Friday, February 27, 2009

Gratitude giveaway!!

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about my gratitude journal, I decided to assemble a box of goodies* for one lucky blog reader. Among the many things I am grateful for is the fact that anyone bothers at all to stop in and read this thing, so I want to say thanks to all of you. Just leave a comment about something for which you are grateful between now and 5 pm on Thursday, March 12.
On Friday, March 13, with much fanfare and probably some wine, I will ask a friend to pull a name out of a hat or shoe or something, and I will post the name of the winner, and arrange for shipment. ...I will probably add a few things between now and then too!
If you are unable to leave a comment, feel free to email me. My email address can be found by clicking the link at the right for "View my complete profile" and then clicking the email link.

*So far, the box includes a set of rubber stamps by Hero Arts, a fleece throw, a handmade memo board with easel, incense, chopsticks, and an assortment of art & craft supplies.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A glimpse of gratitude

Here is a glimpse of my first gratitude journal, which is almost full. What a great feeling to have a book full of gratitude!
It was so satisfying and therapeutic to keep this journal as it made me look back on each day, even the not so fabulous ones, and find the good parts...and there were always good parts, even in the midst of worry and stress and occasional heartache. I found that there are always dozens of things to be grateful for in an ordinary day, and ending even a bad day by trying to find the best parts meant that I took good thoughts with me into slumber...which in turn would carry forth to the next day.

This particular journal began as an altered book. It was an old book, so the spine is wonky and I had to glue groups of pages together for stability. I also began by embellishing each page with just a bit of art -- mostly paints, rubber stamps, doodles and decorative borders. Just enough color and texture so that picking it up is a celebration of sight and touch. It invites gratitude, I think. If you've been wanting to venture into the world of journaling, but want to start with small steps, I encourage you to begin with a gratitude journal. It's remarkably easy and uplifting. I like altered books as journals because the pages are already filled and I find the text-filled backgrounds less intimidating than plain white pages, but just pick a book (or make a book) that feels good to you. I don't impose too many rules for myself when I embark on this kind of project. I didn't have a set number of items for which I should be grateful, and I didn't do it everyday. Some days I was just bubbling over with gratitiude - like when my niece was on the mend from her recent surgeries. Other days I did it because my day had seemed so awful, and I wanted to pull myself out of a bad mood -- and it worked every time. Consciously reminding myself of my blessings made them multiply, it seemed. Really, I was just making myself more aware - it was a great exercise in living more joyfully.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ebb and flow...

I think there is a natural ebb and flow to the creative process -- much like the tides - the pull of the moon - the seasons - joy and sorrow - wakefulness and sleep. Nature's rhythms are at work all the time, and though we cannot see them, we are always responding to these powerful forces around us. For this reason, it is important to pay attention to our urges and desires. If we listen closely, they are telling us what we need. My friend, artist Marilyn Rock, commented in my last post that "these breaks in creativity are necessary." While I found my period of artlessness frustrating and even scary at times, I think she's right. I tried to force it a few times, and the results were just that -- forced. I was not engaged in the process and therefore the product was unsatisfying -- not good or bad -- but not from that magical place where creativity just bursts forth.

Above is last night's painting. I cannot tell you the last time I spent two consecutive evenings for hours just painting. I wanted to create another study in texture, but I did not prep the canvasses in advance, so the textured canvasses are still drying, and this was a study in layering color and form.

Mystery : 16 x 20 mixed media painting: acrylics & plastic lizard adhered w/ beeswax

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The muse seems to have returned...

After a long period of artlessness, I had a strong urge to return to my art room late yesterday afternoon and paint. I took a brief break to walk Max and have a bite to eat, and worked well into the evening. Since I rise early each day to walk Max and begin my day, I try not to stay up too late, but it was almost midnight when I put down my paintbrush. I was playing a lot of country and bluegrass music, which must have made its way into the painting that resulted. I had absolutely no intention when I began this piece except to keep my brush moving and play with texture and color, so I was surprised to step back and see the finished piece, with its barnlike colors and feel. The evening flew, and I felt exhilarated to have finally broken through my inertia of the past few months. I cannot wait to get home tonight and paint again.

When I thought about it, I was surprised to find, if I really asked myself what took so long, that there was an underlying fear about returning to my art. What if I have no inspiration? What if I just can't do it? What if it's bad? All the old fears fell away when I just decided to move the brush and let go of thinking about it so much.

Wind: 16 x 20 mixed media painting: acrylics, spackle, tissue, & found objects on canvas

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A project using Claudine's sticky-back canvas...

During a collaborative art day with my friends Marilyn and Laura late in the fall, my contribution was this miniature tryptich/wall hanging which begins with pieces of roof flashing and Claudine Hellmuth's sticky-back canvas, from her line of Ranger products. I used various inks, rubber stamps, and embellishments on the canvas before adhering it to the flashing and assembling the hanging.