Sunday, September 29, 2013

Daily Practice of Setting a Timer and Sketching

Simple Tips Post! 

I can't tell you how many times I have heard the phrase,"But I want mine to look like that," when I teach adults. I totally get it, we want our work to look like we have accomplished something, look like a finished painting, look like it should in own own minds. The biggest problem with that way of thinking is that many years of practice and study, not necessarily formal study, have gone into those inspirational paintings and that 'leg work' must be done to create at a level that 'looks like that.' 

With that said, there are tons of strategies new artists can use to help build confidence in their own mark making, their own designs, and their own artistic voice. 

(Ardith turns and grabs her bag of 'MUST DO THIS' items)

Kids are instinctive mark makers, especially younger kids. They lack the sinister voice in their head saying 'they are doing it wrong,' and they simply create with reckless abandon. I am lucky enough to see this process every day because I teach little ones, and I so wish I could bottle that ability and share it with my adult students. One of the best ways, and I call this one of my MUSTs, is to set a timer EVERY DAY and draw something. 

If one wants to master drawing faces, sketch faces, weird faces, pretty faces, long and short faces. Just sketch faces. Set the timer for 10 minutes tops and go! If one wants to master the palette knife then just use a palette knife. Work on gessoed paper, in small sizes or one large size over several days, but work consistently, 10 minutes tops and stop. If one wants to master color theory then play with colors. Set the timer, choose a palette, and mix and play for 10 min. then stop. Does that mean you can't paint the rest of the day....of course not. 

What this does, if one commits to it every day, is build up "leg work practice" which every practicing artist must have. Matisse and Picasso did study after study of the same image before committing to a final piece, the leg work had to be done. Every artist must come to terms with that and it is especially hard for new artists who really want to be successful from the get go. 

Here is an image that I sketched in today's 10 minute practice session. I wanted to simply draw a character, but I had no pre-planned idea of what I would draw. I used Portfolio oil pastels and opaque paint for the background, a watercolor pencil for the lines, and I just played. Timer went off and I stopped. The result left me with a unique character that I could use in an illustration, in my art journal, or not at all. 

I went on to sketch him two more times, just noticing his outline, and his personality resonates with me. Over the course of the next few weeks I will share with you his evolution as I use this character in lots of other pieces, just to show you how important those 10 minute sessions can be. 

Giving yourself the time to evolve as an artist is so important and overcoming the voices or desire in one's head to 'paint like that' is a concept that new and evolving artists must come to terms with. If one puts the leg work in every day, their own artistic voice and style will begin to develop much more quickly which is really the path we all want to be on. It is great to have the ability to "paint like that" but what I love so much more is seeing an artist find their own style and painting like their heart is moving the brush....not the voices in their heads, :)  

*I want to give a shout out to my dear friend Gayle who is one of the many artists who daily strives to move forward in her new journey. She paints every day, gets frustrated, has 'aha' moments, and embodies the spirit of one who has chosen a path of creativity and is beginning the process. BRAVO TO YOU! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Oyster Trail and Marine Life Lesson

Holy Cow it is going to be an amazing week in the art studio! Not only is it our Homecoming Week, but my 4th Graders have wrapped up their Marine Calendar paintings and I have had the great pleasure of teaching the kids about the Mobile Bar Pilots and their contribution to our Port City, as they are the sponsor of our oyster! As part of The Oyster Trail, I was asked to paint one of the oysters that will become part of the permanent trail downtown. My students are getting to experience the process of painting within a theme and learning all about Oysters and the bay! 

(The Alabama Schooner which will be part of the painted oyster!) 

I decided to let the students write their name in water soluble graphite or add a few brushstrokes to the base coats so that they could participate in the creation of the piece. When it is revealed, it will be part of the Oyster Trail which is a scavenger type activity in downtown Mobile, Alabama, revealing all of the oysters to date. 

This comes on the heals of my 4th graders working so hard to research sea life that lives in the Gulf as part of their entries into the Marine Calendar Contest. I love that the lessons link up and the students are all reaping the benefits of celebrating the variety that our coastal town has to offer. 
Each student completed an initial sketch, a base painting, and then worked on adding stippling and/or crayon and pencil to increase their depth and details. I have been wowed by what they accomplished in such a short time! 

 Looking forward to sharing more sneak peeks with you on how our oyster evolves! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tree Spirit Art Journal Page

29 Faces Day 19 

Sometimes I come across an older art journal page that I started but failed to finish, or an image that calls out to be worked into my journal and this page was one of those that called. My hubs is building a cottage in the woods made of recycled materials and is a total tree hugger, literally, it pains him to cut a tree. It has given me pause in our many years to connect with him in that way and understand the link he has with living things. He sees them, he respects them, he honors them as equals, and I do believe he loves them. 

It is inspiring to watch a soul walk this earth with a connection to nature that is so deep, so instinctive. I chose to consider all of that as this page evolved, the roots we all share with every living thing, and the beauty of life itself. If I could reach out to the younger generation I would share with them how fragile and spectacular life is, every living thing, every essence of life. 

From a technique point of view, I used fluid acrylics, oil pastels, watercolor pencils, and red and black ink. The timer was set as well, meditate, listen, consider the inspiration and then let the paint flow. #grateful 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Love My Art Classroom!

I just need a moment to swoon folks! My classroom has been a work in progress since August and I finally have it flowing and set up where we are able to totally enjoy it. When we walk in we smile, when we make messes we grin and clean it up, and when we make fabulous artwork we cheer and lift one another up. Makes for a totally blessed day, blessed way of life, and I am deeply grateful to the big guy upstairs for the gift. 

My 6th Graders have been learning to isolate contour lines and then visually transfer the image without tracing. This is one of the best ways to teach students to draw quickly with great confidence so that when they tackle actual sketching and three dimensional drawing their brains already have markers in place. They are doing a great job! 

My 3rd Graders are finishing up their geometric robots and organic monsters on tar paper. They are turning out to be a total hoot! 

Hope you all have a blessed day friends! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

29 Faces Day 15 The Gaze

I love grabbing a pile of magazine scraps, a few pens, a few tubes of paint, my ink, and setting a timer for 20 minutes. I don't have time to over think, I simply have enough time to sketch, glue, layer, and move color into places that create visual interest. These types of mixed media paintings are unexpected, not what you would consider 'pretty', and they have an artistic voice that beckons from that not so perfect place in all of us. There are days I wish I could create from only that place, as it seems fearless. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Valspar Sketches for 29 Faces Days 5-7 and Paper Swapping


Woooohooooo! I love a great paper swap because checking the mail is like Christmas Morning all over again. My new artist friend, Susan Libertiny, swapped hand painted papers with me and I am swooning over all the gorgeousness she sent my way. Can....not....WAIT to turn these into a 

Visited my local Lowes for some stuff and have simply fallen in love with their 8 oz samples that they mix for you while you wait. These paints are satin, offer fabulous coverage, and once dried, make for a beautiful substrate to write on using various inks and markers. They are quickly becoming my favorite art journal paint because of their price too, $3 bottle. Way better than the little fluids found at craft stores. 

While I was there  I picked up a trifold brochure for their white paint samples and realized it would make the perfect little mini journal for my 29 Faces practice. My first 5 are done and working in these little boxes pushed my line control issues over the edge. I couldn't over think it, just had to sketch and sketch tiny. I found this to be excellent practice for my illustration work and am looking forward to filling up each square with a new face. 

Lots of juicy happenings have been landing in my lap these days, looking forward to sharing the details with you as I can. In the mean time, I hope your weekend was filled with beauty, creativity, and a big bowl of awesomesauce! 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

29 Faces Challenge Day 4

Sketching throughout a magazine, especially when the cover has such juicy color or pattern, is one of my favorite ways to recycle and practice my craft. I was drawn to the red and pattern of this cover and decided it would make a unique 'flesh' for the face I would sketch. The clock was set for 8 minutes and I was off. 

I sketched the male face with a Uniball Needle fine liner then painted the negative space to bring out the form. Sketching fast and loose makes me let go of control and allow the shapes to flow more freely. Male faces are becoming a favorite of mine as well as this challenge! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit my blog and leave a comment for this challenge, that means a lot! 
Click HERE to view all of the faces in this series

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It Comes From Within Art Journal Page and 29 Faces Day 3

I think a lot about beauty....what it means, how it is obtained, how we are taken aback by it. Words about beauty have flowed from me before, as if they were released to make room for meaning, but with each passing day the concept of beauty morphs into something different for me. This art journal page captured my conundrum with the African Masks marking how that culture perceived beauty, with an intuitive contour sketch of how I mark beauty, and with the written word explaining my understanding of it. Regardless of the outward look in the human form, to me, beauty comes from within, as a product of strength and grace. 

Artists tended to either try and capture it within a form, dissect it apart, or destroy it in an effort to shatter our constructs about it. I simply wanted to give it some space today, to capture the flowing line of the face, the beautiful contour marks, and to let go of the illusion that perfection creates it. 

The color palette is odd for me, as is the mood, but I like that. I like that I stepped out of my ordinary into a place where my spirit needed to go, beautiful or not. 

This serves as my day 3 of 29 faces. I am so enjoying that journey and seeking to experience the essence of the face rather than the ability to sketch a realistic one. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

29 Faces Challenge Day 2

In my circles guy faces are few and far between. Not sure if it's because artists are really trying to master the craft of nailing the beautiful female face, or if the male face is less inspiring. Regardless, I find them a challenge and hope to focus a good number of my sketches on the male face.

This image began in my sketchbook because I fell in love with the orange and green of the squash plants in the collage piece. Sadly, when I glued the pieces on, the paper was too thin to keep the toner and much of the beauty rubbed off. Rather than start over, I chose to go with the flow, stay with the same color palate, and embrace the texture. 

I then collaged a background and set off to sketch more of the face. 

After adding some paint, markers, gesso, and slick paint for an outline, I love that I captured the essence of this guy in my 25 minute window. Loose, inquisitive, earthy, my kind of guy, :) For me, if a face looks "face(ish)" I am one step closer to creating faces in my own artistic style rather than seeking perfection of other artists styles. Excellence of Effort is way more important than trying to lock our artistic spirit in a "perfection quest." Let that go...strive for "ISH." 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

29 Faces Challenge Day 1

Ayala Art is home of the 29 Faces Challenge and I finally am able to participate this year! Faces fascinate me and if you ask me if I can paint portraits.....nope, but I can paint, draw, sketch, and collage faces, so this challenge is right up my ally! The challenge starts today, hope some of you might join me! 

Little Red Dress Art Journal Page

For the LOVE of a cute dress! Inwardly, I am quite the girly girl but most folks who know me wouldn't know that because I dress rather....Ardithian. I do this for two reasons: 1. I LOVE the weird and whimsical look while still looking nice and 2. I can't wear high heel shoes....ever. Flats don't really work either because I have orthopedic issues and any girl knows who has had to deal with wearing 'safe' shoes, there is nothing girly about them. Hence, I avoid the dresses as well. 

There are times I miss getting all dolled up, but for the most part, I have come to terms with it. That doesn't mean when I see a darling dress that I don't admire it, because I so do. What occurred to me though, is that it really isn't as much about the dress as it is about the person behind the dress. Inwardly, if I am totally ok with dressing the way I do, then yeeeehaw for me! I have accepted my body and its peccadilloes, learned to embrace the style that fits me, and have managed to take on a rather unique taste in shoe wear. Still, what I know today is that it isn't about the dress or the shoes, it's all about how I feel on the inside! 

This journal page served many purposes as well. I wanted to tinker with a pre-prepped page that had a layer of gel medium with ridges. I wanted to try out some different layering styles by using Neocolor II, Water Soluble Graphite, Inks, and Fluid Acrylics. Most of all, I wanted to try out my new slick paint to see if it sticks to other pages when my book is closed overnight. My gut says it will, but I won't know until tomorrow. Using my art journal rather than committing on a canvas is a much better way to try out a few new process so we will see how this goes. 

Although I loved the abstract colors of my initial color glazes, I chose to throw Pyrole Red and Mint Green in the mix. Ultimately I washed out the entire piece with waterproof white ink, and loved that result for a background. The figure was a pure after thought but gave me a great way to test out the slick paint.


This page makes me smile and taught me a lot about colors I will use more often. We shall see how the paint holds up tomorrow!  These are more like the shoes I wear every day, they make me happy too, :)