Today I found 7 different grasses just walking through the garden to my studio (we don’t mow the grass very often).
I used them to experiment with making very quick drawings, looking closely at the grasses but trying not to look at the page. I didn’t worry about accuracy or detail.
Then I tried drawing in the same way with colours I wouldn’t normally combine…
…and ended up with green paint and a pencil/pastel line.
I really enjoyed focusing on the process instead of the end result, and just seeing what happened. I think I could have repeated this experiment with different subject matter all day…
I immersed myself in colour last week, as I’ve been preparing for an Illustrators’ Sketchbook workshop at the lovely Prema Arts Centre in Uley, Gloucestershire.
I’ve been coming up with all sorts of ways of approaching colour in a sketchbook – ways of playing with colour; releasing colourful shapes from painted pages; trying out colour combinations; and of course some scribbling, snipping and gluing.
And in doing this planning and preparation I’ve come up with things that I would never normally have tried…I found it really hard to stop playing around with colours and go off to school to pick up my kids. I felt as if I was floating along in a different (& quite colourful) world…
A couple of weeks ago I went on a one-day Writing Retreat led by poet and therapist Jenny Barton. It was a wonderful opportunity to think about what we need in order to write and what stops us from doing it (in my case I’ve spent years trying to find the time to draw and paint and am reluctant to use that time for anything else).
We also had time to sit quietly and write, without any pressure to share what we wrote, and I found myself writing a story unlike any I’d ever written before – maybe because I wasn’t thinking about the illustrations, or who would read it. Or about trying to make a Children’s Book that would have a certain number of pages.
One of the exercises that we did was called ‘Dangerous Writing’. Jenny asked us to sit and write for a short time, knowing that we would destroy what we wrote afterwards. It was like writing the Morning Pages that Julia Cameron recommends in her book The Artist’s Way, a practice that I rarely do these days with three bouncy kids around in the mornings. Jenny encouraged us to keep the words flowing, saying that if we got stuck we could just repeat the last sentence again…and again.
And after we’d all finished we destroyed our pages!
It was so helpful to me that I’ve continued to write in this way since then, once the kids are at school and I’m in my studio – tearing up the pages as soon as I’ve finished writing them. It clears my head for getting on with artwork or writing. This morning I lit a fire in my studio woodburner and burnt all those pages, along with some very old drawings – and it felt as if I was making more space for new things to happen