Dream Believer (1)

Have you ever asked the universe for advice, or taken guidance from a dream?

You know when you get that niggly feeling in the back of your mind, wondering whether you made a mistake taking art at college instead of physics, or some other ‘sensible’ subject, but no-one had a crystal ball so you had to go with your gut feelings at the time, and now your gut isn’t playing the same symphony that was so familiar to your younger self, and you look back and try to remember when it happened, whatever it was that happened, when you weren’t so sure anymore, when you just wanted to know if you made the right decision, only now you’re on a precipice and you have to choose your next move.

With my studio and its contents almost settled, I really needed to know whether I was pursuing the correct path.  I mean, you don’t have to be a creative to be creative, but you need to know which it should be.  So, I decided to ask the universe for guidance.  And it (kind of) replied…

WordPress prompt: Precipice

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Where Are They Now?

April isn’t typically the time of year most people think about setting New Year Resolutions.  But with a spring birthday, it’s a perfect time for me to reflect and set my goals for the next year of my life.

For the past year I set out to: i) overhaul my wardrobe, and ii) become prolifically creative.  However, as I write this on the eve of my blog’s first birthday, it’s difficult to pinpoint any significant changes I’ve made to achieve either.

Wardrobe Architect

My wardrobe is (slowly) improving.  Having changed a few shirt buttons, I’ve made some progress.  I still have about half-a-rail of mending/adjusting awaiting my attention.  However, reminding myself of my passion for sewing seems to have flicked the right internal switch; I’ve since finished a couple of ‘difficult’ projects.  But my real passion is for dressmaking, and I’m a sucker for a nice sewing pattern.  So hopefully I’ll get to make some new clothes for myself rather than just making do and mending the pieces I can’t bear to part with.

Prolific Creativity

When I set this goal last year I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to achieve.  Roll forward a few months and I decided that, for me, prolific creativity meant more than drawing for ten minutes every day.  Having attempted several drawing challenges since last April, I’ve learned that there’s more to this than turning up to the page and making a few choice marks.  I want my own journey to have a purpose, and when I choose my next ‘first’ step, the next ‘second’ one will naturally follow.

So, all that’s left to say is ‘Happy Birthday, Filbert & Smudge’, and ‘Cheers!’ to year number 2!

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A Drawing Dilemma

If you had a year to teach yourself to draw and paint, how would you go about it?

Here’s the thing…

I love drawing. I understand the theory, and can draw pretty well with either my right or left hand (and which hand I choose usually depends on my mood).  I’ve even taught drawing in an informal way.  But if I was suddenly asked to draw or paint something in front of me, without any mental or emotional preparation, I’m not sure I could do it.  As I spend the majority of my drawing time in life-drawing class, in my own head I feel I would struggle to draw anything else.  And with a new blog year pending, I’d like to approach this art thing in a whole new way.

As a recently returned dressmaker, I’m pacing my re-learning by choosing projects according to the fabric I wish to sew and the techniques I want to practice. My map will be drawn out by my Wardrobe Architect, and the souvenirs of my journey will be the new outfits I have to wear.

However, with drawing I’m completely stuck.  My key objective is to pick any of my art materials at random and draw (or paint) whatever is in front of me, without having to do a mental warm-up first.  But as this is driven by technique the subjects aren’t as obvious.  And without a plan, this challenge would be meaningless.  I’ve started listing things to try, such as line, tonal values and shading over a three-dimensional surface, but at the moment my short list isn’t firing up my enthusiasm.  So, I need your help…

If you had a year (or less) to teach yourself to draw and paint, how would you go about it?

Please add a comment or ‘get in touch’ (via Menu).

WordPress prompt: Meaningless

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All You Need Is Love

Perhaps I’ve been looking at things the wrong way. Perhaps I shouldn’t be focusing on my fear of drawing or my learned procrastination habit, my poor time management or my growing pile of ironing.

When I heard someone say “I’m passionate about…” something clicked.  As soon as I thought about my own passions, a smile started to appear on my face.  I’m passionate about drawing, especially life-drawing, but I also love sewing and baking, knitting and soup-making.  Perhaps I should remind myself of that every morning, then the day’s events might make way for the many loves of my life.

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On/Off Purpose

“Ineffective practice is unfocused and meandering. It has no particular goal and because of that it achieves no particular goal.”

Paul Foxton, Learning to See

The #100dayproject sounded straightforward: commit to doing one thing (of my own choosing) for 100 days, and revel in my productivity. Keep going for a few more 100-day blocks, and I’ll have established a new creative habit and be a couple of steps closer to becoming prolifically creative. Easy.

A year ago (already!), I started a new exercise habit: three intense 20-minute sessions on the rowing machine every week. I started on a Tuesday, so from there worked out a weekly schedule. The time of day didn’t matter, and I could reschedule if I had to. I kept a fitness diary, making a note of any exercise I did (even brisk walking around the shops counted!).

My purpose was to get fit. I’d previously joined a running group, but found it too competitive and got bored. I also tried a Pilates class, but managed to trigger a dormant shoulder injury, and had to give it up. Rowing was on my own terms.

After 14 days of forcing myself to draw something, anything, so I could tick the #100dayproject box, I stopped drawing. It got to the point where I was doodling James Norton and Robson Green in Grantchester, because I’d spent most of the day procrastinating.

Then I stumbled upon this post by Paul Foxton at Learning to See, and I understood why I’d failed. I didn’t have a purpose. I mistook other people’s dreams for my own (easy to do when people talk with such enthusiasm), and not really thought about what I wanted to achieve.

My purpose is currently quite vague – to wear out my pencils so I can buy new ones.  It’s not profound, but it’s a start.  I know what I don’t want to do, and I suppose there’s a purpose in that, too.

Footnote: Thank you to artist and blogger Crystal Moody for writing On Purpose which helped me put my own thoughts into perspective. If you’d like to develop your own creative habit, visit Crystal Moody’s A Year of Creative Habits website and join the community.

WordPress Prompt: Purpose

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