I am so excited to be able to finally announce a project I've been planning and working on since the end of last year. Beginning next week and then every Wednesday after that I'll be sharing pages from sketchbooks that Dana Barbieri and I have been creating together.
Here's our official description of the project:
Welcome to 2x2: 2 Artists, 2 Sketchbooks, a collaboration between artists Dana Barbieri and Anne Butera. Dana and Anne met in an online painting class. Although they have never met in person, they have become friends through regular visits to each others' blogs. It was through this connection that this project began. Wanting to move from friendship to collaboration, each spent two months filling one half of a sketchbook before mailing it off to the other. Dana worked on the lefthand pages and Anne on the right. Each will be responding to the other's work on the adjacent sketchbook pages over the coming year. Watch weekly as they reveal another page of their story.
About the artists:
Dana is an artist and crafter living in the foothills of the Catskill mountains two hours north of New York City with her husband, two children and little kitty. She is passionate about painting, knitting, crochet, color, pattern and design.
Anne is an artist, writer and crafter who finds inspiration and joy in the beauty of her garden and the magic of nature. Dissatisfied with and disheartened by the pace and lifestyle of the city, she and her husband (with their two rescued greyhounds and an aging Siamese) relocated to a small town in the beautiful Driftless region in southwest Wisconsin with the goal of living a slower, simpler, more intentional life.
One of the things I love most about blogging is meeting wonderful people. I have met people who have encouraged me and challenged me. People who have inspired me and helped me to keep going. One of those people is my friend, Dana. Some of you reading this may already know Dana and maybe read her blog. I love Dana's art. It's so colorful and joyful and often full of flowers. Dana definitely encourages, challenges, inspires and helps me to keep going with my artistic adventure. I was delighted when she mentioned wanting to collaborate on a project and maybe, if I'm 100% honest, a bit intimidated. Especially when Dana suggested our collaboration be through sketchbooks.
I love sketchbooks. Or at least the idea of them. I love seeing someone carrying one around or sitting and sketching. Back when we lived in University Circle in Cleveland I would see art students from CIA with their sketchbooks when I went to the art museum or the botanical gardens (which I used to do quite a bit when I first moved there). Although Matthias went to CIA and at one point I had a job there, art school always seemed so foreign to me. I scribbled in notebooks all the time, but my notebooks were lined and my scribbles were words. Writing was my way of expressing myself. I loved art, but writing was my first language, art my second. That second language? I was 33 when I first started to imagine I could learn it. For a long, long time I felt like an outsider. I envied those artists their sketchbooks. I wanted to be able to create like they did, but I was resigned to knowing I was not an artist. Thinking back on it makes me sad, but also angry. I spent so many years thinking I could never be an artist, imposing limitations on my creativity and on my life.
Although art is a huge part of my life now, I still have carryovers from that thinking. Working in a sketchbook is not a natural habit for me. I wish it were and I'm working on it, but it does not come naturally or easily. Writing in a journal, easy peasy. Working in a sketchbook? Not so much. I'll fill up a journal in a few months, but sketchbooks take me much, much longer. I have one I began in January of 2010 when I first started playing around with the idea of making art. I'm still working on it. When Dana offered a sketchbook class in 2012, I jumped at the chance to take it, hoping it would help me to make sketchbooking a habit. I did finish it; it only took me two and a half years. I've been doing a lot better with regularly using sketchbooks. I started one in October of last year and have filled 2/3 of it. Not quite a daily habit yet, but I'm improving.
Do you see now why I was a bit scared of the idea of filling up a sketchbook (albeit one with much fewer pages than my other books) in a such a short amount of time? I did it, though, and the sketchbook I filled up is now with Dana in New York. The one she filled is sitting on my art table (it's in the top photo) waiting for my first contribution. It feels far less scary or intimidating than the blank one did a couple months ago.
I hope that you will follow along, watch the progress we make in our sketchbooks each week and maybe be inspired to play around in a sketchbook of your own. If nothing else, I hope you take a good, long look at those shackles you've created for yourself, those limitations you take for granted. Maybe they aren't, in fact, true.