Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Being Tested in Bella Grace

I finally succumbed and picked up a copy of the Bella Grace magazine, because the photos and art looked so peaceful, so mori girl. A special way to treat myself away from the rush of the day.

More than halfway through, I realized something: this magazine, this journal, was bringing grace, beauty and peace into the world. Sure, it occasionally got hung-up on pedicures as being something worth having, but it lingered on summer evenings and sunrises and cups of coffee (or tea). Pauses throughout the day.

And then I realized that all these authors were bloggers, like me, living their ordinary lives, but unlike me, actually documenting it. 

Yes, in a beautiful Instagram way that I could never match (nor do I want to), but I found myself comparing this blog to their writing, to what I proclaimed back in November:

"I am going to be blogging about peace, love, light, joy and transformation, and my struggles to find the same. I figure by sharing struggles and learning to speak and live these things that maybe there will be more joy, more love, more peace and less and less fear of things we don't need to be afraid of."

I have about half a dozen posts written, part-written or planned and have had since February -- and it's July, people! Why haven't I posted (or finished the blogs)

I know I shouldn't compare my writing to others. Heck, I thought I had learned that lesson long ago when I wrote romance novels. I thought I learned that lesson as I learned to become an artist. But here I am, comparing. 

But, no, not comparing. I am not thinking my writing is crap compared to theirs. I am not envious of their being published. (Been there, done that.) Being challenged, I think is a better word. Here is something that I've said I wanted to do but I simply have not made the time to do it and it's because I've been putting all my time into art which is a good and great thing. (And now that I can paint recognizable portraits, a miraculous thing!)

So, authors of Bella Grace, I accept your challenge. I mean, I was going to blog more this summer anyway, right?


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Blogging Resuming...

My posh "Call the Midwife" look :)
I know, I know, I go through periods of posting and then ... crickets. My hope is that I'm about to embark on an extended period of posting.

I'm watching CSPAN right now (after watching the House sit-in via my representative's Periscope!) ... and it feels like history (although I've learned that sit-ins have occurred twice before and the Senate filibuster earlier this week was, well, a bust as all the gun control bills were voted down) and while I wasn't intending my first post to get all political, it's what's happening and here we are.

But I'm not coming back to write about that. There are things I want to write about and this summer, I hope to start the routine of writing again regularly.

I will write about art, theology (of various sorts), and life in general.

This has come about because Claudia of Mockingbird Hill Cottage made a remark in a recent post about how much she appreciated her webhost's support and using WordPress.

And here I am on Blogger.

I spent a few days investigating other hosts, including the web host I already had (which didn't have the latest specs) but where I hadn't had an active website for quite a while. That was money I was just wasting. Finally, I realized that to have a proper WordPress blog would cost more money than my prior commitment to blogging could justify. So I downgraded my webhost to an email account so I could hang onto my email and domain name and I'm back on Blogger with a vengeance (hopefully). I might even update the look, although that doesn't matter if you read this via feedly or some other blog reader.

I'm sure you didn't need to know all that, and I hope my future posts will be a bit more riveting, but this blog has become a bit like the blank page. A little daunting and all the lists I post about once a month are really nothing more than doodling in the margin. These are the words that stop this blog from being quite so blank.

It's time to blog.

Monday, June 6, 2016

My art studio makeover

I've participated in Where Bloggers Create a few times, but not the last few years. If you want to see those, you can click here:
  • 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);
  • in 2012, where I decided to show some "for real" pictures.
  • and in 2015, ditto "for real" pictures
I've played with various arts and crafts over the years: jewelry making, psanky, painting bird houses, etc and so forth. And I've settled down to three: art journaling, icon writing, and I'm currently exploring painting large canvas. 

I discovered that I didn't have enough space on my desk to art journal (the current one is on the large side) and write an icon. I could set aside an icon in progress for 8 months before getting back to it because it meant clearing a lot of space off my desk to switch from one to the other.

And let's face it, I'd let my room get out of control.

Ready for the before pics?






Yes, I stopped even trying to put things away


I spent a few weeks planning, adding to my Pinterest board, following the 52 Weeks Workspace Challenge, drawing up maps to rearrange things so I'd have room to really paint without falling over something, or getting paint where it shouldn't.

I spent $55 at Michaels buying some new storage items (only that much thanks to a 40% off coupon!) and I still need to buy a couple of hooks to hang up my apron and something else. I spent the whole Memorial Day three-day weekend, moving everything in those cubes out of this room and then back in again, sorting paper (honestly, there is no reason for me to buy paper ever again unless it is Arches watercolor paper), rearranging and moving out furniture too. 

And so the transformation from craft room to art studio is complete:


I stacked the cube shelves (one IKEA, one Target) and removed the pink dresser and the kids storage cubby that had been tucked into the corner.


I didn't put my jewelry making supplies or psanky tools into the donate pile but rehoused them in a plastic container to store (top left). When I retire, I'll get back to those. Probably.


Here's the desk. Not quite as pristine as it was before I started working in the big art journal again but close. It's weird but the OttLite lamp is creating more glare from this angle/proximity than its original placement. I may have to move it slightly. I kept only my most frequently used supplies here, the others are in one of the cubes.


This was one of my new purchases, a Recollections pen/markers storage. I put it together myself (and missed the bit about adding dowels for greater stability but I feel pretty confident that I'm not going to overload this thing.) This is better than having the pens stashed in several different cases in my teal Raskog cart (which just needed a tidy). The black box on top is my set of Faber-Castell markers. The drawers hold Promarkers and Aquamarkers.

And yes, I own only two Copics. I do not love the alcohol markers.


Reorganizing meant I could hang my paintings and mixed media art work (the one on the far left is not mine, neither is the one on the far right), using nails that were already in the wall. I managed to find a place for almost everything that had been displayed under the window, but the sheer sari fabric that I'd used shattered where the dirt had come in through the window. (San Diego is a dusty place.)


I wrapped a box in fabric and lined the inside of a plastic container (top right), and you can find how I did those two things on the Pinterest board I linked to above. Continuing to move right to left: mediums, large bottles of paint and a purple pottery vase that doesn't really belong there but I unearthed it during my clean out; Paper scraps sorted by color and/or type and/or size into cigar boxes and other small containers; small journals completed and an old tintype.

The next row, coming back left to right: the mythical "Current Project". I will get to it. I will!!; a White Pages that I use when I'm punching holes in signatures to make new journals, canvas and other odd mixed media tools; a "Future Projects" bin; box of stamps with pastel sets underneath.


You can't really see so great at this angle but from left to right: flowers and art case for traveling (it's a large make up case); old books are behind the purple pots which contain glitter Stickles, Flower Soft, and fabric paints; the blue folder holds all my large stencils, which is better than having them out and flat, I hope, and a bin containing all my glimmer mists plus a few more glues and paints; clip art, lessons and journals. On the bottom row, right to left: Somerset Studio magazines, stacked two deep; sewing box in front of more Somerset magazines (Art Journaling and some others, I stopped subscribing); art books; larger journals and a bin of items to alter.


I moved the completed scrapbooks out of here and into the formal living room so I would have room for these four Iris cases which contain book paper, tissue paper, sorted color papers. The stuff lying flat across the bottom shelf are fodder for larger art journals.


It feels a little insecure here but this file cabinet contains flowers (pretty light) and seam binding and lace, with more lace bitses behind.


More lace in the blue suitcase (yes I do have a problem) which I initially used for a Silver Bella trip to store all my travel supplies, a typewriter and the woven box contains unsorted ribbon. Wallpaper, wrapping paper and tulle are in a magazine holder.

But this has given me room to bring in this small table for icon writing:


And space to play with painting on large canvas. I haven't really tried painting in this new position yet, but I am thinking that I may bring in a tiny bedside table that's out in the garage (also pink) to use as a place to put brushes and palette.


Oh and on the floor there is a folded up desk easel for smaller paintings, pushed back against the wall to give a little added protection to the wall, carpet with the drop cloth. I may end up hanging shower curtain liner behind the easel for further protection but don't know if I really need to yet...

And that's my new art studio! If you have questions about anything, ask away in the comments.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What I Learned in May


1. I can still obsess over something. 

Like, really obsess, lose all track of time forget to eat obsess. I spent the Memorial Day weekend emptying out most of my art room so I could reorganize the furniture to better do what I now want to do art-wise. The whole weekend, until I nearly dropped with exhaustion and then pushed through it. (I finally stopped Monday afternoon for a shower, movie and dinner out.) I still have some tweaking to do because I ran out of time, so the grand reveal will have to wait.

2. This icon of Mary (follow the link, I couldn't find a public domain image of it) is one of the oldest surviving icons from the 5th century (the 6th century saw iconoclasm and the destruction of icons). Its tradition is that this is the first icon Luke painted. This exact one. Although most date it to the 5th century, the nuns claim it has been carbon dated to 100 AD, give or take. I find her beautiful and haunting and she's going to be the next icon I write as soon as I figure out the hands. (And have the time.) I found her while doing some research for a talk on icons that I gave a couple of weeks ago.

3. You can get cotton candy mints. (And also, cotton candy is called fairy floss in Australia.) And they are very good. (And were found at a Dollar Tree store by a friend. Am off to find some in the coming days...)

I've signed up for the link-up over at chatting at the sky.

What did you learn in May?