Unearth, Gather, Create

I’m doing another online art course. I started my first one a little over a year ago and this is my 10th. It might be a bit of an addiction to be honest but I have a young son, 2 jobs, a husband who has to work too hard, and no family nearby to help out so I need an outlet and the online art world – including facebook and courses – is it.

This course, however, is very different from ones I’ve done previously. Perhaps its because of where I am on my artistic journey. More likely though, is that its because of the amazing, deep thinking teacher who is sharing her why of art as well as the what and how.

So far there’s a lot of emphasis on mark making and on thinking about what inspires us be it stories, other art, colour, place or anything else. I like that. It is helping me be freer in my work and that can only be a good thing. I’m also realising that I don’t have to get it right first time… and what is right anyway? My art is my response to what’s in front of me. That response is what’s right and if I can be true to that then that’s good enough for me.

What’s really amazing though is watching Gillian Lee Smith (the teacher) create. She draws a single line with a pastel and instantly captures the essence of the humanity in a face. I watch her meandering push and pull pencil lines trace the outline of a dried rose petal and my heart wrenches.

The work I am producing is, for the most part, ugly and challenging. I am used to pretty and comfortable so finding it really hard to even turn up at the page and create. But when I do there is SO MUCH LEARNING going on that only good can come of it. And the thoughtful feedback from the teacher and other students helps so much.

If you are looking for some deep thinking and challenging practice for your art I highly recommend Unearth Gather Create. I am not sure if/when Gillian will run the course again (it’s limited numbers and the one I’m on is full) but visit her site for more details – http://www.gillianleesmithartist.com/.


How To Draw Your Dragon Too

I’m jumping on the Hiccup bandwagon and drawing dragons this week. I’ve always had a bit of thing about dragons but it only occurred to me recently that they would make a great addition to my art journal. Although many stories about dragons suggest they are beasts to be afraid of I’ve always imagined them as representing the wise and noble parts of ourselves.

I hope you enjoy the video and, if you’re inspired to draw dragons and post them online please post a link in the comments below!


Kindness Unlocks Many Doors

Kindness Unlocks Many Doors

I’ve started working with a company who go out of their way to promote – and live by – their values. It’s made me think again about mine and so I created this piece which illustrates one of my most important ones.

As usual I worked with paint, collage, tissue & gesso to create the background. I then covered it all in clear gesso so I was left with a lovely rough texture/tooth to draw my image on top of. This has the added benefit of really letting the coloured pencil work on top shine too.

What are your values?


How I Create Layered Translucent Mixed Media Backgrounds

This is my third video and I’m learning so much about my own art making process as well as how to put a video together each time.

I show how I use layers of transparent and opaque materials to create texture and depth on my art journal pieces. I also demonstrate my way of pulling it all together and making sure it’s the subject – be it a quote, a face or flower – that shines.

Hope you watch… and that you find something interesting or inspiring.


2 Weeks And Counting

Rene Experiment 1

Experiment 1 – my facebook friend Rene in watercolour, graphite and gesso.

I had an idea. That I would do portraits using the techniques from my previous post. And I have struggled to recreate the spontaneity of that piece for 2 weeks. The struggle hurt, continues to hurt, because I’m still not happy with the results. But I’m still counting. The next one will be number 6…

Sarah Experiment 5

Experiment 5 – my facebook friend Sarah in watercolour, graphite and gesso.


How Copying Someone Else Helps Your Art Grow

How Copying Someone Else Helps Your Art Grow

This week I’ve had the pleasure of painting along with the lovely Danielle Donaldson (click on my piece to visit her site full of whimsical yumminess). I followed my tried and tested formula for online classes as follows:

1. Copy exactly what the instructor offers for at least 2 projects.
2. Play with any materials they use that appeal to me in a non-structured/non-results orientated way in my journal.
3. Don’t do any art for at least 24 hours.
4. Come back to my journal and use at least one of the techniques and one of the materials from the online class with the materials I love to use and a subject I love to paint.

This picture is the result. I think it might be my most favourite piece yet… and I can see lots of potential improvements.

Do you join online art classes? How do you make what you learn there your own?