Week 4 - Grit and Grace Recap

February 08, 2016

Well that's a wrap!
How quickly 4 weeks have passed. It's been a wonderfully frenetic, artFULL, maybe even life changing, month. Thanks Miss Katie!

So what have I learned, you ask? 
  1. Without setting the right intention ..."right" being ANY... be prepared to flow against the grain. Occasionally good art will be made but that will be the exception rather than the rule. By taking the time to get in touch with myself, become body aware first, only then will the creativity flow effortlessly.
  2. Warming up is just as important in creative endeavours as it is with physical ones. And there are so many juicy ways to warm up! 
  3. Journals are my friend. For so long I've been intimidated by the words "Art Journal". When I see other artist's gorgeous pages filled with amazingly beautifully composed works I begin to doubt my ability. Two things from this ... A) they are choosing to show you the best and B) so what? Comparing myself to other artists is such wasted energy. Finite Days, Jen. Finite Days!
  4. Paint. Just paint has opened a channel like no other medium I've ever tried. Go figure. [this is kinda vaguebooking and I apologize. perhaps someday I will go into it. more likely in my newsletter than on here. forgive the plug.]
  5. When my direction is random ...when I am not listening to my inner voice... my colours go dark. The irony is not lost on me. 
  6. I have fallen hook, line and sinker for water soluble graphite. Just. Swoon.
  7. I have also fallen for painting BIG. This could prove to be difficult given my current, rather crampe, quarters. I'll figure out how to make it work. Because B.I.G.
  8. Nothing is every completely finished. Though never too concerned with end results, I might've opted to ship stuff out before fully exploring all the options. Remember to stay firmly in the moment, in future. (Think if I only ever paint on one canvas for the rest of my life. Imagine the layers and heft that thing would have?!?)
That's all I can think of right now.
I'm sure more will come to me as I ruminate. In the meantime, here are some works from this past week. Ironically, I haven't touched my big painting at all. I'm savouring it for next week I think!

This was a painted over canvas. No faces, as was the exercise, but it felt really good to just re-use something that's been sitting around waiting for months. Further, a delightful discovery, when scraping through the top layers all that hidden goodness underneath shows up. Love that!

Journal Excavations ... I am so digging this practice. My current process, glue shit down. Overlay some white gesso with a credit card ... makes the best textures! Mark making. With charcoal. With water soluble graphite. With ink. With stamps. With whatever! Then paint. Such randomness.

I'm going to end with this piece. The exercise was Metaphysical House ... to divide a wood substrate into 3 and determine, through whatever medium, one's basement, main floor and attic and what that meant to us. I had music on and just kinda closed my eyes and went for it. The paint is thickly applied right outta the tube for the lighter attic portion. It feels very portent of where my head is at ... struggling through a mired past up into the light. If I do nothing else with this class ...THIS... was worth it. Can't ask for more than that.


Week 3 Recap - Grit and Grace

February 01, 2016
One of the main reasons for taking Katie's class was to break out of my comfort zone. While I started my art journey creating watercolours, it has been many years since I have relied solely on paint as my medium of choice. Further, when I was creating solely in mixed media, thematically they stretched from abstract to scenics. Rarely, if ever, did I focus on people and virtually never, portraiture. So imagine my distress when this week's lessons were all about faces. Ack!

To say there were some misses would be an understatement.
One morning I drew and scribbled over face after face after face. Re-gessoing the canvas, I'd try again. I wasn't sure if I would ever get over the hump.

Mid-week, I did a longer meditation, turned on the music, closed my eyes and surrendered myself to the process. This was the result:

Okay. Not stellar. A little muddy but it was a FACE! Imagine my surprise when it began to dictate the direction. I was humming ... literally AND figuratively. The process completely took over and the final result was, I think, a message from Spirit.

Comfort zone? Gone! I've been blasted into new territory via hyper-drive. Even though my previous process was frenetic, it often wasn't directed. More like a timed event. Paste as much shit down as I could in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1. STOP! This current phase is still frenetic but broken by giant pauses to listen. What do I need to do now? Where does this need to go? As soon as *I* start directing, the process goes downhill in a hurry. Things get muddy again and my brain feels swathed in giant bundles of cotton batting.

Take this journal spread above ... I stopped working on the right side when I stopped hearing what else to do. I did however continue on the left side. For me, they tell very different stories ... one (mr. dog) on the precipice of 'what's next-ness' while the dude has lost all life, bunged down under my undirected smoodging around.

This one (above) I'm really excited about ... still a work-in-progress. But look at how alive and vibrant it is?! Lots of stuff going on here. And again Spirit Dog comes out to talk. Is that my face behind the crow mask?? I dunno. Looks remarkably like my Bear & Crow dude up above to me.
I can't wait for where our final week will take me!

And finally, I thought it would be fun to see the progress on the Big Painting starting from when I initially created this canvas 10 years or so ago.


Throw Back Thursday

January 28, 2016
For many years January was "make something for the 100 Artists Show" month.I'm not sure how I managed to get on Mary Lou Zeek's mailing list but I'm so glad I did. Each year, she'd send us a unique item which we'd have to incorporate into our submission ... an empty box, collaborative letter even a tin can. Further all monies were donated to a different charity or unique cause. 

2006: Shrines to the Environment.  Wood box with door. "REcycle"

2007: Shelters. Wooden house-shaped box. "Comforts of Home"

2008: What's Inside.Wood Box. "What's Inside"

2010: Nourish And Sustain. Beans in a Tin Can. "Teach a Man to Fish"

2012: The Art of Communication. Letter from collaborating artist. "The Art of Communication is NOT Lost"

I kinda miss it.

One final note to sign up for my upcoming (February 1) newsletter. In the sidebar under, Newsletter. Exclusive Valentine's Giveaway. You know what to do!


Week 2 Recap - Grit and Grace

January 25, 2016
If I could summarize Week 2 of Grit and Grace it would be Floundering Progress.
Probably not what one would think of as a successful description of a painting course.
But you'd be wrong. Because it seems floundering is exactly what I need right now.

As I've mentioned a goodly portion of this class is about exercises. Meditation. Warm up exercises. Hand and arm gestures. Non-dominant hand drawing. A starting point to allow the body and mind freedom to express what needs to come out.

I've always thought of myself as a free-form, interpretive, 'let's see where this takes me', by the seat of my pants kinda artist. Hmmm. Not so much. A more accurate moniker would be fearless. I'm not afraid to take chances, try new mediums or techniques and if I don't quite have all the specified supplies I'll quite happily make do or make something up. As I'm discovering however, the two ... fearless and free...  are not the same.

What I have discovered is this ...  my standard art practice borders on frantic. Ask me to use charcoal and graphite, then gesso and some ink? And within 10 minutes my substrate is completely filled up. Energetic gestures flying off the page ... just look at the photo below!

A spread in my ongoing journal that is supposed to be about allowing light and dark to illuminate the dark places within. To gently entice them onto the page not bash them into submission which is closer to the feeling from this spread. Any messages are desperately whispering, hidden behind all the other stuff that's swirling around.

Another exercise required us to create a grid and draw faces then allow each section to dictate its own direction, how it wanted to be finished. And I couldn't do it. Every time I started to work, I'd end up obliterating the entire grid and end up with a jumbled up, mark-laden, paint saturated, collaged to death mess.

Now don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that. Because y'know raw mess has its place. Only I'm really trying to get this whole "let's slow down and listen" thing. Rather than let that raw frenetic energy loose, I want to be able let the work dictate the pace ...what it needs and wants... and not my very very VERY busy brain!

I got really close with this spread ... the right hand top is my usual modus operendi... painted and marked to within an inch of its life. But something SOMETHING made me Stop. And I pulled it back from the brink. Just look at the white space (book text in this case) on the section below that one. And look at the left side ... completely different. I can feel the calm. I stopped very early on that one.

Now scroll back up and take a look at the first photo ... my cardboard piece.
Isn't that a thing of beauty? Though it isn't finished yet, I really listened. It told me, "Stop! Hang out with me for awhile. Let's think on it some more." And so it sits propped up on my table while I wait for it to tell me what else it needs. And that is some major progress. Big. Big. Progress. It feels good my friends. Very good.

And it's translating into my Big Piece. As techniques tweak my interest, I turn my head and imagine how they will evolve on this canvas, how I want to express them. My deliberation astounds me! Oh sure, I've had to white out some overwrought parts with a swish of gesso. Rome wasn't built in a day, after all.  But I'm thoroughly enjoying this slow, meditative process that is emanating from all the slogging through mud. And I'm very excited for less flailing ...floundering... and more progress in Week 3!

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January 22, 2016
 On the days leading up to 2016 I spent some time thinking about what I wanted out of this brand, new year and one of the things that kept popping to the fore was making this art thing *work*. What that exactly means? I had ...have... no idea. It sounds good though, right?

Earlier I mentioned reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon,  a marketing book for self-professed haters of promotion. And as is Mr. Kleon's style, he succinctly wraps up the entire book into a lovely easy peasy list:
  1.  You don't have to be a genius.
  2. Think process, not product.
  3. Share something small every day.
  4. Open up your cabinet of curiosities.
  5. Tell good stories.
  6. Teach what you know.
  7. Don't turn into human spam.
  8. Learn to take a punch.
  9. Sell out.
  10. Stick around.
There are many, many good, simple, non-pandering points in this book.
Some I've known and practiced ... do the work, share, teach what you know... and some I've known but haven't been as good at ... sharing every day, being able to take criticism and not let it be personal. Some frankly, I never thought I would do ... being human spam for example... and therein lies the rub.

As I ramp up this  blog and my soon-to-be-sent newsletter, the product is becoming more important than the process. And that's put me in a whole spot of bother. With the schedule I've set up for myself, I find I'm getting really sick of ...well... ME! And let's not talk about re-trying Etsy or looking for a representational gallery or setting up an IRL show.

Every fiber of my being is screaming, "Run! Run for the hills!"
I'll just sit here and Adult. Finish typing this post then hit "Schedule".
And hope it gets easier.

It's gonna get easier, right?