Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Website and Blog Location

I would like to announce that I have moved my website and blog to a new location hosted by WordPress. The WordPress site gives me more flexibility and features.

My new website is located here:
https://www.maryartlife.com/

New blog posts will appear here:
https://www.maryartlife.com/blog/

The links to my website and blog have been updated on the sidebar.

Thank you for your continued support!

Mary

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Quilt Retreat

I went to the Heart of the Valley Quilters 3 day quilt retreat last weekend and had a great time! There were 50 quilters at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut... talking, sewing, laughing, and eating. I haven't been motivated to sew/quilt since the move so this was a good jump start for me. 



I created a Facebook page for the group yesterday and they were thrilled to have a place where they can post photos of their quilts to share. Social media is a good thing and it brings people together around common interests. I have a lot of friends online that I've never met and that greatly expands your universe.



Going to a retreat like this lets you leave things behind and think about what you are doing and where you are going. It brings you into a greater awareness of self. Well, it does that for me. But it wasn't until yoga class saturday morning that I fully realized what is going on with me. My balance was off and my body was shaking in some of the advanced poses. The meditation at the end crystallized things for me.



I need to seek balance. I am working too hard at work... way too hard. I need to stop pushing myself so hard and take breaks. I am running around too much on nights and weekends. I am wanting to do too much. I am scattered and going in a million different directions. I am doing things with friends and family, working on an e-book, starting to plan a new Wordpress website, making jewelry, sewing/quilting, reading a lot, the list goes on. I have applied to teach my mixed media altered card decks locally and in a major online venue... scary but exciting! I hope I get in because I love to teach.



Life is short and need to enjoy it. Family and friends are so important! Namaste <3


Saturday, October 29, 2016

For the Love of Books and Words

I went to the Portland Library book sale last weekend with Aurora and her mom. We walked there from my old house. I love books and I love how you can paint a story with words.




Much to my surprise, there were the quilting books I had donated to the library last winter when I downsized for the move. I picked up one, then another, and before I knew it I had an armload of quilting books too heavy to carry. When I dropped them into my tote bag I scraped my arm badly. Sometimes I am awkwardly clumsy :-)




Books bring you on a journey to other worlds and expand your horizons. I have e-books in my iPad too, but there is something magic about holding a book in your hands, like poetry by Rumi or paintings in Creative Revolution by Flora Bowley. 

I have started working on my first e-book, Inspired Every Day, and it is exciting for me to watch it slowly unfold. It is not unlike birthing a child.



Sunday, October 16, 2016

Art from My Studio

Just saying the words "my studio" makes me all happy inside! It is so nice to have a place of my own to make art. Before this I made art on the dining room table, which meant hauling my art supplies up and down the stairs and either clearing everything off at dinner time or eating on the coffee table. It is so nice to be able to leave everything out and take my time. The work may not look much different than before, but I am making more thoughtful, less rushed pieces.



Recently I got a 12-pack of 10"x10" pre-stretched canvas with a half price coupon at Jo-Ann Fabrics. I love that store!  I usually paint/make art in art journals but decided to try canvas again. I also tried writing with my new Posca paint pens. I am more interested in treating myself to new art supplies than new clothes. We all have our priorities :-)



I made an art journal spread yesterday and I am so happy with how it came out. I had a breakthrough and cleared out some bad energy Friday night. I am trying/learning to do some work with energy healing but this just happened spontaneously, or maybe that is the way it happens. I could feel that unblocking myself came through in this piece and made me feel better.



Fall in New England

Fall is my favorite time of year. The days are sunny and warm, the nights are cool, and the leaves gently rustle in the wind. The leaves turn red, yellow, orange, and brown and they start to cover the ground as they fall from the trees. There is a special feeling that lingers in the air, with the promise of change, rebirth, and renewal.




For me, fall is a time to reconnect with my inner self and acknowledge growth and transition. I ask myself where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going. I start to set my course for the coming year.




Noticing things is important to me. When my car climbed the last hill on the way home Friday night, I noticed the almost full moon rising above the trees. It was getting higher in the sky as I drove by the lake, so I hurried home to get my sneakers on and walked quickly down to the lake. The moonlight was breathtaking and my spirit felt renewed!




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ikea Run

My son Joe and his girlfriend Aurora and I made a run to Ikea in New Haven to get furniture for my art/quilt studio Saturday afternoon. I had already picked out furniture last month when we made an IKEA run to get furniture (two apothecary cabinets with glass shelves) for my son's dining room. So I had all the aisle and bin numbers on printouts in my huge pocketbook and we bypassed the store area and headed right for the product picking area. We found everything on my list and Joe looked at our cart full of boxes and the conversation went something like this:

Joe: I don't know if this is going to fit in my car. This is a lot of stuff.
Me: Well, it will probably be tight but hopefully it will fit.
Joe: If we get it going fast enough, the mass will decrease and it will fit {that's physics}.
Me: You need a bigger car, like a minivan :-)

Being an engineer, he managed to get everything into the car (he has 60/40 split rear seats in his VW GTI) but there was not much room left for the rear passenger. I' m small so I jumped in the back seat before he could say anything and held onto the table on top of the pile so it wouldn't hit me in the head. Off we went and I managed to text from my precarious position while we were underway :-)



An hour later we were back at the condo at Lake Pocotopaug and Joe and Aurora unloaded the car and started assembling the tables. I am not the strongest or handiest person in the world so my job was to break down and cut up all the cardboard for the recycling bins. And I moved the temporary wire cube shelving and all the art/quilt stuff in there out of the way. After they got the tables set up, they put together the 5 foot by 5 foot Kallax cube storage shelving unit. It looked complicated but they said it was easy. They had to run out and meet friends for dinner and board games so they worked fast :-) Afterwards I rearranged all my stuff and sat on the love seat totally amazed. It looks beautiful! And I am living in a smaller space yet it seems so big to me.





Monday, September 5, 2016

Art Journaling Again

I started art journaling again this weekend! My art/quilt work space is not fully set up yet and I still need to get 2 work tables and a big storage shelf from Ikea. My supplies are unpacked into temporary shelving. There is just no work surface other than a small card table and that is too small and has a sewing machine on it.

Determined to get going finally, I dragged my art journaling supplies upstairs to the dining room and set everything up Friday night to get motivated the next morning. Many trips up and down the stairs after forgetting numerous things, one at a time of course, so who needs a Stairmaster? Not me! I spread out all over the place and made a big mess like I did at my house before this, but I was more careful about flinging paint around :-) I have been nesting around here... I made curtains and got new chair cushions at BBB. And I don't think the carpet would look good with paint spatters.



It was heaven, nirvana, joyous, an epiphany. I totally lost track of time and anything that was bothering me disappeared. I immersed myself in the process which for me is totally spontaneous. The first thing I do is choose 3 or 4 contrasting and harmonious colors of craft paint. I like Craftsmart paint from Michaels. It comes in 2 oz. bottles in a ton of great colors, it flows well, and it's cheap. I keep a rainbow of about 40 colors in a medium size Sterlite plastic bin with handles. Once I get color down on the page I let the work, my art supplies, and random thoughts inspire me. I do not start with a plan and I just let things happen. Wish I could be more like that with my life. It is very freeing!




Sunday, August 7, 2016

Home by the Lake

I moved! It will be 2 weeks tomorrow. I can't believe that I am settled in to my new home. It has been an emotional roller coaster and giant ordeal at times since last October when I started downsizing and fixing up my old house, but it was worth it. I feel so comfortable here. I am still getting adjusted and trying to find things, with a million trips up and down the stairs trying to remember which of the three levels contains what items. I need the exercise anyway :-)

There are always people walking and/or jogging along the lake. I didn't move far (15 minutes and one town over) so I run into people that I know sometimes. I can hear peepers at night. I can see stars out my window on clear nights. It is quiet here in this country setting. I really like it here a lot!









Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mandalas

I have a lot going on right now. Inside and outside and all around. I am moving to a condo near a lake in a few weeks, after being in my house for 13 years. It is starting to feel more real each day. Somehow I feel amazingly calm.

I went to my second yoga class Saturday morning and it was amazing. It raised my self awareness and I felt in the flow of the universe all day. I was able to do almost all of the movements and that made me really happy.

I am enjoying my summer... spending time with friends and family... trying new things. I am managing my workload at the office and staying on top of things. I am finding a little time and space for art even though my art supplies and 80% of my belongings are packed for the move. I have one portable art tote in the living room with some simple supplies and I am doing art on the couch. It is amazing how little you actually need to be happy. 

I am finding that creating mandalas is helping to center me. It is meditational to work on a mandala from the beginning of an idea/feeling to what grows as you let the universe flow through you. I lose myself and then find myself in my art. 

Namaste.






Sunday, June 12, 2016

Lazy Sunday

Today has morphed into a quiet, happy day. I have been packing for a move and there are boxes everywhere. It has been hard to concentrate at work or even at home for that matter with all the stuff that is going on. 

I spent most of yesterday packing and got a lot done so I only packed 3 boxes this morning. I decided that I needed to do something else. So I did some organizing and then put on a dress so I wouldn't be tempted to do more packing :-) I took a walk down Main Street and snapped a few photos of the dogwood trees in bloom. When I got home, I sat out on the front porch and thought about things.

I thought about how much I need a change in my life. How much I need to let go of the past and the people, places, and things that no longer serve me. I need to do things because I enjoy doing them, not because it is a habit or obligation. How much I need to listen to the still, small voice inside of me and follow my heart. I am not like everybody else and I need to follow my own path. How much I need to let go of all the external creative inspiration online and follow my own path. I will be setting up a dedicated art/quilting studio in my new place and I will use this to focus more on my own creativity. How much I need to love and be loved. And I am, but I need something more in my life and I need to stop hiding from that.

It is the ordinary things that bring so much happiness. And while I love art journaling and it is an important part of my life, it is not all there is. I love taking photos and sharing them and my Motorola phone takes such great photos. I want to try all sorts of new ideas and combine different things together. I want to spend more time in the kitchen and my son's girlfriend Aurora is an inspiration. I want to learn how to make her chicken enchiladas and Pad Thai and other wonderful foods from all over the world. I needed an apron to fry bacon this afternoon (I never buy bacon but I woke up with a craving for a BLT) and realized those were already packed so I found an old T-shirt with paint stains on it to wear over my dress. It was so nice to just spend time in the kitchen instead of rushing through making dinner. I truly felt at peace.







Sunday, May 22, 2016

Published

My new issue of Bella Grace Magazine came in the mail yesterday and I was thrilled to see my words in print in my favorite magazine. my quote was on the first page of the article, the third item in a list of 25 Ways to Take Yourself on a Date. The artist's date is an idea that originated with Julia Cameron in the book The Artist's Way as a way for an artist to stimulate and grow his/her creativity. I have had artwork published but this is the first time I have had creative writing published. I have also submitted full articles and poetry to the magazine to be considered for publication. It is exciting!






I have a lot of stuff going on right now. I am not the kind of person who likes to talk about emotional stuff in general. It just makes me uncomfortable to have the words and feelings out in the air. It is a lot easier for me to express myself via text/email with people I am close to than to get the words out verbally. That is just the way I am and people need to accept that. And I only want to open up to people I feel close to, not to my thousands of casual acquaintances on and off line. I can't believe the personal stuff that people indiscriminately share on social media or with anyone who will listen. What ever happened to keeping some things private or for a trusted friend? I have boundaries and I am not an open book for anyone to read in passing for their curiosity or to betray my confidences to others. It takes time to get to know me and a lot longer to earn my trust and keep it.

That being said, it has been a few weeks and I am finally OK with saying here that my mother has passed away after a long illness. It's very hard losing your mom no matter what her age. Because your mother is where you came from and closest to the source of you. You may not have gotten along with your mom at times and some are even estranged from their mom. Whatever the situation, it is something you have to process and come to terms with.


I have not created much artwork in the past 15 months because of all this and I was very critical of myself at times. Most of the time I was not in the right emotional state to create art. Some artists create expressive art in their darkest moments but I generally do not do that because that is not where my art spirit resides or what I want to evoke. I need to be coming from and connected to my art spirit, a special place inside of me, to be able to create art. I cannot create art on demand or force myself into the right frame of mind to have the work flow. For me, art is about getting into a flow between spirit, mind, and body. It wasn't that I was blocked as I had plenty of ideas and was able to create if I wanted to. It was about being in the right spirit place to express the essence of who I am. This is different than shifting from the left side to the right side of the brain which can be accomplished with some simple exercises. This is about sorting through everything inside to find the core self, the person who you really are, and that is where true artistic expression flows.

The most important piece of this is realizing what's important and what isn't. From the words of a dear friend... Life is short and lots of things don't even matter and are not worth being upset about. This is so true!

 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spectrum 2016

I am going to attend Spectrum 2016 and can't wait! Classes start on May 2 and the program runs for 22 weeks with content available for one year. There are 25 new teachers and 20 returning teachers in all. Classes are a mix of art journaling, mixed media, poetry, and writing, full of creativity, and some classes have a healing component. The focus of the workshop is connection, personal growth and development, and holistic creativity.

"Be willing to be guided - just enough - to awaken your own inner compass and vision for a holistic-creative LIFE, rich with joy and meaning that lights you up from the inside out."  

This online workshop is hosted by Hali Karla of Hali Karla Arts http://www.halikarla.com




Crazy Quilting Journal Pages

Crazy quilting - it's not what you think, LOL. Crazy quilting means embroidering and embellishing quilt blocks to your heart's content. This art form was popular in the late 1800's through the early 1900's and this type of embroidered quilting was revived and brought to a new level by Judith Montano. I have most of her books and her work is inspirational.

Last weekend after I finished going through boxes in the craft room, I decided to make two journal page quilts (9"x12") with some Japanese fabric I had been saving. Then I got out my basket of embroidery threads and took everything over to my friend's house for a visit. We had tea and spice cake. Yummy! I decided that I needed more colors and types of embroidery thread so after I was finished painting the front porch yesterday and cleaned up, I took a ride over to Thistle Needleworks. I used to do a lot of embroidery, mostly counted thread embroidery and crewel work, and I always loved going to this incredible shop. Judy has everything in there and she is wonderful! Here are my treasures :-)










Saturday, March 19, 2016

Grace Notes Blog Hop

Bella Grace has invited readers to participate in their Grace Notes Blog Hop (link here) and this has inspired me to come up with something that honors this unique and lovely magazine which celebrates life's ordinary magic.



I have always found pleasure in simple things. An avid reader, I remember many trips to the Westport Library when I was growing up. When I visited the local bookstore as an adult, I would spend hours reading different magazines and looking through random books, totally absorbed in other worlds. It is there that I discovered Somerset magazines. After I bought my first Art Journaling magazine I became immersed in this expressive art of inner exploration and self expression. I experienced tremendous personal growth as my work evolved. When I found Bella Grace magazine at Jo-Ann Fabrics (my happy place) last year, it took my breath away and I had to bring it home with me.


Finding the sacred in the ordinary has become a way of life for me, an anchor, and a touchstone. After my divorce I didn't have much, and I drifted from job to job, never quite making ends meet. I didn't know who I was, where I was going, or what I was doing. I was lost and floundering, on a boat with no rudder set adrift in often stormy seas.

When I discovered art journaling in that Somerset magazine 6 years ago, I remember how hard it was to get started. It is never easy starting something new. I spent a lot of time gathering supplies and reading about it. I didn't know anyone who was doing art journaling - my circle of creative friends was mostly quilters. I decided to take online art journaling classes, which turned out to be a life changing experience and opened up a whole new world for me, with communities of like minded, caring women (and on rare occcasion men) who shared freely. It was and is so amazing!



 You have to understand that I was a child who colored inside the lines. I was interested in becoming an artist but there was no one to show my how to get started. We did not have art in my primary school and when I switched to the public junior high school they forced  us to make an enamel ash tray in art class. Ugh! I learned to knit and crochet in college, I taught myself to quilt soon after that, and I enjoyed photography from a young age. I took a lot of painting classes locally over the years but I had no desire to paint a landscape the way it was "supposed" to look and I found still life painting incredibly boring. I wanted to do my own thing. So when I started art journaling, everything came together.



Art journaling has given me a creative voice. I am now firmly rooted in the now with a sense of who I am and where I am going. I art journaled about my job search and that gave me the confidence to land the job of my dreams. I am learning to trust again - not just others but also myself. Art journaling brings out what is hidden inside of you. It shines a light on your inner world and makes you more aware of all the little things that exist in your surroundings but might otherwise go unnoticed. It is the little things in life that are important, not the big things.