Thursday, March 20, 2014

current obsessions: drawing, dragons, and stamps

I don't know if it's the warmer weather or the fact that I've reached a happy comfort level with my knitting, or if my knitting mojo just needs a break, but I've taken up a new hobby and rekindled an old one.

I used to love to draw. I once drew all the time - portraits mostly, doodles, nothing serious. I was never a real artist or illustrator. It was what I did in class to help me listen to lectures. It was what I did in my room when I was alone - contemplating people's faces or drawing and redrawing eyes or lips or simply sketching out an object in front of me. I wasn't ever very good at it but I enjoyed it and I was able to do decent depictions of my observations.

These days, I am finding myself pulled towards drawing again. But instead of portraits and facial features, I am inspired by the idea of stripping out the details of what can be found in nature to as few lines as possible - which, for someone with unpracticed eyes and a rusty hand, requires quiet meditation and earnest reflection. 

So late at night, the needles are set aside and I use a practice I observed from my longtime blogging friend and breathtaking artist mavinga - I warm up. My eyes, my mind, my hand, work hard together to coordinate the synapses they respond to. I'll be honest, for the first little while, what I produce is a mess. I tried to draw the boy but all I saw was my father's face. Not terrible, considering the boy does look like my dad but not at all what I set out to capture. I was better at sketching the girl but I wasn't happy with the strokes that made her face. Then, I landed on some images I can be proud of.

Palest pink tulips have long been my most favourite flower.  Since moving to Vancouver, though, poppies have stolen my heart. I love them to pieces and i'm tickled that these beauties and dozens like them are a literal 15 steps from my door now.

These line drawings were derived from the photo above in bed, by headlamp. 

Late night inspiration hit and I only had my instagram feed to rely on for an image to depict. These pages are a start, anyway: a gateway drug towards a clearer manifestation of how I see the world.

I'm always fantasizing about taking the kids out to the river or sitting at the train tracks with them, each of us with sketchbooks in hand, pencils quietly or furiously scratching, hands nodding up towards a flower or a tree or a squirrel or a random object and then nodding down towards an emerging image. I have no idea if such a communal art moment will ever happen or how long it would actually last if it did, but I can hope - or lead by example at some point. 

Anyway, all this to say that I've been inspired to draw and to tell you that I've been drawing dragons, also by headlamp.

The boy's birthday is coming up next week and we've all been pretty much obsessed with all things How to Train Your Dragon: the movie, the Dragons TV series, and even the book series. The boy and I have been reading the first book by chapter, before bed. (Chapter books with my not even 5-year old! Yes! Soon, he and Harry will meet properly. Soon.) For his birthday, we are hosting a dragon-themed art party and he gets to invite friends for the first time. Naturally, I had to make the invitations. 

Following the extraordinary and inspirational Geninne's tutorials, I set out to make a stamp depicting the boy's most favourite dragon: the Screaming Death dragon!

Step 1: Draw image.

Step 2: Transfer image onto rubber cut plate.

Step 3: Carve stamp with neat tool that makes me want to try whittling, too.

Step 4: Ink your stamp, hold your breath, and press onto chosen surface.

I'm not the kind of person that could ever sell the things I produce, not the knits (you'd get bits of my hair and cat hair in the garments, I'm afraid. If I gift such things to you, you likely already know that I am inherently clumsy), or anything else for that matter. I am just not a meticulous person, nor am I a perfectionist in any sense of the word. (Which is why I am happy to refer friends who want custom knits to friends like Alma who will work on your commissions with great care and true craft.) I just don't have the discipline. So, as you can see, this invitation turned out rather messy but I'm pretty happy with it for a first attempt at working with my very own handmade stamp.  

I have to say that stamps are actually are incredibly easy and addictive to make! I even made one from the boy's first attempt to write his name! I used it to personalize the back of the invitation - a proud-making keepsake for both of us. 

Spring has officially arrived and I am more than ready to get going on the spring cleaning: dusting off cobwebs, cleaning crevices that normally don't see the light of day, purging things that have become obsolete for our family, making room for the newly useful and beautiful. 

I'm planning on making room in my creative spirit to draw, inviting myself to start painting, taking steps towards preparing my children to take these steps with me: to really look at the world around us, to put our lens on paper, to enjoy the outcome of the exercise simply for the moment we took to take Time in our hands and hold her still.

My instagram feed is private because I am not interested in dealing with spam - and I'd prefer to get to know you, too. If you are so inclined, please send me follow request and I'd be happy to share. 

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