Well, technically it never left, exactly. It just wasn’t here.
If you follow me on Instagram you know that I never stopped making art over the last year. There was a significant lull from August to December-ish. Part of that was due to illustrating a book for a dear friend, Vince Costa. I couldn’t manage any more brain space than that! Towards the fall it was sheer exhaustion and keeping one’s head above water, as Elliana steadily deteriorated and was just not sleeping well, which meant I wasn’t sleeping well.
I kept drawing and painting as time allowed, but not in any significantly formal way. I picked up my 365 Handbook project again sometime mid-March, and finally filled in the second of the two Handbooks. If I had kept to the original intention, I would have filled up six of those little sketch books in one year, but that clearly didn’t happen. I’m happy with the two I have now. I don’t know that I’ll return to that project ever again, but it gave rise to such fertile ground for further explorations.
I got a bit sidetracked after I finished the Handbook project on my watercolor work, because the sketch book I chose that was supposed to handle wet media profoundly did not. Oh the bleed! The muddiness! The wrinkling! It was awful. I had made my choice oh so carefully because of my limited finances and was so disappointed when it turned out so bad and wouldn’t be fit for watercolor or gouche at all. I resigned myself to having to use it for awhile. Funny thing, though. It was perfect for charcoal and pencil work. And would you know it? All of the sudden, these little characters came pouring out on the page. These old-timey ladies and gents. They’ll come for a visit next week, but you can see them over on Instagram. Somehow, I can’t help but think that the sketch book snafu was the best thing to happen to my art process lately. I had no idea these people lived in my head!
Thanks to my brother’s kindness, I was able to purchase another sketchbook for watercolor, and I chose the Handbook Journal Co. Watercolor 8 x 8. I should have known after using the smaller 4 x 4 Drawing ones for my 365 project. They were meant for charcoal and pencil work, and they held up to all sorts of media throughout the project, even when they weren’t intended for it. The Watercolor is dreamy. It takes the media so beautifully. I am itching to get to work in it! I never thought I’d have two sketchbooks going at one time, or have a billion more ideas for both sketchbooks than I’ll ever get time to do in them, but Glory! What a wonderful ‘problem’ to have.
I told you yesterday of my intense artist’s crush on Breezy Brookshire. I have been following her for ever so long, all the way back to the olden blog days. She is self-taught, and it was her illustrating style that I first fell in love with. There’s a direct line between my ever starting an art pursuit and Breezy’s work. She inspired me so much! Without her, I wouldn’t be here, three years into pursuing art and illustration. I still have such a long way to go, but the journey is so much fun.
The other artist that I just discovered this week via Jeanne Oliver is Mish Wooderson. I am falling head-long down the rabbit hole of her IG feed and blog! I love the sense of rootedness and place you get from her work. It’s making me think. I love her decorating style too.
I’d love to see what you’ve been up to lately! Share in the comments. It doesn’t have to be “art” either- poetry? Good bread? A delicious steak? A cozy corner? I wanna see!
I’ve been receiving a lot of questions, and I am excited and a bit scared to announce that I will be selling prints of some of my recent artwork. The Plumfield Collection will launch next Friday, October 15th, and there will be a fun giveaway next week, so stay tuned!
I am so pleased with this collection. Sketching and painting these brought me such happiness and peace, and I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did making them. As I am working to prepare these for print, I am filled with wonder. I had no idea that these were all tucked away in my soul, waiting for a ray of sunshine. The path to this launch may seem very straightforward to the rest of you, but to me, I would not have imagined that I would be offering this. I had no idea! I am as pleased and excited as you are. The name, of course, is pulled from the delightful Little Men, which we were listening to on audio book during many of my painting sessions. It just seemed fitting to name the collection so. I think Aunt Jo would enjoy these small offerings.
Speaking of wonder, Kort has a wonderful series going this month called The Wonder Project. I was so inspired by her fall leaf mandala the other day that I think I want to try something similar in paint, soon!
The current works in progress for this week. I can feel a shift in my daily thought (and work) process, which is basically summed up in how fast can I get the rest of this stuff done so I can play? A thought process I did not think would be mine until the kids were grown and gone. It’s happening now, though, and it’s so lovely.
I find myself a bit tongue-tied as I try to explain what this new impetus to create is to me. It is a gift borne out of pain. I am who I am and I am creating what I am creating because of a profound stripping away. I was left with nothing, or so I thought- and out of the ashes, this was what was born. It belongs to me, entirely. No one can lay claim to it. This is a strange claim, I am sure. I claim it anyways.
I laughed pretty hard when I read that quote of Mark Twain’s the other day. We really try so hard to throw things out the window sometimes and then are alarmed at the results. I’m learning to coax this creating habit down the stairs one step at a time. I can feel a turn in the stairs this week- what is in my head is making its way to the page in a smoother manner, my technique is getting more consistent. I don’t feel like I’m taking one step forward and then four back. I’m generally moving the direction I’d like to go.
With it, I feel a piece of my soul has shifted back into right places, no longer a phantom limb. It’s going to sound crazy, but I can tell because I don’t care about the house chores anymore. I don’t think I ever quite realized how ‘taking care of the house’ was my coping mechanism, my way of controlling the uncontrollable during the storms- but now, crunchy floors going on three days? Who cares? I’ll get to it on Saturday. Playing and painting are winning out every day. There is a habit I can get behind!
I shared this short video on social media the other day of my sketchbook. I had originally hoped to do a painting a day in September, my birthday month, but between traveling and other concerns it didn’t happen. I did manage to sketch most every day, and that is quite a milestone for me. I keep thinking about this quote from Ira Glass:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Works in progress from the sketchbook this week. I’ve been on quite a wildflower bender lately. Some I have been sketching, then painting. Some are left as sketches. I have a feeling some of these are going to get some mixed media work, maybe some stitching. There is a prayer girl of Emily Croft’s that has been haunting me (in a good way) and that page of the sketchbook is going a completely different direction. Right now I am literally in the wildly wonderful and woolly position of having so many ideas and things I want to do that I can’t quite paint fast enough. Needless to say, I am not complaining.
Sometimes you write something more for yourself than anything else, and then this lovely thing happens where somebody else says, me too. Those are the writing moments I live for, and what Amy had to say in response to my post last Friday was just such a moment.
“Creating something is an act of hope. It means you are imagining a future where the thing you create will still be looked at or used or read, that it might inspire someone else. “- Amy Sorensen
John’s Take, Strike, and Speak has been the poem tucked into my pocket the last few days. It’s such a hard lesson to learn, this. And he reminds me.