Process vs. Progress

I am a process girl! Yes, indeed…I love to delve into the methods, the whys and wherefores of making, the steps (or lack of)  to creating, the slow path of stitching, the zen of painting, and the mindfulness of drawing. This is where my writer self gets all excited. To even attempt to put into words what is going on inside my head and heart as I make…ooh yes…lots of good stuff from which to learn and grow. To quote a favorite movie which you will likely laugh at, the Hannah Montana movie: “Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side. It’s the climb.”

I also love progress! I would not be completely happy if I just camped out in the process of making without also seeing that there is progress, a moving along toward a desired end. It actually does matter to me what’s waitin’ on the other side (end product of creating) and it matters to me that I see some kind of moving along a path toward that end. It may be switchbacks, or crazy circuitous roads, but at least there’s a bit of progress. Yes, it’s the climb! But I want the climb to be marked by signs of forward movement, gaining ground, a slow and steady march toward a thing of beauty. Or at least beautiful to me.

The #100Day Project and Tara Leaver’s 7-Day Mini Painting Challenge, are certainly challenging me! Only a week into the daily mark-making sketches in my book, and 5 days into Tara’s Challenge, I am finding way too much chatter in my head and heart as I draw and paint. The voices are far more talkative when I tackle the 10″ x 10″ works on paper for the 7-Day series. I chose to take a similar approach to what I’m doing in the #100Day Project – to make marks on a page in an intuitive manner. I even wrote on the first page of the designated sketchbook for the 100 days: NO THINKING!

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Here’s a peek into my thoughts as I create these abstract works. I posted this on Instagram (follow me there:) on Day 5. I’m wondering if there is any way to silence them. The voices in my head have a definite cartoon character tone: I approach the paper and mediums with “I think I can I think I can” running through my mind. Then when I’m into it a bit I hear Piglet “Oh d-deary dear, oh deary dear!” At a point of disaster I hear the exclamation when a large shiny ball has been hung on Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, “YOU KILLED IT!!” Sometime after a lot of head hanging and hand wringing I hear Lucy’s 5-cent positive thinking phrases. After several attempts to run toward the football and kick it, only to feel I have missed it yet again, Eeyore kindly says, “Funny thing about accidents…they don’t happen until they happen.” Rafiki helps me get to the end with “Look harder!” And “Change is good”. As I lay down my brushes and oil pastels I join him in “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.”💗 But my favorite Rafiki mantra I’ll take with me on my way out to walk is “Asante sana squash banana!” Humor and a sense of lightheartedness is always the best remedy. I mean goodness gracious…it IS only paper and paint.

I don’t always hear these voices. There are occasions where I’ve worked so quickly, or in a familiar ,well-worn method, that I’m just in the zone, drawing and painting without banter. It is lovely. But what I’m recognizing this week is that when I’m challenged, stretched out of my comfort zone a bit, committed to creating in a certain category of art, then the chatter begins. But it isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually the pathway to progress. Yes, you heard me say it…the voices of worry, dread, concern, along with their accompanying Keep it up! Keep going! Don’t quit now! (the 5-cent positive Lucy-isms) somehow bring me along to discovering new things in my art. They lead me through to places where I didn’t know existed, or that I could even achieve. What feels like a free-fall into a black ravine, turns out to be a “false flat” where I’m actually going up the climb and not down. The “mistakes”, failed passages, “incorrect” colors can be tunnels leading to new vistas along the way of progress as an artist.

Here are some of the new vistas I’m finding –

  1. What I love in my sketchbook, may not be something I love on larger paper. Hm.
  2. Now get ready for this…brace yourself: I actually do  like a gray mush of paint. Gasp!! What??This has happened numerous times as I work white acrylic into the existing wet watercolor paint. When it turns muddy or gray, I think I’ve ruined it. But after it dries, I see these passages as lovely color and an offset to all the bright colors around it.
  3. I adore many expressions of paint and line. Really.  I swoon over the simplest of pages. (Like that second one up there with just a bit of green watercolor, a black line, and a spot of orangey-pink collage.) But then I also drool over the softer, murky passages of acrylic paint in the watercolor. The latter has a bit more drama or mood. The former is just sheer joy. To me. 🙂

So this is good. So far, so good. In a couple of days Tara’s challenge will be over and I will have 90 more days of the mark-making project I’ve set my hand to. I am still so excited about that! These pages in my sketchbook seem like pure abandon to make marks howsoever I like! I even find myself wishing I could make about ten a day! One of them creates in my head several other ideas. Perhaps I shall. Perhaps I shall also continue making 10″ x 10″ paintings. I like this. A lot.

Thank you for hanging in there with me on this VERY LONG PROCESSING of my recent PROGRESS as a mark-making fool! You really are kind to bear with me for this length of a post! I do hope you are also making progress in your #100DayProject or whatever creative task you have in hand!

Artfully Yours,

Jennifer

 

Discover Your Life Beautiful…One Drawing At A Time

I can’t believe it! I am so so excited to finally have these 12 lessons to offer to you! Years ago, I wrote a lesson a week on my blog. I called it Draw Your Life Mini Lessons. The response was positive and several asked for the lessons in book form. Though I made a couple of attempts at that, it just didn’t seem like the right container for the lessons. At the beginning of this year, I got the idea to expand the lessons into an ebook and video course. It is now complete and available in my ETSY shop.

The self-guided course is now called Discover Your Life Beautiful, One Drawing At A Time. It is the same 12 Lessons compiled into a 64-page ebook instantly downloaded upon purchase. Each lesson has a password protected video to view which offers more discussion on that Lesson’s topic as well as a look inside my sketchbooks, filled over the last ten years. The course is equal parts inspiration and motivation, tips and techniques, as well as instruction for four different approaches to drawing. As you move through the lessons you will come full circle to Draw Up A Chair and begin again and again.

The course is a comprehensive approach to seeking out and finding beauty in your everyday life. Everything from creative blocks you may experience, to tons of ideas for creating pages in your sketchbook, plus instruction for drawing in such a way that you experience your life more fully.

Of all the creative endeavors I enjoy, this practice of drawing my life is at the center. From this daily habit, I’m enabled to see my life for the beauty that may be out in the open or hidden from view. It takes drawing to uncover it sometimes, and sketching it celebrates the life I’ve been granted.

The overall emphasis in this course is DRAWING AS A PRACTICE, NOT AS A PRODUCT. My desire is that in working through the lessons, you will experience a freedom to drawcument your life without any burden to do so in a certain way or to have a polished product. We find love and beauty in the activity of drawing…not necessarily in the finished sketch.

I offer this course to you for the reasonable price of $45. My hope is that anyone might feel they can begin this life-affirming activity of sketching and drawing their life.

I would love to hear from you as to how it’s going, should you choose to purchase the course and work through the lessons. Whether you are a beginner at sketching or a seasoned artist, you will find something in this course to encourage and inspire you!

Click Here to visit my ETSY shop to purchase.

Enjoy!

Artfully yours,

Jennifer

An Artful Life

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As each day marches on beyond the health ordeal I’ve recently gone through, I begin to see some of the shake down or repercussions of it all. It might be described as having experienced a sifting of sorts, and what remains in the sifter is the pure wheat. It’s an ongoing process though, and I’m just sharing with you as I go along.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever told you about my achilles heel: an inner drive to have a career in Art. I call it my “achilles heel” because it has plagued me for many years now: An overarching desire and longing to have an established career as an Artist in a particular creative path. The thing is, as much as you may not believe it, this career in Art has always eluded me. My definition of “career” has a lot to do with being gainfully employed by a full-time endeavor. I have chased down numerous paths (portrait artist, knit & crochet designer, exhibiting/gallery artist, art & yarn teacher, etc.) and none of them have really “taken off”, or at least met the expectations I have in my  mind for what a career in that vein would look like. I do realize the flaws in this type of thinking, but there it is, for better or for worse…I have wanted (and if I’m honest with you, I still do want) an Art Career.

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But it has become clear to me in these days following sickness and surgery, that what I truly want far more than a career in art, is a life of art! And though it may not seem to be too different, there are significant differences in how I think about the two. I won’t type it all out here. I’ll let you read through my poorly photographed list I made in my writing journal. Some of these might resonate with you. Some may not. It has been good to put the two “focuses” side by side and see the difference.  They seem huge to me. I think the one that most excites me about having an artful life, as opposed to a narrowly focused career, is that I am free to hop in and out of all the things I love to make whether it’s drawings and paintings, or knit & crochet designs, or Genevieve illustrations, etc.

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The freedom of this makes me giddy! And whenever the siren song of “must have career” begins to play in my head, I recall that my artful life allows me to be who I am, creative ADD and all! In fact, an Artful Life is really what I’ve had for many years yet couldn’t see it because of my drive to establish a career. Perhaps now I can let go of the career-path dictums, and just enjoy what I have.

I’ll be posting on this topic, An Artful Life, as I continue to flesh out what it means (for me) to live Artfully. I do not in any way mean to say that if you have an Art Career you can’t have an Artful Life! Or vice-versa! But I’m just exploring, for my own benefit, the differences as I have attempted for many years to establish a career in a particular “art”. It has seemed that I ran into roadblocks so many times, or that I had to choose only one art to focus my marketing and selling energies.

**So…do you have this affliction? This drive to establish yourself as capital A Artist in a particular area of the arts? Does it plague you? How do you deal with it? Do you find freedom from having to have an Art career and if so, in what way? I’d love to hear… 🙂 Or, if you do have a career in the arts, do you feel you are also able to have an artful life? Please leave your thoughts in the comments…I might quote you in upcoming posts.;)

Knitterly Notes

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Have I ever told you I love to knit?  

And so I have…here and here and here. The only thing better than knitting, is to draw or paint what I’m knitting or crocheting. I loved making this little painting of my hands knitting a scarf. Mind you, this lace scarf was begun several years ago…but I have finished it! And I’ll give you a proper reveal soon!

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So here’s the photograph I worked from to create the above painting. I thought you might like to see the reference photo and how it gets translated into line and watercolor. I also thought you might like to see some of the projects I’ve been happily working on of late.

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I knitted this little cupcake hat for my niece’s one year birthday back at the beginning of March, the early days of my U.C. diagnosis. That’s my beautiful sister with her fifth child, Brynley.

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Then I finished this pair of socks, which I wore and wore through the chilly days. For some reason, I kept messing up on grafting the toe together. I’ve done the kitchener stitch successfully many times before, but a brain glitch prevented me from getting it right on both of these socks. Of course, I made it work somehow so the socks hold together without being uncomfortable.

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So, on THIS sock, finished just recently, I was delighted to work the Kitchener stitch correctly! Yay! Maybe my recent surgery re-worked my brain as well!

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And I love the colors in this yarn!!!!!

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This is a random photo of the basket of yarns I used for my Resurrection Shawl

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And this is the beginning of another multi-yarned confection, all in creams and whites! I have quite a vision of this shawl in its finished state…we’ll see how it all turns out.:)

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And a photo of me knitting on our front stoop. This was taken prior to being in the hospital, hoping and praying that the medications I was on would put the U.C. into remission. There’s something about this photo I like… 1. I love knitting outdoors, even if it means wearing a coat and knitted hand mitts. 2. Knitting became synonymous with “hope” during my recent illness. Knitting and Hope…I like that.

Well, that’s enough for now…I’ll share more “knitterly notes” with you soon. I’ll be stocking the Shoppe with some new items soon…more on that coming up!

**Thank you so much for visiting me here on Drawn2Life!! I can’t thank you enough for sharing in these creative ventures with me!

***And…if you ever wanted to take up knitting, try my little photo tutorial HERE. I haven’t yet transferred it over from Drawn2Knit. It will happen someday. For now, check there for free patterns and tutorials.

****ANNDDD….if you’d like to try your hand at drawing/sketching OR need a little boost or encouragement to get back into it…check out my Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons. These were offered last year and still receive a lot of traffic.  I hope it’s helpful to you all!

Transformative Drawing

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I’m not certain I can articulate this well… But there’s something about drawing one’s life which transforms that life. It’s as if by drawing something about your day, your world, your city or town, your home, your yard…you are viewing it through a different lens or filter. This idea came to me afresh as I’ve drawn and painted on these very gray days we’ve been having.

Gray days make me think of England, and when I think of England, I think of tea. My girls and I had a little tea party, something I love to do when I have the chance.

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Gray days also make me think of walks on the moors. Where I get this I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s my reading of Bronte works that shapes this thought. But I look out our windows on these gray winter mornings and it’s enchanting…the dark, misty blue, with inky black trees.

I’m aware that sometimes my thoughts precede my drawings. And other times, the drawings precede the thoughts. But it all works together to transform an otherwise dull gray day to something evocative, romantic, enchanting, or just whimsical. Am I merely living in a fantasy world in my head and in my sketchbooks? I don’t think so. I think this is a necessary element to living fully, to drinking the juice from each and every day we’re given. To take the ordinary, the gray, the not-so-desirable and transform it in some way to extraordinary, vibrant, and delightful has got to be part of our lives.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it here again: My pens are the straws through which I drink the juice of life. Won’t you join me this year in drinking deeply of your life…gray days and all!

**Afterword:  Although this post was written and drawn a few days prior to my previous post, it occurs to me now that drawing has the ability to transform on many levels. It not only transforms your outlook, your view on life; it also can transform you, your thoughts, your questions, your frustrations. This is what my Drawing Your Life Mini Lessons are all about. As I work to get these in paper form, enjoy reading through them again. And I’d love to hear from you as you read them, how are they helpful, what do you glean from them? Thanks!

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #12

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

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #10

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

Drawing Your Life Mini Lesson #9

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

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #8

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

Drawing Your Life: Mini Lesson #7

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