At the beginning of this new year, I took up a challenge to be purposeful in my creativity every day in January. It has been a fun and sometimes frustrating exercise that has refreshed my creative rhythms and helped me through a difficult month. Here are my last sketchbook entries as I consider where to go from here…
31 days later and I find myself refocused, looking forward to exploring the new ideas that have come from this concentrated time of pause. Maybe you could take the challenge and find something to carry forward in your journey as well!
A daily creative process takes a bit of planning. If I’m going to keep going for the whole of January, it’s got to be something within my reach, otherwise I’d lose heart. I really enjoy the process of drawing small with a rainbow of Sharpie markers to play with. It’s art I can move around the house and work on in any room – a necessity in our busy household!
here are 3 days from my sketchbook…
some detail shots…
The thing about working like this (markers, small scale, limited time) is that a mark is a mark. You have to go with it – there’s no room for perfectionism. That is a healthy way to keep creativity vibrant and evolving. And I get my ideas out on the page, even if it’s just a few sentences or notes. You can do something like this, too!
I find it difficult to focus on my studio when wildchilds are about on summer holidays. I tend to get caught up in the sand and ice lollies, sibling spats and late nights of Kids Off School. But the month of July held two precious jewels for me, commissioned work that was very personal and challenging in a good way. Interpreting someone’s story, a chapter in their life – past or upcoming – is an honour. It comes with a “hold your breath” moment while waiting to see if you got it right, if the work connects with the person’s heart…
I made a small drawing for a woman who recently lost her mother. The friend who commissioned the work told me this story: “…Before her mum passed away (the mother) accepted the Lord and my friend began to find butterflies all over her mum’s house. The day her mum passed away my friend found a lilac butterfly in her belongings and felt like the Lord was reassuring her of her mum’s salvation…for the first few days after the funeral people were either wearing butterflies or she saw them wherever she went…”
In the midst of the summer swirl, taking time to be still and focus on something so small and tender and poignant became a gift to me. Maybe you are in that same swirl of busy, noisy life? That can be a really good thing. There is also good in the studied, focussed quiet. In the days ahead may we find time for both.
There is a certain beauty in the rhythm of daily practice. Creativity thriving in the routine – what a paradox! But as I turn aside to draw, sketch, sing or write for a few moments every single day I begin to see things differently. I refocus. I remember what I knew and had forgotten. I mess up. I try again. I move forward even if it is just because the clock has. I’m not practising for some big project or event. It’s a different kind of exercise. Each day has its own flavour and so does this routine. Sometimes I get lost in it for an hour and sometimes I’ve got about five minutes! Still, I can look back and see the progress of these simple tasks because I’ve continued to try it, change it, and see it all again for the first time.
Here is a progression of 2 drawings worked through at the same time. One sketch is pastel and conte crayon, the other Sharpie markers with a hurried dusting of background colour at the end. It was so good to switch things up and remind myself about line and mark making.
There’s no pressure here. I don’t keep a 365 schedule and I’m not suggesting you turn yourself into a pretzel to make that happen, either. But I do swing this rhythm on a regular basis. And I’m always glad I did. Maybe it could help you, too. Be encouraged.
Restless – I guess that’s what I’d call it. I’m finally back in the studio after the kiddo’s holidays and I find myself looking in so many directions at once…wanting to work on way too many things at once…wondering if I can even do that and like, keep up with the rest of my life (family, house, farm, office, sleep, etc). And those feelings can become overwhelming to the point of everything stopping. I don’t want to go there because there is not a good place for my heart or creativity or the ones that I love. or the laundry pile for that matter. So I’m listening to my restless heart, but I am talking to it with the wisdom of my experience…”you can multi-task, but no plate spinning. you can get up early or stay up late, but not both. you can work on 2 or 3 pieces at a time, but not more because you don’t need to. this is enough to feed you (restless heart) and not burn out or up everything else…”
so here are three works in progress, in the midst of transition:
a few detail pictures: paint, mixed media and the printed word…
so this place of tension – a balance of heart and wisdom – could very well be my in-feet-first, happy place. It’s too soon to tell but I am exploring the possibilities.
What about you?
do you thrive in the tension or drown in the lists? What brings balance to these constantly shifting sands?
Let there be wisdom and heart in these wilder parts. be encouraged.
I am purposely giving myself a “time out” today. This is no punishment for a mother of five, let me tell you. There are 5 more hours I have to myself before the kiddos are off of school for (ever) Easter and spring break and our house will be full of bustle and bumps and bunnies and extra kids and noise and some more noise and…. you get the picture. So I need to take time to enjoy what I have right now (quiet, a clean table, space to write). This, without the concern or worry about the next thing to be finished, started, done. Because once I’m in the middle of it, I don’t always appreciate the simple pleasure of having completed something. Here is my friend I told you about a couple of weeks ago. This painting is now finished, after a long wait in the wings so to speak… It was hard to get a full size photo of this piece because of the size. This is it on its side. Here are some detail shots: I am enjoying this work being done – taking a moment to be satisfied in its finishing before I begin another painting.The truth is, we need to hold that moment of completion fast, for it can serve us well when we are facing the next mountain, project, deadline…or laundry pile. 🙂 be encouraged.
This is a more than slightly stretching season for me, inside and outside the studio. And in this limited space-time continuum that is my world, trying to move forward requires looking back while staying in the “now”. How’s that for an early morning thought? and I’ve only had 2 cups of coffee!
I’ve got things from the past hanging around, waiting for a future. I’ve come to realize that I didn’t hold the right skills or experience to have taken these paintings where they need to go. I would not have finished well. Now, even though circumstance has limited me, I have some new tools to my “kit” and a bigger risk-it-for-a-biscuit mindset. Now, I feel more ready to see this friend through to its full potential:
I love the background colour and depth. I think that’s why I choked when it came to the feather. I had an idea in my head but was so cautious in its application that the work was stopped for fear of ruining it.
So I’m going round to the beginning, studying feathers and practising forms…
I don’t consider this a step backwards. Maybe I will reach further and higher because of the delay. What about you? Have you held back a piece of your work, a piece of yourself because it wasn’t the right time or you weren’t ready? Maybe now is the moment to dust that script off and give it another go. Maybe it has taken all this time for you to acquire the right skills and experience to see it through. Be encouraged.