Monday, December 8, 2014

Special Holiday Ornaments

I love this time of year.  It's exciting and cozy and those once-a-year decorations make everything joyful.  Here are a few special ornaments on our tree.

Bella and her Papa (my dad) when she was about 4 years old.  He died a few years ago so it's very special to see this on the tree every year.

A sweet and fun snowman ornament Bella made in grade school.  I just love him!  She no longer makes us handmade ornaments and I'll admit I miss that.

This foam tree with blue sequins she made just for Daddy a few years ago.

A sweet, chubby cardinal ornament that reminds me of my grandma.  She loved cardinals and collected figurines of them, so everytime I now see a cardinal I say "hi Grandma" because she's no longer with us.  It comforts me when I see one flying by or sitting in a tree outside.

I bet you have a few favorite ornaments, some that have special meaning to you, ones that you will never get rid of.  Care to share any of them with me?  I'd love to hear about them and what they mean to you. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gratitude - 'Tis the Season

When I got my new, blank journal I decided to go through my favorite quotes that I had written down and make sort of an inspiring book for myself.  On each page I create a fun background and then go through my quotes and add them so I can have some artsy inspiration by my side, all in one book. 

I found this quote and knew I had to add it to my art journal.  I'm not sure where it got it from, possibly Mark and Angel Hack, who have tons of inspiration on their website.  It's so funny that I never thought this way before.  I now DO notice that when I'm counting my blessings and thanking God and the Universe for things in my life, I feel more grateful - in turn I think LESS about the things I don't have or the things I do have that I wish I actually didn't have (ahem--lupus for example).  

When I sit down and think about every little thing I am thankful for I feel so much better and so darn blessed.  Here are a few...
  • my daughter Isabella
  • my loyal and snuggly dog Mazie who often drives me nuts, but I realize how much love she brings to me
  • my hubby Shane who also drives me nuts but has known me since we were seniors in high school, so we have been through so much together and that adds up to a lot
  • creating has brought me new friends, new visions, tons of joy and even some healing

  • great lifelong friends that I've known since grade school - so so lucky to have them in my life so long
  • my ability to walk around every day, sometimes in pain, but still I can do it while some can't
  • my eyesight - so much beauty to look at every day, like the amazing beach in Destin

Those are just a few but since Thanksgiving is approaching, I want to visit all the great things I do have to be thankful for. I'd love it if you'd share below a couple things you are so grateful for.  It's so uplifting hearing about others gratitude. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Sight of the Stars Makes Me Dream

Lately I've been feeling the urge to paint the night sky and its sparkly stars.   Not sure why I stopped but a few years ago I painted night scenes a bit more.  The other day I popped open my brand new Dylusions art journal and the first scene became a night sky with a warm, full moon. Then I felt like I had to add the words from the new Coldplay song, "You're a sky full of stars."  I wanted to look up all the lyrics but got sidetracked (of course) as usual.  A day or so went by and I went to listen to my new favorite acoustic/cover band Boyce Avenue while I was painting and the first video from them popped up and it was Coldplay's song.  I actually decided that was a sign and those words needed to be on this painting.  

Next page in my journal started looking similar and on this I included Van Gogh's quote that fits me to a tee "...I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."  Ahhhh is all I can say to this one.  Our daughter's middle name is Sky if that tells you anything.

I guess painting and sharing these creations on Instagram were a good thing because a sweet, creative friend of mine in turn requested a commission of a full moon, the night sky, stars and a quote.  Here it is.  I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Does the sky mesmerize you like it does me?  Do you have any favorite, dreamy quotes about the sky, stars or moon?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Blessings in Disguise

It's so easy for me to be grateful and count my blessings when things are going well - namely when I'm not having a flare of my lupus.  But I'm now learning and practicing that I have to be grateful even when things aren't exactly going my way.  This is when I REALLY need to count my blessings. 
Over a month ago our dishwasher leaked and ruined part of our wood floor and base first I was pretty upset of course because of the major inconvenience and because of the $1000 deductible we have for insurance.  Still not happy about that because I work VERY part-time.  However, I realized we've wanted new cabinets and a new wood floor for quite a while.  Of course, we wanted to get them when we could afford them and not because of water damage, but looking on the bright side, we are getting some updates to the kitchen.  A few years ago this would have sent me into so much anger and frustration, but this time, I quickly got to the mindset of "what good is coming from this?" ...Well--new cabinets and a new wood floor-yay!  Oh, and practicing acceptance and letting go of things that typically throw me in a tailspin.

"Happiness is a function of accepting what is."

This quote by Werner Erhard often helps me remember how important it is to accept things as they are, even when they aren't what I want at the time.  Typically, like the kitchen, they turn out to be blessings in disguise.  No they don't always come in the form of something physical like kitchen cabinets--they may be a new way of being or living, like enjoying the little things and realizing something that's RIGHT for us is somewhere on the horizon, even if we don't see it right away!  

I'm curious, what "bad" things have happened in your life that have turned out to be blessings in disguise?  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Art Journal Inspiration

I've talked before about my hesitance to create in an art journal.  But I also added that it's something I grew to love pretty quickly.  It's healing for me and some of the pages are meant to inspire and encourage those whom I share them with, like you!  Here are a few that are inspiring reminders that you are amazing and even though you (me too) may not like where things are in your life, you are right where you are supposed to be.  When I see that phrase, I feel so much better about the struggles I'm dealing with.  It helps me to accept or surrender and not fight "what is" when I read those words. So helpful, because fighting "what is" and not accepting where I'm at right now causes so much anxiety and stress in my life.  

I'm also sending you wishes...for strength to handle what comes your way and peace which can be hard to come by, at least for me when I'm not accepting my life as it is.

Do you have any quotes or phrases or just words, that help you put your mind at ease?  Do you ever forget that you have them there to help you live your day-to-day life?  I know sometimes I really need these reminders, hence creating art with them.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thankful for this Fall

Though the carefree days of flip flops, shorts and longer days are slowly coming to a sad close, there is so much beauty in the fall we're having right now.  I feel so grateful for the vibrant changing trees and the dreamy blue skies. Windows are still open and I can't seem to stop inhaling the fresh air as deeply as I can. Maybe I'm really trying to keep this beauty with me, deep down, as long as possible before the windows will close for the season.

I'm thankful for a new little niece who is starting to smile, making us all smile and laugh with joy.
...for homegrown flowers still blooming and brightening up my counters, my stove, my painting desk and my kitchen window sill

...for breathtaking morning sunrises

...for fun family pictures outside in this great weather with my sweet daughter and her cousin who have been friends since they were babies
...for glorious blue skies, white clouds and amazing changing trees...

I know pretty soon, some of these things will be just a memory, so for now I'm going to soak them in every chance I get. Do you have some things you just love about fall?  I'd love to hear about them...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Art Journal Inspiration

I've been literally in a painting frenzy these past two days.  It's almost like I don't know what's gotten into me.  I can't get enough of my art journal and I'm painting very freely in it and not thinking whatsoever about the marks I'm making or the colors I'm using.  It's so freeing.  Using my fingers too has been a big part of it...just getting messy and really putting all of myself into it.  

Here are a few pages I want to share that I created during this recent frenzy.  I hope you take a little inspiration from them!  

Do you ever paint in an art journal?  If so is it to practice your skills, just for fun or does it go even deeper than that?  Do you feel it helps you in some way?  I truly believe it helps me in so many ways.

Friday, September 19, 2014

My REAL Studio Table

Seth Apter of The Altered Page wants artists to share their our REAL work spaces, our studio table. Not ones that are professionally decorated to appear in issues of published magazines, but the messy, cluttered, so-many-different-projects-going-on studios.

During the warm weather months typically May through September I luckily paint in my sunroom.  It has tons of windows and the birds are singing and flying right outside.  I love it.  Since we had a quick drop in temperature here in Wisconsin, I moved back into our office earlier than normal. Here's my studio/home office where I create.

Working in a small art journal big canvases going on right now.

It's not a big space because the other half of the room has a huge IKEA desk with my scanner, printer and the area where we pay bills, etc.  But I am lucky that I have this amount of space and I sit right in front of the window.  I'll be honest it doesn't get much light which I really need, but at least it does have a window, right?  Thanks for visiting and taking a peek into my studio!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Tribe, My Cre8ive Klatch

I first met these girls a few years ago when we got to work together on Flying Lessons, a creative business course sponsored by artist Kelly Rae Roberts.  We called each other "flyers" and now we are part of a "klatch." Never did I expect to call them my friends. Now that's what they've become to me.  Not only do we bounce art biz ideas off of each other but we celebrate and share the good and bad times of our personal lives as well.  I know that at just about anytime I can pop over to our Facebook group and find one of these supportive friends there to talk, listen or laugh with.  I can count on them. We've been through births, deaths, surgeries, new pets, moves across country and much more.  

Cre8ive Klatch
Being part of this creative group has enriched my life personally and creatively. We are now venturing on a new journey called the Cre8ive Klatch and it's pretty exciting. Stop over at our group blog to meet the creative members. Today is my day to be introduced there so I'd love it if you'd stop over there and get to know me a little better. Come and see the great things we have in store for you, including quick projects you can do to stretch your creative muscles, EVEN if you think you don't have any.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Strength - Art Journal Inspiration

Some of you who know me are aware that I have lupus and have been living with this illness for 13 years.  I've been through chemotherapy to help kidney disease which is now in remission (yay!).  Early menopause from the chemo unfortunately took away my chance of having a second child a few years ago.  I've had to quit my full-time teaching job as well, something I worked really hard on in college and in my graduate program.  Often I'm in lots of pain and moving my hands, neck, feet, legs, etc. can be really really hard some days.  I cannot handle being in the sun or heat.  Let's just say, my life has changed drastically.  Sometimes I give into a personal pity-party - it's hard not to some days. But through all this I am learning that I am a strong person. And, yes, I occasionally have to remind myself of that in my art journal.  An affirmation, a reminder that I can handle this.  I'm surviving everyday, sometimes even thriving I guess. Though I wish I were cured, I still do feel so much joy about life and the gifts I have been given.  This is the only way for me to deal with struggles daily.

I'm hoping that even though you too may  have some major or even minor obstacles or stressors, that you know you really are strong and can handle them.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe, maybe walk away, even whisper gently to myself "it's okay" and these things help put me back in a strong, capable and hopefully calm frame of mind.

When you are struggling and think you just can't handle one more thing, what do you do to help yourself?  Are you good at reminding yourself how strong you are?  Think of all the challenges you have faced in your life - you are strong.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Art Journal Inspiration

A few years ago when I started painting on a regular basis and following art blogs, I saw many artists creating in art journals.  I just couldn't do it at first.  I felt like I was wasting paper and paint and time. Then I took an online class with Mindy Lacefield called True Free Spirit and she suggested we paint many of our lessons in a journal. Since then, I've been hooked.  I truly feel like "playing" with colors and shapes and creating things I never did before (like painting girls) has opened me up to new things as well as painting more freely.  It helped me focus on being right there in the moment instead of thinking about other things or wondering if this painting was "good enough."  It is like having a little therapist right there with me, one who doesn't respond but kind of pushes me to find the answers myself by just exploring with my words or paints and trusting that I can handle things or they will eventually work the way they are supposed to.

I now love painting and writing in my art journal. It takes me to a calmer place.  Sometimes I share it with others on-line and even make prints out of my creations, and other times, it's just for me to try new art techniques or to work through things I'm worried about.  
I own the book Art Saves by Jenny Doh and I've come to believe that little phrase.  No, my lupus is not healed in the sense that I'm physically healthy like I dream of being, but I truly feel that creating art whether for myself or customers has saved me in so many ways.
I'd like to start sharing some of these pages here weekly in the hopes that maybe you can take some encouragement and inspiration from them too!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Trying Something New - Carving my own Stamps

I'm not the most handy with sharp things like knives and mandolin slicers. However the recent urge to make my own stamps bypassed my fear of sharp objects. The first stamp I carved I used an exacto knife and  my daughter's pink school eraser.  It's by no means neat OR professional looking - I'm not the neatest person when I do anything really--cooking, eating, painting, etc.  BUT I was so thrilled that I did it! I was hooked right away and took the plunge and purchased a linoleum cutter from Dick Blick and carved a few more.
I started with vines and leaves because those tend to appear in my paintings often.  Then I took a stab at a star and a diamond (pretty obsessed with diamonds as well - not the expensive shiny kind but diamond patterns). 

I can't explain it but when I'm sitting there carving them I truly focus and feel so in-the-moment, something I really struggle with A LOT lately.  I guess when you're handling a sharp tool, you have to focus.  Doing this just lets the world fall away for a few moments while I'm designing and carving.  What a great feeling.  All I know is this is really a little bit of meditative therapy to me.  I can't wait to buy some more carving blocks and see what I can create.  
This is something I never thought I'd try...what about you?  Do you have anything you've finally tried that you were scared to do?  Is there STILL something that you want to do but just can't take the plunge yet?

If you want to see more creative ideas, stop over by the Cre8ive Klatch group where we are sharing our ideas and projects.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Painting as a Getaway and Stress Reliever

My summer off is coming to an end and to be honest it's been a bit stressful and anxiety-ridden due to my health.  I'm not going to complain or go into big detail right now because I need a break from that.  I do want to share what I've been doing to try to ease my worries and some struggles running through my busy mind.

First of all, I wasn't painting every day and it really makes a difference.  So a few days ago I reminded myself that even just "messing around" in my sketchbook, not with the intent to make a finished, polished piece, would be a little therapy that would do me good.  It bugs me that I KNOW painting helps me but I still sometimes just don't do it.  Hello....just do it, right?

(Polka climbing rose from my garden)

Aside from painting and just playing in my art journal, I also KNOW going outside even for 10 minutes can give me a new perspective.  I have some beautiful flowers growing all around me and some shade (which I need) so I can enjoy the things I planted but still stay out of the sun that tends to give me a hard time.  Sad to say, I actually sometimes have to force myself to get out there, pick a few flowers or sit in the shade and read a good book...why?  If I enjoy it and it restores me, why?  

(Zinnias planted from seed this spring)

Do you have any things you try when anxiety or worry get the best of you?  I'd love to hear new ideas if you have them.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sweet Summertime

Working in a school has definitely had its ups and downs for me...I quit teaching because it got to be too exhausting because of having lupus.  So now just working part-time in the school library still gives me summers off - that's one of the major positives of working in education.  I truly thank God every day in the summer for having the opportunity to be home with Bella and to relax and try to restore my heath.  

Having a chronic illness has taught me that such simple things make the days so sweet.   I'm also learning that things I create with my own hands, things not perfect are also so sweet.  I do love documenting those sweet moments with my camera phone, especially instagram. I know some people say you're missing out on life if you're constantly behind a camera, but I wouldn't say I'm constantly behind a camera - I just sometimes feel such beauty that I can't let it pass me by without snapping a forever picture of it.

The simplicity of fresh-grown mint in a sweet jelly jar, next to a shell perched on the wooden window of my sunroom.

Clouds...I don't even need to say more...I'm a daydreamer and noticing the sky shows me how beautiful life is even when it can be rough as well...

Taking time to just "be" and relishing the shade after a refreshing swim, being barefoot, drinking fresh water with a slice of lemon...

Years ago, I probably wouldn't even take a picture with my feet in know long toes, bunions, but I am now so grateful that I still have these toes, these feet that have both had surgery and are full of scars because they are still getting me places, still letting me walk on the green grass that I so love.

Whether you work all day in the summer, work from home, maybe even create art and life from home, what do you find sweet about summertime? I'd love to hear and be inspired by some of what makes you sigh with happiness at this time of year.

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