I started this daily drawing practice nearly 9 years ago, with the intention of getting myself to prioritize art-making in my life. It has been really rewarding; I look forward to spending time every day, basically dreaming while awake and playing with art materials.
The daily drawings have a way of expanding to fill the time available, and soaking up most of my studio time. With more free time and a proper studio, I’m starting to feel a little frustrated by having a backlog of projects that are never quite finished, and drawings I wish I could spend more time on.
I’m going to try a shift in my ‘rules’ for the daily drawing: I will spend no more than an hour on each one. This will mean that sometimes what I post will not feel finished to me, or may be more of a sketch or an idea. If I continue working on the drawing, I’ll post the finished version on the page with the original post, and flag it on the various social media (currently Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Ello and Instagram)
I’m including some views of my studio just for fun. Can’t get over my good fortune in having such a place to work in every day!
Studio blog notes: I’m finding more often that I’m not finishing the drawings I start for my daily page. Whether it’s that I’ve gotten more ambitious, or am simply growing in to spending more time in my studio, I now have stacks of drawings I want to revisit in one way or another. This is interesting, and I’m not sure how I will integrate it into the basic premise of my daily drawing. I’ll try to write a dedicated post about that soon.
I’m finding it hard to reconnect with the freedom of my daily drawing practice after the month of portraits. I think for a little while I will limit the time allowed on the daily drawing, partly to force myself to be less fussy, and partly to make sure I have time to finish my other May projects!
I gave myself Beltain Eve off so I could attend to the serious business of making sure Old Man Winter was well and properly disposed of.
This is my final “April” practice portrait. I’m so grateful to friends who sent wonderful photos of themselves and loved ones for me to practice on, I certainly know interesting folks!
I feel like I learned a lot, and got a sense of how much more there is for me to learn. But for now, it will be nice to get back to my stream-of-consciousness structure, and more flexible time – each portrait took about 3 hours, and I do have other projects that need time and attention.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, I shared a post like this on Facebook:
“20__ Pay It Forward: I promise something handmade to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. However, to be eligible, you must re-post this status, offering something handmade to 5 other people. The rules are that it must be handmade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 20__”
This is an 11 book edition. Each volume contains a dozen prints of my daily drawings, which are thematically related. It’s been a long time since I did much bookbinding, so I used this edition as a chance to practice rusty skills. So though your book may be imperfect, I hope it will amuse you!
I’ve sent 5 books off to the people who responded to my original post. I will keep one book for myself, which leaves me 5 to give away. If you are interested in receiving one of these books, comment here or send me a message before the morning of Tuesday March 13th. I’ll choose 5 people at random.
I would like the rules of the game to be observed; if you receive one of these books, please then find a way of giving something you made by hand to 5 other people. Obviously I don’t care if it takes you more than a year to do it!
I did a little “process” post a few days ago, and felt like I didn’t really say much of what I wanted to get across. (see 11 February 2018)
So I took photos again during this drawing, whenever I paused between spates of scribble and brush, and I’ll try writing about it again.
I started this blog, not as a showcase for my fabulous talent (lol) but because I had determined that if I really wanted to feel like I was taking time in my life to make art, then I had to take time to make art. Every day. The blog was a way of holding myself accountable. I hoped it might also provide encouragement for other people who were feeling creatively stuck. So it felt important to show all the work, even the stuff I personally thought was weak or lame.
My big block was that I love art-making and have some skills, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with it. I was stymied by choosing subject matter, and was super judgmental about whatever I made. I dismissed drawings that were playful, whimsical or sweet as being trivial, but had no idea how I’d make ‘serious’ art. I’d get a bit bored focusing on observational work, even though I think it’s really good to do occasionally for skill-building. And I do really love a good still life, landscape, portrait, or nature study. I long ago dismissed the idea of trying to make a living in the arts, because I was not able to stand up even to my internal critics. Some of the actual critiques I faced in my few years of formal study stopped me from exploring large format painting, which I still haven’t picked up again, 30 odd years later.
I determined to choose parameters for my daily drawings that would give me enough distance from my internal critics to get around them. I try to get into each drawing session with a clear mind, no preconceptions about what I will produce. I keep a range of materials handy, and try to settle down until I feel an intuitive push toward some material or idea. I try to stay as open as I can during the whole process, working with whatever happens rather than criticizing it when it’s not what I intended or expected.
So with that background, here’s what happened during my drawing time on 2/13/18:
So I’ll call this the drawing for today, put the date on it, and turn it loose on my blog. Sometimes the drawing snaps into focus sooner or later, and I can tell a more coherent story about it, but this is not one of those days. Still, I really believe that nothing is wasted, if you’re paying attention.
Sometimes the drawings that start out the most frustratingly aimless end up going somewhere that I rather enjoy. It can be really hard to hold space open to trust that something worthwhile will emerge. I ought to do plenty of intentional, observational work to expand and refine my drawing/painting “toolkit”, but the point of this daily practice is to not let any deficiencies get in the way of exploring this visual space of dreams and play.
A dear friend of mine, who knows about my fondness for tying sticks together with twine, commissioned me to make a sculpture for her gardens.
My friend gave me a piece of driftwood bark, which you can see on the far right side of the above photo. The other sticks in the picture were potential supports that I didn’t end up using; they were too stubby and I couldn’t configure them to display the bark and keep it up off the ground.
This branch, trimmed and turned upside-down, ended up giving me the base I needed.
Below is my original mock-up of the sculpture. I liked that it resembles a heron standing alert and attentive.
For some time I had my eye on a beautiful root attached to a stump across the street from my house. Last winter, a snowplow knocked the root loose and I was able to collect it. That made the perfect stabilizing base for the bird-like legs, and the whole piece finally came together.I treated the wood with a consolidating finish, which made the bark tougher and put a weather-resistant coating on it. This is my first outdoor piece, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see how well it survives.
I’m so grateful to have friends who are willing to support my work, and encourage me to try new ideas and directions!
I’ve started experimenting with ways to display my drawings. I participated in an Art Salon in February, for which I framed three pairs of drawings. I chose paper to edge and set off the drawings, and covered the frames themselves with a contrasting paper. This worked well enough for temporary display purposes, but is not a very durable presentation.
Another idea I had was to make leather-covered frames. So I tried that out on an older drawing, and was pretty pleased with the result:
Just recently, I sold one of my drawings and the buyer asked if I did any framing, so I showed them my earlier attempts. They asked if I could make a leather frame and protect the drawing with glass. Here are some process shots and the result:
structure before leather was applied
backside with hanging hardware
It was fun to apply my bookbinding training and tools to this challenge, and I’m pretty pleased with the result. Though I don’t have any formal training in framing, I believe this is reasonably archivally sound. The drawing only touches acid-free paper on the back and edges, and is suspended away from the glass. It won’t be hard to take apart and remove the picture, should that become necessary. I’m looking forward to getting feedback, and maybe eventually making some more frames for more drawings!