Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meeting the Nutcracker Prince

Early this past Monday morning, our class with Lilla Rogers was given a brief to begin working on.  It was concise, stipulating that we were to study and sketch Winter Holiday ornaments and candy, in order to create a Greeting Card later in the week.  
My little Santa Belles started chingling in the background, 
and within an hour, I had gathered my inspiration board to work from.

Inexplicably, instead of the Reindeer and Snowmen and Candy Canes I had expected, my board was filled with Nutcracker Ornaments and Ribbon Candy.  Neither of which I have EVER had anything to do with at Christmas.  What the heck? 

Grumbling at what I believed to be wasted time, I began sketching, drawing the ferocious teeth that every operational nutcracker automatically has. 
How would he crack those nuts, otherwise?

And then, without volition or conscious reason, I went back and erased those teeth and drew real lips, with a reserved but sweet smile.  The eyes became kind and open, instead of ferocious, and the contour of his face became less of a caricature and more of a man.  I was falling softly in love with this Sweet Prince, and I didn't even know who he was.

Image courtesy of
I was remembering that about 15 years ago, Husband and I went with friends to a presentation by the Atlanta Ballet of The Nutcracker.  Halfway through, the men were glassy eyed, and I was struggling to understand the wordless ballet.  It was beautiful, but I had never read the Nutcracker story, wasn't raised with it, so I didn't know what was going on.  I felt bad about that, since this was obviously a beloved cultural tradition.

Enchanted by the ballerinas "on point", and the graceful strength of the men, I missed the whole story line and was sleepily glad when the final curtain fell.

Image courtesy of

So, as I drew and amended my Nutcracker, I decided that after I had finished this brief, I would go and find out what the story was behind this beloved symbol of Christmas that had 
taken command of my easel.  But first, it was more important to finish the assignment 
than to understand the story - at least to my way of thinking.

I kept working, unconsciously adding candy sketches, cedar trees, and a snowstorm.  Again and again, I edited out the candy and snow flurries - too busy, too busy - and they kept creeping back in like little mice.  The background kept on being black, when I wanted it to be Christmas Red.  As the deadline loomed, I sat back in my chair, arms crossed, and studied my results.  A drawing I was no longer in control of...somehow, my Nutcracker Prince had softly but firmly steered my artwork to what HE wanted it to be, and I knew it.  
I turned off the lights, and went to bed.

The first thing I did this morning was to search the Internet for 
"What was the story behind The Nutcracker Ballet"?

And there it was.  The girl falling asleep with her Nutcracker Christmas gift wrapped in her arms.  The dream battle with the evil forces, and the girl's decisive throw to kill the evil Mouse King.  An enchanted forest, the candy kingdom, and the snow storm - all introduced by this gentle Prince, who had taken over my drawing.  
This all took place in the deep of the night, of course, so the background had to be black.

I won't question  how that happened, or try to reason through it.  I would rather accept the sparkling enchantment that came alive in my studio for a few days, 
the traces of which linger still.  

Hello, Sweet Nutcracker Prince.  It is lovely to meet you, and more than a little mysterious that you took charge of my drawing, over and over.  You wore me out.

I know you now, and I can't wait to meet you under the Tree, 
or perched on the corner of my desk again.  
This time, I won't fight you so hard, and will get a lot more done with that extra time.

And now, I wish you Good Night - I am off to dream of cedar trees and snowstorms,
with Tchaikovsky's Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairies wafting through the cool night air.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back To School - With A New Tool Box!

Wow.  I can't believe it is time to Go Back To School already.

Monday morning at about 5:00 AM my time, Lilla Rogers, working in concert with Beth Kempton of Do What You Love for Life, will post the first mini brief in the classroom, and it will be Game On for five very intense weeks.

Just like the class that took place in June and July, the roster of students is as impressive as it is, well, intimidating - artists from all over the world will be slinging paint and brandishing Wacom Pens at all hours of the day and night as we race the deadline to submit our assignments every Sunday at 5:00 PM.  A few hours to breathe, then 
it starts all over again on Monday morning at 5:00.

It is utterly Exhilarating,
 and a Powerful Blooming Time
 for every single student in this class.

I have new tools to use in this segment: for starters, a new Wacom Intuos4 wireless pen tablet that I am besotted with. 


And a new understanding of Adobe Illustrator CS5,

and a subscription to to answer any questions I might have at any hour of the day (or night) about how to do something in Photoshop or Illustrator.

Because Lilla and Beth are all about business -the name of the course is Make Art That Sells after all - I also have a brand new website :

and a start on building my profile on the new 
Moyo Directory of Surface and Pattern designers:

Hard to believe how much I had NOT done to market myself before taking this class, and I have to say I've still not submitted to Art Directors, because I want all those websites finished before I do...what if they were to take a peek and say,
 "Well.  She simply doesn't have her act together.  Next, please."

The tools that I gained from the first segment in June/July would fill several tool boxes and are almost overwhelming - Lilla Rogers and Beth Kempton have packed these classes so full  that I'm still trying to absorb and put it all to use...and now, a new class begins!

Wowzer.  Time to go Get Cracking.
With my New Tool Box!!


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