Friday, April 22, 2016

Escaping Through Art

I don't know about you, but every once in a while, life gets obnoxiously tedious with lots of little "events" that I could do without. Things that cause small amounts of stress and worry. By themselves, they're no big deal.
Unfinished Daffs from 2009

But together, it's like being ganged up on and pecked by a bunch of ducks until I'm a bundle of raw nerves. Together, all those events feel huge. Overwhelming.

And that's when I turn to art as an escape.

Back in 2007, when my job was outsourced to another country, I spent 18 months trying to find another. Unfortunately, the economy was in a nosedive and there wasn't much out there. During those months, art became my way of maintaining my sanity.
From 2008

I started sharing my work on this blog and people stopped by to say hello. I found myself with a new community of friends and before I knew it, I was launching Imaginary Trips!

Before I started the trips, I would frequently "run away" to the garden or the kitchen or a coffee shop so I could escape into my sketchbook and away from the worry of trying to find a job in a lousy economy.

What I realized early on, was that I really liked traveling via my imagination! Who knew it would be so much fun. I could go where I wanted, when I wanted and I didn't have to pack a thing!

Imaginary Trips, from the very beginning has been about escape. Sure, the classes are about growing our skills and preparing for a big trip. It's also about going to places we've not been before or are not likely to get to any time soon.

Sometimes, we're not physically able to travel or we can't break from from our obligations and other times, it's not financially feasible.  There are a host of reasons why it makes sense to travel via our imagination rather than in reality.

By going on an imaginary trip, it's possible to control the weather, how long it takes to get somewhere, the circumstances upon which we travel and where we go. We can travel solo or with friends and we don't have to worry about anyone standing around tapping their toe wishing we'd hurry up. There's no rush to get home and we get to sleep in our own beds each night! We don't have to wait for the seasons to change—you can see them all if you want to—on the same trip.

It's also a fabulous way to keep our skills sharp or to continue to grow our skills when we "go on a trip." Especially if I'm preparing for a real trip I have coming up in the future. I find it so much easier to be creative all along rather than to try to get creative right before or during a big trip.

But for me, I think the most important thing about going on an imaginary adventure is that while it lifts me out of my current circumstances, it also allows me control over those circumstances. It allows me to forget about the struggles and worries for those few precious moments I'm in the zone and creating a memory on my sketchbook pages. Stress goes away. Worry melts. Joy comes and infuses the minutes and a sense of balance is restored.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

If you'd like to join in on an imaginary adventure, please join me for "An Imaginary Visit to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park" starting on May 12th. We'll explore the rugged mountains, hot springs, abundant wildlife and delicate wildflowers without having to camp or sleep on the ground! Click the class title for more info.

If you're not able to join in an interactive class, take a look over at The Imaginary Realm for independent learning classes. They're the same as the interactive classes without the time constraints. You work at your own pace and you have access to the materials for a year. Click on the link for more information.

Detail shot of the front cover
If classes are not for you, strike out on your own. Pick a location and decide when you're going to go, how you'll travel and who will be traveling with you. Look for information on the internet about where you'd like to go along with photos in the public domain to paint from and build an adventure in your sketchbook.

In my "spare" time, I've started a journal to chronicle a trip to the Lavender Festivals. I've only just started it and I work on it in starts and stops, but the time I spend playing in that journal are so very important to my wellbeing. It's a relief to "be away" from the daily grind.


Your imagination is the limit!

Friday, April 1, 2016

National Ball Cap Day


Is it my imagination or has the old-fashioned courtesy of taking your hat off when you're inside gone the way of the unicorn?

We went to dinner with my father-in-law the other night and I was amazed at the number of guys (and a few gals) with hats on. I drew the two gentlemen in the sketch above simply because they were sitting in front of us. It also surprised me to see a guy wearing a purple polo! Go, dude, good for you. 

It started out as sketching practice—and I'm pleased to say I'm improving—before becoming more of an awareness about the hats. You haven't seen the other people sketches because they looked more like aliens. Disfigured aliens. Maybe a few zombie aliens. Definitely not pretty. But highly entertaining.

I started looking around and it seemed over 50% of the male population was wearing hats. I'm sure this is nothing new. It's just one of the many gifts of sketching—it tends to raise your level of awareness about what's going on right in front of you.

Have you had that happen to you? You're sketching a place or a thing and suddenly you're launched down a totally unexpected path of learning because the sketching made you slow down to observe? That's what keeps me sketching. Those unexpected paths that lead me to random, seemingly unrelated learnings...that nearly always comes back into play at a later date.

I especially find travel journaling to be like that. Maybe because my mind is already open to new experiences in a place I've not been before. My left brain becomes a little like a toddler, "Why? Why this? Why that? How come that's green or he's wearing that or she said that?"

The cool thing about my left brain being busy is that it leaves my right brain alone and allows it to do what it does best, draw.
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If you're interested in learning more about sketching on location, come and join me for An Imaginary Visit To Sweden, starting on April 7th. We'll be explore the country, its people and history. Click here for more info.
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P.S. And by the way, National Hat Day is in January. As far as I know there's no National Ball Cap Day! Happy April!!

P.S.S. I am one spread away from being finished with this no name watercolor sketchbook that has been my purgatory for the last six months or so. Cannot wait to be finished with it so I can get back to my beloved Stillman and Birn sketchbook.