Drawing Them Out: Faces Reveal Artist’s Growth

As 2018 unfolds, I’ve been reflecting on my creative journey.

What began as art discovery (a form of therapy, if you will) during a difficult time in my life – personally and professionally – has developed into a way of living that is as necessary to me as breathing and eating. My head often feels like it will burst to let the ideas out!

When everything in art was brand new to me three years ago, I was taking it all in and sampling techniques, tools, and materials – but not choosing anything specific. Window shopping.  I suppose that’s how I discovered ‘mixed media’ – I tinkered in a little bit of everything. Now, while I still prefer using a variety of media, there are certain things I prefer.  Drawing and faces make my short list.

I’m absolutely fascinated by people’s faces, taking in the lines, curves, shapes, colors, tones, textures, how light hits high places and recedes in low spots, the crevices, scars, freckles, moles, placement of features, how the features move when the person speaks, the color of the iris, the white reflection in the pupil, the shape of the lips – up or down, a big toothy grin or a closed, smiling mouth…. the list is endless.

I’ve noticed as long as I can remember, but more in the past few years. Often when I’m looking at someone, I get distracted by what I see, and worry that I’ll miss what’s being said. When I look at photographs, I am mesmerized. I study the details.

credit: RobinLK Studios. 24×24 mixed media on art board

In 2015-16, I began curating faces from online images in Pinterest and Google, to use as reference tools as I developed my drawing skills. I didn’t draw too many faces those first years, but the first photo in my curated collection became a reference for an early piece I created in a workshop I attended. The 24 x 24 art now hangs in our home. It’s one of my favorite pieces, but I didn’t focus on drawing faces. Yet.

I was still dabbling.

Looking at a face is like looking at art for me.  I am infinitely curious when I look at someone’s face…

In Pam Carriker’s book, Mixed Media Portraits: Techniques for Drawing and Painting Faces, she says, “You’ll find when you begin sketching and using faces in your work that you notice the tilt of someone’s head when you’re talking to them or how the light is shadowing their face.” When I read this, I thought, “I do that all the time!”

My focus is narrowing. No longer just window shopping as I did in 2015, I’m figuring out which subjects interest me most, which mediums feel ‘right’ in my hands, how compositions, combinations, and colors convey what’s in my heart and my head.

Pam goes on to say, “Each face that emerges is like meeting a new person. They are who they are, and they don’t have to be perfect… Let them become who they become.”  I love this!

I am literally ‘drawing them out’ – new people who have (apparently) been hanging out in my head and are now emerging. Their faces are the evidence of my own growth as an artist…..

Here are a few new friends I’d like to introduce, because as I develop my drawing skills, these ladies will become fondly remembered as the faces who appeared first in 2018, willing to emerge with all their quirkiness and imperfections.   🙂

Where will the process take me next?  Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest: @RobinLK Studios

Ten Tips: Keeping Art Brushes, Sponges, and Stamps Usable

One of the things I learned from our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party was that sharing tips I’ve learned about the process in the past three years is a “how-to” I can gladly contribute. Here are a few things learned along the way….

Ten tips for keeping brushes, sponges, and stamps usable… (because it gets expensive replacing them!):

  1. Do not leave brushes/sponge brushes in water for long periods of time.
  2. Do not let paint, ink, or adhesives dry on brushes, sponges, or stamps. Let them rest in a brush tub, to keep them moist. Use the scrubber in the bottom to gently loosen paint.
  3. Change water often when painting, especially with watercolors.
  4. Use paper towels, a fabric cloth, and/or baby wipes while working on a project – rinse and wipe tools when switching between tools during a project.
  5. Use the correct brush for acrylic vs. watercolor paint. Acrylics are too harsh for natural hair brushes and will damage them.
  6. Avoid pushing, jamming, or squishing brushes, sponges, or stamps into paint, ink, adhesives, or other mediums.
  7. When finished, clean brushes and sponges in warm soapy water and pat dry.
  8. Lay brushes horizontally to dry to avoid water running from bristles to ferrule (thing that looks like a collar).
  9. Store brushes upright once they are completely dry. *Never store brushes with bristles facing down.
  10. When finished with a stamp, use a product like StazOn to clean the excess ink, especially when using permanent ink. Gently pat the stamp with the cleaning product. Follow with a dry cloth or paper towel. Gently pat the stamp and let it air-dry.

Want to learn more tips and tricks for playing with colors?  Follow RobinLK Studios on Facebook for the latest information.

Our First Art Party is in the Books: Feedback + Lessons Learned

Sunday, February 25, 2018, RobinLK Studios hosted our first-ever Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party.

Our project:   Mail Art

Our party experience:   Wow, it was a LOT of fun!

 

My party experience: Wow, it was a LOT of fun and a LOT of work before and after, but very much worth it(!).

Like any good party, details matter. This event was no different. Three weeks of intense planning and preparation led to wonderful feedback from guests. Here’s what they shared with me in text messages, Facebook comments, and before leaving that day:

  • “It was sooooooo much fun!”
  • “…a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends”
  • “…such an enjoyable time… making stuff and meeting new people”
  • “…a wonderful day of creating!… cannot wait ’til the next time!” 

I was thrilled to see guests playing with art supplies and making messes like a Kindergarten class. It was absolutely as I envisioned it:  loosely structured, creatively encouraging and inspiring, an opportunity for folks to leave their inhibitions (and To Do lists) at the door, and focus on Just.Having.Fun.

With more than 10 different types of art supplies to work with, everyone had plenty of options. When invited to ‘pick what spoke to them,’ they quickly surrounded the tables of supplies and began looking, touching, and selecting things they liked. I stood back and smiled.

Armed with their colorful selections, guests headed back to their seats.

They placed drink and food orders and began thinking about how each piece might fit together. They moved pieces of scrap paper, images, fabric, text, and organic materials (twigs, sand, seashells) around, tested color combinations, and shared ideas with friends – old and new.

Before long, any chance I had of sharing tips and samples with them was long gone! As one guest (a teacher friend) said, “Your students are so engaged, they’re ignoring you!”  🙂  She was absolutely right!

I remember the ‘teacher’ part of me feeling a little concern…. knowing after 24 years in my chosen profession, that giving no instruction can lead to all sorts of outcomes – desired or not. At this point, I had to just go with it… and make mental notes about what to do differently next time. The fun, creative atmosphere outweighed my concerns for the rest of the afternoon… mostly.

I walked around and answered questions. I watched how guests used the art supplies, how they pondered their choices, and how they interacted (or not) with those around them.

For a gal who enjoys the process more than the product, this was an amazing afternoon of watching, listening, and learning!

I made mental notes as I moved around the room – things I’ll share at the start of every party from now on:

  • use tools lightly: no jamming, squishing, or smashing
  • use supplies sparingly: paints, adhesives, and other media dry fast. Ink glumps.
  • basic purpose of tools/supplies: adhesives, paints, gesso, and ink + various tools for applying all those good things
  • use clean-up supplies while making art (not just after):  water jars, brush buckets, trash cans, ink removers, paper towels and baby wipes
  • the location of our water source + time to fill water jars and brush buckets
  • samples of the project and time for everyone to look at samples and ask questions before jumping in

I also noticed that while most guests were quite happy being left to figure things out (the nature of our art parties: why-to vs. how-to), a few might have preferred more How-To, which left them feeling a bit dissatisfied (I think).

I believe I can address that in two ways:

  1. Be even more clear in my art party description that our events are more why-to than how-to.  Hopefully, this will help everyone make an informed decision about joining us. I felt it was clear in the first party invite but I’ll review the wording.
  2. Ensure we go over the topics listed above before everyone gets started.

When we neared our final 30 minutes together, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the afternoon and hoped everyone did, too. Guests began collecting up their new projects… in most cases, several pieces. They told me how much fun they had, and a few even offered to help clean up. As any good host would do, I assured them that was not necessary, and wished them a safe journey home.

source: pxhere.com

Then came the clean-up. It was then, really then, that I realized what no directions or expectations could lead to… guests took my  invitation to “come make a mess!” literally (which was great), but I was faced with huge clean-up and many damaged or thrown-away art supplies and tools. Oh, nooo!

Two hours later, after cleaning matted brushes and sponges – several rescued from the trash, and seeing how many broken tools there were, the remaining 7+ boxes and crates of art supplies were finally packed in my car and I was heading home.

So, what will I do differently for future art parties, now that I’ve had time to self-assess?

  • Organize more thoroughly – less fluff and more function in containers and packing – save the vintage containers (no lids, really heavy/really fragile, or awkward shapes) for other art events
  • Streamline set-up so everything is ready on time
  • Use the first 20 + last 20 to get everyone set up and cleaned up, collectively
  • Talk about how-to and why-to keep our work area clean as we make a mess – just as I do in my own studio
  • Include more How-To and Why-To (tips and techniques) at key points along the creative way – a “creative pause” maybe… ??

Our first Creative by Discovery Mixed-Media Art Party is in the books, and I’m over-the-moon thrilled!! A HUGE thank you to everyone who joined us for the first party. Many are friends and brought friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting {and more importantly} being a part of my (now: our) creative adventure. I appreciate each of you so very much and look forward to more Sunday afternoons together.  🙂

The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge

I also want to extend a special Thank You to Mike and his team at The Tavern at Rock Springs Ridge, who have opened their restaurant to us for our Sunday afternoon creative messes. Fair pricing, terrific food and beverage, and lovely accommodations all make this a wonderful B2B relationship.

Supporting local businesses is an important part of who I am as a consumer. Being able to support (and benefit from) local businesses as a fellow small business owner is also exciting! My sincerest thanks.

*If you haven’t yet stopped in to this neighborhood gem, I encourage you to. The food and atmosphere are terrific now, with the new ownership!!

Finally, thank you Bob, for asking me back in 2015 what I was going to do with this interest in art.  I know you’re watching over me and I know you’re proud. I wish you were still here so we could talk about it, but I know you’re guiding me. Please – keep leaving me signs. I’m listening with a heavy heart.

Sharing the joy of creating and inspiring others to discover their own creativity is what it’s been about for me since the beginning. Finally, I’m figuring out how to share that message and get others involved. I have finally discovered how to make magic…..

Want to know when our next art party is happening? Follow us on Facebook for the latest details.

I’m Not Creative! So Said She (or He)

crayons up close
credit: Pinterest

Remember when you were little and had that GIANT box of Crayola crayons and endless sheets of blank white paper?

Remember how carefree and happy you felt as you drew purple elephants, orange grass, and places no one had ever seen?

What happened?  

For most of us, being creative is a distant memory, and depending on where you’re reading this blog post, you may or may not be tapped into your own creativity any more… you know, that rush to draw and paint and write with abandon…

Why aren’t we all there? Why do adults lose that sense of carefree happiness that comes from creating? Why do adults eliminate creating/making from their lives?

Oh… because we have to ‘adult’ {apparently, now a verb in current vernacular} – all.the.time.

Ummm…. I Don’t Think So.

In fact, I get all outta sorts when I lose creative time to life’s To Do lists!

Balance.

  • Did you know being creative positively influences your health, including the decrease of stress, anxiety, and depression?
  • Did you know being creative increases productivity?
  • Did you know being creative makes you happy – or happier if you’re lucky enough to already be one of those smiling fools.  😉
  • Did you know being creative can be just plain fun??

*Research supports each of the above statements. I wouldn’t make this stuff up, I wouldn’t kid about creativity, and…. I experienced it firsthand, which I shared here on my About page.

Creativity “Loosely” Defined {or Generally Accepted by Those Who Study Such Stuff} is… connecting ideas”

But don’t believe me because I find calm, focus, and fun in writing and ‘arting’ ….  🙂

Check out these articles that share the wisdom…..

creative
Article: The Psychology Behind Creativity
creative2
Article: The Science Behind Creativity

 

Then, join us on the Studios Facebook Page for some creative fun ~ online and in person.  Hope you’ll join us (and bring a friend… or two)!

{Sunday Funnies}….Benefits of Being Messy

man in messy bed
credit: ocusfocus/istock_reader’s digest

“Cleanliness may be next to Godliness, but sloppiness is a lot easier. And there are loads of benefits to being messy, too.”

Finally! Research to back up my habits.  😉 I really hope The Mr. reads this blog post.  Beds and desks…#creativity … Just sayin’…..

Source: Benefits of Being Messy: 7 Reasons It’s Better to Be a Slob

Hope you’ve had a fantastic Sunday.

🙂

Prolific….??

barren tree in fall
(March 2015) credit: geograph.org.uk
sprouts in soil
(March 2016) credit: pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to dictionary.com

prolific:  adjective

  1. producing offspring, young, fruit, etc., abundantly; highly fruitful: a prolific pear tree.
  2. producing in large quantities or with great frequency; highly productive:  a prolific writer.
  3. profusely productive or fruitful (often followed by in or of): a bequest prolific of litigations.
  4. characterized by abundant production.

Do you find your creative energy has ebbs and flows? I’m betting we all do at some time or another…

After last year’s ‘ebb,’ I can’t seem to wrangle my ‘flow’ these days… from paint brushes to prose, my brain is buzzing 24-7 and the projects just keep happening.

I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Prolific, maybe?

Sure feels like it!  🙂