Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Morning Pages

Thoughtful Thursdays

Copyright 2010 Valerie Jones

“A mind too active is no mind at all.” ~ Theodore Roethke

Morning pages are something I have come to respect. They helped me on my journey to unblocking my creativity.

Morning pages are three pages of writing in longhand. No computers allowed. Morning pages are not in journal form but rather stream-lining what your mind is telling you. “Oh, I hate to get up. I want to sleep. The dog wants outside. Blah, blah, blah and so on.” You don’t even have to spell correctly or write neatly. Just write. If you can’t think of anything to write, write that you can’t think of anything to write. The words will come.

Write the first thing in the morning before the day starts.

As Julia Cameron states in The Artist's Way, “All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity. Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the care, the weird look someone gave you – this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our lives. Get it on the page. We write to get to the other side.”

“Even if we look like functioning artists to the world, we feel we never do enough and what we do isn’t right. We are victims of our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and external critic, the Censor (satan), who resides in our left brain and keeps up a constant stream of subversive remarks that are often disguised as the truth. The Censor says wonderful thinks like: ‘You call that writing? What a joke. You can’t even punctuate. If you haven’t done it by now you never will. You can’t even spell. What makes you think you can be creative?’”

“Make this a rule: always remember that your Censor’s negative opinions are not the truth. Make no mistake: the Censor is out to get you.”

“Draw your Censor. If a serpent doesn’t appeal to you, you might want to find a food cartoon image of your Censor, maybe the shark from Jaws, and put an X through it. Post it where you tend to write or paint. Just making the Censor into the nasty, clever little character that it is begins to pry loose some of its power over you and your creativity.”

“Beyond the reach of the Censor’s babble we find our own quiet center, the place where we hear the still, small voice that is at once our creator’s and our own.”

Have you heard that still, small voice? I have…It can be found in the morning pages.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Power of Ice Cream

ice cream scoop 

I have been craving ice cream for several days.  I just couldn't take that craving in the pit of my stomach anymore, so I went to our local frozen custard place.  They had butter pecan custard as their special.  Now, butter pecan is one of my favorites.  I can't resist the buttery smoothness in my mouth.  I bought some, ate it, and somehow the world seemed a better place.  Even the next morning....the world seems a better has hope.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shirt – The Drawing Board

For the shirt, I used a 6B in the darkest shadows. Since I want the detail of the watermelon to show through, I made the shirt a dark, solid color. I used a 4B and a 2B pencil for the initial lay-in. I blended and re-applied pencil as needed.



Next time on The Drawing Board, tweaking the portrait.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creative Excuses


Thoughtful Thursdays Copyright 2010 Valerie Jones

What have you ever told yourself or are telling yourself why you should not create? Me? I’ve told myself that I needed to wait until I had enough money. Hah! I could still tell myself that because I don’t have any more money now than I did before. But I create anyway. Teaching art classes help fund my addiction to creating.

It is never too late to start creating. I personally know an individual that didn’t start painting until she was 80. She had no clue that she could draw or paint. She now has some of the most beautiful paintings.

Now is the time to create. I could easily tell myself that I don’t have time to create. I have a husband, children, a house, and more than one job. How do I find time to create? After my work is all done and the children are in bed is when I make the time to draw. Yes, I said “make the time”. If you are busy like I am, you have to schedule the time or it will never get done. I would love the luxury of drawing and painting on a whim, but that isn’t always possible.

What’s your excuse? I’d like to hear what is going on in your mind about creativity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hands – The Drawing Board

Drawing fingers are tricky. You have to make close observations to where the shadows are lying – is the shadow on that finger or on the one below it?

Fingernails – to make them look their best, draw the skin around them instead of drawing the nail itself. A better representation of the nail is created this way.

I used a B pencil in the darkest darks, HB in the mid-shadows, and 2H for the mid-tone values.

Hands Shade Shading

Hands Blend


Hand Complete

Hands Complete

Next time on The Drawing Board, the shirt.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Creative Withdrawal – Thoughtful Thursday

Thoughtful Thursdays

Copyright 2010 Valerie Jones

As I revisit The Artist's Way, I keep coming back to this phrase, “We ourselves are the substance we withdraw to, not from, as we pull our overextended and misplaced creative energy back into our own core.” We ourselves are the substance we withdraw to…huh? What does this mean to me? It’s not that I am withdrawing from myself, who I am. It is more withdrawal from my current life and looking back to the dreams I had for myself. Back to those God-given dreams. Back to that creative energy we once had before we displaced it in the dreams of others.

As I dig up those dreams buried far below the surface, I go through a grieving process. I grieve for letting them go. I get angry at myself for burying those dreams in the hopes of others. I take a time of mourning. The anger, grief, and mourning are preparing me for growth in a new direction.

Join me on this journey as I recover some of those lost hopes and dreams I have for myself. How do you recover your buried dreams?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Drawing Board – Hat

I’m working with the hat next because I don’t want the hands to smear.

An 8B pencil was used for the shadows of the hat.  Take note – I am not pressing hard, but rather using several light layers.  I don’t want to smash the tooth of the paper by pressing too hard.  If you smash the tooth of the paper, you can’t achieve the depth you need by putting multiple layers of graphite.  Smashing will gloss over and leave a shine.

Hat I worked all over the hat.  I have to admit that I am not a fan of Spiderman.  He isn’t fun to draw either.  Ha!  After I put the darks of the hat in, I went to work on “Spidey”.  I applied the dark lines and and moved to the lighter areas.  Once I had “Spidey” blocked in, I worked on the hat some more.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t get pictures of this process for you.  I did several layers of 8B pencil and blended between each layer.


The threads – I made a lighter space where the threads would be.  These areas have already been blended.

Hat ThreadsI had lost my placing of the threads to part of  the hat.  Remember the clear acetate?  Here it is again.  I needed it to find my placing for the threads.

Hat w AcetateNow, those eraser remnants – here is where they come in handy.  I erased a thin line where the threads need to be.  Then, with the acetate over the drawing, I took a stylus and put indentions in the paper where the threads would be.  Then I blended the area so the threads would pop out.  A stylus should have been used upon the initial outline drawing, but I failed to do that.  Thus, hard work now.  The lines weren’t popping out as they should, so I took a utility knife to scratch out the threads.  I don’t recommend this because it damages the paper.  But, when mistakes happen, (as they will), then you make do with what needs to be done.

Hat Threads 2 Hat Threads

Hat Complete Hat Complete

Next time on The Drawing Board, hands.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Painting by Faith

Thoughtful Thursdays

Copyright 2010 Valerie Jones

One of my favorite quotes is by Amos Ferguson – I paint not by sight but by faith. Faith gives you sight.

Julia Cameron states in her book, The Artist's Way, that many of us wish we were more creative. Many of us sense we are more creative, but unable to effectively tap that creativity. Our lives feel somehow flat. Often, we have great ideas, wonderful dreams, but are unable to actualize them for ourselves. Sometimes we have specific creative longings we would love to be able to fulfill – learning to play the piano, painting, taking an acting class, or writing.”

Through the tasks in the book, we are able to tap into those dreams and ideas. While working through the tasks, a sense of defiance and giddiness occurs. It happened to me the first time I went through the tasks. While I found the defiance unwelcome, the giddiness was wonderful. Both experiences helped shape me into a different person. I’m glad I took the walk through the tasks to find the real me.

The book also states, “Many of us find that we have squandered our own creative energies by investing disproportionately in the lives, hopes, dreams, and plans of others. Their lives have obscured and detoured our own. As we consolidate a core through our withdrawal process, we become more able to articulate our own boundaries, dreams, and authentic goals. Our personal flexibility increases while our malleability (altered or controlled by outside forces or influences) to the whims of others decreases. We experience a heightened sense of autonomy and possibility.”

I still struggle with investing myself in the hopes, dreams, and plans of others. When I find myself doing this, I take to reading The Artist’s Way once again. It helps me to redirect my energies in a better direction.

Take a leap of faith and go on this journey with me.  I look forward to your company.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Experiencing Creativity

Thoughtful Thursdays Copyright 2010 Valerie Jones

Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  NIV

Since God created us in his own image, we were made to be creative.  Look at nature around us and see God's creative handiwork!  Maybe we can't make a tree, but we sure can be inspired by what He created.

We are on a journey through the book, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.  I agree with Julia 100% when she says, "Creativity is an experience - to my eye, a spiritual experience.  It does not matter which way you think of it: creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity."

She has a list of Basic Principles that I'd like to share with you.  She recommends reading them once a day and listen for changes in your thought system.

The Artist's Way
Basic Principles

by Julia Cameron

  1. Creativity is the natural order of life.  Life is energy: pure creative energy.
  2. There is an underlying, in-dwelling creative force infusing all of life - including ourselves.
  3. When we open ourselves to our creativity, we open ourselves to the creator's creativity within us and our lives.
  4. We are, ourselves, creations.  And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves.
  5. Creativity is God's given to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.
  6. The refusal to be creative is self-will and is counter to our true nature.
  7. When we open ourselves to exploring our creativity, we open ourselves to God: good orderly direction.
  8. As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected.
  9. It is safe to open ourselves up to greater and greater creativity.
  10. Our creative dreams and yearnings come from a divine source.  As we move toward our dreams, we move toward divinity.