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‘The palest ink is better than the best memory.’ Chinese Proverb.

I have been feeling a little bit despondent about my sketching lately.  I have still managed to work myself up to doing a bit of drawing during the week but I have felt somewhat . . .  uninspired . . . to say the least.  I look at the fabulous sketches of my fellow online students and arty friends, and see that they have done their sketches ‘on the bus’ or ‘in my lunch break’ or ‘in the doctor’s waiting room’ and I, who have no (valid) excuses for not sketching (and obviously a lot more free time on my hands than some of these people) feel like a complete wastrel.

This feeling is not entirely unexpected of course.  I’m in the doldrums.  It’s happened before and, no doubt, will happen again, but . . .  sigh . . .

In the past, feeling like this has resulted in me stopping drawing altogether, sometimes for years, but I am determined that is not going to happen this time.  I am going to try and push through, and if that means a sketchbook full of crappy, uninspiring sketches, then so be it!   (That sentence was full of false bravado by the way.  ‘So be it!’  Ha!  Who am I kidding?  I still get really upset with myself when I do a crappy, unspired sketch, but I am trying a little positive psychology on myself so I’ll let it go . . . )

In an effort to suck myself into a more positive frame of mind I looked back over my very first sketchbook, which I started last year. In it I found one of the first ‘outdoor’ sketches I attempted.  With it I  wrote — ‘. . .  just to be clear, the pots are actually standing on a garden of bark chips (not just a patch of concrete)—but I have no idea how to draw bark chips so I just pretended they wasn’t there.  I also ignored the rest of the garden—the back fence, the Hills Hoist, the three madcap dogs chasing each other in and around the pots—and anything else that was too hard.  I think that’s called ‘artistic licence’ . . .’

At Sketchbook Skool they teach that there are no ‘bad’ drawings.  Each sketch we do is a learning experience and therefore important in itself.  Although I still struggle internally with this concept (I still believe that some of my drawing ‘experiences’ have been, and continue to be, pretty gruesome) I have tried to take this on board and so, although at times still sorely tempted, I no longer rip these offending pages out of my sketchbooks.  I may not ever show these horrors to anybody else but there they will remainpale (or sometimes scarily bright) memories of my ongoing artistic endeavours.

Finding that earlier sketch put me in mind of another I did, much more recently, of the same garden. It’s from a different angle (it was a cold day so the girls and I sat in the warmest spot we could find) but otherwise much is unchanged.  The bird bath and many of the plants are the same—and I still haven’t worked out how to draw bark chips or the dogs racing around the gardenbut, in spite of that, I do like the second drawing more than the first, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction.

So, sketching slump or no, I will soldier on.  I am not going to give up.  Realistically, how could I anyway?

What on earth would I do with all the cupboards (and drawers and boxes) still full of lovely (empty) sketchbooks. . .  and pens . . . and inks . . .  and pencils . . . and paints . . . and pastels and . . .

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I can resist everything, except temptation.’ Oscar Wilde.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

Why is it, do you think, that the moment I decide—and I am talking the instant the decision is made—that I am (absolutely, definitely, starting right now) going to lose those extra couple of kilos which have somehow sneakily (re)appeared on my already ample backside since this time last year . . . that, suddenly, inexorably, all I can manage to think about is what I am going to eat next . . .

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I believe every woman should own at least one pair of red shoes.’ Terry Tempest Williams.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

Amen to that!!

(I have three pairs of red shoes . . . and one pair of orange . . . and two pairs of blue . . . and several pairs of multi coloured . . .  and six pairs of black . . . and two pairs of grey and . . . well . . . you get the idea . . . )

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Geologists have a saying—rocks remember.’ Neil Armstrong.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . .

I wonder if that’s true?  I hope so.

I’m hoping that if I stare at these rocks long enough they will remember (and remind me) what it is I’ve forgotten . . .

 

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.’ Oscar Wilde.

I have never kept (or even started) a diary.  Well, not a proper ‘Dear Diary—this-is-what-I-was-doing-this-is-what-I-was-feeling’ kind of diary . . .

(To clarify—I do keep a date-diary for important things (‘pay day’, ‘holidays start tomorrow’, ‘day trip to Forster with Pammy’) and appointments (‘M, M, & M due to get their nails done this week’) because my old brain just doesn’t remember these things for itself any more and there are only so many post-it notes that fit around the edge of my computer.)

. . . but I had also never really felt any deep-seated urge to write my daily thoughts and feelings down on paper either.  Truth be told, before I started this blog I never wrote much of anything—apart from a couple of short paragraphs in our college brochure each term (which I was coerced into by my boss I might add.)

However, now that I am writing more (and kinda-sorta-sometimes enjoying it) I can see that there might well be advantages to writing something . . . anything . . . every single day.  I can go for days and days without putting pen to paper because I ‘can’t think of anything interesting to write’.  I have the same issue when it comes to sketching (I can’t decide what to draw—so I don’t draw anything.  Sigh.) The fact that I know that the longer I leave it the more difficult it becomes to start up again appears to hold little sway.

But a diary?  No, I don’t really think a diary is for me. I would have nothing as sensational to write in it as Oscar Wilde, but even if I did (or maybe, especially if I did) I am not sure I would want to commit it to paper. It seems to me that private diaries seldom remain private.

Still, I definitely could benefit from the discipline of writing every day, and thinking about this reminded me of a book I read years ago ‘The Artist’s Way‘ and Julia Cameron’s ‘Morning Pages.  What are morning pages?  Morning Pages are one of the basic tools Julia advocates for unleashing creativity.

‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.  There is no wrong way to do Morning Pagesthey are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mindand they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page . . .
and then do three more pages tomorrow.’
(Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way)

I remember when I read this book all those years ago I thought these morning pages sounded a bit . . . ‘Really?  Sigh.  How that is going to work?  Maybe I’ll give them a go.  Some day . . . ‘  But I never did.  Maybe I wasn’t ready then.  Perhaps I am now.  Now I kind of like the idea of writing without thinking and not having to worry about spelling, or grammar, or making sense to anyone else.  I like the idea of doing them longhand (perhaps I can even doodle around the edges and that will cover me for the ‘draw something every day’ (unkept) promises I also made to myself) and I also especially like the fact that (unlike a diary) I can tear the pages up immediately afterwards if I want to, so no-one is ever going to read them (ever) but me.

At worst I will have wasted a little (more) time in the morning.  At best—well, who knows.  I might surprise myself.  Anyway, my creativity could do with a bit of unleashing so I’m going to give them ago.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

But until then, just so you know I am not a complete diary-phobe, I thought I’d finish with an excerpt from a diary I read just the other day . . .

“Morning: Slept.
Afternoon: Slept.
Evening: Ate grass.
Night: Ate grass. Decided grass is boring.
Scratched. Hard to reach the itchy bits.
Slept.”

Jackie French
Diary of a Wombat

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Without my dogs my wallet would be full, my house would be clean, but my heart would be empty.’ Anon.

Stories from my Sketchbook  . . .

  • Three heartworm injections,
  • Three C3 injections,
  • Three ears-eyes-heart checks,
  • Three nail clippings,
  • Three pinched, poked, prodded, over-excited, over-wrought and now very tired little dogs . . .
  • One exhausted mum . . .

(and one very quick, very loose (and very rare) sketch of all my three girls together)

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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‘Be bold; there are no terrible consequences in knitting.’ Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

Stories from my Sketchbook . . . 

I can’t quite remember how old I was when I first learned to knit but I know knitting was something I indulged in, and enjoyed, for years and years.  I used to knit all the time.  I made sweaters and scarves and cushion covers and toys and blankets and . . . well, you name it, I probably had a go at it.  (Okay, I never made a hoodie for a dog, but I might have if I’d thought any of my boys or girls would have worn them . . .  )  And then, for reasons I can no longer remember, I stopped.  Just stopped.  Probably I got too busy, or too lazy, or took up other interests instead . . .

Until about a month ago I had not thought about knitting for the longest time but, when clearing out one of my cupboards at home, I came across a large whicker basket filled to the gunnels with all manner of knitting paraphernalia.  Great big fat plastic needles, long skinny metal needles—and every size needle in between. Knitting patterns, scissors, packets of pins, tape measures, crochet hooks, various reels of (tangled) threads, stitch holders, safety pins and a notebook and pen. And of course, yarn.  All sorts of odd balls of yarn.  Oh my—I had forgotten how much I loved the yarn . . .

But no.  Stop right there.  I must not get carried away.  If I am going to get back into knitting I am going to take it slowly.  I must use up the wools and yarns I already have first.  No rushing down to the nearest wool emporium to buy up skeins and skeins of gorgeous vibrant coloured . . . or mottled . . . or flecked . . . or chunky . . . or worsted . . . or angora . . .or alpaca . . . or silk . . .  Sigh.  So much yarn and so little time.  And space.

Because, in spite of what Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says, I can already forsee at least one terrible consequence.  My renewed ardour for all those gorgeous knitting patterns, wools, threads and yarns could easily begin to rival that of my (seemingly unrelenting) desire for new pens and pencils and paints and sketchbooks . . .

. . . and I really can’t afford to move to a bigger house just yet . . .


 
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Posted by on July 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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