To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

It Started Two Days Ago...

“It’s time,” I said to my hand.  “Pick up the sketchbook.”

“uh-uh!” my hand crept behind my back.

“Pick it up.” I said sternly. My hand slowly, slowly, emerged and picked up the sketchbook gingerly.  Yes! I thought. This is working! 

“And the pen,” I continued. “Sketching won’t happen without the pen.”  I watched my fingers reach out and wrap around the pen. Squinting at them, I thought I could feel my new 
determination to draw getting a grip.

“Out to the veranda,” I directed my reluctant self. It was a struggle, but with the sketchbook and pen in hand, my resistance was losing its hold. I softened my tone a bit. “You can do this. You used to do it all the time. It’s gonna be fine!”  Really? Really can I start up again after more than two years?

We (my mind, my body, my hand, my determination – the whole package) walked out and sat down in my hammock chair on the veranda overlooking my rainforest yard.  There, a few feet directly in front of me were two cecropia  (see-CRO-pee-uh) trees, with their bamboo-like hollow sections and gorgeous umbrella-like 2-2½’ broad leaves.  One was skinny and scarred, the other was fat and saucy. Maybe I'd just do the trunks. Perfect subjects, stationary, hard to mess up – mostly straightish lines. Not too ambitious for this first try. 

I sat down, opened the sketchbook to the first empty page after my July 7, 2015 sketch of a Giant Red-winged Grasshopper and hesitantly sketched the first bit of outline. Okay, that's a start... 
I took a sip of coffee, made a few more tentative marks with the ballpoint pen. I watched a blue-crowned mot-mot flicking its tennis-racket tail in a tangle of leaves a few yards away. Stop procrastinating! I drew a bit more, and finally, at last, I settled down to my first sketch-journal drawing in more than two years. Ahhhhh....

Things were a little shaky at first. My lines were not clear and concise, my attention wandered when it needed to focus, I seemed to have forgotten movements that once were easy – all things that I hope will improve with practice. I was using a pen since using a pencil here is not an option. In the tropics the high humidity makes the sketch paper soft, and a graphite stroke that would be black and forceful in a dry climate leaves only a soft gray line on damp paper, so shading is next to impossible. The pencil stroke indents the paper as well.  Forget trying to erase, as that destroys the damp paper immediately.  

I started the drawing on Wednesday afternoon, day before yesterday, but I had other obligations Wednesday night and Thursday, so I only was able to return to it this morning, which is good, actually, because after a day without looking at the sketch I could see that the design was pretty skimpy and it needed something to anchor it and to make the page more interesting. So walking out into the yard, I found a young cecropia top to sketch into the upper right corner.  Ah!  Much better.

Next I added a title and some things I know about cecropias. The page is not as good as it would have been when I was sketching steadily a couple of years ago, but it’s good enough to tell me I haven’t lost the ability to draw (I was wondering). 
and it is

Below are some photos of what I was sketching. I always try to take photos in case I can't get back to the original to draw for some reason, such as:  it starts to rain; my subject runs away, rots, or otherwise changes or disappears; daylight ends; or I want to work on it or add color later.  Maybe I'll add color to this one later.

left to right:  2" cecropia,  4" cecropia, new cecropia leaves
I want to thank Carol for commenting that she hoped I would be able to start up again and continue on. 

Carol, this sketch/journal page is dedicated to you. Thank you!  Thanks for giving me a specific goal and a reason to get it done. I told myself I didn’t get to answer your comment until I had created something in order to show you that I was serious about starting up again.  It worked.

Maybe this will give you a nudge as well, since you said you’ve been finding it difficult to keep sketching without a cheering section. 
Shall we keep going?  I'll watch for yours if you'll watch for mine.  Anyone else want to join us?


Nancy said...

Enjoyed reading your page. Have missed this. You do such wonderful sketches and great information. Hang in there! Your audience awaits. Lol

Jaymie (aka lorena) said...

Your writing engages as much as your sketches! Happy you've found time to return to blogging; I look forward to your next entry!
Meanwhile, I'm curious about your computer and camera. I'm looking for a new computer that I can upload pictures and do some writing, and photo editing. You mentioned the jpg file was too big for one of the pieces you did while at Dan's cabin. But the others were small enough to be loaded and shared. Any suggestions on what I should look for? I've been taking pics with my Samsung 6 phone and want to get a camera that I can zoom in on in focus of those tiny little critters in the garden. What camera do you use? Thanks for any tips. hugs and love, jaymie

misternoble said...

What a joy! I've missed your loveletters and pictures to the natural world. It's a great delight that you're leaping back in! <3

Theresa said...

Hello Sister Renie!

I loved your email invite and here I am!!

Wow! I can so relate to the way you captured your self-talk, your hesitation, breaking through the barrier bit by bit by bit. And, as always, I absolutely love your creation. I'm in awe, actually. Love seeing the evolution of the drawing: the first lines, then more, then all the glorious detail. Then seeing the photo, of what you saw. I'm curious about how long the drawing process itself took. I'm thinking, looking at all the intricate tiny lines, dots which make up the detail, that it's actually substantial time.

And the first blog was clearly, articulating your intention, putting it out to the world. So that's the pathway forward: Creating a clear intention, putting it out to the world, then following through with encouraging, directive (at time) self-talk....noticing the negative responses/all the feelings, and still moving forward, one millimeter at a time. Love it!

Waiting for more, Renie. You go girl!

Much love,


mars said...

So wonderful to see you sketching again and hear more of your personal journey. It really resonated with me as I too have been getting back into a creative modality that I put on the back shelf for a few years. Yet coming back to it feels so good, so coming home. xo Marlo

Annabanana said...

I LOVE this! So happy to have your words, images and art to help me feel like home when I am away, and to connect to your nature spirit. It's amazing how life in Belize can sometimes get so busy, when the goal was to be less busy! We are all richer for you sharing this, and your art, with the world.

Diana Rasmussen said...

Back in the saddle again! Love that you share the process with us and as always your connection with nature reverberates outward in hope and rejoicing that yes...mindfulness can save the tiny moments, the small creatures and plant life and yes in the hearts and minds of the collective the planet. By all means "carry on sista". You make my heart sing!

winna said...

I just uploaded your awesome Belize Jungle & Beach Adventures....and was thinking about asking you how you manage to do all that marvelous work all alone and how you hang on without some sort of back and forth with other sketchbook artist and not posting on the sites etc...then I see this email and am now doubly amazed...that you would have any hesitation in sketching..oh lady of probably thousands of excellent works...I sure hope to see all you come back with...and write about. I just finished a Skectbook Skool class where there are so many students there is no teacher reaction for me..and not much interaction with others...a few but I might as well just do it all from a book I buy as to be in classes like that. I am so ultra sensitive to weather people like what I do or not...shouldn't be., but what's her name in Streetcar Named Desire, as I have sort of always depended on the kindness of strangers. :-) taking live classes sometimes is a blast when they are not so large. I will alays loolk forward to what you post...keep on keeping on !

Unknown said...

I am in awe that you could do that with a ball point pen!

Renie said...

It is so, so wonderful, and I feel so humble, to sense you all reaching out to help me through the baby steps here. I can't let you down. You recognized my self-help technique, Theresa: if I tell everyone my big plans, how can I duck out? No way!

Theresa, it took about four hours to draw the cecropia trunks. I still haven't gotten up the gumption to add color, which would be quite a bit faster -- you can smear on a shadow in seconds, whereas the ink has to be applied stroke by stroke. But I'll get to it.

Jayme, I'm using a Samsung S5 camera. I don't phone with it, just snap photos. You can go to Settings and adjust the size of the photos it takes, but I'm no expert on that.

Winna, I am astounded that YOU have hesitations about your marvelous artwork! I have been envying you your prolific output and your steadfast application to your art for years! I guess maybe such hesitations and need for back-and-forth and appreciation is a lot more common than we know.

So I thank you, every one, from the depths of my being, for being the wind beneath my wings as I leap off this scary forest canopy tree of creativity again. Thanks for telling me, by being here for me, that you are gathered all around with love (although invisible from this rainforest in Belize) and are cheering me on as I take these first laborious wing-flaps (sorry! I got carried away by the imagery ;^}.

Because of you, I shall carry on with my love letters to nature -- and to you. I love you, one and all!

WoldPeace2020 said...

Yes, please keep sketching! I am so inspired by your work. It is so beautiful, and makes me want to keep up with my nature journal. I struggle with a similar resistance. But you showed that pushing through it got you results! I hear having a regular time of day and days of the week and special space to work is key to overcoming the resistance. I am also intrigued to hear about your new life in Belize!

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