Friday, May 31, 2013

Artist Brain Jam

Today I need to blog about "Artist's Brain Jam" as opposed to "Artist's Block".
I think of artist's block as an experience of being in the doldrums, a place of 
no motion where the creative flow, like wind and water around a ship, is still and heavy.  Becalmed.  There is a feeling of not knowing what to do.

In contrast "Artist's Brain Jam" is when the flow of ideas, images, techniques, alluring supplies and materials, all completing for attention, swirl around me like a hurricane.  I find myself able to focus for fleeting moments on bright colors and shapes as they rocket past me.

How did I get to this state?  Part of it was feeling like I had a little more free time this summer and asking myself what I wanted to do with that time.  Hmmmm.  Learn to sew better and make some art quilts (got a new-to-me sewing machine); get an easel and go back to oil painting in the garage (bought a new-to-me studio easel); try some new mixed media techniques; take a couple online classes.  Oh, and unpack from my recent move, finish the three books I've started writing, finish designing and producing the online classes I want to teach on three different platforms.

Then I signed up for 21 Secrets. 21 mini-workshops, each with a different
artist/teacher teaching multiple mixed media art techniques.  Open until
the end of the year.  Oh, and, like a dieter left alone with a plate of
lovely cookies, I signed up for a class on Craftsy plus added 10 or so classes
to my wish list there.  Also signed up for Juliana Cole's League of Extraordinary Journalers, MaryBeth Shaw's Stencil Club as well as a Soul Collage workshop.
Plus somehow I joined a dozen or so artist's facebook groups.  Oh, and there were those courses with the amazing Joanne Sharpe as well as the astounding Jane LaFazio.  Might take that one course from Pam Carriker and Craftsy just emailed me to say they would like to offer a sale price on one of the courses on my wish list.

Know that Zen story of the centipede and toad?  I think I first read this
anonymously penned tale in Alan Watts book The Way of Zen.

The centipede was happy quite
Until a toad in fun
Said, 'Pray, which leg comes after which?'
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in a ditch,
Considering how to run.

My brain feels like that now--flat on my back with legs and arms waving in a distracted way.  Gee, who did this to me?  Note to self: don't leave my
artist self alone with a credit card and the internet on payday.  All those
brightly colored candy jars are just too attractive to resist.

Of course some good will come from my personal indulgence. Probably a little nap will help with my overwhelm headache.  Here's something, although still on lesson one of Valerie Sjodin's Embellishing Edges and Text. My first page popped out from that workshop, below.

"One day you finally knew what you had to do and began."  Mary OliverPencil, Pitt Pen, brush markers and Gelly Roll metallic pensfrench curves to shape the right edge of the page.
Flowers perhaps inspired by my trip yesterday to "The Enchanted Gardens Tour of Northwest Denver".  But the face was a surprise.  I started with the shaped edge of this page and then worked along the upper, lower and left edge.  Next I added the quote, a find from my sketchbook.  The negative space suggested
a face.  She looks like a cartoon of a Flemish portrait, the queen of hearts
and my niece.  Makes me want to start painting a few Matisse style portraits,
something I did in art school.  For the last years I've been focused on
botanical imagery.  Good advice from Mary:  let yourself finally know how
to proceed (at home) rather than frantically traveling to foreign lands (or workshops) seeking wisdom and inspiration.  Trust that you will know.

Finally, I want to include the Chuck Close video linked below.

I'm inspired by the CBS interview of Chuck Close, part of their "Notes to Self Series".  So many great statements about how and why to engage in the artistic process. And one of the places that true to you ideas and inspiration comes from.  I've blogged about this video and these pages before, but needed to include these thoughts in this blog about being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of artistic ideas available to us online. Chuck reminds me to show up and engage in the process and see where it takes me. That the true learning and access to fresh ideas most often comes for the work itself.  

Don't need to buy a ton of shiny new art supplies or sign up for 30 classes.

Do check out an online class or two, but pace yourself.  And print out your
craft store coupon of the week and see what one item you can buy with it. 

I'm learning to practice moderation.  Let this be an artist's moral tale. Keep those feet on the ground. Take your creative self to the studio (however small or temporary it may be).  Look inside, not in an anxious way, but through turning your curiosity towards an exploration of what comes out of your artistic process itself.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mandala Flower Doodles on Envelopes

Mandala Flower Doodles
Tombo and Martha Stewart brush markers,
Pitt Pen, business envelopes

Something has come together for me recently.  I've been doodling

mandalas for many years.  All my day timers, papers and notebooks
are decorated with mandala doodles.  Not consciously "art", just
doodles.  In my "real art" life I've been going to the Botanic Garden
in Denver and drawing flowers, my favorite thing.  As I'm writing
this I realize that this is like my art and doodling during art school.
In the studio I was painting in a Neo Expressionist style and in
private I made botanical sketches.  Hmmmm.  

Know it has a lot to do with what is artistically intuitive and natural
and what is considered "legitimate" art.  Not sure what it means
but I had a revelation when I posted my mandala flower sketch on
the Dion Dior's facebook page Wisdom Circles.  Without thinking I
wrote "Wisdom Grows". Caused a psychic shiver.  Something about
drawing and painting and doodling the circular shapes of flowers
connects parts of myself as well as petals and stems.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gifts of the Muse Journal Pages: It's OK to Go Inside

Credit card scraped acrylic background, stenciled acrylic spirals
with Tombo Marker detail. Clipped out raised wall-paper scrap colored
with stamp ink, spray ink, Tombos. Magazine clips of sea vegetation.

"It's OK to Go Inside" page left

Recollections "snow" opaque marker, Pitt Pen, Office Max metallic marker
fish cut-outs recycled from copy of my prayer flags
"It's OK to Go Inside" page right

Recollections "snow" opaque marker, Pitt Pen, Office Max metallic marker
fish cut-outs recycled from copy of my prayer flags

In my visual art journaling group I've been opening each session with a 
guided imagery taking us down to a garden to meet with our creativity
muse.  In our meetings we've asked to receive a symbolic gift (like a shell,
etc.) or a message of insight and encouragement.  I've begun to call this
activity "Gifts of the Muse".  In this group my muse (yes, I meet with my
muse while doing the guided imagery) reassured me that "It's OK to
go into your shell".  I do a number of extrovert seeming things in the
world like teaching in the classroom and running groups but I am a
dyed-in-the-wool introvert.  In the US the extrovert rules and sometimes
I feel guilty or weak because I need alone time and become exhausted
when I overextend myself in the outer world.

I recently showed my psychology class this great Susan Cain
TED Talk about introversion.  

It reminded me about how our culture treats introverts like failed
extroverts.  Introverts need to remember the gifts available to 
those who turn inside to be inspired and energized.  Because I am
blogging for creatives and we tend to be an unusual and thoughtful lot
I just wanted to share my muse's words:

It's OK to be an Introvert
It's OK to be Reflective
It's OK to Think and Dream
Go inside
It's OK to go into your shell
Go inside. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More Envelope Art

My first envelope doodles this year, markers and Pitt pens.

Doodled mandala flowers with curly-Q's. Pitt pen, markers.

Close up from envelope above.  I really like the wavy lines and curlies.

I signed up for 21 Secrets this year when it first opened.  I've only had a chance to do the first
assignment in Ro Bruhn's "Flower Power" workshop.  In her workshop we were asked to make
flower doodles on the inside of business envelopes.  This background was used in order to add
interest to our drawings with the envelope security patterns.

I think this series of envelope doodles is interesting in terms of my various styles.  The first
doodles seem blobby and overworked.  After experimenting a bit I was more relaxed,
happy, playful.  I returned to my usual mandala flower doodles and even tried a curly wavy line
around my final doodle.

I'm not sure what it all means but it is interesting that my doodles progress during my three attempts.
Makes me think about how useful it is to warm up, experiment, relax and play, and persist.  Also
love the up-cycling of business window envelopes.  Life gives you phone bills?  Answer the call to creativity.