Poetry, Writing, and Finding my Voice

This poetry in my art journal came about as a lightning bolt of inspiration over the weekend. I have been reading poetry (Mary Oliver, Hafez, Rumi), and writing in my journal, and knitting a lot. But I have done very little art journaling over the past 3 months. It is not that I was blocked. Rather, I was afraid of what might come out and didn’t want to face that. My work is intuitive, comes from inside of me, and at times it can plumb the depths of my soul.

change-poetry

I went to East Hampton Writers Guild Wednesday night after a 4 month absence. I was not sure that the group was going in a direction that I wanted to follow. And I am tired all the time, especially at the end of the work day, due to some new health problems that are going to take a long time to resolve. But I was glad I went and reconnected with the group which meets at the Bevin House. I went to see my writer friend Megan there on Saturday as I had some questions about my writing and wanted to talk. Megan is the innkeeper there and she has a wonderful blog here. We shared a lot (it was great!) and I came away from our visit feeling much better about myself and my writing. I wrote 2 poems Saturday night and I created the art journal page on Sunday.

Bevin-house-LR

My son and his wife gave me a year long subscription to Storyworth last year for Mother’s Day. There were weekly email prompts in a memoir vein that they preselected for me, and there is an app that lets you edit your stories and add photos. At the end of the year your writing and photos get bound into a physical book. It was an incredible amount of work and some of the prompts were difficult to answer, but it was very rewarding to see the finished book and hold it in my hands. Some of the writing is extremely personal so I can only share it with family.

storyworth-book

After creating the poetry art journal page, I was inspired to go back to Life Documented and pick up where I left off, at week 14. Life Documented is a year long art journal prompt blog site located here, with weekly prompts and monthly themes. The theme for July was butterflies and I did my own thing.

butterflies-LD14

I had an empty space in my stairwell and I remembered that I had two art quilts that were mirror images of each other, still in a box from the move 2 years ago. So I found those and I got them hung alongside the other quilt. It makes me smile to see them when I go up and down the stairs.

quilts-in-stairwell

Quilting, Knitting, and Art Journaling

The month of March has brought us four Nor’Easters in a row, the first one bringing major rainfall, and the remaining three bringing significant snowfall. It has been cold outside and there is comfort in wearing leggings with a sweatshirt and snuggling under a quilt on the couch. It is also a time for quilting, knitting, and art journaling.

sunrise-quilt

I am making a quilted wall hanging for my son and daughter-in-law as a wedding gift. Aurora likes the color yellow so I decided to design a sunrise over the ocean quilt using an assortment of yellow and blue medleys that I ordered from Keepsake Quilting in New Hampshire. At the quilt retreat the beginning of March, I hand appliqued gentle curves to a muslin base and then machine quilted the top at home. The quilt is about 18” by 24” which is a nice size.

beads-for-sunrise-quilt

I decided that it would be fun to add some beads to the quilt to give it some sparkle. I went through the beads that I had on hand and picked some out. There were not enough beads in the right colors to express my vision, so I decided that I needed to make a road trip to a bead store. On Saturday I went to Nature’s Art Place in Montville, Connecticut. I lost myself for a while wandering around the vast array of beautiful beads on display. I can’t wait to get started on beading!

knitting-socks

I joined a group of knitters this month and am enjoying the camaraderie of the group. They are called the Knifty Knitters and they meet at the Portland Library on Saturday mornings. There is something very soothing about knitting and the act of knitting seems to carry your worries away and make them disappear. I am enjoying a renewed interest in knitting, crocheting, and all things yarn after a long hiatus. Inspired by this talented group, I am knitting socks for myself with fingering yarn and very small circular needles (size 2mm). With the help of YouTube, I learned how to do the Turkish cast on. I don’t know why I am knitting socks – after all I could buy them in the store or on Amazon – but it is something I want to experience and feel the connection with women who have gone before me.

art-at-coffee-table

I thought I would show you how I set up my coffee table with my drawing board for art journaling. I have an art/quilting studio downstairs but It is nice to be able to work on my art in this space – it makes me feel more spontaneous and free somehow. The windows are larger and I can hear the birds singing and people coming and going. The studio is more isolated, but it has its advantages. I can leave a mess out downstairs whereas upstairs I have to clean up when I am done. I like having different options.

Journal52-transform

Transform is from my art journaling class Journal52. Transform can mean different things but in this instance it is about the transformation that happens when spring arrives each year. After the long winter in the northern climates, everything slowly comes to life and finally bursts forth into spring.

Journal52-dream

Dream, also from Journal52, is about daydreaming and I chose to highlight the things that are important to me. This girl is dreaming about the simple things in life that make her happy. What is success? Waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror, and liking the person who you are.

Journeys and Paths in Life

Lake sunrise

Life can take you on many journeys and down different paths. Sometimes you may be on your way down a path and realize that you want to change your direction. This may happen a few times or many times in life. It is important to listen to the small voice inside that is telling you to go a different way. Even if changing the way you are going brings you to a more difficult path than the one you were on.

Your roadtrip or journey

The art journaling piece above was from week 1 of the Wanderlust 2018 class, with the theme of your road trip or journey. I decided to show how I moved through my feelings about my life during the second half of last year. It was a time of happiness and a time of difficulty, with a lot of transitions along the way. I have come through it all with a renewed sense of self and a calmer outlook on life. My litmus test for everything now is to ask myself the question, “Is this important… does it really matter or can I let it go?”

Finding your path

The art journaling piece above was from week 2 of the Wanderlust 2018 class, with the theme of finding your path. I have been art journaling at the coffee table and using my Pelikan watercolor pan set which is not messy like acrylic paint. It is winter and it is cold in the art studio. It takes too long for the space to heat up when I want to do something in the moment, i.e. right now. In this piece I let the painting evolve as I went along and it only seemed natural to add the sun and some stylized rays of light. I am really enjoying the Wanderlust class which is run by two wonderful artists based in the UK.

Life documented week 3 - be you
The art journal piece above was from Life Documented week 3 and this is a playful take on the theme of being yourself. I love the quote! Life Documented provides free weekly art journaling prompts and I am doing the prompts along with my sister who lives about an hour away. It is great having an art journaling buddy!

Renew – One Word for 2018

One word 2018 renew

Happy New Year! I have chosen the word renew for my one word for 2018. I have been choosing a word at the new year to guide me through the coming year for 9 years now, when I first heard about this on Ali Edward’s blog in 2010. My previous words were 2017-believe, 2016-open, 2015-love, 2014-trust, 2013-grow, 2012-be, 2011-focus, and 2010-create. These words can all be found in an altered card deck that I made about 3 years ago. It is a nice practice to choose a word for the coming year… it is kind of like lighting a candle and setting an intention for the new year.

Renew has several meanings listed in the dictionary:
– To make new, fresh, or strong again
– To make new spiritually
– To begin again
– To restore to existence
– To make extensive changes in
All of these meanings have significance for me as I seek renewal, better health, and more balance in my life. Renewal for me means yoga, exercise, a healthier diet, and a healthy lifestyle. Part of this means learning to say no to things that would overextend me. I need time to myself to just be. This also means saying yes to things that would be good for me.

I have been reading a lot lately and wanted to share the pile of books on my coffee table that I am enjoying. I am pretty much a nonfiction reader and I like to read inspirational books from the writer’s viewpoint and see how other people experience their world. Books expose you to new ideas and help you to transcend and transform your life to something better. I have some books on my iPad but there is something magical about a book that you can hold in your hands.

Dec 2017 books

I have slowly begun art journaling again after a long hiatus. This has been somewhat tentative at first and has been happening at my coffee table with an art-to-go tote bag. I have a small art studio downstairs which is combined with a home office, library, and quilting/sewing studio. I have not been working on my art or quilting down there at all and my intention is to spend some time art journaling in the studio so that I can paint and get messy. I am doing 3 year-long art journal prompts/workshops this year… Wanderlust 2018, Journal52 2018,and Documented Life 2018. I did this art journaling page last week to celebrate that I am going to Squam Art Workshops in June which I am very excited about! I sent in my deposit and registration forms this week and also put in for vacation time at work.

Squam art journal

I have been doing a lot of crocheting the past 6 months as it is easy and portable. Knitting and crocheting are very meditational processes and crocheting was very comforting for me when I was going through medical treatments and not feeling very well. Here is my Sunday shawl that I recently completed. I found the pattern on Ravelry which is like the Facebook for knitters and crocheters. I am looking forward to renewal and growth in the new year!

Sunday shawl

Contemplation and Renewal

Mercy by the Sea Labyrinth

A few weeks ago I met my two sisters for a picnic lunch at Mercy by the Sea, a retreat and conference center on the ocean in Madison, Connecticut. It is a very peaceful and tranquil place run by the Sisters of Mercy. People come here from all walks of life to seek contemplation and find renewal. We had a wonderful time walking the grounds and the labyrinth, sharing what was going on in our lives, and sitting quietly on the benches in contemplation. We went away a few hours later feeling refreshed and renewed. There was an incredible feeling of the presence of God there, or spirit or higher power or whatever you would like to call spiritual presence in the framework of your own beliefs, and we all felt it.

Even though we were just visiting the grounds as guests and not attending a retreat, I came away from the visit with profound insight. Since the new year I have been struggling with balancing my tendency to do too much with my need to stay healthy. Trying to figure out how to cut back my activities when I want to do it all, and more. Focusing on what is important and what isn’t, and much of it is not important. Learning to let go of too many things being grasped too tightly and just go with the flow.

Art journaling what I love

Last week I art journaled about the things that are important to me. I have not done much art journaling over the past 6 months as I was not motivated and got involved in several quilting projects. There are only so many hours and minutes (86,400 seconds) in the day. I am learning to accept that I cannot do everything that crosses my path and need to follow my heart’s desire and do what inspires me at the moment.

I have been sidetracked by illness the past few months and I need to accept that I need a lot of time to myself right now. I was feeling unsettled and upset with myself that I was not accomplishing much and spending too much time on the couch. I usually like to run around and do a lot of different things. But I have had three medical procedures since July 3, exactly 2 months ago today, all while working full time at a brand new job. I am new baby in the house tired 🙂 Being at the retreat center made me realize that I need to accept what is right now, move through the process with grace and ease, and slow down.

I took up crocheting in July as a way of dealing with everything that was going on and found that it was a calming, meditative, centering activity. Many of my creative practices are like that and bring renewal for me. Crocheting is also very portable. I joined ravelry.com, the Facebook for yarn people, and found inspiration and patterns that I liked. I finished this shawl last week and find it so comforting to wear. I would like to design my own crochet pieces, especially after seeing the international documentary “Yarn” on Netflix, but I need to learn more about crocheting first. One day, one thing at a time.

Paint the Sky with Stars

Paint the sky with stars

I am a big Enya fan and after painting this layered and spattered evening sky art journal page and letting it sit for a few days, the song Paint the Sky with Stars came to mind and those words gave me a good way to finish the piece. I like to let things sit and think about them instead of just rushing in and finishing without letting it percolate.

A friend of mine kept asking me every time I saw her, “Did you finish that [whatever it was that I was working on the last time I saw her]?” and I finally had to explain that is not why I make things. I enjoy the creative process and I just want to have fun. I don’t care if I finish an art or quilt piece at any given moment unless it is intended for a specific recipient because that is not my raison d’être [reason or justification for existence]. I am a process person, not a product person. I love the process!

I have big news! I will be teaching 2 mixed media art workshops for teens through adults as a volunteer at Epoch Arts in East Hampton, Connecticut in March and April. The workshops are Art Journaling and Inspirational Cards and each workshop will have 2 sessions. I am very excited about this opportunity to teach at this “arts for youth” nonprofit organization in my home town. I am working on handouts which will be shared on my offerings page. Teaching art has been a dream of mine for a long while and now it is coming true!

I have been thinking about vulnerability a lot lately and why it is important. Brene Brown has done a lot of work in this area and her Ted talk on vulnerability is one of the top ten most viewed TED talks in the world. Vulnerability is basically uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Her research uncovered a common thread in those who embrace vulnerability: “They talked about the willingness to say, ‘I love you’ first… the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees… the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram.” This really resonates with me right now and I wanted to share it with you.

Follow Your Dreams

Exuberance

I walked down to the lake on Saturday afternoon wearing just a sweatshirt because we had an unusually warm sunny day for a Connecticut winter. There are a few park benches where you can sit and look at the ripples in the water and let time slowly pass by. It was so peaceful.

When you let time stand still like that you feel rejuvenated and renewed. You gain perspective on your life. Later on, when I was home, I went downstairs to my art studio and exuberance is what came out in my art journal. Giving myself space to just be let the feelings flow through me.

I had attended a volunteer meeting at Epoch Arts that morning and I am happy to say that I will be teaching two mixed media art workshops there in the next session of classes, art journaling and inspiration cards for ages 12 through adult. Teaching and sharing art has been a dream of mine for a long while. You need to follow your dreams.

Tonight I decided to relax and not do anything but daydream and listen to the rain on the skylight. My thoughts drifted like the ripples on the water at the lake and I realized I need to spend more time like this and less time rushing around in busyness and activity. The world isn’t going to stop turning if I miss a meeting. The dishes in the sink can wait until tomorrow. The To Do list will always be there and most items on the list can wait another day, or longer.

What is truly important? The people you love – your family, your true friends, that special person in your heart and life. And you are so important – that person inside of you who needs to take time for self, to relax, and to just be.

Art Journaling – Medicine Wheel

Art journal wheel

This piece was loosely inspired by the Medicine Wheel which is used by Native American tribes for health and healing. The four quadrants of the circle represent the Four Directions: East, South, West, and North.

Different tribes have different interpretations for the Medicine Wheel. Each direction typically has a distinctive color and each direction can represent a number of different concepts, for example stages of life, seasons of the year, aspects of life, or elements of nature.

On Friday night, while drifting off between awake and asleep, I had a vision of what I wanted to create the next day. I reached for the pad and pen on my nightstand, drew a circle with a horizontal and a vertical line, and wrote the words four seasons. When I looked at the piece of paper the next day, I realized that this was a Medicine Wheel.

I went through my day thinking about this in the back of my mind. I work intuitively and don’t have any plan when I sit down to make art. Then I thought about what a friend said to me the other day when we were talking about upcoming weekend plans… “No plan is the best plan – just go with the flow. Something good always comes up.”

When I was ready, I decided to work at the dining room table instead of in my art studio downstairs. I gathered up my new Canson CP 140lb art journal, my portable art tote, my Derwent intense blocks, and later on my bin of stamp pads. I don’t know how to explain how this piece happened, because it just did.

It’s a very simple piece and it reflects how I feel right now. It also reflects who I am as an artist. I was quite happy with this when it was finished. It marks a lot of new beginnings for me, both in my art and in my life.

New Beginnings in Art

There are no words

I have been thinking about doing this for a long while and decided to sign up for WordPress for my art website today. Over the next few weeks I will set up a new art website here. It is exciting to see all of the plugins and features that are available with WordPress. There is a learning curve of course, but it will be fun exploring this platform that is the backbone for many websites.

I will be sharing my art work and inspiration here. I have been art journaling for about seven years and have grown so much through this practice. Art journaling lets you uncover and bring your feelings to the surface so that you can express yourself in a positive way and increase self awareness.

It is important to do what inspires you in the moment. I work in different media because at any one moment in time I am inspired to express myself in different ways. Sometimes I might want to draw or sketch out ideas. Sometimes I might want to work on an altered card deck. Sometimes I might want to work on a quilt. Other times I might want to paint and that could be in an art journal, on loose paper, or on canvas. There are often times when I don’t create anything while ideas are percolating in the back of my mind. Whatever you choose to do is your truth and your own path to follow. There is no must or should. There is only do what is right for you.

I want to inspire you to grow your creativity in your own way. I plan to develop offerings such as e-books, tutorials, and classes. I love creating intuitive art and am excited about sharing this with others.

We are all artists. You can follow our own path and express yourself in your own way. I would like to light the path to your art spirit and open the door to creativity.

Mary