Artistic Playfulness

It’s been another busy period of artistic playfulness. Here’s my next arty update for anyone who may be interested.

Last Sunday, I tapped into the inspirational photos of people on the Sktchy app and found a photo of a fellow artist. She had a beautiful face to draw and I was inspired.

The above photos show how I moved through the stages to get to the final image, which I am pretty happy with.

I started drawing a sketch of her face in graphite, then added a layer of black and brown crosshatching marks and followed up with watercolour pencils, indian ink and white marker pens to capture the light and shadows.

Prior to that I played around crosshatching and adding watercolour pencil to a sketch of my own hand. It was from a photo so that’s how I managed to capture my right hand (which is the one I use to draw).

I also spend a couple of days creating a watercolour portrait of this Mexican Hairless Dog. It’s probably not accurate to the image since I had to shorten the ears to fit him on the page, but I like him. This one painting was created with watercolour paint and watercolour pencils. I had a great time creating a glaze effect on this one. I probably could push it more, but watercolour is a new medium for me so I am in the learning and experimenting phase.

Last Wednesday night I rushed over to life drawing class and here are some of the sketches in various mediums. The drawings are not all accurate or in proportion but I like how my drawing is developing. I especially appreciate that I can now capture the whole person on the page and draw what I am seeing rather than what my brain thinks it’s seeing.

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This one (above) is probably my favourite sketch from the night. It took 20 minutes to do and gave me a challenge with foreshortening as well as capturing the form with crosshatching. I used black ink pen to do this one. There’s only one part of it that irks me as I think I didn’t capture it as accurately I would have liked, but that’s the process of drawing – learning to see and draw exactly what I see. I’m still learning and I’m grateful that I can continue to do that too.

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And just for fun, I’d seen this horse sitting in a shop window, and I liked him so much that I snapped up a photo so I could draw him in my visual diary later. After a long day at work, I decided to chill out while on the train home and that’s when I drew the horse in water soluble black ink pen. Then I used brush pen to get the shading and I’m totally in love with this sketch.

I’m also still writing… dun dun dun. Yes, one day… eventually I will finish my fiction story and I am still clinging to getting it published, even if I do that myself. It’s a long road from concept to first draft to editing to polishing to publication. I will get there – one word at a time.

Both art and writing are about establishing and maintaining a regular practice. It’s tough to do with a busy life but because I love living a creative life, I continue to return to my passions.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you have creative day whatever you are doing.

Ramping up my Art Practice

In the last month I’ve ramped up my daily art practice. Sketching and using water colour paints in my sketch books most of the time. I’ve also been to another life drawing class, attended my first water colour painting class and today, I have just finished a Sktchy course on cross hatching.

So if you’re interested… here is some of my work.

The cross hatched portrait below is my first one using black pens. It is the image the teacher used in the Sktchy course so you may see it around and depending on who drew it, it might be better rendered than I’ve done here. But having said that, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. I just need to practice the art of seeing and capturing shadows with fine cross hatching marks.

Below is my graphite pencil sketch of the guy we did in the Sktchy course. I put him in a frame as I needed to mark out lots of lines to get his features down on the page with accuracy.

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A lot of people like this pencil cross hatch and I’m super happy with it.

I went to a beginners water colour class and learned about blooms and glazes and all sorts of other techniques. I’m a bit heavy handed with the delicate medium but it’s fun to learn, make mistakes and see where they lead.

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Above is my finished water colour mushroom. I had a lot of fun creating this small art work on the paper we stretched. It was a great class run by Holly from Life Drawing Caloundra.

I’ve been doing a botanical workshop on Skillshare and that’s stretched me a lot. Here’s one of the pieces. It’s a vintage inspired flower with petals and stem.

 

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I think I like the stem and leaves the best. It’s all water colour and took a while for me to layer. I’m not the best realism artist but you got to start somewhere right?

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Above is my botanical alphabet project from the skillshare workshop. It turned out pretty good, but I’m not a big fan of fancy fonts. Maybe one day I will embrace them but it irritated me a bit because I kept making mistakes with the pen and had to keep starting over. For me that’s too painful to do and I doubt I’ll become a calligraphy lover… at least not someone who does calligraphy, but I’ll always have respect for anyone who does the art form!

Then it was off to life drawing class on the 29th May to celebrate their first year of regular classes. It was a great night with every spare spot taken up by artists trying to capture the gesture of the model. Above are two of my pieces. I gave drawing on black paper a go and it worked out pretty good. Quite a few people liked that drawing with the soft pastel.

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Then, totally inspired by Sketchbook Skool, it was time to sketch book my way through my life and capture everyday moments. This image as you can see is of my M&M slippers which I picked up in London in late August 2018. I love them and taking time to draw my feet on the coffee table was excellent fun. No need to feel precious about my lines and marks. It was just an impression of my life and an opportunity to practice drawing what I am seeing rather than what my brain thinks it can see.

I intend to keep practicing and learning new techniques. I hope that as I grow as an artist, I will also be able to create better skillshare courses of my own. I’d like to pass on things I’ve learned but only after I’ve practiced enough and made the techniques my own. I’m not very comfortable in front of the camera yet and it has taken me a long time to learn how to video my art as well as to think about the classes I could teach and how to teach creative writing from my own perspective. I face a lot of internal fears every time I come to create a skillshare course, but I’m moving through my fears and into creativity. I even made a course to help other deal with their fears around creativity based on the tools I use to manage anxiety.

They say one of the best ways to learn is to teach and I’m on that road now too.

On the creative writing front.. I’ve been chipping away at my edited manuscript and had to change a few characters which has lead to a chain reaction of changing what they do and don’t do. I’m about a third of the way through my manuscript and I’m so grateful I’m doing lots of art because it stops me from having anxiety brain.

When I write, I feel a lot of angst to get things right. But when I do art, most of the time the angst just vanishes. I can spend hours and hours doing drawings and not even realise time has sped past. I love writing, but it is a different experience for me. It’s a complex and sometimes analytical experience which somehow triggers off the inner critic in me more than art ever has.

I guess this is all part of a learning curve for me. I’d like to publish my story and I’ll keep at it, and I’ll keep drawing every day because the practice is so good for my mental and emotional well-being.

Until next time, happy creating!

Life Drawing

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Recently, I decided it was time to start sharpening my observation and drawing skills. So, I did a bit of research and found a fortnightly life drawing class held in Caloundra, Queensland. I’ve been to two sessions so far. The first one had a male model the second had a female model. They were great to draw.

This charcoal drawing was done in 10 minutes and I thoroughly enjoyed drawing this model. She had beautiful curvy lines to follow and when she sat in this position, I loved how her legs crossed and she sat up. The photo has a few charcoal smudges but that’s because I had to flip the page and move on to the next drawing fast and I didn’t erase any of the marks before taking this photo.

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Charcoal on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 10 minute drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland

The last time I did life drawing class was in the first half of 2005 when I was at Art School in Melbourne, and I remember it being quite a challenging class as I had a lot of difficulty getting proportions and drawing what I was actually seeing in front of me.

Now fourteen, nearly fifteen years later, I have jumped in to life drawing and it’s been a lot of fun. I was nervous returning to life drawing class, but I am so happy that I have done it. I am connecting with other artists, being inspired by their approach to drawing what they see and I am deepening my ability to observe and draw with more accuracy.

This drawing below is in graphite and I was pleased with the result as it was accurate in proportion and I finally got the hands right. I find hands, noses and ears really difficult to draw. I will have to keep focusing on them and develop that skill.

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Graphite on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 10 minute drawing, 1/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland

Below are two of my favourite drawings from my most recent life drawing class. The model was so beautiful to draw and she did some excellent poses that added interest and challenged all of us to stretch ourselves.

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Graphite and charcoal pencils on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 15 minute drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland

The reclining drawing below was a real challenge for me as it wasn’t easy for me to get her arms down as I saw them. But in the end it worked out and I do love this drawing.

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Graphite and charcoal pencils on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 15 minute drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland

What I love about drawing and art in general is that it takes me to a special place where time, worries and anxieties fall away. I am in the moment. Completely. Utterly. Consumed by what I am drawing. For someone with anxiety as a constant companion, it is magnificent freedom to be in a space where the constant chatter is quiet.

Art, for me, is a like a meditation. When my inner critic gets involved, my art turns out a bit crappy. But when it is hushed and nothing more than background noise, my art seems to come to life.

Here are some other drawings and sketches from my life drawing classes so far. Some of my favourite pieces are the 30 second gesture drawings where I’ve scribbled madly using charcoals so I could capture the overall twist and movement of the model.

I’ve also been chipping away at editing my novel, The Living Death of Toddy James. I do that while sitting on the train on the way in to work during the week. I have to admit that my writing is much more fun when I take the pressure off myself to make it publishable or perfect. Also, returning to art has helped to free me from the inner chatter so I can get on with being creative.

I’ve also been learning cross hatching techniques, portraiture, watercolour botanical painting and how to draw with one line and not to judge the outcome.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve treated myself to three new visual diaries to fill. One is filled with good quality watercolour paper, the other two are ‘lay flat’ mini visual diaries for drawing and mixed media. Now I just have to get over the fear of making a mistake on the blank page and fill them with the things I see.

Whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s creative. Thanks for stopping by and supporting my creative life style blog.

Gouche and Crosshatching Creative Art

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This week I have been playing around and creating botanical art in my new Windsor and Newton Watercolour visual diary. I also bought a pack of 18 Gouache paints and combined them with watercolour, watercolour pencils and a black pen to bring my back garden and front garden to life.

Below are two of my botanical compositions. The first one is a representation of the plants in my back yard. I think the part I love most about this artwork is how I’ve captured the aloe vera leaves in the terra cotta pot. I thoroughly enjoyed creating this artwork.

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Below is a short timelapse video of how I created the botanical composition above.

This image below is a selection of the plants in my front yard. I enjoyed putting the deep red on the page. It’s a lovely contrast to the green hews of the other plants. And I love how lively the other plants are too.

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Below is a short video of photos I took from the concept drawing of the plants through to the finished art piece.

I’ve also been learning more about crosshatching lately. The three images below are a potato, a nose and a sphinx cat. They are all in my visual diary. I had a great time learning to cross hatch with my retractable pencil and focusing on the light and shadow in these images.

Art is all about observation and enjoying the process of playing with marks on the page.

I’m so pleased that my art mojo has come to life again. It’s wonderful to be back in the flow.

I’m off to do my second life drawing class since 2005 this coming week. I hope I’ll have some images to share. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ll keep drawing and editing my novel. Writing a novel and editing it is a long term game for me, so I am very grateful to have art flourishing in my life again.

I hope you have a great day and do something creative that nourishes you too.

Portraiture

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I’ve been studying portraiture with graphite in the last two week. It’s been so good to apply my art and observation skills to the page again.

Below is my first animal portrait in graphite on acid free cartridge paper (my visual diary). It’s a side view of Miss Poppy and her fluffy ragdoll ruff.

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Below is a short time lapse that I created of me drawing the above portrait.

I’ve also been studying the basics of human portraiture using graphite. Here are some examples of the lips, ear and hair that I’ve done.

I’ve also been studying the nose and eyes with a focus on light and shadow.

I enjoyed sketching each section of the human face and learning about light and shadow techniques. I also learned about the angles of the eyes, nose and lips. Each technique built on the other and I’m another step closer to creating portraits that look and feel the way I want them to be.

I’m going through a real art phase right now. Still writing and editing my story, but for now, I find that when I get absorbed in my art, I forget about everything that has been bothering me. All the anxious thoughts disappear and I am in the moment. There is no future, no past, only the present moment. That’s why I love art so much. It is a truly healing activity to do.

Until next time, I hope your creative projects are underway and you are having wonderful time too.

For anyone interested in learning portraiture drawing techniques, I recommend ‘Start Drawing: Techniques for Pencil Portraits by Gabrielle Brickey on Skillshare. That’s where I’ve been learning all about portraits in the last two weeks. She’s a brilliant artist and a great teacher who makes it easy for you to learn and apply your new knowledge too.

Thanks for dropping by.

Intricate Line Drawing Class

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It’s been a big artistic week for me. I’ve spent hours creating a new Skillshare course called, ‘Create Intricate Line Drawings’, and I’m super excited that I’ve managed to pull this off.

I’ve had to learn how to create effective time lapse videos, create video content that flows and makes sense, draw and draw and draw, get comfortable doing voice overs and figure out how to edit on iMovie too.

Below is a sneak peek at my course thumbnail and I’ve created a super simple, super short time lapse video to show you a snippet of the content.


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Below are three of the intricate line drawings I created as part of my Skillshare course demonstration.

I really do hope people enjoy the class. I’m happy with it. It took days to create the content and now I am utterly exhausted.

Tomorrow, I’m back to travelling on the train to go to my day job. That means it’s time to return to my story, The Living Death of Toddy James. I’ve finally finished the second edit and now I am going through plugging plot holes and polishing it to the best of my ability.

Another step closer to getting my manuscript back to the editor for the next round of creative publication preparation work.

I’ll update you on my next art project in the near future. I’m currently studying portraiture and hope to show you some of my work soon.

In the meantime, happy creating and thanks for dropping by.

Gesture Drawing the Figure & Watercolour Fun

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Happy Easter to you all!

I’ve spent my day drawing naked women. It’s an artist thing and it’s all about learning to create gesture drawings of the human figure.

Each sketch below was completed in less than two minutes and are from models who provide images for artists to develop their skills.

Here are the five gesture drawings I created this afternoon.

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Taking time out of my long weekend to draw and listen to David Bowie was fabulous fun. I have really missed just putting pencil to paper and making sketches that are quick reflections of what I see in front of me. I really should do more of this on a regular basis.

And since I was having so much fun, I took one of the gesture drawings of a half naked woman sitting on a stool with fine fabric draped across her legs and did a free hand drawing of her on watercolour paper.

Once I had a good sketch put down on the paper, I used black ink pen to outline her figure. Then it was time for some watercolour to make her pop off the page.

Below is a close up my watercolour drawing. I think it moved past being a gesture sketch but I’m happy with how she has turned out. I can still see areas that could be ‘fixed’ but art isn’t about perfection. It’s more about creative expression and rendering what I actually see on the page. So I am not going to allow my inner critical voice have any say in this one.

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I realised I haven’t done a gesture drawing or any life drawing since the start of 2005 when I was in the first year and a half of a Diploma of Visual Arts (which I never finished because I moved from Melbourne to Brisbane).

That’s a fourteen year gap where I haven’t practiced. So it was great fun to focus on the human figure again.

In time, when I have a better work/life balance, I hope to get along to some life drawing classes and create drawings and paintings that are from a live model rather than from photos. One day I’d like to be able to draw without having to focus so closely on a model or use them for inspiration and jump off into fantasy art.

I’ll get there. One arty mark at a time.

Hope you’re having a fantastic and happy Easter.

Whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s a creative day.

 

 

Butterfly Transition – A work in progress

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I’ve been learning how to capture my artwork in progress using a new app which has been so much fun.

I plan to create more how-to skillshare courses (with much better audio now that I know how to do that) so I can share more of what I do as an artist and to help me to grow as an artist. I’ve taken a bit of time off over the last couple of years so I could focus on learning the basics of writing a fiction novel, and now it’s time to incorporate more art into my life.

This artwork is a work in progress. I had an urge to use water colour pencils and play with them. So last night, this image started to come together.

Below is a super short image capture video showing how I used water colour pencils and a paint brush with a dab of water to colour the butterflies. I’m pretty happy with the video as I am learning and this is my first attempt at making a time lapse of my artwork.

I am calling this artwork ‘Butterfly transition’ as it is a symbolic representation of the internal changes I am going through in my life. I am seeing the brightness in life again. Seeing colour and vibrancy in the world is important, especially as I have, at times in the last couple of years been through darker emotional times. To me, this work in progress is a representation of hope.

And that is what I absolutely love about art. It’s a way to show where I am at in relation to the world around me. When my artwork is finished, I will put up a new blog post and share it with you too.

In the meantime, happy creating and thanks for stopping by.

A little art video

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Black Ink on Acid Free Paper – Intricate Line Drawing in Circle – Artist: Selina Shapland, Completed: 6th April 2019

I’m in the middle of learning how to set up my camera and record myself doing art so I can create more skillshare courses. I’d like to create one on drawing intricate line drawings. So, today, I set up the camera and played around with recording. Then I put the videos on iMovie and created the little arty video below.

I hope you enjoy it. As always, I am learning and growing as I share more of my creative evolution with you.

I’ll be having a few days off work around Easter, so I hope to put together a skillshare course on art and one on writing too. We’ll see. It takes a lot to develop a course, but I have ideas I’d like to share with my students, so I will keep giving it a go.

I am so grateful for all of the students I have skillshare. The fact that they watch and (hopefully) learn something from my creative experiences is truly touching.

Until next time, happy creating whatever your medium of choice!

Exploring Short Fiction

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Lauren Daniels and Geneve Flynn – Brisbane Writers Workshop, Seriously Short Fiction

Short story writing is a true art as far as I am concerned. It’s economical, punchy and a great way to polish up fiction writing skills. But … I haven’t been writing short fiction much. From time to time I have taken dreams (and nightmares) I’ve had and written them into short stories, but they always felt half formed. I didn’t know what wasn’t working with them.

So, I’ve stuck with writing long novels – Tuppence Weatherstorm and The Living Death of Toddy James, because I understand long fiction. That’s kind of silly since both short and long fiction have similar building blocks and writing elements. However, when I have attempted to write short fiction, my stories have blown out into massive ideas and I have struggled to contain them.

Both of my current novel manuscripts are in various stages of editing and rewriting and it’s a long journey writing a novel. I like to compare writing a novel to running a marathon. It is a long-term game and I need to pace myself. I have learned that if I sprint, I burn out too soon and hit the wall.

Yet, in between writing and rewriting scenes, deepening characters and depositing theme into my stories, I like to explore other types of writing and see where it takes me. And now it’s time to deep dive into the art and craft of writing short fiction.

When I attended the Brisbane Writers Workshop on writing Seriously Short Fiction with Lauren Daniels and Geneve Flynn. Here’s a few of the things I learned:

  • How to use a literary device called motifs. Motifs can be an object, such as a pack of cards that shows up several times throughout the story and subconsciously signal a deeper meaning to the reader. Honestly, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around what motifs are. I don’t think I can explain it well enough here.. sorry.
  • How to structure a short story – they still have an inciting incident, rising action, a climax and a resolution.
  • The essential plot requirements – conflict, conflict, conflict drives the action of the story forward.
  • Character elements – best to limit the number of characters or the story will no longer be short fiction.
  • The preferred length for short fiction for my target audience – approximately 2,000 to 10,000 words for short fiction.
  • Have fun and protect your creativity.

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Seriously Short Fiction had so much excellent content which has enriched my understanding of writing and sparked my imagination too. It was the kind of course that niggles at your imagination and helps you develop the understanding needed to go away and playfully create on your own.

We did a free writing exercise and I was sitting there penning my thoughts on the paper and giggling like a crazy person because I was having so much fun with the character that danced into my imagination. We wrote for five minutes and the time pressure gave everyone permission to put aside their fears of ‘not being able to write’ and allowed each person to get on with the act of writing without listening to internal judgement.

I’m torn between writing up the free writing exercise here to share it with you and keeping it to myself. I want to share and I want to nurture and play with the story idea that danced to life on the day. I keep writing ‘danced’ because the thing my character stone were dancing shoes.

It was giggle worthy stuff. At least to me. And I think if the writer enjoys what they are writing, then the reader will enjoy it to.