(More Than) 10 Minute Sketches

At different times throughout March I’d pick up my sketch book and pencil and try my hand at a ten minute sketch. Most of them, the faces certainly, stretched longer than the allotted time, but I think all were completed in under half an hour

This was my attempt at something a bit different based on the work of Karen Campbell who has a YouTube channel I found recently. I thought this was a lot of fun!

Early in the month I drew some dragons. I forget why I wanted to try my hand at them, I probably thought it would be a good challenge. I found some pics and studied them and sketched several, This is the one I like best, it’s based on one in the beautiful garden of Jackie and Derrick Knight. I was still way out of my comfort zone after so long away from the pencils early in March, but I quite like his toothy, friendly grin. However, by the time I got him almost done I’d decided that was enough of dragons and so he remains not quite balanced and far from finished.

I wanted some quick’n’easy quirky cats for colouring in and came up with these – the one on the left came first – both were both completed in about ten minutes each and were the only successful ’10 minute sketch’ challenges I managed all month

Based on something I saw on You Tube, I had a go at producing a template for doodling. Here’s the template

It hasn’t been copied yet to start experimenting with doodles and such – I got waylaid with life and then my back went out a week ago and has only just decided to come back home. The month of May may see some doodling…….

And that pretty much completes the roundup of sketch practise that I undertook in March – it’s taken me all of April to corral all the bits and bobs with a few interruptions along the way. And I completed a cardigan too – but still have to sew twelve buttons on. That might take another month……. I feel happy with my progress and worked through the ‘I can’t do it any more’ block that was fettering me and am ready to go pick that paint brush up again and see what happens there.

I’m also reading ‘The War of Art’ by Stephen Pressfield which is a most delightful get over yourself and out of your own way treatise on why and how we prevaricate and shoot ourselves in the foot constantly. In the spirit of full disclosure I should also add that book has sat on a bookshelf for some five years waiting to be read …….. You are not alone 🙂

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!

Old Lady Reading

While time marches inexorably onward, I’m still busy regaling you with the results of my March determination to get back into some sort of artwork – any sort of art work really – my abilities having somehow mysteriously atrophied due to non-use over the previous couple of years.

So, sometime towards the end of March I spent a couple of hours one evening drawing and colouring while listening to Juliet Stevenson read me more of ‘Middlemarch’ on Audible.  Eventually I produced this

Feeling quite delighted with her and vaguely amused with myself I sent a photo of the drawing to a friends and family group on Messenger with the message ‘today I drew a self portrait. ‘

My eldest daughter responded almost immediately: ‘That’s a lovely picture but I’ve never seen you in a hat like that.’

‘Picky, picky’ I responded

She came straight back ‘It’s a lovely hat! The whole ensemble is gorgeous and I especially love the shoes!’

There followed other comments about the shoes from other members of the group then we segued off to shoes in general and ended up with the death of Scott Walker and rodent stories quickly followed by cat stories and many, many photos of cats.

I eventually went off to my bed and as I settled myself down to sleep I realised NOBODY had said  ‘Hey, that’s not a self portrait!’  😀

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.

ScrapHappy #1 April 2019

I’ve been meaning to join in with the monthly ‘ScrapHappy’ blog share for years – so many opportunities have come and gone and I never quite had my act together. But at last the time has come!

So here I am, joining in with Kate over in Chiconia and all the other scrappy people all over the globe because I’ve been making bookmarks with my painting scrap paper.  Sometimes I make cards or notebook covers with the output too, this time it has just been bookmarks.

When I paint I generally have bits of scrap paper lying about on which I wipe my brushes. It might be plain copy paper, it might be kitchen towel paper, it might be baby wipes used to wipe away paint on the canvas and expose a bit of the under layer, sometimes it’s a bit of proper heavy duty mixed media paper that went wrong.

Here’s some examples – because of course I hadn’t photographed the actual papers I used here before beginning the process of change –

No matter what it is there comes a time when the wiping is finished and the paper is full and of no further use. Once I used to bin them and grab a fresh sheet and start over. Then one day, when a full sheet was dry and I was about to chuck it out I looked again and thought that has potential and it didn’t go in the bin. Ever since then I have saved those sheets and when I’ve got nothing better to do with my time I gather them up and begin to play.

Sometimes I lay down a bit more paint through a stencil, sometimes I grab a stamp and make marks that way. Sometimes I pick up sharpies or gel pens or crayons and start to doodle. Doodling is my favourite occupation.

These ones were mostly made by laying down stencils and paint on the gelli plate and layering until I liked what I saw – or I ended up with sheets of virulent looking colours or oddly disposed messes – but look what happens when you cut them up and frame them out:

‘Framing them out’ refers to the noble art of edging each piece with black ink which all card makers and mixed media people are very familiar with. One is fully edged in the photo below, the other is partially complete

Next comes a backing – here’s the box of paper and card off-cuts that are utilised for this part of the operation. They themselves are leftovers from card making and die cutting and sometimes are leftovers from other gelli print making sessions.

I lay down a few different backing colours to see what I like. The process is generally careful for the first two or three, then it’s anything goes and lets see what happens. The photos below are the same painted piece on different colour backings. Do you have a particular colour combo you would have gone with?

And finally after a couple of days here is a sampling of some book marks – this is a mere fraction of the amount I made in this session. I have bookmarks for Africa!!

The finished painted pieces are texture rich and interesting. I make them smaller than I used to because I have learnt from my friend Derrick that it is fun to leave the bookmark in a book when you have finished reading it. Especially if you note the date on the bookmark. They aren’t for keeping, like books these are made for sharing round.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m so happy that you did!

If you want to see what the other scrap happy contributors are making, follow these links and I’m sure you will find the rest of the contributors

Kate Gun

More Teddy Bears

Back at the end of February I made the decision to pick up my sketch pencil and paint brush again and work my way back into some form of art – not the highbrow sort of ‘Fine Art’ produced by proper artists, but my sort, the playing around with colour and form and doodles and a certain whimsical expressionistic view of the world.  It had lain fallow for a long while as I got sidetracked down various other pathways and I was feeling disconsolate with my lot and that feeling is always alleviated with a pot of paint or an assortment of coloured pencils in my hand.  March, I decided, was the month!  I would sketch, I would paint, I would doodle and I would put up a post every week for the whole month.  And I did.  But of course there were some unexpected events and unexpected posts made during the month of March, much of my output was ignored in favour of things that really matter.  

So now my friends – hang in here with me – it’s catch up time!  

First up – Teddy Bears.

A post or three or four back I showed you my first Teddy Bear watercolour painting, I’d had some prints made and turned them into cards. Here they are again, just to jog your memory, because I know you won’t remember her

I went on and sketched out two more Teddys – handsome fellas this time. This is the first one, worked in alcohol ink pens on yupo paper

I was feeling happier with the drawings. This bear looks friendly, I made another – with an even bigger tummy and trousers on this time – just to dress him up a bit more you understand ….

I had prints made and produced some cards

They weren’t accused of looking slightly sinister at all this time – I got the eyes right – but it was gently suggested the tummies might be a little too round……

But I quite like the tummies – they are comfortably familiar 😀

And I have a favourite. Can you guess which one?

Thanks for coming by today, love that you did!

Charcoal and Pencil Sketch

I started this sketch a week ago – if you popped by to read the previous post you may recall seeing the beginning of it.  It’s a double page spread in my practise journal and I worked on it most evenings, often erasing lines as often as I sketched them.  I didn’t use any reference photos and it shows – and I changed my mind about which quote to use at the last minute…… And of course I’d do it very differently if I decided to make a painting…. 

……… but it was a good exercise and a chance to work through some of the emotions I was feeling.

I’m hoping that next post I can return to plump teddy bears and other things that got themselves doodled, drawn, coloured or painted this month.

Thanks for coming by today, I’m always happy that you did!

Our Black Friday

One week ago as I hit publish on my last post an horrendous event took place in my country. Today at 1.30 pm we will put aside our activities and take two minutes to stand in silence honouring the memories of the victims.

There is an added element to the Christchurch massacre that we in Dunedin are all painfully aware of. The shooter lived here for two years. He trained at a local gun club. He had originally targeted the local city mosque, but a trip to Christchurch had convinced him there was greater glory to be found in the larger population. So he travelled four hours north and on Friday 15th March 2019 targeted two sacred venues, killing adults and children and was on his way to a third when apprehended.

Much has happened here since the event. There are heroes everywhere I look. The two police officers who chased down the gunman as he drove to his third chosen venue of attack and, without a thought for their own lives, successfully took him into custody barely twenty minutes after the first call for help went out. These two men stand tall above all others.

The first responders, including ordinary passers by, who tried desperately to help, to save, to offer succour. One especially, who wept and was hugged by the news interviewer as they recalled the ghastly scene.

The farmer who voluntarily handed in his legal weapon and tweeted about it, asking others to join him. The gun’s convenience to him was nothing when compared to the acts of violence committed by a like weapon he said.

Jacinda, who paused a moment in surprise when a high school student asked her how she was doing at question time.  “How am I doing?” she repeated “i’m feeling very sad.”  Four words that describe a country.  But Jacinda went straight on.  Government, she said, can do certain things.  But I can’t do it alone, I need your help.  And she called on the students to do all they could to ensure the eradication of racism.  

Throughout the country there has been a mass outpouring of support for the victims and vigils are held outside mosques or in city centres where thousands gather and stand together silently in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters. It is a strong and palpable silence and in that silence there is a strong and palpable resolve growing.

First up is the actions of our Prime Minister. I’ve mentioned her here, no doubt you have probably seen her and heard her speak – it seems she is being touted around the world as an example to all leaders of How to Lead. And she is. New gun laws were introduced within six days. People are lining up to voluntarily hand over their weapons before the legislation is even passed.

Jacinda has said she will never to mention the name of the shooter. So very many of us have joined with her. We will, as a nation, deny him the notoriety he sought. We do not speak of him when we gather. We speak of the victims, of the heroes, of Jacinda. We speak of the vigils and the silence and the moments of heart rending sadness and strength and resilience we observe. We speak of our determination to rise above this event and to be one people in our country.

I look always to find the light in all moments of darkness in this world. It has not been hard to find them in this instance. There is a rising up in us, we will not be silent any longer. Racism is being met head on. This is an environment where the white supremacists, the racists, the ignorant do not feel safe.

I was in my local coffee shop buying my beans last Monday. There was a man sitting at the one table with the morning paper opened in front of him, the front page had been removed, carefully folded and sat to his right with the headline blazing out.

Jared went off to grind my beans for me and I looked at the folded page of the newspaper. The man did not acknowledge me when I asked if I could look at it. His face was hard set and he was reading about the shootings with his finger tracing the words. I’m a bit fey, I have a well developed feel for the intentions of people. He did not feel like a man of good intentions to me.

I looked at the article and as Jared returned I said to him ‘I don’t know why I’m reading this – it’s so ugly’. We talked on about the event and he told me how he and his family had made candles (he has two boys and a lovely wife) and they taken them down to the mosque the night before and joined the hundreds of people standing vigil.  He spoke of the silence and stillness and the tears that ran unchecked.

As we spoke we were both aware that the man at the table quietly got up and left the shop. Jared and I made eye contact and he kept on with his retelling of their experiences the night before. But we both knew in that moment, we had just driven a racist from his comfortable seat.

In choosing to honour the sacrifice of the victims, the actions of our heroes and the changes that have come and will come we as a nation are sending a clear and concise message to right wing terrorists. You are not wanted, you will not be elevated in any way, there is no place for you here.

I swapped my experience during that conversation with Jared, of having met a man some time ago in my street. As I made my way home with Siddy after our early morning walk we met a lone, older gentleman carrying his coffee mug, wandering towards us, kicking at the odd stone that had made its way from a gravel drive to the pavement, removing a piece of litter from between the fence palings on another property. I greeted him and he responded in a thick accent and with a tired smile.

Initially I was puzzled by his aimless wandering with coffee mug in hand – until one day it clicked for me. Of course, here was a man from a culture that interacted on the street, the cafes where the men would gather for their morning coffees and news gathering, perhaps a board game …… as a refugee he found himself suddenly upended here, in an area where there is no street culture to speak of and he, poor soul, spent his mornings looking for it. I felt so sad for him, and at a loss too as it was so hard to communicate anything other than a smile.

We ran into each other often over the ensuing weeks and as his English slowly improved we advanced beyond the simple greeting to brief conversations. One day he asked the name of my friendly dog. I replied ‘Siddy’. He double checked it. Then his face broke into a huge grin “Ah!” he declaimed, throwing his arm in a wide arc towards the city centre, “Ciddy!” “Yes, yes” I laughed with him in his delight. And so it is that to one man at least, Siddy is not named for the prince who became Buddha, he is named for a place of commerce.

I have not seen him for a while now, I guess he has given up looking for the culture he knows and stays home to drink his coffee.

Jared handed me a coffee card telling me to pass it on to the man when I next met him, he was welcome to go to his rotisserie where he would get a free coffee and Jared would play draughts with him. Perhaps, we thought, it could become the hangout for our new locals. We got stupidly excited at the thought.

And I now have a job to do – to find my refugee and take him somewhere for coffee.

I have started a drawing that may become a painting

Thanks for all your kind and heartfelt words in the last post – they confirm what I already knew. The world is full of good people. My blog stands testament to that and so does yours. We need now to stand up and ensure our voices are the ones that are heard. And, as ever, thanks for coming by today I love that you did!

Memories, Dreams and Reflections

I read Carl Jung’s autobiography ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ at a critical time in my life.  One aspect in particular had struck me and contributed to the unfolding process that lead to my re-experiencing, understanding and, ultimately, healing the events of my childhood.

It was without real surprise therefore, as I sat doodling and colouring in my practise journal one evening last week, a memory floated through my mind and I caught it. I recalled the pivotal scene in Jung’s book when, searching for a deeper understanding of the recesses of the mind, he decided to let go of his sanity and immediately experienced himself as dropping through the floor of his study into the abyss.

Once, long ago, I emulated Jung in that moment of consciously choosing to let go, to drop the drop. In a time of deep despair, when it had been made abundantly clear to me the ultimate in paternal wickedness had taken place and the ultimate in maternal indifference had always existed, I would stop trying to deal with the chaotic aftermath, the soul pain, the anguish. I would simply let go just as Jung had.  I would confront my demons, do or die!  

In a flash I was falling into profound blackness. Terrified at the speed of the fall I grasped at the sides of the pit, trying to hold onto the last threads of my sanity with my fingernails. But the fall continued, I kept slipping and sliding and tearing my hands as I tumbled down that pit of despair. Again a vision of Jung in his study appeared in my mind and I remembered, I knew, I must let go.  I was terrified.

Just.  Let.  Go.

I let go.

I fell no further, gently my feet touched ground.  I was already at the bottom of the pit, perhaps I always had been.  And as I stood in that deep, still, silent, blackness from far, far away a light began to glow.

What followed changed my life. Perhaps I should say changed me at a fundamental, primeval level. Changed the way my brain and mind and heart worked. Changed my very being and changed my life and my view of the events of my life.

In almost thirty years that experience has never faded from my memory and my understanding of why we live, why we have this human experience has only deepened with the passing of the years.

I looked again at the page on which I was doodling and colouring and wrote ‘Memories, Dreams & Reflections’, closed the book and went to bed.

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.