Artshecried interviewed me! I'm always amazed when people want to interview me about art journaling and art. You can read the interview over here.
Artshecried interviewed me! I'm always amazed when people want to interview me about art journaling and art. You can read the interview over here.
Occasionally I hit rough patches with my drawing. It’s not a block or a rut, because the desire to draw is still there, but nothing good will emerge from my pen or pencil. As I’m making these rough drawings I hear my inner critic shouting at me that my work sucks, my drawings are no good, and that I should just pack it all up and never draw again. That’s how the critic works. The asshole* in my head waits until my defenses are down and then starts to wail on my already frayed nerves. It’s not so much that I give up, rather I keep plugging away, filling up page after page with shitty drawings.
And that is what I’ve been doing. Over the last few weeks I’ve had a load of crap on my shoulders, real worry inducing crap. The kinda crap I can’t just take my mind off. It’s always there and pervasive. This is when I’ve found my pen starts to create shit on the page. Noses off, eyeballs in the wrong direction, proportions that would make Picasso proud.
The thing is, that this shit, is gold where art journaling is concerned. Shitty drawings give me a window into my head in a way good drawings don’t. I can see the weight of everything that is on my mind in my bad drawings. I’ve regressed 2 years back in my drawing habit. This has nothing to do with the goodness or badness of the art (the art itself is just fine) it has to do with what I personally see in the art. Yes, there are specific things like proportion, perspective, and other REAL problems in the art, but that makes the drawing neither bad nor good, it simply IS.
A art therapy guy named Shawn McNiff ** writes about having a dialog with your art. That you should have a conversation with your piece, and listen to what it tells you. While I find that idea a tad whooo whooo frou frou for my tastes, I do listen to my art, I look at it and gain perspective on what is going on in my life. Like reading your own tea leaves or tarot cards, listening to your art is focus driven and largely a meditative process.
I’ll get more into how I personally reflect on my pages in a future post.
It was good to identify why my drawings were turning out “shitty.” Being able to look through my book*** and see on this day my drawings were really off, and on this day this happened, it was really weighing on my mind= invaluable lessons. Once I identified what was weighing on my mind I was able to break through the barricade in my head and the drawings started to flow from my pen and onto the page in my usual style.
The first video is of an art joranl, a lot of paintings and drawings in a moleskine. Watercolor, ink, acrylic, and a variety of other media are used. It's a lovely journal. (She really ought to wax her pages though.)
This one uses nothing but black ink, sakura pigma to be precise. He draws from life and makes no notes or observations but for the drawing. It's another style of journal. It's gourgeous. Blow it up big on your monitor and LOOK at that hatching.
I've been watching a bunch of things on Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix. It's been too cold to do much outside. Anyway...
I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop which you can find here:
I also watch Ghost Army, a nifty documentary about artists in WW2 in a special division of the US Army. My friend Greg had mentioned it to me and I was finally able to see the movie. Nifty.
I've watched a load of trash TV as well... I won't mention them here.Happy new year to all my friends!
I’ve been rewarding myself for reading articles for my January class by letting myself paint after I read. I’ve been working small lately so I decided to change things up and work big.
To do this I cut open a paper grocery bag, squared it up, then used my create-a-color leads in my E+M holder to work on some BIG automatic drawings.
After the auto drawing is completed I hit the paper with white paint plus one other color to create a scrubby textured background. I don’t try to fill every spot of the background, rather I brush until the brush is empty of paint. (I’m also listening to music while I do this, so each brush stroke works with the beat and sound of the music.
After I get a base color down I start to layer in colors onto the drawing itself. This image is far from finished, I’ll work a bunch more on it to get it to a point that I can call it done.
I was inspired by watching “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” a nifty little documentary supposedly about Banksy but really more about Mr. Brainwash. Neat stuff. i initially thought I might like to create these as a paste up but now realize that it would be a crazy amount of work to paste up on the free wall. So i’m still thinking of something I can put on the free wall, I think it’ll be something like this, likely on paper and not a stencil. Anyway, great movie and these are a lot of fun.
I made this book for my human development class. It's an accordnian fold book that measures 4x11 inches. the covers fold over on itself and the line continues throughout the book and the waves connect creating a loop.
The waves represent the varius stages of human development and the figures represent the physical development.
Pretty frequently people ask me about drawing portraits. How do you draw a "good" portrait.
Here are 4 tips:
#1. Don't draw from fashion photos. Use well lit images of real people from Flickr or anywhere else you can find them. Fashion magazines and their photography involve a great deal of softening the image to remove the kind of lighting you need to make a good drawing. They also remove every last wrinkle and bump in the face, the stuff you really need to navigate the contours of the face with your pen/pencil.
#2. Don't be so hard on yourself. If you spend 90% of your drawing time worryingabout how much your drawing sucks you'll never get down to the business of enjoying the process. First concentrate on the process of making your image. Enjoy the feeling of the pen or pencil on the paper. Enjoy hte moment of creation. After you are done with the image, then critique it. It's alright to go back and say, "Next time I'll try putting the line for the nose here," or suggesting to yourself, "If I put the lower eyelid in more of a gentle curve, I'd like it more."
#3. Embrace imperfection. You will make some drawings you hate. That's okay. You learn the most from your bad drawings. You learn where you went wrong, so that in the next image you know what you don't like and what you should do with the curve of the nustril and that little divot above the upper lip.
#4. Keep at it. Don't give up. the most important thing is that even though you are going to make some really bad drawings, you will eventually make some really great drawings. But you won't make great drawings if you give up. I make a lot of bad drawings. I'm okay with that. Part of art is learning what your style is and embracing that style.
Here's a late add on to this post, MIllande has some great ideas about portraits. I love what she does with her self portrait.
In addition to my free art friday post I have loaded up some of my can lids to my etsy shop. they are original works of my art done on can lids. They are a super fun thing to do because they reclaim something that would go into the waste stream and turns it into something fun. Anyway. I'm having a blast making them between paragraphs in my papers.
I've been very very productive this weekend, both on my paper and in making lots of art. Not all of it for my classes. At this point I'm fighting inspiration and getting ready for bed. I've got a little light reading... Well, sort of light.Okay, not light at all.
Anyway. I worked on this little 4x4 inch gallery wrapped canvas. I layered some antique magazing (American Journal of Physics 1970) and then did a little automatic drawing on it once it was dried. The gelmedium I used for it was Liquitex Matte gel. My Pentel Hybrid technica worked on it just fine. granted it is matte and not gloss but not a skip or nasty line at all. Keep in mind I waited until the medium was absilutely dry. After the drawing I started to add in some color. I built up layers of color. The backgroun has a light teal paint with small plus signs all over it in light blue. They can only be seen whenm you are looking for them. Fun. Again I'm messing around with colors that jive with one another. the color interaction does not photograph well.
I finished the last of the 3 small pieces for the small frames I posted about yesterday. I'm really inspired by medieval art works.
I also did a little drawing and paint background on a book page. The school library gets rid of all kinds of neat and funny books. either they are damaged or not needed. This one wasn't worth anything but had some self help inspiration. So i'm working with that.
I forgot to also mention that I picked up a Fabriano journal with a 50% off coupon at Michael's. So far it's really nice, but we'll see what it's like once I start to abuse it.
Anyway, the art will be up on etsy in the next few days. I'll probably load them up Wednesday. Scratch that, they are all loaded up here.
Last winter I picked up three 5x5 inch wooden frames with cute 2.5x2.5 inch openings at Michael's. I had planned on decorating them, filling them, then loading them to Etsy. Well life happened and I didn't manage to finish them. I'm working on that now. This past weekend I picked up a few more, larger frames, on a total whim. These measure 6x8 inches with a 5.5x3.5 inch window. I started each of the frames by applying antique paper with matte medium. Each piece of paper was crumpled, crinkled and torn to size. the paper was pulled from antique (but worthless) books or magazines. I snagged a copy of the "American Journal of Physics" from 1970 a week ago. I have had a copy of a German travel journal from the early 1900s. The paper is so interesting. Layers of it was built up to create texture. After the paper was dried I began to add layers of paint. The large frames were covered with warm colors- yellow, orange and red. I brushed the paint on and then scraped it around. again creating texture. In some cases removing the color entirely to allow the paper's texture to show. I then added layers of glaze. The small frames were roughly painted with shades of blue. I used some of my crapcut stencils (my own designs). through these stencils I scraped colored modeling paste. I scraped on another shade of blue and teal. on the small frames I decided to make some colors pop so I mixed up a magenta modeling paste and scraped that through a stencil. I'm really digging how the colors play off each other and the stencils and modeling paste add a layer of texture. They feel so cool. I've decided that I'll fill each one with a black and white automatic drawing. I've made 2 of the smaller images and I can'twait to work on the 3 larger images.
Anyway, i'll have them up on etsy soon.
One of the things I've been pondering is the following question:
"Do mandala's have to be circular?"
I keep arriving at no as an answer.
Last night on the train I did my usual relaxing automatic drawing. I started the hatching, realizing I was making 7 marks over and over again. I went with it and slapped a 7 on the head of the skull. I suspect most of you won't like the video, but the Pixies are a favorite band of mine and I must've listened to this song a million times when I was in high school.
When I got home I couldn't focus on the hatching in the background. Too distracted, too amped up by class and the presentation we had and the papers I have due.
I couldn't let it go.
This morning when I got up I was able to focus on the hatching and feel relaxed while doing it. Mindful. feeling the pen on the paper, counting to 7 over and over again. Though the Zebra Sarasa is smooth and glides across the paper I could hear it.
scritch scritch scritch
The sound of pen on paper is something I enjoy. I don't need music to listen to when I can hear the pen on paper.
I was able to feel the bumps of the paper through the pen as it telegraphed them to my fingers. The rubbery grip of the pen keeping the pen from slipping out of my fingers.
Slowly and carefully I filled in the 5x7 rectangle on my page.
Oh, yeah, what does this have to do with mandalas? I think that a mandala can be square. WHAT WHAT WHAT. A little research shows me that many cultures used square and rectangular shaped for their mandalas. We (Western peoples) know more about the circular mandalas from Jungian psycology and Western practicioners of the art. The circle is mor often used.
A few of my classes require that I make art as part of the class content. For one of the classes I decided to make an altered book into an art journal. I've been adding a little bit to the book here and there.
I started by scraping paint around the book. I used warm colors because they matched the covers. On some pages I've written with sharpies. And on others I've doodled. Oddly I've not added any collage or ephemera from my personal life. I may have to remedy that.
After I scraped paint I then and added some brushed on paint.
I started this page with white and yellow. I doodled on the waves, but left them "blank." Yesterday in class we did an experiential where we interpreted an article we read and discussed with movement. It wasn't dance but movement. Not my usual thing, but the group decided to work with the idea of fluidity and waves.
When I came home I decide to work on the page a little more because it called for it. There is something to the idea of my art journal being a predictive form of art. Though I had read the article in advance of working on the page I wasn't consciously thinking of waves or fluidity. It just happened. Amazing how what I read comes through on the pages of my art journal.
Today I added the blues and greens to the waves with a brush. Then I layered on the primary red and magenta glazes. I used a rough bristle brush to apply the glaze. I removed some of it with an old gift card and a rag.
I focused on the feelings of making the lines. I focused on how my pens felt on the page. The stiffness of my fingers and wrist as I cramped up from not being mindful of the moment and how it reflected the stiffness of my mind and the cramped feeling of my headspace as I worked on the feelings of being attacked.
I'd like to tell you that this image allowed me to completely let go of everything. But it didn't, it made me AWARE of all of the thoughts and feelings. It allowed me to name my thoughts, give them weight, allow them to be explored. This image gave the stuff in my head form. It will allow me to continue to work on these thoughs. eventually I will be able to let go.
But not today.
I've been doing a lot of reading these last few days. I had a paper due that I think I totally over thought... I did a lot of reading for that and then I have a lot of reading for the actual clas parts of school. One of the articles I just read was by a woman named Catherine Moon. It was a very interesting piece and in it she writes about the "critical eye," aka inner critic.* So I did an automatic drawing and as I was doing the drawing I was moved to add an eyeball above the face. Interesting. the drawing was automatic but the eyeball less so. I tried to NOT add it but my brain kept screaming at me to ADD the eye. I gave in and did it.
Here is the image without water added:
I also hung an art show this past weekend. I got an email froma guy who knew someone I met up with to talk about art (yay! for meeting up with other artists in the area!) she sent himn a link and my work got hung on the wall. Well, it went something like that, there were a few back and forth emails and such. So I sent out an invite to some friends via facebook and we got together to look at my weirdo drawings aka automatic drawings, drink coffee and eat cookies.
My art, on the wall!
THIS is a chocolate chip cookie with an Oreo baked inside of it. Also, the Oreo was in fall colors, so once I bit in, ORANGE! It was every bit as tasty as it looked. Also, Jonathan made me one of the best cappuchinos I've had in a long time. If you want to see my weirdo drawings in person head to Atomic Cafe in Beverly, MA. Get yourself on of those Oreo stuff cookies!
*Apparently I now have to cite everything when I write, so here you go:
Moon, C. H. (2002). Studio art therapy: Cultivating the artist identity in the art therapist. (pp. 156-196 ) London: Jessica Kingsley.
Last night, after reading for hours, and then watching some junk TV on Hulu I decided to do my "evening" mandala riff. I'm still figuring these things out. I'm digesting a huge quantity of info in a short period of time. I'm immersed in this stuff. So anyway. I started to work on mandala riff. I had an idea I really liked. I've been working with a combination of Pentel Hybrid Technica, Zebra Sarasa, and Uniball Signo pens. This idea simply flowed from the pen tip. I added some lines and more lines, i had some patterns and the mandala bit came in and I liked it a lot. Some of the mandala riffs I'm doing are staying black and white and some are getting the color treatment. I couldn't decide if I wanted color or if I wanted to leave it as is.
I forged ahead and added color to the image and now I hate it. The dark shade I chose detracts from the sensitive patterns and lines I created with my pen work. The colors don't work well with the image I'd created. Immediately I was filled with regret for my color choice and for "ruining" my drawing with watercolor crayon. This isn't a feeling I usually have as I art journal. This is a completely foreign feeling. I've always thought of my art journal as a no hold barred playground. So to feel that I've "ruined" an image is new. Immediately, I started to question the "why" and "hows" of what I was feeling. Why was I so disappointed in myself? Why did I hate this image so much?
I realized that this feeling was what I was meant to explore. Maybe not last night or even at this moment but over the next few days I'm going to be exploring all those questions.*
I had my first week of grad school last week. It kicked my ass, in a good way. It was an intense 9am to 6pm class Monday through Friday. We did a lot of writing and reading and art making. It was the most completely intense class I've ever had. In short it was awesome. I got to meet and hang out with 23 amazing women. The best thing is I'll be spending the next 4 days with them as well. This time in New Hampshire.
I expected to have evidence on Etsy by the end of last week but I ended up having a lot of work to do for school. I finally got it all scanned and up today. You can get your very own copy.
I thought that when I left my job that the summer would be all fluffy kittens and unicorns farting rainbows. Well, my luck doesn't work that way, instead, my car's engine and muffler decided to separate pending divorce and right now we have them on amicable terms but that won't last. Then the washing machine's pump decided it had enough of washing my dirty clothes and died, then well, yeah, you get the point. There were no unicorns farting rainbows. I had to spend a weekend with trolls at the laundromat sweating in places no human being should sweat. The savings ended up being spent on repairs just so we could live life.
Oh also, one of the cars wouldn't start for a month, then miraculously started and runs okay now. Go figure.
Enough bitching. Through all of this I decided I wante dto use up some of my sketchbooks that have been gathering dust, you know since I can't afford to buy another new sketchbook. So I grabbed my Canson XL Recycled Drawing sketchbook, spiral bound 9x12 inches and a handful of pens and started to sketch, doodle, and write in it, art journal style. Back to basics baby. I felt more free than I had in a long long time while art journaling. I have been so constricted by what I THOUGHT this summer should be like and when life handed me a bag of lemons all I did was suck on them instead of figuring out how to make a great lemon pepper chicken.
So after a few pages of the journal I realized I REALLY liked working in this simple illustrative doodle filled manner. I also like writing in my journal. I have no big secrets. My thoughts and doodles meshed to make neat-o pages.
Then I thought, why don't i PUBLISH this ina quick and dirty way. Like the zines I used to make back in the late 90's and early 2000's? Black and white photocopies? Nah, go high tech with it, PDF. The idea of scanning 18 pages of B+W images hi-res bummed me out, instead I downloaded a free app called CamScanner that allows me to use my ScanBox well and make a PDF that I load to my DropBox account and then to Etsy. I'm hooked.
So I call the zine "Evidence" it's 18 pages of pure art journaling in black, white and gray. It's scanned in with the camera on my smart phone and made into a PDF with an app. It's printable and you can share it so long as you give me credit.
Get it on my Etsy account here. It's $5.
Some sneak peaks inside the zine:
If you are interested in joining in with me for the 30 in June Challenge, here's an image you can post on your blog or blog post:
<a title="30 in June by lessherger, on Flickr" href="http://comfortableshoesstudio.com"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7407/8901630644_ee3c7a087d_n.jpg" alt="30 in June" width="168" height="223" /></a>
Just copy and paste the red text!
Let's bust out of our journaling habits and try some new things!
starts my self-employment. I’m forcing myself to take a week to relax
before I dive head long into the work of the site and writing. I know
that by the end of the week I’ll be working hence the forced relaxation
period. This weekend C and I watched some crap TV shows and cooked. It
I started some random art journaling last night by culling through my pile of personal ephemera. I picked stuff out and glued it to the page. No rhyme or reason, but where it called to be glued. Where it looked good to me. A simple concept but one where I had to let myself be random and not plan out the page.
After that I wanted to clean off one of my watercolor palettes so I wet the colors and used a big brush to slather colors onto my pages. Again I wasn’t calculated or planned about where and what colors I used. I simply looked at what colors I had and what looked good on a page, then slathered the colors onto the page. I mixed colors on the page, worked wet-into-wet, and layered the color on top of the ephemera. Some of the ephemera resisted the watercolor, some absorbed it like a sponge.
A few months ago I came up with this plan, I called it 31 in May. It was a good plan to get me producing art on a daily basis and then requiring me to list it on etsy. When the plan hatched from my brain I assumed that my last few weeks of DayJob would be uneventful, sadly I was wrong. So 31 in May becomes 30 in June. I’ll need to come up with a new drawing for it, but there you have the idea in a nutshell.
The reasoning for it is that I’ve gotten out of my daily art journaling habit. I journal but not daily and I miss it and let’s face it, I need it. So the plan is that I work in my small coil bound Stillman and Birn Beta journal everyday for the month of June. When the page is finished to hold myself accountable I load that page to etsy. Each page will be a real journal page. Sometimes with writing, but not always. I’ll work this coil bound journal just like I’d work any other journal, keeping process to the front of my mind. Each page will get a blog post and possibly a video. (The video portion will be harder due to video editing constraints. Editing a video a day is way harder than it sounds.) Anyway, that’s the idea, thirty 5x7 inch pieces in June, all loaded up to etsy and my blog.
This is the second in a series of images exploring self-doubt.
This image started as the last with some journaling, written with a noodler’s Ahab flex nibbed fountain pen. I focused my writing on the self doubt surrounding the “big thing” that I have coming up*, hopefully in May. I also wrote about how the impending change is affecting my feelings around how people will perceive me. I worry that people will think that my work is inauthentic.
As I wrote I came to the conclusion that as long as my work is from the heart and my mind that the work will be authentic no matter the content or direction I explore.
I blurred the writing with water. I decided to be literal with my images and colored photocopies of a heart and brain with watercolors. When these were dry I cut them out and glued them to the page. I added layers of color around the 2 collaged pieces with colored pencils and watersoluble crayons.
I took one of my sheep stickers colored it black and stuck it in the middle of the brain. A rather literal representation of sheep brain. I also added a tea tag to the heart. I added a few more colors, picked out the yellow crayon to get the color a little more intense and added some white crayon between the blue rays.
The image measures 5x7 inches and is available on my etsy shop here.
is my first piece in my series of images based around self-doubt. I
started by writing a journal entry about my self doubt. I then washed
over it with a large watercolor brush and clear water. This blurred and
moved the water soluble ink around the page. I used a watercolor pencil
to add a border around the edge.
I made some copies of a self-portrait I’d made for my JF365 Challenge. I colored them all one color with liquid watercolors. I glued these down then added a piece of washi tape I’d colored yellow over the black and white stripes. The face represent myself and the warning tape represents a feeling of danger. The sheep represents what I call sheep brain. I layered in some gelatin printed paper and a tea tag.
I added colors and lines radiating out from the sheep to show the influence of sheep brain on my thoughts.
I intended to take more progress shots as I worked but got caught up in the process of journaling.
The image measures 5x7 inches and is available on my etsy shop here.