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In Search Of The Profound

When we engage in a creativity recovery, we enter into a withdrawal process from life as we know it…We ourselves are the substance we withdraw to, not from, as we pull our overextended and misplaced creative energy back into our own core. – Julia Cameron, THE ARTIST’S WAY

I’ve been reading Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY for a couple weeks now. I have to admit, the lady makes a lot of sense. The book has been used for years now to help artists recover from creative injuries and blocks. I can see why it has been so useful. Although I skipped a week because I was actually getting productive, I still think it is working its magic on me.

Last week, an artist educator and I challenged each other to start creating small habits that we want to become big ones down the road for our artwork. I was actually already on this track with the Balance app in which I had been tracking a few goals for a couple months. I have goals like “Paint or draw for an hour once a day” or, “Study a new artist or illustrator once a month” or, “Visit an exhibit once a month”. I recently added the Morning Pages as a daily goal and the Artist Date (both from THE ARTIST’S WAY) as a weekly goal. Now, with my artist friend, I have some company. Sweet!

In the past couple months and in reading this book, I’ve gotten really quiet with my blogging. Although I think I may have started my creative recovery before the book, I think the Ms. Cameron’s process gives just the right environment for deep introspection. You have to spend time with yourself. You start noticing things. About yourself. It’s pretty awesome. And intimate.

One thing I noticed is that I’m very attracted to quiet living. If I was to be honest with myself, I think I always have been. I get excited about things I enjoy, yes. But, I don’t like a lot of drama and upheaval. You’d be surprised at how many people thrive on creating havoc for themselves and others. In the past few years, I can say that I’ve had very little quiet. I allowed unwanted drama to filter into my life through others more often than not. It still happens from time to time. But, I’m much more aware of it now, I believe. If I were to take this aspect that I now know about myself and superimpose it over my artwork, I can see that the times where I’ve been most at peace were when the work dealt with natural subjects. Being outside painting the trees, the foliage, or the water or the sand…Or even inside with an unassuming vegetable or fruit. The sounds, the colors, the simplicity…the time to reflect. I’ve painted other subjects, still life subjects, that were primarily just things I found in my immediate environment. Diapers, toys, ramen noodles (I’m a mother and I like ramen noodles). The subject didn’t usually matter though unless I was commemorating something, which I usually wasn’t. Whatever was out at that time, I’d just throw it together and paint it. The bottom line was just about getting to work at all. I used to hate having to make up reasons for the painting to my grad instructors because they wanted me to think critically about my work. I just wanted to work, period, and not think. Now, if I wanted to combine the act of getting to work AND the need for peace to be part of that process, then, I think my focus should be less on just throwing things together because I have a minute to get to paint now and more on deliberately seeking subjects that promote the experience of quiet contemplation I’m really after with within a work.

I started looking at work by artists and illustrators who paint and draw natural subjects consistently as botanical painters and illustrators. While I think I’d still like to combine the subject with lettering at some point, I found that where I was never able to settle down on a consistent, primary theme before, I may not have that problem anymore.

I wasn’t trained in botanical drawing or painting though. So, there’s that. The online courses are a little steep for me and going back to school at the moment is not an option either. But, I did find some books at the library to get me started.

One book in particular is a course in a book. Nice.

I’m going to do this course and see where I’m at at the end of the book.

My first assignments were a tonal strip and an apple. In pencil. I was a little intimidated already. Creating great value structure in pencil is not my strong suit. But, I’m following the structure of the assignments.

These are my tonal strips. I was summoning 2-D Design I skills I this one. My instructor was exacting about value studies. I hope shed approve of these. Yikes.

This exercise is really about what the author’s call the “profound pencil”. It’s used to sculpt three-dimensional form from line and tone on a two-dimensional surface and designates a draughtsman. I don’t think these apples I’ve drawn here are profound at all. I’ve always been heavy handed with pencil. But, I’ll keep cracking at it until I find one.

Home Botanical Illustration I is now underway.

Drawing any conclusions?

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