Thursday, February 28, 2013

259/365: Staying Inspired

Today I made:

time to get re-inspired...

Kimberly Wilson is an artist and author I truly admire. I'm delighted to share these great resources! When I get wrapped up in my busy day to day and need inspiration and validation for my own creative life, I dip into Kimberly's creative offerings here. I have yet to explore all the gifts this awesome lady has put out in the world, but some of her offerings include a sweet little lifestyle blog, creative retreats & e-courses, and my current favorite go-tos that fit my busy schedule, Kimberly's "Tranquility du Jour" podcasts.

Sometimes she interviews artist, authors, coaches or business owners, and in other podcasts Kimberly shares her own musings on making time for creativity, finding balance and living a tranquil life. During my daily commute, while I'm cleaning the house, or on long walks with my pup, Kimberly's podcasts keep me company (yay iPhone app!) The recordings are both educational and inspiring and there is a treasure trove of topics that appeal to me as a blossoming artist. They are a lovely reprieve from my own thoughts at times that my mind might otherwise be turned over to my inner critic.

Tonight, while doing the dishes, I treated myself to one of Ms. Wilson's most recent podcasts and was reminded that there are so many others out there like me, trying to live a balanced, creative life.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

258/365: Late Night Musings

Just because the path is difficult doesn't mean you took a wrong turn.
I'm finding that, often, "the obstacle is the path."

Just a little Zen wisdom.
That is all.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

257/365: Pieces of Lovely

Today I made:

a found text gift message...

One of my very favorite inspire-me-quick creative activities lately is hunting for sweet words and phrases in old books. Today I had just a few minutes to get my art on, so I found the perfect snippet of text to collage inside a little box I will be gifting to a friend. I'm nutty about found text and love creating for others, so what better way to send a sweet surprise sentiment or lovely little thought?

I'm getting all kinds of project ideas that will feed my love of words!

Monday, February 25, 2013

256/365: The Couch Potato's Sketchbook

Today I made:

family time & a sketch...


No sir, I don't like it. Particularly when I can't seem to muster it after a long day at work, discipline becomes the enemy. It makes me feel all sorts of guilty for not being in my art space creating something dazzling. I've seriously cut back on my T.V. watching over the past couple years, but my after-work routine is still not what it needs to be in order for more art to get made...especially when my husband is home to keep me company.

It's oh so hard to pass up on a movie night on a cozy couch with a sweet pup and snuggly husband. Throw in a coffee table smorgasbord-style dinner and I'm done for! I bet there are tumbleweeds blowing through my desolate art space as I type this.

It's not an easy thing to juggle art making, a day job and relationships. But we knew that already.
I'm working on ways to coax myself into my art space after a tiring day, and on reframing my thinking (self-discipline is supposed to be a good thing, right?!) Until then, I've devised a plan for a "Couch Potato Sketchbook." I'm going to start keeping a sketchbook and some pencils under my couch (with the dust bunnies) that I can pull out mid veg session. A doodle is a creative act, after all! I can do a simple sketch or line drawing in between bigger projects in my art space. I can just let my hand go where it will and see what comes out of me- no pressure, just practice and play. One of my Creative Bucket List goals for the year is to fill a sketchbook. My couch doodle sessions will help with this goal!

I think every couch potato should have a sketchbook. A relaxed mind is a creative mind!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

255/365: Make a Text Scarf, The Wearable Word

Today I made:

another text scarf...

Um, have I mentioned that I like words on things? ;)

My fondness for reading, writing and communicating through the written word is all about learning and teaching. The text itself, however, has also become a graphic element that I'm so drawn to in my creative pursuits. Text began to appear in my home decor years ago, found it's way into my wedding theme (which I'll have to share one of these days), then began to seep into my art, now the wearable kind.

I hand wrote another scarf for a dear friend's birthday today. This time I chose a beautiful poem by Hafiz, a 14th century Persian poet. I also included pieces of inspiring text from the Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann. I'm hoping it will make her smile and add an interesting accessory to her wardrobe.

As a design element and a source of meaning and inspiration, writing is a form of expression that has found a permanent place in my art.

See more photos of the text scarf project and learn how to make your own  here.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

254/365: I Needed This Day

Today I made:

a five senses study & some sunny photos...

the sun on my cheeks and the wind in my hair,
a picnic in the grass,
the salt on the air,
the clanging of the chains against the masts,

the colors of the sail boats...

and hearts in the sand...

There's not much that a day in the sun won't cure.

Friday, February 22, 2013

253/365: Ebb & Flow

Today I made:

a poem about the creative process...

Ebb and flow
Wax and wane
Crest and trough
Rise and fall

Dry hard earth
and fruitful spring

Passion and

These are all natural rhythms
Along the creative cycle
You would be wise
To practice acceptance

So quiet your fearful cries
That you are all dried up
For dormant seeds are stirring inside you
All the while

Letting go is necessary:
Softly surrender;
And holding fast is vital:
Embrace faith

It is all part of the process
This uncomfortable ebb
And her impending flow

Thursday, February 21, 2013

252/365: Hiatus

Today I made:

{it} O.K...

I have several back-dated posts from the week that are in varying stages of completion. I've been using the Blogger app on my iPhone to revise them when I have a few minutes here and there. It's been a busy week- new job, new schedule, old worries. I am tired and not in the mood to play with my art tools. I've taken a hiatus from my computer. I haven't checked my email, visited Facebook or posted my creative accomplishments for nearly a week. There is no room for guilt here though. Guilt inhibits creativity. There is however, room for fumbles and much need breaks.

The happy news is, I've been making good on my creative acts each day that I haven't posted them. Today's journal entry is a reminder that creative expression comes in many forms. If we do what we are in the mood for in the moment, even the simplest expression, it keeps us connected to our creative source. It keeps the embers burning until a big creative gust sweeps us into action.

I look forward to having my creative fire fueled again. Until then, I'm making it O.K. to take a hiatus.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

251/365: Creating Time

Today I made:

good use of my planner...

I'm pausing in between "teaching gigs" to do a little journaling and some much needed creative schedule maintenance. The new job is proving to be high impact on my energy. It's part time, but makes for a hectic schedule with my tutoring. I am absolutely determined to keep creating every day and to keep self-care high on my list of priorities, so it's going to take some fancy agenda arranging. Today I busted out my handy dandy day runner (that I purchased at the beginning of the year and have yet to use consistently) and got down to it.

I'm trying not to be too neurotic by planning everything down to the minute. I'm leaving room for spontaneity and life's little surprises, but it helps to have some idea of what I need and want to accomplish in a day. I feel more productive and efficient when I have some sort of rough plan. I'm beginning by filling in my work hours and appointments for the week, (so I can prove to myself that I have plenty of free time left- 128 hours each week, to be exact). Then I'm jotting down 2 to 4 other tasks that I'd like to accomplish in order to feel fulfilled each day. I'm rounding it out with the absolutely mandatory (and happy to do it) daily creative act, or a general time frame for my creative play.

I'm hoping this little weekly planner ritual will get me to a place where I can begin designating time to complete the action steps for me big creative goals. That was the idea in January anyway. It looks like this new job may be forcing me to get my ducks in a row this Spring. March, little ducks, march!

Note to self:
This is just a best effort. You will falter. You may fail. You can begin again the next day. Take it easy and keep making art.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

250/365: New Job, Old Fears

Today I made:

lesson plans...

I've started a new job this week! It's a position that allows me to do what I love without the full-time commitment of having my own classroom. For the next six weeks, I will be working at a local elementary school as a literacy and math intervention teacher. I will support small groups of students in kindergarten through fifth grade. It is very much like what I'm already doing through my tutoring and thankfully allows me to keep my current students.

So today I spent some time creating lesson plans for my little readers, writers and mathematicians. There is always an excitement in this for me. There is so much room for creativity here. Curriculum design and teaching are the crafts that I studied long before I chose to delve into the expressive arts. There is comfort here for me in knowing that I can do good for my students.

There is also an old fear, however, that I will not do good for myself. I haven't shared much here yet about my "past life" as a full-time teacher. Let it suffice to say, for now, that I was a shell of the creative artist I am now, when I devoted all my time to classroom life and my chosen profession. I can' t help but worry that this job will consume much of my time and energy, and keep me from my own creative pursuits. But it's a temporary position, I keep telling myself. It's perfect experience for my independent tutoring endeavors, and a nice break from the stress of day-to-day substitute teaching.

My husband gave me a hearty lecture the other night about saying no to opportunities that don't support my ultimate goals and dreams of being an artist. He made some good points, but I can't help being hopeful that this job (that I was offered unexpectedly and accepted on a whim) is a much needed test of my creative commitment to myself, and the perfect compliment to my growth as a tutor and mentor. I'm trying to stay confident and think happy thoughts that I can juggle it all. I hope that awareness will make all the difference.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

248/365: Capturing Sweet Moments

Today I made:

a moment last...

A girl, a boy, a blue sky and a bluer bay... I couldn't help but capture this sweetness for my friends to look back on. I love the saturated colors and the horizontal lines.

I love love.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

247/365: On Wings of Music

Today I made:
a music box...

top left to bottom right: cute & crafty in the front, functional & creative in the back,
electronics at the heart, a birdie covering the side speaker

Its finally finished and very happily received! The birthday girl loves her new birdhouse amplifier. Thanks to my creative partner in crime, my husband the electronics master and wood shop wizard, I was able to turn this cute birdhouse into a music box.

A simple birdhouse I found at the craft store, some paint, decoupaged paper, wooden embellishments and found text were my contribution. My husband worked his magic with the electronics so it could be used as an iPhone or lap top amp.

Both of our hands, hearts and minds went into creating this functional piece of art. We're very proud of it. I think we've got a good thing going here. Thanks to my sweet man for bringing music to my art.

Friday, February 15, 2013

246/365: Wrap a Poem Around Your Neck

Today I made:

a script scarf...

I've been meaning to try this project for ages and I finally got around to it for my Sweet Bee's birthday. I compiled a couple favorite quotes and a poem that I knew would make my friend smile. This scarf would look lovely as wall decor too, but I just love the idea of wearing sweet sentiments close to your heart. It's got a cute graphic look and it's a conversation piece.

I picked up a simple solid cream scarf at the store. I'm thinking light colors and cotton or linen blends work best for this project. The text is handwritten (in my scribbliest cursive) with a black paint pen. It's washable and doesn't smell like a sharpie would.

I stretched an old vinyl shower curtain across a long table to catch the paint when it bled through (cardboard would work too.) I was worried about smudging, but it actually dried almost immediately and only left a few paint spots underneath that didn't transfer to the fabric. The roughness of the fabric did shred the felt tip of the marker a bit and it kept balling up and catching the threads. I can't say it was as easy as writing on paper and it took a little while to get the hang of it, but I love the finished product.

Bee, "You are so much sunshine to the square inch." ~Walt Whitman

Thursday, February 14, 2013

245/365: Sweetheart

Today I made:
a color pop...

A fun camera app called "ColorSplash" brought out the love in this sweet berry.

Happy hearts day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

244/365: Progress

Today I made:

a little progress...

I had a few spare moments tonight to work on this week's project. I mixed and matched some elements, pulling together the pieces to decorate this special music box.

I often need to remind myself that even just a few minutes of creative play, like drafting design options for a project, fulfills my goal of creating every day. It doesn't have to be big to be meaningful.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

243/365: Art and Resistance

Today I made:

time for journal therapy...

All day I've been planning on spending the evening in my art space finishing up a project for a friend's birthday. There was nothing else that really needed to get done. You'd think I'd entered a crazy time warp as soon as I stepped foot through my door after work today. This is how I've managed to spend my last few hours:

I enjoyed dinner (without multitasking anything else between bites), took a shower, called my mama, played with my pup, picked out my outfit for my first day at my new job, caught up on emails, looked over tomorrow's schedule, put away laundry...and all of a sudden I'm scrolling through eye candy on Pinterest. How did that happen?!

What started out as giving myself permission to take time out for self-care after a ten hour day of teaching turned into blatant procrastination of something I truly enjoy. Why am I so resistant some days to heading into my art space and just diving into some creative act that I know will bring me pleasure?! Is it a lack of knowing where to go with my latest project, or the fact that I've assigned myself a time frame to finish it? Is it sheer mental exhaustion (and a whole lot of phlegm from my cold)? I feel as if just when I get comfortable with some part of the process, some other challenge presents itself, pushing me back to where I started. I feel discouraged and overwhelmed. 

I know I expect a lot of myself. I often pull 10-12 hour days between teaching, tutoring and running errands, but somehow I've talked myself into believing that this is not enough. I seem to think that when I get home I should still be a productive little artist and homemaker. I realize that is just not always realistic, but I continue to expect it of myself and am hard on myself when it doesn't the point that I end up needing one of these journaling therapy sessions to recover from the attack of my inner critic.

I know there must be ways to remedy these things, both the inner critic and my occasional strange resistance to art making, but at the moment I'm finding it hard to budge from this stuck place.

Perhaps someday in the future, this blog will be a place for people to find project ideas, tutorials galore, and techniques for working through blocks, but for now I can simply offer you a way to nurture your creativity by sharing my experience on the path. After 243 days of my daily creative project, I still need to remind myself that so much of this is about me documenting my process- my successes and failures, my happy discoveries and fumbles. I guess I feel like I'm fumbling a lot these days...but I know it's all valid and it all belongs here in my little world of finding myself as an artist.

For now I can only provide these encouraging words, for you and for myself:
Tomorrow is a new day and a fresh opportunity to release the creativity that we carry inside us. Two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward on our path. 

Carry on.

Monday, February 11, 2013

242/365: His Hands Helped

Today I made:
a rough sketch...

My husband came through on his part of the project today. That sweet man inspires me! Now the much more technical stuff is finished and my "canvas" is ready for play. If only I could bring myself to move from the couch. I had good intentions of beginning the painting phase of my mystery project today, but still feeling sick and completely exhausted after a long day of work and running errands. I managed a little time with my sketchbook, planning out the elements of the project. Hoping to get an earlier start on tomorrow's creative, but not going to beat myself up for tonight's slow progress. Thanks to my husband, the piece is off to a good start.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

241/365: The Master and the Apprentice

Today we made:

a circuit board...

I have a project up my sleeve. My husband and I are collaborating on this one. Tonight he helped me solder the components for a circuit board that will become the heart of a fancy little amplifier/music box. I was determined to help with the electronics part of the project even though I'm itching to move on to the part I like best- the mixed media crafty end of things. This is a big learning curve for me, but it helps to study with a patient teacher. I'm excited to share the finished piece!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

240/365: Stillness

Today I made:

a tough decision
(and some earrings)...

It's official. This bug got the best of me. It's a day for pajamas and quiet contemplation.

After brimming with excitement all week about a Meet-up I was supposed to attend this afternoon, I had to make the decision to stay home to rest. I so badly wanted to connect with these like-minded people for a cause that speaks to my heart. It's been a difficult lesson to learn, to listen to my body, to say no when I want to say yes, but I know I need to take care of myself. I know I need to take it easy. And I'm so grateful for the reminder I received from the organizer of the event...Divine timing will bring another opportunity.

Moving around takes the wind out of me and talking hurts my throat, so I'm choosing to sit still and quiet. Thankfully, the mind cloud lifted just enough to do a little design work on a pair of earrings I'm making for a friend, and my hands still want to make. Not bad, I guess, for a sick day. Now I need a nap.

I think tonight's date is a lost cause. Maybe I can wear my little black dress under my fuzzy winter robe, while my husband makes me tea and rubs my temples.

Friday, February 8, 2013

239/365: Playing Dress Up

Today I made:
plans for the little black dress...

I sit here on my couch between accidental naps, listening to the storm and practicing self care. I really should just send myself to bed. Some strain of whatever has been going around is creeping up on me and I need rest. The energy just isn't here, no matter how much I will it.

I was contemplating small projects I could take on in my fuzzy state. All of them seem forced tonight. Luckily, I remembered a small creative act that fulfills my quota for the day.

Tomorrow, husband and I are going out on the town for an early Valentine's date. He added a little black dress to my wardrobe recently and I promised I would wear it on our evening out. Earlier today I styled my outfit: just the right heels, hose, belt, handbag and jewels. I even picked out new lipstick and eyeshadow. This is a far cry from my usual ponytail, sweater and paint under my fingernails. As my fashionable friend Casey once said, playing dress up is creative.

I'm hoping the torrential downpours stop by tomorrow night, and that I have a voice and two functioning nostrils. It's time to take that little black dress for a spin.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

238/365: Hello Love

Today I made:
sleepy time tea and birdie sketches...

Under the weather,
under the covers,
under no circumstances will I end this day without doing something creative.

So here you go...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

236/365: Collecting Color

Today I made:
a color therapy regimen...

It's been a dreadfully dreary couple days. The thick morning fog off the water seems to stay in my brain well past noon. I am one big shiver and finding it very hard to be motivated outside of my work day. Too many gloomy days in a row and I go into hibernation mode all over again. I'd contemplated crawling under the covers early after a long day of teaching, and then I remembered the poppies!

I took these pictures on a walk through a poppy garden the other day, which is a testament to our typically mild winters here in San Diego, and proof that I'm a big whiny baby because it's truly not that cold here compared to many places. What can I say? I like sunshine, balmy weather and reasons to eat ice cream. I also love me some flowers! I found these while browsing through my camera roll and they made me smile. I figure it's kind of like light therapy for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. I stared at these warm, happy flowers all through dinner and I'm feeling better. Maybe not energized enough to take on that painting project or to clean my house, but a book and a pup on my lap sounds nice. That's important too. I'm not ready to give up on this day just yet.

I think fighting the winter blues has a lot to do with being nice to ourselves and finding the little things that brighten dreary days. I'm going to keep this photo handy for a dose of color therapy whenever the sky is gray. In fact, I've started a new album in my camera roll specifically for cheerfully colored photos. Many artists collect color schemes to use in future projects, and now, so do I.  

Sometimes inspiration comes unexpectedly. Thanks, Winter. I owe ya one.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

233/365: Journaling for Joy and Gratitude

altered double-sided journal covers & mama being joyful
 Today I made:

a Valentine's Day gift for my mama...

It's time I make more effort to encourage someone very near and dear to me. My mama is needing an extra loving boost these days, so I thought I'd use my creativity to make her something she could use to empower herself. Living in different states makes it hard to cheer someone up when they're going through a rough patch. She's getting this care package by snail mail as an early Valentine's Day gift.

I've learned some important lessons about gratitude, self-care and choosing joy that I'd like to share with my mama. (It's my turn to teach her something!) I've been using my gratitude journal more lately as a way to manifest joy in my life. It serves as a reminder that I have much to be thankful for, even if it's just the everyday ordinary little blessings that make up my days. It forces me to slow down and reflect on what  is working rather than allowing my inner critic to convince me that something is lacking. Gratitude journals are a wonderful way to recognize the good things in our lives and to acknowledge that we have the power to create our own joy. When we're stuck in a rut, when life feels dismal and lonely, or just when we want to honor the abundance in our lives, recording our gratitude can help us focus on the positive. My gratitude journal has become a sort of spiritual practice for me and I hope it does the same for Mama.

Knowing what brings me joy and setting aside time in my days to do those things (even in small doses) has been the greatest form of self-care. My mom is always doing for others and disregarding her own need for rest and playful rejuvenation. It has helped me immensely to have a list of self-care acts that I can dip into when I'm burned out and nothing joyous comes to mind. I think my mom could use her own bank of ideas.

I bought a blank journal that was perfect for Mama, an avid gardener and lover of roses. The quote, "Stop and smell the roses," will encourage her to slow down and find joy and gratitude in the little things. I altered the front and back cover slightly by adding title strips with my label maker. I made the journal double-sided, one side to be used as a gratitude journal, the other as a joy log where she can document her efforts at growing more happiness in her life. I created a little art journal spread on the center pages where her double-sided journaling will come together. I'm including some silly pictures of her that I know will make her smile. My mom has helped me find my courage so many times. It's time I help her do the same.

center pages of journal: mixed media acrylic & paper
Mila & Mama, spring 2012

Friday, February 1, 2013

232/365: Summoning the Muse

Today I made:

a Muse Bell ornament...

Hoooooraaaaay! It's finally finished!
"Patience" the Elephant, a string of hearts, mini spools of thread, love and creative blessings sewn into every stitch...and the finishing touch, a muse bell.

My childhood friend and creative ally, Casey Duvall, has a new blog and a new creative space that I just have to share with you! Check out her one-of-a-kind creations at Quilted Elephant Clothing Designs. This string of inspiration will be traveling to her new sewing studio, where it will adorn her walls and serve as her very own muse bell. She can ring the bell to summon her muse whenever she's ready to get down to the work she does best.

As Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."  I agree, we must not sit around and wait for inspiration to find us. We must show up and begin our work. But it doesn't hurt to make a little noise to let our muse know we're ready for a visit. (In case she's napping.) Ringing my muse bell is becoming a special part of my ritual for preparing my creative space for play.

Find a pattern for the cute elephant plush and notes on my creative process throughout this project herehere and here.