Friday, July 8, 2016

Blog Update

I ran out of time to update my blog before the ArtWalk but, I have been very active on other platforms this year. If you would like to see what I have been sharing this year please take a look at my Instagram account or my Facebook page. To see an up to date gallery of my art please see my Flickr account here. Check back soon for the updated blog!

Thank you!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Update

Today would have been the final official day of my challenge. I was determined to push through come what may but, I didn't. My family got the type of sudden news that you simply can't be prepared for and we are now in the midst of some intense decision making. No worries, no one is sick or dying we are just having some major upheavals at the moment.
I am sad that I could not finish what I started this time but, even in this disappointment, I am learning a lot. I've discovered that when you stop your daily creative process, it can be very difficult to get it back in gear again. It is much easier to keep your momentum going even by the smallest and simplest of creative acts than to have to start from scratch again. It's like cycling, starting to peddle can be hard work but, once that bike's in motion, it can feel like you are effortlessly coasting along. Hit the break though, and you have to start all over again building up momentum. 
During my successful 20+ days of this challenge I experienced the joy, peace and growth of prioritizing creative time and then the unsettling feeling of loss without this creative outlet. This lead me to think about how our lives evolve over time and how our creative practice must as well. Regardless of our big decision coming up, this summer is going to prove to be intense and I am unlikely to be able to find the time and energy to do even a fraction of what I have been. I need my creative outlet but, I will need to redefine it to keep it alive. 
Looking back, I have more or less succeeded in doing this many times over. Before having kids, I was kind of crazy and constantly had a million projects going in more medias than I could list. When our daughter entered our lives, I chose to focus on paper crafting as it could provide me with a small bit of income and I could scrapbook this new baby! Once our son joined us though, it became clear that the paper crafting was not in the cards and so, I moved on to digital crafting. It was a great fit at the time, no set up, a minute here a minute there, no clean up: the perfect media for a busy mom. I wasn't fully satisfied with the digital projects though and longed to get my hands dirty for real so, when the kids got a bit older, I started to pull out some of my fine art supplies and basically just dabbled a bit. More recently, some health crises forced me to slow things down and at the same time enabled me to focus more on painting. I would have loved to use my wide variety of experiences and materials to do some large mixed media pieces but, during this time, the simplicity of watercolour was a better fit. 
So what's next? I don't know. Maybe for a time I will focus on sketching or watercolour pencils which are easy to tote around and use when you have a spare moment or maybe something else will develop. The importance will be to keep the creative spark alive so, that it can start the fire burning again quickly once life permits grander endeavours. 
Do you find yourself not doing creative work simply because your chosen media doesn't fit in your current life situation? How could you adapt? Could you scale back the size of your projects or simplify your media? Could it be time to step out of your comfort zone and try something completely new that would be more compatible with your lifestyle? 
I would love to hear about your creative evolution and I will continue to share mine as much as I can in the future. 
Here's to creating a more beautiful, thoughtful and inspiring world together! wink emoticon

Thursday, June 18, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 18

I am starting to get really excited now that I am typing these higher numbers. Establishing routine has always been a challenge for me so, I am really thrilled to have made it this far! 

Today, I finished the name frame for my son's Kindergarten teacher then followed my husband downtown for the afternoon to explore a new art exhibit in the entrance of his office tower and do some sketching.

What is inspiring me today:

I consciously decided to shake things up this afternoon and get a change of scenery. Fighting with my computer (husband is halfway through upgrading our server = bad timing) was making me cranky and I felt it was sapping me of creative energy for my projects. 

Going to Epcor Tower to take in some unique art, do a bit of sketching and reading (with a yummy mocha in hand) did just the trick. It's a fascinating exhibit, the kind that makes you think about what the heck makes something "art". One perk to these hard to pin installations is that they make for great sketching subjects. When I am sketching an animal, a person, or familiar object, it's easy to get stuck drawing symbolically, for example, just drawing an "eye" rather than the true eye in front of you. These sculptures are such abstractions that you really have to study their lines carefully to draw them. I used to shy away from this type of sketching but, I am enjoying it more and more. I am hoping that training my eyes to see shapes better will improve my art overall.

I've also started reading the book Walking this World by Julia Cameron which, is a follow up to her classic book The Artist's Way. This is already proving to be a very insightful read and I am hoping to implement a few of her strategies soon. I will be sharing more from this book in the days to come for sure!

How do you respond to usual art? Does it move and inspire you or do you tend to just feel out of the loop? To be honest, I'm often the latter!

-I am only showing one photo from the exhibit because, the installation is not complete and I don't know their policy or even the names of the artists.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 16

Today will be a little different. We are approaching the end of the school year which means it's time for thank you gifts for the teachers. At the end of every school year, I make the teachers a digitally scrapbooked name frame. (I don't think any of them are following me so, I'm taking a gamble and sharing!) I like to tailor the projects to what I know of the teacher and their style if I can. The gift has gone over very well in the past and so, I've include a couple of my prior projects below for inspiration. I spent most of the day amassing the files I am planning on using and so, I don't have anything to share yet but, hopefully tomorrow!

What is inspiring me today:

There are two main things that are inspiring me today. The first is one that any paper crafter whether digital or hard copy knows: The Stash! AKA, the carefully accumulated and curated (or hoarded) collection of papers and embellishments that make your mind spin with more ideas than you will ever be able create.

The second, but, much more important source of inspiration today though, is thinking about the awesome teachers that my kids have been blessed to have this year. The kindergarten teacher that despite, coming to the class late in the year, has been the most tender and loving teacher I could hope for for my sensitive boy; the grade 3 teacher that has been remarkably attentive to my daughter's rather interesting learning style and always quick to point out her strengths; and the science teacher who has been a massive source of inspiration for my girl. It's hard not to be driven to create something extra special for teachers who have spent the year truly investing in your children.

I'd like to invite you today to simply reflect on the amazing teacher's you have had and how the contributed to the person you are now. Did you have a teacher, coach, instructor etc. that helped ignite your creative spirit?

Monday, June 15, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 15

This post will be much more visually appealing then the last two. Painting was a lot more fun too! I completed the large time-lapse sky, and while I waited for the wash to dry remembered my small raven painting. The raven is based on a photo I took in the mountains, I put the camera of my phone against our binoculars and to my astonishment the picture worked out!

What is inspiring me today:

I read a great little book last night called "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon. It was a fun quick read, chock full of insight on where inspiration comes from. I loved the idea of learning your craft by studying one of your favourite artists then, choosing a couple of that artist's influences to study and so on. The goal is to discover your creative family tree. A fun exercise the author recommended was to take two very different artists in that tree and imagine what a hybrid of their creations would look like. He also recommended imagining what artist from the past would create if they were alive today. Lots of gems in this tiny book, I highly recommend it.
Since reading the book, Ive been trying to pinpoint exactly which artists have influenced my painting and I'm hard pressed to come up with names. In watercolour, I love two very distant extremes, one is the meticulous, detailed renderings of botanical and zoological recordings and the latter is the wild and splashy painting that seems to have some roots in the asian watercolour tradition. I now feel a bit, driven to unearth my creative heritage and be a bit more conscious of the artists I draw inspiration from.

Can you pinpoint any creatives that have had a major influence on your work? Can reimagine their creations in a new context?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 14

It's hard to believe I am half way through the challenge! Today, I was not well but, in the end, a quite low key day fit well with my current project. I completed the masking on my 12x12 in time-lapse   sky painting. Yup the highly uninteresting image below was the fruit of a days labour. If all goes well, tomorrows reveal will be much more impressive. ;)

What is inspiring me today:

I'm going to be honest again and say, today's task was more of an exercise of patience and determination than creativity but, I suppose those things were driven by the original creative vision. I really hope the piece turns out and will have been worth the effort! I chose to listen to The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy to keep things light and perhaps to help inspire a creative take on a starscape? 

How do you find motivation to push through the more tedious, less inspiring aspects of a creative project?

P.S. That is not a picture of a blank piece of paper, I swear!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day13

Unlike yesterday, I do not have much to show for pictures today. I am working on a much larger version of the time-lapse night skies I shared yesterday. I really hope that it turns out as it is taking an eternity to apply the masking fluid that this technique depends on. I only managed to get about 25% laid down tonight.

What is inspiring me:

My main source of inspiration to take on this much larger painting was all of the encouragement and support I received from my post yesterday. There is nothing like hearing that people love what you are doing to energize you to keep going! Thank you. 

On a much smaller note, I have always found masking fluid challenging to apply and so I used it very sparingly. I chose to create very small works initially because I knew how big of a pain the masking process could be. I wracked my brain to come up with a better tool then, decided to take a poke through my old scrapbooking supplies. Bingo! I found a couple of embossing tools gathering dust, they worked wonderfully and gave me the courage to tackle the larger painting.

Have you found motivation in other peoples admiration of your work before? Can you think of a fellow creative you can encourage with a few well placed words?

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 12 (Posted the day after)

have a lot of pictures to share today but, very little time to write about them so, here we go! First, I completed my Night Forest piece from yesterday then, I made a series of three mini (3x3 inches) inspired by night sky time lapse photography I found and finally, I stamped a series of small tags on scraps of watercolour paper for my mom who is preparing bouquets for family.

What is inspiring me today:

I think I'm on the same vane as yesterday: enjoying experimenting, trying to recreate the amazing skies I came across while researching my moon painting. I kind of like my time-lapse star trio. What do you think? Would it be worth trying to make a larger version? One thing about creating everyday is that it takes a lot less effort to get into the zone, shall we say. I was so entranced working on these paintings that I completely missed lunch and was shocked when my alarm to meet the kids at the bus went off. (Oops!) There is something meditative to this kind of project and that very feeling inspires me to continue more painting in this style.

Can you thing of projects that you get so engrossed in that you loose all track of time?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 11

I am not sure how far I will get in this post as, I am not feeling well. We seem to be having air quality issues and I have been getting shorter and shorter on breath all day. It's raining though so, I hope tomorrow will be easier.
My creativity today took on a number of forms. I seemed to have been randomly inspired in the kitchen today...could it have been the drawer of produce threatening to go bad on me? Regardless, the family got kale chips, salsa, hummus, a kombucha-fruit slushy and a giant veggie stir-fry out of the bargain!
I spent most of the afternoon painting as the mounting shortness of breath was limiting my mobility. I nearly completed the tree painting bellow, and added some masking fluid to a fun little piece I hope to show tomorrow.

What is inspiring me today:

Other than aging veggies, I was inspired by a number of the dramatic images of star skies I came across while researching yesterday's blue moon piece. Today's painting incorporates two of my favourite painting activities: silhouettes and mucking around with creating interesting textures. I pulled out every trick in the book for this background; masking, spraying, using alcohol, water, inks and salt. It's such a delight to play around with these things and you never know what the outcome will be. I knew a lot of the background texture would be hidden so, I snapped a picture of it to show you too. I also, randomly, took a shot of my stained fingers as, I amused myself wondering why a green thumb couldn't be as easy to come by as a blue thumb.

Have you tried experimenting freely with a new technique or considered reaching for non standard materials to to reignite your creativity?

Yay! I made it to the end! wink emoticon

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 10

Today's painting came together over 3 small broken up sessions but, I managed to complete it. I also planned to sketch on the road, that did not turn out though. I'm debating if I should be waiting for daylight the next morning to photograph my paintings because this late evening light isn't showing the pieces well. We shall see, for the moment the goal is sharing the process more than anything.

What is inspiring me today:

This painting was really all about overcoming challenges. I hit many points along the way where I just wanted to give up or start over. I recently purchased some, supposedly, better quality watercolour paper but, the stuff has been a nightmare. It bubbled, and puckered leaving pools of paint. I could not spread my colour as I usually would and the darkest paints didn't seem to want to stick to it. Then, to boot, my masking tape just would not stay stuck to it. I actuall
y had to buy a new roll which worked moderately better than the older one. All of this to say that I made a conscious choice (cursing along the way granted) to just go with it and see what could be made.

Here are a few of the problems that in effect were responsible for creating this piece: 
  • Because of the faulty tape, I changed the orientation of the painting.
  • Because of the pooling and the difficulties spreading my paint, I decided to create a cloudy sky.
  • The positioning of the trees in the scene was greatly to hide places where the paint did not play nice.
  • Another bonus is that the turquoise paint I used on the moon granulated and pooled in the texture of the paper adding a great effect that I could not have planned on.
Have you experienced technical difficulties while working on a project which, surprisingly added to you final piece?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 9

The end of a painting is always much more interesting to share than the beginning. I almost did not add photos today's post at all as they are pretty boring. Today, I flip flopped a lot on what I wanted to do next. Once I settled on an idea, I dove in only to have technical difficulties with the new paper I bought...not impressed. After fighting with the first idea for a while, I decided to step back from it and do a small sketch of something completely unrelated. There was a lot more invisible processing involved in today's work, hopefully I will have something more impressive to show tomorrow!

What is inspiring me today:

I keep a few sketchbooks on hand with ideas for future projects but, I also keep a digital notebook in the app Evernote. I love using this app as I can snap a quick photo into it on the road, or add a link to a great technique, or type in a passing idea then, I can access it from any of my devices. I of course also love Pinterest -I was on the waiting list for when it would come to Canada- and use it endlessly for somethings but, I love the flexibility and privacy of my inspiration file in Evernote when it comes to my painting.
(Haha, I seriously would not have expected I would ever be typing sentences like these before my geeky hubby sold me on the benefits technology had to offer the creative!)
I find that, often, ideas come in waves where there is no way you can complete all of the things that have popped into your mind before they pop right out again. This makes the keeping of some form of journal, sketchbook, inspiration file, or pin board (real or on the net) invaluable. Pouring through your collection of past ideas can be a wonderful way to get you fired up and ready to leap into your next project. 
Once you have a healthy collection of inspiration amassed, choosing can be the next big challenge. I used to agonize over "the right project" (yes I'm one of those) but, I'm slowly learning that there is no wrong answer and to just go with what speaks to me in the moment.
What do you use to keep track of your creative ideas?

Monday, June 8, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 8

I had another late start to my painting, having to wait until the kids were down for the night. I have been struggling with insomnia recently so, I wasn't sure if I even had the energy left to try anything. I decided that even if I only got one flower painted, I should try if only not to break my promise to create daily. In the end, I popped my audiobook on again, poured a glass of wine and before,  I knew it  had not only painted a flower but, complete my second painting! 

 What is inspiring me today:

Today, was not an inspiring day. To be honest, it was an "I'm exhausted and just trying to get through today" kind of day. The great thing is that I think my hypothesis that daily creating helps overcome the inertia problem has been proven true. I can't imagine in the past, having  been able to push through and paint when I felt like I did today but, I made a decision to do it, I created an environment that I knew would contribute to my success and was quickly able to enter into my creative mindspace. This has been a true revelation to me because, all signs pointed to there being no point in even trying yet I came out of this experience with a completed painting! Hopefully this will reinforce in me the idea of just starting no matter how I feel.

Have you experienced something similar in your creative journey?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 7

Wow! I made it a week! My whole household is seriously challenged when it comes to routine so, this is already a real victory. There are only 3 weeks left now but, they will get exponentially busier as we approach then end of the school year. Here's hoping I can keep up the trend!

Despite plans to the contrary, I did not get to settle down with my paints until the kids went to bed today. Good thing my darling, supportive husband offered to take over and make lunches so, I could -finally- finish my bird. Which I have thank goodness! My paintings do not normally drag on for weeks like this one so, I'm glad I have the first one completed and I'm hoping his mate will be completed tomorrow!

What is inspiring me today:

I find, my needs change during the flow of a creative project. Initially, I really need to get my inspiration fired up, I need energy, joy and ideas percolating. Mid-way I may be more prone to look for tutorials or techniques to help me overcome challenges I have encountered. In the final stages though, it's all about silencing and even distracting my internal critic so, that I don't excessively fuss with a project and ruin it.

Today, being in the final stages of this painting, I reached for a totally unrelated audiobook. I've discovered over the years that I am pretty much 50/50 Right brain/left brain. This means that sometimes, like a child you hand some crayons to (or I guess an iPod these days) to them keep occupied, I have literally have to play something to distract left brain so that, right brain can get down and be creative unhindered. Now that sounds pretty goofy I'm sure, but, it just works for me. On particularly left brain days, I may even listen to fairly heavy lectures or podcasts then, create away.

What do you do to silence (or distract) your internal critic so that you can let loose and get creative?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 6

It feels like summer is in full swing, it's really hot in Edmonton and staying indoors did not feel like an option today. Since, I really have to get my birds completed ASAP (kind of nervous how long I've left the masking fluid already!), I packed up my painting gear, some snacks and a blanket then we headed down to the river valley for some plein air painting. 

Painting outdoors is a wonderful experience though it take some adjusting to. My paint dried way faster than usual in the heat, and though I frequently had to pick bugs and poplar fluff out of my paint, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and lost all track of time. In the end I did not manage to complete my project as hoped but, I did make a good dent into it. If all goes well I should be able to complete at least one piece tomorrow.

What is inspiring me today:

Today was a low tech day. No youtube tutorials, music, pinterest etc, just the joy of sunlight on my shoulders, grass on my feet, the chittering of birds, and the lingering smell of spring turning to summer. Sometimes, it can feel too daunting to pack up my gear and head outside to paint but, when I do it's always worth the effort. 

Can you take what you are working on outside? Do you find the outdoors generally an inspiration or a distraction to your creative work?

June Creative Journey: Day 5

{Part 1}

I'm on the road today and currently, this is as creative as it's gotten! Hopefully I will have more to add before the day is through.

{Part 2}

I could tell when, I woke up this morning that I was having an off day so, I quickly decided to change my plans and follow my hubby downtown. The dramatic change of scenes coupled with the energy of the city core is normally all I need to crowbar myself out of a rut. 

Not today. Alas, it all felt a little too intense so I tucked myself away in a quite corner with a tea, read and sketched a bit. The sketching felt pretty forced and unsuccessful but, I did scrounge up a few good ideas for later so, maybe it was a success after all?

When I found out I'd have the house to myself tonight, I decided to just relax and enjoy it. I've made myself what I can only call a faux-hot cheese dip/spread of sorts and I've picked up an adventure saga novel in the Tolkien style. I am ready for a bit of escapism tonight. Who knows, maybe painting will still come before the night is through. 

What is inspiring me today:

I'd love to say the architecture that surrounded me today, or the pack of daycare kids running around the park in sheer glee, or maybe the battling buskers on the square, or possibly the zentangle doodle book I borrowed from the library? Each of these certainly had an influence but, to be honest, right now, it is a quiet house, a good book and a glass of my favourite kiwi wine. wink emoticon

Do you have go to sources of inspiration? What do you do to shake yourself out of a bad mood or creative rut?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 4

Today after some serious procrastinating (which at least did result in a cleaner house) I finally tackled the backgrounds of my bluebird paintings. I decided to just release and have fun splashing the colours around. I'm still not 100% sure I achieved what I wanted but, I'm moving forward. It's always hard to judge a background until your piece is completed, sometimes it will suddenly just come together.

What is inspiring me today:

I started the day with music but, because I was obviously a bit intimidated to start slapping paint on my sketches, I turned to Youtube for painting tutorials. Sure, Youtube can be a deep, dark time sapping hole full of cat videos and awkward talent show clips but, used wisely, it can also inspire creativity and -dare I say- even increase productivity?

Even though I did not manage to find the tutorial I was looking for, just having a series of watercolourists painting with me in my living room, helped get on with the projects. I am starting to think that there is nothing you can't learn online these days! What ever you are creating, if you find yourself stuck, take a gander for a video to help you. I bet you you'll find one, or a dozen, or more...

Finally, a couple of ideas that I loved from Creative Thursday:
  • Don't be afraid of a poor start, you never know how a piece will turn out until it's finished.
  • A successful artist is someone who recognizes their insecurities and creates anyways!

How did your day go? Did it meet your expectations?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June Creative Journey Challenge: Day 3

Last night, I was pretty exhausted and did not trust myself to to work on the background of my painting so, I decided to apply a bit of masking fluid to it to preserve the white areas and call it done.
This morning, I realized it had been a very long time since I had painted the type of background I was hoping on doing, let alone around such complex shapes so, I decided to practice first. I wanted to have a painting that had super bright intense colours in contrast to deeper earthy ones without producing mud. This has proven to be a lot more difficult than I had expected so, I am really glad for having spent today practicing despite the delay. I have learned a lot and I'm hoping it will pay off tomorrow when I tackle the real paintings.

What's inspiring me today:

Change and introspection. As much as I have enjoyed listening to the series of artist interviews in The Spark, I needed a change of environment to get into a creative space this morning. I moved my painting set up into a sunny patch on my living room floor and found a Youtube play list of some of my favourite upbeat and inspirational singers. 
Personally, I need to establish a joyful and energizing space around myself to paint. I find the process and product of creation fascinating. Last night, I spoke with a friend who is high energy, bold and simply a vibrant person (who may or may not own a pair of bright pink high heels) but, when she paints, it's dark, deep and intense. I, on the other hand, tend to be, more prone to introspection and self criticism. I am generally very concerned about others and well, life the universe and everything. Part of me is quite morose and easily discouraged and it takes a lot of effort for me to stay in a place of hope and joy. 
One would think that this would make me the dark and brooding artist but, instead I strive for bright, joyful, beautiful and even silly subjects. I admire those who can paint from that dark place and make people stop and think about the state of our world but, I simply can't create from there. Sadness, doubt and anger are paralyzing rather than inspiring to me. My creative battle is to move from the dark into the light. 
One singer I love and listened to this morning is Tracy Chapman. She can sing about some seriously dark and disturbing issues with great depth and yet, have you dancing, feeling charged up and empowered. I hope one day I can paint like she composes. For the moment though, my goal is to highlight the joy, hope and beauty in the world. Maybe in some small way, helping someone see the beauty in our natural world will open their hearts and minds to how precious it is and encourage them to protect it. That's where I stand for now. Maybe one day I will be able to tackle some of the big issues on my heart but, for today my goal is simply to delight.

What inspires you? What kind of head space do you need to be in to create? Is there a kind of music that can get you there? I always love to learn more about peoples creative process so, please, do share!