Why I Create

I create because it brings me great joy.  It is a need that I have to put paint, pen or needles to work.  I also love to give my creations to the people I love.  I feel a deeper connection with them as I share a bit of myself with them.  We both get a smile out of it.

Creating brings me back to center.  When I am stressed out or feeling like I need some space to myself I sit with my work and the world drifts away.  It doesn’t matter what medium that I chose, but working daily on some bit of creative activity just brings my day together.

It is also a way to document my life without having to write it all down.  It is more of a visual record of my moments and what I am interested in doing or commenting an event.  Creating is also a process.  I enjoy the process of expressing myself.  I enjoy taking something from a dream to a reality that I can share with others.

Currently I am working on a set of gifts for my niece.  I have several knitted objects for her and I would like to paint something for her as well to go into her package.

I have to go where my creative muse takes me at the moment.  I drift in and out of several mediums depending on my mood.  It is great to have a variety of things to go to as I like having a daily outlet.

Knitting bug still has me in its clutches

My creative life is still going strong, but with another medium at the moment.  I am still knitting away and not painting at the moment.  I just made a hat for a friend and continuing on with my cozy memories blanket.

I have some gifts that I want to make for my niece and nephew for their birthdays and very excited about them.  I am not knitting anything complicated, just relaxing with my knitting and letting it take the stress away.  Its a good way for me to relax and feel connected to my Mom.

I have also been away from my blog at the moment as well.  I have several things that I want to post about, but I have been hibernating a bit right now.  I want to continue with this blog which is one of the reasons I am checking in today.

I am enjoying the knitting mojo for the time being and letting the painting inspiration marinate for now.

A trip to the MoMA

A couple of weeks ago I went to the MoMA to see Matisse the Cut-Outs.  While I was there I stopped by a few galleries…my favorite paintings to see and get inspiration.

I first stopped by to see other work completed by Matisse.  His range in the years that he created is fantastic.  This is work completed before his Cut-Outs.

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I then stopped by to see Modigliani.  His work more than most others most influences my work.  His proportions and portraits are very beautiful.  This work showcased below is so languid.  I love the patchwork of colors and how the body is glowing on the sofa.  I really like how he exaggerates his proportions so the body almost feels stretched.

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I then stopped by to see Rothko.  His work is so moving.  When I was in Rome quite some time ago I saw an exhibition by him.  It was so moving and so full of emotion.  It was of his color field work, but the image I am showing below is not from that series.  I thought I would show something that he is not known for.  The piece is called Slow Swirl at the Edge of the Sea.

IMG_1460I love the surrealist qualities to the piece.  His linework is spectacular and the touches of color here and there just dances your eye along the canvas.

Going through my visit to the MoMA has reinvigorated my creativity and painting mojo.  I have been immersed in my knitting world lately which is just as creative but does not give me the same satisfaction that painting and drawing do.  There is something about drawing and painting that just connects so much of who I am on the inside to the outside world.  I feel more expressive when I am painting and drawing.  Knitting is meditative and relaxing, but does not quite release the creative spirit in me that painting and drawing do.  Back to the studio.

Lull

I have been in a non-drawing mood for the last week.  This is unusual for me of late.  I see all of the drawing and painting supplies lined up all beckoning me to use them, but I have been distracted.  I just haven’t been able to sit down and focus on my art practice.

I want to get back to my daily painting routine.  I think to be connected to your work on a daily basis is very important.  To get too far from the picture of you creative life can easily slide to a bad habit of not being in the zone.

I am in the process of learning a language.  To create a fluency in my work I need to put in the hours and days to get closer to my goal of being a native.  I think sitting at your workspace everyday even if its to just to layout a new color palette or put a new layer into your painting even if it will get covered up is essential.  Or reading about art theory or an artist that I admire will help keep me in the realm that I desire to participate.

I think tonight I will sit and list a small series of goals that I would like to achieve in the next few months to help spur me on in my lull.  Some of the goals that I am thinking about are to:

become more fluent in painting 3/4 profile faces, finish a large scale canvas painting, gather inspiration in a notebook for my work, etc.

Even writing this post today has been a bit of a slog for me.  But pushing through it and just typing out where I am in my creative life today has helped me to see a few things more clearly and invite me back to my studio.

Knitting Bug…

This won’t be turning into a knitting blog, but all I did this weekend was knit. I watch A Southern Girl knits podcast and she suggested watching A Homespun House podcast. As I was catching up with Molly on  a Homespun House she showed a bunch of knitted projects that got my knitting bug going.

I have been concentrating on my art almost exclusively for the last year. I am a long time knitter, but just loving the art side of me lately. I do keep up with knitting community through podcasts and  I did knit some gifts for my family for Christmas, but very little knitting time.

What got me knitting again is a very easy, but addictive project called the Happy Memories Blanket.  Its a blanket that is a series of mired squares that uses all of the yarn in your stash.  I have a moderate stash and it did get me thinking about all the projects that I did knit the difference yarns out of.

Knitting for me is a very relaxing and enjoyable time…it connects me to my past and present.  Just like the afghan that I am knitting.  And the knitting community is such a wonderful group.  I have yet to meet a knitter I didn’t like.  It’s such and inclusive and warm group of people.

Watching the A Homespun House podcast led me to Yarngasm podcast and her indy dyed yarn at Voolenvine Yarns.  Her color sense is just so fantastic.  I had to buy a skein of yarn and I can’t wait to get the new yarn and try it out with my cozy memories blanket.  I really like supporting indy dyers.

I will return to my canvas and sketchbook this week, but right now it is the knitting bug that I caught and it has me in its throws.

Playing…

How often do we get asked or told to go play as an adult?  Not too often in our daily lives.  But art and creative outlets give us the chance to do just that.  Last night I just randomly picked out two delusions spray inks and just sprayed them in my sketchbook.  It got me so excited to start playing  in my journal.

Playing with your creative life is so important.  You discover things with your materials or techniques that you may not have thought of before.  It may lead to new subject matter or symbol in your work.

This is something that has taken me the last year to really discover.  I have heard various teachers say just play with your supplies, but I was so caught up with technique at first that it eluded me.  I believe yet again that it is confidence in yourself that leads you to playing.  I feel much more comfortable with art that I feel that I can let go sometimes.  But I still have a ways to go before I feel like I am not thinking so hard about exactly what I am doing.

It comes back to daily painting or creating again.  Showing up to your creative space and putting in the work or time.  Looking at a lot of wonderful projects is great, but I can say from first hand experience that working at my craft often has taken me along way to feeling confident in my work.

I have experimented a lot in the last year with various supplies.  But there is so much more to learn and the only way to achieve that level of “mastery” is to play.  It is also a great stress reliever.  This is because what you do with your art can be just for you.  You can put anything you want on the page and escape or face the current moment you are in.  There are just so many possibilities when you let yourself play.

Presence

Where are you at the moment?  How are you feeling; where is your mind?  Are you having trouble getting into the flow or is it right on? Is it important for creating though?  So much of creating for me is floating away and being dreamy, but is it really?  Or I am just being in my current state of being and letting go?

I have trouble being in the present moment.  I find so much of my time is spent daydreaming or thinking about what to do next or what has just happened.

I want to be more conscience of where presence takes me in my creative process.  Taking a few moments to check in with myself as I sit down in my studio and I begin to draw or paint.  Will this effect my end result?  I am going to see.  Being creative gives me the chance to explore that side of myself.

What is presence?  Is is showing up to your creative table everyday and making a couple of marks?  Is it being mindful of your current state of being?  Taking control of your creative process?  Letting go of negative self doubts that inhibit you from creating?  I  believe it is different for everyone. But slowing down and taking a few minutes for yourself is for everyone.

I know that presence should be non-judgemental and you need to take time  to do it.  Its a daily practice just like creating.  We have such busy lifestyles and so much going on that we forget where we are right now.  We may love where we are right now or dislike it a lot.  Its focusing on the right thing at the right moment.

So much of being an artist is capturing a state of being.  Whether it be on the canvas or on a page or whatever your medium is.

What is your present moment now?  Let me know.

Gulfsprite

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is to talk about some of my favorite classes and and teachers that I have encountered over the past year. I think I will make this a weekly entry for the next few weeks.

The first teacher that I discovered on this artistic journey is Christy Sobolewski.  So it is fitting that I share about her first.

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Artwork by Christy Sobolewski

I wandered into Christy’s art journaling videos on you tube a little more than a year ago and I haven’t looked back.  She grabbed me at the start with her knowledge, skill and creativity.  To subscribe or watch any of her you tube videos please go here.

Christy is one of my main mentors, constant sources of inspiration and encouragement.  She is a wonderful artist and teacher from Florida.  One of my favorite things about her is that she is really there for you as a student.  She really helped me get my mojo back last fall.  You can also find more of her work and all of her classes at www.gulfsprite.com

10700450_11880163_pm Artwork by Christy Sobolewski

For a couple of years I would go into a bookstore or online and look at the world of art journaling and art books but did not fully delve into it until last year.  Not until I saw Christy’s videos.

Christy is the one that got me to start drawing and painting for me again.   She has such a fantastic approach to teaching and sharing her art with the world.  Her videos were so inspirational and her work completely dreamy.  I just new that I would be taken on a journey.  One of her main subjects is faces.  She is the person that helped me find my love of drawing faces or journal girls as they are sometimes called. She is living the artist life and creating  beautiful pieces.  You can additionally find her work here on society6.com.

11894316_4864602_pmArtwork by Christy Sobolewski

When I began art journaling or my artistic journey I never would have imagined that I would be some one who drew the human face or even as i draw them a stylized face.  I always thought of myself as an abstract person.  Abstract expressionism is one of my favorite genres of art.  I will talk about this another day … I digress.

I am currently a student of Christy’s and I will be taking her original 30 pages in 30 days class.  This class entails that we will create one art journal page a day.  I am really enjoying the class so far.  It began and is running as a live class for the month of February.

I have also taken all of her obsessions classes last year and this is really what got me going with my art practice.  She encourages you to make it a daily activity even if it is just to sit down and flip through your previous work.

16522065_2508734_pm Artwork by Christy Sobolewski

She also has a plethora of other classes on her site that I haven’t even gone into here.  As I write this I am impressed at all of the venues she has going and that I am following along with her. I haven’t even gone into her Art Geeks forum. This is all listed on her website…see link above.

Christy is thoughtful and as well as talented.  You should give her a look up if you have the chance.  You won’t be disappointed.

11894244_8949472_pmArtwork by Christy Sobolewski

What is an art journal?  These are my quick thoughts.  I will go into art journaling more in a future post.

An art journal is a collection of illustrated pages on any theme you feel you need to express.  This is a very simplified definition of an art journal as there are a myriad of ways to keep and record your life or ideas or feelings or what you choose to express on the page.  Just google art journal and you will see what I mean.

My Work from Christy’s Obsessions Classes.

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Scrappy Journal – August

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Face-MagazineCollageHairCollage – September

Flow

Getting into the flow is a sublime state of being.  When you are lost in your art and the ideas move through you you enter into the dream world that I was talking about in an earlier post  You are one with your art and it can be a rapturous experience.  To find flow I believe we need to be confident in ourselves and our approach to the medium.

I find flow very easily when I am reading.  I read a lot. (I am currently reading two books — The Goldfinch and The Cuckoo’s Calling)  I am comfortable with the words on the page and the process becomes other worldly and I get lost in the book.  Now when you first start to read which for most of us is at a very young age we struggle with the new words and sounding them out which we forget because reading is second nature (for many) as we grow older.

Working on your craft is just like learning to read.  You need to sit down at the place you create and just create.  You may stumble some days and others you will find yourself falling into the flow.  Finding the flow can be stressful, difficult and down right elusive.  But I believe if we chip away at the technical issues of the craft we will fall into a place that the everyday life falls away.

For me taking classes has really bolstered my self confidence in art and has given me a foundation to build upon.  I am way more confident with my creations now than was just a year ago.

I am looking to find the flow in my own work and have occasionally tickled its edges. But I think I need to build more confidence in my brush strokes and worry less about how it looks and more about how I feel when I am creating.

The idea of flow is credited to  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. 

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Matisse – The Cut-Outs

This past weekend I attended the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibit.  It was inspiring, informative, overwhelming and just plain awesome.  I wasn’t able to take photos of the exhibit but here is the cover of the book that I bought about the exhibit.

FullSizeRender 2He has a voice that has held up over time.  It speaks so much to the present as it did in his time.

Some of the pieces in the collection were larger than life.  Not only in scale but in imagination…

They were just so simple yet said so much in his economy of line and depth.  A lot of the pieces had a flatness to them but an illusion of depth with the contrast bw his intense color of the subject but a flat application of color to the background.  As seen in the photograph above.  You can go to MoMA’s website here to see more work from the exhibition.

In his larger works he would substitute in and out various pieces of subject matter.  Here is a quote I took from one of the exhibits

…Substitution was characteristic of Matisse’s process; he constantly shifted elements within and bw works.

What this is referring to is … his later cut-out work.  Matisse was bed ridden because of his health and he wanted to create a garden around him so that he could imagine wandering it.  In his later works he mainly used gauche, paper and scissors.  So he would pin up on his walls his garden and then insert and remove various elements to the composition until he was satisfied.  And then he would typically use the discarded elements in another work.

What he created was nothing short of ground breaking.  He was working in the late 40’s early 50’s on his cutwork pieces.  He had a masterful eye of reducing the form and shape down to its simplest of elements.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the exhibition.  If you are in the New York area and can get to the exhibit before 10 February 2015; it is so worth the visit..

If you can’t make it there researching Matisse and his later years is worth doing.  He has inspired a whole set of ideas and influenced me!  It was so great to see those works up close and see the pencil lines around the cutouts and his wobbly cuts.  It looks so primitive yet sophisticated at the same time.

I also saw many other works of art that were and are always inspirational to me.  I will share these and the photos I took in a future post.