Experimenting, seeking, and blessings…

I have been playing around with watercolor pencils and my watercolor paints. I have been watching some youtube videos to get some ideas for what I can do artistically to support my bible studies and my spiritual journey.

First, I learned how to highlight text in my bible and then use the same highlighter color to mark my notes I make in the border of my journaling bible, so it is easy to find my notes which refer to the text. This is great because it not only makes it easy to reference the scripture with my notes, it also adds some marvelous color to my bible.

I also have a notebook where I write down notes regarding the chapter I read in my daily bible study. But the notebook is rather plain and uninspiring since it is written using black ink and in a cheap composition notebook. I decided to start making changes:

  1. The first thing I changed was the format so what I read daily was grouped together and each day was separated by a date.
  2. The next thing I did was use a different color of ink each day. I have about 6 different colored gel pens so I started using them to write my notes changing to a different color the next day. This created an obvious division between each day’s studies.
  3. The third thing I did was see if I could use watercolor pencils on the paper and a waterbrush to activate them. This is where I started to run into issues. The watercolor pencils didn’t move hardly at all on the untreated paper of the composition notebook. This also caused the paper to wrinkle.
  4. The next step, I tried some watercolor paint but that also didn’t move very much. Below is a picture of the watercolor paint layered over the watercolor pencils and you can see how splotchy it appears. I wasn’t crazy about it at all, although when I started writing my notes over it, I kind of liked it. This page has an interesting crinkling sound to it and it is wrinkly, an effect from becoming wet which I sometimes like and sometimes don’t.IMG_1613
  5. The next thing I did was try treating a page front and back with clear gesso and applying watercolor pencils to it and activating it again with a waterbrush. This worked better but still had issues with getting it to blend out the way I wanted it, so I put a wash of watercolor paint over it. This is still blotchy but better than the one above and the page doesn’t wrinkle or crinkle like the untreated page above. I actually love the texture of the page from the clear gesso I’m using. The gesso isn’t gritty and it gives the page what my touch and mind can only interpret as an almost leather type feel to it on both the surface and when bending and turning the page. It feels sturdier and not at all like paper in how it bends.IMG_1614
  6. On the other side of the treated page, I used just watercolor wash of paint over the clear gesso. This is by far my favorite and is what I plan on doing going forward in my bible study notebook.

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I expect my next change will be to decorate the cover of my notebook, after watching a video today on youtube of someone covering their composition notebook, it made me want to do something similar.

The thing I am most pleased about is finding a way to work with a cheap composition notebook. I have seen other people on youtube and in some art courses I’ve taken who use composition notebooks for their art journals, junk journals, bullet journals and so forth but when I tried to use one in the way they did, it just didn’t appeal to me. Most of them didn’t treat their pages, some of them glued pages together to make them sturdier.

As you read above, I don’t generally like the page when it gets all crinkly after it dries, though the sound is pleasing the results of the medium on the untreated page isn’t.  As I learned in my creative journaling bible and now in this notebook, treating the page with clear gesso is what I like best because it gives me a broader range of options for anything I might want to do on the page. Consequently, I’m going through clear gesso quite quickly, luckily the clear gesso I can get locally isn’t expensive and I like it.

I only have a couple pages done with watercolor in my journal, even so, when I flip back through my journal, I definitely like the ones with color more. I am hoping to add some doodles or some variations in my writing to help make my notes more visual so I might be able to have instant recall on what was in the text I was studying. Right now my notes just run together. I am intrigued by those who are able to create doodles in their notes as they go and have them make so much sense. I have never been a doodler, so trying to come up with simple images to draw that would emphasize what I’m learning doesn’t come easily or naturally to me. I think I’m more of a word person, so creating changes in my writing may be what I need to do.

What I’m learning is experimenting, trying different things, is helping me to find what works for me. This is being driven home even more so in my play with watercolor paint. These next two images are from practicing on two pieces of 4 1/2″ x 5″ watercolor paper. I have watched a number of artists on youtube paint with watercolor and each time I try to do something without following a lesson or what they are doing and just try to do something on my own, it ends up something like these. Then I don’t know what to do with them.

The first one looks like an out of focus picture of flowers that have no connection with the earth or each other.

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I have no idea where I was headed with this one, I just started putting paint down where I felt like placing it and letting it run. I think when I was letting the paint run we had a bit of thunder and lightening happening outside which doesn’t occur very often.

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Basically, I was just playing. I think I should try a challenge of doing one of these small watercolor practice squares a day for 30 days and see what happens. I’m just feeling a bit overwhelmed with other things I feel I should be doing and not progressing as fast as I think I should be so to add something like a challenge right now might be a bit too much.

It is hard to justify playing with my art when I feel I should be focusing on things to improve our financial situation. I have to keep myself open to what God wants me to do. After winning a spot in “Paint Your Heart and Soul 2019” and another spot in “Life Book 2019”, I have to believe that God wants me to continue pursuing my art and including it as often as I can in my day-to-day activities.

I started a prayer journal and I’m using my artistic skills to bring prayer to life for me. That may sound strange so below is an image of a page in my prayer journal. I don’t want to confuse anyone and have them think the artwork or text is mine. I got both from Pinterest.  If you want to look up the text graphic you can find it here. If you want to look up the image you can find it here.  The footnote to the image states, “Praying is a painting by Dorina Costras which was uploaded on April 11th, 2017.” I had the background painted long before I found the text or image so to find an image which spoke to me so deeply and blended so well with my background and also the text is wonderful. I would love to have this image on canvas or print for my wall but in my present circumstances I can’t afford it so I opted for a small printout to put in my prayer journal.

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The image and the words together bring prayer to life for me. It has been difficult to have faith that my prayers will be answered. Throughout my life, I have prayed more times than I can count where I felt like no one was listening and nothing came of my prayers. The more I read my bible, the more I realize there was a very important element missing in my life when I accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior. Learning was disjointed, had no cohesion, there was no direction given to me as a new child of God. Would things have been different if there had been a more structured teaching to help someone like me? I can’t answer that. I would like to think so but God does things a certain way for a good reason. Maybe after being saved, I needed to become lost and lose almost everything so I would truly seek him for the right reasons. Seeking God for one’s own personal gain is wrong. I originally sought him and accepted him because I feared for my life that I might die and go to hell. I didn’t seek him to glorify him or out of fear of him. In April, when I decided to start reading the bible, I did so because I wanted to get to know God and who he really is. Not the God I was taught about as a child because I felt what I was being taught was a bastardized version of him and not the real HIM.

It is hard to sit back and study the bible at the pace I am studying it. I want to fly through it learning all I can as fast as I can.  Even though I’m moving through it chapter by chapter instead of verse by verse which is what is recommended by Anne Graham Lotz in her 3-Question Bible Study method, I feel like I’m learning at a snail’s pace.

I came across Anne’s method a couple weeks ago when I was searching different ways of studying the bible. I also discovered she has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and has just started chemo treatments. From what she writes it sounds like her diagnosis is more severe than mine and her treatments will last a lot longer. I pray for her every day for God to give her strength and healing. I used to listen to her father Billy Graham many years ago but had no idea she had her own ministry. From what little I have read and listened to so far, she may become a rather important source of inspiration for me.

I am slowly finding my way in this life, this new life which is developing out of the ashes of my old life. I often feel as though I am no longer standing on solid ground, so unstable it might dissolve completely leaving nothing to stand on, or that I’m standing on the edge of a cliff where the slightest breeze could push me over the edge. God is the only one who is keeping me grounded. He is answering my prayers and giving me hope. When I am left to my own devices, and I try to rely on just myself, everything just feels like it is falling apart and there is no hope left in me.

I am learning to lean on God, and he is showing me in amazing ways that he is listening and answering my prayers in his own way and in his own time. It is hard to be patient. It is hard to change from my old ways. It is hard not to let doubt bubble up and overwhelm me. But each time I witness God’s helping hand in my life, my faith grows a bit more, a bit stronger and becomes a bit more rooted. I am glad my art has a part in my life. I love how it is becoming entwined with my spiritual growth.

Maybe one day I’ll discover my true purpose which God has for me.

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.

 

My first canvas painting…

I could not ignore my calling to create a canvas after I had created the MDS I wrote about in my previous post.  A long time ago, when my daughter and I were in Michaels, we purchased two packages of canvases each one different sizes. I’m sure it was probably more than a year ago and they sat in my house untouched. At least until last night.

I could no longer resist the pull I felt towards working on canvas. I knew I could always paint over it if it came out horribly. I wanted to experiment. This is new to me. I know I’ve been experimenting for a while now but generally I have to push myself in order to do it. There was no pushing involved here. I was being dragged, not necessarily kicking and screaming, but definitely dragged.

Why?

Because my  logical mind told me I needed to watch some videos on the proper way to paint on canvas with mixed media.

Am I crazy, or what?

This other voice was telling me to just go for it. Just have fun. EXPERIMENT!

It is probably needless to say by now that my creative mind, that other voice, won out over the logical side of my brain. For years, my logical side had the say so. It controlled everything I did. It made all my decisions.

But now?

Well, what do you think? Should I listen to my creative side, or my logical side, after looking at the picture below?

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Personally, I love the painting. I am going to hang it on a wall in my house where I can see it every day. It will be my reminder of what I can do when I just sit down and EXPERIMENT.

I want to do a larger canvas and I’m not talking about a canvas just a couple inches larger. I want one of those big mamas that take up a large portion of the wall. But, hey, there goes my logical brain telling me I need to learn more about painting on canvas. I need to get better at working with mixed media. I need to plan out what I want to do on such a large surface. IT CAN’T JUST BE AN EXPERIMENT!

Go figure. I’m learning my logical side isn’t quite so smart. Doesn’t always give the best advice. And… can sometimes make me feel like I’m stupid for ever going down this path.

See that corner over there, Miss Logical? Go claim it. Go sit in it for a while in silence and think about all that you have told me. Then think about why EXPERIMENTING is so wrong on a large canvas. Ask yourself, “should I really listen to you, who hasn’t lifted up a single paint brush in her life?” Go on take your seat, claim your spot, and find out how golden silence really is.

Yes, I think, I’m going crazy.

~Patti

Catching up….

I’ve been absent for a while and I apologize. I could say it has been a rather crazy time, however, that would mostly be in my head. I have been learning everything I can in regards to mixed media art and avoiding everything else in life that is possible to avoid.

Why?

I just don’t want to look at it right now. Too much of it is sad, worrisome, and in some cases scary. I won’t go into the details, just know, my art endeavors are keeping me sane.

In October I focused on Inktober. In November, I started Christy Sobolewski’s “30 Pages” class videos she has on YouTube. I completed them by Christmas. Here are a few pictures:

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The page on the left is my favorite. It is page 4 of Christy’s class.  I love everything about this page and would love to do something like this on a larger page for framing.

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This was fun, page 8, she used collage from a magazine. I chose to use copies of my own artwork for the collage. It shows some progress in my faces.

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Page 18, on the left. She is actually a tip-in. So far the best face I’ve done.

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Just so you can see, she actually is a tip-in, the left side is the view of the page behind her.

These are my Inktober drawings:

When I first started Inktober I had no idea what to draw each day. The first day’s drawing didn’t come out anywhere near what I had hoped. The second day was a bit better but still left me wondering what I would do next. The third day I decided to draw a mandala and before I completed it I knew my theme from then on would be mandalas. I thoroughly love drawing mandalas. In fact, as I work on different class projects, while I’m waiting for things to dry or have some extra time, I work on another mandala. I’m building up quite a stash of them. Most of them are in black and white, a very few I have colored, and even less I’ve used colored card stock or art paper, instead of the white or cream.

I was also working on Willowing.org’s class “Art, Heart, and Healing” by Tam.  Her approach to art is more on the whimsical side. While Christy’s isn’t quite whimsical, her style also isn’t realistic, at least in her art journaling. Both gave me plenty to experiment with.

When I was younger, much younger, as a child and a teen, I received no artistic encouragement, even though there was plenty of talent in my family. It wasn’t until 8th grade, I learned I could actually draw something realistically. That first drawing was of a baby horse, a colt. My art teacher who was my only art teacher from 8th grade until I graduated high school, saw my talent and subtly encouraged me, keeping a few of my best pieces. I was thrilled when he asked to keep them and I gladly agreed. I have no idea to this day how he used them or what he did with them. It still gives me a good feeling to know he wanted them and encouraged me to pursue art as a career.

I didn’t follow his advice. Outside of school, I was too afraid to pick up a pencil and give my skill a test run. Every time I tried, the pencil would be put back down before even a small portion of the drawing developed and not picked up again for months if not years. My inner critic was too loud and hell bent on being a perfectionist. I was also determined to create realistic drawings and frustrated when nothing came out even close or at least perfect enough for my critical eye.

I’m a great deal older now, maybe not wiser, but definitely having experienced enough in life to know there are more important things in life than to be hung up on something not being perfect. Especially, when it means not enjoying something I love to do.

I wanted freedom, emotional freedom, to express myself in my art. I am getting there, but how I got here was a hard and difficult journey. I want to be able to do what I love, so here I am. Doing just that. Imperfections and all.

I started writing this post several weeks ago, set it aside for a while and just today have come back to it to see if I could complete it and post it. I had to update it a bit because I’ve finished much of what I said I was working on and have started new projects.

I started Life Book 2017. I thought I would have problems getting the work done each week, interestingly, instead, I find myself with time to spare and waiting for the next lesson. One of the bonus classes is something I can continually add to. I can use this to help fill in while I’m waiting.

I’ve been working on 21 Secret’s Techniques and Tools class, taking my time as I work through it, so I work one in now and then during my wait.

I also found Documented Life Project online, but with things as they are, I chose not to spend money on the current offering and found 2015’s is free, so I’m following 2015’s prompts for 2017 and aligning the weeks as best I can. I’m still working out whether I’ll do it like a planner or just an Art Journal. It may end up a mixture of both.

As if those three weren’t enough I’ve been looking for other projects to do. I came  across Jennebellie’s Monthly Challenge Group, so I may work those in once in a while. They are an option when I’m feeling the need to fill in gaps of time. She has a list of the challenges all the way back to 2014.

The past few days I’ve been in research mode. I don’t like working in fixed bound books. Also, I’m not crazy about the coil or wired type bound journals or art books because of the holes in the pages even though I can take them apart and work on the pages separately. I love working on loose leaf paper which gives me the flexibility to choose different size as well as different paper type, however, it leaves me with the dilemma of how to store them. If I bind them afterwards into a book, that means either holes in my pages or fixing them to a backing of sorts that can then be bound. I don’t like the idea of either of those.

I started looking into portfolio options. I’m thinking about creating portfolios which would contain my pages for each of my projects. There are different options. I could use cardboard to create the portfolio which would be similar to the elastic bound folders you find in office supplies but it would unfold completely to lay flat when I want to flip through my pages. Another option would be to make a box. The book boxes could be an option where I make different sizes for the different size paper I use but that would mean my pages might not be sorted by project. My logical mind rebels at that idea. I’m still sorting this all out.

I still have work on this site I need to do. I won’t go into what right now, just know I have more plans for it than just a place to blog.  I need to get off my duff and do it.

One thing is for sure, I’ll never be short on something to do.

~Patti