Friday, April 30, 2010

Say Yes and The Kid Takes the Camera

When I am at work, with nothing to do, I have taken to drawing little sketches in my tiny, handmade Borgia Books, (to be sold in my shop soon,) little sayings, little memos to myself. All of them contain messages that I think I need to hear in that moment.

This is one of my favorite mantras. "Say Yes to Life." I've painted it or said it or written it or sometimes simply thought it over and over again. This is coming from a woman who has a tendency to say 'no', to believe she can't do whatever it is that comes before her.

So this saying is for me. It's what I need to hear on a daily basis.

Of course, there are some people who need to learn how to say no, who give too much of themselves without being renewed. Women who may negate their own needs for the needs of others. This isn't really my problem.

Me. I need to say yes more often. To myself, and sometimes, often to my kids. I say no to them an awful lot. No. Don't do that. Stop that. Quit it. That's not safe. That's not what we do. Negatory. Zip.

I recently thought that it might be quite an exercise to say YES to everything your children ask of you, if only for just one day (because I do believe kids need boundaries). I think, for a treat, a day of yes might be delightful for the kids, and an adventure for the grownups. In fact, maybe, it might be something of a lesson for the adult. Maybe we might learn that we don't have to cling so tightly to those rules that we hold so dear, that cake for dinner once in a while won't hurt any one, that leaving those dishes to be done later could make for some wonderful family time, that playing in mud might be a sensual experience to savor, that reading 15 books at bedtime might just be something that everyone remembers for a really long time.

I don't even know what my kids would want to do on a day where I said only yes. I've never tried it.

But I did say yes when my three year old asked to use my camera.

So here is what Ivy saw.
"I took a picture of my shoe!"

"Here's a flower mama!" (yes I am in my pajamas)
The willow tree where we took some twigs to make wreaths for our very special project. (I'll show you that later.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ode to A Journal

I always talk about creativity and creating, art and crafts, the process of being creative, the struggles of being creative... but I realized yesterday that one of the things I don't talk about much is something that has been with me, in my process, almost as long as I have been creating.

My journal.

Maybe the reason why I haven't written much about the joys of journaling is because since getting seriously involved with my blog, much of my journaling energy has been diverted to this space here.

But it's not the same. Not at all.

Blogs are great for sharing your life and your projects, for developing your voice, for discussing important things, for learning how to show up to your writing every day, but a journal... ah, a journal is a friend.

I started keeping a journal in Junior High School, when I was about 13. Except for one break, after my brother found my diary and read it, I have been writing in journals since then. Almost 27 years. I have about 60 journals. They are in storage now, like Anais Nin's journals, although not nearly so racy, and not quite so neurotic, I hope.

My journal has taught me so much, given me so much, provided a great service to me as a person and an artist.

What have I gained? I'd like to share an incomplete list.

Someone to talk to when I had no one to talk with.
Documentation of my past and my past self when I don't have the greatest memory.
A place to explore new thoughts and deepen my understanding of the world.
A place to share secrets that I was not ready to release into the world.
A place to practice new skills and goals.
Something to do when I had nothing to do.
Company for when I was wandering out on my own.
A place to document adventures.
A place to explore my expanding concept of the world.
A place to play and joke and say silly things.
A place to be irreverent without offending anyone.
A spot to collect ephemera, like movie tickets, flower pressings, old notes.
A place for sketches of life as it goes by.
A place for trying out new ideas before they flit away.
A place to hold conversations between me and my fictional characters.
A place to hide my poetry that I don't want to show anyone.
A place to rehearse difficult conversations that I am not ready to have yet, with real people.
A way to get up my bravery.
A place to obsess about things without annoying real people.
A place to obsess about my imperfections, fears, upsets and pains, before finally letting go of them because I am sick and tired of obsessing.
A place to plan my day.
A place to plan my goals.
A place to dream of my life.
A place to vent because sometimes people in real life are really fucking annoying.
A place to curse without offending people. (sorry)
A place to remember who I am and where I come from.
A place to be inspired.
A place to focus on being positive.
A place to write down notes from books, movies, magazines, tarot, menus, or what have you.
A place to write dreams, which I always forget.
A place to write schedules, notes, phone numbers, addresses, and all sorts of things I don't want to lose.
A place to write good inspiring quotes that I find.
A place to list books I want to read or music I want to explore, or places I want to go.
A place to write down baby names, years before I had any babies at all. Pretty sure I didn't choose any of those names, but who cares.
A place to get the thoughts out and away. So I don't have to obsess about them and can do better things.
A place to write novels.
A place to write poetry.
A place to sketch out future paintings.
A place to paint small paintings, lowering the stakes and with out freaking myself out about being a "painter".
A place to explore different artistic media, like acrylics, gel pens, pastels, crayons, white out, tape, or whatever is on hand.
A place to find spare pieces of paper that I can tear out if I need to.
A place to recover from heart break.
A place to write random words when organized words are too hard.
A thing to share with very special others, to help them, or to connect, or just because.
A thing that makes a warm summer morning on the fire escape with a cup of coffee feel like a vacation.
An accessory that fits in right along with garden cafes, Greenwich Village, a single girl, and possibly a beret.
Something to do, wherever I go, whenever I go there.
A time passer on the subway or waiting in line.
A place to create collages.
A place to sketch out city scenes.
A place to explore the inner landscape.
A place to write notes and pass them to other people during boring meetings.
A doodle pad for meetings, classes or phone calls.
A planner for creating books, classes, workshops, projects, moves, and all sorts of large projects.
A thing to go back over, every year, to look at who I was, where I am from and how far I have come.
A habit, a compulsion, a task, an obsession, a defining trait.
An unshakable writing habit.
A place where I could learn to turn off my internal editor and just write.
A place to practice writing well and writing fast.
A place to keep my nervous fingers busy.
A place and time to breathe deeply, metaphorically and literally.
A thing that has helped me become a writer.

I could go on and on. My journal has also helped me to be a prolific writer, you see... but I thought that I'd stop and ask you guys to share what you have gained from your journal.

What have you gained from your Journal?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Power of the Baby Step

I want to make an afghan. You know, one of those cool granny square afghans you've seen on so many design blogs. Cozy and colorful, a bright spot in a room.

But you know what? It seems kind of impossible.

How do you get from a bagful of yarn to a cozy afghan that could turn out to be an heirloom?

How I ask you? How?
Well, it just so happens I have my own answer.

One knot at a time. One slip of the loop, one quirk of the crocheting hook. One go round. One square.

Look at that! Look at all those squares!

No, it's not an afghan yet, but you can see the afghan coming. And all those squares happened with the first knot. And the next. And the next.

That's my cheer for the power of the baby step. Baby steps never seem to get you anywhere when you're in the midst of taking them. The end goal seems so far away and your small movement seems so little... but when you look back at how far those baby steps have taken you, you find you have come a long way and the end is actually in sight, and, look at that.... ACHIEVABLE.
Here's another sneak peak of a project I am working on. One that has stressed me out for a while, being the first in a planned larger project, and being rather elaborate in itself.

I can't tell you how nervous I was to start this. And once sketched out, how nervous I was to actually add paint. I haven't actually painted much for months. Months and months. And it was so hard to get myself going.

But to get where I want to go, I have to take the first step. I also like to document those steps here. You know why? EVIDENCE. Evidence on how far I've come. Proof of those baby steps. And sometimes, because you people are watching and that makes me feel like I am accountable to someone, and keeps me taking more baby steps forward.

And here's the other thing. These baby steps don't just go for artistic projects. They go for your big dreams, too. They ESPECIALLY go for those big dreams, the seemingly impossible ones that you want so, so much.

But if you focus on how far you have to go to reach those big dreams, how will you ever get there? All you will be able to see is the impossibility of it all, and then that impossibility will become tangible and boy is that a block to get through.

Instead, just look at the baby step. The little thing you can do to get you to your dream. That's what I'm doing.

What baby step can you take today to get you a tiny bit closer to your big dreams?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lovely and Lumply, Wild Violets and Allergies

Here is the "Fairy Patch," or so my kids named the wild violets in the backyard. I am enamored of these tiny wild flowers. The bright color, the intricate petals. They seems like something fairy like to me, too.

Something like this, it seems it should be all wonderful... and it is... except I'm finding some strange things happen when you hit new places in life. When transitions happen and you are about to take on new challenges, or when you just have.

Well, the world gets all confusing. You are lost in your path because the familiar landmarks have gone astray.

Except you aren't lost.

You are right where you need to be, with the fairy violets and all.

It's just a momentary feeling of being in over your head or jumbled up about what happens next.

This is life. And it's all mixed up with progress and setbacks, understanding and confusion.

And it's good.
Like for instance these beautiful flowering trees lining mainstreet. I enjoyed them so much as I walked to the library and had a relaxing couple of hours. Until I realized that they are probably the thing that triggered an awful allergy attack that made me miserable all night.

Well, that's what I'm saying. Lovely and lumply, all jumbled up together. Would it have been better to not have the nice walk and library session, or to avoid the allergies?

I'm thinking the allergies might have been an okay price to pay for what I gained.

Perfection is over rated anyway. Real life has allergies. Real magic always has a cost. But that doesn't mean you should avoid the fairy patch.

Oh, and I am so excited. I just won a spot in the summer session of Susannah Conway's Unravelling e-course. I am really looking forward to the adventure. Thanks to Boho Girl for hosting the giveaway.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Fun for All

It's Spring, folks!

Totally, undeniably blooming trees and green lawns, cool breezes and warm sun, Spring.

Let's have some fun this weekend.

You do know what fun is, don't you? (sometimes I'm not sure.)

As for me, the lush grass is calling me. I think it wants me to lie in it. The kids have already taken me on a tour of the backyard, their personal "woods" and the fairy patch of wildflowers. They have warned me away from the edge of the yard, where there's a drop off, and told me that it is dangerous. Then they named all the flowers and practiced some rearranging of the gravel. The last step was to stand on a dirt pile and dig.

I think I might have to enjoy more of this fairy patch, private woods, creative gravel, dirt digging life.

What kind of fun is calling you this weekend?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cardboard Pirate Sword Tutorial, or The Hero of Your Own Story

I have so much to say today, so many ideas about art and life and being a woman and owning our own stories, I'm afraid I may get a little bit long winded. And these thoughts are all wrapped around the context of this little boy, and his desire to have a Pirate Penny Carnival. Now I don't know if that Pirate Penny Carnival is going to be the extravaganza he imagines (one that will make him money, too, he thinks). It might be closer to a barbecue with a cardboard pirate ship, costumes, a hideout and a treasure hunt.... but I'm pretty sure he will still be happy with it.

That's a cardboard sword in his hand, and it is only one in the myriad projects we have planned for his Pirate Penny Carnival, and I will sort of give you a tutorial on making your own really sturdy cardboard pirate sword.
(Trace on a piece of cardboard TWO matching sword shapes. Cut them out with scissors. Trace and cut out also TWO long narrow semi pointed cardboard shapes to act as braces along the sides of the sword, from the hilt to about 4/5ths up the blade of the sword.)

How did this sword come into being?

He asked. He told me what he wanted in his life, and he told me again and again until I did something about it to make it happen.

(Glue the two matching sword cutouts together. I used acrylic gel medium, but I'm sure white glue would work, too. Then glue the narrow brace pieces to either side of the sword blades. These will keep the sword from flopping too easily. Clip the pieces together or weight down so that the glue can dry. Let dry. There should be FOUR layers of cardboard glued together.)

I want to learn a lesson from this. If there are things I want in my life (like to be a writer and an artist) then I have to declare to the world that this is my intention. I have to enlist the people around me in my goals. I have to say, "dear S, I need to have two hours, without children, every day in which I can revise the third draft of my novel, so I can send it out to agents and become the published author I have always dreamed of being."

The truth is I may not get everything I want. Perhaps I will only get those two hours every other day, or only one hour. Or two days a week completely to myself to work. I don't know... but I do know one thing, I won't get anything if I don't ask.

(Once the glue is dry, take a roll of duct tape and carefully and slowly wrap the sword, starting at the point. Try to keep the tape straight to avoid wrinkles and bumps. Smooth as you go.)

I think it is particularly hard for women to ask for things, especially when they are mothers, but not always. A long time ago, I decided to give up the "selfish" dream of being a novelist/poet/artist in order to become a teacher. Now, I also wanted to be a teacher and help kids, but I really wanted to be a writer and artist. But I thought it was selfish, and perhaps a little (a lot) scary.

I was only in grad school for teaching for a couple days when I realized that writing, the arts, literature and all that were absolutely not selfish things, but by then I was off on a passionate adventure in teaching.

And while I was teaching, I learned the power that art (and music, and theater, and literature, and poetry, and dance) had to save. Truly. Salvation. Kids with no motivation were lit on fire by poetry. Children who thought they were incapable of anything became artists, and interested in school. Girls who were afraid of their own beings began to believe in themselves. Boys who had never had a voice learned to speak.

(When you get to the hilt and cross pieces, cut angles in the tape so that you can fold it around the edges without wrinkles and bumps. You can also cut angles at the end of the hilt and cross pieces, so that the tape can go around those edges without bumps. Try to makes sure no cardboard is visible, for strength and water resistance. Because Pirate Swords must face the high seas.)

But flash forward another eight years, and here I am feeling guilty about taking time out of the busy life of a mom, taking care of kids, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, family obligations, work, sleep, in order to take care of my art. Feeling like, unless it was earning a living, my art was an indulgence and, yes, selfish.

Maybe in a way, taking time away from taking care of others is selfish. But maybe women aren't selfish enough in the right kinds of ways.

Maybe this kind of selfishness is about finding a center within ourselves, understanding who we are, and honoring ourselves. Maybe this kind of time taken for ourselves is about finding possibilities and hope in the world. Maybe it's about showing ourselves and our kids that we can create the world that we want to live in, and be the person that we want to be.

(Here is the sword. You can see there are indeed lumps and wrinkles. You can smooth some more tape over it longwise if you'd like to gentle the tape edges. It is surprisingly heavy and sturdy. WARNING: If you have two kids, you must make two swords, or there will be fights over who gets to play with the sword and the sword will have to live on the top of the refrigerator until it gets a mate.)

Like a Pirate. In a Pirate's Penny Carnival.

Or the hero in our own story.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Going Along For the Ride

Life seemed to go so fast this weekend. I lost Monday completely. Well, it was family time and all the grand projects I had, all the work I wanted to do, on the internet and making things?
Yeah. That didn't happen.
We took some drives in the Michigan country side. I like taking pictures as the world slides by. I like the surprising results, sometimes of things you didn't know were there, sometimes all the movement makes the photos look more like impressionist paintings.
I like the house at the bend in this road. I wonder, is that the destination or just another part of life to slide by?
Nope. This is where we end up, randomly, when the girl said to take this turn instead of that.
A state park, with a lake, and a beach.
It is far too cold to be hanging out at the lake, though. And yes. That is a girl in a sparkly tutu. So we played in the playground for a bit then turned around and headed for the library in town.
Also this weekend, collecting wild flowers.
Windy, chilly skies blowing clouds through town, seen most picturesquely looking through the Jiffy factory, down the railroad tracks. It is so hard to take a good picture of that factory. It's so striking in person but the pictures are NOT coming out. Harrumph.
And flowers. Yes the flowers are blooming all over. The green hasn't won over yet. It's still the blue and gray of sky, the black of tree limbs and the pink or white of the flowers. Soon though, the flowers will fade and it will be Summer green.

Here's my question though, about the way life slides by, like houses on the roadside or flowers fading to full canopy.... how do we keep our eye on our goals, on all the things we have to do, take action and remain productive while still really living in the moment.

I know I've asked this question before.
I'm a little disgruntled that I got no work done these last few days, but looking back at the photos, I can see that there was quite a bit of living being done. And living that won't be put off. Like those flowers, my children are only going to be fresh and pink and good smelling for a little longer. The tweeners aren't far away.
(ha ha, look at him with the shades. just about to turn into a cool teen, although he's not yet 5.)

So, how, I ask you, how do we balance the living and the doing? The being and the ambition? I have a suspicion that it might be to surrender to the whole thing, but how?

Anyone have any wisdom to share on this? Quotes, poems? Experience?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Making Order out of Chaos

Cherry Tree at Night Pin
Wool Felt and Acrylic Felt, thread, embroidery floss, pin backing

I have fewer epiphanies today. I'm kind of tired. I've been busy making stuff and planning stuff and taking care of kids and working.

I'm glad I didn't use this photo back when I showed you the other cherry tree pin, because I need it now. I have no photos ready of the stuff I'm working on. Plus, nothing new is done. I guess that's what happens when you are always working on stuff.

One of my coworkers asked me (after checking out my handy dandy felt bill fold that I use to hold my checks and change while waiting tables) when I get the chance to make all this stuff. I told her I work while I am watching the kids, or at night when I get home, relaxing in front of the tv.

I realized then that I always have to have something to do with my hands. I feel weird if my hands are not active. I used to doodle while taking notes in school. I'd write in my journal while having coffee. I remember when I was a kid, I'd have a tiny pair of scissors and a tiny piece of paper and I'd cut out silhouettes of tiny little animals in math class. I don't know why I did that in math class, but I did. Sometimes it's just playing spider solitaire on my laptop.

Lately, I've taken to shredding an old tshirt to turn it into a Spring scarf. I sit there picking at the knit with a seam ripper. It takes a really long time, but I like the physical act of taking it apart. It's like the reverse of sewing the tiny stitches in my pins or little animals or whatever.

I realize also, there is something satisfying about deconstructing-- taking something apart to make something new and better out of it.

Now, maybe in the act of deconstructing you end up making a huge mess, a confusing jumble of bits and parts, discards and mistakes and loose threads, but as you clear out what is no longer needed, you start to see the shape of what you have coming... and it starts to make sense.

This is not just my tshirt/scarf I'm talking about. This is the process of living... of change, growth, transformation.

In order to have it all make sense, sometimes you have to get confused and make that mess.

Just make it.

That mess is what you need.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taking a break

A thing. Attached to a post.

Today the internet is making me inexplicably angry, frustrated and jaded.

I take that as a sign that I should take a break. A real break. Not a break where I "plan" to do some real relaxing, stressing out because I don't make my relaxation peaceful enough.

I'm just going to drop all the expectations I hold for my self and be a shlub. Do nothing but what I want to. Maybe get dressed. Maybe sit with my feet barefoot in the grass. Maybe I'll have some canned soup. I don't really know, but I'm getting out of here. And I'm not going to make any of it important.

When's the last time you took a break and stopped asking for things from yourself?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Small Things, With Great Love

Cherry Tree on a Spring Day Pin
Wool and Acrylic Felt, Thread, Pin Backing, about 2" tall

Tell me, how do you achieve great things?

Conquering obstacles? Raising wonderful people? Writing a book? Getting an education? Making a career? Reaching your dream? Changing the world? Becoming yourself?






And little steps at that. Baby steps.

It really does seem sometimes that your efforts don't mount to a hill of beans. But do you know, if you keep adding beans, that bean hill really can become a mountain of your own making.

Me, I'm trying to find a way to make a life of art and creativity, helping people to become creative and empowered, to become who they are meant to be. I'm trying to earn a living making things and helping people make things.

But right now, I'm waiting tables after the kids have dinner and go to bed.

It's a thing to do. It would be very easy for me to get discouraged. Wonder why I have to work at a job that doesn't get me to my dreams so that I can get by. It would be easy to think that the savings I'm earning at this job are growing too slowly and I am wasting my time. Or that the little things I can do every day, working towards my dream won't get me there. Bean by bean. All I see are the individual beans, and they don't seem like much.


And this is a big but, and perhaps the answer to how it all can get done...

But... all those little things I am doing, seemingly almost nothing, are actually beginning to add up to, well, something.

I don't know what, exactly, but something. Maybe not as much as I wanted, but something.

This is a sketch I did on register tape, with crayons meant for kids menus. I did it at work, before the customers came in for dinner. I covered it with scotch tape so it wouldn't rub off. Really, I just wanted to capture my sense of the cherry tree across the plaza.

Does it look familiar?

My little nothing sketch in my little nothing time ended up being the inspiration for the pin at the top of the post.

The pin is one of a new collection I am working on. Dozens of pins that I will be putting in my little etsy shop when I can manage to pull all the beans of time into a double handful.

So here, at my job that feels like it's not getting me anywhere I want to go, I am getting somewhere.

And not only that, I think a job like this, where I don't have to be goal oriented all the time, where I have to give up control (I can't MAKE customers walk through the door) I think I am finding some moments of epiphany.

For instance, it is better to let go of your expectations and just be there for the moment. Enjoy it. When I stand there and grouse because I'm tired and there are no customers and thus no money, I feel bad, I get depressed, my back hurts, I snap at people. I fight with loved ones, etc. However, when I take out my little mini pocket notebook (another soon to be product in my etsy shop, inspired by waiting tables) draw sketches, take notes of my dreams, look out the window at the sun shining through the clouds, sing, walk around, stretch, talk to my coworkers, etc, well, the day is better, I don't ache from standing, I get to know people, I discover things about the world, I am inspired, I have ideas to take action on when I get out of work, I have energy to move, I have hope, I think of more options, and I'm nicer to my customers when they finally do come in and thus my tips are better, so I am actually making more money doing the same job.

It is remarkable how living zen and being positive can have such an immediate and intense effect on your own life.

I've been struggling with the zen mindset, really unable to get into it. And here, my little restaurant job helps me be one with the universe.

Talk about unexpected.

And none of it happens because I am trying to take over the world. I set my goals, have them in my sights, and then just live my daily life, baby step by baby step. For what it is, not for what I think it should be.

I'm afraid I'm throwing too many different thoughts into this post. Or maybe they all go together and are connected. I'm pretty sure there's more to it. Or maybe not. Baby steps and living in the moment.

It might be one of those everything and nothing statements. And that might be how the world is made.

Well, it's at least made happier that way.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jane Was Here

Jane Was Here
acrylic on paper, 8.5" x 5.5"

This is a painting that I did as a memorial for a preemie baby back in February.

Why do I post it now?

I think because in a way, it relates to yesterday's post, about how what you do does indeed matter.

Jane was a lovely little girl and was loved dearly by her family, and through her mother's blog, Jane reached out and touched many, all over the world. They are still receiving cards and messages telling them that their little girl did indeed affect many. She was here.

Jane isn't here anymore, and although her life was so short, she mattered. Her existence mattered. Her very breath mattered. She was here.

We all matter. What we do affects others and changes them in ways both big and small. The struggles we take on to reach our dreams or to make the world a better place or to raise good people or create something to leave behind, or even to just simply survive... these matter.

Even if it seems there are too many endings, and too many setbacks, and too many good byes and too many heartbreaking disappointments...

It all still matters.

So there.

I have more words on the subject of how we matter, it turns out.

And if you'd like to follow Our Girl Jane and here about how she was indeed here, and perhaps even send her mom a postcard declaring Jane's existence in your life, I'm sure she would be grateful.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not Many Words Today. Mostly These.

What You Do Matters. Don't Give Up. (a work in progress)

I started my sketches during a slow day at work, with not much to do. I kept going yesterday, a kind of off, allergyish day. A reminder to myself. What I needed to hear.

This morning I revised three chapters of my novel.

What are you feeling discouraged about? What is it that you've been putting your energy into that doesn't feel to be going anywhere?

Let me say it once more.

What you do matters.

(don't give up.)

Friday, April 09, 2010

This Is Where Love Resides, or Flying Girl Blessing in the Branches

This Is Where Love Resides, or Flying Girl Blessing in the Branches
cotton, felt, embroidery floss, polyfill, beads, paper, acrylic paint, acrylic gel medium

Here she is. This is the finished sneak peak I showed you yesterday.

She is a stuffed flying girl, a mobile, I suppose.
This is Where Love Resides, or Flying Girl Blessings in the Branches

Here is the whole of her, from the top of her cotton thread, to the felt birdie, to the million times worked on girl to the paper banner that was not changed from the original.
Here is the original. Well one side of her, because I didn't like her very much and she wouldn't fly straight, having wonky fiber fill and arms that kept flopping and bending. The other side was embroidered with branches in silver and black and appliqued with a felt heart and leaf. So you see... I kept the inspiration in the piece, I just painted over everything else.

First of all I didn't like the color. It just didn't feel right to me. Second of all, there were problems with the sewing. It was at this point that I gave up making the tiny dolls out of cotton and just went to straight felt, where I didn't have to turn delicate arms and get that head caught in the spindly neck. SOOO frustrating. Oh yeah, and did I mention the wonky not flying straight and floppy arms? Ugh.

However, I still had this Flying Girl, and there was something about her I liked, not to mention all the work I put into her. And I did want to try painting on fabric, if you remember.

So one day I just stopped stalling and took out the long neglected paints and gave it a shot.

I was surprised to find that this project felt very familiar. Painting the doll wasn't that different from painting on paper, honestly. Yes it's three dimensional, but I found myself doing the same techniques on fabric as I do on paper. I guess when you find something that feels right, it keeps popping up. Like the layering of colors. I find I am layering colors whether it's felt or paint.

After layering the blues and whites and creams, and adding the branches, shifting the colors around a bit, I finally felt satisfied.

I think this experimentation of mine might lead somewhere.

This is why I love taking something old and turning it into something new and unknown. Your stakes are low, because the original wasn't what you wanted, but the payouts are potentially limitless.

What are some things that you have given up on that you could take up anew? Look at them without all the attachment and create something potentially awesome.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Going Around Again, In Art and Packaging)

This is a sneak peak of something I am working on but am not ready to post (partly because I just don't have the derned time).

It's a piece that came about in surprising ways, and I just happen to love this detail shot, and how the old gray blue of the metal door in the background looks so soft and lovely and picks up the underpainting. And I love also the way the silver develops a kind of rose colored sheen to it, from I don't know where.

If you'd like you can guess the project... It's actually an old project that I almost entirely recreated, experimenting with new methods. It was fun.

Here also is a project. I made a stamp out of an old eraser. It's a total "whatever" project. I had the urge to make a stamp, but had no supplies. I carved it with a pen knife, so it's pretty rough. But I don't mind rough.

I do mind that my flying girl stamp faces backwards. I forgot about the reverse, silly me. She looks sad when she looks to the left. It seems like she is looking at the past, not forward, to me. So I will have to try the stamp thing again, maybe this time with actual tools meant for the purpose.
This is one of the purposes I have put my flying girl to. I don't know if you can tell, but I am making packaging for my store. I am planning a nice fat shop update. Or perhaps a gradual one, depending on how much time I have.

I've decided to do recycled, repurposed packaging, as much as I can. I'm using grocery boxes to make matchbook style folders to hold my little pins, with some leftover birthday tissue to line the matchbooks. I'm still experimenting with making pillow boxes for other products. I like not having to go out and just buy things. I like feeling resourceful.

Do you see the little silver flying girl on the matchbook? She's kind of flying topsy turvy. It's not the best picture, but I wanted to post what I've been doing.

Huh, come to think of it, the first project, the love image? that is also recycled. I knew I wasn't going to do anything with the piece as it was, so I reimagined it. Now I like it.

Three cheers for reducing, reusing and recycling.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Guest Photographer: Ivy Bean, Age Three

We were outside, sitting on the front deck, when Ivy decided to steal my camera and take some photos. Most were of the grass or cement walk, but a few... well, I think they kind of speak to the day and Ivy herself.

This first one is of me, writing poetry for National Poetry Month. Stay tuned. By the end of the post, I might build up enough nerve to share it.
This is her brother, walking, it looks like or running. In his dinosaur pajama pants. I like the way it's kind of crooked, and the way the path divides, almost like an abstract painting, with boy's legs.
And here is me, examining sticks for a project I did not get done, but still might. Who knows.

Okay, here's my poem. Forgive my nerves. I've got this issue about showing anyone my poems. And it might just be the first poem I've written since last National Poetry Month. I should do some more, whether or not I show them. It feels right to get that sort of creative flow going.

Maybe I'll use my miniature notebook and write some miniature, minute long poems. Those always turn out in surprising ways.

Okay, no stalling, and no apologizing. (I never want any of you to apologize for your work, either.)


5 years old, eyes like open
air, we run in the fields chasing little bits of
life above us
chasing the words, the worlds, we are just
beginning to understand. Words like
"flight" "desire"

The sun warms the grass. Bare toes
flexing in the dirt. The pinch of
gravel in the drive. We are
discovering these feet on this ground,
learning the treasures of stones, sometimes, or ladybugs,
or wildflowers, or scuttling clouds. The treasures
of holding something, or letting it go.

5 years old, sky meets earth, and we
so taut
in between.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Happy Easter!

The First Egg

After a morning of rushing around, making breakfast (bacon and strawberry shortcake... what? you don't eat dessert and bacon for breakfast? It was delicious.) and getting kids dressed in their less scrubby clothes ("I want to wear something that makes me look handsome, mama," he said) putting out squabbles, distracting kiddos while the eggs were hidden, and trying to keep ALL the candy from being eaten by the under five set, we went on our Easter Egg hunt.
Wondering where the eggs are.
Don't be fooled. It looks like she needs help or is too shy, and too little to find the eggs, but she found more than her big brother or her older cousin.
She found this one. For instance. Although Grandma was standing over there ribbiting like a frog.
And then, after egg hunt and eating some eggs, the kids opened up their new kite and went flying with grandma.
Scary, right? He is having just TOO much fun driving the motorized dumptruck that grandpa got. I hope this isn't a hint of the future and little men who like to go joy riding in dump trucks.
Flowers are growing now. They may be tiny, and hiding in the grass, but I am so excited. The kids stopped caring about the flowers once they found them, but I am so thirsty for Spring that it's a really big deal to me. I've been green watching for weeks, and it's finally happening. Yay Spring.
And this is one of the stuffed animals I am in the process of making for my kids. I failed and did not get it done for Easter morning, even though I've been rushing for a week to finish, but I showed them my process and told them they could choose the details, like the legs or the eyes and the mouth.

I'm kind of proud of this bunny. She turned out better than I thought. But maybe I should not say that until I actually get the legs attached and finish her. The boy's snake needs some work too, but they were already running around with the unfinished guys, so I'm sure they'll be okay when I finish them.

WHEN I finish them, because I am taking it easy. After the eggs were hidden, I kind of said, that's it, I'm taking it easy. No more work for me. I put away my needles to let my ouchy fingers rest. I sat back and had a beer or two. I put in my kitchen duty for the day with breakfast. I let grandma "enjoy" her grandkids while I read a book. I even took a nap, after staying up too late getting Easter Baskets ready and waking up too early with the kids.

Yes, I took half the day off on Easter, picked tiny flowers and paid attention to the Spring.

So it turned out to be a pretty good holiday.
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