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The RPJ Sketchbook :

I am challenging myself to build my creative practice by painting in my sketchbook for no more than 30 minutes a session, record the art making and posting it on instagram and tiktok.  I am giving myself grace for holidays.

I am posting the edited videos below.

Sketchbook Day 18 |  12.14.2021

Recording my process for this piece was all over the place.  Creating art is very physical.  The smaller the piece, the less physicality needed, the larger the piece, the more physicality needed.  I just couldn’t get my cutting under the camera.  I’m wrapping up a collage workshop series taught by Zsudayka Nzinga.  If you haven’t heard of her you should follow, her collage work is amazing.  We were told to freestyle all of the techniques we’d learned over the past month.  I layered a variety of fabric and papers, used found and created patterns and painted this girl.  It’s about beauty, the flow of energy, and peace.

Sketchbook Day 17 |  12.13.2021

Out of the abundance of heart the mouth speaks.  We create our experiences in life based on our words and the meditation of our hearts.  Paraphrasing Luke 6:45 good people produce good life founded on the good that is stored in their hearts.  Think Good, Do Good, Get Good.  I once hung my entire life on this scripture.  A few years ago I kind of fell off, and stayed off for a while. There are areas of my life that seem to be in a holding pattern. I’m working my way back, shifting my soul, resetting my thinking and renewing with the Word of God. God gives action plans, we stand on his word while we take action, we obey God and watch our words to make sure they are of faith, in agreement with God.

Sketchbook Day 16 |  12.10.2021

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity and how we manifest it in our creativity.  Making art and experiencing art is essential for life.  We may strip our experiences down to only eating, dressing, and housing, but having a means to express ourselves to love, and be loved makes us human.  How many ideas has heaven tried pushing through the imagination, the heart of humankind that has been stopped with self-doubt.  How many centuries have people oppressed the right to expression out of each other?  In making, I find freedom, I ignite my fire and I burn down the attacks against the perpetual be.

Sketchbook Day 15 |  12.9.2021

Sometimes creativity requires you to break out of patterns in order to see things a different way. This sketchbook is about making peace and trying all the things I’ve said no to.  It’s about self experimentation and expression.  It’s saying yes to letting the good stuff out and suspending expectation. While I’m working on this series, I’m simultaneously teaching my fourth and fifth graders to keep a sketchbook as well.  I’m watching them brainstorm new ideas, make mistakes and live with them, and take creative risks.  These kids are so excited and engaged, sketchbooks in hand, I see them everywhere on campus, making madly, saying yes,  celebrating their discoveries, and talking about their processes.

Sketchbook Day 14 |  12.8.2021

I let too many days pass between painting this bit in my sketchbook, and finding the words to go with it.  Its like Esperanza Spaulding’s words about her album “Exposure” Like I said,” less time for us as creators forces us to just move forward and give you what’s in here. We can’t stop to judge, wonder, question “is it good enough? Is it right? Oh let me redo that.”  it’s like life. Earth and life existed in the heart of God, the imagination of God before his Spirit hovered over waters. All that is good, and that is evil is introduced to humanity through our imagination. Worry is its misuse, it stunts creativity, kills the seed before it gets a chance to take root. Optimism is dynamic, it finds all the opportunities to take action and engage fully in this thing called life

Sketchbook Day 13 |  12.3.2021

I feel privileged to teach. I get to bring my dark brown self and address how in the US we describe people by color, however the colors given don’t match our experiences. I’m black but not like space, she’s white, but not like clouds, he’s brown but not like chocolate, might be red, but not like blood, you called yellow, but not like sun. We have to look closely at our own skin, to see our own browns, especially when we don’t match the skin tone kit. My babies are too young to understand local color and color reflection. We draw the shapes of our face, blend our special sort of brown with pastels, and celebrate our beautiful differences.

Sketchbook Day 12 |  11.29.2021

Painting skin takes care and intention. Especially dark skin. Especially when European beauty standards set the rules for art education and reverence. Especially in cultures where white supremacy is woven into the fabric of every part of your experiences. Like how dare you show yourself? Skin so dark, nose so thick, our beauty is decided and declared rather than assumed. Painting dark skin requires one to push past our tendency to see fair skin as fairer, to exercise patience, knowing that the beauty is coming. We watch our outlines vanish into darkness before it reemerges. Waiting at the end of your mark maker waiting for browns, cool, neutral and warm to find their place around facial features, where eyeball meets skull where cheekbone greets jaw, where shadows and highlights share all of their secrets, where black shines brighter than daylight.

Sketchbook Day 11 |  11.28.2021

As always I approach December gingerly, fighting overwhelm, too distracted by the responsibilities of Christmas to actually enjoy the season.  Whole body aching for rest.  I race to December 25th.  Too exhausted to even think of Kwanzaa, I’ve moved the Nguzo Saba to the week following Juneteenth.  I moved around a lot as a child.  No place really feeling like it was mine other than my grandmother’s.   Love makes you see a place differently.  Here I am good and grown still waiting to claim what is mine, to own my space to make roots and invest in my home.

Sketchbook Day 10 |  11.22.2021

I love plants. Plants do not grow to satisfy my ambitions nor care about my good intentions. My plants have been through it.  At the beginning of the pandemic I was a happy plant mama with green growing on every available shelf.  My air was highly oxygenated, and I was home, singing to them, tending to them.  Now I’m down to 16 pots growing somewhere between struggle and thriving.  My beautiful calathea gave up the ghost suddenly this morning.  I’ll dig through the pot searching for life to propagate but my hopes aren’t all that high.  My ZZ’s, peperomias, and philodendron are popping.  I just need to keep them out of toddler’s reach.  My snake plant was tall and erect a few months ago, now she bends  low and sad, but verdant as ever.  My monstera has made it through the trauma of moving.  She’s lopsided and a bit haggard, but she pushes out new leaves weekly as if to say, “Sis”, you can’t kill me if you tried. 

Sketchbook Day 9 |  11.20.2021

Wash day family.  I love our people and our hair.  It’s work, but it declares that we are African and I love that.  On wash day my Mother always braided by hair straight back, no barrette, no ribbon, no bow-bow or adornment, just straight back 6 connect plaits.  I thought it was so ugly and plain.  I put up with it on edge of seat waiting 2 days for her to comb it out, opting for more feminine styling, ribbons and barrettes always matching my outfits. I’ve been fully locked for 16 years now.  Comb free and I’m never going back.  However, when caring for little girls, and hair related chaos arises, I always reach back for straight backs, no barrette, no adornment.

Sketchbook Day 8 |  11.19.2021

We study color, by first memorizing and painting rainbows, mixing primaries to make secondaries, by mixing primaries and secondaries to make tertiaries also known as intermediates.  We flex the color wheel with placement accuracy, without the pressure of dividing pies into 12 equal sections. We think of complements, and contrast.  We reclaim blacks, whites, browns, and grays as color, just cause I said so.  We accept hues, experiment with tints, shades, and tones, and play with color possibilities, by exploring the work of Alma Thomas. We understand color, by playing with color.  As my creative ancestor, she says that “The use of color in my paintings is of paramount importance to me.  Through color I have sought to concentrate on beauty and happiness , rather than man’s inhumanity to man.”

Sketchbook Day 7 |  11.18.2021

People think pleasing God is all that God cares about, but any fool living in the world can see that God is always trying to please us back.  Obedience is God’s love language.  We be loving by painting together, creating together, God says paint this page purple, lay this design, thin line, now thick line, change from darker purple, to lighter, from lighter to deeper.  Play with circle.  Repeat, notice this here.  Pause Listen continue at later time.

Sketchbook Day 6 |  11.17.2021

Sketchbook Day 5 |  11.16.2021

Sketchbook Day 4 |  11.14.2021

An essential aspect of creativity is the refusal to fear failure.  Sometimes creativity requires you to suspend or ignore the idea of absolute right or wrong.  The new is often found in the “happy accidents”. The magnificent found in mistakes. Sometimes I plan my work, other times I just start with an idea and explore where is goes.  The creative journey requires constant decision making.  We start by choosing peace or choosing violence.  Choosing to relax or choosing to grow. We ebb and flow between both as our pieces form. Like neutral jing observing and waiting for the right moment to strike.

I'm in my classroom this time.  Often my artmaking informs my teaching, and my teaching informs my art making.  Just like art and life imitate each other in a mobius strip of call and response.  Portaiture units are coming up.  Most people learn to draw one eye at a time with hyperrealistic accuracy.  Then they are crippled at the prospect of recreating a second.  the trick is to draw both eyes together, small detail, by small detail,.  Suspending expectation for one hundred percent symmetry.  Close enough is enough

I'm wrestling with self-doubt.  But I know if I stick with this thing and stay consistent, I will grow, just as with anything else if you are consistent you will grow.
I just couldn't seem to get excited about watercolor, pens, or markers.  But acrylic? Acrylic is my favorite.  The color is richer and it dries faster and it is oh so forgiving.  I'm taking advantage of these thick pages and I am layering on my ideas.  I'd planned on using a triadic color palette but for now I'm satisfied with my two women.  Maybe their conversation will come at a later time

Sketchbook Day 3 |  11.13.2021

Sketchbook Day 2 |  11.12.2021

Drinking my water, minding my business, and laying color in my sketchbook.  In grad school a classmate accused me of using color and pattern because of influence of Harlem Renaissance artists.  No shade to the creative ancestors, but I use color because color is delicious.  How dope is it that humans can encounter the world and engage with color in ways  which many other animals cannot.  We see red and our blood circulates faster through our systems, yellow evokes warmth and joy, blue calms us. Black is the Mother of Color.  It grounds us like earthing and brings peace to our [over]stimulated minds.  I am thankful for access to harnessed pigments trapped in tubes for my convenience .

I was a little sleepy when I started this one, so here we go.  I am learning to make peace with rules.  The long list of cans and can nots. I tell myself about what I share, and what I keep private.  What I explore and what I ignore.  Animals are a huge part of my teaching practice, but ignored in my studio.Like they are welcome in the world but shouldn't actually be part of my own.  My heart was on bright toucans, and for peace they have made it to my sketchbook.

Sketchbook Day 1 |  11.11.2021

I have ambitions of building a daily creative practice.  I've started so many times, I've stopped so many times.  The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul.  Creating is our way of saying: I am alive, I am here.

Sketchbooks are dope, because their nature is for experimentation and expression.  It is for building, not polishing. Process not perfection.  Here's to many creative days ahead.

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