Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dogs in my Sketchbook

Since Wednesday there hasn't been a lot of time for art.  Thursday was a snow day -- and though my children are old enough to take care of themselves, I look at these days as a rare opportunity to spend time with them.  On Friday, I dashed about before departing for my daughter's dance competition.  We left after rehearsals on Friday evening, then were up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for a LONG day dancing.  Let's just say that costume changes, hair changes, etc, don't leave a lot of time for art.  We got home at 1:30 a.m. this morning.  (And, just because I want to brag a bit, here's a photo a friend took of my younger daughter during her solo -- only the younger one danced this weekend --  dancing to Pat Benatar's song, Heartbreaker.  Yep, she's dressed for the 80's, complete with a motorcycle vest and ripped leggings.)

At any rate, today is for catching up on household chores and given the hour of our return this morning, I'm a bit slow on getting things done.  I decided to sit down for a bit between errands and peruse my new book, Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists by Carla Sonheim.   It's a collection of 52 different drawing exercises to help you focus, try new techniques, and hopefully, make drawing "...a pleasurable activity rather than as an opportunity to beat yourself up."  Sounded like the perfect book for me.

Well, so far the book is on the mark.  I had so much fun doing Exercise #3: My Pet Project (the book is designed to let you do whatever exercise fits your mood).  In one aspect of this exercise, Sonheim suggests we try to draw our sleeping pets.  Though the target is to draw for only one minute, I decided five minutes for each drawing was better for me; I just don't move fast enough or confidently enough yet to make quick gesture drawings.  Look, look, look -- I ended up with three drawings that look like dogs! Whadd'ya know?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sketchbook-ing is Hard for Me

I've often wished that I felt more at ease with visual journaling.  Heck, I even wish I was a better doodler.  But it's not something that I feel comfortable with.  I'm more of a plodder and planner.  I very rarely work intuitively; I most often think through a plan and pretty much stick to it.  I rarely just "do" something.

That can get a little boring.  In my life, I've learned to go with the flow and be flexible, but in my artwork.... not so much.

To that end, I decided to join the Sketchbook Challenge. It's certainly out of my comfort zone and, hopefully, will force me to experiment.  I'm hoping that by sketching, I'll loosen up a bit and find a new way to express myself that isn't all worked out at the beginning.

Well, I've failed thus far in the "don't plan too much" category.   This month's theme is "Highly Prized".  We're supposed to visually represent what we hold most dear in our lives.  My first thought, of course, was my family.  But no way can I draw them!  (Failure #1 -- I didn't even try)  Then I thought Long and Hard about how I would represent them; what was in my limited bag of tricks?  (Failure #2 -- just go with the flow!)   I decided, after three weeks of tossing and turning, that I would draw an initial and some item that belongs to a favorite activity of that person.  (Failure #3 -- too much planning!)

I have, however, actually managed to make two pages in my sketchbook, more than I've ever done before.  (Success #1)  I discovered that I really like the brush tip Pigma marker.  Don't ask me why; it just speaks to me for some reason.  (Success #2 -- finding a tool that works).  I've also discovered that I like the look of ink and watercolor.  (Success #3 -- finding a look that I like). Alas, my pages are all ripply because the paper isn't watercolor paper, but that's okay.  (Success #4 -- being okay with something being wonky!)

Here are my first two pages, for my husband and my son.  They're certainly not works of art.  They're simple quick drawings (as I intended) that hopefully get my point across.  A third page, about something I like outside of my family, is in the works.  My daughters' pages .... well, I'm still thinking about those.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Making a Fool of Myself

Last year, my Fiber Art group decided to step outside our comfort zone; we challenged ourselves to create conceptual art that somehow related back to fiber art.  You can see all the fabulous pieces on our group blog here.  

Unlike everyone else in our group, I put on a piece of performance art.  I was videotaped and now, because I don't have any new art to share with you,  I am caving to private emails asking for a viewing of my silliness.  Please do not have a drink in hand as you watch; I didn't intend it to generate guffaws, but I certainly did.

Enjoy yourself at my expense.  Remember, I am an amateur and this is very raw video.  Please, please please -- DO NOT post this on YouTube!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the Streets

Last year I stitched a piece I called On the Streets in response to a challenge for my Fiber Art NE group.  You can read about all the pieces in the challenge here.

While I was happy with the outcome of the piece, I felt it needed something to make it grittier.  For the life of me, I couldn't articulate what that was .... until recently.  As I surfed the Web, I came across images of signs held by the homeless.  The images were part of a collection held by Willie Baronet, a Texas artist who decided to ask the homeless if he could buy their signs.  In turn, he has used them in his art and to raise awareness of the issue.  One way he's done so is by asking volunteers to gather in groups along busy roadways, each holding one of the signs; it's quite an arresting sight and a compelling piece of performance art.  You can read more about his work at .  

In my opinion, these signs were exactly what I was looking for and Willie graciously granted permission for me to use images of the signs.  Here's my revised / updated On the Streets.  What do you think?

-- If you want to know my opinion, here it is:  I'm drawn to the harsher reality that appears in this piece.  However, I do think I'll make another thread sketch as before, but with more charcoal next time.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Another artistic arrangement of trash by the roadside.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Few Final Chores

The Christmas trees have already been taken out and just a few house decorations remain to be put away.   I admit to feeling a little bittersweet as I return things to the closet.   This marks the end to a fun and full season.

However, as soon as all the household chores are taken care of, it's back to art.  Until then, here's one of my favorite recent photographs.  This bike was by the trash, but frozen in place.   When it thaws, I'm going to try to rescue it!