Thursday, August 31, 2006

An armadillo, an orangutan and the Dalai Lama

So, during my wanderings through the internet, I found a website on How to draw a radish! Since my drawing abilities are marginal at best, I decided to look at some of the free drawing lessons. They were easy! And fun! Ok, so my radishes need a bit of work. But this was a lot more fun than a drawing class I took a few years ago (please don't ask me to draw the skull of a dead animal again, please? ok?) It is a nice little site, and the lessons are shown line by line. So easy even I could do them! So what are you waiting for? Get a pen/pencil and some paper and soon you will be drawing the Dalai Lama too!

My first page of lessons. I drew a second and a third page too. I can't remember the last time I had such child-like fun. Note the armadillo front and centre. There is also a chameleon in the bottom left corner, some birds, a daffodil (yikes! not my best), an eskimo and other things too. Wheee!

An orangutan. I am quite proud of this little guy. My brain kept saying "no! arms don't go to the floor! don't do it!" but I didn't listen and I drew arms just like the lesson, right to the floor. I think he is pretty cute and that I did a reasonably good job of him.

Yes. The Dalai Lama. I am sure I am building up some kind of karma for this. However, I think it is a pretty close likeness, although his lips are a bit full. I DREW THE DALAI LAMA!!!!!!

Sometimes you just need to play!


So, these are a couple of pics of a new piece I just finished. It is not very big (notice the Canadian quarter). It is a mixed media piece called "Flow". It is pen, dry pastel, embroidery thread and matte glass beads, all on 140 lb. cold press watercolour paper. At first, I didn't care for it, but I then added the thread and beads and now I quite like it. Unfortunately, I think it looks like a bookmark (not that there is anything wrong with bookmarks!). The pastels are also not quite so muted in real life. I learned some things with this piece: a couple of minutes play here and there can add up to a finished piece of art!
I wish this was a better pic!

Close up, of course!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Inner voices

You might as well know, due to some (mental) reasons, I am off work right now. Personally, I feel mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and being sick is being sick, whether it is a broken arm, Crohn's disease, MS, or depression with anxiety. (I do know the aforementioned illnesses are not all the same, but I think you get what I mean.) Being sick is no fun, and trying to get better is hard work. Often I am frustrated, angry, tired, and just fed up and feel like get-me-back-to-work-already. This little virtual art studio gives me something to look forward to; a place where I can say: "Hey, I still have value! There are some things I can still do!"
I often have endless hours looming in front of me and I feel like a prisoner with a life sentence. Some days, those hours are filled with mindless pursuits (video games, eating and sleep) because I *just can't* do anything more; it's all just too much. Some days are not as dreadful; I feel a bit better and am able to look at the world around me and interact with it. The best days are the (very few) ones that I feel almost normal, and can do almost normal things without wigging out or spacing out. No matter what, those hours are still there, waiting and needing to be filled.
With all those hours, I have had a LOT of time to think. Sometimes I let my mind drift and truly look at the world around me. Sometimes I just sit and day-dream about art I would like to create (and, boy, do I have a list!). Sometimes, though, when I am feeling a little energetic and restless, I listen to my inner voices. You know the ones, the ones that say "Let's eat cookies for dinner!" or "Don't forget dish detergent at the grocery store tomorrow." or "Whatever you are drawing, it certainly doesn't look like a bird." or "Maybe a protein drink is a better choice than cookies". They are all our voice, just different aspects of our needs and desires. I'm sure Freud would have something to say about my voices.
I have been sifting through the voices, listening to what they say, and trying to follow the most reasonable or healthy one. Now, I don't always succeed in following through, but I think just recognizing and acknowledging all of them is a big accomplishment for me. I get often stuck just listening to one voice, the one that always says: "You should. You shouldn't. You can't. You're crazy. Your art sucks and no one will ever like it. You are just wasting your art supplies. You'll never get better. Good girls do. Good girls don't." ad infinitum. But lately, I've been trying to listen to some of the other ones. Sometimes, the one that normally says: "I want cookies for dinner." says: "I want to play with colour! Let's go play!" And I do! And I have fun! And the pain is gone for a little while! Neat! Sometimes the voice that says: "You should do this or that" will say: "Yup, I know you are tired. Just a little more and you will have a completed piece of art. Go for the burn!" And I do! And I finish it and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment!
There are other voices too, faint and hard to hear, which are trying to tell me their stories. I am trying to listen. Maybe all I am going through is a great gift: the gift of having the time to learn about myself.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Why Not?

So, yesterday, I was sitting in my Garden of Weeden, just relaxing after finishing the last couple of posts. I was letting my mind drift and my gaze wander, when I saw my neighbour's Rose of Sharon in bloom. The blooms were ethereal; purplish pink and glowing in the overcast light. I thought to myself: "Geez, you really should take some pics of those beautiful flowers!", but feeling relaxed and comfortable, I responded to that thought with a "Nah, maybe I'll just sit and surf". So I did, and found this Imagination Prompt Generator in my wanderings. I was fooling around with it when the prompt was "Why not?". I thought "Why not? Why not? Maybe I should get off my butt and take those pics! Why not? The flowers may not be there tomorrow." So that's what I did, and here are the results:

This was the flower that inspired me, with its iridescence.

This is me playing with the flash. Notice the bug in the flower gathering pollen!

I figured I might as well take some pics of my elephant-ear hostas. Cool texture.

More interesting texture of the hostas.

So, "why not" indeed! There are always reasons to put off things, so why not just get up and do 'em? You never know what you may discover.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Work In Progress: Flowery Adult Language

Of course, most of my art* has a story or explanation behind it. Artists want to express themselves, and I am no different. You see, for a long time, I was very two-dimensional. I wouldn't raise my voice, I wouldn't cause trouble; I was "a good girl". I still am, in a lot of ways, but I am working hard to be *me*, not what *I should be*. (And yes, I am in therapy ; ) ). "Ladies" don't swear or curse, so I didn't. As my very dearest friend, Miz S, used to describe me: "You wouldn't say shit if you had a mouthful" and she was true.

I have been dealing with a lot of anger lately, and need to express it and get it out. There are days I want to scream "Fuck You!" to the world, and I figured I could channel some of that energy into creating something.
Well, here it is. Essentially, I drew the words "Fuck You" in print, and am slowly filling each upright with vines of flowers and leaves; showing what I want to say (the words) but in my own special way (the vines). Nothing earth shattering; no proper botanical reproductions here. But it is therapeutic and thought-provoking for me.

As I meditatively fill in each letter, I think about the words, and the times I could have used them, or drawn on the underlying energy fueling the anger. I can only work on this for about 20-30 minutes at a time before another part of me gets bored and wants to do something else. So I listen to that part (so I don't end up dreading working on this), and go do something else.

So keep watching; I will try to keep updating my progress on a regular basis. Also be on the lookout; each letter will also have an animal or bug on it too, just to keep things light!

*(N.B. the word "art" will now cover anything I create, whether that is art, crafts or baking cookies. It's all artistic, so, for me it's art!)

My creative stuff

Since this *is* an art studio, I thought I might actually start displaying some of my art/crafts that I have made. (Hmm. I know. What a concept!) Some things I post will be recent and others will be things I may have made in the past, but I guarantee they are all created by me.

This little guy is the first "stuffie" I ever made one my shiny, beautiful sewing machine I got for Christmas from Scubaru. I sure learned a lot from this little guy; mostly technical stuff due to me being pretty much a beginner sewer. I really experimented with him: I played with decorative stitches (face), stitch length (sewing edges), and sewing different materials (felt, fleece). No, he is not perfect, but he came out close to how I imagined; therefore I think I succeeded. He sometimes gets funny comments about his legs (they are uneven and *supposed* to be like that), but I like that he is unusual.

I generally like art or crafts to be unusual or emotion-provoking (hate or love, I don't care), so you may see some unusual stuff being displayed around the studio. Don't worry, most of them don't bite ; ).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Art Studio Inhabitants

So, I think I need to introduce the mascots of Anne's Art Studio. They are my faithful companions, and easiest critics. They love me and the work I do, especially when I make them homemade peanut butter!

So these are my dogs: Shadow on the left and Roxy on the right. Shadow is a purebred reverse brindle boxer and Roxy is a fox terrier cross. Shadow is 7 and Roxy is 10. They both are wonderful. See how nicely they sat for me to take this pic? Granted, they do look like American Gothic, minus the pitchfork. So I guess we could call it Canadian Dog Gothic Without Pitchfork.

Can you imagine waking up to this tongue every morning? Shadow is definitely a "licking" kind of dog. I have gotten used to being mildly soggy all the time. He believes life revolves around him, and ends up pushing poor Roxy around, but he has a good heart and loves being around us. A.k.a. "The Ogre", "Mom's Boy", "Whiner", "Bud".

This pic really shows Roxy's personality. She is a sweet dog, willing to please, and very easy going. You tell her to "go lay down" and she goes and lays down. She is actually our house alarm, because as soon as a blade of grass moves anywhere on our property, she barks. She very rarely gets into trouble, but when she does, it usually involves food of some kind. She is a very gentle lady. A.k.a. "Roxy Girl", "Sweetie", "Mom's Girl".

Besides my pups, there is also my husband, Scubaru. He is my biggest supporter and encourager. We have been a couple for many years now, and we still love each other. Ain't love grand?

Well, those are the lives I live with. They are always there for me no matter what. I'm sure you will also get to meet the other important people in my life sooner or later.

Birds in flight

Today is one of those bright-overcast days where the light seems to never change and comes from every direction. I was just feeling blue and irritated and anxious. I felt I just couldn't deal with the day at all, so I headed out into my backyard to sit, relax and commune with Mother Nature's cousin, Garden of Weeden. My poor backyard is mostly weeds, with some plants and bushes, but I figure, as long as it is green and growing, that is fine by me.

So I was sitting, relaxing, staring up at the sky, when I noticed that there seemed to be an awful lot of birds twittering. I also noticed one particular twitter I had never heard before. I looked around, and there was a vibrant yellow bird, with a black head and wings and an orange beak pecking at the neighbour's purple coneflowers. I just sat in amazement at a bird I had never seen around here before. I know, I 'm sure it has some official name, but I am not a bird watcher, just a bird enjoyer. I thought maybe it was an escapee finch from someone's house. I drifted to noticing other the other birds too. I saw regular brown finches (cheep cheep), grackles (black with white spots, crawk crawk), male and female cardinals, a small bird with its neck the colour of light dried blood, a bird with its chest and neck a light burnt orange. I also heard a crow or two (caw caw) and saw the inevitable squirrels (chatter chatter). It seems like there was a buffet of grubs going on in the next door neighbour's yard, because there was probably 50-100 birds hanging out, twittering and having a grand ol' time. Soon, I saw that there were more of the yellow birds around. I now figured they must be some wild bird that me in my busy day-to-day existence never noticed. Occasionally, a bird would wander into my backyard and peck, bob, bend, twist and stretch to eat the seeds from my tall weeds in the side garden. Sometimes, one bird would give an alarm squawk and all the birds would rise from the ground and sit on my fence and my weeds. When a silent "all clear" was given, the birds would drift back down to the grass and peck away, chatter and be together. Too soon, the buffet was closed for the day and the birds flew away.

For just a few moments, I belonged to a life other than my own. I felt I had a view of a secret life; a life I had once dreamed of and coveted, even though I could not describe it. It was like seeing into a house with a library with beautiful wood panelling, and even though you liked it, you knew in your real life it wouldn't be practical or enjoyable. There were split seconds of being transported back to my teen years when any dream was possible and your home could be anything you could imagine it to be. I felt I "belonged" in the birds' world. Far too soon, the sun decided to come out, and I drifted back to my reality. The birds had taken me on a flight of fancy, and gently reminded me of lives being lived outside my own narrow existence.

A starting place

So, I've been thinking about doing my own art studio blog for a bit now. I have always dreamed of my own studio: huge picture window in front of the ocean, an area for painting huge canvases, an area for pottery and, a new part of the dream, an area for textile art. Of course I have the studio totally visualized in my head, and it is actually like a small house instead of only a studio. However, I doubt I will have the exact studio I dream of, so I am creating a virtual one instead. The dream will always be there, however, and I do someday hope to live my dream. Here in this virtual studio, I will not only be expressing my art, but also my feelings and my observations of the world around me that hit a chord.

So welcome to Anne's Art Studio. I can put the kettle on for a cup of tea (and I am sure I could put on a pot coffee for you, if that's your thing), and I am sure to have a little sweet something to nibble on. Pick your favourite mug from the shelf and have a hot drink, pick a cookie from the plate beside you, choose a comfy chair to curl up in, and relax, explore and enjoy.