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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maps, directions and the road ahead!

Imagine you are on a journey. Imagine that your journey has an itinerary. Imagine that you have a set schedule of places to go and things to do.

Now imagine that the journey on which you are about to embark is a creative path into the unknown.

Arm yourself with your favorite tools and materials. Keep them close to hand so you can chronicle your journey at every turn.

What does a creative journey look like? It looks like you with your tools and materials close to hand, and your eyes wide open. Release all your expectations and preconceived notions of what the outcome will be. Surrender yourself to the moment.

I am embarking on just such a journey tomorrow. I will keep a new sketchbook for just this purpose. I will take time to write, to draw, to paint, to decorate the pages and celebrate the process of the sketch journal.

Those of you who know me know that I do this frequently. But this particular sketchbook will be very directed and focused on the next four weeks of my life. I will devote my energy to this focused process.

Join me...The Sketchbook Project is a bite-sized, open ended international project which sends you a sketchbook which, after you complete it, you mail back and it will be exhibited around the world. There are many themes from which to choose, or they will select a random theme for you. Here's the website:

It can be as complicated or as simple as you like, your only constraints are the dimensions of the book, and the bar code identification label on the back.

I am going to make a hand bound book with handmade paper, and chronicle my journey back in time at Pennsic, which is the largest event of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Life is an interesting adventure. I am going to be led by my muses for the next four weeks. Come join me on my journey!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Escape Velocity

Some days, the simple effort it takes to cross the studio to my desk seems overwhelming. Other days, I fly.

What is it that allows my creative self to take flight and soar?

I try to keep a journal...random sketches and paintings, not huge masterpieces, just small visual notes of moments in time. I steal a few minutes while waiting for the watiress to bring my meal, I pull off to the side of the road near a river, I grab my paintbox and journal when I see that "certain slant of light". And so page by page I have a chronicle of what inspires me.

Sketchbooks can be intimidating or liberating. Long ago I surrendered my need to complete annual tasks, like New Year's Resolutions or daily journals. I admire people who can keep day by day every day journals. I cannot. So now I simply open the books ( yes, I keep several journals. One for paintings of rivers, one for paintings of light, one for paintings of places, one for flowers, one for sunsets, well, you get the idea.). I open them when I can. I make time, take time, for this creative act. I make the doing of art a sacred task. I make it a mundane task.I do it.

When I look back through a sketchbook, I can see the map of my creative self. Here a turning to the spontaneous, there an exploration of the new palette. One page is all about control, another is all about not having control. My work veers and detours, it meanders through the creative choices like a drunken butterfly.

Don't measure your work by anyone's work. You are unique. And in that state of being unique, you are not alone. We are all unique. Each of us has been formed, informed, by our experiences. The places where our experiences overlap is where we meet, and there compare our unique journeys. We are all different, we are all the same.

Where's that new paintbrush? I must capture this texture, right now.