Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas and Art Journaling

I signed up for Inspiration Wednesdays 2016 with Donna Downey last week and I decided to bind my own art journal for the class the night before Christmas Eve. I had been thinking about this for days and I wasn't sure if I had enough Cansons 140 lb watercolor paper to bind the book, so I went to JoAnn etc after work as I knew they would have some. And they did! I bound two signatures of 5 folded sheets each with some cool yarn. I broke the eye of the tapestry yarn needle but the yarn held up.


I love 140 lb watercolor paper because it is solid with a nice texture and it can take layers of wet messy applications of paint. It holds up well and may curl a little around the edges but it doesn't buckle or become unworkable. It is easy enough to flatten it out under a few books. I like to work wet with the acrylic craft paint and smush things together. I use the 2 oz. bottles of Craftsmart paint from Michaels. It is inexpensive, comes in a lot of colors, and I like the way it flows.


We had a very nice Christmas and I was happy that I had some creative time mixed in with all the preparations for the holiday. Christmas was a very special day filled with love.










Sunday, December 13, 2015

Art Journaling Again

I started art journaling again yesterday and I am so happy about that! I have mostly been blocked and have done very little art this year because my mother has been extremely ill since February and I have been working short-staffed for 6 months. Both of those things taken together have left my energy level totally drained. Plus I have been cleaning out my house since October to prepare for a big (to me) move next year and that is a lot of work too. I need to fill the creative wellspring. I need a change and a fresh start.

What got me motivated to create art yesterday was that I saw a special friend who I hadn't seen in a long while and it was great to reconnect. I let him choose one of my new square moo cards with my art on the front from the five designs in the header of this blog. He chose the paint splatter one on the far right and we got to talking about art journaling, how I did the art piece, and the difference between painting what you see and painting what you feel. There is far more depth in painting what you feel. 

 I got curious about which piece I used as a jumping off point to create the artwork for the paint splatter card, so I went through all of my art journals (they fill several shelves on a bookcase)...


   And I found the spread! I remember that I was very happy when I created this page. I also remember that it was my way of affirming myself and my right to be who I am and the way I am at any particular moment in time. I have changed since that time because I am a fluid, not static, person and I continually change - like the tides, like the wind, like the seasons. This can be confusing to people so I present myself in a fixed, surface way until someone gets to know me better.


Seeing this spread and remembering how I felt almost two years ago, why I felt this way, and acknowledging how I feel now, inspired me to get out my paints and let my feelings flow through. I chose a rainbow of paint colors to try to bring out the feelings that were hidden inside. I used the same six bottles of acrylic craft paint in both of these spreads but they came out totally different.


I worked on both spreads simultaneously, going back and forth between them, with trips to the kitchen island with the heat gun to speed up the drying process in between. I used my typewriter font stamps to place the carefully chosen words in the top spread and I used my hand carved stamps and a Tombow marker to evoke a feeling in the bottom spread. I was very happy while I did these two spreads as I reconnected with myself and my feelings and felt totally immersed in the love I feel inside. It is awesome how the art journaling process works. I felt incredible and was glowing.


It is easy to go through life on a surface level, never looking at what is real inside. Maybe it is too difficult sometimes to face things, but it is in facing the difficult things and working through them that you dig down deeper to the core of  your essence. As I go about my day and get absorbed in my work or various activities, I can sometimes lose touch with the real me and think that I am a set of predefined roles that I fill. That is what I do but that is not who I am. It goes much deeper than that. There are layers upon layers, if you want to take the time to get to know me, and if I want to let you get closer.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Happy Holidays




In December I get caught up in all the extra things I want to do for the holidays and I sometimes lose track of what is really important or become overwhelmed. I buy special gifts for people, connect with many people near and far, create a holiday e-card to send out,  mail out some cards, bake, put up a tree, get together with friends and family, go to parties, and the list goes on and on.




In the quiet moments I reflect on things in my life and I wonder why things happen the way they do. I wonder about where I've been, where I am now, and where I am going. I have a lot of things going on in my life besides the holiday celebrations and some of it is rather difficult, like watching my mom slowly slip away from us.



How do I stay centered and balanced amidst the changing tides? I try to find that still, small voice inside that is mine alone and not an echo of other people's thoughts. And what I find is that I am not sure of myself sometimes but mainly I feel that I am on the right path and I am finding what I need. There are a few people in my life who are really making a difference and I am grateful that they are there. They hold the mirror up to me and shine their light so that I can see my reflection and know who I am.



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Life is a Circle


Life is a circle - it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. What we do with all the moments of our lives in between is never wasted. Each moment has meaning however hard it is to see at the time. We can and should always hope for the best and do our best in all situations as well as let go of our mistakes. But we also need to be aware that not everyone shares our goals, values and dreams. You must always be true to yourself as you cannot be what others want you to be. You can only be yourself.



  

I am taking pleasure in the ordinary things, the simple things. A chance viewing of the sunset or the moonrise when I leave work. Reading the poetry of Rumi or Hafez, or that wonderful Somerset magazine Bella Grace. Cooking or baking foods for my family: a crock pot full of chili or stew, or Thanksgiving pies and stuffing - I took a vacation day from work yesterday and was cooking all day for the Thanksgiving feast later today. Practicing gratitude. Re-examining my life and re-framing past experiences in a positive light. Accepting the past. Becoming rooted in the present. Being open to the future.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Quilt Retreat

It seems like a long while ago but it was actually only 2 weeks ago that I went on the Heart of the Valley fall quilt retreat at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut. I try to go every year and it is a wonderful time where quilting friends gather and we sew and we talk and we have meals together, all in the dining hall lodge with the flags of many different countries hanging from the ceiling. It was too warm for a fire in the fireplace this year but the snack table was abundant as usual and there were chair massages again.


I worked on several different projects and I was very happy to finish this baby quilt for my friend Manny and his wife Christina that I had started in May. The beautiful baby girl arrived on Sunday so the quilt got there just in time. I got the idea from a quilt that I saw on Pinterest and then I made my own pattern. The hearts were hand appliqued over the summer either on my front porch or over at a friend's place. It is nice to have a handwork project to work on and it becomes meditative. The rest of the quilt was machine pieced and machine quilted.



I started on a new project tonight. I had seen a cool tumbler pattern on Bonnie Hunter's quiltville.com blog a while ago at http://quiltville.blogspot.com/2015/07/2015-leader-ender-challenge-tumblers.html and last night at the JAM Quilters meeting at Lisa's Clover Hill Quilt Shop I found the Easy Dresden ruler that she recommends using to cut out tumblers. The tumbler is a one patch design traditionally made from scraps and it fascinates me the way the many colors and fabrics play across the surface. I cut out a bunch of tumblers tonight and will keep going until I decide that I have enough of them to do something. Sewing is something that calms me down and makes me feel better about myself. Quilting allows me to express myself however I want - art quilt, traditional quilt, something in between - no rules, no boundaries, no limitations.


Here is a photo of the camp. It is a wonderful, welcoming place that I am always glad to return to.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Migrating to Blogger

I have been blogging somewhat sporadically for a long while (8 years!) on a different platform (maryart.macilvain.com) and have decided it is time to move over to the blogger platform. I would like to share my art and musings with a wider audience and be part of the blogger art community. I also like all of the extra features offered here on blogger. 

It is awesome how one thing leads to another in your creative life. I never thought of myself as being that creative but I have been taking classes and making art on my own terms and my work has grown. It feels so good to express myself and my feelings visually. This Life Book 2015 page sums up my feelings about art:


This may seem really silly but anyways here goes. I am moving into a smaller place next year. So I can't take everything with me and need to go through everything and choose what to bring. Not sure where all of this stuff came from but I am a New Englander and we save everything because someday you might need it and the saying is probably a week after you give it away or throw it out! 

I decided I can't live without my button collection. My buttons were scattered in different places here and there and I thought I had found them all last week but then I found even more of them today. I don't know why but I was so happy to see all of my buttons in one place. Life is funny like that, how the simplest thing can bring joy to your heart. Buttons are a commonplace thing that we take for granted and they are really cool! In the old days everyone had a button jar or tin.