CalArts – Imagemaking

Yes, I’ve done it again —signed up for another Coursera class. Who could pass up a course called “Imagemaking?” If nothing else, it keeps me making. In this class, we have to pick an animal to work with for the duration. I chose the Whooping Crane after scanning through a stack of National Geographics. It’s beautiful, endangered, and in North America, like me. (That is, in N. America, not the first two!)

So I thought I’d do a little Wacom experiment and make a drawing of a Whooping Crane:


Stealing from my sketchbook

There are several books currently sitting in my studio space and I’m likely to pick up any of them and read a few lines or pages for inspiration. This time I believe the inspiration came from two at once: Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon and Learning By Heart by Corita Kent and Jan Steward. They are nearly opposite in that the first is light, short and kind of a quick-fix approach. The other is packed with insights, suggestions and is not “quick” at all: the first assignment being to look at a corner for 15 minutes each day, or some such, to watch how the light changes.

This work comes from two pieces of advice: 1) to steal and 2) to make and remake and remake. The original drawing was in a book about Franz Kafka. I got it years ago when I was in Europe because I liked the illustrations. I had copied one of them into my sketchbook. This is the result of drawing it again —from the copy— and also adding color.

Copy of Copy

Digital Doodles

Sometimes it’s a mistake to share just after you’ve made something, because you think it’s great and then later on (or in this case, right away) you see how many problems there are with it. But I’m going to post this anyway, because even if there are things that I would change, it was so much fun to make that it’s worth posting just for that. After all, it’s the process, not the product, isn’t it?


Wacom, cont’d

Wow, not only is the Wacom tablet fun to use, but Photoshop is just the coolest for digital drawing and painting! I’ve been sitting down with the tablet whenever I get a chance and just playing around. Tonight I created some new brushes, and that was pretty nifty. And, at last, instead of many, many scribbles of lines and letters, I have made my first true digital drawing. Pretty basic, but it’s a starting point —and something to add to my blog, which I’m still trying to add to each week. So there you go.



I have taken a new step towards digital creativity: I bought a Wacom Intuos Pro tablet. It is so cool! I have been playing with it for an hour (when I really should be fast asleep). A lot of scribbling, playing with brushes, and getting used to it in general. I practiced both in Illustrator and in Photoshop. I can’t wait to do a real project!

For now, this is the most coherent thing I did. I’ll put it up here, just for the sake of reference. I expect (read: I plan) to share much more polished work in the future!


Viewfinder Project

Continuing the viewfinder drawings. These are approximately 2″ x 3″ and the plan is to make a whole bunch. I like the project, because I can usually fit one in even when it feels like a busy day (although you can see days were skipped). Each one is a like a 5-minute meditation, rather than an hour —just a little regroup/refresher in the middle of my day. I recommend it!

VFmidMay VFearlyMay VF25May

Fun with Viewfinders

Some reading in a book (which I can’t remember the name of at the moment, but you will surely hear about again later) led me to pull out the viewfinder that my friend made for me years ago. Here’s what I saw and made through it.


Rules that limit – in a bad way

I picked up a book off the “new” shelf at the library: Color Lab for Mixed-Media Artists by Deborah Forman. I am only a few pages into it, but I’ve already been inspired to get out my pastels and play a bit.

Paging through the beginning of the book, I came to the inevitable section on “materials.” This section always bothers me —a list of “must haves” that determines whether you will succeed or not in this how-to venture. And it has always felt to me like the art materials industry has a hand in every list, because the number of materials would require a small bank loan to afford them all. But in fact, this materials section had in it something that did the opposite for me: Forman assures the reader that it’s okay to use any medium because ultramarine blue will be ultramarine blue whether it’s in gouache, oil or pastels.


I have had this box of pastels for years, and there is barely any sign that they’ve been removed from their soft foam packaging. Until I read Forman’s notes on materials to use, I didn’t even recognize that I’ve had a block about this medium for all this time. In my head I have had cautions and fears about using pastels. “With pastels, you have to have the right paper.” “Don’t use pastels unless you have fixative on hand.” “You need special instruction on using pastels.” Some of this I know came from books I’ve read, and the rest I’m not really sure.

At last, I have realized I can use pastels if I want to. I don’t have to follow any preset rules. Why did I think I did in the first place?

We are all picking up rules as we move through life. You have a bad experience, you make it into a rule for how not to have that experience again. But do you know what your rules are? Until now, I was unaware that my pastel rules were limiting me.


What rules do you have? What medium have you avoided because you were afraid of using it wrong? What other rules are you living by that are preventing you from exploring and playing?



The Power of “No Mistake” Thinking

I am fortunate to live in a university town where there is a weekly opportunity for figure drawing practice. I spent just over two hours the other evening doing just that and I came away with 5 drawings. Here is my favorite —my fourth of the five. I used a 0.5 Micron pen and a light grey Faber-Castell brush pen. And the main thing about the piece is that I drew boldly and did not worry about being absolutely true to the figure before me.

A friend said the most interesting part is where it is not realistic: her knee. I agree and I love this fact. What I can’t seem to express is how freeing it was to draw in this way. Without the worry of making a mistake, my movements felt free; my brain felt free. It was like being a child before there were any worries about doing art wrong. It was a very good feeling.


Perhaps this is what Picasso meant when he talked about remaining an artist when we grow up. Can we get back to that state of mind that we had as children? When there was no such thing as a bad drawing? When there were no worries about getting it wrong?