This morning, I discovered a hidden treasure at the bottom of a pile of sketchbooks– my nature journal. I began it in 2005 & stopped sketching in it late 2010. The pictures have inspired me to spend time in my yard, rediscovering the beauty right here at home.
The color of each blossom moved me to layer colored pencils to get the right effect.
Daffodils arrived earlier than expected this year.
I adore the rich red-orange of this exotic bloom.
Often, I pick up interesting objects when I walk the dogs. Eventually, they make their way into my sketchbook.
I collect feathers of all kinds. Wispy & ethereal, they symbolize air & freedom to me.
I can never draw enough leaves. Each is so unique. Dried autumn leaves inspire me most.
Both the shape of the pinecone & the areas of light & dark make them a challenge to draw.
Mourning doves are probably my favorite birds. I love their coo as they call to one another from rooftops or telephone lines. This one built a nest in my front yard which afforded me the time to draw her & blend my colored pencils to replicate the gray-lavender of her feathers. As her black eyes peered into mine, I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking.
Mourning dove protecting her nest of eggs.
Sometimes, things grow so slowly that the change is hardly noticeable. Here are drawings of my maple tree 5 years apart. While it has been home to many birds who find safety in the birdhouses I place there year after year, I hope the tree is strong enough to embrace a nest this year.
My maple tree in 2005.
Here she is in 2010.
This reaffirms my passion for all things natural but specifically for the local beauty of the area where I live.
As an artist, I look for inspiration, never considering that I might inspire someone else. Last autumn, I shared my collage, Treasure in the Gulf, with a group of elementary students. I talked about the BP Oil Disaster & the animals who were killed or injured by it, explaining my collage celebrates the sea turtles who were rescued & released back into the wild. The kids loved it! One boy asked if I could make him a cobra collage. While I quickly agreed, I’m ashamed to say, I wasn’t so quick to finish it. He asked & asked about that piece for several weeks. Finally, I gave it to him & he just stared at it & mumbled, “Thanks.” I honestly thought he was disappointed because this paisley & metallic cobra was not what he was expecting. I was so wrong.
This autumn, we cross paths again. “Miss Korsnick, look at this. Remember you showed us your turtle picture? Now I’m an artist, too.” He pulled out a sketchpad full of wonderful pictures that he drew. He said he carries his sketchpad everywhere. “I should start doing that, too. It’s a great idea… & you’re a great artist, Jacob.” I said, trying not to cry. He added, “Remember the cobra you did for me? I love that picture. It’s still hanging in my bedroom”.
A compliment from a child is priceless & so humbling. To think, something I did over a year ago inspired him to create his own art. We never know whose life we are touching… a word or a simple act of kindness can be remembered forever. A wise woman once said, “Live your life as if everything you do is important… because it is.”
I honestly thought I was present in my life. That is, until I tried to paint Bella Bird, my parakeet, from memory. Bella came to me months ago purely by coincidence… a lost turquoise blue bird set in the emerald green grass far from any house. I have no idea how she got there but I adopted her & have loved her ever since. She’s bright blue with white & black feathers down her back and a white breast with little royal blue & black dots like a necklace around her neck. Beautiful!
What does this have to do with being present? Well, I sketched her one evening & decided to take the sketch to work, where I would add color to it during lunch. I sat with watercolor pencils, a fine tip black marker, & a few brushes, confidently adding the turquoise blue to her feathers as well as other details. When I took the finished sketch home & held it up near Bella, I had her coloring completely reversed, white where blue should be & vice versa! How did I not see her when every day she sets on my finger about 3 inches from my face?!
How many times is life like that? We get so busy with our lists, errands, & so-called commitments that we don’t truly experience our own lives. I’m obviously doing too many things if I can’t take time to see the world around me. I’d like to pare down life to the essentials– loved ones, nature, art, & my spirituality. I want to see. I want to be present in my own life.
I don’t know about you but I never had much success with New Year’s Resolutions. Promises to exercise, cut back on chocolate, or be more patient were always broken within days. I’ll be honest, I don’t respond well to “You have to…” or “You must…”. The Sketch a Day goal I set for myself is quickly becoming that. It turned something pleasurable into an assignment. I’m an artist because I have a need to express myself creatively from a place of passion & joy. If the work sells, that’s fabulous; however, I’m no longer a commercial artist & don’t want to create art unless it is meaningful. Admittedly, creative people must practice their craft to maintain their skills but they (we) also create from a place of desire, even desperation at times. We dance because the music moves us. We write poetry because it urges our hearts to put pen to paper. We paint because the subject cries out to be expressed on canvas.
As I savor this unexpected day off due to torrential rain & flooding, I will make a big pot of coffee & spend time in my studio, playing with the art supplies I buy but don’t use often enough. My boyfriend’s advice this morning was, “Have an art day. Experiment; destroy a canvas if you want.” How cool is that! I hope that when your plans change unexpectedly, you see the potential gift in the disruption of your routine. What would you do with the gift of time?
Please send the people of Pennsylvania positive thoughts & healing energy as many of us recover from this disaster.
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?