Art Group. March 2016

This month I feel like I have made a little progress with my drawing ability through attending my Art Group. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am still practising by drawing from other people’s artwork, however I challenged myself, on a whim, to draw from a photograph. Twice!

Although the art group lacks resources, they did have an out of date calendar full of wildlife photographs.Whilst idly flicking through it I came across an image of a herd of donkeys, where one was gazing sweetly into the camera. All of a sudden I had an urge to draw that particular donkey, positively thinking to myself “I can do this” rather than my usual “I’m not good enough.” It is this drawing that I am most proud of this month.

The second drawing I produced by studying a photograph is the one of an elephant. I have drawn these creatures before but always using other artwork as a guide. Using photographs as inspiration gave me the chance to work out for myself how to visually represent parts of the animal and work out where the shading needed to be, without influence from other artists.

By proving to myself that I can draw with photographic references, I am beginning to feel more confident in my drawing ability. I CAN draw rather than merely copy. I am beginning to believe that most people can produce art, it is their inability to trust themselves that prevents them.

My goal for next month is to continue to draw from photographs and boost my confidence. Eventually I hope I will be able to start drawing from life.

Jigsaw Puzzle: Why won’t you love me?

Over the past year I have completed at least six jigsaw puzzles. They are fun to do and a great distraction from the trials of everyday life. But doing jigsaws is not for everyone. Many people roll their eyes and sigh “boooooooring” at the thought of attempting one. Others do not have the patience to sit for several hours, or days, tackling the harder-than-it-looks puzzle.

As a result of all the negativity, the completed jigsaw puzzle goes under appreciated. But have you ever stopped to consider the art work? I admit that some are of famous paintings that one could easily see in a gallery or online, however there are some that are actually amazing to look at and study carefully.

This blog post is actually inspired by the most recent jigsaw puzzle I completed. The Bizarre Bookshop produced by Ravensburger is an amazing work of art.

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This was designed by the artist Colin Thompson: “It is often said that you can escape into a good book, but enter the The Bizarre Bookshop and discover a treasure trove of wacky book titles. Each one has been inspired by a famous novel but has been given a curious twist. Take a closer look and you can even glimpse whole new worlds hidden on the crowded shelves.”

Now, I admit that I am one of the world’s biggest book lovers, and so this jigsaw puzzle was bound to appeal to me. What I want to share with you, however, is the incredible detail that Thompson has gone into to create this master piece. His use of colour is fantastic and his imagination is out of this world. I cannot begin to guess how long this took to draw – I am willing to assume it was longer than it took me to fit the pieces together.

Every time I look at the completed puzzle, and also as I was fitting it together, I keep noticing something new. It is an image you cannot get tired of. Even if it were hanging on your bedroom wall for a year, I guarantee you would still be noticing details that had escaped you before.

I had not come across the artist Colin Thompson before receiving this puzzle for my birthday in December. All his illustration work is crammed full of intriguing objects and humorous images. He began writing and illustrating children’s books back in 1991 and has now had published over 50 titles. One of his picture books The Floods is being turned into an animated television series. As well as The Bizarre Bookshop, Colin is producing many more jigsaw puzzles for Ravensburger; keep your eyes peeled!

So next time you complete a jigsaw puzzle, whether for fun or because an elderly relative forced you to join in, take a closer look at the art work. It may be, like with Colin Thompson’s work, that the illustration, painting, photograph etc was created purely to be turned into puzzle pieces. I feel like these works are dismissed so often due to the format they are shown in. They need to be celebrated just as much as those hanging in galleries!

Below are close up photographs of various sections of the puzzle.

Greeting Cards

Art with purpose

Greeting cards bought on the high street are ridiculously expensive nowadays and often do not express exactly what you are trying to say. It always seems to be the way that the nicely designed cards contain messages that do not relate to the recipient at all, whereas the cards that do, look really naff.

The solution? Make your own! That is what I have done a few times this year already. I have been making cards for over a year now, however I got stuck producing the same style and got rather bored with it. Although these cards were popular amongst church members where they were being sold, I could not face designing any more. So, I adopted a new style.

Since I have been practising and developing my illustration skills over the past few months, it seemed logical to continue to do this through card making. Rather than mass producing them as I did previously, I have only made the for specific occasions. This gives me the chance to take more care and put more effort into each design.

Making your own cards gives you more control over the contents of the design. For example my Dad loves football so I drew a football. I did not need to worry about finding a card where the players were wearing the correct colour shirt, or one that would not imply that my Dad was a football player. Likewise, my friend loves cats, so I drew one – no silly comments, inappropriate wording, annoying glitter that goes everywhere…

A friend of mine requested a card for a mother of a new born baby boy. I was left to my own devices as to the actual design (although she admitted she was hoping I would do an illustration). At the time I had been drawing a lot of hands as practise, therefore I used hands as part of the design. The colours (blues) represent the sex of the baby.

Although I said I was only going to make cards for specific occasions, I have, in the past week, made a couple of cards using paper craft inspired by images seen on Pinterest. In our house there is a complete mess of gathered materials, papers, stickers etc that have been accumulated over the years and it is about time they got used. Hopefully over the next few weeks or months I will be able to create many more handcrafted cards, without the pressure of needing to mass produce. These can either be used as and when needed or donated to charity.

Overall, unless you find the perfect card in a shop (and are willing to pay for it), hand made cards are much more personal and show that you have thought about the recipient, rather than it being a last minute purchase.

Continuing to Think. Draw. Create.

Every weekend I have completed a task in my Think. Draw. Create. book that I blogged about back in January. Above are a few examples of the art I have produced since then. I have found a few of the tasks challenging and have been unhappy with the outcomes, which is why I have only included five images.

My favourite is the Shadow Puppet. People have commented saying that the hands and shadows look like they belong on the included background papers. For this I used my usual black fine liner to draw the hand, but decided to use black pencil to shade in the shadow as I thought using ink would make it too dark.

I enjoyed drawing the cartoon sheep (see top two images). The task was to add bodies to the arms on the pages, and for a while I did not know what to do. When it comes to drawing people I need an image (preferably an illustration) to copy. It would be impossible to find what I need to fit with those arm positions. Instead I decided to create something cartoon-y. Sheep, especially in caricature form, are fairly easy to draw. For each set of arms I drew a similar sheep, but experimented with the facial expressions. I think some of them look quite good – slightly amusing.

One of the problems with forcing myself to complete a page a week is if I am not in a creative mood the outcome is not that great or imaginative. It does not help that some of the tasks are rather peculiar. Take “draw this grasshopper’s chirp” for example. Being someone who occasionally struggles to think outside the box (my box is very comfortable, thank you very much!) this assignment was particularly difficult. I resorted to writing the word “chirp” over and over again. I wish I was able to think of something more exciting.

I am going to continue doodling in this book regardless of how creative I’m feeling, as it should help develop my drawing skills in the long run.