A life full of color


Some lifetimes ago, a sixteen year old version of me failed to get the place in art school that she’d pinned all her early hopes to.

Dismissed by the grown ups who’d repeatedly explained: ‘being an artist isn’t realistic’ led to years floating adrift from my calling.

(They were wrong. And this isn’t what I do, I’ve come to realise, it’s what I am)

A few years ago, rattled by some mid-life reminders of mortality, I finally fulfilled my life long ambition. But being an art student was as far as I’d thought this plan through. After spinning around in a self made feedback loop of regret for two decades, while I loved my time at college, I’d completely lost sight of the purpose.

My confusion was confounded when my course was cancelled after the foundation year. Before I’d time to consider my options my personal life fell apart, as a few weeks later my mum died.

Now I was free falling and had to find something to grasp onto, something simple I could rely on to slow the descent.  

I needed a project to latch my focus to. I needed a subject I could immerse myself in. It had to be something creative, it had to be something colourful.

It just had to be color.

 

 

I hadn’t the bandwidth for anything more complex. I needed colors, but one at a time. No other rules. Just me, a book, and whatever paints and pens and things I had to hand. In just one color. I began with the color I felt most drawn to at the time, which was red-violet, magenta. It was soothing. It was all I had space for.

I took that year, one color at a time, one month at a time.

 

 

After another family bereavement a couple of months into my year long color project, I knew I needed some accountability, some way to keep this project afloat. That’s when I started this blog.

By the end of the year I’d created a this whole book full of color.

 

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It’s still with me in my studio as a resource for inspiration – (that’s something I didn’t foresee when I began this project.)

(You can see it page by page here)

12 in 12 from mixy gecko on Vimeo.

 

 

As I showed my book of 12 colors to more of my artist friends, the idea of revisiting a year full of color began to develop. And they wanted in on it too.

So in 2017 I invented TWELVTY,  a way of sharing the adventure around the color wheel with other creatives as an online program.

It’s been an astonishing journey, (which isn’t over yet) and I’ve learned so much (more on that in another post).

I didn’t expect to run Twelvty as a program with others again after this year – it’s been all consuming and I had other plans for 2018 – but Twelvty has plans for me too, it would appear. 

So here we are, in preparation for:

TWELVTY2018_800x310

We begin the journey in the new year, but registration is open from November.

I think it speaks for itself that some of this year’s Twelveteers have already joined up for a second trip around the color wheel in 2018!

There are a limited number of discounted places available to folks on my mailing list. If you aren’t signed up already – what the hey?!! – scoot down to the end of this post to add your email before they’re all swooped up!

Seven days without color: day 7


“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

Seven days without color: day 7

#blackandwhitephotochallenge #sevendayschallenge #sevendayphotochallenge

IMG_2368
“Good morning, world”

Phew! what a week! and we’re only half way through!

This little black and white photo project has been just the light relief I’ve needed amid all the full color planning for TWELVTY 2018. (TWEL-what? — go look-see over here)

Although it doesn’t begin for a couple of months (cos the name is a clue, right?) you can register now and then in the new year we’ll get started on a new adventure around the color wheel.

I’ve got exciting new ideas for this next run of the program so 2018 will be even more fun – y’know I’ve got folks from the 2017 group joining again for a second trip! That speaks for itself!

If you’re in my mailing list then you’ll have access to a limited number of reduced rate spaces – normal price £97 GBP for the year, or £65 if you nip in quick and snag an early bird place! Lawks!

So if you’re not already, get on the mailing list. I send out newsletters about once a month and you can always unsubscribe if that gets too much 😉


 

(and I’ll send you my shiny new ebook A Year full of Color (2017 version) as a thank you for joining)

YearFullOfColorbyPennGregoryR2017_Page_01

 

Seven days without color: day 6


Seven days without color: day 6

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

 

 

 

#blackandwhitephotochallenge #sevendayschallenge #sevendayphotochallenge

 


For regular monthly updates on what I’m doing, making and thinking about, direct to your inbox, hop aboard my little list here.

(and I’ll send you my shiny new ebook A Year full of Color (2017 version) as a thank you for joining)

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introducing my inner adult…


Y’know about the Sketchbook Project, right? (If not, and you’re intrigued, I wrote a little about it here.)

All through this month I’ve been prompted and nudged along by Inktober, seeing daily reminders to keep inkdrawing from the good folks of the youtubes & the instagrams. They kept me company as developed this stream of consciousness doodle running through my sketchbook-project-sketchbook, leading from one page to the next, a little like this (also like this)

SPBstreamofconscByMixy

(the shadows and hiccups in continuity show the folds in the book or the turn of the page… this is just 3 pages, it would be too wide to show it all like this, you get the idea tho’)

And now it’s ready to begin coloring. Which I plan to do throughout November.

I’ll give you a moment if you fell off your chair at the news I’ve not added any color yet …………… ok? ………….before I tell you that the coloring won’t begin straight away either.

For three reasons:

  1. This sketchbook is the foundation to a new project I’m developing for launch in 2018. “TWELVTY EXTRA” – a companion course to “TWELVTY – a year full of color” (which you can read all about here).  I’ve got a clear idea of exactly how I’m gonna color my doodle, which colors, even which paints…
  2. As I was nearing the end of my last massive’normous art escapade I planned to reward myself with a little treat in the form of a set of Daniel Smith’s Watercolors. (These aren’t any old watercolors, these are proper fancypants watercolors. The purchase of which was preceded by a full on 2 week dither while they languished in my online shopping cart.) And now the delivery has been delayed!
    But I’m saving this book for these colors!
  3. (this is the biggie) I’m cultivating a bit of self control. Instead of running full pelt at my life and my art with wild abandon and all colors flying aimlessly, I’m experimenting with something new (to me). Planning. …….Interesting, huh?

 

Now I’ve eked out all the enjoyment, focus and concentration I can from the black and white and inking stage, and I’d like to report back: I kinda like this new strategy. It’s still got an edge of impetuous childlike impatience as a driving force, but my inner adult is developing her voice, taking moments of authority, even making some of the decisions.

How will this play out? check back over the next month and I’ll show you how it’s going.  Or hop aboard my email list for updates direct to your emailbox every month.

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I’ll send you a copy of my (newly updated) eBook ‘a year full of color’ as well as exclusive discounts for my ecourses. 

Your email is utterly safe with me. I’ll sing it to sleep and bring it tea when it wakes up.


TWELVTY 2018 launches for pre-registration in November!

TWELVTY 2018: find out more penngregory.com/twelvty

find out more here

Seven days without color: day 5


 

Seven days without color: day 5

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

IMG_2226

 

 

#blackandwhitephotochallenge #sevendayschallenge #sevendayphotochallenge

 


For regular monthly updates on what I’m doing, making and thinking about, direct to your inbox, hop aboard my little list here.

(and I’ll send you my shiny new ebook A Year full of Color (2017 version) as a thank you for joining)

YearFullOfColorbyPennGregoryR2017_Page_01

 

Seven days without color: day 4


 

Seven days without color: day 4

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

IMG_E2224

 

<No explanation> that’s part of the challenge. As a serial-explainer-of-things and reason-finder-extraordinare this is the real challenging part to me. Pffffft! 

#blackandwhitephotochallenge #sevendayschallenge #sevendayphotochallenge

 


For regular monthly updates on what I’m doing, making and thinking about, direct to your inbox, hop aboard my little list here.

(and I’ll send you my shiny new ebook A Year full of Color (2017 version) as a thank you for joining)

YearFullOfColorbyPennGregoryR2017_Page_01

 

100 lessons from 100 drawings


“Life imitates art” but art imitates life too.

(I read that as ‘art irritates life’ just now. Also true) 

 

100 daily drawings taught me a lot more about drawing, more than I realised I didn’t know. Drawing techniques, practicalities, possibilities, and all that comes along with steady daily practice.

But there seemed to be bigger lessons showing up as well.

These were observations I heard over and over again in my thoughts, page after page. Of course many of these revelations aren’t really about drawing. They are about everything.

In no particular order, these are the top 100 realisations that accompanied this project.

  1. It’s been an exercise in letting go of expectations, of ideal outcomes, and the accompanying paralysis of progress.
  2. I’m learning to let go of ‘finished looking’  – being finished – being a ‘piece of art’ (whatever that might be).
  3. Letting go of what other folks think, a neediness for approval or validation.
  4. Letting go of the rules. This is my book: my rules. Rule 1: there are no rules.
  5. ‘Drawing every day’ isn’t even a rule.
  6. Drawing for 100 days doesn’t mean 100 consecutive days.  Don’t make up excuses to stop. Pick up and start again. Keep doing this. Just get to 100. 
  7. The photo is only a guide, a suggestion, a jumping off point. This isn’t an exercise in copying. A drawing can’t be wrong.
  8. It doesn’t have to have the same colors, same shape, same perspective.
  9. It doesn’t have to be the same every day – the same time, the same ‘style’, the same anything. Just another day, another page, another drawing. Keep exploring the other-ness
  10. Some days have a flow to them – some days have an awkwardness – some days are fuelled by imagination – some days are an uphill slog.
  11. Some are bits of all of these and flit and flicker between.
  12. Some pages have words – information – data – facts – important-to-remembers.
  13. Some page’s words and rememberings are from another day and don’t make sense any more. And that’s okay.
  14. Some days are unfinished. They will stay that way. I don’t have to go back. (there is no real ‘finished’).
  15. Some days get lost and forgotten.
  16. Some days are just made for catch ups.
  17. Some catch ups are liberating – rejuvenating – expansive – explosions of imagination.
  18. Some catch ups are uncomfortable and riddled with angst.
  19. Some catch ups are a cold hard slog and bring up all the WHY???s


  20. Sometimes it feels like a trajectory that cannot fail.
  21. Sometimes it feels like losing footing – in slow motion – in the dark.
  22. Sometimes it feels like treading water – waiting – waiting – waiting….
  23. Sometimes it feels like falling – sinking – drowning.
  24. Some drawings take on their own life with unseen meaning.
  25. Some drawings take on their own life with an energy that didn’t come from me.
  26. Some drawings have their own momentum – I watch them take shape with the curiosity of an outside observer.
  27. Some drawings just don’t care. I could learn the most from these.
  28. Some drawings have to be inched out slowly.
  29. Some drawings surprise me by the reactions they evoke from others.
  30. Some drawings surprise me by the feelings they evoke in me.
  31. Some drawings overwhelm, some disappoint, some pass unjudged.
  32. Some drawings have stories that let out secrets.
  33. Some drawings are stories that hide more than they reveal.
  34. Some stories are universal, everyone recognises a little bit of it in themselves.
  35. Some stories are so deep they are unfathomable.

  36. Some projects are way larger than the sum of their parts. This is certainly one of them.
  37. Some projects are a stepping stone to a place I never knew existed before I started.
  38. Some projects are meant to be finite. Done is done.
  39. Some projects are meant to be repeated – reiterated – revisited.
  40. Some projects are not supposed to be finished. They hang….
  41. Some projects are so deeply enmeshed in a life, we are one and the same.
  42. Some projects are fun to watch – to join – to play along.
  43. Some projects never escape the confines of my mind, jammed up in the mechanism of the mental rotadex.
  44. Sometimes the purpose will shift and change midway through. Over and over. The act of shifting becomes the purpose.
  45. Sometimes the purpose won’t show itself until long after it’s over.
  46. Sometimes the purpose is only clear to others.
  47. Sometimes the purpose is only clear to me – and that’s all that matters.
  48. Sometimes the purpose is unique to everyone who witnesses it.
  49. Sometimes the purpose is unique to the season – or to the day.
  50. Sometimes the way it seems, is the way it is. Sometimes it’s not been close.
  51. Sometimes the way it seems is only a clue. It’s a seed, or a plan, or part of a bigger pattern.
  52. The more I look for patterns the more I see them.
  53. Patterns can be visual, patterns can be habitual, patterns repeat.
  54. Patterns within patterns fascinate me most.
  55. It’s ok to get stuck in one color for a while, the other colors will wait.
  56. It’s ok to use all the colors – or none of them – or not care which.
  57. It’ll never be finished, so keep moving forwards. 
  58. It’ll never be perfect, don’t ask it to be.
  59. This might not answer the questions you thought it would.
  60. This might not answer any questions. It might lead to more questions…
  61. This might have no meaning at all – right now – or ever. And that’s okay too.
  62. If a meaning wants to show itself to you, it will find a way.
  63. Whatever is underneath, showing through, is part of what is now. Let all the elements become parts of the whole. Allow the merge.
  64. Describe the drawing in words –  this is where the metaphors hide.
  65. Describe the drawing out loud,  it’s subtly different.
  66. Shift the emphasis foreground to background, positive to negative space. Dance in between them.
  67. Choose which details to use, which details to ignore, and which to make up.
  68. Choose the image from within the image.
  69. Find the art inside the photo.

  70. Notice how some images repeat, return and revisit.
  71. Notice how some characters keep showing up.
  72. Notice how some character’s expressions are the same: the face that asks: you still trying to draw me?
  73. Notice how color schemes repeat.
  74. Notice the themes of facing pages match unconsciously.
  75. Notice how time concertinas in and out when you count the days.
  76. Notice how the seemingly simple is really complex. And how the complex can be divided into manageable size bites.
  77. How complexity presents a challenge, then the victory, the good enough level of mastery.
  78. Balancing good enough against keep trying.
  79. Knowing when to stop, knowing when to keep going.
  80. How it’s all a freaking metaphor (and that’s all of these too).
  81. The bravery to pursue a doomed drawing, to trust it to turn around and turn out good, or just okay.
  82. The bravery to post a picture I didn’t like, and the ones I did.
  83. The bravery of sending these out into the wilds of the internet. It can be cold out there.
  84. The revelation that others might like what I didn’t, see a beauty I can’t.
  85. The revelation of turning the page, not looking back for a few weeks. How what’s on the page ‘gets better’ when it’s left to rest.
  86. The revelation of drawings I hated, that hold no strong feelings now. And drawings I loved.


  87. How much a background wash or splot of paint makes adds to a drawing.
  88. How much a patch of color shifts a mood.
  89. How much the character of the drawing is from the colors.
  90. How much a drawing style develops over time, but can’t be seen from such close quarters or day to day.
  91. How much a drawing style develops through simple repetition.
  92. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. How much simple repetition is the key to it all. 😉
  93. How ideas will hide and evade when called for, then descend en masse when it’s too late (and how it’s never really too late).
  94. How some ways of making are so ingrained I don’t know there are other ways.
  95. How chasing the other ways is part of the learning.
  96. How finding other ways leads to new kinds of learning.
  97. There are always going to be new ways of learning!
  98. The journey is a spiral. The path isn’t re-trodden, next loop around looks familiar, but the view has altered.
  99. The journey keeps going. Keeps going.
  100. The mixed emotions at the end of a project, the end of an adventure, the intangible closure.

 


Catch more of my musing and artings in my monthly-ish newsletter delivered right to your inbox: clickety-hop aboard my email list right here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

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Your email is utterly safe to me. It will be wrapped up snug and nestled with a hot water bottle & a kitten until the spring arrives.   

Seven days without color: day 3


 

Seven days without color: day 3

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

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I’m juggling so many color-themed ideas right now:

I published the revised version of my Year Full of Color eBook yesterday, meanwhile TWELVTY 2018 & TWELVTY-EXTRA are in the final planning stages ready to launch next month. So a bit of black and white photography is just the fresh air I need right now to nourish my thought processes! 

 (Hop onto my email list below if you’d like a free copy of the ebook)

#blackandwhitephotochallenge #sevendayschallenge #sevendayphotochallenge

 


For regular monthly updates on what I’m doing, making and thinking about, direct to your inbox, hop aboard my little list here.

(and I’ll send you my shiny new ebook A Year full of Color (2017 version) as a thank you for joining)

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100 drawings: the closing pages.


100 days: 93-100

“I try to create fantastic things, magical things, things like in a dream. The world needs more fantasy.”

~ Salvador Dali.

100 doodles from 100 photos in my phone.

This is the final instalment of my extended summer project. I set out on this adventure on 1st June and I doodled the last doodle on 25th October. Life got in the way in the middle so it took longer than planned, but I’m so glad I saw it through. This is what the last week of pages look like…

day 93

Day 93 is another quirky animal, one of a pair of china cats in the Brighton Art Museum.

Here’s something I’ve noticed they all have in common: the facial expression that says “c’mon, aren’t you done yet?” Like they got somewhere else to be.

(China Cat Sunflower… You humming along?)

day 94

One of the lessons this project has taught me is that the images that look relatively easy to reproduce are almost always the trickiest.  There are ways around this. One of the ways is to crop it down to just one detail, just a corner, or in this case, just one bird.

 

day 95

These last few days/months (maybe more) reality seems to be sharper and more tense. So a well timed word from Mr Salvador Dali himself seems to fit today.

I got this little clip-on fisheye lens doodad for my phone, this was its first outing, and what could be better to distort than the master of weirdness himself?

 

day 96

Practice, practice, practice… faces are tricky. The trickiest. The character lies in the lines and the details and something I can’t quite get. Yet. But I am getting closer.

This is is George Morris.

A while back I was scavenging the internets to find out about my family tree. I traced my mum’s mum’s side back 100s of years, but mum’s dad was not so easy. This might or maybe get not be my mum’s dad’s dad. (A long story, not for now). But if I’m right in my research then my great grandad was a jockey in the late 1800s. This photo was a newspaper I found on eBay. I know! The internet is amazing.

 

day 97

One day last spring, a last minute change of plan meant I had a free afternoon. so I took myself off to London to find the legendary Atlantis art store. I was not disappointed. This is their sign.

 

day 98

The part of the story where Alice is either to tall to get through the door, or small enough but can’t reach the key. Oh, Alice, I know this feeling so well. I’m there.  How did the key get back up on the table? What is going on??

 

day 99

Time is such a curiously paradoxical thing. This project of 100 drawings feels like it’s been going on forever, in one sense, and yet these final days appeared so suddenly.

Huh? How does that even happen? I’ve literally been keeping count!

But the end was always  forever-away right up until page 99. And then suddenly it was almost over. This day was a pyjama day. These are my pyjamas. Seems fitting for the evening of the project.

 

day 100

The final doodle from phone photos is a mural I found in Barcelona. What are these? Are they fish or are they space aliens? Or alien space fish? Whatever they are, they made a fun end to the book.

So that’s all, folks! I’ve learned so much in doing this. I’ll tell you more about the surprising lessons soon, but that’s for another day. 

 


If you missed the previous parts, you can find them here:

Week 1 ~ Week 2  ~ Week 3 ~ Week~ Week 5 ~ Week 6 ~ Week 7 ~ Week 8 ~ Week 9 ~ Week 10 ~ Week 11 Week 12 ~ Week 13

 


For regular monthly updates on what I’m doing, making and thinking about, direct to your inbox, hop aboard my little list here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

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Seven days without color: day 2


 

Seven days without color: day 2

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.”

IMG_2315

A few days of monochrome abstract photography is the perfect counterbalance to all the richness of color I usually spend my days playing in.  Today I’m revising my ebook ‘A year full of color’ for 2018

(scooch on down to the end of this post to grab your free copy if you’ve not already done so. If you’re already on my mailing list you’ll be first to get the all new version)

 

#blackandwhitephotochallenge #sevendayschallenge #sevendayphotochallenge

 


For regular monthly updates on what I’m doing, making and thinking about, direct to your inbox, hop aboard my little list here.

(and I’ll send you my ebook A Year full of Color as a thank you for joining)

yearfullofcolorbypenngregory_page_01