The Struggle

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My biggest struggle right now is balancing the responsibilities of my day job, which are exponentially greater right now than they have ever been, with my creative endeavors. I have been steadily working towards leaving work at work – 7am to 4pm – and then the rest of the time is MY time to focus on creative pursuits be it jewelry, art journaling, graphic design, or technical assistance of all kinds to who ever seems to need it. I guess it should not have come as such a shock that I went from my happy schedule into demanded oblivion of 12 hour days without breaks and the occasional weekend wrap-ups, but it has. I knew it was coming before Christmas; I sensed the inevitable call to arms was approaching, but I think that the holidays and the infancy of the new year sprinkled and glossed over the impeding doom. But alas, here I am on a Sunday, frantically surveying my distress and sadness over untouched art supplies and ideas that have been unable to come to fruition.
Still, I do have some art to share that I was able to squeeze out this last week despite all of the chaos. So here it goes:

I have been working primarily in a handmade journal created by my friend Jessica Hartwell. There are two things that are different about this journal. First, all of the paper in it is black and second, the pages measure 12″ x 6″ – tall and skinny. At times I have been tempted to work an a spread rather than a singular page, but sticking with a left or right facing page has stretched my layout muscles. The size is actually the easier of the two things to work with. Black paper is very interesting. You would think that things would stick out more on black, but black actually absorbs the paint and often things appear softer and with less contrast than I expect. I’m pretty fascinated with the challenge and I have purchased one of the 8 x 8 black Dylusions journals to experiment more. The paper is thicker in the 8 x 8 journal so I’ll be able to do more with wet media than I am able to do in this current journal.
The following are some close ups of the pages which feature painting.  In most cases, I’ve used the Souffle pens for writing and drawing so that they stand out from the page:

I’ve also been experimenting with horizontal vs. vertical layouts. Obviously, the vertical pages are more challenging because everything has to be tall and thin. If I choose to use a larger image, I often have to crop it. But some very interesting things happen with scale when you work with tall and thin vertical pages. You can use leading line for a more dramatic page. This page is a good example – where the girl in the cave is looking up – the accent elements work with this to make the viewer’s eye go to the woman at the top who is emerging:

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Thematically, I think you might have noticed that I am working with traditional beginning of the year themes. My personal watch phrase this month is “Ready, Set, Go!” And going, o boy, am I going!

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Happy New Year!

This year I am striving to have the most creative year I’ve ever had.  I know, lots of people say that, but I am going on record to say that I’m determined to make more art, teach more classes, and work harder than I have ever worked before to make creativity a top priority in my life.  It sustains my soul.  I get grumpy if I don’t get to work on art projects for several days in a row.

Bright and early this morning I finished a journal that I started at Thanksgiving during a Gratitude Journal class that I co-taught with my closest friend, Jessica Hartwell.

The journal was created by spray painting large water color sheets with stencils.  Then the sheet were cut down into size and bound together. Jessica and I swapped a few pages, so my journal has a mix of colors.

All of the stars on the pages inspired me to do a motivational journal rather than a gratitude journal and once the cover was complete, I added the title “Magical Me.” (Yes, totally a Harry Potter reference in case you’re wondering).

Here is a flip through of the final product.  If you like it, please leave a comment below and let me know which page is your favorite and why.

 

Reflecting

image3 (1)It has taken me most of the day to decide what to write about this week.  I am currently working on a new journal page and thinking about this last year in retrospect.  Overall, it was a good year despite the loss of a relationship.  In some ways it seems funny to be thinking about the ending of things when so much is just starting or things that were begun a while ago are ramping up.  I’m excited about the future.

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This week I really only worked on one piece.  I guess reflecting on the past has been happening a great deal lately.  I chose the quote that is on this painting with my past in mind – specifically comparing the person I was back when I started college and where I thought I would be to the person that I am now.  When I shared this on Facebook, someone commented that they didn’t like thinking that they were not where they wanted to be.  To me, I am where I want to be, but where I am now is nothing like the future I imagined 25 or so years ago.

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At the beginning of this week, my friend Connie asked me what I think it means to manifest something.  And in my explanation, I mentioned that to manifest, you have to let go.  If ever there was a lesson that returns to me over and over, it’s learning how to let go.  This last year has been full of letting go.  This last week has as well.  In many ways, the Fall
is all about letting go and releasing as much as it is about reflecting.  And then it’s followed by the silent serenity of Winter and the promise of Spring.

I finished the week carving a pumpkin.  I haven’t carved one in years.  It was a great way to conclude the week.

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Anticipating the Future

I had a crazy day yesterday driving all over shuttling kids to events and back.  The Portland National College Fair was the big event of the day and I am so proud of my oldest daughter because she was better prepared and better composed than most of her friends, including those who are Seniors.  We bounced happily from one of her choices to another crossing schools off our list one by one and finding surprises along the way.  None of these schools are in our current state and half of the choices are nearly as far away as you can go.  I’ve always known Miranda would leave the nest and fly far – that’s just her spirit.  What surprised me is that she is far more focused than I imagined and her mission is all about the program, not simply to get away from home.  The fact that Tampa FL and Pittsburgh PA are two of the locations is happenstance.

I recalled my own junior year of high school being full of disappointment and squelched dreams because my father experienced a long lasting period of unemployment and my parents decided that my only option would be the local junior college.  Looking back, I should have applied anyway; but, I was a good girl who listened to my parents and trusted they had all the knowledge (at least where finances were concerned).  My parenting reflects my rebellion as I constantly encourage my children to explore and believe that anything is possible.  How amazingly grateful I am that my daughters can choose to approach life wide-eyed and fearless now instead of waiting until they’re over 40!

My best friend Jessica and I were talking earlier this week about our aspirations in the art world and she expressed to me that she is thinking about being a full-time artist, to which I replied, “No, it’s happening! It’s definitely happening!”  I’m done with thinking about potential possibility.  I am ready.  I am an artist and I’m going to make art for a living!  So what that I am divorced, over 40, and every other excuse the old tapes play in my head when I am feeling doubtful or scared!  I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn that the magic isn’t out there in the future, it is right now.  I’ve learned that taking one step every single day is the only way to make a dream come to reality and I’m honestly not looking at time, though I have goals written down because that’s good to do, I am looking at today.  I’m writing this article right now because it’s the step I can take in this moment to move myself closer to being a full-time artist and teacher.

I’m also writing this article because I pledged to myself and my dream that I would write every Sunday morning about what happened in the studio this week.

I did a paint over early in the week entitled, “Bliss.”  It was a fun piece to do and I honestly had no idea what the result was going to be.  I started with fluorescent oil pastels in my journal and then gessoed over them using a stencil.

IMG_0009This resulted in an extremely bright page but the rays weren’t as prominent as I IMG_0010wanted so I painted over the whole thing with blue acrylic paint and then, while it was still a little damp, I placed the stencil in different positions/directions from where it was the first time and picked up the paint through the stencil with a baby wipe.  The result was much closer to what I had originally intended.  I love the way that the colors peek through.

My next step isn’t documented by photo, but I drew 3 hearts down the left side with a fluorescent oil pastel and decided I needed a face.  I am still learning how to draw expression and I found an image in my stash which captured exactly the feeling I wanted to evoke.  I got to work.  I painted with acrylics and gesso and I activated my neocolor II crayons.  I embellished and the end result is surprisingly WAY different that where I initially started.  I love it.

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Isn’t she beautiful!  Isn’t she blissful?  This is exactly representative about how I feel about my present and my anticipated future.

The rest of the week was really busy and the weather shifted more to our typical fall so I did a lot of reading and resting in addition to working 40 hours at my current job.  But I managed to take and post a bunch of closeup photos whenever happiness appeared in my world.  Here they all are in case you didn’t see them on Facebook.

I wish you a fantastically creative artsy fearless week!

Being in the Moment

I’ll admit, it takes a while to be able to sit down at a blank page and just create in the moment.  I’m not talking about planning out what you’re going to do, but rather opening your journal to a blank page and grabbing the first color that jumps out at you and scribbling or squirting it on the page and BAM! you’re off!

This last week was a bit hectic, not so much because I was running all over the place, but because it’s Fall and it’s dark, and immune systems are suppressed, and oh yeah – I still work 40 hours a week at a real job before I can head to the studio.  Additionally, my friend Barbara Kennedy and I launched a Beach Retreat weekend which offers 4 amazing classes in wire wrapping, wire weaving, and beading.  You can read about that here if you want.

So I kept meaning to get into the studio all week, I’d walk out there and sigh, but I didn’t actually get out there to relax until Friday night.  And when I did finally get out to my desk and I looked at the page, I didn’t think at all (why think?  I had been doing more than my share of that all week!).  I went for it!

First I started glueing down the insides of a bill I had received earlier that week – the security envelope the bill came in had a super cool pattern I had never seen before in a bill and I saved it.  So I ripped and tore strips and stuck them down with Matte Medium and after about the 5th strip, I noticed to my dismay that the ink was running – so the cool black and white pattern was quickly becoming grey and turning the page grey with it.  Ick!  Not what I had in mind!  So I grabbed a tube of paint – teal! and put a few dots on the page and dry brushed the teal around.  That’s better!  Nice and bright!  I reached for one of my rubber stamps with a swirl pattern.  I wonder what will happen if I put paint on just one side and stamp with it, I thought?  Using Zinc White, I put the swirls around all the sides.  Hmmm, that looks okay, but not exactly what I was going for – too subtile.  So I grabbed a stencil I’ve been waiting to use and some red Dylusions ink spray and squirted it. Ahhhh contrast and vivid color.  I cut out a beautiful yellow flower and glued it up top – no idea why, it wanted to be there.  I cut out a face, intending originally to collage around it, and glued that down.  I added red on the sides with an oil pastel.  I sat back in my chair.

Is it finished?  What else does it need?  I love how the numbers are floating out of her head looking as though they’re being absorbed by the serene yellow flower above – yellow is my favorite color.  I think it’s done, I mutter.  Showed it to my daughter, Miranda and said the same thing, to which she wisely commented, “then it is done!”  And I thought – YES!  It is done.

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Before I left the studio Friday night, I glued down a piece of pattered pager and some text on another page.  I just really liked this piece of paper, I didn’t think anything more about it than that.  And last night I felt there should be a face on the page and so I drew it.  I’m still practicing 3/4 view and I am happy to say that I got the nose almost right and the right eye almost right…LOL….but when I finished, I thought – my goodness, I am really into red and blue, because here’s what transpired and I swear it was without any thought:

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This piece was sketched out with a blue stabilo all pencil, activated, and then I shaded with my prismacolor pencils, added the white accents on the eyes with water-based Sharpie paint pen and also added a touch of zinc white to her face, which i rubbed off to reveal her rosy cheeks.  The flowers around here are some old dye cuts I have been hoarding and the quote is from a discarded tea bag – I save all of the ones that I like.

I think it’s pretty interesting that I stuck within the same color palette on both pages and did so without thinking.  I’ll have to meditate upon what blue and red mean to me.  I remember when I was in the 3rd grade, I had a dress that I loved which had been gifted to me by my Aunt after a trip she made to France.  It had tiny stripes of red and blue – and it made my eyes hurt to stare at it – I remember thinking that the lines vibrated.  I also remember being very puzzled why it worked that way.  That’s the only thing that ever pops into my mind when I think of red and blue together aside from color theory discourse about using complements and primary colors.

I definitely think in the first piece I was releasing all of the pent up thoughts in my head so I could enter into my sacred art space.  Give being in the moment a try – I’m positive with practice you’re bound to have a serendipitous result like me!

P.S.  I’ve been taking all of my favorite odd containers into the studio that I have held onto but never use and putting them to use finally!  This cup was from my childhood – unfortunately the plate broke back then.  It was my favorite.  It features Little Miss Muffet.

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On the Surface

I am so overdue posting, had to start with that obligatory comment. Sadly I was way overdue working in my journal. I got to the point where I could not stand it anymore. I feel much better now. I have been creating, but mostly working on jewelry. Trying to get things up on Etsy. Trying to get some classes together. Emphasis on “trying.”
Work has taken a front seat lately, which had its good points. I honestly love my job and am very grateful for that. I get to be creative while making a living. I get to teach. I am one of the few who gets paid for her passion. But often passion must be suppressed in the professional world. Lately my passion has been getting me into sticky situations. I need to learn to be more humble. It’s tough.
So this page is about my struggle because I feel like I am incapable of putting on a “poker face” to hide what is really going on with me. Despite all of the work I have done, when I am hungry, angry, lonely, and/or tired, all decorum and emotional control feels and often is impossible. I just don’t have a poker face. What you see is what you get with me.

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Week One – Swatches

So I’m taking another wonderful class from artist Kelly Kilmer called “Swatches: Little Paper Books.”  The idea is to work small, to use bits of things, to work with recycled materials and explore doing things differently than you have done bookbefore.  I’m loving the class and the challenge faced with working small.  I’ve worked small in the past – created scads of Artist Trading Cards, but with my journals, I’ve always worked pretty large.  My typical journals are 8 1/2 x 11 pages.  So working in this little 5 x 5 inch book is quite different for me.  You will see I’ve come up with a few creative solutions so far.  As always, I’m learning alot.  I cannot say enough great things about Kelly’s classes.

In making my book, I decided to use a recycled street newspaper that is published here in Portland – The Mercury.  I picked it up one day because I liked the cover image and I have been saving it for a while.  I realized that I could cut the paper apart retaining only the top left corner and this would give me the headlines for all the pages with which to play with.  I bound the pages together by hand using Kelly’s instructions.  Here’s the resulting book.

I haven’t decided how I’m going to alter the cover yet;  I think I’m saving that for last.  Other things I decided to do is have curious tabs here and there and also try and have a paint swatch used on every page in some way.  The following are the pages I’ve completed within the last seven days – the first week of class.

Day1_Left  Day1_Right   Day2

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Day6  Day7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now some of the pages have special details worth mentioning.  The first is that the page for day 2 includes a transparency cover that may be lifted up so you can more clearly read the journaling beneath.

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And day 4 is a set of doors which opens to reveal the rest of the page.

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All the pages are individuals with the exception of day 1 – took a whole spread.  I’ve tried to keep the adjacent pages color themed similar so that visually the spreads look good except that they are for completely separate prompts.  Here are the spreads for the first seven days.

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Day2-3_Spread

Day4-5_spread

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So far, the only combination/page I’m not completely happy with is day 7.  I am not too fond with the green along the bottom.  I’m thinking of a way to fix that.