Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 4, 5 and 6 in the Sketchbook Revival Prompt Challenge

This is a quick view of the next 3 prompts.  The artist who give the prompts are listed on the right page at the top.  The "Easter bunny" prompt was from a book illustrator...actually kind of fun to draw and the then the background in the distance is a prompt from an architectural artist.  

I continue to use the "block page" organizer as a theme for holding the whole series together.  I decide ahead which of the two artists will get the more "featured" response from me, but I try to acknowledge them both in some way.  

The botanical artist was lots of fun...I actually enjoy that kind of art a lot.  The petal was done with colored pencil (which is not really my medium) but this is about pushing out the borders here.  The leaf was done in wc. The font making is responding to the other artist, Joann Sharp who I have already taken a class in person with. Very fun.  

There are two photos here of Day 6.  One with the page folded shut above.  On the page I have a photo of all the materials I pulled out in response to Karen's prompt.  I didn't use them all, but did use quite a few.  I worked with rubber gloves on as this was very messy.  But I would enjoy doing it again some time.  the other artist asked us to pick a word of the week/day/or year to think on.  I found a word I loved written by Maria (from Zentangle). Then made list of things I'm grateful for.  

So below is the page folded back out.  This had a lot of charcoal and graphite so I did have to spray it with a fixative so it wouldn't be rubbing all over things.  (That's one of my favorite tangles: lollywimple).  

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Creative Nonsense as a Way to Keeping Balance

Keeping sane in crazy days...well one way is to join an online "prompt" group.  This one is also on Face Book so that everyone in the group can post their contributions and interpretations.  Interpretation is the key to this silliness.

So I have set aside a small journal dedicated to the's is set up by an organizer who offers this for free.  The reason artists are willing to participate is that they get their name out and they offer further (paid) classes.

Most of the artists are "multi-media" artists...folks who enjoy lots of wild and interesting ideas prompting people to draw more, collage more, and try new techniques.  

Karen Abend sets up Sketchbook Revival.  It must be a lot of work!  Artists tape their 15-20 minute lessons and then she organizes them and sends them out via email subscription at the times she promotes.  I think she has hundreds of people on this prompt...which turned out to be WAY more popular than normal for obvious reasons.  The point is that she had no way of knowing how well this timing would work just happened that way.

So keep in mind what you see me "playing" with is not meant to be fine art or or not mean to change my style of drawing or my own journal making.  It is just "creative play".  

Below are the first 3 days of responses from me.  There are two artist each day...I get the prompt around 9 am EST.  I believe it lasts for 12 24 prompts.  The first artist Carla Sonheim prompted among other things a block set up for one of the pages in the prompt. Optional of course. But I liked it...and I am going to use it to tie the theme of the prompts together.  The right page of each response will be blocked off for "daily writing"...a short place to comment on what's going on in my life and in my head.  (nice for right now, huh?). Then a place to make a "list".  Whatever kind of list I want.  Then I've added a place to put a daily Zentangle® (which is my own addition).  

The first prompt above was a "blob" prompt.  Making imaginary things from little blobs of paint.  Just to get creative juices going.  

The second two prompts had to do with "collage" making using paper, stencils, and ink (in her prompt it was just a free drawn).  And the second was more of a meditative prompt involving drawing a symbolic drawing of yourself or a person in general and accessing the ways you bring joy in to your life.  I combined the two. 

The third prompt had to do with embracing our own "quirkiness" by drawing a Quirky Bird with distinctive and fun little attributes. I wish I could share the variety of birds that evolved from this.  It was AMAZING.  People were SO creative.  And the second artist talks about font making.  Delightful...something I love anyway.  

So on to day 4 today.  

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mountains and Valleys and Turning the Page

Or course, this time around in my journal I am noting the difference in my own situation and my feelings between Feb 13 and March 20 and it is remarkable.  A total "SHIFT" in life in general, isn't it?  

I see myself facilitating between meditative florals, and then back to Lysol spray cleaner.  That is sort of the way it's going for everyone right now.  Up and down.   Deep breaths and then fear...prayer and then isolation.  Grateful and then Worry.  

So now I turn the page.  Just as we all "turn the page" and continue on with mixed feelings.  

Friday, March 20, 2020

Highs and Lows

My walk last evening brought me past many homes (including my own of course) filled with spring flowers.  I decided to focus on a few of them by adding them to my "littles".   The Fortnight Lilly was especially lovely...that one is in my yard.  The orange tree is so filled with blossoms that the sweet smell of them almost makes you dizzy.  

I find that in these troubling times, being outside in nature is so calming and helpful.  

Later after my walk as the sun got lower in the sky, I sat out on my patio facing the north and sketched what I saw.  All I had was my Lamy Safari pen with me so the sketch was black and white.  And perhaps it needed to be as I slipped into a somber mood.

I just wanted to record that moment to look back at later...some of my worries...thinking of my family...thinking of the nightly news saying that even more folks are ill and the economics of the our country is teetering and the very disturbing news that people are arming themselves...gun sales have skyrocketed.  

And yet this morning the birds sing and in the morning sun and when I sit looking out at the pond...the reflections of the sun on the water bounce up on the trees and for awhile (around 8:30) the pine tree trunks are alive with beautiful reflected moving shadows.  The new green of the live oaks gleam in the sunshine.  The world seems to hold it's breath in beauty.  Things are back in technicolor again.  I breathe easy again.  And the Fireworks Plant again glows bright. 

A friend sent a link to just a tiny bit of joyful abandon to help the mood lift when it needs too.  I thought I share it here.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Keeping in Touch Virtually

Nothing is normal now.
That kind of unpredictable nature of life right now produces a lot of anxiety and worry.  The nature of this is cyclical.  I am up and down all day long depending on what is happening and what I am doing and who I am talking to (by phone or online...not much in person).  

The familiar hugs that friends can give cannot happen now.  
6' away they say.  We order our groceries online, venture out of our park rarely. 

 Church is "virtual" now.  Pastor is putting little encouraging snippets of prayer and reassurance on Facebook almost every day.  My WW group meetings will go on "conference call" and I downloaded "Zoom" the other day in order to prepare for that.  

Around us people are out walking, swimming at the pool (6' apart) and sitting on their porches enjoying bird song.  We order groceries delivered.  

Our granddaughter sent us a huge package of staples the other day (see the last entry in my "littles" above).  How darling..honey, cereal, soup, spaghetti sauce, etc.  Everything organic.  We were so touched.  She and her beloved family live in San Francisco.  They are really "sheltering in place" there.  

When I look at my littles and the strawberries I bought on Feb 13 at the local food different life was a month ago!!!  Now the food stand isn't even there anymore!  Everything in our park has come to a stand many things people were looking forward to are cancelled or postponed indefinitely.  But this is true of everyone in the world right now.  

Art is a definite antidote to anxiety and boredom and worry.  Those people to whom I have taught Zentangle® over the years have a gift now tucked into their pockets.  There is a place for gentle meditation.  All the artists I know have that gift (meaning also writers, poets, musicians, etc).  We have something now that can ease the burden of waiting and wondering.  Something to enrich our souls and help us through. 

I pray hard for all you reading this to stay well and safe.  
Keeping in touch virtually has been very helpful to many of us.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Quiet morning by the river...

During these turbulent and very unusual and stressful times, artists are fortunate to have one outlet that rarely lets them down...the meditative and amazing gift of art.  Despite the days unhappy news, several of us found time to slip into the quiet world of trees, river, birds, and sunshine.  A time to heal the soul and listen to nature, even if just for a few hours this morning.  I drew and painted in my large Moleskin journal.  

The HUGE live oaks at our park are amazing...old and towering above us and gifting us with lovely shade. It was 84 and sunny and the fishing boats quietly passed by.   We saw cormorant, ibis and heron.  A gentle breeze kept us comfy.  I drew this old oak with a water soluble graphite pencil. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Ordinary Days

Just a normal of those days that we forget to appreciate...ordinary.  I continue to play a little with different kinds of toned paper.  I did this little sketch while watching Greg get his haircut.  My hair stylist does this in her home and she had a shelf with a cute doll, a file cabinet and some other baskets behind her.  Fun shapes to play with.  Ink, wc pencil, wc crayon, pastel pencil and white charcoal.  

Lots of signs of spring around now...our bottle brush tree is blooming like crazy...always a March/April event.  The birds enjoy the blossoms and so do the wasps! Although I haven't seen the latter yet.  But we have some 90 degree days coming right up and that'll bring them out too.  It's a fascinating blossom when you look up close.  

Monday, March 9, 2020

Re-imagining the world through an artist's eyes

Fussing around testing materials may not be as interesting to my blog followers.  But it is important.  As you play and create with new combinations, however, it is important to try to figure out what they will do on new substrates and new colors combinations.  If I plan to take some of these materials with me "on site" in outdoor painting I'll need to think about which ones.  One cannot carry a suitcase!  (Well you could but that would severely limit your mobility!) To carry a bit more "dry" color materials with me...I have to figure how which one suit my needs.  Today I played on black paper a bit.  

The 3 toned papers you most often commercially buy are gray, tan, and black.  You can, of course, tone sketching paper with any color you want in watercolor.  Or even in acrylic.  And then draw on top..the possibilities are endless.  That's the fun.

One of the artists I follow who often uses toned paper is Pat Southern-Pearce.  She is from England and considers herself (I think) mainly an urban sketcher.  She has a splendid professional background in art so her abilities are hugely beyond mine.  

What I find inspiring currently is how she can take a scene and re-imagine it so amazingly!  Here's an example:

Here is Pat (looks cold) out with a leafless tree and some sort of little building and fence.  Not a lot of color here, is there?  I wonder how many of us would have found this scene inspiring enough to stop and set up across from it? is Pat's interpretation.  She seems to think and see in another world, doesn't she?  How fun.  
I am letting that sort of ability she has to re-see the world without totally leaving the actual spot she was in inspire me.   Note how she does indeed use the tree shadows that hit the street but in a magical way.  

General I am a bit more "literal" in my interpretation of scenes...of course, not totally...I  often leave out backgrounds, move trees, shift colors, and  add some shapes or background shadows to enhance my scenes.  Pat takes this to a little more extreme!  

When you see an artist do this it helps you to see "outside the box" a little.  That's why we all share our work on blogs and face book groups etc.  We gift each other with "new artsy glasses" in ways to see the world.  I want to live in Pat's world.  Don't you?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Dry media Experiments

Every now and then one needs to step back and go through techniques and materials and see what you have and what some of your original goals and ideas were.

This little study in "dry media" today is me pulling together (on toned paper) some my ideas about using toned paper for "some" of my sketches and perhaps instead of wc (or other wet media) add color with inks, art crayons, oil pastels, pastel pencils, etc.  Just another technique to spur some new creativity.  I love wc, of course, and am not giving that up at all.  Just enjoying some exploration.  

One reason for the "dry" media is that "most" toned papers are not as heavy as mixed media paper.  That is not "always" true but most often. So then wc is not really useful on that paper.  And by toned I mean warm browns, cooler grays and even black.  I am trying out wc crayons (yes, they are water soluble...not wax) but I am not really planning to add water to them at this point anyway.  I am just enjoying the textures that they make.  And two kinds of wc pencil...these tend to be more intense than regular "colored pencil".  

It's all pretty experimental but that is how artists "play".  I'd like to work up some more whites or bright yellows as working not he darker substrates really begs to use light opaque color.  I have heard that is a "chalk" marker.  I might try to find one of those.  Meanwhile I'll see about putting together a little still life here in the studio so I can begin to play with how to use composition with these materials.  

The Peter Pauper wc crayons are by far the brightest and the pastel pencils are looking nice and bright too.  Even playing with materials is fun to look at.  Practicing sort of "Art Deco" printing too.  

It's been a "coolish" day in central FL but bright sunshine so not a problem.  Back to 80 by Tuesday.  

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Early Spring Tree in Mt. Dora

While most of this sketch was done with Lamy Safari fountain pen and black carbon ink...the "twigs" started to get away from me.  They had so much "lace-like" quality that wasn't happening with a thicker pen nib.   

So I waited until I got home to finish it using watercolor paint in a "dip pen". First I decided to paint a faint wash of blue gray and some slight tinges of pink behind the tree.  Using an old fashioned dip pen and gray mixtures of wc, I just added the tiny twigs.  

This nicely shaped tree was on a busy street corner in Mt. Dora.  Under it the planted flower box was wildly blooming but in contrast the tree itself had not yet responded to spring.  

All in our own time.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Spring Things in Central Florida

A lovely day in Mount Dora yesterday with 7 other artist gals from our Central Florida Plein Air group.  Lunch following at Goblin Market.  Weather was so delightful in low 80s with a slight breeze.  Really perfect for being outside!!  

Lots of people milling about and chatting and window shopping and getting lunch and just plain enjoying themselves.  Quite a few stopped to visit with me and ask me questions about sketching.  

The Tabebuia are blooming.  Often called "Yellow Trumpet Trees" but that gets them confused with other "trumpet-like" shrubs and trees.  Still they do look like lovely bright yellow trumpets shouting the arrival of Florida spring.  I hear they come in purples too but I don't think I've seen that.  They have a bright green seed that looks like a vanilla bean especially when it dries hard and brown!  And the flowers generally arrive before the leaves in spring making for an odd display but attractive.  

This sign appeared outside our restaurant yesterday purported to be my Mother Theresa.  Whether not this is true, we all agreed that the sign was a nice reminder of how we should react to all the negative things in the this world.  

Just a photo that I found in my photo box the other day...taken about 4 years ago at Lake Griffin State Park about 7 miles from where I live.  Greg and my daughter Julie standing at the base of this live oak tree purported to be one of THE largest trees in Lake County.
Quite amazing.  I couldn't get the whole tree in a photo!