You know, I'm not much of a fan of drawing hearts. I like seeing them when others draw them, but somehow I am just not attracted to doing it myself.
But in trying to learn to draw knots, I was asked to do just that--draw a simple heart border and convert it to Celtic interlaced knots. And when I finished, I was most definitely thinking about hearts--our globally connected hearts--and how much pain the world is in today. The focus required to draw interconnecting bands on knots reminds me of how we forget every day that we are dependent on each other to survive, and dependent on each other's love and kindness. We forget and forget and forget.
I want to remember.
There was another school shooting in the US today. My heart breaks, and continues to break, because of these repetitive, mindless, violent, deadly shootings, the innocent victims, and their families.
It felt very right to be drawing hearts, and connecting them.
Here's what I ended up with:
Certainly the calligraphy isn't great because this is just a practice draft, but I am happy with the final result.
Here was where I began (Step One in pencil), and below that, here's what it looked like inked in (Step Two).:
I've been taking a fabulous SkillShare Course on Celtic Knots offered by Sadelle Wiltshire, of whom I am a fangirl. She makes wonderful art you can see on her webpages, HERE or HERE.
Interlaced. Interconnected. We are. We must be. When will we learn to remember?
"Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness."
Last week of the "Sketching and Watercolor" Course. It has been hard to keep up, although I can't exactly say why. Probably the fear of failure and fear of the blank page. Along with a healthy dose of "comparanoia," the paralyzing factor that happens when everyone's asked to post their pictures online--it's just too easy to start comparing, and often belittling one's own efforts.
So here's this final assignment, starting with the original object, a coffee pot.
I was looking at the pot from a slightly different angle than the photograph. I did a preliminary pencil sketch, inked it with waterproof ink, and then erased the pencil. After which, practically holding my breath, I picked up my waterbrush...
It ain't perfect, but I like it. Although I still feel verklempt about my progress with watercolor, I'm ok with this result. I may have whined at producing the weekly assignments, but it kept me working. And I know that when I'm working--practicing--some improvement will eventually happen.
I hope to keep working on my own. And yet...
Life does have a way of distracting us. Waiting in the wings and calling my name are (in no particular order):
"It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?"
--Henry David Thoreau
Here is the finish to yesterday's project:
Next came the homework for the sketching & watercolor course: painting a shoe. I'd done the prelminary sketching a few days ago (the November 4th post) and decided to re-draw and paint it from another angle. Here's the painting.
The drawing went fine, but as usual the painting didn't go well. The sole (the black thing under the shoe) did not end up looking like a sole. The real sandals are all-gray with a hint of gold where the light hits them. I feel "meh" about this painting.
Once the course is over (just another week) I'll be taking a more casual approach to learning watercolor. Something doesn't quite feel right for me with this course. She's a wonderful artist and teacher (I love her stuff), but perhaps she's beyond me at the moment. Still, I'm glad I did it. She's been great about providing feedback to every single one of a very large number of participants.
On the upside: I'm continuing to make progress on the kitchen and am actually finished. Until I live with it for a few weeks and begin to get a sense of where I would be better off moving things. That needs time, but everything's in an initial place for now. No more boxes! I cannot believe what a difference unpacking this room has made to me. I suddenly feel more optimistic and have a lot more mental space. Everything feels better. This is the half of the kitchen that has all the supplies for dyeing wool in one place:
"Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it's not all mixed up."
~A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
"In any household, junk accumulates to fill the space available for its storage."
~Boston's Irreversible Law of Clutter
"Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire." ~Wendell Berry
As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been in intensive learning mode--taking a course on sketching and watercolor. I've been failing regularly in my attempts. And I'm also learning a lot. You can see previous entries on this experience HERE (the start of the series), HERE (scroll down to the bottom to see that one), HERE, and HERE.
It seems I can only do one thing at a time, though, so no tangling has been happening. I look forward to getting back to that. I am able to knit in the evenings, so I've been making Knitted Knockers (soft knitted prostheses for breast cancer survivors) and will soon have about 60 of them to ship out for distribution. Today I went to the local yarn shop and picked up these yarns for future Knockers: [If you knit, I hope you will seriously consider making Knockers for women who need them post surgery.]
I have also been unpacking and the kitchen is nearly ready. Given that I do not know how to cook, how ready does it need to be? Well, once I get back to rug hooking, it needs to be ready for me to dye yarn and wool. Today I moved my "dye chest" into the kitchen, and more equipment will come. I'm very encouraged about this.
Here are my most recent drawings and watercolors. I hesitate to even term these "watercolors" as I'm truly struggling with the waterbrush and trying to resist going back to regular brushes.
Let me begin with a photo of the actual roses I was trying to capture, in their vase. Both roses were well-past their prime and beginning to die by the time I finally got to start drawing them.
Here is my teacher's comment on this painting--and I agree with it:
"In this version, the vase became the focal point, rather than the rose. Another really lovely drawing and color, but I think what is missing is the whites of the page and the lights on the flower. Well done!"
The final compliment was kind of her, but the analysis about the vase becoming the focal point is exactly right.
Before I saw her comment, though, I had decided to go back and try to add to this with another layer of color, to better shade it...
The teacher hasn't commented on this drawing yet.
I was so frustrated working on it. Once again I had the sense that the paint got away from me despite my best efforts.
And yet...it's overworked, but I think it's also stronger.
More importantly, every time I try this, and fail in epic fashion as I have so far, I do learn something.
In fact, I am chronicling this in public all because I so strongly believe that we often learn best by failing. Certainly we can choose to resist learning from failures, but usually the lessons are so "loud and clear," they can lead to real success if we can heed them.
Or so I hope! Ha.
Which brings me to one of my all-time favorite quotes:
"Success consists of going from failure to failure, without lost of enthusiasm."
Some simple warm-ups and practices from the online course I'm taking. I have a long way to go but I'm having fun and quite like a few of these.
And finally, because I can't resist: we are seeing some autumnal colors arriving very late in the season. Here is the tiny tree out my front window. It was green as recently as 48 hours ago, and then suddenly...
This is a photo of a spirit rock. No, it doesn't refer to the remarkable meditation center in California. But it certainly it relates to meditation. A dear friend made it, covering the tiny stone with her hand-netting and adding those tiny beads She gave it to me as a housewarming gift. Both of us know that doing this kind of work is highly meditative--it's why I'm so drawn to art at this point in my life, along with a daily meditation practice.
Stones have always held a lot of symbolism for me, especially river rocks with their smooth round shapes and heft. They are symbols of wholeness, endurance, and comfort.
I will enjoy this sweet gift for a long time. It is so lovely to connect with much-valued old friends.
"A rugged stone grows smooth from hand to hand."
"Our lives are unique stones in the mosaic of human experience--priceless and irreplaceable."
--Henri J.M. Nouwen
Meanwhile, I cannot decide if I'm enjoying the "sketching and watercolor" course or not. I'm a bit puzzled by why I'm having so much trouble with the watercolor and specifically with the brush (watercolor brush). If it weren't the 2nd brush I've tried--with similar issues--I'd say the brush is leaking. Too much water swishing around, and you can see it's leaking outside the bounds of the apple (yes, apple...not a tomato) above. I could go on and on, but I won't. Let's just say I haven't had this experience before, not that I've had much experience at all. I'll keep going with this and see what happens. It's tough not to just grab my colored pencils, though.
In watercolor, if you are not in trouble, then you're in trouble.
In watercolour, particularly, it's almost always better to chuck than fix.
--Joe Joseph P. Blodgett
...Really? Guess I'll find out.
This is my first try at an assignment to sketch and paint some fruit for Jane LaFazio's course. I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
Hey, I can only get better, right?
That just has to be true. This is not my best work, to put it mildly. Ha. i assume I'll improve with practice.
After all, Oscar Wilde said: "Bad art is better than no art at all." Thank you, Oscar.
Needing new walking shoes that were not clogs, I realized I didn't want to buy something boring. I wanted to break out of my usual conservative wear.
I met that goal, with this new pair.
Of course, the result may terrify you. It did me. At first.
Then I decided to get over the terror and wear them, and now I quite like them.
Not to mention how much they distract everyone I meet.
Just to be sure you realize the full effect, here is a larger photo of just one of the pair. By showing only one shoe, I hope to avoid inducing a seizure in any viewer who may be extra sensitive to something so strobe-alicious. You may want to wear sunglasses for this larger view. NOTE: I am not responsible for any side effects you may incur by looking at this photo.
Finally, on a somewhat calmer note...
There is a "gem craze" going on in the Zentangle® community at the moment. Since I've been focused elsewhere (mainly on dyeing yarn for my upcoming rug), I've been ignoring it but today I completely hit a wall and could not tolerate dyeing even one more skein of yarn. I just had to clean up the incredible mess and disorganization in my kitchen.
So I did.
And then I sat down and tried drawing gems.
After which I had a little iPhone fun with that same photo.
What a week. I would never have thought to do this if it hadn't been our homework assignment for this week from Sketchbook Skool, but I am so glad I did. It's the "Parade of Selfies."
#'s 1 and 3 look the most like me. #6 fits well into the "Who is THAT?" category. The two Blind Contour ones are simply hilarious. I actually love all of them. More commentary after the photos. (Scroll over each to see what the assignment was.)
So, that #6 Selfie (2nd row, bottom right). Did that today. On the one hand, it looks absolutely nothing like me. There's a lot I got wrong. On the other hand, I can see some resemblance for sure. I actually like it a lot even though I wouldn't call it a "success" by the measure of how much it looks like me. So why do I like it? Because I learned a lot while doing it; I learned a lot about shading, about crosshatching, about watercolor, and just learned a lot also about what can go wrong. I am actually very pleased.
What a week of learning! To be doing this with hundreds of other students, all of us posting things daily, was remarkable. There were the inevitable comparisons and "Oh I wish I could do that" issues, but the big take-aways were 1) how many of us were willing to even try; 2) how many of us posted comments laced with self-criticism, and 3) how many people insisted "this doesn't look anything like me," which may have been true. Or, may not have been true. Finally, 4) how many students hated the assignment, or found it "painful."
I realized in reading the posts how many people truly do not like to look at themselves as they are, warts and all. That made me sad. And my, how self-critical we all are! If we aren't critical about the "art," we're horribly critical about how we look.
I get that, but it too feels sad to me.
Each day I felt like I was rolling out another aspect of myself. My selfies ALL look like me in some way, shape, or form, even if they aren't photographic reflections. I had such fun! It was hard to find the time to do it (partly time, partly fear), but when I finally sat down to work I just had a blast. There was the uncanny sense that I was discovering things about myself every day, as I saw things I had never seen before.
Someone posted a link to Rembrandt's selfies, which are funny and quirky and honest. Ditto with Van Gogh's. There was a big discussion on Rembrandt's nose, and how he handled it when doing selfies. I was curious to notice that no one mentioned Frida Kahlo's self-portraits, which have been the subject of so much discussion in the art world. I will be studying these and other self-portraits carefully. FINALLY I see the value of doing these on a regular basis. Here are just a few points:
I'm exhausted (this took time!) and SO GLAD I did this and I hope I keep it up from time to time.
Now, on to the next week of SBS.
Since I got off to a late start with these, I am trying to make up for lost time. First another quick contour drawing (contour = don't pick up the pencil once you put it down on the page). I am a suspicious looking dame, eh?
...and then a quick sketch from the mirror. Tossed in just a bit of color but didn't have time to do the entire thing. I look even more suspicious here. Or maybe startled? Perhaps I have a profitable future in caricature.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society