Quick update: Where have I been?

I missed posting my drawings from last week, not because I didn’t do them, but because I’ve been working on a commission. Yes, someone wanted to pay me to create something for them! I still don’t quite believe it. So while I’ve been continuing to draw every single day, I didn’t have a completed piece every day that I could post.

This will likely carry over to this weekend as well. While I do plan to film and upload a studio vlog, I don’t know if I’ll have many finished drawings to post in an update since I’m still working on completing the commission (hopefully by this weekend).

I do plan to write about my first commission experience as I think it has been a great learning experience for me, and I think other new and aspiring artists could learn from my experience.

In the meantime, here’s my favorite sketchbook page from the past week, as well as the initial sketch that I submitted to my client based on what she requested.

 

 

Talk to you very soon!

jc

Drawing challenge update: I’m getting closer to… something.

Here are the pieces I made this week. Are they still called “pieces if they’re in a sketchbook?” On Friday I hit on something that I really loved, monochrome painting. Basically I chose one watercolour tube (rose madder) and used that alone. I loved it so much on Friday that I did it on Saturday and Sunday, too. I don’t know where exactly I’m going with it, but I’m going to keep it up and see what happens! I’m switching up the colour for tomorrow, though. I love rose madder, but I’m excited to play with Prussian blue.

On Sunday I cranked out TWO pieces! I painted the cute pink pigeon, and I made a second run at a portrait. The first attempt a couple of weeks ago was trash. I rushed it and ended up overworking the paper so that the skin looked weird and bubbled. I think this second try turned out so much better! Not perfect, but progress. I made a speed paint video of the portrait of my friend, Russ for my YouTube channel. Check it out!

It was a crazy busy and creative weekend and I feel like I’m getting closer to some sort of style refinement…. or something… I don’t really know, I can’t explain it but it’s good I think!

I hope you have a wonderful week. Go make something, any little thing!

jc

 

Here’s what I drew last week

I had a lot of ups and downs this week on my creative journey. I was absolutely thrilled with my portrait of six-year-old Crighton painting with watercolors. His mom had sent me a picture of him painting after he asked if he could use watercolors like me. *my heart!*

 

Then I tried to paint a portrait of a friend of mine and it was going well until it wasn’t. That was a late night. I realized by about 10:30 pm that my portrait was not going to cut it, and I needed to start something new in order to finish anything that I’d be willing to count as my drawing for that day.  I had a mini melt down on my Instagram Stories before I scrapped it and aggressively painted some more flowers. Back to my comfort zone for safety! It worked, though. The resulting pink flowers on a deep pink-red wash showed me one of my new favorite color palettes, and I think I finished with about 15 minutes to spare.

On Thursday I illustrated my favorite art supplies on a pink watercolor background to use for business cards, and on Sunday I spent some time illustrating things I’m really loving right now. The list includes small things, like coffee and a new and growing online art community, and bigger things like my new winter coat.

The interest in what I’m sharing on Instagram is… well… interesting. When I share something that I like but don’t particularly think is “my style” or something that I’m particularly attracted to, the response is always much more positive than if I post something  more stylized or aesthetically my taste. I’ve been looking more into marketing on Instagram and the whole thing is confusing. And it’s really hard as an artist not to take things personally, like when something I really love that I put a lot of emotion into gets less attention than a boring (IMO) still life of some vegetables… But I think I want to write a whole post on this now that I think about it.

Any way, I’ve been rambling for far too long. I hope you enjoyed the drawings this week! I feel like I’ve already learned a lot and I’m less than a month in!

See you next week,

jc

2018 drawing challenge update + new vlog!

Happy Sunday, y’all! I’ve had a very busy weekend but I wanted to quickly show you what I’ve drawn this week for my 365 Drawing challenge. Here’s what I’ve done for days 6-14!

I’ve also posted a new studio vlog where I take you with me to Opus Art Supplies for an artist demonstration by Ian de Hoog. You should definitely check it out, (both the vlog and Ian’s Instagram, that is).

See ya next week!

jc

Have you heard about The Sketchbook Project?

A young person with long hair browses a wall of shelves filled with completed sketchbooks.

Before I get into it, if you want to participate in the next installment of The Sketchbook Project (SBP), you’ll need to order your sketchbook by January 31. You’ll then have until April 30 to fill it in and send it back for the exhibition which starts in June 2018.

Disclaimer: I purchased my SBP sketchbook with my own money. I was not paid or asked to write this post, nor do I benefit from any purchases. I am just really excited about this project and think other artists would be too. 🙂

But what is it?

A hand drawn icon of a sketchbook with text that says I'm submitting a sketchbook to the world's largest collection of sketchbooks.

The Brooklyn Art Library collects and displays sketchbooks from all over the world that have been completed and submitted by artists.

  1. The artist orders a sketchbook from the SBP website by January 31, 2018.
  2. The artist chooses a theme from the list of themes provided, interprets it how they wish (there are no rules in art), and completes the sketchbook.
  3. The artist mails the sketchbook back by April 30, 2018 to be included in the 2018 exhibition.
  4. The Brooklyn Art Library will include your sketchbook in the exhibition at their Brooklyn location or at one of the travelling locations. You can pay extra to have them digitize your book so you can view it online, but I didn’t pay for that. I’ll just scan it myself. 😉

Why would I want to participate?

The Sketchbook Project is fascinating to me and I wish I had time to stop in there when I was in New York. I love getting to peek into the processes of other artists, seeing the work they do when they think no one is going to see it. I’m addicted to sketchbook tour videos on YouTube; how lovely it is that you can go and hold these objects in your hands and flip through them IRL? Sure, one probably puts more thought into a sketchbook that they plan to send away to be on display, but I think it’s still just as enchanting to me.

What I’m doing with my sketchbook

I’ve chosen the theme People I Wish I knew, mostly because it fits best with what I had already planned for February which is flowers and quotes. I haven’t started collecting my quotes yet so all I have to do is make sure the quotes I pick are from people I wish I knew!

Since I didn’t pay the added fee to have them digitize the book for me, I will scan it myself, and I’m considering getting it printed in a mini zine format for myself. I like flipping through my sketchbooks and I don’t want to lose that tangibility when I send it away and am left with only a digital file.

Speaking of the digital library… Enter at your own risk. I easily lost two hours in there.

Are you participating in the project? Have you decided on a theme and/or process? Let me know in the comments!

jc

A young person with long hair browses a wall of shelves filled with completed sketchbooks.

Photos provided by The Sketchbook Project/Brooklyn Art Library

Drawing challenge update, shop update, and a new YouTube video!

An illustration by Jessica Couture of the various herbs contained in a common poultry blend

Happy Sunday! I hope wherever you’e reading this from is having better weather than Vancouver right now. It is definitely a stay-cozy-inside day today. I will hand it to our rainy climate, it does wonders for my productivity at times.

This week I want to share with you my first week of my 365 drawing challenge, my plans for the challenge going forward, an update to my Redbubble shop, and a new YouTube video! Phew! If any of that is of interest to you then keep on reading.

The drawing challenge

Week 1 of 52

I made it through the first week with flying colours! I may only be a week in, but the psychological benefits of this challenge have been noticeable. I’m must less grumpy in general, I’m actually excited to get out of bed during the week, and going to my day job isn’t as hard as it was before I started. While I am not necessarily seeing any major skill improvements yet, these mood changes are welcome and valuable.

Take a look at what I came up with this week!

 

So far I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had a hard time coming up with things to draw, but I know that inspiration only lasts so long when I’m not limited by any sort of constraints and am free to draw anything under the sun. So I’ve decided that starting next month I’m going to implement themes to jump off from. The themes are framed by things that I want to improve on as well, win-win!

Drawing themes for 2018

  1. January: Free-for-all / Anything goes
  2. February: Flowers and quotes (to be submitted to the Sketchbook Project – more on that later this month)
  3. March: Animals
  4. April: Ocean life
  5. May: MerMay
  6. June: Insects
  7. July: Urban sketching
  8. August: Hands and faces
  9. September: Bodies and poses
  10. October: Inktober
  11. November: Food
  12. December: A retrospective, recreating my favourites from the year to see how much I’ve improved (I’m really excited for this)

What do you think of this list? Do you think anything is missing? Leave a comment on this post to let me know!

Redbubble shop update!

Last weekend I painted this Tamagotchi and troll doll because I wanted them as stickers. This weekend I finally found the time to scan them and upload them! Check them out on my Redbubble shop.

 

If you happen to purchase them I’d appreciate any feedback on how to improve my uploads. I’m still figuring out the best way to edit the files so any suggestions are hugely appreciated.

New (bonus) YouTube video!

I took Friday off work which meant I had time to film and edit a video in time to publish this weekend! My new video schedule is every two weeks, so this one is a bonus. I hope you like it!

See you next week!

jc

My art journey: Looking ahead to 2018

2017 was the year that I reacquainted myself with my love of visual arts, starting in March when I did a 31-day doodle challenge. Here are some of my favourites from that month.

 

2018 is going to be the year that I start to take my art seriously, learning new skills and techniques and trying to uncover my art style.

In order to get myself where I would like to be, I have to put in a lot of consistent work. Thus, I’ve decided to start a 365-day drawing challenge.

By drawing every single day, I expect to improve quickly and learn a lot, and I’m really excited! Nervous, but excited. I’ll be posting the good ones to Instagram, and the not-so-good ones to my IG stories. Every now and then I’ll do an update there, but it’s going to be 365 pictures! You should really follow along on Instagram to get in-the-moment updates.

I’ve also decided to revive and revamp my YouTube channel in 2018. I’m planning to post videos every two weeks. They’ll mostly be studio vlogs, with some other types of content thrown in when I think of it.

Here’s my first video! They will be shorter going forward, this was sort of a two-in-one.

Lastly, I would like to start sharing my work here. As I complete more finished pieces, I would like to revamp this page to a new theme that will showcase photos of my work. I have been neglecting this space and that ends here!

Here’re days one and two for now!

 

Thanks for stopping by! See you again soon!

I’ve conquered art block… for now

Monet piece at the Vancouver Art Gallery

As is probably evident by my lack of posts here, I’ve been working through a major art block.

I think it had a bit to do with lack of inspiration, and a lot to do with fear of not being able to live up to a couple of pieces I’d done that I was really proud of. It’s funny how making something you really like can bring about a huge fear of failure to live up to your own work.

As much as I tried to remember that not everything I make is going to be great, I still felt that if I wasn’t making something great then I was failing, and this is a paralyzing way to think.

Here’s what worked for me:

I spent a lot of time not thinking about art, which was hard at first. I focused on fitness (my other time-suck of a hobby), and even stopped carrying around my sketchbook, which was quite literally a burden on my back.

I kept this distance from art and creating until I felt quite saddened by the separation. Once I felt sad about it I knew I was ready to go back to it. I didn’t go all at once, though. I  started by casually watching a couple of YouTube videos by my favourite art vloggers and looked at my old work. I spent a lot of time on Instagram looking at the work of those I admire, and fought the feelings of jealousy that tried to invade me. Then I took a day off from my day job to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery to see the Monet exhibit.

Monet piece at the Vancouver Art Gallery
Monet at the Vancouver Art Gallery

When faced with the option to abandon his home during World War I, Monet said “I would much rather die here in the middle of what I have done.”

His work and this particular quote brought back my desire to put pen to paper almost immediately. I hadn’t brought any tools along with me so, when we finished at the museum, I went to a dollar store and got what I needed. I sat at the beach and made some crappy drawings. But while the drawings were crappy, I enjoyed making them. I think it helped that it was a dollar store sketchbook. It removed any pressure to do great work.

The next morning I woke up at 4:30 to get ready for my morning workout and instead of heading out to the park, I got back into bed with my sketchbook. It was so early and I was so sleepy that my internal critic was still sleeping. The result surprised me. When I finally did fully wake up I’d made something that I was very proud of.

Drawing by Jessica Couture of a woman in a milk bath surrounded by flower petals
Made at 4:30 am before my internal critic was awake.

With this page in my sketchbook I considered my block busted, at least for now.

Let’s summarize what I’ve learned. Enjoy the process; to use a phrase I first heard from Anne Lemott, keep cranking out your “shitty first drafts”. Seek out inspiration if it’s not finding you, or play hard-to-get with it until you can’t take it anymore. Or just read or revisit Big Magic and get permission to suck until you no longer suck. And if you’ve filled piles of sketchbooks and you still think you suck, but at the same time you’re enjoying the process, then you’re doing it right.

I will definitely be revisiting this post when I come up against another block.

What are your tools and tricks for getting past a block? Whatever your creative outlet, I’m sure you’ve experienced a block before, and I’m just as sure that you’ve overcome it. Share your experience in the comments!

 

I’m on Redbubble!

Abstract watercolour poppies

Abstract watercolour poppies

For those who haven’t heard of Redbubble before it’s a site that takes work submitted by independent artists, prints it on cool, everyday products, and sells it to art fans like yourself! A portion of the money you pay goes right back to the artist.

Of the items they sell, my favourites are the tote bags and the phone cases, two ways in which I personally love to express myself.

The products they use are very high quality, and the reviews on their website back this up. They take care of the logistics so artists can put their energy into what they do best, making more art!

I’ve set up shop over at redbubble.com/randomcouture. I only have one project up there right now. But I’m working hard to flesh out my print options. I hope you’ll check it out! If you do ever purchase anything from my store, please snap a pic and tag me on Instagram. I would LOVE to see what you got!