Deep blue

One of the paintings I fished out of the water

First I screamed.

Then I cried.

After all day rain yesterday in the Boston area where I live, I decided to open the basement door just to check to see whether we had gotten a little water in our basement. When contractors built our home over 20 years ago, they brought the foundation up really high because of the high water table in our neighborhood. We can’t stand up in the basement because of that because the ceiling, as a result, is too low. But that meant that it was never supposed to flood. It wasn’t supposed to, but it did!

So I screamed when I opened the door, looked down the stairs and saw years and years of my artwork–handmade cards, jewelry, paintings, canvasses yet to be used–all floating beside discarded baby toys, BBQ tools and party bowls. The shock was unimaginable.

Then I cried.

I cried for all of the work that I knew was ruined.

I cried for all of the work I knew I would have to recreate.

I cried for being so stupid, or lazy, that I would trust putting the work downstairs.

But it was never supposed to flood. Never say never. Ironically, I had been watching news coverage of the flooding in the New England region with a disconnect. Oh, look at those poor people (who are not me, thank goodness). And then, suddenly, I was those poor people. God sent me a reality check today. Things can (and will) happen anytime to anyone. I know that, but reminders keep it fresh and give me an appreciate for what is important. Just moments before I had been staring at the dishes piled up in the sink with evil eyes, thinking, “damn it, I have to do dishes, AGAIN?!” And then suddenly I didn’t care about the damn dishes.

My art! My heart!

My 10-year-old hugged me and said, “Calm down Mommy.” So sweet, that one. He didn’t quite get why I was so upset. As I sloshed through the basement picking up waterlogged containers, fishing out anything that might be saved, I forced myself to look (through tears) on the bright side:

My house wasn’t destroyed like those of so many others. No one was hurt. We are all happy and have each other. And thank God that we have so much to lose.

I’m an artist. I’ll make more.

Besides, by going through everything I got a tour of artwork that I haven’t seen in awhile; got to be thankful for all of the talent that God has given me; realized that this is great incentive to get off my butt and clean out the basement that I should have cleaned years ago. AND I have a perfectly good reason to have a cheeseburger and fries at McDonald’s today. Disasters trump diets.

Floating, floating

Going in Circles #2, #3

I spent more time this weekend exploring my love of circles. I combined my circle inspiration with my interest in patterns and visually dividing up space. These two works on 9 x 12 paper from my sketchbook are the result. I’m going to create paintings based on these. I may continue exploring this theme over the next month or so as I also consider the “five senses” theme for April for Creative Every Day. What do you think?

Going in circles

I was inspired by a quote that I ran across this week about the circle being a sign of eternity–having no beginning and no end. Much of my work incorporates symbols and I’m drawn to spirals for this very reason.

So tonight, as part of the Creative Every Day Challenge, I thought I would just play with circles. I started by just scribbling circles on paper in various medium—watercolor pencil, watercolor paint, caran d’ache, an inked stamp. Then I drew the figure of the lady in flowing robes who shows up in my paintings all the time. (I really need to know more about this lady since she seems to take over my paper and canvas so often.  Who are you lady? And why do I keep creating you?)

I like playing with the materials and the circles. I’m not sure I like the result, but it is good to experiment and find out what you don’t like as well as what you do like. Right?

Goodnight moon

It was so wonderful creating art this weekend because it felt like summer—at least for one day. It was 70 degrees here, and everyone was outside enjoying the light and smiling. It’s so much easier to be inspired when you are not freezing your butt off. There must be a scientific correlation, but I’m not sure what it is.

Above is an 18 x 24 acrylic work on paper that I created, based on an earlier sketch that I did this month. The sketch paid homage to my son’s favorite book as a child, Goodnight Moon, for the “stories” theme for Creative Every Day.

I also took advantage of the light to try to improve my skills at photographing my jewelry. I still don’t have it down yet, but I have to start somewhere, right? Here is one of my recently created necklaces. I call it Gold Rush:

Aqualicious

It is so fascinating how certain colors have the power to draw our attention over and over again, becoming our favorites. Aqua is one of those colors for me. I love, love aqua. It is soothing and relaxing, yet vibrant.

Here are two of my latest pieces featuring the color. One is a mixed media collage with acrylic paint and watercolor pencils on paper, about 18 x 22. The other is a new necklace I made featuring aqua stones and a marblized pendant—perfect Divawear. Aqualicious!

Handmade card

Pressed for time tonight (where does it go?), I made a few handmade greeting cards using paper that I had painted previously using mixed media. I’ll likely make 20 of these before I’ll become bored with them.

I’m little kid when it comes to art. New shiny things catch my attention and off I go. I follow the lead until I’m grabbed by something else and pulled in that direction. It sounds something like this:

Ooh, I’ll make painted paper and handmade cards.

No, wait, yum, acrylic collages.

No, no, pencil drawings!

What about making some beaded jewelry?

I’m blessed that I have the ability to do all of this. But it also means that I have so many different types of styles and approaches. Does anyone else feel that way about their work? If so, how do you nail down that ever-so-important artist STATEMENT? I feel like creating every day will help me figure out what my true voice is, or at least give me a  lot of joy as I attempt to find out.

I’m curious. Those of you who have been regular visitors to my blog. How would describe my work? If you had to write a “statement” about me as an artist, what would you say?

Friendly inspiration

It is so interesting how people find their way into our lives. They can show up when you least expect them, when you most need them, and long after you think that your days of creating close friendships have disappeared, along with your ability to pull all-nighters in college.

Recently I spent time with such people, during a belated birthday celebration for me. In addition to lots of laughter, they gave me wonderful gifts that suit me perfectly because they know what excites me, including an American Express check that will be spent on supplies at my favorite art store.

My friend Susan gave me a yummy leather covered sketch pad with giant size paper that I can’t wait to use. Inside the sketch book she wrote the most touching words: “Happy Birthday to Sandy, my ultra talented soul sista.”

Susan is one of my biggest art cheerleaders. I so appreciate her support. Reading her words and mulling over “soul sista” had me visualizing what soul sisters would look like. I decided that they would be reflections of each other, possessing pieces of the other, almost a match set, but different—sort of like what my closest friends end up being.

Above is the 18 x 24 mixed media collage on canvas inspired by these thoughts and love from friends.

Cafe special

This weekend, I was in my favorite story (in keeping with the stories theme for Creative Every Day):

Mother and 10-year-old son hang out at Panera Bakery. She eats her favorite orange scone and drinks a delicious thai latte and sketches. He sits with a whipped cream mustache from his hot chocolate and quietly reads a book about basketball.

I just treasured this moment. My son has become such a big boy. We can “hang out” together and just relax, which is so wonderful. No chasing him like when he was a toddler. He has become so independent. At one point earlier this year he began calling me by my first name, as if we were old friends. I’m not sure why. I just think he liked the sound of it. But I made him go back to Mommy. I’m not ready to give that up, although he has become quite the little friend.

Above is the sketch of that precious moment.

Untold stories

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

~Maya Angelou

This quote was posted by Leah Piken Kolidas announcing this month’s stories theme for the Creative Every Day Challenge. It has stayed with me, haunted me almost.

I think that there are so many stories inside each of us that can’t or won’t be told. Too personal or too painful, they get buried each time they fight their way to the surface of our consciousness.

We must either constantly break away from their darkness to live in the light of now, pain free, or turn, drag them out into the light and let the wounds rip open so they can then heal.

Thinking about this led me to create this drawing. “Don’t tell” is written across the scarf on the woman’s face. (Click on the image to see it larger.)

An amazing story

The Journey

I was touched and inspired by a story I saw on NBC Nightly news this week. It was about a 6-year-old girl in Haiti who had been separated and missing from her family for weeks after the earthquake hit.

A UNICEF worker worked with the child to try to find out where she lived. The girl couldn’t tell her where she belonged. All she could do was draw pictures of where she thought she lived—pictures of the things that were familiar. She drew a house, a graveyard and some other landmarks.

The UNICEF worker eventually pieced together her visual clues and reunited the little girl with her dad—right there on camera!

I was struck by the power held in that little girl’s drawings. Her artwork saved her from losing the life she had known with her family.

The more I thought about it, the more I began to consider how I am using my drawings and paintings  to create the “story” of who I am as artist. I’m trying  to figure out where I creatively “belong.”

I began to think about how art is such a personal visual journey. I create things, and study them, trying to figure out where I’m headed. Which medium, subject matter, colors are the right for me? Where should I settle? Where is home?

Just as the little girl trusted the UNICEF worker to lead her in the right direction, I have to trust my Muse to lead me toward my right destination one visual clue, one collage, one painting, one drawing at a time. Likely, as they say, it is not the destination that matters, but the journey.

Inspired by these thoughts and following the “stories” theme for Creative Every Day, I created this mixed media collage/acrylic work on canvas. It features mazes and labyrinths that are symbolic of searching and seeking, moving toward knowledge and clarity.

You can watch the video here (after their commercial).

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