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Saturday, September 6, 2014

A creativity giveaway on my blog



I just put a Creativity Giveaway on my other blog, the re-imagined Art, Life, and Other Oddities, here: http://cathyjohnsonart.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-creativity-giveaway-for-you.html

Just leave a comment (on that blog, not here, sorry!) and we'll pick the winner next Wednesday!

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Nurturing Creativity

I have recently re-imagined my blog, Art, Life, and Other Oddities, and decided to share a couple of posts that you might find useful. Please feel free to join me there on a regular basis! I'll share this post and the one on what kills creativity, for me, but I don't want to take over AJW!

Playing with carving my own print blocks


I suppose we all have the occasional dry period when nothing seems exciting, when we just don't feel like picking up a brush, when we're tired or overwhelmed.  And in fact I have a whole post in the pipeline that will be a follow-up to this one, addressing those things that kill creativity--or at least inhibit it to the point of entropy.

And honestly, when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty, what inspires us--what nurtures that mischievous and elusive muse--is as individual as we are.

Often, what works for me is to make a list--well, two of them really.  One list of those things that feed my soul, and one of the things that definitely do NOT.  I have done this little exercise time and again through the years...it helps me take compass readings and make sure I'm still on course, as well as where I need to jettison some cargo or turn the wheel a bit to starboard.

Who wouldn't wish to see a few more of those stars like silvery eyes in a velvet sky, eh? (And yes, of course my sailor husband would remind me that starboard isn't up--work with me here, all right? I'm sailing this imaginary sloop...)

I've been doing a lot of jettisoning, lately.  Simplifying, getting rid of excess Stuff--belongings, ideas, occupations, imaginary or outworn obligations.

Making room for Creativity.  For life.

For we ARE creative beings.  That's what we do. Whether we create a piece of art, a symphony, a happy child, a balanced budget, a good meal or order out of chaos, we are fulfilling that urge. I once wrote an article suggesting that that is what we have most in common with the Creator; I still believe that, and I'm more grateful than ever, 25 years later.

Dip pens cut from feathers or sticks

So.  What nurtures creativity?  What inspires me?

Here's my list--this week.  Make your own.  They may be quite similar, they may be entirely different, but they must be honest, straight from the heart. 

  • An open mind
  • Paying attention
  • Meditation
  • Listening to what really matters to me
  • The light on my sleeping husband's face
  • Quiet
  • Time
  • Books
  • Textures
  • Joseph's hands
  • Flavors
  • Play
  • New places
  • Old ones...heart homes, near and far--places that have touched me
  • Music
  • Rest
  • A new tool--a new pigment, a fountain pen that's smooth of nib, a vegetable peeler, whatever!
  • Paper I love to work on
  • Beauty
  • Nature
  • Light
  • Color
  • Learning
  • New ideas
  • Reviving old ones that work 
  • Taking time for me (if I give it all away, I have nothing left for any of us)
  • Honesty
  • Friends who "get it"  (Get what, you say?  Well, that's as individual as we are, as well.)
  • Art--seeing what others have done or are doing can spark a conflagration
  • Rembrandt sketches, Vermeer's chiaroscuro, Winslow Homer's watercolors...
  • A new direction (the stamps above were my balance from too many weeks of the same kind of thing)
  • A different medium--almost but not quite the same as above
  • The grace and antics of cats
  • A quiet chat with an old friend
  • A new discipline
  • Old photos
  • Time for memory
  • Interaction with others...for me, sparingly, but still...
  • A quote that speaks to me
  • That One Perfect Word--you know, the one that strikes the ear and makes everything different  
  • The sure and certain knowledge that there is no one right way when it comes to creativity


A friend's recent art on used teabags inspired these two...thank you, Palma.
My own technique was different...but her work let me take off from there!


And once I have my list?  I do more of that.  Whatever it is, whatever I have time for.  What bubbles to the top, what serendipity throws my way.  What insists I pay attention.

Synchronicity.

This.

Now.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Journaling as a Healing Tool

For all of you with furry friends..... Life with them is great, but as they age... well, the ending is always gut wrenching.

This is how it has been at our house for the last few months: vet trips, new meds, different food, pee trips in the wee hours of the morning.... I'm sure you've been there.

I've been sketching a lot of our two dogs over the last year.  Some with traditional tools, some on my iPad using Paper by 53.

This past weekend the serious 'Goodbye' page started taking shape. One thing about our Dudley, he was all about showing you things you'd not have seen without him.  Sunday morning as he and I walked down the street at 5:15 a.m. was one of those instances.  This was the last Sunday we'd be together, and the early morning sky was just beautiful.  Later that day, I did the above memory sketch as a tribute to all those wee hour pee trip walks we've taken over the last several months.

Yesterday was our 'goodbye' day.  I came home and immediately went into my studio and studied the right blank side if the page.  I had decided on tribute phrase... but what else?  I knew I'd just have to take my time and the right things would come.  Later, we sat on the sofa and looked at old photos of our pups.  Oh that was fun and heart warming.  I found one portrait of Dudley that I wanted to put underneath the phrase.  Then, during a discussion with my husband, I said the words that are now on the bottom right corner.

You just never know what will find it's way to you for your page..... The journey of journaling - can't beat it!

As for our Sweet Dudley.... he's in a much better place, free of his earthly troubles.  Now all our loving is surrounding our Grizz to help her through the grief.... 15.5 years is a long time!
Main page: Stillman & Birn Alpha journal • watercolors • micron pen

Monday, July 21, 2014

Life's Little Mysteries, Part 2


I had two more short videos in the pipeline, both that had to be cut from my Sketchbook Skool class for reasons of length...this one agreed to be processed and uploaded, the other one didn't.  NO idea why!  Ah well, I like this one best anyway...

This is my old cabin book--I built my own cabin in the woods with the help of a young carpenter back in the late 80s or early 90s, and worked out there almost every day.  (In those days I had a computer out there and even a phone, neither of which is true today!)

And every day, I would do a sketch in my big brown-paper journal.  It's a time capsule, looking back through the pages and seeing the everyday miracles that caught my eye.

I got to write a book about the process, too...A Naturalist's Cabin; Constructing a Dream, long out of print, of course.


Yep, life is good...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life's little mysteries...another video!





I have no idea why, but this little video was hiding, marked Private in my YouTube set...I appear to have dropped the ball somewhere. I originally made it for one of my Quick Sketching classes, but didn't get the link OUT there!  It was from March of 2013...I spaced...

Since I made it to be shared, here it is...test drive your tools so you know what they'll do and which one to grab to get the effect you want!

Friday, July 11, 2014

And a longer video, a study of a wren, in my journal

Whew!  My newest video is up on YouTube, and it almost didn't make it!  It disappeared, then the media files were missing...but here it is, a longer video on doing a study of a bird, in my journal.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Another little video...this one on sketching birds!



As usual, I overproduced for my class, so I've made several new videos I'll be sharing on YouTube!  This one was cut from a longer one on sketching from nature.

I'll be editing one on doing a more complete study of a wren, soon!
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