Unearthing creative possibilities: Trish Roque's website, personal blog, & portfolio

Preparing for the compassionate death of a furry companion

Siwa, just yesterday afternoon

Siwa, just yesterday afternoon

My dog has been living with canine melanoma for the past two years so I’ve had some time to prepare for her death.  She successfully fought off the cancer for 1 1/2 years and only since July did she start losing the fight. Since then, I’ve been preparing myself emotionally and mentally.

For instance,  I found a local place that individually cremates animals;  they even allow for private viewing if you want to be certain that they do what they say they will do. I’ve also contacted my vet about at-home euthanasia and whether or not this was a service they could provide.  It turns out that they may, depending on how busy they are that day. They also offered the names of other vets who performed this service. These are the questions I did not want to deal with in an emotional frenzy.

So this morning, when my dog’s breathing became labored, and she was unable to get up on her own, and when she did not eat her food, I knew the time had come. What I did not anticipate was that day would be today, Sunday, a day when neither my vet’s office, nor the animal crematorium, would be open.  My only option would have been to take her to the emergency vet, where I knew they would just tell me that she needed to be put to sleep. I did not want her last memory to be that of a cold emergency vet’s office.

The dogs beds are in my messy studio.

Siwa & Sam inside my messy studio, where their beds are located. I've set up camp next to Siwa on the floor of my studio.

My dog’s mouth was also bleeding quite a lot, with bits of the tumors in her mouth dislodging. Amidst my tears, I tried to keep her as comfortable and pain-free, and as clean as I could. But because she did not eat her food, she also did not ingest any of the meds and painkillers that she normally would have eaten with her food. I was concerned that she was in a lot of pain.

I contacted her oncologist’s office to get some guidance. Fortunately, this same office also operates one of only two 24-hour emergency facilities in the Bay Area so I knew as a last resort I could at least take her to a familiar place.

Her oncologist was not in, because of course, it was Sunday.  Instead, I talked with one of the technicians, who upon hearing Siwa’s name, proclaimed, “Oh, I know Siwa.”  They had after all, been treating her for cancer for close to 2 years. When he said that though, I was once again in tears. They did prescribe painkillers, which Jon picked up, that I could inject to her that would last until tomorrow, when I could contact her regular vet.

Siwa is still on her bed, where she’s been since early this afternoon. She’s sleeping, occasionally waking to look at me, then goes back to sleep. I haven’t left her side; I plan to spend the night next to her, in my sleeping bag. It’s the least I can do for someone who has been with me for the last 14 years of my life.

Siwa, today - she has not moved from her bed in over 8 hours. I know shes ready to go.

Siwa, today - she has not moved from her bed in over 8 hours; when she tried, she stumbled, and it was all I could do to help her back on her bed. I know she's ready to go.

A little journal therapy. When I wrote this, I had made peace with the fact that Siwa was ready to go.

A little journal therapy. When I wrote this, I had made peace with the fact that Siwa was ready to go.

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Figure drawing & other marks made on paper

These last couple of weeks have been challenging so finding the time for drawing was not only difficult but absolutely necessary.

I did a couple of figure drawings but both my camera and scanner are too inadequate to capture some of the large gesture drawings that I did. Oh well. I did manage to photograph the long study I did. The photo is of the full figure and the detail image is a scan of the drawing.

Photo of the full figure study of Stephanie

Photo of the full figure study of Stephanie

Scan of the full figure study - I need a bigger scanner to capture some of the larger drawings I make.

Scan of the full figure study - I need a bigger scanner to capture some of the larger drawings I make.

Quick charcoal sketch of Siwa. We had a rough night last night: Siwas mouth bled for almost 30 minutes until a lemon-sized part of her tumor dislodged. It was nasty but she feels better today. She ate all her food & had a full tail wag on our short little walk.

Quick charcoal sketch of Siwa. We had a rough night last night: Siwa's mouth bled for almost 30 minutes until a lemon-sized part of her tumor dislodged. It was nasty but she feels better today. She ate all her food & had a full tail wag on our short little walk.

Back to doodling - I dont know whats up with her hair - it just wanted to get big!

Back to doodling - I don't know what's up with her hair - it just wanted to get big!

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How to draw like Pontormo.

Three words: practice, practice, practice.

Ok, so technically, that’s only one word repeated three times. Regardless, Pontormo is one of my favorite Renaissance artists whose art inspires me to keep on drawing.  One of these days, my drawings will have the same energy, fluidity, and line quality that is present in his work. That is my goal.

Pontormo was a Renaissance artist who worked in Florence. His work inspires me to continue drawing from the human figure.

Pontormo was a Renaissance artist whose work inspires me to continue drawing from the human figure.

In the meantime, here’s a recent life drawing that emulates Pontormo’s style (sort of) from this week’s session:

A drawing from this weeks life drawing session.

A drawing from this week's life drawing session.

More sketches of cats:

Blind contours and sketches of Phobos & Diemos

Blind contours and sketches of Phobos & Diemos

Last but not least:

Sketching while watching American History X; hopefully he looks like Ed Norton.

Sketching while watching "American History X"; hopefully he looks like Ed Norton.

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How the creative person can overcome those days of doubt.

Tree portrait - Im learning to expand beyond my trusty ball point pen and am practicing drawing with carbon pencil. Trees are tough but with enough practice, I hope to understand the essence of trees.

I'm learning to expand beyond my trusty ball point pen and am practicing drawing with carbon pencil. Trees are tough but with enough practice, I hope to understand the essence of trees. Whether or not this tree succeeds is not the question - I'm just drawing and if it takes me 10,000 drawings of trees to get it right - then 10,000 drawings of trees it shall be!

I’m a member of Danny Gregory‘s Everyday Matters Yahoo Group and recently, Louise, one of the members posted an email regarding doubt. More specifically, she asked how members of the group overcome those days when the creativity doesn’t seem to flow and the insecurity is at an all time high.

How does one continue to promote one’s art without the self-consciousness and the fear of being labeled pretentious?

I am very familiar with these feelings so I shared with her some of the ways that I get through those days.

Being confident isn’t everything but it helps.

Having confidence is certainly key to a creative person’s success – whether it’s believing that you’ll eventually be able to paint the way you want to or be able to make a good living from your own creative work. After all, if you don’t believe in yourself, why should others?

Having written that, I also believe that it’s not as essential as some other traits. Because like the ability to draw and paint, I believe confidence can be acquired and strengthened with practice. It’s like a muscle – without the daily exercise, the daily practice, the daily doing – your confidence muscle can atrophy.

So, how to overcome the insecurities and gain confidence?

Being unafraid to fail is more important than confidence.

Drawings and doodles. One of my creative goals is to be able to illustrate the ideas I have floating around in my head so Ive taken to doodling in my journal to find my style. I dont know if I suck or am perceived as pretentious but it ultimately doesn't matter. I am in the process of finding my own style.  The Locks of Love illustration is an idea for an upcoming charity event. I shall post more when I get more details.

One of my creative goals is to be able to illustrate the ideas I have floating around in my head so I've taken to doodling in my journal to find my style. I don't know if I suck or am perceived as pretentious but it ultimately doesn't matter. I am sharing my process of finding my own style. For instance, The Locks of Love illustration is an idea for an upcoming charity event, and the devil-child & cat was Halloween inspiration.

Gain more confidence by doing, painting, drawing, getting yourself out there, participating in conversations, blogging about it, then failing, then learning, and keeping on going.

Learn not to be afraid to make the mistakes. And if there is fear, acknowledge the fear but don’t let your actions be controlled by it. That is at the heart of confidence.

Here are a couple of quotes that I absolutely love and keep close to my heart:

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.

~Ambrose Redmoon

And my all-time favorite Thomas Edison quote:

I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

~Thomas Edison

Ack! But what if I suck? What if my work is seen as pretentious?

Recent mark-makings in my sketchbook.

Recent mark-makings in my sketchbook & playing with color.

Yes, I’ve heard those words in my own head many times. Here’s my take on it:

So what if I suck? Yes, I am going to suck, I am going to fail, I am going to make mistakes. See the above paragraph on how to overcome the suckiness and failures.

But eventually, I will figure it out by continuing to draw and create and practice. In the drawing and creating and practicing, my work might come off as pretentious, but that is all a part of figuring out who I am as an artist. The same thing applies to you.

And on the subject of pretentiousness – I think that comes through when a person isn’t being authentically themselves, pretending to be someone they are not. But that is a judgment call and is so subjective.  You can’t control what others think about you anyway so go ahead and just be yourself and have fun doing it!

Maybe you just need a break from the creativity.

So when the doubts hit, and the anxiety, stress and worries start to kick in, maybe you just need to go for a nice long walk. Just like with physical exercise and rest, your creativity muscles also need to relax.

For me, the external world can sometimes get so loud that I can’t hear myself think, let alone be creative. Those are the days when I shut off my computer, I throw the dogs in the car, and take a nice long hike up in the hills. I will come back feeling rejuvenated, and more ready to face that blank piece of paper or canvas.

What have you done that’s worked for you?

Other members of the EDM group suggested switching from one’s media of choice to another that one doesn’t always work with. And others suggested just doodling and making marks in one’s sketchbook (another one of my personal favorites).

What do you do to overcome doubt?

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Drawing marathon finish line & beyond

My intent in pushing myself to draw everyday, or at least close to everyday, was to make drawing a daily habit. It’s been an interesting exercise – one that has been good for my soul. I plan to continue this on a daily basis, not only because I’ve realized I CAN do this, but also because I am curious. This process is very much a journey and I am intrigued as to where it will lead me.

There were certainly days when I didn’t feel like drawing, but I made sure to just make marks on paper. There were also days when I didn’t have the time to draw – and on those days I felt like something was not quite right, but the next day would inevitably bring many scratches made on paper.

Although these past several days have been busy, I’ve managed to make it to day 30, and then some. Woo hoo!  Below are the results:

Day 30:

Fast sketches of kitties

Fast sketches of kitties

Hand & foot

Hand & foot

Day 29:

Shoe - can I count this as Everyday Matters Challenge #1?

Shoe - can I count this as Everyday Matters Challenge #1? On another note, my feet are entirely too big for my body & I'm not referring to the drawing!

Day 28:

Creek bank in one of the beautiful parks in Oakland, CA. Im trying to expand my tool kit and am now playing with carbon pencil. It has a very different tactile feel than my pen. Im not sure yet if I like it.

Creek bank in one of the beautiful parks in Oakland, CA. I'm trying to expand my tool kit and am now playing with carbon pencil. It has a very different tactile feel than my pen. I'm not sure yet if I like it.

Another mirror image - again with the serious look! Also carbon pencil on paper.

Another mirror image - again with the serious look! Also carbon pencil on paper.

And a bonus!

The text on the book says: Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

The text on the book says: "Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."

When I started this marathon, I decided to become an active participant of Danny Gregory‘s Everyday Matters Yahoo Group.  Not only have I found new online friends (hi, EDM-ers!!), but I’ve also been inspired to start dabbling in color since a number of the artists in the group are accomplished watercolorists.

No, I haven’t done any watercolors yet, but I made this sketchbook to get started. (My moleskine hasn’t arrived so rather than wait, I decided to make one. It was fun!) Anyway, I’m just as curious as you are to see what I fill in those pages.

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