Sunday, May 25, 2014

Made Ecourse Giveaway!

I am so excited.

Crazy excited!

In the fall I am teaching in the Made ecourse for Christian creatives, and cannot wait for it all to begin.

As the website explains, Made is:

"an e-course created by Christian creatives for Christian creatives, exploring what it means to be a person who makes things who believes she or he was, in turn, made by God."

Registration for this course begins next week, June 1, and runs through mid-August, but this week you have the opportunity to enter to win one of 5 free spots in the course.  Woohoo!  I always love a deal.

Enter to win below.  Contest runs from 8:00 am today through noon on Friday and winners will be chosen on Friday.  Spread the word!  This course will be a wonderful way to learn new ways to connect with our Creator.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tutorial- Easy Watercolor Silhouette

I've been playing around lately, partly in preparation for my part in the Made ecourse, and partly just because.  The year for me in terms of creating ebbs and flows, and I still don't feel like I'm completely at peace with the ebb.

Is this a problem for anyone else?   I know in my head that I will have times that are ripe for creation and other times that- due to family commitments, busyness, fatigue- are just not.  It's not about balance for me, it's about peace and acceptance.

Anyway, I've been really intrigued with ways to incorporate silhouettes, shapes of women from magazines and old books.  I've used them before- sometimes just collaging them in, sometimes altering them, sometimes spraying around them- but lately I've been playing around with my watercolor crayons and pencils.  I love how they have turned out.  They are more personal and simple.  So I thought I'd share.

I use many different magazines to find inspiration: fashion catalogs, women's magazines, travel and vintage, even architecture magazines.  When a silhouette in an ad strikes me, I tear it out for future use, or as in this case, I cut carefully around the silhouette.

Next I use a sketching pen to trace around the image on a blank book page.  I sometimes will add details to the image in addition to the outline, but this time I chose not to.

Once I've traced it, I then go over the figure with either a watercolor crayon or watercolor pencil.  I want a thick enough line so that the water added later will fully engage with the color.

I use a round brush and add water to the silhouette, pulling color away from the edge and giving it a shaded look.

Then I cut out the image and apply it to my page.  In this case, the woman (who was holding back a curtain at a window) is parting the water in a sort of waterfall image.

There you go!  Simple.  And there's a lot more you can do with them: add more colors, do mirror images with two, etc.  Just play and see what you come up with!

Here's to the ebb and flow of the creative process, and joy in the mess.  

Be sure to pop back in next week when I will be taking part in a giveaway for spots in the fall Made ecourse.  Blessings on your weekend!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

On My Nightstand {Words on my tongue}

I won't read words that waste my time.

The days of "I will finish it if I start it" are in my rear view mirror, and I instead leave books that leave me cold on the floor beside my bed.  When they call to me again {and sometimes they do}, I will know it.  But if the layer of dust grows too thick, I will abandon it to my basement shelf with the never-read, and probably-never-will.

My palate grows more finicky, and less patient, with age.  It wants big, chewy words, and decadently long sentences that almost need to be spoken aloud to be understood.  Or it wants direct communication between taste buds and soul, and if my soul isn't moved, my mouth dries up with the words still on my tongue.  Or it wants to be wooed into pages again and again, until the last one is turned and utters a sigh all its own...or maybe the sigh is mine.

I need books that plant living ideas so deeply within me that I highlight more lines than not, and jot stars, exclamation points, and the occasional "Yes!" in the margins.

So what is on my nightstand?

Love Does {Bob Goff}
Beautifully written in a whimsical way, this is a book of stories that are unrelated except in their
expressions of big, profound, day-to-day love.  I think this is one I'll give my teen when I'm finished. 

Everything Belongs {Richard Rohr}
A reflection on the way beauty and suffering, periphery and center must connect in our lives.  I love Rohr's writing, and his ability to separate himself as he comments on faith and culture.

A Million Little Ways {Emily Freeman}
Creativity springing from our identity as children of a creative God.  This is speaking deeply to me. 

The Soul of Sex {Thomas Moore}
The jury is still out on this one.  I'm finding it redundant so far, though the writing is beautiful.  This book is a study on appreciating sensuality as a gift in all aspects of life, not just the physical.

The Grey Muse {Heather A. Mattern}
Savoring these short and heart-opening poems, spoken from an older self to a younger one.  
Beautiful and raw.  These are words that invite me to journal my own love notes.

The Pull of the Moon {Elizabeth Berg}
I actually finished this book one day this week over the course of 6 hours out and about with the kids.  I could not put it down and have read through many parts of it again since.  I could barely breathe during the reading of it, feeling such a deep and sweet regret along with the author as she processed through her life transition through diary entries and letters.  Stunning.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Learning how to see {the #sketchtosee project}

"Just learn how to see, and you will know whatever it is 
that you need to see...To see rightly is to be able to be 
fully present– without fear, without bias, 
and without judgement."
~Richard Rohr

"Jesus said, 'What can I do for you?'
The blind man said, 'Rabbi, I want to see.'"
Matthew 10:51

Seeing is much more subjective than it appears.

Today as I was teaching a wiggly group of preschoolers, I tried to convey to them the difference between seeing with our eyes and seeing with our hearts.  They each held a paper heart I had given them against their chest and they listened as I told them of Saul who became Paul and who was made blind so he could better see who Jesus was.  For between the two– physical sight, and Spirit-sight–  physical sight is truly the lesser gift.

I am blind every day.  I am blind to the things and the people in my life even though they may be in plain sight.  I glance over the beauty in my busyness, eyes glazed with all of the looking ahead so I can accomplish my "doing".  I literally trip over the things in my home that have found a place in the middle of the floor, because when they have been there long enough, I no longer see them.  I find this to be the case figuratively as well.

My word for 2014 has been now-full.  I want not only my eyes, but my spirit also, to be focused on the present, open to each moment, and full of the now.  One of the ways I do this is to sketch something right in front of me, quickly but intentionally, and it awakens my vision and slows me down.

When I pause and look at something for the length of time it takes to sketch it, the experience, and the act of slowing down, changes the object itself.  The object no longer just takes up space, it inhabits space.  It lives and spreads itself out in my consciousness.  It becomes a part of me.  The sketch provides me with a context for memory, for when I look back I can remember exactly where I was, who I was with, and what my day was like.

To take the time to sketch something, I have to really see it.  The contour, the way the light and shadow play together on its surface, the size of its parts in relation to each other, the geometric shapes hiding in the organic.  I squint and see a flattened hexagon, a narrow 's', the darkness of the shadow where it meets the object.

I begin with a prominent shape.  I make my sketches intentionally messy and lessen the chance perfectionism will ruin my experience.  I go back over lines again and again, the curves and angles developing in the repetition.  I hide errors in shading, choose what to highlight, and add a pop of color for focus.  The process calms me and opens me.  And the practice means my sketches improve with each attempt.

I am posting my sketching practice on Instagram with the tag #sketchtosee.  I am collecting memories, along with friends and fellow artists, mamas and teens, anyone who wants to join in.  I'd love you to find me there, and find your own sight alongside me.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Art Lockdown 101

A week ago today Art Lockdown '14 was in full swing.  All of our planning and dreaming and anticipating had found their fulfillment and we settled down into the bliss that is uninterrupted creative time.

So what do we do in an art lockdown, you may ask (and some of you did)?

Heather and I both have had conversations with women who don't quite understand the whole thing.  We chuckle over our chats with the extroverts we know and love, with their puzzled looks, as we politely (over and over) insist that we don't go anywhere except the cavernous used bookstore nearby.  Really.  We don't leave our room.  And the Do Not Disturb sign remains on the door from start to finish.

For some this may be torture.  For us, it's heaven on earth.  To each her own.  :)

So here are the six elements of a successful Art Lockdown, Artistic-Introvert style:

  1. Open-ended art time:  I'll get this one out of the way, since it's so obvious.  We go to get messy.  That isn't the only reason, but it's a main one, and it is glorious.  We rent a hotel suite with a living room area where we can literally spread art supplies across every horizontal surface- floor, couch, table, bench- and leave everything out all. weekend. long. 
  2. Food:  That's right- beautiful, colorful, varied cuisine brought from our respective homes and planned weeks and even months in advance.  We go through bottles of red wine and hard cider, cheeses, meats, fruits and vegetables, salads, finger foods, and chocolate fondue for dessert.  We don't go out to lunch or dinner even once, and this year we only went down to the free hotel breakfast one out of three mornings.  Coffee from Heather's French press and a banana sufficed the other mornings.  

  3. Good music (and quiet):  This year we began our mornings with a soft piano station on Pandora and moved to a Norah Jones station after lunch.  I love that we enjoy the same music for creating.  Many of these songs have become kind of a soundtrack for our annual weekend, and when I hear them throughout the rest of the year I become nostalgic.  Aside from the music, though, and the ripping of paper and kindred conversations, there is no unwelcome sound.  No children needing our attention, no ringing phones, no running dishwasher, or buzzing dryer.  Just quiet.  Something we both crave in abundance.
  4. Books and journaling:  We both adore books- and for the most part, even enjoy the same genres.  So we create monthly book lists for our book-club-for-two, and spend a few hours at the used warehouse bookstore looking for treasures.  As for journaling, we love the freedom we have to spend reflective time writing down our thoughts, prayers, and goals.
  5. Flow:  One of the most important elements of our weekend together is the lack of any expectation, either of ourselves, or each other.  We naturally and almost in sync feel our way through the days and nights.  We go from creating, to reading, to journaling, to chatting, to eating, and back to creating, in a flow that is so peaceful and intuitive that there is never any lull.  
  6. Kinship:  It is rare to have a friend with whom you can just "be" and not wonder about social cues, or time constraints, or personality differences.  While Heather and I are certainly different in some ways, the kindred friendship we share has no barriers and no discomfort.  It is something I treasure and do not for a moment take for granted.
So there you have it!  A little peek into our weekend creative vacation!  Hope you enjoyed it and maybe have a desire to create one of your own with a kindred you treasure.