October 01, 2015

Yay for Studio Night!

What a great Studio Night! I prepped for my upcoming class, organized my sketching supplies, cleaned out a fountain pen, started a new tiny watercolor, and sketched my studio! And watched more of season 3 of Gilmore Girls and did some laundry!

I didn't work on my oil paintings, but I also didn't stress out about it - I've got one in progress and I know which one I'm going to work on next, so I am all set!

Now I need to fold some towels...

Inspired by Teaching

I made this during the last time that I was teaching Fast Sketching at Flicker Street Studio. I get so inspired as I show students work by sketchers from all over the world!

I’ll be teaching at Flicker Street again later this month – October 13 – November 3 (four classes total). In the class, Oil Painting from Photos & Sketches, we’ll explore composition and basic oil painting techniques, and each student will make a painting based on a photo or sketch of their choosing. Click here to sign up!

September 24, 2015

India Palace

I like to go to India Palace to place my to-go order, because it gives me time to sketch, and because they always give me some sort of a refreshment. In this case, a mango lassi!

September 23, 2015

Watercolor Sketches

I love this page in my sketchbook. That’s all watercolor, no pen or pencil. It’s a technique I’m really enjoying and encouraging in my Fast Sketching class – mostly making lines with watercolor.

It took me so long to read that book, which I started in Iceland, took to Singapore, but didn’t finish until I got back home. I spent a lot of time with it, and I love the cover, so I sketched it.

September 22, 2015

Medicine Still-Life

A little bout of bronchitis necessitated a lot of prescription medication. And coffee. What was I going to do, not sketch it?

September 20, 2015

Speaking of Reading...

Speaking of reading, last weekend I went to the Mid-South Book Festival and attended panel discussions by these local authors: Richard Alley (my brother!), Heather Dobbins, Craig Meek, Margaret Skinner, David Williams, and Brandy T. Wilson.

I sketched Brandy (right), and moderator Pat Mitchell (left).

Still Painting, and Reading

It has been a few weeks since I got back from New York to deal with my painting slump here at home, and since then I have painted several times, and it has felt good and I’ve been happy with it. I’ve also been reading about art.

When I was in New York I bought a few books, including The Happiness of Burnout, about an artist who suffers burnout. The title spoke to me but as I started reading it, I couldn’t figure out if this book was for real or not. At first it read like a fictional book; maybe I found it questionable that there was an artist who was so successful at being an artist that he suffered from burnout.

Turns out I just don’t know very much about contemporary European artists. The artist Jeppe Hein is, in the words of the Public Art Fund website, “one of Denmark’s most celebrated contemporary artists.” (I guess Denmark celebrates their artists?)

Another reason that I couldn’t figure the book out at first is because the translation is not that great, so some of the language is a bit stilted.

Despite my skepticism, and the not-great translation, and the fact that I could not wrap my mind around all of the philosophical concepts (lots of talk of “becoming”) – that is to say, despite my own short-comings – I enjoyed the book, and I did learn from it. In addition to weaving in psychology and philosophy, Janning compares Hein’s experiences with burnout in fiction, including Graham Greene’s A Burnt-Out Case, which predates the coining of the term “burnout” (thanks, Wikipedia!).
Just leafing through it to help write about it, I’m finding useful passages like this one about Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, “…Esther Greenwood becomes alive at the very end, where she steps out of the role that society has given her. The last line is full of suspense, because being alive, she knows that things might go wrong, she is no longer playing a role where she pretends everything is fine. But they are not; she will have to make them so.” She will have to make them so! This chapter, “Happiness?,” describes how happiness is a skill, “a manner of being that requires hard work and time. It must be learned.”  

I’m not saying I’ve got burnout, but as an artist who has anxiety and constantly questions what I’m doing and why, I found much of this book helpful. As I said, Janning delves into fiction, which I think is one of the greatest tools that we have to teach us how to be human. He also describes how and why yoga and meditation helped with Hein’s anxiety, and with refocusing on what is important in his life and his artwork.

Using my bookclub’s rating system, I’d give this book a solid 3 (would recommend to a friend).

September 18, 2015

Watercolor Necklace, Still-life, and Chopsticks

Necklace by Kong Wee Pang/Taro Pop Studio – they sell new designs at the Cooper Young Festival every year. I can’t wait to see what this year’s will look like! When I put this necklace on with a red shirt that morning I knew I’d have to sketch it at some point. I did this in my car at lunch, looking at the rear-view mirror.

Back at work I had an accidental but not unusual-to-see still life on my desk, so I drew it.

September 17, 2015

Constant Sketching vs. Painting Slump

A couple of people that I’ve talked to about my painting slump – people I am very close to and whose opinions I value – have pointed out to me that in the past year I have created a lot of art without painting (mostly sketching), and that I have facilitated the making of art by other people. That is all true. However, there is a mental difference between sketching and painting. I had not put a lot of thought into the differences until I tried to explain the difference to some friends.

Sketching is purposefully easy to do by being portable and accessible, and is not intended to be finished work. I sketch when bored, when interested, when anxious, when waiting, eating, talking, stopped at a train, etc. It is about whatever is in front of me at the moment, and it serves the purpose of keeping my hand and my eye active, of recording my day, and being a constant source of practicing art.

Painting seems to use a different part of the brain. It is much less about the immediate, and more about everything I have learned and experienced and seen over the course of my life, and everything I know about things and people that came before me. So that is a lot.

Painting is just more in-depth, particularly the way I do it by working in a series – I might have ten paintings started that all relate to each other, and even though I can only paint on one at a time, I’m working on all of them.

The act of painting satisfies a need in the same way that the act of sketching satisfies a need, but those two needs are a little different.

Facilitating the making of art by other people, whether by teaching art or by organizing the Symposium or by curating an art exhibit, is incredibly rewarding, but doesn’t have any impact on my own need to make art. It just makes me feel good. That’s not true, I do learn a lot, which is also important.

So, thanks to my kind loved ones for trying to make me feel better, and for helping me to see why I need to keep up my sketching and my painting.

Starting a New Sketchbook

After we got back from our trips I went back to the book I’d been using before the trip, and I filled it up pretty quickly in that week. I started this new one maybe a little too enthusiastically, squeezing lots of sketches and notes on one page.