Self Portrait

As my day wound down, I turned my attention to tonight’s blog post and considered options. I felt like being creative and expressing myself through sketching. Drawing in my Manga Workbook would be a creative outlet. However, as I gathered pencils, another idea bloomed in my mind…a self portrait…with a twist. The image I intended to capture was so “out there” that I wondered if I had the artistic ability to bring it forth. My muse whispered “Go for it…”

Self Portrait

It’s not unusual to draw or paint a self portrait. Iconic artists from Van Gogh to Georgia O’Keefe created such works of art. And I have the benefit of selfies on my iPhone to look at, rather than having to study my reflection in a mirror.

I felt inspired to draw another piece in what I’ve titled the Becoming Series. These sketches feature my symbol for next year, which has captivated me already.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Using a photo to guide me I quickly sketched an oval for a three quarter view of my face and head and added placement lines for the eyes, nose and mouth. That Manga practice is proving helpful!

My self portrait is more about being symbolic, a representation of an idea, so I kept the drawing simple. Rather than challenging, I found the artistic expression to be fun and relaxing, like coloring.

Self Portrait

Using short pencil strokes I defined the contours of face and neck by creating shadows. Since my “shiny” silver hair is light colored, I did not add much detail there, allowing long simple lines to suggest the flow of hair.

That sketch by itself is a decent self portrait. I could have stopped there and been satisfied with my drawing. However that’s not the image that I was inspired to create. The fun began.

I recently drew a pawn chess piece before a mirror that reflected back the Queen chess piece, which is my symbol for 2019. Take a look at the first piece in the Becoming Series.

Tonight I took that idea a step further. My self portrait captures ME becoming. I am the Queen chess piece. She is me. I am transforming, shifting into this role as I grow.

I enjoyed creating this piece. And the symbolism goes beyond representing an image for the new year. A self portrait portrays how I perceive myself. It highlights a mindset and an expression of heart as equally as it does the features of my face. How I present myself to the world is a reflection of how I see myself.

This work of art is important, because who I am becoming is important, to me more so than to anyone else. Inner work equals outer expression. And that might be the perfect title for this unique self portrait.

Self Portrait

Manga Hair – Girls

I felt the creative urge to draw this evening. My overnight guest, granddaughter Aubrey, was in artistic mode as well. She created a batch of slime…in a soft orange color. This child is a slime making whiz. No recipe is used. She trusts her instincts and achieves perfection. Aubrey in turn watched as I worked in my Manga Artist’s Workbook, offering comments and suggestions and encouragement.

Manga Hair - Girls

Tonight’s lesson was drawing manga hair, for girls. Hair is an important feature in manga. It’s used to add glamour and personality and to increase the size of the head, which also increases the presence of the character. Ponytails are very popular for manga girls, as is long wavy hair.

Manga Hair - Girls

The examples provided for the exercise included four different styles. I let Aubrey select two for me to draw. She chose the pulled back ponytail and the long wavy style. Interestingly, she was drawn to the styles that are most popular on manga girls, without knowing that fact.

Manga Hair - Girls

Using the templates provided in the workbook, I added eye highlights, and a hairline. The round circle for the ear, on the upper head, really bothered me, as I couldn’t do much to make the ear look decent. I had to let that go!

The hair was fun to draw, however. Adding hairstyles does, indeed, add personality and differentiates between the two girls, whose features are similar. The girl with the ponytail looks more youthful. The longer hair, worn loose and flowing, adds age to the other girl.

This was an important lesson, in my ongoing quest to improve my people drawing skills. As always, sketching was fun and relaxed. This felt more like playing rather than work, which is what I desire. And, having the encouragement of my granddaughter and the lively chatter back and forth as I drew, made this lesson the best one yet!

Manga Hair - Girls

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National Creativity Day

As I moved through my day, I stayed open to what I would be writing about this evening. I had a couple of ideas. And I wanted to create a new vignette on the little entryway table, so that was a possibility too. I realized my ideas all centered around creativity, actually. As I settled in at home, late in the afternoon, I starting getting the nudge to check online to see what unique holidays were being celebrated today. There are more than 1,500 unusual holidays throughout the year. I occasionally find a fun one to celebrate and write about.

After being repeatedly drawn to look, I finally gave in and and checked to see what special holidays were on this date. And there it was, my story inspiration for the day.

National Creativity Day

Hal Croasmun and ScreenwritingU founded National Creativity Day in 2018 to celebrate imaginative spirits everywhere and to encourage them to keep creating. The Registrar at National Day Calendar declared that National Creativity Day will be observed annually on May 30.

This is the first National Creativity Day, ever, and I was drawn to participate in the inaugural celebration. Creativity is my thing. I focused on it last year as a theme. The creative urges I experienced throughout the day were guiding me to a fun way to unleash my artistic side.

Creativity can be expressed in many ways…through music, gardening, drawing, sewing, photography, film, poetry, writing, painting, decorating, coloring, fashion design, storytelling…the possibilities are as varied as the people who create.

I chose to celebrate National Creativity Day in these ways:

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Creating vignettes – I reset this little chippy table by the front door with items that make me think of summer. The rustic wooden box, made by Greg, holds a watercolor painting by Ray Moore, who passed away in 2002, a blue ceramic cup with a beach theme, and an assortment of seashells.

The bottom shelf features a butterfly painting, green glass bottle and a large shell. All of these items came from Greg’s mother, Leta. I added a couple of tea lights and moved on to the next creative project.

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Plant Based Cooking – I am loving my plant based journey, and the rewards of cooking nutritious and delicious meals and snacks at home. Several years ago I expressed a desire to be more creative in the kitchen, and this shift in my diet has provided that opportunity.

I have at last perfected a non-dairy, gluten free, no refined sugar blueberry scone! I found a recipe on Pinterest that I adapted with great success. I’ll share the recipe soon. I don’t indulge in this treat often, however I made a batch of scones this afternoon, in honor of the day.

For a simple but colorful and healthy dinner, I added fresh organic cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini and yellow squash to my pressure pot and steamed everything together for 4 minutes. This is my favorite way to prepare a quick, wholesome meal. I seasoned the veggies with a few sprinkles of sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder before steaming. Yum! I purchased tomatoes at the Webb City Farmer’s Market yesterday, and sliced the first one today.

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Sketching/Coloring – My favorite creative project tonight was working in my book that I’ve repurposed into an art journal. When I saw the page that included a scene from Lord of the Rings, my heart beat faster. I knew Arwen…the brave, compassionate Elven Princess who rode swiftly and battled the evil wraiths so that Frodo could be saved….would be the perfect illustration for this page. But could I capture her likeness? I decided to be brave myself, and go for it.

And you know what? I did it. I am very happy with my Arwen sketch. I thoroughly enjoyed drawing her and then using my colored pencils to lift her from the page. My manga lessons helped me tremendously. I started with Arwen’s head and face…and the three quarters view!

How grateful I am, that I followed Divine promptings and discovered National Creativity Day. What fun I had, expressing myself in these artistic ways. I even did a little playing in the garden, after washing up after dinner. My heart is centered and full and overflowing with joy, which is the perfect way to end a day of celebration.

National Creativity Day

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

I welcomed a break this afternoon, and took time to sip on lemon balm tea and sketch in my Manga Artist’s Workbook. This helpful sketchbook full of lessons, by Christopher Hart, has been fun to practice in, and my skills continue to improve.

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

Today’s lesson was the Teen Boy, Three Quarters View.

This angle of the face is the most challenging for me. I tend to want to skip over it. However, it’s so important for me to take a deep breath, let go of resistance, and just draw.

I’m grateful for the outlines that the workbook provides. It helps me to correctly place the guidelines so I can sketch out the facial features. I’ve peeked ahead. These outlines will disappear soon!

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

Compared to the Manga Teen Girl, the Boy has a thinner face and smaller eyes. The nose and mouth are barely suggested. The ear is slightly larger than the girl’s.

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

The ear gets some details. I used to hide ears behind hair. I’ve about got the hang of drawing them now. The eyes get their highlights, before the pupils are added. And a shaggy hairstyle, that follows the contours of the skull, completes the top of the head.

The finished sketch is pictured below. I’m happy with it! The three quarters view gives me pause, however, I benefit from the challenge.

I have two more angles to draw, for the teen boy’s face…and then it’s on to body work and poses. I’m getting there!

Manga Teen Boy Three Quarters View

You can purchase The Manga Artist’s Workbook by clicking the link below.

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Manga Teen Boy Profile

I made the decision early this morning to get into my manga workbook this evening and continue my sketching lessons. That proved to be a good decision, as I had a busy day. I have a story I want to tell, by way of drawings in a cartoon panel format. Manga is is preparing me for that project.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

This practice has been valuable for me. My skills are increasing. I am much more at ease as I sketch and I’m finding the sessions fun and even relaxing.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

Here is tonight’s lesson.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

In contrast to the teen girl profile, the boy’s features are more angular. The eye is smaller and set back a bit more from the edge of the head.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

I drew guidelines to help me correctly place the eye, nose, lips and ear.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

The jaw is more squared off. The mouth is suggested with a simple line. The lips protrude slightly.

Manga Teen Boy Profile

The eye gets a highlight and definition is added to the ear. The hair flops over the forehead and eye and closely follows the contours of the skull.

I truly am enjoying these creative sessions. I have been able to draw a face looking straight ahead or at a slight angle. Profiles, looking up or looking down were more challenging. These easy to follow lessons are helping me tremendously with perspective and placement.

I was impatient to move to the next section of the workbook, but the additional practice has been great for me. I have a couple more lessons featuring the teen boy and then it’s on to drawing the body. I’m looking forward to sketching a whole person!

Manga Teen Boy Profile

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

I spent hours in the car today, as Greg and I drove to pick up our grandson Dayan and bring him home for spring break. It is wonderful to have this college aged young man home for a few days. As we neared Joplin, I considered what to write about tonight. I realized I had not practiced my drawing for several months.

Last year, with Inspiration as my word and theme, my artistic side explored creating art in many mediums, including sketching. This year I have focused on written stories. But of course, stories can be told in many ways, through words, films, photography, vignettes, plays, music, songs…and drawings. In fact, an idea came to me last year, to tell a magical story through several sketches, something akin to cartoon panels. Cartooning is not one of my natural gifts, however, I knew I could learn. I found a fun book called The Manga Artist’s Workbook that has been perfect for me to work through.

I decided this evening I needed to get back into the lessons. After all, I have a story to tell.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

Returning to my manga workbook, I remembered, with a slight pang of guilt, that I had skipped a section. When I finished with the section on drawing the teen girl’s head, in a variety of positions, I jumped over the next lessons…drawing the teen boy. I was in a hurry to move on and feel accomplished enough to create my own sketches that will tell my own story.

Tonight I saw this as an error. I’m playing by my rules. I can do what I want here. However, what I truly want is to gain expertise in this form of drawing, and storytelling. I can’t rush that. I will benefit from the additional practice that these lessons provide.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

Here is my progress tonight, drawing the teen boy.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

Beginning with the basic shapes for the head, I learned that males have a more angular jaw than females, a square chin and a thicker neck. The eyebrows are thicker as well, with less arch and while still large, the eyes of a manga teen boy are smaller than those of a manga teen girl.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

A simple shadow creates a hint of a nose. The hair follows the contours of the head. And the mouth is indicated with a couple of lines.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

And here he is, facing forward, a completed sketch of a manga teen boy. This lesson took me a few minutes to create. I sipped hot tea as I studied my work, feeling satisfied.

I am enjoying manga. Beyond the joy I receive from drawing, I am learning important lessons about body anatomy, placement and perspective. The sketches are drawn more quickly each time and with greater confidence.

I have four more lessons to complete, in this section on the teen boy’s head and face, and then I can move on to expressions, for both males and females. No more skipping around. I’m happy I backtracked and drew this manga boy. He looks happy as well.

Learning to Tell Visual Stories

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Draw a Memory

I’ve been in the mood to draw the last couple of days. Which is why I was delighted to select the Inspiration Starter that I did today. More than just an invitation to draw, this slip of paper instructed me to Draw a memory. Immediately a fond memory from my early childhood came to mind.

I was ready to sketch.

I looked through an old photo album, for a photographic representation of my memory. I found it. The black and white photo captures my four year old self perched atop a clothesline pole in the backyard of my childhood home.

I was a climber as a child. By age four I was climbing furniture, shimmying up poles, scampering up trees and sitting on rooftops, the tiny queen of my world.

The photographer, probably my mom, lopped off the top of my face and head in the picture. However, there’s a hint of a smile on my lower face and the relaxed pose of my body suggests this was not the first time I had scaled the clothesline pole.

This memory makes me smile, more than half a century later. Using the the photo as a guide, I sketched out this fun recollection.

As I drew, this memory expanded to include my penchant for climbing tall objects, and also disappearing into closets, crawling beneath beds, and sitting in the middle of a neighborhood field, completely hidden by tall grasses that rippled in the breeze. Beneath all of these activities was an inborn desire to seek out solitude.

I had a bedroom of my own. But I was easily found there. Hiding from view, even in a simple and obvious place like beneath the bed, provided solitude for a time and space to fire up my imagination. The neighborhood kids weren’t as adventurous about sitting on rooftops or climbing to the uppermost branches in a tall tree. So these places gave me privacy and a different perspective.

Sometimes I’ve looked back at my childhood and thought, What a strange and quirky kid I was. Today, I looked at my finished drawing with a smile and the shine of tears in my eyes. I remembered that kid and thought, I love that spirited girl. She wasn’t afraid to be herself, and seek out places to think and dream and study the clouds and the stars.

In embracing her, I embrace some of the best and most courageous parts of myself. And I engage that fun, creative side of me that has reappeared these last few years and grown. What gifts that wee girl has given to me.

Thanks, kid. I am grateful.

Windows of the Soul

I was excited this evening to return to the Manga Artist’s Workbook and practice sketching an important facial feature. Before I move to drawing expressions, the workbook provides opportunity to focus on the most expressive part of the face…the eyes.

I had missed this section of the book when I peeked ahead. I thought the next assignment was the drawing of expressions. I understand, though, the importance of spending time capturing the eyes. So much of what we are feeling and thinking is reflected here. The eyes are the first thing I notice about a person. I can tell whether the person I am looking at is open or guarded, happy or sad, fearful or confident, by studying the eyes.

As I prepare to create an upcoming cartoon project, I know that much of what I hope to convey will be made evident through the eyes.

Tonight’s exercise was to sketch in the eyes, on a teen girl and teen boy, using the manga style. The girl’s eyes are drawn overly large.

I lightly sketched in guidelines.

I tried darker irises and lighter ones. I definitely like the darker better, as they are more distinct.

For a boy, the eyes, while still oversized, are not as large as the girl’s eyes. There are less details too.

As with the girl, I prefer the darker eyes.

William Shakespeare wrote “The eyes are the windows to the soul.”

Not only are we given a peek into the soul through the eyes of another. Our souls gaze out through the eyes as well, in all its states of being, from joyful confidence to beseeching invitation to hardened defiance.

As I sketched this evening, I was grateful for a lesson in mindfulness about what story my eyes are telling.

Manga Profile

I grabbed a few minutes this evening, and my manga workbook, to practice this new-to-me art form. The little flip style book is proving to be a fun way to learn and hone my drawing skills.

Tonight’s lesson was sketching the manga profile.

Here is my progress tonight, captured in a series of black and white photos.

My first lesson was drawing a teenage girl’s face, as she looked straight ahead. Lesson two is the profile, which feels trickier to me. Using graph paper, guides and basic shapes, such as circles, triangles and ovals, helps me get the proportions and placement right.

The workbook page provides the outline of a face in profile. I liked the suggestion of using a circle with a triangle attached, to designate the lower face. I added the guidelines.

The guidelines helped me to place the eye, ear, nose and lips.

The eye gets filled in. And a general outline of the hair is added.

A bit more detail to the eye area, and more adjusting of the nose and lips, which are kept very simple. The hair was fun to add. I erased my guidelines. The page’s basic profile remains, with my sketching added.

I am enjoying this manga workbook. In 30 minutes or less, I can complete an assignment. When I have more time, I can progress through several lessons easily. And that will bring me one step closer to my envisioned project!

Manga Art for Beginners

Several nights ago, I posted about an exciting idea that was given to me, for a creative project. Reflections on my magical life earlier in the day led to that inspirational invitation. (Read that post HERE.)

The challenge is bringing that idea to fruition. What I see so clearly in my mind are cartoon panels telling a story, without words. And yet, cartooning is not one of my artistic strengths. Oh, but I want to try. I’m excited to try. I turned to the Source of my inspiration, the Dream Giver, the One who delights in the creative play that we engage in.

And that’s where this adventure took a magical turn.

After I completed the Magical Journey post, I asked for Divine help in being able to carry out this project. Honestly, I feel artistically inadequate. And yet, I know I am never given inspiration for something I cannot do. It may challenge me, stretch me, or push me beyond my comfort zone. However, it will not be impossible for me.

The practice sketches I did the other night did not quite capture the image in my head, the cartooning style. I asked…Show me how to draw this way. Where do I look?

Before going to sleep that night, I opened Pinterest on my iPhone and was scrolling down through pinned photos. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. I scrolled…and scrolled…and scrolled some more. Nothing was catching my eye. I wondered why I was still scrolling. And yet, I felt compelled to keep going.

Suddenly, the photo below appeared at the bottom of my phone screen.

I stared, amazed. In all my years on Pinterest, I have never seen sketches before. I’ve never thought to search for any. What was even more amazing was that that image, that style of cartooning, matched the image I was holding in my head. I want to cartoon like that. I was grateful for the answer to my questions. You want to cartoon? Here ya go.

I will be practicing, with this sketch as my model. But before I tackle a cartoon like that, which is my preliminary work for creating my own cartoon panels, I searched for a book to give me some basics. I found two.

Manga is a Japanese style of cartooning. Although it isn’t an exact match for the style I want to create, after looking at every sketching and cartooning book in the store, it is the closest.

In this endeavor, I do not mind at all being a beginner, so the big yellow manual is perfect for learning the basics of manga. Starting with the all important eyes, this book moves page by page through facial expressions, anatomy, perspective, clothing and drawing the human form, from babyhood to mature adults, in a variety of poses.

And the little Manga Artist’s Workbook is just that…a workbook. I’ve had to move past my reluctance to draw in a book. For the pages are designed to be used for practice sketches by the aspiring artist. This is the book I started in this evening.

My first assignment was to use the template, with an affixed sheet of heavy duty tracing paper over it, to sketch a teenage girl’s face. The instructions are clear and easy to follow, with helpful tips. I like that this workbook uses graph paper, a technique my artistic son uses as well. It helps me with spacing and symmetry.

I had fun this evening, drawing a cartoon face. Although the manga style features eyes that are larger than what I will draw in my own cartoons, the tips suggested were very helpful.

There is a part of me that is impatient to do my own thing. However, the finished piece has become very important to me. This is the process to get to that completed project. Whether it takes me weeks or months to acquire the skill to create the images in my imagination, I am determined to learn…and enjoy the journey.

Most significant of all to me is that I asked for guidance…and got it…from a Pinterest post…when I wasn’t even searching for an answer there. I asked…and trusted…and let the outcome go. I followed the gentle nudge to keep scrolling and was able to recognize the answer when it appeared.

It is a magical journey indeed. I am looking forward to capturing a portion of it in this new creative way.