Thursday, January 31, 2013

231/365: A Friend of the Bees

Today I made:

time to stop and smell the flowers...

The delicate star flowers of this jade tree caught my eye today on my afternoon walk with the pup. I had to stop to photograph their blush and golden hues. Not long into my mini photo session,  I realized the flowers were swarming with busy little bees.

I have never been stung by a bee in my 33 years of life. I like to think that it's because I made friends with the bees when I was very small. My grandmother and I used to sit together in the garden on warm mornings and watch the little insects pollinating the flowers. Then we'd head inside to watch my favorite cartoon, Maya the Bee. Grandma gave me a little bee ring to remember her by when we were leaving Poland for the U.S.

From my earliest memories, I've had a thing for bees and whenever I am in their presence I am reminded of Babcia (pronounced Bobcha, Polish for grandma). While many people panic when a bee gets too close, I just smile and say hello to my grandma's spirit. She was a friend to all the little creatures and best friend to little me.

It turns out that jade flowers represent the joy of great friendship. The flowers and the bees carried the same message for me today.

Thank you, Babcia.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

230/365: I Heart Metaphors

Today I made:

a handful of hearts...

My mama always says that hand sewing is a very meditative practice for her. If it weren't for tonight's tangled threads, I would have to agree. I remember many afternoons spent sewing doll clothes with her fabric remnants while she worked at her machine or did embroidery and hand stitching. She would tell me stories about my grandma and her childhood adventures. It was our time alone. This craft brings back such good memories.

These sweet little hearts are going to be part of a project for a friend who is much more talented with needle and thread than I am. I hope she doesn't mind the uneven stitches and frayed edges. I like to think it adds to the charm.

I wouldn't say hand sewing is my first creative passion, but it's definitely something I come back to when I feel like being quiet, and when I need a reminder of the importance of patience on the creative journey. One stitch at a time gets me there. Each stitch is an important part of the process. Tangled threads are part of it too. The creative process of sewing is such a lovely metaphor for life.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

229/365: Love in Every Stitch, Part II

"Patience" the elephant
Today I made:

a wee elephant...

I finally had a chance to work some more on a craft project in progress, another gift for an inspiring friend.
I've made some revisions to the
elements of the design since the 
beginnings of this sewing project
This little guy is just a sneak peek 
at one piece. He's made of felt and fabric, blanket stitched with embroidery floss and stuffed with polyester fiber. I found the tiny pattern by Quex here

I totally channelled my mama in the hand stitching (and the patience).
I'm excited for the whole piece to be finished so I can mail it off to my friend, but it's taking longer than I thought. I'm definitely having to remind myself to enjoy the process and be patient for the end result to come together. I must say, I felt a total sense of pride when this little guy was born tonight. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

228/365: Photography & Creative Play

Today I made:
the game stand still...

I always wonder if my friends and family are annoyed by my constant picture taking. For me, capturing moments or noticing details through the lens of my camera (er, iPhone) is part of living a creative life. I just can't help myself. So maybe I have to stall a game of shuffle board because the colors of the pucks and the grains of wood catch my eye. At least I managed to squeeze in some creative time today, well outside of my art studio. iPhone-ography is my daily dose of creative play on the go. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

227/365: Bucket Lists & Creative Chicks

Today we created:

new friendships...

We had such a fun group of gals join us for the Creative Bucket List Meetup! The girls took my idea and ran with it, coming up with their own bucket themes and setting meaningful goals. Hearts and souls went into making these mixed media visual representations of our creative intentions. I love that each one was so unique.

G's bucket list in progress

I was especially delighted by how quickly we bonded over creative interests and how willing and supportive everyone was in sharing their goals with each other. The laughter and encouraging words could fill a dozen buckets! The creative community I've been needing in my life grew today and I'm so grateful for it.

"Create new friendships" was on everyone's bucket list. Clink!
each one as unique as the artist

Saturday, January 26, 2013

226/365: The Edge of Your Comfort Zone

9"x12" mixed media on wood panel: plaster, acrylic, paper & beads
artwork copyright Mila Bowman 2013
quote: "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." by Neale Donald Walsh
Today I made:

the finishing touches to a painting...

A darling friend of mine is embarking on her own creative journey. This is the quote that started her on a new path. These words resonate with me as well. I admire her courage as she toes the edges of the wild and beautiful unknown.

Erin, this is for you.

detail "The Edge of Your Comfort Zone"; I love the textures in the plaster!
I definitely explored the edge of my comfort zone with this new to me art medium.

Friday, January 25, 2013

225/365: Salvaging Inspiration

my obsesson- pretty colored and patterned things...
How could I resist this journal cover?
(I needed a new journal like I need a hole in the head.)
Today I made:
a purchase...

It was a rough day of substitute teaching, the kind that makes me grateful it's not my class. I'm sure they all have their redeeming qualities individually, but put a bunch of 5th graders in a room together on a rainy Friday and it's all sass and attitude. I was totally the bad guy. By the end of it I had a killer tension headache and my own bad attitude. So not how I wanted to start my weekend!

Deep in thought and frustration on the drive home, I took the wrong exit and somehow ended up in the parking lot of Michael's craft store. I have no idea how this happened.

So under the pretense that I had to pick up supplies for our art Meetup this weekend, I allowed myself to enter. Such a bad (super, awesome, wonderful, perfect) idea! This is retail therapy for artists on a budget. (And today it was my form of self-care.) Something is always on sale, or is my favorite color of the week, or has a bird on it. I am charmed and helpless to resist. I get lost in this place like my husband gets lost at Home Depot or Guitar Center. It's the good kind of lost where you happily dream away an hour, and before you know it, it's dark outside and you're hungry and you wish you had chosen a cart instead of a basket. Hey, it happens.

Sometimes I wander aimlessly, letting inspiration find me. Other times I have a system, my perfect "cheer me right up" path through the store. First I hit up the dollar bins to search for treasures to use for collage. (A few new stamps and this cute journal became mine today.) Then I browse the scrapbook paper for whimsical patterns. I could probably wallpaper my house with all the decorative papers I own. Next I find my way to the beads. Those pretty little baubles always remind me of happy times. Eventually I make my way to the back of the store where they keep the artist's grade tools. I stare up at the big canvases that I haven't yet mustered the guts to purchase. (Someday I want to make BIG art!) Then I visit the brushes and get totally intimidated by all the different types for all the different painterly reasons that I have yet to discover. I usually walk out with a small addition to my creative tool collection, and a whole lot of enthusiasm.

So maybe I did't make a piece of art today, but I made myself happy by dreaming of  the ways I'd love to play with art.

I salvaged my inspiration.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

224/365: Creative Goal Prompts

Today I made:
creative goal prompts...

I'm learning that during the process of growing a creative life, we sometimes have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. There are exciting things and enriching experiences to be found out there. This weekend, my creative friends and I will gather for a Bucket List party to dream up our goals for the year. I'm getting so excited to bask in the glow of like-minded souls!

I've been thinking about how my personal bucket list came about. I essentially thought of ways to push myself out of my comfort zone, to learn and to make art a bigger part of my life. I got creative with my creativity.

When creating your bucket list, think about how you like to express yourself and what you want your happy, artful life to look like.  I hope this sparks your eagerness to dream big in your creative life:

a new medium you'd like to explore
a class you've been wanting to take
something you'd like to make a regular practice
something you consider thrilling
something out of your comfort zone
a creative skill you want to teach yourself
something you'd like to teach others
something you can do right now
something to work on all year
a book you've been wanting to read
something that would make someone else smile
something that would make you smile
something that requires courage
something in a community
a place to visit (near or far) for inspiration- somewhere you've never been
something that involves writing
something that requires more energy than you think you have
a way to share your art or your creative talent; a way to share your gifts with the world
something that will make you feel like a kid
something messy
something that will leave a legacy
something you'll never ever regret

Now go act on your dreams!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

223/365: Inspiration on Four Legs

Today I made:
pup pictures...

Banjo was my late night muse tonight.
Leave it to our pets to cheer and inspire us.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

222/365: Long into Your Life

plaster, acrylic & beads- piece in progress
Today I made:
more (yes more!) time to play...

Spending three days with a one year-old and his adoring, fun-loving family put me in the mood to play. So that is what I did tonight. With plaster, paint and beads I allowed myself to explore, try new things and make messes.

You're never too old to be enthralled by colors, shapes and textures. We should be paying attention to what catches our eye long into our lives.

Here are some snippets from my play time:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

219/365: The Art of Play

Today I made:
time to play...

Happy first year of life, little man KJ! 
Thank you for bringing us all together for a day of remembering what it's like to be a kid.

Friday, January 18, 2013

218/365: The Art of Waiting

Today I made:

a watercolor sunset...

Waiting for a flight and passing the time by playing with Instaeffect photo app. Loving this watercolor sunset effect on a picture of the bay that was originally too dark. This one would be fun to paint.

I'm finding such old treasures in my iPhone camera roll that I had forgotten about. It's nice to have some time to sit and scroll through the images that make up my world.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

217/365: The Art of Rejection

"Small, But Mighty" copyright Mila Bowman 2013
4"x4" mixed media on pine board:
encaustic (beeswax & resin), oil pastel, ink, scrap paper, 
ribbon, photo & found text
Today I made:
a recipe for dealing with rejection...

Winter got my letter! It was 71 degrees in Pacific Beach today. (That's more like it.)
That's the good news.

Today was also the day that Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine announced the finalists for the Make Mine Mini art challenge. After an extra week in limbo, I got the news. Out of 300 submissions, there were 53 finalists. I was not one of them.

A minor blow to the ego, but onward I go.
There will be more challenges, contests and submissions. It's on my bucket list to get published this year, so I'm not giving up. There had to be a first attempt and a first failure; it's part of the process. So is dealing with it...

Mila's 5 Step Plan for Dealing with Rejection Gracefully: 
1) Throw yourself a five minute pity party. (Go ahead, it's allowed.)
2) Go for a brisk walk. (My pup never rejects this idea.)
3) Eat a delicious meal. (And perhaps treat yourself to a nice glass of wine.)
4) Have a chat with a friend who makes you feel good. (Thanks, Casey!)
5) Go make more art! (That's the courageous part of the plan.)

"Small, But Mighty" is an encaustic collage of me as a wee girl. Sometimes I feel like my creative dreams are too big for me to take on, but brave Little Me knows better. She encouraged me to put my art out there for my first magazine submission. I have a wise inner child.

What I really love about this piece is the memory the photo holds. I was nearly three and still living with my mom and grandma in Poland at the time. We had taken a trip to the seashore, where at a children's club, my family convinced me to get up on stage and recite a long funny poem as part of a contest. That's me posing for a photo after winning first place. When I told my mom I was using the photo in a piece of art, she reminded me that my dress was pale blue and that my grandma clapped the loudest. 

This was a valuable experience. I got practice with my art getting judged...and rejected. It will happen and I need to learn how to deal with it. I also realized that working small is a great way to master some of the challenges of encaustic painting. Thanks to the art challenge, I now feel more comfortable exploring this medium. And best of all, I think I'm on to something with these old family photos. Maybe a series? The Big Adventures of Little Me.

I have big dreams, you know. ;)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

216/365: Dreams of Outdoor Art Studios

Today I made:
springtime plans and a letter to Winter...

Dear Winter,

No, thank you.

A Frigid Artist

I love San Diego winter for it's amazing crisp-colored sunsets, but when the temperature here on the coast dips down to frosty windshield and "I can see my breath" levels, my inner summer child throws a big fit. My studio is chilly, my hands are cracked from paint brush rinsing, I'm in slow moving hibernation mode and full of excuses. So here I sit, in my robe and fuzzy socks, warm pup and sketchbook on my lap, dreaming of springtime.

I could really use some (warm) fresh air with all the gypsum dust I've been kicking up in sanding my joint compound projects. I'm also itching to break out my wood burning tool since I've been having so much fun with carving lines into the plaster. And the ventilation in my kitchen is just not cutting it for the encaustic medium I heat for my wax projects. Resin is toxic when heated and a big no-no to be breathing in.

I'm coming to the conclusion that my art explorations could use an outdoor space. Last year, Rodney offered to help me construct a little open air art studio in the backyard. I've decided I'm going to take him up on it when the weather gets warmer.

So, winter, have your way with us. I will try to be patient. When my productivity drops with the temperature, I'll just sit on my cozy couch and sketch out plans for my new outdoor art studio. The thought of art in the sunshine warms me well.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

215/365: First Impressions

original stamp on top left, with three stamped plaster attempts
Today I made:

field notes...

It's day three of experimenting with plaster, or my version of it- hardware store joint compound. I decided to let the "Inspire" piece simmer for a bit while I contemplate the rest of the color scheme and work up the nerve to paint a bird.

I say field notes because it's going to take some experimenting and documenting to perfect some techniques for my fun new medium, so I'm recording what worked and what didn't in my journal.

Today I spread the compound over a fresh surface, some inexpensive craft pine board. I did some more "carving" into the plaster once it set for about 15 minutes. That seemed to work best. Then I was determined to see what would happen if I attempted to stamp the surface with a rubber stamp design. My first impressions (pun intended) were not as awesome as I envisioned. It was hard to get the imprint even. Some parts didn't stamp at all and some just came up gooey. I'm not terribly disappointed with the result as it has a nice aged quality and might pair well with carving. We'll see what it looks like once I paint a wash of acrylic over it after the plaster is fully dry.

Now I get to go clean plaster out of my favorite stamp with a toothbrush. Yay.

Monday, January 14, 2013

214/365: Art in Spurts

 mixed media piece in progress
Today I made:

progress on a painting...

Teaching myself to work on art in short spurts (that fit a busy weekday schedule). I'm curious to see where this one goes. I'm having fun with it. I hope I can keep momentum with the idea even if I only do a little at a time or don't work on it on consecutive days.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

213/365: Hardware Store Art Supplies

Today I made:

texture with joint compound...

After last night's happy accident that resulted in peek-a-boo layers and lovely textures, I decided to experiment with a new material that would create those textures I love so much.

Picture the look of aged plaster walls. Did you know you could get the same effect using cheap hardware store joint compound? It's basically a premixed plaster that comes in little tubs. (Definitely not artist grade, but it works for me and my experiments.) I just spackled it onto sturdy canvas board with a trowel and let it dry (for several hours). Then I painted over it with a wash of acrylic (watered down paint) and the peeks and valleys picked up the paint to reveal natural texture just like I was hoping.

Here I experimented with joint compound over a page of text (you can see a little peeking through), a paper doily collaged onto the surface, and some carving into the dry plaster. So much fun! Can't wait to play more!
pieces of a work in progress

Saturday, January 12, 2013

212/365: The Art of Non-Attachment

uncovered text: "believe..."; Believe that there is more art in you.
(My art is always trying to tell me something.)
Today I made:

room for another happy accident...

It is said that one of the best ways for an artist to let go of inhibitions and make more art is to practice non-attachment.

This is different from detachment. Detachment means you really don't care (or pretend not to). If I didn't care about my art, I wouldn't put enough energy towards it to ever begin. Or maybe detachment would be a defense mechanism for avoiding negative feelings (such as fear) that often come with creating something new.

Non-attachment, on the other hand, is a positive effort. It means you are not attached to the outcome. When I'm practicing non-attachment, I don't have preconceived expectations for how a piece should turn out. My ability to do this comes and goes. It doesn't help that I'm always dreaming up projects (like gifts for friends) and I have only a fuzzy idea of how to create what's in my mind, but I'm very certain from the start that it needs to be amazingly fabulous- my best work yet. Right. Best of luck to me.

I think a lot of the work of non-attachment happens in the mind. Learning to silence the inner critic and not pass judgement on our art while we're creating takes practice. There is also the goal of being in the moment and creating for the joy of the process rather than the end result. As artists, we are constantly working on both of these things.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with my brother. He said that one belief behind non-attachment in art is that if we create something, we should be willing to destroy it- tear it up, burn it, discard it, etc. This seemed like a radical idea to me at the time, but now I can see how this would force the artist to
let go of attachment. If a piece was destined for destruction, it would not be as precious and would discourage the artist from struggling towards some idea of perfection. The artist could just create freely in the moment, practice their medium and not be tied to an end result. I do think I might show up and  make a lot more art this way, and eventually my technique would develop.

For me, a more gentle practice of non-attachment is to paint over a piece that's not going anywhere. (I used to not be able to do this for fear of losing something that I might be able to salvage.) Tonight I pulled out an old canvas that I'd been holding on to in hopes of some spark of inspiration. I decided to gesso over it and start fresh. As I worked, the wet gesso (acrylic primer) caused the collaged paper underneath to lift and form air bubbles. I was not having that so I scraped at it with a putty knife. The result was a cool distressed texture of the chalky gesso with the old paint color peeking through, and an uncovered text transfer where I had used gel medium to glue down book pages. I was delighted! I love the effect! I've discovered a technique for creating textured backgrounds in my mixed media pieces and image transfer on canvas.

Today non-attachment made room for happy accidents to be born! We must learn to let go of what is not serving us to make room for new expressions. We must trust that more and better art will get made. So go ahead, paint over it. There is more art in you where that came from.

Friday, January 11, 2013

211/365: Limbo

Today I made:

a cup of tea...

Today was the day that finalists for the Make Mine Mini challenge were supposed to be announced on the Cloth Paper Scissors website. I waited all day to find out if my piece made it to the next round for possible publication. I had already given myself a pep talk (as had my sweet husband) in case I didn't make it. I had decided it wasn't a big deal; not as much about the quality of the art (and the judging of it) as it was about the experience of putting myself out there. I was ready for an answer, one way or another. I could take it.

As it turns out, the magazine had received so many entries that they were not ready to announce finalists yet! Noooo! Don't make me wait another week! I was NOT prepared for that, and it totally threw me for a loop. That is too much time for second guessing. Now I have completely lost track of my light hearted "I'll send it out into the world and see what happens" mentality.

All of a sudden I feel antsy and unfocused and completely resistant to all the creative projects I had set aside for tonight. Here I am again, afraid to begin for fear of not knowing the outcome. Really?! I thought I was past this! What I yucky feeling.

So I worked some more on my friend's playlist, added to my vision boards on Pinterest and drank tea. I know the days ahead will bring inspiration to take my mind off of the magazine submission and impending verdict. Art does get made in limbo, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

210/365: Mellow Tunes for Steady Hands

iphone app camera effects in layers
(my version of photoshop)
Today I made:

album art
& a playlist...

Wow, I am all over the place with my creativity lately! I have a few projects in progress, but couldn't help starting a new one today. I figure I should move with the inspiration on these chilly winter days when it's sometimes hard to get off my cozy couch. Whatever wants to get made gets made.

Today I am inspired by music- long lost music that once upon a time won my heart. Music has always fullfilled a deep need for me, but for a while now in my quiet state, I've forgotten about these soul lifters. (I guess I've been in my head- excessively.) So I've started the process of digging through my old albums, pulling together the favorites of the favorites. It's like hearing some of them for the first time, getting the same goosebumps.

Alas, I wish I could say I created this music. I have little to no talent in that area, but I can compile one sweet playlist! There are too many gems to choose from, so this will probably be Volume I of several. This is the perfect mix for closing the door to your art space and doing a little slow dancing with your muse. Mellow Tunes for Steady Hands is a gift for my brilliant jewelry designer friend, who is spending more time in her creative space these days. I wanted to share some of the songs that put me in my happiest creating zone the last few years. Oh how I've missed them!

Singer/songwriter, indie, blues and folk flavored, some songs mellow all the way through, some with just the right amount of build up and bounce. Some old, some new, none mainstream that I know of. I am in lyric love with all of them. This is poetry set to music. It keeps my stormy thoughts at bay and helps to tune out the inner critic. It frees me up to think less and play more in my creative space. If any of this sounds appealing, I highly, highly recommend these songs. Hopefully some of them are new finds for you.

No links for now, just a list, but you could easily search them and hear previews. I think that's part of the fun of discovering new music. Enjoy!

From The Morning, by Nick Drake ...(Someday I will paint these lyrics on my bedroom wall.)
Each Coming Night, by Iron & Wine ...(Probably one of my favorite bands ever ever!)
Tenuousness, by Andrew Bird ...(wonderful wordsmith)
Flowering Spade, by Sean Hayes ...(makes me want to dance)
Big Bird In a Small Cage, by Patrick Watson ...(awesome build up- wait for it!)
Growing Up Beside You, by Paolo Nutini ...(A little Scottish brogue never hurt anyone. Sweet song!)
Mango Tree, by Angus & Julia Stone ...(Australian brother & sister band)
Ten Women, by Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band ...(lovely guitar stylings!)
Empty, by Ray LaMontagne ...(stormy, beautiful lyrics)
Watch Over Me, by Bernard Fanning ...(perpetually stuck in my head)
Leaves In the River, by Sea Wolf ...(a haunting story of a song)
The Trapeze Swinger, by Iron & Wine ...(So nice, I added them twice!)
A Thousand Tiny Pieces, a cover by The Be Good Tanyas ...("What's your story, Universe?)
Can I Keep You, by Phillip Roebuck ...(first dance at our wedding, by a dear and very talented friend)
Here Comes the Sun Again, by M. Ward ...(This song just makes me happy.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

209/365: Love in Every Stitch

Today I made:

one stitch at a time...

Inspired by a "Hanging Hearts" ornament handmade in India and given to me as a gift (thanks, Bee!), I decided to do a little hand sewing of my own to make a gift for another dear friend.

I had fun pulling together the pieces for the design today. Some funky fabric, embroidery floss, baubles and beads- oh the mixed media loveliness! Each piece of the ornament will reflect my friend's tastes and inspirations. I'm sewing love into every stitch.

Here's a sneak peek at my collection of baubles for the piece. I'll post the finished project soon, along with my idea for its use in a creative space.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

208/365: A Cure for Hibernation Mode

Today I made:

an invitation...

Has anyone else been in hibernation mode these wintry days? I often become such a hermit after the holidays are over, holed up in my art space all by myself. I enjoy the quiet time to reflect at the beginning of the year and am pretty productive, but there's something lacking. I am in need of some creative company.

Luckily, I am the proud hostess of an ever-growing creative community on Meetup. (Maybe there's something like it in your community?) After taking a little holiday hiatus last month, my co-organizers and I decided that we'd like to offer the Creative Bucket List activity as a workshop with our group. January is the perfect time to gather with like-minded people and share our inspirations and encouragement for our brave goals.

I'm so excited for our big kid play date!! I get such awesome energy from other creative spirits. A chance to bond over art and creative dreams will surely melt me out of hibernation mode!

Monday, January 7, 2013

207/365: Getting Our House in Order

Today I made:


People, watch out! I am in the mood to clean...
and organize and declutter and purge and minimize! I don't fall into this state often (last time was over three years ago when we made our move to San Diego), so I need to take advantage of the spurt of motivation. My husband and I currently live (with our small dog child and his big attitude) in a 450 square foot space (not including the garage/man cave/ woodshop and a decent-sized yard). Our landlord calls it the doll house, and it is very much beginning to feel that way as we acquire more stuff. Our handmade projects are ever increasing, so that doesn't help.

We have both been feeling like it's time to get our house in order. Not just our actual house, but the state of our lives as well. This is the year we will figure out our finances, make plans for our future home and the growth of our little family. This year we will do a little bit of growing up. Just a little. (We like to pretend that we have some control over this.) It all begins with the physical environment for me.

I started in the garage (scary!) and went through all of my old teaching materials, which are so hard to part with even though I don't have my own classroom right now. I decided to hold on to most of it for now to use for tutoring, but I'm proud to say that my files and books are in a much happier state. Next I tackled my bedroom closet, drawers and art storage. It's amazing how many things I hang on to that I really don't need. Learning to minimize is not easy. I tend to go at it in stages and I'm slowly starting to talk myself into the idea of living with less stuff.

It feels good to create space. It's as if organizing my environment helps clear out room for new ideas and invites new energy. In the coming weeks I will continue the work of soul searching, goal setting, dream mapping and getting clarity on my path. Today was a warm up for getting my inner house in order.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

205/365: Where Ideas Come From

angel wing ornament, found light bulb, decoupaged coaster & found always, the perfect text found me.

Today I made:

the most epic list ever...

Apparently, ideas come from cocktail napkins, old journals, mysterious computer files, smart phone notes and random bits of paper.

I just spent the last several hours sorting through scribbled notes to pull together every creative idea that I've written down over the last couple years. Ideas for art pieces, new mediums to try, techniques to explore, crafts to sell, articles to write, art series to develop, workshops to teach and creative business plans- they are all accounted for. Phew!

Some of the ideas I don't remember writing. Others I could kick myself for not starting sooner because they are so juicy. It turns out that my Creative Bucket List and Letter to My Future Self were just scratching at the surface of projects I want to dive into.

This is proving, once again, that I'm a dreamer way way way before I'm a doer. I've been functioning this way since I was a little girl, getting great ideas, writing them down and forgetting about them as soon as the next idea comes along. I seriously frustrate myself. Does anyone else have this problem? I'm not going to dwell on it too much as I've made quite a turn-around since last summer, but what is it going to take this year to turn more of my plans into action?

Usually, one idea will trigger another and they come flooding in faster than I can write them down, much less do them. It's idea overload! I'm not complaining. I suppose it's better to have more ideas than you know what to do with than to feel totally dried up and uninspired. I've been there too, but only because I had forgotten about all my ideas. That won't be a problem anymore. I'm well beyond the point of an idea journal, so I devised a more organized and accessible list. (That's the teacher in me.)

Can you tell I'm on an organizing streak? My inner critic is trying to guilt me into thinking that I'm just using this as an excuse to avoid actually making art. I realize that's how it may seem, but I know better. I have purposely been taking advantage of the calm before the storm. This is my time to get organized so that when work gets back into full swing this coming week, I have my creative artillery ready.

I am now convinced that I have years worth of creative projects to occupy my time. Now I just have to find the will and make the time to bring them to fruition. It felt good to get all my creative schemes and dreams into one place today. My left and right brain are currently doing a happy dance (together!!)

Friday, January 4, 2013

204/365: Zentangle (Beyond Doodling)

Today I made:
ink on paper (micron pens look much neater);  patterns clockwise
from left: "paradox," "cubine," "lacey," "knight's bridge" & "stircles"

zen doodles...

This was beyond doodling actually.
I took my first zentangle class tonight and it was just what I hoped it would be- yoga for my brain!

Zentangles are miniature works of art in black and white. They are abstract, but are created through a structured method of repetitive patterns. Besides being fun and totally accessible to anyone, zentangle is best known for its therapeutic benefits. This art form has been used to treat anxiety, addiction, attention disorders and is even said to help with pain management.

Within moments, I found myself in a relaxed meditative state as I became totally absorbed in creating patterns. As I made repeated, deliberate strokes I could feel my focus and concentration improve on the task at hand. I was completely in the moment! What a great way to temporarily silence the storm that is my busy mind.

Official zentangles call for some fine art tools: 3.5" square tiles cut from fancy Fabriano paper, micron pens, graphite pencil and shader. I might pick up some pens for smoother strokes and easier filling, but a regular sketchbook will serve my purposes. Notice erasers aren't on the list. A pencil is used only to create the original "frame" and "strings" to provide grids for tangling. The "patterns" are all done in permanent pen. How's that for a lesson in accepting mistakes and moving ahead? I can tell you from tonight's experience, my eagerness to finish a tangle resulted in several incorrect strokes, but once you're into a tangle, you might as well finish it. Mistakes or "variations," as the teacher called them, add to the charm. Releasing expectations is part of the zentangle art philosophy. I'll take all the practice I can in the area of putting process over product!

I am definitely adding zentangles to my sketch book adventures. A fifteen minute doodle session here and there, while watching a movie or waiting for an appointment, will help me fill me sketch book in no time! My dear friend, Casey, uses coloring books to relax her mind when she needs a break from her main creative focus, sewing and fashion design. I think "tangling" is going to be my new reprieve (or warm up or bridge between projects, for that matter!)

To learn more about the origin and philosophy behind zentangles, check out the official zentangle site. For pattern ideas and to see how the pros do it, visit

The zentangle slogan is going to be my new art mantra: "Anything is possible, one stroke at a time."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

203/365: First Magazine Submission

sneak peek of my submission piece
Today I made:

itty bitty art...

Today I worked on my submission for an art challenge to one of my favorite mixed media art magazines. If you haven't discovered this yet, check it out here: Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine. The whole website is a great resource for mixed media artists. I love getting the magazine in the mail every couple months. You can also find it at craft stores like Joanne's or Michael's. It's filled with ideas and inspiration and it's what got me motivated to get back into art making a few years ago.

In every issue, Cloth Paper Scissors hosts an art challenge for readers to submit a piece of mixed media art for publication in the magazine. Their November/December challenge was to Make Mine Mini. So today I worked on my 4"x4" mixed media piece. Small proportions call for big creativity. How to fit juicy art on such a small canvas?

This will be my first art submission to a magazine. Getting published is on my Creative Bucket List this year, so keep your fingers crossed for me! I'll find out on January 11th if my piece was chosen to be a finalist for publication. I've decided that no matter what happens, I get a big pat on the back for putting myself out there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

202/365: A Letter to My Future Self

An altered book page turned art journal
holds my letter to self.
Today I made:

a letter to my future self...

This year instead of making resolutions that I feel guilted and pressured into pursuing (and will invariable lose sight of), I decided to write a letter to my future self articulating my most joyful goals. The letter, to be opened at a later date, was an exercise in setting goals I’m passionate about and  manifesting my dreams. I announced to the Universe what I intend to make happen over the next several months in my personal life and with my career and creative pursuits. I was delightfully surprised to find that I actually know quite well what I want my life to look like in the near future. The words spilled out of me, one powerful intention after another, filled with affirmations. (I really know how to sweet talk myself ;)

When I was writing my letter, it felt less daunting somehow to use "you" to address myself, as if I were talking to a dear friend. I wrote my goals as if they were success stories that have already happened. For example, instead of saying, "I really want to make more time for art in my life," I wrote "You have made art an even bigger part of your life. Your art space is your refuge and your playground. You have developed a playful relationship with your muses and strengthened your connection with the creative source. Your art is evolving, your unique style is becoming evident and your voice is coming through loud and clear." I wanted it to be like a letter from a trusted friend who knows my deepest desires, believes in me and encourages me along the way. The more detailed the bettter!

When I first contemplated this project, I reconsidered the time frame for the "grand opening" several times. Should I open the letter at the end of the year? In three months to check on my progress? Since these were more short term visions that I want to stay on track with, I decided six months was appropriate. That seemed like just long enough for me to put some things into action and for the Universe to work its magic. (The long-term plan is still in the works and I feel like I need to get my husband in on that one.)

the perfect found text and vintage postage stamp...
I'm mingling with my own soul.
I'm really beginning to understand that when you want to create something in your life, having a clear vision is imperative. I am by no means finished with my visioning after this letter. I have some vision board and dream map projects in the works. I'm realizing that fleshing out my vision for what I want my life to look and feel like has been the missing secret ingredient in making my big girl dreams come true. No more sitting around with fuzzy ideas of wanting to be an artist and not knowing exactly what to focus on.

I will probably read the letter a few more times over the next couple days and make sure all my goals are represented in my vision board where I can see them. Then I will seal it up in my art journal and open it at the beginning of June this year. It might also be fun to send a copy to my best friend for safe keeping, so she can send it back to me as my future self delivers the good news of all my accomplishments. Then I'll be getting a letter from my future self. Who doesn't love mail?!

Try it! Write down all your hopes and dreams for your creative life (I mean ANYTHING you want to create) as if they were already a reality. Use as many details as you can (but you don't have to know exactly how you're going to make it happen yet). Go ahead and talk yourself up and don’t be afraid to dream big. Let's see what happens when we send our dreams out into the Universe.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

201/365: Creative Bucket List 2013

Today I made:

my Creative Bucket List for 2013...

Again with the list making.
I just can't help myself. I have a bucketful of creative goals that I'd like to put into action this year, and I thought this would be a fun way to keep track of them.

I plan to spend my year living my creativity to the fullest and doing the things I love to do. This should help me be more mindful of what I'm doing with my time and this list has no chance of getting lost in the clutter.

These mini clothespins gave me an excuse to bust out my label maker.  I'm very much looking forward to "crossing things off" my list. I think there will be a great sense of satisfaction when each pin goes "clink" into the bucket.
"share my projects on Pinterest"...clink!

By the end of the year I'll have a neat little pile of experiences and accomplishments that will contribute to my creative life.

Are you hearing the call of the creative? Is there an art medium or expressive modality you've been wanting to try? What is on your 2013 Creative Bucket List?

Here's to a creative new year!