Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Christmas Time...

Yes, I can tell it's Christmas Time. Is it the decorations all around or the continuous holiday music being played on the radio? No! Is it the smell of cookies baking or the arrival of special cards in the mail? No! Is it the crisp, cold air in the morning or the sound of the bells ringing in front of the grocery store? No! It's the feeling I get inside of stress and overwhelm. I wish I could say that I love this time of year, but honestly, I don't. Once December 1st rolls around, it seems that every spare moment is devoured with some type of holiday chore: shopping, wrapping, more wrapping, packaging, mailing, family photo taking, card ordering, card signing, envelope addressing and more mailing, menu creating, party planning, party partaking, decorating, more decorating and still more decorating trying to get it just right with decorations I did not purchase, Santa visiting, light viewing, more shopping, homemade gift creating. And why do I do all this...because Christmas is a time of giving and I just give, give, give until I can't stand it. But really I do it because Christmas is such a special time of year and I want to create happy memories for my children hoping that they will see the joy in giving to others. That they grow up and see that it is truly better to give than to recieve and the season is about more than just the presents.

However, for the sake of sanity, I must learn to simplify and create a holiday that I enjoy being a part of. Where I still have time to be me and do the things I love. Where I do not overindulge or overdo. Where I do not bring stress to other with my frenzied ways. I want this for me and my family!

I don't have any Christmas photos to share, but the shots below are from our trip to San Lois Obispo the weekend before Thanksgiving. Here we visited the MaDonna Inn, Avila Beach, and Los Osos. The heart above is from Bubblegum Alley in San Lois Obispo...gross!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Commit, Renew and Family

Still plugging along with my 52 Words project. I'm having fun playing with new techniques and materials and just seeing what happens. I got behind for a few weeks and finally caught up today. Who knew creating one page a week could be so hard. A few of the words and pages just didn't come together for Appreciative and Prompt. I got behind and tried to combine them on one page...well, that just didn't work so I won't even post the results. My journaling leaves a lot to the imagination. By the time I finish the page, I forget what I wanted to write on it. I wait for something profound to strike me...but it never does. Oh well, it's a great exercise in creativity, soul searching and just plain fun...with not too much pressure.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Balance of Art and Life

I struggle with balancing art and life. I feel like I'm walking a tight rope and if either side (art or life) gets off balance everything will come tumbling down. Being a SAHM, I often get caught up with the list of daily tasks to be tackled, and believe me there are plenty of them.  On those days, I get frustrated...not being able to find a chunk of time to get something done for me. Quite often I feel guilty because I get so preoccupied with the art in my mind that I have a hard time concentrating on what I'm suppose to be doing, like helping kids with homework or making dinner. My mind is busy trying to figure out how I can sneak back into my studio to get just a little more done. In my heart, I just want to sit in my studio and forget everything around me and just work. However, being so left brained, if there are messes around the house, laundry to do, or papers piling up, I have a hard concentrating on the creating part. Things need to be in order before I can fully let myself go.

This journal page is on a background I created a while ago. I liked this circus performer image and glued down decorative papers to journal on. When I decided to journal about balance, I was quite pleased with how this background fit my topic. Is it a coincidence that things work out like that?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inspired Again...Thank You Artful Blogging

Now that the latest issue of Arful Blogging has arrived in mailboxes all over the world, how many blogs are experiencing a higher number of posts than usual? I know mine is. With every uplifting story, every beautiful photo, every carefully selected word my heart beats faster with delight and inspiration by these lovely ladies sharing their wisdom and passion. Pam Carriker made the point that Short and Sweet gets the job done and I couldn't agree with her more. I find myself skipping over blog posts that are too long and I need to keep that in mind when I'm crafting my own. I struggle with expressing my feeling in words. I want this blog to chronicle more of what I feel and experience everyday in this life...this is my story, told by me. I want to find that quiet whisper within me and give her a voice.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Cooking Club Gals

These wonderful ladies are my Cooking Club friends (I'm the one in the vertical stripes). We gather once a month, everyone brings a theme related menu item and we share a delicious meal together. The club turned out to be more popular than I thought it would and we all look forward to getting together to wine, dine and share stories about life and motherhood. The original idea was to technically challenge ourselves in the kitchen and try new recipes we wouldn't normally make for our families (some of us have picky eaters). However, many of my friends are not what I would call the cooking type. Their idea of cooking is to open the Trader Joe's package and serve. So the premise of expanding our culinary expertise and sharing recipes has gone by the wayside in exchange for a fun evening with great girlfriends and great food.

The photo above was our Halloween theme complete with costumes. Below we have Mini Mummy Pizzas and Creepy Cornbread. I brought the Pumpkin Cornbread and it really wasn't creepy...I hope!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There's Nothing Wrong with Cute...Right?

Many artists that I have recently discovered, create art that I would describe as "cute," "sweet" or even "fun." I love and admire their work. They blanket the pages of mixed media publications, book, and blogs, so obviously they are loved by many. Yet, when I create art that looks "cute" somehow it just seems juvenile to me. The gremlins in my head tell me that I have to paint landscapes, portraits or something serious to be an artist. I know that's not true, but have you ever tried to reason with a gremlin? I'm not going to rule out "cute" as a word that describes my style, but I do think it's too soon to tell.

The paintings above were created on 12x12 inch panels of plywood. I played with light modeling paste over decorative papers, but when the modeling paste dried, the papers looked foggy underneath. So I just played with acrylic paints, little paper, glitter, ink and charcoal. These were more of the random pieces I created for my calendar project that I scrapped.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

My Fall Owl painting is another random painting I've been working on lately. I did finally try out my new Shiva Paintstiks and LOVE them! They are so creamy and buttery and blend effortlessly. However, because of their large size I feel a bit clumsy with them. I'm not sure how Kelly Rae uses them with such detail and in small areas. I'm learning to step back and look at my work from a distance. From a normal viewing distance, all the little imperfections (areas where I think I colored outside the lines) aren't yelling out at me and actually look okay.

When I started this painting, my intention was to create a calendar with my artwork to give as Christmas presents. It motivated me to get some paintings started, but as I finished a few I realized I was just creating random pieces and I wasn't getting any closer to defining my style. I was also starting to feel a wee bit stressed by the whole thing, considering it takes me forever to finish just one piece. Now that I've decided to to scrap the project I'm much happier and feel that I'm making progress in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Isn't Life Sweet?

I found this Hershey's Chocolate Bar partially unwrapped in the cupboard yesterday and set it aside for closer inspection. It looked as though most of the unwrapped portion was salvagable so I told the kids they could eat it. When we turned it over we discovered this tiny heart. Isn't that Oh So Sweet?

Monday, October 25, 2010

My 52 Words Project

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon Leslie Ackman's 52 Words Challenge (see it here) just in time to start from the beginning. She posts an uplifting word each week to think about. I have chosen to create an art journal with one page for each word and just let myself PLAY. I'm using it to explore different art techniques and color combinations to continue my quest for finding my "STYLE." As hard as it is for me, I'm trying to work quickly not giving what I'm doing too much thought. The idea is to try new stuff and not get hung-up on creating a masterpiece. At the end of the 52 weeks, I'll have 52 words and my thoughts about them. Someone reading my art journal will get to know me just a little bit better and in the process I hope to know myself better too!

For Week One the word was GRATITUDE. I know I like blocks of color and muted colors for that matter. See my post on this discovery here. I created this page with uneven blocks, subtle details, a journaling area and hand painted text. It's funny, lately while I'm watching TV, I notice the artwork on the wall in the background. They often have contemporary paintings with blocks of color and simple shapes often with collage elements. I'm very drawn to them for their simplicity and color. That's probably why they use them, so as not to distract the viewer from what's going on in the show. Anyhow, I'm getting distracted!
Week Two word was BLISS. I couldn't really think of anything I consider Blissful, so I depicted just that...Bliss that is out of reach! I started out with watercolors and then moved on to acrylic craft paint...I consider watercolors very challenging and always end up with mud! To save time, cut hands from a magazine. This page was fun to create, however, didn't really try anything new or STYLE enhancing!
The third word was ORDER. I went back to the blocks of color and muted tones. I like this color palette and added a wash over the top to bring them down even more. Didn't add a lot of details here so I could stress the order I like in my frills!

I hope you check out the 52 Words project and if you play along, I'd love to know!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Brighter Days Ahead...Question or Statement?

It's been a full week (last week) of painting, gluing, cutting, sorting, stamping, and all that fun art stuff. Unfortunately and feeling a bit down about it, I have nothing to share. I did finish one piece I was working on. And, upon it's completion, I think I decided I'm not a bright color person. As much as I love paintings others create in vivid, bold colors, I don't think they work for me. Perhaps I should consider my neutral wardrobe and subdued colors in my home as a clue to my preferred color palette. I certainly can't paint what I'm not. When the sun returns I'll snap a photo of the finished pieces (good or bad) and some works in progress. But until then, I'm feeling somewhat like a ping-pong ball. Jumping back and forth, from one technique to another, one theme to another, one idea to another and not feeling very optimistic about any of them. I'm really struggling this week with my style. I'm all over the place and get excited about way too many  techniques I see or read about and then have trouble executing them to my satisfaction. I'm trying to dig deep, evaluate how I view life, figure out what gets my motor running and work from those clues to develop my style. I know I'm rushing the process and focusing on the finished product when it should be about enjoying the journey. Oh I have so much to learn.

So, in the meantime I simply posted a cute little rainy day photo of my son's umbrella fort and I'll patiently wait for brighter days ahead.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happiness is a Choice

"Choose Happy" is a 16x20" mixed media painting I created to remind myself everyday that I need to choose to be happy. The text at the bottom reads "The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart." A verse from The Dhammapada, a Buddhist scripture.

Happiness is a choice. I can choose to be happy or I can choose to be something else (sad, bitter, grouchy, unhappy, or insert your own emotion here). I can dwell on the misfortunes in my life or I can focus on the good in my life. I cannot expect someone else's words or actions to make me happy. I need to be happy on the inside, for myself, because of myself, in spite of myself. I need to purposefully "Choose Happy." We only have this one life to experience, so...Choose Happy!

I've thought a lot about this happy thing...trying to figure out if I was happy. I had forgotten what even made me happy while I was busy living each day as it was dished out to me. Busy doing everything for everyone else. Busy running a household while everyone else did thing they liked to do, knowing all the necessities in life would be taken care of for them. I knew I was the one who let this happen and I was the only one who could change it. So I set out on a journey to find the things that make me happy...a topic for another day.

When I finished this painting, I was looking around my home for a place of prominence to hang it. I wanted to see it on a regular basis as a little mood reminder to myself. I found a location, held it up to the wall and realized it was too small. It needed other stuff around it. That's when the light bulb went on for a Words of Wisdom Wall. I'll create more paintings, in various sizes, highlighting words of wisdom to remind me (and hopefully my family) how important it is to live our lives according to the values we cherish. I can't wait to get started.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What the heart gives away is never gone...
It is kept in the hearts of others
-- Robin St. John

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Blog Mission Statement

This blog WILL be a place to celebrate the joy in my heart and contemplate the heartache as well. A place to share my creative journey, wherever it may lead. A tool to motivate and challenge me, everyday, to make art and be creative. A reminder to see the beauty in everyday and embrace its simplicity and splendor. A tool to learn more about myself and celebrate who I am. A place to affirm dreams, goals, achievements, and even set-backs. A portal to other journey-seekers who posses the same need to create and connect. A place where imperfection is not only acceptable, but encouraged!

This blog WILL NOT be a vehicle to vent my frustrations with the world, my family or even myself. I will always try to see the good in any situation before I share the lessons learned with others. It will not be a source of guilt, pressure or perfection. I will always try to stay true to who I am and post from the heart, not allowing my audience (or lack of one) to influence what I do or say. It will not be a place for negativity or complaining. I will always try to examine less-than-positive thoughts for their underlying meaning. It will not be a place to showoff or boast, but rather a visual timeline of accomplishments, regardless of size. It will not be a place to focus on my shortcomings, but instead a place to embrace my strengths.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
~ Helen Keller

While I'm waiting for the sun to come out in order to photograph a little art piece I made for my next post, I thought I would share this cute photo I took at my daughter's soccer game Saturday. They did not win the game, but their team spirit won my heart.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 40 Menu

Pork Piccata
Baked Chicken and Rice
Husband Delight Casserole
Baked Pork Tenderloin
Chicken Parmesan

A picture of this week's menu selections. More tried and true recipes, just fine-tuning or combining like recipes. It turns out that I gravitate toward the same kinds of recipes and then end up with several versions of basically the same thing in my recipe file. Time to combine them into one tasty treat! And as for Husband Delight Casserole...gotta come up with a new name for that one. I'm almost embarrased to even post it here. Happy Dining!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sunrise Spectacular

A beautiful sunrise this morning at 6:24 am. My son, Scott, asked where the camera was. I quickly ran back in the house, grabbed it, and got this great shot. Too bad I didn't think of it!

On another subject regarding my menu for this week. Last night I made the Creamy Pork Tenderloin...WOW! It was so incredibly delicious. I've made it before but can't believe I didn't make a note about how great it was. Can't wait to eat it for lunch today...I love leftovers!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 39 Menu

Chicken Burritos
Creamy Pork Tenderloin
Macaroni and Meat Pie
Chicken Tomato Vinaigrette
Ham Mac 'N Cheese

No new recipes this week, just fine tuning old recipes for my holiday cookbook. I'll share more about the cookbook project later, just wanted to shoot this menu out there since it's on my mind.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Daisy Heart Revisited

A before shot (left) and after shot (right) of a painting I started almost a year ago for my 7 year old daughter's room. I wanted to bring in the colors of her room and I decided to go big (24"x30"). The before photo shows how far I got and then simply shut down. I learned that painting big is hard and time consuming and it wasn't turning out how I envisioned. That happens a lot with me...I'm too quick to judge and too impatient to wait until it's done before criticizing my work. Since I wasn't really liking it, other projects got my attention and this one got stuck in the corner. Over the summer I decided to finally finish up her room and finish this darn painting, good or bad! Originally I had planned on strictly painting with acrylics, but over the course of that year I have grown to love mixed media and all the different techniques and mediums you can apply to a single painting. So I played around by adding torn paper, sheet music, rubber stamps, oil pastels, chalk pastels, charcoal, and anything else I thought would make it more interesting. Interesting it is and I love it. A far cry from the original. Every night, when I lay down with Paige in her bed and she says she "hates" the torn paper on the petals and wants me to change it back the way it was, I just smile and maturely say "Too bad, it's my painting and I like it that way. You can't make me change it!"

The photo below shows the painting hanging in it's new home, Paige's room.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My Inspiration

Three back issues of Artful Blogging arrived in my mailbox yesterday. I couldn't wait to dive in and read every word. Though I had no intention of starting a blog, at least not for a while, I still enjoy reading about how blogging changes lives, or connects people who would otherwise remain strangers or inspires artists/crafters to create. By the time I got to page 20 of the 2007 Premier Issue I had decided to start a blog. I was reading about Kerri Posson's "Adventures in Art & Life" and she wrote " blog has become a tool for documenting my creative journey for myself." It was her words that helped me realize I could begin my blog now, for myself, with no expectations to meet. I don't have to tell anyone about my blog until I'm ready. I don't have to make it look beautiful right away. I don't have to plan it all out beforehand. I don't have to write what people will read, I just have to be me. I may not be as funny, or as insightful, or as creative, or as talented as other bloggers, but I do have a story to tell...Mine!

I am not a writer nor am I a journaler (although secretly I wouldn't mind being both). I am, however, interested in learning more about who I am. The art journals of Judy Wise captivated me about a year ago and I've tried to be like her, but it just wasn't working for me. I guess I don't have enough discipline or enough time (three kids can do that to a person). I still love the art journal idea though. I also like Julia Cameron's morning pages philosophy. The thought of spilling everything onto the page to free up my mind for other, more creative tasks totally make sense. Well, guess what...not so good at doing that either. Perhaps taking pieces of both methods and putting them together to suit my style will work better for me. I just need to figure out how to do that. But for now, documenting my creative journey on this blog is a good place to start.