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My second sketchbook is making its way to the Brooklyn Art Library. This one is a pocket mural, a long drawing, accordion-folded, with images on both sides. It expands to the width of your open arms. How fun would it be to carry a garden in your pocket, one you could unfold and jump into. A place that is all play and joy, a garden of the heart where lives all you love. Click on 'Gallery' above, and then on 'The Sketchbook Project - The Secret Garden'. I'll meet you there!
My little sketchbook, ‘The Joy Diary’, is complete. Today I mailed it back to the Brooklyn Art Library, where it will become a permanent part of The Sketchbook Project collection for 2018.
As an unexpected result of doing this project, I learned something new about my creative identity.
When I started the sketchbook, I thought of it the way I think of a body of work for an art show. In an art show, I choose a theme that becomes a starting point, and each drawing becomes a singular point of view related to that theme.
As I worked on the third drawing in the sketchbook, I realized my concept and understanding was shifting. This was not an art show with 21 themed-but-separate drawings. Instead, this was one long drawing that moved from page to page. I was seeing the drawings as sequential, telling a story.
I was seeing my sketchbook as a book.
In a single realization, I shifted from an artist using words in her drawings, to a writer using images and words on an equal footing. I shifted myself and my creative process from ‘either/or’ to ‘and/also’.
For years I said I was both artist and writer, but I saw these identities as separate and distinct, two hats that I exchanged and wore one at a time. In the process of creating this sketchbook, artist and writer merged. I shifted into one identity wearing one hat.
I have been heading this direction for most of my art career. There are words on my drawings as far back as 2003. Funny how I did not consciously see this coming, yet when I look back, the progression is obvious.
So what am I now? How do I call myself both artist and writer, giving my images and words equal footing, without having to use a phrase four words long?
I’m not a graphic novelist, although I can see this one coming next, in the way the third draft of my book is currently forming itself. This next shift will not be a surprise.
For now I continue to call myself both artist and writer. The word ‘both’ is important, making image and word an equal part of who I am and what I create. I am okay with that. More than okay. This shift in seeing myself and my work gives me both clarity and joy.
The Sketchbook Project, Brooklyn Art Library, is at https://www.sketchbookproject.com/
YAHOO! COME AND PLAY! Workshop on March 10th, 10 am to 4pm, at the Central Cariboo Arts Centre in Williams Lake! A one-day expo of creativity for adults, with entry level workshops in seven artistic practices. These are 'tasting' workshops, one and a quarter hour each, your choice of four from the seven offered. Try out pottery, creative writing, pen and ink drawing, fibre art, charcoal drawing, improv, or music. All materials provided and no experience needed. I'm teaching creative writing. Come and be inspired. More details and registration here www.centralcaribooarts.com/springintoart
The Station House Gallery in Williams Lake, BC, has a new summer show. 'Expectations of Character: Dorothy, Alice, and Anne' opens the beginning of July and continues through August. It features work by artist and costumer Korene Kidd, and is accompanied by the work of guest artists. Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and Anne from (of course) Green Gables have inspired this selection of artists. And, oh yes, I happen to be one of the guest artists! Anne of Green Gables inspired me and led me into ideas and actions since I first met her. I longed for hair the colour of Anne's. Ironically, she longed for raven hair like mine. My Anne-inspired narrative drawing is titled 'What Gives Me Joy (Anne)'. Station House Gallery is at 1 Mackenzie Avenue, Williams Lake, BC. Check them out on their Facebook page for up to date info, photos and more. https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/wall
I have compressed my creative process into a month-long, fully-completed-drawing-a-day challenge. No, challenge is not the word, although this is challenging in every way. No, the word is assignment, because I expect and know I will complete each daily drawing.
'Make it so!' I say to myself each morning, Captain Cat Fink on the bridge of her studio sighting the creative horizon. Warp 10. (Yes, Star Trek fan, total creative fun.)
I'm drawing at warp speed. There is something that begins to happen when I work with this intensity and compression.
Instead of feeling more emotional stress, I feel less. I am moving at such speed that I pass through these emotions into full creation mind much sooner than usual. I know I have experienced this quickening before, but I had forgotten. Such pleasure to reacquaint myself with this phenomenon.
Part of this change is knowing I want this drawing complete by the end of the day. I have no time to be a drama queen. No wasting my time and energy on emotional upset. My time and energy and emotions are here to be used for drawing, not for whining about drawing.
There is more to this. I have set an intention. I am focused on this alone--be here in the gallery's studio in my creative process and nowhere else. The intention sets a boundary for me, even though my drawing itself has no boundaries. It tells me where to put my attention and energy and emotions, all on the sheet of paper in front of me. It makes the choice of what to do with all my creative energy very very easy. Draw.
Part of this change is daily movement through my complete creative process. Trust shows up, based on the tangible proof of the drawing I completed yesterday. My mind says, I did this yesterday, I can do it again today. And I do.
I am reminded here I do better as a daily creator than a stop-and-start creator.
Could I sustain this warp speed creativity for longer than this month?
Possibly not. I have a life outside of my studio that feeds my creative life, and it is lacking some attention right now. This intense activity would eventually drain my creative well, as I am pouring creative energy out onto the page faster than I am replenishing it. I know that my long term creative process requires periods of rest and quiet, letting inspiration arrive and develop a richness that eventually says create me now. Seeds in the ground awaiting the right season to move above the surface and be seen. My warp speed creativity, while fun and crazily productive, lacks true balance.
That said, I am realizing that a month of warp speed creativity, set amidst my more sedate daily creativity, is a very good thing. I am thinking I want this as a new creative habit.
Warp 10. Carry on, Captain.
The image on today's post is 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 8 2016 (colour)'. The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC. The show runs to November 26th. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th. Come and join me! https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/
There are eight new drawings on the gallery walls as of this past Saturday. Big drawings. Thirty inches high and twenty-two inches wide each. My favourite size.
I don't do well with small drawings. I love seeing other people's small drawings or paintings or sculptures or prints. They are lovely, perfect jewels. I covet them.
I know, however, that small does not work for me. When I try to work small, I end up feeling frustrated. I can't get enough of my idea onto that small piece of paper. My marks and colours feel cramped, like I had to bend and break them so they fit.
I was this way all through art school. When the assignment called for small format, I would do many, then butt them together so they could be big. Small felt like whispering to me. I was thirty-eight years old. I had waited twenty years to go to art school and become Artist. There was no way I was going to whisper. And I didn't. My colours and marks and ideas yelled 'I am here. Notice me.'
Mostly what happened is that I noticed myself. Noticed what I loved and did not love in my artwork and creating. Noticed who I was and was not as Cat the Artist. Noticed how what was not authentically me fell away and was left behind for someone else to play with.
I learned I liked to create sideways. I would look an art assignment in the face. But then I'd begin turning it around and upside down and inside out. I would find an interesting side door into the work, and that's where I would begin. My own point of view. My sideways creation.
I still create this way. It is how I see the world.
This past week and a half, I have discovered I am another kind of creator as well. I am an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink creator. I am using everything in the body of work I am creating this month. The Joy Diary is pulling things out of me I did not know I could do. I have discovered a way of marrying word and image that works for me. I have discovered how to mix chaos and order. I am matching up opposites and I like what is happening. This is double FUN, this chaotic order, this ordered chaos!
I am realizing here is the reason I have always loved comic books and graphic novels, have always loved Dr. Seuss books. They tell stories on several levels and in several ways, all at once. They are imagination and creation gone wild, pushed to the point of delight for both the creator and the reader. They are sideways creations that allow in everything and the kitchen sink.
I am so glad I am a sideways-creating, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink Artist and Writer. This, absolutely and perfectly, gives me joy.
The drawing in today's post is 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 7 2016 (games)'. The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC. The show runs to November 26th. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th. Come and join me! https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/
I'm on a break today after three days of drawing. Sort of a break, because while I am doing laundry and other such household chores, I am thinking about my creative process.
I had this idea, when I was an art student, that eventually creating art would be easy. Once I was a well-experience master artist, there would be none of those messy emotional stages of anxiety, fear, and outright panic during my drawing process.
Yes, you who are are constant creators, go ahead and laugh. I'm laughing right along with you.
That naive art-student-me had lots of hope. Hope carried me through the hard scary emotions of creating. I refused to let myself be blocked because I knew making art would get easier the more art I made. Also, I am stubborn.
I was right, sort of. Art making did get easier, the more art I made. Even though the anxiety-fear-panic has not disappeared, as a stage in my creative process these emotions have become smaller, shorter, less intense. I have become used to them. I can keep creating right through them because I know they don't last.
Anxiety-fear-panic have become signposts for me. They are indicators of how important this drawing or piece of writing is to me, and how important being an actively-working artist and writer are is me. They tell me how non-negotiable it is for me to create from my authentic heart. No shortcuts. No faking it. What shows up in my creation has to be the real thing and nothing less. Something I am proud of creating and sharing. Something that speaks to my heart, and connects with the hearts of others.
To reach that kind of authentic creating, I am willing to move through the messy, hard stages of my creative process. I will be moving through messy and hard again tomorrow, and coming out the other side with a new drawing. I would not want to be doing anything else. I was made for this.
The drawing in today's post is 'What Gives Me Joy Nov 4 2016 (music)'. The Joy Diary interactive art show is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC. The show runs to November 26th. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th. Come and join me! https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/
I am artist and writer in equal measure. The past two years, writing has been all. Now, my drawing is centre stage for all of November, and this makes me very happy.
I have missed my art-making. This is not to say I don't love my writing. I am in love with both, switching back and forth depending on the inspiration that comes and the projects that grow.
My drawings for 'The Joy Diary', my solo art show, have writing in them. I get to play, moving between my two loves, marrying them in ways that push me to further inspiration beyond the drawing I am creating. Seeing on the paper before me how my mind connects ideas and information, the leaps it takes, surprising and delighting me. Learning how I balance image with word, each playing off the other and suggesting something more than 1 plus 1 equals 2. More like 2 squared or 2 cubed.
Drawing feeds my writing. Writing feeds my drawing. There are some feelings and knowings that I can only express through images, and others that need words to bring them alive. I am blessed to be Artist and Writer, and to be in love with both.
The drawing in today's post is brand new, created yesterday in the Station House Gallery studio. 'What Gives Me Joy Nov. 3 2016 (stars)'. Inspired by a birthday tea with another artist-writer-friend. (Thank you Lynn!) Drawing number one, with seventeen more to follow throughout November. I am heading over to the gallery thirty minutes from now, to begin drawing number two.
Thank you thank you thank you that I get to be Artist AND Writer.
The Joy Diary is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC. The show opened November 3rd, 2016, and runs to November 26th. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. I am drawing in the gallery studio through to November 24th. https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/
THIS IS AN INVITATION. COME AND PLAY!
I have a solo art show happening, and I am inviting to you come and create along with me. For real. See the end of this post for the when-and-where details.
Drawing, writing, folding origami animals, composing music, planning next year’s garden. Whatever gives you joy, come and play.
What gives me joy? I ask myself this question every day.
My upcoming show The Joy Diary is about joy, creativity, and sharing. It’s about inviting people into the studio. Showing the work behind the work. (I stole that line from Austin Kleon, awesome creator that he is.) I’m sharing creativity and process—what happened before that drawing was hung on the gallery wall, what made it become what it is. Sharing the path my creations take, mess and masterpiece alike.
My favourite advice on creating art (and life) comes from Canadian artist Norman Yates. ‘’Disorder opens a space.’’ Last year I asked myself, ‘’What if I bring some of Norman’s disorder into the gallery? What happens if the gallery becomes a place of sharing creative process, including the messes?’’ We all expect the art gallery to be a place of completed creation. The artwork is polished, the product of a year-long (or more) artist’s process. Our experience is passive.
I am making The Joy Diary interactive.
Imagine opening day, walking into a gallery show that begins at the beginning of creating the art. One drawing, dated today, and blank sheets of paper on the walls. Anticipation. The gallery expanding into artist studio.
In the gallery space an invitation is posted. ‘Artist At Play. Join me upstairs. See what is happening on today’s drawing. Chat, ask questions.’
For the run of the show, I am drawing onsite at the Station House Gallery in their upstairs studio. I’ll come in at opening time, remove a blank sheet of paper from the wall, create a drawing ‘What Gives Me Joy’, and re-hang the completed artwork. Eighteen large, narrative drawings over twenty-four days. Whew!
Imagine music playing. Imagine art materials and paper scattered across table tops, a cooling grande decaf mocha-with-whip sitting where it can’t get spilled onto the developing drawing (I’m getting wiser as I get older). This is my version of heaven.
Back downstairs in the gallery space, there is a second invitation asking, ‘What gives you joy?’ On a table are paper and art materials. I am inviting you to create your own piece of joy, give it to the gallery attendant, and have it hung as part of the show. You might create a drawing, a piece of writing, whatever gives you joy.
You, my Awesome Viewer, are invited to become immersed in the energy and activity of creation. Question and reply, viewers becoming participants, joining me, our artwork added to the gallery walls until at show’s end, this space is filled with a community’s conversation about joy.
HERE ARE THE DETAILS. The Joy Diary is happening at the Station House Gallery, #1 Mackenzie Avenue North, Williams Lake, BC. The show opens November 3rd, 2016, and runs to November 26th. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. https://www.facebook.com/stationhousegallery/
Come and play. I invite you!
Mentioned in this post:
Austin Kleon’s awesome books, Show Your Work! and Steal Like An Artist. Both published by WORKMAN, in 2014 and 2012 respectively. He does a weekly eletter that I love as well. http://austinkleon.com/
Norman Yates’ quote is from his artist talk, Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George, BC, February 2010. I was blessed to have met and talked with this generous artist twice in my career. http://www.timescolonist.com/obituary-artist-norman-yates-brought-big-spaces-to-the-canvas-1.874307
The Crow Girls (Fran Baskerville, Wren Katzalay, Yvonka Jager, and I) have been in cahoots the last few months. We've been creating a single artwork on paper, 22'' by 30'', for a group show at the Slide Room Gallery in Victoria, BC.
Three of us are used to working BIGGER than this, so can you imagine crowding four artists' work onto this tiny surface? 'Challenge' is not enough of a description. And yes, we did it. Think layers, and cutting the sheet in quarters, and sewing it back together again. This is basically what we did.
We started by collaging a ground onto a piece of Rising Stonehenge paper. Layers of torn sewing pattern tissue. Images and used postage stamps and newspaper. Ink and coloured pencil and graphite and acrylic paint pens. Glitter (yes, we love shiny things!). Glued together with matte medium. All in our chosen palette of black, red, sepia, buff titan, and white. Then we gave ourselves even more of a challenge. We cut the sheet in quarters, closed our eyes, and chose a quarter to work on.
A precious 11'' by 15'' piece went home with each of us. We had a title to guide us--Lost in the Ghostlands--and a theme of childhood, memory, and maps.
We met again. Pieced our artwork back into a single sheet, and worked on linking imagery and marks from one quarter to another until it flowed as a cohesive whole. I don't have a photo of the entire piece, just my quarter titled Where the Wild Wind Is. That's it there, to the right.......
The group show 'In Cahoots (Synergy)' opened last night, November 6th, and will be open through November 30th, 2015. Every piece in the show has been created through collaboration by a group of two or more artists The Slide Room Gallery is located at the Vancouver Island of Art, 2549 Quadra Street. phone 250-380-3500. Enjoy!