Tuesday, November 22, 2011

AEDM: Day Twenty-Two!

It's been twenty-two days since this adventure began and I've made something new for each on of those days.  But, tonight, I head off out-of-state for the Thanksgiving Holiday and will not have access to the internet.  So, while I'll keep creating, I won't be able to post until I get back.

Until then, here's today's card.

I wanted to experiment with imprinting designs in thick gesso.  So, I layered the card and then let it dry a big before I pressed circles into it.  I decided to highlight the texture with a simple coat of iridescent lime green paint, trimmed the card in dark brown, and added an embellishment with the word "Imagine" on it.

It's a reminder to me of all the wonderful art I've seen this month, all coming from imaginative minds like yours!

Happy Creating!

Monday, November 21, 2011

AEDM: Day Twenty-One!

As I was going to paint over this playing card, I noticed the little smiling face of the Joker and decided that I liked it and wanted to incorporate him as the main figure in the design.

With that, I added multiple layers of black and shimmery blue/green paint, and then sanded down the layers in various degrees all over the card.

Lastly, I added the word “play,” trimmed the card in black to frame the image, and called it a day.

I liked how it turned out!

Happy Creating!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AEDM: Day Twenty

Where yesterday's card was more sophisticated, today's card is the complete opposite.

I gave myself the challenge of creating, from start to finish, in 10 minutes.

Normally I go back and forth on design and debate things, but not today.

I painted the card white to start with a literal blank canvas.  Grabbed the first embellishments I saw in my art closet which were these flower stickers and added black paint.

Lastly, I wrote the word "free" because that's how I felt--Complete freedom from judgment, like a child creating a masterpiece with crayons.

Happy Creating!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

AEDM: Day Nineteen

Today was a long day for me, and the last thing I wanted to do was something creative.

So, I did an ATC that was fairly easy, but I'm pleased with it.

I painted the card black, add an image of Notre Dame, and then sanded it down to make it feel more like a treasured memento.

I added silver embellishments and the word "I" in French.

Simple, but elegant.

I've never been to France, but I can dream...

Happy Creating!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Seven, Post Three

A lot of the exercises for Week Seven are what I’d call “self-care” exercises.

Here are a few examples to see what I mean:

1) create a wonderful smell in your home (through candles, cooking, etc.)

2) wear your favorite item of clothing for no special occasion

3) buy a pair of wonderful socks or gloves
It’s been nice to consciously make myself feel special!

But, there was one exercise that really hit me in the heart, and that’s what I want to talk about.

It’s called the Jealousy Map Exercise.

What you do is take a piece of paper and make three vertical columns. At the top of the first column you write “WHO”, the second “WHY”, and the third “ACTION ANTIDOTE”

Here’s an example that Julia gives:

WHO                             WHY                           ACTION ANTIDOTE

Anne Sexton                Famous Poet                   Publish my long-hoarded poems

So, I went ahead and made my list. And though I’ve been fairly transparent through this whole process (and have shared a few embarrassing/soul bearing things), I just can’t share my list.

It wasn’t very long; only five people on it. But, it was very exposing, and it made me realize how petty I can be and how afraid I live my life in some areas.

I have to say, the Artist’s Way has taught me more about myself than anything else I have ever done. EVER! Some things have been very painful and have shown me parts of myself that I wish I didn’t have.

But, you can’t change what you can’t accept about yourself, and you can’t accept what you can’t see.

So, you have to bring out all the nitty gritty and hold it up to the light!

This has been another week doing just that.

UP NEXT: Artist’s Date!

AEDM: Day Eighteen!

So, for yesterday’s card I had printed out a page of my NaNoWriMo novel to use as part of the basket weave. And I decided for today’s card to use some more of that text.

First, I painted the playing card a deep midnight blue. Then I cut out ovals from my novel page. I wasn’t sure if I was going to use them as heads and paint faces on them, or just as organic shapes, but in the end I decided to make them into flowers.

I attached them, added paint for the stems and yellow ascent, and then used a Sharpie to give them definition. Lastly, I “tied” them all together with a bow and Modge Podge’d the whole thing.

I think it turned out lovely!

It’s been such a challenge for me to come up with a new and different design each day. Some days are better than others, but I’m hanging in there.

I hope you are, too!  Happy creating!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Seven, Post Two

Hi, my name is Liz, and I am a perfectionist.

I have always been a perfectionist.

In fact, if I feel that I can’t do something perfectly, I will not try it (or I will pretend I don’t care enough to try it).

I have always known that perfectionism was one of my flaws, but I thought it was a noble one. After all, why do something if you can’t do it well?

Here’s what Julia has to say about it:

“Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead” (p. 119).
“For the perfectionist, there are no first drafts, rough sketches, warm-up exercises. Every draft is meant to be final, perfect, set in stone” (p. 120).
Now, here’s the clincher:

“To the perfectionist, there is always room for improvement. The perfectionist calls this humility. In reality, it is egotism. It is pride that makes us want to write a perfect script, paint a perfect painting, perform a perfect audition monologue.

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough—that we should try again.

No. We should not” (p. 120).

Perfectionism = Pride

Wow, right? This blew my mind!

I’ve been struggling with my perfectionism all month. Between the Art Every Day challenge and NaNoWriMo, I’ve had to face my fear of imperfection head on, and with occasional tears.

Some of the stuff I’ve written in my novel is horrible!

Some of the ATC’s I’ve created are, well, ugly/plain/weird!

But, I’ve kept at it. I’ve posted the picture no matter how I felt about the ATC. And I’ve kept every stupid, boring, and trite word I’ve written.

Is perfectionism behind me? Hardly. But, this month, I’ve been able to push it a little farther away from me. And that’s a start.

Now, two questions for you: Is perfectionism blocking the way to your creativity? And if so, will you let it go?

UP NEXT: Week Seven Exercises and why one made me cry…

AEDM: Day Seventeen!

For today’s card I decided to see what I could create using paper.

I started by gathering some scraps of colored paper and chose the color combination (after the last card being more monochromatic, I decided to go big on color).

I also printed out some text from my current NaNoWriMo novel and incorporated it.

I cut strips, and wove them together. I liked it, but I felt that it needed something more, so a made an origami lotus flower, attached it and then added Modge Podge to make it shiny.

Lastly, I used a little black paint to write the word "love" and to cover the unfinished edges.

I really like how it turned out!

Happy Creating!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Seven, Post One

This week is about “Recovering a Sense of Connection” and it has various layers of meaning (as does every chapter).

Julia talks about connecting to the Creator, to ourselves, and to others. And each connection requires a slightly different skill set.

Today, I want to highlight what she says about connecting to God/Creator, and, connecting to others.

First, God.

According to Julia, the key to connecting to our Creator, and therefore, creativity, is simply to listen. We are being spoken to, guided and directed constantly. But, usually, we’re too busy and keep our environment too loud, to hear anything. In a very real way, we avoid listening. (Think of how much silence you had today. 30 minutes? 10 minutes? 5 minutes?)

And if we listen, we realize that as artists we shouldn’t be trying to “think something up” but “get something down.” We are really the conduit for creativity, not the source. And if we really understand this, it’s a freeing and less stressful way to create!

Here’s an analogy that Julia uses that I love:

“Art is the act of tuning in and dropping down the well. It is as though all the stories, painting, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas that we can tap down into. As artists, we drop down the well into the stream. We hear what’s down there and we act on it—more like taking dictation than anything fancy having to do with art” (p. 118).

Think about this for a moment. It’s a powerful idea that all we have to do is take the time to listen, then drop our buckets down into the creative stream, bring up what we gather, and share it with the world. (Nothing says it has to be a perfect offering, just an offering. But, perfection is the topic for tomorrow.)

However, there is something that can stand in the way with the gathering and sharing, and that leads to the second type of connection I wanted to talk about: connecting with others.

The one thing that Julia discusses this week that can get in the way of connecting with others is jealousy.

Are you jealous of anyone? Come on, be honest. Because identifying where you are jealous is the key to your freedom!

“Jealousy is a map” (p. 123). It lets us know what we really want. For example, if I’m jealous of my sister because she has really great hair, what does that mean? It means I want great hair! See what I mean? Jealousy is a guide to show you your heart’s desire. And this can be a frightening, yet freeing thing if you can identify it and then let it go.

“Jealousy is always a mask for fear: fear that we aren’t able to get what we want; frustration that somebody else seems to be getting what is rightfully ours even if we are too frightened to reach for it” (p. 124). If I’m jealous of a friend because she has written a novel, this tells me what I really want (i.e. write a novel) and it shows me what I’ve been afraid to do (i.e. write a novel).

Julia continues with this powerful understanding, “At its root, jealousy is a stingy emotion. It doesn’t allow for the abundance and multiplicity of the universe. Jealousy tells us there is room for only one—one poet, one painter, one whatever you dream of being” (p. 124, emphasis added).

Wow, right?

On a personal note, this is a very timely chapter for me.

I’ve been dealing with jealousy as I have gotten farther and farther behind on my NaNoWriMo novel, and as I’ve been visiting other artists who are participating in the Art Every Day challenge and are creating art that is breathtakingly beautiful.

But, I have to remind myself that like on NaNo, where there is no limit to how many people can cross the 50,000 word finish line, and on AEDM , where there is no rule that what I paint has to be better than everyone else’s, the same can be said for every creative endeavor.

There really are no winners and losers. There are only those who listen and create, or those who watch and criticize.

There can be thousands of poets, thousands of painters, thousands of novelists, thousands of photographers, thousands of actors, thousands of playwrights, thousands and thousands and thousands of creative souls.

And you are one of them!

AEDM: Day Sixteen!

I decided to do a little experimentation with today’s card as well.

I really wanted to focus on texture, so I pulled out my super old coagulated gesso that I was going to toss, but decided to keep (just in case).

It has almost solidified, but was still smear-able.

I gooped some on a playing card and let it dry.

Then I got the card wet, and added four different shades of yellow paint.

I really liked how the paint settled in all the nooks and crannies. See:

This picture doesn't do it justice!

So, because I didn’t want to cover up all the texture, I only added one embellishment, trimmed it in a coordinating brown, and called it a day.

Simple, but beautiful.

Have a creative day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

AEDM: Day Fifteen!

Today’s card was an experiment.

For months, I have been ruminating on a larger art piece (on canvas, 48” by 24”) that would consist of three-dimensional interlocking circles which I would paint on, around, and between.

But, I’ve consistently put it off because I wasn’t sure how to go about it and didn’t want to get halfway through it and then find myself stuck.

So, I decided to use today’s ATC as a mini dry run. And, boy, am I glad I did!

Do you know how hard it is to cut and reassemble circles?

Answer: HARD! I had no idea, how hard. I almost lost my mind!!

And, do you know how hard it is to keep paper circles symmetrical when reassembling them?

Answer: Next to impossible!

I tried again and again and again to keep them perfectly round, and failed.

What a valuable lesson!

If I do attempt to do this on a larger scale (which I’m reconsidering) I will not be using cardboard to make my circles. I’ll have to use a firmer material that is almost unbendable. And I wouldn’t have known that without trying it on this little ATC.

So, thank you ATC!

Monday, November 14, 2011

AEDM: Day Fourteen!

I started with a weathered handwritten background on cream paper.

I added a rich red ribbon all around it.  Then I cut out three butterflies and added those.

I love the 3-D aspect of the card, and overall, it reminds me of a Victorian butterfly collection (even though I'm not a big fan of pinning actual butterflies to a board).

I'm really liking the cream and red color combo and I think I'm going to experiment some more with it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

AEDM: Day Thirteen!

Today, I decided to stick with three colors: yellow ochre, turquoise, and brown.

I started by painting the card turquoise.  Then applying a crackle paint in yellow ochre.

I added the central image (which reminds me of a mandala) and words, then edged the card in brown.

I really like this one!  It feels very peaceful and antique to me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

AEDM: Day Twelve!

In a complete departure from yesterday's ATC which was whimsical and colorful, in today's ATC I stuck with a more monotone color scheme of black, white, and grey.  The only additional color is the gold trim around the cameo.

I started with newspaper and circled words I liked and blacked-out words I didn't.

Then I used white paint for the diagonal lines, trimmed the card with black paint, and added the word "SOON."

It's very different from anything else I've made and I like the simplicity of it.

I love the feel of this card in my hands.  Very tactile!

Friday, November 11, 2011

AEDM: Day Eleven!

You know, it's amazing how long being creative takes.

If you look at this piece, you would think it took all of 15 minutes to slap on some images, add a little paint, something sparkly and call it a day.

But, it wasn't so simple.  I first started with the background.  Then I started pulling images that seemed to match the color scheme.

But, when I found the lady's face, it seemed to float out of place, so then I decided to anchor it with a crown, wings and a make-shift body.

I added paint to her face, painted her dress and added the word "fly", then trimmed the whole card in dark brown paint.

It ended up taking me about an hour from start to finish.  No wonder my paintings take weeks!

I'm a slow artist.

Oh well, we use what we got, right?

I'm flying with inspiration fairy dust!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

AEDM: Day Ten!

Boy, after an long and exhausting day at work, I totally did not want to be creative!

But, despite that, I pressed forward, sat down and made something.

I started with striped paper.  Then used an empty toilet paper roll and white paint to make the circles.

I had two decorative stamps that I added some paint to, and then embellished with a silver sticker and a fabric flower.

I like it!  Simple, colorful, graphic.

And now, a brief letter to the inspiration fairies:

Dear Inspiration Fairies,

Please don't abandon me!  I'm struggling to come up with new ideas, and I need your help.  I think you are really awesome, and I promise to heed your advice.  Just whisper it in my ear.  I'm listening...


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

AEDM: Day Nine!

Well, I waited for inspiration to strike and got bupkis.

But, I decided to press forward and just put one image on top of another.

Music background paper + flowers + bird painted with shimmery paint + bronze "Journey" = Art?

The bird was a black and white print that I colored in.

Maybe tomorrow something a little more interesting...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

AEDM: Day Eight!

Today’s ATC is simple.

I started with an embossed background.

Added an image of an old building (which seems familiar, but I can’t place it).

Then, added a flower that I painted with shimmery paint. (You can’t see it in the picture, but trust me, shimmery!)

Finally, some silver letters that say “Yes”.

I edged the whole thing with black paint, and called it a day.

Full confession, I believe I’m running out of creativity. Seriously. The well is almost dry, folks.

It’s only day 8, and I feel like I’ve used up all my artistic resources. (Between this challenge and NaNoWriMo, that is.)

Here’s hoping the inspiration fairies kick in soon.

I begged them to join me in my Morning Pages today…

If any visit you, please send them my way!

Monday, November 7, 2011

AEDM: Day Seven!

For this one, I went for something a little more old timey.

I started with a paper with handwriting on it, and an overlaid image of a woman.

I painted the woman's clothes with two shimmery paints (and add a little pink to her cheeks).  In the top left corner I added an egg on acetate, and in the bottom corner, buttons.

Lastly, I added a puffy sticker with the word "Memories," a pearl to her dress, and flowers to her hair.

As I was creating this, I couldn't help but wonder who she was and what her life was like.  I hope she had a happy one!

What do you think her name was?  I'm going with "Betty"!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

AEDM: Day Six!

Okay, so I gave the Asian theme another go and I like this one better.

I started with tissue paper that had an Asian design.  Then I added a light orangy/red paint in a rectangle (you can't really see it). And then I applied a gold leaf square.

Once that dried, I dabble again with painting with silver leaf--this time a dragon.  I think it turned out pretty good for my first dragon (though his back foot is a little stumpy).

Overall, not that bad!

In the picture, you can't really see the Asian tissue paper design.  It's an elephant.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

AEDM: Day Five!

So, full confession, I'm not a fan of this ATC.

I really struggled with it and was almost not going to post it at all.

But, I had promised myself that I would create something from start to finish every day this month.

They all can't be winners, right?

I decided to take an Asian theme with this one.  I started with gold paper, and then painted a Samuri-esque man on it with silver leaf paint. (It was my first time using that kind of paint.) I added a Chinese sticker I had, wrote a Haiku* poem on it, trimmed it with black paint, and then splattered it with red paint.

Again, not my favorite.  But a good learning experience!  I think I might give this another go tomorrow and see if I like it better.

* If you can't read the poem, it says:
I swim through lotus
waters slip against my skin
nestled in, I shine

The Artist's Way: Week Six, Post Four

Like the past five weeks, here’s my weekly check-in.

1) I did the morning pages 5 days this week.  I think they’ve become much more focused.  In earlier weeks, I’d just ramble on about anything that popped into my head.  But, lately, I’ve written about specific things: my NaNoWriMo novel, my AEDM ATC’s, my fear of being a creative failure, my concepts of God, etc.  It’s been an interesting evolution.  Now that I’m half way through the program, I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ll be writing during week 12.

2) Artist’s Date: This was my stay-in artist’s date, and I was able to travel around the world!  I decided to spend an hour going to some of my favorite creative blogs and seeing what everyone is up to.

Here’s a list of just a few of them, so you can experience it for yourself:

Isn’t it amazing?  So many creative people around the world. It makes me feel hopeful and that things won’t ever get as bad as some think, because there is so much beauty being birthed every day through so many different avenues!  Maybe I’m just being a romantic, but that’s how it makes me feel!

What do you think?

3) This week, I consciously looked for synchronicity and nothing happened (at least, nothing I was aware of).  Maybe next week?

4) No issues.  Am I supposed to be having some?  Does that mean I’m doing something wrong? Who knows? Oh, well.

And now, here’s the next stage in my Artist’s Way painting.

I have no idea where to go from here...

UP NEXT: Week Seven!

Friday, November 4, 2011

AEDM: Day Four!

I didn't have a lot of time today to work on this, so I thought I'd keep it simple, but romantic.

I used a textured background, gold paint, a couple of paper pictures, and fabric flowers.

For only having 20 minutes, I'm please with how it turned out!

The butterfly is 3-D!

Have fun creating!

The Artist's Way: Week Six, Post Three

As you know this week was about money and abundance, so most of the exercises focused on that topic.

I thought for this week’s exercises, I’d just show you one EXACTLY the way I completed it (instead of a summary). It was eye-opening (aren’t they all) and I hope you won’t judge me too harshly by my answers. Just being honest here, folks.

Money Madness, An Exercise

Complete the following phrases.

1. People with money are lucky.

2. Money makes people free.

3. I’d have more money if I wrote a successful novel.

4. My dad thought money was something you worked hard for.

5. My mom always thought money would solve our problems.

6. In my family, money caused stress.

7. Money equals power.

8. If I had money, I’d travel around the world.

9. If I could afford it, I’d buy a house.

10. If I had some money, I’d pay off my student loans.

11. I’m afraid that if I had money I would lose it.

12. Money is awesome!

13. Money causes worry.

14. Having money is not the most important thing in life.

15. In order to have more money, I’d need to find another source of income.

16. When I have money, I usually save some and spend some.

17. I think money is a gift.

18. If I weren’t so cheap I’d book a First Class flight to England.

19. People think money is the way to happiness.

20. Being broke tells me that I need to work harder.

Reviewing my answers, I feel I'm a little schizo when it comes to money.

How would you complete these statements?

Oh, and before you go, I wanted to mention another exercise I did that might include YOU (if I know where you live)!

Exercise 5: Send postcards to five friends! You might have been one of them, so keep an eye out in the mail!

UP NEXT: Artist’s Date! (Simple, but rewarding—and something you can do, too, from where you are RIGHT NOW!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

AEDM: Day Three!

For today's ATC, I decided I wanted to go more graphic and with clean colors: Red, White, and Black. 

No shading or fuzziness.  Just bold colors.

I used embossed paper for the background card, and embellished with paper images, paint, a jewel, and ribbon.

I like the way it turned out!  (It feels a little Art Deco to me.)

Can you tell I like France?

Have fun creating!

The Artist's Way: Week Six, Post Two

“For those of us who have become artistically anorectic—yearning to be creative and refusing to feed that hunger in ourselves so that we become more and more focus on our deprivation—a little authentic luxury can go a long way” (p. 108).

When I read this sentence, I had a few memories pop into my head: me, reading a book about living a literary life; me, buying art supplies for an online class I never attended; me, getting out my guitar to work on a new song, but only trying the first chord.

Memory after memory of ways I artistically stopped, and then starved myself. It’s like going to a bakery, hungry, and just standing outside, staring into the window.

Do you know what I’m talking about?

Julia goes on to talk about how luxury helps with this anorexic behavior: “Because art is born in expansion, in a belief in sufficient supply, it is critical that we pamper ourselves for the sense of abundance it brings to us” (p. 108).

Now, she’s not talking about a $1000 spa treatment (though, if you could afford that, go ahead!). She’s talking about little things that make you feel special. Some examples she gave were new clothes, flowers, and a magazine subscription. Small gifts that make a person feel pampered.

This got me thinking about myself (surprise, surprise).

Frankly, I feel like this whole Artist’s Way journey has been a way I’ve pampered myself. I’ve loved taking the time out of my week to go on an Artist’s Date.

But, I thought that maybe I could do something else specifically for the purpose of luxury. So, I made a list of things I love or would love to do. Most of the things on my list were far-fetched (like living in Ireland) or incredibly expensive (like, living in Ireland). But, I did find a theme, and that was: travel!

Now, I don’t know about you, but my travel budget is limited. That didn’t stop me from planting the travel seed of luxury though!

I decided to order a yearly subscription to the National Geographic Traveler magazine for $10! And I think that’s a pretty great deal: 10 bucks for a year of luxury!

So, what about you? How could you give your artist-self a little luxury?

UP NEXT: Week Six exercises! Thank you, Mr. Postman!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

AEDM: Day Two

I decided to shift color palettes completely on this next ATC, and I like the different feel I get from it.

Isn’t it amazing how the change in colors can totally alter the vibe you get from an art piece? Amazing!

To create this, I used paper, Sharpie, black Ink, Acetate film, and sparkly stars!

Will you meet me in Paris?
I'm excited to see what I create tomorrow, and to be inspired by my fellow AEDM travellers!

The Artist's Way: Week Six, Post One

Week Six is about “recovering a sense of abundance” and Julia starts this chapter by talking about God and money.

To be honest, I’ve never really thought about God and money, except for the law of tithing. And it never occurred to me to think of it in terms of abundance (probably because I have very limited experience with financial abundance in my life).

I completely identified with this: “Maybe God would feed and clothe us, in a pinch, but painting supplies? A museum tour of Europe, dance classes? God’s not about to spring for those, we tell ourselves” (p. 106).

This is exactly how I see things.

Julia continues, “Most of us harbor a secret belief that work has to be work and not play, and that anything we really want to do—like write, act, dance—must be considered frivolous and be placed a distant second” (p. 106).

Yep, and yep. Exactly what I believe.

And then I read something that really shifted the way I view God. Seriously.

“On the one hand, we give lip service to the notion that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. On the other, we secretly think that God wants us to be broke if we are going to be so decadent as to want to be artists. Do we have any proof at all for these ideas about God? Looking at god’s creation, it is pretty clear that the creator itself did not know when to stop. There is not one pink flower, or even fifty pink flowers, but hundreds. Snowflakes, of course, are the ultimate exercise in sheer creative glee. No two alike. This creator looks suspiciously like someone who just might send us support for our creative ventures” (pgs. 106-107, emphasis added).
Wow, right?

So, let me ask you, if you could do anything creative, and I mean ANYTHING, and knew you would have the full support and assistance from God, what would you do?

It’s an exciting thought, isn’t it?

UP NEXT: Luxury, and how we need more of it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Art Every Day Month: Day One

I know this is only the first day, way to soon to predict how this challenge is going to turn out for me, but I have to say, I'm having a blast!

It was fun to just spread out a bunch of stuff in the same color palette and see what happened!

On this ATC is used paper, paint, thread, dried flowers, and an acrylic gem.

The only thing I added after this picture was taken was a little rouge to her cheeks!

Monday, October 31, 2011

November: A Month of Creativity and Possible Nervous Breakdown

NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow (see Sidebar), and I am feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I’ve done it before, so I know that it’s possible, but it’s still hard.

It’s hard on my imagination. (Coming up with scene after scene is a lot to ask a brain, especially one as lazy as mine.)

It’s hard on my time. (Now, all free time will be spent on writing (which reminds me of homework) (which makes me sad.))

It’s hard on my sensitive creative heart. (Nothing challenges the vision of yourself as a creative person like writing 50,000 words and realizing you’re a talentless hack—at least according to your inner critic.)

But, I’m doing it anyway!

And I’ll keep you posted with a weekly word count, which you can see on my handy dandy sidebar. That way, you can help hold me accountable. (Especially during week two, when I’ll want to pretend like I never had the idea to participate, and have no idea what you’re talking about.)

The good thing is that I’m actually excited about my book idea.

I’ve done a lot (and I mean A LOT) on my character development and plot. So, I know where I want to end up and how I want my main protagonist to transform. I don’t have it all figured out (as in scene by scene), but I’ve done more prep-work for this than any other thing I have ever attempted to write.

I won’t be posting excerpts because that would just freak me out and probably paralyze me. But, I may write about specific aspects of my characters. I’m starting to like them, and hear them speak to me. (Not in a creepy “I hear voices” kind of way, but in a writer-ly “I’ve developed three-dimensional characters and they’re taking on a life of their own” kind of way.)

Please send me a creative well-wishing thought every now and again. I could use the support!

Now, as if NaNoWriMo wasn’t enough, you’ll also recall that I’m doing the ArtEveryDay challenge (See Sidebar).

This is also making me incredibly nervous. I don’t feel as prepared, (mostly because I don’t like to pre-plan my artwork), and I still have to find a few more supplies, but I diving in anyway.

For this challenge, I WILL be posting every night in November, so, you’ll be able to see what I created.

Because I’m also doing NaNo, I decided that I would make a small piece of art each day, and that it would be an ATC (Artist Trading Cards).

I’ve done them in the past and have had a blast. I think they’ll be the right size to provide me with a challenge, and yet, not overwhelm me like something on canvas would (especially since I’m still working on my Artist’s Way painting and another project).

If you’d like to make an ATC, and then trade it with me, let me know! They can be made on actual playing cards, or anything that is playing-card sized (like fabric, wood, metal, etc.).

So, for November, this blog may have a multiple posts a day (since I’m still posting on The Artist’s Way).

And then I expect that in December, (after my nervous breakdown), it might take a brief hiatus to pick myself up off the floor.

It’s going to be a wild ride!

I hope you’ll join me!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Artist's Way: Week Five, Post Four

First, let me do the weekly check-in…

1)   So, I only did Morning Pages 4 days this week.  I just didn’t have the energy to write for a half-hour.  I don’t really have an excuse, except to say “I didn’t wanna.”

2)   Yep, had an Artist’s Date.  You know the drill.  More down below…

3)   Synchronicity?  I don’t recall anything.  Well, now that I think about it, ever since I decided that my NaNoWriMo book was going to include zombies*, I have noticed a lot of zombie-related things popping up: articles, TV shows, comic books, etc.  It could be that I was surrounded by these things the whole time (most likely) and didn’t notice.  But, it’s interesting nonetheless.

4)   No issues that I can think of. Except, of course, my half-hearted attempt at Morning Pages.

Now, on to the Artist’s Date:

I decided to take a solo photographic tour of the architecture of my city.  I called it my “Backyard Beauty Bonanza,” because I wanted to see what beautiful things I could discover in my own familiar backyard, aka, city.

What I decided to do was get in my car, and drive around.  Simple enough, right? Anything that caught my eye, whether building, house, or street, I would investigate.  And every time I had to stop (law-abiding citizen that I am), I would look for something beautiful.

It was really quite enjoyable, and it opened up my city to me in a whole new way.  I would definitely recommend this to all of you!  But, I do have a few tips to make it more enjoyable (and less life-threatening):

1) It’s best to go in the early morning.  There’s less traffic, and therefore, you are less likely to be honked at when you swerve over to the curb to take a picture.

2) Know how to work your camera.  Driving is not the best time to figure out how to zoom, or how to add an old-timey patina to pictures.  Trust me.

3)   Don’t have something planned right after.  I thought giving myself an hour would be plenty of time, so I scheduled something directly following, and I was sad to have to leave an area of town that I would have liked to explore.  You never know what you’ll find that you’ll want to leave your car to investigate.  Give yourself the time to wander.

4)   Bring something to take notes with.  That way, you can jot down what street your dream home was on, or where was a little shop you wanted to visit at a later time.

5)   Have great music.  Something that invokes magic, mystery, adventure, and singing!  Nothing brings down your exploration mood like radio commercials. Bleh!

Okay, now, on to my “Backyard Beauty Bonanza”!

At my very first red light, I saw this scene out of the corner of my eye. Beautiful!

If you have one of these in your area, that's a great place to start!

Dream home, by chance?

"Liz, is that a horse and wagon?" Yep!

Old firehouse, anyone?

Don't you just love this old church!

"Liz, is that an Antebellum home from your trip to the South?"  Nope, a house right down the street from me!

Friends, I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  

So, here's a challenge for you, next Saturday morning, get your camera, notepad, and your favorite mix CD, and have a "Backyard Beauty Bonanza" of your own!

UP NEXT: Week Six!

And, here's a picture from the latest step on my painting!

*You might be wondering "Why, zombies?"  Good question.  The answer: I have no idea!  I've never read a book on zombies, seen a movie about zombies, or thought about zombies (except to avoid them).  But, I wanted to try something a little out of my comfort zone.  So, zombies it is!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Five, Post Three

Most of the exercises for this week I found fun, while being very insightful.

For example: “If I had either faith or money I would try… List five desires.”

Why don’t you try out this one and see what you come up with? Some of my responses surprised me!

(Like buy a Harley Davidson—Really, it’s on my list.)
Or, how about this one: “If I were twenty and had money… List five adventures.”

(Drive across the U. S.)
Or, “If I were sixty-five and had money … List five postponed pleasures.”

(Own a cabin in the mountains)

But, there were a couple of exercises that stopped me in my tracks, like:

“The reason I can’t really believe in a supportive God is … List five grievances. (God can take it.)”

(I’m not good enough for His support.)
Or “Ten ways I am mean to myself are …”

(I doubt I have any useful talents.)
Or “My payoff for staying blocked is …”

(You can’t fail what you don’t start.)

However, the exercise that I’ve been thinking the most about is the “Wish List.” Here, you are supposed to list 20 wishes as fast as you can.

I could only come up with 8 before I was scrapping the barrel of lameness. I couldn’t think of anything! I actually wrote “I wish I had a balloon to ride.” Really, Liz? Your own personal balloon riding equipment? Since when?

I didn’t know that my imagination was so dismal that I couldn’t make a list of 20 things I’d wish for. Sad.

Can you do any better than eight?

I hope so!

UP NEXT: My Artist’s Date (pictorial review style)!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Five, Post Two

I used to think that I was a weirdo because I needed so much alone time. (I think my family thought I was a weirdo, too.)

Being in silence while puttering around is very relaxing to me. You will never find me cooking/painting/writing/reading/working/etc. with the TV on. I get noise assaulted very easily, and coming home to a house full of noise (even happy ones) makes my skin crawl.

I thought I was the only one who felt this way, and that it was a sign that I was anti-social (which I think I am to a certain extent—meeting new people is an AWKWARD experience for me). But, when I read this chapter, I realized that there are a bunch of us out there! Comrades!

“An artist must have downtime, time to do nothing… For an artist, withdrawal is necessary… An artist requires the upkeep of creative solitude. An artist requires the healing of time alone” (pgs. 96-97).
These sentences leaped off the page and hit me between the eyes. That’s me!

Creative solitude should be my middle name!

Now, this doesn’t give me the excuse to drop all my responsibilities, draw the blinds, and never speak to another soul. (I wouldn’t want to do that, anyway.) But, it does make me realize that I need solitude weekly, and to accept that about myself.

If I ignore this need, then I am ignoring who I am. (And that’s when I find myself miserable.)

Julia asks a question in this chapter that I’d like to pose to you: “Are you destructive of your true nature?”

Dismissing my need for creative solitude was a way I was destructive to my true nature. (And even when I had moments of solitude, I would be guilt-ridden and beat myself up about it. Not a fun way to live!)

So, can you think of any way you are destructive of your true nature?

UP NEXT: Week Five Exercises!

P. S. Here’s a creative exercise that wasn’t in the book, but that I’ve been playing with the last few days.

It’s a way to jump-start your creativity.

What you do is take your full name (I also included “miss” for some extra letters) and write each individual letter on a little square piece of paper (They should all be the same size.). Now, mix up all the letters, and spend 10 minutes coming up with as many words you can. (In 10 minutes, I came up with 76 words.) Then take the word(s) that interest(s) you and write about it (them).

I decided to use only the words I came up with to write a few poems. Here’s one of them:

I sit on

Sallow sill.

White air,


Between billow

Or boom,

I float


It’s a really fun way to break through a creative block. Give it a try!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Five, Post One

This week’s focus is on recovering a Sense of Possibility, and Julia talks about some very powerful concepts. I’d like to share the two opening paragraphs from this chapter to give you a feel for what she teaches us this week:

One of the chief barriers to accepting God’s generosity is our limited notion of what we are in fact able to accomplish. We may tune in to the voice of the creator within, hear a message—and then discount it as crazy or impossible. On the one hand, we take ourselves very seriously and don’t want to look like idiots pursuing some patently grandiose scheme. On the other hand, we don’t take ourselves –or God—seriously enough and so we define as grandiose many schemes that, with God’s help, may fall well within our grasp.

Remembering that God is [our] source, we are in the spiritual position of having an unlimited bank account. Most of us never consider how powerful the creator really is. Instead, we draw very limited amounts of power available to us. We decide how powerful God is for us. We unconsciously set a limit on how much God can give us or help us. We are stingy with ourselves. And if we receive a gift beyond our imagining, we often send it back. (p. 91, emphasis added.)

Wow, right?

I don’t know about you, but I totally see myself in these paragraphs. It’s quite easy for me to imagine a powerful God when it comes to things I consider “religious,” but not so much when I think about things that “I” want. And that makes me think back on times in my life that I might have refused (consciously or unconsciously) to walk through doors that God was holding open for me because I thought it was impossible.

Well no more!

God is abundant, and that abundance can also apply to my creativity! And with that in mind, you might take a look over at my sidebar and notice that not only am I planning on writing a novel for the month of November, but I’m also planning on creating a new piece of art each day that month as well!

I’m in the preparation stages for both activities right now. (Lots of plot, character, and setting ideas, and a lot of art-supply organizing and gesso-ing of backgrounds.)

It’s not going to be easy writing 1667 words a day, creating a (very small) mixed media piece a day, continuing The Artist’s Way, and holding a full-time job (and participating at church/book club/writing group/family/friends, etc).

But, I’m up for the challenge!

Care to join me for one or the other (or both!)?

UP NEXT: Something else that smacked me in the face this chapter!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Artist’s Way: Week Four, Post Five

"Two posts in one day, Liz?!" Yep!  I'm on a roll...

Okay, first, a quick weekly check-in:

1. I wrote 6 out of 7 days. And this was the first time that I didn’t want to write. I had stuff to say, I just didn’t want to take the time to say it. (It takes 25ish minutes to write three pages—at least for me.) But, I made myself anyway. (Including writing affirmations on colored paper and folding it into Origami lotus flowers. (I like having them around as a visual reminder, and plan on getting some sort of container to display them.))

2. My Artist’s Date was easy this week, but made me incredibly happy! I’ll talk more about that later.

3. I didn’t really notice any synchronicity this week. But, to be honest, I forgot to look for it.

4. Aside from the sadness I felt at not reading (and the realization that I need to get additional hobbies), no specific issues came up for me.

Now, on to my Artist’s Date:

Friends, as you know, this week I’ve not been able to read. It left a gapping whole in my life and I missed it terribly. But, you also know that it was very eye-opening for me. So, I’m grateful I did it!

That being said, I specifically waited to have my Artist’s Date until Sunday, when my reading moratorium was over. You can guess what I did for my date, right? I read!!!

And not just anything, but this…

So inspiring! You can order this magazine here.

And this…
One of my favorites! You can learn more here.

And this…
Fabulous! You can see more here.

It was an art and creativity explosion in my mind, and I LOVED IT!!!

I’m so glad that there are such amazing and talented people in the world (including yourself) to inspire me and push me to keep at it, and remind me that I’m not alone in this Creative Life Experiment!

Now, go find something to spark your creativity!

Wait! Before you leave, here's the next stage of my Artist's Way painting...

Polka Dots, anyone?

UP NEXT: Week Five

The Artist’s Way: Week Four, Post Four

I’ve put off posting about this week’s exercises because I had an odd experience with one, and I wasn’t sure how to word it so that people didn’t think I was losing it.

But, I wasn’t able to come up with anything, so I just wrote about it as I experienced it…

First, here’s an exercise that I loved and had fun with.

Exercise One—Describe your ideal environment (and then find a picture that matches)

This exercise was only supposed to be a paragraph, but I went on for a page. It was fun to imagine where I’d like to live, from the landscape to the weather, from the size of the town/city to the type of house. All in all, it was very enjoyable. And it was also fascinating to type into Google a few key words from my description and see what popped up.

[If you want to see what my ideal is, click here.]

Now, on to the exercise that I'm still thinking about…

Exercise Two—Imagine your 80 year-old self and have her write you a letter

To begin this one, I did a visualization technique that I semi-developed by morphing a number of techniques I’ve read in a few books and heard on tele-seminars. It was to help me get to a place (mentally/emotionally/spiritually) where I would be open to receiving information from my future self. [Don’t worry. I haven’t gone off the deep end into woo-woo-ville. It’s just a way to still the mind and really listen.] I wanted this experience to be from my heart, to flow naturally as if from another source. I didn’t want to stop and think “Now, what would I tell myself?” or “What would my real grandma say to me?” And in order for this type of divine writing to occur, you have to be in the proper mind-set.*

Anyway, once I got to that peaceful place and walked (in my mind) to the door that would open into 80 year-old Liz’s life (who by the way, lives in a quaint little cottage by a stream), I sat with her and asked her what she wanted to tell me. She handed me a letter, and I was surprised by what it said. Truly surprised (and a little bugged, to be honest).

What I wanted her to tell me was what I should do with my life. What path should I take? Should I switch careers? Move? Buy a Winnebago and hit the road collecting stories as I trade my paintings for sandwiches? Should I focus on my art? My writing? My 401k plan? What should I do?!?!?

Now, in an effort to be fully transparent and to have this journey documented for myself, I’m going to post the letter in its entirety. I also want to add that it was written without stopping my hand, without pausing to think, and without agreeing with all that it said. It took about 5 minutes and was a sort of surreal experience.

Dear Liz,

I know you are wondering what path to take. You’re interested in so many things that it can be overwhelming. Don’t let it paralyze you! Remember, you are already on your path. Right now you have to decide to go left, right, or straight. But guess what? Either way, it’s your path and God will provide for you exactly what you need.

We all have a calling. And that is to help others as we make our way back to God. If we focus on service, no matter what road we take, it will lead to the right place—a better you. I’m not saying that what you “do” as a job doesn’t matter. I’m only saying that it matters less than we think.

Do what you love, what brings love into the world, what makes others strive to be better and in turn, help more people. If you do what you love, (even if that changes over the years), and listen to God, you will be happy no matter where you are. And you will be guided to where you need to go next.

Use your resources wisely. Use your time wisely. You will never regret a skill you learn or a talent you develop. But you will regret the time you wasted on hollow things. Be gentle and kind to yourself, and those around you. You have much to give, so look for opportunities. There are more around you then you think.

Lastly, remember you will have a rewarding life, a fulfilling life, if you use what God has given you to help those around you. And you will be happy.


80-year-old Liz

Think of it what you will. I'm still figuring out what it means to me.

UP NEXT: My Artist's Date of Happiness!!!

*If you’re interested in this visualization technique, shoot me an email and I’ll give it to you. It’s been very helpful to me in various ways.