Thursday, 2 January 2014

A New Project

Happy New Year to all!

First of all, some updates:

1.  The Long Break
I took a long break from drawing last year due to some personal challenges, health-wise as well as a sudden drop in my self confidence.  During the long break, I drew very sparingly but spent a fair bit of time thinking of how I had suddenly lost my motivation.  To cut the long story short, I think it boils down to not creating art that please myself rather than others.

I figured that I ended up in that situation (of trying to create art that please the crowd I was hanging out with rather than for myself) because I wasn't too confident of what I was doing to start with, so when I started hanging out with other artists who are very good at what they do but who have a very different set of skills and interests from mine, I ended up trying to emulate their styles and techniques and didn't like what I was doing.

Now, there's nothing wrong with learning from those who are more skilled than us.  That's how most people learn.  What went wrong in my process was that I was forcing myself to take on projects that I have no interest in, resulting in getting myself in the downward spiral of poorly executed drawings followed by a further lack of motivation.

Well, not all is lost in the process though.  At the very least I learnt something about myself: that I'm motivated by doing things I love, and that extends to drawing and painting subjects that interest me such as food, faces, people, and nature.  While I like looking at drawings of buildings and street scenes, I absolutely hate having to draw them myself!

2.  Health
The other big thing that really distracted me since last summer is a few rather severe health issues in the family.  I spent most of last year learning about neurosciences in order to deal with issues pertraining to neurological disorders and heavy metal toxicity.  These are long-term issues but at least I am at a stage where I have a good understanding of what I'm dealing with and am having ongoing treatments.

3.  A New Project
After such a long break, I realise that I really miss drawing and doing art in general but I need a project to focus my energy.  So, I bought myself a new square sketchbook and spent some time on New Year's Day formulating my ideas and putting the cover page together.

I started the first drawing this morning.  Boy, I am really rusty after a lack of practice!  It took 2 hours to get to where I am now.

I have to stop now to take my son to visit his friends.  I intend to get more done tonight.  I shall post more about it when it's done.

It's good to be back!

This first come-back post is shared at What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday 239.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

It's been a while

Drawn at the V&A a month ago.

20 minutes of pencil drawing on A1 sketchbook.

Barely got the outline done accurately in that time, but for some reason I quite like it.  I've not done much drawing from sculptures, but it seems that it can be quite enjoyable, if I can have the luxury of spending a whole day just to draw.

I also want to share the following clip, which has some very useful ideas for those of us who face crushing comments on our work.  An article about it is here.  Don't miss F. Scott Fitzgerald's response while you're there.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The crazy voice and the fragile ego

Nothing like a naked body to get me back in the mood...  Just kidding.

I have been moping around for a few weeks, having lost my mojo.  For some unknown reason, towards the end of March I began to develop a severely self-critical voice.  It sounds crazy, but by the end of March I looked at my drawings and just thought they were crap.  I could not pick up any drawing implement without hearing an imaginery voice telling me one of the following:
  • What's the point?
  • You're never going to drawing like _____ (insert any of the Old Masters)
  • You're not even a professional artist!
  • Who cares about what you do anyway?
  • Your drawing is terrible/boring/superficial/pretensious...

The voice was getting so loud that I had to take some time off to deal with it.

Luckily, a group of artists I used to hang out with suddenly had a space in their life drawing workshop last weekend so I jumped at the chance to attend it, just to see whether I've really lost my drawing skills.  I was so nervous the night before that I actually lost sleep over it!

I'm so glad I went.  I met up with old friends and had a really good time just being in a studio environment again.  All the drawings were drawn freehand, without taking measurements so some of the proportions aren't right, but accuracy of measurement wasn't high on my priority list that day.  I just needed to be able to draw again.

When I told my friends what I had been feeling, they looked at me incredulously and said, "Are you crazy?"  Aw... such a nice bunch of people.

Well, at least I learned a little more about myself through this incident -- that I care more about what others think of my work than I think I do.

It would be nice to be able to just make art regardless of what others thought, but obviously I'm not at that stage yet.  I'm sure the critical voice will creep up on me again and again, but I hope that when it does, I'll take shorter time each time to get over it and just carry on.

Friday, 22 March 2013

A few sketches before I go

Just to share a few quick sketches I did today at the British Museum.  My son was there to attend an art workshop about the various art forms throughout different historical periods.  I was accompanying his workshop group around the various galleries and sketched as we went along.

The Lion Man is a replica of a 40,000 years old Ice Age sculpture, currently exhibiting at the museum.  The group was at this particular gallery at the start of the workshop so we spent most of our time there.  Once the children settled into their activities with the workshop leader, I sat on a bench near them and sketched this in 10 minutes:

The group then moved to the Enlightenment Gallery where the children had 5 minutes to complete a certain activity.  I used the 5 minutes to sketch this:

We then went to the Assyrian Gallery where the children looked at and examined the wall relief while I sketched quickly to capture the Eagle Deity but its head was all I could get on paper in 5 minutes before we headed to the Greek Gallery.  In the final 5 minutes, I did what I could with one of the statues:

Also a quick note to let you know that I am going to take a blogging break from this blog for a while, to spend more time to read, think, and do more art practises.  I feel as though I've hit a plateeau at this part of the journey that I don't have much interesting things to say or show anymore.  That usually means I need to spend more quiet time by myself.

Hope you have a very good weekend!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

What do I overlook?

Ballpoint pen drawing #81

 Above is the line drawing of a type of bodhi flower.  The bodhi tree and its flowers have important symbolic significance in Buddhism. 

Coincidentally, I started this drawing before this week's APR theme was announced and it aptly fits my current situation at the moment, ie that I have neglected my personal spiritual nourishment.  I was searching for a way to incorporate it better in my life when I came across an article written by a prominent Taiwanese writer:

The quotation is loosely translated as:
The Buddhist seeker must not wish for the perfect circumstance, or hope to hide on the meditation cushion, like the dispersing mango flower that knows that there is no ideal situation in this world, it only strives to open itself up, to blossom, waiting for the moment the wind blows.  Be like the flower, live with vigour and positivity, and treasure your life.

I don't consider myself a practising Buddhist but I admire its philosophy.

Having read this quote has made me start thinking of ways to incorporate into my life some of the philosophy that resonates with me.  It has reminded me that there is no need to wait for the ideal situation to occur before getting on with it.  The real practice is from the heart, and the place of worship is right here, right now.

I'm participating in:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Confused by Dennis

This morning my son and I braved the sleet and wintry weather to get on the tube very early this morning.  We were in Central London by 8:30am.  We had a while to wait before my son's workshop started so we had breakfast in his favourite outlet:

Ballpoint pen drawing #80

I was trying to decide between drawing the counter or the shelves, then the big lettering on the wall caught my eyes so I decided to start there, where my line of vision fell.

I don't know how some people do it, but I spent almost an hour just drawing the two-and-a-half shelves you see on my page, then I ran out of patience and time.  The amount of details required for the food items and drinks on each shelf was starting to drive me crazy, so I stopped and took my son to where he needed to be.

While my son was in his workshop, I had time to fill in the colours using watercolour pencils and a waterbrush.  I then journalled a little bit with writing and collage, then decided that I should draw something about the place where we were spending most of our time today.

I watched the cartoon Dennis the Menace when I was a child, but I had no idea, until today's visit, that he is a British creation.  I think I must have watched the American version all those years ago since I remember Dennis having an American accent.  However, the character on the TV cartoon I watched looked more like the English Dennis than the American Dennis.  It's all very confusing now.

I'm participating in:
1) Creative Every Day Check-in: March 11-17
2) Show Me What You Got: Mar 13-19
3) Show and Tell Saturday

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Did I really see that?

Today I found myself sneaking into yet another coffeeshop to get some warmth as the weather became wet and chilly yet again.  I wasn't planning on sketching the coffee cup or the coffee, but the checkered pattern of the table caught my eye, so I felt I had to get it down on paper.  It took about 15-20 minutes to get the sketch down since I didn't fancy drinking cold coffee.

Ballpoint pen drawing #78

I sketched it from a slightly different angle from that which I have photographed it, but the shape of the mug was totally off.  It's mad.  How could the mug on the paper differ so much from the actual mug on the table?!  I suspect it's because my subconscious mind somehow wished that I was drinking a barrel of coffee...

It really bothers me when my drawing is out of whack, so I drew another one when I came home, using the above photo for reference.  This time I got the mug right, then another set of difficulties set in: perspective.

Ballpoint pen drawing #79

Oh no!  Since I was stubborn enough to keep drawing in ballpoint pen, I could not erase the errorneous lines!  I had completed the outline of the mug before moving on to tackle the checkered pattern of the table.  As I drew the original lines (which my conscious mind told me that they were of course parallel), things started to look wrong.  The more I shifted my eyes around the drawing (from mug to table to individual rectangles and back to the mug), the more errors I noticed.  It was driving me crazy.  I took my frustration out on the shading, hence you can see it's somewhat heavy-handed.

Up until this point, everything was drawn in freehand.  I still could not figure out what was causing my drawing to look wrong, so I gave in and used a ruler to draw the lines.  Only at this point did I realise that I had completely forgotten about the lines having to converge to a vanishing point somewhere off the paper, from where I was sitting. 

Once that got resolved, I was happier.  The lines on the paper are left there as a reminder to myself of the lesson learnt from this drawing.

The prompt for this week's Mugshot Collaboration mentions using the packaging of the drink so that has inspired me to add some collage elements to this journal page.  I don't do much collage, but now I can see its appeal.

I'm participating in:
1) Monday Mugshots Collaboration Feb 28th
2) Creative Every Day Check-in: March 4-10
3) Show Me What You Got: Mar 6- 12
4) Art Journal Every Day: In Pursuit of a Drawing Style
5) Sweet Saturdays Week 90
6) Show and Tell Saturday
7) The Twenty Minute Challenge
8) Sunday Sketches

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