Tag Archives: process

13 February 2018

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:

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I love this color green. I have some caran d’ache water soluble crayon stubs dissolving in little pans, this is one I’ve used mostly for accents of blue-green but today I just wanted to wash it over the whole page. And then worked some swishy lines in. I like the opposing curves.
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I got a new crayon, the dark red makes nice veiny lines. I don’t think that’s going to be a tree any more . The swishes now seem more like feathers or twine. I like the mycelial network feel of the red.
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3. Now the network seems to be enclosing a stone. Maybe it’s a seed of some sort. The yellow will hopefully warm up the whole picture, and set off the feathery lines better. I still have no idea where this is going or what it’s about.
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4. Now the green wash seemed oppressively cool, I really wanted the blue stone to glow more. I tried warming and brightening some of the green just so make some contrast. Also darkened the original opposing curves, which from this distance now remind me of a tree trunk (right) and tornado (left) but I didn’t push either of those images. I was getting tired! The feathery things are turning into something like stiff brushes. I’m really trying to keep the stone-enclosing network central and important!
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5. OK I’m pretty much done. I’m a little frustrated; I don’t know where to push this to make it feel more satisfying to me, and I’m really pretty tired. This is an OK place to call it finished, I guess. And I still have no idea what it’s about. But I like the blue stone-seed thing. I like that green with purple accents – peacock colors! And I like how a few lines of india ink can make me feel better about something that felt lacking in definition and contrast.

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.

Thanks for looking and reading!

 

 

I can’t resist resist

I lately stumbled back into playing with wax resist techniques in my daily drawings. It’s been a while since I dug into this, and my daily drawings are giving me a chance to do some more focused exploration into how to get the results that I like. I’m still a ways from satisfied, but the journey is great fun. I took some snapshots as I went along on one of my recent drawings to give an idea of my process.

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The first layer is colors ( I think water colors in this case) and lines drawn with hard (8h) pencil. A layer of Neocolor I crayons (the non-water-soluble kind) and/or oil pastels goes over that.

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That gets covered with ink. In some drawings I use watercolor instead.

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The ink gets scraped off after it’s dry. This is the “uncovering buried treasure” part of the drawing that I enjoy so much. Sorry about the unfocused photo!

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In this drawing I wanted to play with scratchboard techniques, so I went back over some parts with more ink.

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Here is about where I ended up.

One side effect of my recent run of resists is that I got time to finish up a drawing I started last summer, while waiting for the ink to dry. I was looking at “zen tangles” with my sister-in-law, and drew a couple  of line drawings to fill in with patterns. More dancing princesses!

tangle-dancer-copy

…..And… here are the drawings I posted in the past week all in a bunch:

 

 

Tricking myself into carrying on

Over the long weekend I went to a gathering that I’ve gone to annually for a number of years now. Attendees spend the weekend in “clans”, using focused activities to do whatever personal work is in front of them. In 2009 I was in the Otter clan, working with the idea of establishing daily practice. That’s when I formed the intention of making a drawing every day, and actually did the first drawings.

One of the earliest obstacles to daily practice was facing my own expectations. I got to the end of a day, exhausted and just wanting to go sleep; didn’t think I had a drawing in me. My husband observed that I never said I had to draw something excellent, just that I had to draw something. Even if it was just a circle on a page. Don’t let myself off the hook for doing something each day. As it turns out, some of those 30 second doodles are wonderfully amusing or evocative! A thing I tell myself at the beginning or early stages, when I’m faced with a blank page or something that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is that there is always something interesting to see, wherever you are. There’s not really a way to fail.

Soon after I started the practice, I decided to post the drawings as a form of accountability. I made a decision early on not to apologize or self-critique the drawings I post. I’m simply showing what I came up with during my drawing time, not exhibiting polished and finished products. The odd bits and shortcomings I might see are actually a part of what I’m trying to convey – they show the process, point out places I might want to explore. This is part of what I tell myself when I post drawings I’m not especially pleased with or proud of. Sometimes I post drawings I really feel are throw-aways, but get comments that show me things I didn’t even see I had done. So much of this practice has been about finding tricks that help me to get out of my own way.

It’s been seven years now, which seems like a good number. That’s long enough for me to see some contours of the journey. I’ve had time to watch myself deal with resistance and discouragement, and time to develop some confidence. It’s also long enough that I feel this is a part of my life now, it’s just one of the things that I do.

My drawings from the past week. I brought limited drawing supplies along to Twilight Covening, which often prompts me to stretch a little. Being out of my studio sometimes offers the chance to do more observational work, but it turned out that I didn’t have much time to focus or be alone. I took time where I could, often while listening to conversations among friends. What came out on the page is memory, dream and mood.

 

 

 

28 September 2016

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another evening in a pub after a long meeting, no studio time so you get a glorified sketch.

I don’t draw people from observation much. Though I was looking at specific people as I drew this, I wouldn’t call them portraits, I’m not good enough at making likenesses. But I find it informative to observe details that can later take shape in  imagination.

18 July 2013

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Sometimes I start with no particular focus or clarity, and end up piling more layers on hoping that eventually something will emerge that feels like a completed drawing. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen.

So here you go. It’s sort of a horse peering over to nuzzle what started as a sort of jug and ended up more like a cherry.  Oh well, for what it’s worth, it’s a drawing for the day.