A few years ago, I unearthed a travel journal from a month-long trip to Europe that I took in 2006. As I reviewed its pages, I was struck by just how many details of the trip I had completely forgotten. And if the memories of a once-in-a lifetime trip that was so impactful to me could fade away – how much of my day-to-day life is lost? Sensations, emotions, achievements, losses, experiences from the mundane to the exceptional, all transforming from that specific moment in time to become that day, that week, that year, that life…

As I get older and gain a better understanding of how fragile, how brief, and how precious life really is, it's become even more important to me to me experience it to its fullest and to try to retain all of those little moments that might otherwise get lost. It's with this idea that I started the process of recording these moments – a travel journal, of sorts.

A travel journal for life.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

PERHAPS I AM STRONGER THAN I THINK..

Earlier this week, I wrote about the process of making ten postcards for iHanna's DIY Postcard Swap and how it takes such courage for me to cut into my beloved supplies and to re-purpose old paintings.  But I'm happy to report, that as I moved along in the project, I got bolder and I became less and less concerned with missteps or the possiblity of wasting materials. (OH, THE HORROR!)

That this project emboldened me became its theme.  There is no real visual consistency in my pieces, but they all used re-purposed materials from my stash that I had some level of reluctance or fear to use and let go of.

I started by cutting up some leather pieces and antique wallpaper and collaging them together with a little bit of light sketching on top of the paper pieces.  Then I added my sentiment about courage - because cutting up stuff you love is scary, yo.


Then I worked on a metallic series  because I had some super cool mirrored tile (don't worry, not glass; I suspect the postal service may frown on that) and some silver leaf paint that I wanted to play with on top of layered acrylic paste.  In this series, I really pushed myself because in one (the upper left) I actually cut into an old drawing to create the circular windows peaking out of the silver leaf.  Hence the sentiment tagged on these three - "Perhaps I am stronger than I think..."

Since I loved the piece with the cut up drawing so much, I decided to deconstruct a painting and reassemble it in different ways.  I really like the use of circles here, it's symbolic of the painting's continuing life-cycle!

Finally, I had two odd-balls that I just experimented with along the way.  I'm not super-crazy about the way they turned out - but they were all part of the process...

So, I'm addressing these little babies as we speak and preparing to send them out into the world.  Thanks, iHanna for organizing this - it was so much fun; a great opportunity to experiment and gain a little courage along the way!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

COURAGE IS FOUND IN UNLIKELY PLACES.



My cousin Dori recently posted on Facebook about an annual DIYpostcard swap in which she participates. I’ve been striving to get the old creative juices flowing again and I thought this would be a great project to push me a little further.  I love the premise – I love the idea of creating art that will go out into the world and find a home with someone who I don’t know and (hopefully) bring them a little joy. 

Also, having a deadline helps ensure that I will actually, you know, like – finish some stuff. 

Plus, I get to get stuff in the mail!  I’ll do pretty much anything to get fun stuff in the mail...  It's almost as though this project was made specifically for me!

Some pretty good pieces tapped for a new life.
I decided to use this project to push myself out of my comfort zone.  One of the things I struggle with in my art (and life, for that matter) is to proceed without fear.  I tend to be quite precious with my art-stuff.  I often get paintings to a certain point – that point is usually somewhere around pretty good. It’s at that point that I get paralyzed; I don’t want to keep pushing and ruin something that’s pretty good, because hey, pretty good ain’t easy to achieve.  Plus, pretty good can deteriorate into suck-fest pretty quickly and then I’d be sorry. So instead pushing past that fear of ruining pretty good, I often just settle for where I’m at and then a bunch of pretty good things get filed away and never used.

I also do this with materials.  I’ll find a gorgeous piece of embossed leather in the scrap bin, or darling mini canvases on clearance and I buy these things because I just KNOW they will be perfect for SOMETHING, SOMEDAY…  But then I get scared to use them because a more perfect opportunity to incorporate them might be right around the corner and then I will kick myself for having frivolously used them up on an experiment.  And then those materials get stored away and forgotten about along with the pretty good paintings.

Deconstruction. (Scary.)
So for this project, I made a rule that I would only use materials and paintings that I already have.  I mustered up all my courage and forced myself to deconstruct some pretty good pieces and to part with some of those precious odds-and-ends in order to breathe new life into my artwork that I will send out into the world.  

Reconstruction. (Fun!)
For me, this takes a great deal of strength and courage. When I first started this project, I was very tentative, only taking edges of paintings and cutting into my trimmings when I was certain they would work.  But each piece gets a little more daring than the next and I’m finding a lot of joy in deconstructing and reconstructing.  Also, I’m feeling stronger and I’m finding my courage.

Who would have ever thought that a little DIY postcard swap project could have become an exercise in finding one’s courage?

I guess it’s true… 

Courage is found in unlikely places.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

MY CREATIVE EXPLODED.


I’ve really been neglecting my creative/artistic side lately and that’s been bothering me.  A lot.  One of the major reasons that it’s been so neglected is that I don’t have a space to be creative in.  I’ve been meaning to create a space in the basement for as long as we’ve lived in this house – but it’s so dank and dingy down there; it’s not exactly inviting and it certainly isn’t inspiring.  Plus, if I retreat to the basement, I don’t get to talk and unwind w/my hubby in the evenings, and that’s pretty much my favorite part of the day.  So, all my beautiful papers and paints and pastes and tools continue to molder, unattended in the basement, and my creative spirit suffers a similar fate.

Several days ago, my darling friend Robb visited me for the weekend.   I love my Robbie so very much for so very many reasons – but one of the major reasons is that he is, by far, one of the most creative people I’ve ever met.  With a mind always working on overdrive; he sees infinite possibilities for beauty where most of us see none, and he has an uncanny knack for producing exquisite somethings out of nothing. He always makes me excited about making stuff, so we planned our entire weekend around being crafty.  On Saturday we visited the Society for ContemporaryCraft and Creative Reuse to get inspired and gather supplies. (Oh, and the wine and spirits shop, we mustn’t forget that integral part of the equation).  Then we moved all of my neglected supplies up from the basement to a giant table that we put in the center of my dining room and that’s where we took up residence for the remainder of the weekend.  We blasted music, we drank wine, and we created things well into the night and throughout the next day.  I felt energized and excited; I had forgotten how great it felt to push paint around and to make stuff.  One idea spawned another which created another until I was thoroughly engulfed in an avalanche of creative.  I couldn’t even keep up with myself. 

Monday was tough.  Robb went home and I went back to the daily grind.  All I could think about all day were the projects that I’d left behind on that table.  Later that evening, when Mike and I arrived home, we had to laugh at the spectacle that was our dining room. “It looks like your creative exploded.” He said.  “Well, it kinda did.” I admitted.  I sighed and moved forward to clean up the mess and move the table full of supplies back to the basement.  But before I did, I thought maybe I would just finish up that one thing…  I changed into my comfies, turned on the music, and sat down to work.  Mike and I laughed and talked back and forth as he played on his computer in the living room and I worked away.  The evening passed so quickly, it got too late to worry about packing up supplies and moving them down to the basement.  As I drifted off that evening feeling happy and content, I thought - even though it’s obtrusive, even though it’s an eyesore, perhaps the art table can stay upstairs for a while longer.  

Because really, what’s so bad about having your creative explode right in your dining room?

Friday, October 25, 2013

I WON'T QUIT MY DAY JOB.

I am a firm believer that simply everyone must experience the joy of receiving a baked good decorated by me at some point in their lives.

 My skills are truly spectacular.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

ME AND MY SPARKLY NEW AURA



·        Clean sheets
·        Clean bathroom
·        Clean hair
·        Clean underoos. 

I think we can all agree that we are (collectively) better off when certain things in our lives are clean.  But it had never before occurred to me to be concerned with the cleanliness of my aura.

I’m not fantastic at handling stress and most times when I’m under a great deal of pressure, it tends to physically manifest.  Colds, headaches, hair loss, muscle tension, etc.  The past couple of months being as they were, one can imagine, I haven’t been exceptionally delightful. Among other things, I developed an eye-twitch that lasted for three solid weeks.  My beautiful co-workers/friends took pity on me and out of the goodness of their hearts (or perhaps their will to shut me up about the damned incessant twitch) booked me a hot-stone massage.  (Ahhh, how I adore them.)

When I arrived for my massage, my masseuse seemed immediately concerned about me; my stress level was high and my aura was off, she informed me.  I nodded in agreement.

She asked if I minded if she performed some “aura-cleansing” during our session and I told her to knock herself out.  Which she very nearly did because as soon as I gave her the green light on the aura-cleanse from my comfy position underneath the blankets, she treated me to animated display of flailing hands. She spun around the room dramatically; “I’m just going to crack the door for a second to let all of the negative energy out of the room” she informed me as she whirled towards the door.  “K.” I squeaked out, wide-eyed and stifling giggles.  (I never knew you could give negative energy the bum’s rush like that.)

The remainder of the massage was a standard-issue procedure, peppered with the occasional flicking of hands close to, but not actually touching, my body.  Every time she did this, it triggered instant laughter that I had to repress because I was having a relaxing massage, after all.

After I was dressed and ready to head home, the masseuse came in with a glass of water.  She informed me that she did quite a bit of work on my aura.  “I noticed.” I said, nodding and taking a drink of water to try to stifle the laughter swelling in my throat.  She immediately brightened at my response and asked with excitement “then you can tell a difference?” “Mmmm” I said as I pressed my lips together and opened my eyes wide.  (This is the expression I make when a response is required of me but I either don’t know what to say or what I actually want to say is inappropriate.  Now you know.)  The masseuse, thankfully satisfied with my response, traced her hands around the outline of my head and shoulders and nodded “Well, your aura is in much better shape now than when you came in, that’s for sure.” I thanked her for her time and her aura-cleansing expertise and made a hasty exit to the street where I finally was able to let the laughter free.

Despite the pouring rain and the chill in the air, I indulged in my giggle-fit all the way to my car. That’s when it hit me… I haven’t laughed like that in quite some time.  And I had to wonder; was my laughter really because I’m a skeptic and I found the whole process ridiculous or might it be that giggling is the product of a clean aura?

Hmmm…  Something to consider. 

Perhaps my aura could use at least the occasional spring-clean.
Me and my sparkly new aura.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'M AN OFFICIAL SPANK GOODNESS FAN!

One of my most favorite things in the world is getting presents in the mail.

Another one of my most favorite things in the world is my cousin Dori.

That she sends me presents in the mail is completely unrelated to why she is one of my most favorite things in the world.

But she is and she does.

Dori (aka: Spank Goodness) skates with the Cedar Rapids Roller Girls and tonight I came home to find a present from her - my very own CR Roller Girl T - with "Spank's" name and number on the back.  Wearing it to the gym tonight, I'm pretty certain that I felt a little bit of her bad-assedness rubbing off on me.

Thanks, Spanks!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

RUBBER DUCKY. YOU'RE THE ONE.

Remember I said a giant rubber duck came to town?

Well, I've been more than a little caught up in the duck fever.  I love this giant yella-fella.

And whenever I hear the nay-sayers asking "why so much fuss over a duck?" and saying nasty things like "%@ck the duck", I scream "ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  IT'S A GIANT FRIGGIN RUBBER DUCK.  AND IT IS FLOATING IN OUR RIVER...  IT'S FLIPPING ADORABLE AND YOU HAVE NO SOUL."

At least that's what I say in my head...  In reality, I just shrug my shoulders, go look at one of the hundred pictures I've taken of him and whisper "Don't worry, Ducky. I get it. It's whimsy."

O.k. - I don't really do that either but I DO have lots of pictures.

Wanna see some?

Sure you do.

Here's the duck from far away...
And here he is up-close-and-personal...
I always feel like... Somebody's watchin' meeeee.....
And anyone who says a giant duck is frivolous, obviously has not contemplated the duck to it's fullest extent!
The duck's last day in the 'Burgh was Sunday and we made it down to the shore for one last visit.  Fare-thee-well giant ducky...  I hope you bring as much happiness in your next city as you did to me here in Pittsburgh!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

SUMMER ROUND-UP - THE GOOD AND THE HAPPY!


Well, here it is – officially WELL into fall… I’m even starting to hear rumors of snow (though I refuse to believe them).  I figure it’s about time for me to do a summer round-up post, since I didn’t post AT ALL - ALL SUMMER!


This summer and early fall were crazy-busy and full of set-backs and losses.  It seems we've been plagued by worry and sorrow in our house for quite a while.  And while worry and sorrow do truly suck, and I could probably do o.k. without them entirely, they do serve a very valuable purpose in life.  They remind us to not take what we have for granted, to love the people we have fiercely while we have them, and to treasure the good things and the happy times.


And this post is about just that – the good and the happy:

I got a veggie spiraler.
I spent several days eating nothing but spiraled veggies.  I also took pictures of said spiraled veggies and the entire process made me embarrassingly happy.



I went to California on a work trip.  I had one extra day to venture out and about.  I went to the beach, I went shopping, I had the MOST AMAZING guacamole ever (L) and I saw a mobile parrot station.  Not sure what a mobile parrot station is?  Take a gander (R).

When I was shopping in Cali, I bought some makeup at the Mac store which I applied and liked so much that I promptly took this picture of myself in flattering lighting and at a good angle and I think I shall use it as my profile picture for everything forever.

I saw some really pretty things this summer.
I saw a pretty giant glass sunflower at Phipps. (L)
I saw a pretty (Fake!  It's a sculpture!) cherry blossom tree downtown. (R)
 I saw a pretty penny-tiled floor during a gallery opening (doesn't say much for the show that I took pictures of the floor and not the art). (L)
And I saw a really pretty puppy who stole my heart so much I almost adopted her. (R)  But poor pretty puppy had so many issues - she was rescued from an animal hoarder - she needed extra-special help. (The happy part is that she's adorable and she found the help she needs!)

Robb came to town to help with a super-secret celebrity wedding.  He stayed at our house while he was working and he was cute.
And we drank pitchers of mimosas.
 Speaking of cute...
Guess who else was consistently adorable??
Except when she was busy being a soul-stealing ginger-cat.
  
I went on my first-ever group motorcycle ride.  There were over 100 bikers and it was such a gorgeous day! Add to  that - it was for a good cause (Fisher House) and I think we might have found one of my favorite days of the summer!

Except....
There was the day the giant rubber ducky came to town.
 And they closed down a bridge and the city had a huge party to welcome a giant rubber duck.  That was a good day too.

And then...
I went to see Muse.
With these gorgeous people.


I got to see the most-amazing Fiber Arts show.  These were two of my favorite pieces.  The one on the right still just pierces my soul when I look at the picture and remember seeing it in person.
I got to see a bridge be knit.


I felt the love and support of so many true and dear friends.


These two nuggets stole my heart again and again.


And I learned that the words on this fortune were oh-so very true.

Even with the worry and the sorrow...  There's so very, very much to be thankful for.