I spent two weeks painting these six “word portraits” to take with me to the Delta Arts Festival in Newport last week, and not a one sold! Guess I thought others would like the words of scripture displayed in their house. I was inspired by my priest’s chasuble he wears Sundays in ordinary time. It says “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY” across the front. At any rate, here are the images — the acrylic paintings are 11 x 14″ and I’ll sell any of them for $25. The embellishments are symbolic – at least to me! Might make nice gifts — who knows! Comment if you like them, please
THE NORTH LITTLE ROCK HISTORY COMMISSION WILL BE SHOWING MY PEN AND INK DRAWINGS OF STRUCTURES ON THE NATIONAL HISTORIC REGISTER DURING THE ARGENTA ARTWALK FEBRUARY 19 FROM 5-8 PM. MY BOOKS ABOUT THE ARGENTA NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT WILL ALSO BE FEATURED: I WILL BE THERE TO SIGN PURCHASED COPIES. YOU CAN ALSO ORDER LIMITED EDITION PRINTS OF THE DRAWINGS DURING THAT TIME. AS YOU KNOW, MY PEN AND INK DRAWINGS ARE CAREFUL AND DETAILED, AND THE IMAGES IN THE BOOK ARE OUTSTANDING. I’LL TELL YOU JUST WHY I DECIDED TO START THIS 3 YEAR LONG PROJECT AS WELL! PLEASE COME BY AND VISIT.
I wanted to share with you the pastel painting I recently did of my cat, Kalila. I decided on a vertical composition because of the way cats love to sit up high. It is pastel on board 29 x 16″ – still unframed. I have entered it in the Pastel Society of the Southwest Show in Texas, but I don’t know if it’s been accepted or not as yet. I chose the colors to complement the silky black of her fur. I call this painting “Wishful Thinking, ” because Kalila always wants to go outside. I only let her out for a few minutes at a time.
Kalila is a tuxedo cat that we got from the Animal Shelter — already a grown cat, and it took a little while before she really accepted us. She’s now eight years old. Since my husband passed away last year, she’s become my number one buddy! She sits on her tower and looks out the window when she’s not cat-napping. Last night, Kalila was sitting on my lap while I was watching TV. I had the AETN show on about tigers, and when Kalila saw that female tiger with her cubs, she got off my lap and positioned herself directly in front of the TV. She was enthralled and watched the entire show! Guess I have a new TV buddy. Hope she doesn’t think she can control the remote now!
These are some creative ideas I’ve collected over the years, but never tried myself. So, unfortunately, I don’t have images to show you. However, I’m sure with your own creative juices flowing now that we’re in a New Year, you will want to try a few of these. Please let me know which ones you like! In posts to come, I’ll add to this list.
1. Set a still life in the middle of a landscape, as per Wallace Steven’s poem “I Set a Jar in Tennessee.” Make it believable.
2. On a large sheet of paper, make a whole object and several detail studies to understand unique characteristics of the object — compose with a visual flow — flower, gourd, skull, seed pods, corn husk, etc.
3. Hang fabrics from a clothesline connecting some together and letting some drape on the floor. Turn on a spotlight and turn off overhead lights. Draw the shadows on the floor as well as other forms. Use a viewfinder, and draw only what you see.
4. Make a viewfinder with 1:4 or 1:5 relationship. Look at your world through this – both vertically and horizontally. What subject would seem most appropriate in this way?
5. Tell a story in 4-5 consecutive views. Use the medium of your choice.
If you are looking for a new idea for a drawing or a painting, think about using a domestic ritual as the subject. Consider the whole area and make a composition – the ritual could be in the foreground, middle, or background. A lot of subjects come to mind: fixing your hair in the morning, meditating, eating a meal, fixing dinner, taking kids to the park — anything that has become an accustomed part of your day. My morning ritual is to read the morning paper while drinking a cup of coffee and eating one of those frozen, microwaveable egg, bacon, cheese, and biscuit sandwich. I look forward to this ritual every day.
I have not painted this scene as yet, but it’s an idea to hold in the back of my brain — my problem is that I have too much stuff in that brain as it is!
“REAL ART IS MADE FROM THE INSIDE OUT, NOT THE OUTSIDE IN.”
One of the most meditative and creative ways to draw and paint is to use the mandala form of art. The making of mandalas has been around for a long time – even cavemen drawings depicted spiral forms. Mandalas are usually designed within a circle as a symbol for wholeness, or the circle of life. The word itself is Sanskrit for “healing circle.” Mandalas have been used mainly in Tibetan Buddhism, but also within Native American traditions. Modern Jungian psychology also used the mandala as a way of exploring the hidden recesses of self. Carl Jung said, “The mandala is the Self, the wholeness of the personality which if all goes well, is harmonious.” He believed that all parts of a person: body, mind, and soul must be brought together for healing.
The mandala has been used in Christian symbolism as well. Do you remember Jesus’ answer to the question, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” His reply was: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” If you think about it, circles are all around us in life. We are created from an egg and nestled in a circular place, the womb. A bird’s nest is a mandala — a cell is a mandala — the sun– the moon– even the world is in the mandala shape. Can you think of any other circular shapes in nature?
Begin by finding a quiet, comfortable place to draw. Relax and breathe deeply for a few minutes. For this first project, draw a large shape, whether circular, square, or oblong on your paper – whatever feels right for you. Most mandalas are built on a pattern that expands in all directions from the center with no clear top and bottom. Whatever you choose to put within this framework might represent various aspects of your life: past, present and future. It can be as complex or as simple as you like. Use crayons, markers, pastels, or colored pencils to fill in the shape from the center outward using only abstract forms. Be sure not to draw any recognizable forms. Keep working from your subconscious until you feel that the composition is complete.
Now, look at your composition. Is there a focus (center of interest)? What colors did you use? Is there a story here to be told? How do the shapes fit together? Can you analyze your own design? What colors did you use? Send me your attempts and any comments, please. My attempt at a purely abstract mandala can be seen below. That looks like crossed eyes in the middle doesn’t it! I used colored pencils and just let it happen. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do this!
In future posts, I will explore other ways to design a mandala. There are myriads of resources out there — a lot of mandalas that can just be colored in from Dover Publications for one. I’ll give you some suggestions later on.
I have lots more suggestions for sketchbook drawings, but alas, I never drew them. Hopefully, you will take some of these suggestions and try them yourself in your sketchbooks. If you do, and want to send me some images, I will be happy to post these on my blog.
Idea No. 1: Make a list of five objects. Make a list of five locations or environments. Combine one from each list into a drawing, such as: a fish in a forest, an alligator on the kitchen table, a lamp in a cloudy sky. Make it outrageous!
Idea No. 2: Draw a still life of reflective and transparent objects — use three different surface qualities. Use a viewfinder to isolate an area of the still life with a wide range of values and elements. Turn this area into a larger drawing either abstract or representational.
Idea No. 3: Tell a story in 4-5 consecutive views on separate sheets of your sketchbook. Use the medium of your choice.
Idea No. 4: Make a drawing depicting an emotion without a figure. How can you do this through space, life, and perspective? For example: space = bedroom, elevator; light = a single bare bulb or candle; perspective = looking upward or downward.
Idea No. 5: An alphabetical landscape: use a short but profound word like WAR and draw a wide, horizontal rectangle on a sketchbook page. Put capital letters in this field. Break up the space in a dynamic way and use negative space to provide the environment. Use perspective and color on the letters.
More to come later…
Ignore depth of space and simplify and flatten the shapes in a still life. Use a complementary color scheme with close values. Let either warm or cool colors dominate.
Try using either a high horizon or a low horizon line. The choice depends on where you want the emphasis to be.
Go to a fresh food market and take pictures of the displays and the customers. Try to tell a story with the characters in your scene.