Switching it up

Like many of my fellow sketchers, I like to have lots of different colours to add to my sketches. Not a week goes by that I don’t swatch the colours in the palettes I’m using at the moment. The exercise is fun, beautiful to look at and helps to get me unstuck. You know what I mean.

However, every now and then, I wake up with the urge to switch it up, pare down, simplify, minimize.

Today is one of those days and the first thing on my switch-it-up list is: put away the large palettes and bring out two smaller ones.

So, after some cleaning, these two of my favourite large palettes are going in my art supply cupboard for a sabbatical.

TOP: Mijello Martin 24-well with St. Petersburg White Nights watercolours. BOTTOM: Mijello Martin 18-well with Daniel Smith watercolours

And these two of my favourite small palettes are coming out to play:

LEFT: Winsor and Newton Pocket Sketch with Daniel Smith watercolours RIGHT: St. Petersburg White Nights watercolours.

These colours in two darling palettes are rehydrating with a few spritz of water while I write this post and they should be ready to go as soon as I’m done.

Here’s to switching things up!

Getting comfortable sketching with dip pens

The Speedball and the Tachikawa dip pens have been sitting in my pen holder for months. I’ve used the Tachikawa a few times in the past, but only for a day or two each time. I can’t remember the last time I used the Speedball though.

A couple weeks ago, I saw a video that prompted me to reach for a dip pen in an attempt to get comfortable using them more regularly.

Below I share two of my recent sketches using a dip pen.

* Pencil case and ink bottles sketched with Speedball dip pen fitted with a G nib before adding St.Petersburg White Nights watercolour.

* Pencil outline first before Speedball dip pen with Noodlers Lexington Grey ink and St. Petersburg White Nights watercolour.

Mmmmmmm …..surprisingly and yet, not surprisingly, I’m getting comfortable sketching with the dip pen. I sense a future where I may reach for a dip pen almost as instinctively as I reach for a fountain pen. You never know ……

Creative safety makes space for creative flow

Danny Gregory says, Safety first and I agree wholeheartedly.

“The ideal creative state is flow.
It’s an incredible feeling of freedom in which each idea spawns the next, leading the artist deeper and deeper into new territory.
Time flies. Magic happens. You emerge a little disoriented and glowing.

The earliest experience we have of flow is in childhood. We call it ‘play.’
Kids at play are free and uninhibited. Their imaginations take huge bounds. They feel confident and positive. Even the shyest child becomes garrulous and bold.

But for kids — and adults — to reach this joyous state of free-flowing play, we need to feel safe. We need to know we are allowed to play, that we won’t be judged or controlled.
Critics, clients, committees can act as dams for the state of flow.
Sometimes when we create, no one is watching, no one cares. We are just hobbyists or dabblers alone in the garage.
But then the mere thought of a judge — a skeptical neighbor, a dismissive relative, an ancient memory — can pop up and disrupt the flow.

We need to feel safe to make mistakes, to look foolish, to be able to laugh and try again. That way we don’t just focus on outcomes but on the Now and then on the next interlocking piece that will advance the game over the long haul.

Play is an essential part of the creative process. It’s also essential to designing the future, to solving problems, to doing just about any job better.
To create a new solution instead of just repeating what worked in the past, we need to work and play in an environment of safety.

Be fierce in protecting your creative safety from attack from outside and within. Then let yourself go and leap into the new.
Don’t worry about falling — and fly.”

~ Danny Gregoryco-founder of Sketching Skool and author of Everyday Matters, Art Before Breakfast, How to Draw Without Talent and many other delightful books on sketching with joy and confidence.

Finally, a frother!

So, this coffee lover has been looking at frothers online for a while and there are some pretty pricey ones, especially those that come with holders/stands – who wouldn’t want a frother with a stand right?
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I’m glad I didn’t rush to purchase one of those on Amazon because while browser-shopping at Excellent Stores – Holy Crapoli ! there is a frother at a reasonable price.

It doesn’t come with a stand, but NP, I can rig up something myself.

So, I frothed milk for my coffee this morning.

What’s up with these two strange things?

It’s fascinating to me how I’ve changed over the years. Some old thoughts and inclinations remained making me feel safe and comfortable as I navigated difficult situations. Equally fascinating is how I’ve adopted and cultivated new perspectives, new approaches and out-of-my-comfort-zone practices, which were born out of fear, pain, heartbreak, disappointment, success, a sense of adventure and a desire to be more authentic in my relationships, lifestyle and my creative outlets.

Not all of the changes are grand or all-encompassing but they strike a cord and made me wonder.

Two strange things about myself I’ve noticed a while now:

  1. A surprising departure from my love of language and my obsession with correct grammar –

Why “surprising”? Well, because I have acknowledged and embraced my not-too-severe OCD, I can’t begin to explain why I feel so comfortable writing sentences void of the “I” at the beginning of sentences when posting my sketches on Instagram. Examples: “Sketched my breakfast before eat it this morning.” “Refilled my fountain pens and decided to sketch them.” “Rummaged through my box of watercolour tubes and found this colour which I haven’t seen in a while.” “Have no excuse for having so many palettes.” “Came across an interesting old photo and ….” Now, everytime I type the first word (verb) in sentences like these, I am acutely aware of the faux pas but for some strange reason, I feel no compunction to correct it. It’s almost as if my brain says, “Oh what the heck!” And, I leave it as is. Why? I know this for sure – I definitely enjoy the deviation as it feels playful to bend/break rules sometimes and this one in particular. It might be a reflection of my mindset at 65 years old – appearances be damned. Since it doesn’t happen here on my blog, I am leaning towards the idea that it is a creative thing, connected to sharing my sketches on Instagram.

2. A weird penchant to sketch on the diagonal –

I open my sketchbook and proceed to sketch on the diagonal. Weird huh? But looking at the finished piece I find it so much more interesting at that angle. However, since I don’t plan to sketch on the diagonal, I always wonder why I do it automatically, instinctively. Well, if I ever figure it out, I’ll share. I welcome your thoughts on this though. Feel free to hit me up in the comments. I’m not inclined to use slangs but *Hit me up* popped in my head, and, well, what da heck!

Take a look at a few of my February sketches done on the diagonal.

Have you noticed any strange, instinctive inclinations in your creative practice (writing, sketching, journaling, etc.) that surprises you, annoys you, fascinates you, invigorates you, makes you feel playful and adventurous?