Recent Sketches and Artistic Life Lessons

Eee! I’m so excited! I’ve finally started to make sketching a regular habit in my day-to-day routine. (It’s a habit that I’ve been meaning to cultivate for a long time).

Why? Because I was hoping that sketching would pacify the frenetic voice in my brain that is always yelling “Draw (paint) this! Draw that! And that over there, too! And WHOA!!!…wouldn’t THAT make a great art project?! What’s the matter, missy, can’t keep up?! Chop chop!”

It’s the exhilaration of finding everything I see to be just. so. darn. interesting, and wanting to give due attention to it all. It’s a blessing to see and feel this way — who doesn’t like feeling creative and inspired? But it can also be very crushing. I constantly have to remind myself not to get caught up in thinking that I actually can and must draw everything. And I have to discipline myself to focus on completing whatever serious art I’m working on (you know, like the bigger projects – commissions and my growing body of fine art paintings), even though my imagination has already moved on to the next 3 or 4 things that I want to paint.

So I started sketching more – while eating, while on the potty…(oops, too much information?…) – hoping that doing so would declutter my head and allow me to focus more on my serious art projects without feeling so hyped up on other ideas.

Well, what do you know? Sketching hasn’t stopped the madness. In fact, now, when I look around me, I see even MORE possible art projects. Sketching (as I’ve said before) increases my awareness of how interesting life is, so of course, my plan has only left me with eyes even bigger than they were before. It’s like that saying: “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” only in reference to visual snacks. So now I feel even more excited about making art, but also feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions instead of a mere thousand.

So then I sat down to think about why it’s SOOO important to me that I get everything out there on the paper. Why do I feel awful when I don’t get around to creating things? And I stumbled upon this:

The desire I have to “draw it all” is really a desire to share and connect with people. I want to show you all how great things are, make you feel the greatness too, so you don’t miss it. It’s the same desire that makes me want to cook “all the things” for my husband, to make people laugh, and to understand whomever I’m conversing with.

And you feel it, too. It’s the desire that pulls you towards doing and saying what you think is meaningful. Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel selfish pursuing your creative dreams, fearing that what you contribute won’t be of value to the world, that it will just be a waste. BUT THAT’S WRONG. Things are never black and white. Creating is selfish and it’s not. Yeah, I get to revel in the joy of making stuff. And of COURSE I share my art with the hope that you give me compliments and make me feel like I’m doing good things. But that’s just the surface stuff. Deep down, it’s the sharing itself that I really come back for, over and over again. I want to give YOU things — things like awareness, beauty, and appreciation for the simple goodness that surrounds you. Making art, and feeling chronically angsty about making ALL of it, is at the core, just the unquenchable longing to connect with you. To understand and be understood.

So I’ll keep sketching, even though it didn’t serve the purpose I had hoped it would. And I’ll share some of my sketches from time to time because, even though they are nothing to brag about, they help achieve the goal that this whole crazy art making adventure is aimed towards: connecting, communicating, and giving.

AAAND I’ll keep feeling crazy over needing to make more…

….and more…

…and more.

…but that’s kind of a beautiful feeling, I decided.

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Travel Sketch: the Italian Alps

I really like the idea of keeping travel sketchbooks. Part of what I love about traveling is all the artistic inspiration I get from observing nature, people, architecture, culture — how life unfolds, in general, in places the world over. When I’m traveling, though, I end up struggling to actually keep a sketchbook because I’m so busy taking it all in. There are so many stimuli, and I feel so immersed in the experience that I can’t sit still long enough to draw it. The thought of trying to translate a slice of it onto paper overwhelms me because I’m afraid that it won’t do justice to the realtime experience that I’m having.  And of course, I’m self conscious about making something…ugly.

But whenever I DO manage to sketch places I visit, I always really appreciate it afterwards. A sketch is able to capture “the feel” of a moment and place in a way that a photo cannot. Looking back at my travel sketches brings me back to that snippet of time, and I suddenly remember details like what thoughts I was having and what the sounds were like on the street. I often say that sketching is an excellent way to slow down and appreciate, on a deep level, what is going on around you. The act of doing it helps attach you to the moment, so that when you look at the sketches later, you remember (quite viscerally actually) so, so many things that you thought you’d forgotten.

So I’m going to be less self conscious and do more travel sketches. But in the meantime, I’ve been doing some sketches based on photos I took from past travels, and it has been a worthy exercise too. It also helps me remember the experience and reminds me how much I appreciate life. As always, art brings me back to the realization that to simply exist in this world is a rich, heart-filling adventure.

This is somewhere in the Italian Alps. June 2013:

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Just a Little Cat Sketch

I got some new fountain pens for Christmas — they’re WONDERFULLY handy! Like many artists, I like to sketch with nibs because the line quality is more versatile than with technical pens. With these new pens, I can sketch anywhere without worrying about spilling jars of ink, because they have their own refillable ink cartridges. (Yes I know, what a technological advancement!) Wahoo! I plan on doing lots of travel sketching with them, among other things.

The sketch below was done to test the range of thickness and line quality I can get with said pens. It’s based on a photo my husband took of one of our cats, Miko, sleeping soundly in her carpeted cat “hut”. Nothing fancy, but I’d figure I’d post it just to stay in touch.

Mew.

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Advent Calendar Coloring book: December 24th and 25th

Here are today and tomorrow’s coloring book pages. Hope you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Print

Download and print here:

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Advent Calendar Coloring Book: December 21st

Hark! I bring you glad tidings of great joy, for today is the Winter Solstice, and thus the shortest day of the year. From now on, your days will be getting longer and this early darkness shall soon cease!AdventCalendar_21_ShepherdsDownload and print here: AdventCalendar_21_Shepherds