Monday, April 14, 2014

Waking UP

Yes, it is Monday morning.
Yes, there is snow out there, but also there is bright sun.
Yes, there is a brand new week ahead of us.

I have my bucket of coffee right here in front of me, I have my to-do list, and I even have a pretty good night's sleep under my belt. I have been learning that the most important thing is our lives is to be awake. And by awake, I don't mean zombie-like, in-front-of-the-tv barely getting from day-to-day, caught in the consumerist lifestyle this culture encourages kind of awake. I mean Hugely Supremely Perfectly filled with Gratitude Awake.

I recently met someone who uses the word "AWAKE" as all his pins and passwords, just for the reminder. It's a great idea to post little post-its around with this word to help us remember this. Being awake means remembering your mission statement, remembering why you are here, remembering just what is the essence of your one short incarnation on this planet.

I have so many ideas that I overwhelm myself with ways I need my life to change; using less, reusing more, growing more of our food, walking my dog more, making joyful art, supporting all the amazing causes which come across my desk, making my art generate income for our household, saving the planet, and on and on.

For me, being awake means not getting too tossed about in this sea of good intention.
Being awake means being gentle on myself and my limitations.
Being awake means staying focused on a few core projects which express most strongly what I want to accomplish.
Being awake means remembering that sometimes, dropping what I am doing to help someone who needs me is the higher choice.
Being awake means not getting sucked into facebook memes, conspiracy theories, funny text threads, and the multitude of internet static, which although fun and entertaining, can suck away the hours like a tick you don't see that is attached to your skin.

Being awake means NOTICING.
Noticing that the world is a more light and beautiful place when I take the time to be centered and healthy and filled with gratitude.

I pray that your day today may bring you deep awakening. That we all may continue to practice deep awakening every day with every bit of our beings.
and in this painting of mine, a hummingbird hovers over a calender, a reminder of how fragile time is:























"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the Universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
-- Black Elk, Oglala Sioux

Monday, April 7, 2014

What fuels me!

So yesterday I posed the question, "what fuels you?"
I had the great opportunity last month to regroup by attending a Medicine for the Earth workshop with Sandra Ingerman, and then have a visit to Hawaii with my husband and daughter to see the U of H campus, and have some down time on the beach.  (They surfed, I watched.)

Taking this time off was an opportunity to refocus and try to find what is my mission statement, what is my theme, what would be the headline or caption of my life and my work.

We moved to Colorado 4 1/2 years ago, and I knew this would be a new phase of my life. 
I actually tried quite a few things as I explored what this next phase would look like.
This last month of renewal has made me even more sure I want to be perfectly clear that I am doing the right thing with the precious time I have.
I've tried about ten different work situations and projects since moving; some felt good, some were obviously not the right gig, but no one single thing jumped out at me as the right work, and that was frustrating me.
I wanted my work to be center stage for me, I wanted to know this was supporting my deepest mission and most heart-felt goals.
The problem wasn't I was doing the wrong work, it was that my mission was not clear enough.

So here it is:
BE LOVE.
Easy, huh?
I learned at Sandra's workshop how this really is the distillation of all our work, all our relationships, all our learning and being here on the earth.
BE LOVE.
But how to do that?
For me, being creative, painting and drawing is when I feel most in the flow, most connected to Spirit, most in the space of love that we are supposed to be in.
So, the answer?
BE LOVE by doing what I love to do most; make art, and sharing that art with the world.

Glitch - the checkbook.
We do need to support ourselves and responsibly interact with the world with our finances.  There's food, and housing, and tuition for kids, and materials  etc. to buy.  I love sitting in my studio making art, but I also want to help support my household.  So part of my making my art and getting it into the world includes it adding to our family's support.  The Universe has supported me in this, I have a rep showing my work at Surtex, a trade show in NYC, so that box, luckily, is checked.  and I know how tough it is for an artist to figure this out, my advice is to just keep looking and be patient, it's hard to find the right venue to sell your art, but you will find it if you keep looking.  I tried about 5 galleries with no luck, so that was not the right marketplace for me.  There are other ways!

I also love making jewelry with shells, working in my journal and sharing that (hence this blog), designing books or websites for clients now and then when the project is right, and writing books.
Keeping my mission statement in mind with all these things, they do make the cut.

I mostly just needed to know I am doing the right things, and that it's okay to have a career "portfolio" with a few different projects, as long as I keep my mantra in place, BE LOVE.
Now I can run my projects through this mission statement, and anything that does not support it, I can simply prune away.

I feel newly focused, and one of the projects I had on the back burner is going to take over a spot on my desk - it is a children's book I have been thinking about.  I felt like I had too much going on, but with some pruning of non-essential projects, I now have room for this one.  I already have a cover, and a story, I know I'll be sharing the progress as the book grows into something real.

and working in my journal yesterday really did help me figure all this out, here's a few of the notes:



"So find your place to stand - your place of wisdom and peace and strength.  Remake the world in your own image, according to your own definition of success, so that all of us - women and men - can thrive and live our lives with more grace, more joy, more compassion, more gratitude, and yes, more love."
--Ariana Huffington, Thrive

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What fuels you?

What makes you excited to get up in the morning?
No, don't keep reading, actually stop and look up from your computer and answer that question for yourself.
Take a minute, I'll wait.

It's actually not an easy one to answer.

Or there might be so many answers that you freeze in regret and sadness at all the things you don't allow yourself to do.
It's the most important question you can ask yourself.
What are you most passionate about?
What makes you smile with the deepest satisfaction and hope that this Universe is an okay place for you after all?
What, in your wildest dreams and fantastic hallucinations, would be the best possible place for you to be in?
If you could actually dream any (sleep) dream tonight, what would happen in it?
Where would you be?
Who would you be with?
What would you be doing?
wearing?
eating?
looking at?
If you wrote the script for that dream, what would the story be?

In the movie of your life, what would be the climax?  How would it be resolved?

and if you know what that dream is, how are you making efforts to bring it into being?

I have found, in some very small examples in my life, if I can make my vision really truly fleshed out, if I can fantasize about exactly what I want, it is way more likely to happen.  Either because I see it clearly when the thread presents itself to me, or maybe my higher self takes over and lets the circumstances I need for it to actually happen. The vision really does help create the reality.

Life is so mysterious; we work, we play, we love, and then, what is there?  Some of us have projects we are proud of, a marriage that we stuck out, kids we raised, degrees or jobs we worked hard for, yet still there always is that restlessness.
I am quickly headed toward being 53 years old, and even now, when I read in the New York Times Sunday morning edition about an artist who took photos of things, I think I should be trying that.  or I read of a writer who travels and studies Zen and think I actually need to change direction and should be doing that.  The truth is, I don't know what I want to do, I have tons of ideas, but not really a clear vision.

I want to clarify my life dream, and I will be using my journal to help.
I have  couple of decades of work ahead of me (if I am lucky) and I really want to make this section of my life count, I want to do what my truest calling is, not just piddle away these years with small-ish projects; hours of Facebook browsing, making a greeting card or two for a friend, or straightening up the house.

I'll report back with news, when it comes.
(and in the meantime, here is a black swan, an ink sketch from my recent trip to a Buddhist Temple and gardens in Oahu.)
"The great stillness in these landscapes that once made me restless seeps into me day by day, and with it the unreasonable feeling that I have found what I was searching for without ever having discovered what it was."
--Peter Matthiessen

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Journaling with Intention

I just got back from a workshop called "Medicine for the Earth" taught by Sandra Ingerman.  We were amazingly housed in Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings in the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, in Joshua Tree, California.  The desert landscape, along with the topic we worked with for our 5 days, were simply stunning.

I love to dedicate a blank book to an experience like this.  I take notes during the workshop sessions leaving lots of room for later painting and collage.  In the venue I could not spread out much, but even just being able to make line drawings to fill in later was fine.  (It's also fun to bring along a travel watercolor kit and some inktense pencils, and just paint right there!)

I can sum up all I learned as this:
Healing the Earth starts with healing the Self.  
Let your inner light shine, and do what you will.

It really was a stunningly simple and deep message.
Here is the cover of my journal, and some snippets from my pages:
 Can you tell we had a fabulous time?
A bush sized rosemary plant was growing outside our door.
 Sometimes the pages are doodles, sometimes it's illustrations of what I'm learning.
 Always fun to add in photos later.
 I used a gourd rattle with dragonflies.
One of the lessons - we are holy and our inner light is divine.

Oh, and a Joshua Tree looks like this:
Using shamanic journeying, visualization, or meditation to reconnect with this inner place every day is a wonderful spiritual practice to keep us centered and focused on what is truly important.  We spent most of the 5 days just getting this lesson deeply implanted, and journeying together to the elements: air, water, fire and earth.  We also set an intention of love and light with each other.  I will keep those feelings of Divine Connection with me as I move on into the next part of my life.  (and it really does feel like a gate has opened to a new beginning.)
We burned talismans representing our new dreams at a drum circle fire under the full moon.  How magic is that?!

and I leave you with one of the loveliest blessings I have ever heard - Michael Stone was facilitating ecstatic dance each morning at our workshop, and when he read this, I almost melted in the beauty of the words:

A Blessing for Longing

Blessed be the longing that brought you here and quickens your soul with wonder.
May you have the courage to listen to the voice of desire
That disturbs you when you have settled for something safe.

May you have the wisdom to enter generously into your own unease
To discover the new direction your longing wants you to take.

May the forms of your belonging--in love, creativity, and friendship--be equal to the grandeur and the call of your soul.
May the one you long for long for you.
May your dreams gradually reveal the destination of your desire.
May a secret Providence guide your thought and nurture your feeling.
May your mind inhabit your life with the sureness with which your body inhabits the world.
May your heart never be haunted by ghost-structures of old damage.

May you come to accept your longing as divine urgency.
May you know the urgency with which Spirit longs for you.
 ~John O'Donahue

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Using zentangles in your journaling

I love zentangles. Zentangles are a way of using dots and lines and circles to doodle in repeated patterns. There are many tutorials on youtube you can google to see the process.

The repetition of making many little lines and dots and swirls is a very therapeutic and relaxing thing to do. I put on music and draw these patterns or hours. I did an owl in zentangle patterns in my journal, then scanned him so I could try him out on different backgrounds. Even these backgrounds are the result of messing around in my journal - using some photography, some stenciling, some splattering about with paint. The layers here really please me.

I will probably use these images on cards. Try some zentangle doodling, it really is addictive.


Thinking gives off smoke to prove the existence of fire.
A mystic sits inside the burning.
There are wonderful shapes in rising smoke that imagination loves to watch.
But it's a mistake to leave the fire for that filmy sight.
Stay here at the flame's core.     --Rumi

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Getting your art into the world

So, in part, I know we all come to the internet for inspiration for our mixed media art.  We like to see what others are doing, find out about new techniques, we learn and find out cool new ideas to put into our work.
We also want to share what we've done.  So, I couldn't sleep last night, I got up around 3 AM and found myself making a mixed media Valentine.  Then I scanned it.  and I posted it in a few places online.
This morning, I got up to compare how many hits it had gotten in the various postings.
It opened up my mind to where people see my work:

Facebook - 12 people liked it, not sure how many saw it
Imgur, with a link to Reddit - 516 views so far
Twitpic - 17 views
Google +, Tumblr, and Pintarest, are not counted, so I don't know how many views.
My blog posts usually get about 60 looks.

I tend to rely mostly on Facebook to communicate with others, but I am realizing that this is not the best way to get your work seen.  I am in a Facebook group for an illustration class I am enrolled in, and I notice that when I post there, there are hundreds of looks.
But in my main friends page, not so much.
Reddit, it turns out, has a huge audience.  I posted in the Crafts reddit, I know the count is going up even as I type this.

So I am going to start using social media a little more intentionally.  I can spend way too much time posting and looking, and not enough time making art.  With a more focused audience, I can make my on line time count.

and of course, I will keep posting here in this blog!  I am glad to have constant readers, it keeps me working and moving forward to know someone out there is looking - so thanks to YOU, dear readers!
and here's that Valentine:
"The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference." --Audre Lorde

Monday, January 27, 2014

filling a page

I really am liking this new coptic bound journal I made.  It lies pretty flat thanks to the sewn binding.  Here I did some stenciling and am arranging some border collage papers:
First a bit more stenciling, then I painted a few birds.  then a circle. . . . 
and a Rumi Poem.  Hard to see, can you find it?
A bird makes great sky circles of it's freedom.
A bird makes great sky circles of it's freedom.
How does it find it?
It falls.
and in falling, is given wings.
--Rumi.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pages with pizazz

I like to start a journal page with color already on the paper, that empty page syndrome is then easily averted. 
Splatter and stencil are my favorite way to mess up the page before I even start.
and I want to show you another easy way to add fun to a page - using an eraser carved stamp as a border.
Here are three stamps that I carved from a white eraser.  (Use linoleum carving tools.)
You can make a pretty simple spiral, but by repeating it, you have an awesome pattern.
Another way is to stamp a plain white paper, and use a few different stamps to get a pattern.
Then add some wasabi tape to make the border more ellaborate.
Scan your little border and print enough that you can throw it in your collage bag and use bits and pieces on many future pages.
and you'll also save all your erasers to use over and over in the future.
even better, have an eraser carving party with friends and then share all your images.
One stamped image scanned can provide many many uses for papers you make from photoshop and your printer.

It's very addictive.
"I think of life itself now as a wonderful play that I've written for myself... and so my purpose is to have the utmost fun playing my part." 
--Shirley MacClaine

Monday, January 20, 2014

Developing a style

I am taking an on-line class called "Year of the Fairy Tale" with Carla Sondheim.  (There is a link to click to on to learn more about it over there on the right.)
I just finished the first lesson, and already I am so inspired and motivated, realizing that my drawing process can be much stronger and intentional.
I often sketch in my journal, and am almost never happy with what I draw.
I usually just start drawing right in my book, expecting my brain to pop out something perfect, then I am sad when I ruin the page with a drawing I don't like.  

Carla is taking us step by step through a process of how you develop an illustration style.  Her very first lesson already showed me things I never considered doing (and I have years of drawing training as part of my art degree): using sketching from photos on the internet to discover a face style, drawing first with your non-dominant hand to loosen up, doodling the face over and over to sort of crystallize what about that face is interesting, repeating that style until your inner eye knows what details it wants to focus on.  Her process helped me find a face I love to draw.  Repeating something over and over helps solidify what is important about the face.  Using throw away sketch paper, also, helps to not be so precious about results.  Something I had sort of forgotten in my journaling process.

Here are the three phases of finding a face to draw:
and in the same lesson, we worked finding a frog style - first just by sketching, and then exaggerating a feature we like.  In just a few sketches, I came up with a frog.  I couldn't resist adding some collage texture to my favorite sketch (Sorry, Carla, I am getting ahead of myself but I couldn't resist):
Her teaching style is so calming, and encouraging.
and did you guess that the first fairy tale she is using to teach us is "The Frog Princess"?

Another assignment is for us to go to the library and look at great illustrations, make notes of what we love.  Such a simple thing, yet something I don't ever do.

I am so happy to be in this class, as a teacher I rarely take classes these days.  I think that needs to change.  Inspiring teachers are such gifts, I am so looking forward to this year of learning from Carla.

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it.”  
-- Bertolt Brecht




Saturday, January 18, 2014

Making a Journal

The beauty of this video made me cry.
Please watch it if you have ever kept a journal, or ever want to keep one.
http://vimeo.com/76384265

Friday, January 17, 2014

Journaling in community

Today we had our monthly journaling group, 8 ladies sitting around a table, cutting and tearing and painting and pasting and writing.

We start with a check-in, we have a reading and a chalice lighting, we work in silence, then we share our work, practicing deep listening.  I always am amazed at how our ideas overlap, like somehow our concerns float around in the room and lodge in each others' brains. The beginning check-in tunes us a bit, like an orchestra, I suppose, and we seem to end up just vibrating in the same frequencies.

 I love this group, and I always am pleased with the pages that come out of it.
 If you can find a journaling group, try it, it's pretty awesome.
"Pilgrimage to the place of the wise is to find escape from the flame of separateness." --Rumi

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Tea

I have been drinking tons of herbal teas.

I found at the local Pacific Ocean Market (an Asian grocery store) that their selection of medicinal teas is amazing - I am using the Blood Pressure Tea, and the Detox tea, along with my beloved French Verveine, which I swear, cures everything.  Saving the paper tea bag wrappers, of course, was inevitable.

So here is a page in my journal, this tea bag collage will be the background, and more will happen on top. Maybe it's time to carve a tea stamp out of an eraser. When themes keep reoccuring, I have learned to pay attention. Or perhaps this page will be my shrine-page to tea, and I will add nothing more.

Time to get get a cup.

"A woman is like a tea bag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." --Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Exciting news for the new year for you and your art journal!

Anyone who's been reading this for a while knows I have a deep connection to the work of Carl Jung, and the idea that the archetypal world of myth and storytelling is a very powerful way to understand ourselves and the world.  Well, guess what?  There is an on-line mixed media art class being offered called "2014: The Year of the Fairy Tale."

The teacher, Carla Sonheim, is a very fine illustrator and online art instructor known for using innovative exercises and techniques to help students of all levels embrace a more playful approach to creating art. She is the author of "Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun" and "The Art of Silliness: A Creativity Book for Everyone."

Her work is really magnificent, and here is a chance to learn some  of her techniques that will help your art making rise to a new level.  I am taking the class myself, so you will see lots of her inspiration here in my pages as the new year starts.  Letting mixed media loose on the page, and allowing playfulness and experimentation in our work is really a key element to unexpected surprises, joyful work, and exuberance in our journals.  I know I tend to just settle into doing the same thing over and over, and boredom can overtake me easily as I work in my journal.  I am so happy to have this opportunity for some inspiration and direction from someone who does such creative, playful work.
copyright Carla Sonheim

Here is a link to Carla's Blog: http://carlasonheim.wordpress.com/

and here is info for "Year of the Fairy Tale" Online Class: http://www.carlasonheim.com/2014-the-year-of-the-fairy-tale/


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Penwork

Yesterday I showed you a series of steps to get from a doodle or painting to a collage in your journal. Here is a bit of that page with some stamping and penwork added.

Media used includes:
gel pen
copic marker
inktense pencil
carved rubber stamp

It's very relaxing to put on good music or a documentary film on youtube, and just make swirls and dots and marks. Because why not have fun with your journal? 
"I never did a day's work in my life – it was all fun." --Thomas Edison

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

something to try in your journal

Here's a little tutorial if you are wondering what to do today in your journal.  (We all need a kickstarted some times.)  Start off painting or drawing a little picture.  I did a couple of watercolors of birds.
Scan the paintings, and print a bunch, you can put them on different backgrounds if you want, and print them in a few different sizes.  This will give you a bunch of images for collaging.
Cut and tear the images in several shapes and sizes.  Get out your spray mount!
Here I have cut and torn some of the birds, and arranged them in my journal. I like mixing square images and torn images.  I used some scrap from the tearing outs to make a bit of a border.
Now spread out an old magazine, and spray the back of the larger images first.  Attach them to your page, then turn the magazine pages so you have a clean background to spray on for the next set of papers.  Spray the smaller images and attach them to your layout.
These are my inktense watercolor pencils, I LOVE them.  See the spray bottle?  Once I get some color on the paper, spritzing with water really makes the pencil work pop.  This is why I journal on heavy watercolor paper, it can take lots of punishment.

I drew around this bird with red pencil, then activated the ink with water.  It holds the images on the page nicely.  I also tend to dray parts coming off the torn paper onto the background, and stamp over the edges.  All these help blend the images so they sit on the journal page nicely.
Next will be some penwork, words and doodles and detailing.  Maybe some stamping.  I'll post a photo when the whole page is done.

Happy journaling!

Friday, December 13, 2013

risk taking

"Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks." -Mark Rothko

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reflection

It's a busy month, December, with craft shows to get ready for, making, wrapping, and mailing gifts, increased sales on Etsy, and all those holiday get-togethers.

I just spent about 6 days in bed, punctuated with a one day sitting at an art show I HAD to attend. Sales were good, and comments were so positive and encouraging, that I'm glad I did it, even if it meant a few extra days recuperating after. One thing I am learning as I get older, that it is the right thing to take good care of myself, even if that means saying "I can't" to some things I wish I could do. We tend to take care of everyone else so much that we lost sight of taking good care of ourselves. I recently initiated with a Crones Group, 8 fabulous women who celebrated being older, being in a wiser phase of our lives, letting go of the time of caring for others to focus on building our own visions and personal wisdom.

I am coming out of 25 years of raising kids, and it is a wonderful gift to be able to put my work and my health first. Journaling will be a part of this, even though my journaling takes a bit of a back burner to my December obligations, I am looking forward to some real solid journaling time to start the New Year.

I also teach a workshop in February, so I am looking forward to sharing some of those pages and techniques here. Hope you have a blessed Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Kwanzaa, etc. (or that you already had a blessed Hannakuh.) The time of darkness leading us into the New Year is a blessed time for reflection.

Your journal is there to help you with this.

"The upheaval of our world and the upheaval in consciousness is one and the same. Everything becomes relative and therefore doubtful. And while man, hesitant and questioning, contemplates... his spirit yearns for an answer that will allay the turmoil of doubt and uncertainty." --Carl Gustav Jung

Saturday, November 30, 2013

go today in wisdom

"This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say. I don't plan it. When I'm outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all."  --Rumi

Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

moving forward

I had some dear friends over last night, and one had very interesting things to say about moving art into the world. I have a studio full of work, art journals, prints, cards, paintings, jewelry, etc. I need to exchange some of the items for money. and I have been a bit stuck how that happens.

Some really powerful advice she gave me:
1. Visualize it. Imagine exactly how it looks and what happens to turn your work into cash.
2. Go out and connect, do favors for others, and they will do favors for you. Sitting in your studio wishing the art would sell will certainly not sell it.
3. On line sharing only goes so far. Human connection is made with humans, not humans on machines. 4. You do need the marketing materials (I do have them) business cards, websites, social media, but then, you have to MOVE those things also. Have a constant flow of these things out into the world.

Isn't that advice awesome? She has used these ideas in her own freelance work, and has more work than she can do.

and I do have work in an Holiday gift show December 6 and 7, I'll post more here in the weeks to come.

"When we harness the forces of harmony, joy and love, we create success and good fortune with effortless ease." --Deepak Chopra