Sunday, January 23, 2011

Going back to what I know

Of all the work I've done, the pieces that got the most attention have been either my graphite still-life's or photo manipulation.  I mentioned earlier about going back to what I'm good at and growing from there.  So I think I'm going to head that direction.  I may have even found a source of inspiration. 

I have always been drawn emotionally and spiritually to the culture of the Native American.  As long as I can remember I have always held a curiosity and respect for their art and beliefs.  Living in South Dakota has brought me into the presence of a great nation, the Ogala Lakota Sioux.  Everyone is in some way familiar with the Sioux. Crazy Horse, battle of Wounded Knee, Custer's Last Stand, Sitting Bull, Dances with Wolves, the teepee, the war bonnet, intricate beadwork and many other iconic images that we use to associate with the "Indian".  You can't spend time in the Black Hills without feeling and understanding why this area was sacred to the Sioux people. I highly recommend "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", by Dee Brown.  There's a whole different side to how the west was won, or as some have put it "how the west was lost..." For any one who fancies themselves an American History buff, it should be required reading. 

So I hope that my source of inspiration, the buffalo and  War Bonnet, do justice to show my respect and awe of this beautiful culture.  I hope to use my personal buffalo photographs as well as borrow from an item that is quite exquisite, a buffalo skull with war bonnet imagery.  I hope to convey as sense of life/death/rebirth with my work.  I don't want to go into too much detail, but I really hope I come through on this one. 

Friday, January 14, 2011


So I think I need to become a portable artist.  There is very little to virtually NO space in our home for me to work.  I usually end up with my sketchpad on my knees or propped up on the coffee table.  Neither of which is ideal for the back.  We have a hard enough time trying to find some place to put the mail.  Currently, everything (2 portfolios, 4 sketch pads, pencils, drawing board, etc) is all shoved under the bed.  My pencil tackle box is hidden in the closet, out of the way of Babyzilla. 

The biggest challenge is this unshakable urge to go B-I-G!  I want to do everything > 24x24!  Feasible, hardly.  First off, that is a really time consuming project regardless of the subject matter.  More importantly there's no place to store a project that size that is easily accessible.  I guess being forced by circumstance to work smaller isn't a bad thing.  It's probably for the best. I need to practice, practice, practice before I can even commit to doing something on a larger scale.  

I have been able to narrow down a few of the project from "100 Creative Drawing Ideas...".  They should help me get out of my rut, as well as to introduce me some abstract styles.  Luckily, I have been able to commit to a medium.  I had been itching to paint, but I've never really had any painting instruction.  So for now, it's back to graphite and charcoal. 

I'm making all of the little decisions in my head before I start; working smaller, paper type, and medium.  Even subject matter is floating around there.  Just have to commit, so why can't I commit?

Monday, January 3, 2011

100 Creative Drawing Ideas

Phew! That was a long holiday season! I got side tracked from drawing due to the craft project I mentioned earlier. The wreaths were a big hit as far as opinions go. No one (except for Erin) offered any sort of financial compensation for them. I do think I need to do some more tweaking to really perfect the,, but if I can make a sort of inventory for next year that may help. I also plan to sell on when the time comes. The wreaths are so time consuming. When I tracked how much time I spent on them, it easily takes 8+ hrs per wreath. All of the little boxes need to be assembled, wrapped and adorned with ribbons and bows, then the most challenging part is the actual placement of the boxes. This is what really takes up the time. Since I only have the evenings to work on them, it's about 2-3 days for one to be completed.

Moving on...

Speaking of Erin, for Christmas among the slew of wonderful gifts my best friend bestowed upon me was a book titled "100 Creative Drawing Ideas" by Anna Held Audette. It's a compilation of 100 unique drawing exercises used by innovative professors and instructors to provide new dimension and perspective on traditional drawing exercises. What's funny is my own and all time favorite art teacher used some of these exercises in one form or another.

Ultimately, it got me thinking. I've been at a loss with which direction or what I should do as my next piece. I need to get back to basics. Complete a few exercises to help me relearn the media and basic techniques.

Another great source of inspiration has come from the Emptyeasel at It's a website that features articles by artists for artists from basic techniques to how to market and sell your work. It provides a weekly newsletter. The most recent article looked at motivation. That basic premise focused on resolutions. Instead of making resolutions, which are absolutes, focus more on goals. Take a week to really think about an idea and work on it conceptually before committing to a piece. This is just the advice I needed. Another article also looked at what happens when you hit a low-point, where none of your work comes out the way yo0u want or you can no longer create. The artistic form of "Writers Block". It recommended going back to what it was that lead you to create something you found to be wonderful and that really provoked your imagination. Again, another fantastic idea.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go back to the media that I was most successful in (graphite and charcoal) and use my past work as inspiration. For me, that one piece that really got the ball rolling was one I completed in High School. It was surrealist in nature and was chosen by my art teacher for submission into the Dali's Student Surrealist Art Exhibition. This was the first time my work was ever featured, and a real turning point in my artistic adventure. So that's where I'm headed. With my new drawing exercises in hand and a direction to go in. It's time to get started again.