Flickr, Inspiration, & Envy

I love to look at Flickr and tumblr. My contacts there are wonderfully talented, and if I knew them well enough, I’d never stop telling them how their artwork is a constant source of inspiration for me. I learn from them and their art, and I’m grateful.

Most of the time.

I say that because, while I’m usually inspired, sometimes I’m just plain jealous:

“Ooohhh, look at those paint layers! I wish I could create something so subtle.”

“Now, why didn’t I think of that color combination?”

“Sigh. It will be years before I can draw that well… ”

Have you ever wondered if social media was invented just so you’d know how much better everyone else is? Have you ever logged off Facebook because you just couldn’t take seeing yet another photo of someone else’s beautiful kids in a stunning vacation setting?

You know what I mean.

It’s enough to make you throw your art journal and pencils in a deep desk drawer, lock it, and toss the key. Or almost enough, anyway.

Although I get discouraged, I keep drawing, collaging, and painting anyway. And then I go back to Flickr or tumblr to post it all.

Oh, no… Do you think I create envy in anyone when I post my journal pages online?

Nah. No way.

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Page 5, and Counting

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I just finished page five of my journal for The Sketchbook Project 2014. But I have no idea what I’ll do on page six, or seven, or the front cover.

And while I have a working title–Petal and Stem–I’m not yet sure how I’ll letter that.

Hmm… I have a lot of art to do!

In case you are wondering, this is not how I usually work. In fact, for each of my three previous submissions for The Sketchbook Project, I had every page carefully planned. I had already decided on a title and had a cover design all worked out for each one before I ever put pencil to paper.

If that seems a bit strict–or even forced–let me assure you that it wasn’t. The ideas for those previous books simply arrived in my mind fully formed. It just happened.

But this time, it didn’t happen. I waited a few weeks, and still, nothing. I started to worry that if I didn’t find inspiration soon, I’d run out of time. What to do?

I decided to just start drawing. And here I am, at page five! I am trusting that the book this journal wants to be will reveal itself page by page. I hope inspiration will come at some point, but maybe it won’t.

And I am ok with that, which is surprising. I’m used to being in control! But it feels good to let go, too, and try trusting the process.

Another Kind of Balance

Another Kind of Balance

There are a handful of reasons why I like this antique cameo. Of course, I appreciate the expert carving; that’s one. And then there’s the fact that it shows Petrarch, and I am named Laura. And then there’s the setting.

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The setting suits the carving well–I have seen beautifully carved cameos in poor settings, and wonderfully ornate settings that overwhelmed the lesser quality of the carvings they hold. But the best part about this one is that it is a little “off.”

The pearls are NOT precisely at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock the way you first assume they are. Draw an imaginary straight line across the face of the cameo, from one pearl to the other sitting opposite it. You’ll find that the line isn’t perfectly straight; it’s a little angled.

And so, a design element that could be static and stable adds movement instead. The pearls seem to slowly dance around the setting. And it’s so subtle! Most people might assume that the pearls line up neatly in pairs and would never notice (except maybe subconsciously) that there’s another kind or balance and rhythm at play here.

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There I Am!

There I Am!

Late last year, I signed up (with about 5000 other people) for The Sketchbook Project Limited Edition. The idea was that one page from each sketchbook submitted would be included in a book to be released in December. (This book would be instead of the sketchbooks traveling, as they usually do.)

Sure enough, in December I received the book that I had pre-ordered, and after several passes through it, I finally found an image of one of my pages. (Hey, it had been a few months, so it took a while for me to recognize it!)

I’ve wanted to post a picture from the book–which is still available from Art House Co-op (http://shop.brooklynartlibrary.com/)–for ages now. Today, I finally got around to it. There I am!

For more images from the book, check out my Flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laura_rivera/sets/72157628121505564/

And I signed up for the Sketchbook Project 2014, too. Maybe you should! Check it out! http://www.sketchbookproject.com/sketchbookproject

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At the Core

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They say that an element of being strong and certain is making decisions from your core–the center of who you are–your understanding of who you are and what is right.

It is what I try to remember when I am faced with tough choices and when everyone seems to have their own opinion of what I should do.

Decisions that seem complex are really not that complicated when you strip them down to their essentials. What is best for you isn’t so hard to figure out when you know what is fundamentally right.

Who am I? At the center, all questions are really this one, single, core question.

Who I Will Be

The kind of artist I want to be isn’t afraid to try a new technique or style.

The artist I want to be remembers that inspiration is everywhere–and, more importantly, remembers to look for it.

The artist I want to be doesn’t blow her weekly gas and groceries budget at the art supply store.

She’s an artist who knows her strengths and weaknesses. (And most of the time, she’s ok with them.)

She doesn’t save the good paints and papers for herself, but shares them with her sons when they show interest, because there is always more where that came from.

(But not the watercolor brush that cost $23 and was worth every penny. Hands off!)

The artist I want to be will always wonder what really happened with Artemesia Gentileschi (don’t you?) while admiring her brave Judiths.

And she will be silly sometimes, serious sometimes, and will smile a lot.

And also will continue (for this week, anyway) to recommend “Exit Through the Gift Shop” to anyone who will listen.

The artist I want to be is humble, grateful, and determined; and thanks God every day for art that can touch the heart and make us better versions of ourselves.

But meanwhile, the artist I am is having fun. I hope you are, too!

Too much?

I wonder about an alcoholic taking his or her first drink. Do they know, immediately, that what they just tasted might own them, control them, take their life? Do they know right away, and do they already feel that it is too late to turn back?

Yes, I have written about creating with feeling. I have written about my efforts to think less while making art. And I don’t take any of that back–and yet–I also wonder about the power of raw emotion. It’s uncontrollable power. Can it be destructive?

Sometimes when I am finished with a drawing (it might or might not be a good one), there seems to be such an amount of direct feeling in the lines on the paper that it defies the effort I used to create them. I wonder where that amount of emotion came from, and it scares me when I don’t know. Why? Because, somehow, it seems like a lack of effort to control my drawing, or to discipline myself, and that seems both irresponsible and dangerous.

I think of, years ago, watching Nirvana give their Unplugged performance on MTV. Anyone who saw the performance of the last song could have guessed that Kurt Cobain’s death would be tragic. Watching it, you see him express raw emotion that escapes him and will take control and torture him until he succumbs.

Maybe, being less talented that Kurt Cobain was, I don’t need to worry. Then again, I think I might strive for balance, just in case.