Welcome 2016!

Welcome, welcome, welcome 2016! It’s so exciting to have a brand new year just lying in wait for me to discover! A clean slate awaits with 366 magnificent fresh starts, each with opportunities to explore, to grow, to do good, to get it right! Yes, undoubtedly I will stumble along the way, and maybe even fall flat on my face a few times, but I have no doubt that 2016 will be a resounding success in all areas of my life! How could it not be, since I am the one steering my own little life raft and am able to navigate my course by consciously choosing my every thought, all of which are reflected in my feelings, which manifest my own personal reality! It’s all just as simple — and as tricky — as that! LOL

My first sketch of the new year. Ink & watercolour pencils in Moleskine sketchbook.

DSC 1 – ink & watercolour pencils in 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook.

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For the last two years and again this year, I have used a word to guide myself throughout the year. I don’t consciously choose the word. In meditation, the word chooses me. I always know that my word is sent by Spirit because of how deeply it resonates within my heart. In 2014 my word was “Grow”. In 2015 my word was “Be Not Afraid” (yes, I can count and know there are three words there…but I still considered it my 2015 “word”! 🙂 ). Both those words perfectly suited those years for me. This year my word is “Love”. Just as in the previous two years, this year’s word is completely perfect and totally fitting for me. To be honest, I was hoping for a word like “Gentle” or “Patience” or “Kindness” or even “Tolerance” or “Acceptance”, as those are the qualities I have been feeling most in need of this past little while, and they are the qualities that I really want to focus my attention on in 2016, so admittedly, I was a bit disappointed when the word “Love” chose me. In fact, when that word first whispered to me I kind of rolled my eyes, sighed and then scoffed at myself, “Really?! How trite!” But then, almost immediately, I smiled, as the words from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 popped into my head (okay, so, only the first 5 words popped in…I had to google the rest 😀 ):

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I think that may perhaps be not only one of the most beautiful, but also one of the most truthful things ever written.

My New Year altar.

My New Year meditation altar.

When that passage came to my mind, I immediately realized that the qualities I most want to focus on in the coming year —  gentleness, patience, kindness, tolerance and acceptance — all could be defined by one simple word. Love. And so, trite as it may seem, I think “Love” is the perfect word for me to use as my guide through 2016.

Watersoluble graphite in my Moleskine sketchbook.

DSC 2 – my poor dying orchid…it’s definitely in need of a little more love! – watersoluble graphite in 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook.

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I also stopped setting New Year “Resolutions” a few years back. There is far too much negativity associated with “Resolutions”, and so instead, I now set yearly intentions for myself. An intention is so much gentler than a resolution, I think. Intentions leave wiggle room, give us space to breathe, to adjust, to adapt, where resolutions are just so, well, resolute! LOL

Sketch of the little pewter elephant that usually sits on my star - watersoluble graphite in Moleskine sketchbook.

DSC 3 – the little pewter elephant that usually stands guard on my altar – watersoluble graphite in 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook.

Ultimately I suppose it is all just semantics! Whether I set intentions or resolutions for myself, it still means I am planting seeds that I plan to water in the hope that they will grow into my reality. I know many people balk at setting resolutions or even intentions, but I am not one of those people. I like setting goals for myself and feel very adrift without them, as though I am wandering aimlessly. And so, once again, besides setting some personal intentions, I have also set some few artistic intentions for myself for the coming year and thought I would share them with you here 🙂

Sketch from my imagination - White charcoal pencil in Strathmore tan toned sketchbook.

DSC 4 – some joyful snowpeeps, from my imagination – white charcoal pencil in 7.75″ x 9.75″ Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook.

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I’ve given a lot of thought lately to what I’ve been feeling re: my art these past couple of years and confess (in case it’s not already obvious) that I have been in quite a deep “art slump”, feeling very unambitious and just not much into spending inordinate amounts of time on large, detailed, “serious” drawings. Despite feeling this way for so long, it really only just occurred to me that THAT is why I have produced so little pencil work over the past couple of years, not the fact that I have been so busy with other things (although I suspect my busy-ness has certainly been a contributing factor to my lack of inspiration).  I’ve also only recently realized that I have inexplicably been placing a lot of silent pressure on myself to “smarten up and draw more and enter some shows already!” and, even worse, have felt more than a little guilty about how few drawings have left my drawing table and how few exhibitions I’ve entered!

Seriously! What’s up with that??  LOL

And so, this year, I intend to put my word of the year into practice by loving myself more and relinquish all that pressure and silly feelings of obligation and guilt and all the “you shoulds” and “serious drawing” nonsense and allow myself to just relax and play more with my art! 🙂

Sketch of my little Buddha statue - white charcoal pencil & white gel pen in 7.75" x 9.75" Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook..

DSC 5 – my little Buddha statue – white charcoal pencil & white gel pen in 7.75″ x 9.75″ Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook.

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With that in mind, I intend to give priority this year to sketching. I love sketching — it is probably my favourite art-related thing to do! I have set the intention before (almost every year in fact) to “sketch more”, but life always seems to interfere and I never end up sketching nearly as much as I’d hoped to. So this year, I am truly making it THE priority by formally challenging myself to a Daily Sketch Challenge (DSC). And lucky me! This year being a leap year, I get to sketch 366 days! LOL

One of the most fun ways for me to sketch is to watch a movie or TV program and to pause it for 5 minutes at interesting scenes, set my timer for 5 minutes, then do at quick gesture sketch. I usually do these in ink and often add some watercolour after the fact. These scenes are from the series Merlin - micron pen & watercolour in a Currys sketchbook.

DSC 6 – One of the most fun ways for me to sketch is to watch a movie or TV and pause it at interesting scenes, set my timer for 5 minutes, then quickly sketch. I usually use ink and often add  watercolour afterward. These scenes are from the series Merlin – microns & watercolour in 8.5″ x 11″ unknown brand sketchbook.

I know I have defined what I mean by “sketching” elsewhere on this blog, but to reiterate exactly what I mean by the word “sketch”, here it is again:

“Essentially, I think of sketches as unrefined “practice drawings”, which may be created in any medium (including paint), and that are not intended to be displayed as finished works of art. For me, sketches are intended to promote a sense of play, freedom and perhaps exploration and therefore I never worry about mistakes I may make during the process, or even about completing my sketches. They are usually created fairly quickly in a rough or exaggerated style, but I may spend more time and pay more attention to detail if I wish to explore an element of a proposed drawing, such as composition or value or perspective, etc. More refined sketches may also serve as preliminary studies of a subject or scene I wish to draw or paint later. I use sketches very much as a learning tool for myself. The upside about sketching for me is that it’s not only educational, but is also a lot of fun and very relaxing.”


Crows sketched from my own refs - ink on watercolour wash in discontinued Desseres brand sketchbook.

DSC 7 – crows sketched from my own refs – ink on watercolour wash in 5.5″ x 8″ discontinued Desseres brand sketchbook.

Just because I am giving a priority to sketching doesn’t necessarily mean that I will have ample time to sketch! Likely, I won’t! 🙁 Which means that a lot of my sketches will probably be either very rough, very vague, very minimal or very incomplete. The priority for me with this challenge is not to produce pretty pictures, so much as it is to produce art daily and playfully. On days that time is my ally, I might pull off something close to resembling a “serious drawing”, but on the days I am busy or distracted or just not in the mood, I might only be able to spend 5 minutes on a stick man figure.  I’m okay with that and I hope anyone following here is okay with that too. I also very likely won’t be photographing/posting my sketches every day, but I intend to post all the daily sketches I have done throughout the week regularly (hopefully once weekly going forward) here on my blog. I will probably also be posting them more often on Instagram.

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DSC 8 – little shell with feathers stuck in it that sits on my altar – watersoluble graphite in 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook.


Sketch from imagination - watersoluble graphite in Deserves brand discontinued sketchbook.

DSC 9 – from imagination – watersoluble graphite in 5.5″ x 8″ discontinued Deserves brand sketchbook.

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Keeping in line with my intention to sketch more, I also plan to attend as many monthly sketch outings as possible with the newly formed “formal” Ottawa Urban Sketchers. I’m looking forward to their next event, to take place the evening of Jan 21 at one of my fave places and somewhere I have sketched many times before, the beautiful Museum of Nature.

Sketch from imagination, an idea for possible future drawing - watersoluble graphite in Moleskine sketchbook.

DSC 10 – from imagination, an idea for a possible future drawing – watersoluble graphite in 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook.

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I’ve mentioned before that my local Art Society holds twice monthly Open Studios, and attending those as often as possible will also become a priority for me. I really enjoy being able to share and socialize with “others of my kind”, and the Open Studio is such a relaxing, wonderful opportunity for just that.

Practicing g my watercolour washes - gel pen & watercolour

DSC 11- practicing my watercolour washes – white gel pen & watercolour on scrap cold press Arches paper.

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I intend (and in fact, have started) to take watercolour lessons from a local artist that I greatly admire. I’m really just thrilled about this, as I have wanted to formally learn watercolour for years and finally decided to treat myself this year. I imagine I will be doing a lot of my sketches in watercolour, though will certainly still be doing most in pencil I think. No matter what, pencil will always be my first love.

More watercolour practice - watercolour in disconti ued Deserres sketchbook.

DSC 12 – More watercolour practice – watercolour in 5.5″ x 8″ discontinued Deserres brand sketchbook.

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Yes, I still LOVE pencil and love “serious drawing”, and I do intend to complete something to submit for the Pencil Art Society International Open Exhibition that will be held in Ottawa in September. If I take the time to work on and complete only one such drawing this year, that will be the one! I am keeping everything I have that is crossable, crossed, that I can come up with something I am happy with and complete it in time for the deadline!

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DSC 13 – negative drawing practice with grasses from imagination – graphite in 5″ x 8″ Moleskine sketchbook.

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And finally, my last art-related intention is to be a little more present on this blog. This too I have set as a goal before and wasn’t very successful at keeping it up, but I am ready, willing and able to try again. I think my DSC will give me a good incentive to post here much more regularly 🙂 … and hopefully with not quite so much to say at a time if I post more frequently! 😛

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DSC 14 – experimenting with white charcoal on watercolour wash – on scrap piece of Strathmore cold press paper.

If you’ve set any New Year Resolutions or Intentions for yourself, personal or creative, I’d love to hear what they are and wish you all the best with them! Whatever they are, I know you can do it! 🙂

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2 comments to Welcome 2016!

  • I think your word for the year is awesome! My weekly quote from Lazaris was this: “Be alive in this moment; be conscious of your treasures. Be spontaneous with your joy and thankfulness. Show your gratitude. It’s time to fall in love again.” So, when I read your post I thought back to this quote!

    I don’t typically have intentions, words or resolutions but while hiking this weekend I heard this word, sizzle, on a commercial and it REALLY struck me…so for the first time I have a word too…sizzle…as in awesome and amazing!!

    I’m excited to follow your sketching posts Lissa…after my show in March I am going to follow your lead!! You’re a great inspiration!! 😀

  • Oops, sorry Kathryn, again I only saw this now (must check my settings…for some reason I am not being notified about new comments).

    Ohh I love that quote by Lazaris! I must write that one down!

    Sizzle!! Wow!! That’s a fantastic word! I have a feeling you will have a sizzling year!! Especially in the area of your art!! I’m so excited for you about your show in March! I hope you will write all about it on your blog once it’s done!

    And I’d love it if you join me in sketching daily once your time is your own again! I must admit, it’s tough to keep up…and often I don’t get my sketches done til after supper or even just before bed…but I am really determined to do this daily this time, so no matter how busy or tired I am, I am gonna try to keep it up…though no doubt there will be many sketches that will be nothing more than stick men if I am really short on time! LOL

    (gonna go check my settings now to make sure I don’t miss any more of your comments!)