Playing around

During my holiday break, I have been deeply engaged in creative play.

One inspiration was a friend of mine, who, as we were discussing ideas for creating work for a spring exhibition, she told me that my idea sounded “safe.”

My initial reaction was to immediately reject her words, but I also realized that she was right. I tend to fall back on a particular subject matter because I’m comfortable with it and can predict the successful results of creating that subject matter. (Although sometimes it is hard to know whether it is comfort or a calling that leads me there.)

So, to get me out of the comfort zone, I’m playing with ideas that are not necessarily connected to what I traditionally do. I’ve chosen to play with materials and techniques (pictured is a watercolor piece on card stock) that are unfamiliar to me.

So far it has been exciting and my mind is racing with possibility.

It’s good to be pushed–sometimes. 🙂

 

The art of nature

Beauty is everywhere.

Often we miss it because we are so busy multitasking. Even as artists striving to create beautiful things, sometimes we don’t see what is right in front of us.

I realized this recently as I sat in the studio at my craft table on a frigid day that I was not about to go out into. I noticed these beautiful shadows across the piles of snow a recent storm dumped in the yard and I was mesmerized.

Nature creates art for us. Look around.

My word for 2018: Learn

Instead of setting a long list of “resolutions” this year (because we all know what happens to those), I’ve decided to choose one word that will be my inspiration for the year ahead. My word is “learn.”

I plan to learn as much as I can in as many aspects of my life as I can: new Zumba choreography for my classes; new techniques that will push my art forward and help me provide fresh inspiration in my art classes; new skills that will improve my full-time work as a communications professional.

I’ve already learned something from trying out a new approach in creating the tissue paper artwork that you see here. The lesson is: When something isn’t working the way you thought it would, don’t give up, keep trying, go back, rethink, redo, keep going.

I think this applies to everything I do in the studio and in life in general—and it is a lesson I need to learn over and over.

Happy New Year! Do you have a word for the year?

Sketchbook Sunday: Gel pen flowers

My wonderful art buddy gave me a gaint pack of gel pens as a birthday gift. Feels just as exciting as receiving diamonds. I love art supplies! So I played with them this morning, getting ready for my Painting Flowers in Mixed Media class that starts this week at the Attleboro Arts Museum. Feeling happy and blessed.

Sketchbook Sunday: Coffee filter mandalas

Sketchbook Sunday: Coffee filter mandalas

I love coffee. So why not play with the accessories? I’m trying out art on coffee filters creating very “imperfect” mandalas. I love the way the thin filter paper soaks up markers. So far, I’ve been using colored pencil to fill in the spaces but I’ll try some watercolors next to see what happens.

What are you working on today? Leave a comment and a link to your blog. I’d love to see.

Sketchbook Sunday: Snow, no!

This work in my sketchbook expresses how I feel about the forecast for more snow just days after a previous storm. 🙂

I’m a southerner who has lived in New England for more than 25 years and yet I can’t seem to get used to freezing. Hmm. Shocking.

I’m loving working with heavy black marker lines and the softness of colored pencils. Can we ever have enough colored pencils? I think not because I seem to keep buying more every time I see them. Don’t even get me started on the love of coloring books. What are you working on today? Leave a comment and a link to your sketchbook.

Teaching, engaging the joy

When I create art, time disappears and I am transported to another place where I float above and beyond my day and relax into joyfulness. As an art instructor I want to share that feeling with students. It has been such a pleasure working with fellow explorers in class on projects in my “Playing with Paper” class at the Attleboro Arts Museum. As they joined me in the euphoria of creating, their ability to let go and dive was so inspiring. I can’t wait for the next one, “Painting Flowers in Mixed Media,” in April.

What happens to you when you engage in art? Please comment and share the feeling and what you do as a creative to tap into that.

Sketchbook Sunday: Coffee completes me

Has anyone seen that Weight Watchers commercial where Oprah yells, “I LOVE BREAD!”? Well, if I were in any commercial, I would yell, COFFEE! In fact, I say that at least once a day. I’m not me until I have it—especially during the weeks that are nonstop go, go, go.

The week coming up is that for sure—have to exercise, give a talk on social media, teach an art class, take my teenager to his first two-hour driver’s education class (thank God it’s just the classroom stuff for now), more exercise, a journaling workshop and, of course, that grown up stuff (work, grocery shopping, cooking, blah, blah, blah). Whew!

I NEED COFFEE! 🙂

So it is only fitting that I decided to pay homage to my coffee mug in the sketchbook today. As you can see from this photos, I also love to design and paint coffee mugs at my local pottery paint place.

Cheers!

What’s that one food or drink that you love and can’t do without every day? Leave a comment and let me know. Also share a link to your sketchbook each Sunday, if you want.

Social media is storytelling

I’m a former newspaper journalist, currently a magazine editor, and an artist. So my work and creative play are about telling stories—in writing as well as in imagery.

As I think about social media and continually explore it as part of the presentations I make to artists about using digital channels, I can clearly see that social media really is all about storytelling.

I strive to approach social media as an artist in the same way I do as a writer creating a story, asking and answering the most important questions for gathering content and presenting an interesting narrative: Who? What? When? Why? Where? How?

Who am I telling the story about—myself as an artist, as a mother, as a professional? What story am I trying to tell, what is interesting about it at the moment and what is the best way to tell that story? When do I want to tell it; when does it fit info my schedule? Why am I telling it (for collaboration, to invite opportunities, to showcase what I do, to rant about a cause)? Where should I share it? How will I know that I’m succeeding in my goals (by the number of followers, by the interactions and engagement with others, by the resulting opportunities, lots of sales)?

As artists we have a lot on our plates—creating work, designing and managing websites, writing blogs, pursuing exhibition opportunities, marketing, teaching, procrastinating, fighting off the inner critic. Social media is one more demand on our time, but it is a valuable tool for telling our own story and for supporting the work at hand. The trick is not to let it become overwhelming by developing a social media strategy.

So make a plan. Ask and answer the questions. That will help you narrow down and shape which digital platform is best for you—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Figure out how much time you want to devote to it and when you can to fit it into your schedule, and decide what your goals are.

My story unfolds one post at a time on various platforms and websites—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, RedBubble, Etsy.

How do you use social media and how has it helped you in sharing what you do and pursuing opportunities? Share your success tips by leaving a comment.

Sketchbook Sunday

The weekends are so busy. Time just seems to fly by as I try to fit in everything—errands, appointments, cooking, exercise, preparations for teaching art classes, art making and more. So I’ve decided to make sure that Sunday is more of a day of relaxation and play via my sketchbook.

When I was studying art in college, daily sketching was a requirement. At the time, I felt that it was such a chore and would procrastinate so much that I had to pull all-nighters to fill my sketchbook to turn in the next day. (Shhhh) Ridiculous. What was I doing in those days that kept me from drawing in a sketchbook, for goodness sake?!

Now, of course, I crave the opportunity to just play with ideas in a non-intimidating space that doesn’t tempt my ever-present inclination to want to create “work” that is perfect or says something “important.”

The colored pencil and Sharpie marker drawing here was inspired by a one-hour walk in which I noticed a tangle of twisted vines stripped bare by winter. The growth was chaotic and unruly, yet beautiful and intriguing—just as it is in our lives.

Who wants to join me? Share your thoughts and a link to your sketchbook creations each Sunday by commenting. I’d love to see what everyone else is doing.

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