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Keep your skills growing and allow yourself to be playful at the same time. This is a good time to put aside the quest for perfection and move towards playfulness in your work. As Lisa Congdon says in her book 'Find Your Artistic Voice', we need to "Embrace the Suck." This doesn't mean abandoning all of the skill-building you have been doing -- it just means throw away your art fears and allow 'bad' work to lead you through breakthroughs. 

Some ideas for the week: 

Self-Portraits: We all have an in-house figure model -- ourselves! With whatever materials you have around, you can practice technique and understanding of form, as well the intensity of introspection. Start with several blind contour drawings, then some value studies that locate plane shifts (you can play with lighting in your home), then move to some color studies (naturalistic or not), and then perhaps allow yourselves to get playful with costumes and alter-egos. Have fun! Self-portraits can be head studies or entire figures in an environment. You can draw, paint, collage, use crayons or...whatever! 

Continuous Line Drawings: With a pencil, fine tip marker, or ballpoint pen, do a continuous line drawing of absolutely everything within view in a room in your house. Include furniture, objects, architectural elements, pets, people, views out the window - everything you can see, in relation to everything else. The trick is to not let yourself remove the pencil from the page. Find the interconnectedness, as well as the intersections, of all the shapes that are out there. Move all around the page, and repeat or restate if need be. But do not erase. Just notice and note.  

Notan: Notan is the Japanese concept of light/dark harmony. Western thought is more about dualities - light/dark, figure/ground, and negative/positive. Eastern thought focuses on harmony/unity. When the world as we see it is reduced to just two values, light, and dark (or two colors for fun) a type of simplification results that reveals so much about visual connectedness, compositional energies, pattern, underlying structure, balance, rhythm, movement, direction, and weight. Take a favorite master painting and transcribe it into a notan pattern. You will have to make a decision about which category (light or dark) to put middle visual shapes into. Think in terms of 'real estate' as you connect light and dark shapes into massed shapes - how much dark real estate and how much light is on the page. Start to notice the more elusive rhythms and cadences in the intervals between lights and darks, and ultimately the poetry in the composition. Let go of 'inventory' and find that poetry. You can do this with pencil, marker, paint, or cut paper. 

Plants, etc.: If you have plants in your house they are perfect models to draw. They have gesture, beautiful negative spaces, very varied shapes, and a range of greens to explore. Pay close attention to the unique shape of each individual leaf from the location you are at. Other wonderful subjects to draw/paint are shoes, gloves, kitchen items, chairs...they can be extremely evocative as well as visually beautiful. 


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