Creativity in the Midst of Chaos


A whole month has slipped by with nary a post. When faced with slew of stresses, work and life related, I have a hard time staying creative let alone document and write about it. Excuses, excuses, I know. So, to show that I am not in a complete creative dry spell, I’m posting a pic of the work I’ve recently completed: cat and dog Christmas cards. I discovered that, while painting was almost too involved in the midst of all the things I’m dealing with, drawing is something I can do quite easily; all I need is paper and a ballpoint pen. I’m very happy with the results. This past Saturday I had these for sale at the farmer’s market  for the first time. It opened a whole new can of worms with regards to requests for specific breeds, of which there are way too many to draw and have printed – but that is a whole other story.

These are the originals before they headed to the printers to be made into cards:

 

 

 

I’m quite happy with them…and crossing my fingers that others are too and want to buy them, or else I’ll be swimming in cards for the next couple of years and acquaintances will grow tired of the yearly pet Christmas card!

 

S

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From the Lost Art Archive


 

So, I was trying to throw together a last-minute portfolio for a job listing I found on Craigslist calling for an illustrator…and I found the most interesting things I’d long forgotten about. It’s amazing how one can create something, put a whole lot of effort and time into it  and then completely forget about it. Finding them again is like a revelation; memories of making it comes back in a flood (…or sometimes it doesn’t and it’s even more of a mystery “Wow! How did I do that?”).

In the pile of lost art I discovered these characters from years back when I was teaching ESL in Korea. I remember deciding that it would be helpful to have visual cues while telling the story in English. It would also help to keep the kids’ attention. As I recall, I was having so much fun I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning colouring these. I laminated them and stuck them on popsicle sticks. When my year at that particular school was up, they asked if they could keep them and I said no. I’d put too much of my creative energy into them and was not willing to give them up…what a Scrooge, eh? The thought of them being abused, folded and destroyed by little hands was too much.

Interestingly enough, the Gingerbread man in the story I told did not have a fox in it, but rather, an alligator!

 

 

They were done with colour pencil. I had a limited number of colours so in order to have any complexity I had to mix layers and layers of colour. I love how they turned out.

 

S

Creativity with Kid Assist


My day-time job is teaching art to kids at the local Boys and Girls Club. I’m blessed that my working life still involves creativity. It has surprised me over the years how inhibited some kids can be, I had assumed that the joy of childom was to be very uninhibited. Instead, I find the majority are worried about things turning out just right or perfect. So, I approach art in as non-judgmental a way as possible and encourage them to “not do as I do and think outside the box”. Naturally, however,  they want to copy me. I used to make an example piece before class to show the kids, but things always ended in disappointment because the kids couldn’t exactly replicate it which was frustrating and it stunted their imagination. At one point I tried to dumb down my art, but that didn’t work for me and I felt like I wasn’t setting a good example. I’ve arrived at the point where I say to the kids “I am A LOT OLDER than you- I’m 31, imagine how good you’ll be in 20+ years!” That seems to appease them a little bit. Also describing the project and then doing it alongside them, effectively creating and discovering together seems to be the trick.

Each week this summer we have a theme and I ended up with some pretty neat artwork by the end of it. I thought I’d share. This is not anything I would usually think to do, but because it was with the kids, I discovered I was less inhibited and in trying to teach the kids open-mindedness and a “let’s see what happens” attitude, I ended up opening up a lot myself.  I’ll show you some things I made during Pirate Week and then Super Hero Week:

This was a project where I showed the kids pictures of pirates and encouraged them to come up with a character all their own. I demonstrated by drawing along-side them. They liked this guy so much that they asked my not to color him but photocopy him instead so that they could have a coloring page. I obliged.

We worked with acrylic paint. I initially started painting this guy to demonstrate how a painting looks finished once all the white of the page is filled in (kids have a resistance to “taking their time” and “filling the page”. I ended up really liking this guy. The kids encouraged me to add a parrot.

The next week was Hero Week. The theme was essentially about local heroes like firemen, policewomen etc., but what was much more inspiring were super heroes with super powers, so we stretched the theme for the sake of art!

I kind of drew a blank on what to do. I often encourage the kids to draw what they like and know (rather than something so outlandishly difficult that they don’t know how to draw it and end up begging me to do it instead), so that’s what I ended up telling myself to do and came up with: Super Artist!

I taught the kids about cartoons and the various cells they could draw. We went over a few conventions and then we went at it. I encouraged everyone to come up with their own hero they could be proud of. The kids as a group agreed that a hero is someone (or thing) that helps and protects others. So I came up with an octopus that saves the little fishies. I also turned this into a coloring page because the kids begged me. I was impressed by the kids’ creativity on this one ( wish I’d had the foresight to bring my camera to work and take pics of their amazing work!).

This was a watercolor class dealing with wax resist, sharpie outline and then salt for added visual texture. This was my demo piece and I really like how it came out!

 

So, though I’ve considered the art I do in the studio and the art I do with the kids very different things, I realized after those two weeks that the separation is beginning to blur. The more I bring what I do to the table, the more the kids seem to be into it and respond to the lessons and the more fun I have!

I appreciate all my kid colleagues who helped me with this break-through moment!

 

 

S

Art in the Clouds


I recently set up a booth at an outdoor art fair in Angwin called “Art in the Clouds”. It was only the second year for the art aspect of the fair and as such I was one of only four art related booths. I at least broke even, but it wasn’t super successful. I had taken part in the fair mostly as a practice run to see if I could do it. In that regard I learned a lot and now have more confidence going in to a next one…I haven’t lined any up yet though.

The way I managed to break even was with the printed  cards and a few little trinkets I’d made, like the magnets and a few charms.

I recently discovered the long existing but never discovered by me “shrinky dinks”. I had a variety pack and ended up really liking the matt finish one since it really works well with colour pencil.

This is colour pencil

And this is permanent marker. Note their size.

Place in the oven at 300F

In seconds they start to flex and shrink. Really fun!

In the end they’re super small, about half their original size.

Later I attached small silver jump rings and hung them on ribbon. I ended up selling a few of these charms.

Here’s what the set-up looked like:

A little cluttered. And it was hard to get people to walk in and actually look at the paintings.  A little more thought needs to go into the whole thing. Definitely a less patterned table-cloth is in order.

I made a few rings some with ceramics and one with a drawing behind a glass pebble.

mini canvas charms

 Card sets

A pretty good turn out

Overall a good experience and I’d like to do a few more of these types of events. If nothing else I got a lot of positive feedback which was rather encouraging!

Cheers.

S

A Cranky Creative’s Cogitations


I’m feeling cranky. You know, the kind of cranky that makes you want to do crazy stuff…like shave off your hair or something. The crankiness is coming from a feeling of lack of moving forward, a lack of creative outlet. Shaving my head would probably be the result of misplaced action and something I’d deeply regret…or maybe not…

Instead, I’m going to channel that frizzy energy into being pro-active. Part of being a creative person is the struggle with not only self-doubt but also with how to get your stuff out there in the world. That is where I’m perched. Ready to show my work and ready to sell some stuff but not sure how.

Today I’m filling out a form for the Angwin “Art in the Clouds” outdoor art show. It doesn’t cost much to enter, it’s only their second year, and the turn out will most likely be small, but I need to exercise some marketing muscle. I need to put myself out there just to see how it feels and get the ball rolling.

It’s coming up fast. That means I need to have stuff to show and small salable items that I stand a chance in hell of moving. The chances of originals being purchased are slim, so I need to head into the world of reprints…without breaking the budget to do so.

Can I do this? It’s coming up really soon : May 20th.

Pawing through the stuff I’ve already done, I found cards I’d had printed last year for Christmas. I have lots of extra I can package into card sets:

 

 

 

 

Would you buy a set of those? I’m also working on some octopus themed cards for thank yous and birthdays.

But therein lies a slippery slope. Do you make art for art’s sake, or do you make it to sell? Once you worry about your audience, the joy and the freedom of creating can quickly slip away.

I shall be navigating these waters in the next couple of weeks. Wish me well. I will keep you updated.

 

 

S

 

 

 

Kitchen Series


Hey there,

I’ve been distracted lately by succulents and knitting but haven’t been posting much about painting and drawing. I sat down the last couple of nights and reconnected with my love of drawing with simple colour (yes, I’m Canadian so I’m sticking with the spelling) pencil.

I fell back into one of my favourite subjects: my kitchen gadgets. A while back I started a kitchen gadgets series of paintings and had great plans for this work a.k.a. getting it shown at some of the local restaurants here in Calistoga. I have yet to build up to critical mass.

As I was drawing, though, I realized that maybe the series didn’t have to be all paintings, maybe it would do better as either ink drawings or colour pencil drawings. I’m posting the series here in hopes that you guys and gals might have some opinions.

 

Here are the paintings:

 

 

 

The ink drawings:

 

 

 

 

And the colour pencil drawings I did last night:

 

 

 

Lemme know what you think.

 

Thanks!

 

S