Friday, November 30, 2012

Revisiting and Working, 78 and 79/100

This Shore
acrylic on paper, moleskine

This is a revisitation of an idea from the beginning of the challenge.(The Other Side of the River). I just thought I'd see what would happen if I did it again, after playing with the ideas and colors for the last few months. It seems a little deeper, if less spontaneous.

Selfie (revised) Blue and Gold
ink and acrylic on paper

Here's another revisitation. I didn't like the ink wash self portrait I did yesterday, so as I had nothing to lose, I thought I'd see what would happen if I added paint to it. I stuck with the color scheme of prussian blue and quinacridone gold. Adding a touch of titan buff. I like the painting better now. I think I fixed the flaws. I'm kind of hard on my self portraits though. It's hard to deal with your vanity, looks wise and painting wise, and see the ways you fall short. But whatever, it's an exercise, right?

It's interesting how these portraits have gotten more realistic. I haven't really done representational art for a while, going with the more abstract or illustrative styles, but I spent many years painting and drawing real life, and it is kind of like getting back to my roots.

Do I know where I will go with this? Nope.

It's enough to do it, right now. It's enough to step out on the creative journey. I don't need answers yet, I just need to keep working.

Still 21 pieces to go before I finish my self challenge. It's about 2 pieces a day. I've caught up a bit. Just got to keep working, though.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Learning How To Say Yes 72-77/100 in 100 days

Yes (gold and silver)
pencil and acrylic

One of the things I have to practice is saying yes to life. My first impulse is always to say no. The farther out of my comfort zone things are, the more likely I am to say no, or just clam up and hide.
I've learned to get around this impulse. I make myself little reminders, like this painting of YES. Or I try to change my automatic internal dialogue into something more positive. I ask myself, what's the worst that could happen? I join blog challenges to do one brave thing a day. Sometimes, I just hold my breath and jump in.
Another thing I do to help myself learn to take chances and try new things and go for my goals, is to take baby steps. For instance, I wanted to do more portraits, try something new, really get into it. So I started small. The earlier recent portraits are an example. The first ones were a bit over 3"x5.5". Note paper size. And then I moved up to vintage book pages at about 4.5"x7". The scrap paper and left over book pages are not only small, but because they are "scrap" the stakes are lowered for me. This enables me to take chances, to risk things not working out... because it's just experimenting.

 Head of a Girl 9
ink on vintage Alice in Wonderland Page
Here my experiments get a bit larger. Practicing with the same image, trying new things, learning the technique, branching out.

 Head of a Girl 10
ink on paper, moleskine
Now on plain paper. This is not watercolor paper and it absorbed the ink strangely. Something I actually thought was interesting, so I decided to try something a bit more challenging

ink on paper, moleskine

I painted my daughter. I always find painting kids to be very challenging, because the features are so soft and rounded. But after experimenting with these vintage portraits and the ink, I went for it anyway.

I decided that I like the stronger shadows better. Gives me something else to grab onto with the sepia ink, but all in all, I don't think this is a bad attempt, for a first attempt. Usually, when I do portraits, I do myself... since I am always there and I don't complain when I model. And since the advent of digital photography, I don't even need a mirror, I can just snap a picture and paint it from my camera.

ink on peper

Like here. A painting of a snapshot. This is definitely not my best self portrait, but I'm okay with it. Remember, part of this whole series, aside from getting my numbers up on my 100 in 100 challenge, is to take baby steps towards the harder challenges. Experimenting. Trying new things. Lowering the stakes and the pressure that I put on myself to get things right, and be perfect.

The process of trying out new things with low stakes is also a process of being open to whatever comes... whether it is a surprising aspect of a medium or a new idea of what I might try next.

Head of a Girl 11
ink on paper

(does anyone else find it funny that my page sizes are going up in half inch increments?)

This last painting was done this morning when I had a brilliant idea to use acrylic on top of my ink paintings... except I liked how this turned out, with it's strong shadows and pretty girl, so much, that I didn't want to touch it with the experiment.

You see? I stopped the willingness to try new things because I got attached to this "perfection." Not that I think it's perfect, but that I didn't want to "ruin" it.

Luckily, with this series, I am gaining enough facility in the medium and style that I can paint another head of a girl and experiment with that one. Maybe I should go back to my usual head of a girl, so that I can feel more comfortable with trying something new without ruining the existing work.

Being an artist does not mean you are always confident in what you create. Taking chances is part of the territory. Every blank page is the chance to make a masterpiece or a disaster that will make you climb back into bed and hide under the covers.

Learning to get out there, becoming comfortable with the risk, trying things that you've never done before... facing your fears... this is part of being an artist. This is part of being a human, actually. It's a hard lesson, and sometimes you have to relearn it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pulling it Together 67-71/100

 Head of a Girl 8 (Tilly Losch)
ink on vintage Alice in Wonderland Page

Like I said before, I am trying to put my house together, trying to pull together all the pieces of myself and my art and make it whole again.

It's remarkable how confusing and disorganized things can get. Or sometimes maybe we just need a break. Maybe we just need to step back and get some distance so that we can look at things and say "yes, this is what I want," or "no, this is not where I want to go."

So sometimes it helps to stop the go go going and be silent, to see what once was there, what is there now, and what you want to be there.

Found Still Life
(flowers, pencil, miniature houses, toy leash, and vintage contact paper on the counter)

This one is a case of looking and seeing what is already there.

I looked down at the corner of my craft cabinet counter, and saw this little still life, just sitting there. I gasped and grabbed my camera and started snapping away. It's where I'd tossed a few things that I was done with, the little houses from yesterday, the handful of garden flowers that my daughter gave me, whose stems were too short for a vase, the yellow pencil, and the broken purple toy leash that I told my daughter I'd fix.

It's interesting, because although it took me a few tries to frame it right, and I did remove extraneous items away from the composition, when I tried to "make it right", when I took away the junky purple toy leash, the composition went flat.

It was there. And I needed to pay attention to it, to see it for what it was, a snap shot of life, color, line and texture. Movement in stillness and discards. There's something about those bleeding heart flowers that seem to me to be always moving, even when they are just sitting there, wilting.

"Day" Flying Girl Articulated Paper Doll
acrylic on paper, metal brads

And then, sometimes, you have to work and think about something, plan it out and put it together.

I've been thinking about making a Flying Girl Paper Doll for a while, but never got around to it, because I knew it would be a bit of work and commitment.  Sometimes life is like that. You take ideas from the past and finally sit down to work on them, make them into something, even if you're not sure that they really will work out.

Pen and watercolor on paper

Here's a sketch I made, without real plans, just allowing it to come to be, although, again, I am pulling on past sketches and motifs.  I don't think that everything is actually revealed, here, even though it's called reveal. Perhaps time will be the big reveal.

Belated Bunny with Big Legs
Repurposed velour, cotton knit, buttons, thread, polyfill

And here's the stuffed bunny I started almost three years ago and never got around to finishing. It went three years without eyes or legs.

Even now, my daughter tells me that the legs are wrong and I need to make them smaller. I guess she's right, they don't really fit this bunny.
Belated Bunny (detail)

But she's kinda cute anyway.

Well, I continue to try to pull together my house, and my art and my writing. I'm working on my synopsis for my novel and my query letter... something that has needed to be done for quite some time.

Like I said, sometimes it takes a commitment to pull together all the disparate efforts, all the history and the knowledge and the ideas. And sometimes it takes a re-commitment, after a period of silence.

We shall see.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Getting My Houses in Order, 61-66/100

Little Houses
paper clay, acrylic paint and ink
3/4"-1 1/4" tall

These took awhile to make. And my daughter instructed me in how to paint many of them. The gold paint was her idea, although I decided to use it also on the windows, to represent all the light and merry making going on inside of the little houses.

Yellow House

I have not decided what I will be doing with these little houses. My daughter says I should make teeny tiny people to go with them, but that would make them millimeters tall, since the largest house is only an inch and a quarter. 

Gold Roof house

 This one. One inch and a quarter.

And the gold roof. My daughter's idea. These are things that I am adding to my total of 100 works in 100 days, although they are not paintings. A lot of things go into being me, me as an artist. And a slight obsession with houses and miniatures are some of those things. And sometimes miniature houses.

I was thinking I should make some little set, a little diorama or something with them, putting them into tiny boxes. I don't know. It's an idea.

Gray House

Sorry about the photography. I am not quite set up for a photo studio. That's one of the things I want to set up in my work space, and I'm not sure quite how I'm going to do that.

 Blue House

This one reminds me a tiny bit of the house where I'm living now. I think that's why I painted it the blue-gray.

Little White House with Red Roof

This little house sometimes finds its way into my paintings. I have no reason why. You'll have to figure it out yourself.

White House with Gray Roof

With these houses, I am still behind in my challenge. There are 14 days left. I have 34 pieces left to do. That's about three a day.

This is indeed a challenge. A tighter one than I gave myself to begin with.

Oh well. I guess the whole commitment is about the COMMITMENT. Am I committed?  Yes I am committed.

It turns out I was not as committed to nanwrimo this year. I gave that one up as soon as I sat down in my new studio and thought about all of the very many things that I really wanted/needed to do, various other commitments that I needed to take care of to get my house in order.

One of the things I am committed to is to get an agent for my novel. I don't talk about my fiction writing in my blog very often. For some reason, it doesn't invite as much show and tell as the artwork does. So much of it is still in process and not ready to be shown.

The art is though? I can't explain.

Well, today I also did some work on querying and synopsis. I can't say even that is complete, but it's the process that is important. And it is, indeed, getting my house in order.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Experimenting. 49-60/100 in 100 days

ink on paper

I stopped pouting about being overwhelmed and behind and having so much to do and etcetera, and decided to pick up a paintbrush and dip it into some ink and paint on whatever came to hand... mostly old papers that I found in my boxes from three years ago.  
Imaginary Face 1
ink on paper

Experimenting with ink and brush. I found this too dark. The face was... well, an experiment.

Imaginary Face 2
ink on paper

Still too dark. Meh.
Face 3
ink on paper

Liking the light wash much better.

 Head of a Girl 1
ink on paper

Found a vintage painting by Martiros Saryan, to use as a reference. Liked the head tilt and the shadows. Continued experimenting.

 Head of a Girl 2
ink on paper

Found a photo reference (lost alas) for this head of a girl

 Head of a Girl 3
ink on vintage book paper

Really wanted to paint more of the first girl. Ran out of scrap grid papers though. Moved on to pieces torn from a book I altered, many years ago (10 years?). I do so love vintage book pages. And they go with the vintage image inspiration. And the sepia toned ink that is from a vintage circa 10 years ago.

Head of a Girl 4
ink on vintage book paper

Still loving her head tilt, and the line of the neck and the shoulder. Kind of like how each painting has her looking a little bit different.

 Head of a Girl 5
ink on vintage book paper

Wanted to try it with a different reference photo. Tried this one. Her name is Nita Naldi. You might recognize her from here. She's a femme fatale. Do you notice the title of the page is "Death?" Unintentional. It was just the scrap paper I had left over.
Man Reading on the Subway
ink on vintage paper

Saw another vintage photo source. Thought I'd try something different, something less girl-y. Shoot lost my photo source. Darn it.

Head of a Girl 6
acrylic and ink on paper

Back to my Head of a Girl. This time, I wondered what would happen if I played with some things. Color. Shape. Tilt of head remains, neck, shoulder, and the shadows. A little bit of the Leonor Fini influence.
Head of a Girl 7
acrylic and ink on paper

Another version of my head of a girl. I like her. She looks more fifties than thirties style. And reminds me also of this girl.

Here are a couple days of experimentation. I was having fun and I liked the way some of these turn out. I think sometimes you have to delve into an idea and see where it goes. Although, sometimes you also just have to lower stakes and try new things.  A little bit of both, maybe.

Let's see what I come up with next. I am not as far behind as I was last week. And I still have a few more days to catch up. Gotta keep moving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

All I Can Say Is I'm Trying 43-48/100 in 100 days creative project

 Fight For It
Pen on recycled menu
approx 4"x4"
This series here are doodles I did while I was at work. Some of them took quite a bit of concentration. I'm looking into where ideas come from and how the process of doodling can lead into serious paths for creation. Sometimes it's just about allowing the inside of your brain to come out into the outside world.

red ink on paper

I started this as a kind of book. My original thought was that the whole book would be the artwork, but come on now... I'm 40 days behind. I need to give credit to myself for everything I've done, not finished, elaborate works that aren't really a day kind of project.

No Thoughts
ink on paper

The little booklet was supposed to be my thoughts made visual. This was the second page. No thoughts. Oh well. It's still part of the process. Sometimes we get ideas not by directing our thought processes, but by allowing ourselves to be empty and open.

Red Ways to Breathe
ink on paper

This was more of the doodles. This kind of organic plantish kind of drawing. Somehow, it reminds me of lungs. It reminds me of breathing. Plus the in and out of the drawing, the one by one manner of execution leading to something larger. What larger? I don't know.

ink on paper
4"x 4"

Don't ask. I don't know.
ink on paper

This is inspired by octopus tentacles. I like circles. I like patterns. I like doodles. I did not know where this was going. I just did it. I guess that's what doodles are.

I have 19 days left in my challenge. Can I do it? I have some new paintings/drawings. I have the photos from my trip. I have a new larger project... not really a day project, also. I have some ideas for new things. I have some things that I haven't photographed yet. I have my kids costumes. I really should count them. They took a lot of creativity. I have to be consistent with my posting, as well as my creating. See, now, a project like this? You have to make commitments, and keep going even when you'd rather not or things get tough. Things got tough for me and I did not keep going, but I recommitted.

There's a lesson there. Life does not really go smoothly most of the time. It's nice when it does, but the real test is how you keep going when things get tough. Give up? Or re-evaluate and recommit? All I can say is I'm trying.

52 more to go in those 19 days. Can she do it?

I'm trying.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Catching Up, 33-42/100 in 100 Creative Challenge

first drawing with old ink
ink, pen and gouache 
33/100 in 100

I've decided it's time for me to document the things I have been making, painting, drawing and creating over the last month or so.

Before, during and after the move, it's been difficult to keep up with what I thought I should be doing, but one of the things about my 100 in 100 days creative challenge, is that it's supposed to be flexible enough to fit into the life of the creator.

So even if I did not paint one painting every day, I want to keep up with what I have done, not only to live up to my challenge, but also to take stock of the creativity I am living, even when I think I'm not being creative at all. Because of that, I need to value all of my creative output.

So this first one I'm showing is the first thing I did when I sat down in my new studio, in the corner I cleared out before unpacking any of my clothes or other living type of boxes. I was more eager to unpack some of the boxes I'd left behind three years ago. Boxes with things like art supplies, books, note pads etc.

I found a moleskine note pad and wanted to do something with it. Then I found some old ink bottles and an ink pen. I thought, "hey I wonder if it is still good?" so I opened it up and started drawing with it. It was still good.

ink and pen
ink and pen on paper
34/100 in 100

Here's a drawing of the old ink bottle and old pen. There's a nice little glass that I found in the room and filled with water (there's a sink in my studio, too).

ink and gouache on paper
 35/100 in 100

Here's another drawing/painting I did with my ink and pen and a brush. Then I found a box with some old tubes of paint, gouache and acrylic and watercolor. Not all of these tubes were good, but some were. I don't know if this drawing was successful, but I didn't care. The point was to get drawing again.

 Girl in Dark Stars
pen and ink on paper
36/100 in 100

Then I realized that my ink was bleeding through the thin paper from the moleskin book. Not really the heavy art kind of moleskine. So I thought I'd go with the bleed through. I took out the pen again and went over the ink that bled through. This made me think of stars.

Girl in Light Stars
bleed through, pen and ink and acrylic on paper
 37/100 in 100

This is the last page of bleed through and I thought this was the most interesting of all. Rather than drawing more ink on it, I just outlined it. Then I remembered the stars from the last one and needed to add white stars. The white is not paint from my old boxes, but was the acrylic I carried with me from Michigan.

remember your dreams
pen, ink, gouache and acrylic on paper
38/100 in 100

I liked the idea of using something from my past to make something new. I guess that's why I wrote this out. Then used the blue and white to make clouds. Simple, but still it's important.

(don't get lost)
pen and ink on paper
39/100 in100

Maybe a bit of overwhelm here, as I was getting lost in the unpacking and upheaval of moving.

acrylic on paper
40/100 in 100

More experiments with old materials to see if they are working. This was an old jar of paint that I bought from a hand made paint store in Brooklyn, Sarkana, many many years ago. I don't even know if the store is still open. The color is called "Overcast" and I loved this gray blue color. I guess it feeds into stormy skies.

acrylic and ink on paper
41/100 in 100

I also experimented what would happen if I mixed the various media together. Stormy gray, almost muddy. But I liked this one.

acrylic and ink on paper
42/100 in 100

More storm. Am I remembering storms on the ocean? I always loved seeing them roll in across the sea.

Anyway, I have more things to post. Expect some art-heavy and thought-light posting, as I put more of my recent work up. Here's one reason why we should keep up with our goals, instead of procrastinating and leaving it all for later. It's kind of a bitch to catch up. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

How To Never Give Up (Except When You Just Give Up)

Below by Rowena Murillo

acrylic on paper.  
30/100 in 100 days creative project

I give up.

Except I don't.

I have made the decision that nanowrimo is not right for me this year. I'm not going to try to write a 500k word first draft of a novel (good or bad) in the month of November for the first time in seven years. It doesn't mean I am giving up, it just means I am giving up on this.

Because what I need to do in a time like this, a time of transition and responsibility and to do lists that are miles long and feeling like I am underwater, is refocus my goals, not to the short term commitments, or the ones I think I "should" do, but to the serious who-I-really-am-and-what-I-really-want-to-do-with-my-life goals.

Sorry nanowrimo, but rather than writing a new novel that I don't really have a plan for and don't really care that much about and which is not really ready to be written, I have a novel (from nanowrimo 2009) that needs a final rewrite and also needs to go out looking for an agent. 

So I give up on nanowrimo 2012.

But giving up does not mean you give up. 

This is what I'm learning about never giving up, believe me, it isn't easy.

Stand by Rowena Murillo

acrylic and graphite on paper
5.5"x 8.5"
29/100 in 100

Life doesn't always care what your intentions and goals and dreams are. Things go wrong. Other things become more important. You don't get where you thought you would get. People say no. Failure happens. You try and try and try and do everything right and you get nowhere. You mess up and make poor decisions and don't always do the right thing and are imperfect and generally human. Your hopes and expectations are dashed.

This is the point where you can decide to give up. Period.

Maybe that's okay. Maybe it's not the end of the world if you give up on your past dreams and let go of where you thought you'd be and just make peace with who and where you are. Maybe you've grown out of your dreams and find other things more important. Maybe you're holding onto those dreams just because you've always defined yourself by those dreams. Let me tell you, you are actually more than your dreams. And you can always find new dreams. You can refocus and discover new goals and passions. There's nothing wrong with that, because there are a kajillion worthy dreams out there and a bazookillion wasy to reach those dreams. 

So give up. I give you permission. If giving up is what you decide is right for you.

Mom by Rowena Murillo

graphite on paper
31/100 in 100

If, however, you decide that giving up is just not right for you, if your dreams are too integral to your happiness and you just can't bear to let go of them, then let's figure out this not giving up thing.

So okay, it's been hard. 

Things haven't worked out the way you thought they might. Life took over. You feel your dreams slipping away. And, dammit, you are not going to let them go without a fight. What do you do? What do you do?

Figure out where you are right now. What is working? What is not working? Where are you putting your energy? What is feeding your energy and filling you up? What is draining your energy? What do you need? 

What are the absolute, non negotiable necessities in your life? Make sure you have them.

What are the priorities? What has to come first, no matter what? Put them first.

What fills you with joy? What recharges your batteries? Make room for that. You might have to give up other things in order to do so. Think about what is non essential in your life, or things which are destructive even. You can let go of those, even if it's a habit and hard to let go of.

What drains you or weakens you? Either get rid of that or find a way to fix it. (warning: this might take an investment of time, energy and/or money.) 

This is about evaluating your life for what is working for you and what is not working for you. This is about re-evaluating your dreams and goals and needs and the path that you are on.
Incandescent by Rowena Murillo

acrylic on paper
5.5"x 8.5"
32/100 in 100

You need to figure out what are the things that fill you up, the things that give purpose to your life, the things that keep coming back to you, no matter how many detours in life you take. Figure out those things. Make them part of your priorities.

 I'm going to be honest.

I do not speak about giving up and not giving up lightly. This is hard work. It is hard to let go of things you were holding onto. And it is hard work to recommit and dig in and make those dreams work, too. But either way, it's worth it

For me, I've decided that I can give up on the exercise of nanowrimo. But I am not giving up on my writing. I am refocusing on my current novel, I am refocusing on my blogging and other non fiction writing. I am also committing to finish my 100 in 100 days creative project, even though I am a month behind. I'll be posting some artwork heavy blog posts, for a while, as I catch up on 100 days project, both posting things I've already done but not documented and new work.

I'm kind of excited to get back to painting, because for me, painting helps me focus and be creative... and this is what I want to be doing.
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