The fourth day of the new year. I keep my resolutions quiet. Usually. But not two years ago. Back then, I dared myself to identify and post one beautiful thing a day for a year. I began on the 10th day and did it despite traveling to Alaska and Europe. Many of you poets, artists, writers and philosophers from all over the world joined the blog that year. Given the media focus on violence and negative news, I wanted to prove what I believed. That one can change her perspective on life by choosing to focus on the positive, the life affirming. No. This was not about pretending the dark doesn’t exist. A mindful fixation on the positive and beautiful brought balance to my life and the strength to see and act on making positive changes not only in my life but in the world around me. Details of how that’s going is for another blog on another day.
On formulating an audacious challenge
Coming into the new year, I’ve been thinking of another audacious creative challenge. One in which you all witness. And, as witnesses, keep my feet to the fire. One where you may contribute, participate, and grow with me. At first, I planned a drawing a day and that is where I’ve started. But rather than limit it to drawing, I’ve decided to make it a study a day. Some visual exercise that keeps me artistically limber and growing each day. Two days ago, I sketched the view from my studio window.
The enduring legacy of Georgia
Yesterday, three friends–all artists of one kind or another, headed to the Indianapolis Art Museum to see a Georgia O’Keefe exhibition. The theme was how “place” informed her work–the color, design, and subject matter. Being among artistic ideas and work is incredibly stimulating. The experience floods my mind with ideas and makes me anxious to get back to the studio to work. On our evening return, I immediately began tearing through my fabric stash inspired to create a Japanese umbrella motif I’d seen. For a half hour, I consciously thought about color, texture, and design. Made a list of the hues I will look for today at the ends table of the local fabric store. Then off to bed with box of drawing pencils and sketch pad. Another hour studying the van Gogh museum’s online collection including studies and stylistic periods I have never seen.
Earlier at the museum, everything turned me to thinking about light. We talked about the architectural consideration of light in the new Barnes collection at the Philadelphia Art Museum. The quality of light in different parts of the world. I thought about the apricot cast of Alaska’s midnight sun. How light is the skeleton of every image. Then I turned on one light on the desk table in my dark room and contemplated the shadows in a woven basket full of journals sitting on the desk corner. It is not a complete drawing, just a study. How long did it take? No idea. Exquisite flow took over.
I refer to myself as a colorist. But recently have reacquainted myself with the rich and complete language of graphite and what can be accomplished with different types of lead. Most clearly, I remembered one of the great lessons from my design background–good design speaks loudly and completely in black and white first. If the design does not work as a monochromatic work, color will not strengthen it. Sketching in black and white brings with it more conscious reference to basic design and composition.
Which brings me to this year’s audacious endeavor — to create an artistic study everyday for the year. To build technique and ponder lessons learned. To see what a year of daily practice will do to my work and my mind. Will you join me on this quiet adventure? Will you contribute your studies, your thoughts, or both? Do.