Friday, December 30, 2011

A Look Back at 2011

As I'm sure you've heard many times, "wow-time flies!"  Can't believe another year is almost over.  I've been already thinking so much on how I want the new year to be, but first I think I need to look back at all the great things about 2011.  The goals I reached and the good things that happened.

First of all, I took two online classes that I had been wanting to take for a while and finally took the plunge in 2011.  In the spring I took Soul Restoration with Brave Girls Club and I'm so glad I did.  I learned a lot about myself and changed the way I also look at myself, the ways that were almost ingrained in my mind.  It made me feel better about ME.

Next, I participated in Kelly Rae Robert's Flying Lessons course as well.  Both of the classes have changed my life in many ways.  First I just felt proud that I took the leap and signed up for two things that I was only dreaming about the year before.  In Flying Lessons, I learned a lot about the business aspect of being a creative person which pushed me to try new things that I would never have done before.  Through both classes, I made some wonderful on-line friends that I can go to at virtually any time of day to talk about anything, mostly art, but really anything.

Some people might think, whoopie you took two online classes, big deal.  But they really were a big deal for me this year.  A life-changing big deal.

A few personal things that made 2011 a good year were my kidney disease going in remission.  My lupus was also affected by kidney disease a few years ago, so I went through 18 months of chemotherapy and finally this year, the doctor gave me the good news about my kidneys doing great.  What a happy relief for me.

Lastly, this summer I decided to join Weight Watchers and lost 21 pounds in three months.  A few years ago I gained 25 pounds in a month and a half due to being on a high dose of prednisone and finally, this summer I had had enough of feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.  I was on a low enough dose that I couldn't use the medication as a weight gain reason anymore.  I actually didn't think I could do it because I really love my food, but I did and what an amazing accomplishment for me.  Now, I just need to keep it off, eat healthy and get on a regular exercise routine because 40 is fast approaching!

There you have it.  Those are just a few great things about 2011 that stand out in my mind.  I have many more things to be thankful for this year, bu these are the ones that are biggies for me.  What about you?  Do you have something that happened in 2011 that you are pretty grateful for?  I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

He Sees You When You're Sleeping

Hope you all had a good Christmas.  Just wanted to share this cute picture of Isabella sitting on Santa's lap on Christmas Eve.  He was talking to her about playing the flute and her periodically telling us she wants to quit playing even though she's very talented and a quick learner.  I think she was a bit surprised and embarrassed he brought this up!  I'm sure you can tell by her hand over her mouth.

I'm actually sad that it's over.  I anticipate it so much each year and always feel a little depressed when it's over to be honest, so I'm dealing with that right now, but lots to look forward to which takes my mind off Christmas being over so quickly and without snow this year.  Looking forward to spending time with friends on New Year's Eve, my 40th birthday this January, a trip to Lake Havasu, Arizona for spring break and new adventures in my creative life, one of which is Flora Bowley coming to Wisconsin!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What are you Hoping for 2012?

As 2012 approaches, I think of new beginnings, new hopes, dreams and goals.  Of the changes I hope I can make, (like getting organized like I want to do every year).  
(Photo courtesy of Brave Girls Club)

I've read a lot of fellow bloggers are choosing a word or theme for the year and I'm mulling that over as well as all the dreams I have bouncing around in my heart and mind.  Two words quickly pop into my head:  create and believe.  But....create should be already in practice to begin with, perhaps create more, create more regularly--just don't think it's precise enough though.  Then believe crosses my mind too.  Believe in myself, believe in my art, believe in my get the picture.  There's another "but" coming though.  Is "believe" active enough, concrete enough?  I just don't think so.  I feel like I need something stronger that will really get my dreams and wishes moving.  I think I need to state my concrete dreams and intentions for the new year first then perhaps my theme or word will come more easily and obviously.  One of my sweet friends from Flying Lessons suggested making an inspiration board which is a great idea--laying things down right there in front of me.  So that's my next plan, to make a visual of what I want next year to look like.  Recently I read somewhere that your dreams won't come true if you don't even know what they are and writing things down or saying them makes them more real, more powerful.  

I'd really love to hear some of your dreams, intentions or theme for next year.  Please share them here if you can.

Thanks for stopping by and happy holidays!  I hope it's filled with peace, togetherness and lots of laughter.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How Lovely Are Your Branches

We cut our Christmas tree down recently and my daughter and I are in love with it.  We haven't cut our own down in about eight years when she was a toddler so she doesn't even remember doing it.  Isabella actually got to pick it out this year which she was pretty excited about of course.  Here's her pick--it's some sort of fir.  As you can see, no snow however!  It is weird looking for a tree when it hasn't even snowed yet.  Still no snow in our part of Wisconsin and I'm getting a little worried because Christmas isn't the same without snow in my book.

After that last time with a real tree, we broke down and bought a pre-lit one which didn't do much for me.  It was too "perfect" looking and not real enough for my taste.  My husband loved it because it was "perfect"--you know, no branches sticking out anywhere unevenly or any "holes."   I love real trees when some branches stick way out and you can hang ornaments sort of in layers and you can see deeper inside the branches.  Does that make sense?

(Here I am excited to get this beauty home.  Of course, Shane is doing all the muscle work!)

Every year I look forward to decorating it, real or not, and rediscovering our favorite ornaments.  Through the years I've started buying silver picture frame ornaments usually from Restoration Hardware (if we get to the mall) and I frame some of my favorite pictures from the past year or so.  I especially love the ones of Isabella when she was younger. 

(Needs some presents, doesn't it?)

We also just had Isabella's school band and choir concert in which she plays flute and sings.  Our sweet tree glows behind her right before we head out.  I love sitting by the tree at night after everyone goes to bed, especially if there is still a fire burning in the fire place.  I hope you all find some peaceful and cozy moments this holiday.  I haven't had many of those moments yet because life has been pretty busy over here, but once things settle down, they should come!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Artist Interview - Michelle Reynolds

Today I’d like to share an interview with the wonderful Michelle Reynolds, a vibrant “artist, creatrix and sunset photographer” living in Western Australia. We met through Flying Lessons, an e-course sponsored by artist Kelly Rae Roberts. Sit back and enjoy learning more about Michelle and her passion for life and creating.

Do you remember when you first really started to enjoy creating things?

In 2009 when I fell in love with acrylic painting.

Who are some artists that have inspired you or are still inspiring you along your creative journey?
Flora Bowley, Kelly Rae Roberts, Rosetta Santucci, Modigliani and Mondrian

Do you have a muse or an inspiration that helps you with your creations and design?

My best friend Sandra always encourages me to go for it and gives honest feedback and criticism.

Tell us a bit about some of your creations or how you like to create. I know you enjoy working with acrylics and painting in layers.

I start a few layers and then I love to stamp all over the canvas using bubble wrap, rubber matting, and any other found objects in my box. Next I decide what I’m going to do with the canvas such as a vase and flowers and with a small brush and white paint I draw it on my canvas, then I start to block out with opaque colours and translucent as well. Then I add some bling colours such as gold and copper.

If you could have lunch with anyone (alive or dead) who would it be?

Jesus Christ

If you weren’t an artist, what do you think you’d do for a living?

Librarian - I love books.

What is your favorite quote, motto or affirmation?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson.

Why? Because I have often asked myself that question - Who am I to be….and I love that line - Your playing small does not serve the world. And I believe that God does want us to be the best person we can be.

Do you have a community of other artists or friends/family members whom you consider to be supportive of your creative endeavors?

Yes. I attend a small community centre each Monday and help others with their art. I also have an online community of very supportive friends.

If you have an afternoon free, all by yourself, what would your dream day look like?

Painting with my friend Sandra, coffee and laughter.

Do you have any favorite blogs you enjoy reading and would you share them with us?

Aside from Kelly Rae Roberts, Flora Bowley and the Fly Tribe blogs: This blog is great for colour palettes. Traci is the queen of stamping.

Do you have any future dreams or goals that you are working on or dreaming about?

I recently came to terms with the fact that the cost to achieving my dream would be too high in terms of my relationship with my husband and God and so I’m looking for a new dream. I’m ok with this - there’s nothing wrong with changing our dreams.

Goals and plans for 2012 - Life Book 2012 ecourse, a painting course with local artist Neil Elloitt starting at the end of January - mixed media and abstract art, a group exhibition in June, to be part of the 30x30x30 project -completing 30 paintings in 30 days to sell at an exhibition in mid Sept, to attend an overseas worshop in October - meet a few online friends, go to New York and see a few galleries in the USA, In November - go to Melbourne to see the Sketchbook Project and meet up with some online artists and in December -organise a 25th Wedding Anniversary Party for hubby and I.
(Photos courtesy of Michelle Reynolds)

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who truly want to live a creative life?

Have fun and enjoy yourself.
Learn - attend workshops, do online courses.
Community - build up a community of artist friends - in real life and online.
Reach out to other artists - those whose careers are more advanced than yours and those who are just starting out and need your help.
Get your work out there in the community - enter it into awards and shows.

I personally would like to thank Michelle for sharing her life and inspirations with us.  She's a very motivating person, whom I think many of us look to for our inspiration as well.  If you'd like to learn more about Michelle or see some more of her work, you can find her at the following links.  Thanks again, Michelle!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Creative Color Challenge 2012

Can you believe the year 2012 is quickly approaching?  I still remember when switching from 1999 to 2000 was a big deal, then 2009 to 2010 was strange too.  Now 2012!  Sure makes me realize how important it is to really enjoy these moments of life RIGHT NOW. 

I'm not quite ready to post about any of my goals for 2012 just yet--I haven't really sat down to think that far ahead, but one thing I just signed up for is the Creative Color Challenge with Louise Gale heading it up.  That woman is a busy lady I must say--as well as inspirational, as I just participated in her heART exchange swap through "Your Heart Makes a Difference."

I'm looking forward to this challenge because some of my friends from Flying Lessons are also participating, I'll get to "meet" new people through everyone sharing their color creations and lastly I will get to create with some colors I normally might avoid such as orange, red and brown.

Once we get the challenge for the month when we're finished we'll each be posting them on our blogs as well as a Flickr pool.  So, I'd love if you'd follow me and some of the others when we start this fun and colorful challenge in January!
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