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Mixed Media Artist Danielle Donaldson's "Creative Girl"

Books Learning from Others

Whatever style I have, it’s nowhere near mixed media artist Danielle Donaldson’s. But I was on one of those “grab aaaall the mixed media books” in the library, and hers fell into the pile. I’m so glad it did. First, there is something relaxing about reading a technique book that has little to no crossover with your own style. The part of my brain that is constantly buzzing with, “careful not to copy” could just stay the hell out of the room while I enjoyed reading. It was nice to have the peace and quiet and read Creative girl: Mixed Media Techniques for An Artful Life.

Donaldson paints primarily in watercolor and includes elements of paper, text and stitching. Her main subjects are cute girls although she paints way more than only cute girls. Here’s what I loved most about her book.

1. She encourages you to be creative all the time.

I love how she tells you where she creates and much of that time may be on the couch. She calls it couchCREATIVE. Hanging out or watching tv is a great time to doodle and play with color. Something about this really connected with me and it made me pull out my own sketchbook and start to doodle. There is something so wonderfully not stressful about doodling. And this very small step proved to be very powerful. It pulled me back into my studio in a way that I really needed. It got me excited about creating in a no-pressure way.

2. Her thinking is great

Beyond the lovely technique, it’s great to hear how Donaldson thinks. She is a self proclaimed perfectionist list maker. As someone who also falls into that category, I know that it comes with pluses and minuses for the creative life. It was comforting to hear how this outlook affects Donaldson’s creative process.

3. Her discussion of the Hot Mess Stage.

I want to photocopy this section directly into my brain. We may call it by different names but all of our work falls into it at some point. Every piece has an ugly phase. The moment when the fun fades into frustration and possibly even a little bit of exciting self hatred. It’s comforting to know that even an established artist deals with this. And it was great to see how she deals with it. Within this discussion, she acknowledges the importance of practice. Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean you can suddenly possess those specific drawing abilities. I run into this again and again. I’ll find myself halfway through a painting just FIGHTING it and I’ll realize what I knew the entire time that the drawing isn’t very good. I’m so impatient when it comes to drawing but Donaldson’s words were a great reminder to practice the foundation before jumping right not the project. Something that doing daily sketchbook work is helping immensely.

I’ll be sad to return the book today, but I feel it’s going on my Christmas list.



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