Here’s an acrylic painting that I just finished up. It was an experiment using watered down acrylics, and I’m pretty excited about the result.
It’s called Ducky Dreams in Batik.
I’m going to try to post more of the sketches that I do throughout the week, just in case anyone is interested in seeing that aspect of the creative process. So, here are some sketches of the lilies my husband bought me when I returned home after being away for a week. (Isn’t he great?). (Also, feel free to enjoy the mysteriousness of the notes I scribbled to myself on the corner of the page):
There are MANY reasons why I sketch. Here are 5 that I can think of off the top of my head:
1) To keep up on my drawing skills. Like any skill, a person’s ability to draw can get out of shape. I sketch so that I can keep my skills at a certain level. Then I don’t have to put energy into re-discovering how to draw every time I have a commission.
2) To improve my powers of observation. Sketching increases my awareness of all things visual. Things like shadow, light, texture, form…
3) To discover new techniques. It seems there are ALWAYS more things that I can learn about my art-making materials. Sketching helps me learn different ways that I can use my pencils, pens, and brushes to get certain effects.
4) To connect to my surroundings and the present moment. It can be a rather meditative and spirit-nurturing experience!
5) To take quick note of something interesting, whether it be an interesting composition, object, scene, or idea. Noting such things helps me to remember ideas that I want to use for future projects.
Sharing my sketches is something I’ve been reluctant to do. It means that I have to swallow my pride. There’s a large part of me that doesn’t want to reveal the not-so-pretty things that regularly show up amongst my doodles. I am, after all, trying to show you why I’m a GOOD artist, not a bad one. But another part of me thinks that maybe, just maybe, you’ll find my sketches interesting enough to be worth looking at from time to time– the same way you’d find watching a behind-the-scenes documentary of a band or movie interesting.
Well anyway, sketching is part of being an artist. And making mistakes and BAD looking drawings is part of being an artist. Goodness knows, we all need to be realistic about how “perfect” we really aren’t. Then, making “mistakes” isn’t so scary! If everything is part of the process, then there’s no such things as “mistakes”! Just opportunities to learn.
And isn’t learning great?!
Oh, and since you listened to me ramble just now, here’s a bonus sketch of a birch tree.
The theme for Illustration Friday this week is “Spark.”
First I thought I’d draw the sparks that (I imagine) will one day explode out of the tangles of electrical cords that fill our apartment. But then I decided not to tempt fate and ended up making something a little less ominous.
So instead of exploding homes, here’s an illustration of an exploding heart. You know, like sparks flying during love at first sight!
I’m about to head up to Vermont to go skiing for a week, but before I do, I want to leave you with a little reminder of what there is to look forward to in the coming months.
SPRING! It’s coming, I promise. And with it, flowers!
…like this iris that I painted in watercolor…
So do not despair! Put your winter coat back on and tough it out for a few more weeks. Soon, Nature will unveil what she’s been working on these last few months. She’s a superb artist, after all. And a generous one, since after she reveals her fine artwork, all us little human artists get to copy it and use it as inspiration for our own “creations”.
I’m feeling a bit under the weather this week. As a result, I’ve slowed down artistic production in favor of getting acquainted with the couch. I have a hard time being sick because I don’t like doing nothing…it makes me feel guilty (even though I shouldn’t). Yesterday, I found myself engaged in the following dialogue with myself:
Me: I don’t feel well, I should probably just stop trying to “work” and let myself do nothing. Maybe I’ll actually be able to fall asleep. You know, like a nap?
Myself: Yeah, but you have stuff to do. Here’s a list of 100 things that I just made up that you should feel stressed about not doing RIGHT NOW. Also, I’m continuing to add to this list as we speak. And if you don’t do these things…well, you can’t even imagine how terrible that would be…
Me: But, these are all deadlines I made up…can’t I just put them aside for right now and think about them more rationally when I’m feeling better?
Myself: No, you procrastinating fool! Have you no pride?! You’re useless!
Me: I have enough pride to take care of myself when I need taking care of. I’m going to go take a nap. Get lost.
Myself: Suit yourself. But riddle me this Batman: Does the President of the United States take sick days?
Me: …..?….(slumps off in defeat)……
In order to prove to myself that I wasn’t useless, I looked back through the piles of old sketchbooks I have accumulated over the years. It’s always an uplifting surprise to find the gems that are hiding among the pages. It serves as mental protection against all those times when I feel like I’m “creating nothing good”, because I look back and see that, even in moments when I felt like I was just making scribbles to pass the time, I was actually creating pretty interesting things.
Even the little things — like the doodles that seemed insignificant when I first made them — can bring brightness to a grumpy, mucous-y day.
Ok, ok, on to the art. These are from some sketchbooks I filled in college. Consider this a celebration of the upcoming change of seasons.
First, we have a winter-themed page of Musk Oxen drawings:
Followed by a colored pencil drawing (or design or whatever) of some tulips, in anticipation of spring:
Enjoy! (and I’ll be less negative next time, I promise)
The theme for this week’s Illustration Friday is “Twisted”. So here is a pen and ink illustration of some Ring-Tailed Lemurs!
According to Wikipedia, male ring-tails “will participate in stink fights by impregnating their tail with their scent and wafting it at opponents.” How…fun…
I also learned that ring-tails are very social, intelligent, and adorable. I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of them today — I just couldn’t stop! They’re so funny looking! If you’re ever feeling gloomy after too many days of winter, I highly recommend Googling ring-tails. It will lift your spirits.
Now I want to snuggle with one…
…or five or six.
This week’s theme for Illustration Friday is “Prehistoric”. I decided NOT to illustrate any dinosaurs, since I’ve done quite a few of them in my day. Instead, I made some Canada geese dressed up as dinosaurs.
What, you’ve never noticed how much geese look like dinosaurs? I used to stare out the window in high school at the geese grazing on the soccer field and pretend that they were little hungry dinos. (I guess that’s why I don’t remember very much European history!) Anyway, that’s what inspired this creation. It’s a tribute to my sixteen-year-old self, and a shoutout to Canada Geese, which are, after all, descendants of dinosaurs.
Also, since we’re having our millionth snow day of the year today, I decided to winterize my picture by illustrating the geese on a frozen lake. Hence the ice fishing cabins! Doesn’t it look cold?
Earlier this year, I was commissioned to do a custom painting of a steel mill for a client who spent over 20 years working in the steel industry. This turned out to be an excellent opportunity to try my hand at a subject matter FAR different than my usual nature paintings. After weeks of painting and watching YouTube videos of steel mills in action (no, I didn’t have the luxury of touring a real mill for this project), I came up with a final product. And I have to say, I’m happy with the result. More importantly, so is my client!
The theme for Illustration Friday this week is Exotic. So here’s an exotic bird, perched atop my head: