Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


A Year of Mindfulness: True Compliments

Last week’s mindfulness practice was to eat without distractions. No newspaper, book, internet, iPad, or TV.

How did you do with this practice?

I found it to be a nice change of pace. Since I work by myself,  I typically eat while either checking email and news on my iPad or while sitting in front of the TV.  Sometimes I do this because I want to catch up on events. Other times I simply need the noise in the background. I can’t say that either activity enhances my dining experience.

When I first tried this practice, I think I ate a little faster. Then, as I slowed down, I noticed how quiet my environment was. I could listen to the rhythm of the clock ticking. Or I could enjoy the birds singing. I noticed the taste and texture of my food; sweet, juicy, cold, crunchy.

Without the distraction of my iPad or the TV, I ate my meal and got into the studio a bit sooner. At lunch time, I’d go for a walk after my meal. All good things to do instead of lingering over the news or flipping through the TV channels.

This week’s practice: Give true compliments

This week’s practice is to give a genuine compliment once a day to someone close to you. The more specific the compliment, the better.

Giving compliments is a good practice in gratitude. With this practice you must really pay attention to both the big and small things that people do. If this practice is difficult for you, step back and observe if you tend to only notice problems and are critical of people.

As Jan Chozen Bays stated in her book, “When someone becomes part of the furniture of our life, we forget to notice what they do and it doesn’t occur to us to give them compliments. In fact, we may only comment on the negative, the things we think need to be changed.”

With this practice, also pay attention to how it feels to receive a compliment. Depending on how we were raised, giving a compliment may be easier than receiving a compliment.

Reflection: You should know that kind speech arises from kind mind, and kind mind from the seed of compassionate mind. You should ponder the fact that kind speech is not just praising the merit of others; it has the power to turn the destiny of a nation. -Zen Master Dogen


New Animal Ornaments

I’ve been busy working away on more new animal ornaments this week. As I make them, I’m thinking of what to call this new line. One suggested name is “Ornimals” because these are animal specific ornaments. What do you think? It’s kind of catchy.

The three new ornimals I’m sharing today include a cat, a dog, and a chipmunk. Some progress pictures are also included.

The Grey Tabby

It is only fair that my next cat ornament be inspired by Woody, our oldest cat. When you have two cats, it is like having two kids. Got to be fair and include both of them.


Grey Tabby Before Paint

Grey Tabby Ornimal

The Chipmunk

We have numerous chipmunks running around our neighborhood. I was inpsired to include one in this line when one dashed across the driveway as I pulled in the other day. Yes, they can be a bit of a nuisance but they are cute.

Chippy Paint Progress

Chipmunk Ornimal

Chippy Backside

The Bernese Mountain Dog

I love Bernese Mountain dogs. I love big dogs. Even though I haven’t owned a dog in many years, I wanted to challenge myself and sculpting a Bernie as my first dog ornament fit the bill. Then I immediately thought I was crazy to even try. Cats I know; dogs, not so much.

However, with my trusty iPad propped up on my work table, I found some good images of Bernies that would guide me in this challenge. First came the nose and mouth. They have rather large heads so this part wasn’t too difficult, though the SuperSculpey does give this Bernie a rather cow-like appearance.

Next came the ears. Ugh.

I don’t like ears. I don’t even put ears on my human-inspired heads. But an “earless” Bernie would be rather scary. Thankfully Bernies have rather simple ears. Longish, flatish, nothing too dramatic.

Then came the eyes. Oh boy. This will take some time. Eyes are a challenge for me on all of my sculpted heads. I often place them a little too high on the face and that changes the entire appearance of the piece.

So I first tried a cane slice, similar to what I’ve done with my cat ornaments. Placed the cane slices on the face and mock up the eyelids.

Bernie Eye Test 1

Ugh. He looks like he is wearing a bad pair of sunglasses. Scrap that idea and sleep on it.

As I lay in bed I thought about the technique I use to create eyes & sockets on my human heads. I toy around with an idea and how it might work on an ornament sculpt. The next day I end up with this result.

Bernie Eye Test 2

I like this better than the cane slices. At this point I also have to remind myself that all sculptures look rather unattractive at this stage; fleshy and ghostly (or ghastly, take your pick.) It is only when they receive an antique wash and paint that they start to come alive.

Bernie Partially Painted

And the finished piece:

Bernese Mountain Dog

I’m pretty happy with the how she turned out. Painting on the eyes was a little dicey because, unlike acrylic paint, oil remains fluid and moveable until completely dry. Next time I might try acrylics for comparison.

And if you have an iPad or other tablet device, I highly recommend using it as your online sketchbook or source of image inspiration in the studio. Yes, I could’ve printed out a couple pictures and put them in my sketchbook for reference. But I can’t enlarge the static pictures in my sketchbook like I can on the iPad. That is one of the many things I love about my iPad when it comes to creating artwork.

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December Views Project: Final Days

The last image is my first drawing using the Art Studio app on my iPad. Of course I had to draw a cat. Pippin was sitting in my lap after all.

I hope you have enjoyed the images this month from my participation in the December Views Project.