Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tranquility piece

It's been ten months since I worked in my studio. Nesting priorities, come first at this stage in my life. But what was working against me getting back in there, was having my studio overtaken with remnants of a quilt project, and anything else we cared to dump, when visitors were expected

I did a massive clean recently, and reclaimed my creative space. To mark this special occasion, I selected a subjected matter, I hoped would create a sense of tranquility and reflection, in my new space.

I found a picture online, of a young girl, playing with water from a jetty. But she had a frilly skirt on, and I wanted to create a lady. So I sketched with charcoal, something more from my mind - using the online image for cues.

I started with hot pick and green acrylic paint, for a more abstract use of colours. But the more I added, the more I found the pink burning into my retina. I wanted something more tranquil.

Using white gesso, helped me tone back the pink, with just a hint remaining. I could probably play with this piece some more, but figured it went against the tranquility I was aiming for. Too many details would have forced me to concentrate, more than I actually planned to.

So I leave it on my wall as a reminder, not to force creativity. Just accept it, how it flows sometimes.

Materials used: watercolour paper, charcoal, gesso, acrylic paint and water soluble, artbar.

Monday, October 10, 2016


What a difference, appropriate materials make! I explained the problem I had with my first monochrome attempt, was the IXL charcoal blocks - used on top of the gesso paint. Well, I found some charcoal sketching pencils, hidden in my supplies cupboard, which I hoped would be more appropriate. I used the "soft" one (as opposed to medium, or hard) with great success this time.

The charcoal blended perfectly with the gesso paint and allowed me to make more expressive marks. I used a reference picture of a windmill, but added my own marks to make it appear as if, it was moving.

It's a simple study, but one of my favourites. Because it's the first time I've been able to capture "movement". It aims a little more on the abstract side (technique wise) but still a recognisable subject in the end.

I was able to complete this in about an hour. Why is it important to note the time? Because it's one of the strategies I'm using to be able to fit creative time in. It's a little window I get in the evenings, where toddlers are asleep and older siblings can watch a favourite show with dad. So small and simple projects, are what works best.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Male torso

I did a painting during the Touchstone course, which I would not normally do. It wasn't part of the course material, but I stumbled across it on the course creator's video collection.

When (or if) I ever find that video again, I'll be sure to post a link. I could not find it in my history files, and a search of the blog again, did not result in success either. It was actually a tutorial from one of the courses she runs, to demonstrate what to expect from the course. Perhaps it was removed?

So anyway, enter my abstract figure painting, in acrylic...

completed September 28

I decided to opt for a male figure, as it tends to be traditional to paint the female figure. The entire painting is different to anything I would normally do, but what I like about the Touchstone course, is how it pushes you beyond what you believe you are capable.

Not that it necessarily "forces" you to. It's however much you want to push yourself, in whatever direction you choose. It was fun to be prompted outside my regular process.

Monochrome Bromeliad

I haven't been very good at updating my progress on the Touchstone course. It has now officially completed (the live session anyway) but we are free to return to the private members group on Facebook, to continue sharing our progress. I will endeavour to continue updating this blog, with the art I made during this time.

Recently, I drew a monochrome study, as part of the course. The aim was to get a feel for the different values between white and black.

Bromeliad - click to enlarge

It was recommended charcoal and gesso (thick white paint) be used together. Although I found it really difficult to work with them. The gesso went over the charcoal, no problem, but the charcoal ate into the gesso - leaving indent marks, instead of black.

I switched to an oil pastel however and it worked much better on the gesso. If I were to do this again, I would just use my white and black charcoal blocks. It was a fun exercise nonetheless.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The worker

As one of the exercises I worked through for my online course, I chose a worker, planting rice in a paddy field. When looking for reference photos, I stumbled across the humble rice paddy worker, and there was something about them, I deeply admired...

I respect the fact their civilisation, took to feeding themselves by the sweat of their own brow. There's no industrial agriculture here, feeding extremely large populations. Their food is somewhat sacred, by maintaining their annual pact with the land, to respect the paddy field. Sacred, because they placed themselves delicately in the environment which would feed them. Complimentary to abundance.

Any civilisation which still feeds itself like this, is ahead of the Western civilisation pack, in my opinion. Because they have natural equity to farm from, instead of depletion and erosion. The people themselves also have beautiful environments to work in, without heavy pollution and cumbersome infrastructure.

So it was with great admiration and respect, I captured their important work in their sacred office. Truly worth committing to paper. The IXL charcoal blocks I worked with, complimented this earthy subject beautifully too. In some cases, like the trees and bamboo in the background, I barely had to scrape the surface.

For so many reasons, I really enjoyed working on this piece.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Vision board

One of the exercises for the Touchstone online Art course I'm doing at the moment, is a vision board. The gist is to use magazines to cut-out, whatever images and words inspire you. If you don't have magazines, then you can do an online version, using Pinterest.

I got a little stuck on this exercise, because it brought back memories of an art assignment in high school. It turned into an innocent misunderstanding with the teacher, which led to a public "dressing down", in front of my peers. So every time I thought of doing this vision board, I reached a blank!

The thing is however, I REALLY wanted to do it, because having a vision board for inspiration, would be great! So I tweaked the exercise a little, to fit in with how I could do it.

It took several hours to complete, from the depths of my imagination. It contains all the things I want to be inspired by. There's also somewhat of a cycle to it as well. I love cycles.

Basically, ideas start as seeds, then germinate. They can make us feel vulnerable and unsure at first, because they're new. It requires a little (or a lot) of grace to be inspired and make the connections, in order for the idea to bloom. Those ideas, return to the world, and we do what we can, to maintain the balance of ourselves through this cycle. She is naked because all she has is her creativity and perception.

I felt so much lighter after doing this exercise, because I climbed over a psychological barrier and was able to move to the next step. Which is basically what the entire course is about. It's making those steps we constantly tell ourselves, we're not entitled to take for some reason or another.

I would like to share some links I've obtained, via this course. They're publicly available links, which I think are worth sharing. The first is a free downloadable book, called, "The War of Art", and is written by Stephen Pressfield. I'm only up to page 50, but it has some interesting views on how we view our creativity - or, the desire to create.

The second link is from a TED talk by Tim Urban, dubbed the Master Procrastinator. It's a very easy to follow talk, which explains the dilemma of the procrastinator. It doesn't hurt that it's very amusing too.

I'm on week three at the moment, with one more week of the course to go!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Contour drawing

I'm really enjoying the "Touchstone" online art course, Tara Leaver is conducting at present. It's the end of the first week, and we've done a lot on what's called a "Manual of Self", which should be pretty self explanatory. It's designed to help us understand ourselves better, in our process of creating.

Anyway, the first art exercise, was the blind contour sketch. You basically draw an item, without taking your eyes of it, but your pen stays on the page the whole time. So you end up with a random, freestyle sketch at the end. It was much easier to do, than a sketch I would normally concentrate on all the details for.

Here was my reference picture. A Spanish Iris given to me by my mother, many moons ago...

From that, I did the contour sketch with a black pen. I thought it would look really bad, but I was surprised how well the lines merged - because I basically had to guess where the middle of the flower was, without taking my eyes off the reference picture.

After you've completed the sketch, you can add colour, while looking at the page again. By keeping the colours random and simple, it matches the style of sketch too. Of course, I used Inktense pencils for adding colour. When don't I?

The whole exercise took me only 10 minutes to complete. I loved the random  detail, while still being able to recognise what it is. I really enjoyed drawing with a black pen too.

At the same time, I'm planning for an artwork to be completed by the end of the course. I'm still developing the stages, but I'll show my progress as I go.