One Word 2017

For 2017, my one word is create.  Whether that is experimenting with different materials and techniques, such as glitter paint and layering CMYK markers or creating less tangible things such as opportunities or learning pathways for others, I want creation to be my focus.

Recently, I've been reading Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert and one line has stuck out for me. "Most things have already been done--but they have not been done by you." This has resonated with me because in my mind I can put brakes on a project, blog post, or idea because it has already been done and exists out there. The fact that I have more draft blog posts than published posts is a great example. This idea that something hasn't been done by me is liberating and something I want to incorporate into my practice and share with my colleagues and with students who often similarly stop themselves. As Gilbert also says "Creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience."

Last Spring and Summer, I began a daily drawing practice that I sustained for 3 1/2 months. It was glorious. I enjoyed every minute of it but as my schedule became hectic with school starting, I allowed the excuses to creep and abandoned the practice only drawing or painting when "I had time." This was terribly misguided. There is always time to create because at our core we are creative beings who have a need to create. I know this is true for me because with just a week of consecutive days of creating so far, I feel more focused, grounded, and alive. That's why I have challenged myself to create something every day during 2017.  If I do this for myself, I will be better positioned to create things to help others in my work that extends far beyond what I do with pens and paint. You can follow my daily create challenge on Instagram.


Digital Directed Draw: Pumpkin

 In celebration of Fall, Halloween, and harvest festivals, here's a digital directed draw that you can do with students using Google Drawing. If you've never done a digital directed draw with students, it's a fun way to introduce Google Drawing and various tips and tricks to students.  Most everything you can do in Drawing you can also do in Slides and Docs. Whenever I do Digital Directed Draws with students, I start by showing them a model of what we are going to create and explain that the objective is not to create, in this case, a pumpkin that looks exactly like mine but make it your own. I tell students that I'm going to make a very traditional pumpkin that's orange but if they want to make a purple pumpkin, that's great! This little pep talk ensures that you have individual creations through the classroom for maximum creativity.

Here's how to create your pumpkin.

1. Go to drive.google. com > New > Create > Google Drawings

2. Change Canvas Size (Optional): File > Page Set-up > Choose your desired size.

3. Change BackGround Color: Right Click on canvas > Background > Choose desired background color. The default background is transparent with the checkerboard pattern.

4.  Create the Basic Structure of the Pumpkin with Ovals, Half Moons, and Rectangle.

pumpkin outline and shape tool menu with oval, rectangle and halfmoon shapes circled in red

5. Use the fill, line, and line width tools to change the color and weight of your pumpkin.
Fill Color, Line Color, and Line Weight Tools Outlined in Red Circles

6. Use the Scribble Tool to create a vine for your pumpkin.
Line Tool Bar with Line, Arrow, Elbow Connector, Curved Connector, Curve, Polyline, and Scribble options

Finally, give students a chance to play and create a background for their pumpkin(s). Here's the landscape I created for my pumpkin.

Halloween Scene with Jack-o-lantern, full moon, 4 bats, 4 trick or treaters, a spooky tree, and a haunted house on a hill.

If you'd like borrow some slides also describing how to make a pumpkin from my #FallCUE presentation last year that includes some additional tips and tricks.


3 Months of Daily Drawing

31 Days of July Pattern Motifs
As July comes to an end it marks 3 months of daily drawing exercises. So far, it's been a remarkable experience and has transformed into a daily habit that provides a much-needed creative break. The focus in July has been on pattern motifs using watercolor brush pens on index cards. I love the versatility of these pens as well as the ease of using index cards that can double as post cards. I plan on using these techniques to create personalized thank you cards in the future.

Not only has the daily drawing practice provided a great diversion, I've found that it also promotes creativity and flexibility in my drawing. Recently, I got my first iPad and have been experimenting with digital sketchnotes. So far, the jury is out as to whether or not I prefer the digital medium over pen and paper when capturing my thinking visually, especially during live events. One thing I know for sure is that incorporating a daily drawing practice has expanded my visual vocabulary. It has helped me become more fluid in my drawing and designs, both analog and digital. And it's fun and relaxing!

The daily challenge for August focuses on Art Journaling which I know nothing about...yet. With school starting back up again soon, I am looking forward to 31 days filled with opportunities to learn and create each and every day.


1 Month of Daily Drawing

Today I completed 31 days of daily drawing with the help of the Daily Drawing Challenge: Tracing Shadows course offered by Creative Bug. I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon this endeavor and found this creative outlet and community. As the end of the school year wraps up, it is easy to get wrapped up in "busy" and lose oneself. Instead, I feel like I found myself in sketchbooks, watercolors, brushes, and other mediums. Creating has become my daily meditation practice that I look forward to each day. I look forward to the anticipation of what and how I will create something new. Each brush stroke and line drawing is an opportunity to learn something. There are no mistakes just opportunities. For example, in today's drawing, after completing a number of different shadow drawings, I chose to paint three of the flowers. Each flower looks radically different. Why? Because I tried something, got feedback, and tried something different. (I don't recommend painting over watercolor pens. It works much better to use the water color pen over paint.) 

As we move into the final days of school, that's what I wish for our classrooms, teachers, and students. The opportunity to create, try something new, get feedback, apply and repeat. Thirty-one days of daily drawing using mediums and techniques that were previously foreign to me has only solidified the importance of taking risks. Sometimes risks will be with bold brush strokes and sometimes they will be done with a 0.1 sketch pen. 

Another challenge begins tomorrow for the month of June. This time it's 30 days of painting. You can follow my creative journey so far on Instagram.


Week 3 of Daily Drawing

Day 15 - Thimbles #cbdrawaday Watercolor and Graphite flowerpots composition
The theme for daily drawing this week was definitely forgiving flexibility. I have learned to be more flexible with my time, materials, compositions and be ok with that. This week I experienced an unfortunate bout of food poisoning that incapacitated me for a good 36 hours. There was one day I didn't draw. That's ok. The next day, I drew twice. The morning where the subject was glass, I got up early to draw before going to work only to realize that I have incredibly boring glassware when it comes to casting shadows. Rather than wait until an evening trip to the dollar store for a more interesting shadow-casting glass, I found the most interesting glass I own which is a See Jane Run Half Marathon finisher champagne flute, circa 2012 and was quite pleased with the bridge rendition. If I hadn't been flexible with this solution, I would never have created this. Now I know to be on the lookout for glassware that casts interesting shadows to try this again. The list goes one this week with the flexible decisions, from no doll dress to a short search for a pinecone.

Day 16 - Glass #cbdrawaday Graphite Champagne Flute Shadow DrawingThis is what I appreciate about this creative practice is that over time it promotes playfulness and flexibility. My favorite composition this week was using the thimbles. My final creation looked nothing like the model provided. I did the model provided which became a draft (shown below). During this process, the upright thimble looked way more interesting upside down and the stamping pattern made by the top was more intriguing than the circles. Put them together, and no longer were they thimbles but rather re-imagined flowerpots.

Day 15 - Thimbles #cbdrawaday Draft Watercolors and Graphite
It supposedly takes 21 days to create a new habit. I believe this. Even though there are only 10 days remaining for this shadow drawing challenge, I see no stopping ahead. I may not be shadow drawing every day in June but I look forward to continuing a daily creative practice. Besides the forgiving flexibility, the increased observational skills, and calmness it brings me great joy and energy to learn and create something new each day.

You can check out all my daily drawings on Instagram.