Several years ago I read (most of) a required text for class called, The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp. It's written by a dance choreographer and she explains how contrary to common thought, creativity is not a spur of the moment inspiration but rather the result of disciplined practice. I don't feel like practicing drawing that often... Actually the concentration it requires is pretty tiring.
Last September, the first detailed drawing I sat down to do for more than an hour after graduating 3 years ago reminded me that my drawing discipline had dwindled. At about an hour I wanted to stop. I kept going, knowing it was a mental battle I had to overcome to get back into drawing again. That weekend, while at the CIVA artist retreat, I was motivated to keep making art again. I made some time to paint after that, but not much. I finished fall semester and then a few months later, the 50 blogs seemed like a good way to kick start again.
Here's the ink drawing of tree bark from that weekend. The result doesn't actually matter that much to me because it was exciting to win the drawing-concentration battle!
I'm still on the topic of the history of Christianity in Japan, focusing mostly on the first 100 years (mid 16th-17th century). The Jesuits imported a printing press to print materials first in transliterated Japanese with Roman characters, then in Japanese characters. I'm studying the paintings by early Japanese Christians so I did a quick sketch experiment to see what happens if you paint a Western-style image (the cover of the document) with Japanese materials (sumi ink and calligraphy brush). I wondered if the eventual shift towards a Japanese style was intentional or inevitable because of the materials. (Not solely based on this experiment, but) I think it was intentional.
(If you know Japanese) for fun, try to figure out what the Japanese transliterated text says. It's like a word puzzle! I've been reading a lot of it so I can read it now but it may take a little mind-bending at first. Hint: translation is "Deeds of the Saints"