Ever a story... waiting to be told

Sunday, December 29, 2013

No, But Yes

"Mooring Lines" WIP 9 x 12 Graphite
I was out of the studio for several days, so I worked on this graphite drawing in my field book. Much of it was accomplished while riding in the car to my Dad's house on Lake Erie. 
The rope and chain came from his barn, and the gorgeous old wood is part of his neighbor's dock, built from old railroad ties. I want to create another semi-abstract piece, focusing on the composition and the flow of the shapes and lines, rather than the subject matter. I also purposely did not pre-plan the composition. I've erased and moved things around several times already, letting my mind and hands do what seems right at the time. That's part of the reason I love working with graphite so much. The expression it allows me. 
Now that I'm back IN the studio, though, the field book has been closed, and tucked away in my backpack, along with my little bin of traveling pencils. It will wait patiently for another day, when I find myself heading out somewhere, and knowing that I'll have a little bit of time to draw while I'm there.  That's kind of what makes these field books drawings extra special: the circumstances under which they come about, and the long pauses in the process.
Oh, why did I title this post "No, But Yes"? I was thinking about how everybody everywhere is setting their New Years' resolutions...
No,  I'm not a big believer in making a bunch of resolutions just because it's a new year.
But yes,  I am a big believer in reflecting back over the past year, and learning from my experiences. I think I learned two really huge things about myself and my art this year.
1. I shouldn't agree to draw something unless I feel a true passion for the project.
The worst experience I had with my art this year was when I agreed to draw something that I just didn't find appealing. The subject didn't lend itself to good composition at all, and it lacked any color or detail that might be featured. Also, I had promised a particular sized drawing in a particular medium ahead of time, before seeing the subject. There was very little opportunity to use my own creativity, or to do all the things that I like to do with my own drawings.  I should have turned the job down, and offered names of other artists whom I knew. Lesson Learned.
2. I have to stop measuring my work in comparison to other artists' work.
Despite all my talk about how important it is to have one's own unique style... I still feel a little embarrassed when I see my work hanging in a show amid works that are more traditional than my own. I feel like mine is somehow inferior, or looks too storybookish, or just too unusual, and I inwardly chastise myself for not making something more customary and expected,  to blend in with what other artists have brought. I have to let go of that thinking. I really need to trust my own instincts and draw what I want to draw, and not be swayed by what anybody else is doing. I can't really write 'Lesson Learned' here... because I have a feeling I'm going to relive those kind of moments a few more times before I really get that lesson ingrained in my mind.  But I'm working on it!

How about you? What do you discover about yourself and your art when you think back over the past year?


  1. I love your drawings and your strong unique voice, Katherine. The fact that your highly detailed pieces tell such interesting stories is all part of the grandeur and appeal of your imaginative art. "Imagination is more important than knowledge" ~ Albert Einstein Wishing you an exciting, fulfilling and magical 2014! xo Sandy

  2. Best wishes for a very Happy and Healthy New Year Katherine. Love the graphite drawing and you're so lucky to have a great source of ideas/photos at your Dad's place.

    I so agree about not measuring your work against the work of other artists. Its good to see what others are doing but we all have our own styles which appeal to different viewers and there is plenty of room out there for everybody! Too easy to get depressed about not being able to recreate the style of an artist who is currently deemed fashionable and saleable .. good for them ... our time will come!

    You have a very unique and lovely style and a lot of followers here who admire you so why worry about what others do/say?

  3. Wow, you got this beautiful drawing done while traveling? Amazing :) As usual your post gives us a lot to think about. Your style says you like no one else and that is to be envied.... wishing you a creative and Happy New Year!

  4. NICE Work, as always!!!
    May you have a Blessed and Happy 2014!

  5. Love the drawing. You excel in all the important art areas which are important to you. You belong to the Cream of the Crop when it comes to realism with imagination. I do look at work by other artists I admire with great pleasure - like yours - but I found although I can do a reasonable "copy" of someone's style, I can never duplicate it when creating on my own. We evolve and change within our own style too.
    Good question and interesting post. Thanks Katherine

  6. You have certainly hit upon a style that is so unique, that stands out among others to tell a story, that makes the viwer think. Your journey in this past year has been inspiring, keep up the great work Katherine, all the best for the new creative year!

  7. I do not make resolutions either. I live a life of guilt and worry so why add more pressure to myself? LOL I think this is a gorgeous piece and I love the composition. I never noticed the gorgeous patterns in a railroad tie before. Usually they are so soaked in creosote that I kind of get caught up in the smell (I love that smell). I imagine when not treated with creosote and left to weather, they would highlight the beautiful patterns and whorls within.

    I cannot believe you would ever feel your work is weird or inferior. I think your work is amazing and I so love that piece Detention...your raggedy ballerinas, your awesome compositions. I love the way you think and find it similar to my own way of thinking. I'd give so much to have your talent!!

  8. Hey K!

    In a knee-jerk reaction to your second "resolution," I say "YES!" I think that other artists view your work and wish they had YOUR eye and imagination!!! You see and capture details in ordinary objects that others don't. It is what makes your work stand out in an extraordinary way!!! You most definitely have your own style.

    Also, total agreement on #1. Time and talent is too precious. Don't spend it on subjects/commissions you don't have a passion for because you don't have to. Let the "starving" artists do that!

    Happy 2014, dear friend!

  9. I have been lurking for a while now and so enjoy your drawings and hearing your "voice." We all share your reservations about commissioned work. It can be a real drain when you work on something that doesn't thrill you. I would address your second concern with what I learned myself this last year. I participate now in shows where I know my work will fit in. My style is unique also which is a good thing. Therefore I look around for venues that will support how I want my work to be seen.

    Maybe that information will help; I hope it does. Take care and keep on doing what you are doing:)

  10. I love visiting other Artists' blogs so I can enjoy the variety of all the paintings.. I've said it before but its like visiting art museums everyday... Everyone paints differently which makes it more interesting...You did such an AMAZING job on "Mooring Lines", Katherine!!! I don't know how you had such patience for this piece!!! You are not only an wonderful artist, but I think you should write a book... l always enjoy reading your posts...

  11. Katherine it looks to me like you came up with two great thoughts/reflections. Definitely your work is superb and your voice always comes through and so therefore it should never be considered unworthy. I always enjoy seeing it. Have a Happy New Year.

  12. Outstanding textures and I love how you work the graphite pencil, such beautiful values! I am guilty of the same with your second point but can only imagine how other artist must feel hanging their work next to yours!
    I wish you a healthy and happy 2014!

  13. Hi Katherine, wonderful drawing!
    I liked what you discovered about your art and agree 100%, draw only for passion and pleasure and never compare yourself with others!
    What I discovered about me is that I love art and crafts, and they are supposed to be fun and not a seek for perfection…
    Have a very Happy New Year!

  14. Insightful and well said. I believe our art shares a common source of inspiration and motivation. We are both story tellers.
    If you have not done so, I recommend reading THE COURAGE TO CREATE, by Rollo May.
    Keep up the great work, and Happy New year.

  15. I love this drawing, Katherine! The subject is very appealing to me ... and too you too, I see.
    It's pure torture to try to make something of a subject you have no feeling for; I've always been afraid to take commissions for that (among other) reasons.
    When I see other artists' work, I always see things I like so much more than mine ... maybe it can't be helped. But maybe I could succeed in trying to feel inspired rather than disappointed in myself.
    Happy New Year!

  16. I love old rope or string so this beautiful drawing appeals to me. Please don't change to 'blend' in, your work is unique and that's what makes it special.
    Happy New Year!

  17. I agree wholeheartedly with #2 above - only compare yourself to you! If you see work you are happy with, if you are progressing in your work, if you are painting what you enjoy and doing it well, that's what you compare to, nothing else. You have your unique take on things, so paint your own way, don't even try to fit in! As you go on, you may find others who paint in a similar style or subject matter, but your work will show your own interpretation. You are doing great work, keep it up!

  18. Happy New Year Katherine. Your ability to draw to this level while in a moving vehicle is extraordinary. I would be queasy in minutes.

    Let your style shine, it is your signature and becomes recognizable as your mark in the art world. I look at others work and think I wish I could paint like that too, but when I get the support from peers and sales in galleries it makes me realize that my voice is valid and appreciated for what it is. Me!

    I don't make resolutions, but I set goals in art, rather like a business plan. I review the previous year, see what was successful and what needed work or a different approach then move forward. Without goals, you cannot evaluate progress and you end up drifting. Also tangible goals become the deadlines that are so good at fueling activity. Goals are not set in stone and I often go off track when other opportunities present themselves or if something just "doesn't feel right".

    Keep on doing what you're doing. Its working!

  19. Thanks for being a new follower. I'm so glad you stopped by my blog for a visit so that I could now discover your Blog! Your drawings are absolutely amazing!
    Best wishes for a super 2014 - with lots of creativity, good health and joy!


  20. I see so many artists who make works I'd love to be able to make but can't, won't, or whatever reason, do them. I enjoy making what I do. I try on techniques others use and if they fit, I do them my own way. Do I feel intimidated or as "less" an artist? For sure at times I do but I don't want to ruin the times I have when making my art. When doing it "my way" I lose track of time, don't worry or stress. I have fun (just as you found when you had to do a not so fun commission) when I do what I want to do and how I want to do it. So my solution? Well, want to be solution anyhow, is to buy pieces from artists I admire and put them on a wall so I have the pieces I can't, won't or shan't do myself. If I get a wall and fill it this way I figure it's the best of both worlds. I do what I want, enjoy the pictures of others plus support the other artists in their endeavors. I only have one painting so far. I bought a small painting of pears to hang in my kitchen but I hope to make room on a wall for a gallery of artist friend's paintings. Doesn't that sound like even more fun than worrying about not being as good as they are? But, your work IS good and someday I hope to have a piece. You just need to keep reminding yourself you are good as you are. It takes that telling to yourself over and over. No one is immune. Shoot, all the Greek god stories and Roman god stories tell about wanting to do and be like someone else so it's certainly not something we are going to get over soon I think. Finding a way to be happy with ourselves is the key and you know, down inside, you really don't want to do it someone else's way. You really do like your own work. It's good to talk about it though as we all get to remind ourselves yet again, that there are as many ways to make art as their are artists! My New Year's resolution then, since I hadn't thought of one yet, is to keep reminding myself of what I just said here 'cause I need to be reminded a lot! ; )

  21. Happy new year to you. I really love your drawing, textured rope and weathered wood are both fascinating subjects to capture. A subject I have also enjoyed .

  22. Happy New Year, Katherine! Be what you are fully. Can you affirm what you were/have been/are? Then, can you say yes to what you will be? Please stop hurting yourself any more. Have a wonderful and productive 2014.
    Best wishes, Sadami

  23. Happy New Year! I agree with Sadami :) With regard to art, you have to do what feels right and brings you joy.
    I like "Mooring Line" -- the textures are so good!
    And wishing you a happy, healthy, peaceful and creative 2014!

  24. Beautiful work Katherine!

    I think it's great that you have resolved to only take on work that speaks to you. Not that I've ever had many commissions but I do know that they can very easily suck your soul dry.

    I imagine every artist compares themselves to others and agonises over their own style - or lack of; I certainly do. But I think you have less reason to than most. You shine out amongst the pack so keep doing what you are doing - it's beautiful!
    I hope 2014 is a very happy and rewarding year for you.

  25. so beautifully drawn katherine .... it's a subject that i love