Friday, December 31, 2010

Bring It On!!

Watercolor in
Handbook Watercolor Journal
3.5 x 8.5 inches
“And let us welcome the new year, full of things that have never been before.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Doesn't that sound like marvelous fun?! It does to me! I am more than ready to welcome the new year, but I have also taken the time to say goodbye to 2010......

.....I've reflected on all that happened, the good, the not-so-good, the accomplishments, the things not completed, the hurts and disappointments, the joy of new friends made along the way as well as the sadness of those lost .....

.....and I resolve to take with me into 2011, the lessons learned, the joys of the year and leave the other in the past—where it belongs.

Chris and I wish each of you a year of blessings, of joy and happiness, of challenges to keep you sharp and on your toes as well as balance and sanity to enjoy it all.

Now, if you're ready (I am!!), BRING IT ON!!!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Power of A Word

Have you heard about word-of-the-year idea? Simply put, the idea is to choose a word to guide you through the upcoming year. A lot of folks have adopted this practice over setting resolutions. I find it works well in tandem. The word you choose becomes a touchstone that remains with you throughout the year. (Check out Christine Kane's post for more info.)

Two years ago, I chose the word bold. I knew it was going to require courage, strength and boldness to build the new life I was envisioning for myself. I had no idea just how accurate that statement was when I chose that word! Many, many days, if it hadn't been for the thought "okay, if I were going to take a bold action, what would it be," I don't know if Imaginary Trips would have taken flight. 

In fact, bold has been so important to my life and my thinking that it has become a permanent watchword for me. A watchword is simply a word-of-the-year made permanent so that it stays a part of my thinking. As Goethe said, "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." I would add brilliance to that statement as well. 

This past year, I chose cultivate. I come from a farming family so cultivating was quite familiar. You cultivate the land and you do things to prepare for the next growing season. Sometimes you prune the plants to make them more fruitful in the following year. It's a rather quiet process that goes on in the background but is vitally important to a successful growing season. Cultivate worked much the same way in my life this past year as I built processes and systems, pruned or eliminated steps that weren't working. All of this was/is in preparation for future growth.

To choose my word of the year, I start a file at the beginning of December and throw "possible" words into. Sort of an audition, if you will. From time to time, I'll add a few notes as to the reasons and whys of each word. Then towards the end of the year, I make some quiet time and sit down with myself to find out what my wiser self (SAM) thinks my word of the year should be (and she always knows far better than I ever could!). 

The words in my file included grow, glow, allow, joy and effortless. All good choices, but not destined to be the word for the year simply because I felt some hesitancy towards each of them. 

As I sat chatting with myself, the word move began to appear and come into focus. I asked SAM if she was sure. She smiled gently and turned to walk away. Well. Okay then. Move will be my touchstone for 2011! 

As I sat  pondering the word, I realized there are many, many applications....move forward, move physically, move mentally, move to a new business location, a new home, a new studio, a new country, a new way of thinking, move up, move down, move around, move through, re-move something that's not working, movement, motion.

The next thing I did was scribble out some "word art" using move. I find that by illustrating my chosen word and posting it in areas where I will see it frequently helps me to keep it upmost in my thoughts. Below is the best illustration of the word I've come up with. So far.
Word Art of Move
Scratch Art
Just as I asked you to join me in setting an artistic goal, I'm going to ask you to join me in choosing a word-of-the-year to guide your next year. If you decide to play, please post a comment below about your word or a link to your post on your blog!

I'm sending out kudos to Donna, The Happy PainterLisa of Greenbow, Elva of Elva's Field Notes for stepping up with setting their goals and being vocal about them! Check out this post and the comments to read what they had to say.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Glancing Back, Gazing Forward

I've been working on my end-of-year review and before I started it, I was a bit....disappointed in the year. I had expected fireworks, fanfare, parades, and all manner of festivities. After all, the last half of 2009 had been filled with all of that and more. I'm not sure what made me think it would be more of the same, but I did.

As I did my review I found (to my surprise and amazement) that I had accomplished far more than I realized:

  • Studio overhaul including new floors, closet doors, trim, and total re-org of supplies
  • Six brand new classes
  • New video camera and sound equipment
  • New Recording Studio
  • Re-videoing of three existing classes
  • Three pieces of original art sold
  • Art published in an Artist Journals book by Kate Johnson
  • Imaginary Trips' first tradeshow
  • Business Trip to New Orleans

And these are just some of the accomplishments. There was a lot of un-inspiring, but oh, so, necessary processes and systems being created and finessed in the background to give my life and classes structure. Changes in vendors and products that made things run more smoothly.

Looking at the list, I wondered why I had considered the year a disappointment.....I had failed to do monthly reviews. I used to do weekly reviews and when that got to be a bit much, I switched to monthly. Apparently I switched those off as well because I didn't even realize I'd let those slide. Oops.

As thrilled as I am with what I accomplished, I also recognized some areas where I really dropped the ball. Mainly in painting for competitions and shows. I had allowed Imaginary Trips to eclipse everything. Part of this was the learning curve we go through with any new adventure and part of it was (is) time management. Or lack thereof.

As I said in yesterday's post, I'm going to ask for your help in keeping me on task. Creating a time management system that allows me to teach classes AS WELL AS paint outside of classes is the first goal I will be tackling in 2011. I am also committing to painting a minimum of 4 competition paintings in 2011. Preferably one per quarter. The paintings will be larger than a half sheet of watercolor paper up to a full sheet. I intend to post updates of the paintings in progress on the blog.

How can you help? Ask me how the painting is going. Ask when you're going to get to see an update. In other words, hold me to my goal! My s-t-r-e-t-c-h goal is 6 competition paintings in 2011. I know with all the sketch paintings I do in classes, my speed has improved tremendously. Will I get in six? There's only one way to find out!

The other thing I've done is set up an electronic reminder in my calendar to remind me about doing a month end review EACH month so that I have a better grasp on what's being accomplished and what's sliding. Keeping my finger on the pulse of my life is an absolute necessity for me to accomplish all my grand dreams for 2011!

Now, what about you? Did you do a year end review? What about a word-of-the-year review? Any goals set for 2011 yet? Talk to me! Tell me!

P.S. Note the title of this post...I do believe in doing a year-end review, but I'm not going to worry about lost energy, time or opportunities. Instead, I'm putting my focus on the days to come.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Are Your Artistic Goals for 2011?

It's that time of year, again...we're gonna get off the couch, lose weight, get organized, see our kids/parents/family/friends more, clean out the garage/basement/bedroom, go to church more, go to the park more, work less, work harder, play more, play harder, enjoy nature more and on and on and on.

If you're like me, you sit down at this time of year and come up with a whole list of things you want to accomplish in the next twelve months. You don't call them resolutions because everyone knows that doesn't work! But do you go any further? Do you break down your goals into achievable steps that you can check off?

And do you include artistic goals? Drawing better, stronger color, incorporating more value, keeping a sketch book? How do you break those goals down? Do you create specific goals and attached a timeframe to each step? Sound too complicated? Read on!

Let's say I want to draw better (and I do!)...I begin by brainstorming all the ways I can think of that might help me to develop my drawing skills, both fun and serious. There's nothing too wild or grandiose at this point, I scribble EVERY idea down at this stage: sketch every day, take a class, get books from the library, apprentice myself to my idol artist, get involved with a sketching/art group, teach a class to children, find a sketching buddy to hold me accountable, draw with a child on a regular basis, join an online sketching group/challenge, buy myself a box of crayons, tell the blogosphere about my goal (eek!) and ask them to hold me accountable.

Once I've exhausted my ideas, I read back through to see what's immediately accessible and what's not possible at this time. Then I break down my chosen ideas into steps. Let's say I want to join a sketching group or find a buddy....I can send out an email to local artists and ask if there's already a group or if anyone would be interested in creating one. I can ask any local artist friends what their goals are and find out if we might have the similar goals. Maybe they want to paint plein air and I want to draw—that could work!

That might take up a good chunk of January because once I've located friend(s), we'll have to decide where to go and when. So maybe it's February before we get out on location...what are my goals for sketching on location? Do I want to focus on landscapes or cityscapes, inside or out? Maybe the weather dictates inside—for now. Do I want to use pencil, charcoal, pastels, keep it black and white or add color? These can all become sub-goals to learning to draw better.

But what if I don't find anyone who shares my goals and interests? Do I stop and go pick another goal? Or do I create a plan to carry on by myself? Maybe I look to the library for some drawing books and then pick a day each month to go to the park/coffee shop/mall/woods to sketch by myself.

Setting goals and (gasp!) resolutions is just the beginning of the process. Without the brainstorming and setting of baby steps for each step of the way with a timeframe attached, most goals will hit the skids in short order. Writing down the steps and attaching timeframes is a huge help in achieving goals. Since life has a way of happening despite our best plans, we have to build in some flexibility as well.

So here's the deal.....I'm going to challenge each of you to set at least one artistic goal for 2011, brainstorm ways to accomplish these goals and then outline a plan—on your blog! Don't have a blog? Post 'em in the comments below! BTW, hang on to that piece of paper with all the ideas on it—if you easily accomplish your goal or hit a road block, some of those other ideas can come in handy.

In addition to setting a goal, I encourage you to make it two part goal with the second part being a s-t-r-e-t-c-h goal....perhaps you're going to paint a minimum of 12 landscapes all year long because you have trouble with landscapes. Challenge yourself to paint at least one landscape painting to submit to a (gulp!) juried art show or to give as a gift or to have framed for your home! And then do it.

Stretch goals are meant to take us out of our comfort zones. Their job is to push us beyond what we normally do so that we find out what we're capable of rather than what we *think* we can do. I believe you'll be pleasantly surprised. I know I often am when I reach for a stretch goal. Even if I don't succeed at the specified task, I've succeeded just because I gave it a shot and I got out of my comfort zone!

I'll be sharing more about my year's accomplishments and what I'm dreaming up for 2011. I'm going to ask for your help in keeping me on task as I've not done so well on some of my goals this past year.

So how about you? Do you want to join me in accomplishing our artistic goals in 2011?! If you're joining in, post a comment so we can find your goals on your blog or post your goals below!

Monday, December 27, 2010

All Dress Up And No Where To Go?

Santa Chickadee in Grey Ink
Scrap Paper Sketchbook
Parties, festivities, out and about shopping, cooking, baking, wrapping, celebrating, family and friends dropping by.....and then, done. Over. The week between Christmas and New Year's has always seemed a bit like suspended time to me.  Like we're collectively holding our breath, waiting for something to happen. Like for the new year to begin.

This morning, I felt like our little chickadee, all dressed up, engine idling, and no idea where I was going or what I was suppose to be doing. Out. Of. Sorts. So I do what I always do when I feel this way. I made a to-do list (that's longer than my arm.)

That certainly didn't motivate me. But I didn't/don't want to waste this day or the week....., I chose two things off my list. I gave myself an hour for each. One was simply cleaning up and putting away some of the extras from the party we hosted and the other was time in my studio to do whatever I wanted—create, clean, paint, scheme, dream, putter, read, etc.

I chose those specific items because I knew they would help to motivate me and because I knew both were guaranteed to make me feel better. Less clutter is always a good thing and my studio is my haven. It makes me happy to spend time there no matter what and I haven't made much time to go in the studio in the last 10 days.

Once I have lunch, I'll pick two more things and set a timeframe in which to work on them. I think one of them is going to be a year-end review of 2010. I'm also going to work on my word-of-the-year for 2011. And who knows, I might even throw out the last of those "sugar bombs" so that I can start to regain my energy!

What are you doing in this week of suspended time?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

May Your Stockings Overflow!

Watercolor and Ink
3 x 8 inches
Scrap paper
As Christmas relentlessly marches towards us, the cleaning/decorating fury is at full throttle here at the Ferlita household. With this type of manic activity, there are always a few hysterical, umm, hilarious moments that have the potential to become long-lasting memories. Or blackmail material. Either works.

The stocking sketch was inspired by some of the recent antics of our feline family. Though they have no clue what all the ruckus is about, the cats still think it's pretty cool that suddenly, there's an indoor tree with all kinds of dingly, dangly doodads, and twinkly bobs! And they're all "paw" sized!

So as the fun gears up, I want to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones stocking overflowing with blessings, however you may celebrate the season. I hope you find your stockings filled with delight, fun, happiness, health, hope, ideas, joy, gratitude, creativity, inspiration, kindness, love, a wonderful surprise (or three!), a dream-come-true or the courage to begin the journey towards the dream, and safe travels for those of you on the roads or in the air.

May you be blessed this season with your favorite things!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Make A Joyful....Mark!!!

Remember the fun we had in kindergarten and elementary school learning to make marks on the page (or wall)?! Every piece was a masterpiece. We became quite indignant when someone did not recognize that blob of green and blue as a bear!

Somewhere along the journey, we tend to lose that joy...we adopt an attitude that every piece most "count," most be good enough to show others or it becomes a waste of time. I recently discovered a way to add some of that unbridled joy back to my mark making and it was quite by accident! I had an old (college days' old!) blank sketchbook sitting out to be recycled. After all this time I hadn't used it, I didn't think I was going to and I decided to pitch it.

Thanksgiving night found me exhausted but in need of a creative eyes happened to land on the old sketchbook. Next to my chair was a bright, aqua blue Sharpie marker. With NOLA fresh on my mind, masks flowed from my pen....
Click to enlarge

That was fun! I turned the page, and filled three more that evening. When I started to work through the Clever Christmas eClass assignments I decided to use the same sketchbook. I switched to a Copic® marker in a medium, cool gray that also happened to be waterproof. I decided I wanted to test out some of my ideas with watercolor—on sketchbook paper!
Click to enlarge

And this is where the fun truly began. You see, this paper is maybe 60 lb. paper, at best. It didn't take to watercolor too well. It bled through, the paper wrinkled, I was limited to the number of washes I could do. I couldn't blend. Wherever I put the color down, that's where it stayed for the most part! So I knew before I even started I wasn't going to make a "pretty" drawing that counted—I was free to play and have fun and experiment! I had a ball!

Click to enlarge
These corny characters were a take on "Merry Kiss-Moose" and a few "deers" thrown in for good measure! Are these finished, sketches? No. There's no way they could be because of the paper. Were they fun? You bet! I tried ideas, I made changes mid-stream, and when I got around to adding the color, it was almost like "coloring," as in coloring in a coloring book!

The ideas just flew onto the page, one sketch sparking another idea and so on. (One student called this a "brain dump" of ideas!) One other thing I noticed was it was necessary to use a very heavy pigment load to get a rich, vibrant color. So this encouraged me to use more pigment and less water. Most of my sketches were done in under a minute. Color was added later, but again, it didn't take long. Once I came up with an idea I liked, I redrew it on "good paper" and created a more finished piece.

I used to think life was way too short to use "cheap paper," but I think I've changed my mind. Especially if it means I can have this much fun and it's legal! I encourage you to try your hand at "making a joyful mark" with a waterproof marker and some watercolor on CHEAP paper and rediscovering the fun of just making marks!! There's no pressure as you know before you start the paper is limited and you're just playing. And we can all use a little more fun, joy and playing in our lives, right?!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Blog to Check Out!!!

I am absolutely thrilled to be telling you about a new book, Artist's Journal Workshop: Creating Your Life in Words and Pictures by Cathy (Kate) Johnson. Most of us know her as the (Quicksilver Workaholic and she is!!) Kate's been journaling a long time and realized the importance it has played in her life as an artist and writer. She put together a class last year and received an overwhelmingly positive response.

Kate decided a book was needed and reached out to 28 artists who journal and write as well. Folks like Hannah Hinchman and Danny Gregory, just to name a few! I am so very pleased to say that I was asked to join in and some of my work and thoughts will also be included in the book.

As usual, Kate went above and beyond the call and came up with waaaaaaaaaaay to much material for a 144-page book so she has started a blog—to share the interviews she's done, the material that didn't make it into the book, inspiration to start your own journal and a "go-to" place for those of us who have questions on how someone else has journaled.

I hope you'll join me in congratulating Kate on an awesome book (to be out in June 2011) and check out the new blog!!

See you there!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Boomer's Buddy

Here is the second in the Boomer Series. This is Seth, Boomer's best buddy and he's let love get the best of him...
"The Price of Love"
© Laure Ferlita
4.5" x 6" (11.42 cm x 15.24 cm)
Watercolor and gouache on paper
"Seth sat shivering, despite the bright warm starlight. Try as he might, he could not figure out how he came to be dressed up like a reindeer in the village play! The last thing he remembered (clearly) was waiting for Boomer at the edge of Hemlock Hollow when that cutie pie, Clarissa, flew up next to him on the branch. From there, things got kinda fuzzy. It seemed his brain ceased normal functions whenever she was too near.

The next thing Seth could vaguely recall was nodding his head yes like some wooden toy. He wished she wouldn't look up at him like that when she was so close—sometimes, he even forgot to breathe! Besides, who had ever heard of a reindeer with a red nose, anyway? Besides Clarissa, he wondered.

And oh, how Seth dreaded Boomer showing up...where was he anyway? Seth hadn't let Boomer live down last summer's escapades, and Seth knew full well he was never going to hear the end of this. The words "village idiot" were about to take on a whole new meaning....."

Available for purchase

$45.00 USD
    5.95 Priority Shipping in the US. If you are outside of the US, I'll see how quickly I can get it to you for the same amount of money.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Magic

The attic door swung wide and free,
And box by box, we began to see,
Some lights, some tinsel, maybe even a tree!
Christmas was finally here, weaving its magic all through the house!
Everywhere you looked, creatures were stirring, and not one, a mouse!

We spotted a huge tree free-grazing in the back 40 of the attic—it was so majestic! The Tree Wrangler lassoed the huge beast and it went wild! It bucked! It fought! And at long last, our heroic wrangler subdued and tamed that tree so that he could ride it around the living room floor!
Tucker, The Tree Wrangler
Once the tree had been subdued, Tucker wandered off for a snack, satisfied with a job well done.

Meanwhile, for the Light Master, work had just begun.....
Joey, The Light Master
Lights. They were everywhere in knots and piles. The Light Master looked at us with reproach for allowing the lights to become tangled. We tried to explain to him that they did this on their own. Eleven months in the attic, by themselves, is a long time and they sometimes got bored. He wasn't buying.

Joey knew the key to untangling the lights was to keep calm and breathe deep. To approach the lights with an attitude and knowledge that they wanted to become linear and straight.....

Post Script: A huge thank you to our guest artist, Chris, for sharing his wonderfully quirky artwork with us all last week! Chris assures me that he and Boomer will return from time to time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Boomer's Friends and...Others

In the prior post, we see a disturbing side of Boomer as he makes the squirrel go "boom!," but that may be explained by the images below.

Bob the Squirrel was quite the jokester and Boomer was....well, Boomer just too easy to pick on!
© Chris Ferlita

Boomer tried to ignore Bob, but the squirrel was relentless....and so the games began....
© Chris Ferlita

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Booming" With Possibilities

Now that Chris' imagination is going full throttle, the possibilities are just rolling in! Seems that Boomer doesn't play well with others....
© Chris Ferlita
Then there's always the possibility that there's some kind of vision problem. Or perhaps he's just easily distracted....
© Chris Ferlita
Either way, Chris is having way too much fun with this! And you'll get to meet more of the cast tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More From Our "Guest" Artist!

The conversations in our household often revolve around art as well as the ideas or concepts behind the art. Chris and I differ wildly on our views and thoughts around art as I think you'll see for the art below.

Up for recent discussion and debate was how Boomer came to be nicknamed Boomer (click link for more on Boomer). I chose not to reveal that piece of information, and that left the door wide open for Chris' imagination!

© Chris Ferlita
"How Boomer Got His Name!"
And, before you ask, NO! This is not how Boomer came to be called Boomer!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Christmas shopping just got a little easier!
Please click the Daniel Smith logo in the right sidebar to enter the web site. When you're done selecting those fabulous new art supplies, check out and enter the code WRAPPING as the promotional code on the address information screen to receive free shipping!

Now wasn't that easy?!!! Ho-Ho-Happy shopping!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Slow Down, Already!!

The insanity of the holidays is already upon the Ferlita household! A couple of years ago, we did a yard sale in December...because of a myriad of crazy happenings, life snowballed and I was putting ornaments on my tree on Christmas Eve—with a party started that evening at 7! It was NUTS!

Last year, we decided to overhaul both December....sheer nuttiness, but I had no one to blame as I went into it willingly. Everything was fine until 4 days before Christmas and we found out that we would be hosting the annual Christmas Eve family party because of an illness in another part of the family! EEEEEEEK!

And well, silly me, I thought this year would be calmer as I thought we had learned our lesson, but no, 'tis not to be. Our neighborhood is doing a community yard sale this coming weekend....and yes, we're going to be joining in. Go ahead. Shake your head. I'm shaking my head, rolling my eyes and sighing, too!

Oh, and the Clever Christmas eClass also started today! Yay!

I'm telling you all this as my way of telling you that I haven't been getting much art done....doesn't look like I'll be getting much done either. But I don't want the blog to go silent! So we're going to have a guest artist this week! I'm going to share with you a card that my sweet hubby and I put together for a friend that moved from Florida to Chicago! Chris did the design, I added the watercolor and writing.

We tried to convince him that moving to Chicago (in November, no less) was crazy, but he went anyway.....

...I hope he's enjoying it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Boomer Finds A Ball...

....a bright, shiny, Christmas ball!
Boomer and the Ball
4.5" x 6" (11.43 cm x 15.24 cm)
Watercolor, gouache and acrylic ink
     Boomer stood looking at the shiny bauble with a quizzical look on his face. He was glad no one was around to see what he had found. What was it, he wondered. He'd pecked at it to see if it was edible. He knew if it was he'd be feasting like a king for a week. Alas, it was not. Still, he didn't seem to be able to look away from it.
     Pondering what to do with the new toy was turning into quite the dilemma. The snow was falling faster and Boomer knew he'd have to make a decision quickly. He wanted to take it back to the tree he'd decided to call home for the winter, but he wasn't sure how heavy it was or if he could even fly with the thing! Still, Boomer wanted to try. 

     He just didn't want a repeat performance of the situation that had earned him the nickname of Boomer in the first place.....

It would seem I have "cute" on the brain with this adorable little bird just demanding to be painted! The idea came to me just before I drifted off to sleep Monday evening. It was one of the first things to hit my consciousness on Tuesday morning. Boomer was quite insistent about becoming a painting. And he brought some friends. There's at least two more chickadee paintings waiting in the wings (no pun intended).

It would also seem that the obsessive, compulsive, detail-loving side of my painting personality has returned:
Detail of Boomer's cap
I had hoped I had finally overcome this need to worship at the alter of detail. Apparently not!

I'm putting this cute little guy up for sale as I will the others once they're complete. He can be yours for $45.00 plus $5.95 shipping. He'll come to you Priority Mail in the US. If you live outside of the U.S., I'll see how quickly I can get him to you for the same amount of money. If you decide to purchase Boomer, you'll also have the right of first refusal on the other two paintings.


Thank you!!