Sunday, November 20, 2016

Back in the Saddle in a New Direction

My attempt at a lesson in Carla Sondheim's book, Drawing Lab.

Hello again! I must confess, it has been about 4 months since my last post, and I have no good excuse. I remember the usual oppressive heat of summer making me lazy and my health just being blahhhh. I took another downward turn with my Arthurs. They've been causing me a lot of grief ever since, in my hands, back, neck, shoulders. Then, during election season, I took a little longer break as it was so contentious (my Facebook timeline is just as bare) and I pretty much shut down as to sharing anything.

But I have not taken a break from art. My rheumatology physical therapist told me that I needed to work my fingers, especially my pincer grip. She knew I was a long time paper collage card maker and that I felt I could no longer make them (get the layers made and put on straight, etc.). She also knew my struggle with the deadlines. She also knew about how lost and melancholy it made me feel not to have an art niche anymore. I was gluebooking and So she suggested drawing, sketching, painting - just for fun. At first, I was like, no I can't draw, are you kidding me? I mean, I have drawn a few decent things in my life, but I always felt like I just got lucky with them. Then she said, LEARN.  Well, lol, I couldn't argue with that so I said okay and left, but wasn't convinced.

I looked into it and discovered for many artists it is simply PRACTICE. Over and over and over. At first, I spent several weeks sketching objects in my house, from photos, etc., always keeping it very simple. I didn't suck at it, and that made me feel better, but I realized that the sketch journal books I own seemed too advanced. I even considered taking an online class. Then I realized I did have one book that might help me: Carla Sondheim's Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun . All fun, no pressure. So, I've been working my way through it, and it does make drawing fun - ha! It's not a formal training by far, but as I took basic college art classes back in the day, what I learned formally I still remember for the most part, if rustily.

 I have also learned some important things through trial and error that have and do help me now that I've been drawing for a few months. I will share them in case they might work for others:

1. The biggest key to learning to draw is to BUILD CONFIDENCE that I can, in fact, draw, by choosing safe subjects ("I know I can draw this") and then throwing in at intervals some risk ("I don't think I can draw this"). Here's one of my safe ones, to which I did add some risk by using a pen - no safety net, but it was only because I was pretty sure I could do it, lol:

And here's one of my risks. You can see it is quite far from perfect (I have always been afraid of anything spherical), but I went with a loose, sloppy sketchery style and I like it a lot! I used a Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen - the very same pen as Jane Davenport's Epic pen. It really IS epic, just holding it loosens up your wrist. HIGHLY recommended.
Colored with J. Herbin fountain pen inks Gris Nuage and Café des Iles.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE and QUICK. Don't take on a subject that will take me days to draw (and I did just that a few times and learned it was wise advice). Choose to draw something every day that takes only 15-30 minutes. This helps build it into a habit (and builds confidence). What also helps is a smaller canvas for drawing -- I would be working against myself if I were trying to fill a 9x12" page every day, because that takes more time...and my finger joints dictate otherwise! My daily quick sketch journal is 4x5". I made it by cutting a 9x6" wire bound bought one in half and decorated the cover:

How I made my Quik Sketch Journal.

3. PRACTICE is the means and the end: Do not look at what you are drawing as a finished product in the making. I do scan and save every sketch. This actually helps, when the Finished Product Monster in my head rears it's ugly puss. I know I can always print out what I've sketched / drawn (I use these words interchangeably) on better paper for a finished product, just not right now. Or, I tell myself increasingly more, I can always re-draw it. More confidence builds more confidence.

An example of what not to do at first.  It took me a week to finish and messed up my daily simple and quick thing. Now that's it's done, I love it, but while it was ongoing I realized I had bit off more than I could chew.
Following these 3 rules, I have been able to succeed! Success is not measured by what my drawing looks like, day to day. It's measured by how, now, I'm jazzed to draw every day. I feel confident enough to do it...and to TAKE THE RISK, because there is no downside because I'm JUST PRACTICING. Is my goal to become a famous or well-regarded sketch artist? NO. My goal is to become better than I was, to get to DECENT. And to find pleasure in drawing instead of anxiety. That's it. I've always felt that I have some talent but that it wasn't quite enough to get to decent, and that's that. Now I know that my mistake was thinking you are either talented enough or not. No, if you practice, you get better. You develop the skills that make up the talent.

I will leave you with a never-before-shared card I made for a special loved one's birthday back in 2014. It's not a Thanksgiving Day card (I have not made one of those since 2011 and showed them already on the blog), but it does feature a cousin to a turkey:

Supplies: Clear Dollar stamp, Tim Holtz Rays stencil, distress inks, Pink Paislee Old School paper

Hope you have an Arty-Lectable Day!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

Hello Hello - Aimes here, all reports of my death are highly exaggerated! I've just been living in the Dog Days of Summer where extreme laziness is the key to a happy life. Finally felt like creating a blog post, so here I am. The card front shown above is a birthday card I made for someone who celebrated in NYC, so I used a TCW Julie Balzer stencil of the Brooklyn Bridge (I think!) to trace it on a card background I'd inked with my little finger sponge daubers. I used a Micron pen to trace the skyline and bridge, then colored in with purple zig marker.

I love how using that old Junkitz cardstock on front and back gave it a continuity and an industrial look. It got high marks of approval from the Millennial who received it. Would I do it again? Nooooo. Took way to long and got a horrid hand cramp at some point. It is a nice alternative way to use a stencil, though.

Here's what I made with some ribbon and flowers, die cuts and miscellany from my scraps and some Stickles. This birthday card is officially my last card since finally announcing on Facebook that my fingers are just too crippled to keep up with all the deadlines anymore. God, that felt so good...eventually. Went through some guilty days at first. Then, there appeared the huge Black Hole Of Habit that I've only recently escaped.

I guess almost 10 years of card making can cause an identity crisis, huh? Actually, I have no plans at all to completely quit. I'm only taking a vacay at present. I just wanted out of the expectation of having them made for others. From now on, if anyone gets one from me, they are either lucky or unlucky, depending on the perceived value, heehee.

However, even if my card-making vacay lasts a year, you will still be seeing "new" cards from me, as I still have a TON I have not shown here on the blog or even uploaded to my Flickr yet.

So, what have I been doing with my arty time? I will tell you, however boring it sounds.

I have been immersed in art journal page and background prepping, in these 9 art journals. (I do have one more, but it is only for glue book collage.) That top photo shows my 2 composition book journals and my wire bound DayRunner recycle. These are my oldest journals, probably began in 2006 sometime for the middle one, which is a journal of favorite quotes. The other two were started in 2009 when I began taking Kelly Kilmer classes. I am happy to report finally that every unfinished spread in these 3 are gessoed and background-painted, and ready to finish off. Another 3 months or so and they will be complete. I never thought I'd see this day. Yes, I am excited.

Now, the bottom photo shows my 6 American Express desk planners I have recycled into art journals. I may have 5 finished spreads and or pages in the whole lot. Maybe a third of the pages are gessoed, fewer than that background-painted. So, my goal is to gesso all the pages in these 6, then paint some layers, and have them ready to collage or draw or whatever.

I am not an art journaler who does a page or spread from start to finish in one night or even in one week. I actually like taking forever. While my first 3 journals had specific themes, these 6 are my eclectic mixed media journals and will be used to experiment in with product, technique, style, whatever. I hope to have every page gessoed but from there the page prep will vary. I want to be able to have different stages of pages to choose from. I have tested this approach in my older 3 as well as in one of the mixed media journals, and it really inspires me to be able to look through all the pages of varying layers and stages for the one that looks right for what I want to create in that moment. Don't know if I explained that well, but I tried.

The best part for me right now is that it's all mindless work - little to think about, lots of kinesthetic touchy-feely art play, love the brushwork, the paints, perfect for tv or music binging inside in the cool a/c. NO EXPECTATIONS. This seems to be my theme currently. lol

So I will leave you on that note. Hope you are finding ways to tolerate summer and maybe even enjoy it. Thanks as always for stopping by and checking in on me. I appreciate that and any comments you leave! Will post again soon! xoxo

Monday, June 27, 2016

Father's Day, Part 2

Hello again! Today, I'm sharing the other half of my Father's Day cards from the last couple of years, this time received by my husband. The card above was this year's card. I used some 12x12 Basic Grey Motifica paper and tag, Verve and Avery Elle stamps and a brad and ribbon from my Black Hole of Stash. :-)

The card I made Hubs last year used that infamous Junkitz patterned card stock with some gold Brilliance ink stamped on using Avery Elle's Circle-It! set, and a circle stamped with a sentiment from A-E's The-Man set. A little chevron washi tape finished it off.

This last card, made year-before-last, features Deep Red Stamps' golfer, and Verve stamps for the sentiments and oval frame. The paper is The Angel Company's Rustic Chic collection. Hubs is a big golfer and enjoys it a lot.

Hope your week is artilicious, and thanks for coming by to visit and hugs for leaving a comment! xoxo

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Revisiting Father's Day

Hello there. This week I thought I would feature the Father's Day cards that I've made that I haven't shared here on the blog. (To remind, I took a posting hiatus from mid-2012 to early this year.) The card above features a tag that I am entering in my friend Sandra's new weekly challenge, Go Tag Thursday. I used ink through a stencil to get the houndstooth design on the tag's background. I did the Cuttlebug Highlights technique I learned from Technique Junkies on the card's background layer. I tried to use patterns that reminded one of masculine fabrics and textures. The card also features Artistic Outpost Hats Off stamp set stamps, so I'll enter it in their Show Us Your AO Art monthly challenge as well. I made this for my own dad last week, who is both a gentleman and a gentle man, so appropriate for him. Plus, he loves vintage images, they remind him of his childhood -- he was born in 1927 and is a spry 89.

Here's the card I made him in 2014 (I gave him a store-bought card in 2013). This is probably one of my favorite cards I've ever made. It just turned out so nice-looking. I used papers by the Rustic Chic collection from The Angel Company, and the stamps are from Verve.

Here's the card I made my dad in 2015. I used those very old Junkitz card stock papers (remember the black and white dots and designs? Same collection.) Verve and Avery Elle sentiments stamps, 100 Proof Press truck stamp, and the little beer and burger stamps I'm not spending an hour looking for to tell you who made (my bad). The shape elements are actually discarded die cut scraps that were in my desk pile.

I will show cards I made my husband for Father's Days now and then next time. Til then, thanks a bunch for the visit and for any comments you may leave, and happy arting! xoxo

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ruminating with Rumi...

So, I finally finished that art journal spread, which is what I'm sharing today.

Looks a bit different than before, doesn't it? After I found the three line quotes I put on the right hand page, I realized that the first quote I'd handwritten on the left hand page did not really go well. So, I found a better quote, by Rumi: "Raise your words, not your voice. It is the rain that grows flowers, not thunder." (The 3 quotes on the right are "What the heart thinks, the tongue speaks." "Words must be weighed, not counted." and "Examine what is said, not him who speaks.")

And since my #1 objective at all times is to use up the crap I've got, I changed to alpha stickers and rub-ons to record the quote over handwriting. Not as pleasing to the eye or as artistic, but it uses up scrap crap. I glued the quote on a piece of deli paper that I glued onto the black page. 

Oh, and in the scan and all photos I took, the quote blends into the background way too much; yet in real life in person, you can see the quote clearly. It stands out and can easily be read. Photos are such weird things sometimes. They suck at capturing metallic and shiny things and depth-stuff, yet I rely very much on them to capture in-process flaws of composition and color.

I'm in one of those moods that has been with me for a while. Really not enjoying making cards anymore if there is a deadline involved. And I can't get ahead of the deadlines. And there is no paycheck in the mail for me so why am I working so hard?  I feel trapped by my own family reputation lately. (Like, if I don't send a handmade card or a card at all, what's wrong???)

We had and are still having a very wet June which means huge hand joint pain and stiffness. I really should start working on an announcement to family and friends, but one in between no more cards and cards as usual. More like, if you get any more cards from me, it's bonus time and nothing more. Yeah, still trying to figure out how to word that, haha.

And what if this is only temporary? I've thought maybe in that case I could just make cards to send to hospitalized kids. I like the idea and whatever I get made counts, and what doesn't get made is no problem. Such are the hard questions in life to answer, sigh...shaking my head...eyeroll. LOL Can you feel my trapped feeling? Seems like I'm wearing it like clothing!

Well, here's to good week for us all, and may art be a part of it. Thanks for dropping by and comments are greatly enjoyed. xoxo