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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Charcoal on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 10 minute drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland
Pastel on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland
Graphite on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland
Charcoal on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 30 second sketches, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland
Charcoal pencils on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 10 minute drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland
Graphite on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 7 minute drawing, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland
Graphite on acid free paper. Life Drawing, 5 minute sketch, 15/5/2019. Artist: Selina Shapland
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.
I took some time out today to start sketching some dragons. It was a lot of fun to get back into my art and enjoy the process of creating on the page.
Below are some photos of my first dragon portrait. It’s an idea that I’m developing and hope to create a far more intricate image in the coming months. But for now, this drawing is about exploring possibilities.
Exploring possibilities is part of the fun of developing my artistic/creative expression. It also gives my left brain a break and allows my right brain the opportunity to take the driver’s seat.
I’m pretty happy with my dragon line drawing and I am looking forward to developing her further.
The second dragon I sketched today took about an hour and a half to create. I’m also rather happy with how the image turned out.
I think that this sketch can be developed further and more depth given to it, but for now, I am happy with the results of my time playing on water paper.
I chose not add water or colour to the sketch. I wanted to spend my time developing a dragon from my imagination and seeing how it came out on the page.
Today, it’s Saturday in Australia and I’m now two weeks away from my trip to the UK. I finally gave in and got myself a ‘selfie stick’ so maybe when I get back home at the end of September, I’ll have some other photos to share. I also hope this trip fills up my creative bucket with new ideas for creative writing.
I’ve had a big break from drawing, painting and pretty much anything that equates to visual art. But recently, I’ve needed to feel my pen and pencil glide across the page and see immediate results of my creativity in action.
Writing novels is great fun but it is a long (and sometimes lonely) process. I can’t show it to you, you would have to read every word and immerse yourself in the story to see it, feel it, sense it, experience it. But with art, you can view an image and have an immediate reaction.
My artwork is very much a personal expression tool. I’m not the best of the best at it, but it’s who I am at any given moment in time.
So here’s me through images at this point in my life.
I’m obviously animal obsessed. Maybe that’s because animals accept me for who I am and don’t require much from me? Maybe it’s because (for me) animals are safe for me on an emotional level. I don’t know exactly, but I feel drawn to them in my artistic expression.
Last weekend, all I did was draw and play with watercolour paints and some new alcohol based ink markers. I watched a few art classes on Skillshare.com and picked up some tips but mostly, I felt inspired to create visually again.
There’s nothing worse than looking at a blank page and wondering… “What am I going to draw, paint, sketch?”
Some of the above images have been put through Gimp and cut out and put on t-shirts at RedBubble under ShaplandArt. I’m not the best with digital image manipulation and always have to go to Google to figure out the next step. It takes ages but I eventually end up with something on a t-shirt that I’m pretty happy with.
I’m starting this blog post off with some shameless self-promotion. Today I got inspired and made a youtube video on how you can use dream interpretation to help you with your art and writing. Or … at the very least, I had a go at it.
Here’s the video.
I had loads of fun making it. I’m not sure I uploaded the first version with high enough definition but this is all about learning and growing into new skills.
I took a short course, How to Make a Great Talking Head Video (even when camera shy) by Lucy Lambrlex on Skillshare.com and this is my first attempt after the class.
I hope you enjoy it and pick up a tip or two that will help you with your creative expression.
As I read the above quote from Uriel’s Gift, I took a moment to look back on some of my own failures and how they have helped me to course correct, to learn, to grow and to take bold steps toward fulfilling my creative dreams.
When I first allowed myself to dedicate time to being creative, I didn’t feel creative at all. I had many negative voices inside my head telling me that I wasn’t a good enough artist and I’d never would be. They all told me that I was a failure and I’d never amount to more than that.
At first I believed those voices.
I even had an art teacher tell me (early on in my creative development when I was particularly vulnerable) that what I did was craft and not art. She went on to tell me that I shouldn’t even try to become an artist because my work wasn’t good enough.
I was crushed because at that time the act of making art was akin to breathing air. I’d failed at my attempt to get into a course to learn more. I was a failure. This woman had confirmed it.
And in effect she had snuffed out the light of creation inside me.
Or had she?
On reflection … maybe she had honed in on my vulnerability to teach me a lesson on how to stand in my personal power and how not to give away important emotional and mental real-estate space to those who have no right to take up that position in my life. After all, this woman was someone I met once and have never ever seen again.
I remember sitting on my bed after that art interview and sobbing until my throat was raw and my eyeballs were swollen to the size of golf balls. No-one could console me. Her words echoed through my mind and were followed by such vicious follow up comments as: You’re a zero. A nothing. See, you’ll never be good enough-that woman said so! You are a failure!
What a drama-Diva I was!
But, you see, I’ve always had this … resilience lurking deep inside myself. And that day it battered through my self-consumed pain and shone a light on the situation. It opened up another avenue in my brain but I didn’t really understand that at the time.
My resilience has always had a way of showing up in the darkest times of despair and shining a light so I can find my way to an alternate perspective.
I give thanks for my resilience and my inner guidance.
So, after my eyeballs began to itch from dried tears, I realised I had to pick myself up off the floor of despair and keep doing what brought me joy–what I loved–which was art. If no-one else was going to keep my dream alive, then I would have to be my own champion, damn it.
Presto! My silver lining had arrived. I was my own knight in shining armour.
Even though my heart still ached and my ego was bruised black and blue I continued to draw, paint and study art. I was like a sponge, soaking up anything that would help me to achieve my goal of getting into art school and … dare I say it … becoming an artist.
Of course, the woman’s words continued to reverberate in my mind and I did still allow her valuable brain real-estate for a time. But then one day, I thought, why not give art school thing another go? What’s the worst that can happen? They’ll probably say no ’cause I’m really not good enough but what the hey, gotta get out there sometime don’t I?
And so I applied.
I approached the whole thing with a secret hope that this time I’d be accepted and a great deal of nonchalance just in case I was rejected. It was all a ploy to keep my vulnerable creative heart safe.
And to my complete surprise, the art teachers valued the skills I’d worked so hard to develop (on my own) and offered me a place in the course immediately.
I remember saying, “Are you sure you want me to be in the course? Really?” Obviously, I was feeling vulnerable and more than a little freaked out that they’d accidentally said the wrong thing to me. And by God, I’d give them a way out of this.
But they said, “Yes, we’re sure. We only hope the other candidates have the calibre of work that you do.”
My jaw fell open and I stared at them, disbelief the tone of my mind and my body language, no doubt. I realised what I was projecting, pulled myself together, thanked them and floated out of the room.
Take that! I thought as I remembered the stinging words of the art teacher from my first attempt.
My heart swelled and I skipped to my car, art portfolio under my arm, bumping against my hip all the way.
When I got home I sat on the concrete step and watched my dog play in the grass. He delighted in my presence and loved me just the way I was. Art school or not.
I gave him a pat and wondered again if they’d got it all wrong? Did they really want me? Of all people, me? Did they really want the girl who did craft and not real art to be in their course? Could this be a mistake?
No matter how my mind turned their comments over, I had to admit I’d heard them right. And I accepted that I’d finally got what I wanted. I’d got into art school. And it felt bloody fantastic!
The reason I shared this glimpse into my art life is that the experience taught me how to reframe the way I saw myself as an artist, as a creative person and as a human being.
I’d faced my ego, my vulnerability. I faced my fear of failure and I’d found the courage to keep trying even in the face of certain rejection. I loved art and I had a dream, so I kept taking tiny steps toward making it a reality.
This situation also taught me that I am the one who controls how much of my mental and emotional space another person’s words get to take up in my inner world.
Just like an artist, I realised that I get to choose what goes inside the frame of my mind. Just like an artists hones in on the important details and leads the eye of the viewer around the image, I too had the power to choose what would go inside my mind and what I’d turf.
The ability to identify when something or someone is taking up valuable mental or emotional space inside your brain/life is an important transferrable skill. One that I think everyone needs to be aware of and practice as it can help you to take back your personal power.
As I go through life, I meet so many people who give their personal power away to someone or something that does not deserve it.
I think we do this for many reasons, some I understand and most I don’t. But if something or someone has caused you to become miserable then it’s time for a little self-assessment on how important their role inside your life?
I always ask myself these questions to help figure things out:
Why am I giving my power away to this person/thing/belief? Do they deserve my power? Are they that important to me?
Am I seeing/hearing/experiencing the truth in this situation? Or is it a fear masquerading as reality?
Do I want to continue to feel this way? If not, how can I step out of this emotional tangle I’ve got myself knotted into?
Why do I think this other person’s opinion etc is so important that they get to take up valuable brain-space?
Don’t I deserve to be happy? Of course I do! So why am I continuing to give them another moment’s thought?
These questions have helped me to step out of the painful experience and the eternal feedback loops of confusion and get some perspective. It’s how my resilience kicks in and helps me take back my personal power.
In my experience, life is about learning lessons-many lessons. Lessons that are empowering if we only take the time to investigate what is really going on.
I’m not perfect and I still get stuck. I’ve even given my power away to writing teachers and taken their comments as the be-all and end-all of what I was capable of. Which has resulted in being emotionally and egotistically bruised.
But their comments are not a reflection of all that I am capable of. And when I reflect, I realise that I have chosen to give them power. I’ve done that and I’m the only one who can take the power back and turf out the muck that had tried to root itself inside the neural super-highways of my brain.
Reflection, course correction and standing up for myself are all ways that I reclaim my personal power and continue to move forward to my desired goal as an artist, a creative writer and as an ever evolving and self-aware human being.
As the quote from Uriel’s Gift says, “Failure is not failure.”
I was inspired by a tattoo that I happened to find while flicking through a magazine and decided to use it as a jumping off point for a new painting. The above painting is the result: “A new romance,”created on 29/6/2015, acrylic paints on stretched canvas.
As I was painting this piece, I started with the girl.
But she was floating in space and so I wanted to anchor her to a scene and felt inspired by the movie, “Nightmare before Christmas,” so I added my impression of Jack Skellington.
As I painted Jack into the image I felt like he wanted to romance a new woman… an unknown woman and so I decided to add a red/black rose and a spider to complete the composition, which you can see at the top of this post.
This whole painting has been drawn and painted by hand. No tracing allowed.
This image above is from a how-to article that I wrote from Craft Found, one of the Hub Garden sites. It specifically focuses on scrapbooking techniques that can be incorporated into mixed media art on canvas. Here is the link to the article if you want to see how I did it.
2014 has been a year of exploring different types of creativity for me. This year, I have dedicated myself to my creative writing muse and she has been leading me down a new and creatively exciting path.
My writing has been a top priority for me and I have been spending time writing reflective articles, reviews and how-to articles on various Hub Garden sites, as well as reviews of businesses and services on Weekend Notes.
I have wanted to write a novel for a very long time and it wasn’t until May this year that I decided that I would put all other things aside and dedicate myself to making this dream come true. So I have been writing my first draft on Wattpad, which you are welcome to read, comment on and follow if you are interested. This is my first novel and book one in the Nephelem Journeys trilogy that has been living in my head for over 16 years.
Nephelem Journeys book one weaves together the fates of Mr Talbourt, Mother Dragon and Igrain Turner as they are pulled into a war between light and dark over the very essence of the Divine’s most beloved Children, humanity. War is coming – who will win?
To be totally honest, I am having an absolute wonderful time writing the 1st draft and I have spent a great deal of my free time lost in this world that I am weaving on the page for you to read. I have discovered that writing a novel is a big project and one that you have to love with all your heart and soul or you will give up. I have learned that having faith in yourself and your story is way more important than listening to the negative inner voice that says you can’t do it or to those who would try to dash your hopes of becoming a published author. In the end, their thoughts do not matter. To write a novel, or to complete any creative/artistic project, you have to follow your heart and your inner muse to see it through and go with it through the darkest of times until you see the light of your creative expression manifest in the world.
I admit that I have spent more time writing this year than creating art, but in a way, writing is art so it feels just as expressive to me.
I have found that writing has a way of painting pictures in the minds of my audience and allows the reader to experience my world and imagination through their own senses, and that is pretty exciting to me.
This blog is about to change in a slight way. I will be sharing more of my writing and my experiences with publishing and creating stories here as well as my art. I have been making jewellery each month and this has been selling through Little Bear Brown Store, Redcliffe QLD, Australia. I love seeing my artwork and my wearable art out there and I am grateful that people love what I make and decide to buy it for themselves.
That’s it from me for a little while. I will write again soon. Thank you for reading my blog update and please comment. I would like to hear from you and continue to get to know you.