Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Entering The Awkward Teenager Stage

Oh goodness, I can’t believe it has been several weeks since I posted about my class with Flora Bowley. The month of March has passed so quickly. I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve just been focused in another direction.

In my time away from the blog, I’ve received my level 2 Reiki certification, had a revelation about the direction I want to take in life, finished Flora’s class, and started researching my family tree in preparation for an upcoming trip. All good stuff.

I’ve continued to work on my paintings from the workshop. They’ve gone through several more iterations since I last posted. I refer to this as the awkward teenager stage. I like how they look. I don’t like how they look. They want more of a certain color. They want to be turned upside-down for a different perspective. They want attention. They want to be left alone. You get the picture.

This is how the two primary canvases looked at the end of my last post.

First Canvas

FirstCanvas_TranslucentLayer

Second Canvas

SecondCanvas_TranslucentLayer

The Awkward Teenager Stage

Maybe this isn’t so much about the painting entering the awkward teenager stage as much as it is an extension of that stage. Certainly the last two pictures, which show each painting’s progress up to that point, look pretty awkward. And that is the great variable in this process. You can add as many layers, marks, and colors as you like. It all depends on when you feel like the painting is starting to come together and when the painting tells you that it is starting to come together.

Does that seem convoluted?

Anyways, after all those layers I applied in the first couple of weeks, I started to add imagery. The images can be abstract or real objects. They might stay in the final piece or they may completely change. It’s all up to intuition.

First Canvas Transformation

FirstCanvas_AddingImagesAs I sat in meditation one day, an idea popped into my head on what this canvas wanted to look like. I saw an image of an angel and a tree on either side of her. So I went with that idea.

Adding an Angel

Adding an Angel

I spent quite a bit of time dancing with this angel on the canvas. Then I flipped the canvas upside down and a face appeared. (Apologies for the poor picture quality. I only took one picture at this stage using the camera on my phone.)

Face appears

Face appears

Sigh. First, I was really excited about the angel. And then that face appeared. The more I painted, or tried to paint around the angel, the more I knew that the angel was constricting my progress on this piece. She took up too much room. I felt like I was trying to create around her instead of with her. I like angels. But this one was cramping my style.

After a lot of hesitation and avoidance, I had to say “Buh-buh” to my angel.

Buh-buh angel

Buh-buh angel

This was hard to do. I was quite attached to the angel. But part of the intuitive painting process asks us to let go of things we don’t need at that moment. It doesn’t mean that the image won’t appear again in the same painting. It simply means letting go for now. And that can open us up to new and greater things.

You’ll notice that I committed to the face that appeared. Seriously committed to it. That face will become a permanent part of this painting. Below are a two more images.

Second Canvas Transformation

Here is the second canvas with the initial group of shapes and images that I added.

SecondCanvas_AddingImages

For whatever reason, I wasn’t “feeling it” when I put these shapes on the canvas. This has been a fairly consistent occurrence that I became more and more aware of during class. Often, I would paint on one canvas and really feel like I was in the flow. I’d move to the next canvas and seem to lose that momentum. Maybe this was a sign that I needed to take a break in between each piece. Maybe the music playing at that moment wasn’t right. I haven’t figured that one out, yet.

I proceeded to flip the canvas and focused on the large flower shape.

SecondCanvas_FlowerAppearsAt this point I’m trying very hard to practice non-attachment to the painting. And to keep my loud-mouth negative voice, named Ester, from squashing the whole thing. One aspect we did agree on was that we really liked the small spirits that gathered in the upper right corner of the canvas.

Spirits gathering

Spirits gathering

At this point, I walked away from the canvas. I really didn’t like it. Other than the spirits, I wasn’t liking anything about this piece. So I did something drastic. I obliterated everything except the gathering of spirits. I painted dark and moody. I had a blast doing it too.

And then something magical happened. I looked around the studio. I decided to paint on the canvas the images of some art dolls hanging on my wall. This is when the winged creatures appeared.

Winged Creatures Appear

Winged Creatures Appear

Something clicked in this instant. Taking a giant leap had provided me with a new starting point. New potential. From here I began to add contrasting colors that made the winged creatures stand out. Now we were getting somewhere.

SecondCanvas_WingedCreatures_Color

Winged Creatures Detail

Winged Creatures Detail

And that is where I’m going to end this post. Both canvases have transformed through wild colors and many layers. Images are being added, then obliterated or reworked. Each piece is coming into its own. Moving out of the awkward teenager stage and into a blooming piece of art.


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Experiments in Intuitive Painting

A year ago, in February, I pulled some muscles in my back and spent several weeks recovering. I call that time period the “Universe tried to kick me in the a** and missed” month. During that February, I spent time learning about  St. Hildegard of Bingen. One of the practices I engaged in was creating mandalas or other forms of painting images inspired by daily readings and prompts.

It was during this time that I reawakened my love of painting and sketching. I also became more intrigued with using words or phrases as the catalyst for the pieces I created.

Fast forward several months. I’m pondering what direction my art wants to take me. Polymer clay is still my first love. But, realistically, sculpting is not agreeing with my hands. After a few hours, I can feel my thumb joints starting to ache. I am reminded of that time in February. I find an old email that contains a video interview with Chris Zydel of Creative Juices Arts. I remember being intrigued with the concept of intuitive painting the first time I heard about Chris and her work.

I start poking around the Internet for information on intuitive painting. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go too far down that rabbit hole before I found Flora Bowley’s website. I’m drawn in by what I see & read.

A few clicks later and I’ve ordered her book and some tempera paints to play with.

As my holiday show schedule came to a close, I set aside some time to read Flora’s book and play with my paints. I chose the tempera paints because they’re relatively inexpensive and figured it would be a good place to start playing with this form of painting. I also didn’t want to waste the few acrylic paints I did have on this experiment.

So I pulled out an unused watercolor pad, tore off a few pages, and began to play. Here are the first few intuitive paintings I created using those tempera paints.

Experiments with Tempera Paint

Intuitive Painting #1

Intuitive Painting #1

Intuitive Painting #2

Intuitive Painting #2

Angels in the Mist

Angels in the Mist

Flying Blue

Flying Blue

Tempera paints are, um, interesting. They dry pretty quick and don’t mix well unless you immediately put wet paint on top of wet paint. Granted the watercolor paper probably wasn’t the best substrate. But, you rock what you’ve got when you’re experimenting and playing with a new medium.

The Acrylics Arrive

A Christmas gift to myself was a sampler set of Liquitex soft body acrylics, plus a few other assorted colors, and a new assortment of paint brushes. Now I was ready to give this intuitive painting play some serious attention.

Here are two pieces in progress using the acrylic paints. Each is on a 5″x7″ canvas panel.

"Cellular"

“Cellular”

"Two Faces"

“Two Faces”

The acrylics are, for the most part, fun to use. The colors are more vibrant and tend to blend better than the temperas. I am having some interesting results when I spray water on the Liquitex paint. It often lifts right off the canvas, leaving behind either small water spots or larger blank spots. Sometimes the color layer underneath is retained. Sometimes it pulls right down to the white canvas.

I consider it a happy “accident” and try to work the effect into the overall painting. After all, I am trying to do this intuitively.

During this time I also signed up for Flora’s online course, BloomTrue

It was a slightly spontaneous decision. I had read about the course last fall. Then a couple friends recently told me about their experience taking the class. It started to feel like the Universe was putting it out there for me to make a choice. So I listened. Class starts February 10. I can’t wait to delve deeper into the process and share more paintings with you.


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Preparing to Say Goodbye

The spirit of death weighs heavy on me this week. A friend who has been battling cancer for nearly 3 years has entered hospice in preparation for her final days. At home our dear, sweet oldest cat also appears to be preparing us for his last days. I am heartbroken. We knew these times would come. Someday. Yet all the mental preparation in the world really doesn’t prepare you.

Run

I want to run. I want to run hard, fast, and away from the pain that grips my heart. I feel it ache and tears well-up in my eyes. I want to scream and push the pain aside. I want to tell death to F.O.  And then I find a moment of calm. My heart relaxes and relief washes over me. I don’t like this roller coaster. I want to busy myself with something else. I cannot. I must embrace my fear.

Time is Precious

I look back on the days when I would visit my friend. A group was formed after she returned home from surgery. We would take turns visiting, providing food, conversation, helping around the house. Whatever we could do to be of service. It was a bit hard at first. What will I say? What will we talk about? There were good days and not so good days. Months of good health in spite of the situation. Laughter, jokes, walks, and ice cream. Sharing of art. Sharing of spirituality. On the days when I really didn’t feel like going, I was glad I did.

At home, I find myself missing Woody cat, even though he is just one floor below me curled up on our bed. He has fought kidney and thyroid disease for more than a year, but less than two. So many blood tests & pills to give. Through it all he has been our Zen kitty. So tolerant. So accepting. I wonder how I would’ve put up with all he’s gone through. Changes in his health were mostly gradual. And then one day you notice something isn’t right. This latest change happened over last weekend. It is the one I’ve dreaded.

Preparing

How does one prepare to say goodbye? I honestly do not know. This isn’t like “goodbye, I’ll see you later.” This is the final goodbye. I know you won’t be coming back. You tell yourself you’ll be alright. That this is the circle of life. Then you tell yourself that is a bunch of BS. The pain grows stronger inside. The grief. It swells and then I burst.

I’ve spent most days this week in silence. No music. Some TV. Meals are quiet with some conversation. A pall hangs over us. This has been a pretty sucky week. Sometimes it hurts to be a heart-centered person. I know my heart center is large and it absorbs much of the pain and sorrow around me. That is why my heart breaks so easily. I feel it down into my hands and all around my chest.

I wake each morning and thank the Universe for another day. I thank the Universe for bringing my friend and my pet through the night. I spend time thinking of good memories and the joy these two beings brought into my life.

I don’t know if I’m truly prepared for what comes next. I only hope that when it comes, I can let it wash over me. Welcome it. Then let it go.

Woody


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Monday Reflection: Begin The Journey

It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.

~Wendell Berry


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Glimmer Series: Mixed Media Wall Art Prototype

I want to create mixed media wall art pieces as part of the Glimmer Series. As I started to develop this body of work, I had a strong urge to work with beeswax. Don’t ask me why; I have no idea. But the muse said to give it a go and to see what happens.

Ideally I would love to create the mixed media wall pieces on artist panels. I bought a few 4″x4″ panels with a 3/4″ profile last December. Those panels are intended for a different project but they might be incorporated into this body of work.

Anyways, before jumping right in and working on the panels, I created a prototype wall piece on 5″x7″ artist canvas panel. This gave me the chance to play with beeswax, papers, oil paint and polymer clay all on one surface. Beyond that, I didn’t plan out the piece with a sketch and just worked intuitively.

Glimmer of Hope Wall Prototype

I started out by applying beeswax to the canvas, placed a page torn from an old book into the wet wax, and then fused more wax on top. From there I built layers with rice paper, paper beads, and oil paint. I fused tiny pieces of branch around two words from the book: “Changed” and “Beautiful”. The polymer clay face is taken from a mold made of Glimmer #1′s face and painted gold.

When the entire piece was cooled and dry, I highlighted the raised areas with Gilder’s Paste. Gold stamped words “Glimmer” and “Hope” finish this prototype.


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My 2011 Word of the Year: BIG

As I have done for the last few years, I have finally chosen my Word of the Year for 2011. Drumroll please……

The word I’ve chosen to guide me in 2011 is the word BIG.

So, why did it take me so long to post it to my blog? Because I’ve been working on BIG things. That and well, I wasn’t quite sure what to write about the word I chose.

As 2010 drew to a close and I was dealing with my health issues, I started having very vivid dreams. In one dream, a man spoke of his rebirth as if he were a prophet. That dream stuck with me and I contemplated choosing rebirth or renewal as my words for 2011.

And then I read Lisa Call’s blog post on how she chose her word for 2011 and how she distinguished between “doing” words and “being” words. That made me think. Is the word I choose for 2011 going to be a “doing” word or a “being” word?

The words “rebirth” and “renewal” sounded nice but on some level they weren’t quite clicking with me. They seemed too, um, airy-fairy.

And then the word BIG popped in my head.

I was thinking about some of the goals I want to achieve this year. For me they are BIG. And as I contemplated this word, some BIG things happened:

If the last few weeks are any indication, the word BIG is already guiding me and having a positive influence.

So BIG has become my word of the year. I guess it is both a “doing” word and a “being” word. I want to do BIG things. I want to be BIG and live fully. Who knows; maybe BIG will also bring renewal and rebirth with it.


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My 2010 Word of the Year: Soar. A Look Back

In January of last year, I chose the word SOAR as my word of the year. I chose this word because I considered it an extension of the word Momentum. Momentum was the word I almost chose. But SOAR seemed to fit me better. I liked the sound of SOARING through the year. You can read more about why I chose SOAR here.

The idea behind choosing a word for the year, as opposed to making resolutions, is that a particular word provides you with guidance all year along. I admit that sometimes I forget that. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing. If I beat myself over the head with my word of the year, I probably wouldn’t enjoy the process any more than I like making New Year’s resolutions. So I often choose my word, put it out to the Universe, and then let it go.

How did I embody the word SOAR during 2010?

I embarked on a long thought about goal and started teaching polymer clay mixed media classes. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary by visiting Italy. I had mixed media artwork (on canvas) published in two different books by Patti Digh. I was interviewed by our local newspaper and a local cable channel. I dove more into social networking by finally creating a Facebook personal page and a page for my art business. I also created an online studio on ArtFire.

Many of these events and other accomplishments happened rather effortlessly. For most of the year, I felt like I was soaring on thermals. Opportunities appeared and I accepted or let them go.

My full phrase for 2010 was SOAR with MOMENTUM into ABUNDANCE and have FAITH.

And in the last two months of the year, FAITH came into play. Big time.

First I received a surprising notice that one of my galleries wished to end their contract with me. The loss of a contract is not entirely new. I’ve ended them in the past and consignment shops have ended them with me. In this case, however, the loss caused me to question the value of my artwork and my self-worth as an artist. Would I be resigned to create production artwork forever?

Then came the health issues. At 47 I expect to be facing some changes as I move closer to a new phase in my biological life. However, what I did not expect was several doctor’s appointments, a biopsy, blood tests, unplanned weight loss, and an ultrasound. As a generally healthy person, to be confronted with a body in sudden revolt over a period of several weeks not only made me angry, I was scared, tired, and crying. I found myself delving deep into prayers and searching for faith in my self and my situation. Faith that I was well, that I would be well, and that all would be well.

The sketch below sums up all the feelings I experienced during those weeks.

As the year drew to a close, my health started to return to an acceptable level of normalcy. Answers were received and a solution to the situation was found. The experience caused me to think deeply about several areas of my life. This has put me on a new path for 2011 and influences the word I’m leaning toward to guide me in 2011.

In some ways SOAR in 2010 was a mixed blessing. Much like the hawks that I love to watch, SOAR carried me on the thermals of success but it also meant I had to dive deeply to find the source of myself.


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Art as Therapy

I’ve been dealing with some health issues this month. Nothing terribly serious but just a constant annoyance. A visit to the doctor tomorrow may provide some answers.

But in dealing with this health issue, I have, several times, felt like I’ve lost control over my body. Your mind can take you to dark places if you let it. At other times, I’ve felt like I’ve had the upper hand.

This morning, as I sat in meditation, I had this brilliant idea to draw how I’m feeling. To sketch my mood, hopefully each day, as I resolve this situation. They say art can be therapeutic and bring healing. I know I’m most happy when I make my art. Maybe creating a daily drawing will help out in other ways too.

Here is the result of putting pencil to paper this morning.

Yep, I’m sticking my tongue out at this annoying little issue. Go Away.

Today I discovered the Hippy Urban Girl blog and her December Views project. I love the idea of taking a snapshot of your day and using that to describe your mood or what you’re doing or whatever is going on around you. I signed up for the project as an additional way to deal with my current situation. Best part is there are no rules!


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Creating a Business Self-Portrait

The Right Brain Business Plan (RBBP) e-course is rolling into its 6th week. That puts us 3/4 of the way through the class. Hard to believe it has gone by so quickly…and that I haven’t been very good about keeping you up-to-date on my progress.

Last I wrote about the RBBP, I shared my business vision and the Vision Accordion Book that I created. Since then, we’ve tackled our business self-portrait, our target market, working the numbers, and determining sources of support.

The Business Self-Portrait

Developing our business self-portrait and business landscape was fun and challenging at the same time. This is where we determine where our business fits in the larger business landscape. We approached this from two directions, those things under our control (our strengths, challenges, and opportunities) and those things NOT under our control such as customers, trends, competition and barriers.

The self-portrait provided another opportunity to creatively paint a picture of my strengths, challenges, and opportunities. It was also a bit intimidating because we are asking questions about ourselves. While this is a hard task for anyone, I think it may be a bigger challenge for women because most of us are told not to talk about the things that we’re good at, not to talk about our successes and achievements. That is the sign of a bragger, an arrogant person, and an egotistical person.

Well, fat on that.

One way we were given to approach this task was to ask friends, family, associates, co-workers, and colleagues a series of questions such as “What three words would you use to describe me?” “What would you say are my natural gifts, strengths, and passions?” and “What would you say sets me apart from the crowd?”

It was humbling and heartwarming to receive people’s answers to those questions. Holding a mirror up to yourself is not easy. Asking people their opinion isn’t always easy either. However, the way you are seen in another person’s eyes can be very affirming.

Following another RBBP classmate’s lead, I entered the words and phrases into Wordle to create a word cloud. Then, inspired by those black construction paper silhouettes we had as kids,  I asked Eric to trace my head onto a large sheet of paper. This profile would become the centerpiece of my business self-portrait.

Business Self-Portrait

The self-portrait features the word collage in the center of my silhouette. Other components include my background and experience, skills and talents, customer quotes, opportunities and challenges.

Biz Self-Portrait Top Half

Biz Self-Portrait Bottom Half

The Wordle collage puts in bold typeface those words that appear most often. From this one might summarize that the words most often used to describe me are: knowledgeable, caring, creative, understanding, organizer, listener, thorough, and courage. These words give me insight into my strengths and skills and themes that could influence my business.

The Business Landscape

The business landscape is an on-going process. Creating the landscape requires a bit more detective work. It is here that you look at trends (social and economic), think about how big your market is, map out your target market, consider direct and indirect competition, take into consideration what you do well and barriers that you might encounter.

The fun apart this assignment is we can create SWAGs (Silly Wild Ass Guesses)  for those areas where we don’t have a definite answer right now. It is better to put down a SWAG than to get stuck and not move forward. And through research an answer, hopefully, will be found.

To help with this part of the process, I set up a fabric covered tri-fold foam core display board that I used long ago in my first art shows. At the top of the middle section, I’ve posted the name for this entire venture “The Creative Well.” This section is also for tracking trends and market information, including a map of Massachusetts and New England, information on population, numbers of polymer clay teachers in the area, and my business self-portrait.

The left panel is for information on the competition and potential collaborators. The right panel holds information on resources, such as places where I might be able to teach polymer clay classes. As I come across and collect information, it is added to the designated section with push pins or notes written on Post-it notes.

Biz Landscape Detective Board

I like this format because it is portable and collapsible. I keep the board on a shelf right across from my work table so I see it every day. When I add information or want to analyze the entire picture, I can lay it on the floor to get a good overview.

Next: Target markets and numbers

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