I have always enjoyed various forms of arts and crafts. Since I was 5 and my mother taught me to use embroidery thread to outline the apple she drew on a hopsacking dishtowel, I have always had some kind of “project” in process. Sewing and other needle arts were always among my favorites, but I’ve also done my share of scrapbooking and beading through the years. In retirement I was hoping to explore some new creative paths.
Before retirement, the only drawings I had done were in my school notebooks. I doodled as I took notes in high school, college, grad school, and faculty meetings. I had a particular form of brainless squiggles that required little thought and fit nicely in the margins. Standing in line one day at a local craft store I noticed a $25 book which teaches how to do similar doodles. This art form is considered meditative and is called zentangle. I never knew! I explored zentangle on the internet and I have learned many new interesting doodle patterns that I enjoy trying.
I also enjoyed drawing facial profiles and naked trees (as in leafless winter trees) in the middle of my notes. Last spring I unearthed the graphite pencils and sketch pads that I had purchased years ago. I again searched the web for tutorials and videos. I began my exploration of drawing. I learned more about ways to draw the trees I always found so fascinating and even learned techniques for adding leaves. During my doodling days, facial profiles were all I would attempt. Now I am practicing drawing faces from the front and am making progress in creating some dimension. Because I date all my drawings, I am able to refer back to some of my earlier work and see my growth. I draw almost every evening while my husband and I sit in front of the television shows we only half watch. Sometimes a face can take me three or four hours over several nights! It is more relaxing to create my own faces than to try to copy a face from a photograph, but my copies are improving( except in the case of self-portraits.) Most of my work is in graphite and I have enjoyed experimenting with different pencils.
Charcoal is a medium that I had never tried in the past. When I took a basic drawing class at the community college, almost all of our work was done with charcoal. It’s pretty messy! I probably should say I am pretty messy when using it, as some of the others in the class did not get quite as covered in sooty smudge as I did. I enjoyed working with charcoal someplace other than my own house and learned a lot in that class about training my hands and eyes to copy a live model or still life. My plans are to take the same class over, as many people do, once my construction project allows me the freedom to leave my house.
For Christmas, I received a set of 200 colored pencils. I once again visited the school of YouTube to learn about blending colors and shading with colored pencils. Once again I can see progress in what I am producing. At this point, I find drawing with graphite pencils to be the most relaxing.
My daughter is getting married next year and asked if I would learn calligraphy to address her envelopes. That art is one I had considered learning before I had the gift of time offered by retirement. I bought an inexpensive calligraphy kit and supplemented the included directions with internet videos. If I continue practicing a little every week I should be able to address envelopes without too much difficulty.
Mixed media is also something I have been noticing on the internet. It seems like a good way to make use of the scrapbooking supplies that fill my closets. I enjoyed making a recipe Smash Book for my youngest. I have gathered some supplies to make a quote book incorporating mixed media and calligraphy. This will be a fun activity while I am stuck at home with “the construction project.”
Of course, I also have a knitting project in process. I usually buy yarn every winter and make a scarf for someone. This year I did not complete my scarf, however, since I spent most of my free time drawing. My left hand is still not functioning as it did in the past. I can knit fairly easily, but my hand gets tired. I believe some of the strength will return. I was able to repair a tear in a crocheted afghan but struggled with achieving uniform tension since I have always controlled the yarn with fingers that are not as flexible and will probably never be. When I am ready to crochet something, I will need to practice controlling the tension differently. Currently, however, drawing is my creative interest.
It appears that I need to work a bit on my photographic skills and improve on photographic clarity when posting! By the time a manipulated the photos, put them in a slide show, screen captured slides and posted them, they lost something. I din’t want to post a dozen pictures and couldn’t think of a more direct way to post them. My apologies.