Time to Look Back . . . What I’ve Learned Over the Past 12 Months Along my Artistic Journey

This has been quite the year that has changed my life in several significant ways. One of them is my artistic expression. Just a few years ago I would have classified myself as a hobby crafter with a day job that never really allows for any creative expression. Actually, any creativity that deviates from the norm at my job is definitely frowned upon or at least 5 years ago it was for sure.

Being a creative person, I have always needed a creative outlet, which is why I found myself singing in bands or taking painting classes every once in a while. I also found myself exploring paper crafting so much so that I decided to open an Etsy shop so I could blend my business side and my creative side together, it was fun for a while. The one thing about crafty gals is that we typically don't stick with the same craft for long. There is a new thing that captures our interest and after a few months of doing that something else captures our eye and the cycle begins again. This crazy cycle did land me into my current passion that has lasted longer than 6 months. I started getting serious about drawing almost a year ago. That is when I decided to find a mentor and help me start down the right path to explore drawing portraits. Now that I have been down this path for almost 12 months it is a good time to stop and reflect on where this path has taken me and what I have really learned along the way.

When I look back there are three big milestones that I believe have really made an impact on the artist I am today. It is still pretty weird to call myself an artist, but it seems to fit now or at least I believe it now. The three things that have changed me as an artist are:

  1. seeing practice as a fun way to explore,

  2. focusing in on practicing my techniques, and

  3. developing great new relationships with other artistic people

Looking back through the sketchbooks I filled and the social media posts I made this year is just like walking down memory lane. Each drawing takes me back to what I was thinking at the time and what frustrated me as well as what I was proud of. When I look back at my year of work, I see I have grown everywhere from getting better with my base structure to adding watercolor to my process that gives me more depth.

Since my practice partner Kathy and I have started The Practice Corner this year it pretty much forced me to find ways to make practice a positive word instead of something we dread. This community has not only been a positive influence on me, but it has also helped me find ways to get art practice in no matter what is going on with me each week. Finding 20 minutes a day was not as difficult as I thought it would be. The Practice Corner practice worksheets have made it easy too. I simply toss a few sheets in my bag with a few markers or pencils so no matter where I am in the middle of the day when I have a few minutes between appointments I can pull out my practice worksheet and a colored pencil and get my creative brain working. The cool thing I have learned about this is that it keeps my brain thinking about how to incorporate the technique I am practicing to my next project. Keeping my project on my mind gets me excited to get home so I can try out the techniques I have been practicing on my project. The confidence I got from practicing makes my projects so much better each month.

Each month in The Practice Corner we focus our practice on one specific technique. I didn’t realize it at the beginning of the year just how many techniques I would be practicing over the course of the year. But I am surprised now that we are at the end of the year how many techniques I have experienced through practice over these past 12 months that I would have never attempted before. Creating glass or wool texture would have never been in any project I would do because I never felt confident about it or even know where to start. Now, since I have practiced and understand how to create the basic strokes to make glass look realistic or the details that make yarn look realistic; I have no fear creating a portrait with someone in a sweater wearing glasses. A year ago, when I was setting out on this journey, I would have never guessed I would be comfortable with drawing a portrait of someone in a sweater.

What I have learned this year is when you are exploring something new that is taking you outside your comfort zone you need good support. And I have met some really great people along the way. Some of the artists I have met on social media have been amazingly generous with advice and support. The creative members I have worked with in The Practice Corner have been truly inspiring as we can lean on each other when we are stuck on an issue or looking for specific advice. The best thing I ever did was ask my best friend Kathy to join me on this artistic journey. She really has been my rock through every wall I had to break through or my supporting crutch when I felt like I couldn't do it. Most of all she has been my loudest cheerleader when I felt the most proud of myself. I could have never gotten this far without the essential people in my artistic journey. I am thankful to not only have started this journey, but I am even more excited to see what next year brings.

What's happening in the Corner . . .

Did you make a New Year's resolution to put coloring back into your life? But now you aren't sure where to start. Why not join with fellow colorers as we focus our attention on creating more realism in our projects as we put the "value" of color into our practice as we start the new year.

If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Value here.

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