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563 DAYS LATER!

On August 18, 2014 our daughter started a two year graduate program at the University of Houston. Texas is a long way from home. I would miss her. “Mmm,” I thought, “while she is away intensively studying, I will advance my art education by taking on some intensive projects myself.” One was to sketch every day. I bought some 6 x 8 inch sketch books and made up some rules to follow. In essence, my own Masters Program. I would sketch ONLY in black ink, ONLY from life, and this effort would ONLY take 30 minutes a day. Bravely I went to the local school bus stop on that August day and commenced drawing. I had talked to two other artists about posting my sketches on Instagram and Facebook each day as a structure to get me to follow through. I posted a blog about this project on October 26, 2014, when I was at sketch #70. I was amazed THEN, that I had followed through for that long. Tonight I will be sketching #564! I am still amazed and the rules I made up have changed.

This is the first (upright) and one of the latest (laying down and with color) sketches.

This is the first (upright) and one of the latest (laying down and with color) sketches. I still sketch from life sometimes, but, also allow myself to use photos now. One day I was sketching in triple digit summer heat. After about a half hour, sweaty hand sticking to the paper and attention distracted by my discomfort, I took a photo to finish the piece from and went home to my studio. That rule change gave me the freedom to go back through all the photos I have taken over the years, with the intention of using them for paintings, and revisit scenes and objects that artistically attracted me but got pushed aside.

I still use black ink

I still use black ink to sketch with. Pigma Micron pens, usually 01, 03, 05, and a black fine tip brush for broad areas of black. I enjoy drawing with ink, but I also chose ink because it is a “declarative” medium. You can’t erase it. I will become a BOLDER artist for using it, lol.

I started using COLOR!

I started using COLOR! First to clarify or emphasize something in the sketch. THEN, it became an essential component. I have quite a stash of Prismacolor pencils from earlier art projects. They are my old friends, blending easily into each other. Aside from enhancing the drawing, some of these sketches are becoming preliminary color studies for paintings.

Mistakes are just a change in design.

Mistakes can be just a change in design, especially if you have a small pointy brush and a bottle of white opaque paint. Helpful when adding snowfall, wispy hairs, highlights, and obliterating errant pen strokes. These drawings are small, fitting within a 6 x 8 inch area and are usually around 4 x 5 inches. Even though they are small, the 30 minute time limit fell by the wayside a long while ago. My sketches take anywhere from 2 to 4 or more hours a day.


Stories just “bustin'” to get out!

THERE comes a time when something you have been thinking about for a long time demands attention. Actually, there are a lot of those “thoughts” that pile up. Which one gets to the top of the pile?!Storyboard sketches for Nightmare tissues of Delaney BluThis one did, this week. I have been storyboarding, writing, rewriting, restoryboarding, and on and on, a story about a gal and her ma. They live on a ranch, managing a herd of monsters to keep them “out of folks’ dreams as nightmares”. So, there are always chores to wake up to. The important sub-plot is the mother/daughter relationship. It is a fun puzzle to begin sketching page layouts and design: where to put the type, how to dance around the center spine of the book, how to tell the story on each spread…

THEN the work of “given circumstance” (that’s what they call it in theatre) begins. “Given Circumstances is a principle from Russian theatre practitioner Stanislavski for actor training: what are the conditions of the character’s world, history of the character’s environment, and elements from the character’s personal situation, like, who the heck is Hamlet?!!!

I SPENT some time with the gal character: Delaney Blu. Is she sassy, brassy, big eyed, oozing with certitude and cuteness? Mmmm, perhaps a little quieter confidence, figurin’ things out, obedient not rebellious (there ARE those, lol), still gets into “scrapes”, is a “getter done” kind of gal and yes, cute.


A Sudden Stroke of An Idea

Gratitude. Being grateful assists me to be healthier and happier . . . especially during difficult times. I don’t remember my exact thoughts when this idea of gratitude came to mind, but I am cultivating a practice of jotting down my visual impressions when they come into my journals or along the edges of my engagement calendars – and this one became a doodle. Women working in a field. I spent a part of my youth on a farm. We grew wheat, hay, and barley. My mom had three gardens growing at the same time. I was not a diligent worker in the field. Rather, I liked to pause and daydream. Loved the sunsets and the wind through the wheat. This doodle kept cropping up (lol, no pun intended). It needed to be painted.

This is the "doodle" of the "gratitude" idea that came into my mind. I am a designer and it was a natural instinct to make sure I had an artistic number of women: five, an odd number. It is also a well used design concept to offset to one side the main point of interest. I kept thinking of - labor that bends your back, looking down versus looking up...

This is the “doodle” of the “gratitude” idea that came into my mind. I am a designer and it was a natural instinct to make sure I had an artistic number of women: five, an odd number. It is also a well used design concept to offset to one side the main point of interest. I kept thinking of – labor that bends your back, looking down versus looking up…

I began focusing on the individual parts. Using tracing paper I considered the poses of each woman. I am so "grateful" for the internet. Googling images of field workers around the world gave me an education in dress, baskets, and methods of harvesting.

I began focusing on the individual parts. Using tracing paper I considered the poses of each woman. I am so “grateful” for the internet. Googling images of field workers around the world gave me an education in dress, baskets, and methods of harvesting.

Still using tracing paper and keeping the size small: 9 x 4 1/2 inches  (so it is quicker to work with and easy to see an overview of the design) as well as keeping my pencils really sharpened, I assembled the parts. I use tracing paper so that I can, obviously, trace over bits and pieces of change rather than redraw everything from scratch each time. This helps me refine each shape.

Still using tracing paper and keeping the size small: 9 x 4 1/2 inches (so it is quicker to work with and easy to see an overview of the design) as well as keeping my pencils really sharpened, I assembled the parts. I use tracing paper so that I can, obviously, trace over bits and pieces of change rather than redraw everything from scratch each time. This helps me refine each shape.

Since I was making up these figures and creating my own light source, rather than using photographic reference...I needed to resolve some three-dimensional values. Where would the forms be darker/lighter, turn in space? I photo copied my tissue drawing and colored some of it as a guide when I started painting. This was a delicious exercise. It reminded me of the time spent coloring "in the lines" in a coloring book as a child. Very therapeutic.

Since I was making up these figures and creating my own light source, rather than using photographic reference…I needed to resolve some three-dimensional values. Where would the forms be darker/lighter, turn in space? I photo copied my tissue drawing and colored some of it as a guide when I started painting. This was a delicious exercise. It reminded me of the time spent coloring “in the lines” in a coloring book as a child. Very therapeutic.

Then, I wondered, what color scheme?! I fluctuated between vibrant, wildly bold color, and muted tones. Tried some color pencil rendering to assist me in making a decision. I struggled with this ping-ponging even into the painting. It seems obvious that a quiet moment would need quiet colors. But I love juicy colors and it took some real restraint to stay calm. Too much herbal concentrate, lol? My husband proved the deciding factor. He walked into the studio one day when I had painted swirling color around the standing figure and informed me that I had gone over the top and needed to scale back. He was absolutely right. When I muted the color, leaving the idea and design to speak for themselves, it was a much stronger image.

Then, I wondered, what color scheme?! I fluctuated between vibrant, wildly bold color, and muted tones. Tried some color pencil rendering to assist me in making a decision. I struggled with this ping-ponging even into the painting. It seems obvious that a quiet moment would need quiet colors. But I love juicy colors and it took some real restraint to stay calm. Too much herbal concentrate, lol? My husband proved the deciding factor. He walked into the studio one day when I had painted swirling color around the standing figure and informed me that I had gone over the top and needed to scale back. He was absolutely right. When I muted the color, leaving the idea and design to speak for themselves, it was a much stronger image.

The final painting. It is 18 x 36 inches and oil on board. I believe I have opened a door to a series of similar paintings to satisfy those "strokes of ideas" that plague and bless my artistic life.

The final painting. It is 18 x 36 inches and oil on board. I believe I have opened a door to a series of similar paintings to satisfy those “strokes of ideas” that plague and bless my artistic life.

The painting is currently at the framers getting fitted for a debut at the Springville Spring Salon. I am definitely a bi-polar artist. I paint impressionistic realism as well as stylized concepts. This one falls in the stylized concept category and is signed DHMarsh.

 


“The Heart of the Conversation” series continued

This idea occurred to me while in church. Someone was speaking about how whatever is in our heart comes out of our mouth. Or who we are INSIDE will show up eventually on our OUTSIDE. I drifted into thinking about the prickly thorns on a cactus coming from the integrity of the cactus to produce those prickly thorns. Does a cactus have a thorny heart? What if the cactus was a man…would the hurtful thorns he spewed be evidence of an unsympathetic heart? A missing heart? Wouldn’t it be interesting to actually know where thoughts are drifting off to among the congregationalists at church, lol?!

The sketch in my journal for the painting, "Missing The Heart of the Conversation".

The sketch in my journal for the painting, “Missing The Heart of the Conversation”.

The final painting, a 9 x 12 inch oil on board. "Missing The Heart of the Conversation".

The final painting, a 9 x 12 inch oil on board. “Missing The Heart of the Conversation”.


“The Heart of the Conversation” series

I have heard that a great movie, an important book, a political strategy can come from notes jotted down on a napkin at lunch. Since strokes of ideas can come at unexpected moments, if not captured, the idea might disappear into the already flooded corridors of the brain, perhaps, to be lost. A popular place for me to have a “stroke of an idea” has been at church, sitting in the relative quiet and contemplating the cosmos. Being an artist those ideas have become scattered sketches, doodles, and drawings in my journals and engagement calendars. For years I have entertained turning those ideas into colorful visuals or stories. Last year I marked, copied, and gathered all those scattered visuals into a central binder. Then in July of 2013 I began to paint them. Because they are from my imagination the style approach is much more stylized than my regular approach to painting which is more to the impressionistic/realism side. As I painted I had such feelings of joy and peace that I knew I had stepped over the threshold of a door into full self-expression. The first one was “Holy Cow!”. The sketch was made in my journal on the day that I sold four paintings and found out I didn’t have cancer anymore. That became my annual “Yee-Haa!” Day, November 15. As others followed I needed a name for the series. “The Heart of the Conversation” was born from a conversation with my daughter, Katie, who gave me the name suggestion: “Missing The Heart of the Conversation” for the second one. How appropriate to these images which are a visual “play” on words. Visit my website http://dilleenmarsh.com/to see more of this series. Enjoy…as I am.

I jotted this sketch in my journal as I recorded the day I sold four paintings and found out I didn't have cancer anymore.

I jotted this sketch in my journal as I recorded the day I sold four paintings and found out I didn’t have cancer anymore.

The finished product is a 9 x 12 inch oil on board.

The finished product is a 9 x 12 inch oil on board.


“What Does A Line Inspire” Instructions

Supplies: 8 1/2 x 11 inch black cardstock, pastel, chalk, or prismacolor pencils, origami paper, tape, and glue.

1. Use the black cardstock as your base. Colors really “pop” on a black background. Cardstock is stiff enough to survive the art-making process and still be hangable on the refrigerator door.

2. Roll a piece of origami paper into a tube and tape it closed. If it is hard for some fingers to roll the paper, roll it around a pencil to help you get started. This tube of paper is the main “line” of your art.

3. Glue the tube of origami paper onto the black cardstock in the position you want it-straight, bent, or flattened. We just used simple Elmer’s glue. Glue sticks are not strong enough to hold the “line” to the cardstock.

4. Use pastel pencils, chalk, or prismacolor pencils to color in the rest of your design. (Markers will not show up on black very well.)

5. This project could be done on white paper with any art supplies you have on hand. The concept is to see how “line” is used in art and “What Does A Line Inspire?”

This was a demonstration I did of bending the "line". Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.

This was a demonstration I did of bending the “line”. Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.

 


What Does A Line Inspire?!

The textures of the butterflies' wings are pastel pencil, prismacolor pencil, and chalk on black cardstock paper.

The textures of the butterflies’ wings are pastel pencil, prismacolor pencil, and chalk on black cardstock paper.

These children saw a tree trunk in their "line".

These children saw a tree trunk in their “line”.

Another butterfly!

Another butterfly!

This was a demonstration I did of bending the "line". Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.

This was a demonstration I did of bending the “line”. Inspired me to use it as a nose in a face.

Seeing the "line" in the body of a butterfly or the trunk of a tree inspired seven young artists as seen by the attached photos.


Pushing The Envelope: What Does It Take To Do That?

siz and driz character sketch

In February of this year I shared with you my sketches for two characters I am writing children’s book stories about: Driz and Siz. I was happy with my little “cute” girls and merrily sent sketches and manuscripts out to agents. No takers. Time passes. One day, surfing around on the internet I went to a site hosted by Will Terry, children’s book illustrator, who generously shares his experience and wisdom.http://willterry.com/ Here’s a quote from that insightful moment: “The internet ignores mediocrity. It ignores good. It ignores really likeable. It only celebrates excellent or great. You have to be willing to sacrifice and be great. You have to figure out what you want to do to be great. It can’t be forced. Do what you really, really love. Once you find that – don’t look back.” I looked at my “cute” characters and saw “likeability”. Aaargh! Considered two questions: What do I really, really love? What is holding me back?


An inexpensive and creative children’s art project! Or for you moms and grandmas out there, an activity that is “Creative Simplicity Itself”.

On my way back from the 3 Woman Show in Logan I had the great privilege of spending a few hours with my grandson, Jayson, and his brother, William. I love these two little guys and am grateful to their mom and grandma, Melissa, for their generosity in arranging for this time. We played treasure hunt, hide and seek, Sorry (the board game), caught up on their latest karate moves and ate from a vending machine… Then William asked, “Are we going to do an art project?” I was in the middle of explaining that I hadn’t brought my “craft/art box” with me when this idea popped into my head (I am sure I got this from some other creative person somewhere). Following are the instructions for “Creative Simplicity Itself”.

1. A piece of 8 1/2 x 11 inch white printer paper for each person participating.
2. A color for each person. We chose a crayon each because they had crayons handy. Markers, pencils, paints or any other way to use color would also work.
3. Each person starts a drawing of anything with their color. We set a time limit of a few minutes to work on it and then said “Stop!”
4. Before passing your paper-with-started-drawing onto the person sitting next to you, you write a word (any word) at the top of the page.
5. The next person uses their color to add to the drawing you started. With a time limit. Also adding a word (any word) to the top of the page.
6. Keep rotating papers around the table until all have added to the drawings with their colors and words.
7. Then it is story time! Each person tells a story about the art work on the paper in front of them using all the words written at the top of the page.

I was really impressed by the creative stories that William, the 8 year old came up with. Even Jayson, 5, got into the swing of it, if mostly to use the drawing as a mask, lol.

William, Jayson, and Grandma Melissa at the Sorry board. How does that game live on and on?! I remember playing Sorry with my dad and sisters at Christmas. Lots of fun.

William, Jayson, and Grandma Melissa at the Sorry board. How does that game live on and on?! I remember playing Sorry with my dad and sisters at Christmas. Lots of fun.

The work of "Creative Simplicity Itself" begins. Each has a piece of paper and a crayon color. The timer is set and off we go!

The work of “Creative Simplicity Itself” begins. Each has a piece of paper and a crayon color. The timer is set and off we go!

Yes, the final art could be used as a mask. Jayson is modelling the possibilities!

Yes, the final art could be used as a mask. Jayson is modelling the possibilities!

Jayson, 5, and William, 8. Adorable, precious, creative, genius, sweet, fun . . . do I sound like a grandma?!

Jayson, 5, and William, 8. Adorable, precious, creative, genius, sweet, fun . . . do I sound like a grandma?!


3 Woman Show at Logan Fine Art

Katie stopped by the reception after work and added sparkle . . . as well as loving support. There were other notables there that night: Jon and Judy Anderson (Jon was my design professor at USU. A significant mentor in my life) and two artists I admire, Brad and Debra Teare. Roxane's son, Ryan, popped in to see what his mom has been up to. Kristie Grussendorf, a fabulous watercolorist and good friend graced us with her presence, coming directly from a long painting workshop day. Even a bygone roommate from my student days at USU, Dana, showed up with her husband. So many years and so much life since college.

Katie stopped by the reception after work and added sparkle . . . as well as loving support. There were other notables there that night: Jon and Judy Anderson (Jon was my design professor at USU. A significant mentor in my life) and two artists I admire, Brad and Debra Teare. Roxane’s son, Ryan, popped in to see what his mom has been up to. Kristie Grussendorf, a fabulous watercolorist and good friend graced us with her presence, coming directly from a long painting workshop day. Even a bygone roommate from my student days at USU, Dana, showed up with her husband. So many years and so much life since college.

One of the pleasurable parts of the evening was having guests point out their favorite "Roxane" painting. This is Barb Edwards on the left and Katie Marsh on the right. Stiff competition for "Vanna White"!

One of the pleasurable parts of the evening was having guests point out their favorite “Roxane” painting. This is Barb Edwards on the left and Katie Marsh on the right. Stiff competition for “Vanna White”!

Me and Susette standing by one of MY self-expressed landscape paintings.

Me and Susette standing by one of MY self-expressed landscape paintings.

See?! Like I said, a bundle of energy! This is Susette in front of one of her very self expressed floral paintings.

See?! Like I said, a bundle of energy! This is Susette in front of one of her very self expressed floral paintings.

One of the ten posters we placed around town. Katie's reflection is seen in the window. Nice design on the poster by staff at Logan Fine Art.

One of the ten posters we placed around town. Katie’s reflection is seen in the window. Nice design on the poster by staff at Logan Fine Art.

Today is the last day of a 3 woman art show at Logan Fine Art in Logan, Utah. I had the privilege of exhibiting my work with the work of Roxane Pfister and Susette Gerstch. On the 10th of July, a Wednesday, I loaded up our little car with 19 paintings and 18 illustrations and headed north from Hurricane to Logan. Along the way I picked up a painting that had been in the Springville Spring Salon this year and I was packin’ art supplies for an illustration job that needed to be completed by Monday. There wasn’t room for a hitch-hikin’ chipmunk to join me on that drive. However, Jeffrey Archer/Clifton Chronicles entertained me on audio book all the way.

On the 12th, my fabulous daughter, Katie Marsh, assisted me in placing flyers and posters of the 3 woman show around town with the hope that the Utah Opera Festival crowd might be enrolled in taking a peek at our art. I think I only had courage to hand out flyers to groups of smartly dressed women and say “Go Girls!” because of my stage actress daughter’s backup.

That night, at our opening reception, I had the pleasure of showing off my friend, Roxane’s, new technique with a palette knife to attendees. Roxane, meanwhile, was winging her way to China with her scientist husband, Jim. I did not know Susette before that evening although I had admired some of her paintings. Happy to find out she was a very pleasant, intelligent bundle of energy, easy to get along with.

Julie (Logan Fine Art staff and enthusiastic support), Katie (the fabulous daughter), Glen (my USU illustration professor and mentor friend), and Barb (art buddy forever) at the table display of my illustrations.

Julie (Logan Fine Art staff and enthusiastic support), Katie (the fabulous daughter), Glen (my USU illustration professor and mentor friend), and Barb (art buddy forever) at the table display of my illustrations.