Things I Love

Things I Love: Week One

I have a wide range of interests and things that I love, so I thought I would start posting each week about what I’m loving at the moment. (Please note: These do not include affiliate links these are just the things that are bringing joy to my life this week.)

Patreon – I love supporting other artists and authors each month, and I especially love the special treats I receive as a patron. Here are some wonderful artists/writers you can check out: Lucy Chen, Cristin Chambers, Sarah Trumpp (Wonderstrumpet), Effy Wild, and Gwenda Bond.

Yo Soy Candle – These are by far my favorite candles. This company is a one-woman-owned, small business, and the candles are made from earth conscious materials. My favorite part besides the luscious scents? You can reuse the jars to store items (even art supplies!) and have encouraging “I AM” statements throughout your home. My favorite right now is the new coffee bean scent and the equally inspiring jar of “I AM” matches. Check out Leslie’sMother’s Day gift sets and her subscription club.

The Aqua Notebook – This is the newest poetry collection from one of my favorite authors, Tasha Cotter. I love the way this collection is structured by specific moments in time, and how the language of each poem denotes the passing of time in subtle but beautiful ways.

Here are a few of my favorite lines so far (shared with permission from the author):

  • “…she wrote extensively; in her diaries, sorting her soul away; from the experience of living.”
  • “The past branches off, ends in green; bud – as if that end was what was meant to happen all along.”
  • “I do my job and get rinsed free; of feeling. The messiness that is in me; still hides underneath. Sitting at my desk; I know something’s missing.”
  • “We sat there, in silence, sensing; a disaster, both not wanting to admit it; and give the moment that kind of power.”
  • “And when I tell others I don’t; care, there’s a part of me; that breaks off from the whole; damaged.”
  • “There is fury to this love, a good madness; in the strong will of a woman.”

A Discovery of Witches – the book and the show – I binge-watched the new show on Sundance Now and loved it. The book had been on my reading list for quite some time, and I loved the show so much, I decided to buy it. I’m about 100 pages in, and I love the book as much as I love the show. The descriptions are incredible, and I really like to have the images of the characters and place in my mind as I read.

Sketchbook Revival – I took part in this last year, and it was incredible. I learned that a creative practice can be made up of just about anything, and that it didn’t have to result in a pristine, finished product. I love learning all the different ways to bring more creativity into my life through these sessions. Though I’ve been very busy with novel revisions, I’ve been dipping into the sessions to free up my mind and bring some joy into my day. Sketchbook Revival is the creative genius of artist Karen Abend and is free and still going on for the next few days. You can sign up here.

I hope you liked these suggestions. I’m looking forward to sharing more things that I love with you each week.

And now for a novel update. Right now, I’m working through a third revision of the novel, and my goal is to have it completed by the end of next week. Then, I will be sending it off to the beta readers. Yikes!

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 journal, Daily Art Devotion

Daily Art Devotions: Day One

Today I began the Daily Devotions: A 40 Day Journey with Art Journaling program (#DailyArtDevotions) led by Elizabeth Foley who also led The Art of Spiritual Living Retreat. For today’s #artjournal practice, we spent time creating the container that would hold all of our art journal pages. For the container, we had the option to repurpose an old book. I was at first hesitant, since I am the kind of person who has only just recently started to write in my books (with pencil so I can erase it). But, I found an old book that has been collecting dust in my garage for many, many years, and decided it would be the perfect container for this 40-day journey. I had a great time gluing pages together and adding in watercolor paper. As I was putting it together, I had an idea that I could leave some of the pages as is and create found poetry as a unique addition to the art journal. I am looking forward to getting back the momentum I had built up with Karen Abend’s Sketchbook Revival and Find Your Flow program. I have decided to follow my heart and refocus on my artistic development and set my writing aside again…for a while.

My intention for this next 40 days is to grow as an artist who is committed to discovering and developing her craft and unique style on a daily basis.

Below: A few pages from my new repurposed art journal (drawings are from the original book and are not mine) and a visit from a hummingbird while I was working on it.

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Art, ASLR 2018

A Day of Conflicts

Today began my journey back into the world of novel writing. It was no ordinary day, though. It was my son’s first day of eighth grade, which for so many reasons is such a huge milestone for him and for me. It was also a time to try to settle my nerves and return to writing the novel I’ve been working on for many, many, many years.

With my writing practice, I started out differently than I usually do, spending the first hour getting a scene in my head out on the page even though I have no idea where it might fit into the novel. I usually try to write chronologically, leading to a lot of stuckness. I then took a break for lunch (which is unusual for me), and decided to return to the beginning of the novel that had to be rewritten to fit the new direction I am taking the novel in. And the scenes…they just flowed, and all the fear I had felt while staring at the blank screen earlier had melted away. There were a few times where I had to redirect myself when I tried to go back to edit, or spent to much time trying to get the right word, telling myself gently that I could fix it later, to just get the idea itself down on the page. And it worked!

When I had completed my writing for the day, I received notice that my grandmother, who is experiencing late stage congestive heart failure had slipped into the world of non-responsiveness, the world between here and what is waiting for her. I am conflicted because I had a near death experience seven years ago, and I know the beauty that awaits her, but I also am grieving the loss of her in this physical world.

In the midst of a day with so many conflicting emotions, I turned to Karen Abend’s Journey of the HeArt session with the #spirituallivingretreat held by Elizabeth Foley. I’ve been slowing working my way through the sessions, and how fortuitous that Karen’s session was the next one on the schedule. Below is my #HeArt from the session that represents how I’m feeling today, and the words that remind me that letting go is the ultimate freedom.

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Art, Find Your Flow

Idea Journals

For today’s sketchbook practice, I am working on making two handmade idea journals. The bright colored journal will be for immediate ideas and things that need to get done right away, while the more muted colored journal will be for long-term and/or not immediately actionable ideas such as art supply recommendations that I’d really like try some day.

During the #FindYourFlow program, Karen Abend discussed idea journals as a way to help us stay motivated when completing a daily practice. It’s often difficult to come to a blank page so flipping through an idea journal can help to kickstart creativity. I have realized since beginning this journey that I desperately need a way to stay organized with all the ideas and suggestions I’ve been receiving.

I’m part of several courses right now, and I’ve got several different projects going, too. Ideas, recommendations, and suggestions are flowing to me at a high rate of speed, and I’m having a difficult time managing them all. These idea journals will help me to keep everything organized in a color-coded way. It will be beneficial to my daily practice to have my ideas in a centralized place rather than being scattered on scraps of paper, photos I’ve taken with my phone, e-mails, and web and social media posts I’ve saved. These journals will also help me to get these ideas out of my head to free up more space for creativity since I won’t have to use that mental space trying to make sure I don’t forget something.

Art, Find Your Flow

Day Thirty: Find Your Flow

Today is the last day of the #FindYourFlow challenge, and it is bittersweet. I am proud that I completed all thirty days even under some very difficult and unusual circumstances. I proved to myself that I can do art no matter what and that art does not mean perfection. Another accomplishment is that I have filled my first sketchbook ever!

Sketchbook Revival and then Find Your Flow have set me on the path I’ve always wanted to be on and didn’t know how to get to. Thank you Karen Abend for shining a bright light and showing me the way with ease, compassion, love, and support.

Another unexpected result of the challenge is that I’ve made a blog post every day for thirty days! Another first in my life!

I’m not sure what’s next. Today has been a difficult day physically so I have not been able to do the reflections and make a new plan yet. No matter what I decide, I will keep making art a daily requirement. In the meantime, I have started watching the #womanunleashed videos which have given me much needed inspiration to keep going with this daily practice. I’m looking forward to sharing with you whatever comes next.

Today I decided to create a watercolor celebrating all of us. Another member had shared her piece of heart art to celebrate the completion, and I thought I would do the same. I hold so much gratitude for all the members, Karen Abend, and also Nina Rycroft for her amazing Skillshare videos which were a reliable companion to me throughout these thirty days.

Below is the heart watercolor. I love how, even though they were random, the lines from the watercolor drips found a way to connect the hearts, just like how we all are now connected.

Below is also the paper towel I used as it created its own really cool art.

Much love to you all ❤️

Art, Find Your Flow

Day Twenty-nine: Find Your Flow

For today’s sketch, I decided to continue with Nina Rycroft’s Emoji Me class and created a character with a surprised expression. Over this nearly thirty days, I’ve gotten quicker with the character sketches and have also been figuring out what artist’s tools work best for me.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do after the #FindYourFlow program ends tomorrow. I may just start working through the many books I purchased from Sketchbook Revival artists or take advantage of some courses I’ve got waiting for me. My creative mind is on fire and wants to do everything all at once, but I know that leads to overwhelm and then giving up. In the next day or two, I’m going to do what Karen Abend has taught us, make a plan and set an intention for whatever I decide to do next.

What I think I will miss most is the accountability of being part of the group and the thirty-day challenge. Well…really more than those…I will miss the input of group members that have made me feel that what I’m doing is not futile and a waste of time. Sometimes it feels like that when you’re all alone. So I say with the deepest gratitude, thank you to all of you. This has been an incredible experience.

And to Karen Abend, you are a rockstar! I have no idea how you managed to respond to every single post from every single member with thoughtful comments, but you did. You are truly amazing and have jumpstarted the latent creativity of so many of us through your programs. To you I say: thank you, thank you, thank you ❤️❤️❤️