A Recovery Blog
This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Monday, April 9, 2018
Thursday, April 5, 2018
This is an 8"x8" drawing that I did on clay board of a very dear friend's daughters. My plan was to try out some Sennelier egg tempera paints to do this portrait. It's been sitting on my drawing table against the wall for about a week. I painted a self-portrait in egg tempera about twenty years ago. Here it is:
This portrait was done just before I entered into psychosis in 1998. I was in art school at the time and, though I wasn't psychotic yet, I was still struggling. I liked working with the egg tempera that I concocted at home with dry pigments, water and egg yolk. I think I mixed some watercolor into the yolk, but I'm not sure. I gave the portrait to my parents. I don't think my mother liked it too much, but I gave it anyway.
So here I am about to try another portrait and I'm lacking in confidence. Intellectually I know it is foolish to be afraid to begin painting a portrait. And in my heart I know that what I respond to is the process. I also like documenting the process and seeing the stages the work goes through. So I know I want to do this portrait of my friend's daughters and I don't want to give up on it. I just got some 140 lb hot pressed watercolor paper also in the 8"x8" size and I thought I could try to do another drawing of them and try out watercolor. I'm not yet confident with the watercolors either, but the only way to get the confidence is through practice.
I think fear is my greatest character defect. Fear of failure, fear of success. And this is why having a regular art practice might be a good direction for me because I have to begin again all the time. I have to somehow face the fear and get past it.
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Approximately 8"x10", 98 lb paper, Sennelier watercolors, Caran D'Ache watercolor crayons and a touch of black India ink.
I got an art workbook yesterday called The Paintbrush Playbook by Ana Montiel. It has 44 exercises to try out with watercolor, acrylic and inks in the book. I've tested out 4 so far. She is trying to teach in a playful, creative way about the basics of water based painting. I need the help. I'm doing my best to let go into playing and experimenting, into getting closer to understanding the mediums and supports. I'm tentative still. I like working with abstraction because it sets me free to be more intuitive about line, color, value, brush choice, brush marks. It takes some courage to face the blank page or canvas or board. I think that one thing I like about abstractions such as this one is that I have to look for meaning and pleasure in it. There's no deep message and yet something of my spirit is expressed. That's good enough.
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
Over the years I've gathered up art supplies. Some I've given away to a friend when I haven't been working for a while on art, but I invariably return and pick up a few more things to try out. This past month I've gotten a set of Caran D'Ache Neocolor II watercolor crayons. I've tried them out a couple of times and I really like them. The colors are rich and easy to apply to the paper and I can get some good texture coming through on my drawings. I also got some Sennelier watercolors and I already had watercolor pencils. I've done a small comparison test between them and they all have their strengths and they are all different. The most versatile of them, for me, is the Sennelier watercolor. I intentionally got artist grade watercolors to replace my student grade watercolors because I had read in a research book that there really is a definite difference in quality. I can see/feel that it's true. You can paint and you can draw with these watercolors, whereas with the watercolor pencils and crayons it has some bias towards drawing. I'm still feeling them out.
The simplest way to learn about line, shape and value is with a pencil. With portraits I usually do a pencil drawing, especially with watercolor portraits. I've found sometimes the underdrawing is a stronger image than the painted image, but that is because I am still learning about painting. Still learning about drawing too, about process.