Friday Feedbag

February 23, 2018 — 2 Comments

The creative life is all about feeding one’s imagination with a wide variety of inputs – gathering inspiration, provoking thought, tickling one’s fancy — and then making connections between all these disparate little bites.  Picture, quotes, music, videos, silly little things. Here’s a selection of what grabbed my attention this month, perhaps some of them will inspire you too.

 

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

Thomas Merton

 

I remember spending hours looking at dad’s National Geographic magazines when I was a kid. Their photos are still as inspiring 40 years later.

 

Some writing advice from TS Eliot.

I love watching the world at night. These photos speak to my soul.

I need this laundry bag. Om nom nom

Clever man! (if you are reading this via email, click here to watch the video)

Ever wondered how the bendy straw was invented?

To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive.

Robert Louis Stevenson

My grandmother passed earlier this month and this song came on the radio as I was driving home from spending a week with my parents in Victoria. It made me cry. I love how powerful music is in creating movement in my life. (if you are reading this via email, click here to watch the video)

 

I have a new project brewing with a planned release date of early November … stay tuned for details!

Remember to sign up for email updates on my blog because Facebook and Instagram both restrict what you see, and sometimes I get buried in the noise of the interwebs. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the madness! There’s a link over on the side bar. I promise not to spam you, and I will never on-sell your details to anyone.

I was doing a bit of a mid-Summer-Spring clean the other weekend and got rid of a whole bunch of crap that had collected on my bookshelf. Bits and pieces from my dog that passed in May last year, motorcycle cleaning products, sunglasses that I cannot wear because I need prescription lenses. You know…the usual stuff that has no business being on the kitchen shelves, but collects there nevertheless. Then I got to the shelf where my completed sketchbooks live. It was messy and the books that I had shoved in unceremoniously over the past couple of years were balanced precariously and threatened to fall out. So I pulled them all out, sorted and re-stacked them, and as often happens, I could not resist having a flip through some of the older ones to see if I had made any improvement — because you know — procrastination. I told myself it was a mid-task reward.

Nice clean shelves after I had procrastinated for a considerable time

I found an old drawing of a cargo pant pocket from 2012 and it seemed to me, without looking any further afield, to be far more polished and advanced than some of the pieces I have been producing in the last six months or so. It surprised me and made me wonder why.

201821108 - cargo pocket

I really like this drawing. I did it not long after I decided to try to make sketchbooking a regular thing in my life

What was the difference between the pocket drawing and one of this year’s drawings for example? This one below I did from a holiday photo, for example. Or the Bomber Command memorial sketch which seems almost childlike in comparison. After some thought I came up with a few things that I think might be the case for me and my drawing.

20170913 - westminster

I did this one lunchtime from a holiday snap on my phone. It really just did not work at all.

20171228 - bomber command

This was one of those sketches where I knew what I wanted to do in my head, but it did not translate to paper.

Spending less time on each drawing on average

When I was making those drawings back in 2012 I had more time on my hands. I was working full time but in a different set of life circumstances and I had larger blocks of time to give to drawing. My drawing was a haven into which I could escape, and I was hiding in my process. It was natural to spend a lot of time getting my sketches just right.

I had a different approach

Back when I drew the cargo pants pocket, I used to think I had to make sketchbooks full of pretty, polished pictures. I wanted to be able to flip through a sketchbook and see pages and pages of stunning drawings. I didn’t want to waste my precious sketchbook pages with scribbles. I wanted my sketchbooks to look like those of artists that had been drawing for years and were naturally more polished, when I had only been painting with watercolour for a year or so. (here is an example of what I wanted my sketchbooks to look like) So I paid more attention and worked slowly and deliberately. I was intent on making “worthy” pieces. I didn’t succeed, but that’s what I thought a sketchbook should be, and so I tried to achieve that.

There are a lot of factors that I can see that have an impact on my sketches in 2018, six years down the track.

Life in general

These days my life looks a lot different and I am exploring myself as a person as well as sketching techniques a lot more. I am trying to find my voice, so I try different things, different styles. I don’t care that my sketchbook doesn’t look like a published picture book, nor that it’s inconsistent. Now I have pages of paint swatches and colour mixes and scribbles from testing out pens. I am figuring out what I like to look at and what I like to do and how to pour my heart out onto the page. And that’s far from a neat thing to do. Life is messy, and so are my sketchbooks.

20180113 - skin tone mixes

There are several pages like this in each sketchbook where I am playing with paint to see what sort of results I can get.

Practice and learning

I use the time in my sketchbooks to practice — I am spending time perfecting little things — the shape of a leaf, or diving straight in with ink without a pencil under-drawing, or getting the watercolours to blend smoothly, or making sure I have sufficient contrast in my sketch, or learning how to sketch quickly on location. Sometimes I fail spectacularly. And that’s ok. Sketchbook pages are fair game. It helps too that I have found a good value for money option — it means that I am not so worried about “wasting” pages.

20180209 - ColeusI always have problems drawing plants and dealing with foreshortening in leaves. So this was not only therapy but practice as well.

Available time

It seems often these days that the output in my sketchbooks is what I would call sub-standard because I don’t always have a lot of time to sit and draw. I have competing priorities that I juggle. I have other stuff that I need to get done, so I spend ten or fifteen minutes filling a page with something because I need to play with paint before I sit down to write or pay bills. It could also be that my standards for myself have shifted upwards over the years. I am striving to be better and more consistent.

20180214 - connect

This literally took five minutes. It was a writing night but I wanted to at least splash a little paint around!

Therapy

Sometimes I am sketching as therapy. Like everyone on the planet, things happen in my life that I don’t like, don’t know how to classify, or don’t know how to deal with. When this happens I use my sketchbook pages as a place to dump out the things that are whirling around in my head. It’s far cheaper than a therapist! Sometimes I can see the emotions in the paint strokes, sometimes it is the act of becoming absorbed in the drawing and painting rather than the product itself that is the therapy. My moods and feelings have a huge impact on what comes out on the paper. These pages are never going to look polished, because I’m not polished.

20170607 - meno medusa

Therapeutic … this one speaks for itself!

Artificial pressures

An odd thing that I found affects the quality of my sketches was having to do a sketch every day when I take up a particular challenge, like the Drawing a Day challenge with my Sketchbook Skool klassmates. I wrote last year about the Every Day in May challenge being a great thing, and it was, but I am having a very different experience this year. Feeling like I must produce something every day is taking the fun out of it, and sometimes I am so worn out and depleted that I really do not have the energy to pick up a paintbrush. Life is just like that sometimes. It’s a bit of a two-edged sword, because being pushed to create something each day also pushes me to think creatively and to improve my sketching skills by virtue of the fact that I am forced to be prolific. This in turn has an effect on what my sketchbook pages look like. If I am not feeling the prompt for the day, the drawing will be flat and lifeless. However, if I stumble on an idea that tickles my fancy, then the drawing will be far more lively or poignant and most likely more polished. At the moment I aim to draw every day, but accept that sometimes life just doesn’t allow for it, and try not to get wound up about a non-existent deadline.

20180128 - undone

This is an example of a “drawing a day” prompt quick sketch that worked well. I like the roughness of it, it adds to the feeling of being vulnerable.

So all things considered…when I look back and compare pages from different eras, I need to remember that the pages are not necessarily better or worse…they are just different. They each have their own context, and I would rather have something on the page than nothing. Done is better than perfect, as the old truism says — with each stroke of the paintbrush or pen, I am either learning something, soothing something, or celebrating something.

I should probably round this out by saying that I am not displeased with my current sketchbook contents. I am clearly making progress, and trust that I will continue to do so. I simply need to remember context when comparing sketches. Here endeth the existential crisis (for now anyway).

Click HERE if you’d like to see a couple of flip throughs of recent sketchbooks to see the variety of pages and sketches.

What sorts of things affect how your sketchbook pages look? Do you manage to be consistent in style and polish?

 

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I added a couple of new designs to my RedBubble shop this week! My mantra for the year (first mixed media – iPad and watercolour effort) and a whimsical purple snail (with and without the quote beneath) are available on a variety of clothing and household items in store.

 

I got my mantra printed up as a metal print and hung it in my bathroom where I will see it every morning and be reminded of the way I want to travel through 2018.  If you have purchased any of my pieces I’d love to see photos of you enjoying them 😀

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Feedbag

January 26, 2018 — Leave a comment

The creative life is all about feeding one’s imagination with a wide variety of inputs – gathering inspiration, provoking thought, tickling one’s fancy – and then making connections between all these disparate little bites. Here’s a selection of what grabbed my attention this fortnight, perhaps some of them will inspire you too.

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.

 – Seneca

 

How pretty are these pencils? Pass the sharpener!

 

The sensuousness of creating has always gripped me.

This stunning little guy walks around the Tasman Sea instead of swimming.

This made me laugh 🙂 Guaranteed to confuse your child learning to tell the time.

 

Nina’s urban sketches always inspire me to want to get out and draw more

 

There’s never been another moment like this particular one, and never will be again.

That means that at this moment, we have the opportunity to fully appreciate the miracle of this moment, and how it came to be from the infinite number of causes that created it from preceding moments. We are alive in this moment because of millions of other people who have supported us, because of everything on this planet, which just happened to be the perfect conditions for creating the person we are right this moment. What a freakin’ miracle!

– Leo Babuta

 

Loving this song this week

 

Embroidery good enough to eat!

Remember to sign up for email updates on my blog because Facebook and Instagram both restrict what you see, and sometimes I get buried in the noise of the interwebs. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the madness! There’s a link over on the side bar. I promise not to spam you, and I will never on-sell your details to anyone.

I don’t get out as often as I would like to sketch on location, so when New Year’s Eve was forecast to have some lovely moderate temperatures – as opposed to the crazy hot we normally get at this time of year – I put out the call to our Urban Sketchers group for an ad hoc get together and we headed in to the High Court. I had been wanting to draw the brutalist building for a long time. The facade is imposing, but the water feature that runs down the side of the ramp softens it somehow. I positioned myself down at the base of the ramp and listened to the water burble away as I sketched.

20171231 - high court

I had a little time to spare after the first sketch, so I turned my stool 90 degrees to look at the National Portrait Gallery and did a quick 15 minute sketch of the front entryway.

20171231 - portrait gallery

This Sunday just passed was a similarly cool day for our regular Urban Sketchers meet up. This time we were at Parliament House. I opted for an outside perch to see if I could capture the curved forecourt entry properly. It came up a little wonky…curves in perspective are tricky! I included the imposing flag pole as a collage element since it’s the most recognisable feature of the building, but couldn’t be seen from where I was sitting.

20180114 - New Parliament HouseI really enjoy getting together with my sketching buddies to take a closer look at parts of the city that I normally wouldn’t visit in the course of going about my days. It’s fun sharing a common interest wiht a bunch of equally crazy people 🙂

Friday Feedbag

January 12, 2018 — Leave a comment

I am sitting here this week suffering from the inevitable Summer sniffles and bundled up in a blanket even though it is 33 degrees C outside. I am so annoyed that I made it through my Christmas break without getting sick like I normally do on holidays, and then the first week back at work I get sucker punched. Ugh.

Here’s some of what grabbed my attention this fortnight as I fed my creativity, perhaps some of them will inspire you too as we head into the weekend.

Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.

– Victor Pinchuk

 

How beautiful are these fairy sculptures? I’d love one in my garden!

 

Struggling to get to sleep? Watch this for a while.

Everyone needs to hear these seven things.

Start your weekend off with a smile – I loved the field mouse!

This song relaxes me, I love listening to these guys when I paint.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if these were available at the office?

Happiest puppy!

 

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an an enormous reward. You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut

 

And last but not least .. who would not want a giant purple squid to keep them inspired?

 

Remember to sign up for email updates on my blog because Facebook and Instagram both restrict what you see, and sometimes I get buried in the noise of the interwebs. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the madness! There’s a link over on the side bar. I promise not to spam you, and I will never on-sell your details to anyone.

 

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind”  – Unknown

That is the mantra that I will use to set my intention for the year ahead, and I have chosen KINDNESS to be my guiding word.

Why did I choose kindness? It’s one of those serendipity things really. I started thinking about my hopes for this year in early December, collected a list of words that I felt fit the bill, and let it all percolate for a bit. I started seeing articles and art works relating to a couple of them consistently, and by far the one that waved its arms the most was ‘kindness’. Baader-Meinhof phenomenon at its best! Just like when you buy a new car, all of a sudden you see that make and model everywhere, I saw references to kindness all over the place! Even as I edit this post and procrastinate on Facebook, a friend posted a profile frame that said, “I believe in the power of kindness”. Thank you universe!

It may sound a bit Pollyanna-ish I suppose, having “kindness” as my word for the year … being kind to myself…being kind to others as a first reaction. Sounds naive doesn’t it? A bit like I’ve fallen headlong into the positivity movement’s blackhole?  Like I am setting myself up to be lazy about the things I need to do in my life and a doormat for everyone else? Perhaps inviting people to take advantage of me? No. That’s not it at all. Whilst it is true that I need to cut myself some slack (I have a tendency to run myself into the ground), I think I can be kind and yet maintain boundaries both for myself and for when it comes to interacting with other people. Consistent kindness doesn’t imply that I will tolerate appalling behaviour from others. Nor is it a cure-all for dealing with the political rubbish that threatens to drown us. Kind does not necessarily equate with “nice”, and I have no intention of returning to doormat status, nor do I intend to put myself in danger. Telling people no can be done with kindness. Makes me think of Churchill’s quote: “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.” Could easily substitute my word in there instead of tact!

Seth Godin said, when he spoke of kindness: “It scales better than competitiveness, frustration, pettiness, regret, revenge, merit (whatever that means) or apathy. Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness. It can create trust and openness and truth and enthusiasm and patience and possibility. Kindness, in one word, is a business model, an approach to strangers and a platform for growth.It might take more effort than you were hoping it would, but it’s worth it.”

Interesting!

In fact, I think perhaps that kindness might just be fabulously subversive – a theory I intend to explore this year. What can being kind achieve? What does it mean to be kind? What does it look like when I am being kind? Can I be consistently kind and not be annoying as hell? Can I be kind when I feel like death warmed up or hard done by?

The big question is…in the context of creativity… how might it affect the way I develop ideas and execute them in my artwork? What does it mean for my little business? I have no idea! We shall see as the year progresses.

Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.

— J.M. BARRIE

Do you select a word or guiding intention for the year? Share it in the comments below, and link to your blog if you have one, I’d love to read about your thoughts for the year ahead!

 

Remember to sign up for email updates. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the madness! There’s a link over on the side bar. I promise not to spam you, and I will never on-sell your details to anyone.

Sketchbook flip-through

January 3, 2018 — 1 Comment

So satisfying finishing a sketchbook! This is the second one I filled last year.

2017 in review

December 31, 2017 — Leave a comment

I am so glad 2017 is over.

I finished work a couple of days before Christmas and put myself into a fortnight of self-induced hermitry, which is exactly what I need to recover from what has turned out to be a somewhat prickly year.

20171231 - safe to come out yet?

Nourish was my word for 2017 and at the beginning of the year I wrote out a great long list of intentions for how I wanted to nourish myself and my creativity during the year. The crazy took over mid-way through the year and I found it difficult to stay focussed on the word itself in a conscious fashion, but still, I developed some new habits and made caring choices for myself when I was feeling most overwhelmed.

Possibly the best thing I did for myself this year was to make a conscious effort to curate my inputs. I rarely watch the news on TV these days, and only skim reputable newspapers each day to keep up with the basics of what is happening in the world. I have also learned the fine art of scrolling past material that irritates me – for the most part. When I wrote about being careful about what I read and watch in January, I was reeling from the election of Trump even though I live on the opposite side of the planet. The hyperbole and levels of stupid in the news and on social media had me so stressed out that it threatened to consume me. I am so glad that I chose to eliminate that from my brain food menu! As the stoics of old said … focus on what you can control, and leave the rest.

It has turned out to be an extremely challenging year from a health perspective, which in turn has curtailed my ability to get out and about as much as I would have liked. I cannot walk in the forest like I yearn to do. Heck, I cannot even walk around the block at this point. It is frustrating, but more troubling is that I think it has impacted my creativity. It is almost as though the ideas pool has stagnated because I am not moving. That’s not to say that I had a bad year from an art perspective; I have drawn more this year than last and created some watercolour pieces that I am very proud of,  but it has felt like I’ve had to push harder than normal to develop interesting ideas – they are not flowing like I would like them to. Sitting on my bum in front of a computer and scrolling for inspiration is one thing –  the ideas are going in – but they are filed away and not swirling around, mixing, and making something new.  What I have lacked is the freeing up of the mind to make connections that comes when you are walking and letting the mind wander. This article made me think more deeply about how my whole body is involved in the creative process, rather than just my brain and my hands, and something I will explore more next year. If I can move.

Here is a collage of my nine most popular sketches and paintings as voted by my Instagram followers:

It is always fun to see which of my sketches resonate with other people, and it is so encouraging and surprising to me that people are interested in what I put out there. It gives me a boost and the impetus to keep creating when I am feeling sluggish.

Here is a slide show of all of my sketchbook bits and pieces this year. (If the slide show doesn’t load click here to watch it on the Flickr site) It’s fun to look back at the year from a slightly different perspective. To see where my emotions were and how I progressed through the year.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that no-one has it all figured out. I thought, when I was a child, that by the time I got to the very old age of 40 that I would have everything under control, and know which way was up. Well … I don’t. I turned 47 a couple of weeks ago and am still none the wiser, but it seems I am not the only one. Earlier this year Anne Lamott gave a fabulous TED talk called “12 truths I learned from life and writing” many of her points resonated. This most of all: We are all much the same and everyone is screwed up in one way or another whether we want to admit it or not. 🙂  No-one has it all together or even sort of figured out. Good to know! So I will relax and continue to nourish myself with the habits that stuck, and look forward to a new year and a new set of habits to develop. (I’ll post next week about my word for 2018.)

Thank you for being part of my creative energy this year. I hope your 2018 will be fabulous and far better than 2017.

 

Remember to sign up for email updates. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the madness! There’s a link over on the side bar. I promise not to spam you, and I will never on-sell your details to anyone.

Friday Feedbag

December 29, 2017 — Leave a comment

The creative life is all about feeding one’s imagination with a wide variety of inputs – gathering inspiration, provoking thought, tickling one’s fancy – and then making connections between all these disparate little bites. Here’s a selection of what grabbed my attention this week, perhaps some of them will inspire you too.

20171222 - bumble bee

  • I found these bumble bee earrings via a random link on Instagram that I now cannot find….they make me happy when I wear them.
  • This two year old draws awesome skeletons!
  • I cannot begin to imagine how long this puzzle would take to do, but it is just gorgeous.

 

“Let us temper our criticism with kindness. None of us comes fully equipped.”

– Carl Sagan

 

This looks equal parts terrifying and fun!

I found this song via Susannah Conway’s blog…it’s a lovely cover of this one

 

  • I am in the midst of my yearly self-imposed hermitry as I recover from 2017 and prepare to launch into 2018. I found this post especially helpful as I try to refocus.
  • I really wish I was not allergic to cats.. they are funny!

 

Remember to sign up for email updates on my blog because Facebook severely restricts who sees my posts, and not everyone has Instagram. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on the madness! There’s a link over on the side bar. I promise not to spam you, and I will never on-sell your details to anyone.