Reluctance...for me, as an introvert, I experience this emotion on a regular basis, in many areas of my life. I think you would understand if I said I don't let this feeling overwhelm me nor keep me from doing most things, but it is part of my life that I need to recognize and address most days. This blog is one example. I feel the push and pull of reluctance each time I think that I should write a post and let you know about materials I have discovered, tips I have to share with you, or tell you what's been going on in my art and my life recently. I used to blog faithfully years ago when my blogspot site was up and running. Back then I knew that people actually read my posts and followed the blog to learn techniques, to get tips in painting, drawing, to see my work in progress and completed, and so on, as they commented or emailed me questions. Now, I'm not sure anyone really reads or follows blogs anymore. It's hard to tell if anyone even wants or needs what I have to give...unless, of course, they make a comment, or contact me. I am so grateful to the people who have made comments on this blog and encouraged me in this way to continue. The most precious thing I have to offer anyone is my time and my energy, and those are exactly the elements being a regular blogger needs. So, I have decided I will begin to blog more frequently over the next few weeks, and if you are enjoying the information, or are encouraged by any of the tips I give, please consider making a brief comment so that I know you are there. :-) Today, I decided to post a beautiful photo I took of some tulips I bought, just because spring has truly arrived, and to tell you about a challenge I have given myself. Perhaps it is a challenge you might consider as well. I signed up for a free online workshop last month, called Sketchbook Revival, which was absolutely the most wonderful encouragement a sketching artist could receive! The workshop ran over a period of 12 days, with 2 sessions each day where artists shared their sketchbooks, as well as fresh inspiration, new ideas, and great momentum. I loved every minute of it, and found myself ready to focus on my sketchbook practice in a new way. In thinking what I could begin with, I thought about when in my day is the best time to sketch, and found it is first thing in the morning. So...after I make my morning coffee, I head down to my studio with filled mug in hand, sit at my desk, and open a small sketchbook I have entitled "Drinks". There, on each page, I sketch my morning coffee. I have decided that I will sketch my morning coffee for 30 days. I am dating each page so that it will be obvious if I miss a day, and writing a sentence about what is ahead in the day. Now, I only have 3 mugs for my coffee, so this might get a bit boring before the end of the month. (I try turning the mug each day to draw a different angle.) BUT, I am getting much better at ellipses, at being comfortable with mistakes (especially if I draw with ink instead of a pencil first), and at making art a part of every single day even if it is only in a small way. Sometimes, I don't have time to paint the mug, but I can come back to it later if I need to or want to. I also thought I would try different mediums to create color...for example I used black ink and water to create the values on one page. Watercolor and acrylic work well of course, but also crayons, conte crayons, pens, colored pencils, graphite, markers...such a variety of choices!!! Gets me excited just telling you about all the possibilities. Here is a photo of one of the pages I plan to go back to so that I can fill it with color. Perhaps tonight after dinner... Anyway, I wanted to let you know that a simple sketch of a familiar object can be the jumping off point for getting yourself into the practice of incorporating art into your life in a regular way. And you KNOW that after 30 days of really looking at something and paying attention to shape and line, that you are going to make better drawings of it on day 30 than day 1. I heard of a student who, when he graduated from art school, drew and painted only apples for one whole year. After that year, he said he could paint and draw anything based on what he learned through that disciplined act. So, what do you think? Are you going to take up the 30 day sketching challenge? Just one day at a time, one week at a time, one month! Let me know, and we'll cheer each other on!