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After another long dry spell of feeling completely uninspired but nonetheless itching to create, I decided to try out Zentangling. A friend had recommended it to me as a nice meditative practice that didn’t require much thought or planning. So I got out my nice new apple green sketchbook that I bought myself a while back but had yet to use, and some pens, Googled what this ‘Zentangle’ process really entailed, and launched right in. And indeed it was meditative and nice, but I felt a bit frustrated as well if I’m honest. My abstract ‘doodles’ seemed childish and boring to me. But as I drew little intricate circles, I started to think about how this looked a bit like grains of sand, or the bigger circles like sea urchins, and the swirl ‘string’ I’d started out with reminded me of waves on a stormy sea, and a nautical theme kind of started to come to mind. I’ve been working on a story for a while now that is based on a seafaring village and a storm at sea, and the two kind of merged and I started to think maybe I could turn this zentangle into an artwork kind of based on those sorts of themes. So a big thumbs up to the Zentangling for helping with brainstorming when you don’t have any ideas, but I’m not sure I have the patience for pure Zentangling, which is meant to be purely abstract pattern and only black and white ink. I like colour too much and although I like the abstract motifs as a kind of decorative touch, I like my work to have some semblance of a story to it as well. So what started as a Zentangle ended up really not a Zentangle. In the end, I came up with this:

Sea Shanty

Sea Shanty

This was an interesting and new experience for me in many ways. It feels very different compared to my usual ‘style’ – whatever that may be. I’m not a pen & ink sort of artist usually. I have friends who are professionals in this medium, and compared to them, I feel like a rank amateur, like a little girl playing dress up with her mother’s clothes. I also tend to plan ahead before I start on a work, but this time I wasn’t planning to do anything except put down some random geometric patterns on paper. But nonetheless I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out for a first attempt, as well as the process. I enjoyed getting to feel absorbed in creating again, something I haven’t really been able to do much lately. This reminded me I must make it more of a priority in life, and make more of an effort to try, even when I’m not feeling the Muse’s presence particularly. This seems like a good method I think for getting me into that mindset when I don’t really feel like I can, which is really useful.

If you’d like to try Zentangle, I can highly recommend it for quieting the mind and relaxing. Adult coloring books, move over! This is much better, because you are really creating something, rather than just decorating a pre-existing pattern with some colour. There is a tonne and a half of stuff out there on YouTube etc, showing you what Zentangle is, how to get started, and some examples of patterns you can use. I found watching people drawing these patterns is itself pretty hypnotic and zen. The basics of Zentangle are really kind of simple – just doodling really, with starting structure, and within bounds. Give it a go sometime!

And here’s a ditty to act as the soundtrack for this piece… 😉

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Well, it didn’t really turn into a very disciplined portrait-a-day sort of thing, because the run-up to Christmas was a bit mental and life got in the way. But I did go several more pictures, including one that wasn’t a portrait… because I needed a break from faces. So here’s the final set of images. I’m considering getting back to it and doing some more soon actually. Most of these drawings are now available as prints on my Etsy shop.

*** Oh, please note: If you’re a Bernie Sanders supporter (as I clearly am), I’m running a donation scheme on that portrait – I’m donating $10 from every sale of his portrait directly to his campaign, for as long as he’s running. Feel free to spread the word 🙂 ***

Behold!

bernie_withname_etsy

janegoodall_etsy

dalailama_etsy

columbo_etsy

helen_keller_etsy

opa_sm

obama_etsy

mariecurie_etsy

This is where I got tired of faces…

neuschwanprint_etsy

….Aaaaand then I was back in the portrait saddle.

einstein_etsy

johnny_cash_etsy

And here’s my latest musical obsession, because it’s now tradition to end on that note. It gives me the same feel as a John Hughes ’80s film. It makes me want to watch the Breakfast Club or something. In fact, I think I might just go do that. And then maybe do some more drawing! That is how I party on a Saturday night, folks… 😉

Hello again to anyone who’s still with me… As usual, life has gotten in the way. Since my soul-destroying job hunt which plunged me into a bit of a depression, life has got a bit crazy. I did finally get a job, researching creativity!!!!, but it necessitated a move to England… So my art fell by the wayside for a while, while I moved house and dealt with being in a new place and working a new job. Which is actually perfect for me, by the way… I get to do psych research on creativity, but within an art department. Dream come true!

Anyway, I’ve finally taken some inspiration from my art department work environment and I have started a project now in the run-up to Christmas to get me back into the creative saddle. I decided to give an app I installed on my Galaxy Note tablet ages ago another try and discovered that it’s actually really great for drawing. I haven’t drawn in years… so I felt rusty. But drawing on a tablet is really not that different than on paper and it has some nice features that make it superior to paper drawing, like quick erasing/clear, and better blending options. The Galaxy Note S-Pen stylus is fab – pressure sensitive and feels like you’re really using a pencil.

The first drawing I attempted was a portrait of Obama. It did not go well and will never see the light of day, unless I give it another go and it gets heaps better… But the second drawing I tried was of Bernie Sanders, which turned out much better. I hadn’t really intended to turn it into a series, but then I started thinking, I should pick up the discipline that I tried to self-impose at the start of this blog, and do some art every day. At least until Christmas. I can manage one drawing a day till Christmas, surely. So it kind of morphed into a sort of Portrait Advent Calendar – drawing a portrait a day of someone I like or admire or find inspirational (some more serious than others 😉 ) until Christmas – I started a little late for it to be a true advent calendar, but you get the gist. I figure with the news being so full of stories about heinous people doing evil things, we (I) need a reminder that not all people are bad, and there are people who restore my faith in humanity. I need that especially right now as I am feeling like such a Scrooge this Christmas season! I’m lacking in merry and bright at the moment.

So far I have only done four portraits. Actually, there’s a fifth, but it’s going to be someone’s Christmas present, so I’m not sharing that one. I’ll update again once I’m done, with the complete set. But for now, here’s a teaser…

Bernie Sanders drawing by G. Cseh

Day 1: Bernie Sanders

Jane Goodall drawing by G. Cseh

Day 2: Jane Goodall

Dalai Lama drawing by G. Cseh

Day 3: HH the Dalai Lama

Columbo drawing by G. Cseh

Day 4: (Peter Falk as) Columbo

And because it’s becoming tradition now, I’ll share a song I listened to a lot while I was drawing as these kinds of driving instrumental electronic songs are good for getting into the flow…

I’ve been a bundle of nerves lately. I am due to give my first ever conference presentation in 3 short weeks at a major conference in the US. Public speaking is still (even after teaching and several presentations to the department) about my least favorite thing to do on earth, and there are likely to be a lot of really really smart people who know an awful lot about my field (much more than me!) in my audience and I’m bricking it a bit, truth be told. I’m sure it’ll be fine; it’s only 15 minutes of my life, so even if it’s terrible, it’ll be over relatively quickly, right? As my mother always says, it’ll probably be horrible, but in a completely different way than I’m expecting, so why bother worrying? And afterwards I get to go see my family, who I haven’t seen in over a year, which I am really looking forward to. But for now, the presentation is kind of looming over me like a big scary cloud. I’ve also noticed people pinning pumpkin recipes on Pinterest lately. Stop it, people! Autumn can’t be right around the corner! That means my PhD thesis submission date and viva are looming as well! :-/

Inspired by the looming dread that will hover over me for the entirety of the rest of this year, I’m sure, I did a little drawing/watercolor the other day. It reminded me of a poem I wrote (don’t laugh!) back in my oh-so-gothic undergrad years, as a sort of dark twist on Emily Dickinson’s Hope is the thing with feathers poem. I’m an Eeyore, I am! 😉

hope is the thing with feathers all right…
——————————————————

oh em,
you said once
“hope is the thing with feathers”
and i agree;
but the song it sings isn’t sweet

it’s a dirge, a death knell

and it doesn’t perch
all cute and perky with dewy eyes

it hovers and lurks
circling high in a sick sweaty sky
waiting
just waiting
for something to die.

copyright 2000ish? by GothicGenevieve’sTorturedSoul

Dread

Dread

I really really should be working on the TBC paintings. But I have made a little bit of headway, and am now pretty much done with two and have another two about halfway done, with only one more to start from scratch, so I’m on the way – at least that’s my justification for taking some time off to procrastinate and do some other artwork just for fun ;). August sure is zipping by very fast though, and the September 5th hand-in date is looming!

I miss doing art for art’s sake though, I must admit. It might be a while again before I decide to do a show where I have to work on anything specific – I don’t like the pressure I feel like it puts on me – makes it feel too much like work! So I took a break and decided to finish up the koi painting. Before doing the bubble background on the koi, I decided to test the technique out first on a sheet of blank paper, so I ended up with a blank sheet of paper with a bubble background. The shadows under the koi were bugging me – too dark – so I scraped off a layer of the crayon. I’d left the other sheet of blank/bubble background paper underneath my koi drawing while I was scraping off the dark crayon on the shadows, and afterwards I discovered that a bunch of the crayon shavings had stuck to the paper underneath. The serendipitous little black flecks on the blue background got me thinking that I could do something with silhouettes with that piece of paper, and I ended up deciding to do a drawing. I haven’t done much drawing over the years, but I’ve been inspired lately by the lovely ink drawings of some of the Forecourt Art Group members – Anita Inverarity and Esther Green – to try my hand at some drawing. I know it’s still not my forte, but I enjoyed doing something other than my usual painting, even when I found it a bit frustrating.

Murder

Murder

I suppose a red or violet sky would have worked better than this sort of cheerful blue, but part of me thinks that makes it creepier somehow, heh!

Here’s the koi picture finished. I’m still not really happy with the shadows, but I don’t think there’s anything else I can do to salvage it.

Koi (Finished)

Koi (Finished)

In other news, my first exhibition since school is up and running with the Forecourt Art Group, and apparently off to a good start (although sadly I missed out on the opening night – though I hear it was very busy! – because I was away in Glasgow). I have yet to get out to see it myself, but I was told that my Sheepies painting sold the first night :)! I have a sort of invigilating shift this Sunday the 14th, so if anyone’s interested in dropping by when I’m there to say hello, if you’re in the area, I’ll be there 12-2pm. The Forecourt Summer Exhibition is on at the Peterculter Heritage Hall every Sat & Sun afternoon this month, ending the 28th.

I had a little cottage industry going, making up box sets of greeting cards and prints.

Cottage Industry (Forecourt Summer Exhibition)

Cottage Industry (Forecourt Summer Exhibition)

Paintings framed and ready to go…

Sheepies/Highland Autumn Framed

Sheepies/Highland Autumn Framed

Autumn Walk Framed

Autumn Walk Framed

I also will be doing a third exhibition this summer at the Belmont Picturehouse Cinema here in Aberdeen, beginning August 25th. I’ll only have about six small paintings in there (likely my sky series and some water ones). Here’s a poster (opens a PDF) – if you wanted to print it out and stick it up on your noticeboards at work or wherever (if you’re in the Aberdeen area), that would be gratefully appreciated :).

And now, I’d better get back to that procrastination… 😉

I have been waking up in the middle of the night lately in a bit of a panic about all the things I really ought to be doing instead of wasting time sleeping. I really should be painting those TBC paintings. I really should be reading more for my upcoming masters project. I really should be finishing up that transcription work I took on to make some extra money. I really should be exercising. I should, should, should… nag, nag, nag…lather, rinse, repeat. Anyway, yesterday I went into a bit of a fevered painting frenzy and painted all morning and then did some more art (something not TBC-related) when I got home from my day job. Sadly, I still don’t think I’m very far along, but at least I feel I’m making a start.

So, I give you a sneak preview at three of my TBC paintings on the go…

TBC 1 & 2 (WIP)

TBC 1 & 2 (WIP)

TBC3 (WIP)

TBC3 (WIP)

That last one looks a bit unappealing just now I know, but that’s just because it’s preparatory work, the white things at the bottom will be painted once they’ve dried.

About the announcing of the TBC ideas I’ve chosen… I hope you’ll bear with me a little while longer and allow me to wait until the paintings are all finished to announce the finalists for the print prizes. It’s probably cheating a bit, but I’m still vascillating about the last two ideas to paint and will probably need to see how it goes with trying to paint them before I settle – hope you understand!

The last sneak peek I have to share is a work-in-progress artwork I started last night just for fun.

Koi (WIP)

Koi (WIP)

It’s based on a photograph in my inspiration folder. I liked the color of the blue fish in the front and thought that it might work well using a technique that was a favorite of mine when I was a child – crayon-on-crayon scrapework. I think you all know what I’m talking about – drawing something in bright colors and then covering over it in black or dark crayon and then scraping away the dark layer to reveal the bright colors below. I used to LOVE doing that as a kid. It didn’t work quite the way I’d hoped on this one, but I had fun working with a different medium than usual. I love the smell of crayons and also looking through all the interesting color names, tearing off the paper around the top edge to give you more crayon access. Ah… nostalgic kiddie art materials. I have great plans for watercoloring the background eventually. I want to try out an effect I haven’t used (correctly) in decades – watercolor bubbles – but the last time I tried it kind of recently it failed miserably, so need to do some more research on how to get it to turn out right, first. Any watercolorists out there who want to give me some pointers? Thanks. 🙂

This will just be a short post, just a little show-and-tell of another drawing/painting I did recently. I have only recently returned from a 2-week holiday home to California. I took my sketchbook with me thinking, again mistakenly, that I would have the time and inspiration to draw and paint on vacation – never happened…. with the exception of one watercolor pencil drawing, inspired not by my surroundings, but from a photograph one of my Facebook friends (Saori Kuroda, a woman I met in grade school and who now lives in Japan) posted on Facebook. Such is the nature of inspiration… I loved the way the water rippled and the muted mossy greens.

Might I also take this opportunity to remind people that I have some prints for sale on all three of my shops – EtsyFolksyRedBubble – for which I donate 60% to the Japanese Red Cross’ Earthquake/Tsunami relief fund. It may be out of the news these days, but is definitely still a major problem in Japan… I have extended the offer through June, so please consider this option if you like any of the prints this applies to (Black Cherry, Snow on Bennachie, and Bamboo Forest – and I will add prints of the above picture as well, as soon as I get it scanned). Thank you.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden (from photo by Saori Kuroda)

Happy New Year everyone!

It has been a year now since I started my blog, and although I fell flat on my nose with the whole 365-paintings-challenge, I think it’s safe to say that I have managed to drag myself out of the creative desert I had been stuck in for too many years to mention, which was my one and only aim for last year, so creatively, 2010 was all-in-all a good year.  I was relatively sad to see it go actually, but hopefully 2011 will bring new bright and beautiful things.

I’m getting off to a slow start in the new year and haven’t been much in the mood to paint, but today I did a drawing/painting for Virtual Paintout – the location for which is Boston this month.  I’ve been to Boston a few times in my life, and I have to say, all I can ever remember about the place is brick.  Brick, brick and more brick, which, for someone who likes color, does not make for much inspiration.  Boston is architecturally lovely with some gorgeous big historical houses, and I’m sure there is color – a lot of it actually reminded me of San Francisco, which is my favorite city, so that’s praise indeed.  Maybe the mood wasn’t right, but I found it difficult to find something to paint.

I settled on this one today, but I’m not terribly happy with the way it came out, so I think I’ll try again with something else later.  Not sure if I’ll submit this or not. This is the original Google Streetview it’s taken from.

Crooked House with Purple Shutters, Boston

Crooked House with Purple Shutters, Boston

Additionally, take a look at this bonkers sunset tonight. The photo doesn’t even do it justice – it really looked like Doomsday or something out there. Pretty dramatic.

The End is Nigh

Repent, The End is Nigh

Sorry for being incommunicado for a while. I’ve been investigating the possibility of doing that psych masters in Aberdeen instead of Edinburgh and have had several meetings and reading to do for that, so haven’t had much time for art lately. However, it’s also been a kind of stressful few weeks for a lot of reasons, so I have been itching to sit down with some paints again; it’s my favorite way to relax, after all. And today I finally had the chance to.

I’ve been eyeing this website – Virtual Paintout – for a while now. It’s a monthly challenge for artists, to use Google Streetviews in a given location in the world to find scenes to paint. I’ve been intending to contribute for a while now, but never seemed to find a scene that really made me want to sit down and paint. And even when I did find something, I kept forgetting to go back to it before the deadline. But this month I was determined. This month’s location was Rio de Janeiro, and I’ve spent the last couple of days happily wandering the streets of Rio virtually and exploring. I found quite a few interesting scenes – Rio has some lovely old buildings and shady, tree-lined streets – but finally settled on this scene because I liked the yellow and blue colors of this one (this is ink & watercolor on paper, 11″ x 14″).

Yellow & Blue Cafes, Rio de Janeiro

Yellow & Blue Cafes, Rio de Janeiro

I’ve three new things for you today:

1) I have done a painting which I intend to enter into a competition (the first after the Aberdeen Artists’ debacle of 2010) down in Edinburgh. It’s the Pentland Hills art inspiration competition, which I saw advertised there on our recent trip to Edinburgh. I’m not sure how I’ll get it down there and back, but am hoping they’ll ship it back to me if I ask them very nicely.

Pentland Hills

Pentland Hills

2) I have crocheted my first pair of socks. The second foot came out better than the first, and they’re both a bit big, but it’s a learning process and I’m quite chuffed to have gotten this far!

Socks the first

Socks the first (please ignore the carpet in need of hoovering!)


Sock side view

Sock side view (again, ignore the pigsty behind the foot)

3) I have discovered a new band I love: New Young Pony Club. Their The Optimist album is, from first track to last, fantastic, and I cannot stop listening. I think my two favorites are: Dolls and Lost A Girl.

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