Friday, May 18, 2018

PLAY - Life Book 2018

Sorry to say that I'm a bit behind in this course.  I'm still creating, but I have a lot of projects in various stages of completion and haven't started anything from the most recent three weeks of classes.  But hey, I haven't given up and packed up my brushes either!  So I suspect the creativity will all come in due time, right???

Here's what I've been up to:
 This is my art for Week 15.  The teacher was Christie Dranak and she wanted us to draw a self-portrait of our super hero.  Of course, with a LOT of artistic license... here's my inner super woman... in power pose... wearing the red dress that's hanging in my closet but doesn't fit me ... just yet ... I'm working on that!

And this is my Sacred Dream Bowl from Week 13 teacher Nanda Boukes.  We were supposed to make a bowl from clay, but sculpting just isn't my thing, so I found a ceramic bowl at a thrift shop for 49 cents to use as my base.  I finished with a white pearlescent paint that muted the colors a bit more than I preferred, but for a first attempt at this kind of 3D art, I'm still happy with it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

April Wrap-Up

I'm definitely sensing a pattern here... each prior month's wrap-up and review seems to be getting done in the middle of the following month.  Which at least means I'm posting monthly, so I'm going to call that a good thing!

Spring has finally arrived in full force in my neck of the woods:

These photos were taken May 3, 2018 when the Kwansan Cherry tree was in full bloom.  Normally this tree is the late bloomer for Spring, following about a month behind everything else.  But this year nothing bloomed in normal succession... usually we would get the early flowers (daffodils and crocuses) along with the forsythia, followed a week later by Bradford pear trees, the the dogwoods, plums, etc.  And finally the cherry trees. And the whole process would take a good month or more.  But this year... everything bloomed in ONE WEEK.  It was kinda nuts.  Last week I read a newspaper headline that said "Particularly Chilly April Brings Extreme Pollen" - yes, extreme because last week my house, my car, everything around here was covered in yellow/green pollen dust!  When you see this happen you have to wonder about the perhaps-less-enlightened people who believe that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

April's assignment for One Little Word was a sticky note exercise to explore what our word means to us.  I have to admit, I didn't "play" along.

The FIT class creative prompt was a vision board.  I was ahead of the curve on this one and had created and shared mine in March.  You can see it here.

Between work travel and a particularly bad fibro flare at the end of the month, April was not a stellar month for me.  I didn't get in nearly as much exercise OR play as I would have liked.  That said, there was still a lot of good in the month and a lot to be grateful for.

Let me close with a couple of playful intuitive vision boards that I made just for fun:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

PLAY - Life Book 2018

I am truly enjoying this course!  Trying to keep up with the lessons is keeping me engaged in art so much more often than I might be on my own.  And let me tell you... art with no purpose other than the sheer enjoyment of the process... it's like soft serve ice cream on a hot summer day ... cool and sweet and oh so enjoyable!

 This is my garden fairy (actually our Lesson from the first week of class!)

She's still a work in progress - I still need to do another layer on the background and meaningful symbols on the shirt and a bit more work on the face.  She's not meant to be realistic in the sense of human proportions.

But she's come a long way from this:

And I've really been taking my time on this one because, somehow, she just seems too important to rush.  After all, she's supposed to be tending my dreams...
And here's my finished project from Week 12.  The lesson, called "Beauty in the Chaos" had us make a color-filled totally abstract background and then "find" the images hidden in what we had created.  I saw the girl planting flowers right away.  It took me days of staring at the painting to "see" the heart, the robin, and the path leading to the tent? (some kind of dwelling - I wasn't clear what).  In finishing the painting, I purposefully left the grass and sky very transparent so you can still see a lot of the "chaos" underneath.  I thought I had snapped a picture when it was just background, but apparently that was one of those things I did in my head and not in reality. 😕

The recent work on these two projects was accomplished during a two day retreat at the Jersey Shore.  I need more play dates like that!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My March wrap up ... in mid-April

We finished off March with a total of 4 Nor'easter storms and the threat of a 5th.  The cold weather continued into April in what seemed to be a never-ending Winter.  But then on Friday/Saturday we had a preview of Summer with temps jumping into the 80's.  Folks were out in short sleeves, yard work was being done, it was truly a celebration of the coming Spring.  It seemed like overnight the yellow forsythia leaves popped out and trees began showing buds.  A promise fulfilled - Spring always comes. 

Then today happened. It's 40 degrees right now.  Yes, it dropped over 40 degrees from this time yesterday.  Last night the wind howled and carried on. Today is grey and drizzly and dreary.  The last two days were just a tease.  This entire week is slated to be in the 40's and low 50's. Which is just as well - I have to be in the office 3 days this week.  So I won't feel like I'm missing anything.

Besides the never-ending-winter-storms, March was an interesting Month.  In "FIT" class, we tracked our mood throughout the month.  For me, the blue represents my "default" state - calm, content, even-steven, just being.  The yellow were particularly productive days and the green is when I was feeling most cheerful.  Thankfully March only gave me moments of the unfocused, tired, stressed and frustrated colors.  I was most surprised at the complete lack of angry/annoyed... which maybe means I'm growing up???

 For One Little Word, we were supposed to track one habit all month.  Of course, I always see it as "go big or go home" so I decided it was time to resurrect my habit tracker from 2015 (I think).  I actually enjoyed keeping this up to date and even though I'm not excelling at meeting every goal (like art everyday), there is a satisfaction in seeing all the color filling this sheet and in seeing in visual form that I had a decent month all things considered!
 I'm also keeping a monthly FIT calendar to track my steps and workouts.  The supplies to keep this one up to date are portable ... which means I can do it even when I'm traveling!
Gratitude journal is up to date!

Which reminds me... as of March 31st we gave up our shop in Phillipsburg NJ (lasted 1 year 3 mos) and are back to one local shop for our antiques business.  Sales have been so flat lately that I'm not even sure that one will last through the year for us.  But I've gained back over 3 hours per week of my life and I couldn't be happier about that!

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy Spring???

It seems that Mother Nature is hell-bent on providing us with the most memorable March on record.  So she shoved Old Man Winter back our direction in the form of Winter Storm Toby - the FOURTH Nor'easter this month:

It started on Tuesday night (yes officially the first day of SPRING) and this was our view by 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.  While Riley was the worst in terms of catching us unaware, leaving people stranded everywhere and lots of downed trees and wires, Toby was the one with the most significant snowfall in this area.

 And yes, the backyard neighbor put his fence back up in between storms.

 The snow collects and fills up our deck like a swimming pool.  When the storm was over, you couldn't see the bottom horizontal rail at all.
After these photos were taken, snow continued to blanket the area through the wee hours of Thursday morning.  Everything was closed on Wednesday and many places are having delayed openings today.  I was grateful to once again ride out the entire storm from the safety of my own home.

When all was said and done, we got about a foot of snow this time.  When Spring actually does put in an appearance in this little corner of the world, I think we'll see folks happy dancing in the streets!  But as you can see, it will be awhile yet before we see daffodils. 

Anything blooming in your little corner of the world?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Happy St. Patty's Day!

March has been a little nuts in my neck of the woods - not one, not two, but THREE Nor'easter storms rolled through here in the space of eleven days.  And the weather forecasters got anticipated accumulation wrong for my home town in each instance.  Winter Storm Riley on March 2nd caught us quite by surprise.  We were supposed to get a couple of inches starting AFTER the evening commute.  Instead it started around eleven a.m. and  was coming down at the rate of 2 inches per hour.  Plus very high winds. So the area surrounding my home town experienced ice, covered by slush, covered by heavy wet snow, lots of downed wires and trees, and cars and school buses full of children stuck everywhere.  I had been at the office for a meeting.  Left before 2 p.m. and it took me two hours to get home and this is how that trip ended:

Stuck at the bottom of my own driveway!  Jay left the same area 20 minutes after me and it took him three hours to get home.  I had the driveway cleared and my car moved by the time he arrived.

The storm also knocked over our back yard neighbor's fence.  We're hoping he decides to just take it down.

In total about 8" of wet heavy snow.
 The next two storms brought LESS than was forecast for our area - Winter Storm Quinn on the 7th gave us about 6" (originally forecast to be in the 10-16" band).   Luckily, we had some warning this time and all stayed home to ride it out.  Followed by Winter Storm Skylar on the 12th which only left about 2" and instead skirted to the east and north and pounded Boston.  Now that we are days away from officially being Spring, I'm hoping this nonsense will slow down!

The weather hasn't stopped me from traveling for work, or from living my word PLAY while attempting to keep up with Life Book, FIT, and One Little Word.  My most recent creative efforts:

All watercolor, except the face.  I chose excerpts from the Desiderata for the writing exercise.  Tried to use drawing gum and a calligraphy nib as a resist technique (that was the lesson).  Failed miserably, but at least I tried!  Ended up having to go over it with a white paint pen to make it legible.

I tried to make the proportions on this face a little more realistic than my first (which were not meant to be proportional but whimsical) The eyes are still huge, but I like it for the expression.

Another Life Book exercise - my Quirky Bird - designed to showcase my own unique quirks and weirdness - like how much I enjoy singing in the car, loudly, and badly, but with complete abandon because there is nobody to hear me, shush me, or squelch my joy. - and how I am naturally clumsy and have two left feet (this poor bird's awkward feet were not an accident) - and how I have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve...

A 6x8" mini vision board for my FIT journey.  No explanation needed.

I joined Susannah Conway's "Your Soul Speaks" class about tuning in to your intuition.  The most recent exercise was to create a vision board of what your soul looks like right now.  This is what came out for me.

And finally, another Life Book lesson - this time an intuitive abstract painting with watercolors and acrylic.  Finished with a botanical image.  The artist teaching this lesson had beautifully drawn leaves in ink.  I practiced on scratch paper and found my freehand ink skills were akin to a toddler drawing, so went with a Posca paint pen to complete this.  I used a photo of a sunset in California as my inspiration... feel like I maybe ended up with a sunset on Mars????  So entirely different from anything I would normally do!

I'm loving the time I'm spending being creative just for me.  None of these are art works, they won't be for sale, they won't end up framed or shared anywhere but here and in the classrooms.  And yet they make me so happy.

What is making you happy these days?  How are you making time to PLAY?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The View This Morning

This is what I awoke to today:

It was so quiet and still and beautiful outside. Today I am grateful for nature's beauty.  (*All unedited iPhone photos).