Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mid-Winter Walk

I live in the rainforest. It is a bit of a drive to the beach but I love walking next to the ocean.
I had an appointment in town so it was a great excuse.

We need the things that make us happy.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Trying out my New Background Stamps

We made background stamps in class last week. I had been promising to show my class how for ages, finally I got the supplies together with the help of one of my students. It is actually really simple, some craft foam, waterproof glue and wood for the back.
I glued down some undercollage and then used black gesso with the diagonal stripes stamp.
Red then blue acrylic paint over the top.
It was a hassle to cut out the circles, but I think this stamp is my favourite.
Red over the purple paint. Then I painted the stamp with cerulean blue mixed with a little white and stamped again.
The stamp made with triangles.
And finally the small checkerboard stamp.

Monday, 20 June 2011

What about I Draw You?

So I have this idea. I am really enjoying drawing "what I wore today" but am getting a little bored with always drawing me. Ho hum. So I have been thinking, what if I drew you and what you are wearing instead?

Anyone who is game, go and like my facebook page. Then post a photo of yourself up there, a full body shot please, we want the whole outfit. Then I will pick out a few and draw them. And no complaining! You have seen my drawings, you know what you are getting into, teehee.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

What I Wore Today Drawings

Nearly a month ago I wrote a blog post about wanting to draw more. Over the years I have gotten a bit too ego-involved in the whole thing and it has lost some of its fun.

I found this cool flickr site called What I wore today and started drawing and posting.
Because I am drawing my self, I feel free to make them wonky.
(The red sweater came out really well when I used some new art markers I bought from Dick Blick. But unfortunately they went through my page and ruined a drawing on the other side so I couldn't continue.)

I can play and experiment, and it combines nicely with my recent interest in thrifting and refashioning clothes.
I am having some challenges with my scanner and colour.
I was using mostly watercolour and watercolour pencils. I am not happy with them because the pages don't accept the watercolour very well. It often splotches.
Here I am just using coloured pencil. I enjoy that on the moleskine pages, but it doesn't scan as well. These look better in real life than they do here.
Here is the last one I have done. Do you think they are changing?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Habits Part 2

Continuing on from yesterday's post about habits, is that the other thing about habits is that they need to change. I find that I need to be reevaluating and changing my habits regularly. As I grow and change, my habits need to change too. I can outgrow habits and they start to pinch like a coat that is too small. But the thing is that I don't always realize that is what is going on. And I have found out, the hard way, that my habits don't automatically change just because I do.

I have a few outgrown habits at the moment that I am finding difficult to change. I may have had very good reasons to form these habits, but the situation has changed yet the habits remain. Life long habits.

For me these habits have to do with how I relate to people. I was always a 'sensitive' or an empath. I am not sure if these are the same, but basically I am referring to feeling what other people are feeling. It can be quite uncomfortable, and confusing, as I can mistake other people's emotions for my own.

There is a town near where I live where there are a lot of unhappy people. I say this because every time I used to go there I would feel emotional pain. It took me years, literally years, to realise that this pain was not mine. I mean, you just assume what you are feeling is yours, don't you? Well I did.

Then I heard a woman on the radio talking about empathy and ways of protecting yourself. I had tried things like surrounding myself in white light in the past but not had any success. When she said to wear a crystal I was doubtful but I thought "might as well give it a try". I was pretty desperate. I bought one and wore it under my shirt. From then on when I would go into this town I felt fine.

Anyway, you might be able to imagine the kinds of habits I picked up around being this way. Yup, avoiding people. And another one, trying to solve people's pain. Because when you are feeling it too there is a strong incentive to soothe their pain anyway possible.

Since I have been teaching I have noticed that spending time with others is not as tiring. That I still have energy afterwards. That I am not walking away feeling whatever everyone else is feeling. I think I am more grounded and have more stamina that I used to. I have changed.

But I have a lifelong habit of spending most of my time on my own. Now I can choose otherwise. But to be honest, it is challenging. It is a lifelong habit, in a way all that I know.

A dear friend of mine always reminds me: babysteps. Take babysteps. And I think that is the best way to change habits. Little changes that take you gradually in a very different direction.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Habits, More Important that We Realise

In my experience, a lot of life comes down to habits. Habits around what we eat, how we work, how we spend our time, relationships, everything. That may sound humdrum but I find it a helpful way of seeing things.

I pay attention to my habits, and of course they are all around me. The diet that I eat, what time I go to bed, whether I exercise or not, how often and what times I work in the studio, etc. These kind of habits are profound in the effect they have on my life over time. A good thing is that once you have a habit it is pretty easy to keep going. So I try and form beneficial ones.

I also have less obvious habits. Ones that have to do with the way I think, my perceptions, how I approach things. This might have to do with how much time I spend with people, how I approach new situations, how I judge others and myself. These also have a profound impact on my life, but are often harder to pinpoint and even harder to change.

Because that is the thing about habits, they can work really well for you once they are in place but they can be difficult to change.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Painting a Coffin

There have been a few interesting challenges in this unusual painting project. If you have missed the story on how I came to be painting a coffin go to this post.

I seem to have gotten over my initial twitchiness at having a coffin lid in my studio. I don't even think about it now.

The first challenge was the actual material. It is a slippery cardboard. I tried to draw on it with pencil but it came out very pale. I tried a drawing pen but it didn't dry. A friend of mine had gessoed his, but he warned me that it caused the lid to warp. I approached with caution.

I gessoed several coats, sanding in between. It didn't warp, which saved me from having to gesso the back as well.

The next problem was how to work on the lid. If I leave it on the table I can't draw the proportions correctly. I need to be able to work vertically to see the proportions and to be able to step back from the work.

If I put it in one of my easels there is a danger of it folding from its own weight as the bottom is so narrow.
Fortunately it turned out that I was able to hang it from my portable easel. I take it down at the end of the day and lay it flat so it won't warp.

The next challenge was the composition. Subject matter is always a challenge, and on a coffin I don't want to go too obvious. But as a friend of mine pointed out, I could not ignore the fact that it is a coffin. I have to somehow acknowledge that. I will go more into the subject matter in a later post.

The composition is a little different than the subject matter. It has to do with how you are going to place elements in your painting on the canvas. Except in this case it isn't a canvas, and the tricky part, it isn't a rectangle. It is this distinctly coffin shape and how do I place things in there to look good?

After sketching out a few possibilities in my little coffin shapes, I chose one.
Now I was ready to draw it onto the coffin lid. The gesso worked better than I imagined and I was able to draw out my design in charcoal.

At this point I am thinking of doing more of a coloured drawing rather than a full on painting. I don't like the stark white of the gesso and want it to look more like paper - maybe a slightly yellowed paper.
I am working with acrylics at this point, which are not my usual medium. This basically means I am not familiar with their capabilities or how to get the effect I want, so I made several experiments on gessoed cardboard.

I am pleased with experiment 3, but there is still a risk whether I can repeat the effect on the larger scale.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

the Cult of Stuff, a Response

Leslie Herger has written a series of posts on what she calls the Cult of Stuff. This is must reading for any art journaler.

In the first post she defines a need many of us seem to feel to buy lots of stuff for art journaling. I think this is more prevalent in the U.S. than Australia - perhaps just because it is more available in the States. Art Journaling hasn't created such big waves here, but also with our small population we always have less choice available in terms of products. For which I am sometimes grateful (for the reasons following).

What I see in myself around the need to buy stuff to make stuff is that it often comes out of insecurity. I find scrapbooking stores upsetting for this reason. They stimulate my feelings of inadequacy. I look at the stamps and think their stamps look better than ones I could make. I see the patterned paper and think it looks cooler than what I can do. Little things you can attach that perhaps I would never think of - they even have writing that looks like poor handwriting! (Surely we can do that ourselves. ) I leave the store feeling less inspired rather than more.

In Leslie's post on the Cult of Stuff, part 2, she starts to give some suggestions on how to pull ourselves out of this dilemma.

One thing she addresses is the "I don't have time, I want results" thought. One of the wonderful things I love about art journaling is that it is one place where you don't need to worry about the results. It is a book, you close it, it can be private. You don't usually hang it on the wall. It is your place to Play. It is an opportunity to be willing to just 'give it a go' (an aussie expression) and not worry about the results.

There will be 'results' (and beautiful ones) anyway. But if you allow the experimentation, you will get much more than beautiful results.

Part 3 is my favourite post. In this post Leslie goes into some personal history on the 'olden days' of art journaling and gives wonderful subversive suggestions on what you can do with all the stuff you already have. Ways to subvert the "right way" to use those products. Ways to grab your creative self-expression back. Because that is what we are talking about here. Few of us are making art journals to sell. We are making them to be creative and have a place to explore ourselves and our world. So why should we worry that our pages don't look 'pretty enough' or that our hand-carved stamps aren't perfect? Are these things even a problem? Or are they actually what we really want in this journey of self-adventure that we call art journaling?