What a busy year it has been! Most of my creative time and energy was poured into the development of my calendar (there are a few left!). My evenings for the first three quarters of the year were consumed with painting the originals, and so my sketchbooks have been slow to fill. In the last couple of years I have been measuring my “productivity” as an artist by how many sketchbook pages I fill, aiming for a daily practice. The drop in sketchbook pages filled this year bothers me a little, I will admit. I have issues these days with measuring productivity as a creative person, the two concepts seem at odds given that I am not trying to make living out of it, but that’s a subject for a whole separate post!
I explored more drawing styles this year, mostly as a result of participating in various online art classes, but have been particularly pleased with the comic portraits that developed and the whimsical girls that have appeared of late.
Here’s a flip through of my last completed sketchbook. (Click here if viewing in email or RSS reader)
I have also started to use the process of creating messy journal pages that have layers and layers of paint, and words and collaged elements, to work through whatever it is that I am feeling at the time. Invariably these pages are melancholy or anxious. It is a way for me to lean into and explore the shadows that we all inhabit from time to time, and to make sure I don’t let the negativity drive on this immense road trip that is life. Using art as therapy like this is something I want to explore more of. I have signed up for an e-course that starts early in the new year to learn more about this style of creating.
In much the same way, my mood and feelings seep into my regular drawings. This is happening more and more as I discover who I am, and allow complete honesty with how I am feeling. I grew up in a subculture that devalued and suppressed feelings and emotions, so being honest with myself and embracing that is a new and freeing thing. It is interesting to me that this is flowing out into my creative expressions without conscious intent. Those closest to me can read my emotional state by looking at my art even if I have not consciously sought to communicate it, and sometimes when I do not recognise it myself. I drew the elf below thinking that she would be a sweet little christmassy addition to my sketchbook. I like the way she turned out, but when I photographed her to add to IG I saw sad eyes staring back at me, she looks truly melancholy. I was so surprised! I hadn’t felt particularly sad when I was drawing her, but I was a bit down and had various anxieties simmering in the background. I guess they needed to come out.
This is an obvious happy piece that I enjoyed creating:
I am beginning to think that I will never have a set, recognisable style for my drawings, I like exploring too much; trying new things. I really am still so fresh on this creative adventure, and so I take real joy in trying new media and approaches to how I fill my pages. As I mentioned before, I have signed up for a messy journalling course, I have also signed up for a more whimsical one too. They will run side by side for a little while, so I may end up with some curious results 🙂
Here’s a slide show of all of my sketchbook pages for the year. The progression in styles and content is fascinating to look back on. (Click here if viewing in email or RSS reader, if you want to see it full size on Flickr)
What do I want for my creative practice in the year to come? I don’t think I will take on a large project like the calendar again in the coming year, it took more brain power and connected effort than I am likely to have available. I would like to try to develop rapid figure sketching skills and work more on urban sketching — likely in combination — so that I can bring an active human element to my on-location work. I would like to capture more of my life in my sketchbooks alongside the whimsical and nonsensical stuff too — what do I care about and what do I feel about the things I see and the places I go?
Thank you all for visiting my blog and tagging along this year as I continued to play and splash paint around. I hope you will join me next year!
If you have not found it yet, I have started writing again and have launched a blog for non-art related scribblings, including my word of the year posts. Pop over and visit.