Posted in Alzheimers, creativity, Cross Hatching, Drawing, Drawings, Gratitude, portraits, portraiture, Uncategorized

Creativity Keeping Me Steady

I’ve completed 39 of 100 portraits in my 100 portraits challenge. I have no time frame to do them in. I just want to practice and keep learning how to develop my own creative expression on paper.

The images above are the my three most recent drawings. Two are cross hatching with a micron pen and the one in the middle is charcoal and white poc marker pen. Each one took about a two hours to complete and I am quite happy with them. I’m learning how much shadow to lay down, how to capture the light on the page and how to follow the form with each cross hatching stroke. It’s not always easy and I make mistakes but the act of drawing takes me out of the critical mind and keeps me steady in life.

In November I went to Canberra, where my family live and I was born, to see my mum. She has Alzheimer’s Disease and it was time to go back to collect more precious memories and to touch base on a face-to-face-heart-to-heart level. The day I arrived my mum seemed unwell and by the next day she was in emergency. She had an infection and so I spent the week at the hospital. My brother has been mum’s main carer and he is doing a brilliant job of caring for mum and it’s difficult to stop infections from happening when the person you look after can’t tell you they are unwell.

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It was a difficult and precious week.

I took a photo of us holding hands, even though mum didn’t know who I was.

At one point as she started to recover, the nurses had lowered the bed to the floor and I sat beside her. My hand held in hers. She rubbed my fingers with hers, smiled for the first time in a long time and whispered, “You’re lovely. I think you’re wonderful.”

Tears welled in my eyes. I choked them back and said, “I think you’re lovely too and I love you.”

Her blue eyes turned to me once more and she said, “I love you too.”

And then she receded into whatever space one goes to when they have Alzheimer’s Disease. Her eyes grew distant and she stared around the room once more.

That is a moment I will treasure for the rest of my life. Even writing this now my heart is aching and tears are making my vision blurry.

My mum is teaching me all about living in the moment and how to appreciate the smallest murmurs with the deepest love.

Mum was still in hospital when I had to return to Brisbane but I knew I’d be back in a few weeks time to see her once again. Her light is still strong and I have more precious moments to collect when I am there. Moments that will be locked away in my heart for the rest of my life.

So, once I got home and was greeted with lavish licks from my dogs and a semi-tolerant stare from cat, I knew it was time to start capturing moments that held meaning to me through my art practice.

David, my partner, happened to be sitting down watching TV and I noticed his foot. Strange as it might sound, I knew I wanted to draw his foot and catch an impression of him in my big green chair.

Dave_FootI got out my micron pen and sketched his foot using extreme foreshortening and then his knee and then his other foot and leg, and then I added the rest of him at a distance.

When I finished this drawing I was delighted. It has become one of my all-time favourite drawings. It is not perfect. In fact it is filled with imperfection, but what it captures is love and life in action. I also hold a memory of this moment that I can relive every time I see this drawing. To get David to sit for me to draw him, I bribed him with an ice cream and an episode of Star Trek Deep Space Nine!

And this is how creative art has been helping me to stay steady in life as I deal with anticipatory grief over my mother’s health conditions.

I also had a glimpse of creative writing again and in that moment I took to my novel with renewed interest and care.

Staying creative – drawing and writing what is in my heart and what I find precious – during the ups and downs of life brings solace to my heart.

I’m learning how important the ordinary is and how extraordinary the ordinary things in life really are.

Until next time, with gratitude for the time you have spent here reading my blog, I wish you creativity in your day. 

Posted in Creative Writing, creativity, Journal, mindful art, mindful writing, mindfulness, Uncategorized, Writing

Mindful Creativity

I’ve been exploring mindful creativity through my art and journal writing practice. It is way of connecting with my inner creativity and continuing to learn that art and writing are tools which bring me completely into the present moment.

My portrait practice has slowed but I am continuing to make progress both in creative expression and accuracy. The images below include portraits 30 and 31 out of 100. There are also graphite drawings of eyes with glasses which I did as part of the Sktchy course with France Van Stone.

As I draw a portrait, I have found that I am looking at what is in front of me and my mind is engaged in seeing the tones and values, the contours, the various shapes and I am no longer labelling what I see. It is as if my mind enters a space of surrender to what is before me. It is a sweet space to occupy and it allows my subconscious mind the space to unravel things that need to be contemplated.

I have also been writing a daily journal with the prompt, ‘today I noticed’, and I what I have noticed is that I am more in tune with what is happening inside me but not in a self-aggrandisement way. Reflection on my inner self through this journal exercise has given me space to explore who I am in the moment and to learn to allow the thoughts that float in and out of my mind to pass through while I only catch the threads I choose to connect with. It is a mindfulness skill.

This writing exercise is also helping me to be fully present in the moment. One day in recent weeks I found myself jotting down how the swallow-like birds zoom around me as a walk to work in the morning. They race each other zooming around in ever widening circles. They movements filled with playful joy. Their inverted ‘V” tails flashing past as these tiny  blue-black birds whoosh past my legs, hovering two feet above the grass and dancing on the air currents.

Taking a moment of time to notice these gifts of nature helps my creative life to expand. I write down what I notice and my imagination expands. My vocabulary for writing expands and so does my visual vocabulary of symbols increase.

Being creatively mindful isn’t about the end result or producing something that I can sell or show off. It’s about the moment, the journey and the experience within.

I am loving this mindful creative living through art and writing. I love that I can learn and grow and play. It is refreshing and positive.

If you have read this far, then I hope what I have said here inspires you to develop your own daily mindful creative habit. And it is my hope that you will find the richness of the universe in those moments too.

Until next time, happy creating and being in the present moment.

 

Posted in anxiety, Creative Writing, creativity, Cross Hatching, Drawing, Drawings, portraits, portraiture, Uncategorized

Art and Writing Practice

It’s been some time since I last wrote a blog post. I’ve been continuing my art and writing practice while also working.

Below is my latest portrait. I’m continuing to practice my portraiture skills and my crosshatching skills. This is portrait 29 of 100.

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Portrait 29/100 of my portrait practice challenge. Created: 13/10/2019 Artist: Selina Shapland

Below are some progress photos of my most recent portrait.

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The inspiration photo came from the Sktchy app and this is another artist in that community. I had a lot of fun capturing his squinting eye, practicing proportions and capturing the way he looked at the camera with one eye open.

Below is another pen crosshatching portrait practice piece.

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It’s the first one where I’ve drawn teeth and got them looking like they are sitting inside her lips. The green pen was fun to use and gives her a soft quality. The inspiration photo also came from Sktchy app.

Around all of my other drawing, I’ve been learning to use procreate and draw animal portraits.

Here’s the iguana I did with the Sktchy School class.

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I’m so looking forward to developing my digital art skills and seeing how my creative life blooms with the mediums available on this excellent creative app.

I’ve also been writing a daily journal with the prompt: “Today, I noticed”. It’s a ten minute exercise where I either write in a paper journal or on my scrivener file and allow my daily experiences to flow through me and onto the page.

One of the excellent things about developing a daily journal practice is that it frees up my mind allows my creativity to flow. It’s really helping me to move through writing blocks and plot knots. As a result of daily journaling, my novel writing has sprung into life and I am thoroughly enjoying fleshing out the areas that need to change from telling to showing because I am not bogged down by mental thoughts.

Living a creative life means that I need to be willing to empty the mental and emotional bucket through writing and art. Creative living is a sanity saver for me and it reduces anxiety in my life. My brain has time to process other events happening in the background of my life and I am more in tune with life in a way that flows when I willingly come to writing and art.

I’m also touching on exploring memoir writing and personal essays of memories in my life. I love that writing gives me such a safe place for self expression.

If you’re interested in seeing my portrait art and my life drawing progress, I post most of my photos on instagram now. It’s a way of sharing without using up all my google space for photos. So I am choosing to only show select art here now. My instagram feed is on this blog if you’re interested in checking it out.

Thanks for dropping by and for checking out my blog. I’m in a weird place right now as I deal with some emotional home life stuff so I may not blog as often as I would like. Sometimes I wonder if I have anything to say that is worth reading… But maybe that’s anxiety talking and not the reality of the situation. I don’t know.

Anyway, I hope that as I explore creative living that I inspire you to explore your creative life too.

Until next time… have fun!

Posted in Alzheimers, Courses, creativity, Drawing, Drawings, life drawing, portraits, portraiture, skillshare, Sktchy, visual diary, water color, Water Colour, Water Colours, watercolour

Arty fun has been had

In recent weeks, I have been diving deeper into my art practice.

My writing brain is having a holiday from the pressure of editing my novel. I’ve felt a bit burnt out with my writing lately and needed to give myself permission to do something fun where I have no pressure to be at publication standard. No-one has ever put pressure on me to write to publication standard, but I have and I’m a harsh task master.

I have been on holidays and it has helped me to fill up my creative bucket through art.

Below are some of the portraits I have done as part of my portrait practice challenge. These are all black pen and one of them I used yellow and orange pencils to make the flower pop.

The portraits below include a self-portrait I did which is now the basis of my next Skillshare course, called Draw a Self-Portrait in Graphite.

I also experimented with black brush pen to create the quickest portrait I’ve ever done of the young man in half shadow. Then it was back to graphite to capture eyes.

Eyes, eyes, eyes. All one eye studies which I did as part of a Sktchy course with France Van Stone. I’m still doing this eyes course and loving it. I’m about to move on to pen drawings, so I’ll keep you updated when I get those done. The eyes below are of my family, partner and friend as well as one of my own eyes.

Then it was time to tackle one of the most emotionally difficult portraits I have ever done… my mother’s face. She has Alzheimer’s disease and is often lost and confused. The day I drew this portrait (below) my heart ached and I shed quite a few tears as I processed the grief I feel time and again as I come to terms with what is happening to my mum.

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I learned how to combine ink with watercolour and pastel pencils to create the two portraits below.

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These portraits were quite a lot of fun to do. The one above is my boss. It’s not an exact likeness but I caught the fact that he loves bright colours.

Below is the one I did in the mini Sktchy course with Margriet AasmanIMG_0789

This one below is my latest portrait. I did it yesterday as I completed an online sktchy course on how to draw a portrait using charcoal medium. This was quite a challenging medium to work in and I had to get used to pushing around the willow charcoal to create the features, and not go too heavy on the compressed charcoal when I went back into bring the eyes to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this class with Neil Rogers.

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I’m going to keep developing my portrait practice. I’ve done 18 portraits so far and I have been adding to my understanding of how to capture the face as well as get a likeness, then how to allow my own style to emerge. I’m looking forward to what the next eighty-two portraits look like as well as seeing how my preferences for mediums change.

Of course, I haven’t only been doing art classes, I have been learning how to draw in my visual diary and use watercolours to enhance what I want to capture. Above is a sketch of my dining room, multiple watercolour (in graphite watercolour as well as colour) mushrooms, an apple that I ate and painted one bite at a time, three pears.

And to top all this creativity off, I went to an Archery for Authors event where I learned to use a bow and arrow. I’m not the best aim but I killed a balloon and when we went outside to play with long bows, I hit the bullseye!

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It was a fantastic morning. Now if I choose to have a character in one of my novels that uses a bow and arrow, I’ll actually know what I’m writing about.

Until next time, I hope you are living an inspired and creative life.

Posted in life drawing

Life Drawing a Couple

Last Wednesday night I went to life drawing class and had an opportunity to draw two models in the same sitting. They were life partners, so very comfortable with each other.

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This drawing (above) was my favourite from the night. It wasn’t easy to do as I had to look at each section individually and suggest connections between the entangled areas of their bodies. I still got a few things mis-aligned but for the most part I captured a good likeness to them, their pose and the mood of the pose.

The drawing above where five minute poses. I used a white Poca pen for the guy and then added blue soft pastel to bring him and the shadows to life. The woman was drawing with blue soft pastel and white conte. She was sitting on a stool but I didn’t have time to sketch that in. I was pleased with how well the blue stood out on the black paper.

The woman (above) was drawn first in light pencil sketches and then in black ink pen. The man was drawn in 2B pencil. I had a little trouble getting his proportions at first but after a few under sketches he came together eventually.

The sketches above range in time – 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes and 5 minutes. They were mostly warm up sketches at the start of the night.

I’m looking forward to seeing how my rendering of the human form develops over the next year as I attend. I’m a little concerned that my drawings are too tight and I need to loosen up. But art is a work in progress kind of thing, so I’ll keep giving it a go.

I think if you’re interested in attending a life drawing class, you should take the opportunity to get along and give drawing the human form a go. It’s not easy but if you concentrate on looking at the negative space around the limbs, head and shoulders and other area of the body, you’ll find that your drawings will appear on the page.

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I was asked in last week’s class how I got the two models on the page and in proportion.

I’m not sure if you’re interested in my process, but here it is:

Basically I look at the negative space between the limbs and around them. I then look for what I call ‘anchor points’ between the two figures. So, in the above drawing, I noticed that the crease of his bottom was in alignment with her belly, the feet were on the same line, and her head was resting on his shoulder.

When I have all of those areas figured out, I was able to focus on drawing the lines and shapes rather than getting confused and overwhelmed with the idea of drawing the human body.

I also start drawing general shapes in from the top of the head to the feet, then I develop detail as I go.

For me, I have to be relaxed and in the flow to draw from life. It takes a little time for my mind to quiet down and then I just draw.

Posted in Drawing, Drawings, portraits, portraiture, Sketches, skillshare, Sktchy

100 Portraits Progress Update

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Portrait in Graphite – 8/100 portrait challenge, 27 July 2019

This week, I finished the Sktcy online course, ‘Faces with France: Wrinkles’. The portrait above is the art I worked on as I did the last class. It was great and it took me about two hours to do this piece.

I’m only just beginning to understand how to create wrinkles on the face that look realistic while also not ageing my subject beyond their current years.

It’s quite a challenge. Below is a short time lapse video of how I did this artwork.

This portrait below was done in black pen on white acid free paper. This grand old gentleman was 94 years old. I think I caught a pretty good likeness. I couldn’t see one ear, so it wasn’t put into the drawing. I am starting to build confidence with cross hatching and I am learning patience. Also, I’ve learned that it’s really important to do this kind of drawing on a hard surface as the shadows and lines develop better. I could have pushed more shadow into the forehead but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

Portrait 7/100, Ink pen on white acid free paper
Portrait 7/100, Ink pen on white acid free paper – 25 July 2019

 

Here is a portrait I did in colour pencils. Unfortunately one eyes isn’t quite as big as the other but I’m getting better with practice. I loved doing her hair and catching her big eyelashes on the page. I’ve put up the base drawing and the finished portrait.

I tried a different technique on the portrait below, choosing a scribbly style to capture light, shadow and wrinkles. I also used a white gel pen for highlights. I like this portrait but it lost a lot of likeness as I did it. Still my inspiration model was happy when she saw it and that was wonderful.

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Portrait 5/100, Scribbly Portrait – 21 July 2019

I’m really looking forward to seeing how my own style develops as I do the 100 portraits challenge. I’m also taking a few more portraiture classes so I can learn different mediums, techniques and the anatomy of the face and neck area.

I’m also keen to build up my art portfolio so that when I do more Skillshare teaching, I’ve got more tools and experiences to share.

I’m still dabbling in my creative writing, but it’s limited as I am working on a knotty plot problem and need to allow my mind time to move through it.

For now, I am thoroughly enjoying the experience of diving back into my art practice and creating images that I love.

I’m also doing a lot of experimenting with rough sketching and watercolours. I’ll show you those images in a later post.

Until then, Happy Creating whatever you choose to do.

Posted in doodle, Pastels, portraits, skillshare, Sktchy, visual diary, water color, Water Colour, Water Colours, watercolour

Art Practice this week

This week I have been diving deeper into portraits, busy developing my observation skills by focusing on drawing and painting fruit and vegetable compositions and I have also played around with creative doodling in my visual diary.

Here’s my week in art.

The above portraits are the start of my 100 portrait practice challenge which I set myself. They were entered into the Sktchy Pouty Portrait party this weekend. It’s a bit of fun focusing on drawing pouty lips. The little girl’s face is done in soft pastel and the guy’s face is in graphite. I’m still learning and developing my crosshatching technique.

I really enjoy the Sktchy app and the teachers there too. Such a great community.

The portraits above were completed with pen in my visual diary before I decided to do the 100 portraits practice challenge. There’s a few things I would do differently if I were to do them again but overall I’m happy with how they turned out as they gave me more practice at drawing faces and using crosshatching.

I am working on creating a new skillshare course on drawing and painting fruit and vegetables your way. To put my class together, I wanted to spend some time today capturing fruit and veg in my watercolour diary using various watercolour mediums. It was a fun exercise and I even managed to do a timelapse of this project.

Going forward, I plan to fill up the two pages with various fruit and veggies with bites taken out of them. It could be fun.

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Lastly, I sat outside in the Aussie winter sun during the week and did this doodle in my visual diary. It was a lot of fun and I think I’m becoming obsessed with drawing sunflowers now.