Figure Drawing – update on my Summer project

I keep a sketchbook in my beach bag and try to pull it out while we are at the beach. I wish people would stop moving! – lol. Last week I realized I’d forgotten a pencil. So, I snapped a couple of photos of people by the shore. When I got home I sketched them. They were easier to draw – since they were staying still. 🙂

Here are my previous posts on this subject:
1. Figure Drawing – My Summer Project
2. Figure Drawing – the inside of the body

What I’ve learned about art (and myself)

In the last six months, I’ve been on a creative journey. Here are the things I have learned through my creative resolution:

  • Every time I sit down to paint, draw or create – whether it’s a success or failure – I learn something.
  • Looking back at my lists of project ideas, helps me stay focused and complete things. And feel a sense of accomplishment about the things I can check off!
  • Even the most common objects can be interesting subjects – a bottle of windex, the vacuum – lol!
  • Trying again. A couple of times I’ve tried to redo a painting. The second painting wasn’t necessarily better – but you I improved certain things (and lost some things). It is interesting to compare and analyze. A great learning tool!
  • To post or not to post? I went ahead and posted something I felt I had overworked and was honest about it. I loved the feedback I got!
  • A weekly checklist is helpful to cover all the things I want to work on. (But it is okay, every once in a while, to throw it out the window and work on what I feel like!)
  • Learn everything you can when you visit the art store. Look at their website for even more product information.
  • Disposable palette sheets are awesome. Quick clean up, plus I write what paint colors and mixes I used, for future reference.
  • Bloggers are so nice and supportive. Thank you!!! 🙂
  • The resources to learn from other artists are everywhere – blogs, videos.
  • Mixing colors leads to a less saturated color. For vibrant, bright colors – use colors directly from the tube. (It took me a whole painting to learn this!)
  • Developing a style takes time and practice.
  • A project can spark the idea for the next project, and so on and so on!
  • Sometimes I have to force myself to finish. I would love to start new projects everyday. It is fun and exciting, but sometimes I have to buckle down and finish the lingering ones. The feeling of accomplishment is amazing!
  • Hanging my paintings makes me feel good! 🙂
  • Take the pressure off. I don’t sit down to create a “frameable” piece. That paralyzes me! I sit down for a “5 minute sketch” or to play with watercolor.
  • Be open to inspiration – it is everywhere!
  • Dedicate time to being creative. Schedule time, to make sure it happens. Life can easily get in the way.
  • Step away. With a fresh eye, I notice things, I wouldn’t have, when I was deeply involved in the painting or sketch.
  • Try new things. Whether it led to success or failure, I’m growing from trying new things.
  • The computer can be a useful tool – for planning out projects, for analyzing color, etc.
  • Keep track of paint mixes for the next painting session. I found keeping a little leftover, a paint “starter,” is helpful.
  • Painting sand is very hard. Sand is many different colors and textures and changes color as you get closer to the ocean. I’m still working on this!
  • Getting back into a project, after a lot of time has past is difficult. I’m afraid of ruining it and I forget where I was. BUT, once I get started on it again, I can quickly get back into it!
  • Keeping a blog is an amazing motivator and I can look back and see what I was thinking and working through during each creative project!

How my office turned into my studio

Recently, I started hanging my finished paintings in my “studio.” The studio was originally “the office,” until the easel arrived. Then, I started calling it the studio. Makes me feel like a real artist! I feel proud when I glance over and see what I’ve accomplished. The wall motivates me. Plus, the wall, was a plain, boring thing, before the paintings brighten things up!


Another benefit to hanging my work, is “seeing” my development. I try to learn from my mistakes, but not to fixate on them. What’s done is done. I love the orange I painted awhile back. Shortly after it, I tried to follow up that success with limes, but I don’t like them as much. The limes are too flat looking. There isn’t enough shading to make it 3D looking. When I look at my apple, I feel like I made a giant leap forward.

orange limes apples

One thing I need to do, is sign my paintings! My drawing teacher, Eva, always stressed, “Sign your work!” Before the Tootsie Roll painting, I hadn’t signed most of my paintings. I didn’t feel confident signing with a paintbrush. I knew it was a mistake, to not do it then, because I had all the colors mixed and ready. Now, I’m not sure what color I’ll sign them in. Do most painters sign in black? Awhile back I signed a couple of paintings with a paint pen and immediately hated the way it looked. It wasn’t loose enough. You could tell, I didn’t use a paintbrush. When I finished the Tootsie Roll, I practice with a couple of small stiff brushes, and was able to do a decent signature. But, I still need practice. Nothing finalizes a painting, like signing your name!

I’ve also been organizing the office (I mean the studio!). It’s therapeutic to clean, organize and get rid of the clutter. I feel inspired looking through my old stuff and it reminds me of projects I was interested in, but didn’t pursue…yet.

I have a bulletin board that runs the length of my counter top. I’d like to better utilize it as a “project board,” and include reference photos, notes, and inspiration for current and future projects. I spent time on the project board this morning, and I’m already, loving the results! Notice, front and center is the bike, which I have yet to complete. Hard to forget about it now!

Spending time on my workspace, helps me work more efficiently. It clears my mind. Now, I feel ready to get to work!

project board 2

The Five Minute Sketch

I am proud of how, I have kept, my creative resolution, this past month. I spent a lot of my creative time, painting in acrylics, which is something I’ve wanted to focus on, for a while. In a short amount of time, I’ve refined my skills and I’m happy with my progress. I plan on continuing with acrylics, in the next few months.

Another part of my resolution was, filling my sketchbook, which I’ve been lax about. I’ve done 12 sketches, which might sound decent, until I admit that, four of them were done in one day, and most were done right after the first of the year. If my resolution was dieting, I surely wouldn’t be losing any weight!

Yesterday, I did a quick sketch. As I sketched my running sneakers, I decided to renew my resolution to sketch more, and decided I would do quick five minute sketches. It’s an experiment in “what can I accomplish in a short time?” It also feels like, less of a commitment, if I only have to pick up the book for five minutes. I don’t want projects, in my sketchbook, “hanging over my head.” As I’ve mentioned before, I’m great at starting projects, but it takes real effort, on my part, to finish them. I just want the sketchbook to be, practice time or a way of keeping track of ideas.

sneaker sketch

For the past month, I’ve kept my sketchbook on my nightstand, which has been a great reminder. I’ll continue to do this, but now I plan on picking it up more often! I’m interested in hearing from you! How do you guarantee you spend time on your projects? Do you allocate a certain time each day, or week? Do you work on a project from start to finish or in bits and pieces, like me?

My sneakers caught my eye yesterday, because, drawing shoes, was one of the first projects in my first drawing class (several years ago). My teacher, Eva, was a thin, fragile, soft spoken, much older woman. The first day of class, I hate to admit this, I looked at her and thought, is she 90? Am I going to learn anything?

Needless to say, Eva proved me wrong. Within a week or two, I had an “aha” moment and my drawings went from outlines to shaded, three-dimensional looking objects. I loved Eva, she taught me so much and was so supportive. I enrolled in her class, several times and was very sad when she retired. I certainly learned not to judge a book by its cover!

When Eva asked that we bring in a pair of old shoes to draw, I chose my son’s worn baby shoes. I went on to draw my daughter’s first ballet shoes and much later, my other son’s soccer cleats. I think Eva thought worn shoes were a great subject, because of all the nooks and crannies. There is so much shading and detail to add. I think shoes are hard to draw! Getting the perspective and foreshortening to look right, is a real challenge.

babyshoes balletshoes cleats

Coming up with ideas and finding inspiration for art projects

Although the other day, my breakfast – a sliced apple, inspired a new art project, ideas are not always so easy to come by. I sometimes get frustrated, when I want to work on a project, but don’t know what to do, or where to start. Here are some things that help me, when I have “artist’s block.”

  1. Take a walk. Whether it is a walk in a nature preserve, along the beach or through the neighborhood, walks can help you see things, you normally don’t have time, to notice. Take a picture! I’ve created several projects based on things I’ve seen on walks – a weathered fence, a zigzagging beach fence, a shell. On a route through the neighborhood, I see an old weathered garage, that reminds me of a barn. I’m often tempted to draw or paint it and add in a horse.
  2. Go to the library – an endless supply of art and how-to books, and magazines. I have to admit, the library is one of my favorite places. I often go there and sit down with my favorite magazine, “Country Living.” It definitely inspired me, during my “rooster” phase. Why else, would a girl, from the suburbs, paint and draw so many roosters!
  3. Find a photo. Look in magazines, catalogs, the internet or your own photo library. We can’t always photograph, every idea we have. Stock photography websites, allow you to “search” for photos of specific things. Tear out and keep photos, for future projects, when you see something that catches your eye.
  4. Read about other artists (in books, magazines and the internet). I love reading about other creative people, no matter how different their craft is. There is something inspiring about people, who focus and succeed at what they love. I aspire to be that type of person. I love learning about each artist’s creative process.
  5. Just start. Sometimes it helps, to just get started. Start doodling or painting and see what evolves.
  6. Keep a list of ideas. Without lists, I would forget all my ideas. I recently came across a list, that included the word “jellyfish.” It reminded me of the cool jellyfish I took photos of, at an aquarium, and wanted to paint.
    I make lists on scrap paper all the time, but now I’m trying to use a notebook. This way, all my lists are together and I won’t lose any great ideas. I often thumb through my notebook, to look back on what I’ve written. I feel very accomplished, when I can check off a project I’ve completed.
  7. Look through old sketchbooks. I try to keep everything, because I enjoy seeing the progress I have made through the years. Sometimes I find an incomplete project or an idea, that I never fully developed.
  8. Have coffee with friends. I am lucky enough to have two great neighbors. I always feel inspired after getting together with these special friends. I hope I inspire them, and encourage them, half as much as they do me! They give me the positive reinforcement, I sometimes need. (Anyone out there want to leave a comment? please? lol!) Find a creative friend, or two, and get together with them. When you share your ideas with others, you can get great feedback, from different points of view.
  9. Go shopping! Walking through a home store, art store, or even a garage sale can inspire me. Whether I get a specific project idea or just get excited to work on something, it feels good.
  10. Go outside. When the weather is nice, I often sit outside, and sketch leaves, flowers, etc.
  11. Keep your eyes open. Ideas can come, at any time, from unlikely places. While watching TV, I saw a painting of an orange slice, on Modern Family (in Gloria and Jay’s house) and was inspired. I decided to work on an orange slice of my own, which led to limes and, currently, an apple slice.

It’s funny, sometimes there isn’t enough time, for all the ideas and projects I want to work on! How do you come up with ideas?

Happy New Year!

This year I’m taking my New Year’s resolution to a new level. I’m holding myself accountable, by making a commitment to blog about my progress. In the past I’ve been great in the ideas department, not as good in the follow through! But this time, I hope to draw, paint and create my way through 2014! Join me on the journey so you can witness the successes (and failures) and maybe we’ll both learn a thing or two on the way!

Here’s to a successful resolution and a Happy New Year, Cheers!