Sunday, November 30, 2008

The End, or Coming Around to the Beginning Again

I've Got the World on a String
11/30/08 AEDM #29 and #30
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pen

I did it! Finished nanowrimo yesterday at 52, 104 words. I am now a winner. This is the closest I have ever cut it... although apparently last year, I didn't validate my word count correctly.

More importantly than finishing for nanowrimo, I do not feel burnt out. Well, a little, but the pressure is off a little. I want to finish this book, which I think I can do in 20k words. Then I have to revise both the first and second books (both last years part one and this years part two.) Shh. Don't tell anyone. I kind of cheated by working on a book that was already in progress. Well, I hadn't picked it up in a year and I did not read it over, and it was with a distinct change in pov and setting, so it really was like a sequel, which is allowed.

As for the revision, I think both books will be cut majorly, as I weed out the extraneous babble and focus on the journey of the story. I'm thinking this is a simple Hero's Journey, and I need to brush up on that format. That will get rid of a lot of the fluff. But boy, the revision is going to be a monumental task. I probably have about 300 thousand words to go through. Makes nanowrimo look wimpy by comparison, doesn't it?

I recently found out that Water For Elephants, by Sarah Gruen was a nano novel. Loved that book. My faith is strengthened. Best Seller List, here we come.

As for the painting... I drew a quick sketch last night, feeling exhausted and not really wanting to do another whole painting. Then I did a quick paint job this afternoon, wanting more than just pen drawing. I kind of like the crochet look of the golden lotus in The World.

Do I feel like I have the world on a string? Not really, but I can't get the song out of my head. And I've been having mandalas on the brain, too. So this is what came out.

Right now, I want to go to my room and work on my novel some more. I still have quite a bit to go and I am hitting the climax. Maybe I don't have that much farther to go. But anyway, there's stuff to write before naptime is over, so congrats to all nanowrimo winners and participants. Even trying to write nano is an achievement in my mind. And thank you to all the AEDM participants. It was a blast creating with you, even when it hurt to pick up a paintbrush.

Just remember folks... creativity doesn't have to stop just because the challenges are over.

Love and Paint and Ink,

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hope, or What It Takes to Get You There

Hope, or What It Takes to Get You There
11/28/08 AEDM #28, Illustration Friday
Golden Fluid Acrylic

If you look close, can you see the balloon? That is hope's power. Sure, it's delicate, sure it's practically invisible, but if you have faith, it will get you to the land you have been dreaming about.

Flying Girl is ready. She is almost there, almost reaching that tower rising out of the Autumn woods, the place where fairy tales are made real.

However, I would like you to notice that this Flying Girl is not a princess. She is not a fairy tale herself. She lives quite firmly in the real world.. as is evidenced by the thick soles of her boots. That's for all the grounding that needs to accompany the hope.

What would happen if hope was unbalanced? That would be when we put all our hopes in one basket, expecting that to come real, without being realistic and having secondary plans. It's also when we think all we have to do is wish hard enough for our dreams and they will come magically true. That is not what hope is about. Hope is about believing that your actions will bring about what they need to bring about in order to reach your dreams. The key to balancing the unbalance "Hope" is to take action. Hope without action is mere wishing. In order to make hope function, you need to allow hope to buoy your steps. Because you are not a passive princess waiting for your dreams to come true, you are the hero of your own story, and heroes have to do the work, not wait for the lady on tv to pull their lotto numbers.


This was inspired by the prompt from Illustration Friday, Balloon. It was only after I finished it that I realized I had already done a Flying Girl with a balloon. So I checked back, and there she was, another balloon flying girl with a red bob and stylish clothes. What the heck? Totally coincidental.

But you see, hope floats. This one is a bit more serene and hopeful than the last one. A little bit closer to reaching where she is going, I think. And I like the way this one has a nearly invisible balloon.

Maybe it's because we are nearing the end of nanowrimo. I myself am 1,989 words away from winning, and I expect to reach 50k by naptime today. Of course, the book won't be finished, so I would like to maintain my 10k a week goal until I am done. Who knows how long it will take. Well, I hope to be done with the first draft sooner rather than later, but the end product of the book? Who knows.

I have recently come to the realization that something in me never expects to be done with these books, almost as if it isn't possible to actually complete a novel, all the way to the final draft. And certainly not possible to get an agent or an editor.

How interesting.

The dream is there, but what is that lack of faith that it will be achieved?

I have learned a lot from writing this nano book. I am clearer about what is going to happen, and thinking that I am going to remove a whole blooming lot of what is already there. I want to simplify my story. I love a simple and true story, even if the setting is grand and global, I like the simple issues: love, loss, fear, struggle, transformation, power, joy, difficult choices. You know, things that everyone goes through on their own level.

I want to remember that I prefer simple, even if I have more facility to handle more complicated plots and themes and ideas. Just because you CAN do something does not mean you SHOULD do something. Compare, for instance, since I am writing a Space Saga, the simple Hero's Journey of Star Wars with the mess that is the final three installments of the Star Wars story. Lucas had money and power out the wazoo, and used it to make this grand sprawling thing with special effects to blow your socks off... but it lost the heart of Luke's original journey.

No offense to any Star Wars fans, it's just the way I feel about stories. It's ALL about the stories.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankful and Reconsidering Creativity

I didn't do a painting last night. Are you kidding? I was practically falling asleep on my feet. I did a lot of creating, but not with paper and paint. Cooking, kid raising, and so on, but, I realized I did do some sketching before the process of cooking Thanksgiving dinner got started. Here, I've ripped the sketch out of the note pad and placed it on top of a pink and green background that I made whenever I had leftover paint on my palette. I hate wasting good paint. So, I had greens from one painting and pinks from another and they became a kind of seascape. The sketch (AEDM #27) is an idea for "Freak Flag Fly, or Weirdo" except I spelled weirdo wrong. Here's to still having problems with i before e. except in weird cases.

Well, I am thankful that I am weird. I have not only gotten used to being different from most people, I have also begun to really like it.

I'm also thankful for Thanksgiving leftovers.

I had my mom's cherry pie for breakfast. I am thankful that I'm a grown up and can have cherry pie for breakfast without someone saying, "you can't have sweets for breakfast." No that doesn't sound like me--uhm, yes it does.

I am thankful for guava paste and gouda that I had for a snack. My mom brought it. It was apparently a favorite of my Spanish Grandfather's.

I am thankful for hearing more stories about my rich family traditions... from all over the world. She also told a story of how he brought back some amontillado sherry from Spain one year, and it was the best wine she'd ever tasted. This is my father's father, you see, not my mother's. PS. Guava paste and gouda sounds gross, but it's really tasty!

I am thankful that I tried to make my Puerto Rican Grandmother's rice and beans with sausage stuffing. It turned out pretty good, although it doesn't taste quite like hers.

I am thankful that I could share that Puerto Rican tradition with my non Puerto Rican uncle and stepfather.

I am thankful for rice and beans and sausage stuffing for lunch.

I am thankful for many many things... other than food.

Like a laundry machine so that I can wash the MANY changes of clothing that my kids are going through every three hours, it seems. ugh. Stop making messes.

And thankful for this house, with the laundry, dishwasher, fire place, computer, play room, etcetera.

Thankful for my camera so that I could take pictures, and let my kids take pictures, too. The fireplace picture was taken by G.Thankful for the family, this is my mom (who did most of the clean up while I put the kids to bed) and my stepfather. My uncle is somehow out of the picture. This picture was taken by Ivy... although I think I helped her with this one. It's pretty durn good for a one and half year old.

I am thankful also for my readers and the fun I've had with them and my fellow bloggers this past year.

I am thankful that I only have 6 thousand or so words left before I hit 50k in nanowrimo.... because I have not been doing well at getting that word count out lately. And thankful I still have some time to write today.

I am thankful, always thankful, for the possibilities that lay before me, before my family, before the very world. I am thankful, and hopeful, for the future.

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations, Shelly Lowenkopf! You won Flying Girl and the Whale. May she bring you focus and dedication, and give you access to your own universal forces.

This is what Flying Girl and the Whale says to Shelly.
The whale speaks most because of the way it reminds me of the Ahab tendencies I have for good and for failure, a splendid object lesson on the uses of focus and dedication and the lessons to be had from them.

Then there is the Flying Girl who now represents to me the Mother of the Universe, Kali Ma, Herself, neither fearful of the whale nor trying to control him, posing for a photo op with another of the many universal forces available to her.
He always amazes me with his insight and wisdom, and he has helped me out in my writing again and again, just with some coincidence of posting about just what I need to hear. For more of his wisdom, check out his blog.

And just in case my gushing has you questioning my impartiality, I didn't pick the winner. Little Bunny wanted to do it.

I wrote the names on strips of paper and then rolled them around a paintbrush handle. (Is that symbolic? I didn't mean it to be.) I think that's actually called paper quilling. Then I dumped the paper quills into a glass jar, and the little girl got right in there.

I had to take the whole dog and pony (quill and bunny?) show out to the porch, which serves as my photo studio, so I could have a little photo shoot.

She's still playing with the jar and paper quills now. They're all over the floor. No, now they're back in the glass jar.

Anyway. Thank you all for your wonderful wishes and entering the giveaway. I thought it was lots of fun and will be having more in the future. It's fun to give away things.

Shelly, I will be in touch to get your information. :)

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, if you celebrate it. And if not, I hope you had a great week.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Portrait In Process

So I told you yesterday that someone wanted me to do a commission? Well, here's my practice painting. Is that what it would be called? It's based on a photo of these two lovely folks.

I should have taken a picture of the original sketch, which I drew in blue watercolor pencils, but I didn't realize I wanted to keep track of the process. I should have, seeing as I'm going to have to reproduce this in a larger format. I really like the way the watercolor pencils blend into the acrylic paintings. I can use it or cover it up.

This is the underpainting. When I saw it, I thought... hey I like this! And I wanted to not only document it so I could reproduce it, but also, I just liked the way it looked. Oh, and sorry for the bad photo, it was done way late at night, with no natural light.
Then, I added white over the blue sky for clouds, and white on the tshirts. I like the way they meld together. In fact, when I did this layer, I said, "I still like it!" I guess I'm worried that I'll fuss with it until I ruin it. Always a problem when you are invested in the outcome. You've got to get over the fear of losing what is and just take the chances that what it ends up being will be good. I think that's called having faith in yourself.
Here is a more detailed stage. I've added the green of the grass and some facial details. I think I got him, but she is harder to paint... fewer shadows.
Cape Cod Double Portrait
11/26/08 AEDM #26
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils

I really like this style, but I need to ask my customer (OMG I have a customer) if this is what she is envisioning. I've tried more realistic painting styles, and it doesn't really turn out to my liking. I do think maybe I can venture some better flesh tones and some more detail in the grass and sand. I really like a narrow palette, just a few colors, and this color scheme is so light and airy. I want the couple to stand out from the background, but I don't want them to be separate from it. I like the unified feel of foreground and background. I am now at the stage where I don't want to mess it up. I don't want it to be much more than what it is now. I want that kind of rough look, but I'd like to go just one step more "finished." She definitely needs some pink in her lips.

However, this is the practice painting, so I don't really have anything to lose. I still have the photo if I want to go back to the simpler version. Or perhaps something different entirely.

Hey, J! If you see this, what do you think? Email me and we can work together.

Oh, and as for Nano...I wrote about 25 words yesterday in my novel. I had painting to do and I had correspondence to keep up with. And I wanted to see the rest of Anne of Green Gables. I was being indulgent, and I'm okay with that, especially since I have to cook Thanksgiving dinner (or half of it) today. I'm going to wrap this up, then shuffle the kids off to bed, take a shower, and come down to chop onions and make glaze.

It's a good thing I was so far ahead at the beginning of November.

As for the winner of the Giveaway... I can realistically say I'm not doing the drawing today on top of cooking dinner, painting and maybe even some writing. Look for the winner tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Imagined Still-Life, or Garden with Gabriel and Ivy

Imagined Still-Life, or Garden with Gabriel and Ivy
11/25/08 AEDM #25
Golden Fluid Acrylics

I went a different way last night. No oracle, no Flying Girl. No. The kids playing in the garden with their uncle's dog. Balls, sticks, tempers flying. This could be a picture from life, those are the clothes they were wearing. They are standing next to our fish pond. But they are not allowed to stand so close to the pond, the grapefruit tree is on the other side of the garden, and, oh yeah... these kids are never this still.

If they were, G wouldn't have strands of hair sticking up all over the place that I was unable to snip during his hair cut. Oh well. I look at his hair cut as a rough draft of what will be, after I next get him to stand still for two minutes. This painting, too, is a rough draft. Or, at least it isn't quite finished.

I don't particularly like the background or the composition. I've been looking around at other artist's websites, and paying attention when they share their process. It is fascinating. I think I was particularly inspired by Amanda Blake (whom I adore) and how she created Norma Always Wore the Perfect Outfit. I never went to Art School, although I majored in art in High School. I got the basics, but I never got the chance to explore art concepts and techniques with other people when I was mature enough to go deep. I know there are benefits to being an autodidact and going on your independent inquiries into life, but sometimes I wonder what I missed. That's why I really enjoy when artists share what's behind the magic curtain.

I'm still learning about painting. I do a lot of experimenting, and the more I do, the more I learn. I guess any good artist will always be learning about their craft and their creativity. It is so much about the process. I believe that. That's why I share my process here, sometimes. But sometimes it's also about the product. I'm working on that, too.

Maybe I should stop painting everything in my journal, and start painting on proper paper... or canvas even. *gasp!*

As for writing, it's very interesting. I never show anyone the process of my writing. Nothing that's not perfect. No one has every read the first drafts of my novels, but I've posted my process of painting everyday on the world wide web. Go figure.

And yesterday, I watched Anne of Green Gables on PBS instead of writing furiously, so only managed 440 words.

nanowrimo total: 45870

This is the last day for the Flying Girl giveaway, so post before midnight if you want to be in the drawing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Magic Maker, or A Spoonful of Sugar

The Magic Maker, or A Spoonful of Sugar
11/24/08 AEDM #24
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils, Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens

She blows in when the wind is just right and everything becomes magic. She is the heart of a song. The fall of a golden leaf in autumn. The scent of cinnamon rolls in the oven. She is the one who makes every day into pure magic. Some think she is Mary Poppins, practically perfect and something not quite human, but that is not true. The Magic Maker is inside of you. She is the part of you that says "yes." She is the part that pays attention and hangs up the colored glass to shine in the window. She encourages beauty and joy and wonderful things, because these are the things that make life better. These are the things that make the necessary bitterness of life palatable.

It doesn't matter how difficult your life is. There is still a sunset or a song on the radio or a piece of chocolate with pomegranate and chili filling. Whatever your magic, entertain it. And through the magic, make it through the tough times with your soul intact.

An interesting thing about The Magic Maker... she does not make the hard time disappear. She does not bring love where there is none. She does not give you gifts that you do not already have... she makes magic of what IS. Listen to old Mary... I mean Magic Maker, and catch that rainbow while it hovers above your rainstorm.

PS She also wishes to say that laughter makes you float.

In the reverse, the magic maker is here to say, you've got to get out of your gutter. There's a whole sky above you twinkling with stars, gleaming with sunrise, dotted with puffy clouds, swirling with energy. Look up from your grind. Look up from the gloom that the bitter reality has left you in and pay attention to the good things. Only seeing the possibility of doom is a good way to walk straight into Doom Street. Stop searching for signs of disaster, signs of what is wrong with the world, and look instead for the directions in life that are pointing towards a better world.

My suggestion, begin to keep a list of the things you are thankful for, the things that bring you joy, the things that are beautiful. No matter how small or how large, pay attention to the little things. It takes time to change the habits of negativity. It doesn't happen over night. And there is no magic pill, either. But the plus side to this is it doesn't take some inborn magical ability to have a positive attitude, it just takes work and retraining.

If you want it, you too can have a life full of magic.
Interestingly, I was sitting at my desk, finishing up some touches on The Magic Maker, and G came up to me, with some markers, and said, "Magic!" Then he went "POOF!" and he made them "D'appear." He did this for a half an hour, making all sorts of things disappear and reappear. Waving his arms dramatically, being suitably pleased at my amazement at his magic making abilities.

Did it have to do with the magician on Sesame Street? You bet it did, but it's quite a coinkidink. Or, perhaps a simple case of synchronicity. You know that's always popping up. It's no coincidence that we watched Mary Poppins yesterday, and she shows up today.

And I went on with my own magic making today, giving the kids their first taste of the joy that is refrigerator cinnamon rolls. I was going to save them for Thanksgiving morning, but I decided to do them today. I love those suckers, although I limit their intake for obvious reasons. They've always seemed kind of magic to me. A little bit of sugar frosting makes everything magic, right?

We also built a little pillow fort in the play room, a nice place to eat their lunch while I take my photos, upload the photos, write my post and say hi to you guys. Pillow forts are full of magic, and so is sneaking in time to write.

Maybe the magic there is I'll be able to use nap time to catch up on my writing and even some chores?

nanowrimo word count: 45430. (1322 yesterday-- boy woke up from nap early. writing session interrupted.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Past, or She Who Does Not Face What Is

The Past, or She Who Does Not Face What Is
11/23/08 AEDM #22 & #23
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens, Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils, White Gel Pen.

She is blind to the future that is hers. She is blind to the life of the present that is happening around her. She is wrapped up in things past. Loves and delights and sorrows. The things that she has lost. The things that she wishes she still had. Her eyes are almost closed. Her mouth is turned down in sorrow.

Her long delicate neck is burdened with the weight of all this past that she is carrying around with her. That is a lot of heaviness.

You ARE your past. Your past settles into your bones and creates who you are in the present. The choices you make now are directly and indirectly influenced by all the things you have learned and experience in the years past. This can be a wonderful thing, as y0u draw upon love and kindness and logic and joy. It can also be negative and draining, if fear, loss, pain and cruelty are the parts of your past that you focus on.

Turn to the light, turn to the joy and change your inner voice to one of positivity. Think about those who loved you, and remember all the things about you that are worth loving. Think about the things that made you happy and create a new life inspired by them. Remember the valuable lessons that you have already received and carry them forth into your new life.

I am realizing that perhaps I should follow the actual cards of the Tarot a little more closely. What I'm finding is that the things I am dealing with or the things on my mind are the images that show up again and again. The Diver was similar in meaning to this one. Maybe I should take out my Tarot and pull cards and allow my paintings to be inspired by that.

Me, I have a tendency to think in the future. I am always a little bit ahead of myself, thinking about where I want to be and the things I have to do to get there. For instance, Thanksgiving dinner has not happened and I am thinking about what I need to do to get ready for Christmas. I want to craft and make hand made gifts, but will the painting suffer? I don't know. I am going to have to organize the mish mosh in my head around that. I think about painting pictures for people, but then I won't be able to post. Maybe I should post old paintings/collages/drawings from the past. It might be nice to do some sewing and fabric crafts... which I haven't done for ages. Or jewelry. I do love making jewelry. It's one of those things that I have always enjoyed. Maybe I could even use December as a kind of experimental workshop for things that I might develop to sell in my soon to be etsy shop.

Another thing that is swirling around in my head... this compulsion I feel to paint a new painting every day. What is that about? It started out as a personal challenge. But is it a necessity? No, I don't think so, and may lead to burn out.

I can still be creative everyday if I don't paint every day. This painting took two days... three even, because I worked on it this morning before posting. Taking more time on a painting means the detail can be finer, the technique can be more precise. Sometimes I look on these paintings as rough drafts, some times they seem complete in themselves.

I suppose there are no answers to what my creativity SHOULD be. It evolves and changes as life does. Much as this post did, mish moshed and swirly. Not really about the past, as the image suggests. Or is it? There is a bit about using the past to create things for the present/future. And also, is it my past experiences that have made me such a perfectionist and so hard on myself? Is it because of what I have been through that I set myself such high and rigid standards? I MUST DO A PAINTING A DAY OR I FAIL!!!!!

You know, it takes quite a while to deprogram your brain from the negative self-talk and turn your mind to more positive thoughts.

All part of the process.

My Original Flying Girl Giveaway is still going on until Wednesday night, so come on over.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Creativity Dance, Do Si Do and Around She Goes.

Ivy, 2 days ago.
(Gratuitous adorable kid shot on red tricycle since my camera is AWOL.)

And the dance continues on.

Thanksgiving preparations are invading on my creative time.

I took a trip with my mom to Aldi for the first time to stock up for the feast. It is cheaper, but it makes shopping a lot more complicated as many more stops are added into the routine and it happened during the time I usually get to work. Grandpa watched the kids, though, so that made it easier.

I also stopped by a Salvation Army and found the most darling hand made reversible linen and fisherman print overalls for Ivy, and picked up some bargain comics for G, as well as another small table for the playroom. I was looking for a toaster, since mine burst into flames this week, but no toast.

When we got home, after picking up the kids, they passed out, because it was way past their nap. As I got out of the car to put them in their room, I realized I had forgotten my purse at my mom's house! Too many packages, too many things to keep track of.

So, no photo of my painting from last night... although I never finished it anyway. Perhaps this is a message from the universe that I don't have to live up to my ridiculous standards of not only being creative every day, but of finishing a piece every day. Was I still creative? Yup.

And even if I went to make dinner instead of sitting down for the remaining half hour and writing , that turned out creative, too. (Vegetarians, turn away.) The chicken carcass that had been sitting in the fridge had to make room for the ham and turkey breast for Tgiving. So it went into the pot for chicken stock. But I've never really made chicken stock, not well, anyway
. I am only a poultry person if I have to be (hence the ham for thanksgiving) and lately chicken is almost all my kids will eat. But today I thought I'd try my half understood thoughts on chicken stock and half way into that, decided I would make it chicken soup.

All I can say is... whathehuh? It's delicious. What did I do? Chicken with too much chicken on it to throw away. Carrots. Onions. Celery. 3 cloves garlic. Bay leaves, marjoram, salt. A little chicken base, too, because it felt a little thin to me. Then some whole wheat thin spaghetti and it's a yummy meal. And cheap! Almost all leftovers and veggies heading past their prime.

Maybe I need to be a bit more creative in the kitchen. And by the way, the kids are eating it up.
Quoth Ivy: "Yumnum. Shoop."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Flying Girl is Coming Together, or The Dance

Flying Girl is Coming Together, or The Dance
11/22/08, AEDM #21
Golden Fluid Acrylics on Paper, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2"

I fell asleep again, right after putting the kids down. Konked out. Probably was asleep before the boy was. So I didn't paint last night, or get my writing done for the day, either. This Flying Girl was done this morning, while the kids were watching Saturday morning cartoons/hanging off of my knees.

This is the dance of my life lately. Finding the balance between my personal goals and needs and the goals and needs of being a mother. Sometimes I have all my hoarded nap time to create. Sometimes family calls and the energy goes elsewhere. Sometimes the nap gets cut short or I need my own sleep more than I need to paint. Sometimes I ignore sensible things for the life of the mind, sometimes I put creating off for taking care of business. Sometimes I manage it all at the same time, but then collapse.

Come together, dance apart. Solo. Grand Jete. Pirouette. Pas de Deux. Jazz Hands.

This painting could be a romantic thing. Sure it could. Love and marriage and the dance of a relationship. That is it's own dance. But for me right now, the dance is between artist and mom.

Nano: still 41480. Nada yesterday.

PS. check out the giveaway if you haven't.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Dragon, or The Creative Fire

LinkThe Dragon, or The Creative Fire
11/20/08 AEDM #20
Golden Fluid Acrylic

This image is the Dragon. He represents all that is in us and can be set free. He is the fire of inspiration. He is passion. He is imagination made real.

Dragons are interesting. They don't exist, but they are a world wide concept. Or do they exist? Are they buried in the past, leaving only shadows of themselves for us to interpret? Dragons, dinosaurs... it depends upon your point of view and the stories you want to tell.

Dragons point to the unimaginably powerful force that is the human mind. What stories do you want to make real? What possibilities do you want to create in this world? If you can imagine it, you can create it. The dragon gives us the drive to do so.

The dragon represents fire. Fire represents the life force, the will. Take this image as a reminder that you are capable of anything. You have the passion. You have the will. You have the ideas. Jump, and you will fly across the horizon with the strength of the dragon, inspiring all who witness your transformation.

But can the concept of Dragon be all light and goodness? No. Fire not only makes civilization possible, but it also is an elemental destructive force. Is your passion ruling your reason? Is the fire out of control, getting in the way of manifesting your own dreams? Is your anger keeping people and opportunities away? Are you in danger of burning out? Burning up?

Reversed Dragon serves as a reminder that the fire that can warm can also burn and you need to get control of that fire before it rages through cities and destroys the population.

I am looking at this dragon as a sign that it is time to manifest my dreams. I am on the verge of getting my tech together to open my etsy store. I know I have been talking about it forever, but I am almost there. What is the difference between now and before? Is it The Dragon that says it's time to take things out of the realm of ideas and into the realm of reality?

I am still interpreting this image. Could it also have to do with the discussion I had with my cousin about some other family members where in we both released some of our own anger? Hmm. We talked on the phone instead of me doing my writing for the day, so it interfered with my creativity, but I don't know if releasing that pent up energy was a negative in the larger picture.

That fire element is pretty powerful stuff, but it needs to be taken care of, both the passion and the anger, or it can get wild and backfire. Perhaps it is better to let that kind of stuff out, and transform it into creative energy, than to hold it in and until it burns like a wildfire and you have to stand on your roof with a hose, lest it take your whole house. Much better to channel that fire into fireplaces, ovens, refineries, kilns, novels, paintings, dance, music, etc, than to let it go BOOM.

Nanowrimo total: 41480. 2662 words yesterday.

Oh yeah, and if you haven't already, come on over to my Giveaway for the chance to win one of my original Flying Girl paintings. Please leave a way for me to contact you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Flying Girl and the Migration, or Follow
11/19/08 AEDM #19
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens

What is she doing? Who is that strange bird? Is she part bird herself? Not sure, but as she goes through her changes, she flies, always onward. Even in the rain. Even as the wind blows. Even as her guide morphs into falling rain while she follows. She doesn't stop.

Does she get tired sometimes?

I think so. But even when she rests, there is a part of her that is still flying.

And I've got to stop painting to the very edges of the paper. Geesh. You'd think I'd a figured that out by now. I'm late with posting because I really didn't like this painting until I painted over the background with a lighter, less green color. And it didn't gel until I put in the spirals on the bird. And it didn't really gel until I went over the drawn navy spirals with the zinc white paint, and they smudged and blended and turned elusive. Then when I did the same on the bird... it went KAPOW! I like the effect and I may try to use it again.

I had a good birthday, thanks for all your good wishes. I didn't write, because, well... it was a busy day. I painted three (3!) Flying Girls yesterday, although I finished this one up this morning. And I cleaned the house and I made corn muffins and I watched the kids and I had a birthday party (although I did not host it). I even saw CSI and had a glass of port when everyone left.

My favorite part, though, even topping the presents that the kids got me (a wooden fruit bowl, a metal duck container, a purple cardigan and a sparkly wine colored bolero [my kids have good taste] from the local thrift store), was checking on all the lovely comments to my giveaway yesterday. Don't miss it! It's going until the end of Wednesday (New York time).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me Giveaway! Flying Girl Flyaway!

Flying Girl and the Whale, or Messages from Below
11/19/08 AEDM #18
Golden Fluid Acrylic on Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper, 5"x7"

Flying Girl and the Ship, or Messages from Above
11/19/08 AEDM #19
Golden Fluid Acrylic on Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper, 5"x7"

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Giveaway to you!!!!!

My first giveaway. I'm so excited. I still do not have my tech up to get down to business and open my etsy store (although I believe we are getting close), BUT I really wanted to thank all of you who have visited and appreciated what I am doing.

So I painted a thank you!

I did these both this morning. Last night I was so tired I could not paint, and was disappointed, because I had been planning my surprise party giveaway for a while. But this morning, these two sisters rose out of the depths (or came down from above, depending on which sister) and demanded to be listened to.

They are both originals, not prints. I will give one of them away... you just get to choose which one. So here's how you can win.

1. Choose the sister who speaks to you. (Flying Girl and the Whale, or Flying Girl and the Ship)
2. Tell me in the comments what she is saying to you.
3. Make sure you leave a way for me to get in contact with you. (Look at that, you don't even need a blog.)
4. Be lucky... because I will draw numbers randomly. One entry per person.
5. Be timely, because the giveaway will end at midnight, Eastern Time, November 26. I will post the winner on Thursday, November 27th-- coincidentally Thanksgiving Day.

Yay! I'm so excited. Let's get this party started!!

PS I'm choosing these paintings for the Illustration Friday prompt of "opinion," because these sisters see things from different perspectives, and boy does that seem to influence their difference of opinions. Plus, you are offered a choice/opinion between the two.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comfort, or Cat

Comfort, or Cat
11/17/08 AEDM #17
Prismacolor Watercolor Pencil on Paper, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2"

Comfort is here to remind you that, like a cat, you are at home in your own skin. The cat exists in the present. She does not worry about tomorrow or about yesterday. She never tries to do more than one thing at a time, other than sleeping and soaking up some sun. This cat could be in her own garden, or trekking across the world, it does not matter where she is, she is comfortable in her self.

Are you trying too hard to be something you are not, right here in the moment? Never mind that you might some day be that thing, maybe even tomorrow... if you are not there now, be HERE now. Eat when you are hungry. Run when the urge strikes you. Pay attention to the moment as it moves through you. Play with the butterflies as they flutter. Love the nap. Enjoy your own sensuousness, your sensuality, your senses. Eat your meal of fish and milk and lick your whiskers with satisfaction. Feel the briskness of the cold, or the warmth of the heat. Recognize that you are you, and where you are is where you are. Accept it. Enjoy it.

In the reverse, maybe you've been a little too self indulgent, lately. Maybe you really have forgotten that you must find a warm place for when the snows and rains come. It is time to enter the world with the rest of us, and expand your meaning to something outside of your own skin. Welcome new ideas. Open up your communications with others. Work for the future. Plan. Remember the people and places you have come from. This all can come together and create a full life and purpose.

Lately I have been realizing that I can not do everything, every day. Things fall through the cracks. The laundry, potty training, projects I have been meaning to do. I didn't even know there were comments on my other blog. I just wasn't paying attention.

Not only do I lose little bits of my living, but I also get very frustrated with the moment. I am not getting enough done, I always think, even if the moment is chock full of beingness and doingness.

Maybe I need to cut back on the multi tasking. Maybe I need to schedule in some single tasking.

I single tasked with Nano yesterday and broke through the plot rumple. I don't know if it's brilliant, but it got me out of the jam. The good thing about nano is that you just have to keep going, even if you're stuck, and oftentimes, if you keep going, you get unstuck. What do I mean, 'oftentimes?' Always. There's no room for whining about not being able to write when you are chasing 50 thousand words in a month.

I enjoy the chase... like a kitty cat enjoying the butterfly chase? Maybe more like enjoying the bird chase, with the possible end point of the-cat-that-ate-the-canary grin.

nanowrimo total 36641

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nox, or Sleep

Nox, or Sleep
11/17/08 AEDM #16
Golden Fluid Acrylic

Nox is the Roman/Greek goddess of the night. She comes in the beginning, out of Chaos, and from her, a world of gods and goddesses are born.

Nothing will get done if you do not rest yourself. Rest is about renewal. Rest is when your body gets to reenergize, your mind gets to sort and make sense of all the information of the day, your soul gets to take a time out before starting anew the next day. This image serves to remind you that you need to get some sleep. That can be literal sleep, or it can be a step away from a project or problem you are grappling with. Perhaps what you really need is to let your subconscious work on your issues. Perhaps you need to step into the world of dreams and desires, of mystery and what once was chaos. Perhaps you need to trust that if you set a thing down and step away, it will still be there for you when you come back to it.

Just because night falls, does not mean we will never see the sun again. Night points to the necessary darkness in life, the necessary down turn, the necessary winter, the necessary shadow of the light. After night, the morning will come, I guarantee you. So let go, relax, and fall into the sleep that is calling.

If this image is in the reverse for you, it is time to wake up. The universe is sending you a message that you have been away from your life long enough. Time to shake off the sleepies and get yourself the metaphorical coffee. Allow the energy of the morning into your body and your goals. Take the steps out onto the clearly lit path of action and doing. You have gotten your eight hours, and now it is time for you to get going with your day.

I did not paint last night. Nope, not a bit. After putting the kids to bed, a took a rest on my own bed for a minute, and fell asleep for the whole night. That was 11 hours of sleep. I never got my down time to watch tv or to write, but I did get some sleep. It might mean I am catching something, but then maybe I am just burning out on how hard I am working and the fact that daylight savings time is getting my kids up an hour earlier than they did before.

Anyway. I slept a lot. I let the nightly clean up go. I did not paint. I did not unwind, I just sank into a deep sleep. And then, I opened my eyes to a three year old climbing up into my bed, yelling, "WA'E UP!" (That's Gspeak for wake up.)

So technically, I did not paint at all yesterday, but my day does not go until midnight to midnight. It goes from nap to nap. So when I swiftly painted this while the kids were watching Sesame Street, it counts for me as yesterday.

Nano: nada. (total wc still 34 thousand and change)
I read a book all day instead of working. I'm beginning to think I need to work, not everyday, but every week day. I think I need to have two days off a week, just like someone with a real job that gets a pay check.

In my search to have a balance between living and art, in my search to find a career in creativity and still take care of my kids, I am looking for sustainability, not a November crisis surge of writing/painting and then burn out. After I do nano, I still have to revise my novel/novels. And I still want to continue the work of being a professional artist. If I haven't managed to do this yet, it's because I am not looking at it quite as a job, but more as a personal challenge. I will get there. And I will do it the way I do everything.

Baby step by baby step, baby.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fairy, or Believe

Fairy, or Believe
11/15/08 AEDM #15
Golden Fluid Acrylic

Not everything has to be so serious all the time. This is the Fairy Princess, she of little girls sparkle wings and flower dresses.

Fairy points to the power of imagination, the power of looking for the magic in the everyday, the joy of finding beauty in small things. This image says take it easy, have fun. Remember what it is like to dance in a circle and laugh until you get weak. Lay in the grass and hunt for clover. Watch the clouds change shapes and look for the dragon in them.

This is the card that reminds you of the power your mind has to create happiness and loveliness. It reminds you that summer is wonderful, but fleeting, and so you might as well make daisy chains while the flowers are there. Indulge your girlie side and have fun with sparkly things and cupcakes. Let the child in you free and build a cushion fort or a crown of fallen leaves or a fairy house in the woods. Revisit childhood favorites, like The Wizard of Oz or The Wind in the Willows, or Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup with fish crackers.

Stop trying to be so serious all the time.

But of course, there must be a dark side to this card. Reversed, this could mean that you have let your fantasies take over and no longer have your feet on the ground. It might be time to grow up a little, even if it is just enough to learn to do what you say you will do. Flowers are beautiful, but they are too delicate to build on. Remember that even in your joy and imagination, fairy houses are not for real live people. People need tougher stuff to live on. Focus some time on taking care of things, people, jobs, goals, laundry... whatever it is you have been ignoring for the pretty things. There is room for both imagination and reality in a balanced life.

Oy. I need more fun in my life.

This card came to me when I was anguishing over what to paint. So many ideas and I felt like none of them were right. None of them were perfect. (You'd think I'd have learned that perfection is unattainable by now.) And then I just felt like smacking myself in the head.

LIGHTEN UP! I said, and saw a fairy sticker on Ivy's potty chart after they went to bed, and said, hey, why not? I'm not really a fairy kinda gal... not the pretty girly kind, anyway. In my imagination, if there are faries, they're darker kind of creatures of myth and danger, not just pretty things flitting through the fields. But, hey, not everything has to be dark. Sometimes we can just have fun and make things in pastels and flowers. If I'd had glitter, I might have thrown that in there, to boot.

I'm easing up on my word count goals for nano, as I work through some sticky concepts. If it goes on much longer, I'm just going to skip ahead to the next scene, where I know what I need.

Really, I was trying to get my main character to meet a "goddess." Or at least the consciousness of a planet. Oops... did I give away my plot twist? Anyway, I decided that she has not earned that meeting yet. She has far to go on that journey. Still don't know how I am going to convey the information I need to convey in this scene. I am heading into skip-it territory. That might be the Fairy path. Fairy's a little flaky, maybe she doesn't always handle tough stuff... but she enjoys it while she can. And anyway, let's say I do handle the rough patch like a Fairy and float over the thistles... that's not to say I can't come back like some... lawnmower later on and mow those weeds down.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Nothing, Continued

So, yesterday, after writing my post, the kids finally went to bed and I got some chores done and ate and then took a shower, washed my hair, got dressed... you know the maintenance of daily living. I then sat down to write my word count for the day and was...


I found myself in a place of plot jumble. And a place of exhaustion. I sat there, in my writing corner, for a while, mulling over what I had written. I pounded out a confused 790 words mostly on a scene that I will probably delete/hilight in red for deletion after nano. I stared out the window. I took some self portraits of me in my writing "studio." (That's my inspiration board/altar you see behind me, with flowers, tower of stones, a small cardboard house that I made, paintings and prints, art supplies, magazine clippings and the cat who likes to bless the altar/inspiration.) I had a tootsie pop from the kids halloween stash. And then I decided to take a nap.

During writing time. I don't take naps, so it's a reflection of how tired I was. But more than that, it is about giving myself some space to do nothing. I have been working really hard for a long time now, leaving not much for rejuvenation.

So I decided to do nothing (or as much nothing as I could) for the rest of the day. I took a magazine with me when the kids played in the garden, and I flipped through it, rather than trying to draw or write in my journal or even do a photo shoot. I let the kids choose their own dinner and ended up with a mishmash of sandwich/snacks/leftovers. I watched a good movie on the big screen, lights off, instead of painting during tv time.

I feel better today. And today is starting my weeklong 38th birthday week. My mom is taking the kids out to shop for my birthday present and I am going to sit in a coffeeshop and write and draw and read magazines and be a non mommy for a few hours. Tee Hee. I don't do much to celebrate the actual day, so I like to indulge myself a few times and relax for the week.

I wonder if my productivity will come back with energy because I gave myself room to do nothing, to let my subconscious free, to dream, to sleep, to play, to relax.

I tell you, it wasn't until I was thinking that I'd have nothing to post today that I realized how the image from yesterday had influenced my whole day. Very interesting. Nothing can really be powerful.

nanowrimo total 32950
AEDM # 14 (Self Portrait in Writing Studio)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Eclipse, or Nothing/Everything

Eclipse, or Nothing/Everything
11/13/08 AEDM #13
Golden Fluid Acrylics

This is the card of nothingness. In nothing, there is everything. In silence, you can hear the speaking of your soul. In the calm of breathing, you can discover all your hopes and strength and the truth of what is really there.

This image speaks to your need to let go. Do not hold on to your list of To Dos. Do not grasp onto your idea of everything you SHOULD be. Let go of the past and all the voices telling you who you are/were/will never be. Release the clutter. Purge your garbage. Don't hold on to things because they might be meaningful some day. Get rid of that fear that no longer serves its purpose. Become empty. Become ready.

In order to receive what the universe has to give you, you must leave an opening. The emptiness waits to be filled. In the nothing, there is nothing that can stop you.

Nothing reversed, speaks to, not a zen beingness of now, but a refusal to face the emptiness, and thus a rebellion against meaning.

If life seems to have become meaningless, then you need to address the fear and pain that is keeping your from what is really important to you. If you have lost hope, face the pain of your heartbreak, and realize your strength even in the face of failure. If there is a lack of love, face the fear of loss that is always a possibility, and love anyway. If there is a lack of money, address your feelings of undeserving. This emptiness is not true emptiness, but a crowded space filled with hurt. Address the hurt, accept it. Release it. Be Free.
I had nothing to paint last night. Pages of ideas in my notebook and a pencil and sketches at my disposal and NOTHING felt right. My brain was full of nothing.

That was too easy, I thought. That couldn't count as creating, as art, as meaning. That was just laziness. The image of a circle on a black background kept coming back. I looked up at the ceiling for inspiration, and the fan spun in circles. I turned to the tv and ads for Heroes were full of "eclipse." I closed my eyes, there was the ring.

And this is my second try with this concept, after I got a reference photo of an actual eclipse. Did you know that when the moon blocks out the sun's light you can see better the shape of the actual sun, and all its flare ups and storms? Nothing turns out to be really hard.

So here's my nothing.

It's already helped me maintain my patience in the face of multiple puddles and screaming, giggling, dancing messes. And it helped me get up and dance with them.

I wish nothing for you today, too.

nanowrimo total: 32160

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Superhero, or The Ideal

Superhero, or The Ideal
11/12/08 AEDM #12
Golden Fluid Acrylic.

This is the Superhero, our perfect ideal of life, ourselves, a mate. This is all the potential we can find in life. This is all our powers. We are indeed superheroes inside our skins. We have the ability to do startling things if we just unleash our inner superhero. We can save our own day. We can fly across the skyline. We can put out fires with our irrepressible spirit.

If you were to pull this image, then the universe would be telling you how powerful you truly are and to trust those superhuman insights, those heroic endeavors. This card is your "YES YOU CAN!" card. This card is the sign that you are at the point where you have the ability to achieve those dreams you have been dreaming. That's how strong you are. That's how amazing you are.

However, if you were to pull this in the reverse, the unbalanced version of the Superhero, you are put on notice that your perfectionism is harming your forward motion. There is no way to be perfect. There is no way to do it all without sacrificing anything. There is no reason for you to expect superhuman anything, because you are, in fact, human and gorgeously flawed, like every last one of us. You might also be aware that you are expecting too much of the people around you. They too have flaws. We cannot learn the ways of the world without stumbling and making mistakes.

As for me, when I posted my Superhero picture, I saw how flawed my photograph was. But understanding the other superhuman tasks I have ahead of me today, I let it go. I don't have time to go back out to my porch where the best light is, and take more pictures, down load, upoload, wait for the tick tick time going by before I could get the perfect picture. Even superheroes don't do it all. Superman is super strong, can fly and see through walls and stop time with his breath, but he can't do anything around kryptonite, and he isn't super stretchy like Elastigirl. And frankly, even if Superman is nearly perfect, I always thought he was the most boring of superheroes.

And another Superhero thing, today. Potty training. I'm afraid I have been expecting my babies to be instantaneously potty capable. Without realizing what a feat learning to use the potty is. Gaining control over your bodily functions, understanding the signals in time, keeping a constant eye on when it's time to go, mastering your own disappointment when you make mistakes.

The boy is making steps, but the girl just looks bewildered when she makes puddles on the floor. I think the puddles are inevitable. I have to remember that she's not already a grown up Superhero capable of holding in the weewee until she gets to the potty. She needs to make her mistakes, learn the signals, connect the dots so that she can be her own PeePee Girl, power of the Potty! And I have to let her learn her powers, not force them on her. And I have to practice my own Power of the Patience.

Okay, this is silly. :)

But another of my Superpowers

3036 words yesterday! Even though the boy refused his nap screaming until he woke his baby sister who then began yelling herself, at which point the boy fell promptly asleep. Grrrr! And yet, although I could hear kids playing and/or yelling in their room the entire time I was writing, I went from 9oo words to 3000 without quite knowing how I did it!

I am going to glory in my mysterious superpower a little longer. Hopefully there will be a repeat performance this afternoon. I've already vanquished The Messmaker Team, who escaped the confines of their room to spill a bottle of water on mommy's bed and make pen and jewelry soup out of my bedside stuff holder. I don't hear them any more. I'd better get to my novel. I will tackle the Fortress of Messitude later.

nanowrimo total w/c 30098

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Diver, or Memory

The Diver, or Memory
11/11/08 AEDM #11
Golden Fluid Acrylic

This is The Diver. She plunges into the depth of our past, our dreams, our subconscious, our memories and recovers our lost loves. The things that we have lost, the things that have slipped through the cracks. The things that we tried to hold on to but were unable to as we traveled the road that is our lives.

She recovers these things so that we can remember what is the real treasure. It is not the things, it is the experience. Not the details, but the emotion. Not even necessarily this person or that person, but the relationship you created together, the connection forged.

When we recover these things, we can create a more meaningful life. This is where poetry is born, from the detritus of living. This is where traditions are created, from habits of the past. This is where meaning and identity is solidified. Share your old loves with the world and allow them to live again in their new form.

But beware of being too caught up in the past. If the Diver stays too long in the land of things lost, she herself will be lost. This is not a place for living. If we hold on too tightly to things past, instead of living in the reality of the present,then we can be drowned by them. Regrets, grudges, grievances must be released in order to breathe deeply and walk strong.

Also, do not become too fixated on the treasures of the past... your glory days, a relationship that does not serve anyone any longer, a way of looking at the world that is now outdated as the world has changed. If you continue to hold onto outmoded ideas, you are in danger of being drowned as the past rises like the sea.

This very idea is one of the ideas that has led me to creating these images. It is one of those things that would not stay buried as time past, and continued to resurface again and again. So when I felt Flying Girl becoming a stale and a little rote, I decided it was time to release it and follow the fluidity of change. It is interesting how the ideas of the past and the actions of the present combine to become something entirely new.

Perhaps also my fear of not being good enough, that past fear, that old way of doing things is no longer quite as apt. I do see this project as going into the future. Coming from the past, going into the future. I wonder what an image representing the future would look like? I must consider that. I have already begun to collect ideas for more Flying Oracles, without knowing which will really resonate and which will have to be thrown back into the soup for recycling into better ideas, later.

nanowrimo total: 27062
bad day of writing. only 953 words. I have met NOBODY'S minimum. But that's okay. I was ahead. Now, if only the kidlets would stay asleep long enough for me to write. Of course, that also means I have to not procrastinate, gambling on a long nap, like yesterday. I lost that bet.
Oh well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Universe, or As Above So Below

The Universe, or As Above So Below
11/10/08 AEDM #10
Golden Fluid Acrylic, Pitt Artist Pen, gel pen

I like the way all things in the Universe run on a pattern. A tree can have the same basic shape as a river delta, or the veins in a hand or a vein of mineral in stone. Atoms make the same motions as solar systems. A mushroom grows the same as the spiral of cream that I pour into my coffee.

Look to where the patterns of your life repeat. What do you choose to do with your day? That is the direction of your life. If you spend your day in the pursuit of materialism, that is what your life is about. If you pursue daily the sacred, that is your life.

The things that you love, the things that are important, the ideas the fill you up, the images or colors that strike you, they will appear again and again, if you are willing to see them. If you capture them, and give them your attention and energy, they will expand.

Where is synchronicity at work in your life. According to The Universe, there is no coincidence. There is pattern. Pay attention to the patterns and follow them to find your heart's desire.

In the negative, think about where patterns might interfere with becoming the best you. Do you get angry at small things, when you are really angry at yourself? Do you procrastinate because you are afraid of being made responsible for actions? Where are you being self destructive? Drink, drugs, poor eating habits? Follow these patterns to find the root of it. Discover the shape of your traumas and work to heal those.

Above all, remember this. Negative or positive, the patterns that make you up make the universe up and they create a wondrous place of creativity and experience. Living is about experiencing these patterns and creating the meaning to the shape.

All in The Universe is, cosmically speaking, a part of the pattern.

How does this relate to my day? I have no idea. Only, I borrowed my step father's guitar yesterday and started to learn to play, something I have always wanted to do, and as I am learning to finger the keyboard and I am developing a callous on my pointer, the string snaps!


Sigh. Why does it always seem like when I am on a roll and excited about something, there is always a SNAP?

Is it a pattern? I am afraid I think that it is the Universe messing with me, sometimes. Laughing Ha Ha at me whenever I have a success. But then, maybe that's not the pattern, and it's just my silly little trauma that reads my life that way.

Maybe the reality of that pattern is that progress always comes in fits and starts. Maybe life is made up of hurdles and tests to our desires. Maybe it is the will that we show, the strength in overcoming difficulties that make our wins so valuable.

For instance, just because some people think that other people shouldn't have civil rights does not mean that they will never have them. Perhaps it is a lesson to us all not to take for granted what it means to HAVE these civil, even human rights. At a time where a member of one group FINALLY reaches the highest office in the country, another group is denied the right to a pretty basic civil state.

Perhaps it is a reminder to us all to remember the blessing of what it means to be self aware. Perhaps it is a reminder that in order to be free, we often have to fight for the rights of others to be free.

Hmm. Patterns. Small and personal or global and political.

And the pattern of my novel is continuing on.

nanowrimo total wordcount 26109. Over half done. I must soldier on instead of procrastinating, like I really want to do today.

I wonder what it is I am avoiding? What fears are rearing inside that haven't made it to the surface, yet?

How are patterns operating in your life lately? Are you using them to move forward, or are they taking over your own free will?

Can we change these patterns?

Monday, November 10, 2008

La Maestra or She Gives

La Maestra or She Gives
11/9/08 AEDM #9
Golden Fluid Acrylic

This is the first in a relaxation of a constraint I had placed on myself. I am expanding out from the Flying Girls, but I am still inspired by them, and might still do a FG now and then. Or maybe I'll go back to FGs, I don't know.

These new paintings I like to think of as having a slightly different orientation... Portrait, instead of landscape. Also the orientation is towards expanding the subconscious elements out from flying girl. Maybe the idea is to expand out from myself. FG has been on MY journey, but the word is wider than just me. I would like to try adding in some masculine figures, although I will have to find a way to represent them. I would also like to try being influenced by the classic tarot, as well as contemporary archetypes.

I suppose this might be a kind of brainstorming period of creating my own oracle cards... hence the portrait orientation.

So here is my first attempt.

La Maestra.
The Teacher. And if you think you have influenced my creation of this, you are correct... especially you Miss D'arcy. Along with other teachers, my own experiences, my colleagues and work mates and class mates and soul mates.

Let me do a little deconstruction/analysis/reading of this image.

You see La Maestra gives of her heart. With open hands and eyes turned towards the inner needs of her students. She takes her wisdom, like pearls, and gives to all her students, charges, friends, clients, tutees (whoever turns to her for understanding.) The pearls spread out, sometimes as hard and beautiful as a real pearl, as organic, built up of layer after layer of understanding, sometimes as light as delicate as a soap bubble. Sometimes the pearls are tiny things, that you think can not be of influence, but they can grow and lead to the greatest of epiphanies and effects. The pearls lead outward in strings, also. Sometimes it seems like there is no connection to the teacher herself, but the wisdom she has given out is passed on to others, by her very students, expanding the wisdom of the world.

The colors are gentle, and a limited palette, as the best teaching is eased into the heart and mind of the student, not harsh or jarring or forced. The student is led to the place where they are best able to accept the next lesson. And La Maestra, with her open hands, also knows that not only are her hands open to give what she has, but also to receive the lessons that she learns from her students.

Now I was a teacher, and you might ask of this Maestra, where is the concrete? Where are the deliverables? Where is the feet on the ground, get down and get dirty, get things done and get in your paperwork on time teaching in this image? And ideally, if La Maestra is balanced, she does indeed have the technicalities and daily tasks of teaching down, although the heart of her teaching comes from this place of giving and wisdom. If La Maestra is unbalanced, perhaps she should remember the concrete, and learn to be more aggressive, understand her own authority and needs, and make sure that she is not giving away all that is hers without boundaries. Make sure also that she values what she has to give and does not allow others to take advantage or abuse her.

It is a beautiful thing to give of yourself. Your impact on the world is immeasurable, because it spreads out from all who you touch. However, you must be careful not to give AWAY yourself, and you should remember that aside from heart, you must DO with the strength of your own hands.

This image is not just for literal teachers, either. This is the idea of La Maestra. I know that I have learned so much and witnessed so much wisdom here in blogland, some taught by actual teachers, but some in the generosity of regular people. We all have La Maestra inside of ourselves.

So here is my first Flying Oracle. Working title of the series. Originating images that I'm sure I will refine. And initial analysis of the images. A first draft, if you will.

Speaking of first drafts.

nanowrimo 23534 words. 2257 words yesterday, although I didn't even think I would make it to the nano minimum of 1667wds a day. My personal minimum challenge is 2000, my goal is 2334wds a day... which would make my November total 70k. 2500 is my happy word count. All the other years I've done nano, I've reached for 5k a day. I have too much going on to do that now, and I think my current reach is better for staving off burnout.

One thing I've found about myself is that it can be a real challenge to get started and reach 1000 words, but by the time I get to the 1667 count, I am on a roll and can keep going until 2k, so I do.

Have you learned anything about your own creative process in your personal challenges this month? What is AEDM or Nanowrimo or Nablopomo (or any other daily challenge you've taken on) teaching you about your process?

Oh hey! It went back to teaching. Heh heh. I love when things come full circle.

What are the pearls of wisdom you are getting from this process? Take stock of what you are getting, and remember to value how far you have come so far, even if you think you are not getting as far as you "should" be.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Flying Girl Will Make It Through, or Believe

Flying Girl Will Make It Through, or Believe
11/8/08 AEDM #8
Golden Fluid Acrylics

Nanowrimo grand total 21,227 (3362 words yesterday)

Been thinking about change, lately. And how scary it can be to change. We are creatures of habit and we like to know how things work. Like my routine, for instance. I have created my routine around me so that I can keep track of my work, my life, my kids, my brain.

But perhaps it is good to shake things up a bit sometimes.

Yesterday, instead of putting the kids to bed right at noon, I let them play in their room. Now G always plays in his room, while Ivy sleeps in her crib, but yesterday, I brought up some of the playroom toys and put them in their room. The new set up gave the toys a new light, and they were fun again, after languishing in the corner. They played together, creating a choo choo train out of a play mat and who know what else they did, since they waved bye bye to me and shut the door whenever I came to check on them. Finally, we get to a place where they can entertain each other.

The same day, we decided to rearrange the house, moving the playroom to a smaller, enclosed porch, with more light and air. The boy loved it right away, seeming to feel a sense of ownership over "his" room. The girl needed some adjustment, feeling uncomfortable until she realized she could pull the little side table up to her little chair and eat or draw or whatever. Now they love it.

I have to say I feel a little disoriented. I may be more like Ivy in needing to adjust and find my way in the new situation, but at the same time, it feels like air has been let into even more areas of life. I know it will take me a few days to adjust, to rearrange my space, my day and my habits, but otherwise, I feel as if there is room now for some new paths. Wait until I fix it up and show you my new "office." I never would have shown you my previous one. This is my working station when the kids are awake, where I can research and plan and list, before I get to the real work when the kids go down. New play space, new work space.

Yes. More change. Life, not political slogan.

What does this have to do with my FG today? Maybe I'm wondering about the constraints of the FG project. I mean, how long will I continue? I enjoy FG, but day in and day out for almost two months now? I'm getting a little bit tired.

I don't really want to give up painting every day... but sometimes our routines benefit by being shaken up, just witness changing the playroom around. The kids have more independence in their new space and I feel as if there's a little less clutter in my head and it allowed my new work area. A place where I can still supervise the littles, but not be stuck into a little cluttered corner.

I have an idea for the FG project that I have been kicking around in my head for years. I've always been a little too frightened to start it, because it's a big project that is a bit demanding. But after doing FG all this time, I've begun to believe that I am actually fully capable of doing this new project. I don't know if it will all work out, but all of my FG pictures didn't work out, either. Some of them, though, I just adore and succeeded beyond my expectations. The project itself, the whole of it, succeeded beyond anything I thought would happen.

So that brings me back to today's FG. It's very simple. I did that on purpose. It's a return to the beginning of FG, silhouettes and horizon. But I added a word. "Believe." Because, really it's about faith. You have to have faith in yourself, so that you can move forward and reach your dreams. Even if you are frightened by the scope of a project, or by the unknown, or the possibility of failure, you have to believe that you can handle whatever comes your way.

All you warriors out there... are you listening to me?

You gots to believe in YOU.

PS Kate, I am going to respond to your wonderful award, but I have to find a time when I don't have writing and/or painting on my agenda, and this has been an upside down weekend.

PPS This is actually after the fact, but I have decided to post this entry to Inspire Me Thursday. It's an open topic, and I think this is the one that I would like to share with the Inspire Me community, because so many people are on their own warrior type creative adventure.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Flying Girl and the Winter Dawn, or Change

Flying Girl and the Winter Dawn, or Change
11/7/08 AEDM #7
Golden Fluid Acrylic

A new way to inspire a painting when I am exhausted and brain dead with a head empty of ideas:
Reach into my bag of paints and withdraw three bottles (two small and one large [which are my whites])

It is almost like pulling a word from a bucket of collected words. I used to do that when I taught High School English and when I led women's workshops. I would collect "juicy" words, concrete, specific words with lots of connotations, and whenever I needed a word prompt for a poem or a journal entry or even a story, I would reach in and pull out one or two or three.

So I reached in to the bag and pulled out a zinc white, bone black, and then another zinc white. Gosh, i said to myself, I need another color! And I pulled out paynes gray. then I pulled out titanium white. Then I pulled out the very dark prussian blue hue, and I decided, well that's it, the universe wants me to paint in black and white today.

It didn't really turn out black and white.... I almost feel like I cheated by making it mostly blue toned. But it did guide my paintings.

I did the flying girl figure, and her dress flowed out behind her and all of a sudden it was the sky and I pictured her a kind of Snow Queen, but one bringing a new dawn and there was the painting.


Inspiration can be fleeting, when you are looking for it, but sometimes if we stop chasing it and just allow our life/experiments/chance happenings to BE the inspiration, hey, it's right there in front of you after all.

Nanowrimo total wordcount: 17,915 (2320 yesterday)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Flying Girl and the Carnival, or Life

Flying Girl and the Carnival, or Life
11/6/08 AEDM #6
Golden Fluid Acrylics Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils

This Flying Girl flew in out of thin air. I did not have one single idea in my head when I sat down to sketch it out and I was so tired I did not even want to paint. But I persevered, falling back on my new routine of painting with the TV on, and she just appeared. I think the ferris wheel was the first distinguishing feature that appeared. Then I thought a pale teal sky might be nice and the orange came after that. I've been attracted to orange lately. Autumn thoughts, maybe.

Her outfit took some doing, too, going through many fashion incarnations before settling on this rather business like tweed skirt, orange vest and pale green blouse. And the funky heels were almost an accident.

I particularly like the outfit as a contrast to the carnival, because, despite the fun background, this isn't really a "fun" picture, at least not like yesterday's FG and Magic Cat. Interesting. First a Circus, then a Carnival. I didn't mean to walk along the midway on this one. I suppose tomorrow will be the Freakshow. Well, I make no promises.

This carnival, though, feels more to me like the ups and downs of life, the wheel of fortune turning, top to bottom to top again. I don't know why there are no people in this carnival, it just didn't feel right when I thought about adding them. Sometimes I plan a painting according to meaning, sometimes I just go with the flow and the meaning becomes apparent later.

I don't know if I am creating the meaning from what it "could" mean or if the meaning has appeared out of my subconscious to allow me to understand what is going on in there.

I tend to believe that it is more a message from my subconscious, from the universe, even. I don't know if you know this about me, but I also read tarot cards, and have for the last 20 years. Wow, time flies. To me, this is an extension of creating meaning out of the set archetypes of the tarot. Perhaps creating these FGs everyday is my own oracle. Some are more thought out than others, but they all come from something inside of me that I don't quite have complete dominion over.

Maybe someday, I will paint my own tarot deck. I have been mulling the idea over for the last fifteen years or so. I still haven't seen all these FGs put together without any other images or words in the way. I wonder what it would be like to pin them all up to the wall and just sit with the images of the journey.

Not sure I want to rip up my journal yet, but it might be a fun concept. I've really got to get my scanner and printer back, then I could just make prints of them all. Please don't let me go into that saga. Did I mention my life seems like a not so fun rollercoaster sometimes?

Oh yeah, nanowrimo word count: 15,595 (2357 words yesterday) I finished up my surprising and meaningful and confrontational and even brutal (heh, not so much, I think I could up the brutality just a tetch, as I tend to shy away from confrontation and brutality so it's probably very mild), and then babbled away in the next, nothing, toss off scene. I write to find my way in to the story, I have discovered. Most of my total words are that writing my way in. I wonder if I were to edit it, how many words are the meat of the story? But I will have to wait until December to try that exercise as I do not edit during nanowrimo and I delete nothing. I have, however, found myself going back over my work more than in other years.

Perhaps I am confident in my writing speed and ability to hit the wordcount, and even my ability to turn off the internal editor and my faith that I can get it all done. I am no longer running in fear of not being able to do it. That's a good development, I think. Now, I have actually crafted my pages a little, instead of just doing stream of consciousness. When I find a line/paragraph/scene that I should edit out, I simply hilight it all in red-- the color of STOP! And then move on to where I want to be.

I am enjoying the permission to write something that won't go into the final. Enjoying the permission to write crap, to write shallow characters and pointless description, because I know it is just drawing the REAL story out of my subconscious.

There's that subconscious again. She's busy lately.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Flying Girl and Magic Cat go for a Ride, or Circus

Flying Girl and Magic Cat go for a Ride, or Circus
11/5/08 AEDM #5
Golden Fluid Acrylic

nanowrimo total word count 13,238 daily w/c 3128

Flying Girl is looking for magic. Or maybe she has found it. It isn't about wizards and witches. It isn't in having lots of money or luxury. It isn't in having someone tell you that you're magic. It isn't in ceremony or old stories. It isn't in following the rules and following along the old ways of doing things.

Where did I find it?

I swept up stars today, with the cheerios.

My little girl stole my work steno pad so that she could lay on the floor and scribble her own work.

A giant palmetto bug joined the party on the boys potty training sticker chart, along with the scary halloween spider and monster stickers.

The cat learned how much fun pipe cleaners were and the kids learned how much fun cats are when they are having fun.

Every time I turned my attention to the television or internet, the world was involved in active HOPE, not disaster.

I managed to write over 3 thousand words, paint a new FG, make a meat loaf and take care of my beloved mess makers all in the same day.

The kids decorated the cat with unwinding spirals of pipe cleaners, thinking this was how cats played.

I realized how much my creative process is involved in NOT creating, but collecting the random firings of inspiration, busying myself with life while ideas turn over in my head, snack on chocolate, organize supplies, check email, sweep the cheerios, make meat loaf, listen to kids not going down for nap, overcome frustration, remember to breathe deeply, feed myself , give a baby a doll, write down notes, listen to tears, ideas, questions, requests.

Children's stories serve to soothe and calm my overexcited adult brain.

The possibilities of a toy circular are endlessly fascinating to a three year old.

Following a twinkle of a plot possibility opens up the story into something that gets realer and realer than what I had been planning and leads to excitement in me. I can't wait to write again today.

Colors, when they find the right association pop in your brain like sweet/tart candies.

So, although my day was not frustration free (like with how the boy refused to nap and ended his refusal with a screaming fit before he fell asleep, which woke up the girl who then could not get back to sleep, all during my writing time) I allowed the magic of the day into my routine.

I hope to do so more often. I hope to see the magic and to allow it to exist, instead of just ignoring it and letting it disintegrate into dust, just like those dang cheerios.
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