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Art, art journal, Sketchbook Revival

Sketchbook Revival 2019

Last year, I decided I was done with writing. I was tired of always talking about writing a book, and then never following through. So, I decided to just give up. It was right about that time that I came across Karen Abend’s Sketchbook Revival. There are not words to express what an impact taking part in Sketchbook Revival had on my life. Since participating, I have created something every day for a year. In fact, taking part in Sketchbook Revival is what eventually brought me back to my writing. If you’re interested in participating, the 2019 session has just started, and it is free! You can sign up here.  If you’re worried that you are not artistic enough, just know that I could not even draw when I participated, and somehow, the exercises awakened a creative part of myself that I didn’t know even existed. So, if you have ever wanted to develop a daily creative habit, I highly recommend participating. I am eternally grateful to Karen Abend for creating such a wonderful, safe environment to allow everyone to spread their creative wings.

The first sketchbook page below is continuous line portrait drawings from Koosje Koene‘s session Portrait Party. One thing that I love about the Sketchbook Revival sessions is that they are so much fun. This was no exception.

The second page (second/third photos) are sidewalk crack animals. Yep! That’s right. In Carla Sonheim‘s session we made animals out of sidewalk cracks. So. Much. Fun! I  imagine my son and I will have a lot of fun doing this creative exercise over the summer.

The third page is filled with magical mindfulness houses from Tamara Laporte‘s session which really did help me relieve some overwhelming stress I was experiencing this morning.

I’m hoping to keep up with all the sessions this year, and to share my progress here.

Art, art journal

Full Pink Moon 2019 Art Journal Spread

I’ve been participating in Effy Wild’s Moonshine course since January. I love how it’s helped me become more aware of the moon’s cycles. I’ve noticed that since I’ve created a ritual around creating at new moon and full moon each month, I receive visions tied to them each month. When a vision comes to me, which usually happens a few days before new moon and full moon, I try to get down a rough sketch, and then I just let my mind work for the next few days on how to translate what I’ve been shown onto paper.

Below is my full pink moon art journal spread. It is a bit different than the vision I received. In the vision, I saw a woman curled up inside the center of a fully-bloomed rose which was encased in a full pink moon. For this spread, I covered the page with gesso. Once dried, I sprayed it with water and added several different colors of Brusho crystals. I then created a moon mask with cardstock and painted the remainder of the page with black and payne’s gray acrylic paint. I sprayed gold and white acrylic ink on the background once it was dry. I then applied a stencil from Sarah Trumpp with gold acrylic paint to add texture to the moon. Adding the curled form in the center was difficult. I ran into a lot of issues with pens that would not write on the surface, and so it took several tries to get her to a place I was okay with. I traced her image onto the moon using carbon paper, then tried to outline her with white which didn’t work out very well. So, I painted the image with black acrylic, and then tried once again to outline her with white. It still didn’t work out. I took a baby wipe and wiped most of what I had done away, and then added the same stencil image with gold acrylic as I had added to the moon. That left her looking a bit snakish. So, I took a gold gel pen, outlined her, and then started to outline some of the markings from the stencil, and that created an image that I was really happy with. Since this moon was a full pink, willow moon, I added willow leaves with a stabilo-all white pencil, so they would be less prominent than if I had used a gel pen. Overall, I really love how this spread turned out.

Art, writing

Lessons Art Taught Me About Writing

I’ve always had a warped sense of how things should be. It is the thing that most often brings me down. I had this dream of writing the perfect first draft of a novel, no revision necessary. Yes, you can laugh, it is quite funny. But, I had developed a bad habit in college of sitting down at the last minute and writing papers (even if it took all night), and it had worked really well for me. I trained myself to self edit as I wrote, and after many, many, many years in college, it became a natural way for me to write. It wasn’t that I didn’t do revisions, but I wrote/edited/revised all at the same time, and all in one sitting. This did not carry over well to novel writing. It was impossible for me to sit down and write a novel in one sitting, and so I got stuck, and then I quit writing altogether.

Enter art.

Unfortunately, my bad habit of trying to create in one sitting has carried over to my art practice. I sometimes spend upwards of eight hours working on a piece. I forget to eat. I forget to drink. I forget everything but creating. I am working on changing that, but it seems to be something that is hardwired in my brain. Even when I try to walk away, my mind is buzzing with ideas about it, and I end up going back to it. Despite this bad-habit carryover, I have learned a very important lesson from the process of creating art. What art taught me, what creating art has helped me to see, is that my art can look like total shit, and I can think there is no hope for it, but then I add another layer, and maybe another layer, and maybe just one more layer, and then something beautiful emerges. I cannot tell you how many times I have looked at a piece of art when I am done and wonder how in the hell, me, who started out with zero artistic talent, could create something so beautiful out of nothing.

It took me a while to believe this could be applied to my writing, too. With my writing, I had always believed I needed to have everything perfectly planned out first. But with my art, I have learned that it is okay to jump right in, throw a bunch of shit at the page, and see what comes out. This has helped me to let go of “perfect first draft” syndrome. And now that I am nearing the end of the second draft of my first novel, I am getting excited about starting on the third draft. This kind of thinking would never have been possible without my experience creating art.

Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

Art, writing

Good News, Art, and Updates

It has been a while since I’ve posted, but it’s because I have been really busy writing and revising. Yay! I had initially created this site to chronicle my journey into visual art hoping it would eventually bring me back to my first love: creative writing. I am happy to report that spending eight months focusing on visual art led me right back to the novel I had been dreaming of writing since 2011.

In October of last year, an artist I follow mentioned a live FB event with author coach Sage Adderley-Knox. While sitting in my car waiting for my son to get out of school, I watched Sage discuss her six-week program for writing a first draft. I decided to take the leap, and I’m so glad I did. For the first two weeks of the program, I was still completely blocked and just could not write. Then during one of our live meetups on FB, she said, “You are not writing this book for other people, you are writing this book for yourself. You must write something you are proud of. You cannot do that if you are writing for someone else.” Something about that clicked for me. I had been trying to figure out how to write the novel based on what I thought other people might want to read with a thousand different opinions screaming in my head. When I started to focus on the story I wanted to tell and how I wanted to tell it, the novel just poured out of me and onto the page. Six weeks later, on December 24, 2018, I had completed an 88,825 word first draft. I decided to continue working with Sage one-one-one, and I am nearly finished with the first revision of the novel I had dreamed of writing for seven years! And…I finally came up with a title that I love! What a miracle!

So, what else have I been up to? I’ve been making lots of art, too. I’ve been participating in Effy Wild‘s amazing art classes. In addition, I’ve been using an incredibly healing technique in my art journal called Cosmic Smash Booking created by Catt Z, and have been learning so much about some very freeing abstract painting techniques from Ady Almanza’s Abstract Dreams course. If you head over to my Instagram page, you can see more photos of what I’ve been creating over the past four months.

I am learning that I cannot just write or just make visual art. If I try to do too much of one without the other, I get really cranky. So, I am working on finding a balance between writing and making art. I hope that you will stay with me for the next part of my journey as I chronicle the art-making and novel-revising, and figure out what is next for me on this wild and wacky adventure.

Art, Books

Book Recommendation: Day Six and Some Art

I took a few days off from my book recommendations and from writing my novel so that I could make some art that was swirling around in my head and needed to come out.

 

The Sun and Her FlowersNow that I’ve fed the starving artist part of myself, I am back to writing my novel, and I am back with another book recommendation: The Sun and Her Flowers by rupi kaur. I had previously read her book of poems, Milk and Honey, and loved it, but the The Sun and Her Flowers reached me at my core. The poetry is as beautiful as it is brutal. It is about love, loss, and sexual assault. It is about the aftermath of sexual assault and how it affects every aspect of the self. It is about all the things we do because we believe we are not enough as we are. I related to so much of this book, and it worked like a salve for my soul.

 

Books

Book Recommendation: Day Five

My fifth book recommendation is one I read when I was going through a difficult breakup: A Hundred Names for Love by Diane Ackerman. This book had sat on my shelf, unread, for many years, but for some reason, during this particularly difficult time in my life, it called out to me. I was hooked the moment I began reading it. The book takes a tender, but honest look at the inner workings of the author’s relationship with her husband, and what happened when the relationship and life routine they had settled into was abruptly and permanently altered by her husband’s stroke. This book really challenged my ideas about what a relationship should look like. I realized that I had held an idealized version of what I thought a relationship should look like in my mind, and that I had held all of my relationships up to that unattainable standard. The book shows in a beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking way, what most of us already know, that relationships are not easy, and just how far they can be pushed beyond tolerable limits and still survive. It shows how our relationships can be reshaped, redefined, remolded, sometimes without our wanting them to and still remain.
Books

Book Recommendation: Day Four

Yesterday, I woke up with a very sore throat and an earache. It was a very familiar feeling, and I was sure that I had strep throat again. Instead of getting upset as I usually do, I made the decision first thing that I would take it easy despite everything I believed I had to get done. I went through the list in my mind of the things that truly had to be done, and let the rest go. And that’s what brings me to my next book recommendation: The Magic by Rhonda Byrne.

The MagicOn November 1st, Allyson Bright, the founder of Determined to Shine, started a free thirty-day program based on The Magic. I had partially read the book before and had great success with it, but for some reason, I never finished it. I thought this was the perfect time to start it again, and this time, actually get through the entire book. The book has brief chapters that focus on a different gratitude practice that you perform each day while also keeping up some other gratitude practices every day. I have to say that, once again, this practice has drastically changed my life. Yesterday, when I woke up feeling like I had strep, that day’s practice had to do with saying thank you for every single thing you touched during your morning routine. Even though I wasn’t feeling well, I went ahead and started to express my gratitude for everything – my warm blanket, heat on a cold day, my feet touching the soft carpet, the honey ginseng green tea, my coffee cup, a comfortable reclining couch, my cuddly cats, and so on. I sat on the couch, sipped some green tea, and wrote out the other daily practice of writing down ten things I was grateful for and why.

By mid-afternoon, I felt 100% better. My sore throat was gone, my earache completely gone, and I was able to get more done yesterday than I had thought possible when I woke up feeling so unwell. This morning I woke up still feeling 100% healed. This is the first time I have experienced something so miraculous. In a typical year, I’ve experienced strep throat 9-10 times, so I am very familiar with what it feels like. This is the first time that my body has healed itself. I believe turning my focus away from not feeling well and putting it on gratitude gave my body the space to heal.

Something I often forget, and I’m not sure why, is that gratitude works…every single time. It shifts my mood quickly whenever I am feeling hopeless, alone, anxious, or that I don’t have everything I need. The trick is to really look at things I take for granted such as running water, internet service, food to eat, a comfy couch, a laptop to type this blog post on, a washer and dryer, and so on, and to keep building on those things. Writing a detailed gratitude list every day, including why I am grateful, has helped me to dig deeper and identify exactly those things I take for granted. I am often astounded by all the things I have that I take for granted, and it totally shifts my perception. I hope that you will try it and see if it works for you.