Two years ago I started a daily doodle practice after challenging myself to do something artful every day. I’ve written about this before on this blog but I thought it worthy to bring around again being the New Year .
I decided about the only thing I could successfully commit to doodle in the 2” square of my day planner since it wasn’t being utilized for anything else. The ground rules I made- use pen, no erasing, no self-criticism, go back over it later and add to it if you want. Be spontaneous and just see what comes up. Often I only see the merits of an entry until I let it sit for a day or weeks later. Sometimes I take the previous day’s idea and make a different version of it.
This is the painting I wake up to in the morning and go to bed to at night. It brings me a sense of peace and order when I look at it.
Why did I paint this?
The migration of birds fascinates me: What inspires them to leave? How do they navigate their journey? How can their tiny bodies withstand travel of thousands of miles of such rigorous travel? Then there’s nature- always an inspiration.
In this painting with a base of sponged, brushed, and stenciled acrylic on a 12 x 12” dimensional artboard, we look down on a flight of white birds over forest. Stenciled ferns are below the abstracted trees. The symbol of a river is collaged on the upper left quadrant and the collaged 4 negative triangles in the lower left quadrant symbolize direction. Most of my collage papers are made up of “failed prints.”I bless my failures as they never fail to add the perfect touch elsewhere. Rain is represented in the upper right quadrant by stamping a painted piece of corrugated cardboard.
To add a little sparkle I added a bit of gold leaf at the top. A stamped Asian symbol on the lower right quadrant adds a zen quality to the piece.
I took a larger cradled artboard, flipped it over, and painted it black. Then I mounted the painting inside of it to add a dimensional frame. This is an intuitive painting meaning I paint by what inspiration shows up at the time. The color palette was inspired by another artist’s work and then I tweaked it to make it my own.
Even when I can’t travel, I look at this painting and I can go somewhere else. I’m so glad no one purchased this at my last studio sale. It is called Spring Migration.
(Another take on my knee injury a couple posts back…)
The doctor reviews my MRI and informs me it’s a wear injury- a polite way of saying you’re getting old. The cartilage in my knee has worn thin from age and a simple turned ankle on a hike tore the meniscus which led to a stress fracture to the head of my femur. “Stay off your knee for 4 months, non-weight bearing- crutches. Watch that left hip. It shows low bone density. Don’t gain weight. We’ll go from there. No surgery, no easy fixes. See you after the first of the year.” Appointment concludes. Crabby surgeon departs. I remain in a state of shock.
What the doctor didn’t tell me is how to cope with this loss, this massive change in my life- no walking and no clear path to recovery, no dangling hope. All he sees is the injury and not the humanity surrounding it. The quick fix laparoscopic surgery I expected disintegrated into months of recovery with no clear resolution. My world shrinks from a universe to the size of an orange. Will I get to walk or hike with my friends again? Will I ever again see the tips of my cross-country skis cut through sparking snow?
Every day humans are faced with diagnoses, injuries, and other nasty things that upend their lives instantly. It can be a lonely path to navigate. Every day you’ve got to stave off the demons and keep on going, reframe your life, lower your expectations. For me being a highly creative person and very goal-oriented, this is a challenge. My big native plant garden project? – canceled until further notice. Travel? I don’t think so. Grocery shopping, housework? NO. Cook?- barely. This is my first major injury in six decades of living. I am such a beginner
After weeks of flapping my wings against my cage, I’ve had to revise my life.
Focus on what I can do…
Get a new doctor (check)
Ride my bike
Clean out some drawers
I have to remember to ask for help (hard).
I have to permit myself to pamper myself- hire a housekeeper, get a massage, buy audiobooks, get a therapist. (hard)
Be humble- I just ordered a wheelchair as my back aches from weeks of crutches.
I have to allow myself some days of just being pathetic even though I know things could be worse. (easy)
I emerged from the doctor’s office that day feeling my mortality diminished
As children, most of us have been told “Don’t color on the walls!”, but it is so satisfying to have such an expanse waiting to be graced with marks made from your small hands.
I did get my chance as an adult. For a number of years I was an artist in residence in an assortment of schools in a three-county area. At times there were opportunities to color on walls creating murals with a cadre of small hands.
Now that I’m retired from all manner of teaching and the monetization of my artwork, I have a chance to color on my own walls. A boarded-up window on the outside of my detached studio building has been calling to me for a makeover. Numerous ideas swirled around my head for months. A cheery window scene was my ultimate goal. I sketched out many thumbnails but nothing seemed totally right. One thing I knew for sure, I was going to paint a black crow on the right side of the piece to disguise a hole that birds had enlarged for a nesting nook. Also I wanted my tuxedo cat, Zander in the picture along with a teapot, cup, and some flowers (I have this thing about teapots). I nixed the sun at the top in favor of a compass, a symbol that shows up frequently in my images.
Ultimately I settled on a basic design, a color scheme, and sketched it out on the wood. Procrastination settled in as perfectionism (fear) took over. Then I decided the worse thing that could happen is I would paint over what I didn’t like. So I got going.
I worked on the mural bit by bit in the cool of the evenings as the heat wave here in Oregon made it unfeasible to work during the day in the hot sun. Eventually, I finished- yesterday! In all I only painted over one vase that was bright orange, changing the color to more of an understated coral.
I love this mural because it is personal to me and adds a happy focal point to an otherwise boring wall My next goal is to doodle all the way up my stairwell. Let’s see how that goes!
“a statement of the beliefs or aims which guide someone’s actions”.
Over the years I have collected some words of wisdom that have guided me through this adventure we called life. I decided to finally write them down in a format that was easily accessible. At first, I considered a small booklet but then I settled on a poster format. This would serve as a mini “Graffiti Wall” that I could access in an instant
This was a project I did not want to fuss over (avoid perfection, just get ‘er done). I grabbed a 14” x 11” piece of cardboard, painted a coat of yellow paint over it with a little embellishment, put my cartoon self in the center, and then started writing my words and phrases on the board in different colors and sizes. There is plenty of room for more guiding principles as this is an ongoing project. You can never have enough words of wisdom.
I keep this posted in my studio and glance at it now and again. It keeps me grounded as with my personal mission statement- but that’s a whole different post…
“Live by this credo: have a little laugh at life and look around you for happiness instead of sadness. Layughter has always brought me out of unhappy situations.“
I needed a large piece of artwork to hang behind our bed- preferably a painting to put the finishing touch on our Covid bedroom remodel. We started this project wall by wall at the beginning of the lockdownto light up a dark vintage 1940s bedroom in this old farmhouse to something fresh and airy. Off came the dark blue wallpaper and the remnants of an old brick hearth- something I hated for the 28 years I slept under it. Now the walls are a lovely light green with white woodwork and new white blinds. This painting would be the symbol of new beginnings.
I am an artist but not a painter- not my thing. My skills are in printmaking, ceramics, and mixed media. In general I work on a smaller scale than this project required. In my mind’s eye, I had a vision of an abstract painting of a rural farm landscape in cheery colors. Extensive research online turned up nothing that I liked. Original art was out of my price range. That left the task up to me to manifest the painting.
Often when I am faced with a large creative challenge my first default is procrastination. That was not an option in this case. I wanted this room to have closure. So I fleshed out my recipe I’ve used before (which with some revision works for writing projects)…
Vision– what do I see as a finished result?
Concept– what do I want to express?
Reference sources– images for a color palette, design ideas
Proper materials for the project (pull out those 25 year- old acrylic paints)
Timer to keep me on task (essential)
I broke down the project into small steps such as…
Figure out the proper size of the painting
A trip to the art supply store to pick up a cradled (dimensional) artboard of the right dimension.
Another trip to pick up the proper sealer
Set my trusty timer and paint for an hour straight with no interruptions- no matter how scared I was of screwing up. Keep going– paint until the timer dings.
Repeat the above step over and over until done, make tons of mistakes, and paint over them. Revisit reference material for guidance.
I wish I documented the process to show how muddled the first attempts were but I was too involved with the process and making a mess.
Eventually, I started to find my voice which beckoned me to add familiar media: collage paper, water soluble crayon, colored pencil, paint pen, a little gold leaf to add to the sky, and a few ceramic shards from an old pioneer homestead found closeby. Then I started to enjoy the process and looked forward to visiting my studio every day. To get to that point though, I had to push through my insecurities. In that regard, my timer was my best friend.
The finished piece now hangs in the bedroom. It may not appeal to the eyes of others but that was not the goal. I love it. The design represents the landscape around my home. There are details that are personal to me within the piece. Moreso it represents to me that by pushing through your one’s fears, you can accomplish your goals. Just start and keep going.
Hurtling towards the spring equinox I awoke to the sun in my eyes this morning. It’s been months since that’s happened. Yesterday I made an appointment for my second Covid vaccine. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Soon I will be able to resume somewhat of a normal life. Camping and river trips are starting to appear on the calendar.
As with everyone else – it’s been a rough go through this pandemic (and everything else). If I were going to give a speech at the “Covid Survival Awards” at the beginning (while holding my covid 19 virus trophy) I would have to thank my two, now 7-month-old tuxedo kittens, Zoey and Zander, and their baby mama, Zinnia (“Mama Z”) for unwittingly helping time to survive this time. Their endless antics and purrs have helped to keep laughter and smiles in my life. I’m sure many of you out there feel the same…
Last year I was looking for a daily creative practice that I could stick to. I was not much of a sketcher or morning pager. I needed something kind of short and sweet. Then I noticed the 2’ blank square in my 2020 day planner. Not much going on there but a few spillovers from my to-do list. I committed to filling up those square every day with a doodle or something creative. The ground rules are to use pen and have no judgement on what I come up with. Spontaneity is key.
Fast forward over a year later- my day planner practice is my creative kick start to the day. Not only does it get my pen to the paper in a nonthreatening way, I have created an artifact of my life to look back on though this crazy time of Covid and political craziness. Mostly I create a daily doodle, a weather report, a cartoon, quote, poem or something about my life with words and/or pictures. It’s been an evolving practice. Some have become finished pieces, most I don’t appreciate until I look back at them.
This year, 2021 I couldn’t find the same day planner so I made my own. I purchased a simple blank spiral sketchbook and glued some decorative paper. I customized it for words of the year and monthly goals and then grid out each week as they come along. At first I measured but now I just eyeball it letting the lines be as wonky as they want to be for interest.
My planner is now less about what I need to do but how I need to be…creative and fully alive, paying attention to the inspiration each day has to offer. I highly recommend trying out this daily practice.
In the doldrums of this pandemic my creative image energies are ebbing more than flowing. It’s times like this at times all I can muster is to tidy up. Usually that involves just organizing my workspace. Then after years of procrastination I faced down the leaning pile of old cardboard portfolios full of aging class artwork and design projects that lurked in my closet. The problem is when you hang onto old work there’s really no room for new- physically or metaphorically.
Bye-bye charcoal nudes, bye-bye watercolors, bye-bye drawings. Yep you were “A” quality, fun, but at this point, are not doing anyone any good including myself. And woe to my son who would be stuck sorting them out when I’m packed up to the Rock of Ages Rest Home. The recycling bin is full. I have a well stocked collage box and plenty of classy bookmarks as souvenirs. I took pictures of the T-shirts I designed and donated them to a thrift store where someone can put them to use.
Bidding farewell to old creative work of any kind is like saying goodbye to parts of oneself- but thinking about it, all that hard work and practice is still with me deeply embedded in the work I do today. When I peruse all those past efforts I think of them as either good or bad but merely steps along the path to where I am as an artist today.
We are but at some total of all our work and practice. The beat goes on.
Some sort of publication, usually mass-produced by photocopying(in some cases, scanned, put on the ‘net, or copied via fax)on any range of topics, but usually filled with passion. A means of telling one’s story, sharing thoughts, and/or artwork/comics/doodles.
The instructor for the Zine lesson of my year-long Words & Pictures class made a 16 page zine of his favorite mustards. Now there’s a quirky idea. How could I top my favorite mustards?
I took a look back in my sketchbook and came across some silly doodles of triangles. The triangle doodles eventually morphed into silly triangle birds. Then I noticed that all the triangles happened to be isosceles triangles (two sides of equal length). Hmm. How about if I made a zine just about silly things made up from isosceles triangles. Thus I went about writing and publishing my first zine, The Isosceles Triangle Illuminated.
This was a perfect pandemic project. I had a hilarious time brainstorming and drawing my triangle ideas. The hardest part was correctly photocopying the back to back so the pages would be in the correct order. Instead of Holiday cards, I sent them out to friends for a good laugh.
Want one of my isosceles triangle zines? Use my contact page and for only $5.51 I will send you one!