Following a Hunch

LilyCollagePhoto

I posted this close-up pic on Instagram and had a hunch that I would paint it and possibly add some elements of collage. I wasn’t sure though. So I started out slowly drawing the contours in pencil. So many times, I am unclear as to how I will proceed with a drawing/painting, but just beginning, making a start, almost always reveals what I want to do next.

LilyCollage1

*Note: I do not trace my photographs. I know there are artists who do this and that’s their decision. But I think tracing cuts out half the fun! I love to prop the photo on my iPad up in front of me and draw in my sketchbook looking back and forth for shape sizes and line intersections.

LilyCollage2

I decided I wanted to keep the line work evident, but to switch up the line quality. So I chose a Sharpie Fine Pen, a grease pencil, and a bic pen to give three different textures to the lines. For some reason (a hunch) I wanted to leave the lilies in pencil thinking I might collage them or something else.

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I began to lay in color, bright, oozly and wazzly color…

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At this point the idea of adding in collage elements was pretty strong in my mind, but I wanted painted color everywhere, even under whatever I might collage.

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So I scoured magazines for oranges, and pilfered my paper stash for other decorative papers…

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The collage part was so much fun! But it does take a bit of time choosing just the right papers, where they might go, cutting them into just the right shapes, deciding how much or how little to collage.

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But in then end it was so worth it! This is my favorite of all the recent florals!

LilyCollageFinal

I love the jewel tones of watercolor juxtaposed with the bright textured papers. It’s difficult to see in a photograph, but there are shiny bits of paper that just add sparkle to the overall image. I’m definitely doing this again! And yes, I’ve done this kind of watercolor/collage before, but hadn’t in a while so it felt like discovery. You should try it too!!

**This one is in my Etsy Shop, just waiting to be “picked”.;)

 

Thrive

Thrive

A dear, longtime friend of mine came to visit with me this week. We are both going through a rough patch it seems, though our situations are very different from one another. She told me a story of how she’s been going on walks in her neighborhood where there’s a swath of overgrown weeds along the hard-to-find path. This overgrown area felt to her like a picture of her life right now: everything out of control, none of it making sense or seeming to have any order. One day when she was particularly distressed, she saw a lone flower-weed growing in the weedy chaos. It seemed to be there just for her, a reminder from her Father that He is there in the midst of the bedlam, and that beauty can be found even here. She picked the lone flower taking it home to put in a vase.

The next day on her walk, totally engrossed in her thoughts of the difficulty she is enduring, there it was again! Another lone flower, different from the one the day before. Amazed and touched by this, she picked it again, to take home to her vase so she could have evidence all day long of God’s faithfulness to her.

This has continued to happen each day this week. Simple flowers growing in the midst of chaos, lovely reminders of God’s presence with her.

It made me think of all the beautiful flower arrangements I’ve been receiving over the last 6 weeks. They came while I was in the hospital, they came to me at home. Profusions of color and growth to cheer me and give me hope. They certainly have done so!! And I’ve been painting them, drawing them, trying different methods, but always with watercolor. No pressure to perform, just recording the beauties that have been sent to make recuperating from surgery a little less painful.

I’m going to share with you, one each day, these floral works here on Drawn2Life. A few of them I will offer for sale in my Etsy Shop, in case you’d like to “pick” that bouquet for your very own. But if you don’t, my hope is that as you view them, you might be encouraged and given a glimmer of hope, as I have, for whatever situation you find yourself in.

The above bouquet was not sent to me, but rather gathered by my oldest daughter from our own back yard in one of the weeks following surgery. I had this lovely blue Mason jar into which we arranged the Shasta Daisies, Black-Eyed Susans and various other pretties I don’t know the  name of. The background of this painting/drawing did not work for me at all. So I went back into it with acrylics and some collage. It’s always fun to switch up the materials you typically work with.

**The older I get and the more “rough patches” I go through, I’m increasingly convinced that there are little beauties somewhere along the path. I am certain this is no coincidence. They are lovingly given by friends, family and by God himself to lead us along, to cheer us, to give us encouragement to not give up, so that instead of merely enduring, we might truly THRIVE.

 

Collage Eggs Need A Nest

Here’s how it happened:

I’m in Blowing Rock walking the streets with my mom, pressing our noses to the windows. We see these awesome, cool eggs that have been collaged with torn papers.

“Let’s make them…”

That very day we bought plastic easter eggs and glued small pieces of papers onto them in her studio in Boone.

CollageEggs1

Got home to Kernersville and felt that the eggs needed a nest.

Thought I’d try these glue-yarn bowls/nests I’d seen online somewhere. When I put them in the garage to dry (yarn is dipped in glue and draped over a balloon) I thought they were a fail. They just didn’t seem like they would be stiff enough to hold anything.

LucyWatchesKnitting

So Lucy (my cat) helped me knit these nests with a strand of small wire held along with the yarn. (I thought the wire would help the nest keep it’s shape:).

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Love these!

Macy&CollageEggs

And Macy and her friends like them too!

Then a few days later…

…I happened to be in the garage and I saw those yarn thingys all dried and hardened.

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Oh! They did work!

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And now I need to make more collaged eggs!

*Seems like I visit the whole eggs-in-a-nest thing every Spring: like here.

The Year of the Bird

Margaret'sBirdCollage

(Collage by friend & fellow artist Margaret Harrison.)

One year ago today I was wheeled into an operating room for the removal of what was killing me- my colon. It was Good Friday. It has been some kind of year. So much so that I can’t really wrap my words around it.

I’m still just sitting here after 5 minutes with no words leaking out of my pen. I blinked a couple of times realizing I’d been staring out the window at our bird feeder, ruminating over so much that has happened in the past 12 months. It’s dizzying. It’s breathtaking. It’s sobering. It’s worth remembering.

Kelly'sBirdFigurine

I gaze at these birds on our feeder and I remember that at one point in the past year I dubbed it the Year of the Bird. For some reason, I was given birds of various sorts both during and after my health ordeal: the above collaged painting of a robin, a sweet small figurine of a bird, a ceramic bird from Spain that warbles when you fill it with water and blow it like a whistle. Even this past Valentine’s Day, my mom made and sent me a collaged bird card.

Rebecca'sCeramicBird

Perhaps that is the way to hold all that has unfolded the last 365 days…my year as a bird:

-a time of exquisite beauty and dependence.

-a time of strength in helplessness.

-a time of abundant gain in and through losing something.

It’s a year that strangely doesn’t feel like it’s over quite yet. I do face a second surgery at some point in the next year as a follow-up to that first one, a year ago. I shall continue being that bird. Thank you friends and family for your gifts of birds. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers which saw me through it all. I do treasure them and even for the future.

With sincere gratitude,

Jennifer

Mom'sBirdCard

Owls All Around Me

Can you take it? One more drawn “selfie” in a recent knit? I’m not prone to selfies, but if it allows me an opportunity to draw a face and a bit of knitting…well, ok.

OwlsSelfie2

I received this gorgeous dusty blue Baby Alpaca Grande yarn by Plymouth from my mom for Christmas. I knew just the thing I wanted to knit with it–Kate Davies’ Owl Sweater.

MacyApprovesOwls

Macy and her bird friends are seen here approving the yummy Alpaca yarn for the Owl Sweater.

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Yes, the sun comes out when I knit. Here’s the post about this collage page. And here’s my pattern for these fun and easy owls to crochet!

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I wasn’t sure I had enough for the long sleeves, but actually preferred a short sleeve version I thought I could devise from the long sleeved pattern. It worked beautifully. A perfect pattern.

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Though next time, I think I’ll  make it without the waist shaping. I enjoy roomier sweaters that flow a bit rather than hug.

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But I like it all the same, even if I do feel a smidge like a football player with owls peering out from every angle around my shoulders! Ha!

Very fun to knit and to draw! Yet somehow my drawing ended up looking a bit, well…bobble-headed. Or like a caricature. I dunno. Something to do with the proportion of my head to that of my shoulders. Anyhoo. Drawing what one has knitted is like the icing on an already delicious cake. If you’re a knitter, you should try it! Keep a little journal of your drawings and sketches of the things you’ve knitted or crocheted. Or better yet, tuck that drawing down in the page protector with the pattern and a little snippet of the yarn you used to create that knit. Make a few notes as to how you modified it, what you would do in future if you made that piece again, and date it. I have several journals like this from years gone by and it’s fun to see what I had made for the kids and when.

SelfieinOwlSweater

Here’s a little treat for you knitters… if you do take a fancy to this idea of keeping a binder full of your knit and crochet patterns, both finished and not-yet-made. I like to buy the three ring binders that have a clear plastic overlay so I can slip a title page down in it for easy recognition of what’s in it. Here’s one for you to print off for your binder.

Knit. Draw. Document. Repeat. 🙂

Nurture Your Creative Spark

NurturetheSpark

So. After writing the last post about my papier mache birds with shawls, I had an image in my head to work out on paper. It started with writing that bit about having a tendency to make lots of smaller projects when life goes on full tilt.  I looked back at last year around this time, and yep, I was doing it then as well. The six weeks prior to the Art Show at my school is packed with sorting through stacks of artwork, backing them with colored construction paper, labeling them, coordinating volunteers for all aspects of the evening from hanging the show, to the reception, to taking the show down a few days later. Holidays are often “full” like this, as is May-early June, the end of the school year. I had an image of Genevieve holding one of these birds gently, protecting it, with a whirlwind going on around her.

But when I sat down to draw, the thing kinda got away from me…I was drawing flowers and rain and clouds and collaging words and a poem. Huh? (above drawing)

YourCreativeSpark

So then, I decided to have a go at the image I originally had in my head. I found myself pulling out oil pastels with this one. Funny how sometimes the image dictates what supplies you need. Or how an image has a mind of its own and goes off in directions you had no clue it would go. Still I like them both. They’re quite different in many ways even though the central image of Genevieve and the bird is the same.

So. How to nurture your creative spark when life is so very full? Here are some ideas:

*Make use of the little bits of time you have here and there. You’d be surprised how much you can accomplish while waiting at the doctor’s office, or in the car pick up line, or over lunch, or any margin you can find in your day.

*Find a mini-version of what it is you’d really like to be making.  So you might not have time for throwing clay on your wheel…perhaps you could make some small jewelry out of Sculpey Clay. Maybe you can’t begin illustrating your next children’s book…but you could sketch out little thumbnails, playing with placement. And if there isn’t time for composing your next symphony, pull out a toy piano or a piano app on your iPad and play around with chords, harmonies, and tunes. You never know when these seemingly insignificant things might lead to larger works when you have more time.

*Stay connected to your creative love. Even if you only have a minute or two to crack open a book on sketch journaling, or read an inspiring blog post about mosaics, or look up a favorite artist in your particular creative genre, try to stay connected with the creativity you would love to be doing. It might feed ideas and allow you to mull over what you’ll do when your time allows.

*Jot down ideas. Write down somewhere the ideas/inspirations that come to you. This way you won’t forget them, AND you won’t fret about possibly forgetting them. 🙂

*Use the little bits of time you have to try NEW things you might not otherwise try. So if you can’t work on your novel, maybe you can try your hand at calligraphy. If you don’t have any time for weaving on the loom, maybe a bit of origami would be fun to try. Mix it up, choose something small, play!

I’d LOVE to hear your ideas! What do you do when time is precious and scarce? How do YOU nurture your creative spark?

Play!

WhenIKnit2

I’m not very good at this. At least when you consider the inspiration from which I was drawing. As the whims of my creative fancy cycle through their seasons, I often find myself drooling over the work of mixed media artists out there. There are so many, but recently I came across Roben-Marie Smith’s colorful blog and artwork and I was enraptured. Well. Sort of. You see, I LOVE the color, the textures, the layering, the whimsy of it all. But when it comes down to all the papers, paints, pens, glue, scissors, brushes, and-did-i-say PAPERS, strewn everywhere and needing to be stored, I get bogged down. I tend to dabble my creative toes into the mixed media realm for very short periods at a time. It shakes things up a bit, provides new ways to think about things, and offers a no-pressure way to be a kid.

I should say, that though I am no Roben-Marie, this is one of my favorite pages of late! The above pic just doesn’t quite get the color right and doesn’t seem too clear. But I hope you can get the gist of it. Perhaps what is enchanting me about the page is not merely the fun magazine cut-out letters, or the layers of torn papers and paint, or the stenciled lace, or the lovely card glued in, or the few drawn lines of yarn and Genevieve sitting and knitting with her cat Lucy near by. It is the story behind the whole page itself, how it came about, and what it represents to me. Here goes:

MagicCakeShawlbegin

About a week ago, I started to knit the Magic Cake Ruffle Shawl. Oh my. Just making the Cakes of leftover sock yarn on my new Yarn Ball Winder was almost enough. The cute-as-a-button shape of multi-colors sitting there on my desk was almost too much for me to begin knitting with. I know that sounds silly, but I do become quite silly over things like that. Dear me…. Oh. But I digress.

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I am enjoying knitting this shawl as much as I enjoy looking at the Magic Cakes! To see each section of leftover yarn knitted into the shawl is like a page-turning novel where you can’t wait to get to the next chapter! But I started knitting this during some rather dreary days here in North Carolina. Rain upon rain, cloudy skies, dreary darkness seemed to hover over our area for days on end. I do not like days-on-end of dreary weather. Snow would be delightful. But rain and mid-thirty degree weather is just intolerable…it seeps into my head and heart. I plunked down into a chair to knit through the dreariness and an amazing thing happened!

SunOutasIKnit

The sun came out as I knitted! I sat there not realizing at first that the room had grown lighter. And then these stripes fell across my lap and knitting! Sunshine streaming in through the studio/sunroom windows! Glorious, delicious sunshine! It felt as if my clicking needles were batons directing a symphony! The glorious notes of sunshine being called out one by one, chasing away the dreary that had nearly taken up residence in my heart.

I Instagrammed the above pic with the words, “When I knit, the Sun comes out!” And I kept thinking about that phrase for days. It’s very true for me. But the page holds even more meaning. In the small stack of saved papers I have on my drawing table, was a card given to me by a sweet friend years ago. We met at the yarn shop where I was teaching. She wanted private lessons to learn to crochet and thus began a lovely friendship I remember with such fondness. Not only did we share a love for knitting and crochet, but we also LOVED all things French.

WhenIKnitCard

In fact, she and her husband regularly travelled to France and had at one time lived there for a year or so. She and I relished trying to carry on a lunch-length conversation. I was forever digressing into a mish-moshed franglais! :/ I love this card as it reminds me of her! Her writing in French inside the card makes it the perfect addition to this page.

LeftoverPaint

When I had finished the page, I had a fair amount of acrylic paint leftover. (What is it with leftovers these days?) So I turned the page and swooshed the remaining colors around on another page to serve as the background for something else. Or just to stand on its own. I don’t know. I do love it like it is.

If you have the day off today, perhaps you can browse around Roben-Marie Smith’s website. She has wonderful video tutorials and other inspiring posts. This one here includes links to other mixed media artists you might like to visit. And pull out some “leftover” papers, some glue and scissors and paint. It’s a recipe for fun, I can guarantee!

**Wanna know the stuff I used? Acrylic paints, stiff “oil” brush, any ole scissors, Elmer’s glue, papers saved from old cards and their envelopes, paper plate for palette, Bic pen, pencil to use the eraser end for adding yellow dots to the page (works great!). Oh! And a magazine! (I used an old knitting magazine:) You don’t have to have anything fancy to have an evening of creative fun!

Deux Collages

TulipCollage

My mom and I have been drooling over Mark Hearld’s work for several months now. Definitely check out this video of him…it is delightful! I think I got his book back in early February and have attempted some collage works based loosely on how Mark Hearld works.

I love the fact that all the images in his work is taken from his growing up years on a little farm in England. He has loved nature all of his life and this shows in the wonderfully whimsical collage/paintings he creates. Much of his work is a lovely layering of a watercolor painting with collaged papers on top. He even incorporates his lithography work.  Many of the collaged papers have been previously painted and then cut up into the shapes he wants.  I was trying more of that in the collage below.

RosesCollage

This collage was made a few months back, whereas the first collage (tulips) was made just last week. I’ve discovered that I’m an impatient collager.:)  I really don’t enjoy spending time painting the papers I’m going to collage with…I’d just prefer to use all kinds of papers as they are, whether decorative or “junk”, cut ’em up and glue ’em down! Of course, I love the watercoloring bit.

The first collage has been added to  my ETSY Shoppe for sale! (***As of this very afternoon, this collage has already SOLD! My. Thank you so very much!)  Also in the Shoppe is a recent watercolor, titled Tulip Dance, which you can see in this post here.  The same day I offered this painting, I also offered Purple Tulips, in this blog post, but it was scooped up pretty quick.  I’ll try to alert you when I’m adding artwork to the Shoppe as soon as I can. Thank you, thank you, for your interest and purchases!

Perhaps you’d like to try your hand at collaging like this. Here’s a step-by-step suggestion for you:

1. Swoosh some watercolors around on a fresh page, not mingling the color too much, but allowing them to oozle and wazzle with each other. (These are highly technical art terms, you  know!;)  A floral piece works well with this, since the somewhat random watercolors suggest foliage and flowers in the background!

2.  Cut shapes of found and purchased papers to suit what your subject is.  Vary tones of one color, or choose different colors… it’s fun to explore lots of approaches to this.  Maybe you would like to paint or draw on the pieces of paper before cutting them.

3.  Glue them down according to your idea and vision.

4.  Take other media, such as oil pastels, watercolor crayons, markers, pens, soft pastels to add any flourishes or designs to your collaged piece.

Et Voila! Enjoy!

**Oh, and one more thing…would you like to see the photo I worked from to create the first collage?? Here it is. See if you can find the 2 tulips I looked at while assembling their shapes. 🙂

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Random Acts of Paper: Part 4 (Final)

This last card made me think of “Winken and Blinken and Nod sailing off in a wooden shoe…sailed on a river of crystal light, into a sea of dew.” It’s one of my favorite songs!

Not much going on with the back side of the card. I was “done”. You know, the itch had been scratched. And I put away the bits of papers for another day.

Little forays into creating with different mediums is so much fun. But it isn’t long before I’m longing for the simplicity of a pen and watercolor.

Random Acts of Paper: Part 3

Trees! I have a fascination with Trees! When I finished making this one, I kept thinking “Chicka Chicka Boom! Boom!” which is from a favorite children’s book by that name and features the alphabet climbing a tree.

I really should have photographed this upside down so you could see the little tree on the back of the card. I liked it. This one is titled, “A Wishing Tree”.

Chicka Chicka Boom! Boom!