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New Paths . Neural Pathways.

Once all the work was safely packed and headed to the show, I breathed a sigh of relief all the while thinking, "So. What's next?!?" Because the reality of Life as an Artist is we are only as good (or as bad) as our NEXT piece. Today's work. I hauled out the gelli plate because making a whack of prints is ALWAYS a Good Idea. Until it isn't. 

The thing with making a ton of prints, without direction, is a little like eating only dessert for days. Initially? SO. Good. And then you start to crave, NOT sugar and eventually lettuce. You start to crave lettuce and you know the dessert thing is over. I began to crave direction. Except I was still full of  "A Made Up Life" and nothing else was being let in.

Enter Sketchbook Revival 2022, a two week intensive make-a-thon, two classes a day creating things I may not normally create. Being told exactly what to do frees up the brainmeats to rest so, eventually, I can start to think about what the next path(way) might be. 

Sidenote: In writing this post, I just discovered my New Path by doing some research on Neural Pathways. This really jumped out at me

"A new neural pathway forms when you encounter a piece of information (thought) for the first time. For example, a young child already has existing neural pathways for common fruit like apples and bananas. But the first time they encounter something exotic, like dragon fruit, for example, the brain checks: is it an apple? No. Is it a banana? No. So it must be something new – and a new neural pathway is formed."

 Back to Sketchbook Revival, I hauled out my watercolours and happily splashed paint, sketched, collaged, printed, tangled, made collage fodder, inked my way through March into April. And had a jam packed sketchbook to prove it!

Friend Jane Chipp, best-selling author of  "Artful Memories", had a collage challenge for April. The idea of using vintage photos for a challenge felt a bit too close to the work from A Made Up Life so I set some pretty stiff parameters for myself. I created a small 4"x6" concertina book to house all the collages and decided they would be pure collage. No paint. No stencils. No markmaking(!). Gotta say, there were more than a few times I questioned these self-imposed harsh limitations. I did discover that I'm not very good at pure collage and wanted to "fix" many of the pieces with some sort of markmaking. But I hung in there. And my compositional skills got a teensy bit better over the course of the month. (maybe!)

At the beginning of May, I started feeling an itch to get back to abstract acrylics, something I dabbled in a long time ago...2016, I think. I really felt drawn to play with paint ONLY. I searched around for a class and came across Louise Fletcher's Find Your Joy free online class that was to start at the end of the month.

In the meantime I pulled out the gelli plate and became much more structured with my printmaking following Mark Yeates on YouTube. He's the first gelli plate printer I've encountered making Fine Art prints vs more craft oriented textural, background type pieces while not focusing solely on image transfers. Don't get me wrong, I love me a good image transfer but once I've figured out the process it leaves me a bit empty. More sugar. Any. Way. I played happily with multiple pull prints, using my own drawings with wax resists and having a great ol' time!

On May 20, 2022, I jumped into Louise's class with both feet and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It really was as satisfying as I'd hoped, Facebook group notwithstanding.

 Sidenote: I honestly do NOT get the FB mindset in online classes. I feel like that 'fish out of water' Grade Seven girl all over again. Like everyone else got the memo but I was sick that day. (after day after day after day) It's just too disconcerting and really makes me start to hate the CLASS which is ridiculous. I tried a few times to engage and then realized, "Nope. This isn't working. Again." and withdrew to just doing the work. Which is really the point anyway.

I discovered a bunch of things through this process: 

  • I LOVE making a mess. Fast and furious, slapping down of paint.
  • Sometimes that isn't the best course of action.
  • Having a practice page of paper or two on the side allow me to make a big ol' mess without having to edit myself. Win. Win.
  • I don't always react to what's going on ON the work in front of me, but what's going on inside of my heard.
  • Again. This isn't always "good" when trying to make a workable painting. (great for making backgrounds however)
  • Having multiple works going on at the same time can save me from myself.
  • I don't know ANYTHING about colour mixing. Gotta fix that.
  • I don't really know anything about composition other than intuitively knowing what I like, or something looks off. Gotta fix THAT.

And now it's June and we're up to date. I purchased a grownup legit H-frame easel and I'm delving into abstract acrylics. And I'm loving it. I realize I DO need a bit more direction either with subject matter or at least a pathway. (see what I did there?) But I'm excited where this might lead me!