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.

MagicCakeShawl2ndcake

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!

Awesome Quotes

BigPlanter

A favorite artist of mine, Ian Sideaway, posted on his blog a couple of terrific quotes by other all-time favorite artists of mine:

“I cannot rest, I must draw, however poor the result,
and when I have a bad time come over me
it is a stronger desire than ever.”
(Beatrix Potter)

I so identify with Potter’s statement. As this week and weekend are packed with so  many wonderful things, I find myself wanting to draw more and more and more. The above drawing was made a few weeks ago at the Ciener Botanical Gardens and I am planning on being there tomorrow morning! I know I will be tempted to back out and do some of the many things I need to do to be ready for the Craft and Artistry Bazaar on Saturday. But I “need” to draw even more than all those things … to reset my heart’s rhythm to an even pace, hopping off the whirling  merry-go-round to drink in Beauty with the straw of my pen. Yes. Ms. Potter had it right.

“Drawing is the artists most direct and spontaneous expression,
a species of writing: it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality.”
(Edgar Degas)

Oh, how true this is! I agree with it 150%. Long before I kept a sketchbook of drawings from my life, I always loved my sketchbook for the spontaneous, unfinished drawings that were merely a stepping stone for “proper paintings.”  I have also loved the sketches and drawings of famous artists more than their finished paintings. Degas’ quote is why. If you ever have a chance to look at a book of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings, take special note of his sketches and drawings of Christina’s World. They are so moving and achingly beautiful. I would almost say I prefer them to the finished painting … they record the first blush inspiration, the imprint of a human hand, and the decision making he went through in composing the painting.

And you would do well to look at, study, and enjoy the drawings of Ian Sideaway. Wow, that guy can draw! Love, love his line work.

A beautiful day to all my dear readers, near and far!

 

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. 🙂

IMG_0455

Responding to Rutenberg: Drawing vs. Painting

ID #110

“Moments”

Brian Rutenberg, in his Studio Visit #18 , quotes a German artist, Walter Sickert, who said, “Drawing is about captivity. Painting is about freedom.”  This one little quote has stuck with me and caused all kinds of back & forth in my brain as I consider what’s being said here. I don’t think Rutenberg is in any way pitting the one against the other to somehow say that one is better than another.  He is merely putting forth a fundamental difference in the ACTION of or the RESULT of drawing & that of painting.

He says, “I’m really invested in that notion of capturing something and using that as a springboard into the process of abstraction.”

I love that.  Brian calls himself a Painter.  Every time I hear him say that, I find myself wanting to say…”And I am a Drawer.”  Which doesn’t mean that I do not paint…I do and love to paint! But fundamentally I love to capture the Beauty of the world around me whether it be recognizable things, places, people, or events which are inherently lovely OR whether it is something I’ve had to hunt for in the midst of the mundane in life, or even in the painful places of life.  I feel it is my job to look for and capture any hint of Beauty by drawing it in my sketchbook or on larger pieces of paper or canvases.

I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Brian Rutenberg’s drawings of trees (you can see a few of them in the documentaries).  They are exquisite.  I have done a fair amount of drawing/painting trees and they are some of my favorite works.  As I look at his “drawings” of trees, they seem very painterly to me.  This distinction between what is considered “drawing” and what is considered “painting” is not a black and white issue to me.  I believe one can paint with a pen, a pencil, and with charcoal…mediums that are typically associated with drawing.  And I believe one can draw with watercolor, acrylics, and oils…definitely paint substances.  Is it merely the presence of line which marks a drawing?  Is it the evidence of brushstrokes which denotes a painting? Or is it a massed-in approach (blocking in the large shapes before the smaller ones) which deems a work a painting?  Or…what?  I’ve settled on it being a fuzzy area and which really doesn’t need to be defined.

But if I go with Sickert’s definition here, I have to say that I am definitely a DRAWER.  My eyes are constantly on the lookout for things/people/events/places that I want to capture in my sketchbook or larger papers or canvases.  Yet even Sickert’s definition may be fluid.  As I capture these moments by drawing them, I experience a sense of freedom.  As if, the simple act of drawing (or painting:) sets me free to say “yes” to the moment, to accept where I am, and to fully inhabit the gamut of life’s beauties.

So…was I drawing or painting the first image?  How ’bout the tree…did I draw it or paint it?  It really doesn’t matter.  I was definitely capturing something, whether it was an idea about the tangle of creative thoughts or an assertion of the wisdom and experience of an old tree.  In capturing these, I was also freeing them to exist somewhere other than in that space and time AND freeing me to embrace all the wonder that life has to offer.  I do enjoy thinking about these things.  It seems that Mr. Rutenberg does also.

Thank you, once again, Brian.

And here’s a quote by Edgar Degas I came across recently…good stuff to think about:

“Drawing is the artist’s most direct and spontaneous expression, a species of writing: it reveals, better than does painting, his true personality.”
(Edgar Degas)

Encouragement from Across the Ages

I came across this quote on Ian Sideaway’s fabulous drawing blog:

“Do not fail as you go on to draw something every day, for no matter how little it is, it will be well worthwhile, and it will do you a world of good.”
(Cennino Cennini)

In case you do not know who Cennino Cennini is (like me), click here to familiarize yourself with this artist from the 14th-15th centuries.  It is incredibly amazing to me that we live in a world where the voices of artists who have gone before can still be heard.

I am also encouraged by knowing and drawing with artists who have been at it for years longer than I have.  My friend Susette (drawn above and here: second drawing; and here: second drawing again) is just such a person whose life-long love of and commitment to drawing has continued to inspire many in our area to draw together.  I first joined up with the Drawing Circle she started years ago in Winston-Salem.  I had two young children then and it was my getaway day on Saturdays to draw with them in the morning.  Sometimes I brought my kids for us all to draw.  Many of these artists still have their drawings of my kids and of my third child, when she was born and brought in her car carrier to Drawing Circle.  Susette has now begun another group on Tuesdays where I’ve been drawing at Barnhill’s Bookstore.  I’ve loved reconnecting with her and the folks who draw on Tuesdays.

Encouragement to draw can be gleaned from so many inspiring people!

A Must Share!

Something about my little beach drawrings made me think of Maurice Prendergast, an artist I’ve admired for years.  This was only after the fact, not something I was aware of while drawing at the beach.  But it made me google him and read more about him as an artist when I found THIS!

You simply must download this for yourself! You’ll love it! A peek into one of his very own sketchbooks, circa 1920-23.

Prendergast-Sketchbook

Responding to Rutenberg: Limitations

ID#102

In Brian Rutenberg’s Studio Visit #16, he begins the talk recounting some casual banter between friends over dinner one evening.  The subject was “limitations”, which he says “Every artist has” and that he is continually inventorying his. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard him say this, wondering what, if any, limitations to being the artist he wants to be, he might have.

It was incredibly encouraging to hear an artist of his stature speak of limitations.  Though his list of limitations has largely to do with ways in which he would like to expand artistically, I nevertheless found it amazing that he often goes through the ways in which he feels limited and yet finds a sense of “spaciousness and comfort” there.

What I find myself listing as limitations in my art is largely in the categories of station in life (ie. motherhood), resources, and opportunities (living in a small town as opposed to an art mecca such as NY).  Nevertheless, I was encouraged and inspired by Brian to think of these boundaries or limitations as places where I actually can find freedom and “permission”.

He says, “Because perhaps it’s the intensification, the concentration of those limits, that give our work its truth and its humanity and its vigor…and content.  It’s that continual longing to break from those inescapable things, those limits, to get better, that I’ll never be good enough, that it’s the longing to get better, the longing to speak more clearly, more directly, with less, that keeps me going.  It’s very comforting, these notions.”

Wow.

To say that his words were encouraging would fall short of the affirmation I received on hearing that all artists struggle with, or are at least cognizant of, limitations. And then, to be inspired to think of these limitations as places of “spaciousness, comfort, and permission” is something I’m carrying with me every day as I go about all the motherly and household duties, as I go about teaching art to young children, and the myriad of other things that seem to come between me and being the artist I long to be.  He goes on to say:

“So for me it’s not the question, “Are there limitations?” The question for me is, ‘Do I inhabit my limitations?’ And I think that’s the really important point: one must utterly inhabit their work.”

These final words on this subject were incredibly centering for me.  I now have this wonderful call to INHABIT my limitations each and every day.  To embrace them, and to create works in my sketchbook that continue to grow out of those limitations.  I may not be working on huge canvases and exhibiting them in galleries and shows, but I have the same call to create art and I must inhabit the life I have in order to create works which contain even a grain of “truth, humanity, vigor and content”.

Thank you Brian Rutenberg.

Responding to Rutenberg

ID #103

I’ve recently discovered an artist whose work and words I’m eating up these days.  To say that his paintings are delicious would be correct…the color, movement, and draw-you-in composings on canvas are breathtaking.  His words are equally inspiring.

Brian Rutenberg lives and works in New York City.  His work is about as far on the other end of my own artistic offerings as one might be.  He has an art degree while I have a French degree. He was a Fulbright Scholar and has made his living from his art whereas I have raised kids and worked small odd part-time jobs while my art-making has been stashed in-between every-which-way.  He works in oils on HUGE canvases and currently I work in a sketchbook. He works in abstraction, with his drawings in charcoal being representational; I draw representationally with forays into abstraction.

We do have a few things in common though: born in the same year, southern upbringing, family people (he is married with two children; my husband and I are raising three). But the largest common denominator is a love for articulating all-things-art.  And this is what I want to share with you…my reactions and responses to a few of the ideas and thoughts he presents in his marvelous Documentaries.

There are 18 of these 10-minute videos of Brian speaking to us about his work.  I’ve watched them all, eagerly absorbing and mulling over the concepts he espouses and describes so eloquently.  You really must watch these.  I suggest watching only one or two and then spend a few days thinking about them and letting the ideas seep into your way of creating.

ID #105

I have also been making more of these Improvisational Drawings (as I’m calling them:).  I’ve started numbering them with ID (stands for Improvisational Drawing) and then a number.  I’ve also taken to writing about each of them on the back, or on a sheet of paper placed in an envelope I glue on the back.  I enjoy creating the words that speak to how the drawing evolved, any thoughts as to why, and specifics about approach, or underlying ideas.  The drawings themselves are in no way an attempt to replicate Rutenberg.  The thing I’m going for is to consider the elements surrounding the drawings, the making of them, the impetus behind them…like Rutenberg, as he so wonderfully communicates in his Documentaries.

My next post will be responding to one aspect of one of his talks. In the meantime, see if you can watch a few of his documentaries.  It will be time well spent!

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #6

All the Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons have now been typed up, expanded, revised, updated and published into an ebook & video course for you!

Purchase this in my ETSY shop HERE.

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time!

Sincerely,

Jennifer Edwards

Origami Craze!!

I was recently loaned the video titled Between the Folds, A PBS Independent Lens movie.  I fell in love…again.

When I was a child I had several origami books (which I wish I could find!) and spent hours folding and folding and trying to figure out the diagrams for creating all kinds of animals, boxes, people, etc.  I have continued to enjoy origami as an adult, buying a book here and there to share with my kids.  Currently in my art classes at school, I’m teaching tesselations. To my delight, I discovered in this film that Origami is a kind of 3-Dimensional tesselation!  How cool is that!

I was enrapt from the beginning of this video to the end as it expounded all the heights to which origami is currently taken.  An exquisite art form, a way to teach geometry and other mathematical subjects, a practical problem-solver for industry, as well as huge scientific strides being made through Origami.  If you can get your hands on the full, hour long video, PLEASE DO SO! It is hugely inspiring!!!!

But here are links to a couple of mini segments from the film:

An amazing origami artist who makes his own paper prior to folding it.

My favorite origami artist in the video whose work is breathtaking and whose personality is equally delightful! I’m sad to see he is deceased…what a wonderful artist!

The above photo is of all our creations this past weekend.  Maddie, Catherine, and myself made lots of cool things from butterflies to swans to boxes, to a person and on and on.  This is too much fun!  You should go pick up an Origami book and some square papers (I’ve often seen very inexpensive books with papers in the Bargain section of Barnes n Nobles) and you will have so much fun!!

Sometimes I think I must be as crazy as Eric Joisel about art…sure wish I could say, as he does in the video for his excuse, “…but, of course, I am French!” 🙂

**To be noted: the first three letters of Eric Joisel’s last name, are the French word for Joy.  He indeed brought a lot of joy into the world through his art!