Last day of life drawing for this semester. I’ve missed several classes, something I would have been loathe to do in my high school and college years when I never ditched nor dropped a class.
I distinctly remember the first time I stopped attending a class simply because I no longer enjoyed it. Wish I could say it was a daring and rebellious move . . . it was a community college class that I was taking just for enjoyment. I was in my 40’s and high time for a bit of rebellion . . . don’t you think?
But I digress . . . here’s the best of the last sketches . . . in my opinion
All these sketches were 20 minutes or less. I’ve discovered that my attention span is smack dab in the national average of 20 minutes. Ah . . . the things you learn in drawing class.
My paper got all wrinkly and lumpy – I put water on it and it wasn’t water-color paper – though the model was smooth and svelte
The model got all wrinkly cuz I drew him that way.
The model posed as if he was chained to a pole and he put a fake arrow through his chest. I eliminated all the gory imagery. There’s enough pain and suffering in this world and I refuse to draw it even if it’s imaginary.
How can we find balance in the chaos that surrounds us? This was the question at the recent HeART of Spirituality workshops held at Tapestry Unitarian.
“As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance—this is the balance—this is the balance.” – Baha’i World Religion
The participants picked images that represented spiritual balance and spiritual imbalance and made collaged Contemplation Cards. Similar to tarot cards or vision boards these cards can be used in many ways.
Can you tell which cards represent BALANCE and which represent IMBALANCE? See all the cards on CATNIPblog.
To see all the Contemplation Cards, a picture of the participants and directions how to make the cards click HERE.
There are studies which indicate happiness is over-rated and we should strive instead for contentment. I say we should strive for happiness and be grateful when we are simply content.
How to get happy in a hurry, according to neuroscience
From the book The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb
Know what Prozac does? It boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude!
1. “Write a running gratitude list or simply ask yourself what you’re grateful for: A warm house, a pet you love, new shoes, a cellphone – doesn’t matter how big or small. Gratitude boosts both dopamine and serotonin, the two most powerful neurotransmitter chemicals involved in giving you a feeling of calm and well-being.”
“Don’t worry if you can’t immediately find things to be grateful for. The mental search for gratitude alone will begin to elevate the level of those pleasure chemicals”.
2. Label negative feelings. “Simply saying to yourself “I’m sad” or “I’m anxious” almost too easy for happiness. Yet in one fMRI study – ‘Putting Feelings into Words,’ participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Each participant’s amygdala [the brain’s fight-or-flight alarm bell] activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.”
3. Make a decision.“Just deciding to do something can reduce worry and anxiety right away. “Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals – all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety.”
“Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which can pull you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world – finding solutions to your problems andcalming the limbic system.”
“And you don’t have to worry about making the “right” decision? The “good enough” decision is good enough to make our brains go into at-ease mode. AND you can decide not to decide or change your decision!”
4. Touch people, appropriately! This is one of the easiest ways to release oxytocin which is the pleasure-inducing ‘cuddle chemical’] It can be as simple as a handshake or a pat on the back.
“A hug is the best but if you don’t have anybody to hug get a massage which has been shown to boost your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels.”
Take a look at more CATNIP “Happy-How-To” posts! Just click for a specific post or get them all by clicking CATNIPblog
Not too very long ago, I thought that really good artists (writers included) got it exactly right the moment they laid pencil to paper. When I write posts I spend exponentially more time editing than on the first draft. When I draw I correct and correct and correct some more.
Not too very long ago, I learned that this is what 90% of artists, writers, dancers, singers etc. do . . . adjust, correct, redo, undo . . . and it never will be perfect. It’s knowing when to stop and move on.
It’s a great metaphor for life. We keep adjusting, correcting and practicing, knowing we can’t get it perfect . . . just better.
There’s a phenomena going on in the sketching world called Urban Sketching. People, from all over the world, gather in public places and sketch whatever is in front of them .
You sketch fast, just trying to get an impression rather than an exact likeness. Coffee shops are a favorite place for Urban Sketchers because the people aren’t moving quite as quickly as on the street or a football field.
I live in the suburbs where life is a bit slower and so is the sketching. Here’s a few of my
I’m baaaaaaack . . . sorta . . . missed all my art classes, missed church . . . cancelled The HeART of Spirituality workshop cuz I’ve been feeling puny. (And when I am feeling puny I eat, watch the cooking channel, download recipes and read all I can about what not to eat in the hopes that I will follow that advice.)
The only constructive thing I’ve done is work on the NEW BLOG Catnip with my good friend and colleague Peggy Arndt.
(Peggy is a retired psychotherapist too AND an artist and author. I’ve never caught Peggy feeling puny and eating since she’s within a pound or two of the same weight she was when we were in high school together. If I didn’t like her so much I’d hate her.)
Between the two of us we have amassed decades of information on neuroscience and behavior and relationships . . . and eating . . . and addictions. We’re going to share all that on a new blog called CATNIP(but I digress . . .)
While I was researching for CATNIP this article caught my eye . . . here are some excerpts:
“The average American eats more than 33 pounds of cheese a year.” (Thirty-three pounds is about the amount of weight I’d like to lose. I need to stop eating my American share of cheese.)
“This is according to Neal Barnard, physician and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And that’s a problem, he says, because it’s helping to make us overweight and sick.”
“Loaded with calories, high in sodium, packing more cholesterol than steak, and sprinkled with hormones — if cheese were any worse, it would be Vaseline …”
Some foods are fattening. Others are addictive. Cheese is both — fattening and addictive.”
“Barnard explains that dairy protein — specifically a protein called casein — has opiate molecules built in. When babies nurse, he notes, they’re getting dosed with a mild drug: “Milk contains opiates that reward the baby for nursing.”‘
“It’s no different with the cow’s milk — or other mammalian milk — from which cheese is made. In fact, Barnard says, the process of cheese-making concentrates the casein”
“Call it dairy crack.”
“Dairy proteins appear to trigger inflammation, apparently by triggering the release of antibodies, which leads to the constriction of the tiny muscles in the airways. By avoiding dairy proteins, the trigger for the [asthma] attacks is gone.”
“. . . Barnard notes that vitamin D may play an important role in protecting us against some types of cancers. Citing prostate-cancer data, he suggests that because dairy products are high in calcium and calcium intake can slow down activation of vitamin D, cancer risks may increase with cheese-eating.”
“However, if one’s goal is to lose weight, there is something to be said for not teasing yourself with occasional doses of the very food that caused the problem in the first place.(I might add sugar and refined carbs to the list . . . might?)Better to end that bad love affair. If a person is concerned about asthma, migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, or other sensitivities, one soon loses all desire for the food product that caused the problem.” (So far THAT argument hasn’t worked with me.)
(Maybe every time I feel puny I should picture myself eating 33 pounds of VASELINE . . . )
Had a hard time concentrating and my arms were hurting when I tried to draw. I’m blaming it on the rain . . . a convenient fall-guy (pun intended). When my drawings don’t turn out as well as I would like I usually blame it on the model.
You can see some of the structure lines & corrections in these 2 minute sketches.
The model held onto a rope in the poses. We were suppose to concentrate on the angles.
These below were 20 minute poses but I could only draw for about 10 minutes.
Usually, I use large drawing paper and stand at an easel. This session I drew on a smaller sketch pad and sat down. I figured if the model could sit
This Ted video got my attention. I hope it gets yours because it’s likely you or someone you know has other invisible disorders such such as fibromyalgia, IBS, migraine, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia and ME/CFS which affect millions and have been largely ignored by the NIH.
Despite my own struggles, I’ve been blessed with relatively mild symptoms and the ability to lead a fairly high functioning life. Long ago I lost count of all those I know, worse off than me, who have “untreatable” or invisible illnesses – friends, former clients, internet blogfriends, children and many who follow my blog
To all of you who are on similar journeys – – you are in my prayers. It’s not a cure but it’s all we’ve got . . . for now.
“Do not run away from grief, oh soul. Look for the remedy inside the pain because the rose came from the thorn and the ruby came from a stone”. – Rumi
Here’s a sample!
“The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one becomes… ” Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith
“When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of pain itself”.
– Pema Chödrön (born Deirdre Blomfield-Brow is an American, Tibetan Buddhist and ordained nun)
I admit I’m obsessive about steering clear of people who are sick. I’ve been “known” to remove my groceries off the counter and go to another check-out if I see a clerk sniffing or coughing. With fibromyalgia everything lasts longer and is more severe so I go to great lengths to avoid people who even appear to be sick.
My husband caught a cold 2 weeks ago and I’ve assiduously washed everything down – counters, door knobs, light switches and my husband – with disinfectant.
Turns out I was disinfecting the wrong person.
I woke up yesterday with a scratchy throat, a headache and feeling even less chipper than I usually feel in the morning.
“But at 90 . . . she is exercising caution as she recovers from a heavy cold which she’s had for at least 12 days, (12 DAYS!!!! ) and which is bound to have left her feeling pretty miserable. (tell me about it).”
“She hasn’t yet had an opportunity to go outside and explore her 20,000 acre private Norfolk estate. (So true, so true)”
LONG LIVE THE QUEEN . . . and me too!
P.S. Wash your hands after reading this post – I’m contagious . . .
Goodness, I feel sorry for the poor man in red his weary reindeer and sled Don’t blame me cuz I’ve never participated in dragging that man from his bed The worst you can say is I’ve not enough candles and therefore can’t light All my eight menorahs, yes, count ’em, eight Hanukkah for eight days of light Tell Santa to give up the late ride and eat chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil Safer to spin driedles, tell stories of brave Maccabees and the miracle of oil And he’ll feel much better when he rises well rested at the end of this year Not having delivered gifts heavier than a wish for peace and good cheer
*Disclosure: Printed without permission from the author . .
During the break in the life-drawing class a few of us talked to the model. She said most people had no idea what life drawing was and believed that nude modeling was akin to porn! When asked what she did for a living her answer was “posing for people who were learning anatomy”.
First, It never occurred to me that most people weren’t familiar with life drawing. Second, her answer made sense. When drawing a nude model students are intensely focused on the anatomy, the line & shading that emphasizes or de-emphasizes the muscle structure, the curve of the spine and the “personality” of the pose – not on nudity.
It’s a bit like reading an engrossing story. Your focus is on the plot line, the images created, the messages conveyed, not whether the” book” is hard-covered, paperback or on a tablet.
I was pleased with this sketch as it catches the likeness of the model.
Wasn’t so pleased with this sketch so I took out colored crayons and just scribbled. Still not pleased but it was fun!
New model – not an ounce of body fat on the boy. The majority of students are well into their 60’s. I made note of how many of the women asked him to return to model ! . . I myself prefer the models with a bit of ballast around their belly. Gives me more room for error.
This class I ventured out of my comfort zone, put away eraser and went for it with permanent ink and no preliminary sketch in pencil.
Notice the box? I keep trying to draw within the box so the figure doesn’t run off the page. Here’s my result!
If this isn’t the cutest, weirdest little critter I don’t know what is!
A Puggles Pome
Puggles are the puggliest
Their little snout the ugliest
Cuddle them quick
for when they’re grown
they’ll claw you
and won’t give a lick
“Sydney Zoo is celebrating the arrival of the first baby echidnas, known as puggles, in almost 30 years. The tiny (cute), and incredibly rare Australian mammals, hatched in the summer weighing between 250 and 500 grams. Echidnas, sometimes known as spiny anteaters, lay eggs – which hatch after 10 days. They’re then carried in their mother’s pouches for up to two months.”
My friend Peggy and I are working on a new project to share our stash of therapeutic strategies, tips and tricks on the internet. In my exuberance, “playing” with settings for the new web-site, I mistakenly changed the theme setting for this blog . . . and can’t figure out how to change it back again . So Curious to the Max has a new look, in case you didn’t notice.
And in case you didn’t notice we had a new model in class. All these sketches were 15 minutes done with water-color pencil.
There are two “fronts” and two “backs” (She was sitting on a poofy cushion).
AND in case you don’t see the connection between my blog change and my sketches: Clicking a button on the computer and irreversibly changing the blog template is like drawing with water-color pencil. I can’t erase or correct either of them.
(Well, not actually “worser” but I try to avoid trite phrases like “bigger and better”.)
In case you’ve not noticed . . . my drawings all go off the page. I don’t mind the aesthetics of that but I want to be able to do it “by design”. I try framing, measuring, planning . . . as the drawing progresses the limbs or head (or both) end up off of the paper.
The life drawing teacher suggested I get a BIG board to work on a BIG piece of paper to get the entire torso on the page. So much for bigger . . .
(Showing my hand on the paper to give you a sense of the scale).
Since my “vertigo episode” I’ve been in a fibromyalgia flare-up, complete with exhaustion. Today I peeled myself out of bed, put on my best duds and went to class to draw a dude. Can you guess which one is me?
After spending 3 hours drawing a nude dude this is what I looked like . . .
Many, if not most, of my posts over the years have regaled you, my loyal readers, with bits of what I find interesting and curious. (ex. Two of my all time most viewed and informative posts were about Butterfly fish and the Singles Scene and Stoned Fish.)
Since I’ve been taking life drawing classes there are not many articles that go along with drawings of nudes that meet the G-rating of my blog.
In class the teacher has been talking about the skeleton of the body and today I found a very interesting article about a discovery of a new species of dinosaur in Australia that is in keeping with this instructional focus!!!!
“Paleontologists have discovered a new species of dinosaur in Australia. The wide-hipped, long-necked, four-legged plant-eater was about half the length of a basketball court, and its shoulders stood as high as the hoop.”
This model was a slim-hipped, long-necked, two-legged vegetarian who was the full length of my paper and her shoulders alternately drooped and stood high, depending on the pose.
“Savannasaurus skeleton is one of the most complete sauropods to be discovered in Australia. Based on its skeleton, it was probably about 50 feet long, with a long neck and a wide, round body — weighing in at 40,000 pounds, as much as three African elephants combined. Dinosaur fossils in Australia are exceedingly rare, and this discovery could help scientists understand how these massive creatures spread across the planet millions of years ago.“
. . . that would take one humongous piece of paper to draw it . . .
Ten days into walking like a drunken sailor without the drink or the sailing. My husband drove me to art class. It was nice to get out of the house. The vertigo is much better but I’m still a bit wobbly.
At first, looking back and forth from the model to the drawing pad was a bit disorienting and I was very tired after class – probably because my brain was working hard to compensate.
The focus for this session was using brown wrapping paper, black and white charcoal.
I have little energy and my hip is sore . Usually, I stand at the easel when drawing but my hip is so sore this week I sat. I’ve been stretching my hip and back every day but scritching and scratching at the art.
When the teacher saw this she commented that it looked like someone sitting at a bus stop! She said it kindly and I agreed. So I quickly scribbled, skritched and scratched over the original. At least now it looks like the bus has just arrived.
This was an exercise on finding reference points in the room to draw the figure. I spent so long finding the points that I didn’t have time for the figure!
I was fading fast and so were my drawings!
Hopefully, next class, instead of scritch and scratch I’ll stretch with the art.
“Third Man Records is pleased to share the genius surprise gift they received from their friend MICHEL GONDRY. On his own and without anyone’s knowledge, the legendary filmmaker shot a video for “City Lights,” which he sent them the other night. The video is Gondry’s fifth visual collaboration with The White Stripes. “City Lights” was written for The White Stripes’ GET BEHIND ME SATAN but then forgotten until White revisited the 2005 album for Third Man’s Record Store Day 2015 vinyl reissue and finished the recording in 2016. The track is the first new, worldwide commercially released song by The White Stripes since 2008.”
“If anybody wants me to say it, in one sentence, what my plays are about: They’re about the nature of identity. Who we are, how we permit ourselves to be viewed, how we permit ourselves to view ourselves, how we practice identity or lack of identity.” Edward Albee
Most of the models in the life drawing classes have been posing for a long time. They come equipped with props and pillows and strike dramatic poses that I defy anyone in “real” life to take . . . unless you’re an exotic dancer.
The young man, VERY young man, who was the model in the last two life drawing classes had never modeled before. He appeared to be shy and very unsure of himself.The first session he posed stiffly.
This second session he began to soften, wrapping his arms around himself as if to create a bit of comfort or perhaps protection. It may also have been that it was cold in the room . . . even for those of us wearing clothes.
Art teachers explain that drawing isn’t about what the hand is doing it’s about training our eye to see what it actually sees rather than the internal image of what we THINK we see.
Right now my drawings are about trying to learn to view shapes and shadows, lines and limbs . . . and hopefully have my hands follow. Someday, it would be nice to say the same thing Edward Albee said . . . that my drawings are about the nature of identity.
Sharon Bonin Pratt is a writer, an artist and a dear friend. I think she also is psychic. I’ve been not feeling great and the subject of her last post was just what I needed. AND it’s dedicated to ME!!!! What an honor!
Shari inspired me to look for a smile (SEE THE VIDEO).
“Who can laugh without relaxing? Isn’t that why some of us (not me of course, and certainly not you, but other unnamed folks) pee their pants when laughing raucously? Losing all control is not a bad thing, even if you must change your whitie-dities, because when you’re having that much fun – who cares about all the rest? Oh, and it’s contagious! In a good way, not like the flu, but like having enough cup cakes for everyone in the world. So now I not only feel good inside my own world weary bod – I feel good because everyone around me also feels good. Motto for today: Spread cheer – laugh out loud.”
Sara Blakely’s embrace of failure has helped make her the youngest self-made female billionaire in America.She invented Spanx (body-shaping undergarments – the modern version of the corset and girdle).
When she was growing up, her father would often ask her the same question at dinnertime.
“What have you failed at this week?”
I was AGHAST – failure!? What a horrible father. Everyone knows we are supposed to focus on and revel in success.She went on to say:
“My dad growing up encouraged me and my brother to fail. The gift he was giving me is that failure is (when you are) not trying versus the outcome. It’s really allowed me to be much freer in trying things and spreading my wings in life.”
What a novel idea! Embrace failure as a sign of taking risks, learning and growing. Failure is a victory not a defeat.
“The fact that I had never taken a business class, had no training, didn’t know how retail worked,” she said. “I wasn’t as intimidated as I should have been.”
I read herinterview just before my life drawing class. It was liberating!! I gave myself permission to fail at trying to draw perfect likeness, perfect proportions, perfect shading.
My new motto: Fail Away!
. . . it’s never too late to become the oldest self-made billionaire in the United States.
New semester for art classes just started. Here are my best sketches (you didn’t think I’d post my worst, did you?). I particularly am pleased with the first as I managed to catch the likeness of the model.
At Judy Formato’sPainting on the Patio (POP) art group the topic of marijuana came up.
Several of the woman, who shall remain anonymous, (we are all well over the age of 50 or 60 or 70) admitted to inhaling in their youth. It was a pertinent topic (for those of us well over the age of 50 or 60 or 70) relating to pain medication for maladies that come with maturity.
Researcher Staci Gruber is “. . . trying to determine the long and short-term impact of medical marijuana on cognition, brain structure and function, quality of life, sleep, and other clinical measures.
“People drive two to three hours sometimes to get [here for] the study,” Gruber said. “They’re really committed. They really want to know what effect this will have on them.”
“As they wait for long-term results, MIND researchers have made a few interim discoveries. They have found, for example, that marijuana could possibly ease symptoms for people with bipolar disorder and that a medication for strokes and Alzheimer’s disease may reverse the cognitive effects of chronic recreational marijuana use.”
Perhaps our POP group could volunteer – we can drive and are VERY committed women.
I think we qualify.
Oh, by the way, here’s what I painted at POP.
I wonder why they don’t use rats for this study – they use them for all the others?
I knew about people who do travel sketch books – instead of taking photos they sketch. I knew about plein air painters who set up their easels and paint nature. I didn’t know about the groups of artists who take to the streets all over the world and sketch.
They call themselves Urban Sketchers. The supplies need to be portable and compact – small sketchbooks, pencil, pen and watercolor seem to be the main tools of the trade. People and buildings are the main focus.
You have to be fast and just capture the essence of what you see. People move, get up, leave. Sometimes I draw the arm of one person on the body of the other, furiously freeze a tiny moment in time hoping people don’t get up, come over and demand I stop staring at them. Then I “clean up” the mini sketches – erase lines, add a splash of color.
At the POP (Painting on the Patio) gathering yesterday I couldn’t get inspired to paint so I pulled out my mini sketchbook and “cleaned up” some of my sketches:
Can’t call myself an Urban Sketcher cuz I don’t sit on street corners or stand by light poles. I sketch people while I wait for doctors’ appointments, get my computer fixed or tires rotated.
Since I live in the suburbs it seems a bit pretentious to call my self a suburban sketcher. Stealth Sketcher is much more like it.
Judy Formatocollects people – from bus rides, parties, meetings and invites them to her “POP” gatherings – Painting on the Patio. Yesterday I met her collection of very talented and welcoming women who have been meeting for 3 years to paint, chat and share resources.
Most of the women were doing water-color. I experimented with my newly purchased pastels to color two of my quickie life drawing sketches I had done in class.
The afternoon was topped off with wine and snacks. Judy served a verrrrry tasty egg plant dip that had zing from some delicious pepper sauce imported by the family fine Italian food companyFormato Brothers.
The theme for July is “Journey”. Held a special 4 hour – yes, count ’em FOUR hours of creative energy – workshop yesterday. The participants focused on a painful experience, what strengths they developed as a result of the pain and how God’s love or “the universe’s grace” touched them.
People could share as much or as little as they chose. It was a wonderful group of women. (All you men, where are you?!!!!)
Take a look at a sample of wonderful paintings and mini-journals the participants created yesterday!
To see all the paintings and journal pages click HERE!
“Everything in life ministers to our development. Our lesson is to study and learn… Tests are either stumbling blocks or stepping stones, just as we make them.” Abdu’l-Baha, The Baha’i World Faith