Atmospheric Artifacts from the Future



Another digital piece began as a sort of doodle and then took hold of me for weeks.

Some of you may recognize parts of this, if you’re among the handful of people following my new Instagram account, loriallenworks, or if you’ve read my first two posts in a series on drawing with the iPad.

Less doodlish than the start of my other drawings/paintings, this image was first a set of fat, meaningless marks. Three parallel, horizontal smudges and three thick dashes underneath. It was supposed to be trashed.

But I saw form in the accumulating, thoughtless strokes. With more strokes, others would see that too. Details became necessary, more than I often could muster the patience for.

Like firing clay, now I’m stopping away from this, will check it out later, maybe print it, and then decide if it’s any good.

Note: The fine nylon thread holding the artifacts to the tacks is invisible here.


How I Survived Cooking Christmas Dinner

This year, I found creative relief from the Christmas Day pressure of cooking for a crowd by starting a little photo series during the process: “Meal Prep Discards.”

My kitchen is fortunate to be on the sunny side of the house. So what’s cooking often calls out to me for a picture. But this is the first time I remember being captivated by what I’m not cooking.

These are two of my IPhone snaps from last Friday. The butter lettuce core is a definite keeper. I wish it were on a different backdrop rather than this cutting board, but this is authentic to the theme. We’ll see if the root vegetable peels make the cut as I add to the collection. 



Erasing Without Errors: Why I Like Drawing on the iPad (No. 2)

On paper, I’ve used kneaded erasers to add effect to drawings. But erasing in an iPad drawing is another whole thing.

In Procreate, my current go-to drawing and painting app, all the settings that apply to pencils, pens and brushes also apply to erasing. If you can draw or paint with it, you can erase with it.

Erasing is not just for corrections. Taking away can be an intended part of the drawing process. Meaning subtracting can be adding — even in the positive space.

It was erasing that made the band-like lines in the detail below from my current WIP. I sketched and shaded with black over the color then dragged an “HB eraser” through that layer of the drawing.

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Here you can see how the eraser takes on the qualities of the pencil.

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In this screen grab, the eraser is being set for HB Pencil.

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In this app, erasing is drawing.


Drawing on the iPad — Why I Like It (No. 1 in a Series)

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First reason: It feels and looks so genuine, just like conventional drawing.  I love that about the technology. You can almost smell the freshly sharpened pencils.

And so begins the previously promised series on what I like and what I’ve learned about drawing on the iPad.

The visuals here are iPad screen grabs of details from what I’m currently drawing. And I tell you, they could easily be confused with my output from back when I spent all my time (almost literally) hunched over a piece of paper and with a pencil in my hand.

The process for what you see here:

These images started with a black background, on top of which I doodled in that goldish color with a large 6B pencil. As is often the case, by squinting just so, I saw shapes in that doodle that gave me a vision for a more developed drawing.

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So I used three different pencils — technical, HB and 6B in varying sizes and opacities — on another layer, along with an eraser, to advance the doodle to a sketch and made these screen grabs. At this point in the drawing, there are no layer effects applied.

When it works, I’ll continue to use this drawing to cover other topics:

The apps I use; pencil options and other tools; erasing; selecting colors; layers and blending; experimentation and practice; conveniences (besides the obvious); printing; and opinions.

Note: I am not addressing the new Apple Pencil at this time. I’m writing about drawing on an iPad the old-fashioned way.


Organic Drawing . . . On the iPad 

Roundness and form created by lines: I’ve written about these before. Add the examples of my intestinal shapes and my recent life-altering croissants, and it’s apparent, isn’t it? I like to draw organic imagery. 

I also love to draw on the iPad. Not exclusively, but often. One reason is for the amusement of replaying my process on video. 

In this video, every stroke is from my hand. I use a simple stylus, and I had the app set for pencil drawing. I spent about 45 minutes on the drawing (including breaks). The video is time-lapsed down to 30 seconds.

By the way, I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned about drawing and painting on the iPad in my upcoming posts. 


How Three Half-baked Croissants Rescued My Creative Life

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Everyone who’s attempted an artistic life knows this is not easy. If nothing else, you learn that in art school. So a year ago, when I started creating again, I knew not every painting would be worth hanging, not every drawing worth finishing. Not every idea would pan out.

But over the last week, after burning up nearly 120 hours on a flop, I found myself searching for my ability to bounce back.

How did it end up this way? I have some thoughts. Are any of my other project ideas at similar risk? Of course they are. What can I learn from this? Only about a hundred lessons. How can I get out of this funk?

Before I could answer that last and hardest of the questions, one of my doodles (I kept doodling) took shape (the shape of croissants), and in those croissants I saw some of the lines and strokes that are my strength (in my opinion).

With that I decided to focus on the familiar for now. It’s only been a year. Working with lines and strokes the ways I like to do still comes with challenges and more to discover. New ideas (category of the flop) are important, but not one after another.

Want to see the flop? I expect to share it and what it taught me some day soon.


Working Without Your Dominant Hand

My earlier piece about what I need to see doctors for.

For the last two weeks that was my situation. Then my hand surgeon set me free from my splint somewhat sooner than expected. This pleases me, because I always want to be the remarkable patient: the one who heals faster, the one with the high tolerance for pain, the one with the sense of humor.

What my doctors don’t see is my depleted patience. The torture of leaving an out-of-reach itch unscratched, having to type one more one-handed email, asking myself: Must I put my still-newish creative life on hold?

Every physically limiting procedure (I’ve had a few) increases my respect for people who live with disabilities and renews my gratitude, especially when it hits me that my biggest complaint is my inability to put my hair in a pony tail.

I tried drawing with my left hand. Maybe a cool creative concept in the abstract, but certainly not in the concrete. Not in my concrete.

Plenty of constructive activities require no more than one hand, I found. Here, for every creative with two hands always at the ready but who may face limitations in the future, are ideas for using time productively. Some worked for me, and others came to me in hindsight.

  1. Lay the creative groundwork for when you are fully functional again. Make to-do lists. Conduct the research you’ve been putting off. (For me it was on frames and framing, pixels and resolution.) Be the most prepared post-op creative ever.
  2. Read for creative inspiration or practical knowledge. (I found both in Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work.)
  3. Think. Dream up potential projects, new themes as you go about your day. Your pace is slower. You have the gift of time to reflect on what you’re doing and allow it to inspire you.
  4. Visit museums in person or on line.
  5. Walk your neighborhood to see what you never before noticed.
  6. Haha

    Practice ambidexterity.

  7. Invent a new hairdo.
  8. Revisit your old sketches. You might find new inspiration. Or have a good laugh.