Sunday, May 7, 2017

Adventures in Gardening

Lessons in Creativity and Gardening; and the Connection between the Two!

I hadn't realized this until taking a good look at my struggling plants desperately in need of water and my squelched recent creativity that there is a connection between the two, and that is both need to be cultivated. I've learned through taking care of the greenery that by doing this it's not just one type of care for all plants- each has it's own type of care instructions and therefore needs to be tended to differently. For some plants- such as succulents, they don't take as much care or water- whereas others like flowering plants need a little more TLC and sunshine. Both in the end need these three things from you: love, a certain level of commitment to keep happy, and most importantly patience.

I've learned through the years that being creative takes similar efforts and considerations to grow our gardens as it does to cultivate a creative life. When first starting out it can take quite a lot of patience in gaining confidence in yourself as a creative and finding your voice- this is an ongoing process that like a plant growing from seed takes time to sprout up and flower. It won't grow any faster by being rushed or pressured like the old adage goes "nature cannot be rushed." Even more so while we are waiting for inspiration after our "creative roots" have run dry and bare.

 So must we know that in time and at the right moments those bursts of inspiration will come to us if we just wait and are patient. It can be frustrating (I know) to wait for the time to be right or to feel uninspired. I've experienced it for myself recently in not being able to do as much creatively. My spirits were down and I became hard on myself as the result. Instead of being compassionate when I needed it most on myself and allowing a rest period to take place I was trying to force it, which never works. Until I looked at my plants and realized "we're not so different my plants and I" in fact they've become pretty good teachers of compassion and patience in many regards. Every day I tend to them I am taught a lesson in being patient, and am also reminded to take it easy on myself. Gardening is a delicate process for most and for this gardener creative has proven an important in inspiring her own lessons in creativity and individual growth. So shine brightly towards the light, only take on what you can and continuously cultivate creativity and growth!

For now, creatively inspired and ready for new growth:

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Quote to Help Inspire Creative Journeys

"The Creative Mind Plays with Objects it Loves"~ Carl Jung

Given the fun and light-hearted experience of this year I thought this would be a great quote to pass onto any intrepid and curious creatives out there to inspire your own adventures and endeavours in creativity as it has inspired me. What I like best is that it hints that being creative is best as a "fun" "light-hearted" experience or exploration because the creative mind plays with what it loves; not studies, perfects, or beats oneself up over but rather plays with those things. It has served as a good reminder to me that my project (the Creative Challenge) is a fun thing, and therefore something not to take too seriously or beat myself up if things don't go exactly as planned because it's supposed to be fun and playful thing.

Although it can be hard to remember in the midst of trying to figure things out, plan, fit everything in, get everything in on schedule and make it a huge success which is not entirely what starting creative projects is all about. It's about the fun and enjoyment of doing something new and creative which can get lost in all the nitty gritty details of diving into something new but doesn't have to. That's why it's important to find ways/words that help remind us to relax and realize once more the fun, playfulness of being creative. Whatever it is/whatever works must help set us back along the light-hearted way of being creative instead of frantically stressing over it, getting frustrated then wanting to give it all up, throwing in the towel over a mishap or when things don't go our way.  Much like my quote that has served as a reminder to slow down and savour the experiences I've started in a playful way. Also that our creative minds are like little curious children who don't like working too hard, or stressing out over things going as planned it simply wants to play and do what it loves, acting as a reminder if we are taking our work too seriously then maybe it's time to take a break and invite play back into our creative lives.

I hope that the quote "the creative mind plays with objects it loves" helps positively inspire your creative journey as it did mine. Or perhaps, there's another quote/mantra/reminder to have fun in our creative journey when we start to beat ourselves up or things don't go exactly as planned. I'd be interested to find out what inspires you to be creative, so please feel free to comment below. 

Best of Luck,

Image courtesy of Google:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Revisiting the McMichael Art Gallery

A Trip Down Memory Lane, Experiencing the Group of Seven first hand, and an aspiring artist's reward

Written for: Wednesday March 29

With March being a great month of exploring the world of using pastels and experimenting I found it about time for a reward and burst of inspiration to help further explore this form of creativity and what better place to visit than the McMichael Art Gallery- home to the Group of Seven's artwork and much more. So with that decided I put the plan in motion to head back to there and revisit the gallery a second time. I looked forward to this trip after it being so long since the first time a second visit I'd hope would give me a greater chance to appreciate the artwork and doing it myself to appreciate the artist's styles and efforts.  

Group of Seven

The feeling of familiarity came almost instantly as we drove down the long driveway into the art gallery as if it were almost yesterday I was there. Now it wasn't just the building itself as familiar but so many of the landscapes as well. Having learned about them through books, my grandmother talking about them and a documentary about a couple who retraced the Group of Seven's steps made returning a little less intimidating and new. I found knowing more also encouraged me to look more closely at the pieces and have a better understanding of what the artists' was getting at in this visit. It was as if I was observing the art with a new set of eyes and perspective, now coming as an aspiring artist myself.

Aside from the Group of Seven there are many other exhibits to check out at the gallery, some just as or more spectacular than the group's style while others were totally different. Being a girl who likes familiarity and having learned some about the Group of Seven and Lawren Harris' transition into abstract style fascinated me the most.  In particular it was learning about his decision to transition into abstract and away from the Group of Seven that I found inspiring. How brave and courageous he must have been to explore something totally different from the group and on his own. I could admire his curiosity and openness to explore other forms as someone testing that out herself knows that there is a certain amount of faith and trust involved in starting something new. Even more impressive was how he later formed the Transcendental Painting Group to help bring again similar artists together and explore the abstract style more in depth.
My interpretation of Inspiration, February 15/17, Kylie Original

All in all, it was a great experience filled with much inspiration and encouragement making a better artist and art fan out of me.

It also is great inspiration as I enter into April further exploring technique and style in the medium of pastels to try more landscapes and techniques in my path to become a better artist.

For now,
Pleased Pastelist Kylie

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Learning Pastels- Lesson #2

Introducing Dabbing and Creating Clouds

Well as intended I finally got the chance to learn a new technique for the month of learning pastels. This time it was experimenting making clouds and applying a dabbling technique to make them look light and fluffy (that same interesting term used in baking, now appears a part of clouds I wonder which came first...). Having it be a while since I first took a lesson in between experimenting on my own and learning techniques I was nervous about returning but decided that since growing as a pastel artist means being open to improving and taking on techniques it was time to learn more on how to expand on my own style. Feeling more comfortable using them on my own and less intimidated by the pastels it made sense to transition into another technique. My pastel hands were ready to take on another experience. 

Morning sun, created March 22/2017, first attempt
using dabbing effect to create clouds.
An intimidating second-err-third step, the first two would be deciding to do this, picking up the pastels and learning blending.  I seemed to gain just enough confidence to return and learn more, still a little unsure of my skill this was a big step to take returning back with some personal experience and pieces at hand to be admired or critiqued. 

The Technique/Lesson:

It actually wasn't as challenging as I thought, although it is different from blending. In blending you use a swiping motion with your hand and wrist going from one direction to the other. For dabbing on the other hand, you simply dab or plod gently at the centre of the shape using an up and down motion to keep it all contained within rather than blending it outward together. If you're interested this technique appears to work best with clouds, especially in creating the wispy type clouds in many outdoor scenes, or fields, beaches, etc. you get the picture.  For my first attempt (as seen above) I was given 20 minutes to work on the clouds and add anything else I felt would make the scene, so seeing as the orientation of this piece was portrait style I decided that what works best is adding the sun because sometimes it's nice to see the sun out amongst the clouds. You can also use clouds when making pretty much any outdoor scene in creating a sky. Homework from this lesson: look up at the sky and observe different types of clouds for inspiration.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Lesson in Making Tarts and Patience!

Exploration into Making and Baking Tarts:

Recipe from The Messy Baker cookbook/baking book, pg. 138, look under the Sloppy Section of the book

While I did it. Finally I began my foray from cakes and cookies to pastry making starting with tarts. Although for my first recipe -Raspberry Butter tarts- I went with store bought pastry shells being shore on time, and a little intimidated on the process. Next time though I'll try it out. Anyways, they were delicious and the recipe was surprisingly easy to follow.  I've already decided it's one I would make again! (More on my thoughts, and review of this in another post)

There is however an important lesson I'll share out of this experience and that is in baking patience is a key ingredient/step to follow.

No matter how delicious they are smelling or impatient we may be if you want successful tarts or anything else it's best to wait. Now this has never been my strong suit with anything- waiting for Christmas, for people or in this case baking- soon has never come soon enough as each case has always tested my willpower on that. Similarly to waking up on Christmas morning and wanting to peak down the stairs to see what is awaiting at the bottom of the tree I can't help but want to peak inside the oven as it bakes. Anxiously awaiting when it comes time to take my baking out of my oven.

You would think that through experience in the kitchen and as a baker I'd realize that everything will be fine but the baking smelled soo good and I was hungry. So this lesson on patience was even harder than before. Hopefully I'm not the only baker out there that faces these concerns. Oh well. In the end the filling tasted delicious and settled even with the soft tart shells everyone enjoyed the dessert and I learned a valuable lesson in patience.  The moral of the story is: Always wait for the timer to go off before taking baking out, that is if you want pastry shells to hold up when being devoured and your baking to be edible. 

Best of luck in your baking endeavours,
From: The Other Messy Baker (Kylie), and Impatient Pastry Chef (Kylie)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What I Like About Pastels So Far!

The creative's difference between pastels, baking and knitting- a brief run down-.

Have I mentioned how much I am enjoying playing around with pastels and getting comfortable with them... probably not since March technically started last week but settled into a good knitting routine and winding down for my "almost" baking break I decided to dive right into the medium only in preparation for March (in case it took me more time to adjust/get used to this part of the challenge. 

This is a first experimentation draft using colours called
"Stained Glass"©, Done: March 3, 2017 from this I got the idea
So I've been trying my hand at this technique-  since February 14th- but heck! it's my challenge so why not. I must admit that before beginning I was quite intimidated with the prospect of having to learn this art. Which might have had something to do why it was third on the list. After all I always enjoy it from afar, appreciating others talents, and work I had thusly thought it as one of those things not for me. Yet I was proven wrong,  if not for the Creative Challenge I might have discounted this enjoyable pastime and passion altogether. After a couple shaky attempts and earlier critical judgments I've come to enjoy the process of creating this type of art. We are six  days into March and already my confidence is growing each time I create and with a new willingness to try again a little braver each time. It seems it's enjoyable in some different and exciting reasons than baking or knitting.  

To name a few and one most important reason!:

  • They are super easy to use as a medium, and so far seem to have simple techniques. If you want a more vibrant part press a little harder on the pastel; for lighter areas either press blend or press lightly.
  • Second: No worries about cleaning up a super messy space or messy brushes. Simply put pastels back in the box, lid on, protective newspapers in the trash and wash your hands. No water to drain and no paint brushes to rinse out. 

And lastly, the most important reason of all! There's no such thing as wrong. 

to do this piece. I liked the way the sunrise appeared in the
first picture and wanted to do a fuller scale of what appears miniature
in "Stained Glass" thusly this became "Golden Hills", done: March 3
as well.
Each time you create a new piece it will be different from the last, an original. Art in general has always been more subjective and varying depending on the artist's own interpretation, style, experiences and visions. Which means the only recipe to follow is the one in your head; that picture every artist sees upon eyeing a blank canvas or a beloved sunset they wish to recreate (NOT duplicate). With no recipe to follow exactly as in baking; or a number of laid out stitches to follow in knitting for a successful scarf or mitts all that matters is the process and the outcome hopefully is a nice reward.  In fact, you don't even have to know what it will look like in the end at the beginning if like me you create from what's inside your head. It's all up to you. 

As someone who in the past worried about perfection quite a bit and was hard on herself when things didn't turn out exactly right. Especially in early baking and knitting days learning that it doesn't really matter in pastels was exciting. In fact it provides a welcome relief and release from the worries of following recipes and patterns when one simply wants to express. Making this skill easier to learn than anticipated. 

That's all for now,
The Pleased Pastelist (Kylie)

Monday, March 6, 2017

March's Plan for Learning Pastels

A More Comprehension Observation and Plan on How I'm Tackling It: 

Well guys, earlier on I mentioned that I'd come up with a loose plan to make March successful and one part was continuing to be open during this process of learning and experimenting with a new medium, much like I've been for baking and knitting. Although this time around I'm more prepared, with two months behind me of this challenge and entering into a third everything has been turning out great- I haven't given up yet, all baking has turned out delicious, the knitting has come along (I continue to learn and learned so much from this experience) and have even embraced imperfection. I still try my best but don't get too discouraged if it doesn't always turn out perfectly, I'm happy just to finish it or learn from it.

The Plan:

Step 1 (paired with above): Pre-entering February I've been testing out my pastel prowess, doing different shapes and sizes, concepts and techniques. Just to see really how intimidating it is and become comfortable enough to commit to the challenge once March arrived. Some of my earlier attempts were modest but through experience my skills and comfortable level has  slowly began to progress. To further build on what I've started, the first little while I'm going to continue playing around with pastels, getting comfortable with them enough to try using good pastel paper. That's the goal to feel good enough taking my early attempts or work onto good paper. Essentially standing behind what I've created for a change.  Why: Practicing like this takes pressure off worrying about re-creating a picture (in which it's easy to compare appearance? with, and we all know the saying: "Comparsion is the thief of joy and killer of creating. Also it would be good way of progressing towards myself as pastel artist. Think of this as getting my pastel arms before heading into the bigger experiences.

Step 2: When I'm good and ready I'll graduate to putting more specific techniques to pictures and learning how to make shapes- properly-. For this I'll get some help from a family mentor (my grandmother) who has worked with pastels longer than me and is a wonderful Aurora Borealis and sunset artist. Although one favourite piece of hers is of a cardinal, her confidence in Aurora Borealises and sunsets has grown tremendously and it shows in her work. Hopefully sometimes this month I can fit in a couple lessons with her as this endeavour progresses to apply to future pieces. All while doing a bit of experimenting on my own and trying my best to incorporate the new techniques I've learned into my art. 

Step 3: To wrap up this experience, and month I'm planning to make a pilgrimage back to the McMichael Art Gallery. It's a significant place for my mentor who loves the Group of Sevens work, as well as a special place for me. This is where I first got introduced to water colour pastels and some techniques. Although that experience was an interesting one and wasn't a great confidence booster. Perhaps then I wasn't as open to learning as I am now. 

*Think of it as a reward, inspiration and fun thing to do. Honouring some great Canadian artists for sticking with my art and challenge. I'm definitely looking forward to this experience. to do a trek to McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinberg to see the Group of Seven exhibit.