15 Minutes: 2019 Sketchbook Project

Just as I finished my 2019 Sketchbook and have a Tiny Sketchbook to work on, thinking both were due on Feb. 15, they extended the deadline for 2019 Sketchbook but not the Tiny one.

I am currently working on the Tiny Sketchbook. This is the first time the Digital Arts Library has sent out Tiny Sketchbooks. I love making tiny work; I wanted to find a theme that was visually simple and consistent, and finally figured it out, so I’m almost done. Of course this post is abot the regular size Sketchbook 2019 and finishing it.

I’ve been doing these Sketchbook Projects for years. It’s always a black hole of ADHD. Several years ago I had two sketchbooks to fill and ended up filling one and then completely destroying it.

The 2019 Sketchbook was an arduous process and time consumer. My problem usually is that I love sketchbooks, so I spend too much time on it in relation to my “real” art, and it makes no rational sense but it’s a compulsion.

This time round, I think I already wrote about how I filled the entire sketchbook, about 30 pages if you fill both sides. I had already covered several layers of ideas. Finally I looked at it one day and thought, the whole point of this sketchbook was to use it for drawing and keep it simple. It was at the point where I couldn’t really draw a fresh drawing, so I pulled out all the pages and put in my own pages from a drawing pad that has very thick paper. The Pentalic Nature Sketch 7 x 5 inch 130 lb paper. I highly recommend it as a great surface for drawing. I was able to draw on both sides of the paper without it being see through.

So I started almost from scratch besides the cover, back cover, and inside cover. This sketchbook was finally useful in a bigger way to connect to my current work and drawings outside the sketchbook. I used to have a process where I would carry my journal sketchbook everywhere and draw or make collage in it and then eventually force myself to get the work to be made outside the journal on bigger different surfaces. It was a way to find my “series” and then have a launching pad! This year the Sketchbook did launch me into my latest series of work, entitled, “My Cabinet of Unnatural Curiosities.”

Last year I liked my sketchbook while making it but didn’t love it after it got digitized. This year, I already scanned the sketchbook so I know how it will look digitized and I really like it and feel good about it. I also like how the process, as painful as it was time consuming, spat me out at the other end of the creativity tunnel into  my current bigger work.

I am posting some of the images of the sketchbook.  Once it’s digitized, I will post a link to the sketchbook.

Links to see my 2014-2018 Sketkchbook:

This is the one from 2018: Sketchbook Project 2018

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Everything Old is New Again…

15 Minutes: Everything Old is New Again

I’m doing very different drawings from when I started “Drawriting” with 15 minutes of drawing and 15 minutes of writing on the back of the drawing. These pieces below do not have writing on the back; I’m not sure if I will write on the back or not. perhaps this post is the writing part for now.

A client of mine once explored a concept she said was summed up as : “Everything old is new again.” Her words. I’ve been thinking about that idea, as I reflect on 2018, and now, in terms of my personal art making as a visual artist, about 30 years into making drawings and paintings, collage, etc. Even last May as I started a daily drawing practice, I noticed I was reprising my 2006 – ? work and had revisited that stuff in my sketchbook last year, coming from the “Inner Landscapes” series. I have the old sketchbook journal where the images emerged that later became buildings and Inner Landscapes, which I have now embraced as “Cityscapes.” Before, when I did these, I thought of them as buildings, but as expressing some kind of inside landscape of the psyche. Recently I’ve returned to seeing that it is my relationship with New York City and how the city is part of who I am…

More recently in the past few weeks, I have been revisiting my drawings of faces and leaves. It started with my redoing my Sketchbook Project, in December 2018, drawing faces and leaves. These faces started many years ago; I can’t even remember when. Then I reused them in my Scribble Drawings Collage series in 2007 and 2008.

A while back I drew two bees in my sketchbook project. For some reason I’ve been drawn to drawing bees, no pun intended. Yesterday, I started drawing hexagon hive shapes, due to thinking about bees and because it’s a great kind of drawing connector. I’ve got faces, bees, and mushrooms, so now I have the hive shapes in and out. I haven’t gotten far with it as you can see in the pictures of these works in progress.

Drawing on smaller paper is very rewarding because I can really do a drawing in one sitting and feel like it’s done. It’s hard to be patient with doing drawing/painting on wood and canvas because it takes a lot more time and the discipline to revisit the work and continue it.

I took some of the wood drawings I did in November, which were moving towards being city scapes, and tried to sort of add in the new imagery with limited success, still using fountain pens to draw with.

For some reason it is harder to add in this imagery. I will paint over the wood with white paint and start drawing on top, like the painting in the photo below. That painting has endured a lot, like an archeological site. I don’t know what the first concept was, but there was collage I pulled off years ago, and then drawings of buildings and white again. That was March 2018. Then I went into it more. Anyway, today I turned it “upside down” so I woulnd’t see buildings in the marks underneath the white paint.

The above wood drawing with oil paint is the only one I saved. The rest I painted on top of.

Poem: Magic

There is a little magic in every moment:

to open up the magic I open up myself

and unwrap whatever might be covering up that package of magic.

today it’s a poem that was wrapped in shiny gold paper and tied with a shiny gold sparkled ribbon.

I tore off the wrapping in excitement.

What a tiny little box to open up.

a little voice that seemed to come from a tiny person in there

said Hello and welcome.

Friday is Creative Deed Day!

A week of making free art to give away to strangers, people I come across and family and friends. Last night I gave one to a sales person and three to a friend and his family. All week I put pieces in various public places…

The photos posted here are unusual as I strayed from how I had been making the art. I took one of my current long drawing projects and cut the bottom off and cut little squares from it, then added words and a little extra to fill the white space. Still going with the concept of recycling art, but this is the first time I’ve recycled new art from a series in progress. I will post the piece, how it looked after the surgery!



Photos from the week since last Friday’s post:





Appearances and Blog Exhaustion!

I think I have tried about 15 different themes in the last week on my blog, trying to find the right one that looks good. Taking the two Blogging classes I took got me thinking about my blog in so many cool ways I had never thought of before. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging a few years and only recently understood what widgets are and what themes even are. I think I just randomly threw up my blog, which was a great way to start, as I am the opposite of perfectionist. I like to just go for it, with art and blogging. Thinking too much and criticizing just isn’t good for creativity, but it is of course a balance, and looking into things more and editing are useful things I am often quite lazy about. I know that I am good at helping people just get going and jump beyond their blocks and critical mind, and those same people help me realize it’s good to reread an email before hitting send and that blogs can be deeper than I thought, and that I have to keep my websites updated, and looking good.

Appearance! Here I am an artist and it took me so long to think, what do I want this blog to look like? I just now learned you can find a great theme and love how it looks, like the “Plane” theme I threw up yesterday, only to be frustrated by being unable to use a featured image. Now I’ve changed themes again and picked one that has featured image as part of it, only to find that the featured image is put inside your “header”. I am very into the header as I have cool images to use and you can change the header a lot. The header is at the top of your blog when people click on it, they see it and the title of your blog is in the header, so then the color of the font etc. becomes important.

Anyway I’m still tinkering with the appearance of this blog, as I am just not into the themes I have tried and I’m in the middle of trying to fix both my art therapy website and my art website, so I’m going to leave this theme up for now even though it’s not ideal.

I get excited by all the possibilities of the internet, but it sure eats up time, the upkeep of everything. It’s like cleaning your studio or apartment; there are other great things to do, so things pile up. It’s very hard to set priorities and get things done and remember to do important things. It’s crazy, this life on and off the internet. We introverts can get really sucked in to the internet and expressing ourselves and checking out what others are doing because it’s what you do late at night after 10:30 when you should be off the computer and getting ready for bed! It doesn’t help that I just picked a featured image and it wouldn’t crop it how I wanted so I had to remove it. Totally frustrating…

BLogging 101 Day 9: Inspire Yourself!

This assignment comes from the assignment of the day before, to create an “About Me” page. I just got rid of my boring “Profile”  and substituted a more passionate “About Me” page: https://natashashapiroarttherapy.wordpress.com/about/

I’m pretty satisfied with it, but the featured image does not seem to show up. Anyway I will post some images to this post that reflect the idea of writing a post inspired by my “About me” post.

While writing it, I remembered this great quote from one of my favorite artists, Louise Bourgeois; its from her book, “Drawings and Observations”, which is a great book that I own and used to look at frequently but of course, like lots of things at my house, I can’t find the book!

So from another book of her work, here are some interesting quotes:

My early work is the fear of falling.

Later on it became the art of falling. How to fall without hurting yourself.

Later on it is the art of hanging in there…Hanging in there-the art of living, the art of a lifetime. -Louise Bourgeois

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I choose these three because they also apply to art therapy and the therapeutic process for both therapist and patient. “Hanging in there” sums it up in terms of once you get yourself going; now that I am in my 40’s I have passed the other stages, the fear of falling and the art of falling.

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There is much to say about hanging in there, but for me it involves returning to my basic survival kit, my art supplies and my “portable studio”, doing art anywhere and everywhere including in my current studio.

As the making marks on paper or any surface is mainly a non verbal process, I won’t say too much about it, as I still believe what I discovered over a quarter century ago, that art making was a balm for all the words expected of us all the time, a sanctuary from explanation, a sacred space to make your own without need for verbalizing. Hanging in there is about just showing up every day to your life.

Here is the image I tried to use for the About Me page:

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It’s a page from my journal, from 9/25/2010.

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Here are a few pages from the journal I started this month:

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Creativity and Inspiration: Leonard Cohen Agrees With Me!

I started a series of posts about creativity and so called “creative blocks” quite a while ago, and now that I’m on vacation, I will post someone else’s words about the creative process. “Show up” is the message, and I would say its true of everything in life. What’s the key to bring a good parent? You gotta show up every day however flawed a person you are…

My mantra or idea that we artists don’t wait for inspiration, we make art on a daily basis just like any other daily habit is not original or particularly earth shattering, but are you practicing it with your particular medium/media?

Most of the time I am lucky because I simply don’t care that much if I “like” what I am making or not, sort of like how you feel after your yoga class that the benefits come from doing it often and it doesn’t make much sense to judge how you did yoga.

Anyway, Leonard Cohen is one of my favorite musical artist, and he talks about his own process from “Brain Pickings Weekly:

“There are always meaningful songs for somebody. People are doing their courting, people are finding their wives, people are making babies, people are washing their dishes, people are getting through the day, with songs that we may find insignificant. But their significance is affirmed by others. There’s always someone affirming the significance of a song by taking a woman into his arms or by getting through the night. That’s what dignifies the song. Songs don’t dignify human activity. Human activity dignifies the song.”

I would add that sometime so called boring activities inspire all kinds of creations from Charles Schultz’ beloved Peanuts to the TV show Seinfeld (which I believe took a lot of inspiration from Peanuts). There is a line in a David Bowie song about the artist Andy Warhol that I love:

“Andy walking, Andy tired
Andy take a little snooze
Tie him up when he’s fast asleep
Send him on a pleasant cruise
When he wakes up on the sea
Be sure to think of me and you
He’ll think about paint
and he’ll think about glue
What a jolly boring thing to do”

I myself do love to think about glue and tape and practically any material.
Anyway here is the piece:

“Cohen approaches his work with extraordinary doggedness reflecting the notion that work ethic supersedes what we call “inspiration” — something articulated by such acclaimed and diverse creators as the celebrated composer Tchaikovsky (“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”), novelist Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), painter Chuck Close (Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), beloved author E.B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”), Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope (“My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.”), and designer Massimo Vignelli (“There is no design without discipline.”). Cohen tells Zollo:

I’m writing all the time. And as the songs begin to coalesce, I’m not doing anything else but writing. I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I’m not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is. So I’m working most of the time.

To find a song that I can sing, to engage my interest, to penetrate my boredom with myself and my disinterest in my own opinions, to penetrate those barriers, the song has to speak to me with a certain urgency.

To be able to find that song that I can be interested in takes many versions and it takes a lot of uncovering.

My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV… So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.

But why shouldn’t my work be hard? Almost everybody’s work is hard. One is distracted by this notion that there is such a thing as inspiration, that it comes fast and easy. And some people are graced by that style. I’m not. So I have to work as hard as any stiff, to come up with my payload.”

Taken from:

Leonard Cohen on Creativity, Hard Work, and Why You Should Never Quit Before You Know What It Is You’re Quitting

Description of The Healing Powers of Art Making

I am always looking for good descriptions of what art therapy is and what makes art making so healing. Here is a great synopsis (written by colleague, art therapist Fredricka Brooks: website: http://www.fredrickabrooks.com/) which includes so many of the important aspects of the creative process of art making that makes it so powerfully healing:

“It has been my experience that people use and benefit from art-making in many different ways, including: making art as a way to be seen, finding pleasure and joy in the process, as a vehicle for self expression, as a way to communicate, as a way to care for oneself, a way of developing and learning new coping skills, relaxing, learning to work to completion, learning to self-start, and meditate. Art-making can increase self-esteem through pride about one’s work, creating meaning through making images, metaphors, and stories, witnessing oneself develop a visual language that is unique, and taking pride in oneself and one’s identity as an artist.”

Thank you, Fredricka!!!

Altered Book Workshop Proposal Accepted!

The good news is that my altered book workshop proposal for the 2013 Creative Arts Therapy Summit this fall was accepted! The whole event will be taking place in NYC in various locations, from November 7-13, 2013. Link to the site is:

http://www.cvent.com/events/expressive-therapies-summit-2012-registration-site/event-summary-a631d616cdd6499c92f749761a4d1d3a.aspx

The other part of my news is that instead of a 3 hour experiential workshop, I will be doing the workshop in 80 minutes, basically and hour and 20 minutes, which basically cuts out a little over half the time, so I tried to re focus the workshop.

Here is my description of it: (Let me know what you think; it’s a lot to pack into 80 minutes!!!)

Title: Altered Books with Adults in Art Therapy; Conquering Creative Blocks and Depression

Description:

In this workshop, we will discuss how the medium of altering books in art therapy uniquely treats adults with any kind of creative block and/or depression, connected with past or present trauma and feelings of creative deadness or loss of the creative “spirit.” Through the experiential, participants will choose a book and begin to alter it, thereby experiencing the uniqueness of this format that allows for the creative spirit to reawaken. The transformative experience of “destroying” a book to create something new can jump start the creative process through the variety of options, length of the project and the holding environment of therapy. I will also provide actual examples of Altered Books in process by some of the adults I am working with to demonstrate the scope of options in this particular medium and the essential role of the art therapist and therapeutic relationship in this long- term process.

3 Measurable Objectives:

  1. Participants will learn about ways that creative blocks and/or loss of creative spirit in adults is best treated through the creative process itself combined with the relationship with the art therapist.
  2. Through art making and viewing real examples of patient and therapist artwork, participants will learn about the different options provided by altering a children’s board book versus an “adult” hardcover book, and the messages the choice of book can convey to the patient and therapist.
  3. Through the experiential, participants will start the process of altering books and use at least 3 different media and techniques involved in the process of making an altered book.