Sunday, September 13, 2015

finding strength (LifeBook 2015)

I am experimenting with watermarks on the images in this post. Mainly because I don't want them passed off as somebody else's work.

So, the lesson last week in LifeBook was called "Finding Strength", presented by Donna Downey, and named after the stencil of hers that she used in the class. I was tempted to follow Tam's additional sketching instructions to create something similar, but in the end went in a completely different direction.

I thought to myself, what does "finding strength" mean to me...

It started with this sketch of a sweet face.

And then I thought I would put in shadows and a bit of color and saw what I did, freaked out and gessoed over it. (I should have taken a picture of it in all its hideousness.)

And sketched the face in again, a little bit different (the mouth is a little off-center I just noticed).

Also, in my art room I have a bit of an ant problem. Well, we're having a problem in the whole house, and large number of them have died in our freezer this morning. But in my art room its a few stray ants who seem to be interested in my water jar and seeing what else I have. The way they react to wet paint is really interesting. It's like they rear back and go "what on earth is that?!"

Proof -- an ant and its shadow
Here's the final. The rays of strength coming from her heart are tinted with iridescent violet paint from Golden. I should probably smudge some on her eyelids too but the iridescent doesn't photograph well.

LifeBook 2016 is opening registration soon. You can join in the blog hop party and maybe win yourself a free seat in next year's class.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

God's Love Stories ... July edition

Today I have mopped the kitchen and dining room floors including under the fridge because our dog recently died of kidney failure -- imagine oceans of pee. I am incredibly grateful to him that when he couldn't wait for us to get home from work, he went on the tile.

So yes, I'm mourning my 16 year old dog, who we had for about 10 years of his life. Adopted as an adult with his brother who died last year ...

This also might be a Sarah Bessey fan-post, because I have a large number of links from her blog. She writes really really good stuff, folks, if you don't follow her yet. It's probably way past time for me to buy her book...

Phew. Here are some other great blogs I've read recently:
And for Laughs:
  • F*ck That: A guided meditation that is seriously Not Safe For Work or Around Small Children (NSFWOASC). By Jason Headley on vimeo

Friday, July 10, 2015

Where Bloggers Create 2015

I am going to start out by saying, I could do with a serious purge of stuff. That said, I have so much because I've flitted from scrapbooking to 3D creations (birdhouses) to fabric creations to painting on canvas to art journaling.

It shows.

On the other hand, I've gone from working part-time to not working to working full-time, so I know there are projects I really want to get to. (Like the Madonna art display quilt from a swap I was in several years ago.)

I've taken a break from this blog party for the last couple of years, but if you want to see how my creative space has changed and developed (just in case you haven't seen enough creative spaces for one day!), you can see:

  • in 2009 in its barest of bones (I didn't participate in the blog party, but wanted to show in 2010 how my room, which is a small third bedroom, had looked before.)
  • in 2010 which is like a complete reveal with an additional post on my homemade hanky curtains
  • in 2011 after an overhaul of the closet (the doors fell off)
  • and in 2012, where I decided to show some "for real" pictures. I'll be doing so again today because I had no real chance to tidy up
Let's take a tour!

Above: paintings were done as part of several Suzi Blu classes. The ribbon holder makes a great canvas display. (It still has ribbon spools in it.)

Above: The white Shabby Chic bookcase is filled to the brim. Top shelf: pretties (china cup, piano player rolls, old photos, baby booties, etc). Second shelf: another canvas from a Suzi Blu class; hankies and buttons and other doo-dads are stored here, plus another pretty collaged canvas to hide some of the clutter. Third Shelf: Scrapbooks mostly. Bottom shelf: paper. This is all the commercial paper I have (this doesn't include the vintage stuff). As you can see I am really good about putting away. Not.

 Above: The closet space: You can still see hints of the papered wall before I put in another set of shelves (they're for shoes, technically) to hold: (top shelf) bookmaking supplies, art journals, sparkling H2O paints, stencils and my mother-in-law's hair in braids from when she was a girl. Yeah, you read that right. Don't know why I claimed them, but a use will come to me. I hope. The rest holds my childhood diaries, vintage photo albums and various Golden mediums. The visible glass top there is supposed to be pretty. But it needs a clean up. The chest of drawers contain old tablecloths (see the green tank? One of my unfinished projects is to cover it with doilies and make a lace top), fabric for a quilting project and so on.

Above: The very top of the closet. It has a box of my Psanky supplies (that I haven't touched in an age despite my best intentions), trophy parts that I rescued from a church cleanout, other containers, a styrofoam bust and a picnic basket that is actually for picnics.

Above: one of my art works in progress. I have fallen for writing icons. I do them in acrylic which is a modern take on the encaustics or egg tempera techniques.

Above: one of my newer purchases, one of those IKEA rolling carts. And in teal which is my new favorite color. It's pulled right by my table for easy reach of paints, washi tape and journaling bitses.

A view from above: my most commonly used supplies (not including washi tape which didn't fit): Golden fluid acrylics and a couple of tubes of heavy-body acrylics, a few Dylusion spray inks, prismacolor pencils, inktense pencils, there's an empty tin where my NeoColor II watercolor crayons go because I just got back from a trip and haven't put them back yet, inks, pens, watercolor pencils.

 Above: I have a lot of paper napkins for collaging. Send help.

Above: the jewelry cabinet stores markers, paperclips, doo-dads, and so on. As I was having a look I found an unopened package of white gel pens! Truly a treasure chest. And that's a vintage typewriter in its black case.

Above: I have a pink chest of drawers which holds photos, glue dots and other adhesives, ink pads, glitter, and some fabric. On top of that is the small metal card cabinet which holds fabric flowers, ribbon and lace, the blue suitcase holds vintagey papers and some fake flowers and as you can see there is more lace.

Above: small travel and art journals, tools, gold leaf, cards and envelopes, a future projects box and a current projects box that have been ignored for so long ... stamps, jewelry making supplies.

Above: Pretty pearls!

Above: and here is where those pretty pearls live. An IKEA cabinet. I have tried to keep the top as a pretty display area of pretty things (like glitter in glass salt and pepper shakers) but I see I didn't put away a purple bucket of that floral foam stuff. Ooh. That might work well on my latest art journal page....

Above: It contains large stencils, an insane number of Stampinton publications, the sewing basket I've had since I was a little girl (with some unfinished projects dating from the same, music, collaging supplies, books to alter, and so on and so forth.

Above: I made one of the shutters into a display board. (The other side also has something but its primary duty is to hold up the drop cloth so I don't make a mess using the big easel.)

OK, folks now it's time to Get Real. Below is a portion of the floor and is pretty true of the rest of the floor, alas. The beige book propped up in the middle is my latest art journal and it is huge! The biggest I've worked in. Off to the left of that is the box that holds my Life Book 2015 pages. (You can still sign up for this year long class -- the videos and pdfs are all downloadable!) There's also some music to be put away, a bag full of invitations that I plan to pull apart for the paper and some more stuff that just needs to be put away. You know how it goes.

Below is my "for real" art table. It has two in progress Life Book journal pages on it (from two different classes.) On the left is my traveling art journal kit, opened but not yet unpacked. New is an Ott-Lite because I found that the light in this room wasn't bright enough for the fine detail of icon painting. There's more paint, liquid watercolors, inks and glimmer mists at the back. Brushes, palette knives, etc, are in a rotating bucket on the right. And so on. I've lost my small pink scissors and honestly, it's no surprise.

So there we have it! This is where this particular blogger creates!

I am looking forward to seeing your spaces. Thanks for taking the time to have a look.

My Desert Cottage

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What I Learned in May, June, July ...

Which sounds like the lyrics of a song but here goes:

1) When you upgrade to OS 10.10.3 and PhotoShop Elements (6.0) crashes on trying to open jpg files to edit. What to do? Drag the files to the app icon and voila! Edit and save to your heart’s content.

2) Birthdays can last for more than one day. Sometimes up to two weeks! I have the cakes (and toasted marshmallow milkshake) to prove it!

3) I had to be shown how to use tumblr. My Computer Science degree is officially useless.

4) Texting during the Great Silence probably counts as breaking the silence. So does, I learned, reading and writing in your journal. One is supposed to be still as well as silent.

our room at Mt. Calvary monastery

5) Reading in a group "From Teilhard to Omega", a collection of essays edited by Ilia Delio. Teilhard was a Jesuit whose writings were banned but appear to have recently sprouted wings. The interesting thing I learned was that Teilhard's central theology is that all things move toward union with God. Our study leader (a Lutheran pastor) shared that we are moving toward the Garden of Eden, toward union with God.

What new things have you learned recently?

Where Bloggers Create 2015 edition ... coming soon!

I took a break for a couple of years from participating in Where Bloggers Create, although every year I lose about a day and a half of my life poring over everyone submissions.

There is time to sign up if you want to share your creative space on your blog. On or around July 11 (which is when the party starts), there'll be a place on Karen's website to sign up as part of a link party. There are more details on how to do that on her site as well.

My Desert Cottage

So -- stay tuned!

(And thanks to Sandy at Quill Cottage for posting about it!)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

God's Love Stories - What a Week edition

OK, so it just won't be links on race relations, which has been a huge topic here in the United States, but there will be other interesting blog posts as well.

First, if you haven't yet watched President Obama speak at Clementa Pinckney's funeral, please do. It's 40 minutes, but it's 40 compelling minutes. Amazing grace indeed. (Start it at the 1:20 mark.)

Race relations:

"Afterwards, a black woman approached me and with far more grace than I deserved, reminded me that to African American listeners like her the image of God as a cosmic master is not only discomforting but frightening and oppressive." 
Spiritual Stuff:
"I often think of a story someone told me about her period of spiritual discernment. She was in her kitchen praying, and asked for a sign from Jesus. As she sat in silence, Jesus suddenly appeared before her. He stood there, looked at her, then shrugged his shoulders. I told her, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”

And for fun, "Extra Day", what happens when you run the lyrics of "One More Day" from Les Miserables through Google Translate a few times:

Oh, and I actually posted something of substance recently. You can find it here.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The role of relationships and community in my spiritual growth

What has been the role of relationships and/or community in your spiritual growth?

This question was recently posed on Facebook by Christianne Squires and I told her I could probably write an essay on it. So here it is.

The roles of relationships and communities have both helped and hindered my spiritual growth.

Community has hindered my spiritual growth by not teaching me.

I've been a Christian from the cradle. I would say I spent the first half (currently) of my life not really getting Christianity. When your Christian education consists of some Sunday School and a confirmation class (where I was taught things my current church teaches to pre-K and elementary school aged children), it shouldn't be a surprise that I didn't really get it. I'd never been educated beyond a kindergarten level and somehow I was expected to know why it was so important to worship God and what exactly that entailed. I was taught nothing beyond "come to Sunday worship" and "be nice to people". 

I went to church because I liked to sing and because I had to (not that Mum would've made me beyond Easter and Christmas but because I am a good girl who is ruled by oughts and shoulds.) I served on parish council and walked the streets of my suburb to hand-deliver parish newsletters to save on a bit of postage. I *did* church.

And yet I fell in love with liturgy. More importantly, I fell in love with Celtic Christian liturgy as it was being reimagined and the contemplative quiet of Taize. These were seeds waiting for the right time to grow.

Community hindered my spiritual growth by not seeing me.

I left home and stopped going to church. I did try two churches and neither of them acknowledged my existence so I never went back to them.

Relationships hugely helped my spiritual growth when I married a Catholic.

I was raised in the Anglican Communion and going to a Catholic church caused all sorts of issues for me, the main one being I was not permitted to take communion. All of a sudden, communion, which I hadn't been taking by choice as I hadn't been going to church, was hugely important. I had to work out why, and my husband and I had some very spirited discussions on Catholic theology and doctrine.

We ended up leaving the Catholic church (although the Catholic church doesn't leave you!) and went to an Episcopal church.

My current community has helped my spiritual growth in many ways.

By being welcoming and actually letting us rest after being burned out at our last church with "doing".

By getting us to Cursillo, a Christian renewal weekend, after ten years of it not happening at a convenient time.

By opening doors and opportunities to exploring my faith, such as:

(1) when I served on the vestry and we went on vestry retreat, where I discovered monasticism, Episcopal-style, and where I had a literal meeting with God on the mountain. (If I tell the story, I will cry because it's when I knew, in no uncertain terms, that God loved me, despite everything. Everything.)

(2) at that monastic community I became an associate of the order, and it is where I am learning about personal piety, a rule of life, and of striving to be with, near and present to God.  It's at this monastic community that I have found a haven to rest from the work of ministry.

(3) We learned about the Education for Ministry program happening at a different church, and I finally got the education I'd lacked all my life. Now I knew how to read the Bible in multiple ways, now I knew how the church doctrines were formed, now I knew the radical inclusion of Jesus, now I knew how God has acted and been present throughout my life (spiritual autobiography, of which this is a snippet), now I had a theology that had well and truly graduated from Kindergarten Sunday School. For four years, we belonged to a small community of students and we all helped each other through the faith crises that came with studying the Bible and our faith tradition. Out of that time, came a brand new friend, a soul friend. We share about each others lives, chant, and occasionally write icons together.

(4) When we first joined our current church, a Catholic community rented space. Now we share the space and share ministry. Through worshipping together and Advent, Ash Wednesday and Holy Week and by joining forces in helping others, we've become one community. (Who gets to take communion still separates us, much to everyone's frustration.) Remember those issues with going to a Catholic church? Overcome.

As you can see, it is not just one community that has helped form me, and that formation overlaps. For example, after being told at Cursillo I needed a spiritual director, years later, thanks to the monks, I understood why. Both of my spiritual directors, past and present, have been Catholic monastics. They have walked with me through my spiritual journey, providing a reflection.

Episcopalians waiting in line at a food truck at a Catholic conference.

It's at my church that I learn about what it means to be Christian who is beloved and who loves, to be a person of faith, who God is, was, and will be. Through adult education forums, through the wisdom of elders about praying, through going through stuff with each other.

There's also where I work, a Reform Jewish congregation. They have welcomed me to worship (which I love, once a sucker for good liturgy, always a sucker for good liturgy). I have learned so much about Torah that I know I've barely scratched the surface. I have fallen in love with Jewish prayers, like the Sh'ma and the recitation of the V'ahavta and examined why. My faith has expanded and continues to expand as a result. When I read Christian theology, I sometimes think to myself: "umm, Jewish context anyone?"

Even when I felt or realized my spiritual growth was being hindered or was stagnating because of community, some growth came out of it.

How about you? How has relationships or community played a part in your spiritual life?