This year has been a doozy. We are not even half way through it and multiple crazy things have happened. Unless you are living under a rock I don’t feel I need to explain what it is. It has caused many of us, although not all (the ones who probably need it the most), to turn into ourselves and think about our actions. I hope we all come out the other side as better people. With that in mind, one of many things I have learned from this year (so far) is that art is so much more than just a pretty picture. It is an expression of history, of who you are and it’s way to carry a very important lesson.
So often I scroll through social media, especially when times are better, and end up seeing the same thing over and over. Everyone is trying to cash in on what’s trending. We often need hard times to really look into ourselves and pull out our inner strengths, fears and desires. And that’s when art is made. Because you are trying to say something with your creations to make a change in the world with your art.
Art is not about making something pretty it’s about changing the way we see and perceive things. I have learned that if you don’t put that work in while doing art you will burn out because your creativity is calling you for something bigger. How do I know this because I have been going through it these past four years in my artistic business. I thought I wanted to take photos of families and weddings for a career, but I never felt I was doing something I loved in the process or something that was making a difference. I want to create art that will say something, change perception and get people’s attention.
I create art to show the world that I am strong and that I care. I create to show my son that anything is possible whether you are a woman, black, Asian, Latino and the list goes on. I create to express my feelings about the history we are making. If you are not putting in the work to find out what you want to say then stop right now. Stop promoting, stop everything you think you need to do and look within. Ask yourself important life questions then create something from that. Create art that speaks and sparks that little light in someone else!
Art that comes from a true place of worth is art that will change and have meaning to at least one other person and if each of us can change one person’s mind about hate then that’s more than we could ever ask for. So I am doing just that. I am creating art, not promoting, not saying look at me, I am just simply looking to create something better. I want you to do the same.
I am starting with 100 days of art journaling, just opening up the sketchbook and putting my feelings on the page. I love art journals because it's not about being perfect it's about exploring and sharing whatever comes out. It's about finding what you want to say in bigger artworks later. It's ideas.
Do you notice how we eat the same thing over and over? We buy the same food at stores and eat out at the same restaurants. We buy the same meals because it's what we like, but what we lack in our diet is variety. At least here in the States most grocery stores we are supplied the same food and there's never much variety. Occasionally we will get some weird looking fruit that no one buys, probably because someone requested it.
However, eating a variety of things provides a variety of nutrients. Some of these foods can be found right in your own backyard. I'm not talking about growing a garden, I'm talking about foraging for food. Fortunately, I live on two acres so I have few things to choose from, but I have seen these three plants in every yard - dandelion or cat's ear, pineapple weed, and miner's lettuce.
Dandelion and Cat's Ear look similar, but are different in a couple of ways. Dandelion are short and stalky where as cat's ear are long and lengthy. You can use the whole dandelion plant and Cat's Ear in several different ways. The leaves can be used for salads and the flowers can be used for teas and vinegar, plus if you have turtles as pets they love to eat these little plants too. According to Precision Nutrition "One cup of chopped, raw dandelion greens (about 55g) has 25 calories, 1.5g protein, 0.4g of fat, 5.1g of carbohydrates, 1.9g fiber, and 0.4g sugar. Dandelion greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, folate, vitamin K, and vitamin C (in its raw form), and a good source of calcium and potassium."
So next time you see lots of dandelions or Cat's Ear in your yard pick them whole and use them for different things. Make sure you wash them and don't collect from areas your pet uses as a bathroom or where you spray pesticides and weed killer. You can wash them in 4 parts vinegar to 1 part water for 30 minutes, then rinse. They are ready to use.
Pineapple weed is another great plant that you can find practically anywhere. It likes rocky or rough terrain. You'll often see it in cracks in sidewalks. The heads look like chamomile without the flower pedals. You can use both the heads and the thin leaves in food. I made a tea last night using the lobes and it was delicious. It has a light flavor with a pineapple hint. The leaves are great in salads. Be sure to wash them before use and again don't collect from areas with heavy pesticide use, weed killer or where your pets use the bathroom.
Last, but certainly not least is miner's lettuce. Miner's lettuce is a prominent plant here in the foothills of California. It grows furiously in the grasses under oak trees. It's named because the miner's that came to California during the Gold Rush used to eat it to fight off scurvy. It's packed with all kind of vitamins. However, it grows for a very short time in the cooler months from about February to May. So eat it while you can. For more on this little lettuce read this great article from The Atlantic.
This is not an affiliate post.
In college, I listened to the wrong people. I was an art major when I started college, but when I told people what I was studying the most common question I got was "what are you going to do with art?" And it wasn't asked in a nice way. Those people always said, "you should study business. You should study teaching. You should study this or that."
Of course, I took their advice because I doubted my abilities to be an artist. I doubted the arts and what it provided for society. So I switched majors several times after that, at least every semester. I tried business, criminal justice, liberal arts, art history, science, etc. None of them stuck.
By the time, I was ready to transfer to a university from community college I had two degrees. One in liberal arts and the other in humanities. I wasted so much time and I never gave up art outside of school, until I graduated Sacramento State.
Maybe I was mad or upset, but I decided art was never going to become anything after graduating. I threw away all my paintings and sketchbooks. For years I didn't draw or paint. It was only recently, in the past couple of years, that I thought about drawing. In fact it was every day, but I just never picked up a pen again.
When I finally did buy another sketchbook I began doodling here and there mainly when I wanted an escape from my thoughts. I also thought, could I ever pursue this seriously again? I realized I could, just like the photography I was currently doing. However, I doubted everything I drew because there was such a huge gap where I didn't practice my skills, which turned into loads of regret.
Why did I ever stop creating? Why did I listen to all of those other people? The word should is someone forcing their beliefs on you. You should study this or should study that. As you can guess I was feeling pretty low.
Fortunately, the stars were aligning for my need to create again. I came across a blog post on Skillshare about The Brooklyn Art Library and their Sketchbook Project. It was the perfect motivator for me to draw in a sketchbook again. I had already started in my sketchbooks, but now I had a purpose to use one again.
What is your sketchbook about?
It’s not going to be particularly about anything, that’s the beauty of a sketchbook! It’s like a rough draft for everything else.
I didn’t think much about this before, but I have been fascinated by creating patterns lately from rug designs to graphic blocks. I love pattern because patterns are great for building drawing skills, especially when repeating images over and over. Basically, it’s like practicing music scales or chords. It helps you build muscle memory about how to draw a subject.
I started drawing patterns in my sketchbooks before I received the one from the Brooklyn Art Library. I am just continuing that into this sketchbook.
Where can I see your sketchbook progress?
There are several ways you can follow my progress. You can subscribe to my email list for my weekly emails, you can follow this blog or follow me on Instagram.
Also if you are doing a sketchbook project I would love to see it. Drop your Instagram handle in the comments so I can follow you.
I'm in pursuit of living a simple, healthy lifestyle by getting back to the basics and creating a lifestyle conducive to my autoimmune disease. I believe food is medicine, gardening feeds the soul and art quiets the mind. Welcome to my creative corner of the internet!