Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Notes from My Sabbatical: Week 4


It has been a strange week, alternating between skull-crushing migraines and highly-productive, happy days.  My time in the studio is solely focused on assignments from the "Year of the Fairy Tale" class.  I'm not working in any sort of logical, linear fashion.  Instead, I'm bouncing between tasks, painting one day and sketching the next; sometimes I paint my sketches and sometimes I sketch into my paintings.  In short, I am letting my muse do whatever she damn well pleases.  Because of this, it has taken days to complete this study sheet of my princess in her froggy form.  I was experimenting here with different combinations of techniques, trying to settle on one style that I will pull forward into all my spot illustrations for this fairy tale.  I am filling my spare moments with joyful realization of my imagination's notions and as I set the long-caged characters free, my head and shoulders lift with relief.  This is what art-making should be about...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Notes from My Sabbatical: Week 3

"Full Circle"

After months away from all my colorful supplies, I discovered it was very, very difficult to get started on the mixed media portion of the "Year of the Fairy Tale" assignments.  The sketchbook felt comfortable, safe, manageable.  I actually dreaded the thought of dragging out a bunch of materials, the inevitable clutter invading my workspace.  I'm craving quiet and simplicity right now.  However, in the interest of not falling too far behind, I moved forward last night and played just a bit with watercolors.  My wee frog princess is starting to develop, shown here holding the arrow shot into the swamp by Ivan, the young tsar-to-be in search of a bride.

It is so delightful to fill the spare moments of my days with fairy tales and illustration.  I haven't worked in my journal since maybe last November.  I wonder if perhaps I'm moving away from that pursuit.  Indeed, it feels like I'm coming full circle: I began my serious art studies with scientific illustration, moved into printmaking, bookmaking, then journaling.  All along, my imagination whispered to me, characters gently advocating for their release from my head.  I shushed them all, not feeling confidant enough to draw from my heart instead of my eyes.  After years of casual doodling and teaching cartooning, I'm starting to believe I can give my imagination life.  Sometimes there is a perceived gap between what I see in my mind's eye and what I am actually capable of rendering.  I think that I've been assuming that gap is a chasm when in fact, it may be more of a hop, skip, and a jump.  Of course, I didn't discover the truth of the matter until I actually set self-criticism aside and made the leap.       

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Notes from My Sabbatical: Week 2

"Stepping Out of the Chaos"

Well, welcome to the "Monday-Check-In-on-a-Wednesday"...heh, heh...Time flies when you're ignoring it...

It has been two weeks and (as beginnings typically do) things have been proceeding along swimmingly.  It is amazing how just making a declaration of new direction can, in fact, start propelling you in that direction.  I've spent a lot of time lounging in my sketchbook dedicated to my "Year of the Fairy Tale" work.  This illustration class taught by Carla Sonheim is turning out to be everything I had hoped for and so much more!  A big component of my decision to take a sabbatical (even if it is mostly a figurative one) was that I wanted to completely commit myself to this class.  We're only two months in and I feel it will prove to be an absolutely transformative experience for my art and art life.

All this patient sketchbook work has helped me build sustained moments where I step out of the busyness that sweeps me along through the days.  In my peripheral vision, I sense life continuing to rush by but I am learning to focus on the quiet scratching of pencil on paper; time slows as does my heart rate.  Princesses and frogs rise out of my graphite dust and I am content.  It is really difficult to feel fulfilled by a passion when three-quarters of your brain is preoccupied with the stress of living so this "time-slowing" is essential to master if I want to get the most out of this artistic life I have chosen.
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