Friday, June 29, 2012

Words To Live By

When we open our eyes, we see beyond ourselves.
When we open our ears, we listen beyond ourselves.
When we surrender to this attraction, we grow in self-awareness.

~Wisdom from the Elders of the Senecas

Art, in so many ways, encourages the artist to develop a life-enhancing relationship with their own inner world. When we see the world through an artist's eye, we enjoy an infinitely rich relationship that allows us to discover so much about our own inner-selves.  It is the process of making art that allows us to explore our relationship with the world, and in many ways, with the people around us.

When I wrote Wisdom Circles, I did so from the perspective of free drawing. Not every artist has, or even chooses to use, the ability to draw real life. For so many of us, our creativity lies in light, texture, and color, rather than life-like reproductions of the images around us. I believe free drawing is central to our journey of self-discovery and is an indispensable tool which allows us to journey deep into ourselves and demystify and heal so many of our old wounds.

Wisdom Circles is about creating mandalas; sacred circles filled with personal symbols and icons. It is a gentle journey into ourselves that allows us to explore what limits and drives us, it helps us experience ourselves actively in the world around us, and develop a greater self-acceptance.

In the words of Peter O'Connor;"A symbol is the best possible expression of something we have not yet understood." Thinking in pictures can give us access to our forgotten pasts, as well as elements of our present for which we have no words.

To create a mandala we need have no 'talent' for drawing. On the contrary, we set aside any awareness of how we are drawing, and to a large extent, what we are drawing. It is the process of creating a mandala that allows us to follow the urge to make a mark--no matter how obscure it might seem.

By allowing our hand to move freely, without thinking, we follow whatever shapes emerge for us in that moment, in whatever way they appear.  We allow ourselves to be led toward certain colors and shapes, and we draw for as long as the circle holds us.

There is no correct way to make a mandala, nor is there a correct way to interpret its meaning. There is only the ability to look at what is happening in our lives in that moment and allow associations  with the images that have appeared.  It is up to us to create a dialogue with our subconscious for as long as is necessary before our circles reveals its wisdom to us.

Wisdom Circles is a journey into the sacred circle which uses myth, meditation, and art to help us connect to our deeper selves.  The full online workshop will be running again in 2013, however, if you would like to explore a small element of this program, you can do so as part of 21 Secrets which runs through to January 2013.  For more information, or to register, click here.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Garden's Glory

I'm just a couple of days away from the start of my summer teaching schedule which kicks off this Friday with Watercolor Pencil Workshop. I'm so excited, I love it when a new class begins.  The enthusiasm and energy of participants, the unfolding journey for each of them, the steady stream of images that come to me for always amazed how much hidden passion and talent so many people have.

I usually spend some time immersed in whatever medium I am about to be teaching, and this week I've been reconnecting to my watercolor pencils.  Since I first picked up these fabulously convenient little sticks of color I've been sharpening my skills, experimenting with them, finding new ways to use them.  I love to use them with mixed media, especially flat watercolor or watercolor pencils.  The contrast between the flat subtle tones of the pencils, and the vibrant shimmer of luminescent watercolor such as Twinkling H2O is breathtaking.

I paint mostly nature because nature is what usually catches my 'artist's eye'. I usually don't need to look much past my own backyard or bookshelf to find inspiration, so I was very excited when Jenn at Just Add Water Silly announced her new challenge for this week...GARDEN!!  I love art challenges but don't often get the time I would like to spend on them. Jenn has a wonderful weekly challenge called Artist's Playroom, and I highly recommend it.

I have inherited a garden that is exploding with blooms right now (and a grapevine that is being devoured by bugs). Today, I stole a few moments and crept outside with my camera to capture some of them.  I thought it would be fun to take artistic license and scribble them all onto a single page. With my new studio, I'm finally able to step outside my sketchbook, so for Jenn's challenge I did this painting on 5"x5" 140lb, cold-pressed watercolor paper. It is Twinkling H2O's under and flourished over watercolor pencil.

If you would like to learn about how to get the most from your watercolor pencils, including how to use them with mixed media, then please join me for Watercolor Pencil WorkshopFor more information, or to register, please click here.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Monday, June 25, 2012

Very Berry Tutorial

I'm finding inspiration in all thing summer and playing around with some of my favorite mixed media in my sketchbook.

I began the page with a light wash of Silks Acrylic Glaze heavily diluted with water, over a Balzer Designs stencil from The Crafter's Workshop.  This is the "Leaf Grid" stencil given to me by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer as part of her 2012 Stencil Hop. You can see my original post using this stencil here.

Using watercolor pencils, I sketched some berries and leaves, then washed in the first layer of color by picking up pigment directly from the tip of a watercolor pencil with the brush. You don't have to just draw with these pencils, you can use them as you would regular watercolor paint by swiping a wet brush across the color.

Using several different colors, I layered the berries until I got just the right tone then I edged and defined them with  dry watercolor pencil blended with clean water.

I did the same thing with the leaves, using lots of layers to give depth.

I then used black archival ink to define the berries and leaves and finished them with a splash of Twinkling H2O's for highlight. 

To give them more definition I smeared a touch of soft black charcoal around the edges for shadow.

Using a stencil as a background for a journal page or sketch can give your subject wonderful color tones and interest.  Silks Acrylic Glaze have such a gorgeous shimmer that even after being covered with flat watercolor, they still shine subtly through, making them the perfect background medium.

Thanks for checking in. xx

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Green

After a rather long and unexpected break from the computer, I am finally able to post again.  My apologies to those of you who have been wondering what has been happening.  As many of you may know, my family and I moved house recently and of course, it took longer to get set up than expected.  But now, everything seems to be working, just in time for the heralds of summer calling in my favorite time of year.

Our new home is lovely. Everything seems to fit it...more or less, and already if feels like we belong here.  Both our children are beginning to settle and harmony is descending on our lives at last.  I have a wonderful new studio that will enable me to teach live classes right here.  I'm still unpacking and setting up, but it's beautiful, bright, and very functional.

One of the most delightful aspects of our new home is the garden.  The previous owner was an avid and loving gardener and right now it is ablaze with blooms and color like I have rarely seen before.  Each morning when I wonder outside, I'm amazed at some new variety of flower that has arrived.  It has every color of the rainbow, and then some. 

It's a summer garden right now, bright green, lush, and somewhat overgrown.  When it comes to any spare time I am lucky enough to get, it's usually spent on art, rather than gardening.  Nonetheless I try to get out and pull weeds a little each day, but mostly I just end up sitting somewhere sunny with my sketchbook on my lap.

This page was done using a combination of watercolor pencil and watercolor paint.  I tried to capture the essence of summer greens.  These plants sit around the bases of two big trees in our backyard. I've always loved the way they lend themselves to artistic interpretation.  They are so fresh and defined.

So, I have plenty of surprises coming up in the next few months.  A new series, lots of beautiful new art, and some new classes in the works. Also, there is very special giveaway coming up that is the result of an exciting collaboration with a very beautiful and talented artist. Also, the first of my summer classes, Watercolor Pencil Workshop, begins in one week and I've been tidying up materials and adding new projects in time for the start of this hugely popular six-week class.  There is still time to register, so for more information, click here.

Thanks for checking in. xx