Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit



One reason I haven’t posted much in recent weeks is that I’ve been spending a bit more time in my studio. Yay me!

Since we’ve moved, the transition to a new home, getting settled, traveling, waiting for my studio space to be completed, all impacted my ability to engage in creative activities.

Once my new space was finished and I had unpacked and set up my work areas, I poked around at some things here and there, but simply was not feeling the pull to get my butt into the studio.

I stopped working with polymer clay last year and was not feeling inclined to pick it up again. I’ve taken a couple online painting classes with Flora Bowley and Pixie Lighthorse. Both were enjoyable. I learned some new approaches to painting and felt a new release of my creative muse.

Yet something still felt “off.” I’ve been dabbling with this intuitive painting approach yet still didn’t feel it quite coming all together.

A Shimmer of Light

During the WordPress Blogging 101 course we were given a task to find new blogs to like and follow. It must’ve been through that assignment that I came across Kara Bullock’s site and her upcoming online course, Angels Among Us. I’d been thinking that I wanted try my hand at painting faces on my intuitive painting canvases. Not necessarily portraiture. But something a bit more detailed than the simple faces or the faceless beings that were appearing in some of my pieces.

Kara offers a free online tutorial when you sign up for her newsletter. That gave me enough motivation to set the wheels in motion.

From there I discovered, through a different artist’s blog post, Dina Wakley’s video for drawing and painting faces.

Now the lid on the box where my creative muse had been lurking was blown off. Combining some of Kara’s instruction with what I learned from Dina’s videos, I started drawing and painting faces with more intention.

Then, on one of my rabbit hole trips on Google and, I came across Pam Carriker’s book Mixed Media Portraits. Ruh-oh George. Our library didn’t carry her book so I did the next best thing. I ordered a copy from Amazon.

The Eyes Have It

Now I’ve got a basic understanding on how to draw faces. We spent quite a bit of time drawing them in my four years of high school art classes. But skills get rusty when not used or maintained.

So, for about a week, I took time each day to draw a face from my imagination.

First, a sketch that was done about 3 weeks after I started watching Kara’s videos. This was created during a weekly sketching group using a live model.

Sketching Group Live Model

Sketching Group Live Model

Here is a face sketched after watching Dina Wakley’s video. I watched the video again while drawing this face.

Face Drawn Using D.W.'s Video Guidance

Face Drawn Using D.W.’s Video Guidance

Here is a face I drew following Pam Carricker’s directions.

Face Drawn Following P.C's Guidance

Face Drawn Following P.C’s Guidance

Below are the same sketches side-by-side for comparison.

And here are a weeks worth of face sketches.

Face Practice 1

Face Practice 1

Face Practice 2

Face Practice 2

I didn’t use much shading until the final practice sketch. This does give her face a bit more depth and definition. Through this practice I noticed some similarities in the faces; the longish noses, the tiny lips. The only face that was drawn while looking at a picture of someone is the first face on Face Practice 2. It really does help to have some sort of reference because most of the other faces all seem to have a serious look and a blank stare.

Now I plan to spend time sketching just eyes, noses, and lips. It seems as I get better at drawing one facial component, the other parts suffer. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pull all the facial components together in due time. Practice, practice, practice.


Getting Sketchy

Well, I haven’t been quite as dedicated to the 31-Day Drawing Challenge as I intended. I find the task of beginning and sticking with a practice, just about any practice, to be more and more challenging as I get older. Which seems to be the opposite of what I thought would happen. You know, you get older, have more time, more wisdom, so starting something and sticking with it should be easier.

At least that is the impression I picked up somewhere on this journey.

But I digress from the point of this post. And that is to share the latest sketches that I have completed as part of the 31-Day Challenge (which, incidentally, ended with the month of August. But who’s counting? Not me. Obviously.)

“Nest:” Trying not to be too literal and go with the first thing most people might think of, a bird’s nest, I opted for a picture of Nesting Dolls as my inspiration. Perspective was much more challenging to capture.



“Breeze”: How does one interpret this prompt?



“Warmth”: This prompt brings to mind several images. I went with something quick and used colors as inspiration.



“Forest”: Can you see the forest through the trees?



“Rain”: I’m not sure if I would’ve created this drawing in this manner if I had not visited the Van Gogh exhibit at The Clark Museum. It was in that exhibit where I saw Van Gogh’s depiction of rain as inspired by Japanese paintings (which inspired one of his paintings.)



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On Using Our Hands

…”she connects the importance of using our hands with the way in which we understand and find value in ourselves and in others. There’s something so honest and pure about her thought — that we gain a deeper, more meaningful relationship with our own humanity and our greater world by using our hands.”

I wanted to share this post from the OnBeing blog. I was deeply touched by Renate Hiller’s words. I agree with her in that we have, at times, lost our connection to each other, the earth and spirit by not using our hands as technology becomes more and more commonplace. Whether used to create, to heal, to touch, to hold, our hands, as editor Trent Gilliss states, grounds us.

Engage with your hands. Put down the technology. Make something. Dig in the dirt. Clasp them together. Shake your hands in the air like you just don’t care!

A World Through The Hands


The Challenge of Drawing

I recently joined Craftsy’s 31-Day Drawing Challenge. Well, “joined” may not be the best word. I’m not submitting what I create on the Craftsy site. Rather, I’m sharing my drawings on my Facebook page and here in blog-o-land.

So what is this “challenge” exactly? If you go to the above link, you’ll see that Craftsy has provided a prompt for each day in August. Interpret the prompt in any way you want. Yes, the suggested format is drawing. But if you’re not into drawing or sketching, then write a poem, make some music, do an interpretative dance, take a picture. Paint a picture. Let the prompt inspire your creative muse. The format isn’t important. Letting your creative juices flow is!

My challenge is trying not to be too literal with the prompts. That’s probably why I made it through the first three and haven’t picked up my sketchbook since then. That and well, just setting aside the time. I’m trying not to put pressure on myself as I find myself falling behind (uh, oh, see the tiny beads of sweat breaking out on my forehead.)

That making time thing and just doing it, well that’s a post for another day.

Anyways, here are my interpretations for the first three prompts:

Grow” Inspired by the baby robins that were in a nest outside our kitchen window.



In Bloom” The Black-Eyed Susans are bursting in our yard.

Black Eyed Susan

Black Eyed Susan

Flutter” This brought several images to mind. Butterflies. Wings. Eyelashes. I chose a large turkey feather as inspiration.

Fluttering Feathers

Fluttering Feathers

What will you create with the prompts in the 31-Day Challenge?


Who Am I? Who Are You?

One assignment in Blogging 101 is to create or update your “About” page. You know that page. The one where you either write a succinct little synopsis that reads like Business 101:

“Hi, I’m so and so from such and such place.

I like pink ponies, purple butterflies, and strawberries.

I make –fill in the blank-.

My blog is about this, that, and the other thing.

I. I. I.”

Or maybe you write a little ditty that is quite poetic. Or funny. Or all visuals.

Sadly, mine is currently more like Business 101. A potential snooze fest. Poetry doesn’t quite roll off my fingertips. If I try to write “funny” it can feel forced. Suffice to say I’m having a hard time re-writing my “About” page.

But this whole concept of “Who Am I?” and “What Am I About?” has got me thinking. Are we simply those rote answers we easily spit out? Or are we more than that?

Labels As Identity

You go to a social event. Inevitably someone asks “What do you do?” Do you immediately

A: go into your standard speech:

“Hi, I’m Amy. I’m an artist and a Reiki practitioner.”

-Or- B offer more about yourself?

“Hi, I’m Amy. I paint pictures inspired by spirit, guided by an inner voice that encourages me to add various colors and shapes and multiple layers. Most times I have no idea where the painting will take me. I’ve learned to listen and allow it to lead me on the adventure. I also practice Reiki which allows me to be of service to people in need; in need of relaxation, stress-reduction, and healing. Sometimes, I combine Reiki with my paintings.”

Certainly labels are easier to produce. They’re usually short, simple, and to the point. They may be more relatable to the listener. Then, if the listener is interested, he or she may ask additional questions. Or not. (Come on. We’ve all been there. You exchange pleasantries and then…crickets.)

I, personally, don’t like that question, “What do you do?” The best response I heard to this question was from someone during an interview who said she liked to reply: “Do about what?” Because, come on people, we ARE more than those labels.

I prefer the question, “Tell me/us about yourself.” It sounds more inviting. More interesting. And wa-a-ay more open ended. Granted, you may still roll out your rote introduction. But it also invites you to open up and elaborate.

There are the typical labels that we identify with: Mother. Daughter. Artist. Painter. Engineer. Speech-Language Pathologist. Geek. Animal lover. Reiki Practitioner. Father. Son. Aunt. Uncle. Grandparent. Sister. Brother. Real Estate Agent. Builder. Administrative Assistant. Graphic Designer. Teacher. Priest. Professor. Store Clerk. Etc, etc. etc.

And then there are other labels that we give to people. But that’s not what this post is about.

I’m not sure when we became so connected to labels as our identity. Certainly there is more to each person than a job title or a job description. Perhaps it had something to do with prestige, as one may perceive certain job titles as better than others.

Perhaps it had something to do with tribal behavior. It’s easier to identify someone with a label than an elaborate description.

Perhaps it had something to do with compartmentalization. Our brains can only hold so much information in a sound bite. So give that person a label and be done with it.

Sadly, I think labels can reduce us to monotonous identifiers that may contribute to separation and polarization. If we don’t get beyond the label, we may miss some really cool stuff about that person.

I know labels aren’t going away. They can be necessary and serve a purpose. But I think the next time I meet someone, instead of asking them “What do you do?” I’m going to ask them to tell me about themselves. And I’ll listen with open ears.

So, “Who are you? Tell me about yourself.”

P.S: This has helped me rethink my “About” page. Now I have a better idea of what I want to write.

Hanging Around in Sedona

Hanging Around in Sedona


“Free Painting”-The Spirit Dance Series

I don’t know what happens when I free paint. I don’t know what moves me-the music playing in the background, the silly dance moves I make in the studio, the meditation, the Hara breathing or the Reiki. Sometimes it just flows and there it is.

I step back and I’m looking, looking, looking at the canvas. “What do I see?” “What should go there?” And then an image might appear. Or a color. Or shape comes to mind and I paint it. I don’t always trust it but I go with it. I’ve learned over the years that if I try to control where a piece wants to go, it comes out crappy. If I just follow its lead, then we might get something interesting. I try not to let the negative voice invade my space. If and when it does, I move on to something else. Come back later. It has no place here.

The Series

These paintings are inspired by a trip to the Peche Merle caves, near Cabrerets, France. I had the opportunity to visit these glorious caves in June as part of an art workshop. Inside the caves are paintings; horses, bison, mammoth. Some of the paintings are more than 25,000 years old. When we returned from this field trip, we began to paint. Mark making really. And out of the marks emerge images. And as is typical of my paintings lately, spirit figures emerge. Hence the name “Spirit Dance.” Below are the first two pieces.

Spirit Dance 1

Spirit Dance 1

Spirit Dance 2

Spirit Dance 2


Rising From The Ashes

I can’t remember when I last wrote a post for this blog. (Okay, I just looked. It was May 7, 2014. More than a year ago.)

I’ve pondered, on and off, the idea of restarting this blog. Or perhaps starting a brand new blog. Though I didn’t feel highly motivated by either prospect. But this blog, and the fact that I just let it die, continued to pop up in my head every now and again.

A week or so ago, WordPress sent out an announcement for their upcoming summer online workshops, “Blogging 101” and “Blogging 102  201″ I decided that maybe, with WP’s prompts and incentives to write again, I could revive this blog. So, here I am.

Why The Disappearing Act?

I’ve also been thinking about why I let my blog drift off into the Internet ethers. Yes, there is the proverbial life stuff. But I think it was more the fact that all the life stuff over the past 3+ years changed me. Changed what was important to me. Changed my interests. Maybe not changed per say, but brought more of my true self to the forefront.

Since my last post in May 2014, I ended my remaining consignment contracts at local art galleries, I began volunteer work, I travelled to Ireland to discover my roots, I spent more time painting, and I suffered a traumatic hand injury that resulted in the partial amputation of a finger on my right hand.

We downsized our house. We started over in a new community. I became certified as a Reiki Master practitioner. I spent 12 days in France. I’ve jumped into new opportunities in the art community. I haven’t worked with polymer clay on a regular basis since winter 2014. And I don’t really miss it.

Behind all these changes, and what I think is closer to the real reason I stopped blogging, is that part of me feels different and new. And I don’t know if my old readers are interested in this new and different person. This person who is more likely to blog about painting and Reiki and spiritual stuff and how they all fit together in my life now.

I guess I’m about to find out.


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