Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Illustration Friday: disguise

 "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2)

This little gardening angel has been sent on an undercover mission, but it looks like she still needs some training in the art of angelic disguise. (To see more of my gardening angels go to the June 2013 posts in the side bar of this blog.)

As I made this drawing yesterday, my four year old was disturbed. "Mama, " she said in her bossiest voice, "don't put that on your blog. It doesn't look girlish. You won't put it on your blog, will you?!" It disturbs me a little, too. I keep looking hard at the face, trying to see the real little girl behind the Groucho Marx glasses.

I do like the flowers. Any excuse to draw flowers.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Illustration Friday: Beginning

I was happy when I realized I could use this image, which has been in my mind for awhile, for the Illustration Friday prompt, "beginning." A human heart is a beginning of much--"from it flow the springs of life."

This drawing was an exercise in speed and "good enough." I did another rendition that was truly not good enough, so I really had to hurry to get this done at least a few hours before tomorrow's new prompt.

For readers unfamiliar with Illustration Friday, it is an online "weekly drawing challenge and participatory art exhibit.... Every Friday a new topic is posted."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Art and daydreams

Awhile ago, I read in a blog I like that "Dreamers are roadkill. Artists work." I almost agree, but I think a more accurate statement is, "Mere dreamers are roadkill, but mere workers have nothing to say. Artists must work and dream a lot and in a regular rhythm." In the quiet, open-minded, dreamy state, the good ideas, the true intuitions, originate. And the work of translating the dream into the concrete world triggers more good ideas.

The tricky part, for me anyway, is making the leap back and forth between dream and work.You wouldn't believe the flawless, glowing images I make in my head as I lie in bed at night. But pulling those dreams out of my head always leads to disappointment. I begin with high hopes, but soon enough I realize I can't actually replicate that dream with my actual hands on actual paper or in actual wax. I used sometimes to shrink from the chilly discomfort of that moment and avoid the work part of the artist equation. Or I feared that my failure to realize my ideals meant that I wasn't cut out to be an artist. Now I know that I just need practice, practice, practice, practice and that making beautiful, meaningful things is my calling (one of them).

On the other hand, I sometimes avoid a timely transition from work to dreams. Sometimes I just don't want to stop working,  but after a certain point, the longer I work, the blinder I get. I spin in a perfectionist eddy, but I don't see the answers to the artistic problems that arise--I am likely not to see the real problems, and am very likely to make mistakes that lead to all sorts of trouble. When I stop doing art and use my hands in the quiet, motherly tasks that let my mind wander, solutions emerge, unsought. When I take those answers down to my desk and get back to work, I feel refreshed and able.

This tiny heart, about half an inch high, has been my main work lately. I actually have a little more to do on it, polishing in tight spots and adding a bail, but you won't see it again until it is either cast in silver or pewter. We're trying to figure that one out.

In this post I shared some of the ways I try to maximize my art. I'd love to hear strategies from other creative people.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Illustration Friday: Search

Twenty odd years ago, I drew this boy walking into the woods. A writer friend wanted me to illustrate a story she hoped to get published by the publishing company where she worked. As I drew and sketched and tried to organize my ideas, I felt washed out  to sea without compass or oar. I didn't know those were normal feelings that needed to be endured while I went ahead with the work. I thought they meant I was unable to do it, so I backed out of the project, a regrettable decision, though I felt relief at the time. Had I stuck with the project, I believe I would have made long strides as an artist. 

I like this picture better than the one above, though the figure is less expressive. I like how the woods are beginning to enfold the boy. I feel there are delights hidden around the corner. I like the wetness and looseness and the crazy ultramarine shadows. The trees feel more alive.

I don't remember what all these pencil lines were about, but I like them. I was probably feeling a need to loosen up as well as take hold of the composition.

I put the first drawing in this post onto Illustration Friday, though I don't like it as much as the second. I guess I did it because I think the boy is saying more, though the trees are saying less.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


I'm finished with this cross. I still have to add a bail (a loop for the chain to go through) and it is very likely that tomorrow when I sit down to do that I'll see other stuff that needs fixing. But the most difficult part has been accomplished. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

This and that

I've gotten a bit more work done on the new cross.  It's at the stage where the end feels farther away than when I started. I have to be very careful not to break it and make a whole lot more work for myself. It looks pretty big in this picture but is actually only a bit more than an inch long and looks very delicate.
I also made a new banner for my Etsy store. The first one was kind of makeshift, just to get something in the space so I could get the crucifix up to sell. I'm not totally thrilled with this new one either, but I think it's a lot better, and as I read somewhere recently, "Done is better than perfect." I do like the flowers and am inspired to do some flower art, but need to wait on that, sadly.

If you want to see it in its natural habitat, go to my Etsy store and take a look. There's a link in the top right hand corner of this website. If you were thinking about buying the crucifix before the sale ends, today's the day!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snowflakes, pancakes

It's been snowing about twenty-four hours now. I can't tell how much has fallen, because it's a cold, dry snow that moves around with the wind. My littles, ages six and four, got up before the others and wanted to go outside right away. After a few bites to eat, they suited up and went ponderously down the drifted-over steps. In spots the snow was above their knees, almost to their hips. They heaved through drifts, turning the snow like plows. They stayed out longer than I thought they would, and when they came in hungry they were beautiful with cold-reddened cheeks and sparkling, dark eyes. 

Here are Daniel's sweet little boy hands, with a bite of our special nut-flour pancakes sort of wadded up in a dollop of honey butter. 

And here is a scratchy drawing from my sketchbook.

It's very cold in this sketch, with a deep freeze that often comes after a nice big snow, the kind of deep freeze we're expecting this week. The fluffy white bird is no doubt better adapted to such weather than I am. 

And here's my crew, glimpsed on their sledding hill. I took this picture leaning out in bare feet and bathrobe. Then my camera said the memory card was full, so that's it for today.