This time three weeks ago I was sitting in the Barrowboy and Banker Pub at London Bridge …. today it is the location of a terror attack. It is a sobering thought. The thing I love about the Londoners is their ability to deal with this stuff without turning it into a major drama. They are not pushovers, but they respond rather than react. They have been dealing with terrorist attacks since WWII… from the Nazis through to the IRA and now wahhabists. It shows. They will carry on, and they will continue to live and thrive in their gorgeous city that I was lucky enough to explore for a short while. London, I love you.
Phew! January has been a challenge! If you remember my post from a couple of weeks ago (here), I said that part of nourishing myself was to curate what I let into my head. This has been an issue this month in two ways. Firstly, the US inauguration and the aftermath has tested my willpower to stay away from social media to the limits, and dragged up a great deal of emotional baggage to deal with in the process. It is difficult to ignore something as globally destructive as the new president and his administration, I want to disengage completely, but it is everywhere and has such broad ranging effects that I need to be aware. People are passionate on both sides of the fence, but do not engage has become my new mantra. It’s just more peaceful that way. No-one ever won a battle on Facebook or Twitter. I am nourishing myself by choosing my battles and limiting exposure where I can.
The other challenge to nourishing my brain space came when I realised that I had failed to take into account my propensity for overthinking. Everything. ALL THE TIME. Whilst I may have worked hard to limit the toxic material going in, I forgot that there was stuff already in there that I would think about, and obsess about, and have to deal with. The realisation that I could take some control over it all came when I read the following sentence on Kelly Exeter’s site:
…you don’t HAVE to engage with EVERY thought that enters your head.
This is a good thing…because I get a LOT of them. Choosing which ones to engage with will be the trick. 🙂 Baby steps required!
January has been nourishing in many small ways too though. New habits have been formed for nourishing my body in sustainable ways. Food, gym, and sleep habits are well on the way.
Art, as always, is my soothing place, but it is also a place of play and excitement and as I practise daily, I get a little better each time. I particularly liked the way the drawing above turned out. It shows my crazy thoughts and imagination, and it reminds me of the road ahead and to keep taking steps to get where I want to be. Nourishing my creative practice is probably the easiest of all my goals for the year. 🙂
Onward and upward as we roll on into February!
How are you going with your goals for the year? On track? Any major detours?
Where has 2016 gone? It seems that this year has flown by in a blur!
It’s that time in between Christmas and New Year where I have a week off work and I take time to relax and get ready for the year ahead. Before I charge into the new year though, I want to pause and say thank you to you, my readers and followers here and on Facebook and Instagram, for your support this year.
Interacting and chatting and sharing tips and tricks with me on social media; and
Supporting and encouraging my exploration of art and creativity.
I have drawn and painted so much more this year than in any previous year that I really feel as though I am beginning to find my way as an artist. I have played with all manner of different styles and materials, joined my local Urban Sketchers group , taken part in an EveryDay in May drawing challenge [here and here], created gifts that I hope have brought smiles to faces on special occasions, and taken classes to help hone my craft as I try to find a style that is peculiarly my own. Thank you for coming along for the ride!
Click HERE to take a look at my sketchbooks for the whole year. I didn’t quite crack 200 drawings…but there’s a couple of days left yet, I think I might just squeak in a couple more drawings! It’s interesting to see the progression in certain types of drawings (buildings in particular) and the different styles I experimented with. I can easily see which drawings were done on location and which were completed in the studio and which ones I rushed through. I think my favourite drawing for the year is this ladybug or perhaps this dandelion. Do you have a favourite?
In 2017 I am looking forward to splashing the paint around again and working at improving my drawing skills, thinking about what new products I can add to the store, but also writing more again. Many moons ago I used to have a blog that focussed on my life and what was happening at the time, and I miss the writing aspect of it. I won’t be re-opening that blog, but I will be writing and posting here more regularly; sharing more about what I am learning, adventures that I take, what inspires me and hopefully more. Please pop in a bookmark or subscribe so that you don’t miss any updates! I would love to hear about your adventures in art and creativity. Please tell me what you think about my posts, interact, share with your friends, and tell your stories too.
What do you like to do in the time off between Christmas and New Year? Do you get time off? Do you take a family holiday? Are you ready for next year? I’m not sure I am, but it’s coming ready or not!
I have been pushing myself to include more portraits in my sketchbooks this year…everything from five minute sketches to more considered pieces. I have enjoyed exploring different styles and learning new techniques. SktchyApp has been a fabulous resource for interesting faces to draw!
For the past six weeks or so I have been joining with a couple of hundred other students from around the world to work through Liz Steel’sSketchingNow Buildings course.
This sketch of the St John the Baptist Cathedral (Canberra)was drawn about six weeks ago during the first week of the course. We had looked at various types of sketches from painting the negative shapes, painting the abstract shapes and then finding the edges of the building and attempting to see the volumes that made up the complex buildings we selected. It is easy to see that this sketch has perspective issues and lacks any depth to the edges of the roof lines and the windows. It is a very flat representation of the cathedral.
The sketch below drawn today (from a slightly different angle) and I am very pleased with the change in detail and approach, and I can feel that this building has some solidity to it, and the overall proportions are far better (though the onion dome thing is still a little big). I spent about 45 minutes on this one… I think I could probably have slowed down and paid a bit more attention to the lifework, but it was blowing a gale and a little unpleasant. I am also slowly refining my urban sketching kit so that it is less juggling and more art-ing :). I am most pleased with the reduced stress levels that Liz’s method has allowed. Over all I found this drawing far more relaxing and meditative than it’s predecessor.
For the sake of comparison I had a bit of a dig back though my old sketchbooks and found this one… I think this is the very first building that i attempted to capture back in 2010…it really has no body to it at all and looks like cardboard cutout of a house.
This vignette was drawn in 2012 on location in Sydney. The elements of the building seem pasted on and I did have a go at adding at light and shade.
By comparison, this building at the ANU was captured last week on location, and whilst a little wonky in the verticals, I can feel it as a solid object occupying space, and it presents me with a recognisable facsimile of the building.
This one was done the weekend before, but this time from a photo I took in France a few years ago. I am especially pleased with the details in this one. My goal is to try to bring the relative precision of studio work to my onsite sketches. I have tendency to rush and it shows in the lifework in particular of my urban sketches.
i have loved every moment of the SketchingNow Buildings course and look forward to practising and capturing my local area and the places that I travel to.
On whim late last month I decided to sign up for the Every Day in May drawing challenge and joined up to the Facebook group to share my drawings each day with hundreds of other artists around the world. I started out the month in fear and trepidation, and not enirely sure that I would be able to keep up with completing a drawing every day, but I surprised myself and had a great time meeting new artists via the Facebook group and being exposed to a vast variety of amazing art from around the world as we all worked though the same prompts and exhibited all manner of amusing interpretations on the theme each day.
This ladybug was my favourite piece of the month:
Here are five things I learned from this month of drawing:
1. Practising every day does improve your skills slowly but surely – as the month progressed I found the sketching part of the process flowed more smoothly. I was seeing edges and proportions and shapes in abstract terms and drawing what I could see far better than before, which in turn meant less erasing and re-drawing. As a side note I also learned that the sketchbook/black pen combination I chose that I chose didn’t like erasing so much, so I switched over to using a red lead in my mechanical pencil and left the under-drawing as a “feature” 🙂 . You can see the faint red lines int he ladybug picture above.
2. A sketch is very different from a piece of finished art – some days I had more time to complete the drawing than others. Somedays I had half an hour and had to squeeze it in between other tasks, somedays I could take several hours to complete the piece by drawing at lunchtime and then painting bits and pieces over the course of a more relaxed evening. The products of each look very different, and I found myself fretting at times about the stuff ups and about the less polished pieces. In the end I came to the realisation that there is no right or wrong way to do things in your own art journal. It’s your space to fill how you please. If you only have a few minutes to scribble a sketch one day, that’s fine because at least you are drawing SOMETHING, just don’t expect it to look like a page you spent hours on.
3. The challenge was a good place to practice new techniques I was learning from online classes – I have been watching YouTube and Craftsy lessons of late as a way to fit some art tuition into my life. Rather than creating different pieces for practising what I learned, I simply applied the techniques to my journal entries. As a result, I have a bunch of disparate styles of art in there, and that’s ok too 🙂 .
4. I got really angsty about having to post a drawing each day, I did not want to miss a day and get behind, which probaby says more about my mental state than anything. I can easily see the days when I really couldn’t be bothered but was drawing because I had to and my emotions are on full display for anyone that knows me well enough. Subtleties in the neatness of the lines, or the colours chosen, or how playful the interpretation of the prompt is. (Don’t go back and attempt to psychoanalyse me 😛 you won’t get it even close to right.. professionals have tried and failed.) Though I will admit that I possibly need to relax when it comes to meeting self-imposed deadlines.
5. I can make time to draw or paint each day if I really want to – I have used the “I’m too busy” excuse far too often in the last year or so, but I have culled a bunch of activities out of my life that no longer appeal to me and I’m left with a couple of things that make my heart sing…art is one of them. Now to put a little discipline around developing my passion and not allow myself to get sucked into procrastination and meaningless timewasting 😀 No more excuses! A little practise each day adds up over time to improve skills and hone techniques. And I hope to complete some larger projects this way too. This exercise has sparked a bunch of new ideas for things to paint and play with!
Will I keep drawing every day? Yes! I likely won’t post a full drawing a day, but rather work at having a piece of artwork on the go on my desk at all times so that I can choose to sit for hours to work on it, or sit for 15 minutes while I wait for the veges to cook for dinner. And of course the urban sketching will continue as I capture the sights and scenes of the world around me as I explore. I you are interested in seeing work in progress shots you can follow my Facebook page or Instagram for a broader cross section of life and the things that feed my creativity.
Here’s a slide show of all 31 drawings. I had a blast and will definitely be doing it again next year!
If you would like to see some of the other offerings from my fellow artists…the group has a public Flickr group HERE that you can browse and enjoy.
My scooter had to go into the workshop for a service this week and I was given a little Vespa scoot to ride for the day. I was somewhat unconvinced that it would have the oomph to get me where I needed to go without getting flattened on the freeway. It was only a 200cc … my Honda is a 250… what I failed to take into consideration was that the little Italian number was about 100kg lighter than my Honda. I liked the comparative zippiness of the Vespa…though I didn’t like feeling like I was sitting on a chair and speeding along. I think I’ll stick to the cockpit feel of my Honda for now. Though it is definitely time for me to consider trading up. Something with some storage so I can go touring and drawing around the place. I have been bitten by the bike bug 🙂
A couple of weeks before Christmas I had a weekend to myself so I packed up the car and drove out to a small town nearby that I knew to have a lot of old buildings that would make good sketch subjects. My intention was to do a series of saleable artworks, so I had prepared a bunch of boards with watercolour paper taped securely, gathered up my pencils and pens and brushes…but what I hadn’t prepared for was a change in the weather.
When I left home the sun was shining and the day was shaping up to be fabulous… not too hot for sitting outdoors and drawing pictures, which is a not unimportant consideration in Summer here. I was excited about my first purpose-planned painting en plein air expedition. Nature had other ideas though. By the time I got to Braidwood, clouds had gathered and the odd spot of rain started to fall. Undeterred, I grabbed my camera and wandered the streets taking reference shots just in case the rain decided to stay, smiling at strangers and dodging small children running to get to the local lolly shop.
The rain decided to stay, but instead of going home I drove around until I found a building I could park near and draw without being parked in by the tourists that were coming and going and parking in odd spots with large caravans. I did the base pencil and then ink sketch for this one sitting in the car as the rain began in earnest.
The Albion Coach House – SOLD
A little later the rain stopped and I seized the opportunity to get out and draw another fantastic old building.. I got all of the pencil under-drawing done and most of the ink drawing complete before the rain came back with a rush…if you look closely there’s a couple go inky rain splotches in this one 🙂 Just as well I took photos before the rain set in, because I used them to finish the drawings at home.
The Literary Institute – original for sale in my Etsy shop (link on the right)
I loved my day out sketching even if the weather did not want to cooperate, I’ve discovered that getting out and drawing in situ is a lot of fun and refills my creative energy stores… I’ll definitely be doing that again!
It’s time to decorate in readiness for the Christmas season, and because I was in need of a tree-topper, I took an afternoon trip out to the Bredbo Christmas Barn which is about an hour or so down the highway. I was lucky enough to get the last white star for the top of my tree… and a couple of other little things that made me smile.
On the way back I passed this little church and stopped briefly to capture it in my sketchbook. This is a very quick sketch and much looser than I normally do, I really enjoyed splashing paint around with abandon! Who said you have to colour in the lines?? 🙂
Remember there’s 50% off in my Etsy shop until 16/12/2014 (use the coupon: CLEARANCE50 when you check out). Click here to see what’s available…. art makes fabulous Christmas gifts!