The Drawing Club Summer Hiatus Begins

by Cat B on June 7, 2014

This morning was the last meeting for The Saturday Morning Drawing Club until September. When we make art together we share so much. The summer farewell is always tinged with a little sadness as farewells are. We’ll all do our own thing over the next few months and when we get together again in September, it’ll be great to see both the art and each other.

This session we’ve focused mostly on drawing people. We’re always trying to get out of our habitual patterns to encounter something new and wake up a bit, in one way or another. Usually I set things up so we have a couple of rules to follow. One might be that we make a portrait using a funky thick brush and almost dry paint. Something we might think we can’t do. Or we might use charcoal and draw with our fingers. Or paint on plexiglass then press our paper on it to make a mottled impression. The rules usually make it impossible to fuss and get into that rut where all that comes through is our uptight desire to get things right. The rules tend to lead to drawings where we’re simply ourselves.

Here’s a beautiful charcoal drawing by Deb Kaup—

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And a few brush drawings of mine—

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This has been an unexpectedly busy winter/spring for me so my posts here have been a bit sporadic. I’ll be in England soon and exploring art with my friend Stoney Parsons, a painter and stained glass artist. Then off to Skyros, a tiny island off the coast of Greece where I’ll be teaching drawing. I’ll share some of the adventure here. Thanks for visiting!

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Workshops

by Cat B on May 6, 2014

Hello! New workshops are now up on on my new CLASSES page!  And next fall I’ll also be doing an online class exploring creative process for anyone interested.

But, first, I’ll be traveling to Skyros, a small Greek island a short boat ride from Athens! We’ll be exploring drawing and mixed media as a way to grow our visual thinking. This is a totally supportive, enriching study, one that supports all artists at any stage of their journeys. We’ll be in Asitsa Bay, right by the water so it will be a totally relaxing time. It’s hosted by Skyros Holistic Holidays and there are still a couple of spaces open. A bit of a hike from here in the US but you can also stop in Athens to see the Acropolis and take in some great Greek culture!  You can sign up here: www.skyros.com 

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And in February 2015 I’ll be teaching with Katie Kendricks in Costa Rica for ten days! Katie is a wonderful expressionistic painter and teacher. I’ll be focusing on drawing and mixed media art-making as a way of growing our visual thinking. Plus we’ll be exploring the countryside of Costa Rica and swimming in the ocean. And in February! I’ve been told by very reliable sources that there is NO snow in Costa Rica! The extraordinary Kathie Vezzani, artist and trip wizard, is organizing this workshop in one piece of paradise! You can sign up and learn more here: www.kathievezzani.com

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Check on the CLASSES page for upcoming events and workshops. Thanks!

 

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Drawing Class

by Cat B on May 5, 2014

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Every Saturday, the drawing class meets to explore drawing and art making.  We’re exploring modernism, defined by Webster’s as “a style of art, architecture, literature, etc., that uses ideas and methods which are very different from those used in the past.” We don’t often break with ideas and methods used by other artists but rather with our own preconceptions and ways of working and thinking. We’re applying the concept to ourselves and getting out of our comfort zones as best we can. 

This time: drawing with scissors using papers we painted ourselves a la Matisse but in a more literal and intimate way than he did. We were thinking of Mrs. Delaney too and her beautifully intricate as well as accurate botanical collages. And we were thinking of spring.

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April 17th at room83spring!

by Cat B on April 4, 2014

Very happy to be showing my sculpted heads at room83spring in Watertown, MA, just a short paddle across the Charles River from Boston and an even shorter bicycle ride up Mt Auburn Street to Harvard Square!  I started sculpting these heads last year when I first made some with my Saturday art class. Then I became engrossed at how each one has its own character. I started to move them around, make odd couples and arrangements. I saw that they, like we, are better together than sitting singly on their own. Opening day preview is Thursday, April 17th from 6-8 pm. Reception is Sunday May 11th 3-5 pm. I’ll be showing with 4 wonderful artists—Maggie Stern, Frances Hamilton, Phyllis Poor, and Paul Angiolillo. Hope to see you and thanks to artists Ellen Wineburg and Cathleen Daley, owners 0f room83spring  for inviting me to show this piece— “Hanging Together / So Much Better Than Falling Apart.

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William Kentridge at ICA/Boston

by Cat B on February 23, 2014

It’s the first warm Sunday in ages and we took a day out to see the William Kentridge show at the ICA/Boston. An absolutely amazing show that included powerful drawings as well as his film, The Refusal of Time. The film is projected on six screens in a black box room with wooden bellows in the center and a few chairs scattered around. It’s impossible to see every bit of it at once. It was a totally enveloping experience—meditative, provocative, visually stunning, moving. The subject is time, the attempts to control it and impose order in an imperialistic way; also the march of history, its echoes into the now; the insurgency of spirit; how everything is floating in the universe of light. Challenging, thought provoking, life altering art. Do see it if you can. There’s also a book but this is an experience. You can see a small clip at the ICA site. Some stills from the film…

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Skyros

by Cat B on February 13, 2014

From June 28th until July 18th, 2014, I’ll be teaching on the tiny Greek island of Skyros as part of the Skyros holistic holiday program. For the first week, I’ll be teaching Drawing Out of the Box in which we’ll explore drawing using many different materials and approaches as a way to connect with the creative self. In the second and third week, I’ll be teaching The Illustrated Word in which we make handmade artists’ books with our words and images. In both workshops, we’ll explore creative thinking and the many ways we can make art. We’ll be looking to build on our own particular gifts and strengths as artists and to get many ideas to take home for further development. The course is designed for artists of any level, beginners too. We’ll all have a chance to explore and experiment with making art in an open-minded, collaborative and supportive way.

Each day begins with yoga and breakfast then three hours of art making. I’ve been a student of yoga for over 15 years and find it to be one of the most salutary practices for both the body and mind. I use many of yoga’s ideas about the mind in my teaching, particularly getting centered, focused and aware of thoughts. Looks like there will be lots of opportunities for hiking and swimming too!

Working with fellow artists is always a wonderful adventure as we discover so much in making art together. Working with fellow artists on Skyros is bound to be a grand adventure! It will be amazing to be in such a beautiful, restful place with so much sunshine and water! I can’t think of a finer holiday—beautiful place, wonderful community of people, yoga, fresh food, fresh air, gorgeous water and making art in the company of others.

If you’re wanting an enriching art holiday, please consider joining us. First we fly from London to Athens where we hop on a boat (or perhaps a small plane) to the island of Skyros.

Check out the website for all the details about Skyros holidays and to sign up!  Please pass on to anyone you know who might be interested.

http://www.skyros.com

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Snapshots

by Cat B on January 14, 2014

In the last few years I’ve been taking snapshots. I’ve taken something like 1,500 in the last six months. I take these shots spontaneously without forethought when something “catches” my eye. Often I take several shots until I see what I’m looking at with greater clarity. Taking photos helps me see more of the wonders all around. I can be a bit oblivious without a camera. I don’t use these photographs to make paintings; I’m not that kind of artist yet they seem to capture moods I seldom go to in my art or writing. The habit started when I got a small digital camera and has now become more and more a part of my creative process. Snapshots have stories to tell; they give me ideas. I have fun taking them and, for me, pleasure is a key part of the creative process. Here are a few just as they have come out of the camera, unedited.

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Yoga: The Art of Transformation

by Cat B on January 6, 2014

17380111I’ve been a student of yoga for about 15 years. Though I’m still a beginner, I’ve learned so much about how to live gracefully through the practice of yoga’s many precepts—the physical postures, connecting with the observer mind, choosing positive thoughts and attitudes, meditation, silence, relaxation. Some years ago, when I was first studying yoga and the teacher was explaining the concept of one-pointed focus, I realized I’d been practicing that for years at the drawing board. All those hours every day in the studio when I sat drawing and making illustrations and art, I focused on my hand on the paper and forgot everything else. Art is yoga too.

So what a thrill to encounter this book, the catalogue to the current show at The Smithsonian in Washington that is moving to San Francisco and Cleveland later. It’s beautifully produced with amazing images I’d never seen before, most from India. The essays are scholarly but eminently readable and discuss the path of yoga, its history and entry into contemporary culture worldwide. Wow, I’m going to be spending a lot of time with this. Just a pleasure to look and read. So much inspiration.

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Another Story of Another Book

by Cat B on December 15, 2013

A couple of years after I wrote The Confident Creative about how drawing can connect us with our true creative selves, I started to write Making Art a Practice /How to Be the Artist You Are. I’ve been a working artist for a long time, much of that time as an illustrator. For many years I’ve also been experimenting—painting, writing, making collages and prints. Making art is not a straight shot ahead, for me at least. It’s a winding road, with bumps, and a way of observing life and making something out of it. A way of living with no particular destination. It’s a dance with imagination and grace.

In some ways, I wrote this book for myself. As one thing winds down, in my case my life as an illustrator, something else begins. Now I am a writer, a teacher, an artist in new ways. How do we navigate all these changes, I wondered, and have the journey continue to lead home to awareness and peace? Art is an adventure, both in the making and in the ways we find to bring it into the world. How do we keep the adventure fresh and vital over time, especially in a culture that values other things more?

Every week in the drawing class I teach, I have the good fortune of working with fellow artists. We explore together by diving into new experiments. We look and see and consider what’s possible and how we feel, who we are, what we have to say. We each have something great to say, I think, some vital truth or humor or insight that comes from the particularity of our lives. Something so worth sharing. People also bring in things they’re working on and we appreciate what they’ve done. We never say anything negative but look for what’s alive and true. It’s always there. I love the humility, bravery and openness of my fellow explorers; beautiful things come of it.

I hope the book can be a companion for those who don’t have Saturday mornings with fellow artists. And for those moments when we don’t quite know what to do. There are lots of ideas in the book, ideas for going deeper and wider, and there’s art by some incredibly inspiring artists—20 of them from 7 different countries. The book explores how we might step out a little more onto the precipice of unknowing where the view is wider and brighter, where we really learn more is possible than we think. And where we learn too that everything is perfect—we are fine as we are and where we are. We can go with whatever inspiration we choose—we can learn to pay attention. There are 30 practices in the book, actions we can take to keep us going over the hills and dales to see what we more than we imagined and do what we’re called to do.

A practice isn’t just about improving skills. As in the Eastern practices of yoga and meditation, making art can bring us to a place where we come to know ourselves as we really are, where we see the wow within. The book is a friendly companion, I hope. It says—don’t give up! We need you! Carry on!

You can find the book here.

 

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The Story of a Book

by Cat B on December 15, 2013

Books have stories and not just the ones they tell. The impulse to write my first book, The Confident Creative / Drawing to Free the Hand and Mind came when I began to teach drawing to adults. It was my first time teaching, about 7 years ago. I began in a fairly traditional way—charcoal, paper, things to draw. But I soon noticed that one student’s hand shook and, after a few weeks, she said, ‘I’m afraid. I’m afraid I can’t do this.’ I hadn’t really thought  that some people might be afraid to draw. I also noticed some students were tentative in the marks they made, some very careful as if making mistakes is a bad thing. How could this be? We were just drawing, after all, something we’d all done as kids. I decided we’d forget rendering and take up scribbling and do it large on huge paper on the walls. We’d get the kinks out. Everyone can do that, I thought. It would boost confidence. But it wasn’t so. Some felt even more daunted, it seemed. What if the scribbles weren’t right somehow?

I began to see that we all have an authority issue. We’ve spent years in school being graded on everything we do. Those who’d been to art school suffered too from dreadful undermining “critiques.” Some of us have been praised, some dismissed; either way, we have a problem. We want to look good, be good. We want to count but that’s not what art’s about. We already count. Art’s a kind of alchemy that changes us as much as we change it.

The thing is all that is great and beautiful is already inside us. Even our tentative scratches on paper are great if they come from our hearts and are honest. We grow from there. The fantastic thing is that drawing takes us there. Drawing is a meditation and can take us to that place of total presence, with oneness. When we learn to let go of our endless reasoning, we can enter a place of forgetting where inspiration comes to meet us and we see we’re much more than we thought.

It’s simple really—show up, let the thoughts go, make marks, explore, experiment, look and see. Just be. We’re only making marks on paper, after all, and magic too—something never seen before. In the class, we started to make experiments and I joined in; I was learning too. We might spend 3 hours drawing with our eyes closed or drawing upside down, drawing huge on the walls or floor, drawing with tree branches or mud. We might draw on each others’ drawings or cut our drawings up and reassemble. Every week we explore and see what happens. In the process we do gain skills and, better yet, a sense of who we are, what our hand has to offer. We let go of expectations and only look for the good in the belief that the good in what we do will overcome all weakness. We do not say negative things. That’s the one rule and it helps us see that making art is a process and we needn’t fixate on this or that. Just look, see, carry on, go where we haven’t gone before. That’s the fun of it. Art takes us somewhere new.

I couldn’t have foreseen the amazing individual visions that would emerge. One of my students, who really believed she couldn’t draw at all when she first arrived, has become a prolific artist of outstanding vision. She’s had several one woman shows and now has work in The American Folk Art Museum in New York City. And we’ve all shown our work in group exhibitions. I never dreamed of the peace, connectedness and fun we’d experience on Saturday mornings when we explore together. This was the story that set me writing.

You can buy the book here.

 

 

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