24 May 2012

Overcoming Mental Blocks

 Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success.  - John Keats

I've had an up and down sort of week this week. I've had lots of ideas for drawings and paintings but when it's come time to start them I've stalled. Each time I've lifted my pen a voice in my head has told me "that's a stupid idea for an image" or "you can't draw that it's too hard". I'd developed stage-fright since I discovered that some people are actually reading my blog, shock, horror, giggle.
Luckily I have a lot of very creative friends and I sent out a call for help dealing with mental blocks and guess what? Before anyone had even answered I was back drawing in my journal. I used the idea of a mental block as a way to kick start my creativity again and it worked! So after I'd worked that out of my system I went back to an idea I had earlier in the week, "what would make my home appliances perfect?" The image below is the result.

What a time saver this would be in the mornings, especially on school days! 

I'm not sure if my mental block will stay away but it's gone for now and I have a strategy for dealing with it if it happens again. Use the problem as a solution by creating an image about the problem and hopefully that will be enough to move through the block. :)

These two images were created using different colored pens and watercolor paints.

18 May 2012

The child and the messy room

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing" - Phyllis Diller

I don't know whether it's my daughter's age, she's seven, or just the way she naturally works, but my daughter's room always looks like a tornado passed through it. My son is now thirteen and I don't remember him being that messy at seven but who knows maybe my memory is going.
Anyway today we had the "you need to clean up your room or I'll go through it with a rubbish bag" talk. Miss seven whined a bit and said it was too hard to do on her own but I told her she was getting older now and that I trusted her judgement on what she wanted to keep and what should go out. So Miss seven went into her room and started to tidy up. I checked on her after five minutes and things did seem to be improving so I made the mistake of wandering off to do something else and promptly forgot all about the mess. After about an hour Miss seven proudly came through to tell me she had finished tidying and could she do something else now. Feeling very pleased with her maturity I followed her through to see what she had done.
Well, what can I say?
The room looked worse, if that's possible, than it had when she had started! Instead of going through all her artwork that was scattered all over the room and floor she had created new drawings and pulled out boxes of toys to hide them all behind and under. It was really hard not to laugh at her ingenuity.
Anyway she won and I helped her go through her artwork, storing the good pieces safely and binning the rest. We also went through the toys and sorted out some she had grown out of to donate. On the plus side we had lots of fun and even found three pairs of socks and some other clothes she thought she had lost.

This week I've been learning to draw human body parts. Realistic and cartoon hands and eyes. Hands are difficult and I need much more practice. I like the expressions you can get with just eyes though. Today's sketch is just eye expressions made with a black pen.

13 May 2012

I love scooters!

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "Wow! What a ride!" - Hunter S. Thompson

I am in love with scooters, scooter mad some might say. I'm always looking at them in magazines and books. I can never walk past one without stopping for a look. Even my favorite t-shirt has a Vespa on it and now I've started drawing them too. I guess I just need to get this scooter craze out of my system.
Years ago I owned a motorcycle, a Kawasaki 250cc. It was the first bike I owned and I loved the freedom I felt on it. A car has just never appealed to me in the same way. My brother-in-law had a scooter at around the same time and we started swapping rides some times. I loved it and actually preferred the scooter to the motorcycle. In the end I sold my bike to fund a trip round the South Island (New Zealand) with my husband. My parents were living down there at the time. Then time moved on, I had children and scooters and bikes seemed impractical and any thoughts of owning one again were pushed out of my mind, until recently.
I'm not sure when the thoughts about scooters started again but I've started thinking about touring around New Zealand on one. Who knows maybe one day once the kids are older they might join me :)

I thought I'd try tea staining the paper for this one. I wanted a more retro feel to go with the age of the scooter. I'm quite pleased with the results. A friend of mine uses coffee to stain the paper so I might give that a go next and see whether there's much difference in the finish. The bike is in pen and watercolor.

12 May 2012

A Piggy Tale

"Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves" - William Lowndes

Wow what a week!
A sick child at home with a tummy bug and then an allergic reaction caused by the same illness and also Hubby home with a swollen infected leg. As you can imagine life has been a little busy and distracting so I've only managed one journal entry this week. 
It's that time of the year again when the IRD send you strange nonsensical letters about your taxes just to scare you before they tell you they made a mistake and they owe you money, fingers crossed anyway :D 
It's also council rates time grrr, so not really my favorite month.
Anyway I spotted our terracotta piggy bank high up on a shelf in the kitchen and thought "mmm I wonder if there's anything in there?". 
Short answer "No".
This got me to thinking about how many other empty piggy banks could be languishing in the back of people's cupboards and shelves around the world in this time of global financial unrest. Could the cute little piggy bank soon become nothing more than an empty ornament as governments gradually drop small value coins as prices go up or as we eftpos everything and therefore never handle money? Could our children end up with nothing to jingle in their little piggies?
What a horrible thought....

While working on this with some new black pens I discovered that they weren't as permanent as I thought they were. I suppose I should learn to test these sorts of things out before I start a drawing? Anyway this opened up a whole different way of shading as I just added water with a brush to see what they would do. Then I just finished with some burnt sienna watercolor paint and a brown colored pencil.
I also discovered something weird, when I started trying to draw this pig with pencil I just couldn't get it right. I erased bits here and there, redrew the pig twice and in the end chucked the pencil and picked up a pen. It came out pretty much how I wanted it straight away. No erasing, no second chances. It's like my brain said "Right, this is it, no chance to fix anything so get it right!" And it worked! The scooter from the next post was drawn straight off with a pen too. I think I might just lose the pencil for a while and see how things go ;)

5 May 2012

Why is everything brown?

"I advise students on the subject of color as follows: If it looks good enough to eat, use it." - Abe Ajay

I had a very fun day today helping my seven year old daughter learn about colors. It all started with a simple enough question, "Why is every color I make brown?".
 "Brown?" I asked, "What do you mean every color is brown?"
 "Well," she said, "everytime I try to make a color it comes out a different brown"
 "Sounds like we need a lesson on mixing colors" I said.
 "Humph" grunted my teenage son, "I know all that already". So he wandered off to his dark pit and left us in peace. :D
So the two of us happily spent our time making two color wheels, one to hang on the wall above the painting area and one in my journal just in case the wall one goes missing. Of course it would have been easier to just buy other colors of paint but I think a valuable lesson would have been missed and time spent together having fun is always worth the effort don't you think?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler"  Henry David Thoreau

This blog represents a lot of firsts for me. I've never kept an artists journal before, in fact until a couple of weeks ago I hadn't drawn or painted anything in 26 years. So in some ways everything feels completely new and exciting and in others completely scary and overwhelming.
So it only seems appropriate that my first journal entry represents that fear. The fear of failing in art, in failing at blogging of finding that maybe inside I don't have anything worth sharing is huge right now. I guess at some time or another we all stand at the edge of the abyss and have to decide whether to jump and hopefully soar or whether to turn away and not try. 
This blog will share my journey, my successes and failures. Hopefully it will at least be interesting maybe even funny and if I learn anything that can help any other newbie artists not to make my mistakes, I'll be sure to share.
So here goes, fingers crossed ;)