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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.

Week 4 - Visual Vocabulary Part 2

Splashing it up

Kelly Clark

"Every artist dips [her] brush into [her] own soul, and paints [her] own nature into her pictures."  - Henry Ward Beecher

Happy Friday!  We talked on Monday about a couple ways to approach using color, and began collecting a handful of colorful objects to have on hand.  Then Wednesday we began stretching our creative phalanges by mark making and doodling.  Let's get to playing with them all together, shall we?

Week 4 Home[play]: Color Play

Have your sketchbooks, your colorful objects, and your personal selection of color-making tools at the ready!   You might use colored pencils, watercolors, acrylic paint, markers, pastels, cut out bits of color from various paper sources, or a grand combination of them all.


We will be splashing through our sketchbooks, doodling in chroma, recording color, adding saturated thoughts to our pages past and future.  I like to begin by starting with a single colorful object and making loose references and abstract shapes (puddles of color, thick stripes, loose shapes that may or may not reference the object at hand).  I might think of creating an atmospheric haze of color, a geometric pattern in which different shapes get to become different hues, or even loosely drawn objects filled in with their respective colors.  Really we're just trying to get some of that fabulous chroma in our sketchbooks, a.k.a. reference tool boxes, a.k.a. visual vocabulary.   

Take a peek through your sketchbook and begin adding in bits of color: You might want to add onto your intentional doodling pages, or perhaps add color to your "found and collected object" pages, you might look back through your exploration pages and add swatches of color that help bring a new dimension to your notes.  Similarly to how we played with intentional doodling, this is a great way to keep your hand loose and listen for any cues your intention gives.  You may even put down a block of color on a new page and allow yourself to free associate with what thoughts, ideas, places, objects that color brings up in you.


Anytime you feel yourself becoming stuck, or getting too tight, try switching up colors OR even switching up mediums.  If you've been working in color pencil, and find yourself feeling fussy, try cutting out a big shape from a magazine or catalogue, or put some paint right on your fingertips and smooth it across the page.  And if your intuition directs you to the canvas, the rolled hide of leather and antiques, your bundles of yarn or the tiny pots of enamel powder, FOLLOW IT!  When we do this type of work, we're opening the doors for our intuition to come through, for our inner child to play, and our muse to speak out loud!  


Have fun, get a little messy, splash it up, and if you're so inclined, show us what you're playing with in the FaceBook group! 

In love of all things free and colorful,

- K

Making Your Mark

Kelly Clark

“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing” - Pablo Picasso

So we've all done it: filling the corners of semi-important paperwork, down the sides of notepads, even covering the outside of binders back in the school days.  I'm here to tell you today that all that doodling you always was thought was mindless is GOOD.  Even better than good, it's GREAT.   


We spent some time last week developing our visual vocabulary by looking back to the work in our past; it's time to start moving forward to our future work now.  When we take on doodling as an intentional action a few beautiful things happen:  Our hand relaxes (there is nothing precise we're trying to render), our gaze relaxes (freeing our minds of focused work), our intuition has the time and space to speak a little louder, and at the end, we are left with a whole collection of marks to use and incorporate into our work as we see fit (as well as adapt as symbols in our work!). 

Two weeks ago we did up sketches in our books based on the things we could collect and study.  Today we'll be playing with an exercise that begins with similar perimeters, but rather than looking outward, we'll be looking inward and allowing our hand to dictate what appears on paper.  

Now for those whose preferred medium is not pencil or paint, I'd like to speak on why this is a particularly interesting way to play.  When we free our minds and hands to doodle, we come up with a plethora of marks to use.  In metal or leather, these marks and patterns can translate into stamped, rolled or etched textures.  In fabric or collage they might become shapes to layer and applique or even hand stitch.  After I sit down to a good mark making session I'll often examine my smithing tools AND wander around my house looking for surfaces, textures, stamps that look like the marks I just drew and might be useful in transferring them to my particular medium.  When I sit down to a fresh sheet of watercolor paper or a blank canvas, I'll open my sketchbook to those doodling pages and see if there are any marks I want to incorporate right then.


Week 4 Home[play]: Mark Making

(you lucky ladies - it's a double homeplay week!) 

Set aside some gentle (and breakable if desire be - by all means, play and draw as long as feels great!) perimeters: I'd like you to either take 20 minutes OR fill a page.  Put on some music, light a candle, be present in your studio space and just start doodling.  For some it is easiest to begin by thinking about making a mandala: make a tiny circle or center point on your page, and begin by creating circles or marks and doodles around it, radiating out until the page is filled.  For others starting in a corner and allowing your marks to spread like vines, growing out and across the paper works best.  For still others, dividing the page into a quick grid of nine boxes and then filling one small box at a time feels good (and quite manageable).  And like so many of my own drawing exercises, I love to keep a couple interesting things on hand to look at - just in case I feel a bit lost at any moment there is something at the ready to examine and a new shape to draw.  There is no wrong way to do this!  Try on different marks, swirls, geometric shapes - the more variety you have, the more you'll be able to pull from as you create future work.


And of course, if you're in the Facebook group and feel inspired to share your mark-making-doodle-a-thons, please do!  Cock-a-Doodlly-doo! 

- K


Kelly Clark

“Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found.” - James Russell Lowell

It's time to get juicy!  And by juicy, I mean, let's talk about color! 


Now there are as many ways to use color as there are names of colors, so what we're doing here is just expanding and experimenting with ways we can incorporate color into our visual vocabulary.

If I were to ask you to tell me your favorite color, or even top five, most of us would be able to come up with a list pretty quick.  Keep those colors in mind (or even better, create it in your sketchbook with paint, marker, pencil), but let's really begin by taking a look at our surroundings.  When you glance around your home, what colors continually pop up, or stand out above others?  What colors reoccur in wall color, pillows and blankets, you favorite mugs, your wardrobe?  Sometimes our "favorite" might not actually be the one we surround ourselves with, and sometimes the colors we surround ourselves with are not really our favorites (but they may be the colors we "need").  Take a moment and check in with your intuition: what colors make you feel, what colors are you drawn to, which ones allow you to take a deep breath or stir a little energy in your soul?  Note down those colors as well - they may be the ones speaking loudest to you right now.  As ever, we're not judging, we're simply observing and noting the chroma in our lives.  


I like to use color in two very broad ways: Intuitively and Informatively

When you open your pencil box or watercolor pans, when you survey your fabric stash or cabochon collection, what colors grab your eye and make your fingers itch?  When you quiet down and search inside for what feels right, and then put a big swath of green on paper, that's intuition speaking.  As we've said before, we may not know if it has, or even needs meaning, we just know it feels good.  So go with it!  

But sometimes we're trying to convey something a little more specific, and this is where developing your informative sense of colors comes into play.  While I love to let my intuition dictate color choices, I also love the idea of using color to layer in meaning, feeling, symbolism.  Just about every color out there has a rich history, be it social, cultural, environmental or highly individual.  The whole color family of Blue can stand in for a great many things: any form of water, the sky above, the idea of flow, the Holy family, the 5th chakra and our voice/self expression, blue birds and summer berries.  Sometimes we can even allow a color to stand in for a concept or object and release the specific image entirely - the way that a creamy, vibrant orange might say "papaya" without even needing a picture of the fruit, or an intense red background immediately can read "passion" or "struggle" without any additional cues from imagery.  Layering multiple monochromatic shades of green can read as "nature" or "landscape" without a single leaf or tree.  When we make chromatic choices in our art, even the small act of recognizing how we use color can create deeper, richer work.  And sometimes, just allowing our associations with color to play in our mind opens the doors to inspiration.   


To start off our week, I'd like you to take another slow walk around your home, your neighborhood, your city streets and wild places.  Similar to the way we gathered bits and bobbles to observe and draw, I'd like you to gather up some color and arrange it in your studio space.  They might be house hold objects, pictures, stones and beads, scarves or string, autumn foliage or found feathers, even some tubes of paint but gather a few colorful items that call your name.  This very act of gathering is a great way to allow your intuition to guide, and the items you choose may or may not have immediate color associations for you.  Either way, take note of the colors that end up in hand or on desk, and we'll begin playing with them later this week! 

Like rainbows and lolly pops,

- K