Tuesday, July 31, 2012

47/365: The Art of False Starts

Today I made:

a few false starts...
False starts don't just happen in the Olympics. They are a part of the creative process as well.
They often occur when you're excited to jump into a project with a new technique, and it doesn't turn out quite like you expected. You may abandon the idea initially only to realize that it could work for another project. Or it may morph into something completely different and unexpected- a happy accident. (I love those oh so much!) Either way, we artists should recognize that those "oops" moments are often preceded by momentum, excitement and brave risk-taking. And that makes them worthy of our attention.

This was a night of false starts for me. I began a project for a musical friend with the idea of using pieces of broken CDs as part of a collage. I thought they'd snap into neat little pieces. Not so much. They splintered and the shimmery film peeled right off. I decided to let that project stew for a few days. Next I flipped through some recent photos and found one that was just perfect for a quote that's been stuck in my head all day. I tried to print the photo with text on top of it, but again, it did not turn out how I had in mind. (Darn lack of Photoshop.) So I decided to turn the photo into an art journal page that I could hand write the quote on, but it needed a painted galaxy-looking background. Layer one: boo. Layer two: too distracting. Layers three and four also fell short of my imaginings. I was about to give up on painting the background when I decided to try just one more color and a different technique. The iridescent bronze paint I never use was just begging to be splattered on the canvas with a toothbrush.
To make the paint more fluid, I watered it down a little in a cup I had used for another color. Turns out there was some blue residue left from before and it didn't blend with the iridescent stuff. Instead my splatters turned out aquamarine with a a lovely bronze ring around them. Things were starting to look very...spacey! Then I realized one of the flakes of shimmery CD film had gotten stuck to the canvas.
Hello STARS! I can't say I'm terribly attached to the end result (Something tells me I should play some more- that seems to be working for me), but I'm starting to recognize happy accidents when I see them.

When I look back on my whole process tonight: the discovery of the forgotten picture, the way the discarded pieces came together and how it all reflects the quote that's been echoing in my mind, I can't help but believe that the Universe is sending a gentle reminder. Trust in the process. Have faith that the false starts and moments of feeling lost will eventually lead me to my goal...in art and in life.

So while things are drying and awaiting completion, here's a sneaky peeky at what I made today..

Monday, July 30, 2012

46/365: The Art of Gratitude

Today I made:
"Two Dresses, One Blouse"
mixed media journal cover

an entry in my Gratitude Journal...
It's been nearly two months since I've written in this little journal. I do plenty of journaling between the blog and my creative process notes, but I have to remind myself that this little book serves a specific purpose.
And I need to come back to it.

Each night before bed I write down five things I am grateful for. Some days bring amazing gifts, other days small blessings and simple joys. There is always something to be thankful for. This daily practice encourages me to focus on the abundance in my life rather than on what is lacking. It is a time to reflect and acknowledge what is working. For me, this is a great shift in attitude from being hard on myself and dwelling on disappointments. Gratitude is a positive attitude. 

I love this quote from Melody Beattie
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of the past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
Today I am grateful for:
1) a quiet day of catching up  
2) avocado season
3) a new tutoring student
4) the baby possum that climbs the tree in our yard (My hubby says I can keep it.)
5) finding my gratitude journal in a pile of dusty books

Sunday, July 29, 2012

45/365: Sometimes Ya Just Gotta Finger Paint

Today I made:
my kind of manicure...

I've had the urge to paint for days, but now that we're home from our trip, jet lag has put a damper on my creative energy. I showed up in my art space anyway, like I promised myself I would. No plan, just play- that is what I needed tonight. So I did the most playful thing I could think of at the moment: good ol' finger painting. Remember the joys of finger painting as a kid: pushing and pulling the slippery paint around in fluid movements, getting as close as you possibly could to your materials and making an artful mess? Those were the days. 

Well I think we are never too old for this freeing form creative expression! There's something delightfully visceral about it.  I love the feeling of the rough canvas and the buttery paint under my fingers. It's a great way to explore acrylic paints to learn more about how the colors cover and blend, or just to play with laying certain colors side by side to find a pleasing palette. Try getting both hands involved. Using your left hand gives your creative right brain a boost of energy! Explore with each finger, one at a time to see the different amounts of control you get. If you let the paint dry for a couple minutes, you can etch into it with your fingernail, letting other colors or bare canvas peek through and adding words or designs to your painting. With acrylic paint, the clean up is even easier than cleaning brushes. 

I learned today that using my fingers as painting tools is a fun way to add variety to my paintings. 
It's also a playful warm up that connects me with my materials and makes for a great ten minute art exercise if all I've got in me is to dabble with some paint. Hooray for big kid finger painting! Is it weird that I'm craving a peanut butter & jelly sandwich and a nap?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

44/365: 2 Cities, 3 Days, 4 Friends

Long day of delayed flights after our 3-day jaunt to the east coast. I'm feeling inspired to print some pictures and spread some paint around on a canvas, but I will have to settle for journaling and watercolor pencils on the plane. Finding a free solo moment to post to the blog has been tricky, but I've been documenting with photos. I can't wait to spread the pictures out on my living room floor to begin putting together the story of our trip. I had my travel art kit all packed, but barely dug into it. I had great intentions for creating an on-the-go travel journal, but instead allowed my self to soak up the sights and be present in the moment with my endlessly entertaining travel companions. Thinking I might need to practice with my travel art tools on my daily adventures around my own city.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

40/365: Leavin' On a Jet Plane

Today I made:

A travel art kit...

Long flight to Rhode Island today. We saw the curve of the Earth through the airplane window. Tomorrow we take Boston by storm.

Monday, July 23, 2012

39/365: Breakfast Art

Today I made:

A spinach mushroom quiche with a crescent roll crust...YUM!
(recipe coming soon :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

38/365: The Risk it Took to Blossom

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
~Anais Nin

Saturday, July 21, 2012

37/365: Baubles & Beads

Today I made:

a found bead necklace...

My father-in-law is a closet creative.
He's been making necklaces- gorgeous Native American style strings of beads. He claims to not put much thought into it, but I don't believe him. Each one is carefully patterned and lovingly handmade. Mine is coming in the mail and I can't wait to wrap it around my neck!

After looking through all of his beautiful work, I needed a bead fix. I must admit I have a little addiction. I've been collecting beads since I was a little girl, always drawn to the wealth of colors, shapes and patterns. I can remember being very small and spending hours lounging on the floor sorting and arranging beads that belonged to my mom and grandmother. I think that's when I fell in love with colors. I still have some of these old Polish beads.  When I travel, I can't help but stop into bead shops to see what treasures I can find. I usually only get one of whatever catches my eye. Others come from broken jewelry. Some I've discovered on the ground during walks. They are all part of my "found stash." No two alike. So tonight I decided to make a "found bead" necklace. I strung my beads from many places. Glass, wood, metal, stone- ah delicious baubles to match my every mood and remind me of my creative roots.

Friday, July 20, 2012

36/365: Building a Creative Community

Today I made:

a new Meetup Group!
The beginnings of my mixed media explorations - 2009.
(acrylic, oil, ink, graphite, scrap paper, wire & feather on canvas 9x12)

My brilliant business partner had the clever idea to start a group on Meetup!

I'm so excited to build a tribe of creative, like-minded people in the San Diego area so we can share our art workshops and events.
Here's the scoop...

"Art play dates for big kids... We are a creative community of people who love to make art in a social setting. No art experience necessary; all adventurous, creative souls welcome. Find, nurture and express your creative spirit in our play-based mixed media art workshops. Our meet-ups will be held in beautiful outdoor settings around San Diego. Be courageous! Be creative!"

en{COURAGE} creative
Meetup, San Diego

Thursday, July 19, 2012

35/365: Teaching Is a Creative Act

Today I made:

these lesson plans...

I seriously have the best summer job! Being a tutor allows me to design creative, individualized curriculum for my students. Ideas that benefit others are being born here and it all feels like play to me! The greatest thing is, I know I'm helping to build life-long learners and creators. The lovely young lady who is learning with me this summer is quite the artist and writer herself, so it's been especially fun planning for our lessons.

I've really been able to step back and see the big picture with teaching lately. Lesson planning can be such a creative endeavor. When I begin to consider something as a creative act, it becomes infused with more meaning and joy for me. Teachers live the creative life.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

34/365: Heaven is a Beach Cliff

Today I made:

an expedition to a new land...
cliff petroglyphs & the pier gate at Ocean Beach

Sea spray, salty air, breathtaking panoramic views and artistic expression...is this Heaven?!

I visited the walking cliffs at Ocean Beach for the first time today. This has to be one of San Diego's best kept secrets! I was expecting a scenic ocean view from the top of a cliff, but this was so much more. It's the best barefoot beach hike I've ever experienced!

Just south of the OB Pier, the flat sandy cliffs stretch for blocks along the shoreline. The low beds of rocks lie in gorgeous formations that bring you just feet from the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean below. Natural tide pools filled with colorful sea life cover the area. There are even a few tiny secluded beaches. And my favorite part- the petroglyphs! Visitors have been carving into the sandy cliff surfaces for decades. Thousands of pictures, sweet sentiments and names are engraved onto the land.

It was incredible to be so close to the old creative expressions of people who had walked there before me. It was like another world, or at least another time. Every person we came across on the walk greeted us with that knowing twinkle in their eyes, grateful to be sharing in the discovery of this little slice of Heaven on Earth.

The sea caves at Sunset Cliffs that lie a little further south are the focus of my next expedition, but I will surely be returning to this incredible playground for the imagination.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

33/365: Community Music

Today I made:

a little noise & some new friends...
The Bird Rock Summer Time Healing Jam Band
Calumet Park, La Jolla SD Tuesdays 5:30-sunset

With a little encouragement from a musical friend, I stepped out of my creative comfort zone today. I am not especially musical and still trying to get over my fear of singing in front of people, but the vibe and the sunset washed over me. Frame drum, shakers, tambourine- maybe I even hummed a little. I even took a shot at the didgeridoo!

photos (and a glorious evening) courtesy of Cliff Oliver
The Center for Balance, San Diego

I must say, there's nothing quite like banging on a drum and getting a little community sound healing while the waves break below and the pelicans fly overhead. It was so wonderful to connect with other inspired creative souls. Thanks Cliff!!

Monday, July 16, 2012

32/365: The Art of Reflection

Today I made:

time to reflect...
Mission Bay, San Diego 7/4/2011
It’s been a month since I began my 365 Days of Creative project. One valuable lesson I learned in my years as a teacher is that it's crucial to take time to reflect on our work. This is where much of the learning takes place, becomes meaningful and permanent. This is also where we put ourselves in a position to revise our efforts if necessary, so we can continue moving in the right direction.  So here goes... This past month I have found myself: documenting the little moments of my day through photos, working through my muddled thoughts by journaling, playing with words to make poems, pondering my values, creating symbols of my point on this journey with whatever materials I have on hand, and sharing my gifts with the people I love.  While these are all creative things I was doing before I began the project, there are some major differences. I am showing up for myself, one way or another, every day. My daily practice has become a regular connection with my creative source. Sometimes I call on the source when I need it, sometimes it calls on me. It encourages me to pay attention to my inclinations as an artist and how creativity fits into my day. Again, I am reminded, the art is in the noticing. I know I am on the right track to discovering my personal symbols that will make my art more unique and meaningful. Not bad for a month’s work.

And what of my creative bursts? They lead me to think that my photography and writing need to be a bigger part of my mixed-media art, and that maybe making art for others really is leading me back to myself. These are two simple, yet valuable, conclusions that I could not rest my mind on a month ago. My next action steps: to make a list of all those unfinished projects I started for friends, to print some of my favorite old pictures for use in my work, and to dig through my my writings that may inspire me to put color on a canvas. 

My hubby, who has been cheering me on every day, reminded me that I’m one-twelfth of the way there. I appreciate that he can see the journey in such manageable chunks, the same way he does when we jog together with our eyes on the finishing point. When I go jogging by myself, I don’t usually set an end goal. I just run as far as my legs and lungs and mind tell me. My intention is always to just get out there and expend my energy in a healthy way. My project has been very much like one of my jogs: showing up, expending my creative energy in a healthy way and striving to reach a place of strength and assurance. I just go with my art where my hands and heart and mind tell me to.  I do think it’s time to push myself (with jogging and in art)- to push the limits of what’s comfortable, of what I thought I could do. The finish line is far off, the end result rather hazy, but I know I’m moving in the right direction and growing stronger with every step.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

28/365: Turquoise

Today I made:

a quick stop...
I sometimes wonder if my friends and family are perturbed by my frequent stops for pictures. I hope they understand, I can't help it. It comes with wanting to live the creative life. If the scene and colors speak to me, I will hit the breaks on our bike ride, get sand in my sandals and capture the moment. Because it brings me joy to answer the call of the creative whenever and wherever it strikes, and because I needed to remember the turquoise of this kayak...

Sail Bay, San Diego

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

27/365: Unexpected Blue

Today I made:

time for the flowers...
If I have somewhere to be in the morning, I stick to a pretty fixed routine. I don't usually stop to smell the proverbial flowers. But this morning, I couldn't help myself. I'm learning that there is art in the noticing, and that it's worth taking the time to document the little things that make me smile. When the creative spirit moves you to act, be open to the moment. Honor it with whatever form of expression seems right. I photographed these flowers from every angle until I captured the surprising shade of blue that first caught my eye. The journal entry flowed easily from there. Before I even stepped foot outside my door, I was feeling creative and fulfilled. What an amazing way to begin the day!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

26/365: Art is...

Today I made:

a collection...
a young person's thoughts on art
I am collecting words! That is nothing new for me really, but now the focus of my collection is words about ART. Today during tutoring, my brilliant young friend and I did a little free writing (inventive spelling encouraged ;) and brainstormed some adjectives about one of our favorite topics. Those are her words on the left. It's interesting to see how young people articulate what art is to them. I'm particularly excited by the variety in her responses! Her idea of art being forgiving really speaks to me today.

I have a plan for a project that will cover the walls of my dream studio. It stems from my love of words, typography and collaborative art. So beginning today, I'm gathering words that describe art, creativity and self-expression. Anything goes here. Please make your own meaning and share your thoughts. Art is...

Monday, July 9, 2012

25/365: Connection

Today I made:

a connection...

I met with my partner in crime this afternoon, designing a floor plan and working out the operations of our dream business. There was plenty of creative work in that, but I still felt like playing with my art supplies.

It was hubby's turn to cook dinner tonight (he makes a mean pasta sauce), so I got 20 undisturbed minutes in my art space. That is just enough time to dig through my collection and start slapping things together. My inner critic has no time to interfere.

So with the smell of peppers and onions simmering in the kitchen, I got to work. A vintage rubber stamp image (gotta love those dollar bin finds!), some alphabet stamps (my favorite!) and a puzzle piece I found on the sidewalk turned into a representation of my need for connection as an artist and entrepreneur.

It's amazing what we can come up with when we connect on common interests and philosophies.
Sometimes the right person comes along, looks at our ideas from a different perspective and helps the pieces fit together.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

24/365: Surround Yourself With People Who Wonder

Today I made:

This free verse poem...

Surround yourself with the like-minded thoughts
Of like-minded people.
Find your community
In the flesh,
The world of webs,
Or in the pages of a book.
They will be your validation
For who you are or who you are becoming.
Others have walked this path before you.
They have faced these obstacles.
They have stories to tell and lessons to teach.
Listen and learn!
When the understanding is yours,
You can pay it forward
Sharing insights with those who are new on the path.
We are all learners and we are all teachers
In our own time.
Now is the time to go.
Go in the direction of your dreams.
Go to ask the questions and find the answers.
Seek the wisdom that will help you grow.
Grow in the direction of the sun.
Grow so bright that others can't help but wonder
What it would be like to grow that way.
Surround yourself with people who wonder.

On another note (a related one, I suppose)...
I took my first yoga class today! I honestly don't know why I waited so long. Solo living room yoga did not prepare me for this. The quiet, the concentration, the people stretching and bending and breathing around me. My muscles twitched and my legs wobbled. My breathing was uneven and my mind wandered. I couldn't help but smile. I am humbled. I am an absolute beginner...with so many things these days. While that can be frustrating and scary at times, I am giving myself over to the process. There is so much possibility in being a beginner. From here all I can do is practice, learn and grow. Those seem like pretty good options to me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

23/365: What Goes On Up There In That Head of Yours?

Today I made:

more time and space for my creative mind to play...

In finding ways to make creativity a daily part of my life, I've been doing a great deal of contemplation about how to organize and make the best use of my creative time and space. I walked my dog after dinner tonight, with the intention of going straight to work in my art space afterwards. The time was all blocked off and the space was clean and ready for a fresh start...
But instead, I spent 15 minutes agonizing (complete with pacing around my living room and mumbling under my breath) over the rude lady who cursed at me because my dog barked at her dog.

That was obviously not time well spent, but catching myself in the act was a good thing. This is one of those slap in the face epiphanies that I'm glad I had, but I must admit, it stings a little. I realized I spend a pretty ridiculous amount of time dwelling on things that are negative to my well-being and unproductive to my efforts to live a more joyful and fulfilled life. Just this afternoon I spent another chunk of time fretting about whether I'll be able to pay my bills and guilting myself over not accomplishing more on my to-do list. Nothing positive or worthwhile was created from that use of my mental time and space, and I cannot get that time back! I'm supposed to have control over this mind of mine, am I not? Why on earth would I waste creative brain power on something that doesn't serve me or my purpose?

 This got me thinking, aside from managing my schedule and my physical creative space, I really need to get a handle on how I organize and make the best use of my mental time and space if I want to optimize my creativity. I have a very active brain, and when it's not given ways to keep itself busy, it will find its own ways. (I do not approve of some of them.) I am realizing that worry and guilt, among other negative mental constructs, are not productive ways to use my mental down time. How we choose to design our mental landscape and fill the time and space between our ears is so valuable to our well-being as creators and humans!

There are definitely times when the task at hand deserves our complete focus and attention, but replaying stale scenarios, dwelling on the past or worrying about the future often keeps us from living the present moment to its fullest. There are countless things that get my undeserved attention at any given moment throughout the day, even when I'm not actually doing them because my mind likes to plan and analyze every situation to death. Today I'm making some changes: If I'm not currently tackling my to-do list, I will let it rest on the paper until it's time to check off tasks. If I'm not in the act of paying my bills, there's no sense in dreading the balancing of the check book. If I catch myself worrying over something that is out of my control at that given moment, I will put a stop to it. How? Ah, that's the fun part! I will replace it with something creatively productive!

I'm going to take full advantage of my mental time and space when I'm on autopilot (this is the time that my brain usually turns to restless thoughts), like when I'm doing house work, running errands, showering or jogging. (This will also come in handy on long walks when people are slinging insults at me and my overly vocal pup; I'll be too far off in my own little world to hear them.) If I don't need to be 100% mentally present, why not use my conscious creative mind to create something instead?  Why not fill the that time and space with things that promote happiness rather than anxiety? Like working out a creative  project, dreaming up a new use for my art supplies, mentally drafting a piece of writing or toying with far-fetched and delightful ideas that excite me! That way, when I have time to take action on a creative project, the thinking through is done and the play and process have room to begin.

It's time to reclaim my creative mental time and space!
I am picturing a cartoon version of myself climbing to the top of my brain, planting my freak flag and shouting, "I, Mila the Great, claim this space for creative play! All unproductive thoughts are forever banished from this land!"

Friday, July 6, 2012

22/365: Jill on the Hill

Today I made:

A finished painting...

"Jill on the Hill" mixed media on canvas, 9"x12": acrylic, oil pastel, colored pencil, tissue and scrap paper

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

19/365: A Timely Muse

Today I made:

The earth, the sea and the sky...

J's painting is nearly finished, just in time for her departure. Three hours of uninterrupted studio time- I'm covered in paint and a silly grin. It's lovely when my vision begins to materialize on the canvas, but to be in the zone for that amount of time, no blocks, no hesitation- that is the best feeling!
Ideas fall into place, colors blend just right, the painting takes on a life of its own. This is what happens when I get out of my own way, when I let go of the end product and create for the joy of the process.
This is often difficult for me when I'm making something with a specific person in mind. The need to get it just right for them makes it hard to release control. But not today. I needed this session to remind me that I can let go even when I have a vision in mind. J is a sweet spirit and a perfect muse.

I'll post the finished piece soon. For now, sneaky peekies:

earth, sea, sky...painting in progress

Monday, July 2, 2012

18/365: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Today I made:

a decorative flower pot...

 The other day I planted a succulent garden for my darling friend and business partner. The garden is a symbol of the dream we're trying to grow and the little plants in it represent courage, balance, adaptability and resilience (even I can't kill a succulent plant)- the stuff that a growing business needs. Today I stamped these words around the rim of the pot with some acrylic craft paint and alphabet stamps. It was way too much fun! My hubby is worried that I'm going to start stamping words on everything we own.
He is correct.

Home Depot sells itty bitty succulent plants for a couple bucks a piece. They also sell sweet little terra cotta pots glazed in bright colors there too.
I repotted with some fast draining cactus soil
and topped it off with sea glass I found at the craft store.
I must say, it turned out pretty stinkin' cute!