“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ Unknown
I’m at it again, trying to get into the habit of keeping up with a sketchbook. If you’ve read previous posts before then you’ll know that I’m horrible at this. I have over a dozen half or quarter finished sketchbooks filled with nothing but scribbles…yes, literally scribbles. Not sketches, not doodles but scribbles of indecipherable ideas that amounted to nothing, most of which look like a child had a temper tantrum with a pencil. (Truthfully, most of them are actual temper tantrums.) I have fits in my sketchbook when I can’t get an idea from my imagination out onto paper. People assume that drawing is this calm and relaxing activity that always brings peace and joy. IT’S NOT! It’s painful and excruciating when you have an image in your head that you want to draw but all you can get out is scribbles of circles. So I often just avoid the whole thing altogether. I find it exhausting.
But I’m at it again. I stumbled across the quote above and thought about how I often come across the saying that if you want to get better as an artist you must draw everyday. Confession: I don’t draw everyday. With pointillism, I draw out my image and from there I’m actually inking for two, three, eight, 14 days on one piece depending on the size. So I spend way more time inking than actually drawing. You would think that the inking was the most difficult part with the time consumption and tediousness but for me it’s actually laying out the drawing. I’ll probably have to dig into my own psyche to figure out why it exasperates me so but at the moment all I know is that it does, despite the fact that I really do have a love for lineart. Because of that love I want to get better at it. So I’ve set myself on this journey of cultivating the habit of doing at least one decent line drawing a day, Monday thru Friday, totaling five drawings a week with Saturday and Sunday as make up days if I miss one. As of this week, so far, I’ve gotten three done. They’re not spectacular but as they say practice makes perfect. 😊
When I got back into drawing after a long hiatus, I initially started off working in sketchbooks, particularly Moleskines. At the time I had it in mind that this would be my main medium. I envisioned myself creating my own sketchbook picture book of amazing pointillism drawings that would later expand into printed volumes to fill a bookshelf. It was an ambitious idea.
Well, things change.
I just so happened to stumble upon these delightful little things called artist cards and fell in love. Immediately I found the cards to be easily mobile which was great for when I did any traveling but still wanted to get some drawing done. Add to that they’re easy to mount and with the size of matte board that I use it’s relatively easy to find a frame for them. To top it off the idea of creating these wonderful works of art at such a small size, I found both challenging, fascinating and a bit against the grain. In a culture where we tend to try to do everything big, going in the opposite direction is liberating and less exhausting. There’s something about art that is small but draws you in that creates a certain quiet intimacy that I never really felt while looking at a larger than life painting. So I made a complete switch to artist cards and haven’t looked back.
The thought of presenting a well worn Moleskine full of completed pen and ink gems is still a lovely idea to me so here are a few sources of inspiration from artists who have done just that. 😊
Lately I’ve been fiddling around in my sketchbook, once again not working on anything thing major. Been kinda longing to get away from working in full color and wanting to do some stuff in just black ink with maybe a splash of color. But I’ve also have found myself wanting to back away from trying to reach some level of photorealism in my work, to not get bogged down in trying to capture every little detail and just loosen the reins a bit on trying to reach perfection. I’m not quite sure if I’m actually achieving that but I have been enjoying doing some small drawings just for fun. I’ve dedicated this week to just playing in my sketchbook. 😊
I don’t sketch much. Every once in a while if I’m trying to work out an idea straight from my imagination, I’ll crack open my sketchbook and scribble out my thoughts. More often than not, I’m the kind of artist who heads straight to the drawing board, set out to do a complete piece, with nothing more than a vision in mind and a few reference images.
One of the things that fascinates me about the work of other artists is the stuff they do in their sketchbooks. I often look at the sketch journals, preliminary works to final pieces and doodles of artists and feel amazed not just at the work but also their consistency in the practice of sketching. I’ve always wanted that kind of dedication but honestly, sketching isn’t something I’ve often enjoyed doing. I have a shelf full of half used sketchbooks full of random doodles of mediocre attempts at being creative and imaginative but nothing really worth looking at ever turns out. Trust me, when I say doodles, I really mean squiggly lines, shaded spheres and odd half finished shapes. Something happens to my brain when I open a sketchbook. I just go blank and with pencil in hand, resort to some rudimentary form of primitive artistry with a monkey grip. Well…that’s how it feels. Sadly, cave paintings are better than the stuff I scribble in my sketchbooks. So despite admiring the sketch work of others and desiring to at least have a halfway decent sketch practice, I never found much enjoyment in it. I had resigned to the fact that maybe I was just one of those artists who is more keen on heading straight to the final piece rather than spending time and energy on preliminary work or just sketching for skill and fun. I accepted that about myself and was content with just the line art I would do for my pieces. That was as preliminary as I could get and I left it at that.
By random chance something happened to me a few days ago. Now as a pen and ink artist you would think that something like this would have already happened but it hasn’t, until now. What had happened was something rather simple and small but greatly significant. I just randomly picked up a ballpoint pen and started sketching with it. That was it. I know, whoopdie-doo. 😒 What’s the big deal about that? The deal is it felt natural in my hand for sketching. You see, in my mind there are two types of pens; one for writing and one for drawing. I never write with my drawing pens and I never draw with my writing pens. You should see the conniption fit I have when my husband uses one of my drawing pens to write something. I’ve gone so far as to tell him he’ll disturb the creativity energy of my pens if he uses them to write on stuff. He hasn’t touched my pens since. I guess it helps that he’s a little superstitious like that.😋
Anyhoo, it never occured to me to try sketching with any of my writing pens, which are mostly ballpoints. Because I write a lot, a pen naturally feels comfortable in my hand. A pencil, I only use when I do my line drawings and that’s it. Everytime I would pick one up in the past with the intention to sketch, I always felt stiff, unable to loosen up and move freely with it. In my mind my pencil had become a specific, precise tool strictly for my base line drawings, not for the free flowing nature of sketching. But the ballpoint felt open with possibilities. So for the past two days I’ve been on a sketching kick and here’s some of the sketches I’ve done. They’re not the best but that’s fine, I’m more excited that sketching actually feels enjoyable to me. I now know to reach for a ballpoint pen instead of a pencil for sketching. Sometimes, a simple change in tools can help to expand your creativity and enthusiasm. 😊
In the process of working on my current Sun mandala carving, I got hit with a Japanese aesthetics bug. The last two days I’ve been learning about the principles and concepts of aesthetics and beauty that has permeated Japanese culture throughout history and present day.
So after two days of personal study, half asleep in the twilight of this morning, this design formed in my mind for possibly a future set of 5×7 linocut carvings. It’s nothing I plan on doing anytime soon but rather just an idea I want to keep around for when I need a little break from pointillism.
The kanji on each panel together represent the word “bijin”, meaning “beautiful person” but is mostly directed towards women so it also means “beautiful woman”. In Japanese art, paintings and drawings of bijin were called “bijin-ga”, a particular genre of Ukiyo-e paintings. The Ukiyo-e genre of art flourished in Japan from the 17th through 19th centuries where artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties, kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers, landscapes, historical scenes, folk tales, flora and fauna and erotica. This obviously isn’t a representation of an actually bijin but it does seem to fit the flora and fauna category of the Ukiyo-e genre. Personally I just have an affinity for the word bijin but I can see hints of the elements of the bijin-ga and Ukiyo-e genre in my own work. Most of my subject matter is focused on beauty, women and flora. Maybe I was a Japanese painter in a former life. That’s a nice thought to hold on to. 😊