Sunday, November 6, 2016

Average No More

Life changing events are not always large. They can be small, seemingly insignificant things that would have no effect on others. They can be something another would forget within the hour. 

In High School I found out that my GPA was in the middle of my class. I don't mean approximately. 

Smack dab in the middle

As in I was the average student. With an odd number of students in my class I could not even cry that it was the other middle who was actually the average one. Add to that blow hearing that the guidance counselors had used my standardized test (was it the Idaho or Iowa back then?) to show all the guidance counselors how to interpret the data. 

The shame. 

I had always been a kid who followed the beat of my own heart. I wasn't following a drummer, after all. A dear friend at the time sighed when she heard this factoid of information. She intimated that my life would be plagued by the need to prove myself NOT AVERAGE. At the time I didn't necessarily agree with her assertion, but reflection does indicate that she was prophetic. 

Haunted by the fear of being average, I have challenged myself, pushed through and done things that looking back, I can't believe were possible for me. Still, the fear remained, always taunting me with the fact that accolades have not been forthcoming and comparing myself to my contemporaries. What in the world do I have to show for myself?

Yesterday in a flash of inspiration I found my answer. I have to change my thinking. No longer will I repeat those words in my head 

"You are average." 

From Yesterday those words have been replace by something so much better. 

"You are archetypal."
"You are the prototype."
"You are universal consciousness."

My daughter's kind voice added:

"You are a classic."

I am not average. Those who know me best would tend to agree, I think. I am wonderfully unique. The word that has plagued me all these years has lost its power. I am archetypal. I will have the last word. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Art on the Run

On the run. 
All the time. 
Art comes along for the ride now. 

Little books made in coffee shops, 
in the car and 
waiting for something I had to wait for. 
No longer remembered, but taking time.

Bits ready for paint, or glue or stamping
can go with me 
and turn this waiting
into playing. 

The coffee shop was crowded
full of people talking
of themselves and their special knowledge. 
Snippets heard and pondered
like the information about how to outrun an alligator, 
fell upon my ears, 
though I bade them not to come. 

The world of ATCs was fresh
an unknown form
lots of fun to try. 
Discovered I like it.

ATCs, little books, envelopes
small treasures of uncertain worth
easy to carry, compact and succinct. 

Color, color, shapes and color
layers, patterns, expected and unexpected

More to come.
Travel bag of paints, pencils, and ephemera
Now my best friend. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Background Knowledge

I recently came to the conclusion that I need to add more layers to my work...that I just don't push forward as far as I really want to go. I wrote a blog post about it. 

Well, this week I started trying Morning Pages again. It is an exercise that comes from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. To be completely honest, I have never read the book. Those around me have, however, and I have gained some knowledge symbiotically. (Some day I will read the book.)

But I digress. Writing helped me realize that not only do I not push myself far enough, I haven't finished anything in quite a while. Some time ago I satisfied myself with creating backgrounds as a way of getting some art in during very busy patches. There are many very busy patches. 

The time has come, however to reach beyond and start finishing the beginnings. Taking a good hard look at the journals I have been beginning has been enlightening. Part of this issue is not knowing where I am going with any of them. So I assigned themes to each of the ones I have been working in and found a surge in activity. Even the backgrounds are coming together more fluidly. 

So instead of limiting me in a negative way, the themes are helping me to be free. Before I was hesitant and noncommittal. Now I forge forward adding with abandon. Well, with as much abandon as one can forge with when paint, gesso and gel medium are drying. 

Some of the themes are also demanding that color be evaluated rather than flinging the same bright colors on the pages willy nilly. I loved those vibrant pages, but they will be tamed and toned down and reined in so that they bring more life and illumination to the whole. 

Fun. Fun. Fun. 

Background knowledge informs my work. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Blogging for Connection

From time to time most bloggers ask themselves the question. 
"What question?" you ask.
That question. 

Why do we blog? 

If you are asking this question, pull up a seat and have a cold glass of peach infused ice tea. 

"Why this tea in particular?"you may well ask. "Why not plain? Why not coffee? "

Because this tea is the answer to your question. I hear your confusion. 
"Get to the point already, will you?" you say with a slight irritation in your voice. 

I will oblige you. 

I have never in the whole of my life had peach infused ice tea. Never given it a backwards glance. When the recipe was shared by Ricki Jill of Art@Home on her post for this year's Mad Tea Party I was intrigued. I had to try it. If you ask around, and I beg you don't, you may even learn that I became a bit obsessed with giving it a try. 

The ingredients I bought at a local farm. South Carolinan peaches were chosen over the white ones. Locally grown mint was procured. 

As we sat and sipped and proclaimed over the tea I mused upon the ties that bind us as bloggers. The richness of experience we are granted for the inspiration and kindness from each other, persons unknown to each other in our local, everyday lives. The tea was, and remains, delicious. Ricki was astute in mentioning that the recipe can last a while, but won't because it will be finished long before it's expiration date. For the record, I drank more than one glass. 

Blogging, instagram, and a variety of other ways of connecting are a blessing to those of those who stick with it, who engage and who share. It requires a certain level of engagement, however, and that connection does not come without effort. We blog to see and be seen, to inspire and be inspired, to express and find expressions that help us understand our own experience. We blog to send beauty into the world and to fill our lives with that beauty. 

These are all things I am thinking as I muse over the beauty of the connection we gain from blogging. There is so much more. I need not be complete in this post. 

Dear reader, thank you for being part of this blogging experience. Ricki Jill, thank you so much for this recipe. So delicious! 

Why do you blog? Why do you read blogs? What do you get out of the experience?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Flip, Flops, Pockets and Cut Outs with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

It's getting to be a tradition for me - a class at Kept Creations in Whitman, Massachusetts each summer. This year my daughter took the class with me! Double the fun. Notice that even after washing up we were covered in paint. 

This year I took a class called Flips, Flops, Pockets and Cut-outs with Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. It is always inspiring to meet and get direct instruction from someone you have been following and learning from online. Julie has been a big inspiration for me in so many ways.


We started with cut outs. Thinking I could make a better circle, I traced inside some tape to make my shape. That didn't leave me much wiggle room. 

While I like my first attempts, I note to myself that next time I will try making a bigger cut out for this technique. It gives room for the possible. 

Expanding on our cutting techniques, this beauty emerged. 
What a surprise it was! 
Who knew I could make this kind of thing? 

 Always the rebel, I tried making paisley shaped pages. We will see how they work out in the end. Currently they remind me that I am adventurous. 

Here are some of the flaps I made. On the first few you can see how the flaps were integrated by painting the background. 

And a paisley flap! Imagine that! When the background is done it will look quite a bit different. 

It took two days for the paint to be removed from this lovely pair of hands. 

Julie is an amazing instructor. Her class is packed full of techniques and ideas. She has humor, energy and is quick to encourage. If you have a chance to take her class, do it! 

Cool idea from another participant of the class. Store washi tape on embroidery floss holders. 

Taking classes provides information, inspiration and the company of others - all things that push us forward. This was a wonderful experience for me. 

Julie posted about the class on her website. If you like a better look at the class look here:

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Mad to Glad Tea Party

Welcome to the 
Mad to Glad Tea Party 2016

These days there is so much to be mad about, sad about, absolutely devastated about.
Wherever I look I see people questioning why...
wondering how we got to this place....
wondering if the things they do matter...
if they matter....
and they do.
They do matter. 
You matter. 

So as I pondered these things, along came the time for
Vanessa of A Fanciful Twist to post the invitation 
to her annual
Mad Tea Party. 

Each year I look forward to this wonderful party. The loveliness, the creativity, the joy of it all. 
As I pondered these things I decided to hold a 
Mad to Glad Tea Party this year. 

First we must entice a rabbit with a bouquet of basil and fresh dill. 
Everyone knows that rabbits are great for inspiration. 

Sir Fernly Fern and I thought a long time. I stroked his silky fur. He nuzzled me and nipped me when I stopped petting him. Sir Fernly Fern doesn't shy away from comfort as we humans sometimes do. 

The idea to turn Mad to Glad came to me as we snuggled. Tea, friendship and art journaling - the focus for this year. 

I used craft paper instead of a pretty cloth so we could spill as much as we wanted, or write, or paint. 

Guest tags were replaced by black sharpie free flowing names on the table. Naturally we set a place for the Unexpected Guest. 

Three kinds of tea. Why not? A taste testing adventure.

Silly labels made us laugh. 

And we can't forget to stop and smell the roses.

While I know that a cuppa tea can often change my mad to glad, I had more planned for my party friends.

I gave each friend a piece of cold pressed watercolor paper and told them to write what was making them mad or sad or anxious or worried. Like 18th century letter writers would conserved paper, we turned the paper and wrote crosswise. In days gone by the paper was expensive. We used it as a design element. 

After choosing some colors to paint over the words we picked up our cards and spread paint.

My spot at the table after painting a few layers. 

Collage ensued. Scrap paper. Paper bags. Paper from presents last Christmas. Magazine pages. If it could be pasted down it was fair game. 

More color. More layers. We stopped only when it became apparent that our pages needed to dry before adding any more. We hope to continue these now glad pieces. Pieces that inspire us to move forward when it seemed hard to move a muscle.

Here's hoping that you have some inspiration to turn something mad into something glad. Thanks for joining us.  

Please be sure to visit A Fanciful Twist for links to see all the Mad Tea Parties that are happening today. Just click on the invitation to zip over there.