Friday, January 29, 2016

Chemical Coast

The pollution of the worlds precious coastal zones has been on my mind a lot lately. As industrial and commercial facilities increase in coastal areas, the health of these pivotal and delicate ecosystems is being poisoned. The rising ocean levels, and various human activity on and off shore are causing rapid changes to these pivotal areas. Coastal zones are the contact zone between land and the open ocean, and are one of the most sensitive, bio diverse and biologically active environments.

This small piece is called "Chemical Coast". 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Last year, instead of sending out Christmas cards I decided to do something different and I made Christmas zines. Above is the center spread from my little Christmas card zine, below was the front cover. I had a page for each family member with a photo, illustrated banner, and hand lettered info about major events and accomplishments through out the year. I don't really know what my friends and family though about them, but I sure had fun making them.

Zines are super fun to make, and to collect. I am writing a future post all about zines, and how to get started. Stay tuned...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Is Coloring Just a Fad?

Coloring Books for Adults—they are everywhere right now it seems, from your local bookstore to the grocery store checkout tucked in-between the tabloids, and the variety and themes are endless. Capitalizing on the self-help, mindfulness and meditation markets, they come with a plethora of promised benefits. Are they worth it? Are they a waste of productivity?  

I have a couple of thoughts. First, it is not my intention to discourage anyone who currently enjoys coloring. I think if you feel you are getting benefits, that is wonderful and it certainly isn’t harmful. However, while coloring books may help us relax, I do think they rob us of the benefits that a true creative practice has to offer.

As a child, I distinctly remember a trend in the mid 1980’s of anti-coloring books. I had a couple of these, and their goal was to encourage doodling and drawing, by offering prompts, ideas, and half-drawn images. I believe they are still on the market, being aimed at grade school children. They effectively enhance creativity, and improve self-esteem, by helping children get a start in discovering their own abilities, and uniqueness. It is so strange to me that we seem to be moving backwards when approaching adults.

I also suspect many people engaging in coloring will eventually get bored with this activity and give it up. You can only go so far as a colorist, and while you may never run out of different color palettes, and color schemes to play with, the fact still remains—all you are doing is adding color to someone else’s work. 

It only takes a little practice in doodling to be able to create unique coloring pages, and gain a whole other level of creative benefits.

So, where does the popularity of this trend originate? Is it nostalgia for childhood? Is it delight with the artwork? (I’ve considered buying a few myself, not for coloring purposes, but because I loved the artwork.) Or is it to soothe the buried aspirations of so many, who love art and color, but were taught not to think of themselves as creative? If you color, what keeps you from going the next step, into doodling, or art journaling, or sketching? Maybe coloring will lead people to explore their creativity in more unique ways?

One of my art journal pages, using scraps of paper, Washi tape and colored inks.

Who knows, maybe the next trend will be more anti-coloring books?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Starting a Daily Art Habit

For someone new to art making, doodling can be one of the best ways to begin. You don’t need to have any ideas about what to draw, and you don’t need any particular skill. If you can somehow hold a pen or a pencil, you’ve got it made. 

Out of the many ways to doodle, I find the simplest one to start out with is abstract doodling, where I start by just drawing a shape, or a symbol, or even just a line. From there, I make another shape, symbol, or line and connect them and  just continue on, embellishing things as I go.

 I love color, and I like to have at least a few different colors of ball point pens around for doodling. I especially like the 4-in-one Bic pens for this, since changing the color is as simple as a flip of the thumb, perfect for work meetings. I also really like the Zebra Z-Grip ballpoint pens, and they come in a lovely variety of colors.

Doodling has been shown to increase concentration and recall. I find that it is a nice way to wind down before bed, and leaves me with a sense of accomplishment. 

I also really like felt tip ink pens, gel pens and markers. Colored paper, or card stock, is fun as well. I make every effort to doodle, at least a little, every day.
In progress...


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Health and Creativity

Trout Stream. Watercolor, pen and ink

The health benefits of creativity are well known, and established in both the medical and mental health fields. While art and music are often promoted and encouraged in preschool, and kindergarten classes, as a healthy and necessary part of child development, people are frequently discouraged from taking up creative activities as teens and adults.

Sentiments abound on how creative arts are a waste of time, selfish pursuits, or things that will make us poor. In some extremes, there is even a fear that a creative pursuit will turn you into a delinquent, encourage you to drop out of school, quit your job, and ruin your life. Many grow up under the impression that only special people, with special talents, can be creative, and are told they aren't good enough, that they don't have "it". The common theme between these harmful assumptions, is a viewpoint born of materialism, where everything is seen through a lens of profit, judged only by sell-ability and the potential for monetary gain.

It is time for a change of mind. What if we all grew up to view a creative pursuit as a healthy habit, no different from exercise or eating nutritious food? What if you were encouraged to do it for your health? Here are a few of the documented health benefits:
  • Lowers stress
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Relieves anxiety
  • Prevents burnout
  • Enhances esteem and self-confidence
  • Raises levels of neurotransmitters in the brain
  • Increases feelings of well being 
  • Feelings of self improvement and self development
  • Improves problem solving skills
A creative pursuit can even make you better at your job! The best part is, it's fun, and it doesn't require much time (even 10 minutes is good for you). There are a multitude of creative pursuits, and while some of them do require time and money, many don't. You can buy a pen and a pad of paper for $2 at your local dollar store. That's the about the cheapest therapy there is! 

Trees, sketch, pen and ink