My journey of becoming a healthier person, an artist and a better contributor to the world.
The best way to describe myself is by saying how much I dislike labels and categories. I believe in kindness and enjoy finding the beauty in the world. My favorite things to do are spending time outdoors with my family, walking my dog alone, eating ice cream and exploring art in all forms. Life is good.
Feels like yesterday when my daughter and I would color cute animals with crayons and colored pencils. Now, she games, a lot. Her game du jour is called “Hollow Night” and she loves the characters so her artistic outlet is to create new ones who would fit in the game. This one is called “Vine” but I told her it would be cooler to misspell it to “Vyne” because…you know.
My horoscope said to hang out with a kid tonight so I asked her if she wanted to paint with me (I really suck at her video game and neither of us felt like playing a game)…nope. She didn’t want to draw either but she suggested I draw one of her characters in “my style” (I don’t feel like I have a style). Well, ok…why not? That is good, quality family time, right?
So, here you have her (all her characters are female)–Vyne! (She approved although did critique her a bit.)
I’m often tempted to click on those persistent ads on FB when they pop up in my feed. One that I did click on recently is a watercolor subscription. They send you an adorable kit once/month for $35 that includes the image, the paint, brushes and a how-to video. So, I thought…hmmm…I could sign-up and review this on my blog and have some fun too. Then I realized, I have watercolor paint, brushes, graphite paper, mixed media paper and a whole bunch of google expertise! 🙂
So, I downloaded my favorite octopus tattoo picture, busted out my graphite paper and traced it to the mixed media paper.
Then, I watched the video on the website (you can view any of a thousand on youtube for free too) and painted my first octopus. Not too bad. I have some room to grow but I am digging it so far. I love water color because it doesn’t make a big mess, you use far less paint and it feels less toxic (I honestly don’t know).
Bottom line–check your inventory before you spend a bunch of money of more of what you probably already have in your garage! Happy painting!
You can take a photo or you can develop a relationship. If your heart stays open it gets bigger and fuller (kinda like the Grinch). I love portraiture photography because I love faces and stories and connections. If someone trusts you, it’s amazing what you can capture. It feels like a gift every time too. I love the safety of having a lens between us but not taking away from the moment.
This is Emma. She has no idea how beautiful she is…her heart is open, she is kind and funny and generous. We are taking a journey together to capture her own personal before and during …her after has yet to come. She’s lived too many experiences to capture in one image but as you can see here, she trusted me to take the first step with her and so far, she’s timeless.
I painted today. This always makes me smile–in spite of all the wankers who try so hard to ruin my day. Some people jog to clear their heads, I get my hands dirty. Funny enough, my grandmother liked to paint with her hands too but I never once saw her paint. I saw the art on the walls but she never shared that with me…I wonder why? Sharing your art is a gift.
So, back to the fun. I have been thinking about my triptych project and although I’ve been thinking about horizons, I don’t want all 3 pieces to look the same or for the horizons to look uneven or forcibly random (is that a thing?). This is why I practice with small canvases.
Here’s today’s attempt. I created my horizon first and worked from there. I appreciate the layering process so I began by painting the canvas with 2 colors on opposite ends of the color wheel–my favorite combo of red and blue.
Next, I decided to play around with 6 different colors that made me think of a sunset at the ocean. From the bottom up I mixed black, blues, purple, more blue and transitioned to warm yellow hues and back to black/blue. I applied these colors with a small brush and then dabbed a small, round sponge over each color.
While the paint was still wet (but drying fast) I took a wet paper towel and cleaned up the silver line and then pulled the paint from the silver line down to give it some movement. I also took the wet paper towel and dragged it across in a horizontal and vertical pattern to make the “sky” feel more natural but still abstract. Voila! I have my little sample!
What do I like about this? The colors are gorgeous. I like the pull you see in the blues and the gradual fade of the oranges into the black. The texture isn’t captured well here but it is very textural–another thing I enjoy. What do I want to do differently next time? Move the horizontal line away from center–it’s too balanced. I don’t like the 50/50 look here. It’s much more interesting when you view things in thirds vs halves. Next time I will consider elongating the sky and minimizing the sea. Another thing to make your art amazing is to share a story or at least create a head-scratching name for your piece. I call this my sample (because it’s a practice piece) but I could call a final version something much more abstract like “poets dream” or “sadness” or “through the lens.” You get the idea. 🙂 It’s a journey you want to take your viewers on with you or at least make them think you are deep and artsy.
Does a blank canvas motivate or paralyze you? I used to be paralyzed until I began painting and repainting and another coat of gesso and more paint…and now, I love them. I keep small, cheap canvases on hand for practice and inspiration. I’ve painted over this one at least 3 times in the past month–it’s a 5×7 canvas and I have 3 of them that I’m using for practice. My plan is to paint a large triptych when I finally figure out what I want to look at for a while (because once I ask the hub to frame them and hang them–they will be on the wall at least a year). I tried a few Rothko style paintings and they felt heavy and clunky. Then I tried Bob Ross style fan brush tree and it was too light and practically flew off the canvas. My next attempt will be a variety of brush strokes and sponge work with a little horizontal line to center the eyes…we’ll see what happens! I was inspired by my photo of the ocean yesterday and want to capture it in paint.
Grab a canvas or a piece of paper and some colored pencils and join me, or, like my daughter, grab your tablet and stylus. It’s blank canvas week!
We spent the weekend at the coast and this truly is my happy place. It is the place that holds my heart, sweeps me into bliss and makes me feel safe. It’s my church. I always feel creative at the beach. I want to build sandcastles, write poetry, read classic novels, and paint. I did some of that–wrote poetry yesterday but today was “clean the house and drive 4.5 hours home” day…so I thought, “what am I going to blog today?” Hmmm…my fallback is my photography. I’m a photographer because I earned my MFA in Photography therefore, I should be a photographer, right? But, what if painting is calling me? Well, I didn’t have time to paint today so I leaned back on what I know and didn’t “create” something new. It feels like a cop-out because I didn’t exercise my creative mind. But, I still captured something I love, something that soothes my soul and something I’m proud of…even if it was captured with my iPhone (not my DSLR).
Just like a hungry belly, my creative self needs to be fed to function properly. Poetry is one of my favorite dishes. This book, Milk and Honey, was love at first sight. My senses were stimulated instantly–the bees on the cover with the simple title lured my eyes, the soft, velvety texture of the cover was like touching skin for the first time in the most sensual way…it felt indulgent to hold. Her poems are intimate and truly a window to her soul. She fearlessly reveals herself and like the poem on the back of the book says, “this is my heart in your hands.” I love her. I feel her and I connected. My gift back to her is a complete deep dive into every single page, every word, every sketch and doodle…I opened my own heart on the pages and let my creative self out today.
I am the queen of excuses and the master of procrastination. I watched a TED talk about procrastination once (see below) and the whole time I was shouting to my hub, “Check this out, I’m not the only one!” Procrastination has rarely failed me…ok, it has recently when I missed a deadline for a grant application (insert lots of anguish here) but honestly, I usually ROCK under pressure. Timelines are my friend. I have learned one very valuable lesson though (which was reinforced when I read the book Outliers) you have to have your spaghetti ready when the time comes, you can’t just wing it and succeed. LOTS of practice prepares you for success when you’re under the gun. Case in point, my latest piece, “Life Force.”
Over a month ago I picked up my 12×12 wood block from the art gallery knowing it was due on August 4th for the upcoming fund raiser show. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with this piece–I wanted to do something new, something different and creatively satisfying. So, I took some of my hub’s scrap wood and played around with different techniques. In the meantime, I’d been playing with a new technique where you add silicone to acrylic paint, thin it out and use a palate knife to paint designs on canvas. I created at least 25 pieces until I felt like I was mastering this particular technique and then I walked away for a while. Until last night…2 nights before my piece is due to the gallery. Paralyzed with indecision, I leaned on what I’d been practicing and felt confident I could execute and went for it. The result is this piece and I’m thrilled with it because it shows the movement of the waves I love so much. Water symbolizes life and to watch it move with such force makes me feel so small and my problems insignificant. I love the ocean and I’m happy to offer this piece to my local gallery–I hope it sells!
The secret to becoming is to first be…it’s time to nurture my creative self and see what can happen. I’m starting this 365-day project on my birthday in an effort to see how much I can creatively grow in a year. I want to learn what I’m capable of by doing instead of thinking about doing. My day began with the hub giving me a gift card to my favorite, local art shop. This is the start of something exciting–I can feel it! Join me if you’ve been wanting to create more too.
My first project is to paint a 12×12 wood block for a non-profit, artist run, art gallery fund raiser. Let’s see how it goes!
Don’t live in the shadow of others and don’t cast a shadow on anyone.
Be you. You are everything on the list (wife, mother, sister, friend…) but not just ONE = all in one beautiful, incredible package. Others love you for the whole—not just the one.
Feel good physically — find your happy place (physically), either embrace and accept your current physical self or change it.
Feel good emotionally — if you need a happy pill, take it.
Choose to maintain only the friends you want to be old with. Keep a distance to the rest—they are a waste of your time.
Don’t resent the mojo in others. Your spouse, your friends, your children. Recognize it and be happy for them. Look at them, see how they glow, know you’ll be there too.
It’s OK to explore spiritually — you don’t have to commit to one religion or dogma. Fine things that make you feel fulfilled and go with it. You can embrace nature like a pagan while enjoying the rituals of a Catholic mass and meditating like a Hindi…it’s all good if its all good.
Accept your faults, change what you can and accentuate your positive features. We’re only human.
Make time for yourself any way you can. This is critical. you won’t find your mojo if you can’t focus on yourself.
Reach out to others. People want you in their lives—our lives cross for a reason. Try to figure out why —are they here for you or are you here for them?
When my daughter was 3 years old I was recently retired from the military, a military spouse (following my husband’s career), still carrying my baby weight on my hips and belly and feeling very lost and without an identity…when I had the idea of creating my own path back to finding my mojo. These steps changed my life and renewed my sense of self, brought back my feelings of individuality and joy. I hope they help even one other person struggling with their journey to finding their place. It’s important to realize that this is not something that is done once and permanent…keeping your mojo is just as important and must be exercised as well. I have revisited this list over the years when my roller coaster dips from a joyful high to a challenging low. The steps continue to work for me–in no particular order–and have helped me stay happy and centered. xo
photo: This image was taken at a butterfly habitat in the Smithsonian…she is damaged but still, she can fly. kms photography