Monday, January 8, 2018

Small Things

Good morning Monday! (Or good Monday morning?) There is a fresh blanket of snow on the ground and everything is white and undisturbed here this morning. I thought I’d take this quiet moment and share the art I’ve done in the New Year and some thoughts.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Have Yourself A Merry (little or big) Christmas

Years ago when my dad moved in I vowed to make my life easier, because it became very complicated overnight. Christmas was one of those things I simplified. Gone is the endless quest for the perfect gift. You give me a list or you get what I give. I give to family and a few friends. Not 42 of my closest friends and relatives. Gone is the 6 foot Christmas tree festooned with two huge boxes of hundreds of ornaments and the tangle of lights that never seem to work the next year. We now have not one, but 7 “mercury glass” trees on the mantle. Easy up, easy down and the presents go under my 3’ Norfolk Pine. Gone are the elaborate decorations, I hook a wreath on the door. Done! I no longer dictate there be bushes and trees so laden with glowing (only white) outdoor lights that they are a beacon to those traveling from afar. (And that light up the hood so bright no one can miss it) If the hubs wants to put a few up, thats his job. Both up and down. And gone is the process of making my own cards and sending them to everyone I know. Literally. Everyone. I’ve always been a “go big or go home” kind of gal. It’s always been how I roll. Can people really change? It been 5 years now and I simplify a little more every year without sacrificing any of the meaning. If anything, I’ve recovered my sense of the real meaning of Christmas.

Bah-Humbug you say? Maybe. But I dont feel that way. I did at first, but the more years that pass with this toned down, basic Christmas, the more I can enjoy it. I can put more thought into the gifts I do give. I bring out only the things I love and not the things I’m really to busy to fuss over. That only caused stress. Did I mention I don’t like taking it all down? Now, taking it down its an afternoon job, not a week long one. And I know you're waiting for it... Don’t I miss making my own Christmas cards? No. I really don’t. I paint for myself these days and if I want to paint a Christmas scene at Christmas time, I do. No pressure. None of the hours creating, editing, sending to a printer- spending days addressing, stamping and mailing cards. I’m just over it. 

This trimmed down Christmas suits me just fine. But just in case YOU miss my Christmas card art, here is a quick little sketch of one of my favorite Christmas things. I don’t put any nutcrackers out, so this little guy is just the ticket. Fun, colorful and VERY low maintenance! 

Have a (complicated and wonderfully full...or...a pared down purposefully simple) Merry Christmas!! Until next year! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Don’t Read This Blog.

That title was a trick. If you tell people they shouldn’t do something, they will almost always want to do it, right? And a lot of us are just ornery enough to do it anyway. So now you are here-reading this blog post! But I’m here to tell you it’s a waste of time. You see, the blog is dead!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Inktober and Failure

Well, as usual these days, I couldn’t finish Inktober. I had an emergency that derailed me and then it was hard to get back on the tracks. I haven’t finished much the last few years. If you’ll recall I began a sketch a day in January. I don’t remember how far I got, I think three months, but looking back it was a bit ambitious. Inktober seemed more doable. Only 31 days. But alas, it was not. I did complete 100 faces in a week a while ago, so there’s a win. After getting two thirds of the way through Inktober and then “failing”, I wondered why I did it in the first place. Why do I set myself up to fail? And do it so publicly at that?

As I was thinking about my failure with Inktober and all the past fails that I have with my art I realized something. It’s a bit silly to call them failures. The real failure would be to never try or start anything. Maybe right now I have to be prepared for a month of sketches to be unexpectedly interrupted. Hey, that’s real life and the reality is that Inktober is a challenge to create art for 31 days. Not a personal call from God to save the universe. Perspective. Ahhh, I feel better now!

In light of that perspective, I want to share a few of the my favorite sketches from Inktober. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll get all 31 done? Or not. But that saving the universe thing? I’d better get on that!! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Criticism, Perfectionism and Art

As Joan Rivers say’s “Can we talk??” I posted the pic below of the baby face with a description that went like this: Trying to conquer my need to erase. I’ve never done a face, let alone a child’s face in only ink. I’m not comfortable with it yet!
I get a lot of comments from people telling me I’m too hard on myself. That I’m my own worst critic. I find it curious, because I don't see it that way at all. But I’d like to explain my comments because I think people misinterpret them as self criticism. Which they are! 

I think people think criticism and perfectionism are one in the same. They are very different animals. “Criticism is an evaluative or corrective exercise that can occur in any area of human life” (Wikipedia. I liked that definition) The dictionary says “the analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a literary or artistic work”.  Criticism is an evaluation or analysis of the MERITS AND FAULTS of a work. Criticism can be a good thing! While it’s true we usually focus on the faults, I also see that as a way to make correction. I may not talk as much about what’s good (then people think your full of yourself!) but I certainly make mental notes about what works and I repeat that!!  

When it comes to my art I’m a recovering perfectionist. A perfectionist is someone for whom anything below perfection is unacceptable. (My lose definition) The standard for that perfectionism usually comes from within and in art that is really pretty subjective. There can be no defined standard for “good art” because, as they say, art is in the eye of the beholder. That’s just really the bottom line. Perfectionism is not your friend because you will never be perfect and neither will your work.

I do realize that’s how my post comments may look. Negative and critical. And on the surface they may be. But go with me here: the difference between perfectionist Michelle and critical Michelle is that perfectionist Michelle would never post anything that wasn’t up to her perfect standards. Mostly because every time she thinks she does make something close to perfect she has to put the bar a little higher next time! Standards are set of course arbitrarily by her as she defines for herself what perfect art is. She is judge and jury. And therefore, she never posts a thing! You see, the perfectionist stands as the only person whose standards matter. Her standards my be swayed by the opinions of others, but mostly the perfectionist blows off praise and opts to focus on what's wrong. (And this is why it seems my post are self critical. )

 Critical Michelle on the other hand has made peace with the fact that she’s never going to make perfect art. She understands that art is expression and that it looks different on any given day and with any given work. Critical Michelle welcomes feedback from others. And not just the good stuff, but she takes that in with thanks. She actually seeks out others whom she respects and ASKS for critical feedback to help her grow as an artist. She knows that she is not the only good judge of art. She understands that she may not see the good or bad as clearly as another person and welcomes the fresh perspective. She is not lonely because she welcomes others into her art!! 

Here’s the point I am making about the above post: I critique every work I do. It’s a habit, and I don’t think its a bad one. I look at what’s good and what’s bad and I try to learn from it. I’m pretty comfortable that I can make great art one day and crap the next—using the same tools and techniques!! Experience has taught me that my chances of success—or my version of it—rise the with every piece I make. And that each one teaches me something I can take to the next one. So, my comments reflect frustration as I am trying to use tools and techniques that take me out of my comfort zone and push me in new directions. Using nothing but ink is a stretch for me because Perfectionist Michelle still loves to use an eraser!! And I really was uncomfortable with it. Which is funny, because that’s what it would look like if I used a pencil too!  Pencils-and more so an eraser-is  like a bike with training wheels. Those lines would still be used but I’d know that once I reached my goals, I could erase all those lines that guided me to the finished drawing. Make sense? 

In the end I’m not saying there should be no standards for your work but I’m also not going to tell you to reach for some ideal or standard. I think you are doing  that if what you are creating gives you joy, fulfills you in some way, says something about you or expresses something within you. In art like life, everyone is in a different place. And every artist has something thing to say and different ways to express it. Who am I to judge that? So put perfectionist you in a closet and replace her with critical you. And just remember, critical you looks at both the MERITS and faults. There are always both. Use both to move forward. And make art! And then-show others your art. It’s like anything else, scary at first, but once you do it a few times you realize people are usually less "critical" of your work than you are of your own.

Here are the rest of #inktober this week. This week I used a pen with no pencil drawings. It definitely stretched me! Have a great week!