28 December 2009

Elizabeth Gilbert on TED

I've blogged about this before, but Jamie Ridler recently reminded me how important and delicious it is when she recently mentioned it. Elizabeth Gilbert communicates some amazing ideas, and they are important to remember for those of us struggling to live a creative life. It's a reminder for me to show up and do my work.

27 December 2009


I got an email today notifying me that I was the winner of "A Basic Guide to Pinhole Photography" that was given away by Artist-How-To.com. I'm so excited! I've been wanting to learn more about pinhole photography since I heard of it a couple of years ago. Can't wait to get my book and get started!

Thanks Diane!

26 December 2009

New Art

Did I mention that I was taking Carmen Torbus' online workshop, Spill It!? I think I did ... Anyway, here are my efforts at Lesson Four. The point wasn't to copy her painting, but to let our own style shine through. Unfortunately, I don't yet know what my style is. What I do know is that I love the way Carmen paints; her style really resonates with me, so she really influenced what I came up with.

Carmen writes with lots of "inky drippy goodness" on her paintings and I love it! But when I tried it, I didn't like it as well on my painting. In the second one, I left the canvas flat while I wrote to minimize the drips. I love the look of writing with a dip pen -- I'll definitely be working with my dip pens to "perfect" this technique!

This painting is still very much in Carmen's style, but I felt a bit more free as I worked on it. It was inspired by an Untitled painting of Carmen's (Sorry, I couldn't get a direct link to it). I had more fun with this one than I did with the previous two, so I think I may be edging more into my own style here. I'll definitely be working on more paintings like this one.

24 December 2009

I've Signed Up! (Giveaway Alert!)

For A Limited Time At Artist-How-To.Com Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter and Get a Free Christmas Image Collection Download! Pass It On! http://artist-how-to.com/freeoffer.html

I signed up for this newsletter last week and  received my first copy. I'm so glad I did, because the pictured book (The Craft of Planning Your Art Business) is on sale! I'll definitely be picking it up, as that's part of my Grand Plan for 2010!

18 December 2009

In Sickness and In Health ...

Just a short note to stay in touch. John and I have both been sicker than dogs for the past two weeks. We are both finally getting better, but it's been slow going. This has been a rough several weeks for us -- I'm ready for a new year and some fresh days!

It's time to stop focusing on where I'm at, and look toward where I'm going. 2010 promises to be a big year for me. Not because I'm doing anything that other people would consider grand, but because I plan on living more of my True Life. It's not something that I plan to just start doing on January 1st; it's something that I'm easing my way into. Tonight I'm cleaning up my studio a bit, so that I can begin to make art again. John and I are talking about developing some kind of mutual writing project (that's a tough one, because we do very different kinds of writing.). I'm carving time out of each day to spend doing the things I truly love, to spend time with those I love.

For the past couple of years, I've had fun with an exercise I call My Grand Plan. I divide my life into eight areas (Career, Family, Financial, Spiritual, Health, Social, Intellectual, Home) and come up with a document that expresses my dreams for each area. For a few days, I work on it earnestly; I struggle to express my desires in the most concrete form possible. I polish my sentences. I dig deep to figure out what it is that I really want with my life. It's a great exercise that gives me vision and guidance for the rest of the year. Usually I do this some time between January and April. I did my 2010 Grand Plan in October this year. It was exciting to see what things changed and what remained the same. And it was interesting to see how many desires on my 2009 Grand Plan had been attained, seemingly without me even trying.

This year, I did two other exercises to get me focused for 2010. Paraphrasing a set of questions sent to me by a life coach (sorry, Amy! You're last name escapes me right now, and I'm not at the computer where I could easily find the information), I set about determining what really needed to happen in 2010 for it to be considered a successful year. I need to revisit that document before I start talking specifically about my focus for 2010, so I'll share that in another blog post.

The second additional exercise -- which I am still working on -- is something I call What? Why? What? What do I want? Why do I want it? What is keeping me from having it? The idea is two-fold. By thinking about why I want something, I'm able to sometimes see that the true, underlying desire can be met in some other way. The other idea is that by examining what is keeping me from having what I want, obstacles that can be addressed can be identified. Those obstacles can then be worked on, or worked around. Patterns of thought have emerged that were quite interesting. For example, even though I don't feel particularly old most of the time, it seems that I feel too old to accomplish certain goals. I am too old to be a child prodigy, but certainly I'm not too old to do something I love on a regular basis just because I love it! And who knows where that can lead!

How are you feeling about 2010? I hope you are as excited about it as I am!

28 November 2009

Feeling Better ...

As those of you who follow me on me on Facebook or Twitter know, I was in the hospital recently. I've been out for a couple of weeks and I'm just now beginning to feel like myself again.

I went to the emergency room three weeks ago with chest pains and pain in my left arm. Since I've had a previous heart attack (October, 2000), complaints like this are taken very seriously. After a week and a million tests, they determined that it was ... nothing. Well, actually, they didn't determine that it was nothing, but they didn't determine what it was. I had an angiogram; my heart and stent look great. My EKG and EEG both came back normal. There was a slight abnormality in my nuclear stress test, but all other tests after that came back negative. So, all is well.

I've decided to change doctors from my beloved Dr. Hoenshell to someone more local. I say "more local" rather than just "local" because there are no doctors out where we live. My new doctor, Dr. Naresh Ganesh, is only 40 minutes away, rather than 90 minutes away! He was the doctor who saw me on rounds when I was in the hospital, so I decided to stick with him. I like him a lot, although some of his office practices are a bit infuriating. The first time I saw him, I had a 1:15 PM appointment (Tuesday before Thanksgiving, mind you). I was taken back to the examining room at about 3:45 PM. I saw the doctor at 4:50 PM. I left the office at 5:50 PM. Now, I've got things to do, and no one warned me he was always late like this. One reason is probably that he was taking his own vital signs, instead of having a nurse do it. And he does see patients on rounds at the hospital, remember, something fewer primary care physicians are doing all the time.

As I said, I really like the doctor, so I'm going to tolerate his tardiness. He took all the time with me that I needed him to, listened to my concerns and talked with me. And, he touched me while we talked. Nothing inappropriate, just gentle and caring. It helped me feel heard. I liked that.

Now that I'm home, I'm slowly regaining my strength. I spent a week in the hospital on bed rest, so I lost a lot of my mobility. Until today, I felt as though I'd never recover; today, however, I'm starting to feel like my old self. Good! It's about damn time!

06 November 2009

New Art & Chair Fabric

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I just purchased a new piece of art work. It's called "Cave Lady", and is painted by an artist named Micheal Noon. I purchased it from the Redlands Art Association. I fell in love with it from across the room and was pleased to see that was very affordable. It's 24" x 48" and very purple!

I also bought fabric with which to re-cover my dining room chairs. This is the fabric. I've never re-covered chairs before, but I've seen them do it on television! Besides, there's bound to be plenty of instructions on the internet! Any tips?

Now, I'm off to unpack the art supplies that I shipped to Arkansas for my vacation. They finally made it back home yesterday (Thanks Karen!) but I was out of town for the day. I'm eager to get back to art!

05 November 2009

Happy Day!

Just a short note to keep up the momentum with NaBloPoMo. I had a great day today. I spent the day with my good friend, Sandra. One of the things I did while we were together was buy a piece of original art from the Redlands Art Association -- a painting by a young artist named Micheal Noon. Tomorrow, I'll take a few pictures to share with you.

I also bought fabric with which to re-cover my dining room chairs. I'll share that with you tomorrow, too. For now, though, I'm going to go rest, read, and maybe watch some television. It's been a long day for me!

04 November 2009

Wanting The Day ...

It’s well past 11:00 on a Tuesday night and I long to be asleep; however, I long to be writing even more. My mind is a whir of reflections and intentions. I’m gradually developing a real vision of what I want my life to be like, and that’s very exciting for me. It’s got me forward looking: thinking and planning, dreaming and intending. But it’s also got me scared! I’ve dreamed before, and watched my dreams wither from lack of attention. I’ve set goals but not taken steps to reach them. I’ve made declarations and never followed through. Why do I think that this time will be different?

This time will be different because I am different. I am no longer content to be numbed out. Molly Wizenberg writes in A Handmade Life: “My father woke up each morning wanting that day.” When I read that sentence for the first time, I froze for a moment and knew that I would have to write about that sentiment – even if only for my own benefit – because it’s the kind of thing I’d like someone to say about me when I die: She woke up each morning wanting that day. Wouldn’t that be great on a headstone?

Far too often, however, I have approached each new day with a sense of trepidation, reservation, or even resignation, rather than with a sense of enthusiasm, anticipation, or joy. I live a gray life, and have for most of my 45 years. Oh, there have been moments of wild excitement and genuine grief, but mostly I’ve just been coasting along. The days and weeks have become months and years, and I’ve somehow managed to not be a part of my own life.

This is not the first time I’ve recognized this aspect of myself, but I’ve never before done anything about it. I’ve never, quite frankly, known what to do; I’m not exactly sure where this comes from. Usually, I blame it on the medication that I take to stabilize my bipolar mind, and I do think that’s part of the problem. But I also think resting on that answer is taking the easy way out. It’s a little too pat, a little too convenient. Other people take medication for mood stabilization and still manage to live authentic lives.

I’ve recognized this aspect of myself before, but I’ve never confronted it. I’ve always let the fear of what my life may become keep me from making any real change. I’ve always let the fear of who I may become keep me from really looking at who I am. I think, however, I’m at a point where I can no longer set myself aside as I go through life.

I’m looking at where I am, and life is good. But I want more. I’m hungry for joy and authenticity. I’m even hungry for pain and tears, if that’s what is there. I want to be truly present in my life, and experience it wholly. Too much time goes by between my glimpses of delight -- and there is much in my life to delight in.

This time will be different because I am different. I am no longer content to sit on the sidelines of my own journey. I am no longer content to let the fear in my life outweigh the joy in my life. I am no longer content to feel numb and un-alive.

She woke up each morning wanting that day. I’m not sure how to get to the place where that sentence describes my journey, but I intend to find out! It is my dominant intention to live a jubilant, joy-filled, exciting, authentic life.

Any ideas on what I do next?

03 November 2009


Every year, I try to keep up with NaBloPoMo, and every year I fail. I haven't decided whether or not to even try this year, but I wanted to get something posted for today just in case I decide later to make the effort. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, which means I've been doing a lot of writing -- I just haven't gotten any of it in a form that I feel comfortable sharing. Look for more in the upcoming days about what's been keeping my mind occupied.

What have you been thinking about?

02 November 2009

Vacation was nice ...

I'm just back from three and a half weeks of vacation in Arkansas, and I hardly know how to feel. It was delightful to see my mother again (it had been almost a year and a half since I'd been there), to sit in her kitchen, and talk about food and holidays gone by. It was joyful -- as always -- to see Tammy, to laugh with her, and to share in her life. It was invigorating to smell the rain, see the leaves turn color and then let go, and to cook with my mom. It was healing to see more family -- an aunt, my siblings, my nephew and his new girlfriend -- even for short visits.

Tammy and I went to the Homecoming football game my first Friday there. We sat in the cold and the wind, and watched the undefeated Mountain Home Bombers lose their first game of the season. Neither of us had been to a high school football game since we graduated. Cold as we were, we had a good time. Seeing the band march at half-time was a very emotional -- but very exciting -- experience for me. I love marching bands, but had a horrible experience in band when I was that age. It pained me, but I quit band after my sophmore year to pursue other interests -- and save my sanity.

Mom and I cooked together, talked food, and watched The Foot Network. Food is one of my strongest connections to my mother; not having a daughter of my own to cook with is one of my great disappointments. Most days I don't feel that loss, but when I'm with my mother, measuring and stirring, it's hard not to feel the emptiness of a tradition ended. Luckily, there was lots of good restaurant food, too, to take my mind off of it!

There was also a good book on my nightstand to distract and cheer me. My sister brought her copy of A Handmade Life by Molly Wizenberg for my mother to read, and I nabbed it. Molly (creator of the blog Organette) is a delightful writer, personal and conversational. Each chapter is a vignette in her life, followed by a recipe or two mentioned in the story. It was particularly poignant for me to read about her father's illness and death, as I still occasionally struggle with the loss of my own father, not too many years ago. It was both exciting and nostalgic to read of her long-distance romance with (and later marriage to) someone she met because of her blog, as I met my own husband over the internet. I enjoyed the book so much that I put it on my Amazon wishlist; I definitely plan to own this book!

The last week of vacation, I was joined by my husband, John. Even though he spent quite a bit of time falling in love with the area before we were married, he's not spent very much time there since then. In fact, this was only his third trip to Mountain Home since we married, almost 11 years ago. I enjoyed showing him the changes since his last visit and visiting old haunts with him. It was a sweet interlude for us.

Vacation was nice, but today was nicer.

Even though I had several things that I could have done today, I did only three things that I absolutely needed to do: I made two phone calls and cooked dinner for my husband (which is really more of a "want to" than a "need to"). The rest of the day was spent ingratiating myself to The Kitties Three, reading, surfing the internet, and writing. I treated today as kind of a transition day between vacation time and the calls of my everyday life. There is plenty of time, tomorrow, for listening to the answering machine messages, dusting, and unpacking. It was good to be back in my own home and lounging on my own bed.

As much as I love my mother's house -- the house I grew up in  -- it's not the house I share with my husband and my fur-babies. As much as I enjoy seeing my mother, Tammy, andn Mountain Home, the day-to-dayness of it isn't the life I've built in California -- and I love this life. I'm always torn when I leave Mountain Home, because I'm not sure, quite frankly, how much time I have with my mother, with my brother and sister, with my friends there.  I want to stay forever, and I want to return to my own home and the life I've developed in it.

Vacation was nice, but today was nicer.

01 November 2009

I'm Home ...

Just a short post to let you know that we are home from vacation. We had a wonderful time, visiting with family and friends. Our trip home was pretty uneventful, but even so, I'm just exhausted. I'm off to my book and bed. I'll post more tomorrow about our trip.

13 October 2009

Staying In TOuch ...

I haven't blogged in awhile and given my recent absence, I thought I'd let everyone know that I'm okay. If you follow me on Facebook, then you know that I'm at my mother's house in Arkansas. I was first absent because I was getting ready for my trip and now I'm scarce because I don't have good internet. My mother just has dial-up; rather than fight with that, I'm going to town every few days to use public wi-fi with my laptop to check my mail, make blog posts, check my online classes, etc. Right now. I'm sitting at my mother's kitchen table, writing this post that I will post tomorrow when I'm in town.

I'm way behind on all my projects, between getting ready to travel and having a disrupted schedule. I shipped (FedEX, actually) some art supplies to Arkansas so that I will have an opportunity to catch up. I'm still readingn The Joy Diet by Martha Beck, although I haven't posted about it recently. I'm enjoying the book. I'm struggling with the processes because of my disrupted schedule.

I'm used to having my days to myself, so that it's easy to do my meditation and other processes without scrutiny or explanations, but now I'm sharing the house with someone else. I also have a tendancy to sleep more at my mother's house for some reason. In fact, I had a hard time getting out of bed today, even though I had plenty of time to sleep. It was a dreary day, which always makes me want to stay cuddled in bed -- preferably with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

Speaking of a good book -- I just finished reading Julie & Julia by Julie Powell. I loved the movie, so my sister lent me the book. I loved it! In fact, I'm inspired to do some kind of cooking project. I'm not all that interested in "mastering the art of French cooking" but I am interested in working with my cooking skills.

I am definitely a recipe/technique cook -- much like my skills in art! I really enjoy tackling a new recipe or technique, messing with it until I perfect my skill; then I may never make that dish again! I remember when my parents grew eggplant in their garden that I decided to master the flavorful Greek dish, Moussakka. I made it two or three times that year, each time getting it a little more "right". When I perfected it -- and it was YUMMY! -- my dad even said, "This is really good. I guess we'll never have it again!" That's been years ago, and I haven't made a Moussakka since then.

Since I love to cook, and I'm very much a recipe cook, I'm considering choosing a cookbook and cooking my way through it, just as Julie Powell did with Mastering The Art of French Cooking. I don't think I'd set a strict year deadline, or endeavor to cook each recipe in order. I'm considering either the Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics, or a Southern Living Annual. My mother also has a couple of cookbooks that I really enjoy, so may look at those, too.

Any thoughts???

01 October 2009

My Personal Palette

I am taking Carmen Torbus' online workshop, Spill It! One of the first things she asked us to do was to determine our personal palette. She tends to paint with the same few colors over and over -- colors she absolutely loves, her personal palette. She asks us to find the colors that we love and to paint with them, instead of the colors she uses. She recommends two or three transparent colors and then another two or three other colors that we just love.

I'm funny when it comes to color. In my closet are mostly the cool colors that I look best in -- pinks, blues, purples. And, in fact, purple is my favorite single color and pink, orange and yellow is my current favorite color combination. When it comes to flowers, I tend to lean toward the warm, vibrant colors of autumn. I love the mums that brighten our gardens this time of year. I love fall leaves, with their reds and goldens. Really, I just love color, and at any given time, just about any color can speak to me. There are very few ugly colors!

So, how to narrow down a universe of color into four to six bottles of paint? And, how to do this without spending a fortune buying new paint?

I finally decided to limit myself to paints on hand -- after all, I'm bound to like the colors I already own, right? I looked at my bottles; I took them out of their clear plastic shoe box and started lining them up and arranging them. I wasn't completely satisfied with the process, so I decided to make my own paint chips! I cut a few sheets of 110 lb. acrylic paper into squares and proceeded to cover each square with a single color.

After they dried thoroughly, I labeled them with brand and color information. When I was all done, I put my paints away and laid out my paint squares so that I could see all my colors. Some of them got eliminated immediately -- all the whites, blacks, iridescents, and interference colors. Next went the browns and an odd flat light pink that didn't seem to go with anything else.

I started moving the remaining several squares around, noticing how certain colors looked next to each other. I consulted the Golden's Transparency Chart. I finally ended up with the six colors that will make up my personal palette during the workshop.

They are all Golden products (although I do own a few Liquitex paints). The colors of my personal palette are: Nickel Azo Yellow, Transparent Red Iron Oxide, Alizarin Crimsom Hue, Permanent Violet Dark, Turquois (Phthalo) and Cobalt Turquois.

I can't wait to start painting!

29 September 2009

Finished Paper-Cloth

This is my first attempt at paper-cloth. I haven't painted it or applied any surface effects. I'm saving that for the workshop itself, which begins October 4. I'm having so much fun making my paper-cloth in preparation of the workshop -- I can't imagine how much fun the workshop itself will be!

This piece is almost dry. I really love it. It has more tissue paper and book text than the first one had. so there is less muslin showing through. I think I prefer the fuller looker. I may add layers to the first one ... Or just wait until it's painted to decide how much I like it.

If you want to play along, pick up a copy Stitch Alchemy by Kelli Perkins and join the yahoo group, mmartfriends. The more the merrier!

The Beginnings Of Paper-Cloth

I love to stay up late and be creative. There's something about 2AM that really gets my juices flowing. Well, it's not quite 2AM, but I've been busy playing with making my own paper-cloth. I'm working through Kelly Perkins' book, Stitch Alchemy, with the yahoo group, mmartfriends. October 04 begins the official book study, but Belinda (the facilitator) has encouraged us to make the paper-cloth before the study begins so that we'll be ready to play with Perkins' techniques right away.

First, I got my supplies all together. To the left, there is a piece of freezer paper taped to my desk with a rectangle of plan, cheap, thin muslin laid out on it. On and around the laptop (my desk just isn't big enough!), there are piles of tissue papers, torn into strip and squares. There are also bits of book text, taken from Dickens' David Cooperfield. There is glue-water mixture in the frosting can in front of the computer. The glue is diluted at not quite a 1:2 ratio. On the computer screen, you see Pandora -- the only constant supply in my artistic arsenal.

Plain muslin with the diluted glue spread all over it. Doesn't look like much now, does it?

First layer of tissue paper pieces laid down on the muslin, with the glue-water patted into the tissue pieces. Then came the layer of book text pieces and another layer of decorative tissues. After each layer, I patted the diluted glue over the pieces that were being added. I also added squares of a beautiful, lacy, white Japanese rice paper. It looks as though it got lost in the layers. We shall see ...

I laid the plain white tissue paper over the entire cloth -- layering it and making sure the entire piece is covered. To keep from tearing the tissue when I glued it down, I spritzed it with a fine mist of water and then let that set for a minute or so. That seemed to help the tissue settle onto the page.

Now, it just has to dry overnight. I'm a bit concerned that my paper-cloth will be too thin to really be useful, since in some places there is only the final white tissue paper layer on top of the muslin. It was fun and easy, so I can make more tomorrow night, making whatever adjustments are necessary.

26 September 2009

Some Lucky Winner ...

My friend, the talented Gina Lee Kim, is giving away this beautiful mixed-media painting to some lucky soul. Stop by her blog for more information about the painting and to enter the giveaway; tell her Cindy sent you!

25 September 2009

The Joy Diet -- Nothing

". . . your thoughts are not you, that thinking is not the process by which you recognize the keys to your existence, things like beauty, truth, and love."
Martha Beck, The Joy Diet

I felt like a lazy bum in relation to The Joy Diet process this week. Not because I didn't do my assignment (I did!), but rather because it was "nothing" new to me. I've meditated off an on over the years and recently reestablished my regular practice. So, while I did follow Martha's suggestion, I didn't add anything new to my daily practice. I did try following her ticker tape suggestion, but found it more work than I'm used to doing. Usually, after the first few minutes, my monkey mind settles down and my thoughts slow considerably. When I recognize a thought, I just return to concentrating on my breathing and I'm back in the flow.

I usually meditate for about 15 minutes, but in honor of The Joy Diet, I extended my time this week to 20 minutes -- and I liked it. I think I'll continue with the 20-minute sessions from now on. The extra five minutes allows me the chance to sink even deeper into the stillness.

When I first began meditating, years ago, I had a problem wrapping my mind around the idea that I am not my thoughts. If I am not my thoughts, what am I? I am both deeper and broader than my thoughts, more timeless than the ever fleeting ideas of an over active mind. One day -- probably during meditation -- it occurred to me that, indeed, I am not my thoughts, but rather, I exist in that quiet space between my thoughts.

I really enjoyed this first chapter of the book, and look forward to reading, applying and growing. Now, I'm off to read about Truth!

I did my vision card, but the scanner is unhooked and I felt like I couldn't get a good photo. I'll continue to create them and will post them when I can!

24 September 2009

A Little Late ...

Jamie's evocative question this week for Wishcasting Wednesday (okay, I know it's Thursday evening, but I'm just now finding time to write about this week's question) is "What luxury do you wish for?"

I had to really stop and think about this, because the definition of a luxury is subjective. What some people consider to be luxuries, others might consider to be necessities. Just that thought alone was worth several minutes of introspection as I logged about 125 miles on Route 66 and the freeway today. Some people would consider my art supplies to be a luxury ... and perhaps the sheer amount of them is. I probably only need something to paint on, something to paint with, and paints. And some decorative papers. And a few rubberstamps. And some old booktext. But I definitely don't need two crop-o-diles!

One of my first thoughts was that I wish for the luxury of more time with my husband, but then realized after a few moments contemplation that time with him is not a luxury, but a necessity. He is the person I most want to hang out with, and the person I trust the most. He is my biggest supporter and cheerleader. Time with him is essential to my well-being -- not to mention, to our relationship!

I next wished for the luxury of uninterrupted play time in my studio -- loud music blaring, cats at my feet and paint on my fingertips. Oh, to have no responsibilities: no bathtubs to clean, no dinner to cook; just unlimited studio time with the motivation to use it. Then, I decided that studio time is quickly becoming another necessity for me. And, I don't really do so much around the house each day that it actually interferes. The big interference comes from the lack of motivation I experience sometimes. I'm not sure whether it's really a lack of motivation, or if it's fear -- but that's the subject of a different blog post!

When it came down to it, the only luxuries that I truly wish for are vaguely related. I would love to spend a week or 10 days (or however long it lasts) on an Abraham Hicks cruise and I would love to go on a mixed-media art cruise. The idea of spending a week or two with other artists, learning new techniques, supporting and encouraging one another really excites me (maybe it's time to think about Squam or something similar). I spent a few minutes trying to decide if it was spending concentrated, magical time with like-minded individuals, or if it was the cruise part that appealed to me, and quickly decided that it was the amalgamation of both ideas. I've never been on an overnight cruise; I have, however, been on a couple of day cruises and loved them.

This was a great question for me, because it helped me see some of the things that are really necessities for me that I previously thought of as luxuries. What luxury do you wish for?

22 September 2009

Spill It! Online Workshop

Carmen Torbus is about to teach her first ever online workshop, Spill It! The workshop will be aimed at helping you to get in touch with your creative self. I've bought a million books that promised to do the same thing, but there was always something missing. I think this workshop has the missing ingredient. Carmen will host technique videos, idea videos, and discussion -- all aimed at helping you (me) to spill our creative selves on canvas. There isn't a complicated or expensive supply list; the real investment is showing up and doing the work/play.

I think this is gonna be great. In fact, I signed up on the day registration opened. Join me?

19 September 2009

Adventures In Bookbinding!

I just finished my first ever bookbinding session. I made the book block several days ago, but just got around to binding it today. For one thing, it took some time to paint the cover and let it thoroughly dry. And for another thing, I was nervous about the whole project! I wanted to do it perfectly; I wanted my book to be the best in the class. Silly me! I'm sure mine is actually the worst book in the class because I made several mistakes.

The first mistake that I made is that I covered too much of the book tape with the painted paper. But now, I know to watch for that and I can try to do better next time.

The second mistake that I made is evident in this photo -- I either cut my book board too big (WAY TOO BIG!), or I cut my painted paper too small. Whichever it is, there is a gap between the end paper and the painted cover. I can fix this so that the book is still usable and pretty, so I'm not too concerned about it, either. I'm going to use this book for Julie Prichard's Art Journaling Super Nova (Part II) class. It will just be a technique book, so again, I can live with the mistakes.

For the mistakes I made -- my corners ROCK!!! I was so nervous about folding the corners, but Julie explained and illustrated the process well. She's an excellent teacher.

This whole process was illustrative of what's going on with me artistically these days. I'm too invested in the product and that freezes me. Once I got over my fear of imperfection and sat down and did the work, the process was fun. And the process is what art is all about. This is supposed to be an activity that brings me joy, not one that brings me angst!

I have seven more book blocks this size to cover and one long, tall skinny one to cover. I think I'll get this figured out! Now, to go cut more book board and paint more covers!

18 September 2009

The Joy Diet ~ Introduction

"The components of the Joy Diet create a direct connection between your conscious mind and your deep self, the part of you that know the purpose for your life and how you were meant to achieve it. This can be terrifying." -- Martha Beck, The Joy Diet

Friday marked the beginning of this session of The Next Chapter, a book blogging discussion group led by the talented Jamie Ridler. The book we are reading this session is Martha Beck's The Joy Diet. I decided to participate because I had so much fun when I participated once before and -- most importantly -- I've been on a mission to bring more joy into my life lately. This spring, I was riding high and joy was the rule, not the exception. Lately, however, I've been feeling kind of emotionally lethargic. I haven't really been unhappy, but I haven't been particularly joyful either. Since September 1, I've been working with a dear friend to try to change that, and I do feel better -- much better most days. But I'm still not where I was six months ago. I miss the excitement of a joy-filled life, and I'm hoping that reading and discussing this book -- and applying the practices within it -- will help me get some of that back.

In reading the Introduction, I realize that I have lost not only my sense of joy, but also that connection that Beck talks about between my conscious mind and my deep self. In fact, some days I have no real concept of my deep self. While I'm not sure I share Beck's vision of a "right life", I do know that when I'm feeling more joy, I feel more purposeful, too. I'm just more in sync with life and my inner landscape.

If you are interested in The Joy Diet, why don't you join us? It's never too late to sign up!

17 September 2009

More Art Supplies

I got a nice sized box from Dick Blick on Friday, then went out of town for the week-end! I took my new supplies with me, but didn't use many of them. I worked on bookbinding most of the time.

My new supplies include: Paper from Fabriano, Sharpie poster paint pens in black and white, Copic Markers in Antwerp Blue and Canary Yellow, a nib pen and two nibs, Speedball oil-based block printing ink in White and Black, Higgins Black Magic waterproof ink, Avery Permanent Glue Stick (my very favorite!), Krylon Workable Fixatif, two spools of 2 1/4 inch double faced satin ribbon, Caran d'Ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayons in Black, Bordeaux Red, and Salmon Pink, a Staedtler Hot Foil Pen with foil sheets, Golden Fluid Acrylic in Titan Buff and Colbalt Teal, and a bottle of PVA, Masa paper (the background of the picture), and a sheet of cream colored card stock.

Most -- but not all -- are supplies for the Art Journaling Super Nova Class that I'm taking with Julie Prichard.

16 September 2009

Wishcasting Wednesday

Since last Wednesday's wish was so meaningful for me, I've decided to try participating in Jamie Ridler's Wishcasting Wednesday to see how it fits. I love today's question:

How do you wish to stretch?

I have two wishes in ways to stretch: one is that I stretch to find more joy in my life and the other (I sense a them going here) is that I wish to stretch creatively.

To find more joy in my life, I wish to be more aware and present with my daily travels through life. I wish to be more appreciative of what I have and what I'm experiencing. I wish to notice more good in my life and overlook the struggles in my life. I truly believe that what we focus on is what comes into our lives, so I wish to focus more on what I want and appreciate. I can be a little critical and cynical, so at times this is a big stretch for me!

My second wish, as I mentioned, is to stretch creatively. I'm happiest when my husband is home and I can hear sounds of his putterings as I am in my studio, creating and listening to music. But, as I mentioned last week -- I can be so rigid in my art. I need to play more. I need to be willing to say "What would happen if ... ?" and then take the steps to find out! I need to read fewer books about other artist's experiences and spend more time with my own intuitiveness.

This is so much an echo of last week's wish, but that is because this is the area of my life that needs the most desperate attention! This the area of my life that I am most dissatisfied with, that I most want to change.

Wish me success!

09 September 2009

New Art Supplies!

Over the past couple of days, I've gotten some new art supplies. Lucky me, I have more coming! I thought I'd share with you what's come so far.

First of all, underneath all the other goodies are a couple of pieces of book board. On top of that are six sheets of Neenah paper (perfect for use with Copic Markers), a pack of Claudine Hellmuth's sticky back canvas and 15 sheets of textured card stock.

The top layer of goodies includes two rolls of aluminum tape, some plastic shot glasses, a roll of 2-inch black book cloth tape, two Copic Markers (B97 "Night Blue" and BG32 "Aqua Mint"), a paper piercer, a bone folder, waxed linen thread, binding needles, and a pair of pliers that can be used to snip the shanks off of buttons.

These goodies came from What A Bargain, Collective Journey, Paper Source, Interweave Store, and Articus Studio. I'm expecting more goodies (from DickBlick) tomorrow!

Terrific Tuesday!

I had a really wonderful day yesterday!

First off, I woke up earlier than expected (2:22 AM to be exact) and couldn't get back to sleep. Because I was wide awake, I decided to spend some time on Facebook -- mostly playing Farm Town! -- and Twitter ... something I wouldn't have been able to do if I'd gotten up with my alarm. I loved watching the sky change colors as the sun rose, and hearing the birds start their day with song. Usually, I awaken around 9:30 AM, so I miss all of that.

I went to Redlands to spend the day, and my drive was nice. Not too much traffic so I made good time. I went mainly to attend a class in Copic Markers at Collective Journey. The class was taught by Jennie, and she did a great job. She was very generous with the use of her markers, if one of us didn't have the color we needed. She was funny and knew her subject well. I learned a lot about Copic Markers and their uses. I probably won't ever use them with stamping/card making, which is the context Jennie taught them in, but will use them for art journaling or other mixed-media work. She brought her air gun. I didn't get to use it, as I had to leave exactly on time, but I saw the others working with it. I think I'd eventually like to get one, but I'll be able to wait for it to come to me! If you live in the area and are curious about these markers, give Collective Journey a call (909-793-2200) and ask when her next class is! The markers are available at Collective Journey -- when they have them! They are selling so well that it's difficult to keep them in stock!

(Pics above: Jennie working with some of the ladies on using the air gun; Jennie demonstrating wood grain to Pat,
one of the women who works at Collective Journey.)

After my class, I shopped for a quick minute. I bought some of the paper recommended for working with Copic Markers (Neenah Classic, Crest Solar White) and some card stock for book two in Julie Pritchard's Art Journaling Super Nova class (part one). I haven't done a single thing toward my bookbinding projects, as I've not gathered all my supplies. I love where we live, but it is awfully inconvenient sometimes! Not that I'd have had any better luck living in Redlands, although I may have been able to justify a trip into LA if we lived there!

Once I completed my shopping, I met a friend for lunch and shopping at one of the local $.99 stores. We just had a quick lunch at Jack in the Box, but we had a good visit. All I bought was a set of plastic shot classes (thinking I can use them to dispense paint or glue into) and some aluminum tape.

The only real blemish in my day happened on the way home: I got stuck on the 215, as there was a bad traffic accident and the freeway was closed for a bit. I sat/inched ahead for about 35 minutes, and then they reopened the freeway completely and let us on our way. There was a sign advising that the freeway was closed and to take an alternate route, but I didn't know one! I called both my husband and FIL, and discovered that there was a way around the accident if I could get off the freeway at the next exit -- but it would have taken me two and a half hours out of my way! I decided to just sit in traffic and listen to the radio!

I got home in time to make it to the post office, which made my day! They had been holding a package for me since SATURDAY, but with the long holiday week-end, I couldn't pick it up until Tuesday. That almost drove me crazy! It was the first of my long awaited bookbinding and art supplies, so I was a happy camper!

There was another blemish in my day -- Hubby didn't get home from work until almost 8:30! Just time for dinner and then it was bedtime for him, since he's had such a long day. I missed getting to spend any real time with him.

And it doesn't look as though he'll be home much earlier tonight! SIGH!

What Do I Wish To Learn?

The ever-evocative Jamie Ridler asks today, "What do you wish to learn?" Without even stopping to think about it, I knew at once what I wish to learn. I wish to learn to be comfortable in my creativity. To learn to trust myself, artistically and personally, to express the whole of who I am. Creativity is such a big damn deal for me, and I wish to learn to make it a more natural process, more holistic.

Don't get me wrong: I don't ever want to lose the thrill of creativity, or the ability to get utterly lost in my process. Quite the contrary! I want to learn to step out my own way, so that those two things can happen more readily. I'm not asking that creativity or expression become "all in a days work", but rather that it become a more playful, more natural, activity.

That's it! I want to learn to play again, both in my art and in my life. I'm way too serious and intense for my own good sometimes! I enjoy my artistic process most of the time, but it feels as though I work too hard at it. I get so hung up about wanting everything I work on to be good enough, that sometimes it's hard to even make a decision as to what to do next. That's why I like taking classes and working through tutorials -- I'm told what to do next.

But it's time that I really integrated all the techniques and tips that I've learned through classes and tutorials and made them a part of my own personal repertoire. It's time I learned to express my own artistic vision.

08 September 2009

Another Giveaway!

Donna Downy is hosting an amazing giveaway on her blog -- a print by Dee Kasberger of RedLetterWords.com. Stop by and check it out.

Which one would you like to win?

05 September 2009

Craft Critique Giveaway!

Craft Critique is having a Basic Grey Giveaway! The paper sets look luscious, but then, I love Basic Grey papers. Go visit their website and check it out!

04 September 2009

Back In The Groove

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

Some of you have held steadfast, checking back often to see if I’ve posted anything new. Some of you have even contacted me to make sure that all is well with me and mine. I want you to know that I greatly appreciate both.

I could blame my absence on the business of moving into a new home. I could add that once I got out of the habit of posting, it was easier not to post. Of course, both are true.

But the reality is that I’ve been ill. I spent some time in the hospital and then spent months recovering. The illness drained me emotionally and physically, and left me – literally – unable to post, unable to reach out to those people who care about me. I have avoided my friends and family. For months, I didn’t return emails or phone calls, text messages or Facebook entries. I haven’t tweeted. I haven’t made art. In fact, days – no, literally weeks – have gone by without my even opening the studio door. I haven’t dared to dream or hope about the future.

But, as I told someone a few days ago, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I can see it! Things are getting better; I am getting better. I have more energy and am healthier, both physically and emotionally. Tuesday, I went into the studio and worked for the afternoon and evening: sorting and straightening, unpacking and organizing. Wednesday, I continued with my studio project and even started playing with art. Thursday, I hardly left the room! I’m working through tutorials from Somerset Life and Cloth Paper Scissors (by Chrysti Hydeck and Belinda Spiwak, respectively) because the idea of making original art seems daunting at this point – but at least I’m doing something. My hands are dirty and my studio smells like paint. It’s been wonderful. I’m excited again.

I’ve also signed up for an online bookbinding class taught by Julie Pritchard and a class on Copic Markers at Collective Journey in Redlands. I’ve placed orders for supplies with Dick Blick, Paper Source, Interweave, and other online retailers. I’ve started contacting the people who have so dedicatedly kept in touch with me when I was basically ignoring them. I’m looking toward the future expectedly.

I think I’m back in the groove.

09 April 2009

A Delightful Day!

In the midst of packing to move, I decided to take time out for me today. I spent the morning with my Thursday morning painting group, and was I glad I did! Breakfast was catered by Panera Bread. All was yummy! I'd been hoping I'd get a chance to stop by there before I left, and what happened? It came to me! Now, if Old Spaghetti Factory will just find it's way to me before Tuesday ...

Then, I met Pallas for lunch at Martha Green's Eating Room. We had a delightful time getting to know each, plus we had a tasty lunch. She had the egg salad sandwich and I ordered a turkey and avocado melt; we each had sweet potato fries. The food was good and the service was attentive without being intrusive. 

Pallas gave me a beautiful fabric ATC when lunch was over. What a kind gesture! I love ATCs, and this one is particularly nice. Pink is one of my favorite colors, and I adore all things Russian. In fact, I used to joke around that I was Russian in a past life. Thanks, Pallas!

02 April 2009

Another Slow Day

We didn't get to see our house on Tuesday. We didn't get out of Fort Irwin until after 3:30, so it was just too late when we made it to Silver Lakes (it's about an hour drive). We drove to the house and John got to see the outside. We got out of the car and walked around and looked at the backyard, too -- that was the first time I'd seen the backyard!

Today we are back at Fort Irwin; I'm sitting in the Starbucks again. There aren't as many soldiers here as there were Tuesday, but it is starting to slowly fill up. John is expectly to be here for only a couple of hours, so we'll go to Silver Lakes when we leave here. Hopefully, we'll get to see the house today!

31 March 2009

Taking A Break

John and I have been packing and straightening, but today we are taking a break. John had to work for a few hours today, after having the past few days off, so we are both spending the morning at Fort Irwin. I'm sitting in the local Starbucks with the laptop, surrounded by soldiers,waiting for John to break for lunch -- or be done with his work, whichever comes first. Once John is through with his report, we are going to head to Silver Lakes and tour our house, because John still hasn't seen it. Hopefully, it's no longer occupied and I'll get to look at it more closely, too. 

20 March 2009

We Found A House!!!

I've mentioned several times that John and I will be moving soon. Well, Wednesday I went to Silver Lakes to look for a rental house. First, I drove around the area, looking at real estate signs and getting a feel for neighborhoods. I stopped and looked a few housed more closely and made a few phone calls, to no good end. I saw several lovely homes, but nothing that called to me. After I bored of that, I drove to Professional Realty, an agency that had advertised in the local paper as dealing with rentals. Butch, the agent I dealt with, gave me a map and a list of rentals; he suggested that I drive around and look at the outside of the houses I was interested in. Once I had it narrowed down to three or four, we'd go look at the inside of the houses.

I sat down and had a Diet Coke at the local pizzeria, and plotted the houses on the map -- at least the houses I could find! I marked the houses that were either too small or just blatantly out of our price range off the list and then planned to look at several. Fortified, I headed for the first house. There was no real estate sign in the yard and there was a car out front. It felt lived in. So, I headed over to the second house. It was okay. I liked it well enough, but I didn't love it. Slightly discouraged, I headed over to the third house on my list. Remember the saying The third time's a charm? Well, I fell in love at first sight! It was just beautiful. A little bit of yard (enough that we'll have to buy a lawnmower), a pretty front door, a bay window.  While I was looking, a neighbor waved and said, "Hi!" I went over and talked with him for a few minutes. Roger was a very nice man, full of information about cell phone service and satellite companies. 

I continued to look at other houses on the list, but there was always something wrong with them. Either they were too small, or they were two-stories, or they were not very well maintained, or they had too much yard -- which means watering and grooming, since Silver Lakes is in the middle of the Mojave Desert. I really just loved that one house so much -- I got such a good vibe from it -- that none of the other houses could compare. 

I went to lunch, back at the local pizzeria. The lasagna was kind of expensive, but excellent -- and there was plenty to share, had there been anyone to share it with (As it was, I brought home two meals worth after I ate my fill!). After lunch, I headed back to Professional Realty so that I could see three of the houses on the inside. I had narrowed it down to the house that felt lived in, the house I loved, and one slightly larger house that I couldn't find. 

Butch checked and, sure enough, the first house was currently occupied, so we went on to the house I hadn't been able to find. It had some great selling points. It was four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and had a large upstairs deck. The view was amazing. It had a large (dirt) yard, and was on the edge of Silver Lakes, so there weren't neighbors on all sides. On the minus side, it looked like a rental. The carpets were stained in a couple of places and some of the walls were kind of banged up. All of the wood work was very dark, and I just didn't like the way it felt. Plus, it was $50 more a month than the dream house (which I still hadn't seen). 

So, off we headed to the house I really wanted to see. It is currently occupied by a Korean family, so first we had to make sure no one was home. Wouldn't have have been awkward? As it was, I didn't look as closely as I would have liked to have looked at things like closets, the pantry and kitchen cabinets.  It had a really big two-car garage, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dining area in the kitchen, and a fireplace in the living room. Most of the walls are yellow, except in the living room (where they are cream) and I believe in the kitchen (where I'm thinking they are blue). The floors are a combination of ceramic tile and carpet. In the kitchen, the sink (stainless steel, I'm pretty sure) is in a y-shaped island. It's by far the nicest house I've ever lived in.

And the best news? The landlord will accept our three lovely kitties! I got the phone call at about 11:15 this morning that we were good to go. We "take possession" of the house on 10 April. When I'm finished with this post, I'll go over to the rental office and give our notice to our current landlord, so our move-out date here will be 20 April, I think.

No pictures of the inside of the house, since it is currently occupied. It was nice to see it lived it; it gave me ideas for where the furniture could go and for decorating. But it was very awkward to be looking at someone's house, someone's things in the closets. I didn't look under the bathroom or kitchen sink, or in the kitchen cabinets. It felt a bit like prying.

13 March 2009

Secret #10 -- Living in Abundance with Positive Priorities

Chapter Ten contains one of my favorite “secrets” so far in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women book blog discussion group. I hope this entire “gateway” is as exciting and stimulating as this secret is.

“When we are in touch with true abundance, it permeates the fabric of our lives.” – Gail McMeekin

Just today, I needed reminding that abundance is not only financial, and McMeekin did it early on in the chapter. As we save money for first and last month’s rent for a new home, it is tempting to fall back into scarcity thinking, but Source has reminded me – through the Next Chapter book discussion – of a myriad of ways that I am blessed and that abundance is flowing into my life. My dentist has suggested that the partial that I’ve had trouble with from day one be replaced (at no cost) rather than repaired. My father-in-law has been generous and accommodating with his car. My husband got off work almost two hours early. I spent most of the day with one of my dearest friends, enjoying her company as I do few others. One of my cats has been particularly affectionate today. I had to make an unexpected run to the nearby grocery store and truly enjoyed my interaction with the friendly cashier. My late night snack of sugar cookies and chocolate milk tasted exquisite.

It is easy to see abundance as only relating to our finances, but one can be abundant (or scarce) in any area of one’s life. Some people would see my list of blessings – if they saw it at all – as a coincidence, or just life running its course, but I choose to see it as evidence that I’m living a life infused with abundance.  With John’s long commute, I have so little time with him these days; having him off work two hours early definitely provided us with a relative abundance of quality time together! Spending the day with Sandra – having lunch, shopping, and just hanging out – is further abundance in my relationships. Every item on my list is evidence of the plenty in my life.

“Every day I do what I want to, which comes from self-knowledge and commitment. I have a vision of what’s important to me and how to accomplish that. I want to live my authenticity with grace and beauty.” – Cathleen Rountree

I’m just now coming to the place in my life where it is important to me to really and truly live my life the way I want to. I’m developing the self-knowledge and commitment that Rountree is referring to, and it isn’t always easy. I struggle constantly with the concept of inspired action versus developing discipline and making a commitment to myself. I want to live with a certain amount of discipline – creating every day, for example – and yet, I know from experience how important it is to let the actions I take be inspired. I sense that there is a fine line to be walked between these two, and I’m not yet sure of where that line is.

Taking creativity for an example again: Elizabeth Gilbert, in her TED lecture, talks about the importance of showing up and doing your work on a regular basis. That really resonates with me. I think there is something to be gained from showing up, playing with your tools, and doing your work. I know people who say they can’t work unless they are inspired, but Gilbert – and I – would argue that it’s easier to be inspired when you’re doing the work. It’s easier for an idea to find you, if you’re sitting down with your tools – whether they are paint, fabric, beads, or words – and working them with regularly. My limited experience (and Gilbert’s more vast experience) seems to bear this out. But, I don’t always feel inspired to show up and do the work, even though I passionately believe in it. So, you can see my problem here … And yet, I’m convinced that this issue has something to do with living my life as I truly want to.

I long to live the life that Rountree refers to, the life in which she does what she wants to, and lives her “authenticity with grace and beauty”. I’m still figuring out what “living my authenticity” means! I try always to be true to myself, while being considerate of others, but as I’m just now paying enough attention to myself, getting to know myself, it isn’t always easy to be true to myself. “True to myself” changes!

McMeekin offers several Challenges in this chapter, my favorite being the first one, “Your Personal Abundance”. I had so much fun picturing, and then writing about, my ideal life. Since we’re getting ready to move, and will be making several changes in our lifestyle, this was a particularly meaningful exercise; some of what I wrote about will surely come to pass as John and I create a new life for ourselves in our new home.

What are some of the ways that abundance and plenty are showing up in your life? How does “living your authenticity” look? What would your ideal life look life?


01 March 2009

Secret #8 -- Selecting Empowering Partnerships and Alliances

The eighth secret in Gail McMeekin’s The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is “Selecting Empowering Partnerships and Alliances”. This was a difficult chapter for me because at this point in my creative journey, I don’t seek/desire a partnership or collaboration, outside of the support systems we talked about in the last secret.

I definitely want encouraging and empowering people around me, but the truth is that I don’t work well with others. I never have. In fact, a teacher noted as much on an early report card! I listen to the beat of my own drum, work by my own time-table, and have my own methods of organization. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working with others; it’s just that I don’t do it very well.

Having said all of that, I’d love to have a support team! I currently have three separate – but intertwined – dreams, so my support team would require people with a variety of characteristics:

  • Working mixed-media artist
  • Highly creative and open
  • Challenging, yet encouraging
  • Background in teaching
  • Connections at teaching venues
  • Someone who can read/critique/edit/make suggestions
  • Someone who understands the publishing process
  • Someone who understands the self-publishing process.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’m moving in a month to six weeks, so I’m not going to do much to form a support team right now. But when I get settled into my new dwelling, I’m going to make this a priority!

28 February 2009

Canvas Progress & Workshop Photos

I've been working on the canvas that I started in Kristy's workshop. Here's the progress so far. She looks lopsided in this photo, but she doesn't actually look like that. Not sure what will happen next ...
Sandra working on one of the background techniques.

Kristy before the workshop started. Luckily, she was still smiling when it was all over!

Kristy's Class Today!

This is actually a 10x10 canvas, so it's a little more square than this shows. I scanned this in, and my scanner bed is 8 1/2 x 14, so it doesn't show all the yellow on the right. When I'm done with the canvas, I'll take a photo of it to get the whole thing in.

Class today was too much fun! We learned three image transfer techniques, a couple of background techniques and painted deli paper. We broke for lunch for about half an hour (we got take out from Gourmet Pizza down the street). Everyone did really awesome -- but really different -- work. It was exciting to watch people who are new to mixed-media collage put together their first piece. Kristy did a great job.

25 February 2009

I Won & Upcoming Book Review ...

Tuesday night was Kristy Christopherson's program at the Redlands Art Association. She did a really good job. She offered the above piece for the opportunity drawing, and I won! It didn't hurt any that I bought $20 worth of drawing tickets! LOL! I was so pleased to win it, since not only is it a beautiful piece, but she's a good friend of mine. 

After not checking our mail for a couple of days, I was treated to a real treasure in my post office box when I opened it this afternoon. A review copy of Kathy Cano-Murillo's Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing: Fabu-Low-Sew Projects for the Everyday Crafter was sitting there, waiting for me. I haven't started reading it yet, but I have glanced through it. The book is beautiful and I can't wait to dig into it. Of course, I'll let you know what I think of it!

21 February 2009

Must See TED!

Lately, across several blogs, I've been seeing references to Elizabeth Gilbert's talk on TED. I had no idea what was being referred to, but I can take a hint from the Universe. You've got to check this talk out! Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, talks about a new way of looking at creativity. Actually, it's an old way -- an ancient way. Listen to Gilbert talk about being a conduit for the creative spirit. I was moved to tears ... literally.

Secret #7 -- Consulting With Guides

For several weeks now, I’ve been participating in The Next Chapter, a book discussion blog group, hosted by the amazing Jamie Ridler. We are reading 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. This week’s secret has to do with Consulting With Guides.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to write about this secret. McMeekin has the reader take a history of Your Creative Heritage. That was so difficult for me. While I didn’t grow up in a creative prison, I wasn’t raised in the most nurturing environment, either. Like most parents, mine did the best they could with what they had. And what they had included one son who is immensely talented at realistic drawing and a special needs daughter who died at 12-years old. My mother and father didn’t have the time or energy to be creative themselves or to nurture creativity in their children. Well, that’s not altogether true. My aforementioned older brother got private art lessons for awhile, until he decided that art wasn’t cool anymore. But as the sister closest in age to the special needs child, I often got lost in the shuffle. I have no idea if I had any natural talent as a child. My mother has since told me that I loved to draw and color – and that I would color on anything that didn’t wriggle away. In fact, as a young child, I “enhanced” the print that hung in the living room behind the couch with crayon (my first “mixed-media” piece!).That piece hung there for years.

As I got older – and children left the nest – my mother took more time out for herself. I remember trips to the craft store every Saturday, and then a week playing with whatever technique had been demonstrated that day. She sewed beautifully, and began to get more creative with both that and her cooking. I was just along for the ride. No particular interest was paid to whatever I might have been good at, and no one thought to inquire about what I might have especially enjoyed. I had no concept of process, or getting lost in my creative endeavors.

For years, I let my creative efforts lie fallow or in the void. But when I was ready to explore my creativity, the Universe sent me people who encouraged me, taught me, and guided me. Just at the time my creative energies were starting to stir, I was sent a highly creative friend, and Diane has encouraged me so much and shared several of her own techniques with me. I currently have a real, honest-to-Source mentor, who encourages me, while also telling me just how it is. She lifts me up, teaches me and supports me. We don’t create the same kind of art, so I’ve never felt any envy about her process or her product, even though she’s a highly creative artist. Sandy also got me involved in our local art association, supported me through a Featured Artist Show, to the point of hanging the show for me! I’m also blessed with an amazing artist friend who is also encouraging and supportive. We relate more as contemporaries, not as a mentor/mentoree. We often make art together, and we delight in the other’s success. Then, of course, there is my husband, my best-friend, and my family - all whom are terrifically supportive and encouraging. I also belong to a group that meets once-a-month to share and make art together.

I’ll be moving in the next month-to-six weeks. I wonder what kind of community and support system I’ll find in my new home. I’m hoping that I’ll find (or be able to create) an artist group that meets once-a-week. That would be delightful.

What kind of guides do you have? I hope you have wonderful encouragement in your creative life!

18 February 2009

Shopping and Organization

Today, Kristy Christopherson and I went to Palm Desert to shop at The Art Colony. What a wonderful day we had! The Art Colony is a wonderful store, full of everything you can imagine for the serious artist. This is no Michael's or JoAnn! They carry Golden Artist Colors, Copic Markers, and all kinds of other goodies. Shopping was a great experience -- I could have bought one of everything! As it was, I spent WAY to much money (luckily, I have an understanding and supportive husband), and I didn't buy close to half the store! The best part of the experience, though, was getting to know Kristy better. We talked and laughed for hours. 

When I came home, I realized I had no where to put my new treasures, so I started organizing. I got my dining room table mostly cleared off -- and I found my long-lost blow dryer -- and started organizing my supplies. I still have some things I need to do, but it felt good to take a step toward getting this under control. Andrea Scher, this week's featured interview in The Next Chapter book blog, says that real courage is in hearing your gremlins/saboteurs and taking some action anyway. If that's the case, I was very courageous today!

17 February 2009

Secret #6 -- Conquering Saboteurs

This week's dicsucssion in The Next Chapter online book blog is secret #6 of Gail McMeekin’s 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is about “Conquering Saboteurs”. I’m really fortunate that I’m in a place right now where I’m not spending a lot of time with my gremlins and personal saboteurs. I wish I could say that this was a permanent phenomenon, but I’m fully aware that this is part of a cycle, like so many other cycles in my life.

Because I’m not currently being visited too much by the gremlins and saboteurs, I was able to enter my first juried art show over the week-end. None of my three pieces were accepted, but I truly feel okay about that. There was one juror, so the show is a reflection of one man’s opinion. My art didn’t resonate with him; that’s fine because there are plenty of people whom I respect that my art does resonate with.

Unlike Andrea Scher, I’m not currently being visited by voices that talk to me about my work or my worthiness – but I have been, and won’t be surprised if they come back. She makes a great point that the voices quiet down sometimes and get louder at other times; the best we can do is manage them. One saboteur that is currently making its presence known for me is Disorganization, one I know well. I do my arting and crafting at the dining room table, where we rarely eat. However, as the largest flat surface when I first walk in the house, it’s also a repository for mail, packages, and papers that don’t seem to have any other home. As you can imagine, my work space is in total disarray. But that’s okay, because it goes along with my supplies, which are also in total chaos. We are moving soon, so it’s difficult for me to find the energy to do much toward reorganizing my supplies. See how the gremlin of Disorganization has got me in its clutches?

McMeekin writes early in the chapter that, “For creative women, self-sabotage poses a serious risk to the completion of work. To become a woman who expresses her creativity, as opposed to a woman who just dreams about it, mastering these nasty gremlins becomes an essential competence.” This quote reminds me that it’s imperative that I make time and energy to organize my supplies (besides, won’t organized supplies be easy to pack?) and clean off my table/work surface. Not simply because my home would look better and be more comfortable, but because it’s important for the sake of my art!

I have a loose goal of developing the discipline of engaging in my art everyday. I have colorful calendar that helps me chart my progress, with too many blanks as of late. The gremlin of Disorganization is effectively keeping me from my goal!

Hmmm, I guess the saboteurs are more active in my life right now than I thought they were!