The Drawing Board #3

Welcome to my newsletter where I share my personal creative process. I hope to inspire you to pick up a pen, paint brush or spatula and create something spectacular.

A New Portrait is Live on my Site!

My latest portrait (a cowboy I encountered in a Carribean dress shop this summer) is now live on my site. See link below:

Cowboy Encounter
Acrylic on Canvas, 16x20, December 2022

Last Week’s Holiday-Themed Art Analysis on Twitter

Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season so far!

Thank you all for voting for last week’s holiday-themed artwork for me to analyze on Twitter. The winner was “The Census at Bethlehem” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. This was a fun one. CLICK HERE to see my analysis on Twitter.

Left: original artwork, Right: my analysis

January Painting: Struggling to Find Inspiration

New year, new painting.

I’m struggling to find inspiration for my next project. I realized this year that I work best with constraints, especially external ones. Having rules to follow makes the creative process feel frictionless. Constraints are like a map - I can quickly find the most efficient path forward.

When I don’t have any rules to follow and have full creative control to do whatever I want, I start to panic. My brain stops working as I sit and stare at the blank canvas on my easel. A thick wall of indecisiveness stands between me and any possible path forward.

Hitting a roadblock while having total creative freedom isn’t new for me. I first encountered this delightful quirk of mine back in 2013. It was my last year of architecture school and I struggled to complete my thesis. I was free to design any building, in any location, for any reason I wanted. I had to create my own problem, with my own set of rules to solve it. I had to create my own map.

The open-ended nature of a thesis project was overwhelming. Every day of this year-long journey, I questioned if I chose the right path forward for my project. My professor was consistently neutral. He would not choose what was right or wrong for my thesis… only I could. My indecisiveness was exhausting and I had a mental breakdown one month before my final submission.

Maybe I’m just too much of a perfectionist.

Maybe I’m just not confident enough as an artist.

Or maybe, I just need to get out of my head.

Maybe I just have to look at information I already have, shift out of a constant state of worry and just observe what’s around me. Or observe myself…?

This year for Christmas, my husband gifted me the book The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy in the Every Day by Rob Walker. This book has exercises to help you observe your surroundings in different ways, to take everything in and be present. The goal is to view the world from a new lens. Notice things you haven't noticed before.

This book might be exactly what I need right now.

Creative output always requires input. I hope that by staying present and observing my surroundings (with the help of this book), I'll gain inspiration for my January painting. And by inspiration, I mean new information… something, anything to paint. So I can create my map, find my path, and forge ahead.

I’ll keep you updated with my progress on this new painting project. I'm curious, how do you overcome creative block? (You can leave a comment on this post HERE or just reply to this email)

Baking Time: Cinnamon Rolls

On a lighter note, here are some sweet treats.

Cinnamon buns I made for breakfast on Christmas Morning

Do not fear yeast. There are much more complicated bakes out there (like macarons), and cinnamon rolls are not one of them.

I baked this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction:

Homemade Overnight Cinnamon Rolls - Sally’s Baking Addiction
This reader favorite recipe yields a pan of soft, fluffy, and gooey cinnamon sweet, homemade cinnamon rolls with tangy cream cheese icing.

What’s great about this recipe:

  1. You prep everything the night before. So all you have to do is wake up, pull your prepared rolls (ready to go in their baking pan) out of the fridge and pop them in the oven.
  2. This recipe is easy peasy. It’s the first, and only, recipe where I’ve used yeast. The second time I made these, I thought I messed up the dough during while kneading. It would NOT stop sticking to the counter. After 10 minutes, I said “Screw it!” and moved on. It was fine. The rolls came out perfect.
  3. They taste WAY better than the pre-made rolls you buy in a can at the supermarket.

Let me know if you give it a try or have questions about the recipe!

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful New Year!

Happy Creating, Elizabeth

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