Tuesday, July 31, 2007

August Challenge

It's summertime (finally!), so let's have a little fun. This challenge comes out of an idea that's been brewing in my head for a little while. I'm calling it the shoe project. That's right...this month, take the time to draw each and every single pair of your shoes, or as many as you can reasonably manage in a month. Draw them in any style you want. Paint them if you want. Put the drawings on separate pages in a book if you want. Get crafty. Create shoe collages. Whatever you want! Post your work as you do it and leave me a comment with your link and I'll link to your drawings on the sidebar of my blog. The most important thing about this challenge is to enjoy it!! Hurrah!!

the cat and the moon

July challenge wrap up

Thanks to shadows and clouds , kimbu and Janie for taking up the zen challenge. I definitely got a lot more out of it than I thought I would. Drawing that leaf was the best experience.

August challenge will be posted up soon.

Friday, July 27, 2007

moon mandalas

dark moon dreaming


crescent moon emerging


moon child rising


dark moon falling


The changing faces of the moon...and a happy event that my moon mandalas coincide with this week's illustration friday topic...

some recent mandalas

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

earth's poem

earth's poem
for those who care to listen


I hadn't realised that I'd been away from my blog for over a week. Stuff happens...like spending the entire weekend reading the very last ever Harry Potter book (it's fantastic and that's all I'm saying).

After inhabiting Harry's world so intensely, I felt the best way to bring me back to reality was to do some zen drawing. So I sat down to draw this leaf. It blew onto our doorstep one day and I knew I had to draw it. Doing so was the first time since I started the zen drawing thing that I felt I really understood what it's about. I finished the drawing in two separate sittings of about 2 hours each. I felt like I really connected with the contours of the leaf, I could feel its curves and see the shadows collecting on its surface. Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed it, I felt like I was drawing with my whole self, even my heart. It was also an immensely rewarding lesson on the value of slowing down and being patient.

It also helped me to understand something I've been reading and contemplating. It comes from Robert Henri's The Art Spirit, which I picked up for guidance after my painting struggles. And oh what a treasure it is! Here's just one illuminating thought from it:-

"The object of painting a picture is not to make a picture - however unreasonable this may sound. The picture, if a picture results, is a by-product and may be useful, valuable, interesting as a sign of what has past. The object, which is back of every true work of art, is the attainment of a state of being, a state of high functioning, a more than ordinary moment of existence...These results, however crude, become dear to the artist who made them because they are records of the states of being which he has enjoyed and which he would regain. They are likewise interesting to others because they are to some extent readable and reveal the possibilities of greater existence." (from The Art Spirit, emphasis his)

...which is kind of similar to the state of being present and mindful, in zen seeing and drawing, and made me see the value of paying attention, of not just seeing but also feeling what I'm drawing with my whole being, something that I should be doing every time I sit down to draw or paint, and not just during the month of trying out zen drawing.

Anyway, The Art Spirit is full of wonderfully encouraging, wise and inspiring insights. It feels like a gift to have discovered it just when I'm struggling so much with painting...don't you just love it when stuff like that happens?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Jakey makes a discovery...

...while messing around with Paul's sunglasses over the weekend:-

"I is cool!!"

seeing things

Here are both my attempts at drawing a tiny pine cone that I found in Wales. It's in the shape of a rose. I didn't like my first attempt too much, so I did it again.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

a blow to the skull

I'm having one of those days. Except, it's been going on for a couple of weeks now. But today it was technicolour. Those of you who visit me regularly may remember reading something about me and a painting course a few months back.

Yet, I hardly ever mention it and I haven't posted much of my course work, or much of any painting for that matter. There's a reason for that. I'm really struggling with paint. And I'm really struggling with the course assignments.

Each time I sit down to do an assignment, I come face to face with my own limitations and shortcomings. And it's getting more intense. All I can focus on is what I can't do. So much so that I'm not enjoying it. Up till now, I've been taking it fairly well. But today it wasn't pretty. There were tantrums and sulking and banging and cussing. I've been exuding a fractious, stabby energy.

I really didn't want to do the latest assignment (doing a colour study of "a flower in an interior") but I eventually forced myself to do it. Even while I was coming up with a million reasons why it was "stupid" and kept muttering "what's the point" under my breath, I did it. I didn't enjoy it and bearing in mind my frame of mind, I don't know what I've gotten out of it yet, but I did the damn thing. Then I decided that I should stop. Sometimes, if you push yourself too hard you end up poking yourself in the eye. So I stopped and ranted in my notebook instead.

After that I felt better. After that I gained maybe an ounce of perspective and allowed myself to see that this is potentially a big learning opportunity. If only I can get beyond my negativity. Then I checked my emails and read my Roboscope (written by Rob Breszny) for the coming week. Here's what it said:

So that's how I'm going to try and take this. As a well-meaning blow to the skull, all for the cause of fertile uproar. But just incase you think I'm being falsely modest...here's the proof...if there are any painters out there reading this, your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

did i see?

This was / is very challenging. I had to remember to stay present and relaxed, to stay focussed, but not try to control the picture too much. I had to keep reminding myself that the aim wasn't to produce a beautiful picture, but a truthful one. Did I really see and did my hand translate that seeing? I don't know. Perhaps there were moments of seeing, but old habits got in the way. I'll keep going though.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

July challenge

July's challenge is to see. To look, to really see, to be present and to draw. I'm setting this challenge because I've noticed my tendency to draw too quickly, impatiently, hurriedly. I've been drawing and painting (and doing most things) with too busy a mind. I know I need to slow down, be patient, to be present, really look and see, connect. I'll be drawing guidance from Frederick Franck's Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing.

You can drawing using any medium you like. Part of the challenge will be to see the ordinary objects around you anew, to see the details and connect with them. And yes, in a way, it is a form of meditation, another form of practice for being present, which is what meditation is (to me).

Above is an example of a time I made myself really look. It's a drawing of a piece of wood I found on the beach at Fiorenzuola in Italy.

So, if you feel the need to be still, be present, to see with open eyes...give this a go. And if you do, leave me a comment to let me know. I'll post a link to your drawing in the sidebar of my blog.


drawings from italy trip