I recently received a wonderful book by Danny Gregory called art Before Breakfast. The a in the title is not capitalized. This premise is described as such: “art with a big ‘A’ is for museums, galleries, critics and collectors while art with a small ‘a’ is for the rest of us.” I like that train of thought, since so much of the art that many of us make, even though we strive for perfection, simply is not perfect and/or museum quality. That’s absolutely not to say that it isn’t beautiful! In some ways, the book seems geared to busy people who have never even thought of trying any form of art, with the author pointing out some of the mental and physical advantages of it. But to me the book also speaks to all artists of any medium in that the purpose is that you make time for art every day!
Being a person who tends to flit from one project to another and another, sometimes finishing nothing, I have been making myself finish one book – if I’m reading it cover to cover rather than just using it for a quick reference – before I can start another. So, I finally was able to start reading art Before Breakfast Thursday night (I read before going to sleep). Which meant that Friday morning, I grabbed a pen and did two very quick, sloppy sketches before breakfast! These sketches were each under 5 minutes, including digging through my very limited markers to add some color. I’m a little embarrassed to show them, but I will anyway because starting my day that way made me feel great and added to the desire to make sure I spent some time in my studio. I find that most any type of doodle, scribble or sketch can loosen up my hand and focus my attention on art. So, here are those two sincerely bad sketches from Friday morning; the left one is the “title page” in a small accordion fold sketchbook and the second (photo rotated to make it upright) is, believe it or not, the bowl of grapes that I ate for breakfast. Now I just have to stick with it every day!
One of my recent no-drawing painting attempts… This is from a photo taken in Glacier National Park a couple of years ago and was not taken with a telephoto lens, just a cell phone. Obviously the deer there are quite used to people being nearby.
What I like about this is the looseness. Even though it’s not very good, going without an initial drawing at all definitely loosened up my usually overly tight, photo-realism type painting. Being able to paint looser is something I strive for. That is not to say that I will paint this way all the time, but more practice in this manner may be a very good thing!
original watercolor “Wait for Me!”
I always seem to be inspired by the ocean and, for that matter, most bodies of water. Perhaps growing up so near a lake has something to do with that. This was a fun painting to do, with some experiments along the way. It is based on the numerous photos I took a decade ago while on the Florida Gulf Coast. I loved watching the Sandpipers on the beach!
I am currently stressing over planning and executing a painting or paintings to enter in our Spokane Watercolor Society 2015 Open Juried Show, coming up this fall. Because of that and several other issues, I am still not managing a painting a day. I am doing something toward my art every day though – digging through years worth of photos for reference ideas, compositions, pre-drawing, sketches, etc. My smaller works might not be impressive enough for some, but after my “painting marathon” in January, for me it seems to be a better way to improve and to simply feel like I am accomplishing something. But you can’t submit anything of that size as a juried show entry… I just have to make time in my schedule for the larger works too.
I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, since I finished the 30 in 30 challenge. I can use the excuse that I’ve been up to my neck in work for SWS-which is true! However, I learned last month that I absolutely must set aside time for my own art rather than just administrative things as president of an art group. And that’s not to say that I haven’t been actively working on art, even though it’s not been at my January pace. I will admit to a bit of a lull in inspiration though. Perhaps it’s a touch of burn-out or simply the time of the year, but ideas have been a little slim lately. That is when I sit down with an art book or at the computer to work from a video. It is all practice and I am now a real believer in the whole idea of many small paintings as a way to further/improve my art.
That all being the case, I have done a number of sketches and four new paintings. First up was a new challenge for myself – painting directly with no sketching at all, just drawing with the brush and then completing the paintings. I did two small works, both of deer, in my sketchbook in that way. Then I tried it out in my Moleskine watercolor book with a simple geranium painting. I won’t say that it was all totally successful, but it was fun and educational to give it a try! As an artist – and as a human being – I know I must continue to learn and challenge myself!