Reflecting On My Breakfast Art Practice

These colours captivate me every time I look at them

I have been looking over some of the different art that I’ve made since I began my daily breakfast art practice. They consist of a variety of different types of art; some are more complex than others, some shine because of their simplicity. The common thread that ties them together is that they’ve all been made as I enjoyed eating breakfast.

A piece of art created in an old book
I’ve found repurposing an old book for art to be a liberating experience

There are reoccurring styles: backgrounds created by applying fountain pen ink & water to paper to which I use black or gold markers to create Japanese inspired wave designs feature frequently. As do the seemingly random application of colour to a page creating not so much as art in the traditional sense but rather a pleasing group of colours.

A blackout poem
A blackout poem, inspired by Austin Kleon

I look forward to making this art daily. There are some nights that I fall asleep thinking about what I could create the next morning. Yet the mornings when I have no idea what I’ll create are the most exciting to me. Art that is made with no intention except to create something gives me a wonderful feeling.

A close view of an art background made by mixing yellow & blue ink
Stunning green shades created with Nick Stewart Ink, available here

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I find myself about to return to ‘normal’ work, which is to say going to work in a business as opposed to only working from home. This work will be part time but I am accepting this reality with trepidation for I know what may come. Overwhelming anxiety leaving me without the ability to walk in this world with ease was what caused me to quit working full time. The reality is this might happen again. My coping mechanisms such as the breakfast art practice & daily dog walking will work to help keep me on an even keel, at least that’s the hope.

I’ll look into increasing visits to my psychologist & GP. I’ll try to remember to ask for help when I need it. Do all the things that are needed to protect myself so anxiety doesn’t take over every waking thought. Fingers crossed.

I’m Actually Using My Sketchbooks!

Further to last weeks post, where I mused on my breakfast art habit it occurred to me that I am also completing sketchbooks. As in using every single page to create something on. I cannot remember the last time this happened. It may be entirely possible that this has never happened. Yep, in 42 years it’s quite possible that sketchbooks have entered my life only to find themselves languishing in a cupboard or worse, thrown away in a mad moment of getting rid of things if I haven’t used them. So far I’ve completed two sketchbooks, both of which are in the photo below & am half way through finishing the larger one at the back.

I use a Midori Travellers Notebook as my daily diary/to-do list/reminder of things. The inserts in these get used, every single page filled with writing, notes, drawings & art. However when it comes to sketchbooks, well they are an entirely different beast. I have always thought deep down in the back of my psyche somewhere that because I am not an ‘artist’ I don’t really deserve the lovely new sketchbook I bought myself. Or even the lesser quality but still acceptable sketchbook that I’ve owned for years.

Only ‘artists’ should be using those. Lately l have come to realise that this is utter bullshit. Sure I am not an artist in the traditional sense of a person standing in front of a canvas, painting someones portrait in oils, but I still like to make art. I may be the only one who likes my art, but that’s totally ok with me. I’m not making it for anyone but myself. If I hang some of it on my walls and you don’t like it, you’re welcome to tell me. I will respect you more for your honesty. But you don’t have to like it. I’m making it to have fun. To express myself through pens & inks & markers & paint. That’s all.

Although as often seems to be the case in life, that isn’t quite all. Because I’ve realised that the fun I’m having making these small pieces of art is carrying itself over into my photography & to a lesser extent my writing. I am doing both of these things more often & each time I’m trying to get better at them. But I’m caring less & less about if they will be ‘liked’. Thats not to say I don’t want people to like my photos. Thats not to say that I don’t dream of seeing my writing published. But I finally recognise that what I write & what I take photos of does not suit everyone. And thats ok. Hopefully it will resonate with someone. Maybe I will publish my children’s stories (which is a big dream I have), but I also know that my life won’t end if I don’t. I’ll keep doing these things & be happy. I’ll be happier if in some one my work resonates with someone or reaches are larger audience than simply myself. But I’ll still be happy regardless of the reach of my work.

Next time you hear me complain that what I make is terrible & liked by no one, please point me in the direction of this post. I suspect future me might from time to time forget these words & will need a gentle reminder 😉

Accepting Imperfection

When I first began making what I refer to as my Japanese inspired wave art I was cautious, worried about making mistakes. The first three or four I made began with me drawing the design first using a lead pencil. Once completed I then went over it with a black brush pen. Aside from being a time consuming way to make them, I also wasn’t happy because if I wasn’t careful when erasing the pencil marks I would erase some of the pen marks. So it was out of necessity that I began making them using the brush pen only.

At first this was terrifying. What if I made a mistake? What if I destroyed the beauty I was trying to make? I painstakingly created the marks, looking at the reference images copiously, slowly getting something down that I thought looked ok. What I realised however was it doesn’t matter how careful I was being, I was not going to be able to make my art look like the reference images. They were made by Japanese master craftsman who had probably spent their entire lives practising this art. I on the other hand only began making them & I have no intention of devoting my entire life to this one practice only. So I had to accept that my interpretation was never going to be perfect. Surprisingly for me I found this realisation freeing. I immediately accepted the facts and moved on to creating art for arts sake.

I wish I could let go of perfection in other areas of my life as easily as I have with the wave art. I am so incredibly hard on myself, particularly when I am doing something that is important to me. I have an unhealthy ability to loop over & over in my mind a barrage of words that sum up how useless I am if I am struggling to do something. It’s taken me years to recognise this. I used to have the thoughts & not really be aware of them. Now I hear them & actively try to stop them. My success rate is probably about 50%, but hey at least I can stop them sometimes. Some improvement is better than no improvement, right?

If you’re at all interested, the background of this art is made using fountain pen ink. Why? Because I love the serendipity of the outcome. And the range of colours are vast. And it’s a great excuse to buy my ink for my fountain pens! The first one shown is made with Monteverde California Teal ink, the second uses Nick Stewart Ink in Randall Blue Black. The gold waves are created using a Uni Paint Marker inExtra Fine. Lighter background colours look better with black aves, for that I use a Uni Posca Marker PC.1M. The reference images I use are from three PDF books that I downloaded from the Open Culture website.

Art For Breakfast

For the past couple of months I have been making art every morning as I eat breakfast. I began simply because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. When I’m travelling I always take the time to relax & eat a yummy breakfast whilst either sketching, people watching or both. I decided to implement this practice at home so I could always take the time to enjoy my first meal of the day. And to linger over a cup of coffee too 🙂

I’ve deliberately left the door wide open in terms of what art I will make. Often I’ll wake up with no idea what to create but whilst I’m walking the dogs (which is done pre-breakfast) an idea usually will form. If it doesn’t then I’m not above creating random colourful shapes on the page.

Initially I was making art that meant nothing to me; I realise now however that it has come to mean a lot. It’s helping ease my anxiety around being a creative person. I’m more accepting that that is the sort of person I am. We can’t all be mathematicians or neurosurgeons or other high functioning sorts. It’s ok that I’m creative.

Someone please remind me of this statement when I’m an anxious mess because I’m offering nothing to the world because all I can do is create 😉