Dancing, Writing, Cooking, Painting, Singing, Watching, Repeat.

I will admit to anyone reading this, I have been in a rigid "funk" lately, where I have pushed myself to "be creative" every day, but really I'm just forcing myself to produce.

And I've been screaming- "there's no milk left! No milk left!" My spirit animal is a cow, did I mention that?

Being creative means being curious. I love that word, curious. When we are curious, don't we follow it without looking back? Don't we feel excited to discover something, and momentarily forget about all the things on our to-do list, or what was worrying us moments before?

I remember when I was about 11 and I'd walk around my old neighborhood searching for things that would claw at my curiosity. Notebook in hand, binoculars round neck, and even at one time a spy microphone, I was set to discover something outrageous about the way the world works. I know NOW that eavesdropping is highly inappropriate, but hey, I was 11 and it was a blast. I don't regret it! I have notebooks full of weird conversations I overheard, or of watching people in their backyards. It doesn't sound that fascinating when you read those notebooks now, but at the time it was thrilling.

 Current piece called, "Meditation".  I don't usually paint abstract but this idea came into my mind during my practice, asking me politely to work with it. 

Current piece called, "Meditation".  I don't usually paint abstract but this idea came into my mind during my practice, asking me politely to work with it. 

This is what an art practice is all about.

When you sit down to create, there shouldn't be an end goal in mind.  A thread of curiosity can lead you to places beyond expectations, beyond your doubt, beyond the bullshit and worry.  I was making the mistake of pushing aside any thread and "practicing to make perfect" so that I'd be better than I was before.  

Isn't now good enough?  Honestly, it's all we have, so we better damn well appreciated ourselves this moment.

Practice makes.

We don't need the perfect part.  Because practice is what makes us.  Through a practice, we are unfolding, uncovering more and more of ourselves.

 My current vision board.  Looks different than any other board I've made- no items, no things, just a call to practice.

My current vision board.  Looks different than any other board I've made- no items, no things, just a call to practice.

When do I practice?

I have to make time to practice, but I'm shooting for often as possible.  Children do it every day.  I think it's safe to say that we should too.  I think the more we do it, the more we can let stuff go and get down to the real stuff.

It doesn't need to look like one thing.

Reread the title to this post.  All of those things are part of my practice.  I have decided I will not just practice one thing because I am a multisided human being with lots of layers.  Yay!  

Now tell me, what will your practice look like?  Start with this: what are you curious about?  Now go out and follow it.  I can't wait to see where your practice takes you!

 

 Beautiful time spent with friends is also a part of my practice- since it inspires my books, writing, and fills my heart!

Beautiful time spent with friends is also a part of my practice- since it inspires my books, writing, and fills my heart!

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Copying

...is how you learn something new. In high school art class, we copied the master painters. In English class, we read the great voices of the 20th century and (unknowlingly) copied their phrasing and vocabulary. In Chemistry, we followed specific directions to complete our labs. It can be very powerful to follow a process that works, gain the knowledge that's available there and then play with it on our own.

After the recent SCBWI conference, I was looking at all of the gorgeous portfolios and feeling hungry for some education.

I want to work on color, composition, character design, ALL OF IT! I thought to myself. Maybe I should go back to grad school. Maybe I should do a Summer intensive? Take a college class? But all of that takes a serious financial investment, which requires commitment. I searched for the most convenient and effective way do this, so I could "try it out" before going back to school. That's when I remembered: copying.

annie-ruygt-anne-arnold

How often have I taken the time and copied other illustrators? Ummm....hardly ever. At least, it's been years. But it's a fabulous way to learn!

Some of my favorite illustrators are Lane Smith, Chris Van Allsburg, Lucy Knisley, Quentin Blake. Just thinking about working through their art and spending time really discovering how they did it, makes me gallop with excitment. Like when I was a kid! When I drew Ariel and Belle over and over.

In other news, nature is very inspiring and weird. We think, Ok, earth is, like, normal. We like it here and we know what to expect when we go outside. Then we go somewhere and see how drastically different the plants are, that it's like we're on an alien planet.

That's how I feel at the Huntington Library:

IMG_1912.JPG
corpse-plant-annie-ruygt
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Painting, oh how I missed you!

I work digitally most of the time. It makes sense.

  1. Revisions are easier.
  2. Revisions are easier.
  3. Revisions are easier...and I don't have to scan any traditional artwork.

But yesterday I lugged out the paints so I could work on a new dummy book and prepare for the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles. As I mix colors and sketch in the composition, my heart thuds and I want to run and hide in the pantry amongst the cookies.

But as soon as paint hits the gesso, I'm home. I love painting and I miss it so much. It's why I got into art, actually. Painting and drawing feels like a safe place to me, a place where anything can happen, and that "anything" will be magic.

Digital tools be damned! I know it'll get easier. I know I love Kyle Webster's brushes and how easy it is to play with textures and colors in Photoshop, but there's nothing like paint.

Here's the finished piece for a new dummy called, "Moon and Bug":

moon-and-bug-annie-ruygt

In other news, my tummy has been off, so I'm takeing time to find the culprit. Sadly, I have hunch it's wheat, and I will cry for at least a few days if it is.

But not much else feels good, when you accidentally ate something that inflames and irritates you. Not even art, not even friends. So I'd rather enjoy friends & art and ditch the allergen.

Hope all is well with you guys! Peace and rock 'n roll,

-Annie

TGIF

I remember when I anticipated Friday nights because of these shows:

 Family Matters

Family Matters

 Step By Step

Step By Step

I was old enough to understand characters, jokes (well, kind of), and storylines. They opened a whole world of laughter and joy to me, so I lived for these shows. Every Friday, happily plopped down with my sisters and parents to watch. Fridays were good.

Now, being 31, I anticipate what I'm going to make for dinner, and dread having to go to the store (which is only a mile away), and plop down face first on my bed, groan for a couple minutes, then get myself up to make rice and beans because they're in the pantry, then watch a little netflix with Brianna.

WHAT'S HAPPENED TO FRIDAYS?!

Adulting happened.

I had to shake myself a bit and remember that looking forward to things makes life so much more fun. But the days of cable are over...at least, I don't have cable, so Friday night TV just isn't the same.

That's ok. There's goofy stuff like this on youtube that I LOVE.

In case you need some ideas for tonight:

I hope for you that you have fun tonight and this weekend. Be a dork. Lighten up. Make some PB & J.

Love, Annie