The Dogwood

I have been on hiatus for a couple weeks. I wish I could say that I’ve been busy painting, drawing and making all my wildest dreams come true, but alas that was not the case. I was in a major creative slump.  I’ve had a project in mind that I’ve wanted to get started on, but every time I sat down to work on it, I just could not get motivated.  I couldn’t understand why! I was excited about this project, it was something new and I had all the tools to complete it, but there was zero interest in doing any work on it.  It was total artist block, I couldn’t work on anything because this one project seemed to be in the way (both literally and figuratively). I don’t know whether I was just plain burnt out from the Christmas rush or because I was sick for almost three weeks, I was just physically, mentally and spiritually drained. Definitely nothing worth blogging about.

I’m about to get real for a moment. Art for me isn’t just a hobby or how I make money, it is very much a therapy for me.  It is one of the tools in my arsenal that helps fight a very bad anxiety disorder.  Along with exercise and meditation, art has become an outlet for me, not for expression but almost as a distraction. I’ve mentioned before when I am working on something I will often think about it constantly and obsess over details which is both good and bad, but it certainly beats the alternative. However during this recent slump, I realized I needed to direct some of this energy somewhere else. I want my work to not just be a distraction, but expression.  That’s what I feel makes art (and music) beautiful–its expressive nature. So I decided to start a daily devotional every morning and include in that a quick sketch illustrating my thoughts on each days devotional. This has helped me tap into some of my own feelings and has helped me have a deeper connection to what I’m drawing. It also helped me break through my slump. I realized there was no reason to hang onto an idea that was not going anywhere out of some weird obligation I had to myself to complete it. It was keeping me from being productive and needed to be put away.

I feel so much better than I did a month ago, physically, mentally and spiritually. I’m ready to get back at it.  For this post I decided to expand on one of my morning sketches.  I was inspired by one of my devotionals to sketch a dogwood flower.  I love the dogwood, not only is it the North Carolina state flower, one grew in my front yard growing up and it has a history of Christian symbolism.  And it’s pretty. I decided to have fun and do the dogwood in three different mediums.

The first picture I decided to use watercolor. I am really starting to enjoy watercolor painting and am finding new benefits using this medium.  I have always loved oil painting and the control over that medium; with watercolor you have let go. The medium itself is expressive, it doesn’t need my constant control to make it something worth looking at. I added the line drawing because well I thought it would look cool, I wasn’t disappointed.  I particularly like this piece because I think it represents both my desire to work freely with a medium like watercolor that is hard to control and the hard lines of the ink drawings that are structured and precise. A therapist could probably have a field day with me.

For the second picture I used oil based charcoal pencils to draw on design vellum. Design vellum is like tracing paper, only smoother. I’ve always liked the look of encaustic paintings.  They have an ethereal, dreamy, misty quality.  Encaustic painting is basically paint suspended in layers of wax. It is a process for sure. One that I have neither the time, money, or patience for (also toddlers and cans have hot wax are a recipe for disaster.)  My idea was to draw on layers of vellum and layer them together to try for the same effect. While not the exact look I was hoping for, it has potential. I’m definitely going to try this one again in the future.

Finally, I broke out the colored pencils and tried a little fun 3D effect with the shadows under the flowers. I once saw a painting where they did this only the flowers looked so real they looked like you could pick them right off the paper. The shadow underneath made this even more so. I like those fun tricks of the eye. I’m a sucker for Trompe L’oeil artwork.

Next week, I will be collaborating with an artist who is very inspiring to me and who helped me break through my recent slump. I hope you’ll come back and check it out.

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