We need change that lasts

I haven’t said anything much on social media about the murder of George Floyd. I could not imagine what people were going through. I could not post one day and then carry on- business as usual the next. So many people are joining in on what appears to be the “on trend” way of supporting and it just didn’t sit with me, so I remained silent all of last week. This was my way of showing solidarity………. listening to what was being said and watching what was being done.

What is true support for this cause? Is it posting a black square? Using a hashtag? Walking the streets? I’m not discounting these things, or saying that they are irrelevant. It’s not my intent to diminish them. These expressions are vital and are often the catalyst for change. However despite these facts, I couldn’t help but feel that it is important to celebrate small steps. It is important to cultivate actions that demonstrate love and care for all people in our everyday lives. I believe that this in tandem with the outward demonstrations of can allow the change that we desire to manifest in an organic and hopefully permanent way.

If I must contribute to the discussion at all, I must speak for the works that are not seen, heard, loud, boastful, not full of pride or trendy. In my view, it is the small steps that we take as human beings that are the backbone of real change. The acts that are done in private out of the heart. The off camera moments of compassion for each other. I believe these are seen by God, recorded and remembered.

Let us work towards showing compassion to others in our everyday lives.

Thanks so much for spending time with these thoughts. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Bee paintings, new print series

This week, I enjoyed painting bees. They were done in watercolour and were really fun to do. At first, I struggled to get them to look right but after some perseverance, I was able to create one that I liked. I was so happy to include this illustration as part of Handmade by Kae’s blog post today. We’re releasing our honey collection so feel free to check it out. The handmade soaps, lotions and hand poured candles are to die for!

For the next few weeks, I would be working on creating some prints based on abandoned chattel houses in Barbados. I was inspired by photos taken by one of my Instagram followers – Thérèse, she has been taking photos of them for years and I was really attracted the ones she chose to highlight. There’s much more on Instagram so feel free to check them out.

Much has been done to commemorate these structures over the years and I hope my simple works can add to and not take away from the many books, illustrations and paintings done on the subject by those that have gone before me.

I’ve been experimenting both with print and watercolor and I hope as I work I can create a set of images that can be enjoyed.

Thanks so much for visiting with me see you next time!

Healing Watercolour

Last week I picked up my watercolour paints again and it was such a great experience. Water always has a calming effect on me and painting with it was no different.

Instead of trying to create a masterpiece every day, I just worked with the things I had on my desk. This allowed my session to be more rewarding as I could focus on moving paint on the page rather than on what to paint or how everything looked.

I did an online class that focused on this, and it was so helpful to know that the instructor faced the same challenges of not knowing what to draw or how to approach subjects. It made me be more patient with myself and give the work a bit more time to develop.

By far, the most enjoyable activity this week was playing with wax and watercolour. The process is similar to printmaking in that as you work through the image, you reserve the colours you wish to keep with wax before applying the next layer of paint. This definitely reminds me of reduction print making and I really hope to work with it some more since I loved the marks the wax made.

Printmaking followed an ocean theme last week. Looking forward to putting them all together. I rather enjoyed the whale, I actually think it was my favourite one. There all on my Instagram page so check them out if you’ve missed it!

Last evening I shared with my Instagram followers different ways to use the stamps I make. It was fun connecting with everyone and I hope to do this more regularly. If you missed it, don’t worry I saved it as an IGTV video so you can still have a look at it.

Until next time, thanks so much for sharing in my watercolour adventures!!!

Coping in lock down

Throughout my life, my father has been a relentless plant lover. Over the course of time, his passion for gardening has spread to his entire household and I am glad it did. Caring for them has rescued us all in hard times till now we are all obsessed in one way or the other!!!

Research has shown that gardening is healing and brings you into a state of wellness both physically and mentally. I am no expert on the science behind this but I can say that my experience definitely has me convinced.

There was a time in my life where I was struggling with a range of emotions. To help me process what I was going through, I turned to tending to plants and I loved the way this activity helped me forget what was troubling me. I would rise early – 4am- every morning and water them.

I am generally an early riser so getting up at this time is no issue for me and to be honest I find this time of day to be almost magical. It’s like everything is clear – I can think, pray and just be without interruption or judgement. I don’t have to explain or justify anything to anybody, I don’t have to make my actions make sense or even be efficient, I can just play on my own terms, without apology.

When the lockdown was enforced I went through my own paces coming to terms with it. I usually don’t talk about my feelings and I’m not sure how to draw or paint about them. I will say though that I did get a desire to paint like no other during this time so maybe I was doing it intuitively. What I do know is that I remembered plants, and I remembered how tending to them and being with them early in the morning made me feel relaxed and at peace. I even talked to them and honestly I felt like my words were falling on listening ears!

I hope wherever you are, you are able to find peace with everything that is happening – I encourage you to give gardening a try, I know it’s not for everyone but it definitely has helped many people to heal.

Happy Sunday everyone! I’ll see you next week and thanks for visiting with me!

Andre’s Man

I was deeply honoured to be commissioned to illustrate for a dear friend last year. Her work is centered on various subjects, but I love this one because it speaks to something that I always think about. We often look away from the homeless, they are repulsive to us, we cannot face them but in a lot of ways they represent a part of us that we often hide from the world. I hope you enjoy the illustrated poem below and if this subject touches you, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

I saw the man,
The same man who fought the dog
for the dinner wrapped in the black plastic tablecloth at the street corner.

Or perhaps it was a different man,
rummaging through the debris
of someone else’s life
to find sustenance for his own.

He stood.
Bottom jammed against the church wall,
feet spread apart.
Tattered, dirty, weary and drawn.
Feet cracked and dry.
Perhaps from walking too many miles on the streets paved with harshness and hostility.
There are no shoes to cushion the impact of concrete reality.

Hands desperately sorting through the black plastic tablecloth. Frail….bony……shaking hands clawing for his dinner in someone else’s waste.

People passed, people hustled by without the batting of an eye
There is nothing new – A man foraging for his dinner at the street corner.
Outside the STONE walls and BOLTED WOODEN doors –
The BASTION of FAITH, HOPE and CHARITY.

Susan Alfonso – 1997

One week 100 people 2020

This week, I participated in the one week 100 people sketching challenge hosted by Marc Taro Holmes and Liz Steel. Did not let anything keep me back this time, just enjoyed drawing and maintaining my sketchbook practice. Of late I have been sketching with oil pastel and pencil and I think I’ve found a way of sketching that resonates with me. The sketchbook I used was the one I made last week, totally enjoyed it and will definitely need to make another very soon!

These are Holbein and Sakura oil pastels. I love using them to add the first layers. I add the line work with my favourite pencil. It is jet black and layers really nicely on top of the oil pastel.

I mainly drew from Pinterest this time and worked with limited colours. My main goal was to observe and capture shapes and attempt to illustrate volume with each drawing. Focusing on these areas was good as it helped me to quickly capture each person and was an easy way to add colour to each sketch.

Mark making was fun. I felt like I was working with the oil pastels and not fighting them. I particularly enjoyed using them to flesh out the shapes I observed.

I’m really looking forward to applying what I’ve learnt to my sketching practice. The challenge was really enjoyable this year. Im glad I tried! It was so nice to see everyone else’s work and to read about the experiences of the organizers.

There is a flip through of my sketchbook on Instagram, so if you’d like to see the full set of drawings hop on over there and check it out. See you guys next week!

“jess chillin” – Linocut Print

I haven’t posted in such a long time! It was indeed a challenge keeping up with this blog and I have changed direction so much during the time I’ve been away.

When I started drawing consistently about 3 years ago, one of the first things I did was to create a stamp (which is now my logo). I loved the process so much, particularly the carving aspect of it, that I wanted to do a lot more. Fast forward to today, I have decided to focus on making linocut prints.

Oil pastel sketch transferred to lino

This week’s print is inspired by one of my sketches of a girl sitting on a stool at the market. She looked so relaxed and at peace, I was inspired to draw. I love sketching when I’m out and about and of late I enjoy using oil pastel and a pencil from staedtler that I am so happy to have discovered!

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Traced sketch unto lino block

I traced the image and transferred it to the lino block, adding a bit of elements here and there as I felt inspired.

I pulled about 5 proofs to make sure I was comfortable with the image. I really liked the leaves but I found them a bit distracting, so I removed some of them. As well as the plant to the base of the stool, however I had cleared out too much of one of the leaves, so decided to simplify it abit.

1st proof

I keep waiting till I have everything that I consider “perfect” before sharing my art- the perfect image, the perfect materials, the perfect medium, the perfect approach, the most acceptable subject……………………. it’s exhausting me and keeping me back from making work. I’ve decided not to do this anymore.

Final Print- “jess chillin”|2020

I’ve made a signed and numbered limited edition print of this image. Details of the edition are as follows:

Prints will be available in my shop next week. You can follow me on Instagram to see when it goes live.

I am hoping to participate in oneweek100people 2020. The challenge runs from March 9-13 (next week) and I really want to have a go!

Print added to sketchbook cover

I have a love for binding my own sketchbooks so to encourage myself to attempt the challenge, I decided to make a sketchbook specifically for it. I’ve included this print on the cover and I have to say I rather like how the print looks against the toned paper. What do you think?

I’ll share how I get on with the challenge in my post next week, for real time updates follow me on Instagram, I’ll be posting about it on my stories. Thanks for visiting with me and Happy Friday!!!!!

I attempted the 100 heads challenge

The 100 head challenge was created by Ahmed Aldoori challenges you study 100 heads in 10 days. This translates to 10 heads per day. The references that you draw are collated on a Pinterest board and you can draw or paint the heads in any order you like.

I could only manage about 3 or 4 heads in my morning drawing session and at this rate, I could not complete 100 by the Saturday deadline.

I began by drawing the heads with pencil but the more I worked on the heads, the more I felt the desire to paint instead of draw.

Painting with acrylic paint was tough. Despite the challenge, I enjoyed it a lot. I also realised that painting would be less frustrating if I worked from large shapes to small ones. This approach is more process driven and would allow for corrections at each stage. While this is incredibly obvious, it took me some time to really get it and apply it to my painting practice.

While I enjoyed the process, creating smooth transitions with acrylic was a bit too challenging for me so I started working with oils, which I love very much despite my lack of experience and ability. Time eventually ran out on me as I worked so I did not complete the heads but was able to block in some shapes. I felt like I took a big step forward with this exercise as it made me a bit more comfortable with working with the paint and making corrections as I went along.

I ended up working with gouache for the rest of the challenge. This actually was fun and I was able to blend a bit easier, paint dried quickly and I was still working with an opaque medium. I learnt a lot and at this point I decided that come Saturday, if I did not finish all 100 heads (most likely) it would be okay

I will continue doing the head studies but at this rate, I doubt I’ll finish any time soon! I have learnt a lot from this challenge and I’m approaching painting more confidently because of this experience.

Thanks so much for visiting with me!

On Location Sketch 02

People don’t notice me sketching and even if they do, they don’t care one bit.

The lobby was busy as ever this week, people coming and going, arrival and departure, taking pictures and posing, enjoying their stay.

I enjoyed sketching at the mill on my lunch break this week. I brought my portable painter with me so I could add some watercolour to my sketches. It really brought them to life.

Sketching at a coffee shop really is fun and it is a sure place to get sketches of people in different poses especially since people remain relatively still as they enjoy their meals. It was really nice to be there this week and I hope to go back soon to sketch and to try their crepes!

The one week one hundred people challenge is coming up next month and I am looking forward to participating. I hope all this sketching really gets me into the groove to get 20 people sketches done every day for five days!

Thanks for visiting with me!

On Location Sketch 01

I love sketching when I am out and about. I always have a small selection of supplies with me every where I go so I could capture the moment. This changes a lot with where I’m going and what I will be doing when I get there. Of late I think I have found a sweet spot with an A5 spiral bound sketchbook a my fountain pen and coloured pencils.

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Pictures can capture the scene much faster but I love taking the time to sketch. It is so much more engaging and I can add, take away and rearrange stuff in whatever way I please, there are no limits.

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At the beginnig of the drawing session, I tend to need to warm up a bit. I was in a hotel lobby so I was capturing gestures of people checking in and waiting for transport etc. I enjoyed this a lot, as it reminds me of sketching at the airport. Going to a new place has a new exciting feeling associated with it and I always feel that when I’m around the airport or seeing people with suitcases moving about whether they are in a new place or not!

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After the warm up I was able to do a better sketch of the lobby area. It was nice to capture the scene and I enjoyed working on cross hatching. I hope to do more work on this as I think it is an easy way to capture values. Sometimes walking with paints can be so cumbersome!

Thank you so much for visiting with me!

Sktchy Portraits 01

I really like the app Sktchy. I think it is a supportive community for artists. It is also a decent place to search for inspiration. I really love pastels and I want to dedicate my time to working with them. I think using the inspiration from Sktchy would be really helpful in doing this.

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This drawing was a lot of fun to do and I feel like once I keep at it, I will eventually get the pastels to look the way I intend.

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The colour was a bit off on the next drawing.  I attempted to create a deeper background by applying acrylic paint with a prayer to create a more textured background. I saw this approach done by Marla Bagetta on her YouTube channel and I was happy to try it. The approach is really fun and I will try it again, I just think my colours were a bit off. I have so much to learn about colour.

I want to spend some time working on these portraits, observing the shadow shapes and really putting effort into understanding the relationships I observe. Because of this, I may not be able to complete more than 2 or 3 per week.

It’s a bit of a short one today but thanks for visiting with me all the same. I look forward to sharing the portraits I complete this week with you guys. Have a productive week!

Skechbook project vol 14

The Sketchbook Project is a crowd funded sketchbook museum and community space. It is a collection of sketchbooks completed by persons all over the world and held at the Brooklyn Art Library in Brooklyn NY. I have completed Vol 14 and I am happy to share my experience with you guys.

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I chose the theme ‘this one thing’ and used it to guide me in deciding how I should fill the pages. I swapped out the pages from the book with some card stock because I wanted to use watercolour and the original paper just doesn’t support that.

While deciding on the actual images I wanted to include in the book, I just sketched as I normally would on radom sheets of paper, in my journal etc and then I transferred these unto the sketchbook pages.

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I don’t care what anyone says, tracing is a skill and to transfer the same energy and purposeful lines from a sketch unto some watercolour paper is no easy feat. This was a great challenge for me.

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After all the tracing etc, I ended up with a nice curated selection of my sketches and doodles and I love them! I hope to visit the Brooklyn Art Library one day to view my sketchbook as well as those of other creators around the world.

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Vo1 15 is out and I hope to pick up another sketchbook. I think this project is great. It forced me to produce something tangible and allowed me to fine tune my creative process.

Thanks for visiting with me and I hope you pick up your sketchbook from the Brooklyn Art Library soon!

Figuary (Final Weeks)

I am very proud of myself for the work I did with this challenge last month. Coming down to the end my carpal tunnel really acted up so I had to pause the daily intense drawings and rest my hands a bit.

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My main takeaway for these last weeks was applying the tip from Kenzo to focus on simplifying the pose by using the least lines possible. He even suggested working with a maximum of 12 lines. This exercise was interesting since it really forced me to think about what I was doing and be selective with the marks I made.

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Now that I have completed this challenge, I wish to get back into my figure drawing practice habit. In the past I did the weekly croquis cafe session multiple times and this helped me to refine my mark making and significantly improved my drawing skills.

Thanks so much for vising with me and I’ll see you next week!

 

 

Figuary (Week 2)

The focus of the second week of Figuary was to simplify the lights and darks and to capture the edges of the shadow shapes observed on the figure. CCI02162019_0008These techniques built upon the ones from week one.

CCI02162019_0005It was challenging to apply all the lessons learnt thus far to the short poses in the practice session.  I did what I could but I felt I wasn’t really applying the techniques properly. It was a good experience because I was a lot more purposeful with my marks.

CCI_000001I concluded that to internalise the techniques I needed to remove the time constraint. So every day, in addition to completing the practice session, I took one pose and drew it with the guidance provided by Love Life Drawing in mind. I also took the opportunity to practice painting with my soft pastels and play with colour a bit.

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Doing this was fun. Paying more attention to the subject and then making confident lines has been really beneficial. Even though my drawings are not technically accurate and do not depict the model exactly, I am still happy with them.Scan2019-02-19_084143-2

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2nd attempt-last pose of day 20

The first time I attempted the last pose of day 20, I made a huge mess of it by applying too much pastel. This made it a bit difficult to correct mistakes and refine irritating areas. My second attempt was a bit more successful, Still lots of irritating areas but I was happier with it. It was  a lot less tedious than I thought to do the same pose for a third time. I got the shapes down quicker than I thought I would and the greater familiarity with the pose allowed me to relax and just draw.

Well that’s all for this week, thank you so much for visiting with me and I look forward to sharing next week’s drawings with you guys!