If you were online at all this past summer, you must have seen some of the pretty hand woven wall hangings like here, here, and here, right? So, naturally, it was a particularly busy week when I decided I had to have my own Wall of Weaving Wonder. So I ditched my To Do List and headed to Hobby Lobby in search of a weaving loom. Hoping for something--oh, I don't know--hand carved in rose wood, I found a purple plastic set for $10 (minus 40% off coupon, of course--score!). It was perfect. I immediately went upstairs in the middle of the afternoon, turned on Netflix and came up with my first wall hanging a few hours later from leftover yarn bits:
I don't have to tell you I was pretty impressed with myself. But of course, I couldn't stop there.
And the ideas just kept on flowing. What happens if I add in sparkly yarn??
I remembered random lovely balls of yarn I hadn't found a use for yet, and piled them up to experiment. More texture! More color! More sparkle!
Can you tell I'm obsessed? A whole new world has opened up to me. I'm toying with the idea of sketching out some designs in advance, but for now I'm preferring to design as I go. I love the small canvas, but I'm already sweet-talking my husband into building me a loom for a rug! Such a simple and ancient technique with infinite possibilities! I'm a little embarrassed to say it only took a couple of days for me to collect (over) 400 pins to inspire my inner weaver. There was just so much. (Thank you, again, for making my life better, Pinterest.) These are some of my favorites:
"Tapestry weaving is a unique art form. On the loom it's a process in time with repetition and variation like music. A good musical composition stays in our ear for a while after it ends. A tapestry however, will hang on a wall like a painted composition." Silvie Heyden.
Shredded & woven paper portraits?! The potential kills me. If you want to give weaving a try (hint, hint. nudge, nudge.), it's pretty easy to find tutorials online. I mentioned several at the beginning of this post. The process is pretty simple. I started with the instructions from my Purple Plastic Loom set then read about weaving designs here. That was pretty much all I've needed so far to play, but eventually I'd like to learn some new weaving techniques besides the old over-and-under. All in good time.
Somewhere I read that drawing mandalas is particularly meditative and centering, calming and even spiritual. I don't know about you, but I could use a little more of those things in my life. All doodling, of course, can be meditative because your attention is focused but not entirely spent. When I am doodling, my focus is on the process itself, but because I have no investment in the outcome--I doodle for the pure joy of it--my mind is free to wander or not. I am alert and alive in the moment. The outcome of such a state of mind is a natural explosion of creative thought.
I love the repetitive nature of drawing mandalas. And I love that I'm being creative without working too hard, which makes them perfect for taking advantage of down time, especially when you find yourself stressed or anxious. One design element naturally suggests the next, and you'll find the most difficult decision you'll have to make will be whether to color your mandala or keep it black and white. (I admit, this can be a little difficult for me--to color or not. I used to agonize about it until I realized I can scan my black and white drawings into the computer to use again later. Now I can have black & white and color!) Simply start with a center circle and work your design around the circle. Keep drawing around in gradually larger concentric circles; think of the growth rings of a tree trunk. Keep your designs simple: leaf, flower, triangle, square and circle shapes are perfect. Remember that it is the process of drawing that is important, not whether your mandala is perfectly symmetrical or Pinterest-worthy. If you look closely, you can see lots of imperfections in my drawings, and I'm totally cool with that.
Will you give drawing mandalas a try? What are your favorite doodling elements? I'd love to see what you come up with so come back and share!
I have so much to tell you, so much to show you! Except for this week sinceI've been sick, I've actually been doing a pretty good job getting my butt in the studio each day. Of course, it's never for as long as I'd like, but an hour here, a half an hour there does add up in time if you are consistent with it. Mostly, I've been journaling. More blind contour and other drawings. Flowers are my favorites.
I've also been doing a little sewing. I threw together a little patchwork cushion for my wooden desk chair. Just realized I don't have a picture for you, though. But I do have a few sweet shots from around the studio. Having pretty things around me inspires and motivates me to work.
Typically, I have little notes to myself everywhere. These napkin notes are from a dinner with the kids at the pizza place down the street. We like to people watch and one evening imagined the names and lives of the people nearby. I'm hanging onto these to have the kids write stories for some of the "characters" we discovered.
Another note to self: Love is the thing. You will never regret erring on the side of love. Hope you are all having a love-ly week! What's been keeping you busy lately?
Let me introduce you to the love of my life: my new puppy! His name is Shiner (Yes, like the beer. We're Texans living in Colorado, what do you expect?), and he is the most wonderful, cuddly, smart, beautiful pupper in the whole wide world! Don't you just want to kissy kiss kiss his furry little face??
Floppy puppy dog ears are the best!! I can hardly stand it! Shiner is a German Shepherd given to us by some dear friends who have since shot up to the top of our "best friends ever" list. I mean, if we kept a list like that--which we don't. Not on paper or anything. I still can't believe they let him go. He is the best gift ever!
One ear up and one ear down?? OMG.
Now, I love my children. I still think they are adorable. But they are approaching the teen years, you know, where they don't want to be kissed & snuggled & squealed over. Thank God we're not there quite yet, but when the day comes and my human babies no longer need my daily kisses & hugs, my puppy will never get tired of them! I feel like God brought Shiner to me, to heal my broken mother-heart as the kids get older. Of course they might not agree with that completely. After only a week or so of having Shiner, the kids started looking at me strangely as I squealed and fussed over him every time he walked into the room: "You don't love on us like that." :( Bad momma.
But you can't resist that face either, right?? He may look full grown (This dog is going to be big.) but he is all puppy. And he's going through that awkward adolescent phase where his legs are too big for his body, so he is constantly running into walls, sliding on the hardwood floor with legs going in 4 different directions at once, or stretching on the bed only to fall right off onto the floor. Once he was sitting outside by the flower bed and just fell over into the fence. He's so funny!
You will probably be seeing and hearing of my new baby pretty often around here from now on (Do you recognize him from my blind contours?), so I thought it only proper for you to be introduced. I know you'll want to come back now. It's that face. Oh, kissy kissy, kiss kiss! I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!!
So far this summer, I've had a little free time for either art or blogging, but not both. I've chosen art. Which just means we have a lot of catching up to do! When I'm having trouble finding real time to spend in the studio daily, it helps tremendously to have my sketchbook with me wherever I find myself. You'd be surprised how much you can accomplish in a few minutes here and there. I'm still working on my drawing skills, but thankfully blind contour drawings are perfect for waiting in line or hanging out with friends.
A most unfortunate drawing of my daughter. She's way cuter than this. Really.
These were done over dinner at our favorite Irish pub. They both turned out so scary I couldn't resist adding a bolt to my husband's Frankenstein-like head. Lots of laughter over these.
We've had such a crazy few weeks! Our septic tank backed up into the cellar flooding everything including all my old photographs, my husband and I celebrated our 19th anniversary, we enjoyed a week with family from out of town, we transformed our back yard into an amazing party venue, and hosted a wedding at our home for dear friends including two wedding parties, and all of this on top of school (we homeschool through the summer), my husband pastoring our church and still working full time as an RN! And did I mention the dog killed one of our chickens on the morning of the wedding? (He even left the head--gulp!--on the back doorstep. He was so proud!)
Sigh. I truly think I could hibernate until fall. But who has time for that? I'll just stick to my drawing and call myself incredibly blessed.
It's time for a new visual journal! I only have 5 or so pages left in my current visual journal, so it is time for making a brand spanking new one. This is my favorite part: collecting and sorting all of the papers and ephemera to be bound together. My last journal was a monster of a book and has ended up lasting me 3 years. From the beginning, I was committed to completely filling it, but three years is waaaaayyy too long to be working in the same book. Too much baggage to carry around. So, as much as I love a thick, meaty journal, this one will be much thinner and easier to finish. Not much feels better than holding that overflowing book in your little hands knowing every single page is covered with words and images from your own mind and imagination. So rewarding, especially for those of us who sometimes have trouble actually finishing a project. It is a major accomplishment. But this next time around, I plan on making it a little easier on myself.
My poor, demented bunny was supposed to look like this adorable one. But, he's kind of endearing in his own way. In an attempt to improve my drawing skills, I've been experimenting with blind contour drawings. They are tons of fun and are supposed to train you to see with your eyes instead of your brain. (My brain thinks it doesn't know how to draw a bunny, but my eye says, what bunny? You just draw this line, then a curve, then a circle here, and pretty soon you have a bunny!) The best part is that it frees me from the self-imposed obligation to draw perfectly. A blind contour drawing isn't supposed to look exactly like anything. And often something pretty crazy turns up so you get to laugh at yourself, too. Being able to laugh at yourself is a necessary ingredient for art and for life in general.
Blindly is the only way I'd even attempt to draw a person at this stage. Poor Craig and Eddie. They are actually really good looking guys. You might be surprised to learn that both of Craig's eyes are actually on his face IRL. And those are dreadlocks, not worms coming out of his head. But, hey! I'm learning here.
Strictly speaking, these are more like semi-blind contour drawings. In a regular blind contour, you never take your eyes off of your subject or lift your pen from the paper. Here, I've done a section at a time then stopped to evaluate how far off the mark I've come. I restart with my pen where it should be, but once that pen starts moving, all I see is my subject, and it is harder to make your hand to draw a 4 inch line curving down to the left midway toward 5 o'clock than you'd think.
This one, I am most proud of. I had to say a little prayer before attempting to draw Giraffey, my daughter's most honored and beloved stuffie that has been with her since her first Christmas. I could just imagine the nightmares Maisey would have after seeing my bad drawing of a demented giraffe, but she turned out lovely! Except for the extra circle on her head which will eventually become a crown of flowers. Oh, and the blue dots that bled through another drawing onto her head. But, her lovable giraffey-ness has been preserved though, I think. Thank God.
Before you criticize me for storing baguettes in dirty water, those are paint brushes, thankyouverymuch.
If you think you could do better (I agree, I'm sure you could!!), why not take a stab at it and send me a pic or a link to your blind contour experiment. I'd love to share it here with my next round of drawings! Seriously, try it! If art is good therapy, blind contour drawing is the yummy orange syrupy cold medicine you used to fake a cough to get your mom to give to you. Or was that just me?
We did a little traveling recently to visit family in Santa Fe and Austin. I used it as an excuse to make some mail art for a few friends.
This one was drawn entirely in the car during our road trip. Normally, I hate to draw or write in the car because of the bumpiness, but sadly I can't say it looks much different from my ordinary shaky hand drawing. Oh, well.
Each envelope held a hand written note (of course!) along with bits of interesting or pretty things I picked up during our travels: a cool business card, pieces of patterned paper, origami cups! My favorite part is decorating the envelopes and I love tucking in special goodies, but I might experiment with post cards next time. Maybe print pictures of our travels to turn into post cards later?
If you would like to be added to my mailing list to be notified of new items as I add them to my Etsy shop, please send an email with "mailing list" in the subject line to littleblackkittyart(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you!