Practice makes fun!

I know you said in your head, “Practice makes perfect,” even after you read my title.  I would like to challenge that thinking, though.  Perfect means being less than your authentic self – you’re trying to fit into someone else’s definition of how to live YOUR life.  Perfect is hard to live up to and often results in some kind of a break down.  Striving for perfection just means you’re in a constant struggle.  That sounds like a miserable way to live.

Instead, practice should make Fun!  As an example of this, when I’m prepping to create a painting, I use an 8.5″x5.5″ piece of watercolor paper.  I fold it in half, so I’ve got four chances per paper and I do a mini-version of the larger one I’ve planned.  It lets me figure out the space on the page, have fun with my colors, and see if I like on paper what I have in my head.  I don’t generally finish the thing to the very end, but just so I’ve got the concept out of my head and onto paper.  Then, I let it sit around on a shelf for a while and I contemplate it.

The images that I’ve only needed two of the sides to get my idea out, though, become cards.  They’re the perfect size and I generally send them to family members.  They know what I’m doing…  🙂  I’m having fun and it’s like I’m inviting them to look over my shoulder as I’m creating.  Here’s Hedgehog.  This is the one that I’m happy with:

Hedgehog

But here’s what the back of that looks like:

Hedgehog, the first

Hedgehog, the first

I make notes about what I didn’t like, scribble on it to show what I was trying to do and make some comment about why this didn’t work out.  In this case, I needed to start with yellow, not blue.  The blue was too dark, too heavy-handed.  As I say in the image, “Hedgehog is just a little bitty guy.”

Some day, someone will get this card and I hope both the front and the back make them smile.  But my practice wasn’t to make perfect – the “final” that I’m happy with also has a few things that need to be changed up when I move to the larger format paper, but it makes me smile to see him sitting on my shelf.  Ultimately, that’s what I want.  Something that will make the observer smile and just feel good.

Perfect doesn’t make an observer feel good.  But Fun does!

 

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

Don’t believe it. Enjoy it.

It’s a little bit cynical but also very true and you’ll have to mull it over before you can come to terms with it.  But here it is.

Look at it.  Be with it.  Consider it.  Contemplate it.

When I first had the thought, years ago, that inside every belief is a lie, I recoiled from it.  I rejected it.  I refused to let it live in my life.

However.

After living with it for a few years, I began to see what the things we believe in actually are.  They’re things that we tell ourselves in order to cope with our surroundings.  In the darkness, when we’re most alone and can only hear our own thoughts, that’s when we understand that lie in our beliefs.  Let’s go for a big thing most believe first: “A loving God/dess wouldn’t leave me alone in the dark.”  And yet, we are alone in the dark – each one of us, as we struggle with our own insecurities.  Can you picture yourself there, in the dark, repeating to yourself like a mantra that your Creator wouldn’t leave you alone in the dark – denying the reality of what’s going on around you?

I say enjoy it!  Enjoy the dark.  Enjoy the insecurity.  Enjoy each terrifyingly human moment.  Soon, you’ll understand that you *were* left there in the dark.  Alone.  With your thoughts.

Because what if you were left there to find your inner power to be your own light?

 

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

To my younger self…

Hey!  Pay attention.  There’s some things you need to know.  This is you from a decade in the future talking to you and I know you know about Quantum Physics and that this is possible…

  1. Just create.  Don’t worry about what others are thinking about what you’re creating.  It’s a conversation between you and you; it doesn’t involve them.  Paint, draw, write, explore.  Try it all.  This is how you find your inner peace.  It’s how you balance and center.  It’s how you love you.
  2. Remember that art is play time. This isn’t work and you don’t need to get all in your head about how wrong it is.  Look at Picasso, and all his followers!  This is time to let go; time to paint mud pies, if that’s what you want to paint today.
  3. That new journal won’t become great without YOU.  You’re the one who makes it awesome with your musings, scribbles, sketches, and Sophisticated Sticks as you document the stuff going on around you.  Don’t worry about “ruining it.”  You can’t.  Because it’s a representation of your experiences and observations.  The only way to “ruin it” is to leave it blank.
  4. Put your emotions into your paintings. The same way that you program rocks; program your paintings.  Insert those unspoken undercurrents between the layers of reality, on the quantum level.  Do it on purpose.
  5. Explore.  Go looking for new ways to do old things.  Refuse to follow what everyone else is doing.  Look for problems reported by the old Masters and try to solve those problems.

 

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

The start of it all…

Sophisticated Sticks

Sophisticated Sticks

Just yesterday, I had a most enjoyable Creative’s Date with a friend of mine. We both painted, laughed, enjoyed a light lunch and good conversation. At one point, she asked me how long I had been painting and, as it happens, I had posted to Facebook a picture of my humble beginnings (image at right).

Ten years ago, my primary method of capturing memories was with the written word.  But trying to document the memories you’re experiencing with two kids and a pup that was on track to rival Marley (&me), it was tough!  I couldn’t write fast enough.

To keep up, I started drawing stick figure comics.  Then I couldn’t decipher between the two kids (stick figures are pretty much identical), so I decided to make the girls wear triangle shaped tops and the boys had sort of a half-egg shaped top.  Then there was the problem of hair.  Daphne had quirky blonde hair that she liked keeping in bed-head fashion and Devon had red hair that he wore in a close two-phase.  To fix the problem of baldness, I grabbed up the nearest art supply that had color to it.  It was an old set of crayola watercolors.  I still have the set, with a price tag from Montgomery Wards of $5.29, marked down from $6.99:

You know they’re old paints when the pan label has warnings and a patent number:

I’ve tried many times to give those away, but never seem to be able to part with them at the very last moment.  It was a good thing for me that there were so many colors in the set – I had only the very basics of how to mix color.  And that didn’t always turn out right.  Red/Blue/Yellow may make white if you’re using color but it does NOT make black or grey if you’re using pigment.  The mixture just returns mud.

I’m now doing fun pieces in watercolor like this:

I won’t ever forget where I started.  That shows me that *anyone* can learn to create – they just have to keep at it.

 

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

What is she thinking, Leo?

Mona Lisa.  She’s been the subject of much contemplation, consideration, conspiracy theories, and she’s considered Leonardo DaVinci’s greatest masterpiece.  I’ve got a little bit of a different take on her and what ol’ Leo intended. And I think he’s gotten the last laugh because, if what I suspect was truly coming from that genius mind, his artful concept worked!

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

We know much about her, but certainly not all.  We know much about the painting itself and what it’s comprised of.  We’re still not quite sure who the subject is who sat for this painting and, with our modern technology, we know that he painted over the top of another woman in similar position.  We know that the background landscape doesn’t match anything we currently know of, but does bear some resemblances to a few different places. We look to her and the painting to give us clues as to her importance, we search her face for hidden messages…

But let’s ignore her for a little bit and look at the man who painted her to discover a little bit more about him.  Even though you’re probably thinking that there’s really nothing more to discover, let’s consider his patterns:

  1. He innovated.
  2. He invented.
  3. He abandoned projects.
  4. He used logic.
  5. He used math.
  6. He pushed boundaries.

It’s interesting to me that he stated, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” because I believe that this is ultimately what he achieved with Mona Lisa.  With patterns showing he’s not only a genius but also a bit of a rebel, we have to ask why this particular painting is finished because one of his signature patterns is abandoning projects.  What was he actually trying to accomplish? Mona Lisa goes against four of his six patterns. It’s neither inventive nor innovative to paint a portrait of a woman. There’s no boundaries pushed that he hadn’t already pushed in other paintings, so the rebellious aspect of his personality wouldn’t have been satiated with this painting.

And.

He finished her.  By several accounts, he finished her a few different times, in fact.

If a person’s intent is to achieve the ultimate sophistication, just what was he after with this painting, then?  What do we do when we see it – even copies of it? Why does it fascinate us so? What do we think? The underlying question for each person always comes back to, “What is she thinking?”

Women of the Renaissance were, essentially, property.  They existed to bear male heirs. Beyond that, they were jewelry on the arm of men.  They were not consulted about anything beyond the mediocrity of keeping a household. Women were an afterthought; just as a chair, the tree in the front yard, the horse, the dog – all considered to be afterthoughts and thus less important than men.

For Leonardo Da Vinci to have us asking *even now,* “What is she thinking,” is something innovative.  It’s inventive. It’s pushing the boundaries. The art isn’t the painting itself.  The art is that he got us all to wonder what a piece of property was thinking. The art is so simple that it is, indeed, the ultimate sophistication.  What he accomplished in that masterpiece is unexpected and one that escapes most:

Women Think.

And he planted that thought in your brain by having you ask a simple question, “What is she thinking?”

THAT is his greatest achievement – his greatest art and his legacy.

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

Art Studio in a Box

I live in a two bedroom corner apartment right next to a fantastic park.  I have two drawers in the whole space.  That didn’t really work for me right off the bat because I moved in from a spot that had 6 drawers.  I was actually looking for a solution to the drawer problem (where to put all my kitchen towels and utensils??) when I found the IDEAL solution for an art studio.

The best lighting in my whole living space is in the kitchen – of course, right?  I needed a way to house all my painting stuff in a compact way that would be cooking friendly and keep my art stuff clean, dry, but still have it all be accessible when I want to work on a piece of art.

In the kitchen.

Where I may or may not be cooking/baking/entertaining.

It occurred to me that this problem had already been solved, but with a more *traditionally* masculine bent on it in the form of garage work spaces.  A bank of drawers for hand tools, more commonly known as a workbench is it!  I thought this the ideal solution for the kitchen utensils and towels.  But, after looking at a few, I soon discovered they’re also the perfect Art Studio “in-a-Box.”

They come in all sizes and shapes!  They’re on wheels!  They’re metal and practically indestructible!  They have a wooden top or you can take that off and use the metal top!

For $300 and a little handy work putting the wheels on myself, I found something remarkable.  I’ve a drawer just for paint, one for finished pieces, one for my paper, one for journals and reference material, one for camera stuff, and a couple others for the miscellaneous stuff that comes with painting.  It functions as a standing desk, but I can also pull out a couple of the drawers, lay the wooden top over them and pull up a chair for a sitting desk.  I even found that I could elevate the wooden top with a few blocks and hide my work from my curious cat so she doesn’t have the opportunity to “play” with my work while I’m sleeping.  I’m able to use magnetic clips to extend the storage space for larger books of paper, too.

Even better, when I have people over for a paint party, I am easily able to rearrange my space to accommodate multiple artists  for the party, have several flat surfaces for hors d’oeuvres and beverages that aren’t also where my artist friends will be painting, and we’ve got easy access to the kitchen sink for water.

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

Favorite Watercolor Paint

This is a great video that gives a high level overview of many different brands of watercolor. It’s a personal choice, though, and I do have a different top three because I’m not that fond of Daniel Smith watercolors.
 
My top three, in order:
M. Graham
Qor
Da Vinci
 
I really like the honey based watercolors and I even add *more* honey to them so they’re even more wet and the colors separate a little bit better after they’re down on the paper. I have a small half pan of honey in all my travel kits, in fact. Certainly, that’s not for everyone. I can use M. Graham paints in a very controlled fashion as well surreal and more loose. My newest love affair with one of the Fletcher palette (download the Fletcher book here) known as Y-B-RV. In fact, I limit myself to just three colors:
Ultramarine Blue
Naphthol Red (particularly staining, btw)
Azo Yellow
 
In addition to the honey, I also have a small amount of these two to work with just to make the color intensity move up and down easier (mostly, I go down in value):
Lamp Black
Titanium White Opaque
 
I like to follow a pseudo glazing technique akin to the methods used by the old masters in their Oil Paintings. So, my colors go down on the paper in a very wet manner with very little pigmentation for each layer and I build it up slowly. Sometimes, I even add clear gesso so I can capture the light from the side of the painting and make it seem to breathe.

PS: I’m blogging along with Effy Wild in April. If you’d like to join the facebook group to read the rules, go here:

The Black Fox (Hunting the Devil)

The Black Fox (Hunting the Devil)

Graham Pratt 1980

As we were out a-hunting One morning in the Spring,

Both the hounds and the horses running well made the hills and valleys ring.

But to our great misfortune No fox there could be found

The huntsmen cursed and swore, but still No fox moved over the ground.

 

Then up spoke our master huntsman, At the head of hounds rode he,

“Well lo we have ridden for a full three hours But no fox have we seen”

“And there his scents did lead me And I shall have my chase

And if only the Devil himself come by I’d run him such a race”.

 

Then up there sprang like lightning A fox from out his hole

His fur was the colour of a starless night His eyes like burning coal.

And we chased him over the valley and we chased him over the field.

And we chased him down to the river bank but never would he yield.

 

And he’s jumped into the water And he’s swum to the other side.

And he’s laughed aloud at the green woodchuck and he’s turned to the huntsmen and cried:

 

“Ride on!, ye gallant huntsmen. When must I come again?

 

If ever you shall want for a fox to chase all over the plain

And when your need is greatest Just call on my name

And I will come, and you shall have The best of a sporting game.”

 

And the men looked up in wonder and the hounds ran back to hide,

For the fox had changed to the Devil himself as he stood at the other side.

Then the men, the hounds, and the horses went flying back to town

And hard on their heels was the devil himself, laughing as he ran.

 

“Ride on!, ye gallant huntsmen. When must I come again?

Whenever you shall want for a fox to chase all over the plain

And when your need is greatest Just call on my name

And I will come, and you shall have The best of a sporting game.”

Canon EOS Digital Rebel & Windows 8

Well.  This was a bit of a pain in the tukus.  Turns out, there’s no actual drivers for this camera specifically made for Win8.  Probably not for Win10, either.  However.  There is a setting on the camera that you can change and it’ll let you use it once again.

 

Turn the camera on, and go to the menu.

On the 4th menu tab select the “Communications” entry and change it from NORMAL to PTP

Plug the camera back into the laptop, wait 30 seconds, and enjoy your camera again

The Spiritual

Spirituality.

What a broad and all encompassing word for something which encompasses, basically, anything outside of physical, emotional, or mental realms  It’s something unseen and often difficult to express.  It’s internal and external and extra-ternal.  It’s something that doesn’t pay any heed at all to ridiculous human concepts like time, space, or dimensions.  It simply …is.

There are a number of tools I use currently to enhance my own Spirit.  Historically, I’ve kept it all on the hush hush, as I didn’t want to be judged.  In 2010, I was gifted a near death experience.  Yes.  Gifted.  It was an experience that changed everything about me.  It’s something I hope every single person gets to have.  Maybe not the actual dying part, but certainly the journey I went into.

Upon returning, I found that I wasn’t concerned with being small and boxed in, afraid of judgement or persecution any more.  I found I lived from the place of compassion, kindness, and something more than love; the place of purity and of something beyond our small concept of divinity.  Since then, I’ve discovered many tools and concepts to assist in living from this new, pure place.

My latest discovery is one that assists me in drawing in that divinity and pushing it out into the more physical realms.  It helps with body-mind-spirit connections, cleaning, clearing, balance, and draws in a sense of peace similar to what I felt in my NDE.  TwistedSage makes tensor rings and other tools that help even one who doesn’t know how to get into touch with their personal divinity to be able to pull it in and work with lovely higher energies across time, dimensions, and space.  The tools are almost limitless.  They are ancient.  They are new.  They’re complex and yet so simple.