Art · Find Your Flow

Day Thirteen: Find Your Flow

Today was the day. I counted to be sure. Five business days since the biopsy. I called for the results half thinking this will end up like all the other tests, half hopeful that an answer would be found this time around. I had a biopsy two years ago for the same dis-ease – it came back positive. It’s crazy to feel relief at being diagnosed with something incurable, and yet I was overjoyed and relieved to finally have a diagnosis after sixteen years of declining health. I was referred to an oncologist, a bone marrow biopsy was done, a second opinion sought, a finding that the original positive result was a false positive. Depression, hopelessness, everything negative you can think of followed. I was back to no diagnosis, the echoes of so many doctors’ findings “it’s all in your head” echoing off the walls. Fast forward two years. More unexplained symptoms. A decline, decline, decline. This diagnosis the only one that makes sense, even to a new set of doctors. A request for a second biopsy just to rule it out once and for all so we can move on.

Today was the day. The nurse says something about a protein build-up, I don’t really understand what she is talking about.

I say, “this was a test for amyloidosis.”

She says, “Yes.”

I say, “Is it positive?”

She says, “Yes.”

“I have amyloidosis?”

“Yes.”

Holy shit!

Two years later and another positive biopsy. I feel relief at first, then skepticism. Did I hear her right? Did she make a mistake reading the results? Are they going to take it away from me again? Are they going to say it was a mistake…again? Am I going to have to go through all this again only to be told there’s nothing they can do, it’s all in my head?

Then I realize, I have lost two years of treatment. How much damage has been done? My amazing primary physician says, “they can’t call you crazy anymore.” He’s already referred me to the oncologist, but they can’t get me in until August. A waiting game…

UPDATE: I decided to call back the doctor’s office and ask for a copy of the results to be sent to me and guess what??? The results say that the biopsy was NEGATIVE for amyloidosis, NOT positive. I am feeling quite angry right now, but I thought I would at least post an update here.

I didn’t want to sketch today, but I made a commitment to my daily creative practice…no matter what. So, I continued with Nina Rycroft’s Guide to Drawing Eyes class. Today is square-shaped eyes. I created three characters using the three square eye shapes from the video. I added color again, this time using Caran d’Ache Neocolor II Aquarelle for the skin and Derwent Inktense for the rest of the color. The sketch paper did not hold up well because it’s not made for watercolor, but there was an interesting bubble effect that showed up on the skin that I think is really cool. And, the baby looks a little sinister which I like 😉

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Art · Find Your Flow

Day Twelve: Find Your Flow

Since I finished Nina Rycroft’s Face Shapes class yesterday, today was the perfect day to watch Karen Abend‘s next #FindYourFlow video on resistance and procrastination. In the video, she discussed self-discipline and self-awareness as ways to help with resistance and procrastination that comes up when implementing a daily creative practice. One of the suggestions she had was daily revisits to the thirty-day plan I created at the start of the program in order to come up with daily commitments and intentions based on that plan. It was incredibly helpful (and I loved the accompanying PDF she gifted us with) because when I reviewed the plan I had created, I realized at its core was a desire to focus on character development. This realization helped me decide that, moving forward, I would continue with Nina Rycroft’s illustration classes and move on to the Guide to Drawing Eyes class.

I wasn’t sure how exactly to make it more than just a bunch of eyes on the page. I wanted my practice to be a bit more fun than that…so, I decided to create characters based on each eye shape.

Today’s sketches are based on Nina Rycroft’s round eyes. She suggested three different round eye types, so I created three characters based on those. I kept the noses and mouths the same (for the most part), and kept them in the same location on the face. I used the same oval-shaped face for each character as well. When I was done with the rough sketch, I let my intuition guide me on what to do next. On the first character, I tried a new graphite pencil over the blue pencil, but it didn’t feel quite right, so I decided to use a Sharpie art pen to outline the characters rather than a graphite pencil. When that was done, I still felt the need to add more, so I decided to add color! Since I’m working on basic sketch paper, I had to choose an appropriate medium, so I decided to use watercolor pencils and then add a very light wash with a waterbrush. The paper held up nicely, and I’m really happy with the results.

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Art · Find Your Flow

Day Eleven: Find Your Flow

Today was the last section of Nina Rycroft’s Face Shapes Class. I really enjoyed the class. I am proud of myself for slowing down and taking my time with it. My usual way is to plow through everything at warp speed just so I can say I’ve finished it (usually in one sitting). This is especially true with these videos because each one is only a few minutes long. However, because of the goals I set forth with #FindYourFlow, I decided to just tackle one face shape a day, creating six different characters, and it was very beneficial for me.

Here’s what I learned:

  • I take on too much and try to get things done too quickly. I need to slow down, take my time, and really pay attention to and absorb what I am trying to learn.
  • I was only drawing one face shape over and over again before taking this class. This class has expanded my knowledge of face shapes, and as such, has expanded the possibilities of character development.
  • Each element of a face is important and shifting even one thing can vastly change the character that emerges. It is amazing the difference eye shape, mouth shape, nose shape, and even hair shape can make for the character.
  • I love sketching with the Caran d’Ache non-photo blue pencil. I love it more than I do graphite. When I go over it with graphite, it loses something. I need to find a graphite pencil that goes down on the page as smoothly as this pencil does.
  • I started out wanting to draw just one character over and over again for the #FindYourFlow thirty days, but realized during the practice sessions that it wasn’t going to work for me. I was flexible rather than pushing through as I usually do, and the very last character I drew for the face shapes class is a very good candidate for the character I was looking to create. So, through my flexibility, and my willingness to expand my practice to all kinds of characters, the one I was looking for emerged anyway, and I had a lot more fun.
  • I can do things slowly even though it goes against my nature.
  • I can do things slowly, and it is beneficial to my progress.
  • I can do things slowly and still finish them.
  • Everything doesn’t have to be done in one sitting. I can learn to trust myself to come back to it and finish it.
  • Small steps are still progress.
  • I am proud of myself for going through something slowly, coming back to it day after day, and completing it.
  • I followed my intuition rather than my logical mind, and it worked out very well. I am proving to myself that following my intuition is safe to do.

I don’t know what I will do for tomorrow’s #FindYourFlow session, but I am going to let my intuition guide me in the direction I need to go.

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Art · Creative Soul Series

Day Ten: Find Your Flow

The consistency in this practice is paying off. Instead of my mind fretting over all kinds of madness when I go to bed, it now is happily occupied trying out different noses, eyes, and mouths on imaginary face shapes. What a fascinating thing this is – proof that my mind is at work on creating art even when I am wholly focused on something else. It’s just really, really cool!

Today’s sketches are again a continuation of Nina Rycroft’s Face Shapes class. These are my attempts at the heptagon-shaped face. I only have one section left in the class – oblong shaped faces, and I will have completed the class. I have some ideas about what I might do next as the thirty days of #FindYourFlow continues, but I haven’t settled on any one thing yet. I am going to leave it up to my intuition to guide the way.

I’ve been catching up on the recordings for the Creative Soul Series with Jennifer Currie today. If you get the chance, take the time to listen/watch them. The whole series is FREE! They are incredibly inspirational, and I’m learning so much!

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Art · Find Your Flow

Day Nine: Find Your Flow

Today has been a better day. I wasn’t motivated to sketch this morning, so I decided to wait until this afternoon. This is oftentimes not the best way for me to get things accomplished because if I don’t get things done in the morning, I get distracted, and whatever it was doesn’t get done. But I managed to carve out some time this afternoon to complete the sketches.

I found myself thinking the following while sketching today: What am I doing here? What am I gaining from this? Am I learning anything? Am I wasting my time? I have a habit of only allowing myself to do things that have tangible results, convincing myself that I don’t have time to do anything else. But today I reminded myself that this process is just about showing up each day and following my intuition, that is all. If I learn nothing else but showing up and listening, those two things will be enough.

Today’s sketches are a continuation of Nina Rycroft’s Face Shapes class on Skillshare. They are all teardrop-shaped faces. I had fun with these. I really enjoy seeing how different characters emerge as I follow my intuition with eye shapes, mouth shapes, ear shapes, and noses. It is incredible how just shifting those around can create a vastly different character.

Here are my six new characters 🙂

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Art · Find Your Flow

Day Eight: Find Your Flow

This morning I woke up to the news about Anthony Bourdain, and my heart is heavy. His apparent suicide, along with Kate Spade’s suicide, is a reminder that every one of us is simply human no matter how superhuman some of us might seem. We all hurt despite outward appearances. Let’s just be kind to each other. Extra kind. Kind even when kindness isn’t called for. Kind even when we just don’t feel like it. Kind even when all we want to do is lash out in anger. Let’s just be kind to each other.

I was unmotivated to do the daily sketches today, but I sat down and did them anyway. That’s what is so important about being part of the Find Your Flow group. There is built-in motivation and inspiration I can pull from when I am emptied out of my own. I continued with Nina Rycroft‘s Face Shapes class this time utilizing square faces.

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Art · Find Your Flow

Day Six: Find Your Flow

This morning I found myself wanting to procrastinate. I looked around at all the things I need to get done around the house, and had to stop myself from doing those things instead of my sketching practice. I really wanted to distract myself from the anxiety I’m feeling today. I’m going to see a new specialist this afternoon, and I really don’t want to go. I have been down this road again and again, and it never ends well. I tell myself maybe this doctor will be different, I get my hopes up that an answer will be found, and then it all plays out the same way. At first, the doctors are enthusiastic to see me. They believe they will be the one to figure out the mystery that is me. But after they have run all their tests and come up with nothing, they get frustrated or lose interest, and tell me there is nothing they can do for me.

I have not been well for eighteen years. About seven years ago, I believed the mystery had been solved when an endocrinologist discovered a parathyroid tumor. It was quickly removed, and I was declared cured. But, my health has continued to decline. I have really good days, and then I have days that take my feet out from under me, and I just have to let it do what it does until it’s done. Life stops, plans stop, everything stops. I am learning to accept this, but it’s not an easy thing to do. Neither is continuing to carry the hope that the next specialist will be the one to finally figure it all out.

Despite my need to procrastinate and distract, I sat down and sketched my six characters. Today’s lesson was Nina Rycroft‘s oval-shaped faces. I really like the results. I received a Caran D’Ache non-photo blue pencil in the mail yesterday, and I absolutely loved sketching with it. It felt like putting silk down on the page, and I love the results. It’s amazing how having just the right creative tool can make such a difference in the creating experience.

Here are today’s sketches. I love the second character. She looks like I feel today. Ha! Ha!

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Art · Creative Soul Series · Find Your Flow

Day Five: Find Your Flow

Today was an easy day. I think the journal exercise Karen Abend had us complete yesterday for the #FindYourFlow group really helped to put my inner critic into perspective. The group sharing their fears also helped me to realize I’m not alone, and the only thing my inner critic is succeeding at is blocking me from creating with a judgment-free mind. Karen had mentioned speaking to yourself as you would a friend, and I thought, would I make the comments I make to myself to anyone in the #FindYourFlow group. Not a chance! So, it was time to stop doing it to myself.

Today began the Creative Soul Series hosted by Jennifer Currie. I decided to listen to the video while completing my sketches today. Surprisingly, there was no judgment during my sketching session because I had kept my mind occupied by the wonderful conversation between Jennifer Currie and Laura Horn. This is something I hadn’t thought about doing before, but I see now that it may be beneficial for me to play something that can distract my logical mind while I’m sketching in order to bypass the judgment that has been crippling my creative practice.

For my sketching practice today, I completed the next video of Nina Rycroft‘s Face Shapes Class on Skillshare – rectangle faces – and created six new characters. It went smoothly, and I can see a noticeable improvement in the sketches, and that makes me happy!

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Art · Find Your Flow

Day Four: Find Your Flow

I love having the support of the other members of the Find Your Flow group. Yesterday, I was feeling incredibly frustrated, today is no different, but some of the suggestions from the group helped me work through it today. I’m not happy with my sketches…again, but when a member suggested that I do the sketches, then set them aside to revisit later, that made sense to me. I thought, how amazing would it be to have a sketchbook full of various characters to explore in July. Wouldn’t that be better than none at all, even if they weren’t the best sketches…yet?

So, for today, I continued with Nina Rycroft‘s Face Shapes Skillshare course, and set the goal of drawing six faces for each face shape. Today’s lesson was heart-shaped faces. You can see the results below. What I learned today is my perfectionist side is getting the best of me…and…I have yet to find a decent eraser. I mean, is it really too much to ask to have a decent eraser? (ha! ha!). It is probably user error, but me and erasers don’t get along. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Members of the Find Your Flow group got our weekly video guidance from group founder and leader Karen Abend. This week is about our fear of sharing our work, and also comparing ourselves to others. She led us through an exercise in allowing our inner critic to raise her objections and then time to allow our inner love to raise her voice in rebuttal. A braid of various threads is emerging for me. The first thread is that I don’t know how to have fun. I don’t even know what “fun,” is for me anymore. Some of this has to do with my life being filled with lots of serious things that have demanded my focus for many years – a son with special needs, a chronic, sometimes debilitating dis-ease that rises up unpredictably. Some of it has to do with giving up certain vices that I thought brought me joy – the biggest one being alcohol. Fun used to be going to bars and getting drunk or even sitting on my back patio with friends and getting drunk. It helped free my social side – something that is almost non-existent without alcohol. Even though I stopped drinking heavily and socializing many years ago, I never redefined what fun was for me. I just stopped. When I completed the inner critic exercise this morning, what came out was a series of reprimands about having fun, that now is not the time for such frivolous things, that if I take the time to have fun, I will lose everything. These are serious times, and there are lots of serious things that demand my attention. How dare I take the time to have fun?

Then I gave voice to the loving side and what she said is so important I wanted to share it all with you.

You are pure magic. Look at what you’ve already created without a daily practice. Can you imagine where this could go with some focus and daily practice? The possibilities are endless. Listen to what the others in the group have to say – they are the messengers. You have created the life of your dreams already. Granted there are a few things yet to evolve, but you spent a large part of your life doing the “right” thing, you deserve this time to create, grow, and nurture yourself. This is your next step, it is why you are stuck. I needed you to see beyond the scope of full-time jobs and tangible, measurable results. It’s time to leave that world behind. It is no longer part of your journey and you’ve been carrying that much too heavy burden for much longer than was necessary. Set it down here and now. Feel the weight of it as it releases from your body and lands on the ground. This lightness of being is what freedom feels like. Set it down. Journey home without it. It no longer serves you. I cannot wait to show you what I have prepared for you. It is already yours – the journey can be light or heavy – that is your choice – but you will get there either way. Why don’t we have some fun along the way? Set your burden down. Let’s go!

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Art · Find Your Flow

Day Three: Find Your Flow

Well…since starting the #FindYourFlow thirty day program, my house has never been so clean! I spent a couple of hours this morning cleaning (something I never do) so that I could avoid the anxiety I feel when I sit down to draw. I need to have things planned out in advance, need to know exactly what I’m doing, and this daily practice is testing me more than I thought it would. It is one thing to say that I will do something, and quite another to actually sit down and do it. For example, I like to buy art supplies but have a much harder time sitting down to use them. Of course, this is different if I know exactly what I’m going to do with them. For this program, though, instead of planning out every day, I’ve decided to go with my intuition. It’s bringing up all kinds of issues for me because I always need to feel in control of everything. Even though I know I control very little, it is really about feeling in control for me. Because of my lack of skills, this practice is way out of my comfort zone of imaginary control.

Today I decided to start Nina Rycroft‘s face shapes class on Skillshare. I thought I would just plow right through the whole class – ha! ha! – but changed my mind, slowed down, and stuck only to the first video of the course – kite-shaped faces. I am fascinated that no matter what I think I’m going to draw, the result is fairies or other mythical creatures. I sense a theme emerging. We shall see.

I find myself struggling with not creating something pretty or eye-pleasing to look at. It feels like it’s not art if it’s rough sketches or dare I say it again…not perfect. But this is all about showing up and putting something down on the page – not perfection, not pretty, just something.

So, with that being said, here are today’s sketches:

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