June 9, 2009

Soul Journal – Day 21 – “Misfit”

Posted in Art, Art journals, Beginner's art, Collage, Soul Journal tagged , , , at 10:51 pm by amateur-in-art

I’ve worked on this page off and on in small flurries over the past couple of months. It’s not that involved, just spent time on other things.

Today’s assignment was to scribble and then play with it like seeing pictures in clouds and see what emerged from the scribble for you. I saw, at first, a Kermit-the-Frog type head, and then it looked like a woman waving a baton, who was wearing some type of a Maid Marian type of headress. She looked “scolding.”


This made it obvious to me that I had a very unhappy, naggy, music teacher on my hands. I painted her in. I’m not sure why I chose the colors I did. I guess green for the face partly because it looked like Kermit but I think also maybe as a little “envy” or just “monster”.  Purple just seemed to go with the green. Red eyes because she has power and seems evil to her victims.  Then I pasted a page of music on the opposite page, and whited out the lyrics with some gesso.


Day 21 was about creating a “misfit” character, or to think about a time where we felt like a misfit, when others just didn’t “get” us or our art. My upset music teacher didn’t quite fit that category – but her poor victim could.

I started working on the left hand page by using an Aquarelle watercolor crayon and rubbing it across the music paper and the gessoed background. I used brown and ochre. I wet a sponge and ran it across the page and it really spread around nicely – and I actually realized a little goes a long way with those water color crayons. I don’t need much.   I liked the texture when used dry, so I went over it again later, after it had dried.

Over the few days prior to this, I had been thinking some about spirals – and I truly cannot draw anything at all if I’m trying for “realism” – but I decided I could draw a tuba using a spiral. I think it turned out pretty well, and it looks to me like a pretty hip ‘n’ happenin’  and happy tuba.


When thinking of this in context of being paired with the Mean Music Teacher, the phrase, “Tubas Should be Seen and Not Heard” came to me, and I decided that would be my key line on this page. That now made my tuba my “misfit character.”


Then I added all sorts of things that the tuba would be subject to, like “Go play a flute” and “You can’t carry a melody” and so on.

This was a really interesting page to me, because what all the taunts and criticisms amounted to was an attack on the Tuba’s essential nature and purpose. Of course a tuba is big. Of course a tuba is loud. And maybe even of course a tuba won’t be playing a melody. They weren’t made to play a melody. And this particular tuba is pink –  maybe a little unusual for tubas, but it is this particular tuba’s essential identity. I think there may even be some subtle feminism going on here, too. A “woman in a man’s world” as it were.  I *really* like this page, and the more I think about it, the more I get out of it. I mean, really – how ridiculous is it to tell a Tuba, of all things – that it should be seen and not heard? Any self-respecting tuba would say, “Oh yeah? OOOMPAHHHHHH!!!! to you!”

It took me forever to decide what finishing touches to put on the teacher. I knew I wanted to add some sort of commentary about her not being able to recognize talent, or squelching little kid’s dreams, but I never could quite figure out exactly what to have her say.  So finally, I just “did it”.


“Mrs. McGillicudy was blind to talent in unexpected places (it scared her).”


I really like the way this all turned out, and I think it was a fabulous assignment. It really brought up a lot of “issues” I have about creativity, talent, and some of those old voices of criticism that I still sometimes hear or that evil bane of creative types – “practicality”.

(No, I never did have an evil music teacher and I never did play the tuba. But I like having this little happy pink Tuba as my alter ego!)

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

April 7, 2009

Creativity as an act of faith

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Learning art tagged , , , at 10:17 pm by amateur-in-art

I’m reading Letters to a Young Artist by Julia Cameron, and the part I read just recently I found very inspiring. In it, she says, “creativity is an act of faith.” Creativity requires courage, the courage to take that first step forward, write that first line, paint that first stroke, and proclaim to the world “I am.” The rest of the world may say what we do is foolish. That perhaps we shouldn’t even try. But we do it anyway.

She also writes about our “inner critic” who declares our work boring or irrelevant. Our analytical side wants our creativity to go in a straight line – but creativity seldom flows that way. It is a meanderer, wandering from here to there like a dog leisurely sniffing out the neighborhood. Sometimes, creativity wanders so far away, it strays into a dead end. But what Cameron says is – that “creative cul-de-sac” may be leading you somewhere. Follow it, and see what happens. And if you do so, it can never be boring.

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© amateur-in-art, 2009

November 9, 2008

Embracing My Inner Third-grader

Posted in Art, Art for beginners, Beginner's art, Learning art, Techniques (art) tagged , , , , at 9:21 pm by amateur-in-art

It only takes me several months to read through my magazines. Recently I was looking at the July/Aug. 2008 issue of Cloth, Paper, Scissors.

I often compare my artistic abilities to that of a third-grader (no shame, it’s just a fact) and I’ve found yet another reason to embrace that part of my art, as well. In their column “Popping the Question,” CPS asked their readers to write about how their artwork has been inspired or influenced by children. This provided an opportunity to read about the joy and exhuberance of children’s artwork. And in fact, children’s art is often not about the end product, but the sheer joy of creating. Of getting messy, of feeling the paint or the crayon or the paper or the clay. Of exploring while you create. It’s about the journey, not the destination.

So maybe saying I have the artistic skills of a third grader is not so bad after all. I should “embrace my inner child” – and let her go where her enthusiasm takes her. Run away, wild child, and I shall follow you! 😀

© amateur-in-art, 2008

September 18, 2008

Soul Journal – Days 3 & 4 – Soul Armor!

Posted in Art, Beginner's art, Learning art, Soul Journal tagged , , , , , , at 9:51 pm by amateur-in-art

Nope, you didn’t miss it. I’m not posting Day 2 here, but I am posting Days 3 & 4 – SOUL ARMOR! I loved this assignment! This was so much fun, starting with the decision of “what will my armor (or warrior) look like” all the way through the process.

After some searching, I finally came upon an image of Athena, the Greek warrior goddess of wisdom, which seemed just perfect. I thought the image had enough white space I could work with, and as I read more about her mythology (I was already a little familar) I liked choosing her even more. I liked the details on her shield, the fact that she was wearing a helmet, and the goddess Nike in her hand. I decided to add an owl to my page, because Athena is often accompanied by an owl. She also often is accompanied by a snake, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with a snake as a positive image (though he seems “tame” by her side), so I opted to omit that. And, since I was using this as my own personal symbol, I didn’t feel obliged to try to incorporate too much of her myth into the work. It was not about “recreating the Athena myth” on the page, but rather, finding a representative for my “Soul Armor.”

I like that she has the three qualities of warrior, goddess, and wisdom, and I knew right away that I wanted to highlight those aspects.

From there, I just started working along, writing in things that I need to feel strong about my creativity, reminders to “follow my gut,” and other qualities that I need to hang on to to follow my creative muse, whether it be in the pages of my Soul Journal, or in my writing endeavors.

Here’s a detail of some of the things in the middle. Parts are still difficult to see, even zoomed in. The writing on her torso reads (from left to right, beginning on her arm): Strength, sweat, follow your gut, and below that, on her belly, is: birth of great ideas. You can’t see it in the detail view, but on her head by her helmet, I also have inspiration, and protect those great ideas. I believe creativity takes both head and heart (or “gut feeling”) so for me, this still works. I have that dualism also in the pillar in this detail, consisting of both creativity and logic.

After working on this for a couple of days, although I liked what I had done very much, I also thought that perhaps I needed the “enemies” that she was fighting – things like procrastination, indifference, and the very voices of criticism that our “Soul Armor” is designed to protect us from. So I created a tissue paper overlay.

I used the stamps of a timepiece and compass without numerals or direction, and wrote the voices of my critic and other things that try to undermine my creative efforts.

Here’s what it looks like on top. Ick! right? I decided this just wouldn’t work – and hey, who needs those negative voices anyway? So even though I liked the concept, I really didn’t like how it turned out, so off it went!

Here’s the completed Soul Armor piece:

I made a few minor changes, like adding a larger map section just above her shield, adding a few more words, and highlighting a few more things.

“Lessons learned?” Well, I don’t like how much of the previous background still shows through. I wish I would have done more, in some manner, with the background – painted, colored, papered, done something. I also learned that rubber stamps don’t work so well on gesso’d and glued-down paper scraps. Next time, I’ll stamp on paper then glue that down, if I’m working on this kind of a surface.

But to return to the positive: I like how this project evolved for me, and took me in many different directions. I do feel strong now, after doing this, and I do feel confident – and hey – this is a biggie – I actually like what I’ve produced here! Hooray!

And I have to give credit where credit is due – and I even put it on my page.

Thanks, Sarah!

Thanks, Sarah!

The little white doggy in the corner, with the word “encourage” is for Sarah – her two cute white puppy dogs put in their appearance regularly at her blog, Caspiana – and I’m grateful for the encouragement she’s given to me through this project, and specifically, the Soul Armor exercise. Thanks, Sarah! 🙂

© amateur-in-art, 2008