A book is a dream you hold in your hands. -Neil Gaiman
Inspirations come and go. So do likes, loves, and passions. My favorite color changes every day.
But I have always loved books. To read them, to write them, sure, but also just to look at. I admire their binds, pull away their sleeves to see the secret cover beneath, slip photographs and flowers between their pages.
Books are paper sculptures painted with ink and ideas.
And I don’t think they will ever go away. Even in today’s digital world, in which we can download a book in seconds, there’s nothing like the analogue. As we head deeper into screens and flashing lights, printed things become something to be admired. We become grateful for their simplicity. We remember why we have always loved them.
Last night, after spending an entire day sewing binds and covers for my most recent little handmade books, I made a short list of what my handmade books might mean. Because to me they’re not books. They’re fine art pieces (I mean this humbly and literally). I wish I could find a way to display them on a gallery wall.
So why am I making them? I’m still not entirely sure. A few of my bullets suggested that I make them because I want to express everything I’ve said in this blog post so far. Other bullets suggest I simply love the hands-on approach to the craft. The final notion was that I just…love books.
Whatever the reason, I’m inspired to continue down the rabbit hole that is bookbinding, and I feel like a piece of me is in each one of their little binds. I am closer to them than my wall paintings. I hate seeing them go when they sell. I wrap them in little packages and send them off to their new homes and hope they will be taken care of.
And I don’t print them. Somehow that makes them even more special.
My latest book, “Rooted,” contains seven original intuitive watercolor paintings that depict trees and their roots. For me this piece has special meaning, but I’d like to keep it to myself, so that those who open it can gather their own perspectives. Made of Khadi cotton paper, it was folded zine-style, then later sewn into its cover. Like the others, this one will not be printed. And, like the others, it is one-of-a-kind.
I’m currently working on finishing up my winter themed book–still no title–a personal watercolor journal, and a mini blank watercolor journal for those who’d like to paint their own book. So keep a lookout on my Etsy as some of these will be appearing there soon.
Until next time…I hope your days are quiet, calm, and filled with book smells.
I’m so happy to introduce bookmarks to my Etsy shop! I had a lot of strips of paper, leftovers from cutting other sizes to make larger pieces, and decided I should put them to use. The immediate love I got for these itty bitty vertical panoramas was immense!
I love working small, and these are just so much fun that I can’t stop! I’ve already got a new batch going.
My goal is to print these as well, but there will only be ONE hand-painted original for each design, which I think makes these even more special.
And they’re going quick! I posted them on Etsy yesterday, and in 3 hours I’d already sold half of them. I’m very excited, as this not only gives you guys the opportunity to buy original art for a smaller price, but this also makes my artwork useful, and if you’ve been following my blog you know how important that is to me.
Indigo Autumn started out as a handmade zine, but eventually became a full-fledged project, one that took several hours to complete.
I have always loved the idea of hand-making miniature books, bound and un-bound, with original art inside. I enjoy having this form of “interactive art” in my portfolio.
At first these miniature books (folded zine-style, though can I still call them zines?) were just a fun side project for me to play around, but the love I got for them hasn’t gone unnoticed. So I’ve decided that I’ll be introducing a new miniature book and/or zine as often as I can. Because not only are they fun to make, but they’re fun to flip through over and over again.
Indigo Autumn was one of these projects. I started out with an 11×14 sheet of Arches cold press, very finicky to fold as you can probably guess, and I chose a main color for the book. Indigo.
Each page has indigo, in the sky, in the landscape. The trees are indigo. And I wanted to somewhat personify the trees, or give them a human-like quality, in that they each have a friend to grow beside. Each of these lessons in “treeship” are based upon a different story, which I feel can only be interpreted by the viewer.
After I painted my trees, I went through the whole book and painted black gouache around the images to give it a more finished look. Then I un-folded the book and painted a full-sized 11×14 painting on the blank side. I didn’t take a photo of this backside, nor did I scan it. I want the buyer to be totally–and pleasantly–surprised.
Indigo Autumn is available here. Be on the lookout for several others in the “Lessons in Treeship” series.
I’ve also added a “mystery zine” product to my Etsy. Each book is approximately 4×3 inches and is a total surprise. Meaning, you don’t know what you’re going to get until you open the package! But each one is handmade, just like Indigo Autumn, and is hand-painted/illustrated. Check them out!
Until next time, I hope your home is warm and your yard is filled with autumn leaves.
Interesting story behind this piece. My goal was to do just a basic process video to get back into the swing of, well, making process videos. So I cut the last of my Arches cold press–still warped from the rain during Porchfest–into two pieces that were approximately 5.25×10 inches each. Even after I’d taped them down I still wasn’t sure what I was going to paint on them, but that’s pretty normal for me. Still, I knew I wanted it to be something simple, something short.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, these two paintings emerged from an idea I’d been mulling over for the last several weeks, and took me a collective 5 hours or so over the course of two days. Once they were complete, I felt as though I’d finished something powerful and important to me. I don’t know what it is, but I can’t stop looking at them! Is it pride? Can an artist be proud of her own work? Or is that an ego thing?
Anyways, I recorded all of it wooo!
Day & Night was painted with gouache and watercolors on cold press. I used the same colors on each side, simply adding white to the colors for Day and black to the colors for Night. The only real difference was the orange moon I used for Night, which went well as a complementary color to Day’s blue sun.
I see winter in the left. I see an October night on the right. Maybe these paintings emerged from not just an idea, but from the feelings I have about this fleeting October, and about the coming winter. I’m not sure. What I do know is that I wanted to create something of a yin-yang in the form of two landscapes.
A little over a year ago I showed in my very first gallery. I meekly brought in a few of my woodland animal illustrations, sure I was going to be turned down, and was confused surprised when the director told me my work would fit the Fact or Fiction theme nicely. That show was also my first judged show, and was where I won my first ribbon, an honorable mention on my painting, The Guide.
One year later I’m now the Featured Artist at that same gallery, Capital Arts, in Jefferson City, MO. I currently have fourteen framed pieces on their walls–not an easy feat to put together, as I still have those twenty-five pieces at the conservation center–and was to give an Artist Talk during the reception.
And the theme for this show is Myths & Legends, which somehow brings all of this full-circle. Sometimes the Universe has a way of letting you know you’re on the right track.
During the reception I had a lot of fun chatting with my fellow artists and this awesome community in which I was immediately welcomed to with no question. So many of you guys have become more than just my colleagues/mentors. You have become my friends.
And for those of you who are here with me right now, reading this blog, thank you!
These are the pieces currently in my little “featured” nook of Capital Arts Gallery. Behind the table, in the window, you will also see my daughter got her own little featured section, where she was able to display some artwork of her own.
Note: if you are interested in any of these pieces, please let me know here. Since these paintings are currently for sale at the gallery, I have to ask them whether or not paintings in question are still available for purchase. It’s kind of hard to sell a painting that’s already sold haha. Thanks so much!!
For those of you who’d like to hear my Artist Talk, you’re in luck! I was able to record it and have uploaded it to Youtube. Just like with those in my audience at the gallery, you can ask me any questions that I may not have answered.
For those of you who have come to see part two, let’s get right to it!
Once again I’d like to explain that, while most of the originals for these pieces are still available to purchase (frame and all), they will not be shipped until after this show is over on October 28th, 2019. Prints, however, are available at any time, and are usually shipped within 2 days of purchase.
Please note: prints do not come with a frame. If you’d like a frame, feel free to contact me through Etsy or my site and we can discuss.
Watercolor & Gouache | 8×10 | 2019
Twilight Garden was another one of my “improv” pieces, in that I didn’t know where I was going to end up, even after I began. What I really wanted to do was play with my new colors: indigo and aussie red gold. Those two colors, plus perylene red and a little bit of moonglow, make one awesome color palette. I learned that with this piece, and with Ghost Garden, a painting I did right after this one.
Want to watch a video of me painting this? Click here!
This is another one of those pieces that was painted right on the cusp of 2018-2019 so it’s hard for me to remember which one it was. It was definitely wintertime, as you can see, and for this piece I really wanted to experiment with a monochromatic palette, using mostly blues and grays. I also experimented with different types of salt and found that coarse sea salt makes large, “flowery” patterns, while table salt makes tiny little “ice” patterns. Both are great for a wintry scene!
The original for this piece has already sold, but you can buy the print here.
Watercolor | 11×14 | 2019
Lone Tree was a painting inspired by a piece I did during my “mini landscapes” themed draw post on Twitter. I really liked the way the tree dissolved into the sky, and I aimed to try it again on a larger scale.
As of right now the larger piece is one of a kind. I do not have any scans of it, and if it is sold before the show is over, then congrats to the buyer! Because there will be no prints, and what they have will be truly unique.
Fog on the Bluffs was painted in early spring, when I often woke to a fog so thick I could barely see the tree just outside my window. The fog is one of the many reasons I love living next to the river. I remember painting the darker clouds at the top, and thinking of dense fog and rain on the hills in Wales (where one of my favorite books takes place) and I even though to put little white dots to hint at sheep.
The original piece was in a professional exhibition in spring, and spent some time in a restaurant before making its way over to the local gallery, where it will hang until mid October. If you are interested in the original (12×16 framed) please fill out this contact form. Because it is in a gallery show right now, I have to make sure it hasn’t sold already before selling to a buyer elsewhere.
Winter Roots was an experiment that went totally right. I wanted to see how isopropyl alcohol would look as an “underground” texture. I used Arches cold press so that I could get even more texture, added some coarse salt, and loaded a calligraphy pen with watercolor to get the roots and tree. It’s possible that this piece is 100% watercolor, but it’s possible that I may have added ink here and there, and so to be safe I listed that as one of the mediums.
If you’d like to purchase Winter Roots, click here.
After The Rain (Print)
Ink or Watercolor | 8×10 | 2019
After The Rain I’m almost certain is Hydrus watercolor by Dr. Ph. Martin’s, but it could also be India ink. This piece was an idea I’d formed in my mind before giving it a few tries. To get the upward “flow” effect, I had to paint this upside down, adding water here and there so the ink/watercolor would flow downward.
For me this piece is about rain clouds that sometimes seem so low they can touch the tops of the trees. But I have heard others say they see a fire. What do you see?
Prints are available here, but if you’d like the original (11×14 framed) please fill out this contact form, as the original is in a professional gallery and I will have to make sure it has not already sold.
Watercolor | 8×10 | 2019
Dragon Hills was an improv piece that I made when I first got my Hydrus watercolors. I absolutely love using the Hydrus colors, as they are already in liquid form and I can water them down further, or use them at their concentrated state. I can drop them onto wet paper, or spread them through one another. The possibilities are endless!
When I finished with this piece, I realized it looked something like the head of a dragon. Perhaps this hill is built upon the bones of a dragon slain long ago.
Morning Flight was created one morning when I decided, suddenly, that I wanted to try to paint with natural materials. While I used brushes, I also used rose petals and leaves to get certain textures in the cliffside and choppy waters.
Want to watch a video of me painting this piece? Click here!
Abstract Autumn was inspired by a smaller piece I did for my 365 Days of Watercolor project in 2018. I really liked the idea of creating an abstract piece that hinted at a dense forest. I tried it again with green, but it wasn’t as vibrant and exciting as this one.
Autumn on the Bluffs was inspired by the previous piece, Abstract Autumn. Once I had the idea of a dense forest in abstract form, I wanted to try many hills or bluffs, much like the ones near my home. We live right next to the river, and autumn during 2018 was a vibrant, fiery event. Every tree seemed to explode with color, and that’s what I hoped to portray in this wet-on-wet piece.
Mudslide was an experiment with white ink. I wanted to try to create an abstract-like illusion of a flooding stream or waterfall cutting through the land. I loved the marbling effect I got with the brown and white, and I learned that too much white ink will crack when it’s drying. While some like the crackling effect at the bottom of the waterfall, I’ve tried to prevent this from happening in later pieces with this same effect.
The original may still be available. If you are interested (12×16 un-framed) please fill out this contact sheet, as it’s at the local gallery and I will have to double-check it isn’t already sold.
Bridge of the Cherry Willow (Print)
Watercolor & Gouache | 8×10 | 2019
Bridge of the Cherry Willow was created on a failed painting. I had a piece of decent hot press paper with a failed underpainting on it, and after a few weeks (maybe even months) I pulled it out and decided to either do something new with it, or throw it out. I went for the former, and what I painted has gotten lots of love!
The original of this piece has sold, but you can still buy a print here.
Jupiter Tree (Print)
Watercolor | 8×10 | 2019
Jupiter Tree was an improvised piece I made with my Woodlands watercolor palette by Prima. I took a large sheet of cold press, stretched it, and focused only on the color on my brush. The title of this piece comes from the big red spot in the center, making the whole landscape reminiscent of the planet Jupiter.
Want to watch a video about the process behind this piece? Click here!
The original for this piece has sold, but you can buy a print here.
And that’s all of them, folks! Once again these pieces will be taken down on October 28th, and so if you buy one of the originals I will ship them that day. Prints, however, can be bought at any time and are usually shipped 1-2 days after their purchase.
Also, from now until forever, if you use the code GIMMEFREESHIPPING you can get free US shipping on my website store with orders over 35$. You may also get free US shipping on my Etsy shop for the same amount, but no code is required there.
I hope you all have enjoyed my online exhibition showcase and learning about all of the pieces hanging on the wall of our local conservation center. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
Summer was a slow go for me as an artist, which is why these last few weeks have felt like a whirlwind. Between framing 40 pieces for shows, speaking at the local gallery, giving classes, creating pieces for auctions, and even making a few sales here and there, it’s hard to recall what it was like during swim season, when my busiest day was heading to the fairgrounds to drop off mine and several other artists’ pieces for the State Fair.
No complaints here, though! I would much much rather it be super busy than super dead. Now I can shed the impostor syndrome and work to dig myself out of the no-sale rubble, and perhaps strengthen my platform as I update my new site and hold giveaways on social media.
And despite it all, I still found time to blog so wooo! Glad you’re here with me.
I thought I’d do something of an “exhibition showcase” and talk about each of the pieces that are on the wall at Runge Nature Center in Jefferson City, MO, for those of you who live in other states/countries and can’t make it in, or for those of you who did visit and want to know the story behind one of the paintings you saw.
Most of the originals for these pieces are still available for purchase. They come off the wall on October 28th, and if they’re purchased before then they will be shipped in their frame. I will literally lift the painting off the wall, wrap it in bubble wrap, and ship it off to its new home.
Prints, however, are available at any time, and are usually shipped within 2 days of purchase. Prints do not come with a frame, so if you’d like a frame, feel free to contact me through Etsy or my site and we can discuss.
Watercolor | 11×14 | 2018-2019
The first piece I want to talk about is Winter Moon, as it’s considered the “star” of the show. I painted winter moon in either December 2018 or January 2019 (most likely January, as I recall the paint being a birthday present). I received a tube of Daniel Smith’s moonglow and decided the best way to first use it would be to paint a portrait of the moon.
The view in the painting is inspired by the view from my back door/window. I, of course, removed the highway and the shops/restaurants on the horizon. My hope was to possibly show what my backyard looked like before the city grew.
Late spring is a piece I made while taking classes by Jean Lurssen. Her unique, abstract approach to landscapes inspired me to try them myself. This one is reminiscent of the bluffs by the river, lush with green, spring trees.
This piece has been around the city. It first debuted at an event before hanging on the wall of a local restaurant beside its sister piece, Like Shale.
Breath of Fresh Air was one of my “meditative” pieces, or what I would consider an entry to my Wordless Diary. I didn’t know what I was going to paint when I started, but once I finished I was floored by how much this looks like the heart and lungs! Total happy accident.
What is framed and hanging here is a print. The original is also still available.
Mother Cloud was a painting I thought up while dealing with the struggles of mothering a 6-year old with a whole lot of independence. I had the idea of a large, thunderhead cloud, with a much smaller cloud drifting away from it, and the mother cloud spreading as if to reach out to catch her child.
This piece was sold in its very first exhibition, but I have sold several prints since then. It seems to be one of my most popular pieces to date.
Sea Foam was inspired by an upcoming exhibition with beach-related themes, Maria Raczynska’s gorgeous seascapes, and by the song “Orinoco Flow” by Enya. I listened to the song often while painting this piece, and also listened to a few other ocean-related songs such as “Soul of the Sea” by Heart and “Caribbean Blue” by Enya.
This piece was a part of the Life’s a Beach show at the local gallery, and is now currently on display at Runge and is also currently part of an online show at SquidInk Gallery called “Visual Art Inspired by Music.”
A bit about the process: for a reference, I used a photo I took in Daytona Beach, FL. I used watercolor inks to add depth to my color, and used white gouache for my “foam.” More information about the “behind the scenes” of this piece can be found here.
Lavender Falls is a piece that started out with an idea, but took on a mind of its own soon after I began. At the time, I was very big on using the watercolor inks by Brea Reese, as well as various iridescent inks by Dr. Ph. Martin’s.
This painting was part of a professional exhibition in the spring, and spent some time at the local restaurant with a few of the others before heading over to Runge.
Amethyst Dawn II was a painting inspired by a painting inspired by another class by Jean Lurssen. In her class, she showed us how to use a palette knife to “spatter” white gouache and make abstract flowers. I tried it immediately, using my Brea Reese watercolor inks and white gouache and the painting sold within a few hours after I finished it. With so much love given to the first painting, I decided to make a second painting with the same colors and techniques.
Amethyst Dawn was the first of the two pieces that were inspired by the Jean Lurssen class, in which she showed us how to use a palette knife to make rocky textures and to spatter white gouache in order to make flowers. The original painting was created with Brea Reese watercolor inks and M. Graham white gouache, and sold hours after it was complete.
If you’d like to buy a print of Amethyst Dawn, you can go here.
Vineyard at Sunrise
Gouache | 11×14 | 2019
Vineyard at Sunrise was another improvised piece. I gave it a zendoodle-like approach, in that I did not plan anything, and simply painted patterns and colors while remaining present and refusing to shape the piece into anything remotely figurative until the very end.
Late Summer Blues is one of my favorite pieces to date. I love the colors, the warm browns with the indigo. I love the starry pattern the salt made at the bottom. There wasn’t much planning to this piece. It came from the heart. I used a large brush to get the flowy washes, and a calligraphy pen (loaded with watercolor) to get the finer lines.
Late Summer Blues has sold. Thanks so much to the buyer!
Watercolor & Ink | 8×10 | 2018
Tundra was an experiment I did on a watercolor board in winter 2018. My goal was to create interesting textures and patterns with inks as they melded into one another. Not long after, the original piece was damaged, but luckily I had already scanned it, and it makes a gorgeous print.
If you’d like to buy a print of Tundra, you can head here.
I watched a zine tutorial recently and learned how to fold a single sheet of paper into a book. Since then, I’ve been hooked on folding up hot press paper into mini books and painting in them! They are a great way to experiment throughout the day, and I end up with a cute collection once the book is complete. Continue reading “Mini Books!”→
You might remember a month or so ago, when I was prepping for the “Life’s a Beach” show at the local gallery, and I painted a piece I named “Sea Foam.” While I was working on it, I knew I had to give it a much larger, “sister” painting. Not long after the beachy-themed show began, I picked up a large sheet of Arches paper from the hobby store and headed home to get it prepped. Continue reading “Process Video: Cerulean Sea”→
I started my Wednesday morning with some hot coffee, a Bobby Darin record, and watercolor videos. A few of them were more meditative, which reminded me of how much I myself love this technique. Meditative art–or at least my definition of it–is when you paint/create with having no idea what you are going to come up with. You start with one or two colors, one brush, and just, go with the flow.
See what I did there?
Meditative painting is how I’ve been filling my Wordless Diary, as it is a great way to get my thoughts/feelings down onto paper, without trying to put what said thoughts/feelings are into words. I often feel better after finishing a wordless entry, than I do after writing two pages of whiny nonsense.
I’ve been feeling a bit meh lately, and so I decided I needed a good meditative/wordless session. And as I was filling an empty cherry jar with water, I noticed Goo’s flowers from her recital by the window. One of the roses had wilted, and the loose petals were just begging to be plucked. I took a few, along with two or three tiny leaves. My goal was to stamp their patterns into the painting somehow.
The first painting was a major flop–as the first painting tends to be, because I’m “clearing the cobwebs” so to speak–but the next painting flowed together much nicer. I switched between watercolors and pens. I just let my brain wander, and refused to worry about whether or not I was going to produce something extraordinary.
Tip: when doing a meditative painting like this, using scrap paper helps keep you worry-free
The leaves made pretty “stone” textures at the base of my hills, making me think of a rocky cliffside by the sea. The rose, however, didn’t do much. It was much too soft to paint wet-in-wet with, and even placing something heavy on top of it didn’t leave an imprint. I decided that once the painting was finished, I would try a bit of wet-on-dry with gouache. And it worked nicely!
I have used bits of foliage here and there in previous paintings, but I think I’ll start a whole collection of natural tools. Rocks, sticks, dead flowers, to name a few. Should be fun!
–Daniel Smith watercolors (indigo and Aussie red gold)
Yesterday I got to be a part of my first downtown festival! This one was called Porchfest. Several historical homes on the same strip got together and donated time on their large porches for musicians and visual artists to come and perform live! It was a free festival, anyone could attend, and there was food, tie-dye stations, and super fun stuff for the kids like chalk art and face painting!
I myself got to nestle beneath a big tree with huge green leaves and display my art on a table while working live at my easel. I painted five little pieces total, three pretty landscapes, one sketch, and a fail. In between these pieces, I also worked on a larger painting I started on Friday evening.
It was super fun being surrounded by live music, live visual artists, and kids carrying balloon animals. Goo, my own kiddo, had a cat balloon, and a face painted like a rainbow. She had blueberry sorbet and made me a tie-dye shirt.
Next year I hope to have my own kiosk/tent where I can display my artwork better, and a much more efficient way of receiving payment (like a card swiper thing for my phone). Can’t wait!
Several of the pieces I displayed at this Porchfest are currently up on my Etsy! Come and see!
Not all witches are bad, have crazy eyes and warty noses. In fact, the witch who lives in this house, though very introverted, is kind and cheerful. She keeps to herself, tending to her garden, the plants in which provide endless hours of alchemy practice in her study.
I like to think she uses flower petals and beet roots to dye fabric, which she later sews to make hardy dresses and quilts. And her cat isn’t black, but orange, with big bright green eyes that match the dried basil in her herb collection.
This piece was one of my “go with the flow” paintings, meaning I didn’t know what I was going to paint until it began to take shape on the paper. Contrary to what I usually do, which is paint on a flat surface, I used my easel set at around an 80 degree angle so that the watercolor would flow downward. I also used a wet on wet technique, only letting it dry at the very end, when I wanted to paint in some finer details.
Here is a timelapse of the painting process. Unfortunately, my phone died toward the end, so a good chunk of the video never saved. But I hope it’s enough for you to see how it all came together.
-Daniel Smith watercolors (moonglow, indigo, rare green earth, hansa yellow medium, and raw/burnt umber)
-Arches cold press 140lb
Both the original and the print of this piece are available on my Etsy shop.
When I saw Jean Lurssen using Aussie Red Gold in one of her YouTube videos, I knew it was going to be the next color on my list. But Daniel Smith watercolors are not cheap (this one was around 15$ for a tube) and so it remained on my wishlist for a month or two, until I found the means to splurge.
And wow this color rocks!
I think what I like most about this color is its warmness. I have a lot of cool yellows, but I’ve always gravitated toward my Woodlands palette for the warmer yellows and oranges.
So far I’ve only been playing with this color, testing its limits, but I do have a few ideas brewing of sunrises and golden autumns and sunflowers.
This morning, I shot a timelapse of my play, in which I mixed the new color with my other Daniel Smith watercolors, and then splashed around on a scrap piece of paper.
These are the colors I mixed on the video in order:
-Hansa Yellow Medium
-Rare Green Earth
My favorite mix of these was probably the pretty green I got with prussian blue, but I did enjoy the neutrals I got as well, with moonglow and ultramarine blue.
I’m not sure what my next color will be. As of right now, I’m pretty set, and the only thing I may need to buy soon is another primary set, as I’m low on those three colors. But you can be sure that when I buy a new color, I will definitely write all about it on here!
I recently started a daily habit of what I call “meditative paintings.” What I do is I focus inward for a moment, notice how I feel, what I’m thinking of, what is bothering me, what is making me happy, how I feel physically, etc., and then I use this self-reflection to make the following choices: Continue reading “Meditative Painting & Starting a Wordless Diary”→
I never thought this day would come, honestly, but I made it a goal this year to join Patreon and so I’ve been working my boo-tay off to get it all together. And now I’m finally there and ready to share it with you!
A little over a week ago, I wrote about my New Year’s Resolution of not limiting myself in 2019. This “freedom” mentality led to my newest 365 project, #limitless.
Every day I have decided to just go with my flow. Whether I wanted to paint with watercolors, or even just sketch all day with a pencil, I wouldn’t hold myself back with nagging, existential questions. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to start giving myself monthly themes, as I’m not sure if it’s counter-intuitive to the whole idea. But I’m definitely open to giving it a try at least once.
Now that the first week of this project is complete, I think I can safely say that I’m going to learn a ton this year. Not necessarily in skill–though I do plan to learn some new skills!–but in letting myself go, and just being the artist my heart wants me to be. Continue reading “#Limitless Project Week One”→
I’ve always been creating, drawing, painting, but in 2018 I finally decided to pursue art as more than just a hobby. I started an Etsy and have been a part of local art gallery shows, and even won a ribbon at the state fair! I knew, because of my success–albeit minor, but still exciting–that I’d finally found the right career path for me.
But something got snagged around August, and I began to have a bit of an existential crisis. *Why* was I creating? What made my art different or important or ______? I was also struggling with this weird “I must choose only one medium” mentality, and which only starved my creativity more.
Not only that, but labels became sort of an obsession. Was I a fine artist? An illustrator? Was I going to be better known for my generic nature stuff? My bunny portraits? Was I going to be a zentangler on the side? Lots of people have told me I should become a children’s book illustrator. Why wasn’t I pursuing that? Should I be sending out more emails to agencies? What if I don’t want to illustrate children’s books? Does that mean I’m drawing the wrong things? What should I be drawing instead?
I got a break from this during Inktober because I was, well, having fun. In hindsight, I also notice that I most enjoyed the paintings/drawings in which I just did whatever I felt like and ignored that inner voice with all the questions.
As soon as Inktober was over, I returned to the funk. I painted boring generic stuff because I felt that was what I was supposed to be painting. I stuck with Arches paper and let myself run out of my beloved Canson hot press. I limited my tools to just watercolors and/or the occasional pen. I even bought ink to try and narrow myself further to just brushes and watercolor. Occasionally I would start a cute illustration of a humanoid animal, but those remain unfinished and are still scattered in various places within my dining room art studio.
My 2018 New Year’s Resolution had been simple. I was going to follow my flow. I was going to listen to my heart instead of my brain. Be more intuitive. Let go of the nonsense and just be free. I realize I’ve been failing miserably these past few months. Instead of listening to my subconscious, I’ve been limiting myself. And starving.
Nonetheless I’ve been cheerful, which is strange because when I was trying to pursue a career in writing, existential crises like these would ruin my entire day/month/year. But art, no matter how “forced” it is, is still fun for me. It still puts me in a good mood and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.
So, bruised but not broken, I joined Skillshare. For those of you who don’t know, Skillshare is a website where creators from all over the world come together and teach classes on anything you can think of. I’ve been interested in it for a while, but it wasn’t until a friend gave me a code for the two month free trial that I decided to give it a try. I figured that perhaps learning a few things would help me gain some new perspective on the “why” of my art.
I’m so glad this was the first class I chose to take! Had I chosen something different, a technical class, for instance, I might have slid down a different path (and crashed and burned).
This class was all about what my entire resolution had been about: following our flow. A few of the takeaways from the class:
* Art is about choices. When you’re ready to begin a freeform piece, limit these choices to one brush and one color.
* Stay in the moment. When you find that anxiety start to set in, regroup and return to the moment.
* Experiment. Play. Have fun. Basically, I need to just splash around and see what shapes the puddles make.
Because I loved this class so much, I decided to take several more classes by her, in which she uses all sorts of materials. In one video she’s using watercolor, the next she’s using charcoal and dying markers! Her studio is a playground. And dammit, I want a playground!
For 2019 my resolution is to not limit myself. If I want to use watercolor, I’ll use watercolor, if I want to use oils, then dammit I’ll use oils. If I want to use charcoals and colored pencils and acrylics all on one piece, then I’m game. Art, for me, has always been about having fun and trying new things. I just needed someone–in this case, a badass teacher–to remind me of this.
Despite the many existential crises, 2018 was one of the very best years of my life. In my art I got to be a part of gallery shows, share my coloring pages with kiddos, enjoy an art crawl, and more. In my home life, I got to enjoy my family, go on numerous hikes, and cozy up to many rainy days, and I’ve watched Goo grow an artistic passion of her own.
Wow! October flew by! I’m not surprised. Between prepping for a Holiday show, an art crawl, and a few other events–that wound up getting rained out grrr!–I had a lot to focus on that passed the time. Oh and HALLOWEEN! Which is, you know, the greatest thing ever. Goo went as Link from Legend of Zelda this year, and I went as Castiel from Supernatural. Continue reading “How Inktober 2018 Changed Me as an Artist”→
Every so often, I receive a surprise package from my mom filled with art supplies. I’ve begun to call these “care packages” because that’s basically what they are. They’re boxes filled with happiness. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be as far as I am today in my art career if she hasn’t been helping keep me stocked up. Continue reading “Artist Tools: “Woodlands” by Prima Watercolor Confections”→