From inspiration to artwork

I had just started playing around with my stitched collages again when I popped in to a craft store on the way to the lake last August and saw this:

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“Ah ha!” I thought, “I could collage an owl and stitch all those great feathers!” I snapped a picture for future reference.

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I made a background and sketched out this little guy. I really loved that diamondy-shieldy shape of the feathers. I wanted them to have a watercolor look that the stitching would really accentuate.

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At some point the owl was sitting next to the mariner’s compass stamp and I decided the stamp would make cool eyes. This type of discovery is one of the benefits of the Messy Desk School of Creativity.

Inspiration isn’t always this straightforward. Next up I’m planning a piece that is a funny idea I had while working on this piece. In the meantime, I need to paint something Christmasy in a hurry and I’m a little stumped. I may just hit the craft store for some new ideas.

Posted in collage, color, creativity, design, drawing, embroidery, inspiration, mixed media, painting, stitched collage | 1 Comment

I’m practicing my penmanship

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I’ve been practicing my penmanship lately. I was pretty crappy at cursive in school (I was crappy at art too). It was a huge relief in high school to give up cursive and just print everything. Even though my printing was also crappy.

But now I’m so in love with letters and words and quotes and I want to make make make them. So I’m brushing the dust off my poor little skills and practicing. Perhaps if I’d had a fountain pen all those years ago I would have liked cursive better.

In other news, the weather has been impossibly beautiful. Every time I get hot and sweaty it feels like a special bonus!

Posted in art journaling, blessings, mixed media, practice, simple pleasures | 1 Comment

Spending my days creatively

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. -Annie Dillard

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Several weeks ago I made a change to how I spend my days. I always had great intentions for working on my art projects but somehow things never worked out the way I planned. I would look ahead in my schedule and find big blocks of time when I could work on projects, evenings after work or sometimes as much as a whole weekend day. And the time would come and I would be too tired after working all day or I would have chores I needed to do for the week or I would get distracted and play around with a new idea and my projects would languish.

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This past summer I started getting messages from the universe about frequency. It seemed everywhere I looked there was a message about doing your creative work daily, even just for a few minutes. In my explorations for Selina Barker’s Project You class I stumbled upon this book, particularly the essays by Mark McGuiness and Gretchen Rubin. McGuiness writes that when we spend our time on “reactive” work, doing all the tasks we think we have to do before we start out creative work, we never get quality time for our creative work. Sound familiar? McGuiness argues we should do our creative work first, at the time of day when we are at our best, every day, even if just for a short period of time. Those steady small doses will add up to something of value far sooner than all the good intentions in the world.

a small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules. – Anthony Trollope

This essay, along with one by Gretchen Rubin on the benefits of frequency from the same book led me to examine my creative work habits. And to see that they weren’t working.

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After reading the Annie Dillard quote above, I realized I wasn’t spending my days as an artist and I wanted that to change.

The young cats like to wake me up early. Instead of arguing with them about how much more sleep I’m allowed to have, I started just getting up and working on my art projects. And I love it! Quiet, uninterrupted time every morning, sometimes as little as 15 minutes, is leading to significant progress. I’m never ready to stop when it’s time to get ready for work, which means I’m excited to come back the next morning. And it’s easier to focus on a project when I’m always excited to get back to it. Working on art every day means I think about art every day so inspiration is constant. And suddenly I have time (and mental energy!) to work out new ideas as well as plug along completing things I’ve already started.

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This small piece is an offshoot idea from a larger piece I’m working on, a series really, of folk-art inspired stitched collages. Working frequently means pieces like this actually get made, rather than just floating around in my mind waiting for me to find the right time to make them.

Of course I don’t manage to get creative work done every single day. I’m struggling with my weekend habit of getting the chores and errands done before I’m “allowed” to play. But I’m creating first enough days that it’s becoming a routine. And it’s changing how I spend my life.

Posted in creativity, life, mixed media, painting, practice | 2 Comments

September

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I’m stopping to catch my breath today. I knew going in that September would be a whirlwind and I tried to plan and prepare. Really I did. And then life whacked me upside the head and said “Silly girl! Relax and keep things simple!”

And so I’m resting and enjoying the simple beauty all around me, the achingly beautiful weather, the flowers blooming their heads off, the hope and joy of a simple wonderful wedding. Today I learned that I love to make risotto, so methodical and meditative. Simple. Beautiful.

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Ordinary beautiful weekend

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I took Friday off for one last trip to the lake.

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This duck nipped my toe. I may have fed it a cracker.

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I ran into these excellent people (my mom and my auntie) on the way to the lake. Totally unexpected and lovely surprise!

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After the lake on Friday, I still had a wonderful 3 day weekend ahead. I spent most of it hanging out with these dudes.

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And working on things like this. I just love half square triangles all lined up.

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This is just a gratuitous cute cat photo.

Occasionally there was a vague feeling that I should be doing something wildly exciting with my four free days. But I knew that I was right where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing. There is plenty of wild excitement coming up in September. I needed to tend to the regular business of my home life, to relax into the blessing and beauty of a quiet ordinary weekend at home. And so I did.

Posted in cats, creativity, life, mixed media, painting, summer | Leave a comment

More adventures

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It’s been a great summer for adventures! Wonderful small “a” adventures. Rather than fretting about the unattainability of big “A” Adventures, it’s way more fun to jump in the car and go do some fun local-ish thing. Like actually going to Palouse Falls instead of always saying “we should go to Palouse Falls sometime.” (Ohmigosh, Palouse Falls is incredible!!!)

Mom and I continued our vintage-sale-going ways with trips to Foxwood and Pickin’ on the Prairie. On our Foxwood trip we wandered in to Newport for lunch and discovered a wonderful old soda fountain as well as some great little shops.

For Mom’s birthday trip we went to Walla Walla for antique shopping, wine tasting and sight seeing. The Whitman Mission and Oregon Trail were very cool! Walla Walla is a great town and we’re already planning our next trip.

And finally, the event we waited for all summer, the nationally televised very first college football game of the season was in Cheney this year! It was a beautiful warm day and our EWU Eagles finally beat Sam Houston State and we had SO much fun!

Have you gone on any small “a” adventures this year? I’d love to hear about it!

Posted in antiques, celebrations, family, life, summer, vintage | 3 Comments

I need to do the work that is my work.

I made the mistake of going to the basement yesterday. No, not the part with the laundry and the cat boxes and the beer fridge where I go all the time. I went to the giant mess of a room where the years of accumulated art stuff lives. To the place where all the old projects and ideas and possibilities lurk.

It’s perfectly ok to go there in search of a specific object. But yesterday I went there in search of an old idea, a collection of objects pulled together for a purpose. And while I was on this fool’s errand for something I could not find, I naturally turned up other ideas and collections and half-finished bits of magic. My mind started churning with the possibilities. I felt myself getting sucked into the whirlpool of overwhelm. I hightailed it out of there!

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Back upstairs to the relative calm of the couple of projects I’ve been steadily working on. Back to a place where I’m completing my thoughts and following through with my ideas. Back to my own work.

There’s a lot of beauty down there, and a lot of value in those starts and stops and experiments. If not for all of that practice and play and figuring stuff out, I never would have made it to this point where I am doing my own work, telling my own story.

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It would be so easy to wander down that road, distracted by all those shiny thoughts, puttering here and there at this or that. But I’m learning that if I want to accomplish my work, I have to concentrate on doing my work. Focus is what keeps a project moving along. Playing with too many ideas means nothing gets done, work doesn’t develop.

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Happily, there is joy and contentment in doing the work that is my work. And happily, yesterday I figured that out in time.

Posted in creativity, mixed media, painting, practice | 1 Comment