Monday, May 28, 2018

Men & spirals

I just realised, I didn't share the further experimental sketches, completed, not long after finishing the 7-day challenge. As I was determined to find a way to incorporate spirals, into the appearance of men, who are naturally more angular, than women.

The first sketch to evolve, was inspired by the sea - of waves, and locks of hair, being caught in the wind. Mixing sketching with doodling, means, the composition didn't have to make sense. I captured what I wanted, and didn't need to explain more.

Which was extremely liberating, when I'm normally such a stickler for details.

Sketch number two, began with the focus on hair and glasses, to see how I could incorporate more round lines. The model in my reference picture, had a shirt on, but I thought muscles are round - so why not emphasise those? Once they were sketched in, however, I found the arms rather bare and uninteresting. Like they wanted to say, more. But what?

What else, but spiral tattoos!! Then the cigarette smoke was added, to lift the eye upwards again, because the heavy use of hatching (lower left, corner) was weighing the picture down.

Now I had tattoos on my mind, and found the ones, unique to New Zealand culture, were almost exclusively round! So my final sketch, became an exploration in more intricate detail, specific to the tattoos.

Doodling even allowed the tattoos to leave the skin, and become part of the background. So in the end, I discovered there were many more opportunities to introduce spirals, even when the subject I chose, didn't naturally posses them. What I loved about this specific challenge, was getting me to think outside my normal focus. Which is always fun.

So next time you think of sketching, challenge how you would normally do it. Explore how you make lines. It doesn't have to be with spirals. You might want to draw with dots or squares. Change the tools you use, as well. I eliminated the eraser and pencil, and went straight for permanent pen ink. You could even use a brush with any medium you want (watercolour, acrylic paint or ink) or why not charcoal?

The gist is, it doesn't have to make sense, and it doesn't have to fall within the regular rules - because it's purely about exploration. So liberating!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Last day

Well, I got to the end, of the 7 day challenge, and found I really enjoyed it. Even when I didn't have a great deal of time to spend on each sketch, or they didn't quite turn out right, I still learned a bit more about illustration, and interpretation.

The final day, gave me the final chance to make a guy with spirals, work! I think I got a little closer to success, but still needs further exploration. Which is why I'm going to try a few more sketches with guys, and see how far I can push it.

Day 7

I went looking for a male model, wearing head and eye wear - to continue that circular theme. The spirals in the background, are meant to represent the ocean waves behind him. Because of the roundness in his accessories, this guy looks the most connected to the spirals. Rather than looking like, an uncomfortable or misplaced addition.

So what did I learn after the 7 day challenge:

  1. I like random mark making, which I cannot erase. Sometimes leaving IN your mistakes, speaks volumes about where you're meant to go.

  2. Mistakes can lead to ideas, or new branches of experimentation. I WANT to make guys and spirals work now! I'm intrigued. There has to be a way.

  3. Smaller snippets of art, are easier to fit in the day, than longer, dedicated sessions. Great for when the kids are on holidays, or I'm otherwise booked, to overflowing

  4. Making art, is about personal explorations, rather than a set idea. It's okay to let things morph. See below:

Day 4

Of all the female models, this sketch, I liked the least. Then my daughter said it was her favourite. It forced me to contemplate what she saw, that I didn't. In the end, I realised it was the eccentric accessories and hair, the lopsided composition, and slightly enlarged head, that created its own mystery.

Leaving in my mistakes, showed an appreciation of how they create structure, regardless. A mistake to me, can be a way of viewing the world, to others - such as my daughter. You just never know. So let things morph, and it will be okay.

As simple as my sketches were, they taught me a great deal, in a week. Thanks for joining me.

Earlier posts about this challenge:

Days 1 to 3
Days 4 to 6

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Day 4 to 6

Despite a tight schedule, I still managed to keep up with the 7 day challenge, through #mycreativetouches. There are many talented people on the instragram page. Which makes my simple illustrations, look downright primitive, in comparison. But it's not about being measured against others, rather, finding something new within yourself.

And I've discovered a lot during days, 4 to 6...

Day 4
~ eccentric, to add interest

Day 5
~ feeling boxed in, with male options

Day 6
~ noticing a pattern for spirals, favouring one gender

I discovered the difference between drawing men and women, was challenging in the marks made. Women were easier to incorporate spirals, because of their long hair, curvaceous figures, interesting accessories and headpieces. The spirals seemed to be an afterthought, with men, however. More of a background accessory, than part of their form, or what they were wearing. It felt more disconnected.

I'll attempt to address that on day 7, however, I can see myself exploring beyond the 7 day challenge. It ends tomorrow, and I'll reveal what I learned throughout this particular, illustrative series.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Another 7 day challenge

I've started a new 7-day art challenge, via Tara Leaver's instagram #mycreativetouchstones. Please feel free to jump-in and add your own creations, so long as you have an Instagram account of your own. Here's mine, if you're an instagram user and want to see what I'm up to.

The gist is to pick a single subject, and explore it for 7 days - with the intension of narrowing your own style: rather than being all over the place. Which tends to be me, by the way, in case you hadn't noticed *wink*!

First, I'll show the three pictures I've completed, over the past 3 days. then explain why I'm exploring these particular avenues.

 Day 1: Experimenting with marks
cross-eyed, but couldn't erase

 Day 2: Added a little colour after sketch, for experimentation
but it may not be a habit

Day 3: Loser than day 1 ~
but not as lose as day 3

Reasons for choosing this subject and medium, for my 7 day challenge:

  1. Time was limited. It's the school holidays, so time was short. Painting was out of the question. Sketching would be easier to set up, and quicker to produce something. It's only taken 15-20 minutes to complete each sketch. 

  2. Challenges with mark making. Normally I use a pencil for sketching, but wanted to see the marks I'd make, without the buffer of an eraser. So permanent, black pen, it was. The goal: to learn how I sketch, without refinement.

  3. The doodling factor. In the past I've used lines and spirals as a form of meditative, "doodling" on paper. After a google search on, "faces", images, were used as models. The expansive nature of doodling, however, ensured no sketch, looked anything like the original counterpart.

  4. Faces. I'm fascinated with expression, and what they convey without words.

  5. Moving past realism. The goal is not, complete abstract, but to move past creating realistic representations.This is so I can create an experience beyond what you get from viewing a photograph.

I look forward to sharing more of how the 7 day challenge, unfolds. Then finally, sharing what I got out of it. I enjoy participating in art challenges, for this valuable learning component. That's why I push past the clock, to join in. Because creating a series, teaches you a lot about your creative process.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Still abstractify life

The final exercise of the course, was all about still life. I was uncertain where to begin, because I'm not really a "stuff" person. I wasn't even sure what still life was - did it include furniture, or just things that once lived (ie: flowers in a vase)?

So to satisfy my curiosity, I decided to embark on a few extra projects, to see if I couldn't thoroughly explore the subject matter.

For some reason, I wanted to capture our living area, because it's where we like to do our reading, research and to relax. So I set up the "arrangement", as you're supposed to do, for a still life painting. I knew I was going to remove things (like the red, stability ball) and add extra things - like maybe a traditional piece of fruit?

The first painting I tackled with acrylic...

I call this, "the one I had to get out of my system". Because it was mostly realism, with a vague play with abstract - meaning I simplified the shapes. I liked it, but I knew it was a little vanilla, as well. So I made another attempt.

This time I wanted to exploit the space, which so intrigued me, between the couch and the bookcase.

I set it up, so I could work on two pieces at the same time. Just because I wanted to see how far I could push the same living space, arrangement. But as often happens (to me anyway) I had to rescue the one on the right - it had too much charcoal, and became the dark abyss. So I covered it with white gesso, to start again.

I quite liked it at this stage. It was rough and not too precious. But I had an idea I wanted to exploit, which meant I had to add to it again. This piece eventually became, quite the "mixed media" project.

I ended up using, acrylic paints, charcoal, inktense pencils and collage (bookcase and book spine). The reason I chose this particular arrangement, was to make a feature of that space between the couch and bookcase, in the first painting. To do that, I used a lot of angles - like arrows, to point towards it.

Yet there is nothing so obvious, as a glaring arrow in sight. It merely encourages the eye, to slide down the side of the bookcase, with the glass and apple, to where the lamp is emerging, but pretending not to notice. There is no obvious gap between the bookcase and couch, any more, but I insinuate there is. Because in alignment with that sweet, invisible spot, is the unopened book, waiting to be read.

So that was my idea, in a nutshell.

The other piece I worked on, while waiting for the gesso to dry on the other, was very simple in comparison. Also inspired by the original painting, I wanted to extend the couch, to look like it was ready to embrace you.

The apple from the original painting, became the wallpaper. No books this time. It was just a little Inktense pencil, play - and everything a living space should be. Welcoming.

Then just to stick to convention, I decided to set-up a traditional "still life" arrangement. This little blue medical bottle, and shells, normally reside in our bathroom. They had to be temporarily relocated to my studio, however, in order to pose for my still life.

Out came the Inktense pencils again...

I probably could have played with it some more, but wanted to keep it simple. What I've learned with Inktense pencils is, you need very little, and you want to keep your colours clean. The more you layer them, the more muddy they become. Which is fine, if that's the look you're going for. But I wanted vivid colours, in this case.

So with that, the course ends. But the journey of creating, doesn't! I may take a break for a little while, to begin some sewing projects I've been meaning to. I've got some kid's birthday presents to plan for, in the next 3 months. But I will definitely return to the studio again.

Until next time...enjoy your creative journey, wherever it leads you!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Abstractify: in motion

Still in week four, and what I think, is the most useful of the course material. That's not to say, the rest wasn't useful - but what it imparted, broke through the "realism" tunnel-vision I had going. There is wanting to change, and then there is knowing how to.

Which is what some of the later exercises proved to address. It's all about capturing movement in your work. Which can be helped along with music and dancing, while you paint!

I was really surprised how effective this strategy was, at imparting "energy" into the brushwork. I even splattered my carpet with red paint, as I got into it, with my whole body. Sorry carpet!

The movement of my body, interrupted the thought process, so all I could capture, was the movement. I really enjoyed this exercise, and decided to call it, "collision". Because it looked like two bodies of energy, colliding with each other.

While I worked exclusively in landscape, I was surprised to see the dynamic remained, when the picture was placed in portrait position. This was a first for me though. Capturing, energy. I felt I was doomed to do everything "flat", before realising there were strategies to help.

I used splattered paint, credit cards to mix and move the paint around, as well as my fingers. So a variety of different marks were achieved. It may look a bit messy, and without reason - but I actually spent a lot of time, trying to create balance, so the marks wouldn't be too heavy in one area, or too sparse in others.

Over all, I was happy with this particular exercise, for providing a new strategy, in being more abstract. In fact, it was completely abstract!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Abstractify: week four

As week three of my course, ended up being a mega post - I'm going to break up week four, a little more.

The first exercise, was trying to capture the essence, of an aspect in nature. In this case, a tree - and finding different ways to express what a tree is, or how it can be experienced. It was really just left up to your imagination, how you would approach the subject matter.

I opted to use my own image, from our property, than the one supplied. Mostly, because I loved the "dwarfed" feeling, it created, by standing underneath.

Loved the concept! But (once again) it proved to cause another stumbling block, because of "attachment" issues. Thus, I tried to recreate the image, rather than drawing from my imagination.

I started the trunk, with newspaper collage, but ended up covering most of it! Not to worry.

I thought the composition, created a lovely, weightless feeling at first, but I had to try "pushing" it, that little bit further...

I wanted to add more weight to the bottom, by adding some under-story plants. Effectively though, I made it look more cluttered. But what I'm learning with each exercise, is not to become "precious" about my creations. If I'm not prepared to risk ruining them, then I'm not prepared to learn what IS possible.

While I may not effectively capture the essence of the exercise (at first) I'm still practicing. Which can only make me more familiar with my process, and how to change it! I like these "failures" (to me) for learning. So they're not wasted efforts at all.

Once the course wraps up (start of next week) and I have more time, I will try new ways to explore trees again. I'm looking forward to that, because our five acres, has so many of them!!