Drawing Blanks–How To

twilight-forest-vi-oct-26-2016-paint

Ink & acrylic on stretched acetate

Many times I look at a blank page and have a curious thought: “what’s in there

that I need to find?” Have I trained myself to think that way? Yes and no. I go

that way mainly because I rebelled against blank pages (and walls) so I drew

some shape or made a splotch of color or scribed a word or a sentence. So I kept

the habit as I lived. It’s like giving a horse a little nudge in a wide open field

with no one else present, just a friend, the wind, and wide open spaces.

So what is the “how-to” of this?

Move forward and try.

See how far you can take your day-dream. Better yet see how it can take you.

All it needs is a little nudge.

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Everyday Art

If I want my Art to become more refined, more pleasing, more interesting I must coax a little pencil or paint brush into action.

oct-01-ladybug-on-paper-airplane-paint

Ink on card stock. Prompt was “Fast”.

Art and action are inseparable.

I was reminded of a pretty much universal objection to hitting the sketch book: “But I get tired of doing the same thing all the time.”

Well, then don’t. You’re not being forced into Art are you?

If I get bored I can

  • switch from pencils and brushes to pens
  • charcoal and newsprint
  • draw with your “weak” hand
  • try some new ways to lay down lines

just get going and make it like play.

oct-07-lost-paint

Ink on card stock + color pencil. The prompt was “Lost”.

Make a prompt list and stick with it all during the month.

Just keep going and you will be glad to see your progress. Punch through that boredom with switching out media and an attitude of playfulness.

Serious play. It’s the way…

  1. To make good Art
  2. Stick to making good Art

 

oct-03-collection-paint-ver

Ink on card stock + color pencil the prompt was “collect”. Sorry Charlie Brown.

 

Make My Art Meaningful

How do I stay excited about my Art?

This was a topic at my table of friends. The setting was an informal lunch chat we losely organize as a catch-up session. We look forward to these short times together.

Slump, block, rut, going-nowhere was the theme and none of it was anything new to us, a common theme.

But wait; the key word in the question is “excited”. Who expects to be excited about media print advertising, art programs in public schools, art instruction, and the worrying hours in the studio before a fair or a showing? Art is work, a job, a way to make the rent, so Art is a real job.

I liked this response: “Dream and Do.”

It was a quiet reply that made us go silent for a little while. We were thinking whilst munching our lunch.

Someone finally broke the silence, “I can do that.” Sighs all around.

I could tell by the looks around the table a page had turned.

We would be good for another two weeks.

Or until the first text asking for, “Help!”

Helping part of the “Doing” I suppose.

On with the Dreaming.

field-flowers-23-85percent

Field Flowers, graphite on watercolor paper.

 

 

Better Done than Perfect

Better Done than Perfect.*

Never, never, never slop through a job. Do not abuse your audience or be-little them by thinking so little of them. Do your best work. The concept of “Done is better than Perfect” is a reward for people who can Finish a Thing. Never miss a deadline. It is a promise. It is your Word.

Live by your Word.

Or wither on the vine when you do not keep your Word.

 

bark-texture-study-monochrome-1-february-2016-2

Ink on paper from a reference. Beginning, middle, end.

 

* Perfection is over-rated. It’s the result of some sort of operant conditioning that turns good-natured  admonishment, “do your best”,  into an unattainable expectation. As such one’s performance is judged by an external jury with a subjective set of principles that as likely as not as an outcome to be like a death sentence placed upon the poor sot who “attempted to do the work but missed the mark”.

The root cause of this over-rating of Perfection  is even perhaps the Poor Training of teachers to expect perfection of others and to try to enforce it as a matter of Will on others whilst incapable in the first place of their own perfection.

Given all types of “behavioral objectives” and “performance metrics” in myriad volumes of ‘how-to-teach’ books perfection is still a brick savagely applied to the temple of creative individuals’ skulls.

Perfection is a Set up to Fail, or worse to never Begin, or worse even yet, to never Finish anything.

Fables & Tales, Fox Amongst Hares

fox-amongst-hares-petroglyph2-non-flashy

Fables tell us about who we are and how we came to be. They give us a shared basis we can use to know more about the world. In many cases Fables tell us about the world yet to come, the passage of time, and our generations as a people.

Tricksters and jokers have been our teachers for many generations.

This painting is a design for a small engagement and it will be a stage set for telling Trickster Tales.

The painted set will be on fabric with suitable lighting from behind the painting.

I want to invoke a night telling around a fire as may have happened when the original artist made their marks.

 

A Second Look

V-8 Blue & Red 1

A photograph shows clearly what I needed to do.

Taking the Second Look™

By fortunate accident I found a way to find out what needs my attention in a painting. I call it the Second Look™.

It takes some form of “taking a step back” practice to get my critical eye on the piece. Sometimes three steps back will give me a better perspective.

Other times I use various lenses to get a close up to better determine how I can make my work better. When I am unsure of what the “problem is” that is getting stuck. Stopped trying to determine what needs to be “corrected”. Time is valuable.

Preparing photographs of several pieces in progress showed me immediately and very clearly what was in need of “fixing”.

I trust my senses but also realise I can be misled.

So I darkened the shading on the inside right arm of the “V”. That is the first improvement.

My improvements began with taking a photograph.

It may take more than two “looks” to get this piece to its optimal representation.

Any project can be one more for the “finished” category or it can remain “a work in progress”. It is not a good feeling to have a lot of unfinished panels to finish.

Getting “it done” is a great feeling. It makes getting back to work every day a joy.

Surprise! A Second Look helped me to see what I needed to improve.

Improve every day.

 

Smiles, I Artist

The obligation attached to being an Artist is to make things. Take something and make something else. I like collage in this way because it gives something different from the original materials.

Fish Fossil 1

Just “different” is not enough.  Only to a certain extent do I “know” what I am making. I received a lot of encouragement over the years, however, I still hear, “What’s that mess going to be?” I typed the words but not the quote, because it was not so easy on the eyes.

Girl with green case 1

I gave up on what I was working on, even on Art more times than not. I had many un-finished drawings, ailing canvases, and un-used materials.  I put it up to impatience, but it was the message about the “mess” that came through later, without many smiles.

Now that is not so much the case. Now I power through the “comments” people make at classes or out in the public or when I share a sketch book with someone who is curious.

I usually hole up in the studio or somewhere private to draw.  I took some inspiration from allies and took the minimal kit to a public spot and drew.

“What’s that you’re doing? You’re an artist!” Now I’m surrounded by seven to eleven-year old people craning to see into my books and wanting to see more.

Aldo iPhone unflipped

The more of my drawings I show them the more they are delighted. They smile a lot, all the way up into their eyes.

Now I sort of know what Art I’m making.

I’m making Smiles.