Thursday, November 07, 2013

Shooting in the Dark

Shooting in the Dark

One night, past sundown, I was sitting in a lovely little waterside bar, with my new camera beside me. I had missed the sunset, arriving just a bit too late. It was getting darker and there wasn't much to see.

My plans for capturing the sunset had failed, but I said to myself, "self, what do you have to lose?" And I picked up the camera and took a picture. Even though it was too dark to really see. Even though I'd tried dark shoots with my old, crappy camera, and it was always a crap shoot.

And then I looked at the picture I had just taken.

Nature Preserve!
Deep blue with just a touch of pink!

Now, I am not a professional photographer. I just like to play with pictures and capture pretty things. I consider it a hobby and a tool, and myself an amateur. I couldn't tell you why this camera takes such better pictures although my uncle the photographer tried to explain it to me. I can't explain anything about apertures or shutter settings. I forgot that after my long ago high school photography class. I am relieved to not have to deal with developing or chemicals or any of that stuff from the last generation. I just like to be able to play.

And I can also recognize when an image sizzles.

Here's the lesson I learned.

Take the chance. Even when you are not sure what might come out, what the results might be. Even when you feel like you don't know what you're doing and you have missed your opportunity. You have nothing to lose. Take the chance. Even though you feel like you are going blind and don't understand anything, trust yourself and take the chance.

It might not end up like what you expected.

It might be better.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


It is the end of October and tomorrow is the first day of November, the first day of Nanowrimo.

My mind is awhirl with ideas.

Tomorrow starts the month when I put my ideas down on paper and attempt to make something concrete out of them.

It's a scary thing, often, making your ideas real. Sometimes it feels much better to keep your ideas in the realm of the maybe, to not put them down on paper, to not show them, to not turn them into something real.

The thing is, ideas can be wonderful and great and genius and perfect, but once you put them down on paper to make them real, they will be real in their flaws, lumps, awkwardness, and imperfection. Before you put them down, when that page is blank and full of nothing but potential and possibility, your hopes of what might be can get so big and important that it's too frightening to write them down and expose them.

Because reality is never perfect, and genius may start with a genius idea, but to make it real, it takes an awful lot of work and pruning and revising. It is so much better to put that flawed idea, that uncertain attempt, that maybe down on paper than it is to sit with the flawless, intangible idea floating around in your brain.

Put it out there. Try it out. See what happens when the floating idea lands on the page and inspires a second idea, and then a third. Or maybe it turns out to be a bad idea that doesn't go anywhere. In that case, scrap that idea and move on to the next. Just make sure whatever it is, you commit to those ideas, you make those ideas real.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Get Ready for Nanowrimo with a Mock Up of Your Book Cover


In preparation for beginning nanowrimo in November, I created a mock up of the front cover of the novel I am hoping to write.

It is actually quite surprising how creating the cover of your novel can help you focus on the book you are going to write, it almost makes it real, whereas before, it was just a nice idea and a bunch of words all mashed up in some order you're not quite sure of yet.

I suggest this as an exercise for anyone tackling a big book project, whether in nanowrimo or on your own. I did this once before for the novel I was revising, and it really gave me the push to see it all the way through.

Some suggestions for how to get this mock up going.

1. Take a look at some of your favorite book covers and look at how these books convey the mood and characters and story of the books. Start getting some ideas of what you'd like your book cover to look like. For some inspiration, I have pinterest collections of illustrations, and more text based illustrations. Notice that the illustrations can be anywhere from super elaborate to very simple, multiple colors or black and white, perfect and precise to scrawled graffiti. 

2. Pick a medium that you are comfortable with. Remember, you are not actually trying to be a book illustrator, you are just trying to make your book real to you. It's okay if you are not a great artist. If you like taking photos, try using one of your photos as the main image. Use magazines and collage images that convey a sense of the story. Perhaps your book cover is just color block, patterns or words. If you know photoshop or computer graphics or  like cool computer fonts, use that. I generally hand draw all that

3. Take out a piece of paper and divide it into 6 or 8 book cover shaped rectangles. Sketch a few ideas on this paper, one per rectangle. Think about different main images, colors, where the text goes. Try rearranging the main elements for the best effect. Leave space on the image to put your book title, author and any other text. Sketch out the title so you know how much room you'll need to make it all fit. Pay attention to the space around your images, the negative space, so nothing is too squooshed or unbalanced (unless that's part of your design.) After I did it, I noticed that my lettering is a little unbalanced, but you know what? It's not that bad, and this is just a mock up. It's good practice for nanowrimo to not worry about being perfect. Practice letting go of your internal editor. I'll be honest, I skipped this step when I did my own mock up and went straight to step 4.

4. Take out a larger piece of paper and sketch out the placement of your images lightly, just so you know where it all goes on your paper.  Oh, I suppose if you're working on the computer do whatever it is the computer wants you to do. The point is, try out your final arrangement. 

5. Now go at it and make your image, paint, draw, collage, photo edit. Don't be too obsessive about getting it perfect. You only have a few days left before you have to start writing, so don't spend all that time on this. This is an exercise for your writing.

6. Don't forget to display your new book cover mockup so that you can be inspired by it while you are writing. Upload it to your novel page on nanowrimo. It feels good to have it on your profile.

I am specifically not giving advice on how to do graphics or art techniques, because the point is not to get all wrapped up in the hows of the craft, but to help you with your planning and drafting and writing. And to play. This is supposed to be fun. If it's not fun, scrap it. Find a better exercise for you, your personality and your creativity.

Perhaps it would work better for you to write the back copy of your novel... those few paragraphs that you would read if you picked up your novel in a book store and wanted to find out what it was about. Do that instead. Or do that also. Just have fun, and focus on the story you want to tell. Woo hoo, November is almost here!

Friday, October 25, 2013

I May Wander But I Am Not Lost, Turning Failures into Something New

Sometimes, when I am printing up one of my paintings that someone ordered, something will go wrong. The ink will splotch or an unnoticed spot will appear or the colors will be off or I tried to use the wrong paper or something will smudge or the printer will break down or it just won't be right.

I won't send those prints out. I will stick them in a box and pray the next print comes out. Every once in a while, that one doesn't, or the next one doesn't. So every once in a while, I go through my boxes and files of failures and look for something that I can take and do something with, make something of.

I had a whole series of prints where the color was off. I finally just took them out and chopped them up into little bookmarks. This is one. You can see the tip of a flying girl's foot right above the 'wander.'

I thought this was a kind of fitting metaphor for life, and a good illustration of Tolkien's quote.

I wander from my path. I fail in my endeavors. I get lost in the details or in the living. Then I unpack all my mistakes, and see what I have learned, how I have grown, what I can make from my failures.

Interestingly, I'm doing the same thing with writing. I'm doing Nanowrimo in a few days where I will write 50k words in a new novel in the month of November. I've done nano for the last 7 years. I dropped out last year because life was just in too much upheaval, but even the two years before that, where I met my wordcount goal, I wrote stories that were failures as stories. The first of those stories didn't work, so I tried again the next year, and that one didn't work either.

They wandered. They wandered terribly into places that didn't make sense and didn't seem to get me where I needed to go, narratively speaking. I explored paths the story wasn't ready to take, and so the "novels" I wrote never went anywhere. That would be 100k words of a novel that wandered, without ever getting where it needed to go.

So here I am again, getting ready to write that novel that I failed at twice before. Unpacking those hundred thousand words, reading them, salvaging what I could.

And I chopped that sucker up, just like the bookmark. My new outline starts with the one scene that worked in the first novelistic failure.The same scene that I started again with the second novelistic failure. After reading both drafts, I realize that my second draft improved greatly on the first draft of the scene, so I got ONE thing out of rewriting it twice.

My new outline for this twice attempted book is taking an entirely different direction. The book, while it has the same characters and basic premise, will have an entirely different flavor. I believe it will be richer and smarter and darker. It will mean more.

Because the thing is, I have learned things over these last three years of failed noveling that have actually gotten me past the struggle I was having with writing the new story. Some of those lessons are about writing and character and plot, but some of those things are about myself, living, love, fear and pain.

I am very optimistic about my writing for this nano, and about the story I am going to tell. Is it because this time I put my energy into planning and outlining instead of winging it like I tried for the last three years? Quite possibly. Or is it because in my wanderings I have grown and am now ready to write the story that needs to be written? Maybe that, too.  I may wander, but I am not lost.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Write. Just Do It.

Write, or Pink Smith Corona

To reach your dream, you have to make a commitment, a real, solid, painful commitment, much like a marriage. It's a better or worse kind of scenario. It's the kind of commitment where you forsake all others, and give up other things to stay true to the dream. If for instance, you dream of being a writer, you may think only of the wild and alive story that you have brought into the world, the glories of publishing, the swagger of being that writer with the pen in hand and the journal, sitting at the cafe like some Parisian bohemian, drinking strong black coffee and pouring his soul out onto the page. But being a writer is often a lot uglier than that. It's struggling with the days when the words don't come. It's a deadly dull day job or grinding financial struggle. It's rejection letters. It's fear and insecurity. It's isolating. It's the hundreds of pages that you have to delete because you were just going down the wrong track. It's your laptop dying when you didn't save, when you had finally figured it out, and were *that* close to the masterpiece of your dreams. It's that moment when you say, "Forget it. I give up. It's too hard."

A lot of the time, when we think about our dreams, we only see the hilights, the pretty pictures, the golden light streaming through the windows and the joy of achieving what you have worked for all that time.

But the truth is, dreams are hard work and they have shadows, too. They are full of struggles, confusion, failure, drudgery, dust bunnies, neglected children, neglected health, being broke, lonely days, detours, breakdowns of many varieties, long stretches of silence, block and giving up.

But if this dream is really your dream, if you love the journey, not just the idea of accomplishment, if you love the work, then trust yourself, trust that when you come back, your dream will be waiting for you and you can climb your way back onto the path. But, it's hard. Don't think it will be easy. If you really want this, and you have lost your way, you will have to claw your way back, regain the ground that you lost inch by inch. But believe in your dream and believe in yourself, because it's that belief that makes the dream possible, even when it seems like it isn't.

PS  This is my 1000th post. I think that is why I've had such a bloggers block this year. I knew this momentous post was coming up and I wanted to make it a landmark, important. I made the stakes too high and it kept me from writing. One Thousand blog posts. ONE THOUSAND. Even thinking about it kind of blows my mind. So perhaps, instead of making this a special post, I will just quietly go back to writing my blog, one post at a time, the way I wrote every one of those thousand entries, without trying to make it momentous. Maybe I'll reward myself with a new sweater. Or a cake. Cake is good.

PPS I'm also doing nanowrimo this year. Is anyone else taking the challenge? I am rosymamacita over on nanowrimo if you want to buddy up.

PPPS I have prints of Write or Pink Smith Corona up for sale in my shop. You notice it says "Write" not, "Hey, why don't you think about writing and avoid the blank page until you are absolutely 100% sure you have it all perfectly down and will not make any mistakes and really really know what you're doing and are totally confident and the circumstances are just perfect and you're not tired or stressed out or don't have to go deep clean the kitchen." Just write. Do it.

PPPPS Yay me for sitting down and writing this blog entry instead of just thinking about it for more weeks on end. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Reintegration and finding yourself not lost

Reintegration by Rowena Murillo
There are times on our journey where we might find ourselves lost.

The answers that we are accustomed to do not address the questions that we are being asked.

We might find ourselves confused, and aimless, at a loss.

What now?

Here's something that I have learned over my long journey.

These times of crisis are not a failure, they are part of the process.

The important questions will be asked again. The important answers will have meaning again. And the important paths are the ones we are still walking, even though the signposts no longer show us the way.

Keep going.

You will find yourself again.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Which The Psyche Throws A Temper Tantrum

YES (nononononononono...)

I've been thinking about this post for a while. And each time I think about it, I don't do it.

It's about resistance.

We've decided that we are going to do something. We are going to change our lives. We're going to reach for our goals. We're going to go for that thing that we've always wanted but haven't been able to do and then, we say YES, now it's time for me to achieve.

And we make our goals and set up our tasks and shoot for the stars.

And then we come upon the resistance.

We choose not to sit down and write. Or we pick up that bag of cookies. Or we turn on the tv instead of making those phone calls... whatever it is.

Part of this process of changing our lives and taking action on our dreams is facing resistance.

When we make our commitments, the little angry, scaredy cat inside of us all of a sudden gets really loud and demanding. It doesn't like the idea that it is losing power. The 'no's get louder. The 'yes'es get overwhelmed. It finds its ways to be the center of our attention, to stop the forward momentum that will leave it behind, to be in control of your life.

And this is part of the process.

We all face resistance. We all back slide. We all have roadblocks of our own device. We all have fears and anxieties that flare up and take over like a toddler.

It's okay. You don't have to let the the resistance win.

When my kids have a temper tantrum, I tell them that it's okay for them to feel their upset, to be angry or afraid or hurt, I tell them that their feelings about things are valid, but it is not okay for them to take out their upset on other people, or use that upset to control the family. I send them to their room to feel their anger. I sit with them and talk to them about it.  I ask them if they're ready to move on. I talk to them about what they could be doing now if they weren't having a temper tantrum. I ask them what they'd really like to be doing. And when they are done being upset, they come out of their room and we move on with our day.

That's a child. Your own resistance is something different.

Breathe through it. Relax into it. Accept that your fears and anxieties are valid feelings, but may not reflect the reality of the situation. Acknowledge the resistance. Recognize that this is part of our defense mechanism that has served to protect us. It may not be what we need right now to move forward, so pay attention to the voices that are resisting your forward movement. Thank them for protecting you. And then tell them that you don't need them right now, you are quite safe already and are intent on moving forward with your goals.

And then do so.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Today Is A Day To Honor Who You Are, or Self Portrait With Eyes Closed

Self Portrait: Eyes Closed

One of the things we can forget to do when we try to step out into our dreams, is to remember who we are.  It's so easy to look at all the wonderful things that are out there, the beautiful paintings, the beautiful people, the talented folks, the successful business people, the brave and exciting and important paths that people take and think, "Oh, that is just not me."

We compare ourselves to everyone else and decide that we are lacking. They have it. We don't.

It's so easy to do. So easy to focus on the negative and the flaws.

So today, I'm going to look at myself as if I weren't me, as if I wasn't privy to all the fears and failures and missteps and dead ends that I've gotten caught up in. I'm going to look at only my own beauty and talent and success and bravery and adventures and contributions to the world.

I'm going to make a list of the things I am good at, the things I know how to do, the things I can speak with authority on. I'm going to list my successes, because for all my failures in life, I've had successes, too, we all have. I'm going to focus, today, on who I am as a positive force in the world. What I can give. The effect I have had. I am going to focus on my own power.

Try it yourself. Try making a list of all your strengths... without adding caveats and exceptions and 'buts' and trying to convince yourself that you're not that good. Write out the ways you are wonderful and beautiful and strong. Take stock of your own strength and power and abilities. Every time those negative voices come up, tell them, 'thanks for sharing, but we're only looking for positive qualities now.' Ignore the negative and move on to the next positive.

It takes practice to look at the positive aspects of yourself without that negative voice, without the pessimism and doubts and fears. So practice. Answer that internal 'I suck' voice with a new internal 'I rock' voice... even if you don't believe it at first. Keep focusing on your own greatness, and sooner or later, you might even start believing it.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How To Get Creative 1-25, and Work In Progress

Work In Progress (dream catcher)
acrylic on paper

After a life of being creative, I think I've learned a few things. One of those things is that we are always starting over. We're always going through endings. We're always going through transformation. And we're always beginning again.

This is the process. Fighting it doesn't help, it just makes us feel guilty. Trusting the process means that we believe things will turn around, eventually. It gives us hope.

So in this period of starting over again (where did my creativity go? where?) I am going to make a list.  I like lists.

How To Get Creative

1. Start something.
2. Turn on the music and dance.
3. Take a camera and go take pictures of something.
4. Read an old journal.
5. Go to a museum or gallery or show or concert.
6. Talk to someone creative.
7. Watch a documentary about something you care about.
8. Divide a page into four sections. Fill each section with a different drawing, painting, poem, story, song.
9. Sing a song.
10. Play with clay. Create a tiny sculpture. Display it proudly.
11. Take out your old portfolio, mss, tapes, or other creative work, and look at it as if you'd never seen it before.
12. Climb a tree. Take a minute and pay attention to the view from up there.
13. Climb under a table. Take a minute and pay attention to the view from down there.
14. Cry unashamedly.
15. Take a shower and plan a great story/painting/dance routine/song while the water is running.
17. Freewrite in your journal for fifteen minuets without stopping.
18. Make something with a child.
19. Read your favorite author.
20. Write out 100 great words on little slips of paper. Fold the words and put them in a jar. Shake and pull a word or two. Create something based on those words.
21. Make a commitment to create something every day for one week, no matter how small.
22. Set an alarm for 15 minutes and be creative until that alarm goes off, no excuses and no stopping.
23. Join a class, group, workshop, community, blog party, organization, etc of like minded, creative beings.
24. Clean up your creative space.
25. Write a list of ways to be creative.

Seeing that I like lists, and since this is a process and there are a million ways to be creative, I just might come back and add to this list.

Add a comment and share your tricks to getting your creative juices flowing.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Look Out Now or Flying Girl Makes It Through The Storm

Look Out Now, or Flying Girl Makes It Through The Storm
Pencil, Ink and Acrylic paint on vintage Alice in Wonderland book page
7 1/4" x 4 3/4" on 8 1/2"x 11"

This is my first flying girl in quite some time.

I'm not sure what the lesson here is, unless it's about learning how to breathe again after being buffeted about by the winds of fate.

Or perhaps remembering the lessons that I have already learned.

Or perhaps life is guaranteed to knock you around a bit, but if you manage to come out the other side, it is a lesson, not the doom that it felt like when you were caught in the middle of it.

That sounds suspiciously like "this too shall pass," but that's ok since that's one of my favorite old sayings.

Maybe the wisdom of getting older is learning to hunker down and wait it out, and understanding that there is  always going to be something better on the other side. Time goes faster than we think and we are stronger than we know.

Maybe this is just a reminder. It gets better. We get stronger.

Prints of this painting is for sale here:

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

There Are No Failures, Not Even This One

Yesterday, I had the sudden urge to carve myself a new shop stamp.

I love all things handmade, and enjoy the thought of doing it myself.

I took my old stamp and inked it onto the new stamp carving material. You see, you have to do the carving in reverse in order to make it work out right when you stamp on paper.

Did any of you catch my mistake?

Oh yeah.

I out clevered myself. Using the old stamp as my outline, I had reversed the reverse and thus when I stamped, it was all wrong.

Unless of course, you hold the paper up to the sun and look through it. Ah. There's my nice stamp.

I really like the hand carved, hand written quality of it. It's what I do, make things by hand, right?

Pardon my issues with things like left and right, reversals, and negatives and positives. It shows up with arithmetic and numbers and even letters sometimes.  It actually turns out that I have a learning disability that I never knew about until I was a grown up. It's called dyscalculia and is like dyslexia with numbers. I can usually logic my way through things, but every so often, my problems come out. Sometimes I wonder if my life would have been different if I'd known about this learning disability. I did pretty well in school, mostly by trying to stay as far away as possible from math, but what if I'd had learning strategies? What if I knew why I could never remember how to figure out the math problems at home, even if I'd understood them in school. Who knows what I would have been doing now if I hadn't spent my formative years avoiding math?

Oh, don't worry, I turned my mistake around, literally, and used the backwards stamp to stamp a NEW block of carving material, and this time, when I carved it, it was in the CORRECT direction.

I used it to stamp some cute new little bookmarks for my shop.

This brings me to my lesson for the day.

There are no failures.

There are just steps we take on our journey.

It could all be falling down around your ears, but if you keep going, if you fight your way through, and come out the other side, everything that fell down before becomes something to help you climb higher. Every mistake you make, every flaw you possess leads you to the positive outcomes of your life. Every struggle you fight through, even if you lose, makes you stronger for your next endeavor... which might not be a fight at all, which might be made easier, which might even be a pleasure, because of all the hard lessons you learned in your failures.

The stamp carving went smoothly. I already knew it would work. And I solved the problems of the previous attempt, and I was confident in my abilities, so the tension of tiny work was not there. It went faster and more smoothly.

And voila. I have my stamp. It took a little longer than I wanted, but sometimes that's just the way life is. There are bumps and detours on our life journey.

Maybe it just makes us ready when we get to our destination.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Head of a Girl from the Past, and Changing

Head of a Girl from the Past
ink on moleskine

I have lost count of what number "head of a girl" this is. I've decided to go with names form now on, rather than numbers. What started out as an exercise to see what I could do with ink wash portraits has begun to take on meaning on its own, it's begun to become something of its own.

I suppose that's the nature of a series. It serves as a way for you to grow. You keep going back to the same theme or technique and you develop it with each following piece.

I don't know where this series will go. It's led me back to portraits, which I've always enjoyed, so that's good, and also drawing from references again, instead of making things up wholesale in my head. That's not a bad thing either.

In this season of beginning of the year resolutions I've been thinking about change a lot.

I think sometimes we expect to be able to change, just like that, make a resolution and that's it, quit cigarettes, lose weight, get published, go back to school... whatever the goal. But I don't think that change, real change really works like that.

Change doesn't happen all at once, it happens in stages and baby steps. Change is more like growth, or evolution. Change is something that happens inside of you first, that makes you want to take that small step, and the small step is what helps you get to the next choice, and making that choice convinces you that this is where you want to go.

Maybe change begins with an idea, "I can do that..." or "I don't have to be this..." A possibility. An idea. A realization that the dream is possible, an opening of doors, a willingness to take a chance, a first step out on that long journey, the beginning attempts at an exercise, even if they fail at first, and the commitment to keep trying, even though it doesn't seem like you will ever see that desired, whole-sale change or growth.

Maybe life is all about change. We have the illusion that things won't change or we will always be where and what we are, but the truth is, nothing stays the same and we are always in flux.

Perhaps part of our issues with making lasting change in our life is that we don't expect to fail in our attempts. We think that we make up our mind to change and that's it, it should be smooth sailing from then on in. But change is such a all encompassing thing, from the inside out, that it doesn't make sense that it would be all that easy.

There are going to be set backs. There are going to be moments where you are just not living up to your high ideals. There are going to be moments when you are scared and don't think you can do it. There are going to be moments where the old fears and bad feelings rise up again. There are going to be external difficulties, time constraints, people who don't support us, physical difficulties, unexpected disasters, whatever.

But in our journey to truly change, to GROW and develop and transform, we have to trust that the path we've set out on is the right one. And if it isn't as easy as we thought, we are still moving forward, despite stumbles or road blocks or detours. Sometimes, our journey might lead us into places we didn't expect, places we didn't dare hope for. Sometimes we might find we have to rest on our journey, or stop not quite at the end, or re-evaluate our destination.

Keep going. Don't give up. Expect set backs. Trust yourself. Trust the process.

Change is hard. Growth is hard. Life is hard.  Yup. So we might as well just keep going through.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hush or Keeping It Inside

Hush, or Alice Keeps It Inside
4 3/4 x 7 1/2"
ink and acrylic on vintage Alice in Wonderland book page

I've taken a little blog break. You see, I've had a lot going on.

I know I was blogging last year when I was in the midst of a move and I was blogging all my art from my 100 days challenge but I think that I had a moment to stop and think about where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do... and in order to think about that with my blog, I had to stop.

What I've thought about doing lately is making my blog more intentional, and I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to do it yet.

Sometimes there is virtue in being quiet.

In quiet, we can start listening to our internal voices, and these voices can whisper very silently sometimes. We have to stop talking, stop declaring ourselves, stop shouting to the world, just so that we can hear the whispers of intuition, emotion, idea, belief, desire, fear, hope, story, inspiration.

I know that it can be hard to be quiet and still, to not jump right in to actions or decisions. Sometimes, when you get that initial idea, it can be so exciting that you want to race to the finish line and go all in.

But the truth is, very often, the initial idea, or even not so initial, needs care and silence and darkness in order to grow to fruition. I've seen it with story ideas, for sure. I get a great idea and I want to start writing, but something in me tells me to hold on, let the idea germinate, let it grow and become stronger, let it feed on different thoughts and experiences, mull it over in the darkness. I sit with it deliberately, jot down a few notes, go to sleep with the idea in my head, throw in another intriguing concept, stir them up a bit and still... still hold on to it, silently.

There is no need to rush to speak it.

Not yet.

Hush. There is time to let it grow.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Evolution of a Doll, Creating Yourself

 Every day, I feel like I am creating myself. Who I am as a mother, as an artist, as a friend and partner and sister and daughter. Who I am as a thinker and a doer.

It's an evolution not unlike creating... art, crafts, food, novels, business plans, outfits, papers... whatever.


Like this here doll I made my daughter for Christmas.

Here she is, nothing but a sketched out pattern and some upcycled t-shirt material.  I took my scissors to it and cut away everything that she was not.

Leaving her with a basic, disassembled, empty shape.
 In this scene, my doll has been sewn up and filled with stuffing. I've begun to MAKE her, to take the ideas of her and put her into reality, give her form and shape. She's a doll now. Anyone could look at her and say, that's a doll. (Here she's sitting next to another gift, unformed, which turned out to be a pink kitty.)

You see the thing is, nothing we create will ever get to BE anything until we actually start, until we put it through that sewing machine, and take it all the way, see what happens with all that machinery and sharp pointy things and fears of what might go wrong or how the machine might break down (mine did) or how we might forget how to use the mighty machinery (I didn't) or maybe my doll might not look like what I wanted her to look like (she didn't really look like what I imagined at all, she became her own thing.) You just have to do it. Put yourself out there and say, YES, I will do this thing.

Once you have the basic shape of your doll, that's when you can start putting your personality into her. That's when you can start giving her the colors, trying out different ways of making her look. Here, I'm giving a go to see how the different colored felt pieces might make her look, trying out some placements for her cheeks and eyes and lips and hair. This was not the first combination I tried. I held up different colors, cut out many little circles, tried different shapes and sizes. And this was not the first time I'd made this kind of doll face, either, she is just another variation on work that I've already done.

 Here I have committed to my choices. I've gone and pinned them down. Made them real and permanent. There's no more changing my mind on the color of eyes or lips. Again, did she turn out like I thought she would? Not quite. But in the sewing, in the doing, she became her own thing, not just an idea, but a doll. This doll.
 Then I tried some of the stuff I'd never tried before. Always in the past, I'd made hair with yarn or embroidery floss, but this time I knew I wanted to try felt. How would it work? I didn't know. It was an experiment, something new to try, a risk. And I gave it a shot.

 Here she is with face and hair, after all my giving it a go and planning and making my ideas come real and trying out different variations and committing to my choices and stitching it all down and making it real.

She's a doll.
 I like her.

Originally, she was inspired by two things... the scrap fabric I had, aka brown t-shirt, and the vintage doll dress. I made the original pattern so that she would fit into this dress. After that, I allowed myself to be inspired by the various dolls I have seen and loved and by what I had already done with doll making. I mean, this is why you have a daughter, right? To make girly stuff for them?

It doesn't matter that she didn't like the yellow dress on this doll and made me make her a pink dress out of scrap fabric, right?  Or that she'll probably change the scrap pink dress, even though she designed it, and put her in a different vintage doll dress.

What matters is I went all the way in and trusted my abilities and my judgment and gave it a go. What matters is I took it to the end of the journey and didn't give up. What matters is I made it. I thought of it, dreamed it, planned it, trouble shot it, detailed it, put it all together and then put it out into the world, I mean, gave it to a five year old.

Make a doll. Make a craft. Make a painting. Make a novel. Make a home. Make a business. Make a life. Create yourself. Those things are not you, and yet, the making of them makes you.

What are you making?

Monday, January 07, 2013

Head of a Girl 14 or Marilyn in Rose and Dreaming

Head of a Girl 14, or Marilyn in Rose
ink wash on watercolor paper
4.5" x 6"

I've been thinking about dreams lately... not the close your eyes at night kind, the big kind, the kind that get you up in the morning and get you moving. The kind where you envision a life that you'd love living. The kind that are about goals and wishes. Those kind of dreams.

Marilyn Monroe was a dreamer. She put herself out there and she was hurt. She never stopped being vulnerable and I think she achieved her dreams... although perhaps sometimes those dreams ended up being painful and sometimes she had to sacrifice for them and she definitely experienced loss in their pursuit.

When you commit to your dreams... what happens?

When you take steps to achieve your dearest goals... how does your life change?

When you accept that this is the risk you are willing to take and this is the cliff you are willing to leap from... how do you learn how to fly?

btw Marilyn is for sale in my etsy shop

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Girl of Freaks: a novel of not werewolves (pending)

Girl Of Freaks: a novel of not werewolves by Rowena Murillo (cover mock up)
ink, acrylic and pencil on paper

This year, I am going to do my damnedest to get my novel published. It's ready, now it's just up to me to put it out there.

When I told Jen Lemen of this goal, she gave me an assignment to create a mock up of my novel cover.

Immediately, the impulse is for me to say, "no, that's not what I had planned for the day," but considering that I say "no" too often, and my word for the year is...
sharpie, tape residue, and "vintage" foam core board.

..."YES" it was time for me to try the challenge. I took out my ink and my journal and searched for a likely photo reference (my first instinct was to use one of myself, but I really didn't want to paint myself for my book cover as the mc is not me) and got going.

This is what I did. Of course, when I get published, this will not by the cover. I'm not even sure it's the best cover for the book, but putting it out there, visualizing it, making it a real thing helps me to focus on my goals.

Thank you Jen for the good assignment and giving me a leaping off point for the rest of my year.

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