenery to the colorful flowers and trees in full bloom.  Every time I walk out the door-- or just look out my window-- I'm in heaven!

Linking up to Sophia's Sunday Sketches!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Defining My Style

I've been struggling lately, feeling a bit like a dilettante (well, a lot like a dilettante), playing with "artsy stuff" but to what end?  I've always loved anything with a creative side and have picked up a number of "hobbies" throughout the years.  I get all caught up in them, purchasing every art tool, medium, book and class to feed my obsession, but I have not ever really settled on just one thing, never really defined myself as an artist or created a signature style.  I look at some of the artists who I gravitate toward and they all have a very distinctive style, even when they move outside their go-to medium, their style carries over and shines through. 

In contrast, I feel like my style morphs with each new interest I have, each new class I take. I can't seem to decide whether I want to do lettering, watercolor painting, pencil sketching, portraits, landscapes, urban sketching, etc., etc., etc...  Every time I see someone who does these things really well, it inspires me to want to try it.  But when I focus on one or the other for too long, I start feeling uninspired, like I want to try new things. 

Maybe there's nothing wrong with that.  I'm not trying to foist my amateurish skills on an unsuspecting commercial audience-- although I've been tickled pink that I've had a few requests for that lately-- so maybe just following whatever interests me, without defining a style, is okay.  Or maybe, someday, when I least expect it, I will be able to look at what I'm doing and see some sort of consistency, something that makes it mine.

In the meantime, I'm just going to continue learning as much as I can from those masters who inspire me.  Right now, I'm doing that through Joanne Sharpe's Artful Alphabets class.  Lots of great ideas from Joanne and a wonderful, sharing community of fellow students have me stuck on lettering right now.  Here's my attempt to apply the lettering to something beyond just writing the alphabet (I've got my ABCs down pat now!).

And if you're looking for real inspiration, please check out what my friends at Paint Party Friday are up to this week, too!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Messy Book

Despite my best intentions, I have been absent from here longer than I wished to be again.  But, no use dwelling and all that... I'm going to just jump right back in.

I recently joined Lisa Wright's Messy Group, focused around a book by Keri Smith entitled Mess.  It is filled with exercises that encourage one to just get messy.  Very liberating... especially for those of us who may have a touch of the control freak in us. 

Several of the other participants got their book a few weeks ago and have jumped in with both feet.  My book arrived a week or so ago and, rather than madly jumping in as I usually do with new books, I peeked at a few pages and then put it down on the corner of my desk.  A day or so later, I picked it up and flipped through a page or two, and then gingerly placed it back on the desk, looking at it out of the corner of my eye every so often and telling myself that I really NEEDED to get going.  I read posts from those more daring than I about placing their book out in the rain and the snow, putting moldy items in bags and placing them in the book, using raw eggs (for what, I'm still not sure).  I began to think that perhaps this really isn't for me.  The idea of an egg on a plate disgusts me.  In a book is just beyond what I can endure!

Last night, I picked up the book again and randomly opened it to a page with grid.  The instructions were to select ten colors in any medium and fill in the spaces of the grid in a pattern.  Here's where it gets kooky, folks.  Somewhere in the grid, you have to INTENTIONALLY insert a mistake.

Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect by any stretch.  I make LOTS of mistakes.  But not intentionally.  When I do make a mistake, I agonize over it. I try to fix it (inevitably making it far worse!).  But, this didn't require raw food so I thought to myself, it's now or never.  I pulled out some new, very juicy Prismacolor markers and went to town on this grid.   I used bold, bright colors.  I didn't care if I stayed neatly within the lines. 

And, horror of horrors, I did not put anything behind the page to keep these bold, juicy markers from bleeding through the page.  I know, I know... you're thinking, "wow, she lives on the edge!"  But it turns out that it created this kind of cool, honeycomb like pattern on the next page, for which the exercise was to use all the colors you have on hand to fill in the 5x5 box on the page. 

Now, I think the fact that I didn't even stay within the 5x5 box should surely grant me a pass on the egg exercises, no??

On a slightly different note, when I look at these pictures on my computer, they are vertical, but when I post them here or to facebook, they are showing up horizontally (rotated to the right). Has anyone else had that problem or know why it is happening (or more importantly, how to fix it?)  I took these pictures with my phone versus scanning them as I used to do (and I never had this problem with the scanned pics).  Any thoughts greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Words to Live By

Earlier this year I participated in the 2012 Sketchbook Project.  Once you register, the Art House Coop (project sponsors) sends you a small Moleskin journal, tagged with information specific to you.  Ultimately, your journal is housed as part of the permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library.  Before that, all the journals are part of a multi-city tour, where they can be viewed as part of a traveling show.  I thought that was a pretty cool way to connect with sketchbook junkies around the world!

The rules are fairly simple.  You can create whatever you want within the cover of the journal you receive.  You can add pages, subtract pages, alter the pages, use different paper, etc.  At the end, the journal must be held within the original, tagged cover and must have the same dimensions (height and length) as the original. Because I wanted to use watercolors and some bold inks, I choose to create on heavier, watercolor paper instead of the thin paper that was in the original journal.  I THOUGHT that it would be an easy task to just create my pages and then staple them back into the cover.

Not so much.  It turns out (and I discovered this just a day before it needed to be postmarked!) that a stapler that will reach to the center of the journal spread is apparently impossible to come by.  After much thought (well, as much thought as can be thunk in a panicky 24 hour period), I decided to sew the pages in.

Now, anyone who knows me will be having a good chuckle right now. (Suffice it to say that one time, while attempting to hem a pair of pants, I managed to cut a hole straight through the thigh... yes, that's right, the thigh!)  As far as the sketchbook goes, though, I ended up getting the pages attached to the cover (perhaps a little overzealously) and mailed it off. 

All of this got me realizing, however, that maybe I need to start now in preparation for Sketchbook Project 2013.   More importantly, I would really like to have the flexibility to create my own journals with hand-picked papers and varying numbers of pages for other projects as well. 

It's taken me several months, but I'm now on my way.  I found a great book by Alisa Golden called Expressive Handmade Books and have started with the simplest project, a basic accordion-style book:

After following some simple folding instructions to create the folds, I crafted covers out of covered cardboard and voila! my first handmade book. 

I recognize that this is pretty rudimentary, but I'm looking forward to finding more styles to play with. Given that I'm a visual learner, I will no doubt also scour YouTube for some great instructional demos.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Absentee Doodling

I can't believe it has been a month since I last posted.  It has been a crazy and  introspective year for me in many ways and while I haven't had much time for "serious" art, I have continued doodling away as a means of distraction, stress release, inspiration, sleep avoidance, work avoidance, chocolate avoidance, etc... :-)

I think part of my issue is that I feel like I shouldn't be posting anything unless it's real art, but my sweetie has been encouraging me to post more often so that I can go back and see trends, progress and sources of inspiration over time.  He is completely right-- smart man!  I find so, so many things that interest me that I want to try and then I lose track of where they came from or how to find them again. 

This year I have been trying to take some online classes.  I keep telling myself that it will be easier to fit them in my schedule when you can take them at your own pace, but I have not been able to carve out the time to really jump in as much as I'd like.  I think I need to take a no travel vacation-- just a couple of weeks off to do nothing but revel in artiness! Doesn't that sound just like heaven??

Late last year, I took Lori Vleigen's LetterLab class and it was wonderful.  I just love Lori's sweet, distinctive style. 

I enjoyed that class so much that I was encouraged to take Joanne Sharpe's LetterLove class.  Also fantastic.  Another artist with a very distinctive style.  I so admire that as I believe I'm still trying to find my own.  This past week, I enrolled in Part II of Joanne's class, called Artful Alphabets. It starts on Monday and I can't wait!

Can you tell that I'm a bit obsessed with lettering?!?

Well, in attempt to broaden my repetoire a bit, I have stumbled upon another class that appears to be a dream!  Martha Lever-- yet another source of great inspiration-- recommended an art "playground" called 21 Secrets.  There are 21 distinct classes-- one taught by Martha, by the way!!-- all wrapped up into one program.  I've enrolled and have only had time to dip my toe in the water, but oooohhh... it looks to be very refreshing.  I'm so looking forward to spending lots of time pouring through the classes and videos this weekend!

With all these classes, I should have plenty to keep me even busier in the upcoming months!  Woo hoo!

In the meantime, I've been trying to keep creativity out in front... when I don't have time to engage in any of that serious art, at least I'm doodling about it.

I've been missing my sweet, creative friends over at Paint Party Friday so I'm linking up there, despite it being late in the day!  A whole collection of great artists there... check it out.  You won't be disappointed! 
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