Sketchbook

Part of what I noticed I let lapse over the years of not drawing on a regular basis is my weakened observation skills. I used to spend a lot of time looking at things. I would notice tiny details like the curve of someones lip, or the shape of a hand, the light as it fell across a room. I used to be able to remember scenes, notice certain details and later make a drawing based from that scene. Not implying I drew from a photographic memory of something I saw, but using elements and pertinent details that caught my attention and then make something out of it. Because I was paying attention, I was noticing things, images were saying something to me. Over time, I seemed to have not been so observant. Well, maybe my focus had simply moved.

I pursued a culinary career which requires hard work, working fast, and long hours, product driven, and  rush-rush -rush; I recognize that I’ve been rushing around and overly occupied for so many years in contrast to how I once was when I was an art student. Of course there was only me to think about then. Job and family, there is no sitting and looking long at anything except the back of your eyelids after a long day.

The human figure has always been my favourite subject, challenging with its shape and line. As an exercise I did some quick pen sketches of some of the News guys the other night. Because their images flicked back and forth and their positions changed quickly I had to be quick. Good practice to train my eye hand coordination, and observation skills.

 

It’s a Start

So, it’s been an awfully long time since I’ve bought artist paints. Too long to contemplate. I went to my universities Book Store to gather materials, they carry limited art supplies and I get 30% discount. Even still I was taken aback at the price of paints. Funny, I never gave it much thought when I was a devil-may-care art student at this very same university forty-two years ago. Fortytwo years ago?! WTF.

Okay, I’m breathing again.

I’m starting small with a few tubes, picking up some new brushes too. But back to purchasing artist’s materials. The price. I realized, as I returned my visa card to my wallet after ringing it through, that I have difficulty reasoning the purchase. Even with a 30% discount. In the past I have done large graphite drawings for the real reason that I was seriously deficient in funds while a single mom. Graphite and paper is not cost prohibitive. A small tube of Cadmium Red can certainly be. Notice here I’ve bought Red, Yellow and Blue. The primary colours that will blend into a range of colours. My effort at cost effectiveness. Why?

Because my inner monkey- you know, the over critical monkey nattering in your brain that causes you to second guess your motives and efforts? Well, this monkey leans into my thoughts and whispers, ‘You’re spending money on something you haven’t practiced in eons’, those “paintings” better be really good to justify the spending’, and, ‘Are you sure about this? These will just sit in the basement never opened, you’re just kidding yourself and wasting money.’ 

This is part of creative recovery. I have to be patient with myself. I’ve been away too long, it takes time to reacquaint with that atrophied part of myself. I wish it was more like a long lost friend where we just pick up where we left off like no time had passed between us. But it isn’t.

I have an innate compulsion to be timid when what I need is to practice opening up and suspend inhibitions and get painting, paint anything, on paper, canvas or board. To dare to suck at it for a while without self-chastisement, without feeling the need to justify my doing this.

And what I need to be doing is practice pulling zero punches on the monkey. Boom, Boom. Hoping it stays down for the count.

Performance Anxiety

What is that anyway? I love to sing, and I actually can sing, but just don’t plunk me in front of anyone, thank you very much. I have been working on this annoying shortcoming, really I have. And I have “gigged” before. I was in a rock band in my twenties- believe me I wasn’t cut out for that lifestyle, and I’ve even done a smidge of musical theatre-way, way back in time- and I did enjoy it, but at the same time it was near torture. And this is where I get odd. I know I would really, really love it- I want to love it! In my mind I see myself loving it, I would love to be able to love performing. Others who do it look like they’re having a lot of fun!

And there have been many casual musical alliances I have been involved in over the years, but as soon as they say, ‘Hey we should get a gig’, mentally I start backing towards a door that I’m hoping is open behind me. I close down and leave my body when a roomful of eyes are looking at me. Including public speaking, but strangly not as fearful as singing. What?

I was asked just recently to sing with a local band here for our open mic. Nope.

It’s as if the universe keeps handing me opportunities to have the chance to get over myself, to take another stab at it, and I just keep on being awkward and dorky, turn spineless, and buckle under this misaligned anxiety.

How about breaking in gently by performing for friends and family?  “Oh look so and so has a guitar right here- sing us a song!”

Nope. Worse. In fact, strangers are easier to approach in this case. But still, only slightly so.

Help, I’m trapped in a paradox. How can someone want to do something that is torture? It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

Well, okay thank you for your time, if anyone is reading, I’ll keep trying. The universe, doing what it always does, will probably still keep tossing musical opportunities my way to see if I’ll bite. It’s a hurdle- more of a pole vault, I just need to find the right pole. Or something.

Tra-la-la.

 

 

 

Boom, There It Is

Do you ever notice when you may have thought about something ( or even someone)  and then didn’t give that thought another thought, only to then, a short time later, have “that thought” appear in the physical form there waiting for you? The kind of occurrence the makes you say out loud to a perfect stranger, “Hey, what’d know, I was wanting/wishing/needing this ‘thing’  and there it is!”

That’s synchronistic action at work. I know, eye roll, law of attraction. Yeah, read that book and others of the same ilk, and while everyone did become a little over saturated with all of this business of believing: ‘if you think it, it will come to you’, like magic, I too was one of the over saturated ones. But honestly, I have always subscribed to that belief, even before the books came out.

I just so happen to have a recent example of this. I have set up an art studio downstairs in my basement. And while the space is pretty great, I had an issue. I was wondering where I would be able to keep all my canvases but, more importantly, where to store all my finished drawings and fresh sheets of drawing paper.

What I really needed was a cabinet with a set of drawers wide enough and deep enough to house the sheets of paper and finished drawings. I thought about where I could find something like that, or if I’d have to build it. They do make these types of cabinets for studios, but it would be cost prohibitive for me. Then I put the thought aside, being not sure what to do about it.

A short while later, Bob and I were taking a walk around the island neighbourhood. In front of one house sat a four foot long, four drawer antique dresser, in a little rough shape, and set out for any takers. I inspected it and said, this will work in the studio. I arranged with my next door neighbour Jay to have it picked up and brought to my house, soon he showed up with it and he and Bob carried into the basement, and I placed the new sheets of paper in the drawer. Perfect.

A little thing?  Maybe. But the fact is clear; a need, an intention, a desire was met and handed to me. Size of the gift doesn’t matter. The act, the manifestation does. And so does the acknowledgment of gratitude.

Yeah, What She Said

“I have to measure my success by the fact that I did something I didn’t think I could do—I knew I could, but I didn’t know if I would. So just the fact that I made it, (the album) and gave myself permission to just fuck it up and do some stuff that’s maybe stupid and not cool, is pretty successful. Being a creative person, that’s the most successful thing.”

Brittany Howard- Singer, Songwriter, talking about her new solo venture and new album apart from her band Alabama Shakes

 

I love this. I love Brittany too, but that’s beside the point.  I came across this interview on line by coincidence ( is there such a thing? ) just last week. Hmmm, just as I begin my creative recovery journey, how apropos. Yes, I think so.

New Look

I’ve made some changes to my Blog- it was time. I feel recovering the creative life, my creative life, is a primary focus now, and felt my blog should reflect that. Art, Photography, Music, Writing, anything and everything that feeds the creative process in living a more richly textured life.

I’ll see where it leads. Kind of excited about it.

My New Morning Practice to Nurture Creativity

I have an amendment to my previous post. I, in fact, have been very good at getting up each morning and doing a work out, (and changing my clothes twice in the morning) and, more importantly, another thing I have added to the start of my day is Morning Pages. I picked up Julia Camerons book The Artist’s Way, the book that introduced Morning Pages as a daily practice, and having recently searched it out at my local used book store, I have begun working through it.

I’ve been familiar with Morning Pages for some time; The Artist’s Way workbook has been out since 1992, but I never took a look at it-for whatever reason. Too busy with the mechanics of married life, working, etc. It’s now I felt I could benefit from this book in helping with not only my writing, but to facilitate an overall reconnection to my creative yearnings after suppressing them so long.

Beginning with the first week of Tasks in the workbook, I discovered it is exactly what I needed at the right time. I much prefer starting my day with this, rather than a work-out. Doing the Pages and working through the workbook provides an avenue for beginning my day in a creative flow, sets the right tone that creativity comes first, ideas come first, insights come first. Mind before body.

I have always “journaled,” since the age of fourteen, but doing it as a Morning Pages practice feels different. There is a type of intention in it. So each morning I rise early , 6 am or so, and the first thing I do- pour a cup of coffee and set down to write three 8″x11″ pages of stream of consciousness writing. Then my work-out, shower, then breakfast at 9:30 or 10.

I think this is what I’ve been struggling with. Reading over what I’ve written in that previous post, I now realize that the “domestic” work needn’t dominate the day- those tasks will always be there to do, never changing in their nature. So do them when time allows, but the creative work is the priority because it has the of risk slipping away from us if not well nurtured and attended to. It has something of a “shelf Life.”

I’ve only just now begun Week Two of the twelve-week workbook, so it’s all still a new endeavour. So far I look forward to the Pages each morning and have even noticed some humble synchronicities and serendipitous effects since beginning the workbook. Of course these serendipitous episodes may have always been happening, perhaps I wasn’t “tuned in” enough before to notice. I think probably.

I’m curious to experience any shifts in insight over these next weeks, and so far, with Week One down, it’s feeling beneficial in general.

Scheduling my time is still in process, but I think instead of the word Scheduling I will use Committing.  Things are falling into place ~