16 July 2012

Peak of Energy

Untitled, Art Journal Page by ~runningwave~ 2012
Art Journal Page by ~runningwave~

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” 

Summer in the Chesapeake region is hot and hazy. Particularly this summer, since we had that incredible triple-digit heat wave at the end of June through the beginning of July.

Summer is also heady -- exciting, intoxicating, a peak of energy and activity.
Days are extra long, so the increased daylight seems to make everyone squeeze out every minute with being active, especially outdoors.

My world is moving on a giant burst of energy this summer, "just as things grow fast in the movies," like F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote.  I'm in the center of a whirlwind of activity, largely self-propelled.

And I'm happy about it.

I've found that I am now creating the space in my life to be creative -- in diverse ways.

I'm giving myself permission to make time for my creativity without feeling guilty, as though I should be doing something else for the benefit of others.  I've observed in the past few weeks that when I'm at my creative peak, I'm also able to think more clearly. The creative energy I give off is useful to others. People learn from me, just as I'm learning from them. People complement my artwork that I have enjoyed spending time making.

Give and take -- not really a selfish act to express yourself. I wouldn't call the great artists I've known and learned about -- visual artists, musicians, actors -- selfish for practicing with their talent. I think they are doing what the love and hoping other people can enjoy it too.

I've begun to think of myself as an artist, who happens to have a day job doing something else. This is a recent change in perspective for me. I spent many years working hard to build a career until I found a job in which I make a professional wage that rather enjoy doing. Yet, I've also had to stop and consider where my heart is.

I am no longer struggling to make ends meet like I did in long years of graduate school. Nor am I doggedly competing to find a job that I enjoy that both pays the bills and suits my talents and temperament. I've found it, so I had to ask myself "Just why, why am I not satisfied?"

My heart answers, that I did put one thing aside when I decided to move forward in a career that brought me along the path I now tread. A - R - T

I attended an art school for two years, studying  commercial photography way back when. When I reached my graduation, I wasn't all that pleased about my job prospects. In the Midwestern town where I got my degree being a woman photographer in a commercial studio was not a glamorous job unless you made it to the top of the heap. Otherwise, you'd be making the coffee for other photographers and doing the hauling of lighting equipment, until your talent got noticed. If it got noticed at all.

So, I left my art behind in pursuit of more rigorous intellectual training, which I also loved. I always thought I was glad to have been to art school, but equally glad I was not a starving artist.

Well, I certainly have my basic needs met as I sit here today. I want more, and I'm taking this seriously at last.

Not giving up my day job any time soon, but when I have the free time, you'll find me taking art classes and working in new media. Practicing and stretching my very, flabby artistic muscles.

Not sure yet, where this path is taking me, but I am exhilarated.

I feel a sense of wonder and the thrilling taste of  adventure.

04 July 2012

"Could you tell me how to get to Carnegie Hall?"

I decided that the only way I'm going to improve my drawing is the same way you get to Carnegie Hall.
Practice, practice, practice!

Since my previous post, I've been keeping my notebook with me and working on sketches every chance I get. Some people sit and play with their phone apps while waiting for a meeting; I have my little black Moleskine artist's journal and colored pens with me to pass the time.

I had to be in Baltimore four days straight last week, so I made sure I brought my journal. I assigned myself a theme for the first day: circles and curves. Traffic was light the first day, and I got to town early. I needed to wait about 40 minutes. So, I doodled everything I could think of on the theme of circles and curves.

On one of my lunch breaks, I drew my favorite landmark in Baltimore:  the Bromo Seltzer Tower. Fortunately there was shade from a nearby building so that I could stand being outside in 90-degree heat.  (I'm glad I did it that day, because the next day's thermometer topped over 100-degrees F.)

Result of my experiments:
1) It's good to have a journal and pens with me all the time. I'm more likely to use it to kill time between activities.
2) Theme of the Day or pausing to draw something around me that illustrates what the day is like are great strategies.

You may have heard on the news that we had some pretty dramatic weather in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore region last Friday. 105-degrees temps combined with a huge line of deadly thunderstorms and extremely high winds -- not a tornado, but a derecho. Afterwards there were trees uprooted, power lines down, and masses of people without power. It was pretty ugly, but somehow my home wasn't directly impacted. Whew! I feel very grateful and sympathize with everyone who didn't have power in the aftermath-- and those who still don't have the power back on.

Needless to say, with the steaming blast of temperature everyone was desperate to be indoors near an air conditioner. I was elated that my local mixed media arts store, The Queen's Ink, got their power back on in time for my long-awaited cigar box decoupage class on Sunday afternoon.

A Century Celebration box by ~runningwave~

Patti taught us the techniques for converting a used cigar box into a brand new keepsake box. She had preselected some wonderful papers  with artwork based upon fashion magazines from circa 1912 to 1922. This just happens to fall into my favorite time period in history, and I have spend years studying art and culture from 1900 to about 1940. I learned to love the Edwardian period during my college studies.

These scrapbook paper illustrations are about as Edwardian as they come. I look at them and see characters from P.G. Wodehouse novels. " 'Shall I bring the motor car round, Sir?' inquired Jeeves."  The car ended up on top of the box; it just had to! Plus that gave me the excuse to make the button knob look like a tire (or is that, tyre?)

Side view: A Century Celebration box by ~runningwave~

Inside view

Chosen materials, for those of you reading who care about that sort of thing: The papers our instructor selected for the class were Graphic 45 "A Ladies Diary" theme. The edges of the paper are covered with Ranger Arts distress ink (Pine Needles or Tattered Rose, depending on the background colors of the printed paper.). The handle is a stack of buttons nested and then glued together with Glossy Accents. The trick it to actually anchor the button knob with a tiny button sewn with waxed linen thread to the inside lid of the box.