Creative Pursuits

Unraveling . . . On Paper

Although I am tempted to share my progress on my mitered-square project, I've realized that I'm close enough to the actual finish line now (10 squares to go!) that I might as well wait until next week when (I think) it will be finished.

So today, I'll share another kind of finished project for you . . . 

IMG_4085

This is a rather large (16" square) colored pencil "portrait" of Tom's Mini, based on a photograph I took while the car was parked in our driveway.

And it has taken me months to finish!

Agonizing months.  (So many times I just wanted to trash the thing.)

In the end, though, I think it turned out just fine.  And I certainly learned a whole lot in the process.  Which was really the point.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the drawing . . . unravel.  Back to the beginning.

IMG_6789

We're really fortunate here in Kalamazoo to have the Kalamazoo Institute of Art.  Not only is it a fine art museum, but it also has a wonderful art education program for both adults and kids -- with classes offered year-round in pretty much any art medium.  The classes are semester-based, and the teachers are excellent.

I loved art class in high school, and I even took a few classes in college, but it had been years and years since I'd done any real "arting," and it took a while before I finally decided to face my personal demons (the not-good-enough and who-do-you-think-you-are voices are loud) and sign up for a class at the KIA.  I was totally intimidated to walk through those doors that first time . . . with my little bin of drawing tools!

It's been a great experience, though.  I've taken colored pencil drawing and watercolor and printmaking classes -- finally settling on colored pencil as my preferred media.  (I'm a much better "drawer" than I am a "painter.")  I've made a whole crop of new friends -- and the environment is supportive and encouraging from both the instructors and fellow students.

IMG_6789

Although I draw and doodle all kinds of this-and-that at home, for my classes I like to choose more challenging subjects -- so I can learn new techniques and stretch myself a little.  I've done marbles and soap bubbles and a glass of beer with foam and a trout rising out of the water, for example.  Each time, I've frustrated the hell out of myself!  But each time, I've also learned a lot.

This time, I wanted to draw something shiny.

So I chose Tom's Mini.

IMG_8491

In retrospect, I really didn't know what I was getting into.  Cars . . . have a lot of detail!  Really specific details.  (And really specific details that . . . say . . . the car's owner notices.  Just sayin.)

The entire time I worked on this drawing, I felt like one of those boys back in junior high school who were always drawing highly detailed dragsters on their notebook pages.  (Remember them?)  

IMG_8319

There were many (many) times along the way when it was just too overwhelming.  It felt . . . too daunting.  How would I ever make this red blobby thing look like a CAR?

I whined.

But I also kept going.  And I had a lot of encouragement along the way -- from my instructor (remember this?) and my fellow classmates, and from Tom and my dad at home.

IMG_8318

And . . . eventually . . . I had a drawing of Tom's car!

Colored pencil drawing is s-l-o-w.  It's layer after layer of color.  Nothing speedy about it!  

Kind of like . . . knitting.  Y'know?

==========

Even though this post has nothing to do with stitching, I'm still playing the "unraveled" game along with Kat and friends.  Hop on over to Kat's to see what others are unraveling this week.

==========

Want to see the original photo of Tom's Mini?  Here it is . . . 

FullSizeRender


Sewing. So Much Faster Than Knitting.

I'm, basically, a tunic-and-leggings kind of gal.  It's what I wear about 90% of the time.  Often with some sort of sweater thrown over the top.  So when I first heard about the Knit & Sew Uniform book (published by Madder), I got myself on the pre-order list right away!

A variations-on-a-theme book of patterns for tunics (the "sew" part of the Uniform) and cardigans (the "knit" part of the Uniform), the whole concept is really perfect for me.

I whipped up a tunic for myself over the weekend.  

IMG_3759

I opted for the tunic version with pockets, no sleeves, and the rounded neckline.

IMG_3791

I pretty much love it.  (Although I have a few issues with the placement of the darts.  And from what I see from photos of other finished Uniform tunics, this is pretty typical. They're just . . . too high.)

The size options are good.  The directions are very clear.  The sewing is straightforward.

IMG_3790

I gave myself contrasting pocket linings.  Mostly because I like pops of color -- and a "surprise inside."  But also because I wanted to cut down on the bulk of fabric over my middle section (ahem).  (Because who wants four layers of heavy-ish linen over their middle section?)  So I used a lightweight cotton print for the pocket linings.

IMG_3793

I also used the cotton for the armhole bias facings.  Again, pop of color.  AND it really cut down on the bulk around the armholes.

IMG_3794

I'll probably make another tunic, as I really want to try the split-hem variation.  But I'm going to have to think about those darts for awhile first.  (It's such a pain to move darts.)

One thing is certain -- don't expect to see a completed knit Uniform cardigan around here anytime soon.  Someday, sure.  But not this summer.  

(Sewing.  So much faster than knitting. . . )

 


Makin' Stuff

Now that my dining room is finished (you just can't belive how nice it is to type those words), I've got a few other projects going on. (For rainy days like today, y'know?)

1 - Some are ongoing.  

IMG_3666

(And, yeah, I'm sparing you yet another photo of the still-not-finished-but-growing-in-the-expected-manner shawl.  But there is a pile of evidence that I'm making progress.)

2 - Some are just beginning.

IMG_3668

(But promise to be pretty quick and easy to complete.)  (Although it looks funny in the light, the fabric is a nice chocolate brown linen.)

3 - Some are being resurrected.

IMG_3670

(This is an Alabama Chanin swing skirt -- half finished.  I put it aside over a year ago because I really don't like the color.  It's called "denim," but really looks pretty purple.  Vicki suggested over-dying, so I've dragged it out again.) (I can also see that I learned a few tricks at the AC workshop last fall, so this old work looks kind of messy.  But, oh well.)

I've always got something going . . . to keep my hands busy.

How about YOU?  What kind of stuff are you makin' today?

==========

Head on over to Carole's to read other Three on Thursday posts.


A 3-Point Pact

A couple of years ago, I started taking colored pencil drawing classes.  (We have a great art school program here in Kalamazoo - for adults and kids.  It's a year-round program with a huge variety of class offerings.  I'm so grateful.)  I've learned a lot over the years, and I've created some drawings I'm really proud of -- and some real duds, too.  

I like picking out challenging projects for myself in my classes -- because I'm there to learn and develop my skills.  Last fall, I decided I wanted to try to draw something shiny.  Something with a lot of metal in it.  (Because there is a colored pencil technique called "burnishing" that makes wax-based colored pencil drawings "shine" like metal.)

So I decided I'd draw Tom's car.

And it has been the bane of my drawing-life ever since.

IMG_6789

Because it is hard.  And my drawing is big.  And I'm not actually all that fond of drawing cars.  And it is taking me so very long.  And I have wanted to throw it in the trash and just be done with it many, many times along the way.

But then, something interesting happened.

My instructor (who is also a friend) asked me to teach her how to knit.

So I did.

And she is determined to make (as her first project) Jared Flood's striped scarf in two contrasting colors of Noro Silk Garden.

Although she caught on to knitting immediately (she had tried it once or twice in the past, so wasn't completely new to to the task), she struggled a bit.  Because it is hard.  And she can't fix her mistakes.  And she wasn't completely sold on the colors she chose.  And it is taking her so very long.  And she has wanted to throw it in the trash and just be done with it many, many times along the way.

Sound familiar? 

Over a glass of wine, we laughed at ourselves . . . old dogs learning new tricks.  And we made this 3-point pact with each other:

  1. We will allow ourselves time and space to learn and improve.
  2. We will ask each other for help without apology.
  3. We will throw perfection out the window (instead of our projects).

I'm hoping that I'll be able to finish my car drawing before the end of my next "semester" of colored pencil drawing class.  And she is hoping to finish her scarf in time to wear next winter.

I'll keep you posted!

==========

To read more Three on Thursday posts, be sure to hop on over to Carole's!

 


Shaking It Up

I'm taking another drawing class this semester.  This time, it's a colored pencil technique class, and the whole point is to stretch our drawing in new directions.

Here is a little something I did in class last week.  It's a Lake Michigan sunset using wax-based colored pencils on sandpaper.  

IMG_9334

Yep.  Sandpaper.

Sometimes it's good to just shake things up a bit and try something completely unexpected.  
In art and in life!


Perks of Being a Guinea Pig, or Unraveled ... but Without Knitting

One of my friends is an artist here in town -- and she is developing a series of workshops she plans to offer in her studio beginning early next year.  As part of her "development" she's running prototype workshops -- and she invited me to be one of her guinea pigs!

So a couple of weeks ago, I sat down to a whole new set of tools . . . 

IMG_0499

and an overwhelming array of paper choices . . . 

IMG_9366

to learn how to make paper-covered boxes.

I love "making things" -- and I love learning new stuff -- so this was right up my alley.  And lots of fun, to boot.  (Also a huge mess.  Which is also fun.)

IMG_1715

And look what came out of this prototype workshop . . . 

IMG_1401

A fully-functional and super colorful . . . 

IMG_1400

paper-covered box!

IMG_1399

I'll be doing another prototype workshop with my friend this coming Friday.  More boxes.  Maybe some covered journals as well.  (She wants to smooth out some rough edges we encountered in the first go-round.)  (Kind of like . . . test-knitting.)  

I LIKE being a guinea pig!

==========

Be sure to check out other Unraveled posts over at Kat's!

 

 

 


On Inspiration

Last week, I went on a gallery hop/field trip to the lakeshore "twin cities" of Douglas and Saugatuck -- Michigan's Art Coast (about an hour from Kalamazoo).

IMG_5718

You know . . . it was one of those things that sounded GREAT when I signed up to go.  But then I got busy.  And last week was pretty jammed.  And I was kind of regretting committing to spending a whole day away in the middle of an already busy week.  (Does this ever happen to anyone else?  Or is it just me that does this kind of thing?)

Anyway.

I got up and dragged myself over to the meeting point for the trip.  And . . .

It ended up being a really awesome day.  Once the bus pulled away (and they put a mimosa in my hand . . . ), I just kicked back and relaxed and enjoyed a day near the Lake Michigan shore -- with good company, excellent food, and really cool art.

And it turned out to be a bit of Just What I Needed.

IMG_5719

You see, lately I seem to be a bit . . . uninspired.  About what to draw, what to paint, what to knit, what to plant.  Pretty much everything that requires my creativity.  Usually, I'm bursting with ideas and things I want to try.  Lately, I've been . . . well.  More undecided.  Particular.  Definitely on "pause."  It's not that I'm ambivalent or uninterested.  I definitely want to continue making and creating.  I'm just not quite sure . . . what.

Although it's actually been kind of frustrating for me, I've come to think that it's maybe just a phase in my own personal creative development.  And, eventually, I'll find my way again.  (And maybe an even better way!)  But.  For now, let's just go with frustrating.

IMG_5927

So on this trip, I was able to wander through several galleries and, in a very relaxed way, just let other people's creativity wash over me.

Shapes.  Colors.  Patterns.

IMG_5928

Genres far outside the ones I practice.

IMG_5929

Observing how others . . . find harmony and balance.

IMG_5788

Or play with shadow and light.

IMG_5931

Or tap into a sense of  joy and whimsy and fun.

IMG_5930

It was a good day for me.  A day to kind of . . . fill up my tank again.  

(So glad I got on the bus.)

#the100dayproject

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Checking In . . . #The100DayProject

Earlier this week (April 4 to be exact), #The100DayProject launched . . . with me, on board.

IMG_4911

What IS #The100DayProject, exactly?  Well, according to the organizers, it's a free, global art project that anyone can participate in.  (And it's not too late --- you can join in anytime.)  It's just a project . . . to spur creativity on a daily basis.  To bring more art to the world.  Any kind of art!  There are no complicated prompts to follow or "rules" or guidelines.  

Just pick what you want to work on.

Post your photos on Instagram.

And . . . begin!

IMG_4902

I knew I was going to sign up for the project right away.

The picking what I wanted to work on, though?  That was the hard part!

IMG_4943

Because, you see, I'm a dabbler.

I "do" something creative pretty much every day.  But I'm all over the place!  There's knitting, sure.  And gardening.  I take a lot of photos.  I draw.  I'm learning watercolor.  I stitch.  I sew.  I play around with collage.  I write a bit.  I read poetry.

It's . . . there.  But it's really compartmentalized!

I often wonder . . . is there any way to pull these things together????

IMG_4915

I'm not sure.

(But I've got 97 more days to find out.)

#100DaysofBringingItTogether

 

 

 


Letting Go

A couple of years ago, I decided to spread my wings a bit . . . and take a drawing class at the KIA (our local art museum and art school).  Although I took several art classes in high school and college, I hadn't dabbled in "official" art-making for . . . decades.  

It felt good.  But I felt pretty much like a fraud.

Last fall, I stumbled into my first colored pencil class. . . and I loved it!  The instructor was wonderful -- inspiring and supportive, and my classmates were great (for the most part; there's always . . . Someone; y'know?).  Still.  Fraud.  I was super hesitant about my work.  Slow.  Careful.  Overly cautious.

For example, it took me agonizing weeks to work through this piece (which I now refer to as "Snout I"):

FullSizeRender 91 copy

At the end of that first course, the instructor provided each of us with a carefully written "critique" of our work.  Mine?  Very positive.  But.  She also pointed out my greatest obstacles:  hesitation, second-guessing, fearfulness.  She encouraged me to, "make mistakes and try to figure out ways to fix them."

Those words. . . rang through my head.

Kind of like alarm bells.

In fact, her words were the very words that led me to my "one little word" this year:  RISK.

Make mistakes and figure out ways to fix them.

I'm here to say . . . I've come a long way since my first colored pencil class.  Not necessarily with my art, but with mistakes.  I went WAY out on a limb . . . and took a watercolor class last spring.  (Different instructor, but also very supportive.)  This was a huge risk for me -- because I had no experience with watercolor.  AND because there are no erasers in watercolor.  (Every time you wet your brush, you're taking a risk.)

Watercolor was a game-changer for me in terms of letting go and making mistakes, and I started just kind of  . . . going for it.  Realizing, finally, that this art of mine is really JUST for ME.  If it works, great.  If it doesn't?  Fix it. Or pitch it.   

RISK.

This last Saturday, I took a one-day colored pencil workshop.  I think my instructor (that same one) was more thrilled than I was -- when I completed (except for the background) this drawing of Jenny during the day-long class.  (I call it "Snout II.")

FullSizeRender 92

I took a RISK.

I made some mistakes.

I fixed them.

It worked out.

It's very freeing . . . to let go.


A Confession

For as long as I have been blogging . . . 

(And even before that.)

one of my annual goals has been . . .

Become Proficient With Photoshop.

FullSizeRender 77

I had the software (the full-blown version, mind you) loaded on my computer.  

(I even upgraded once or twice.)

I took classes in using Photoshop.

Live classes.

Online classes.

I'd learn how to use it.  I'd create all kinds of great effects.  Basically, I'd edit the crap out of my photos.

In class.

For my assignments.

But I just never used it on my own.  It seemed like . . . just so much trouble.

So my new-found skills would get rusty.  (Again.)

And then I'd feel bad.  (Again.)

And, each January, declare that this . . . THIS would be . . . The Year I'd Become Proficient in Photoshop.  (Again.)

It has become achingly, painfully clear, though . . . that it just ain't gonna happen.

So.

You know what I did?

I Kon-Mari'd it!

Yep.  I uninstalled that sucker.  Because No Joy.

And I feel SO MUCH BETTER!

==========

The photo above?  Lake Michigan waves crashing over the South Haven pier last Saturday.  (And not edited with Photoshop, by the way.)