Art Group. June 2016.

Due to going on holiday, I have only attended two art sessions this month (I am aware there is one more to go), so naturally I have less artwork to show. I managed to complete two drawings per week – one colour and one black and white – and experiment with different styles.

Week One: Many people were impressed with my drawing of Disney’s Pluto; although I was not impressed with their lack of Disney knowledge – they thought it was Goofy! One lady quizzed me on the type of pencils I was using: “Are they different from normal pencils?” Apparently my ability to blend colours together is rare.

I also used art group as an opportunity to continue to draw places I saw in Austria. I happened to have a photograph on my mobile phone of the church in Igls, so based my sketch upon this.

Week Two: Again I impressed people with my colouring skills as I drew a dragonfly. I was inspired by an image on Pinterest where the artist had used splashes of paint to produce a multicoloured finish. Lacking the right materials, I had to make do with pencils. As I had a lot of time left before the end of the session, I found a photo of part of a violin and attempted to draw it. I used a range of sketching pencils to try and get the shading correct, however I think my perspective was off.

In other news, I have been personally asked to submit artwork to be displayed on 5th July at the Richmond Fellowship centre (the location of the art group). I have sent in a copy of the dragonfly above, and a scan of my drawing of Donald Duck. If I have some spare time I may produce more work specifically for this event.

Start Where You Are

A journal for self-exploration

Start Where You Are is a “self-help” journal put together by an American artist, Meera Lee Patel.It is a book that causes you to think and contemplate about your day, behaviour, life and dreams.

91i5z-42velMeera Lee has used her self-taught artistic talents to produce beautiful, hand-rendered typographic compositions for every page of the book. She has selected appropriate quotations that relate to a task she has set the reader on the facing page.

Most of the tasks throughout the book require the reader to think carefully and write down their answers. Each instruction is to help people sort through their true feelings and put their thoughts into some kind of order. For example: “What is something you wish you could leave behind?”

Although Start Where You Are has not (yet) be medically approved by mental health professionals, it contains a lot of deep, meaningful, assignments that can help you to learn more about your own insecurities, anxieties and depression. Meera Lee admits in her introduction that it took her a long time to be comfortable with her own life and spent a lot of time waiting for the future to arrive, but not really knowing how to get there. She discovered that in order to move forward she needed to find out who she really was, what was important to her, and what she wanted out of life. Meera Lee confesses that this is no easy task and warns that some questions within the book will be harder than others – but ultimately Start Where You Are will reveal your true personality, hopes and dreams, and convince you that life is not all doom and gloom.

There is no right or wrong way to complete this book. It is not a course or a linear activity, therefore there is no need to complete the pages in order. Some pages may feel too difficult, which is not a problem – the book’s purpose is not to cause stress – you can skip that task and come back to it when you are ready.

I have found Start Where You Are very interesting so far. I particularly enjoy reading the quotes included in the fantastic artwork. They are all positive and inspiring, showing the brighter side of life. As an artist, I have decided to also use this book as a way of practising my art skills. Recently art journal photographs that have appeared on Pinterest have been inspiring me to make my own. Instead of starting with a blank book I am using Meera Lee’s publication instead. On each page I complete the task given, but instead of merely writing my answers down, I display them in some sort of typographic or illustrative composition. So not only is Start Where You Are benefitting my mental health and thought processes, it is helping to improve my art skills too.

I highly recommend Start Where You Are for everyone feeling a little lost and unsure about the future. Whether you have been diagnosed with a mental disorder or are going through a low period of your life, this book is perfect for you to help pick yourself up again. But please remember this is not a form of therapy and is not going to “fix” you. It will either be a bit of fun or something insightful depending on how you approach it.

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.

Art Group. February 2016

This month I tried a few different drawing subjects at Art Group: people, animals and still life. As I am only using these sessions to practice my drawing skills, I am still copying from other images I have found online. Having said that, these are not exact replicas – my own developing style comes into play and I omit or add certain details.

The animals – an elephant and a bear – were only quick sketches and I am not sure that I have got the proportions correct. Someone at the art group offered to photocopy the elephant so that I could experiment with colouring it in. I rejected this at the time, but this is an idea I could take up in the future. Maybe with a drawing I am happier with.

The drawing I am most pleased with is the Sorting Hat from the Harry Potter franchise. I copied this from an image I found on Pinterest. Whilst I was drawing I could tell that my version was not accurate in comparison to the original. The eyes and mouth are a lot higher on the picture I was copying from. I thought I had ruined the whole drawing, but once I looked at it separately from the printout, I saw that it still looked like hat from the films. I got a lot of comments from some of the other group attendees, including one I was probably not meant to hear: “she’s so good isn’t she?”

After looking at examples of my art work, someone told me my drawings deserve to be in a museum. She then proceeded to show me examples of Rembrandt’s paintings saying that I should attempt something like that. A bit too ambitious, maybe!

Art Group. January 2016

Above are the drawings I did in Art Group this month. As I explained in my post last month, I am practising my drawing skills. All five of these drawings I copied from artworks I found on Pinterest. Naturally they are not exactly the same as the originals, but I cannot claim that they are 100% my ideas.

Only once did I use colour, as I prefer black and white sketches. There is something softer about the pencil drawings that I like, which gets lost when drawn in pen. When studying for my degree the tutors encouraged us to move away from pencils and to experiment with other media. As a result of this I developed a style using fine liner pens, and never really got to grips with drawing with pencils.

I am pleased with the progress I am making. Whenever I start a drawing I doubt myself. “I can’t do this.” “I’m rubbish.” I am always surprised with the final outcome – proof that I CAN do this, and I am NOT rubbish. Although I am only copying from other images, I want to keep practising so that one day I can draw straight from my imagination.

Art Group Oct-Dec 2015

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In October I started attending an art group with the intention of getting myself out of the house more and becoming comfortable being around other people. The group is not full of artistic people as I expected it to be, and most people sit there doing colouring (and rarely keeping within the lines).

Instead of joining in with the colouring bunch (I already do a lot of that in my spare time), I decided to practice and develop my drawing skills. In my first session I had absolutely no idea what to draw and must have spent at least 15 minutes flicking through magazines looking for inspiration. Eventually I came across an advert – for suntan lotion I think – with a woman in a hat on it. So that is what I drew. And I was surprised with the outcome, as were the rest of the group! [see first image above]

Since I find it easier to draw from images, I searched the internet (mostly Pinterest) each week for something I could draw or copy and adapt. For the remaining art sessions this year I drew from those images, adding colour or shading to make it my own.

I intend to continue drawing in the new year, both at art group and at home. My aim is to eventually not need the guidance of other’s images to draw from. It would be fantastic if I could draw straight from my imagination!