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I am UmberDove.

And by that, I mean an artist.  One who hears stories in the wind, who paints because it is what her soul tells her to do, who smiths because the muse moves through her fingertips, who loves nothing more than the promise of an unexplored trail, the sound of the ocean in her ears, and scent of a serious cup of coffee.

New Blog

Putting it to Paper

Kelly Clark

"Don't wait for inspiration - it comes while one is working."  - Henri Matisse

Good Friday to you all!  How are you feeling?  Today we're going to really put those sketchbooks and pencils to use and begin drawing!  Now for those who are not skipping and dancing at the thought of drawing, I'd like to open a quick dialogue.

Firstly:  Drawing for the vast, vast majority of us is a learned skill.  Very few come out of the womb ready to work up detailed renderings of botanical illustrations or human portraiture!  Like playing piano or doing the triple jump in track and field, it is a combination of brain-learning and body-learning.  The more we draw, the more we teach our hand the lines and shapes we want to create.  This is truly muscle memory!  Let's think of this as educating our hands to draw, whether we've been drawing for years or we're just beginning.  And while we're at it, let's think about how you would treat someone who was just learning how to make a certain shape or to render an image.  They're trying to figure it out, they're studying shapes, they're giving it their best; we'd treat them with compassion and patience.  Your hand is that someone!  Have patience with it (and with you), holding the knowledge that practice brings both comfort and skill.


When I'm working through a grand plethora of ideas, when I'm searching for new ones, when I just need to step away from the work on my easel or smithing bench, I'll often pull out my sketchbook and just try to get my hands moving.  

There is a common practice in writing wherein writer will set a timer or set a number of pages and just write.  The idea is that you'll begin by putting down the things you know, the things at the forefront of your mind, the things that "should" be put down.  But somewhere along the way, you will step past all that fluff and hit on some deeper truths, thoughts or ideas - the things that might not have been accessible to you right off the bat.  This is akin to "stream of consciousness" leading to the real heart of the matter, and absolutely an exercise in intuition!  That exterior begins to fade back and the interior dialogue / knowledge becomes clearer. 


It is in this same spirit of cutting through the fluff, of exploration and listening that we will be drawing!  On Wednesday I asked you gather a few objects from your home or surroundings.   These are your starter points, your reference objects.  As I've said before, sometimes nothing will cause one to draw a blank faster then facing that big empty page!  As you sit with your sketchbook and your array of gathered objects, pick one thing that you feel particularly drawn to, and begin loosely recording it on paper.  This is just for you, just for your sketchbook, your reference, your tool chest of ideas, so nothing needs to be perfect!  If you feel your judging mind start to step in, ask it if these objects really need to be realistic OR if they can just be recognizable (there's a big, big difference between the two!) OR if they even need to look like objects!  Look at it from different angles, see if there are any patterns you want to draw, any lines that seem interesting to you - even if they look nothing like the object as a whole!  


As you draw, check in with yourself: was there a particular shape that felt good to draw?  Draw that shape some more - I have filled pages with just leaves or mandalas.  Did a thought pop into your head?  Write it down - this is a beautiful way to tap into that internal inspiration!  And if no thoughts have come yet, then do you want to move onto a different object?  If you find yourself honing in on one small corner, or one small detail, ask: does this feel good?  If so, keep at it!  If not, stretch your arms, give them a little wiggle, shake up that energy and listen in for what feels good. 

No matter what, just remember a couple key points: (1) we're strengthening our eye-brain-hand communication - building those new synapses and teaching our hands new muscle memories, (2) your sketchbook is yours, there is no judgment here, and (3) all of this is an exploration; we're just stepping up to inspiration from all different angles, listening for what feels true and right, for what turns us on and lights us up.  ANYTHING GOES.  

Week 2 Home[play]: Putting it to Paper

Your home[play] for this weekend will be to create Exploration Pages.  Have some goodies on hand to look at, but if you're in a pinch (or you already ate your pomegranate), even some photos of interesting objects will do.  Set a time (no less than 10 minutes, but I like giving myself about 20 for this exercise) or an amount of space in your sketchbook to fill (I did one 8.5" x 11" page in the video above) - but of course if you want to draw longer or turn the page, DO IT.  

Begin with the object you're most drawn to and begin sketching - this can be as simple as making a silhouette or picking out one detail.  Repeat shapes as they feel good, make notes, make big sweeping moves with your hand, move on to the next object as soon as you feel done with one, and basically allow your thoughts to follow your fingers.  You're just exploring, seeing what comes up, what associations may rise, what small shapes, ideas or marks you are attracted to, allowing your intuition to speak through your hands and fill up that glorious tool of a sketchbook!


Pencils up, papers down ladies! 

Have a grand weekend and if you feel called to share your pages in the FaceBook group, well, we'd LOVE to see them!

- K

Live Q&A Session

Kelly Clark

I love, LOVE doing these!  Feel free to write me or post in the FB group with any thoughts, ideas, or clarifications you may desire - we are a beautiful community of artists who ALL have great information to share.   Our next live Q&A session will be on Wednesday October 23rd at 6pm PST; I'll be looking forward to it!

Trusting the Within

Kelly Clark

"No great artist ever sees things as they really are.  If [she] did, [she] would cease to be an artist." - Oscar Wilde 

Let's talk a bit about WHY we're working with intuition, shall we?

To recap and expand a bit:

- Your intuition is valid and trustworthy.  So much of intuition is listening for that still small voice inside and trusting that it will lead you ever closer to you.   And the more we quiet the busyness of the external world and listen in, the easier it gets.  Join me here and now, and say it out loud (I mean it, don't cheat and mutter the words under your breath!):  "My intuition is valid.  My ideas are great.  I trust the work of my hands and I know that it is TRUE."

- Source is endless.  There is never, ever a limit to the ideas and inspirations that exist, and the more we tap in, the more there is to receive.  Because of this, all that old business of someone else has done it, that's someone else's territory really falls off.  The whole world stands before you with limitless possibility - and how GREAT does that feel?  

Prepping for Week 2's second Home[play]: 

- Start physically gathering up those bits and pieces that you are interested in, those things that something inside says "hey, pick that up!"  I love to gather bits of nature because I find that the lines, shapes, colors and forms the earth creates are endlessly fascinating, but know that anything you gather is the right thing to gather.  As you walk around and examine your surrounds, just remember to keep checking in, allowing your feet to wander, remembering there is no need for judgement or reason in this exercise, and pick up what feels good.  Have your collection ready for Friday when we'll really start playing with them!

Be well my sisters! 

- K


What Feels GoooOooOood

Kelly Clark

"You don't make art, you find it." - Pablo Picasso

Good Monday Ladies!  This week we'll be stepping into our discussion on Intuition.  Now this may be one of those trigger words wherein you feel a spark of excitement, or it could be one of those words that sounds like pulling a rabbit out of a hat and you're not buying the gig.  Either way, I believe it is a vital part of creating and here's why:

Working with your intuition is just another way of compiling inspiration as well as information.  Last week we began by exercising our conscious minds, actively looking, remembering, thinking, deducing.  When we begin exercising our gut feelings, our intuition, or our subconscious mind, we engage an all new section of our mind's capacity for thought.  Double your brain power!


If you've ever had the experience of working on a piece of art and really feeling like you need to use red even though you never use red, or that it needs to be bigger even though you always work smaller, then you've felt your intuition.  Sometimes we don't know (and don't need to know) exactly why we've done something until after it's done.  And sometimes not even then.  That's intuition!  For me, much of my work has a balance of elements that I've really looked close at, that I've drawn out, played with in my mind, that have meanings and associations for me, AS WELL AS elements that just felt really, really good.  Sometimes as I work on the piece (or even after I finish it) I realize why the background to that painting needed to be salmon pink, or why those three very different stones needed to be placed together on that ring.  Sometimes I just know I love it.  And here's the deal:  Each reason (or lack of "reason" as the case may be) is just as valid as the other!   The most important thing here is that, as we develop a piece of art, we keep "checking in" with ourselves and asking "does this feel good?  Ok!  Let's keep at it then."

This week we're going to start checking in with what feels good and exercising that intuition muscle.  Like everything else, actively hearing your intuition is a practice that few people simply grow up with - it is a skill that can be developed.  When I say "checking in" I think about stepping out of my own way and seeing what flows.  If I'm in the studio, what I physically do is this:  Let's say I'm trying to decide what color paint to squeeze onto my palette.  I'll place one hand on my belly (because I swear, my intuition does not reside in my brain) and see, or really, feel in my body what color jumps out.  It might be just the tiniest squawk of "viridian green" or it might be a shout that bellows "hansa yellow!"  Either way, I don't over analyze if it's the "right" color, I just let it feel right.


Of course we can exercise our intuition pretty much anywhere we are, studio or no!   

Week 2:  Working with what feels good. 

Your first home[play] of Week 2 will be to exercise that intuition!  I'd like you to plan out some time this week - it'd be great if you can find an hour to dedicate to this, but even 10 minutes will do - and schedule yourself an artist date/ personal hour.  While I find it helpful to have a place to start, past that, you will not be scheduling out every detail of where you'll go and what you'll do.  Instead, you'll be checking in with yourself every time even a small decision arrises and really feeling out what just feels good.  Bring your sketchbook and pencils, maybe your camera too, just to have them at the ready in case your intuition requires them!

Here are some ideas for your artist date: 


- Start with a walk around your neighborhood, a local park or a trail system.  Walk a little slower than normal, keeping your eyes open, and every time you reach an intersection or a junction in the path, check in.  Which direction feels right?  Is there a tiny tug in your belly to turn to the left or right?  Do you want to stop and just sit under that tree or turn back and go really study those poppy pods? Do It!

- Head to your local coffee shop, wine bar, or cafe.  Don't just autopilot when you order, check in and feel out what you really want.  Does it feel right to stay there and write in your sketchbook or journal?  Does it actually feel more right to get a beverage to go and then enjoy it someplace else? 

- Visit your local art store (I know, danger! danger!)  and head to the area that holds your favorite medium (paint, pencils, inks, etc.).  Check in and feel out what individual color shouts out to you.  Is it just barely a shade off of your favorite color back home?  Is it a wild neon green that doesn't even "look" like you?  Take that baby home.  Your intuition wants to play with it.

- The above ideas are just a starting place - feel MORE than free to create your own artist date!  The only rules here are (1) you must do something that feels good, (2) just give yourself a starting point or place - leave the rest open for listening to what feels right and (3) keep checking in with yourself, your body - remember that hand on the belly - and your intuition! 

All we're doing here is raising awareness of our intuition because through awareness, we can develop trust.  And when we begin trusting our intuition, so many of those small questions of doubt begin shrinking in size because we KNOW it feels right.  Right in our bellies.  

Get out there, don't over think it, and make it feel good! 

- K