A colored pencil drawing of a pine branch with green needles. The branch is drawn from the upper left to the bottom right of the paper.

Needle by Needle

I finally drew something I don’t hate! I created this pine branch using my Faber-Castell colored pencils on Strathmore 400 Series Colored Pencil paper. In addition to two types of green pencils, I used yellow to highlight and blue to shade. All the pencils I used are in the 12 pack starter version of the Faber-Castell (I cannot emphasize enough how helpful it was to limit how many pencils I’m trying to incorporate).

In terms of technique, I first started by looking at a pine tree and realized the needles covered the branch as well. I sketched in the brown wooden part of the branch lightly first. I used green at first to line each branch at an angle with both shades of green. Next, I drew with yellow on the ends I wanted to highlight, and blue closer to the branches on the underside and where they met. Finally, I covered the wooden part in a cross-hatch motion nearly parallel to it with both shades again.

In terms of improvements needed, my color balance is messed up because I added the smaller areas of needles after the first few branches and they got too much blue, and because I rotated the final drawing in my photograph. I have to work on where and how to photograph my drawings as the overall color is too dark as well but I was too lazy to go outside in 20 degree F weather to try there. Finally, I have to consider how to make the branch appear more 3-D–I think the needles are alright for this but the branch itself looks rather flat because of the angle I used on the parts that split off.

I started my colored pencil drawings attempting to draw an entire tree and it did not go well. I think I have to break stimuli into their components in order to be able to have any chance of creating a visual representation I find palatable. Observing what I am trying to draw in person proved very useful so that is something I will be continuing. If you like to draw, what do you find useful in drawing natural objects? To what extent do you focus on realism? What serves as your inspiration?

Shopping for Hand-made Crafts (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

I traveled far outside of my comfort zone today, to a craft show in a rural area at which my friend was selling her creations. It was held in a conservative Christian church, a space I have a hard time entering after my experiences in like places growing up. Now that I know myself as a trans and nonbinary person, many spots in which a mix of anger and fear used to inexplicably rise up in me are, in a way, simpler to navigate because I know why I feel the way I do. My internal level of stress tends to be higher as well, because I am more visible than I would have been in the past.

I was delighted to find that the show was bigger than I expected for such a sleepy town, and that it presented a sensory kaleidoscope in terms of colors, textures and shapes. I purchased a beautiful hand-made sign from my friend to take to a gift exchange, and found a piece of art for myself that’s very meaningful. It is made from river rocks and depicts a person and a dog walking, with writing at the bottom noting that there is a purpose in every path. I felt that Spirit was affirming the shift in my inner sense of meaning away from “healing must come through relationships” to “healing is here in this moment.”

I was misgendered only once while purchasing some cards, and the person said “she..?…” in a quizzical-enough way that I felt validated more than harmed by it. There was a merchant selling nothing but large crosses which led to fear-rage rising up momentarily, but I felt my freedom of movement come right back and moved on (my town’s Pride this past summer had a person with a life-sized cross screaming about how we were going to hell so let’s just say that symbol isn’t working for me right now). There were also homemade cookies for sale, a purchase I undoubtedly would have made and regretted in past times as a way to cope with my discomfort. In sum, I entered a space that held potential trigger after trigger, but I was present with myself through it and now have a lovely gift to give as well as a perfect, hand-made representation of my inner work. A good day! What was the last experience you had with local and hand-made merchants? How does the space in which events are held affect you?

Creating a Design (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

I’ve had an art breakthrough! Well, possibly. Over the years, I have stopped and started more art projects than I can count and have shelves of paint, paper and other supplies sitting idle. I have finally come to recognize that my inertia on being visually creative has to do with form more than substance. I dislike mess and fumes, so the idea of getting out a set of paintbrushes, attempting to paint a creation beyond the scope of my fine motor skills, and, finally, having to clean everything up afterwards taxes me too much. The solution? Digital art!

As soon as I get an idea in my head, I usually want to spend as much money as I can reasonably waste (hence my unused artroom) on accumulating the tools needed to execute my vision. In this situation, however, I’ve decided to proceed more slowly in order to make sure the way of arting that I’ve landed on actually fits me. Specifically, I downloaded a free app version of Adobe Illustrator to try out on my phone with my stylus before I invest in something like a Wacom tablet. Yesterday, I created a candy-corn cartoon, and, for today’s simple pleasure, will be keeping the fall theme going by designing a pumpkin cartoon. I find it hard to follow through with being artistic when it doesn’t feel like it has any utility, but I know that I need ways to occupy my mind that are healthy and safe, so I’m going with it. What is your favorite way to art? What digital tools do you like to use?

Experimenting with Color in Artwork

I promised myself when I started blogging about using my Simple Pleasures deck that I would not have to post any of my creative work that might result here unless I felt comfortable doing so. The outcome of today’s color exploration was not sufficiently aesthetically pleasing to me so I haven’t included it. There were many shades of blue and a scattering of purple and yellow involved; I was attempting an evening sky but landed more on a gloomy, jagged lake with odd waves.

The inspiration for the technique I used is contained in this video. To me, it portrays the paint spatula as a simple tool yielding gorgeous results. I quickly learned that the amount of paint one uses matters quite a bit as mine turned into a very thin layer from my overly-enthusiastic scrapping. I did enjoy craving lines in what I had with the tool in order to add texture and depth to my creation and am happy to have something besides paint brushes to use in future artwork. What is your favorite technique for experimenting with artwork?