Monday, January 23, 2017

Create Every Day Week 3

Again, life loves to suck time away from my creative allowance. But I did manage to make a couple of cool pieces, both related to a man I admire and love to listen to: Frank Turner. If you don't know his music, and you love intelligent lyrics and good old fashioned rock n' roll with a splash of punk, you really need to check him out.

The first piece is from my Photoshop class. We were supposed to focus on using and manipulating I chose a favorite song lyric, and then just let my muse take over, creating a background for the words.

Isn't he beautiful?
The second "piece" I have to share is a T-shirt I made (no, I do not sew) covered in favorite Frank Turner lyrics, to wear to, you guessed it--a Frank Turner concert this past weekend. This took a couple days to do. The fabric markers did not flow well on fabric, which made it very slow going to write anything legibly. The picture here is the aftermath of the concert, so it's a wrinkled, rock concert mess. 

Front Side

Back side

Yes, Frank Turner's music is an inspiration. Proving that putting creativity and beauty out into the universe is the best way to make sure it grows!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Create Every Day Week 2

Being back at work is infringing on my creative time. For those that don't know me, I am a special education teacher plus I work after hours at an alternative education program. My day runs, non-stop from 7:30 - 4:30. When I say non-stop, I really mean it--I have someone who needs me, is looking for me, or is creating more work for me, every second of every day.

So I leave work absolutely exhausted. By the time I get home and sit down, my brain is pretty useless for a couple of hours. So this past week, I was physically unable to create every day. I honestly didn't have the energy and brain capacity.

But I did try to fit it in when I was feeling like I could string a coherent thought together. One night I just colored. Until my new kitty decided that the colored pencils were the bane of his existence and he needed to DESTROY! Kind of hard to stay in the lines with a ten pound, furry ball of crazy climbing all over you.

Here are the other pieces I managed to squeeze in.

Photoshop assignment for class, practicing using & creating brushes. The subject is above said ball of kitty terror.

Another Photoshop assignment. This one I found kind of boring, but there's a lot that went into the picture--just doesn't look like much!

The single alcohol ink painting I played with. Working on more fields & multi-toned backgrounds. Trying all sorts of techniques to create flowers that I like.

I have already my Monday piece for next week, so I know I will have at least one fun thing to share next time! Enjoy your week!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Create Every Day 2017

I need to be creative as much as I need to breathe oxygen. When life gets so busy that I let my creative time get eaten by the stress monster, I begin to feel like I am dying inside. I'm not using hyperbole here. I believe my soul starts to wither if I can't make something that, hopefully, adds some beauty to the universe.

I decided I wanted to challenge myself to create every day; and interestingly enough, so have a number of my artistic friends on Facebook. I guess our world needs as much beauty created as it can get right now.

I tend to work small and fast when I am in my creative mode. My mind begins to race, in a healthy way, and I allow the muses to take flight and guide my hands. It's freeing and restorative, and allows a short window of time that is all about feeding my soul.

This first week of 2017, I played with two mediums. First is alcohol inks. I had taken an alcohol ink mini-course last winter, and love the free and unexpected nature of the medium. They can be a you-know-what to control, but that is what I love. I might start out with an idea when I first drip the inks on the paper, but end up with something completely unexpected. Here are the first few pieces I made, some of which will be used as background for mixed media pieces in the future.

Practice with blending colors and using a felt pad to create texture

More practice creating texture, and trying to create some floral motifs. 
An attempt at a sunset...I like the texture on the beach, but that's about it. 

This started as a landscape-oriented piece, but I extended the path too high on the piece. I ended up rotating the piece and creating a field of flowers instead.

Another piece that started out with a landcape orientation. My idea was to create a Northern Lights effect. It wasn't working, as I wanted, but I kept playing. Then when I rotated the piece, I saw the face you?

More attempts at an aurora, but using a different technique. I picked contrasting colors on purpose, and have plans for using this in a mixed media piece about dreams.

This was the most recent piece. This one started out completely upside down...and as I played, it turned into more of an alien landscape of cliffs and a gorgeous green sky.

Finally, I am taking a Photoshop class. Here is the piece I like most from this week's assignments. Fun with masking, filters and making composite pieces.

 I plan on playing more with the alcohol inks, and begin to add some techniques using brushes to add details. And who knows what Photoshop assignments might strike my fancy this week? Or I might make some glass beads, or a piece of jewelry? As long as I create every day, the possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

You Suck 2016

The flurry of celebrity deaths this year felt like repeated punches to the gut for a number of us. With the most recent, Carrie Fisher, a lot of people, especially in my age range (30s-50s) appear at the peak of frustration with this monster that we are calling 2016.

I've seen a lot of posts on social media, some made by people I respect, telling those of us feeling these frustrations to "get a grip". Lots of people have died this year, which is true and part of the beautiful tragedy that is life as a human being. In no way does public grief lessen the personal, private grief one feels with the loss of a close loved one.

But the celebrity deaths that struck us this year are more than just the passing of another human. I would venture to guess that 99% of us who feel this sadness and loss never met these humans in person. But that just doesn't matter. They were our heroes, and that is what makes 2016 and it's multitude of losses so hard to take.

So, for those telling us that we need to gain some perspective, here is some perspective for you.

Prince was one of the first people I saw who didn't give a fuck about what other people thought, and was solidly, 100% himself in the face of a society that still requires its youth to be cookie cutter perfection in order to feel loved. Prince was flashy, liquid sex, playing a guitar in a time when men with a pierced ear were still immediately pegged as gay. Prince's music was fun, more than a bit naughty and alive. Prince taught me that you can be a success while staying true to yourself.

I was too young to appreciate David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust phase when growing up, but his music brought happiness to a young girl who used music to escape the sadness of feeling alone, as she knew she was different from her classmates, but that required being isolated from the "norm". There was something magical about David Bowie I could feel and appreciate as a teen. As I grew older, I learned there was wisdom in that magic, and he was a true artist. There will never be another like him.

Leonard Cohen wrote songs that still, to this day, force me to pause and just listen to the graceful words and haunted melodies. These are glorious moments, escaping from this world that is very often hard and cold, and without song. This is the power of music, and some souls are gifted with the ability to weave such tapestries of song, they help the world to stop and take a breath.

Obviously, music was, and still is, very important to me, not for fun, but for survival. The idea that these beautiful souls will no longer be creating beauty deserves a mourning of sorts. The anger that one feels towards this loss is justified. But music heroes weren't the only ones we lost.

Carrie Fisher. This one hurt. Like most young women age, Princess Leia was the first female lead in a movie who was beautiful, yes, but a total badass. She took charge, took no crap, and easily put domineering men in their place with the weapon of words and a look. Yes, Princess Leia was a character construct, but Carrie Fisher brought her to life, and as we would find out, the fierceness of the Princess was a reflection of the woman who payed the role. Carrie Fisher continued to live her life with a fierceness, sharing her struggles with mental illness in a time when the stigma still continues to thrive, and refusing to take shit from anyone. I loved her for sharing her soul, hopefully knowing that she helped many struggling women know that they are not alone in their pain.

This is why 2016 sucks. It hurts to lose a hero. To be repeatedly pummeled by loss affects all but the most disconnected of us. Or it should. Maybe they weren't your heroes, and you can't understand. Maybe the world doesn't need you to understand. Maybe it just needs you to respect that other people you might call friends feel as if one too may stars have gone dark this year.

This list of four artists isn't meant to give any more power to one over the other, or to diminish the losses of so many others this year. But my world is different now. I need to continue to search for new heroes to give me strength when I am weak and find solace when my soul feels it is being pulled apart by darkness. But for this moment, allow me to grieve, without judgement and without condescension. As humans, that is one gift we should allow each other.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

When to Say When...

Part of my job as a special educator is to see within the student for the best part of them. This allows me to connect with them and gives me the motivation to keep pushing them to succeed. This is the part of my job that I actually do the best. I never, ever give up on a kid. Never.

But that's at work. Not real life. Not really.

So I pose the question: When do you know it's time to give up on somebody?


This isn't a "poor me" post. Far from it. I realize that there are millions of people out there, in toxic relationships, some formed by DNA, others by chance, who are struggling with the need to just say, "enough of your shit." Parents of drug addicts, children of alcoholics, friends of those who only take, mates of those taken for granted; all of them likely wonder when enough will become too much.

When do you allow yourself to say, "enough of your shit"? When will self-preservation kick in, and allow you to turn and walk away from someone who no longer deserves to have you in their life?

I believe love is one of the most nourishing and most self-destructive forces humans encounter. The same love that can hold you up and make every single color ten shades brighter is the same as the love that attaches you to someone that siphons off your life force drop by drop.

People will say, "those loves are not the same." Yes. They are. One lives in the light. The other lives in the darkness.

Love is about connection. Plain and simple. And sometimes the connections we form are with those people who will only drain, not replenish. We find ourselves lessened, marginalized when we are with them, which only forces us to desire more the very thing they refuse to, or can't, give back.

But will they change? This is a legitimate question. It connects back to my point above about being an effective special educator. You need to find the good in people, even when they try to hide it. And when you do, it becomes very easy to believe more in the possibilities of them being that amazing person, rather than accepting the reality of who they are choosing to be at that moment--especially if who they are is breaking your heart.

"there is no amount of love, compassion or patience that will help heal a person who wants to remain broken"

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn in 2013 was that there is no amount of love, compassion and patience that will help heal a person who wants to remain broken. It is profoundly sad, it is heartbreaking, it is soul-crushing to watch someone insist on remaining in pain and refuse their potential. But there is absolutely nothing you can do if they insist on living in that dark place.

Well, that's not entirely true. You can choose to walk away. But it is hard. So hard. So easy to think that maybe just one more dose of love, one more connected moment, one more...something, will be the miracle.

You can choose to walk away--you. Only you. And that is OK. It's OK to feel like the burden of caring for a person who can't care for themselves is like a thousand pound weight gone from your shoulders. It's OK to mourn the person you hoped they could be, as long as you wipe your tears and realize that you a mourning an idea, not a person. It's OK to walk away.

What's not OK is to believe that the damaged version of yourself that was created when you were with that person is the real you. It's not. It's a wounded you. Worn down by trying too hard against an immovable force. Remember who you were before you met this person. Allow yourself some rest. Find your song. Find your smile. And leave behind those that would smother your spark.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank You for Being My Dog

Today is my dog's 5th Birthday. I've tried to forbid her from getting older, but despite my belief that magic does exist, I've been unable to prevent the inevitable. She is now in doggy middle-age. Not that you'd know it to look at her.

People who don't have pets really don't understand people that celebrate their pets birthdays. And that's OK, because, frankly, we don't understand *you* either.

And even though Zoe doesn't speak human, except for "ride", "out" and, "timbit", I'd still like to take this chance to thank her for the honor of allowing me to be her human companion. Maybe I'm really thanking the universe for sending her to me, and I know *it* is listening. So thank you, Zoe. Thank you for filling my heart again with love after losing my beloved Jasper. Thank you for loving me, even when I am uncomfortably human. Thank you for curling up to my side when I was sobbing the life I knew away during my divorce. Thank you for celebrating my new life with so much joy and enthusiasm. Thank you for waking me each day with sloppy kisses, even when I am screaming in desperation for you to stop sliming me.

If you have a dog, or any pet, make sure you let them know how important they are to you. You are blessed with the closest thing we have to angels walking on earth. Angels we need to pick up poop for, but angels nonetheless.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Best use of a new camera...EVER!

Wow, it's been a month since I posted? What the heck have I been doing? Oh, that's right...enjoying my summer! I should warn you know that if you love dogs, you will love this post. If you don't love dogs...what the hell is wrong with you?

Sadly, my old trusty, refurbished, 5 megapixel camera decided to bite the dust recently. I had planned on getting a new camera, just not right now. Being a teacher means being broke the last couple weeks of August and the first week of September, and shelling out a few hundred for a camera right now was not what I had planned for. But the universe doesn't really care what we want, so it killed my camera. Thanks, universe, you're a peach.

Why I am babbling about a camera? Because my new one has a setting where you can take "rapid burst" shots; that is multiple shots of moving objects within a second or so. It's amazing if you have a moving object in front of you. Which I usually do. Enter Zoe, the world's craziest chocolate lab.

So what have I been doing with my new, expensive camera? Taking multiple (OK, hundreds) of pictured of Zoe. she now knows what it is like to be stalked by the paparazzi, though she puts up with it, because the paparazzi also feeds her. Maybe the real paparazzi should take the hint, and start bringing burgers and fries with them as a peace offering when they go on "assignment".

I'll shut up now, and share with you some of the goofier snapshots. I dare you not to smile.


And Happy Dog is Happy. =)