Grief Blocks Creativity

Cloud Birds : Oil Pastel (started 2015 – completed 2023)

After several years of staring at empty sketchboooks, I am finally able to put color on a page. I have wanted to find my way back to any form of art and decided to try working on some of the unfinished pieces. This seems to reduce the pressure to be creative since the idea has already taken form.

The birds seen here are done in oil pastel, which I have very little experience using. This drawing started as a way to play with colors, layering, and was going to be competely abstract until some of the swirly cloud shapes began to look like birds, so I went with it.

I almost did not post this, as I am sure I can do better. I cringe at the overworked and poorly blended or poorly defined areas. But I am thrilled to be drawing anything and ready to see where this takes me. I’m trying to silence my inner critic and applaud the effort as if I were my own teacher. If one of my art students had presented this as a first sttempt, I would be thrilled. I need to remember that I am once again – possibly always will be – a student in this lifetime and will try to enjoy the process as much as the final outcome.

Maybe I have actually learned something over the past several years …

I do love working with pastels, both chalk and oil. I love the childlike finger painting feel of getting the colors on my fingertips as I blend and smudge and move colors somewhat magically. The amount of pressure applied determines whether the new color floats on top as a highlight or sinks down and transforms the layer beneath. I experimented with a few different tools, cardboard blenders, erasers, clay detailers, tissue paper, and probably some others. Some of the orange/yellow clouds on the top left were actually purple at one point. I am extremely impressed with the flexibility and fluidity of these pastels! I was able to remove the topmost layer and fill it back in nearly brand new. The darker colors on the bottom right seemed to bleed into the paper and did not allow this to happen, creating a muddy area there.

I plan to watch some videos eventually for techiniques and tips for pastels, but for now, all I want to do is play and see what emerges. This time it was birds. I’m eager to see what happens next.

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