Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Practice of Sketching

Drawing for it's own sake is a wonderful, meditative experience. Following a contour with sensitive line can be mesmerizing. And drawing was always my go-to art activity. Now that I'm painting, color and texture claim my visual attention more often than line. But, lately I feel "drawn" to drawing, and that's a good thing.

At a plein air workshop with Charlotte Wharton we started out with thumbnail sketches for composition and value patterns. Haven't done that in a long time. And you know, you can get to a certain level of comfort with one medium, but it doesn't just slide over to another. My still life paintings might start with a fairly refined drawing but sketching feels very different. So I hold the pencil like I've never seen it before and finally dig in. Once I got into the swing of it, it felt great.
Switching gears is a creaky process.

The workshop was in Massachusetts, close enough to go to the Fitchburg Museum and bask in the glorious interiors of Eleanor Norcross. After going through the exhibit 2, 3 times, I wasn't ready to leave, so I started sketching - observing the artist's choices and taking it all in. It's not just looking; more like touching with the pencil on paper, getting to know the work better. Because adding another sensory experience enhances memory (like taking notes that you never refer to, or repeating something out loud that's important to remember). Drawing is a way to study shapes and spatial relationships, taking in a wealth of information to creatively interpret an object or scene.
my sketch of Eleanor Norcross' painting "My Studio"
"My Studio" by Eleanor Norcross 1891

Back home again, while organizing my own studio, I got lost looking through old drawings from... 45+ years ago! Amazingly, I knew when and where most were done, and you'd think there would be steady progress over time, but, not so much. Plenty of ups and downs. The peaks happened when I was "in the zone" ...somehow. That used to confuse and frustrate me - isn't learning supposed to be a gradual, upward climb? No, there is good interspersed with awful. Successes tend to happen when you can tune out from distractions and tune in to the subject or materials.

And that brings me back to meditation. Sometimes life lets you do that, and sometimes it doesn't, but I think practice helps. So, on this little trip down memory lane, I enjoyed revisiting the times when it clicked and being ok with the times that it didn't. And I will try not to feel too guilty about not having a daily sketch habit. There are only so many hours in a day...

If you're in New England, spend some time checking out Evoking Eleanor at the Fitchburg Museum. Beautiful artwork in an elegant space!

by Eleanor Norcross at Fitchburg Museum of Art
by Eleanor Norcross

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Personal Independence and Creativity

This is a re-post an earlier July 4th newsletter about independence and creativity. Why re-post? Because it goes to the heart of being "true to your art" (whatever that may mean) and more importantly, "true to yourself." I think we all know what that should mean.

First a July 4th 2015 "shout-out" to all the new subscribers: Welcome, enjoy, and thank you for your interest.

Independence Rules! originally published July 3, 2013.

July 4th is our national holiday dedicated to Independence! How great is that! In addition to raising the flag and honoring our country, take a minute to ponder your personal independence. Not just freedom, as awesome as that is, but independence.

It may sound self-indulgent, but go ahead, you've got congress behind you. More or less.

This independence-thing has to do with knowing and doing what's best for you - as in being your best self ...not selfish. So it's also about caring for others and being the best parent-partner-person possible. But you can't be yourself if you lose yourself always going-with-the-flow or pleasing anyone-but-yourself. It's far easier said than done.

In terms of artwork, take a chance and break away from anti-independence habits:
  • forget about what's "trending" - connect with what inspires you 
  • leave negativity behind - embrace those of generous spirit
  • move beyond your comfort zone - push the limits to see what you can actually do
  • believe in yourself like your life depends on YOU - because, honestly... it does
Independent thinking is an important element of creativity. In fact that's what it takes to be creative and baby steps can get it done. It's been a pretty creative year for me so I want to wish everyone all the joy and satisfaction that comes from being yourself and working toward your personal dreams and goals.  

Be your own most creative self!
Happy Independence Day!

For this patriotic July 4th, I'm posting my only red, white and blue painting. Coincidentally, it was sold at my very first, independent, solo, art exhibit - something that used to be way outside my comfort zone.

 Chubby Pepper ©2012 Dorothy Lorenze
2015 Addendum:
And here's a fairly classic, all-American image of a boy and his dog, on the quintessential porch, no less.
Grandson and granddog "Waiting for the Bus".

Waiting for the Bus ©2015 Dorothy Lorenze

Thank you for joining me on my artistic journey.