Creative Prison or Prism, charcoal


Where do you find yourself today?  In a creative prison or prism?

Today’s drawing is called, “Creative Prison or Prism” a charcoal drawing (12×9) on strathmore paper.  Tools used were mainly vine and compressed charcoal, with a torilum, brush and kneaded eraser.  Drawing free-hand I took total liberty with the subject I was sketching from today, no more so than when I got to the very last stage of casting the final light beams and then it hit me ~ the symbolism couldn’t be ignored.

Where am I?  When I’m drawing or painting I’m always in a prism and the creativity flows, it’s an incredible thing.  Even at times when I’m struggling, to me that’s called growing I’ll learn from whatever the lesson is that’s on my plate.  But, my prison comes during the decision of what to paint or draw – thousands of prospects and yet mentally not one.  The subject has to hit me the moment I see it or I stay stuck in my prison.

So how about you – can you can relate to this?  Please click onto the image for a larger view.

Creative Prison or Prism

Reference image was from Wetcanvas library.

DON’T TAKE MY IMAGES!!   MY ART IS COPYRIGHTED.
PLEASE DON’T COPY OR USE MY IMAGE WITHOUT RECEIVING MY PERMISSION FIRST – SEE DISCLOSURE ON THE RIGHT PANEL.

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About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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45 Responses to Creative Prison or Prism, charcoal

  1. I love this sketch. This guy looks like he has a lot of interesting stories.

  2. Well done, Mary. Skillful drawing and the subject is infused with ‘character’.

  3. tchistorygal says:

    I love him. He’s how I picture the hero in my novel. Wow!

  4. ladyfi says:

    What a lovely sketch.

  5. newyorknorthfineart says:

    Hi Mary,
    This drawing is terrific! You really are able to capture the soul of a person! Thanks for sharing this. Rita

    • Mary says:

      Hi Rita, thanks so much for your beautiful comment – love “capture the soul,” it’s something that I want to be translated with my work. Thanks ~

  6. I know just what you mean, Mary. I solved that thirst for subject by keeping my camera at arms length. When I see a light, an expression, a pose, I ask (quickly) for permission, and I shoot. Often on burst, so one of the images is almost always appealing and wets my appetite for a new painting.
    BTW, this new charcoal is working!

    • Mary says:

      Oh Elena, and that’s why you have the most free-form paintings with wonderful expressions that are so true to life and natural. Your work is incredible and meant to be enjoyed and studied. Thank you, love your comment!

  7. ĽAdelaide says:

    i really like your ultimate decision. Your work is so good. i think this is why i use watercolor…. it starts the piece for me or maybe not… either way i’m not actually choosing something to paint. i like the whimsy of letting things go, of being in the moment, in that space between the creativity and wonder, simply watching color flow from my brushes. We all have our ways, some stranger than others. i’ve never been a planner and am too old to start now nor would i want to. But if planning gets you your lovely pieces, it certainly works for you! I adore your work. xxx and hope you got rid of that bunny.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Linda, loved your comment – your beautiful watercolors are so fresh and inviting, that they breath a loose style that seemingly flow off your brushes. You said it so right I am a planner, by nature, so it takes a lot for me to loosen up (ha) and I think that is one of the reasons I’ve turned to charcoal – it’s forcing me to get a little looser and hopefully that will translate when I revisit oil pastels. You’re so nice, thank you for your generous compliment – the bunny, well that’s another story (a hawk has been circling, guess whose coming to dinner). Have a wonderful week.

  8. Fabulous portrait, Mary. So lifelike. 🙂

  9. Excellent, Mary. You always manage to make me feel like your illustrations could just step off the page. I also feel that writing can be a prison when I am struggling to come up with an idea to write about. Once I have one, then I feel free … 😉

  10. Don says:

    Would love to know what he is staring at so intently. Wonderful portrait Wonderful portrait Mary.

  11. Miss Mary
    another fine work and in this one i’m impressed in particular with the shading..
    uncle john

    • Mary says:

      Thank you Uncle John, appreciate your pointing out the shading – I almost kept going, but something said to stop. He was a good character to capture.

  12. Creative prison or prism…interestingly I have never pondered over such a proposition but I must admit I can totally relate to it and I believe many artists are. I have caught myself a few times thinking about how I need to process or view my creativity and most definitively can say that I just let it happen naturally. When the lines start to develop I break out from the prison and the prism shows up, there is no wall between the two, at least not for me. I do love the proposition and I probably will study the way how I feel about it. Beautiful drawing, love the effect and all I can see that the prison and the prism are present at the same time and it seems the expression on the gentleman’s face conveys the realization of that same thought.

    • Mary says:

      Interesting thoughts Eva and given your high level of creativity, it wouldn’t surprise me if your prison period is quite short. It seems to me that you feel your art as it develops, to where the creative process is almost bells and whistles from the get-go. My bells and whistles go off very early on once I’m actually in the creative process – it’s a very cool thing. Right? Thank you for your thoughts on this gentlemen, the beams of light hitting the bars brings the intersection of this artistic quandary to the front. Have a wonderful weekend!

  13. Your portraits seem to be almost alive! I fancy I can see each and every hair on his beard 🙂 Beautiful!

  14. dorannrule says:

    There is something very special about your charcoal drawings and this one is mesmerizing. The model’s facial expression is one of puzzlement. Is he on the inside or the outside of those bars? There is emotion in his face – a story waiting. I am impressed.

    • Mary says:

      Oh Dorann you are so good – yes, you got it (inside the bars or outside) the story can be told. Thank you, I really enjoyed your response to this piece.

  15. Indeed, I can relate to this with my writing. 🙂

  16. Francesca says:

    Very interesting work, Mary! Particularly intense!

  17. exiledprospero says:

    The Cumaean Sibyl lived in a prison, a jar actually, withering away–but that’s what you get for forgetting to ask for eternal youth (this strikes you at about age 206 or thereabouts).

    But I’m only commenting because I happen to like the sketch. I have no other thoughts on prisms or prisons, other than they alliterate nicely.

    • Mary says:

      Lol Prosperso! I’m still hunting for that eternal youth, but I don’t know about the withering away aspect – hmm brings much to the imagination.
      Do appreciate your thoughts on the sketch, thank you. The meaning of the shreds of light applied at the last minute became an “ah-ha” moment and came together as one.

  18. Painting for Joy says:

    Thought provoking indeed. The subject looks prismatic which is so intriguing. I’m in that “prison” now as nothing yet has jumped at me to paint. Ideas come and go but stay stuck. Thus the reason for my break.
    Awesome drawing Mary!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Rhonda, exactly “prismatic” and that feel brought me to see the juxtaposition between being stuck in a prison and see new light through a prism. I understand your need for a break which is why I took one and one reason why I turned to charcoal – it’s been a good creative break. For me, if I painted 30 complete paintings in 30-days I would have been totally drained – you’ve done a good thing in stepping back and getting recharged. Have a lovely weekend ~

      • Painting for Joy says:

        Thanks Mary. I thought there was something wrong with me. Good to know it’s something that happens to other artists too. Have a wonderful weekend. Happy Valentines Day!! xoxo

  19. iarxiv says:

    It’s a very interesting view: prism or prison. I’m not sure I’ve got a coherent view on this yet, so let me not talk nonsense. But I can say that I do relate strongly to “thousands of prospects and yet mentally not one”. Great line!

    • Mary says:

      As a writer and artist I knew you would and could relate ~ I can agonize over choosing and it’s at the point of turning away from all those prospects, that one steps forward and wins my attention. I understand and thanks for talking about what aspect you relate too. Have a wonderful weekend.

      • iarxiv says:

        I sometimes find that I write a post and get no responses other than ‘hey, that and that line resonated with my experiences’. I know it’s not much to say so, but it can mean a lot to both parties to acknowledge the shared part of their experience. Communication about art, writing, feeling and life can be tough, since all of us speak a different ‘internal’ language, but this way at least you know you got through!

        But you’re right, I find myself fighting for the vision that I want to pursue, that I think is worth chasing, and it’s hard work. There are so many different prospects, possibilities, ideas to choose from.

        Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

  20. That’s exactly how it seems to me, too, Mary. Among all the possibilities, something grabs you— with me it’s usually a word or a phrase because that’s my medium. It’s almost as if IT chooses YOU and all the rest follows, the easy passages and the tough ones, in a kind of dance of give and take between you and the subject. You enter another world for a time, oblivious to everything, everyone, what time it is, or where you are. Prison vs. Prism is an interesting way of putting it.

    Your charcoal work is getting better and better all the time. If I lived in your neighborhood, I’d come and sit for you! (Once, in the Monmartre section of Paris, a street artist did one of those quick charcoal portraits of me that I liked very much and have lost. But I was 25, and a lot prettier then!)

    • Mary says:

      Wow Cynthia, this is why you are the writer – I’ll say it again, wow. Your description spells out exactly what I work through before I can get to the act of creating, so spot-on with “IT chooses YOU” absolutely. The process of deciding what to do puts me in my prison, and painfully so until that one thing hits me. And, then the act of creating, which is my prism, takes over shining and bringing forth new visions, dynamics, and dimensions. This I love ~
      I’m so glad to read that I’m not alone in this – so interesting in reading about the process that others go through.

      Thank you very much for your very generous comment, is such a compliment – I’m enjoying this new medium, I won’t give oil pastels rather I think this will assist me in broadening my creative pursuit. An Monmartre – yes, that is an area filled as an artists’ delight for the history or artists who have walked those steps, Hemingway and the young artists today. I found it to be fun and exciting – shame you lost the portrait I’ll bet it was fantastic!

      One day I’ll have someone sit for me – you’d definitely be my first subject, now how much fun would that be! Yes, another area that would be very important to gain experience from (perspective,values and just the concept of seeing).

      Thank you Cynthia – such a great response. Love it, have a lovely weekend – hopefully no more snow, but I don’t think that will happen.

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