Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness: Become Aware of Your Posture

We are well into our second month of mindfulness, following along with Jan Chozen Bays’ book How to Train a Wild Elephant. To read more about mindfulness, please return to the first post in this series: A Year of Mindfulness: Use Your Non-Dominant Hand.

Last week, we practiced giving true, genuine compliments. This is a great practice for two reasons: it causes us to become aware of the positive things people do on a daily basis and breaks our habit of focusing on ourselves and it causes us to get out of a negative mindset. After all, isn’t it easier to complain than compliment?

And did you notice how the recipient of your compliment reacted? Possibly surprised and hopefully happy. By giving a compliment you probably made that person’s day.

This Week’s Practice: Become Aware of Your Posture

In this week’s practice, we are asked to be mindful of our posture. First, become aware of what posture you’re in and how it feels within your body. Then, as you notice your posture, adjust it.

Some good times to become mindful of your posture is at meals, when standing in line, while driving, or when in meetings or classes. Really pay attention to your posture from the front and the side. While your posture may look fine from the front, if you get a side view you may see slumping, rounded shoulders, hips jutting forward, booty sticking out, belly sagging…well, you get the picture.

Becoming mindful of your posture is important because your posture projects your demeanor. Think about your first impression of someone when you see them slouching.

Posture and mood are also related. Become mindful of how you hold your body when sad, angry, or anxious. How does changing your posture affect your mood?

Reflection: There is so much to gain from improving your posture. Everybody’s interested in the way they look, and then they’re astounded to find the other benefits. -Janice Novak

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Sketches from France

Before I left for France, I bought a small sketchbook. My intent was to draw in the sketchbook each day during my trip. I covered the sketchbook with a photo of a modern look French woman, packed my micron pens, and packed the sketchbook in my back pack.

We arrived in France, I move my sketchbook from the backpack to my purse, and there it remained, untouched, for 3 days. (I recall an art teacher telling me that she didn’t encourage students to take a bunch of drawing supplies on vacation because you put pressure on yourself to draw, which usually doesn’t happen, and then you feel guilty.)

As the end of our field trip to Albi drew to a close, we met Dayle at the appointed location. Dayle was sketching in her sketchbook. I promptly announced that I had also brought my sketchbook. Dayle asked, “Have you sketched anything?”

“Um, no. I haven’t used it.” I said.

Half jokingly, Dayle tasked me with sketching the facade of the St. Cecile Cathedral that stood a short distance from us.

Settling into my chair while we waited for the rest of our group to gather, I deferred Dayle’s challenge and opted instead for a set of shutters on a building directly across from us.

Shutters in Albi

And thus began my journey to sketch on an almost daily basis. Doing the first sketch reminded me, once again, that I do like to draw. In my senior year of high school, I was told during a critique with my art teacher that I couldn’t draw. Once I graduated high school, I avoided doing anything artistic.

Eventually, I came back to the arts and I’ve since forgiven that teacher for her cruel, nonconstructive words. I’ve tried the daily sketch task in the past, but it never stuck. After all, how many sketches can one make of their teacup, their breakfast, or the cats that never hold a pose.

But in France, it worked. And I’ve continued this practice now that I’m home. Though now that I’m home, I told myself that I’d like to do a sketch at least three times a week. That keeps my intention from feeling like a burden. I also received a little bit of advice from Dayle (paraphrased) that makes sketching a bit more fun: “Don’t worry about your sketch looking like reality.”

Below are more sketches that I did during our time in France. I’ll also share some of my sketches from home in future posts.

La Cascade Dinner Bell

Dining Room Chair

This sketch taught me that I’d completely forgotten how to draw perspective. An a-ha moment. Be a better observer.

Wicker Basket on Stool

This one is my favorite. Maybe I should sketch at night instead of first thing in the morning?

La Cascade Door Knocker

Hotel Night Table Lamp

Buddha Head

Until my next post,

A bientot


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Just Because I’m an Artist Doesn’t Mean I Can’t Be Color Challenged

Just because I’m an artist, that doesn’t mean I can’t be color challenged. That is definitely how I’ve felt in choosing a new wall color for my studio. I never thought it would be so difficult to choose a paint color. I’m an artist, right? I work with color all the time. I choose colors for my artwork, often working intuitively, mixing and blending until the colors evoke the feeling of the piece. This should be a piece of cake.

My studio is on the third floor. It has nice natural light but can feel a little cold in the winter. The current wall color is builder basic: antique white; a very light yellow. Flat. Dull. Boring.

I had an idea of what color I wanted for my studio walls. I love the Tuscan yellows and golds and thought they would warm up the walls. So I brought home a bunch of sample chips in that color family.

Then the clerk at the local Ace Hardware tells me they loan out the color books at the store. These books have 8″x8″ color samples. It will make choosing a color easier because of the larger sample. Hang it on the wall. See it at different times of day and in different light.

Right.

Next thing I know I’ve pulled 17 samples from the book that contained most of my color preferences. 17 colors stuck to my studio walls. This is not going to be easy.

After a process of elimination and asking artist friends for their input, I narrowed down my color choices to three. Then off I went to the paint store to purchase small cans of paint in my chosen colors, some small rollers, and a paint tray.

First, I thought I’d go bold. I tried out the sample called August Morning, a dark orangey-gold looking color.

August Morning Paint Sample

And this is how the paint sample looked on the wall:

August Morning (with camera flash)

August Morning (no camera flash)

Yep, it’s dark orange. It’s pretty bold and intense. My first warning came when I opened the paint can and saw orange sherbet.

Fail.

Next up was Golden Mist. Golden Mist was a wild-card choice. I saw it at the last minute in one of my many swatches. Still being in a bold mood, I gave it a go.

Golden Mist Paint Sample

The sample fit my original thought of something Tuscan-like. And then I put it on the wall.

Golden Mist (no camera flash)

Golden Mist (with camera flash)

This color was deceiving out of the can. It looked much lighter as I stirred it. But when paint met the wall, it became this deep gold color with a touch of magenta in the base mix. Initially I thought it was a color I could live with. Yet as the weekend grew longer and I tried to picture this color on all the studio walls, I started to feel claustrophobic and shut in.

Failure #2.

On Sunday I put Crisp Straw, choice #3, on the wall. I was a little leary because the base mix included orange, yellow, and gray!

Crisp Straw Paint Sample

When I look at this sample, it looks like straw; a light colored beige with a hint of yellow. And then I put it on the wall.

Crisp Straw

Crisp Straw is a soft peach! I couldn’t believe it. Since when does the color “straw” look like the color “peach?” In this picture, it looks a little fleshy.

But the third time was the charm. Crisp Straw presented as a soft, warm, feminine color. Just the right amount of warmth and color for the studio walls without being too bold or too dark. And it won’t make me feel claustrophobic.

I chuckled as my original paint idea morphed into something I really had not considered. And a wave of relief came over me as well. I had felt completely frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find a color I liked. That little voice of failure was speaking up, mocking me as an artist who couldn’t choose a simple color.

While I had decided early on not to lose sleep over the situation, I was worried that the painters would arrive and I’d still be undecided. Or I’d have to go with a back up plan: something neutral, in beige.

So, there you have it. An artist can indeed be color challenged. Perhaps our love of color can also be a hindrance. Fortunately, I found a color I liked and that I can live with for the next few years.

Three Color Samples on Wall


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Sunny Day, Sweeping the Clouds Away

Now why in the world would I have the theme song from Sesame Street running through my head when this is what greeted us this morning?

Front Yard Holly Bush

Front Yard

Back Yard Suet Feeder Gets Weighed Down

Heavy Snow Weighs Down Tree Limbs

Perhaps it is precisely this April Fool’s Day snow storm that triggered the Sesame Street song. In truth, the song has been bouncing around in my head for the past couple of days. And I think it has more to do with some recent improvements in my health status.

Surgery

It was one week ago today that I had day surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to remove a fibroid that is believed to have been causing me so much grief these past few months. I had a consult with Dr. Brian Walsh in mid-March to discuss my options. He took one look at my MRI, pointed to the bugger and said “That is what is causing you all this grief.”

A sense of relief washed over me. Could it really be this simple? After being told for years that my only options were to “watch and wait” or have a hysterectomy?

We discussed the specific procedure, a hysteroscopic myomectomy (also known as a hysteroscopic resection) which is a noninvasive form of surgery for this specific type of fibroid. No incisions. No long hospital stay. Just day surgery with IV anesthesia (with painkillers and anti-nausea meds.) I was home by 2:30 in the afternoon.

(Yes the surgical name sounds pretty scary and kind of gross. I’ll spare you the technical gobbledegook. Suffice to say the name comes from the particular surgical instrument used and the name for one layer of the uterine wall. Nuff said.)

Recovery wasn’t too bad; some mild cramping was the worst of it. I laid low, took lots of naps, and watched bad TV. By Monday of this week I was feeling good enough to run some light errands and take short walks.

And today, a week later, I feel back to normal. Definitely a sunny day in spite of the wet snow outside.