Where the magic happens

No two days are the same. There may be changes in the weather. Unexpected demands may emerge. After a bout of busyness, weariness may surface, slow us down or stop us in a tracks and prompt us to shift items on the day’s to-do list to another day.

One thing I know for sure is that if before the day kicks into gear, I spend some time being grateful, feeding my mind with God’s Word, nourishing my soul in prayer, journaling and fueling my heart with good intentions, “magic” happens. And I am primed on every level to face and manage whatever the day brings.

Here’s a sketch of my happy place – looking east through opened sliding glass doors, basking in the solitude, the stillness, the birds singing, just a hint of the impending sunrise in the distance, curtains billowing ever so slightly in response to the mild morning breeze – where I sit in gratitude for a new day, where I feed, fuel and prepare myself to be mindful, productive and creative during the day.

My two-page spread experiment

Sketching across two pages, commonly called a two-page spread is not entirely new to me but I never made it “a thing”. However, I’ve been experimenting lately and I thoroughly enjoy doing them.

I still enjoy working/playing on just one page – one sketch or two or several. But I’m becoming quite comfortable spreading several sketches across two pages. It’s fun and tends to capture more of my day or sometimes what my life looks/looked like over a couple of days.

Sketching this way seems to call for attention to colour harmony, composition and layout, which makes for very a pleasing presentation, which is not my main focus every time because I luv me some loose and wonky-tonky sketches. The imperfections are interesting and pleasing in their own right and I maintain my right to do them as often as I wish.

So, I’ve included some of my recent two-page spread experiments below.

And a question for you: are you a fan of the one-page layout or the two-page spread? Do you like to mix them up depending on the subject(s) or like me, just follow where inspiration leads?

One page or two, always have fun sketching what interests you, what makes you heart sing and dance.

No right or wrong. Just fun.

There are days when we might think we need some kind of profound zap of inspiration but this video, I used to watch with my grandson, inspires me crank up the “fun factor” by simply putting pen to paper.

The initial lines didn’t quite work.

Then some wonky lines, which threw the initial lines “off the reservation”.

OOPS! the perspective was off-kilter.

But you know what, I just went right ahead and splashed a little paint.

And Holy Crapoli, it was fun.

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.