Growing through Life

August and summer are gently but quietly coming to a close. I have been going through a lot of changes and realized I am growing through my life experiences, essentially growing through life.

A lot of people in my online creative communities talk about setting up an altar in their home, a touchstone place where you can connect with self and find your center. I was curious about the idea but not really interested in finding a place to set up an altar in my home. When I looked around, I was surprised to find that I already had an altar in the deep window in my living room. It is filled with books, art journals, family photos, my yarn bowl, a Christmas cactus, a few amigurumi, and other special items.

window-altar

I have taken a hiatus from painting this summer and have not been creating a lot of art, but I took two online collage classes. It is refreshing to do something different as it is easy to get into a rut doing the same thing for a long while. Life is like that. It is always good to get a new perspective on things and see things in a different way. I have been very introspective and questioning this summer, doing a lot of private written journaling to find discernment and work through some issues, and growing into the person I am becoming. Change, although difficult, brings growth and renewal of life. I sometimes wish I could share easily like others do, but I am not like that. Fortunately, I have a few people in my life who understand.

The first class I took was the Vision Journal Workshop with Kathryn Costa. I have known Kathryn almost 10 years, although we have never met in person, and I enjoy following her creative adventures. Catherine mails out a physical envelope with goodies inside to class participants. The workshop can be found here. This butterfly and saying cut out of a magazine expresses how I was feeling at the time.

vision-journal-butterfly

Tell It Collage with Liz Lamoreaux was inspirational for me. Her class gently encourages you to glue in scraps of saved papers, photos that are meaningful to you, and anything that you might have on hand. It was very freeing and I had a blast playing with my journal. The workshop can be found here. The tree and wonderful saying were cut out of an old calendar. I have several art bins filled with found papers and things like this.

collage-tell-it

This spread is also from Tell It Collage. We were encouraged to free write about ourselves and I just let the words flow out from my hand through my uniball signo pen. I love pens and have a wide variety of them on hand, having collected them over time.

collage-about-me

This is another spread from Tell It Collage. The paper on the right was painted from my Gelli plate. I have a stack of these papers saved in one of my art bins and they add a lot of dimension to a piece. The photo of my hand holding the shells and the snippet of my artwork are from a trip to Hammonasset Park on Long Island Sound, see post here. It is a touchstone place where I go to recenter and find balance.

collage-hand-shells

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!

Celebration of Life

JohnP
This Saturday I will be attending the celebration of life for my college friend John, who lost a long battle with cancer this January. He was a vegetarian most of his life, didn’t drink or smoke, and was never sick a day in his life until this. I miss him, his witty comebacks, and his great advice, but I know that he has passed on to another plane of existence.

John was an audio engineer and eventually had his own company designing and building audio consoles for music performance in concert halls and other venues worldwide. John loved to work and he worked almost to the end, with his laptop, iPad, and iPhone going with him for the hospital stays. Work was his whole reason for living, which some people didn’t understand. I remember one summer visiting him at the beach house in East Haven, sitting on a milk crate crocheting a shawl in the electronics lab in the beach house while he soldered little parts to electronics boards. I was fascinated!

After Allen & Heath moved out of Connecticut, John went to work for Crest Audio and he commuted from the beach house in Connecticut to New Jersey for a long while, sometimes sleeping in his chair at work, but he eventually moved to New Jersey and settled there. The beach house was hard to give up, and part of him will always be there at that beach, setting off bottle rockets on the 4th of July or entertaining nieces, nephews, or my kids. John never had children of his own but he had his own toy box stocked full with fun toys. I have several containers of sea glass from that beach as I used to visit quite often that summer when I was out of work on disability. John made that difficult time much better for me.

John was one of my closest friends, if not my closest friend. John was very private and didn’t get close to people, but I never had a problem with that. I am still trying to come to terms with the fact that I can’t call him anymore and hear his voice on the phone. He would listen as I rambled on trying to make sense of things, offering insight and helping me to sort through things. His last piece of advice in December was… “Don’t wait until everything is in place. Start now and do what you can, do a little bit at a time.” I am doing just as he said. He is truly a celebration of life.