I have joined a new project designed by Milliande of Milliande’s Art Community for Women (but this project of hers is open to men too), called C.A.P.I., which stands for Create Art Portfolio Ideas. The purpose of the project is to do focused assignments in order to define your personal artistic style. I didn’t think that appealed to me at first, but then I reconsidered it (pondered it a bit, you might say) and decided it does. You can find out all about the project on Milliande’s website.
It involves keeping 6 different Portfolios that all have different purposes. But Milliande does things a bit differently, which is where stepping outside my comfort zone already begins!
1. Pondering Journal – written journal entries and collected information on the Pondering Prompts (I was surprised to see she recommends a loose folder into which you put papers, printouts, etc. rather than a bound journal.)
2. Raw Sketchbook – place to keep all the rough sketches, ideas, inspirations (She actually uses a huge variety of scratch and art papers clipped onto a clipboard for this!)
3. Observational Studies Sketchbook – place to do the Observational Studies assignments (She recommends a regular sketchbook or mixed media journal.)
4. Gathering Portfolio – a place to keep visual imagery collected according to Gathering Portfolio Prompts (She recommends just a file folder for this.)
5. Bottom of My Handbag Portfolio – a place to throw things when I don’t have time to file or make decisions about them (She recommends a file folder for this as well.)
6. Style Toolkit – what will result from all of this, a focused, cohesive set of tools that define my personal Artistic Style (She uses a professional artist presentation portfolio for this.)
So here is what I have put together to start:
I have three file folders, one for Gathering, one for Pondering, and one for Bottom of My Handbag, all lovely recycled brown file folders that I used correction fluid on to get them ready for their new jobs, plus a Raw Sketchbook and a new Observational Studies sketchbook. Now for my observations on this so far:
After doing an hour or so of rampant magazine tearing, I already know I’m going to need a big, expandable file for the Gathering Portfolio! I think it’s because of the thick paper they use in National Geographic, Somerset Studios, and Artist Magazine, as well as the calendar and tourist books I’ve been ripping up. Anyway, for the Raw Sketchbook, for now I am just continuing to use my regular sketchbook that I made the raw canvas cover for. It’s where I already record any art, craft, or design ideas I find or come up with. I cannot imagine using a clipboard for a sketchbook, but I am intrigued by her use of all different kinds and sizes of paper, so I’m thinking of making a book out of those to use for this project as a compromise that works better for me. I do worry that I’m not staying totally true to her ideas, which I talk about below, but it just doesn’t feel like a clipboard is going to work for me. The small, hardbound brown sketchbook on top is a new one I bought for myself with Christmas money ($4 at Michael’s) and will be where I do my Observational Studies assignments. I also have a new mixed media spiral journal I can switch to if the assignments require heavier paper. I want to shop for just the right portfolio to use for my Toolkit, so I don’t have that yet. I have to say that I’ve been collecting ‘stuff I don’t have time to organize or make a decision on’ for a few months already, and it’s in a big garbage bag. So I’m not sure how well this little folder will do for that. LOL! Ah, see that’s why I need help with the whole ‘focus’ thing…
In the rest of this blog entry, I am going to explore the first 3 Pondering Journal assignment questions. My answers will explain why I decided to do this after all.
Pondering Prompt 1:
What Defines Art Style?
To me, when someone has a style, they have a line quality that is all theirs. They can achieve it nearly every single time they want to, so there is an aliveness to their lines. They are more effortless and thus able to contain more soul and less strain. There is a sense of “on-purposeness” to their art. They usually also have a select palette of colors and a favorite medium that you can expect from them. They usually also have a distinctive set of objects and symbols that you see recurring in their work, which tell us more about what is important to them as people in the world. They also have a consistent energy or attitude about life in general that comes through everything or nearly everything you see them do. (I say ‘see them do’ because of course artists are always doing all kinds of art we don’t see them do, that they don’t choose to share or sell, etc.)
Pondering Prompt 2:
Why Would I Want an Artistic Style?
I want to have a line that I can create at will, that feels like I’m putting a little bit of my true energy on the page or canvas. I want a safe place to return to when I want to express something. I want the marks I make to be more by choice than chance. I feel that now, my marks are by chance and then I make choices as to what to keep, discard, cover, change, etc. I have all types of line quality and haven’t yet discovered which one feels the most like me. I would like to find a medium that most aligns with my personal energy with which I can consistently make physical whatever inspirations channel through me.
I think a big problem I will have is that I’m not consistently anything. I have severe mood swings and random physical pain and energy levels which makes every day or even every moment of every day up for grabs as far as how I will feel or what I will want or be able to do. I don’t see how I can express a consistent energy in my art when I can’t experience it in my life. But this answer isn’t about what I feel I can have, it’s about what I want and why, and that’s what I want. While I’m wishing, I’d like it in the rest of my life as well.
Pondering Prompt 3:
I am only accountable to myself and can quit anytime I want or skip or change those things I don’t feel are right for me. But I want to give this a real shot. I want to push through discomfort and resistance and try new things and discover new things within this given structure. I am hoping that if I push myself beyond my comfort zone, I will find more joy and peace and fulfillment in my art (and thus my life) than I currently have. I am always one to reinvent the wheel, which is natural for me because I’m a designer at heart, but I think that also deprives me of truly sharing the experiences of others. With this, I want to make a conscious effort to copy what Milliande and the others are doing, whether it’s comfortable or not, so that I experience more of what they’re experiencing.
That’s it so far. I think it will work best for me to do my Pondering Journal writing assignments here on my blog, as well as copying and pasting the replies of others to benefit from their input. When I get my new printer in a week or two, I will print them to keep in the actual Pondering Journal, in keeping with Milliande’s directions.
(Okay, so this is what happened with the old color inkjet printer: I lost the power cord in the last move, and it ran out of all 4 inks over a year ago anyway and I’ve just been using the black and white laser printer for utilitarian printing. The cost of replacing everything is about equal to buying a new, much better printer, so that’s what I’m doing. I feel bad that it’s wasteful because the last time I used it, it worked fine, but the new printer will print much better images AND the ink will be cheaper so how can I not go this way? It really sucks that donating it isn’t even a gift to anyone because I would be donating them something that will cost THEM more money to get working and not be as good as what they could spend that money on instead. Quite a reality to encounter. Such is technology I guess!)