Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Letting Loose with Expression

The fourth and final week of “Drawn to Expression” started this week. I’m still playing catch-up. I’m so inspired by Gillian’s work and challenged by several of her lessons. Which is a good thing. If it were all easy-peasy, I don’t think I’d grow much as an artist.

Expressive Animals

We spend a fair amount of time working with portraits in class. We’ve also been challenged to sketch animals. I can’t quite figure out why sketching an animal seems easier and quicker (in some cases) than human faces. Do you find it easier to sketch an animal versus a human face?

In this first sketch, we were challenged to create the bee without outlining his body. That is, use tone to create the shape. And to imply a sense of movement.

Day4.BeeSketch

Bumblebee (Charcoal, charcoal pencil, graphite powder, Conte crayon, graphite pencil)

The next animal we sketched was an owl. Here the challenge was to create the image of the owl without putting in every.little.detail. Quite a challenge when you’re used to being told to put all the attributes of the model into your drawing.

Day4.OwlSketch

Owl (Charcoal, charcoal pencil, graphite, white gesso, Conte crayon)

Then, just for an extra challenge, we were asked to draw pairs of beetles (or butterflies, or flowers) using both hands. At the same time.

Yep, a piece of charcoal in one hand. And a charcoal pencil in the other hand. Drawing at the same time. Drawing with both sides of your brain.

Talk about a brain cramp.

Keep in mind the idea here is to challenge oneself. These are not meant to be pretty pictures that end up in a gilded frame. These are exercises meant to stretch our creative brains. To loosen us up. And to make us giggle. Which is what happened here.

Day3.TwoatOnce_Beetles

Two At One Time

The pair at the top in the center look like they’re waltzing. Personally, I think they look more like smooshed frogs than beetles.

And Bold Flowers

One of my favorite exercises thus far has been sketching flowers. Some of Gillian’s approaches in helping us become more expressive is to draw fast and then slow. To create and then obliterate. It moves one away from detail and from becoming too precious with the outcome. The hard part is noticing when you are getting “too detailed” or “too precious” with your piece.

We set a timer for this assignment and turned the paper 90 degrees every few minutes. I’ve taken the same approach (turning the paper or canvas 90 degrees) when painting. It really does force you to look at your piece differently. Perhaps finding a spark that you didn’t notice before.

Landscape pose:

Day3.FlowersinVase_Landscape

Flowers (Charcoal pencil, graphite pencil, Conte crayon, soft pastel)

And portrait pose:

Day3.FlowersinVase_Portrait

Oh, not only did I turn the paper 90 degrees every few minutes. I also turned the vase of flowers each time I changed the direction of the paper. So the visual perspective was changing all the time.

I have much more to share but will end here for now. Till next time…

 

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Inspire Me Baby!

Inspire Me Baby! is a new feature on my blog. In these posts I’ll share my inspiration for certain pieces of art I’m creating.

Today’s inspiration comes from our veggie garden, specifically the Bibb lettuce that is bolting in all this heat. When I walked into the garden, I was immediately drawn to the bolting lettuce; its size and shape. Quick, grab the camera to capture the idea.

Top shot of the lettuce

Bolting Lettuce Front

Bolting Lettuce Back

Naturally, for me, I immediately saw inspiration for an art doll; something with a loopy, wavy bodice.

But before following that stream of thought, I decided to sketch the lettuce. I printed out the pictures above, sketched what I saw, and then colored it with water soluble oil pastels and colored pencils. In the process I remembered how much fun it is to sketch and color.

Bolt 7/12/10

Now I’m thinking I may play with the digital images in Photoshop and make a three or four panel piece using the various images and then engineering an art doll inspired by the whole lot.

Stay tuned.

Inspire me baby!


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Creative Every Day Week 1-Theme: Body

After a hiatus in 2009, I signed up for Leah Piken Kolidas’s Creative Every Day (CED) 2010 Challenge. If you’re not familiar with this challenge, go here to learn more. Each month, Leah provides a theme or prompt that we have the option to use as creative inspiration. The theme for the month of January is Body.

I will do my best to post each week how I used the particular theme to inspire me in all matters creative.

I started the month by celebrating Mother Earth and blue bodies on New Year’s Day and saw the movie AVATAR in IMAX 3-D. That was quite an experience. Next we celebrated food and friendship, always good for the body and soul, when we hosted our Day After New Year’s Day Open House.

On Tuesday, it was time to take care of the body, my ears specifically, with a visit to the ENT. I’ve been dealing with tinnitus at varying levels for more than a year. While it appears that nothing can be done for the tinnitus, I did have a hearing test that showed my hearing to be nice and normal. Well, there goes the “honey I can’t hear you, speak louder” excuse.

On Wednesday, it was more food for the intellectual body when we attended a presentation by Daniel Pink discussing his newest book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. This was my first time attending a book discussion and it was a lot of fun. In a nutshell, money is a motivating factor to a certain extent; beyond that people are more motivated by autonomy, mastery & purpose.  To learn more about Daniel Pink’s book, visit his site here. This 15 minute TED talk with Mr. Pink also gives a good overview of his new book: Dan Pink on Motivation

Thursday was a treat for the physical body when I got my hair cut. It always feels good to have someone else shampoo your hair and massage your scalp. And now I don’t feel so closely related to Cousin It.

On Friday, I started working through the exercises in Linda Novick’s book The Painting Path: Embodying Spiritual Discovery through Yoga, Brush, and Color. I bought this book more than a year ago and CED seemed like the perfect reason to start using it. The first exercise was titled Remembering Your Artist Self.  Here Novick leads the reader through a deep breathing exercise and meditation to remember playing in childhood followed by playing with oil pastels.

As a result of the meditation, I created the following pieces with the oil pastels.

Impressions

This first piece is a free form sketch on 11″x17″ paper (scanned in two sections.) I started with scribbling the purple lines in the background and then added the various shapes and images. I didn’t know what to draw and wondered if I was doing this “right” following the meditation. The sunflower started out as a sun which was transformed into its current state.  I’m not sure who all the little stick people are; gremlins or sprites?  I love the staircase and the emotions expressed on each step. The words were added after the little people appeared so the words (struggle, rest, falter, achieve, view, success) match their emotions.

Not sure either what prompted the pair of eyes. Perhaps, because of the meditation, the eyes represent me looking at my self; reflecting back on childhood and time spent drawing and painting. I think that is where the birds came from. I remember that I always liked drawing birds in flight on my papers.

The interesting thing about this exercise is that it told me that somewhere along the way, we lose the free spirit ability to create art without wondering about the outcome. We lose the ability to just “be” with the art, to immerse, play and enjoy.

This exercise lead to the piece below:

The Artist's Hand

Impressions

I love the vibrancy of the oil pastels on colored paper; how the color shifts, pops and absorbs. This hand represents me as an artist in this moment; feelings, life, emotions that flow out of the hand onto the paper or into the clay. The paper or clay flow back to the hand. It is a two-way street-hence the arrows in all directions.

The artist hand gives life. There is a pulse, but sometimes you falter.

This is me. My heart.

I must remember to breathe.