Ambi-what? - Or How I'm Learning to Channel My Inner da Vinci

Well, I have been back home from vacation for a little while and anxious to get back to work in the studio, especially since I have an exhibition entry deadline coming up next week - yikes. But schlepping around one too many heavy bags (especially my Mary Poppins handbag) has taken its toll on my right shoulder. I'm wrapped up in a sling, colorful of course, with doctor's orders to keep it immobile - no painting or sketching for now.

Watching YouTube videos can only sustain you for so long before you go stir crazy and have to try something new. So how about learning to sketch left-handed? The creative genius Leonardo da Vinci was ambidextrous, so what better inspiration could you have. Here's a shot at my left-handed gesture sketches. No da Vinci, but it is freeing to sketch loosely without worrying about getting things perfect. Plus I've heard it is good exercise for the brain - feeling smarter already.

 My first attempts at left-handed gesture sketches - lots of fun, but no da Vinci here.

My first attempts at left-handed gesture sketches - lots of fun, but no da Vinci here.

For fun, check out someone who has got the ambidextrous thing figured out, contemporary artist Gur Keren. He not only doodles with both hands simultaneously, but also with both feet! I hope my shoulder recovers before I have to give that a serious try.

Have you ever had to change your creative process, and if so, what did you discover?

--Debbie

Paris - A City for the Senses

Next stop on the creative inspiration train - Paris. The charms of this city are hard to resist. Beyond the monuments and museums, it's the details I discover on the streets of Paris that wake up my senses and charge my emotions. Sidewalk cafes, shop windows, architectural details, park scenes that mimic some of my favorite turn of the 20th century paintings. 

 Paris is full of things to see and do, but remember to relax and reflect, sit back and enjoy a tasty treat.

Paris is full of things to see and do, but remember to relax and reflect, sit back and enjoy a tasty treat.

 Paris parks are full of life for the young at heart - live today and pass it on.

Paris parks are full of life for the young at heart - live today and pass it on.

 The 20/20 experience of Paris - trinkets for the moment or treasures for a lifetime - the romance of the city is all around.

The 20/20 experience of Paris - trinkets for the moment or treasures for a lifetime - the romance of the city is all around.

 A little sample of Paris' beautiful ironwork design details.

A little sample of Paris' beautiful ironwork design details.

 Paris 1900 - floor to ceiling Art Nouveau - I love it!

Paris 1900 - floor to ceiling Art Nouveau - I love it!

What are some of the things that inspire you in your favorite cities? 

--Debbie

Inspiration - Nature's Gift

What do you get when you add up a change of scenery plus a change of season? An explosion of creative energy and inspiration. I have spent the last few days walking the streets of London. While I had planned to spend all day every day soaking up creative inspiration from the masters in museums and galleries, I have instead spent the glorious parts of each day enjoying the neighborhood streets and parks. Nature has a great way of smacking us upside the head every now and then, saying wake up and enjoy life now - no app required. Here are a few of my pics for inspiration.

 Nature in Spring - what a teacher for getting a color palette right.

Nature in Spring - what a teacher for getting a color palette right.

 The beautiful London parks - a great way to welcome spring and to start dreaming of new creations.

The beautiful London parks - a great way to welcome spring and to start dreaming of new creations.

 Some of the birds hanging out in the London parks. I love the "eyes" in the fence and in the peacock feathers.

Some of the birds hanging out in the London parks. I love the "eyes" in the fence and in the peacock feathers.

 Even the ground inspires thoughts of colors, textures, and patterns.

Even the ground inspires thoughts of colors, textures, and patterns.

Colors, textures, lighting, composition, movement, LIFE - the stories are all around us. What's inspiring you these days?

--Debbie

Sketch Muscat for Charity Update

A quick update on the Sketch Muscat for Charity event - Sue Pownall, event organizer, set up various arrangements on tables for inspiration - flowers, food, bottles, shells, and other found objects. Looking out the many windows provided ample inspiration from the city skyline. Sketchers as young as three drew shells, flowers, and candy. Some architects sketched amazing city skylines, while a few other artists sketched other sketchers hard at work. It was a fun day for all and everyone contributed to help the children of Syria. 

 My sketch of a mixed bouquet featuring roses.

My sketch of a mixed bouquet featuring roses.

 Event results. Image credit to Sue Pownall and  Alexandra Hoepfner.

Event results. Image credit to Sue Pownall and  Alexandra Hoepfner.

You can help, too. The donation site remains open until July 2014.

http://fundraise.unicef.org.uk/MyPage/Sue-Pownalls-annual-fundraiserSketch-Muscat-for-Charity#.U1NCZVet8h0

Donation site funds go direct to: UNICEF UK This money will be presented by cheque to UNICEF Middle East and North Africa Oman office.

Thanks.

--Debbie

Sketch Muscat for Charity

Tomorrow I'll be participating in a charity event, "Sketch Muscat for Charity", organized by artist, Sue Pownall. This year's event is in support of UNICEF Children of Syria. 

 Advertising poster of event by Alexandra Hoepfner, designer & gallery manager of MuscArt Gallery.

Advertising poster of event by Alexandra Hoepfner, designer & gallery manager of MuscArt Gallery.

I am really excited to be helping with this worthy cause while practicing my art with other local artists. If you would like to contribute, you can donate on Sue's unicef donation page: 

http://fundraise.unicef.org.uk/MyPage/Sue-Pownalls-annual-fundraiserSketch-Muscat-for-Charity

--Debbie

Creativity, Serendipity & Gremlins - Now You See It, Now You Don't

Many of my paintings go through lots of changes during the painting process - sometimes by design and other times not. I try to document the changes by taking photos along the way, but many times I forget, especially when I get lost in the piece. Below are pics of some of the stages of the finished piece "Rolling Through Time". Unfortunately there were many more versions that I did not record.

 Process pics of some of the under layers of "Rolling Through Time".

Process pics of some of the under layers of "Rolling Through Time".

 "Rolling Through Time", Acrylic on Canvas, 28.5 x 23.5 in.

"Rolling Through Time", Acrylic on Canvas, 28.5 x 23.5 in.

Because I like the depth that comes from lots of colors and texture, I frequently add and subtract colors and manipulate textures with gesso - that's the "creativity by design" part. Other times, I get lost in the music, the paints, and the feeling of the piece and everything seems to flow together effortlessly - I call that "serendipity" and say thank you. 

Then there are the "gremlins". They show up when something just doesn't' feel right and they start to chatter saying things like, "What were you thinking? What made you think you could paint? Nobody will like this." And on and on it goes. That's when I find myself painting over whatever I was doing, even when I thought the piece was near completion. 

The good news is that day by day I make peace with my gremlins. I have learned to trust my instincts to know when something feels right and when something is off. I am not afraid to destroy, backtrack, or if necessary, start over. I think it is important not to think that what I am doing is too precious. Occasionally I will miss something that I have painted over, but in the end I am always much happier with the final result.

--Debbie

"Rock What You Got" --Jill Brzezinski-Conley

Last February I participated for the 2nd year in the Art 100x100 Cancer Charity Fundraiser supporting the Oman Cancer Association. This event, organized by artist Ibrahim Gailani, featured 100 artworks donated by artists all selling for 100 Omani Riyals each (approximately $260 US dollars) with all proceeds going directly to the charity. 

 "Spring of Hope" Acrylic on Canvas 29 x 23 in.

"Spring of Hope" Acrylic on Canvas 29 x 23 in.

My piece, titled "Spring of Hope", was done in honor of Jill Brzezinski-Conley of Las Vegas, Nevada. Jill was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at the age of 32. Just twelve months after the initial diagnosis, Jill found out she had incurable bone cancer. Now, four and a half years later, the cancer has spread to her lungs and she is fighting for each breath. Instead of being a victim, Jill is full of joy and light. She has dedicated her life to helping other women with similar struggles find beauty and joy in themselves and their lives each day. In Jill's words, you've got to "Rock What You Got!" To learn more about Jill and her charity, please visit Jillswish.org.  

--Debbie

Artists, Creativity, and Community - All Mixed Up in a Synergetic Way

What do you get when you mix paint, brushes, canvas, music, and a group of fun-loving, supportive artists together? - Synergy Art. The concept, created by artist Rasha Sawas under the supervision of the Omani Society of Fine Arts and supported by Paragon International, is a nonprofit organization that once a month brings a group of artists from Oman and several other countries together to paint, learn from each other, and have fun. 

Being a part of this group is a great experience for me. One of the things I love most about this group is the opportunity to work with artists from around the world sharing techniques and creative inspiration. As an expatriate far from home, it is great to feel a part of the local creative community - my home away from home.   

--Debbie