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Posts Tagged ‘Drawing’

It was my plan to post a drawing I did of two whales. I went through my recent sketchbooks, and they seemed to have swam away. But what kept appealing to me was this pen and ink sketch I did of a spirit bear.

Spirit bears are snow white bears, not albinos, that live only in a specific area of Canada, the Great Bear Rainforest, one of the largest unspoiled temperate rainforests on earth. This is a partly protected area in the islands and coastal areas of British Columbia. They are actually a rare subspecies of the American black bear known as a Kermode bear, most of whom have dark coats. The double recessive gene for the white coat must be carried by both parents in order to produce the white spirit, or ghost, bear. They are looked on as sacred by the indigenous tribes of the area, and have become symbolic of these people’s fight against proposed desecration of the rainforest by those wishing to build a pipeline there. It is unclear how many spirit bears there actually are, but estimates run from 150 to 200.

Learn more about the Spirit Bear.

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I do. Even if I’m not doing very much of it at this very moment.

Yesterday I received a notice from Pinterest that someone had pinned one of my French Bulldog drawings from one of my boards which features only my own Frenchie artwork. (I have others I’m working on, but they’re not active yet.)

I don’t know why I feel so inordinately touched when someone pins one of my drawings, but I do. Why do I still feel so surprised when someone appreciates my work? Since many people actually do, I thought to share a drawing I did not too long ago of a grey wolf.

I have a deep fondness for wolves and feel very connected to them. I actually feel connected to all animals, and my work in Frenchies has simply been part of my path. When I visited the board where this kind person had pinned my French Bulldog pencil drawing I was greeted not with just Frenchies, but drawings of all kinds and subjects. I was entranced. They reminded me of how much I really do love to draw. I felt inspired.

I realized I need to make time. Not find it, but make it. It’s a challenge in an overly busy schedule, but when I looked at all those drawings, I felt happy. I felt happy because I know that that’s inside me. And I don’t have to draw for a reason, such as working on my portfolio or illustrating one of my picture books; I can draw just because I like to draw. It’s seems like such a novel idea, yet it’s hardly a new one.

And so, once again, I am offered a lesson I haven’t yet learned – different time in my life, different presentation, somewhat of a variation on a theme. I do believe that we all have lessons to learn in our lives, and we will be given them again and again until we catch on. Sometimes I feel like a pretty slow learner, but I’m sure it’s all unfolding exactly as it should.

And for those who’ve read this post, and who very possibly agree, I thank you for stopping by, for briefly being part of my world and perhaps sharing yours, both of us unfolding together.

 

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northernhawkowl-jbalsam2I found myself really looking at a stunning calendar photograph of this Northern Hawk Owl for the month of November. I am the recipient of a large number of calendars each year, some from organizations I support, and others that are cold mailings from like-minded organizations. I have several of them posted around my home, not to remind me of the date but to enjoy the beauty of nature and animals, changing every month.

As December approached, and a new bird would arrive, I started to play with the idea of doing a watercolor of this owl. She is clothed in multiple shades of browns with large white flecks on her dark wings and a cap that looks like it has been dusted with freshly fallen snow. But ahh .. there has been a bit of a drought in these parts in terms of my drawing, so rather than tackle something I haven’t done in ages, why not do something I really enjoy, simple black ink. And so I drew.

Perhaps most surprising as I hunched over my desk, was that Jazzy, who normally would be meowing up a storm demanding dinner at that precise time, was utterly quiet. It was as if she knew this was something even she hadn’t seen in a while, and best not to disturb a woman at her work.

We never know what will inspire us. I, myself, was surprised that this owl had been calling out to be drawn for days. What I do know, is that when we’re inspired, it’s good to listen.

 

 

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JBalsam-Horse-WatersEdge2Sometimes there is just too much to do … as I’m sure any of you can attest. Between work and shoveling snow … and shoveling snow … and shoveling snow … and just taking care of day to day life, things that really matter can sometimes be sitting on the sidelines. Children’s books are always in my head, so if I don’t have the time to be writing or dummying, illustrating  or prepping something to send to an agent or editor, I can do something else … I can turn out a sketch.

This sketch is of a bay pony at water’s edge and from a calendar given to me by a friend who is so helpful in keeping me inspired to write. Well, this time, I drew, but that’s OK, because I’ve still got my hand in.

 

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What to do when you’ve been too long away from one’s children’s book illustrations? Get back in! And sometimes how I get back in is to wade in – so to speak – with a totally different subject matter than that of my current children’s book.

I’ve just been thinking of horses for a number of reasons, so started to look through some reference material, deciding on a color photo of 2 mares and their foals. Simple pen and ink, something that I always enjoy working in and is a very relaxing medium for me.

The result – tada!

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As creatives, we often find ourselves stuck – like there’s something in front of us that we know we can only trip over. We don’t want to risk hurting ourselves so we don’t go forward. While staying in place is the seemingly safer path, in the long run it is far more painful. When we don’t try, we don’t grow. Not pushing through ultimately makes us frustrated, depressed, anxious – all the emotions that we don’t want to feel. Ironically, these are good things in the sense that they are signposts showing us the way …when we look at our writing pads, computers, sketchbooks, cameras, canvases, etc and feel those emotions, we see right where our issues are. Thank them and let them go.

As both an artist and a writer, I need to make time for my craft one way or another every day. Because I journal every morning, my writing skills are always kept well-oiled and in gear. While I do need to get new things down, edit and refine, it is much less effort because the fluidity is there. Or I blog, all so I can focus on my real craft, writing for children.

As for my drawing, that takes more effort. Many years ago, when I was in Pratt, our instructors had specific requirements of us students. From when we first took 2-D (drawing) in freshman year, we were required to have our sketchbook with us 24/7. And so we did. When I began to become more involved with photography in my junior year, we were required to carry our camera with us 24/7. Both these exercises had the same result – if you had it with you, you used it.

We began to draw and photograph each other, the cat, the campus, the subway – didn’t matter – it became a routine because that sketchbook or camera was attached at the hip. Admittedly, one felt like a fool after awhile having it there and ignoring it even when going through a dry patch. The bottom line is, make it easy for yourself, be kind, and without criticism, just do it.

All the moaning and excuses in the world won’t get any project advanced, but tinkering about with our craft will. What I’ve found is that even while we’re busily avoiding exactly what it is we truly need to get done, we can trick ourselves by doing something else. For example, I have a heap of work I want to do to strengthen my portfolio. It’s a big task and a lot to do. I really am psyched. But the enormity of it sets me back a bit. Should I do nothing? No – I decided to just draw other things – a little oil in the gears, and then I’m going.

This tree frog I drew has nothing to do with portfolio requirements. It had everything to do with actively kicking aside whatever might be there to trip me. So for all of us – take the back door approach if you will – draw, write, paint, doodle something … anything … just do it!

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