Making Ugly Art

Julia Cameron, the author of  The Artist’s Way, was right.  There will be times when you will make ugly art. Yesterday was one of those days and I have to accept it.

I was working in a medium that I hadn’t dabbled in since about a year and half ago – acrylics.  My latest piece was “Angry Kitty” back in 2012 and that turned out fairly well, mostly because the subject matter wasn’t too complicated.

It was this past Saturday when I felt the need to paint “Ninja” or “Assassin ( actually I don’t know what to really call the thing).”  The following day was Palm Sunday and one would think that I would have wanted to do something more contemplative.

I made a rough drawing in my sketch book nearly two years ago.  I created three throwing stars flying in the air towards their target.  I painted a trial throwing star on a smaller canvas for practice but never got around to doing the final work because I wasn’t comfortable with executing it.

         Ninja Stars     Star Final

Saturday, I drew the throwing stars on canvas and then painted the background.


Sunday, I tinted the white to give a light gray or dirty white base and then I applied white streaks as a second layer for some added texture.



It wasn’t until I started working on the stars that my problems began.  I struggled with using the brushes to create a sense of motion.  The swirls around the stars were muddy and the black streaks trailing the stars were just too big.  My lack of skill as an acrylic painter became quite obvious.



Creating ugly art is one of those things that will happen at some point in any artist’s life.  It’s a letdown considering the amount of the time one puts into their work, and in my case it happened to be a good bit of the day yesterday.  I had such high hopes.  Hindsight, I should have stopped right before painting the stars to give myself more time to think about my technique, but I was feeling pretty confident.

On the upside, making ugly art is a learning experience. Once I screwed up and was unable to find a resolution, I just went into “the heck with it” mode and just started playing with it.  I discovered that there were some things that worked that could be applied to future works and other things that didn’t.

I’m debating on whether or not to fix this hot mess.  I mean why miss an opportunity to REALLY jack it up further?  Most likely I will just scrap it and start over. That wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done something like this and thanks to the learning curve, I can probably finish it in less time.  Well, shoot, maybe I just solved my own problem right there! Just start over.  It’s okay.  It’s what the creative process is about.


Thanks to the beautiful spring weather last Saturday, my wandering spirit got the best of me and I kicked the household chores to the curb and ventured off to Romare Bearden Park.  I’ve wanted to go ever since it opened last year, especially after seeing Facebook photos posted by friends who attended evening concerts and other activities there.

The park, named after the late Charlotte-born African American artist, Romare Bearden, is situated right in the middle of uptown or center city (that would be any other city’s version of downtown) on the corner of Church and Third.

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When I first arrived, I thought, is this it? It wasn’t until I walked further into the park that I realized that there was plenty to see. It’s beautifully landscaped, with trellises, courtyards and gardens.  I couldn’t capture it all.

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There are sound instruments, such as standing chimes that I of course played, and metal square tiles that play music to each footstep.

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A lot of the landscaping towards the front part of the park was composed of these large, rough-hewn blocks with lots of wonderful texture.

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My favorite is the waterfall. I did see a lady stand behind it without getting wet, well except for her feet. That was the only thing that really stopped me from doing the same.

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 Across the street from the park is the BB&T BallPark, home of the Charlotte Knights.  I took a few pictures there as well.  The field is gorgeous. Almost made wish that I liked baseball.

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All in all it was a good day to appreciate some integrated art and design to get the creative mind going.  Kind of a mini-vacation of sorts. Now back to work!






“Goodness and Mercy”

Psalm 23:6 says “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”   In light of these last six months, I couldn’t agree more.  I’m still on the job hunt but God has been keeping me all this time. The lights are still on, mortgage is still being paid, and there’s food on my table.  I’ve even been the recipient of random acts of kindness and even the standard kindness from friends and family.  There are no words that can express my sincere gratitude.


While pondering over this psalm, I imagined that “goodness” and “mercy” were like kites flying overhead, following the person who held them by the strings.  In this case, the person that I drew was a girl in a bathing suit running with the kites.  I see that young girl in myself as the kites follow her, their tails leaving trails of color, painting the skies.  She holds onto them, just as someone would hold on to their faith in tough times.

The work was created using watercolor crayon and pencil on watercolor paper.  I steered away from being too technical and allowed myself to be little messy and less controlled with the blending.  Is this how God approaches the skies when He paints the sunrises and sunsets?  If so, you certainly don’t hear anyone complaining about it.




Now that “Still” is finally finished, I’m ready to move onto the next project.  I’m excited about tackling a new piece with wisdom as the central subject.   In my earlier post I uploaded a sketch called “Seeking Wisdom”, however first I will begin working on another piece about wisdom that was conceived prior to that.

Once again, my inspiration comes from Proverbs 1:20 -23.  Here is the scripture from the New King James Bible:

20. Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares.
21. She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
22. “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning.
And fools hate knowledge.
23. Turn at my rebuke;
Surely, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.”

I’ve been fleshing out her Wisdom’s costume and as stated in my earlier post, I’m trying to combine both medieval and African garb. I played around with this one sketch and posted it to Facebook and much to my surprise, it garnered a very positive reaction. Funny thing about art is that I never know how the audience will react. I just make friggin’ art and hope that people get it.


Last week, I drew a close-up of Wisdom, focusing on the head wrap and the armor-like bodice.

Wisdom Close up

Then I did a series of poses and I’ll do more until I can determine the right one.Wisdom poses

We’ll see how this goes. I’ve already made my trek to Hobby Lobby and picked up some gray-tone chalk pastels.  Since I’ve had pretty good luck with chalk pastels from the last piece, I’ll give them another go.  Looks like I’m not giving up this medium any time soon.


So here it is, my latest piece called, “Still,” a 15″ x 17″ chalk pastel work on drawing paper.  I learned a lot about this one, particularly when it comes layering, skin tones, and lighting.  I did a lot of selfies where I sat under an overhead lamp, wearing earrings and even flashing some bare shoulders to determine how the light would hit.  You do what you have to do to get the job done.


Overall this piece signifies the beginning of my new faith journey after being laid off in October.    I feel that I accomplished what I needed to do here by illustrating that sense of calm when one surrenders and becomes still.  This is the state of mind where God wants me to be so that I can hear His voice clearly and can proceed on the path that is directed by Him.


The other day I attended a monthly portraiture drawing session at the Mint Hill Arts Council.  The last time I drew portraits was back in college where the students took turns drawing each other.   The same format was applied at the arts council.  The artists did a pretty good job holding their poses for 20 minutes.   I was not a model in this particular round, although I probably would have embarrassed myself by falling asleep after sitting still for so long.

Portraitures are surprisingly difficult, harder to me than life drawing.   No two faces are alike and you really have to focus on the person’s unique features to capture their likeness.  Also I struggled a bit with the different angles of the face and head. The three-quarter profile typically gives me fits because of the placement of the mouth and eyes.

Here are the pics in the order of which I drew them. While I have a lot of work to do, I definitely improved as time went on.

Pat    Chuck

 Sherry  Bob

“Lillies of the Field”


The economy continues to be a source of frustration for me as it pertains to my job search.  Since my layoff in October I’ve been sending out resumes only for them to disappear into an virtual abyss.  I am baffled at my inability to even snag temporary work as a fallback.

This whole experience makes me feel as if I’m fresh out of college. It’s a blow to the ego to submit a plethora of resumes only to receive little to no response, regardless of my job experience.   I do realize that in this economy there’s a high ratio of applicants to the number of available jobs, and gone are the days of making personal contact or sending resumes by snail mail.  Everything, and I mean everything, is electronic.

Then there is that mounting tension I feel while watching my bank account shrink even further and waiting impatiently for unemployment payments to show up.

Earlier last week, when I was at the height of my frustration, I received a text from a friend who sent me a scripture starting at Luke 12:22.  It was certainly a word in due season:

22 That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear.
23 For life is more than food, and your body is more than clothing.
24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant nor harvest nor store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to Him than any birds!
25 Can all of your worries add a single moment to your life?
26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
27 Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

This calmed my Spirit and I do realize in many ways as I look back that God has been keeping me all this time and will continue to do so.  It’s tough to wait for things to come to fruition, however what’s more important is what you do while you wait.   For me it’s to continue to be prayerful and positive and continue to trust God, always.


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