i have succumbed

September 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

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I’m sick … I spent the day at home moaning and coughing and sneezing. Mercifully it was warm enough to sit outside for a little while with a coffee and my sketchbook to take in some vitamin D. This urn is the centrepiece of my courtyard and has deep purple pansies that are thriving and bright red cyclamen that are a little the worse for wear. Tucked in one side of the bowl is a little porcelain angel… I like to think she’s there watching over me.

 

By the way … I’ve just dropped the price on my eBook… check it out by clicking the Shop button on the right of your screen.

 

a Monet moment

September 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

monets studio

Standing in the open window of Monet’s studio window on a crisp Autumn afternoon and inhaling the heady mix of oil paint, dust and the perfumed garden was one of the most intensely spiritual moments of my life.

Even looking back at this photo taken three years ago I can feel the sense of peace and belonging wash over me palpably.

Sometimes you just connect with something bigger than yourself. It’s out of your control. Unexpected. It’s beautiful. Sometimes you just know.

 

a little rusty

August 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

 

20140821 - lunchroom

 

I was at a course for work this week and arrived at the training facility in the city a bit earlier than I had anticipated, so I scribbled a quick sketch of the lunchroom while I waited (added colour today). I found it really odd how the whole of the building was very modern and designed for a sleek professional feel…but the lunchroom had vintage-style bright orange chairs at modern tables and woven cane light shades that all seemed a little jarring to me… perhaps I am just not hipster enough to appreciate this kind of decorating.

I felt very rusty doing this drawing. More practice is in order I think!

connect-the-dots-steve-jobs

Last week I wrote about having a rotten case of artist’s block, and I’ve been thinking over it this week. If Steve Jobs was correct when he said that creativity is about connecting dots, then perhaps I am in a phase where I am collecting the dots to be able to join them up later.

My intake activities have been all consuming these past couple of months. I’ve been reading a lot of books … everything from biographies to novels to brain chemistry texts. I’ve been travelling and visiting new places. I’ve made new friends and experienced new things. I’ve been spending lots of time in nature. I’ve been watching TED talks and seeking out new information to feed my brain and my inner child who is waiting patiently until it’s time to create freely again.

I seem to be in a phase of collecting dots … random pieces of seemingly disparate information … I wonder what sort of picture I’ll end up with when it’s time to start connecting them all up?

How do you fuel your creativity? How do you gather the raw mental materials that light your creative fire?

dark rain

August 14, 2014 — Leave a comment

IMG_0660

 

It has been a sad week with the passing of one of my favourite funny men… Robin Williams. This is a sketchbook page I did during one of my lowest periods. The black dog is a persistent little bugger. Remember there’s always someone to talk to if you feel like there’s no way out.

 

The graphic below comes from an article over at fastcompany.com that talks about whether or not creativity can be taught. The interesting thing for me though is what they found out about when their study subjects had their creative breakthroughs. Personally my brain does overtime processing ideas in the shower. The next best times are in that semi-conscious state time between fully asleep and fully awake both in the late evening and early morning. I wish there was a way to bottle that and conjure it up on command!

What about you? Tell me about when you are most creatively productive in the comments!

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an unfurling

August 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

fern

Artist’s Block….it seems to be the bane of my existence at the moment. I keep showing up at the page. I keep writing and scribbling, hoping to unlock the flood of ideas that are mounting inside my head… but there’s just too much else going on. I have jobs to do, but I can’t seem to get motivated.

Perhaps I just need to sit down and work. Stop waiting to be inspired.

I sit and look at blank pages. I look at half done drawings. I pick up pens and pencils. I play with dip pens and ink and scrawl unintelligible words on scratch pads to distract myself from the real work I need to do.

Sometimes my brain is just too full or too pained to be able to allow the pictures to make it to the page. Sometimes I wonder what it might look like if I just let those thoughts and feelings out onto the page. Perhaps I should try to be less stilted and contrived in my sketchbook…stop trying to make final art and just let it all hang out… just keep showing up to the page and hope that eventually the rubbish gets exhausted and the good stuff starts to flow again. Or perhaps my rubbish is someone else’s inspiration… or perhaps it’s ok to just be rubbish for a while.

I haven’t drawn in my sketchbook in weeks. This fern drawing is from last year’s New Zealand sketchbook. I’m hoping as I keep trying, something will come out eventually. Baby steps.

Perhaps.

Perhaps it will all unfurl and flood the page in its own good time.

 

Creativity is intelligence having fun

                         - Albert Einstein

creativity kickstarter – tell me what you think!

I was inspired {and distracted} this week by this post by Lindsey Bugbee over at The Postman’s Knock blog. She created a calligraphy calendar she has called her “wall of shame” from an old painting covered over with blackboard paint. As fate would have it, I had intended to head out to the stationery store this weekend to pick up some sort of whiteboard to have in my gym area to track my workouts. The budget is a little tight at the moment, so I hesitated on the purchase… and I’m glad I did! I remembered that I had an old framed drawing of mine from the very early days of when I started doing graphite portraits… no contrast…iffy features…YUCK!  Time to get rid of it and repurpose the frame for my own wall of shame project. Given that this is a procrastination project and I am supposed to be cleaning my house…my credo for this one is quick and non-fussy … squeeze elements of the project in between chores as a little reward … at least that’s what I am telling myself!

1. starting place

Umm.. something not quite right with this picture.. Mr Denver just doesn’t fit… have to fix that!

I dragged out a full A2 sheet of paper I had in my stockpile… I don’t think it was even watercolour paper, possibly something I had intended for a graphite piece perhaps given that it’s about 250gsm and a smooth surface. I taped it to my plastic-covered dining table since it was too big for any of my art boards {with the exception of my A0 drawing board that currently has a half finished nude on it}. Predictably the movement of the plastic didn’t stop the paper buckling when I wet it, not that I particularly care for this one… quick and non-fussy! I mixed up a couple of watercolour washes and slopped them on the pre-wet paper to form an abstract background for my design to be applied to.

taped to table

A2 sheet taped to plastic table cloth .. and I wondered why it still buckled.. d’uh!

It dried a little darker than I had imagined, but that wouldn’t be a problem under a black ink design. I left it overnight to dry, but given the subzero temps here last night, it didn’t really dry properly….hairdryer and iron applied!

Over brekky I sketched up a very basic mudmap design for my calendar allowing space for the grid, a banner for the name of the month at the top and a box at the bottom where I can list the protocols and goals for the month.

2. mudmap

Second coffee for the morning and my trusty Moleskine and Lami Zebra

I liked the look of Lindsay’s henna doodles around the edge of her chalkboard, so I researched those too. How cool are these?

henna hand

Indian bride decorated for her wedding

henna belly

Henna design on a gorgeous pregnant belly

Next I measured up the grid and pencilled in the key elements for size and balance.

ruled up

Light pencil lines to guide the sketching

outline

Basic grid outline done

And then set to work inking in with a thin-point black permanent marker. I had toyed with the idea of using my dip pen and india ink…but I woke up to myself and remembered the quick and non-fussy credo for this {unplanned} project.

almost done

Slow but hypnotic work..got completely absorbed doing this!

detail 2

Bottom left-hand corner detail

close up 1

Partway through the bottom right

 

Eh voila! The finished design slipped into the old frame. The glass will act as a whiteboard that I can mark off my workouts and try to stay on track :)

finished but not filled

Ah! That looks like it belongs! Mr Denver is tucked in underneath the calendar to pad out the frame

Here’s what August looks like after I filled in the details with a dry-erase marker.

as whiteboart

Very pleased with how this turned out!

 

This was a good fun way to slip some creativity in between my housework today. Hope you had a creative day too.

Don’t forget to visit my shop … lots of new original artwork for sale as well as a new range of greeting cards alongside the old favourites.

This week I cracked out a dip pen and some ink and made a wedding card for a beautiful young couple (one of whom I held as a newborn babe .. But that’s a whole other blog post).

In this world of computers and phones as ubiquitous capture devices it has been a while since I have really handwritten anything more than a scrawled note while I’m on the phone, or the odd caption for a drawing in my sketchbook. I felt somewhat rusty!

It turned out well didn’t it? I was pleased. I hope they were too.

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I have always loved beautiful handwriting and I am a stationery addict par excellence. I have collected pens and paper and journals and art supplies since I was a small child. Pencils that smelled like strawberries. Erasers that smelled like grapes. Paper with deckles and imprints. Journals with creamy delicious paper. Aaaahhhhhhhh :)

When I was about 11 my mum gave me a fountain pen (an old Parker that looked to have been a piece of company advertising) and it was at this point that I believe I was truly lost… I have been obsessed ever since. The weight of them in my hand… the way the ink flows… the search for the perfect nib…and the best way to remove ink from my fingers. Not a lot has changed…except perhaps the price of the pens I buy….or lust after if I am to be honest…the Montblancs and Watermans are pretty much out of my price range at this point, but I am a huge fan of the Lamy range for both writing and sketching.

I went to school in country Victoria in the seventies in the days when we started each day by lining up in the quadrangle, doing jumping jacks and singing God Save the Queen. Ah the glory days…. *Ahem*

In the sixth grade I had Mrs Thompson… I was voted class president, and having used my power particularly unwisely, I made a lot of enemies and never really recovered any semblance of popularity that I might have had to sure me up for the entry into high school. She taught me a love of the english language and of good grammar, but she lacked art in the delivery of said beautiful language onto paper. She taught us standard Australian cursive script .. (Although it could very well have been Victorian cursive script). Suffice it to say, I was less than impressed. I had been waiting for years for the opportunity to be taught the beautiful cursive scripts that I had seen in books. I was sorely disappointed.

The shining light in that year of prepubescent angst though, was my maths teacher… Mr Cleveland. He was a large hirsute man, more than a little reminiscent of early seventies Elvis, complete with belly and oversized spectacles. What Mrs Thompson lacked in art, Mr Cleveland made up for with the line of hieroglyphs that lined the top of the blackboard in his classroom. The holy grail of handwriting … Copperplate Script. Those curls! Those swirls!!! Such beauty in contrast with the bland printed letters joined together with plain straight lines espoused by the seventies standard Australian cursive. Mr Cleveland was teaching his class how to write “properly” and I was jealous. So I hatched a plan.

For months, in the snippets of time between maths problems, I would try to copy down the letters on the board…attempting to follow the swoops and swirls with an unguided and unpracticed hand. Pages and pages of misshapen capitals and crudely formed lowercase letters in what could loosely be construed as words. As I filled my exercise book up with numbers from the front, I worked steadily backwards from the end pages filling the lines with rows and rows and rows of “a” “e” “i” “o” “u” and full alphabets all joined in contiguous streams of unintelligible loops and flourishes.

Over time I brought the ink into submission and developed a handwriting style that has been called on through the years to complete wedding certificates and place cards and various bits and pieces, and filled journal after beautiful Moleskine journal.

I am a little rusty at the moment, but I am reacquainting myself with the feel of the ink flowing out from my fingertips, adding varying pressure and new nibs and styles. I am loving it. Would you like me to write your envelopes for you? Would you like me to write your place cards for you? I can make them beautiful works of art for you! No computer-generated homogeneity … just beautiful hand crafted words. Watch this space for samples, or drop me a line in the meantime :)