Catching Up on What I’ve Been Creating

Most times I feel as if I am in a perpetual balancing act. There always seems like there are so many things that I want to accomplish and only so many hours in a day to do that. This causes the days, and time in general, to pass very quickly and before I know it I am tearing another page of the calendar off and chalking up another season as a memory.

I suppose this can be viewed as either a positive or a negative thing. Like most things in life, the circumstances that are dealt to us can be handled in many ways. We can either embrace them as something to learn from or spend our energy trying to rebuff them. Even the unpleasant things can be deemed as useful if we choose to do so. I know of many who have not only learned from unfortunate circumstances, but actually thrived because of them. I think it all depends on our mindset and how we choose to view the world and events that befall us. There are many instances of those who have experienced negative things in their past and not only learned from them, but have become more positive and understanding towards others despite them. Those are the types of people that I view as role models.

So when I speak of being incredibly busy or not having the time to complete all that I wish to complete, please don’t take that as a negative. With all the creative directions that my head is in, it would pretty much be impossible for me to accomplish everything I set out to do. If I did, I would probably feel as if I am slacking. I think that I could spend several lifetimes creating and never run out of things to do. I always love to explore and learn and share my experiences with others. It is what I feel I was meant to do.

With that said, I have spent the majority of time in the past few weeks up in my shop filling orders. My last blog post spoke of the piles of orders brought on by some of my wonderful colleagues using my surfaces for designing and classes. While those orders have slowed down for the moment, they seem to come in waves. Just when I finish one batch, there is another that needs me to attend to it. I am pretty conscientious regarding turn around time with shipping out orders. And since I don’t keep a lot of extra pieces on hand, that means when they come in, I need to get to cutting and packing in a relatively short period of time. This doesn’t leave a lot of extra time for designing and my own learning and painting.

But one of the promises I made to myself this year was to limit my ‘cutting days’ to one or maybe two per week. This would allow a day for packing and (in theory) the rest of the week to design and do the other things I need to do in life. For the most part, I have been sticking to it. However, when the flood of orders comes in all at once, I just can’t bring myself to ignore it and ‘relax’ and create. So I make an exception and get that done too. But it does slow my own creating down quite a bit.

I did catch up though and things are pretty much back to normal-busy at the moment. I was actually able to take a couple of evenings this week and ‘play’ with some of my beautiful art supplies. I have so many different lovely lines of art materials and another goal of mine this year is to make them look “not so new” and really get to use them. But with the busy times being what they are, it is easier said than done. However, I have been taking some evenings to explore and play with them just a little if I am not too tired. Baby steps are better than nothing.

What I decided to work with this past week was my DerWent Inktense sticks and pencils. For those who are not familiar with them, they are colors that come in both pencil and block form, and you draw with them and then wet them to ‘activate’ the color and it turns to permanent ink. They are truly a unique medium and there are advantages to using them in that unlike watercolor or gouache, once they are activated and dried, they are supposed to not move or reconstitute. This allows for some great layering techniques by using them on their own or with other types of media.

As with every new medium though, I needed to re-familiarize myself with them. I had purchased my sets (both the pencils and the blocks) about three years ago and while I used them occasionally, I was not as familiar with them as I needed to be. I had created a swatch card back when I first got them using the pencils.

This was necessary because when you look at either the lead of the pencils and/or the sticks or blocks themselves, the color they appear to be is quite different than what you will actually get on your drawing. You can clearly see this in the darker side of the sticks, as they all look just about alike:

Another thing about the sticks is that they are solid color. But as you use them and wet them (you can put a wet brush to them as you would a pan of watercolor paint to ‘paint’ with them) you will melt off the color numbers that are imprinted on the ends. So I wound up using tape and marker and wrapping the ends of them with the color number to help alleviate further confusion in the future. You can see how faint the number is already on the lightly used block:

On some of the pieces, it was already melted. While tagging and swatching took a bit of time, once done, it really helped the cause of using them with confidence. I could think of a color I wanted, and just look at my chart and grab it and know that once wet, I would have the color that I intended. I worked on a layered background that I had masked off a bee to add to the top. I was pleased with the result and it took about six or seven layers to accomplish:
Now for me to decide how to proceed . . .

I want to paint a bee with transparent wings that the background will show through. That is why it was important to me that the background stay in place. I don’t want it re-activating and turning to mud.

But I haven’t decided which medium to use over the background. I may use acrylics. But I don’t want it to be flat. I would use watercolor, but I also want to add some flowers on top of the bee and I don’t know if that would work either. I have been going back over it in my mind for about a week now and haven’t rested on one clear direction.

In the meantime, I decided to try painting a couple of ‘practice bees’ using the Inktense pencils. The first one I did on indigo blue mat board. This was a scrap I had leftover from a picture I framed:

I was rather happy with it, but I found that the legs underneath the wings still reactivated and smeared when I applied the wing layer over it. I wound up adding some iridescent Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay Ink over the wings to make them shimmer and it did a lot to hide the smearing. But I wasn’t thrilled with the fact that the Inktense didn’t stay put as much as I wanted it to.

I then tried another bee using the Inktense pencils on white watercolor paper:

I found the result a little better, as I made sure to use a lot of water to FULLY activate the Inktense and see if that made a difference. It did. It seems that the under layers smeared much less and I was able to paint the wings over the legs with minimal smearing.

I went back to my original background and wet the corner and I noticed that some of the ink did, indeed reactivate and come up. That was not good. I didn’t want to wet the entire thing again and make mud of the background I liked so much. So now I am either going to try to spray it with a fixative or wet it with a mist and see if I can get it to set. I am not sure. And maybe now you can see the dilemma that I have in regards to how to finish the drawing. I may just work with my tried and true DecoArt Americana acrylics, knowing that I can finish the drawing with them without worrying about the background. We will have to see.

In the meantime, I went back to working on my North Star Village bakery. I am in the process of painting the larger version of the bakery in order to take the step-by-step photos needed for the pattern. This is an easy and stress-free process, although it does take some time. There has been much interest in those who are collecting the series and want to start collecting and I want to get everything finished and available as soon as I can. I am sure another floodgate of orders will open when I release that. I want to be prepared for it.

Here is the point that I am at as of last night:

It is amazing how easy and fun it is the second time around! They are painted with my beautiful DecoArt Americana Acrylic paints and it feels as comfortable to me as being with a lifetime friend. I just love painting with them!

So that is where I am today. While I haven’t been here on social media as much as usual, it certainly isn’t because I have been idle. Quite the opposite, in fact. I try to visit my Facebook group a couple of times per day and also my regular page to see my friends and say ‘hi’. That is important to me especially during these times of isolation.

Keith and I have been going for some nice walks in the woods, too. I have to do that before the dreaded black flies come out, as I am highly allergic to them. Then our walks will transfer to the beach or shoreline. It feels good to get out and get some fresh air though. I hope to take some time this summer to go to our nearby beach at least one afternoon a week. I just have to see how it plays out.

Well, that should about catch you up with what I have been up to. It has all been good. While I am often torn as to which direction to head, I find comfort in knowing that all the directions in front of me are productive and good. I may push this pile one day and that pile another, but in the big picture, I am busy and happy and ever-so-grateful. I have a wonderful and creative life and I look forward to each and every day. What more could I ask?

I hope you are all doing well and finding solace with your creative self. To me, there is something about ‘making things’ and learning new skills that really make me feel happy. It is a lovely way of life.

Until next time . . .

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Are you drawing bees because you’re busy as a bee?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It appears to be that way. It is funny, because I identify so much with cats, but they tend to sleep 21 hours a day. Maybe I pick up the other three hours and we have things covered together. πŸ˜‰ But bees – they are really fun to draw and paint. I do love them and they are all over my studio now that spring has arrived!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It always amazes me Sheila how much you achieve in your busy life, not only working in your business but taking the time to have some fun along the way, doing projects just for yourself. I’m retired and still can’t find enough time in the day to get through all the projects lined up in my head!
    Love your bumble bee especially the one done on the white paper πŸ‘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Anna. We are a lot alike, πŸ™‚ I have received so many compliments on my bee and it was just a simple exercise. I guess it is something that others like too. In my group I was asked to make a pattern of the bee. Maybe I will do it with my DecoArt acrylics in the future. Thanks for visiting! ❀


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