Friday, February 18, 2011


Value Drawing-Martha Smith
As I  began my daily walks again I was challenged by snow.  I usually don't have much trouble walking in the snow, but the ice storm had crusted over the snow and made it hard to walk on.  Each step I made my weight broke through the ice crust.

On the sidewalks where others had walked, their footfall had made the walk uneven with snow and ice making it hard to walk without slipping or twisting my ankle!  When I finally made it to the path around the pond it was less traveled and not as hard to navigate.  I found that someone before me had left a nice set of footprints in the snow and that if I stepped in those I did not have to break the ice and do the work!  The stride was long, but doable.  So in someone else's tracks I found a safer, easier path to take.
Value painting-Nancy Lubis

 Do we do that with our creative path?  Do we find someone else's tracks an easier path to take?   Have we taken from a teacher we admire and tried to mimic their style instead of challenging ourselves to find our own?  Have we gotten into a "safe" way of doing our art?  Making art that "sells", or a way of doing things that is formulaic?  Are we looking for a short cut or easy way instead of doing the work of breaking through the ice ourselves?  Have we avoided the work it takes to learn the skill it takes to move our work forward? 

Value Sketch-Susan Smith

I asked this of myself as I walked around the pond.  The answer was yes and no.  I have done it the easy way and I have put in the work and forged my own path.  But the path of creativity never ends!  Which is the beauty and the joy of it.  There is no limit to creativity, no end to your journey.  So when you think you have found your place in it, move forward- don't stay there too long or you will quit growing.  While it is easier and more comfortable to stay where you are because life is good here and the unknown is a scary place, you will also never see what awaits around that curve in the path.  What's around that curve could be life changing! 

Value Sketch-
Myra Brenneman
This weeks sketchbook challenge I want you to see shapes by drawing big shapes first, medium shapes next and then small shapes.  Drawing the big shapes first helps us to place the large masses in the right places on the paper and gives us the big picture before spending time with smaller shapes and details.  Details are over rated anyway!

Happy creating!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Use It or Lose It

 I have not been for a walk in weeks since the arctic air moved down to Central Ohio and decided to stay!  It was either way too cold with single or very low double digit temps or it was icy and treacherous.  I will walk in the cold and the snow.  But you cant keep your footing on ice!  And I'd like to not break any bones!  So I figured I had a pass.  But my body didn't think so.  My dog's don't think so.  (they LIVE for their walks!)

The other day I took a walk.  That was not an easy walk.  It has snowed, melted, rained, iced, and snowed some more making it a little slick and hard to walk because I kept breaking through the ice under the snow.  I did get a work out!  And my body told me the next day it had been too long.  The muscles were sore and I was a little fatigued when I got home. 

drawing using observation from
the dot to line drawing!
 While I was out, I wondered how I could have gone so long without being outdoors.  I find peace when I'm out in the elements, what ever they may be.  Each season has a rhythm and beauty all its own and I find my balance when I am in touch with that.  It was lightly snowing and the dogs were running full tilt, slipping and falling and chasing each other and imaginary squirrels!  Not the first walk I've taken in the falling snow, but it was still magical.  The brambles that had obviously not seen the recent and brief sunshine were still encrusted with ice and sparkled like glass.  There were deer tracks and birds darting back and forth.  It was quiet and I thought of how removed I'd been from all of this beauty.

Which brings me to my thought for the week.  Walking is good for me.  I do it for my body and my soul.  Your art is good for you too!  We do it for many reasons, but it's good for your body and your soul!  Like my muscles the next day that reminded me I was out of shape in just a few short weeks, your art will suffer if you step away.  Am I saying you can never take a break?  No, I think we need breaks.  Sometimes to heal, or gain perspective.  Sometimes just to rest from a busy schedule.  But I am reminded that you do lose some of the ease of use you have built up using those skills repeatedly.  And you may lose some of the wonder at what you can do with a brush in your hand, or whatever your tools are. 

sketchbook work by
 Suzanne Camper
 Before I go on, I'd like to reflect a little on last weeks sketchbook challenge.  After image drawing.  What a pain!  I personally hate that exercise!  But I do it often to sharpen my observation skills.  While reading The Art Spirit by Robert Henri I ran across a quote that reaffirmed the concept.  "I have often thought of an art school where the model might hold the pose in one room and the work might be done in another.  The pupils would have their places in both rooms, one for observation and the other for work.  The pupil could return to the model for information. He could make any sketches he might desire to make-for information-but these drawings are not to be carried into the work room.  Into this room he carries only what he knows." !!! Exclamation mine! 

color study finding value in color-
Judy Richardson

In the spirit of use it or lose it, the sketching challenge is designed to keep you drawing in short bites for six weeks. This weeks focus is value drawing.  Four values.  Find the darkest value (cast shadow), and the lightest value (use the white of the paper), then find two values in the between the two.  Squint to remove color and too many values!  Remember value=form.  They don't need to take too much of your time.  Just try to do one daily.   I cant wait to see them!   

Whatever your creative outlet is, exercise those skills this week!  Now go create!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

After Image Sketching

What a week.  If it's not the weather, it's the unexpected that squeezes in and takes over the time set aside for my art.  But keeping up with the sketchbook challenge, I have kept my sketchbook close by.  I don't need to pull out a bunch of supplies, I just need paper, a pencil and an eraser. 

No matter where I am or what I am doing there is five minutes, a napkin and a pen from my purse to draw a quick sketch!  One of my students is learning to draw because in retirement she will be able to draw with minimal supplies and maximum flexibility.  Basic supplies, basic skills!

This weeks sketchbook challenge is "after image" sketching.  Simply look at an object for 30 seconds, look away and sketch what you remember.  It's not as easy as it sounds!  This is a great exercise to teach you to look, really look, and remember details.  This teaches us how to decide and mentally record what details to include in a quick sketch.  When capturing a quick sketch I look for the main idea I want to convey.  It could be the way the person is leaning in to the other person at the table.  It could be the delicate nature of the spring blossoms.  I might love the lighting on the statue in the courtyard. I only have a few minutes to record the essence of what attracts me to scene before that light changes or that person moves.

It also shows you how much you really don't  normally record mentally.  The more you practice this exercise, the better your recall skills will become.  You will learn to decide quickly what is important to the sketch.  And since you can only sketch what you remember, your sketched will be brief and will include only what you can recall.  So for those of us for memory issues, lets hope this strengthens our recall skills!!  It couldn't hurt, eh?

Now, back to the sketchbook!