Visual Inspiration

April 14, 2009

blue-poppy-pods

While browsing around at Etsy recently, I was blown away by the photograph above.  I loved the poppy pods, and I LOVED the “shabby chic” or vintage look to the photo.

After clicking over to ScarletBeautiful’s Etsy store, I learned that this photo is part of her “Through the Viewfinder” series.  Basically, these photos are taken though the viewfinder of any camera with another camera.  Who would have thunk it?  Not me!  I can’t look at this enough. 

But was this the only thing I loved?  Not by a long shot.  There were many other beautiful shots using this technique, and tons of others that were such visual inspiration for me.  I just had to write ScarletBeautiful and ask permission to share this with my readers.

While Etsy is a great place to find cool stuff to buy, it is also like a virtual gallery, where every page brings more creativity right to your computer screen.  I encourage you to visit today and get inspired!

My Etsy site  is there, also, if you’re interested in taking a look…!

GNA – Girls Night Art!

March 20, 2009

trio-painting

Finally!  Karen and I finally got to squeeze in an Art Night!  We were both at rock bottom creatively, but our lives have been chaotic and haven’t allowed us time to get together.  Tonight that ended, and we had a good paint smearing session…hurray!

I love to smear paint.  I do mainly acrylics, and I do mostly abstracts.  I love the process more than anything…I love the feeling of using pallette knives to spread all the vibrant colors on canvas – it is inspiration at it’s best for me.

The lighting in my kitchen makes my painting look a little more washed out than it really is, but the end result isn’t nearly as satisfying to me as the process is.  What also is inspiring is to spend time creating with my friend and fellow artist, who always seems to bring out the artist in me.  We have been doing art together since high school, and we seem to do our best stuff together.  We play music, we goof off and even sometimes feel like those high schoolers again.  My son told us tonight that we were both “total dorks,” which I take as a high compliment!  I’m happy to be a dork because it means I was having fun!

 work in progress.

1. Go for a walk. Draw or list things you find on the the sidewalk. 2. Write a letter to yourself in the future. 3. Buy something inexpensive as a symbol for your need to create, (new pen, a tea cup, journal). Use it everyday. 4. Draw your dinner. 5. Find a piece of poetry you respond to. Rewrite it and glue it into your journal. 6. Glue an envelope into your journal. For one week collect items you find on the street. 7. Expose yourself to a new artist, (go to a gallery, or in a book.) Write about what moves you about it. 8. Find a photo of a person you do not know. Write a brief bio about them. 9. Spend a day drawing only red things. 10. Draw your bike. 11. Make a list of everything you buy in the next week. 12. Make a map of everywhere you went in one day. 13. Draw a map of the creases on your hand, (knuckles, palm) 14. Trace your footsteps with chalk. 15. Record an overheard conversation. 16. Trace the path of the moon in relation to where you live. 17. Go to a paint store. Collect ‘chips’ of all your favorite colors. 18. Draw your favorite tree. 19. Take 15 minutes to eat an orange. 20. Write a haiku. 21. Hang upside down for five minutes. 22. Hang found objects from tree branches. 23. Make a puppet. 24. Create an outdoor room from things you find in nature. 25. Read a book in one day. 26. Illustrate your grocery list. 27. Read a story out loud to a friend. 28. Write a letter to someone you admire. 29. Study the face of someone you do not like. 30. Make a meal based on a color theme. (i.e. all white). 31. Creat a museum of very small things. 32. List the smells in your neighborhood. 33. List 100 uses for a tin can. 34. Fill an entire page in your jounral with small circles. Color them in. 35. Give away something you love. 36. Choose an object, draw the side you can’t see. 37. List all of the places you’ve ever lived. 38. Describe your favourite room in detail. 39. Write about your relationship with your washing machine. 40. Draw all of the things in your purse/bag. 41. Make a mini book based on the theme, “my grocery list”. 42. Create a character based on someone you know. Write a list of personality traits. 43. Recall your favorite childhood game. 44. Put postcards of art pieces/painting on the inside of your kitchen cupboard doors, so you can see them everyday (but not become deaf to them.) 45. Draw the same object every day for a week. 46. Write in your journal using a different medium (brush & ink, charcoal, old typewriter, crayons, fat markers. 47. Draw the individual items of your favorite outfit. 48. Make a useful item using only paper & tape. 49. Research a celebration or ritual from another culture. 50. Do a temporary art installation using a pad of post it notes & a pen. 51. Draw a map of your favorite sitting spots in your town/city. (photocopy it and give it to someone you like.) 52. Record all of the sounds you hear in the course of one hours. 53. Using a grid, collect various textures from magazine and play them off of each other. 54. Cut out all media for one day. Write about the effects. 55. Make pencil rubbings of six different surfaces. 56. Draw your garbage. 57. Do a morning collage. 58. List your ten most important things, (not including animals or people.) 59. List ten things you would like to do every day. 60. Glue a photo of yourself as a child into your journal. 61. Trasform some garbage. 62. Write an entry in your journal in really LARGE letters. 63. Collect some ‘flat’ things in nature (leaves, flowers). Glue or tape them into your journal. 64. Physically alter a page. (i.e. cut a hole, pour tea on it, burn it, fold it, etc.) 65. Find several color combinations you respond to in public. Document them using swatches, write where you found them. 66. Write a journal entry describing something “secret”. Cut it up into several pieces and glue them back in scrambled. 67. Record descriptions or definitions of subjects or words you are interested in, found in encyclopedias or dictionaries. 68. Draw the outline of an object without looking at the page. (contour drawing). 69. What were you thinking just now? write it down. 70. Do nothing. 71. Write a list of ten things you could to do. Do the last thing on the list. 72. Create an image using dots. 73. Do 3 drawings at different speeds. 74. Put a small object in your left pocket (or in a bag), Put your left hand in the pocket. Draw it by feel. 75. Create a graph documenting or measuring something in your life. 76. Draw the sun. 77. Create instructions for a simple everyday task. 78. Make prints using food. (fruit and vegetables cut in half, fish, etc.) 79. Find a photo. Alter it by drawing over it. 80. Write a letter using an unconventional medium. 81. Draw one object for twenty minutes. 82. Combine two activities that have not been combined before. 83. Write about your day in an encyclopedic fashion. (i.e. organize by subject.) 84. Write a list of all the things you do to escape. 85. Cut a random shape out of several layers of a magazine. Make a collage out of the results. 86. Write an entry in code. 87. Make a painting using tools from the bathroom. 88. Work with a medium that is subtractive. 89. Write about or draw some of the doors in your life. 90. Make a postcard that has some kind of activity on it. 91. Divise a journal entry using “layers”. 92. Divise an entry using “layers”. 93. Write your own definition of one of the following concepts, sitting, waiting, sleeping (without using the actual word.) 94. List 10 of your habits. 95. Illustrate the concept of “simplicity”.

Check out more from Keri at www.kerismith.com/blog/

I don’t even think my candle has ends anymore.  It’s more like a molten lump of wax that’s totally used up!

Between my daughter’s doctor visits, work, schoolwork, kids obligations, housework, etc. etc. etc. there has been little time for me, and even less time for creativity.  I have had ideas – tons of ideas – but no time to do anything about them.  The time well is dry.

What can I do?  Well, for now I am writing down lots of notes.  I don’t want to forget some of the inspirations that come to me at off times.  I keep a small notebook with me at all times for this purpose.  It doesn’t matter how random, I write it down.  I have folders at home I stick stuff in like “blog,” “website,” and “inspirations.”  It’s simple enough to slide the notebook sheets in when I get home.  Of course my purse usually looks like a spot hurricane hit it, but I can live with that!  It’s a small price to pay not to miss a good inspiring thought.

Another thing I did while spending some time with my kids watching “our” show, American Idol.  This is something we carve out time for.  We record it to watch when we are all together.  Anyway, I struggle with sitting still without something in my hands, so I started shredding yarn scraps from a knitting project.  It was fun!  And best of all, it didn’t require brain cells.  I kept going (because I never through away those gorgeous yarn scraps) and now I have this big pile of yarn fluff and threads, perfect for some collage/multimedia project down the line.  It really helped me unwind, too, so I think I’ll keep this one as a down-time ritual.  It can all be randomly shoved into a Ziploc bag for later use.

So, even though my wick is  burnt out and my well is dry, I am like a squirrel before hibernation – storing up the things I will need when the time comes.

Creativity unleashed!

January 29, 2009

Yesterday my friend Karen and I took a day off because we had to go pick up some artwork from Peninsula Art School in Fish Creek, WI.  What a great day we had!  A short ways into the ride over, which takes about 2 hours from home, Karen suggested I start writing things down because the inspirations were flowing fast and furious.  It’s like that with “kindred spirits,” and Karen and I have always been that.

As we drove up the Door County Peninsula, we started brainstorming some ideas of things we’d like to do, and on the way back home we ended up dreaming about that gallery we’d like to have someday – a place for artists to work and show their work.  Neither of us is anywhere near a place in our lives where that could happen, but we can dream.  And yesterday was a day for dreaming.

Even with sub-zero temperatures, the drive up the Door Peninsula is exhilarating and stimulating.  I love to see all the unique shops and galleries.  It is an artists dream!  Even though most shops are closed for the season, the promise and potential for inspiration are still there.

The kind of day we had yesterday don’t happen very often, unfortunately.  Jobs, families and responsibilities prevail.  That’s what made yesterday special for Karen and I both.  It was a chance to let our inner artists come out to play.

rocks

The following is a blog post from Zen Habits by Leo Babouta that I really enjoyed.  Check him out at http://zenhabits.net

What’s the secret to unleashing your creativity?

I’ll tell you, but it’s not what you think…

As an aspiring artist, I’ve spent a lot of time trying figure out how to be more creative. I’ve explored the traditional paths to creativity; painting, drawing, playing an instrument, creative writing, poetry, etc. I connected with creative souls; artists, and people living off the grid (away from the mainstream).

While I found this sparked my creative spirit, it only went so far. I was hacking at the branches rather than the root.

To truly tap into your creative nature, you only have to realize one thing…

You are already an artist.

You don’t have to create exquisite sculptures or breathtaking sonnets. You’re creating all the time simply by being alive. Every decision you make, every time you move, breathe, or speak you are creating. In fact, you couldn’t not create even if you wanted to. It’s simply impossible.

Just think about it: you’re the main character in your life story. Each day you develop and further the plot of your masterful performance. You interact with other secondary characters in your story that support your role. These are your friends, your lover, family and coworkers. They’re the supporting actors or actresses in your drama, and they also help mold your life’s narrative.

You can change the course of your story at any time by making new choices and walking down new paths. You can drop a secondary character and choose new ones, if they’re not supporting the story you’d like to create (except, perhaps, family members).

You constantly direct the play called your life; and that makes you a magnificent artist.  So if you’re creating your life all the time, wouldn’t it be more empowering to view yourself as an artist, rather than simply a passively living person?

I know you’re thinking, That really doesn’t help when I’m chopping celery or washing the cat… but it does. It makes all the difference.

See, when you know you’re creating artistically, you get more involved in your life. You start to live more deliberately. You wash your cat with love because deep down, you love him even if he smells terrible. You cut celery with joy, because you’re making the choice to put something healthy in your body.

So, enough foreplay; here are some practical ways to embrace your inner artist:

  • Work. Are you making choices to further your deepest desires? Are you moving in the direction of your dreams? Much of our lives are spent working, so it makes sense to be conscious of the career we create. Find a career that pays you for being you. You may have to create one if it doesn’t exist.
  • Money. Take a close look at where your money is going. Are you spending your money unconsciously? Are buying lattes and chasing trends keeping you from those yoga classes you’ve been meaning to take? Reevaluate how you spend to live by your own design.
  • Goals. Are the goals you have ego driven, or heart centered? Are they furthering the life you’d love to create? See where you can simplify and remove the clutter to create room for authentic endeavors.
  • Relationships. Are your relationships assisting you in your desires, or holding you back? Or perhaps YOU are holding yourself back. Be honest with yourself and make the necessary changes to fearlessly go with yourself (instead of against).
  • Information. Are you addicted to info porn? Who’s dictating what you should think, you or the media? Consciously decide the input you accept and discard that which doesn’t serve you.
  • Routine. Most of our days we’d consider normal. A random Tuesday spent watching TV game shows is more eventful than the day your spouse proposed to you. If most of our days are common, it makes sense to make the most out of them. Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing. Be there completely. While doing this, you’ll find that you naturally enjoy those seemingly tedious tasks much more (like washing the dishes). It’s amazing how much non-resistance and presence changes everything.

All life really is, after all, is a collection of stories. But you’re the only one that can create the story of your dreams. It’s your story.

So what do you want to create? A film noir or a fairytale? You can choose a daring adventure or a comedy. It’s up to you as long as you accept that you’re the artist. You’ve got the brush, it’s up to you to put down the colors you like best.

The question is: What will you create?

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind. To learn more about how to reclaim your life, grab a subscription to Illuminated MInd

Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine

While I have tried to be more conservative about my budget, one item I could not do without was my subscription to Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion magazine.  What a feast for creative people!  I get excited when I see the magazine in my mailbox…I can’t wait to turn the pages.  It is filled with artists and ideas and inspirations.  If you haven’t seen this magazine already, you need to get ahold of a copy really soon. 

I had seen an Internet rumor that the magazine was ceasing to publish and I panicked!  But after visiting the website I am now calm again – my bi-monthly fix is still alive!  Hurrah!
From one artist to another, take a minute to check them out.  I think you’ll be happy you did! 

Fulfillment

A Year Ago Today was a really difficult day for me.  One year ago today, April 18, 2007, my divorce was final.  A divorce I didn’t seek, didn’t want, and am still reeling from.  With all the tears and the trauma involved, it’s hard to find the silver linings, but we try.  It’s gotten to be a thing with me and the kids, looking for silver linings.  For example, none of us like chunky spaghetti sauce, but we made it that way “before” because X liked it that way.  So, one of our first silver linings was smooth spaghetti sauce.  Baby steps. 

And there have been lots more silver linings.  My friends and my family have kept me going and have not given up on me.  God has been ever-present and has made me so aware of these silver linings…one of the biggest has been this jewelry business.  It was my hobby business, the one that I kept small because X thought it might interfere with my being support staff for his business, and it might get too busy for me to take care of the kids the way I always had (alone, basically).  But now I see how God gave me this business that was already trying to grow to help me provide for my children during the upheavals of the past year.  I had not worked outside the home before the divorce, and due to the growth of my “hobby business”, I have been fortunate enough to still be working at home. 

Sometimes the inspiration isn’t there.  Sometimes I feel so sad I don’t want to create.  But at other times the ideas flow and the creativity won’t be quieted without hours at my beading table.  My children are so proud of me and I am learning to be proud of myself again.  I went through the Urban Hope program to learn more about entrepreneurship.  I am finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree that has been unfinished for 23 years.

A Year Ago Today, I thought my life was ending.  Sometimes it still feels that way.  But it hasn’t been the end, it’s just the beginning of something new.  I heard once that when we lose something it just makes room for something else to come into our lives.   I have gained much this year, and there’s still room for more.  I will get up tomorrow morning and continue to try to fill it with more silver linings

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