A Sketch A Day

Have you heard the advice “Just come to the page” for writers who suffer from writer’s block or who claim they are too busy to sit down and write?  They are told to take just a few minutes per day to show up at the page and write something…anything.

Now that my schedule is getting far more hectic, I’m putting a twist on that advise and saying to myself, “Just come to the sketchbook”.  Each day, draw something…anything.  Now, I know it’s the wrong time of year for traditional resolutions but I’m making a September resolution to draw one sketch a day all month long.  I have to continue with my art no matter how busy I get.  As all creative people know in their hearts, if we don’t draw, sculpt, dance, write, or play our instruments, we can’t be as happy as we are when we are creating.

I’ve got a small sketchbook, pencil, and sharpener that I will keep with me at all times.  Let’s see how it goes 🙂  How do you fit art into your schedule when you get busy?



Time to Howl!!

I often say that my inspiration comes from nature.  This is the piece I was referring to in my last 2 blogs.  It’s not finished yet but I wanted to show you the process I go through to complete a collage.  Can’t you hear Wolf howling?  As people become more educated about the world around them, they see the beauty and majesty in these wonderful creatures.  As we move away from a world of domination toward a world of stewardship, we see more clearly the interconnectedness of  all things.

Many ancient cultures revered (and still revere) Wolf.  To some, it is a power animal representing guardianship, loyalty, and spirit.  Wolves are wild, highly intelligent, social creatures.  They make quick decisions and represent the need for us to make decisions based on intuition.  The more we attune ourselves with the natural world, the more we will hear that small voice inside of us.  Call it intuition, gut instinct, or even guardian angel.  It’s the voice we need to honor and listen to more often.  Does Wolf represent you… or me… or both?

The drawing becomes a blueprint for the collage.

Wolf is howling to me to finish this piece!

How Do I Create a Collage? Part 2

Play!  Play!! Play!!! I can’t emphasize this enough.  While there must be a marriage between your heart’s passion and your brain’s ability to reason, art must be about playing.  Play with an idea… make it your own.  How you see the world around you is unique to you.  If you are true to yourself, your art is automatically original.  Special, like you.

Once I have my materials and my canvas, I make the first mark.  Brain and heart are in balance as I consider colors, composition, and patterns.    I generally choose the biggest, fattest paintbrush I have to make the first bold stroke.  I can always go in with other brushes but that first one has to make a statement.  If you think about stained glass art, you’ll get the idea of how I approach my collages.  I paint a background then build on it with large blocks of color.  These blocks will end up being the outlines for my fabric and paper pieces (see some of my art in my earlier blogs).  This is similar to the lead around each piece of colorful glass.  I use tracing paper and good old-fashioned carbon paper to trace shapes and cut out fabric/paper.  (If you want more details about this step, let me know.)

My finished work, while complicated, ends up looking a bit like an advanced coloring book with bold outlines and splashes of color, texture, and pattern.  Decoupage paste or Liquitex mediums are used to adhere paper and fabric to my canvas.  Play with the mediums because you get very different results with ultra matte, matte, satin, or gloss.  For heavier items such as sea glass or pebbles, I use mosaic adhesive.  Be careful, you’ll want the kind of glue that dry clear.  I’ve made that mistake before!!  I finish my pieces with Liquitex Satin varnish, usually 5 or 6 coats over a period of days.  Make sure it dries thoroughly before applying the next layer.  I’ve never tried to varnish over 3-D objects like stone or wire so consider your finished piece & decide the best time to protect it.  I varnish before I put on 3-D objects.

Now that you know what I do… ignore my “rules” and do what feels right to you.  Let go & have fun 🙂


How Do I Create a Collage? Part 1

I’m glad I was asked this question.  It makes me stop and think about what I do & why.  I guess I really break collage down into two equally important components:  my heart and my head.  My heart allows me to create with passion and make pieces that resonate with others who view and buy my work.  My brain recalls years of training in proportion, composition, and color theory.  It must begin with the heart, which answers the questions — What do I love?  What am I passionate about?  What do I need to express in my art?  (The answers to those questions will come up in later blogs.)  You’ll want to answer those questions for yourself.  For example, I saw a powerful image of a wolf howling at the moon.  It really spoke to me so I sketched it several times, letting myself play with the composition.  After I create a sketch that satisfies me,  I consider how I want to express it… on canvas? bristol board?  watercolor paper?  Lately, most of my collage work is on canvas because it allows me to use a variety of materials, responds well to cutting and poking with wires and exacto knives, and handles the weight of some unusual materials such as slate and pebbles.  Still operating from the heart (which means “leave the brain out of it”), I dig through my boxes and drawers full of materials to see what captures my eye.  “Okay Wolf, talk to me.  What do you want to look like?”  I stay playful at this point, not analyzing my choices yet, simply picking what I like at the moment.   What captures my imagination and speaks to my heart?   Do certain patterns or textures stand apart from the rest?  I pick from fabric, beads, small stones, handmade papers, photographs, ticket stubs, menus, sheet music… whatever!  A pile of seemingly unrelated items begins to grow.  Once I feel like I’ve exhausted my available materials, I take a deep breath and put everything else away so I can focus on the materials I’ve chosen.

I spread out all the items, looking for things that go well together, narrowing down my selection a bit to include things that go well together and communicate the feeling I want to communicate.  Now, my wolf may not be “wolf-colored”, this isn’t about realism.  It’s about having fun and trying new things.  In fact, this wolf wants to be purple with a coppery orange moon hanging in an olive green sky.   I sometimes wonder if I’m creating the art or simply acting as a conduit for art that wants to flow through me, out onto the canvas.

Okay, I have a sketch, a pile of materials, and the foundation for this piece (a small canvas).  Now what?  Stay tuned….


Art Date with Myself

Has anyone read Julia Cameron’s Artists’ Way?   It’s a wonderful guide for anyone who needs the pot of their creative juices stirred.  She offers activities and suggestions for liberating the artist inside each of us.  One of her suggestions is to make a date with yourself.  She calls it an Artist Date.  You treat yourself to a new adventure, an experience outside of your comfort zone.  An experience meant to inspire or at least get you thinking.  I highly recommend it for any blocked artist, writer, or performer.

I went on an Artist’s Date yesterday.  Now, like any good artist, I broke the rules.  I brought my boyfriend.  He is in a creative line of work so we went somewhere that would inspire both of us… the Mt. Gretna Tour of Homes.  Google it for details.  What a great place to see Victorian and Arts & Crafts architecture!   I was inspired by the covered porches full of welcoming wicker furniture, the rustic setting among the pine trees, and the cozy decor in each unique cottage.  Sometimes, to be productive, I have to stop producing and simply replenish my imagination.  This summer, I’ve created less finished art but took in more ideas.  What do you do to refill your well?