Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Sketchbook Project

If you’re interested in artist sketchbooks, there’s a big exhibit on right now at the The Brooklyn Art Library that will also travel to Portland (Maine), Austin, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago and Winter Park in Florida. (See locations and dates below). I have a sketchbook in the exhibition—along with a ton of other artists including my good pals, JK Gent and Jennifer Pearson Vanier—although I would have to use the word “sketchbook” with some latitude in my own case.
Because the topic I chose was Secret Codes, I fully intended to invent my own arcane language, and then draw on every page. But when the reality of what I intended to do sank in, I remembered the saying: Don't let perfection get in the way of good. In other words, there was no way I was going to finish (or even get started) without drastic compromise.
I ended up using rubber stamps and adding to them with pen (see above). Saul Steinberg included stamps in his drawings and I always loved the effect, except I started from the other end. And since I didn’t have time to work on every page, each image showed through on the opposite side ...not an effect I would normally go for, but sometimes it’s just a relief to finish something without stopping to critique it along the way.
P.S. The purplish textured background I used to display my pages on is from Lennie Locken’s set of textures on Elemenopea, a new blog of custom brushes, textures and photography by digital gurus Nancy Donaldson, Marie Otero and Lennie herself. Check it out!

Click map to enlarge.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

More about inspiration…

I’ve always thought being inspired meant that Spirit was activating something wonderful inside you that wanted to come out. When I actually looked up the etymology of the word inspire, I discovered it means, “to influence or animate with an idea or purpose.” Presumably inspiration can be activated by anything from a sunset to a person with a clear vision of how things could be. At the heart of it, though, Spirit is always there, always available; the challenge is aligning ourselves with It.
One of the things that inspire me is making Artist Trading Cards. Because they are so small, you don’t tend to over think what you’re going to do and can be more spontaneous. I find this whether or not I’m doing them digitally or puttering around with paints and collage bits and pieces. The same feeling extends to making backgrounds. Because you’re basically playing and don’t have an endpoint in mind, you’re freer to express yourself and you don’t worry about making mistakes.
While it’s true that expectation can paralyze the creative drive, strangely enough, it can also motivate you. I sold the pink shadow box sample I did last year for my workshop to a woman who wanted a second one, so that both her young nieces could have their own piece of art in the bedroom they share.
I’ve never been comfortable with commissions, and this one was no exception. My client wanted the shadow boxes to be different, but to still compliment each other. I wasn’t sure I could do this since I’d had so much trouble getting the first one together. But sometimes it’s good to move outside your comfort zone. Rather than second guess what my client would like, I decided to just do something all in one go, and she loved it. So did the two little girls. The six-year-old asked me how I did it because she wants to make one herself!