AAD (Art a Day): The First Week

Well, I’ve almost survived the first week of drawing a finished piece of artwork every day. It’s a fascinating project – I feel like I’m learning so much about my art and myself, even though it’s only been  a few days.

The first few were easy because it was the weekend. The real challenge came when I had to work my full time day job, dance, and then run home to finish a picture each day.

Needless to say I had some very late nights.

So here we go: the first round of my Art a Day project.

Keep in mind that art a “Day” to me doesn’t necessarily have to fall within the traditional sense. If I finished a picture after midnight (technically the start of a new day), I still count the picture as finished on the day it started (as long as I haven’t gone to bed, the day is not over yet).

Also, these are, of course, not going to be perfect. There are days where I am not going to want to draw at all, but I will anyway. I want to see what kind of things I can pull out of my brain, even when I’m not feeling creative or imaginative at all.

(Harlequin - Saturday 9/21/13. Start time: 9:30 am. End: 3:00 pm. Sharpie.)

(Harlequin – Saturday 9/21/13. Start time: 9:30 am. End: 3:00 pm. Sharpie.)

(Fairy. Saturday 9/21/13. Start- 5:00 pm. End- 8:16 pm. Colored Pencil.)

(Fairy. Saturday 9/21/13. Start- 5:00 pm. End- 8:16 pm. Colored Pencil.)

(Flower Children. Sunday 9/22/13. Start- 11:12 am. End- 6:15 pm. Colored Pencil and Sharpie.)

(Flower Children. Sunday 9/22/13. Start- 11:12 am. End- 6:15 pm. Colored Pencil and Sharpie.)

(Sunflowers. Monday 9/23/13. Start- 8:10 pm. End- 11:45 pm. Colored Pencil and Sharpie.)

(Sunflowers. Monday 9/23/13. Start- 8:10 pm. End- 11:45 pm. Colored Pencil and Sharpie.)

(Art Deco Peacock. Tuesday 9/25/13. Start 9:12 pm. End- 12:49 am. Colored Pencil and Sharpie. Thanks to  Chiara for the idea!)

(Art Deco Peacock. Tuesday 9/24/13. Start 9:12 pm. End- 12:49 am. Colored Pencil and Sharpie. Thanks to Chiara for the idea!)

(La Llorona. Wednesday 9/26/13. Start- 8:12 pm. End- 12:46 am. Colored Pencil and Sharpie. Thanks to Pepe for the idea!)

(La Llorona. Wednesday 9/25/13. Start- 8:12 pm. End- 12:46 am. Colored Pencil and Sharpie. Thanks to Pepe for the idea!)

(Harvest Moon. Thursday 9/26/13. Start- 5:30 pm. End- 7:11 pm. Colored Pencil and Sharpie. Thanks to Janice for the Harvest Moon idea!)

(Harvest Moon. Thursday 9/26/13. Start- 5:30 pm. End- 7:11 pm. Colored Pencil and Sharpie. Thanks to Janice for the Harvest Moon idea!)

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A Little Experiment…

A friend of mine started a project a while ago, where she drew a picture every day and then posted her pictures on her facebook page.

I want to do the same. So, for the next year, I will be drawing one or more pictures a day. Some may be small, others may be large. Some are going to turn out really bad and others good.

I’m not necessarily concerned with the overall quality of my artwork, rather what I can produce over a years time to measure my growth. It’s sort of a study of creativity- how creative can a person be when forced to produce something each day, rather than letting inspiration come at random.

I don’t usually draw everyday. But I want to take a writer’s approach. I’ve read that a lot of writers journal, free write, or do some form of writing exercise to keep on top of their skill and to practice. That’s what this project will be-practice.

But I’ll probably need some help. I’m not sure how much imagination one person can have. In fact, seeing as how almost none of my artwork is completely from my own brain (usually it’s inspired by other people or art), I’ll probably be looking for suggestions on what to draw. Feel free to give me suggestions as the year goes on.

This blog will hold me accountable. Each week I’ll post the seven drawings. The rule I’m setting is that they must be finished and signed (although, like I said, I may not find them particularly good). I’ll also post the date that they were finished and how long it took to finish them.

The project starts today (9/21/2013). Next Saturday will be the first seven. Wish me luck! (And if you are a fellow artist and want to join in on the project, please do. It’ll be very interesting I think.)

Belly Dance…as inspiration for other art forms

(Zoe Jakes and Rachel Brice, photographed by Pixie Vision Productions and drawn in pencil by me (as practice for drawing faces and intricate detail))

(Zoe Jakes and Rachel Brice, photographed by Pixie Vision Productions and drawn in pencil by me (as practice for drawing faces and intricate detail))

Ah, Belly Dance. So many things come to mind when you hear that word. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I don’t want to get into the dance itself (as that would be an entirely different blog and there are already many excellent belly dance bloggers in the world), but rather, how belly dance has inspired my own artwork.

This past year almost every single one of my pieces has been inspired by belly dance (and before you go thinking, wow, that’s kind of weird, please note that I’ve been belly dancing since I was sixteen, and it is one of my day jobs).

All the women and men (yes, men) that I’ve met through dance are beautiful and strong. On stage, they perform with passion and grace, some pushing the boundaries of the dance and others keeping traditions alive and reminding belly dancers why they dance in the first place.

This strength and independence I see on stage is always the spirit behind the figures in my artwork.

Costuming is another inspiring aspect of belly dance. The costuming in belly dance is unbelievable, especially in Tribal fusion belly dance, as it is a fusion of many dance styles. This means dancers could take costuming pieces from almost any culture they wished to form something new and interesting. I’ve seen astounding use of colors, jewels, headpieces and crowns, and makeup.

The intricate jewelry I find particularly fascinating. The photo at the top of this post is one that I did about five years ago, as practice drawing faces and jewelry. All credit should go to Pixie Vision Productions, and the two models, Zoe Jakes and Rachel Brice.

Looking at the piece now, I can see what needs improvement. Nothing is ever perfect.

But this piece taught me a lot about detail. The way these ladies decorate themselves is extraordinary and it was a privilege to try to recreate all the buttons, feathers, flowers, crystals, etc. that they were wearing for that shoot.

I’ve always been detail oriented, but the detail that goes into costuming and creating a dance comes out in my visual art, and I have belly dance to thank for that, and the hundreds of belly dancers that are just amazing in what they create and perform.

This is just a short post (I could go on and on about the dance, what it means to me, and so on and so forth), but I just wanted to give a shout out to the art form that keeps inspiring me to create.

The Vagina Series

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(18 x 24 Colored Pencil and Sharpie)

Last year I was commissioned to create a piece for the Vagina Monologues (as a donation).

I immediately felt the challenge of this. How and what was I going to draw…a vagina? (Insert giggles and shielding of eyes here.)

I was told that it didn’t necessarily have to be a real vagina. I could draw a metaphorical one- think fruit, or flowers, Georgia O’Keefe style.

I actually struggled with this for a while. I’m not sure if I am adequately able to express my feelings on this subject, but I’m going to try. In our society, the human body is not really something to be proud of. Seriously, if you look at advertisements, the body is either portrayed as something to want (something you need to look like, something you want to have, a sex symbol-which isn’t particularly a good thing in most cases), or the body is seen as something shameful, that you need to change (i.e. you are too fat, you need to do this and this to fix it, etc.)

Especially the female body, although we’ve heard this time and time again. I won’t go into huge detail on how females are portrayed in the media.

Even saying the word vagina or typing it, or any version of the word, makes a girl feel almost shameful. It’s just an anatomical term for a specific body part, but as women it’s something we are taught to be ashamed of (whether we are aware of it or not.)

Seriously. Try using the word vagina sometime without feeling some sense of guilt or embarrassment (or maybe I’m just weird because of being raised Catholic. Whatever. Everyone’s got issues.)

That’s why, when I thought about drawing the Vagina Monologues piece, I felt like drawing fruit or flowers would be a cop out. A vagina isn’t a flower and it’s not a fruit. It’s a body part.

There’s a particular story from Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues about a woman going to a “vagina workshop” (strange as that sounds), where everyone was asked to draw a picture of a vagina, or their vagina. I used this as the basis for my own piece and two others.

(18 x 24 Colored Pencil and Sharpie)

(“African Klimt” 18 x 24 Colored Pencil and Sharpie)

I call these my Vagina series, because a. they were inspired by the vagina monologues and b. their purpose is to express the female form in a strong, yet sensual way. These are four nude women, crouching against abstract backgrounds, either presenting themselves or masturbating (yes, yes, that is totally what they are doing, get the giggles out now.)

(18 x 24) Colored Pencil and Sharpie

(“Red Headed Klimt” 18 x 24 Colored Pencil and Sharpie)

I suppose this is a rebellion against the idea that a female expressing any kind of sexuality is to be considered a slut. At least, I hope that is what is perceived in my artwork. The pieces to me express liberation, in that these women are the masters of their own sexual desire, and have the power to please themselves, where and when they choose by themselves, without someone else being necessary to bring about their pleasure (although that’s totally fine and awesome).

(18 x 24 Colored Pencil and Sharpie!

(“Poppies”18 x 24 Colored Pencil and Sharpie!

I say liberation also in the sense that, these women express freedom from societal constraint, from being tied to someone else to receive, and the freedom of intoxication with oneself (although that can be a dangerous thing. See “Poppies” above).

I realize that these pieces of artwork could be considered quite offensive to a lot of people.

I actually began a new piece, another commission and another donation, for an event called Shimmy for the Cure (a belly dance event to raise money for breast cancer prevention and awareness). My own grandmother battled (and won) against breast cancer, so in a small way, I feel like I can help with my artwork.

("The Maiko" Unfinished. 11x14 Sharpie and Colored Pencil. The word Maiko literally translates to "dancing child" (mai = dance, ko = child), but is also referred to as "dancing girl". A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha who must must undergo a period of training that generally takes 5 years, where she learns the various "gei" (arts) such as dancing, singing, music etc before she becomes a Geisha.)

(“The Maiko” Unfinished. 11×14 Sharpie and Colored Pencil. The word Maiko literally translates to “dancing child” (mai = dance, ko = child), but is also referred to as “dancing girl”. A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha who must must undergo a period of training that generally takes 5 years, where she learns the various “gei” (arts) such as dancing, singing, music etc before she becomes a Geisha.)

I’m taking liberties here as far as cultural appropriation goes (I don’t mean to be offensive to Japanese culture at all.) I feel like this piece also gets to be included as part of my vagina series.

The Maiko is about expressing joy and shedding whatever it is that binds you. Her breasts are bare because she doesn’t care about her nudity. She is proud of her body and has no reason to hide it. It is not meant to be sexual (although an artist really doesn’t have control over how their artwork is perceived once they release it to the public).

There are certainly more moving pieces of artwork that have been inspired by those who have battled against breast cancer (and I suggest you check them out. There are even brilliant tattoos on women who have lost their breasts to cancer that are absolutely glorious.), but this is my contribution.

So, if you are offended, I can’t really apologize, as I’ve learned through this project that the naked woman’s body really isn’t something I should be ashamed of.

For more info on the Vagina Monologues, check out Eve Ensler’s book: http://www.eveensler.org/books/the-vagina-monologues/

For more info on Shimmy for the Cure, check out Irie Tribal’s website: http://www.irietribal.com/shimmy-for-the-cure.html