Finally completed…

I waited a few days before calling this one done. I wasn’t sure if there was anything more I wanted to do with it. I had thought maybe I would add some designs to the background but decided on just this simple pattern from a stencil I created. I used watercolor through the stencil similar to the background colors. Then I added dark shadow lines and white highlight lines which in real life makes the shapes pop up off the page. Sometimes when I look at it, I’m sure it would feel like I applied texture paste. I didn’t. It is just an illusion which is something I love just as much as I would have loved the physical texture.

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This is probably one of my favorite spreads in my journal probably because it is the first time I did a puppy and the puppy made itself known from the background design. All of his contours were in the background all I did was draw around the shape. And I mean even the eyes and ears. I didn’t have to do anything but add the detail to the eye and his little nose. Even the eye was already looking upwards. The fact that he reminds me of our dog is a wonderful surprise.

To think that this all developed from a major mess when trying to create a floral pattern using watercolor just astounds me.

 

 

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Continued progress…

I am working on my girl, slowly but surely. After my last post, I added color for her hair. This took a couple layers of watercolor. I wanted to use a different color from the color palette I have used so far, so I chose yellows and orange with a bit of brown and black for shading. I used similar colors for her eyebrows but chose to make them a bit darker.

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After adding the hair, I felt I needed to add something else.

The first thing I did was take out my Prisma Colored pencils and add some more shading to her face and a bit of blush to her cheeks. I softened her chin more.

With the puppy looking up, I needed to add something for him to be looking at. I like using napkins for collage and I had some with flowers, butterflies and birds, so I decided to get them out and see what would go well. I chose the hummingbird and a flower. They were in similar colors to what I had used. I had forgotten to take apart the layers before using matte medium to adhere them to the surface but that was okay. I didn’t really want the background showing through them. Leaving the layers intact, the napkins were sturdier but also took a bit more to glue them down.  In some areas, I had to add matte medium between the layers because they were lifting a bit.

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Once the collage was dry, I used colored pencils to add some color to make the flower and bird pop out more. I also added some white ink from my Signo pen and some black ink from a Uni-ball Air pen. I attempted some eyelashes with the black pen but I’m not crazy about them. I need to practice more with creating eyelashes.

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The more I work on her the more I see some of the things I would have changed if I noticed them before adding color that couldn’t be removed or changed. Her chin is definitely off center and one eye is higher than the other. I might be able to fix the eyebrow that is smaller and make it slightly larger.

I need to learn to look closer at the sketch to see if I can find these things before adding paint. Some paint can be adjusted but once more layers are added the harder it is to make any major changes.

Despite these little things, I am happy with how it is turning out. I want to do more with the background, just not sure what right now. Probably use some stencils to add some visual texture. This is where I can go really wrong if I’m not careful in choosing the right colors. I have overworked backgrounds before by doing too much to them and I don’t want to do that with this one.

 

Focus, mindset, learning and taking my time…

I am taking my time with this one and totally loving it.

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I wasn’t sure if I would stay with the same color palette when I added color to the puppy. I am glad I did! I love how they are both developing. Other than the white acrylic paint I used to tone down the background, everything is done in watercolor with a bit of the Elegant Writer when I first start building shadows.

I feel like I need to talk about my state of mind the past month or so. I have made mention that I’m on the search for a new job. This is what has kept me distracted from my art and a bit off balance. It’s okay. It is important to allow our focus to shift to those things which are important in our lives. Though art is important, searching for a job and finding the right one that fits for me is even more important.

I have learned over the past few years, the importance of understanding who we are and what makes us tick. It has been an interesting deep dive. I knew I had artistic ability and I also knew I am very logical. After working in IT (information technology), I had grown to believe my logical side was the strongest and didn’t see the creative aspects I incorporated into my work. Since taking up pencil, paper, paint and pen again, I have come to realize I am equally creative and logical and have been using creativity to help me in my work. It is so easy to mistake creativity as just a product of what our logical mind is working on and not thinking of it as being creative at all. We can so easily overlook that our creativity is really supporting our logical thinking to help us find solutions or build new concepts.

I use logic to work through problems and creativity to find alternative solutions. It is an interesting balance. Logically, I step myself through a process of asking myself questions to hopefully reach a conclusion. If I don’t know something, then I know I need to do some research. Sometimes the research doesn’t follow a linear path or logical path. Creatively, I know I can explore this even deeper by experimenting and exploring things which may appear to have no connection whatsoever to what I want to learn.

Something I found interesting is, what happens, when I step away from an issue or something I am trying to learn or understand, with the intention of going back to it later. All I want to do is give my mind a bit of a rest, so I get involved in something that isn’t related to what I was working on. Then out of the blue, a connection will be made, a solution found, or an answer is given for that problem I had set aside for a bit. I have had this happen quite often and my brain does this happy little neuron dance when it does.

I have this pension towards learning. It surprises me sometimes, when I look back on all of my skills and the amount of knowledge I have. They were acquired through alternative learning. In other words, I didn’t learn them in the typical classroom setting, or through typical training through the company or companies I worked for. I found alternative resources, sometimes reading a book, sometimes watching a video online, sometimes just playing around with an application to see what I could discover and other times just talking with people. Then there are times when I’m playing a video game with my daughter, I discover something new which can send me down another avenue for learning something unexpected.

It frustrates me sometimes when businesses or potential employers filter out applications all because a person doesn’t have education credentials. I have taught my daughter that she can learn anything she wants to learn and she can do it on her own. She can choose to take a class, or read a book, or explore the various options available which provide the information she wants to learn and understand. For us, everyday life is an educational resource and education is a life long endeavor.

Why is it potential employers don’t see what this means for them in the potential employee who applies for the position they have advertised is available? This question has baffled me. When things baffle me, I research. I have also come to this conclusion. If a potential employer doesn’t recognize the brilliance within a person who is constantly evolving and learning through alternative methods, then we would not be a good fit anyway.

This just means it might take longer to find that perfect fit for us both (employer and employee) in my job search. That is okay. It means my focus might be shifted a bit and I might not progress as quickly as I have in the past on the pieces of artwork I am working on. That is fine. In fact, I am finding with this change in focus, I am not just more thoughtful in regards to my job search, I am also more thoughtful in regards to my artwork.

In learning to take chances in my job search, I am also learning to take more chances in my artwork. I love how changing my mindset in one area bleeds into my mindset in other areas and allows me to expand in ways I never dreamed possible.

What ways do you like to learn? Do you find your interest to learn is widespread or narrowly focused? I have to say my interests are widespread with no boundaries on what I like to learn and I learn through all my senses.

 

The completion, a new beginning and hope for a new connection…

My focus comes and goes in regards to my art. It is just about 5 days short of a month since my last post and I haven’t felt like I accomplished anything even though that isn’t really true.  It is difficult to remain focused when it feels like the world around me is falling apart. This is what prompted my latest art journal spread. I wrote a bit about it in my previous post when I started it and it has taken me almost a month to complete it. Here is the completed spread:

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The flowers are a collage of flowers from napkins. I added a bit of white acrylic paint for highlights on them and her hair and face. I added more layers to her face to create more depth. Most of it is watercolor, some of it is mixed with white acrylic paint. I didn’t make any notes on the process and because of the frame of mind I’ve been in over the past month, I don’t remember the different steps I took.

On a previous spread,IMG_1427 I had tried to work with watercolors similar to CeeCee in her videos but it came out just looking splotchy. I let it sit while I worked on the above spread and returned to it after it was completed.

To try and create a background on which I could work on because the current background was too bold, I used white acrylic paint with a really wet brush and brushed it over the watercolor. In the image on the left, you can get an idea of what the background looked like after it dried and the sketch I did on one side of the spread.

The next image is of the whole spread, after I started adding color. I started with the Elegant Writer pen and using a water brush to blend it out to create some shadow. I wasn’t happy with it so I decided to try watercolor. I am often surprised how well watercolor (Prang) works over the white acrylic paint that is painted over a watercolor layer. Because I use a really wet brush with acrylic paint, the watercolor layer reactivates a bit, so what happens is the watercolor mixes a bit with the acrylic paint. The acrylic paint I use is a really cheap white paint from the dollar store. Maybe that is why using watercolor on top of it after it is dry, works so well. The water and watercolor doesn’t bead up when applying over the dried layer. I really love that it works that way. I know people say that using watercolor on top of dried acrylic doesn’t work very well and maybe a layer of watercolor ground would be needed but not in this case.

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The puppy on the right side appeared to me from the shapes in the background. I drew the outline of the puppy first before sketching a face. I make decisions as I go, so at this point, I have no idea where this will go, other than I’ll probably continue to use the same process of Elegant Writer and then watercolor mostly so it will appear cohesive. I am leaning towards using the same colors throughout but we’ll see what happens.

The below image is something I am working on periodically. It started with spraying the page with watered down acrylic paint and Tulip Fabric Dye. Some of my spray bottles are slightly clogged which creates the larger splatters. Once it was dry, I used my compass with a pencil and drew overlapping circles. I am currently coloring in the shapes using Prisma Premier Colored pencils. Other than selecting the colors to use in a shape, the choice of shape to use the colors in, is fairly random. Where this will go from here is anyone’s guess.

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To elaborate a bit on what I wrote about in the first paragraph, I’ll mention a bit about my life. Right now it feels like it is in shambles if I’m given any time at all where I can sit still to reflect upon my life. Being laid off work over two years ago is still affecting me. It has been extremely difficult to find a job that will pay enough to pay my bills without having to pull from my retirement money. This leaves me frightened as to what will happen when that money runs out. Focusing on art is difficult at best with this always hovering over me.

Sometimes, life has a way of reminding us of things we need to pay attention to. In my job search, I remembered the saying that goes something like this which is credited to Albert Einstein “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. When I remembered this, I realized that is what I was doing in my job hunting. With that in mind, I started taking a bookkeeping course so I could add it to my resume and hopefully provide some credentials which will come to someone’s notice when applying for jobs. I hoped too that doing this on my own would show a future employer of my willingness to expand my skills and I have the initiative to do so on my own.

I am about half way through the bookkeeping course and have enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, I was running so high on the enjoyment and excitement of doing something that quite frankly excited my brain cells that at the half way point when I decided to give myself a couple days off, I dropped so suddenly, it was hard to recover. Now I’m taking it at a much better pace while still enjoying what I’m learning.

The hardest thing for me to do is to find enjoyment in life when I have pressing concerns weighing me down. I find it very difficult to focus on my art when I am in such a state of mind. I have read some people say how art helps them through times like this. I think it does for me as well, at least when I am able to set my concerns aside and let myself sink into my art. I’m working on trying to find ways to do that more often. I know it would help tremendously if I were able to find that one job which would provide not just the financial relief I need but also create a connection which would bring meaning back into my life. I applied for one job which I hope will do just that because it would help me support alternative learning for those who want a better way of life. What could be more meaningful than that for someone who loves learning and sharing what they learn?

 

Art Journaling and Flowers…

From time to time I read other artist’s blogs. More often though, I read their comments on Facebook through artist/creative groups or in the emails they send out to their subscribers. If I didn’t do this, I know my journey would feel like a very lonely one or I might have given up on it long ago. I know I am not alone with trying to work through various aspects of my journey which I feel the need to write about in this post today.

This is just a short list of what is on my mind today:

  1. Watching/Viewing other artists as they create
  2. Trying to figure out what medium I should work in
  3. Is it my style or just a replica of another person’s style
  4. Avoidance/procrastination, which is it

The first, watching/viewing  other artists as they create, causes interesting reactions, and often conflicting reactions within me. What draws me to watching other artists and why do I watch them? If, I watch an artist, it is because there is something about their work which intrigues me. Either, I love what they create or there is something about what they create which intrigues my imagination. In both cases, it creates a desire to want to learn. In the later, after observing their process, I may or may not want to attempt duplicating the technique. In the former, watching usually results in a desire to try and replicate the technique, and the artist usually makes it look easier than it is. I can easily fall into the trap of listening to my inner critic telling me I’ll never be able to do what the artist did which can result in various outcomes. One being I never try it. Another being I try it and get really frustrated because it is harder than anticipated, resulting in feelings of inadequacy, which may or may not result in continued attempts hopefully resulting in an adequate duplication of the technique. Another could be, and has happened on rare occasions where the technique either comes naturally to me or I am pleased immediately with how well I am able to duplicate it. Then on even rarer occasions I find a way to adapt the technique. This last is new for me.

The second on my list, trying to figure out what medium I should work in, is something I never thought would become an issue. Discovering mixed media, at first, felt like a Godsend. I suddenly felt like I had discovered something which wouldn’t confine me to a set of rules and I could do anything I wanted to do. As I added different mediums to my supplies for some of the courses I was taking, it was easy to choose the supplies to use according the course and create the lesson. However, when it came to creating my own art journal page or artwork, I had no idea what medium to use or mixture of mediums to use. I think this is because I relied too much on following the instructor’s lesson. Whenever, I played around on my own, many times the results were less than satisfactory, occasionally I would be pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The sheer volume of optional mediums to use can be staggering and impede the ability to make a choice as to which one to use.

The third, is it my style or just a replica of another person’s style, sort of goes along with the second item. I struggle a lot with trying to figure out what to create. I want to create something which is unique to me, something which tells my own story. I look at what I create from the lessons/courses I have to learn from and though I love what I created, when I look at them, I’m immediately reminded of the artwork the instructor created. It doesn’t feel like me. I don’t feel “me” emanating from the artwork. There are a couple where I attempted to “do my own thing” while still following the lesson and from those, what emanates from the artwork is a feeling of my inner struggles while creating them.  Below is an example:

The bear is a very close approximation of a lesson from Life Book 2018. The second, I tried to add some of my own style to another Lesson in Life Book 2018 while incorporating some of the elements from the lesson. The third is completely my own for the same lesson as the second one. (I wrote about each of these in other posts here on my blog.) Though I really love the first one, it isn’t something that naturally comes to mind when I think about creating something all my own and when I look at it I see Tam (the instructor) all over it. When I look at the second one, the colors, the mixture of elements, all awaken the struggles I had when creating it. It was far from easy. The third one, emanates a strong sense of joy when I look at it. There were moments when I struggled with it but those moments are muted by the pure joy of how it all came together in the end.

This is what I want when I create something on my own. I don’t want to look at it and see another person’s style emanating from it like the first one. I know there will be times when I struggle like in the second one to find what works best for me, but I would rather it not have elements of another person’s style when those elements are not something I would naturally select.

I have often wondered how I know something is my own style. I think the three images above are a good example. Though the third is far removed from the other two in regards to subject or chosen elements, it definitely helps me to understand how I can use my emotional response to gauge what is my style and what isn’t.

The last on my list, avoidance/procrastination which is it, is something I have struggled with my whole life and not just in artwork. Some would probably say I avoid until I can’t avoid it anymore. Others would say I procrastinate until I have no other choice or the guilt becomes too much. I don’t ask for opinions from other people because they aren’t in my head to know what all is circling around up there which influences my decisions. More times than not, in other areas of my life, what looks like procrastination, what feels like procrastination, is my subconscious reading the universe and deciding on the best time to do whatever it is that is waiting to be done. Before that moment arrives I usually find obstacles in the way if I try and force the universe to bend to my will. When the moment arrives I will enter into a flurry of activity and nothing gets in my way, more often than not, doors are open before I even get to them.

Why is this in my list of things I’m trying to work through on my journey? Believe me, in this world, or as I was taught as a child, procrastination isn’t a good thing. Procrastination is thought of as avoidance, instead of as a tool. I have to fight against the brainwashing we receive as children to believe certain things, so many things which get in the way of feeling good about myself. This is just one of those. I have many examples where procrastination resulted in a good outcome, better than if I had tried to force the universe to my will, which would or could have been disastrous. Listening to that inner voice which tells me to do this, instead of that, and that tiny voice niggling at me saying I’m procrastinating has such a negative vibe, yes, it is something I need to alter the resonance of within myself.

In artwork, it can mean the difference between creating what my soul is calling out for me to do or slopping on mediums because I feel it needs to be done and not recognizing myself anywhere within it.

These are some of the things which have been going through my mind lately, between work, my studies, struggling to know who I am after the past few years of turmoil and what it is I want to do as an artist. In the midst of this, I’ve been feeling very lost and not sure how I can turn things around. Trying to force the universe to conform to what I want hasn’t worked. Not in the least.

I saw a video on Facebook today from one of the “America’s Got Talent” series. The guy who was about to sing, has 6 children that came out of foster care. He was asked what his goal, ambition dream was and he said something (regarding his children) I never heard before but suddenly resonated deeply with me. He said “when you are surviving you can’t dream…”. Everything suddenly clicked with me. I’ve been surviving for the past few years because of the life changing events which have occurred which make me feel as though our very survival has been threatened. Every time I tried to reach out to a dream I once had, or to find a new dream, it just wasn’t possible. It wasn’t there. I couldn’t come up with one. I didn’t understand why until I heard those words today.

Below is an art journal I started to create yesterday, before I heard those words, after I was going through a period of feeling lost, alone, and feeling like I should just give up, let whatever happens, happen.

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The words I wrote on the spread which I am considering adding to it once it is complete is this: “I close my eyes and the world disappears. For a moment, I can believe everything is going to be just fine.”IMG_1411

She is done in watercolor. I started by sketching her in pencil and adding a bit of shading in pencil to get the contours correct, as close as I could around her nose. Then I added a very light tint of watercolor, I had left on my palette which looked like a previously mixed skin tone. It was close enough and in fact can barely be seen after I added the none traditional colors for shading.

I decided that some of my stress comes from trying to create exactly as I see things, so I thought using none traditional colors would help ease the stress I put on myself to make things “real”. I was right. I used about three different colors of blue, then some purple for the shading, then added yellow for some highlights. I’m not sure if I’m done with her face. It depends on how it looks once I add her hair and background. I haven’t decided what I’ll do for the hair and background right now. Usually, I don’t decide until, that moment I spoke about earlier (in the procrastination section) comes upon me and I know it is time to pick up my brush and paints.

Oh, I remember  I wanted to say something about selecting the mediums to use. I, often, feel like I should be using acrylic paint in my mixed media art. It isn’t because I love working in the medium. I had to think about why I would feel this way. I think part of it is because it is what I started learning first when I started learning about mixed media. Another reason is because it is in my art supplies and I feel like I should be using it. Another reason is because a lot of artists use it and I think I have to in order to do what I like so much about what they do. But once I tried watercolor (something better than the children’s watercolor, okay, really once I tried Prang) I’ve been hooked. I think I would be perfectly happy not using acrylic paint ever again, however, acrylic will work on other paper that watercolor doesn’t take to at all. So when I’m working in a journal that doesn’t have watercolor paper, or paper that doesn’t react well to water, then acrylic is what I reach for. Otherwise, I’m finding watercolor (sometimes mixed with a touch of white acrylic paint) is my medium of choice.

Back to my journal page. It took me a while to figure out what to create. All I knew was I needed to do something which would help me express what I was feeling. The earlier geometric design I created which was all my own style is nice and worked for what I wanted to do at the time but I knew this page needed something else. As I thought about how I was feeling, I knew I would need a face to help give expression to the page so it became my focal image. The words came after I sketched the face in pencil and knew she would have closed eyes. I have drawn enough faces that I was able to draw this one without a reference photo, except for the nose. I searched noses online and looked at a few of them to try and get the nose shaped better than I’ve done in previous pieces. I’m getting there.

I think I did good on not having the face look like any faces from other artists I’ve taken some lessons from. The hair though, in just the rough sketch is too reminiscent of one or two other artists, so it might change. This is where I have to let things germinate for a while to see what my imagination comes up with. For now, this is where I’m at.

I wanted to share the next few pictures because I’m thrilled with what I’m seeing. A few weeks ago I decided to pick out a couple plants and plant them in a flower pot to sit on my balcony. I wasn’t sure how well I would do with them or if I would end up killing them. I’m not great at keeping up with my inside plants so wasn’t sure how gardening outside would work out.

These are pictures of the plants. I may add more pictures in later posts if they continue to do well. There are two kinds but the two in the center don’t have any flowers right now. Like most flowering plants when you transplant them, it can cause a shock to the plant making them lose their flowers. It can be a bit of a crap shoot on whether they make it or not. The plants around the outside of the pot lost all the flowers they had in bloom after I transplanted them but now they are blooming all over the place. I’m just thrilled to pieces about this and our dog seems to like them as well. He’ll sniff them and then go lie down by them in the sunshine.  It appears the ones in the center have new buds coming up so can’t wait to see them. They are taller than the other flowers with large blooms and a different color so I’m thrilled to see them surviving and flourishing.

A few weeks ago I planted some seeds (pansies and petunias) inside. They are sprouting rather nicely. I hope to plant them outside in the next few weeks. I’ll have some nice flowers to use for some real life sketching if I can get past my perfectionist critic.

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My Imaginary Garden

I’ve been working on this page intermittently for a few weeks. Mostly not working on it due to other priorities taking precedence. Taking my time with this page has taught me a couple of things. The first is that I can still be creative as an artist no matter how busy my life becomes. The second is I don’t have to be proliferate in order to feel I am a productive artist.

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splash of watercolor paint

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a bit of white acrylic to create shapes

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use of Elegant Writer and Tombow markers to enhance shapes

 

 

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the finale, white highlights and splatters

Inspiration for this piece came from watching several of CeeCee’s videos on youtube. I love her work in watercolor. She makes it look so easy but getting the soft blending and colors isn’t so easy. I think though my personal style may lean more towards brighter colors.

I really enjoyed taking a blank page and adding random colors in watercolor and then seeing what I can create from it. It is a wonderful exercise for the imagination.

Handmade stencils and life

I’ve been working on designing and creating my own stencils. In my previous post I wrote about two of those designs.  Since then I created two more designs and cut them out. Then I did a test to see how well they worked.

Below are pictures of the stencils after I tested them.

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The blue stencil (crosses) was cut out of a Casemate Index Divider. These are 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. letter size dividers which are generally used in notebooks. This divider is very thin and therefore quite flimsy. During testing this divider lifted a lot when dabbing with a makeup sponge which made it difficult to have clean edges (the paint got under the stencil). I also needed to have less paint on my makeup sponge.

The other three stencils were cut out of Avery Insertable Plastic Dividers. These are also 8 1/2 in. x 11 in. letter size dividers. They are thicker than the Casemate Index Divider. During testing these stencils stayed in place better and didn’t lift as easily when dabbing with a makeup sponge.

Here are pictures of the tests I did. I first spread a layer of acrylic paint over the page. Then I used black paint with the first two stencils.

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The third stencil I used white paint. It was a bit thinner than the black paint but also this stencil is the one that was cut out of the thinner divider material. I wasn’t as careful as I should have been when applying the paint which is why the edges are sloppy.

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The fourth test is a bit harder to see but shows up nicely on the white paint. I wanted to see how they would look layered and I like the effect. I used a magenta acrylic paint.

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What I learned from these stencils is I prefer the Avery dividers over the cheaper Casemate dividers for making stencils. I cut them out using a box cutter. I like the control I have over the larger handle of the box cutter and it was easier on my hands and wrist than a craft knife. Maybe in the future I’ll see if I can use my jpeg images of these stencils with my Silhouette to cut them out of actual stencil material. However, I have found hand cutting them is relaxing, enjoyable and a good mental distraction.

I like the idea of using just portions of these stencils for layering backgrounds as well as using them with my homemade gelli plate. I have several other stencil designs which I’ll be working on and cutting out over the next several weeks.

Unfortunately, this is about all I have accomplished since my last post. Life is taking precedence. Even when I have a few moments to be creative, it is difficult to focus. Creating the geometric designs and mandala type designs for my stencils helps to bring some creativity into my life and helps me to feel like I’m not avoiding my artwork entirely.

Tonight, as I write, this is really the first time I’ve picked up any paints since my last post where I had worked with watercolor. The reason for that isn’t easy to reveal. Sometimes I get in an emotional place where I have a difficult time finding any energy to work with paints. When I’m in such a place, all I want is for things to go well. Paints and I have this unstable relationship right now where I tend to go dark with them and then don’t know what to do next. This creates a sort of anxiety stress, so when I’m in an emotionally stressful place, I just don’t want to add any more stress. I, therefore, try and avoid it.

Of late, I’ve been on shaky ground. A lot of life requirements which could no longer be put off are causing stress and anxiety. Any little additional stress just compounds the situation. This is why I haven’t done much with paints lately. Drawing geometric shapes and mandalas help to de-stress me or at least give me a break from the stressors in life which I feel I have no control over.

I am trying to learn to let go. This isn’t easy for me. However, life/God/the Universe has a way of forcing the issue.

After I did the tests with my stencils I decided to play around with the page. In the process when trying to splatter some black paint, I ended up dropping the bottle and spilling a good amount of the paint on the page. Trust me when I say the amount of paint spilled had me just looking at my page and thinking I couldn’t make it any worse. Therefore, I thought what the heck and I decided to add water, let it run around the page a bit as I tilted it in all different directions, then blotted it with a paper towel. The resulting pattern in the black paint was fascinating.

What I didn’t tell you is I had kept the cutouts from the stencils. I thought some of them might make a good mask, especially the large and medium size crosses and the other odd shapes could be used with my gelli plate to make some interesting patterns.

When I was trying to decide what to do about all that black, I laid down the cross stencil over the page and really liked the patterns I saw in the large cross. This gave me the idea to try using the cutout of the large cross as a mask and sponge white paint around the outside of it. I did this three times. Then I used a wet wipe with some white paint to try and soften the edges.  I used a section of the cross stencil to paint some black crosses around the lower part of the page. I’m starting to like the page so I know I’m not done with it  yet. I did decide however to set it aside for now since it is around 1am.IMG_1382

I was wondering how my choice in reading and studying the bible would influence my creativity. I knew it would, just wasn’t sure how long or in what way. Therefore, I’m not surprised it has, just a bit surprised it is doing so already with having only started my studies just shy of a month ago.

I want to write a bit about how my studies are going so far. I’m up to Chapter 27 in Genesis. I have found that using McGee’s recordings in “Thru the Bible” series inspires me to study the scripture deeper. I am almost always mentally challenging McGee’s interpretation and I’ll admit I often do not agree with him. I am not sure if it is because of my lack of knowledge of the rest of the bible or if it is because he and I are very different people.

Listening to his recordings does two things. It reminds me why I don’t attend church and because they are recordings I can first read the scripture, then listen to the recordings, and then read the scripture again, looking at it deeper to hear what it is telling me. And I can replay the recordings or go back to certain parts of the recording to help me understand why I feel a certain way about what he says. I can’t do this when attending church and just listening to a sermon leaves me with feelings that I don’t understand and at a loss as to what to do with them. I’m realizing I need to take things apart, digest them and put them back together again in a way that makes sense to me. Thereby, creating my own interpretation.

For example, McGee speaks about the description given of Esau and Jacob. The bible describes Esau as a hairy man and Jacob as a smooth man. For those who don’t know, Esau and Jacob are twin brothers. McGee compared Esau to being like a caveman or a hippie. What one needs  to remember is McGee’s recordings started in 1967 for Thru the Bible and I keep this in mind when I listen to his recordings. He considered Esau like a hippie because from his perspective hippies were hairy (they had long hair) and didn’t bathe much. I guess in his eyes he felt cavemen and hippies to be very similar. I would disagree with this but I do so from the perspective of someone who was born in 1960.

I sometimes feel McGee has a closed mind. His comments regarding books outside of the bible and hippies are just two examples. When I read the description of Esau and Jacob, my interpretation was more of Esau being a man with a lot more body hair like some men have today, while Jacob had much less body hair like other men today.  I believe the description was meant to emphasize how different the two brothers were, not just in thought but also in physical form. Knowing they are twin brothers without this description might lead us to believe they were more alike than they were, so the description aids us in understanding the deeper nature of their conflict. To go even deeper is the fact that there is also a mention of Rebekah, their mother, feeling the strife between them even as she carried them prior to their birth. I don’t believe Esau was anything like a caveman or a hippie. This is where McGee and I disagree on a fundamental level.

I remember as a child being told the the reason the bible is considered a living bible is because everyone who reads and studies it will receive their own interpretation or  understanding of what the scriptures mean to them. Therefore, I use McGee’s recordings as a catalyst. Without that catalyst, I have no doubt my attempt to study the bible would end like all the other times I tried and gave up. This time is very different from the other times and I find myself drawn towards my studies first thing after waking if I have a couple hours available before going to work. I also find myself drawn to study more than one chapter at a time even if I’m short on time. I try not to do so because I don’t want to feel rushed. I’m both surprised and fascinated that this is happening.

In other news, last week, my daughter and I needed to go into Vancouver. While there we decided to go to the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was our first time there. I am so glad we went. I got to see my very first Monet.

I was thrilled knowing I was standing in front of an actual Monet. I tried not to be disappointed. I couldn’t understand why I was disappointed. When I looked at it, I was left with a feeling that maybe it had lost its luster. It seemed dull or a bit out of focus when I looked at it and thought about other paintings but this is probably due to my lack of knowledge on Monet paintings. I have done a bit of research since then and discovered Monet did several paintings of the same subject in various conditions. I have no doubt the feelings invoked by the painting weren’t in fact disappointment but my reaction to the subject matter and the subdued nature of it.

What fascinated me even more about our trip through the art gallery was the exhibition “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg” and my reaction to it. I don’t think I could do it justice in describing what it was about the exhibit that fascinated me. I could probably look at just one of the paintings for hours because of all the layers and fine details, and OMG the bright colors and patterns. My mind was blown away. All I could think was ‘how does he do that?!?!’ over and over again as I looked closer. In truth, when looking at the paintings at a distance the subject matter didn’t really fascinate me. It wasn’t until I got up close and saw the details. That is when the fascination kicked in.

I am so glad we went to Vancouver when we did and took the time to go to the art gallery. I’m enjoying my studies. Work is okay, I still enjoy interacting with all the people. Even though all of this seems to be going well, mentally I’m not in a good place right now. I honestly do not know how people do it. How do they live pay check to pay check trying to feed their family if they are only making minimum wage? Maybe it is worse for me because I had a really good paying job that I took for granted. All I can think about sometimes is that it should be a crime for people who work to not get paid enough to support themselves.

I saw a sign at a company once where I knew they paid minimum wage to the workers on the front line, which stated they supported a program to end child hunger. My first thought was, “then pay your workers enough so they can feed their children!”. Minimum wage doesn’t pay enough to enable the employee to support themselves let alone a family. It makes me sick when I think about it. I can’t tell you how helpless I feel to do anything about our current situation which if it doesn’t change could be quite devastating. And yet I know there are people who are in worse situations which I cannot even fathom right now. It scares me to death to think we could end up in one of those worse situations. I need to have some things done around the house but I’m afraid to spend the money and yet I know if I don’t those things could and will get worse. So, in a few weeks I’ll bite the bullet, find out how much it will cost, and spend the money.

I stopped writing this last night and went to bed. It was getting so late and I needed some distance to decide if I wanted to include all that I had written so far. I needed a fresh mind. At first, I thought I would delete a good bit of what I wrote since the intention of this blog was to be about my artwork. As I consider what I had written and whether I should delete anything, I ask myself, “Would I be denying the real artist within me by omitting anything I have written?” Yes, some of it is very personal. However, I cannot separate the rest of my life from my life as an artist. When I go out into the world, I do so as an artist. When I sit down to do a painting or drawing, I do so with the weight of my life and all that has influenced me, good and bad. Therefore, if I am to be true in my writing about being an artist, I need to include all areas of my life because no matter what it all influences what I create.

I also have to remember, I am not just an artist who draws or paints, I am also an artist who writes and a writer who is an artist. Writing helps me to process and that includes this blog.

When I worked or rather played around with my page last night, I got my hands into it. I had used a gift card for the first layer in spreading the paint I had dribbled all over the page in a haphazard manner. I can’t use a makeup sponge to dab on paint through a stencil or around a mask and not get paint on my fingers. I wasn’t liking how the splotches of color looked when I tried to add some layer of colors so I just started dribbling on paint and haphazardly smearing it around with my fingers. I didn’t use a brush at all on this page. The closest thing I used was a makeup sponge, a wet wipe and the gift card to move paint around. I still have some paint on me this morning. 🙂  Yes, I’m normally very fastidious about not getting too much paint on me and when I do to then get every bit off of me.

I am both fascinated and fearful of the changes which I am experiencing in my life. It is a scary place to be in right now. If it was just me, I think it wouldn’t be so frightening. Knowing I have the responsibility of my daughter and I am her sole support compounds the fear. Knowing I have a breaking point has me very weary and watchful that I avoid that breaking point at all costs. It is obvious I’m seeking answers, a resolution and a way through to a life that is less stressful or anxiety driven. For now, I’m doing what I can, which might mean that art takes a back seat if I have to work a second job to make ends meet.

If you have made it this far through my rambling and spilling out of my life, thank you. You are appreciated. Thanks for being here. ❤ ❤ ❤

~Patti