Monday, March 21, 2022

Creating With the Seasons, Part I: Artwork

Happy Spring!

For everything there is a season . . . A time to write, and a time to paint. A time to be totally inspired and a time to completely lose it--

Hello, everyone! Time, where does it go? It seems like forever since I've had "time to blog" or do much of anything else for that matter.

My time shortage started early this year when I found myself fostering a stray kitten at work. I was well aware that 2022 was the Year of the Tiger, but the last thing I ever expected to find outside my back door was a tiny, hungry baby cat. She was adorable and I would have done anything to keep her (impossible at this current point in my life). Despite my lack of space and ability to be with her as much as I wanted, I did everything I could over a six week span to get her healthy, playful, and ready for adoption. It was one of the most fun things I've ever done and I still miss her to pieces, but now that I know she's in good hands and safely onto the next stage of her journey, it's time to get back to work: writing, painting, and yes, blogging.

Prior to kitten-sitting I had been planning to write a post about my intention to draw and paint within a series of some kind for the year. I'd often heard of artists painting a series of pictures as a way to go deeper into a single subject or theme and also bring some unity to their work. The idea appealed to me as I thought it could bring more focus and discipline to my daily sketching practice, focus that would help me produce more finished, polished pieces. The trouble was I didn't know what kind of series I wanted to try.

I tossed around a lot of ideas, e.g., choose a building I liked in town and paint it multiple times from different angles; create a series of pictures based on the displays at the dinosaur museum; sketch people and dogs at the dog park. Unfortunately, none of these ideas felt like something I wanted to work on more than once. Yes, they were interesting enough on their own, but to paint over and over? I was worried I would become so bored after my third attempt to sketch the downtown Wells Fargo building I'd never want to open my sketchbook again. It wasn't until my husband suggested I try basing some work on the seasons of the year that everything fell into place.

Suddenly I had specific goals to pursue. My first step was to sit down and make numbered lists under the broad headings of each season, brainstorming subjects that fit each particular time of the year. After that I created lists of sub-categories, for instance, under the heading of "autumn" the first images that came to mind were acorns and squirrels, sweaters and scarves, bonfires, steaming mugs of tea, rainy skies, and beautiful trees. Once I had those things listed I continued mapping entirely new ideas for a seasonal series based on each subject, e.g., squirrels in summer, squirrels in spring, squirrels bounding through the snow . . . it eventually became quite endless.

Another advantage to this plan that I liked besides never having to decide "what to paint" again is that, at least for me, the seasons signify different emotional and spiritual states to explore. Themes such as renewal, growth, and letting go, topics I would usually write about are now themes I can express through color and composition, showing joy or even a little sadness through a seasonal lens. 

Right now my first attempts to go with the seasons revolve around my sketchbooks and a small painting-a-day practice. I'm currently concentrating on trees including the quick sketch I've put at the top of this post, but soon those trees will be full of birds, flowers, squirrels and even kittens. I only hope I have enough time each day to keep going!

Tip of the Day: Spring is in the air, a great time for both writers and artists to consider starting a nature journal. Always keep in mind that you don't have to draw or paint to create a beautiful journal. Instead of drawing, try some collage using items like seed packets, handmade papers, or fabric. Experiment with dipping leaves, sticks, or pods in ink or paint and printing your impressions onto your journal pages, or paste in the actual plant materials. Take photographs and add them to your words. 

And speaking of words, that's exactly what I'll be taking a look at in my next post: Creating with the Seasons, Part II: Writing. See you soon!