Thursday, September 27, 2012

Free Your Mind for Inspiration

I'm being inspired these days reading Sue Bleiweiss' book, "The Sketchbook Challenge". Makes me want to dig right in to my journal and create SOMETHING! Don't you sometimes find yourself staring at a blank page/canvas, or simply colored background wondering what your next step should be? Yes, I find myself there, too! Using a colorful book full of tidbits from accomplished mixed-media artists like "The Sketchbook Challenge" can really help to get unstuck.

I wrote a short paragraph on the blank page about looking at other artist's work to get inspiration and imagine what materials & techniques were used to create their pieces, then I used a brush marker to make the shoe and flowers. The colors are from Derwent Inktense water soluble colored pencils and water. A painting with a shoe attached by one of my daughters was the inspiration for this page.

Artist Lyric Kinard in Sue's book says, "My sketchbook is a place where ideas come into being, time is filled, the brain is allowed to wander freely without expectations or limits. Compositions are explored and themes are developed...but mostly it is a place to play." In that place of playfulness, I tell myself that the work is not precious; if I don't like what I create I can work over it! This frees my mind to get ideas flowing to the page/canvas. I surrender to the idea that whatever comes out of me, through me really, is OK. Don't worry that something might look dumb, or won't look 'right' (what's 'right' anyway? as long as it's YOU it's good!). Try an exercise I learned from Claudine Hellmuth to get out of having to make your work 'perfect' and do an entire project with your non-dominant hand. It makes your work look more child-like and helps free our need for perfection!

I was flipping through a drawing book and saw these exercises when I decided to do all the strokes with my left hand (I'm right handed). I love the unpredictable, jagged, organic look this gives my work.

I really appreciate the section in Sue's book where she invites her guest artists to consider everyday objects. This is a subject that every one of us can make use of at the spur of the moment. The examples from the artists of how they touchstoned from this concept to making their sketchbook studies of scissors, forks and knives helped me better observe beauty in the ordinary. I especially like what artist Kelli Nina Perkins said, "Imagining my everyday objects brings a smile." She also suggested as an idea (and it's shown in the book) to make 'clean' sketches in our journals so that later the pages can be scanned and transferred on to paper or fabric as the basis for other pieces of artwork (her sketches were scanned and put on fabric to make pillows, then she chose to paint some of the images with a vibrant transparent paint - they are gorgeous).

Here I grabbed a photo one of my friends shared on Facebook that intrigued me and played around with the shapes. Shells fascinate me! The spiral shape top right I now use in my paintings.

You can learn more about Sue and The Sketchbook Challenge by going to and Find projects at Now, go free your mind and get sketching/painting/dancing...whatever creative outlet your heart desires! Be playful and organic. Create to your heart's content. :D


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