100 Day Project

This will be my third year doing a 100 day project, woohoo! The short of it is: pick a creative project, do it for 100 days. Anyone can join and any project you want to take on is fair game. Any number of days you actually get done is just fine. The point of it all is to show up for yourself, devote time to your creative passion and , for me, find some joy in creating. You can explore further here: https://the100dayproject.org/

The FOMO is Real

I hate to admit this about myself, but here it is: I am susceptible to the fear of missing out. That’s right, I get the FOMO. I see all the things everyone is doing and want to do them too. Hell, that’s how I ended up here ;). Luckily, I don’t think I’m alone in this. It is strange though, because in real life, I am decidedly not a joiner. I am an introvert by nature, a hermit if you will (if you know what Human Design is about, then I am literally a Hermit). But, I love a good artistic challenge, and I love doing them remotely with other people. What a strange world we live in.

It’s been a long week for me, so I’ll keep this pretty short. I almost passed the 100 day project up this year. I had a TON of ideas, but wasn’t really super excited about any of them. Also, some were quite complicated and I knew I would burn out (which happened last year). Also, I am cohosting Feathruary, a another art challenge this month, so I wanted something a bit simpler. I had given up trying to decide and that’s when inspiration struck! There was a box of anatomy cards on my desk that I had recently been gifted. ‘Shae’s anatomy’ popped into my head and….the rest is history! My project is altering 100 anatomy flash cards with collage.

Once I had that silliness in my head it was quite easy to start, and I’m glad I did. So far, it’s super fun, which I totally needed.

You can follow along on my IG page here https://www.instagram.com/scrappyshae/ orwith the hashtag #100daysofshaesanatomy.

You can read more about Feathruary here: https://studioss.art/feathruary-2021/

Art Skills

abstract in procreate

I have two things pinned to the top of my art practice/art skills list: drawing and learning procreate, which is also drawing. I am going to make a confession- I don’t enjoy drawing. There I said it!

However, this does not mean I am going to give up, like in previous years. I am going to acknowledge the fact that I do not derive much enjoyment from drawing and push through it. Why? Because in the end it will get me where I want to be and at some point I think that I actually will enjoy it.

To be quite honest, the end of January/beginning of February was very full and my drawing practice got pushed to the sidelines. Was a ready and willing to do that? Absolutely. I told Suzanne this very morning that I have been avoiding it like the plague. I need to dig into this a little bit more, but ultimately I feel it simply comes back to the aforementioned issue: I don’t enjoy it.

Abstract Is My Happy Place

What I do really love is abstract work, and anything that can be abstracted. So, that’s mostly what I have been doing, especially in Procreate. Even though that feels like play, I AM gaining functional understanding of the way Procreate works, experimenting with the tools available and appreciating how very fast you can create work. Also, I don’t have to feel guilty about ‘waste’- I just hit delete!

This piece ended up being turned into cover art for the new album ‘Immediacy’ by B. Aubrey Freeman (aka my husband)

One Last Thing

Before I wrap this up, I do have a minor complaint about the drawing workbook I’m working in. The method to start making ‘real’ drawings utilizes a viewfinder or picture plane:

There is a corresponding page in the workbook with a grid. After several (literally five) attempts at drawing to scale by transferring the image on the picture plane, I gave up. It just wasn’t right. I walked away, as I usually do and when I returned saw the problem instantly. The scale of the frame and the scale of my practice space are not the same! Aha! You can see where I drew the correct border on the practice sheet on the right. I’ll give it another go.

*here’s the link to the above album: https://b-aubreyfreeman.bandcamp.com/releases

Photos of above workbook are from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

The Business

Bisignes, from the Old English meaning ‘care, anxiety, occupation (as in occupied with)’, is the root of ‘busyness’, and although the meaning has changed throughout time, the root meaning of anxiety still probably holds true for a large amount of artists today. We’ve probably all heard cliché things like artists aren’t good at business (or math) and we artists just accept that this is true because people say it is. A self-fulfilling prophecy. I don’t really hold to those ideas, but I will say this- being a creative and running the business of being a creative is a lot to deal with.

Been There, Done That

As I have hinted at before, in a previous life I was a sculptor. Not only did I make art, have gallery representation and sell sculpture, I ran a metal fabrication business AND ran an Etsy shop (which is still live but unused). I am no stranger to running a business (neither is Suzanne for that matter!). However, it was exhausting and eventually led to total burnout, failing health and an existential crisis. Whew.

Shae in her metal studio circa 2017. Photo courtesy Sybille Peretti.

I am not really about to do that again, so the business of art I am talking about for this MFA program has more to do with learning how to make passive income via teaching and designing, utilize technology to improve my business opportunities, learn time management skills that work for me, and to put my energy towards teaching and sharing my knowledge. I want to create an art centered life that fills my cup instead of draining it.

Many things on my list will be concurrent skills, i.e., when I learn how to film and edit tutorials, I am one step closer to having an eventual way to make passive income from those tutorials (theoretically). Slowly but surely, I’m working my way through a few Skillshare classes that deal with video editing, and of course Creativebug has a some great classes: one by Lisa Congdon, Building a Creative Brand; another by Lisa Solomon appropriately titled ‘So You Want to Be a Professional Artist?’.

Art + Healing

There is one more piece to this puzzle for me. After I quit metal work, I had a lot of healing to do. In the process, as happens to a lot of people, I uncovered my gift for healing. I did things that had been close to my heart for decades and had never been realized: I became a certified herbalist, I deepened my astrology and esoteric studies, and became a Reiki master teacher. I explored all manner of healing modalities and really dug into mind-body connections, studied breathwork and movement therapies (to deal with my musculoskeletal issues). This is the work I do now, and I love it, but the fact of the matter is, I was born an artist, I will always BE an artist. Art journaling filled the void that was there after quitting metal work, and my real business is figuring out how to merge my artistic and healing skills and what that will look like in the coming years.

Art History, Reconstructed

As Suzanne mentioned in her art history post, a lot of people get turned off when they hear the words Art History. I mean, it does conjure up images of survey classes where there are so many names and dates and slides it leaves you crossed eyed. I remember those classes and the hideous amount of dates you need to memorize- if you don’t REALLY LOVE art history it is not that fun.

Back story: I have a minor in Art History and have slept sat through many, many slide lectures. But, I will say this: once you get past intro level surveys, it does get more interesting. Specialist and topic specific classes are infinitely more inspiring. I had a focus on Islamic art and architecture, pre-Christian art and once took an entire class on Iznik pottery of the Ottoman Empire- riveting!

I feel fortunate in my fundamental art history education because it allowed me to understand huge chunks of world history at the same time. However, there are huge gaps in my art history knowledge simply because it is such a vast subject. Also, some subjects were either not offered, not widely talked about or just outright ignored in the field. This is where I’m headed.

The Obvious Choice

Women in the arts have always been sorely underrepresented, but I am going one further. There are quite a few woman who were extremely talented in their own right, yet lived in the shadow of their famous male husbands and partners. Lee Krasner and Frida Khalo are two well known examples, and I’m going to dig into that a bit more. It also ties in with a Big Idea I’ve had for quite a few years (decades really), but I’ll save that for another day. Here’s my short list so far:

  • Elizabeth Siddall
  • Gabriele Münter
  • Margaret Keane
  • Lee Miller
  • Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun
  • Judith Leyster
  • Jo Hopper
  • Elaine de Kooning
  • Tirzah Garwood
  • Elizabeth Catlett
  • Gwen Knight

And some seriously overlooked women that really should be in the Renaissance, Late Classical, Art Deco/Nouveau and Romantic canons:

  • Artemisia Gentileschi
  • Hannah Höch
  • Sofonisba Anguissola
  • Tamara de Lempicka
  • Sonia Delaunay
  • Margaret & Frances Macdonald
  • Elisabeth Sonrel

I’ll also be exploring some influential women in applied arts fields, like Gunta Stöltz who modernized weaving at the Bauhaus school’s weaving workshop. You know, real specific niche art history you can get lost in- my favorite!

I’m Still A Sculptor At Heart

Speaking of niche, next month is Black History Month and I’m going to share some things that I’ve already been researching- black women sculptors of the Harlem Renaissance. I’ll also talk about one of the most influential metal sculptors on my younger self, Mel Edwards.

Learning to Draw (again)

I came to art a bit late in my undergraduate career. After three years in the astrophysics department, I changed my major to art (a story for another day perhaps). Miraculously I had credits to fill most of my art degree requirements, so I escaped a lot of fundamental training tortures like drawing and color theory. Besides, I was a sculpture major, I didn’t care about drawing. In fact, I was quite resentful of people (teachers) telling me I had to keep a sketchbook and draw my sculptures. It seemed like an unnecessary step; I could easily translate what was in my head directly into three dimensions. Why would I take on the laborious task of drawing it first?

I did end up taking one intro level drawing class taught by a grad student named Keith Love. He said one thing that has stuck with me through the years: your brain interferes with the communication between your eyes and your hand. In other words, your brain tries to draw what it thinks it sees, and not what it actually sees. And he was right. It turns out that, specifically, the left side of your brain interferes with your ability to draw and it really has no idea how to do the job.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Suzanne and I are both starting our MFA program with drawing since it seems to be the thing we’re both the most resistant to. Serendipitously, I was recently gifted Betty Edward’s book/workbook, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. As it turns out, Suzanne had a languishing edition of the book as well. I’ve been so captivated by the content on hand/hemisphere dominance, cultural right hand prejudice, neuroscience and brain plasticity that I have been following some rabbit trails on that and not getting much drawing done. Ahem.

Right or Left Handed?

I have always been suspicious that I am actually left handed and was switched as a child in school. I am just old enough for that to have still been a practice in elementary school, and I do have some telling clues, like being able to draw fairly well with my left hand (almost better in some cases). It is also quite possible that I am what is referred to as cross-dominant. I have preferred tasks for each hand and have a fair amount of ambidextrous abilities. I am left eye dominate too! Multiple right brain/left brain tests I’ve done come out with equal dominance between them, furthering my cross dominance theory. Apparently this is more common in women, and can also lead to left-right confusion, as in, turn left- no- turn right (my husband will attest to this, and in fact he did).

If you want to take a fun test that determines brain hemisphere dominance go here: https://www.mentalup.co/blog/right-brain-left-brain-test. Before you get excited though, I must warn you that this apparently has no bearing on learning how to draw. We are all equally teachable!

I’ve done my pre-instruction drawings which I am assured will be helpful in gauging progress. I won’t lie, it was not a comfortable thing to do.

I am finally moving on to starting the training exercises, and for once I think I am actually excited to learn how to draw.