Tag Archives: Carla Sonheim

Drawing for Inspiration

11 Oct

BOOK: Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) by Carla Sonheim

I keep running across the book Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) by Carla Sonheim and I am just itching to try it out.  Basically, Sonheim guides the reader through 52 projects, or “labs” as she calls them,  and offers techniques for creating playful and spontaneous drawings.  I love to draw and paint, but often feel confined by thinking I have to control every line of the pencil or stroke of the brush. I think these activities will be a great way to re-energize my creativity, hone my skills, and glean some new ones.

I picked the book up at my local library last week and got started.  At first I had to scramble for art supplies as I have already put most of them in storage in anticipation of our move.  But what I thought was a glitch turned out to be a blessing as I just have to work with what I’ve got instead of over-thinking it with myriad choices.  I still have an accessible box of watercolors and gouache paints.  I really don’t know where my sketchbooks are packed away so I went to the bookstore and got one on sale.  While I was at it, I allowed my 3 year-old to pick out a mini-sketchbook for herself.  It is now her new favorite accessory.  And so, with only my watercolors, some sharpie markers,  my sketchbook, and my kiddo, I have been taking some time to create.

I started with the book’s first assignment of drawing a cat…actually about 30 cats…and have also been inspired to draw some other creatures.  I have been creating birds and owls for years, but with the suggestions and techniques of Sonheim, I was able to break free of the fear that everything needs to be oober-controlled.  In fact, one of her suggestions is to draw with your weaker hand to loosen up the drawings.  Since last week, I have created with only my left hand!  It is quite liberating and I am yielding results that I have always desired in my work but had been trying to force.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fit these “labs” into my schedule, but I have found that it is just the opposite. The first assignment actually instructs the artist to draw “while sitting or lying in bed.”  So, I take some time at night, right before bed, and draw.  Or, in between cooking dinner or cleaning up the dishes, I run over to where my sketchbook sits open, draw a few characters, clear my mind, and then get back to the task at hand.  I have had so much fun with and extending the first lesson, that I am not yet ready to move onto the second.

What I really love is that I have been doing a lot of this drawing while spending time with my daughter.  (Mommy-hood side note confession: I don’t play well.  It’s not that I don’t like to play, but when it comes to playing with my three-year old, it can be brutal on one’s mental stamina.  Her attention span is either very short and we go from activity to activity or it is repetitive, and we are stuck on the same thing for such.a.long.time!!!!  Tea party for two, anyone?  Pull up a chair.  You’ll be here for, oh, about three hours or so!  When we play, I am often daydreaming about the other things that I should be doing or could be doing or want to be doing.  Sounds terrible but I know that I am not the only Mommy out there feeling this way!)  BUT, she has really taken to her little sketchbook we have just been spending great time drawing together.  She gets very involved in what she has been doing and I get lost in my own creations.  We stop every once in a while and check out the other one’s work and make comments, and then we get back to it.

Here is what I produced from that first “lab.”  I am also working on a project that combines what I have learned from this assignment with some of the drawings that I have been doing over the past few years.  Stay tuned for those.  As I move along, I will post my work.  I also have some plans for my daughter’s work, but that will come in time as well.

Cat sketches, watercolor and sharpie.

Owl sketches (and a stray cat), watercolor and sharpie.

Pig sketches, watercolor and sharpie.

It would be interesting to hear from others who might have  taken one of Carla Sonheim’s  online classes or used one of her books.  Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on the subject.

You can follow Carla’s blog here.

All images (c) Sneezing in Windy Places, 2012, unless otherwise noted.