Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Visiting With Friends at the Beach

Clearwater Beach Visit
March 2013
Still & Birn Beta Sketchbook
8.5 x 10.75 inches
One of the cool things about living in the middle of the state of Florida, is that I sometimes get to meet "online friends" in person. I had the opportunity to meet up with a Michigan friend this past Monday who is visiting Florida with her husband.

I had arrived a little bit early as you never know what traffic is going to be like between the Spring-Breakers and the general beach vacationers.
With 15 minutes to kill before our stated meeting time, I sat down on a handy wall and painted the stormy skies and some of the beach. Due to my limited time, I made three lines with my pencil—the horizon line, the line indicating the sand dune and the water/sand line. Then I let the paint fly.

I was still holding my sketchbook open so the pages could dry when I walked up to meet my friends. 
As I started back towards the restaurant, I saw a gorgeous Sea Grape Leaf lying at the base of the wall I had been sitting on. I picked it up and tucked it into my bag so I could sketch it later. A few steps further and I spotted this gorgeous shell shard. Abalone shell, maybe? Lots of pretty iridescent colors!
We met for a quick lunch (which was actually breakfast and very, very yummy—thank you J & T!) before we walked down the beach. I sketched the lifeguard shack or observation stand or whatever the call it these days. The flag was standing straight out as the winds were really kicking up, but strong winds didn't keep folks off the beach.

Living in Florida, my favorite time to go to the beach is on overcast, windy days. There's more wave action in the water and you can see some truly spectacular cloud formations. You'll occasionally find a "beach treasure" (unusual shells, beach glass and very rarely, a gold doubloon) you won't find on other days.

I did all of my sketching in pencil and didn't add color to the rest of the page until after I reached home. Then added the lettering and journaling. I put a bar under the "er" of Clearwater because somehow, I managed to get off track with my lettering.

I seldom make it to the beach any more and the day was a great deal of fun. The beach is in my own backyard, and yet I don't take advantage of it—why? Maybe because it's in my own backyard and I don't value what is around me all the time? (Sam's in the background just shaking her head.)

Sharing time, art and the beach with like-minded friends, not to mention great food, makes for an excellent combination!

Do you have some fabulous outdoor venue near you that you don't take advantage of simply because it's in your backyard? What keeps you from going there to sketch with friends or even by yourself just to enjoy the place?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Can You Force Creativity?

Le Mouton Noir Bakehouse
Watercolor and Ink
Stillman & Birn Beta Series
5.5 x 8.5 Inches
KJ (Catching Happiness) and I ventured forth this past Friday for an adventure. We went to our downtown area to a bakehouse named Le Mouton Noir Bakehouse. She'd read about it in the newspaper and we're always game to try new restaurants and Friday's weather was too spectacular to stay inside.

So off we went. We both took sketchbooks and cameras. By the time we found the restaurant, we were starving. Starving. We kinda got lost in our own hometown! We're blaming Google Maps...but before I digress to far...

I can assure you that sketching and painting was not at the top of my priority list by the time we arrived.

So, what's an artist to do?


I decided to sketch the food in pen then took out my camera and snapped a quick shot before digging in! I figured I would add color once I had convinced my stomach that my throat had not been slashed, but it didn't happen at the restaurant.

Later, when I arrived home, I was no more in the mood to paint than I was to to clean the house. And yet, I didn't want an unfinished page in my sketchbook. (The house being dirty didn't bother me. Never does and rewards don't seem to work either.)

Using compromise to finish the page didn't work because there was no reward (like getting to eat)…or was there? What could be my reward, besides a finished page?

A really, really good piece of chocolate!

You may be struggling to get back into the sketchbook habit. How can you reward yourself to create a page and finish it? What will your reward be?

The second element I incorporated was to challenge myself.

The idea of sitting down and spending an hour—or more—to finish the page held no appeal to me. Since it was a super quick sketch to begin with, I saw no reason to labor over the painting portion of the project.

To keep the quick-sketch feel of the page, I set myself a challenge to see how quickly I could paint the page. In total, I have about 25-30 minutes in the page.

Consider other ways you might challenge yourself: limit your palette to 3 colors or even one; just received new art supplies? Incorporate some of those new supplies. Use only pencil or pen. Use no pen or pencil and just paint. Limit your time. Add a piece of collage such as a patterned paper or part of the menu. The ideas are endless.

Evaluate the page becomes a matter of perspective. Is it a successful piece of art? Depends on your perspective.

In my case, I have recognizable objects. I have a record of a very fun day with gorgeous weather and a good friend. I also have a reminder of a great restaurant that I'll visit again soon. Considering I didn't want to sketch and I didn't want to paint it in the first place, I consider this a successful page.

Creativity to comes in many different strengthens and concentrations. If we focus on what we can do with what we have rather than what we can't do (for whatever reason/excuse) or what we don't have (time, interest, inspiration), we will almost always surprise ourselves with what we do. 

Being creative doesn't require time, money, or inspiration. It requires doing.

I've had to push myself lately. What about you? Are you struggling too? Tell me how you're going to push yourself to be creative by simply doing. Tell me about your rewards too!