Friday, August 30, 2013

Willy-Nilly

These pages feel pretty complete to me but I reserve the right to change my mind.  It is nice to not worry so much about whether or not I have a distinct focal point and thus, a "complete" page.  Usually, I plan content in advance and then work slowly, page by page, making sure each one feels "done."  In this journal, I am attempting to break that habit by working fast and without any premeditation.  Just slap on some paint, make some marks, perhaps add a scrap of paper here and there...I'm also not working chronologically (hence no dates.)  I just bounce back and forth between pages as my whim dictates.  I expect that a lot of these pages will transform into something new and different as I continue to play willy-nilly.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Old Frogs from Bogs

If my counting is correct, this set of characters brings my total for my 365 in 2013 project up to 210 characters completed so far this year.  In actuality, I've created more than that as I cartoon nearly every day and there are so many I haven't counted.  Really, I'm only counting the creatures, critters, and characters that I manage to show here at the blog.  Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I haven't abandoned that challenge.  The countdown to 365 continues quietly in the background.  For me, it isn't as much about exact numbers as it is consistent practice of my illustration skills.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Gentle Scraps

This is another spread in my "scraps" journal.  When I look at some of these pages, I think that they feel complete while others seem to be begging for a focal point of some sort.  It is very possible I will need to photograph a few of these spreads a second time so you can see how the pages progress.  I'm trying not to think too much with this journal; I'm just adding paint, paper scraps, washi tape, and random marks throughout the day when I get a free moment.  Then, when inspiration strikes, I can add something on top of these backgrounds I'm creating.  All in all, I'm trying to allow this journal to evolve gently and naturally.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Into the Swing of Things

Back to the illustration journal for this Friday, August 23.  Just about two weeks now till I'm back to teaching...these last couple of weeks before summer ends are always particularly busy.  This past Tuesday, I found out the specific teaching schedule for the first semester and more details about the Shakespeare unit that I will be team-teaching in September and October.  Sometime between now and then, I need to read A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth.  The students are creating a companion journal to their study and performance of these two plays and I'm in charge of the artsy side of the project.  We'll be creating caricatures of Shakespeare, illuminating "manuscripts," developing original illustrated potions, and creating found poems using Shakespearean words.  There will probably be some crafty work on sets and props thrown in for good measure.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sweet Dreams

In between developing art lessons for a Shakespeare-themed journal and trying to get in the mood for another round of intense painting, I am playing in my new "Scraps" journal.  While it is fun to get lost in journaling, I have very real tasks that need completing and sometimes, I think that I should quit journaling altogether just so I can get the real world stuff done.  It seems there is no middle road; I either journal non-stop (to the exclusion of everything else) or I don't journal at all.  If I didn't journal, I'm not sure what I would show here at the blog; my works-in-progress shots would be rather boring.  For the most part, lesson planning for me is all about lists, charts, and outlines.  Often, I deliberately wait to make the lesson samples until I'm in front of the kids since super-finished examples can sometimes be intimidating and I like my students to see the thought process/problem-solving that occurs as a piece is created.  Anyway, while I spend the next few weeks preparing for this and that, get ready to see journal page after journal page.  It takes a while for me to get my feet beneath me once the school days chaos hits home.  Hopefully, I'll be able to think up some new content for the blog once life settles into a rhythm.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Beginning Scraps

While my illustration-only journal is progressing swimmingly, I still have an unquenchable thirst for vibrant, saturated color so I started another journal that I'm simply calling "Scraps."  Unlike my previous color-soaked journals, I'm not taking these pages much beyond the background stage.  This journal is just a place for me to noodle around with paint, marks, and collage.  Sometimes I leave this journal open all day and add to it here and there as the whim strikes me.  Some of these pages I consider to be fairly "finished" while others feel more like works-in-progress.  I might, at some point, add focal points but for now I am having fun just playing. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Another Robot & A Creature Feature

Happy Friday everyone!  I am in teaching prep mode so this is a drive-by post...trying to squeeze every last drop of free time out of the next two weeks!  It is amazing to me how fast this last little bit of summer vacation seems to slip away...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Skeletal Frida & A Quote Skirt

Well, for me, summer break is just about over.  I found out yesterday that, yes, I will be teaching art again this fall (always have to wait until budgets are finalized).  The first two months, I'll be helping the kids make a Shakespearean-themed journal to complement their study and performance of two plays: A Midsummer's Night's Dream and Macbeth.  After that, classes are up to me and I think I'll be repeating my cartooning class as well as the softie design & construction course.  I also have my biggest art show of the year coming up in October so the crazy busy time of year has officially begun.

This is when it becomes very tricky to squeeze in art just for me.  Working while managing chronic illness is a huge balancing act and many times, I have to set aside what I want to do for what I have to do, whether it is prepping for classes or scheduling self-care time so I don't crash & burn.  I'm not very good at the latter but with the addition of the Parkinson's diagnosis, it is especially critical that I make time to reduce stress.  Sometimes that means playing in my journals but that might also mean just sitting on the couch in front of the TV or reading a good book.  Last year, I worked one day and then spent four days in the hospital so things can only go up from there!  As always, I am looking forward to getting back to the classroom and soaking up the creative enthusiasm that young art students seem to give off in buckets!

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Fine Catch & A Brave Ballerina

Over the weekend I started working on some more "traditional" mixed media journal pages but my sweet muse Tuscany needed to visit the vet unexpectedly so with all the stress of that ordeal, I didn't manage to get those new pages photographed.  So today, it's another spread from my illustration journal.  As I write this, Tuscany is still at the vet's office and the house seems empty without her silent but steady presence.  *sniff*  Trying to think good thoughts...

Edit:  Tuscany is home although things are still kind of up in the air as to what's wrong with her.  We're trying some antibiotics and hoping it is something simple.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Gentleman Octopus & (Surprise!) A Robot

Here, Friday the 9th of August, I'm finally starting to feel well enough to be up and around but my Muse has extended her vacation so I'm still apt to sit in the studio and do nothing more than stare at the walls.  I just have to be patient.  Generally, I subscribe to Jack London's philosophy that "You can't wait for inspiration; You have to go after it with a club."  However, I am slowly learning that a little bit of gentleness and self-care goes a long ways when trying to juggle chronic illness and an artistic life.

So, in the absence of new material, I'm continuing to show pages from my illustration-only journal.  Comments have dropped to record lows since I began showing this journal so I only hope it is because you all are too delighted to speak...lol!  Enjoy the weekend!  I'll be back on Monday...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Queen & Look! No Hands!

Today's post is going up late because I'm in the middle of day four of a migraine and day six of feeling really bad in general; I've done no art for a while as it is really all I can do to get out of bed...but hey!  Here now with another spread from my illustration journal I'm calling "The Myth of Fingerprints."

One of my illustration goals is to create more characters with complete bodies in a situation that tells a little story.  That's what sets illustration apart from just drawing.  I've been practicing that a lot in this journal.  Not much else to say but enjoy!  (Going back to bed now...)

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Lightbulb Quartet & A Dapper Gentleman

It's the beginning of the end for the lazy days of summer; in a month or so, school starts up again and while I never know whether I'll be teaching until about a week before classes start, it is fairly safe to assume that pretty soon I'll have a bunch of middle and high school art students keeping me busy.  I have a big painting show coming up in October as well so now is the perfect time to get ahead of the game...


...if only these Fiddlestick characters would let me rest.  They just keep coming and coming.  Whenever I get a big burst of inspiration like this, whether it's for painting or journaling or sewing, I tend to just let the wave of creative energy take me where it will for as long as it will, even if that means other things don't get done.  I'm keenly aware that I need to get back to painting for the sake of my show but for now, all I want to do is cartoon.

As an additional note, the dapper insect gentleman was prompted by a reader named Sandra who sent me a wildly inspirational email regarding Texas cicadas and The Outer Limits at a time when my inspiration was waning.  Sandra, that fellow's for you...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Spiral Spectacles and A Scream

Here'a another spread from my new, illustration-only journal entitled "The Myth of Fingerprints." (Thank you Paul Simon for the lovely word play!)  I had been hoarding this 5x8-inch Moleskine for the past several years but when it came time to find a substrate for my new journal idea, the simple Moleskine with its smooth, cream-colored cardstock pages was a natural choice.  My Micron pens glide nicely across the paper's surface without seeping through to the opposite side and any color used looks rich against the cream background.

In these first few pages, I am just beginning to test the waters and flexing my illustration muscles.  As the pages progress, you'll see less and less collage as I get brave enough to let my drawings speak for themselves.  The drawings also become more complex as I really let go and allow my imagination free rein.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nary a Drop of Paint

In late June, when I completed my last big journal project, a monster of a book called "Unexpected Convergences," I felt drained.  I wondered, in the haze of my fatigue, if perhaps I'd finally had enough of journaling.  After 13 years of intense involvement in art journaling, I found that I was actually glad that I didn't have a journal project in progress.  I have plenty of unfinished journals but none of those interested me and I couldn't seem to think up any new ideas.  At a loss, I simply wandered the studio, picking at piles of paper and fondling supplies, hoping some grand inspiration would strike so I could be off and running again.  However, the days stretched into weeks and still nothing came to mind.

Finally, I sat down and started making lists.  I made a list of everything I didn't want to do in a journal.  I listed where I dreamed my art life would go. I listed my favorite and least favorite supplies.  I listed all the things I wanted to try but had neglected out of fear.  And as I looked at those lists, a few things became clear.  My art, over the last year, had been taking a detour deep into illustration and while I indulged my fancy here and there, I hadn't really stopped to get out and explore.  What I was experiencing wasn't fatigue but the disillusionment that occurs when you ignore the whispers of your soul in favor of "the way things have always been."

I've always created mixed media journals.  I've drenched every square inch in color.  I've layered and layered until my pages buckled under the weight of all the paint.  And quite simply, I have had enough.  I want simplicity.  I want to practice my illustration skills.  I want limited supplies and unlimited possibilities.

So, on July 15, I started a new journal, something unlike anything I had done before.  I opened a new Moleskine and I began to draw.  And over the last couple of weeks, I've continued to simply draw.  Collage material is here and there but in general, I use not much more than pencil and pen.  There is nary a drop of paint to be found.  My art train has pulled into Fiddlestick Hollow Station and will be staying there for a bit.  Those long-neglected characters are spilling out onto the page, eager to finally see the light of day.   

Lost Coast Post will remain but my focus is changing.  Rest assured there'll always be new paintings to show and I'm sure I'll still do some mixed media journaling.  The time has come, though, to stretch my wings and try a new flight plan.  I would be delighted if you came along for the ride but I completely understand if you choose to depart.  As so many sweet readers commented, I just need to follow my heart.


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