Friday, July 30, 2010

The Muse Returns.....

I caught a slight movement out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look, she was standing there leaning against the door jamb. Back lit, her hair seem to be shot through with strands of glowing gossamer. She looked ethereal and other-worldly.

It was my muse, returned from a walkabout.

"Have you been creating?" she asked.

"No. I haven't had the time" I replied back. It was then that I noticed her crossed arms and the slight frown on her face. Trouble brewing. Trying to head it off I said, "Look, I've really got to get this video edited. I also have the tradeshow to get ready for and more classes to schedule."

She pushed away from the door jamb, and strolled over to the desk where she gently closed the laptop.

"To the studio. Now. You were suppose to be doing a memory sketch of the butterflies from Brahma Island. In fact, you promised" she quietly reminded me. Risking her wrath or another disappearance, I retorted, "Yes, well, I've not been on a walkabout for the many weeks has it been now?"

Leaning back against the door jamb, she cocks an eyebrow. "Really? I could have been standing on my head in your studio singing Christmas carols at the top of my voice and you wouldn't have known it." She was right. Busted.

"Come on. Let's go," she said, heading out of the office.

"I don't have any of the photo refs printed" I called after her. She stuck her head back around the corner and said, "Yes.....and? It's a memory sketch. You don't need photo references."

"All I can remember about them is a vague, hazy impression. I have no idea what they looked like nor the flowers. I'm sorry, but I'm going to need the photos," I said.

This earned a sigh, and I do mean a long, heavy sigh. The likes that would make the champion sighers of the world, the Irish, proud to call her one of their own.

"Fifteen minutes" was all she said as she disappeared. "Wait a minute...." I responded to empty air. "You heard me" floated in from the other room.

In the fifteen minutes allotted to me, I managed to print two photos as well as find the name of the butterflies and the wildflowers they were sitting on......I could see her hand in this because ordinarily it would have taken hours of research.  

I stomped past her with my materials, headed for the studio. Exactly 15 minutes later. I was rewarded with another cocked eyebrow and a slight smile. [Mona Lisa has nothing on this one, I thought to myself.] Again, she was playing at her muse "thing" because there was my sketchbook, right where it was suppose to be. It's never where it's suppose to be.

I got comfy in the studio chair and started to sketch.....and time fell away.

She wandered in to look over my shoulder but made no comments.

Hours later, I realized she had slipped away. Unnoticed.......

Watercolor and Ink
6 x 8 inches
Nature Sketchbook

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I See You!!!

I See You!!
Black Snake

This little black snake was hanging out in the plumbago out front on Sunday afternoon. S/he was a little over 2 feet long and quite curious....until I took the shot you see above! That was just a little too close for comfort and as soon as the shutter clicked, we were gone!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Well Journaled Life - Continued

The post is continued from A Well Journaled Life - Captured....

Assuming I don't get waylaid by any more photo ops on a remote island or some other tantalizing adventure I just can't say no to, I thought I'd share more of my Flight Plans Journal with you!

This is the inside left or inside front cover. I had originally intended to put the artwork on the front, but it just wasn't working for me. However, I really like it on the inside! It is my personal take on the famous "What would begin if you knew you could not fail?" quote. There are also some "thoughts" doodled into the borders. I am still waiting for whatever will go on the bottom of the page to appear. (Click to enlarge any of the images!)

The journal is going to be broken into sections. I created divider pages out of art paper and the added the words through a transfer process. The pages were then colorized with pigmented ink. This section will be on goals and specifically on what I want to accomplish both now (in the moment) and next (in the future)!

The following section is going to focus on wisdom, on honoring the guiding truths in my life and have just ONE section to put them all in will be wonderful (instead of having ten thousand little pieces of paper floating around)! In reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, I began to realize why I collected these thoughts on paper and how important they were to my life.

I believe she calls them her 10 commandments. I'm not sure commandments is the right word for me, but they're definitely guiding truths to how I want to live my live and conduct myself. (More on this in another post.)

And that's about where the binder is. There is one more tab there in the back that I haven't added any words to yet as I'm not sure of how I want to focus on the category yet. It's going to be a combination of dreams, hopes, wishes, things to do, places to visit, and other odd pieces that don't really fit anywhere else!

 I am going to start to collect the various pieces of paper, scribbles, doodles, envelopes, and whatnot and start to assemble some order to the chaos! I hope to have some real progress to show next!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Waterbrushes! A Favorite Tool!!

Waterbrushes are one of my very favorite tools! A waterbrush is simply a brush tip attached to a hollow tube that you place water in. Making a mark with a waterbrush is every bit as spontaneous as making a mark with a pencil or pen. You no longer have to tote water with you everywhere you go because it's right there in the brush handle! You'll also find that it allows for greater creativity because there's no set up or clean up.

Waterbrushes do take some getting used to and they present their own unique challenges. Pull out an old failed painting or a scrap of watercolor paper and PLAY with your waterbrush before attempting to create a piece of work with one. Once you learn their personalities and how to make that work to your advantage, I think you'll find them to be wonderful inventions!

The i•Trav•e•logue newsletter from Imaginary Trips is now posted announcing new classes dates for the Artful Journaling classes as well as a possible "mini-class!" Check it out!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Other Side of Wild!

.....continued from A Walk On The Wild Side!

Often, this was the view I had when trying to shoot the images of the deer. They were extremely skittish and so I was shooting from long distances beyond my lens and camera capability.

There was a larger group of deer on the other side of the tree to the left.

This was the more usual view, a full speed run! Look at the deer on the far right and the way her neck is stretched out flat—that's because these deer go under the fence rather than over.

There were eagles' nests every where you looked. They were in the oaks, the pines, in dead trees and in live ones! We startled a couple of eagles out of nearby trees, but none were actually sitting on a nest and there were no fledglings to be seen either. I suspect it was the wrong time of year.

If you enlarge the image to the right, you'll see a red triangle/arrow pointing down at what is left of a deer's back leg. Our guide told us that when they first spotted it, you could also see the deer's rib cage, spine and more of the back hindquarter! Can you imagine a bird large enough to pick up and cart a deer's hindquarter, spine and rib cage up to a nest 40-50 feet in the air?!!! That's a huge bird, not to mention strong!

This is one of the mighty birds taking a rest. Unfortunately, the moss was quite thick and this was the closest I could get to him/her. You take the shot you can!

These guys were quite shy too. (Sensing a theme yet?!) Enlarge the image to take a look at the horns on the fawn colored ram. Something else to note is how thin their legs are when you consider they LOVE to climb! It is not unusual to see the rams and goats up in trees or on top of anything they can climb up on!

I have so many shots that are just blurs or a peek of ears or the tip of tail as the animal disappeared from sight, but it was an incredible morning spent out in some of Florida's untamed wilderness. There were also two different areas with indian mounds from two different settlements of Seminole Indians as well as an old homestead and cemetery of six graves.

Something else we were able to see was an old dip bath (a long concrete pool about 6 feet deep and 20 feet long) built by the state back in the 30's to eradicate a tick disease that was killing the cattle. The cattle were driven up to one end and forced to jump in. They would swim through the pesticide to the other end where there were "stairs" so they could climb out.

An incredible visit with the past! I hope to return. If I do, you can be sure, I'll share the photos!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Walk On The Wild Side!

I had the chance to visit Brahma Island this weekend. It's in the middle of Lake Kissimmee and accessible only by boat. It is some of Florida's true habitat and it's protected by the state. There is a ranching operation run by the Lightsey's as well as a game preserve. The island is also home to 28 protected species including the snail kite. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to spot one while there. Let me mention before we get started that all photos are clickable and will enlarge a bit if you want a better view!

I shot this Osprey nest on a side road leading back to the dock for the island. We were waiting for our guide to arrive as we before the meet time. The one in front is Momma with baby in the background. Momma flew off in search of another tasty tidbit for junior while I was standing there. Boy, did that upset the baby! S/he didn't appreciate being left with that "clicking thing" down there on the ground 50 feet or more away from him!

Can't be too careful these days and I seriously doubt that he'd seen or a clicking thing (camera) before either!
Same bird, opposite side of the nest. This was the better side to shoot from as long as you didn't mind the telephone lines getting in the way. Look at the size of that nest! It was huge! Then again, when you consider these birds get to be about two feet tall with a wing span of more than 6 feet, it's not so surprising.

Once we arrived on the island I had the chance to see quite a bit of wildlife.....

One of the buffaloes roaming the island. There were several, but I didn't think to ask how many. The photos are deceiving in showing the size of this guy...he was huge!!

Two water buffalos (momma and calf) here and rumor had it they are mean as the dickens! In other words, keep clear and don't mess with them!

We rode around in an open-air jeep all day. They had one water buffalo that would charge and/or ram the jeep whenever it was near enough!

I didn't expect to fall in love with a Watusi, but this big guy was just the coolest! Check out that spotted hide where the white and black sections meet—isn't that cool?!

Again, the photos are no doing justice to the size of any of these creatures!

There were several species of deer on the island and unfortunately, Chris nor I could tell a Fallow from a Sika or an Axis deer. The fact that they moved faster than Superman might have had something to do with it too! These were quite small in size, but they're youngin's!

Last (for today) but not least, a 400 year old oak tree.....

So how do you know how old a tree is, I asked. You can't ask it...or can you? The tree was bored to take a sample of the rings that indicate growth. That's how you ask a tree its age. 

More in the next post!

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Well Journaled Life - Captured

Continued from the prior post, Is Variety the Spice of Life?!....

I have file folders, loose pages, journals, scattered bits of paper with inspirational scribbles on them floating all around in a chaotic manner from my office to my studio and some unusual points in between. This became very evident with the studio redo. Up until then, I had thought I was doing a reasonably good job of keeping it all contained in a file folder. Not!

Enter the notebook.....
This is the cover of the Flight Plans journal! I love all that fun fur flying off in every which direction! Each item attached has meaning, kind of a visual clue if you will, to remind me of how I want to live my life. (Click to enlarge.)

The fuzzy stuff is a reminder to make/keep life fun, light, colorful and to enjoy the slightly chaotic, creative life I am building.

I am building, creating, growing and visualizing the life I want and that's what this book is all about. In the lower block it says Begin, Now, Today. Simply put, it's a reminder to get off my backside and start living. Today!

The clock face is to remind me that time is passing whether I'm enjoying it or not! I can't save it, but I can surely waste it. I really don't want to wake up one day and think "Wait! Stop! I didn't get to do (fill in the blank) and now I'm too old, sick, feeble, (fill in the blank)!"

The old key is to remind me that I often always hold the key to the solutions of my problems. A reminder that says quit sitting around waiting for someone else come along and unlock the door—go find a window, a backdoor, a crawl space, but keep moving!

I have the quote written down (somewhere) "Imagine what can be rather than see what is." I forget to imagine sometimes (gasp!). Maybe because I busy trying to live consciously in the moment. Or maybe because I get caught up in the business of "being busyness." Imagination is another exotic spice that makes life exciting! It's what dreams are made of and it has been key to creating the life I want!

The last piece of the cover is a monocle. A reminder to stop and examine where my life is going, what's working, what could be working better. There is always a chance for course-correction if I'm paying attention. I'd rather course-correct than crash and burn and wonder what happened!

More in the next post!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Variety the Spice of Life?!

I don't know for sure, but I can say that variety really helps to spice up my creative life and add a few sparks to the fire! I have been looking for a "complimentary" activity to go with my sketching and painting endeavors—something that worked with those activities as opposed to something totally unrelated. (More on this later.)

Back during the great remodel in January I came across an old printed notebook/journal that I'd been "saving" for years, thinking it would make a fabulous journal with its own remodel. Well, I nearly tossed it in January during the purge part of that makeover because I'd been hoarding it for years and had not done a thing with it. I made myself the promise that if I had not done something with it before the next time I laid my hands on it (to move it again), I would pitch it. Well.......... is the spine of the book with stacked papers and eyelets as well as that crazy, fun trim going every which direction! If you've read Painted Thoughts very long, then you know I'm big on making dreams come true, setting goals and stretching to reach them as well as getting out of comfort zones.

When I started looking for a title, I thought about "Trajectory" but that didn't quite cover it. "Flight Plans" was along the same lines and spoke to the preparation and the ideas behind the trajectory. (I also happen to believe that it's important to enjoy the journey and not always focus on just getting to the destination!)

I intend to keep not only my goals in this book, but also my dreams, thoughts about my life, accomplishments, milestones, and the truths that I live by. Part of this is based on book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In the next few posts, I'll be sharing more about my book, how it came to be as well as some cool things I've learned from Gretchen's book and the positive energy that has come out of it.

Now, about that variety....are you a variety-adds-the-spark-to-life or are you a tried-and-true-stick-with-what-you-know kind of person? Please share!

Friday, July 9, 2010

It's A Celebration!!!!

Please join me in wishing Chris a very Happy Birthday today! I won't tell you how old he is because then he might feel compelled to share how old I am when it's my turn!!! Of course, if you look closely at the photo above, you might find a clue or two. Observe the creep of gray hairs around the temple, in the beard.....

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Just Too Cute!!

Sometimes our pets just do the cutest things and yesterday was Tucker's turn, though he would die of indignation if he knew he was being accused of anything so dastardly as being cute. He's fought that battle his whole life. Alas, he's never realized that fate stacked the cards against him by giving him that long, lux, grey fur and cute little mug!
You're bothering me. The paper's mine. ALL mine.

At our house, anytime the UPS person brings a package, its for everybody, not just whoever's name happens to be on the box. Any packing materials, like crinkly, crunchy, smelly paper belongs to the cats, especially this one! He attacks, romps, beats, smacks, rolls, hides, and sleeps in "his" paper nest!

Maybe if I ignore you and that light you'll go away.
Either that, or I'm going to have to bite you.

We put the paper down and Tucker immediately begins to shape it to his satisfaction. Woe be to any misguided feline that happens within batting range during this stage! This time he managed to create a tunnel. The photos were all taken from underneath a chair with the help of a flashlight. If I use the flash, he's gone in a flash as he hates the bright light. Not to mention it makes him look like a demon with red, glowing eyes.

If you're not going away, would you at least turn that light OFF?! Like, now!
Wanna play?!! Stick your hand over here. Yeah, go ahead. Try touching my paper.....

As nonchalant as he appears, he would love nothing better than for me to start tickling the edge of the paper so he could pounce on "the noise!" Either that, or he'd really like for me to turn that irritating flashlight off.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Things You Can See!

The Crepe Myrtles are blooming like crazy here in Central Florida due to the unusually hot temps we had throughout a good part of June. And they attract all manner of creatures to their blooms and leaves. This particular tree is quite large and the branches, heavy with bloom, cascade over the edge of the road and you have to walk around it. If you're not careful (or paying attention), and you brush into it, you're sure to get a shower from all the water it's holding! How would I know this? Hmmm, just saying.

I came very close to brushing into it the other morning because I wasn't paying close enough attention to where I was walking. That's when I came nose-to-nose with this creature. It's rather hard to tell from the photos, but the body is about 3 inches in length! This guy/gal has not moved in the last three mornings of my walk. S/he's been in the same one foot area. The photos were taken on rainy days in low light. Once you move past the "ick" factor, and look at the markings, these are some pretty cool-looking bugs!

As long as they stay on the tree.

Oh, and they don't call them "hoppers" for nothing........

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pausing.... I went about my walk this morning, and observed the golden, pink light spilling across the heavy, rain-laden clouds, I stopped to think about my personal freedoms:

• to walk unafraid in my neighborhood, alone • in clothing of my choice • to do work I love without fear • to think thoughts that may not agree with my neighbor's • and to express them without fear • free from a fear of hunger • free from a fear of violence • and this is just a beginning of the list that went on for over 45 minutes!

These freedoms are not free. I am ever grateful to the men and women who have won them for me.

Today, I pause to remember that this country, no matter its ills, is STILL a great country!

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fair and Balanced Reporting....

Watercolor Journal Pages
5.5 x 7.5 inches

How often have you created a painting and said, "Gee, wish I'd of done this instead of that," but you didn't because you were already committed to current direction of the painting?  And then, no matter how well the painting turned out, when someone complimented you on the piece, you talked about what you wished you would have done rather than just saying, "Thank you"? We've all done it. We'll all probably do it again. 

When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, we had to abide by something called Fair and Balanced Reporting, and simply worded, it meant you had to provide an accurate perspective on any drug you were marketing. An example would be a drug that could cure ingrown ears, but it would cause you to grow green, smelly, hairy warts on your big toes. To be fair and balanced, you had to report both the effects (you could hear!) and the side effects (you had to wear sandals because of the warts) of the drug. The good and the bad.

And what does that have to do with art, you're asking? Well, I've recently run across several artists tearing their work to shreds, publicly—not so much of a critique, mind you, but more of a litany of every last little detail that's wrong, didn't go right and that what they wanted to change." Hmmm, sound familiar? I know it does to me as I'm quite guilty of this myself!  

What I did NOT see was any mention of what went right, what turned out well, what pleased them and what they are particularly proud of about the given image. Now, I don't know about you, but I have yet to paint a painting, journal a page or create a sketch that there wasn't SOMETHING that I didn't like or want to change or do better! However, in fairness, there was always something I liked, an area that turned out well or that I was particularly pleased with. Did I always say or write that? Hmmmm, no.

My point to this rambling post is to ask artists everywhere to take a deep breathe and check to see if you've indeed practiced Fair and Balanced Reporting BEFORE you punch the "publish" button! Did you balance the good (I have outgrown ears and can hear!) with the not so good (I have warts on my toes and they smell bad!)? Focusing on the facts, removing emotional comments (I just hate that area!), and pointing out both sides, good and bad, go a long ways towards being Fair and Balanced to the piece. Not to mention the artist. 

Critiques are so very important in the growth of an artist and we should strive to do them as well as we strive to create the artwork. To do a Fair and Balanced critique is no easy thing. We all too ready to attack our work and tear it apart before someone else can. Or so that no one thinks we think it's good work. How are we best served? With a Fair and Balanced critique which is much more likely to be an instrument for true and steady growth or a litany of ills (in our eyes) with a given piece of work?  

Yes, the vertical journal page appeared on the blog a couple of days ago. The horizontal version is new to the blog. The pages are from an exercise in the Artful Journaling class where we are studying page design. If you are interested, there are still some spots available in the Explorations class!