Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I have been thinking about this months theme over at the Sketchbook Challenge blog –


How did I want to approach the subject...
where would I start...
what would my inspiration be...
when would I get off of my (uninspired) rear end and get going with it...

As my regular readers know, last several weeks I have been struggling with some type of artist block -
not a true block I know, but troubling to someone like me just the same.
I have always had a plethora of creative ideas.
I'm not lacking there, even now.
It's the energy to get started or follow through with anything that I am having issues with.
So – I am trying a little exercise today to see if I can jump start that ol' creative energy.

I chose three separate pages from my sketchbook that I had been working on when I last saw my energy.
Yes, I am going to try the “if you lost something go back to the last place you saw it” routine...

Back to the three pages.

I had started playing around with an idea that I had for a collage piece.
I usually work in my sketchbook first- investigating symbols/meanings/looking at drawings, etc. on the particular subject.
Then I begin the process of combining or merging the subjects. This may be as simple as drawing them from different angles or collaging them onto a painted background.
This particular project was to include poppy seed-heads and botanical drawings (among other things).
I did a couple of drawings in my sketchbook of poppy seed-heads (I know you're shocked) and decided to carve a stamp instead of having to draw them all. During the carving process, I ink the stamp and stamp off sample images in my sketchbook to see how it looks. I always keep these pages to add collage items to later. This is a wonderful way to avoid that dreaded “white page syndrome”.

Here is a sample page (or two) of the “stamp-offs” that I did.

Notice I had already used one page to do some contour drawing on. I kinda like the combo of the two (the face + the seed head) and may wind up using them together.
I would have never known this had I not taken that particular pathway.

Many are obstinate with regard to the pathway once they have set upon it, many without regard to the goal.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

When I am creating art, when I am “in the zone” as some would say, I am not obstinate about the pathway or the goal.
I may have started out with a particular idea but it usually morphs or changes as I go.
I often allow my choice of materials to change the outcome.
I always give myself permission to change my mind, to change the end goal.

There are many, many ways to obtain similar outcomes or goals. It's a great idea to set aside time and materials to play – don't worry about the outcome – just pick a pathway and run down it.
If you see something else you like while on that path, just veer off of it!
Run down a different pathway!
The important thing is that you are enjoying the pathway that you take. Or that you're beginning to enjoy it.

Here are a couple of scans of the different pages that I was experimenting with.

This one is a collage background using acrylic paint washes, tissue paper, paper napkins, watercolor paint, and Neocolor 3 crayons.
I stitched a poppy seed-head design over a netting fabric to create a light shadow as well as to create the stitched image on the opposite side.

Here's a scan of the opposite side of the stitched poppy. I've added tiny bits of color by using the page to press against pages with wet paint - effectively removing the areas with too much paint and beginning the layering process on this background as well.

The last one is a compilation of things...
several different pathways, if you will.
The bottom layer consists of a light tan/brown acrylic wash. I stamped a couple of images, used masks on a couple, Shiva paint sticks on stencils, thermofax screens with watered down acrylic paint and made marks with a variety of sticks and different items.
You can't tell on this scan but it has amazing texture and little bits of color peeking through.

I'll keep working on the theme...slowing pecking away at that rock wall that is trying to hold my creative energy captive.
I'm hoping that this exercise (of talking about the pathways that I took on my sketchbook pages) will jump start my energy...
Hopefully I will be able to see a clear pathway back to that creative zone I was in just a month ago.
Make sure that you visit the Sketchbook Challenge blog - the June prizes are just fabulous!
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Tell them that the Sketchbook Challenge artists sent you!


Laura Lea said...

I like the seed pods with the faces, it's as if the mind is a seed pod isn't it? It gathers and collects itself forming seeds that can be used later for creative expression. I think you're onto something here... keep going...

Robbie said...

Lovin' the face and seed heads! Interesting for sure! Seriously, all your 'attempts at inspiration' are wonderful. Why is it we beat ourselves up if we are in the so called 'block' stage. Why do we feel we HAVE to be doing something or producing art all the time! I tell my friends when they say that to me...it's ok to take a 'break'..that's what I call it..not a block! although your work is so awesome you need to keep it up! :)

Laura Lea said...

Maybe a block is really only a time of slowing or stopping of making art in which we gather life's compost and seeds so that we can plant and fertilize our imaginations to make art again?

Carol Sloan said...

@ Laura Lea - love your comments! The analogy between the faces and seed pods is spot on! As is the block/fertilization one! Awesome!
@ Robbie - I love the "break" word much better than "block"! I'll use that from now on!

KathyB said...

I enjoyed your free spirited lines in your drawings. Your sketchbooks must be packed full of goodies. Thanks for reminding me that I need to sketch more. I work with mixed media collage. I would love for you to stop by and see my work. kbartdesigns.com

Sandra L. said...

Found your page thru google.

I am trying to create an image of a poppy pod so I can carve a stamp. Your image is a carved stamp, am I right?

How did you do the image? Did you draw it freehand?

Thank you!