Looking, Seeing and Inspiration

Anne Bachelier: Artist from Erin Faith Allen on Vimeo.

Seeing things through another artist’s eye can inspire like nothing else.

In 2018, I joined Debra Eve in her The Artist’s Way Book Club .

I’d read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way a long time ago. It’s what turned me on to writing Morning Pages, a practice I continue to this day. Morning pages are three pages of long hand, stream of consciousness writing. The reasons for doing these are many, including an aid to building a creative habit.

Debra Eve, who is the writer behind the website Later Bloomers, posed thought provoking questions, and offered encouraging words, images and video to aid our rejuvenation as artists. One such video is this one created by Erin Faith Allen with the artist Anne Bachelier. Great Video! Enjoy!

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Harvest
Harvest, 2005, Olympus point and shoot,

Above you see a harvest from my garden. I took this photo in the first few years we lived here.

It’s a holiday here in Canada, and though my weeks aren’t straitlaced by a nine-to-five job, I have decided to take the day off. Today is a fill up on gratitude day–oh, and turkey, and roasted vegetables, and pumpkin pie, and…

Have a good day!!

I’m Back and I’m Fizzing

Fire

Lac Green Nord in the Province of Quebec, Canada, is an oasis. And doesn’t this fire look relaxing?

The only thing is that I’m not very good at relaxing, and to be honest when you are the playmate of a five-year-old granddaughter you don’t relax much. Little Maya who wakes up at 6:00 am told me earnestly on the evening the day after we arrived, that it would be a very good thing if I woke up earlier like she did.

Yes, Milady.

But sometimes it’s not about relaxation. It’s more about changing the input. If you keep feeding yourself the same mental diet day after day your creativity starves from lack of proper nourishment. Because I’m a head person (someone who lives more in thought than in the physical world), it is a good thing to change things up and try a sensory diet for a while. On this holiday I had every opportunity to add experiences to my mental diet. I plunged into the water, screamed when I was splashed, slapped Horseflies, whirled on a tube being towed by a boat. I went to a parade and visited family in a care home. I did no writing, not even my morning pages, and very little drawing.

At home now I have so many ideas and plans that I have to calm myself down and take a step back. I know from experience that in this stage of the creative process I will not be happy with anything I do, and everything will go too slow, and soon enough I’ll despair.

Therefore, I will pick the peas and shell them. I’ll write this blog. I’ll make a little careless drawing, and I’ll read the next chapter in The Chronos Project, (my time travel novel)  and consider how I can improve it. I’ll go slow.

Give yourself the grace of going slow at times. And you don’t have to be brilliant all the time either (she said, though she finds this hard advice to take).

Oh, and I did make these two scribbles, because, hey, creativity is like a drug. It’s not easy to stop and thankfully stopping isn’t necessary.

Walking with a Camera

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For a while now I’ve been taking a walk early every morning. I do it because it’s beautiful outside and because I think it’s good for my mental health. And who knows, it might just keep my hippocampus strong for longer.

I’ve been writing and drawing, but nothing exciting is happening on that front. I’m in the learning stage of things. I realized I needed to get a better handle on light and value and it occurred to me that taking my camera walking might help with that. You look with a whole other attention if you carry a camera. It was wonderful to find that all those boring things, I walk by in alleys, are quite beautiful with the right kind of attention.

Hope you enjoy them too.

Digital Studio Setup

Digital Studio Setup

After years of creating art, usually with my head bent over a panel placed on a table or on the floor, I have succumbed to serious neck and shoulder pain.

As mentioned in my last post, I’m not painting in the traditional way right now, though what I was doing wasn’t exactly traditional either.

For years I’ve worked in encaustic. Encaustic is a mixture of beeswax, damar resin and pigment, which is heated and applied in various methods on a panel. I preferred to use regular bristle brushes to apply my wax, but because it solidifies very quickly I found that the best way for me to work was to have my panel flat on a table. A slight angle was fine too, but a vertical panel didn’t work well.

Hence, my 7 pound head was hanging over a table at a degree that made it feel more like 35 pounds and hey, I’ve got one of those nerdy, long, skinny necks, which means I was creating a lot of trouble for myself.

Now, I’m mostly working digitally and I’ve been striving to find a way to keep my posture neutral. No slumping shoulders, no out-stretched neck, no reaching arm and bent wrist.

To that end I modified a small computer table I bought at Staples. In the picture above you see it as it would be if I use it for my drawing tablet, but I took off the side panel (where the mouse would normall go) so that I could put a drawing board in this same table and use it for analog drawing too. This little table-top tilts to a 45 degree angle, and because the whole thing is small and on wheels I can easily move it out of my way when I need to use my computer for writing.

It’s early days, but I think this might do the trick. Now if I could just figure out how to get the lighting right.

In the mean time, as you can see, I’ve decided to practice. I may not have anything to say in paint right now, but drawing for me is meditative, so for now, I’m doing the equivalent of scales: drawing hands, feet, gestures, contours, and so on.

Oh and I made this very strange lady. I stole some bits of her from a drawing by Wylie Beckert.

White Hair3

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone

But Painting JacksonYou know that optimistic post last week? And the excitement about trying comics the week before?

Bleh! Crashed and burned.

Something has happened in my studio practise. Something I haven’t been able to talk about because I keep thinking ‘don’t be such a baby’. It’s been going on for months and months now. For more than a year.

I can’t paint.

This week I tried again. As before my efforts ended in disaster with me in terror, sure that finally it’s gone forever, this thing that has sustained me my whole life. Gone in waffley washes, in screeching colours that subside in mud and wander like zombies across my panel.

“Alright,” I say, “You can still draw. So draw. You can write…well, you can sorta write.”

And all the dominoes fall.

So last week ended on a way down note.

I don’t mean for this new week to follow its path. This morning I wrote my morning pages, I went for a walk and I hit reset.  I will remember to breathe. I will go gently and be kind to myself. And I’ll do it all again tomorrow and the day after, and the one after that…

We often admonish each other to be kind to others. Life is hard. Remember to be kind to yourselves too.

So, This Happened

Why am I so Tired

My first real comic. I’ve wanted to learn to make comics and cartoons for a long time, but the amount of knowledge I don’t have is overwhelming.

Finding myself without a blog topic—AGAIN—I decided to give it a try, knowledge or not. In this case the story is one that happened to me about a week ago.

Heart Attack!

Honestly, I don’t often think I have a catastrophic health issue, but hey, age makes these things likelier. I’d been feeling so tired for a number of days. Along with the tiredness I had dizzyiness and a feeling of heaviness in my chest—a feeling as though I wasn’t getting enough air.

As you can see from the comic above, I aced all the heart attack tests. I was not having a heart attack. Thank goodness. The Medic decided that I was likely tired because I’d been working hard and that all those wonderful spring smells, like leaf mold, lilacs, lily-of-the-valley—blossoms of every kind, were giving my lungs a hard time. Hence, difficulty breathing and tiredness.

Yay! It’s all good.

So what do you think? Should I keep on with the cartooning? Did the story come through? Were the drawings interesting?