Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Process and the Man

I woke up this morning, sad because I had to go back to work today after the long weekend.  *insert my Lucille Ball/I Love Lucy type "WAAA!" here*  I popped over to my blogger dashboard thingie, and lo and behold, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I have 2000 page views (exactly 2000 too, which was a pretty neat coincidence)!  Woo Hoo!  That's totally awesome! I just had 1000 page views just a short while ago, and now we've hit 2000!  What?!?  I am so excited!  I still didn't want to go to work today (I wanted to stay home and do celebratory dances all day long), but either way, my sad face disappeared and perma-smile took over!  Thanks everybody!

Today, I thought I might show you how I come up with my faces that I draw...the condensed version anyway.  One day, I am going to remember to take a lot of pictures during the process and get you the long version.  I tend to get caught up in the excitement and forget to take pictures, but I am going to eventually strap the camera to my forehead and remember.  At any rate, today you get the short version...

The important thing to remember here is that I am not an expert by any means.  This is my current method, and you have to find what works for you.  I'm definitely still learning myself.  But, from where I started, I'm much improved and I thought that this info might help somebody...

The short version starts with me finding a good reference picture.  Most of the time, I use my trusty Pinterest account to do this.  You can check me out on Pinterest by clicking the button in the left side bar of the blog, or by searching "Sweet Red Clover" on Pinterest.  Don't do it now, or you'll get sucked into the vortex of amazingness that is Pinterest and forget to read the rest of this post...I know this because I do that at least once a day...so wait till you're done reading, then go look at it...and enjoy the pleasure spiral that is Pinterest...  

On Pinterest, I have a board called "Photograph", which is where I put the images I've seen that really stand out to me in one way or another.  I like to use pictures that really catch my eye.  I keep this board in mind whenever I'm online, because you never know when your pin might come in handy.  I've found the best pictures on random sites that have nothing to do with art or even that particular photo...sometimes they're just ads in the side bar!  But that doesn't matter, because these are images that I can get excited about.  

I scan through my "Photograph" board until I find one that fits whatever mood I am in that day.  Sometimes I can't find an image on my board that I want to use, so I go searching on Pinterest for interesting faces till I find one.  For me, the 'interesting' part is important.  If I REALLY like the reference photo, I've got a better shot at making the piece it inspires interesting (at least in my eyes).  And interesting doesn't always mean 'pretty' either.  But that's a whole different topic in and of itself, isn't it?

Here's the picture I used as my reference this time:

Hello, handsome!  I liked this guy's sweater and his cute little ears and strong jawline...his forehead is a bit weird looking to me, which is probably the real reason I liked this picture.  I like things that are a little 'off' to me...I don't want perfect, I want interesting.

After I find the right picture, I do a simple face sketch...this is the part where I really need to remember to take pictures next time.  This is where I take a pencil and lay out the face shape.  I start with (usually) an oval, adding a line down the center vertically and three lines across horizontally.  Many people do their guidelines as half, half, and half.  I do mine half, half, and a third.  This means that I draw a line half the distance from the top of the oval to the bottom of the oval (this is where the eyes will be), half the distance from that 'eye' line to the bottom of the oval (this is where the bottom of the nose will be), and a third of the distance from that 'nose' line to the bottom of the oval (which is where the mouth will be).  Depending on the particular face, the proportions are a little different for each drawing, but I've found that half, half and a third is what I like the best in most cases.

After I draw that out, I add simple shapes for the eyes, nose and mouth.  This is just to get them where they should be, not getting them in fine detail...that comes later...  Then I adjust the outer oval, because nobody's face is a perfect oval shape...or at least nobody I've come across so far  Among other things, the guy above has a more squared off jaw, and his face dips in where his eyebrows are.  I gave my guy a hat, because he looked cold and because I couldn't see his hair, and, to be honest, hair is hard for me...I get bored with hair fast...both my own (hello ponytail!) and hair to draw.  When I get the face shape to a place I'm happy with, then I adjust the shapes of the features...adding in the details of what they really look like.  There is A LARGE AMOUNT of drawing and erasing that goes on in this stage.  So much erasing...  I've found a really good tip concerning erasing somewhere along the way, which is if you're not happy with a particular line, draw the new line, then erase the old one...I had always done this in reverse before, but leaving the old line in is a visual reminder of what I didn't like about it and helps me to not repeat the same mistake twenty times.    

Once I'm relatively happy with what I've got, I either go over it in waterproof pen or (as has been the case lately) I spray some kind of fixative on it so the pencil won't smudge.  I use hairspray because it works and I am too poor to buy fixative.  Hairspray will eventually yellow, so if that's a problem for you go buy some fancy fixative...and buy an extra can for me... 

I wish I could find the link for a video I watched on YouTube where this FABULOUS lady was doing a tutorial on how she draws faces.  If/When I find it, I'll post the link.  Anyway, she was talking about drawing and said something to the effect of: "I don't like to draw things exactly how I see them.  If you want an exact copy, why not just take a picture?  I like to put my own spin on things, put myself into the drawing."  Not her exact words, but the point is there.  I like this because a) it makes a lot of sense and b) it makes up for the fact that I am not ABLE to draw an exact copy...yet.  So, if you get frustrated that your drawing doesn't look exactly like your photo, just tell yourself that you are "putting your spin on things" and keep practicing. 

So here's what my pencil drawing looked like when I was done:

Not an exact copy by far...but my spin on the photo has been spun...

Next up is color.  I do a lot of 'fixing' with color...probably more than I should.  I think that I need to spend more time in the pencil drawing part if I want to improve further, but I digress...

I am a big fan of watercolor, because you can still see your drawing that you spent so much time on.  Acrylic and oil, which are also great, are harder in my eyes, because you are getting rid of your pencil marks...and you have no guidelines once those are gone. Watercolor is much easier to me.  And you can build color, starting out really light and slowly working to dark, which has helped me in learning more about (and  putting into practice) highlights and shading.

The most important thing I've learned concerning color is to use a light hand.  You can always add more, it's not so easy to take it away.  The second most important thing (especially with watercolors it seems) is to start with lighter colors then go to darker colors and it's for the same reason...you can build up with your light colors and that might be enough to get you where you want to be, whereas if you threw that dark color in, it's hard to take it back...

So, after much explanation in getting to this point, here is my man:

The journaling got cut off a little, but it reads: "I had so much more to say to you.  What do I do now?"

So, clearly, I don't know everything.  *insert your shocked gasp here*  But I thought you might like to hear how I do my faces.  I've learned a lot by watching other people, and by being willing to practice over and over and over and over (and over and over...), and I'm always searching for ways to do better.  

It is a complete understatement to say that I love making these faces.  Perhaps it's because I'm looking for a personal connection, and so drawing something with eyes and ears and a mouth is my way of finding that.  I can 'say' things to these drawings that I can't say to live people.  I can make them tell me what I need to hear...which kind of makes me sound like a crazy person, I know.  What I mean is that when I'm done with a drawing, I get this mental clarity...I figure out what I've been thinking about deep in my mind that I might not have gotten to understand otherwise.  I don't usually start out with anything particular in my head, other than wanting to draw.  Even if I do begin with something in mind, where I end up could be a totally different place.

For instance, the man I shared today.  In the beginning, I just wanted to see if I could draw a man...this guy is my first attempt at a man since I really started trying to draw in earnest.  But the more I drew, the more he became something else.  See that reddish hair?  I grabbed up the red before I even knew what I was doing.  And once that got on the page, two distinct things came into my head.  There are things that have gotten taken away from me, and I wasn't ready to lose them; I wasn't done with them.  And I've been looking for ways to get them back, even though it's impossible.  And I can't seem to shake them, despite the fact that I know it's over and nothing can change.  So what do I do now?  I guess that's my big cosmic question to the universe...what do I do now?  And maybe someday, I'll be drawing another face, and the answer will come out on the page.  Until that happens, I guess I'll just keep drawing face and listening to what they have to say.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I Picked These For You!

What a crazy busy week I've had!  I look back on it and it seems like nothing too out of the ordinary happened, but geez Louise, it flew by!  

Work always steals a lot of time, but I do need to eat and buy art supplies, so I have to give up 40 hours there, plus drive time.  

Sleep takes up the next largest amount, but only by a small margin.  Sleep and I have an awkward relationship, where I'd like to see more of him, but he's comfortable maintaining a healthy distance.  It's sad really, because I'd love to take our relationship to the next level...

Then, of course, there's a mild amount of house cleaning that I do.  And when I say 'mild amount', what I really mean is just enough cleaning to keep a clear path from the bedroom to the fridge, fridge to craft room, craft room to bathroom...and just enough for us not to catch scurvy or some other horrible disease...after that, I don't mind so much.  We have a really small house.  No matter how clean you get it, it always looks cluttered...so I don't like to waste a lot of time and energy trying to fix that...because it is an effort in futility.  I have a sneaky plan to help alleviate some of this problem, but it's still in the works, and I don't want to jinx it.  You'll hear more about it when it gets closer to becoming a reality...until then, I will leave you in suspense...

I wanted to share what I made for my (birth) mother, Marian, (not to be confused with my sister, Marian...she's a Marian Junior...nor to be confused with my work mom, Miss Lettie) for Mother's day/just because she is sweet and adorable (and it happened to coincide with Mother's Day).  I'm late in showing it, because I didn't want her to see it on the blog (she reads my blog because she loves me and stuff...) before I actually gave it to her.  

I picked these for you!
I wish I could have gotten a little better picture.  The light has been bad recently, due to copious amounts of rain...which, I must say, was supposed to have happened in April (you know, April showers bringing May flowers and all), but the rain clearly did not get that memo this year.  So I'm going to blame that...  In real life, this piece is much less dingy (?) looking, especially the daisies.

This piece is acrylic on canvas, and it is meant to look like the flowers are closer to you and I am farther away, like I'm handing the flowers out to her.  And before someone asks, yes, this is supposed to be me when I was a little girl.  And yes, my hair was THAT long (I could sit on it) when I was a kid.  And yes, I had gappy teeth when I was a little girl.  And yes, I still have gappy teeth as a (newly) 30 year old.  And no, not a cute little gap, but a (cute) big gappy gap.  And no, it does not make me able to spit farther, nor can I whistle through it on purpose, although sometimes it happens on accident...(for some reason, those are the two questions I get asked the most about my gappy teeth...if you have a question about my gappy teeth, I will be happy to answer it if you leave it in the comment section below...trust me, you will not offend me in any way, so just ask, and I'll do my best to satisfy your curiosity...)

You may notice a striking lack of eyeballs in this piece, and before you go around thinking I don't have eyeballs or that I just forgot to paint them, let me clear the air.  My 12 year old nephew, who lives with my mom, is utterly creeped out by inanimate objects having eyeballs.  He is of the opinion, as many people are, that they follow him around the room...but instead of being an interesting phenomenon, to him it is terrifying.  I try not to judge too much...I personally have an irrational fear of space aliens.  Snakes, spiders, axe murderers...you know things that could actually hurt me...I have no problem with...but space aliens creep me out so bad.  The worst part is that I don't even think they're real!  I therefore understand the ridiculousness of that fear...but it doesn't matter, I still have the uncontrollable desire to scream in horror when I think about them.  So, like I said, I don't judge my nephew for being freaked out by things 'watching' him.  Since I knew my mom would hang this painting up (because, you know, she loves me and stuff), out of consideration for my nephew, I chose to leave the eyeballs 'out of frame'.  But I do have eyeballs...and gappy teeth...in real life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I love the way you love me!

Woo!  Sorry I'm late on the posting!  I was so ready to blog on Sunday and share all the goodness that I received, but came home to find my internet wouldn't work!  It finally came back up this morning...otherwise I would be typing all this from my phone...which would take FOREVER as I have very poor phone typing skills...so hooray for working internet!

I'm so lucky to have met such amazing and creative ladies online, ones who I am proud to call my friends.  If it weren't for the internet, I would be a sad panda indeed.  

For example, my friend Boo.  Boo is one of the most insightful people I have had the privilege to get to know.  She always gives me something to think about, and what she says resonates with me in a special way.  When I talk about how I want to learn who I am and what I want, she always has the most helpful words!  I think that Boo and I are a similar path, she's just gotten farther than I have.  But I know she's ahead of me, encouraging me to keep going!  Her words of wisdom and understanding are just a small part of what makes her so very special to me.
Made for me by my friend Boo (who has a lovely blog you can find HERE)  I wish my phone would pick up the colors better, it is so bright and cheerful!  I just love it, especially the "b" and the "d"!  Thanks Boo for my beautiful card!  I love it very, very much!
And then there's my friend Pam.  Pam is funny and very kind.  I do believe she was my very first Facebook friend, and was also the one who introduced me to a whole new group of creative people.  She is so encouraging and always reminds me that, no matter what point I'm on in my life's journey, that there are people who care for me, just the way I am.  I love Pam because, despite my flaws, she makes me feel perfect.

The inside says: "NOBODY LOOKS THAT OLD!!!"  It made me laugh so hard!  And the look on the cow's face is just hilarious!  
Pam sent me a very unexpected care package!  The delicious looking paper on the right is an envelope that contained the seeds and the ATCs below.  I can't wait to use that glittery glue!
Four beautiful ATCs from Pam!  You may not know, but Amy is my alter-ego...you know, like Superman has Clark Kent (and Kal-El...yes, I am a dork, I know!)  Sweet Red Clover has Amy...it's just what the humans call me...
She also sent this beautiful handmade art journal!  I love it so much that I don't know if I can even use it!  It is so  very pretty!  I love the paper she used for the covers!  It is right up my alley.

There are a few quotes on the covers...this one is my favorite!  It sounds just like something Pam would say!  And check out that beaded flower!  Amazing!

Some of the pages have pockets, and there are bookmarks to use too!  Such a neat touch!  Don't you just love that bug paper?
Oh, the  ruffly lace!
A beaded bookmark that's attached to the journal and a sweet heart doily on one of the pages!  Pam even sent me a  cake and candle...a Pam-cake, which is her famous banana bread, which lived up to the hype and beyond!  Thank you Pam for my lovely surprise care package!

And then there's Rose.  Rose is a very talented lady from the mail art group I am a part of.  I love Rose's creativity!  She is very skilled at putting things together in ways I would never think of, and the end result is always so beautiful!  Rose might not know it, but I am sneakily learning from her fabulousness!  I am so happy to get to know Rose, in part, because her beautiful work inspires me to think outside the box.
The beautiful card that Rose sent me, along with an origami heart bookmark!  Isn't it super neat?  I love those colorful globes on the bookmark paper!  
My fabulous Rose original!  This ATC is so cool, it even has it's own ATC holder!  I love that image of the with the birds and the ladder!  The ATC is called "Curiosity" and it reminds me of a saying one of my teachers in grade school used to say: "Curiosity killed the cat, but super thinking brought it back!"  Thank you Rose for my awesome art!

I can't say enough good things about all the sweet, kind, encouraging people that I have gotten to know.  These ladies have made my life infinitely more fulfilling!  I just want to say a big thank you to all the ladies for letting me know they care.  I am over-whelmed with happiness!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Countdown, Day 7: And now, what NOT to do...

Last day!  I am so proud I made it this far!  I didn't think I'd be able to do it, but here we are!  Woo Hoo!!!

With yesterday's page being about what I wanted to be like, I thought it would be good to think about what I don't want to be like.  I came up with a lot of good attributes yesterday.  I only came up with 10 things to avoid, but boy, do they encompass a lot! 

So here you go, my list of things to AVOID AT ALL COSTS:
Black white and red only...I like that it's so different from yesterday's light and airy page...this one looks HEAVY.

1. Insecurity- You ARE enough.  Who doesn't struggle with this from time to time?  I am tired of it.  I am enough, and if there's something I don't like about myself, I can change it.  No need to obsess about it any more.

2. Being petty- There will be bigger fish to fry.  In other words, don't sweat the small stuff and don't make the small stuff bigger than it is.  Be honest, is it really that important?  Sometimes we need to 'take a step back and admit we're being ridiculous'. (I saw that quote on pinterest.)

3. Debt- It will stress you out.  Save your money; pay with cash.  Patience is tied into this too.  We live in a 'need it now' world.  It's easy to fall into the trap.  But there will never be ANY material possession that is worth the headache and anxiety caused by giving up financial freedom.  I wish I didn't have to learn this the hard way.  If I ever get out of debt, I will never let myself get sucked back in!

4. Worry- If you can fix it, fix it.  If not, what's the point in worrying?  I used to be so good at being carefree.   Now I worry about scenarios that haven't happened and probably never will happen.  There's a saying: worrying is like a rocking chair, it keeps you busy but you don't get anywhere.  I don't know what changed in me that made me be a worry wart, but I am going to work on changing it back.  

5. Blame- Did they hold a gun to your head?  If not, you had a part.  I am the one who makes the decisions, I am the one who will live with the consequences.  I can say yes and I can say no and blame is pointless.  It doesn't matter who's fault something is, the result is still the same.  It's much wiser to spend time fixing the problem than pointing the finger.

6. Transference- This person is NOT that person.  Don't act as if they were.  (You can read more about transference HERE and HERE)  Just because people act similarly, it doesn't make them the same person.  When a good friend of mine passed away, I found myself actively looking for someone who was like him, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that;  I loved my friend very much and valued his qualities.  I DO want to find those positive traits in others.  The problem happened when I started looking, not for someone like him, but for HIM.  People are individuals, no two are the same.  It's not fair to yourself or the other person to project your emotions onto that person, in effect, making them something they are not and can not be.  If you love someone, love THAT person.  If you angry at someone, be angry at THAT person.    Don't push those feelings (good or bad) onto an undeserving third party.

7. Regret- You can't change it, you can only learn from it and move on.  Being regretful isn't all bad, don't get me wrong.  Having regrets means that we made a mistake and that we recognize it; we have a conscience. But it's very easy to become mired in regret.  Bad things happen.  Some we cause, others not.  We don't get to live life in reverse.  No matter how bad we wish it were otherwise, all a person can do is avoid repeating the mistake.  If we keep living in the past, what's happening now will pass by without us even knowing it.  We only get one go round, let's not waste it by only looking backwards.

8. Can't- Can't never did nothing.  Try.  Try harder.  Keep trying.  When I was a little girl, my mother used to say that to me all the time: "Can't never did nothing."  Oh my goodness, how annoying (and grammatically incorrect) it was.  But I'm older and a little wiser now, and not too proud to say that my mom was right (although it's still bad grammar) .  You can do practically anything you can think of.  You might not be able to do it well, but you can still try.  And if you aren't happy, you try harder and keep trying until you are happy.  I feel like my creative endeavors are a good example of this.  There was a time when I thought I couldn't make art.  But I put my pencil to the paper and found that I could make a mark.  It wasn't good or pretty, but it was a mark on a page and it was a start.  I kept trying and, lo and behold, I am making art. It might not be the most beautiful art in the world, but I'm getting better and better.  Can't stops us in our tracks.  There isn't a limit to what we can do if we try and keep trying.

9.  Hate- Look for their motives.  Pity the stupidity.  Remember: Free Will.  Life is short and I don't want to waste time.  People are going to do stupid things, but hating them is a waste of time.  Hatred clamps down on your brain so hard that you can't seem to shake it.  It really is a shame that some people have to act the way they do.  Hating them for the it, though, is not productive.  I've decided to start looking for the motives a person has for doing things or acting a certain way.  Sometimes there is a relatively valid reason, other times it is pure stupidity in my eyes.  But (and that's a big BUT) everybody has free will, each person has the intrinsic right to do as they see fit.  Walt Whitman said "dismiss what insults your own soul".  I find that if I can pity someone, if I can feel sorry for them over what they do or how they act, then I can do just that: let go of it and move on to better things.

10. Being trendy- Why be them when you can be you?  ...did anyone really ever look good in parachute pants?  Perhaps a better way to put this is "Why be a copy when you can be an original?"  The world would be a boring place if everybody was the same.  Our flaws are what make us human.  Our quirks are what make us interesting.  I've been spending a lot of time thinking about this subject lately.  I've been analyzing myself, not with the intention to fit in NOR with the intention to stand out, but with the intention to be someone I can be proud of.  There are many people I admire, who have certain qualities I would like to possess, but I do not want to be those people; what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another person.  I want to use the good things as 'ingredients'.  I want to take those admirable qualities and my own harmless oddness and mesh them together and make something separate from, and hopefully better than, the pieces I started out with.  I don't want to be anybody else; what I DO want is to be the best version of me.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Countdown, Day 6: When I Grow Up

Day 6 of the countdown...almost there!!!

Since Day 2's post (you can read it here), and really a lot of the posts lately are along the same lines, I've been thinking a lot.  I mentioned that I am having a slight identity crisis.  I've been a good faker for a long time.  

So I decided to start thinking of words that describe what I want to be.  At first, I thought I was going to have a hard time, but once I got going it was hard to stop!  I think I could still be writing if I had more room on the page:

When I grow up I will be...
I had a fun time playing around with different lettering (which is something I want to get better at).  I really like the "when I grow up I will be" and the "happy"...it's meant to look like a little kid's handwriting.  I just wrote it with my left hand (I write right handed normally).  I think I like that the best.  

One good thing about my 'wish' list above is that I am already some of these things!  So that makes me happy...

Other things on my list are going to require a lot of work!  I'm at a good starting point, I think.  I'm ready for a change, and I'm willing to put forth the effort to try to make these positive traits my own.  

I made this the 'when I grow up' list, because right now I feel a little unsure and a little naive, just like the shy little girl I drew.  I know that there will be challenges and a lot to learn.  But instead of being cynical and pessimistic, I'm going to approach it with the unadulterated enthusiasm of youth.  So look out world...I've got my crayons and I'm on a mission!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Countdown, Day 5: Ice Cream and Face Punching

Half-way there!  Woo hoo!  

Instead of a long introduction, I'll just show you my hideous page for today:

"If someone breaks your heart, punch them in the face.  Seriously.  Punch them in the face, then go get ice cream."  -Frank Ocean
I saw this quote on Pinterest and thought it was a good one...deserving of a page in one of the journals for sure.  I REALLY dislike how this page looks...I feel like I ruined ice cream, which should be impossible, due to the greatness of ice cream, but clearly isn't impossible, because I did.  I don't think it's the ice cream itself, it's the rest of it...it's just blah.  I can do better than this!  There will probably be some version of a re-do on this one...  So, I don't like how the page turned out at all...but I do still like the quote!

This silly page is to remind me to let go of the stinky things that other people say.  

I have the fantastic ability to remember every single negative thing that was ever said to me over the course of my life so far.  Ok, maybe not every single thing, but A LOT of them.  I'm like a savant when it comes to remembering mean, hurtful, spiteful, angry words...usually in vivid detail.  Which is odd, because otherwise I have a terrible memory...so bad I sometimes think I've got early onset Alzheimer's.  (Mental disorders are the one thing I get a little hypochondriac-ish about.)  All these negative words stick to my brain and float around in there.  

When I saw this quote, it made me think about my collection of little nasty words.  Despite the silliness of the image this quote called to mind (stick figure with bloody knuckles eating an ice cream cone, with another stick figure knocked out in the background...yes, that's really how I think...I know, I'm a weirdo...), these words are actually pretty wise.  In my case, they seemed to tell me that people can be jerks.  Punch them in the face by ignoring their ridiculousness.  Go get ice cream means don't let it bother you, just let it go and move on.  And the reason you can let it go and move on, is because IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER!!!

I don't know why, at some earlier point in my life, I have not realized it, but so what?  So what if someone says something mean spirited to me?  Sure, it's bound to hurt, especially if it comes from someone you love.  But why hold onto it?  What use is it to hang onto those things?

I saw another quote that says "What other people think of you is NOT your business."  In other words, all those dumb things that I think about so much...they just don't really matter.  It's not on me, it's on them.  

I guess this kind of goes along with my rambling post about my opinion being the one that should be the most important.  I just didn't connect the two things the other day.  If I like who I am or the way I do things, and it's not hurting anyone, then it doesn't matter two flips what someone else has to say about it.  

It's even more silly to keep someone else's opinion on repeat for all your life, especially when the situations those mean words applied to have been over and done with for years!  How in the world has it taken me so long to recognize this fact, when it's so obvious now?  

So, here's the deal: I'm hitting the delete button on all the negative stuff and I'm not going to let my brain record it anymore.  Starting today, I'm punching those heartbreaking words in the face!  And right now...I'm off to get some celebratory ice cream...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Countdown, Day 4: The Outing

I didn't get to do very much today for my creative time, just a little pencil drawing that I'm not done with...but I missed out for a good reason!

When I got home from work today, my husband asked me if I wanted to drive up to the lake.  Even though it's only about 20 minutes away from our house, we haven't driven up to the lake in a couple years.  I don't know how time runs away like that!  It was a big surprise for me, because my husband does not tend to be the most spontaneous person.  Usually there's a couple weeks worth of time between him mentioning doing something and us actually doing it.  It's one of the things that drive me crazy about him!  If I think of something to do, I just go do it; there doesn't need to be a plan.  It's one of the things about me that drives him crazy!

So here are a couple pictures so that you can see what will hopefully be inspiring some art in the next couple days:

Isn't it beautiful?  This is the lake, Lake Watauga.  It's a man-made lake, with two dams, Wilber Dam and Watauga Dam.  I'm so silly, I didn't take any pictures of the dams for you all, but they're there, I promise!
Another lake view.  Something that's kind of neat about the lake is that to make it, they flooded a town (Butler, Tennessee).  Apparently, you can go scuba diving in the lake and the houses and other buildings are still standing under the water!  The funny thing is that there is another nearby town named Butler...I guess those original Butler people weren't ready to give up on that town name! 
We were lucky (lucky ducks, if you will...ha ha ha) enough to see this little family...the dad was nearby, but wouldn't get close enough for me to get a good shot of the whole group.  They were all just quacking away...it was so cute!  It's funny to see the little ducklings going into the water; it was so sweet!  The mother let the babies get very close to us, just a few feet away!  
And then we saw THIS family of Canada Geese.  There were only 3 adult geese and 13 babies!  That doesn't seem normal to me...usually I see a bunch of adults and a couple babies in the group.  They were cute ...they would run and stick their little wings up in the air...I love to see them do that!  The geese were NOT as trusting as the ducks...I was trying to get a better picture of them, but no matter how slowly I walked, they would walk away just as slowly.  I've seen geese go after people (a lot faster than ducks will), so I wasn't going to push my luck!  I just zoomed in as much as I could and had to be satisfied with that!
Then we saw this log in the water.  I tried to convince my husband to go in and get it for me, but he wasn't very willing.  The water is still very cold...and he can't swim.  I told him I'd hold his legs and just kind of swing the rest of him toward it, but he didn't think that was a good idea either...for some reason...  I was very sad, because I think it would have made a cool table or seat for our porch.  I bet it would have weighed a ton anyway and I would have had to drag it up a steep hill to the parking area.  I'm still a little sad about it though, I'm not gonna lie!  On the positive side, I did find a much smaller piece of drift wood, so I brought it home and will be doing something creative with it...I have a couple ideas, but I'm not quite set on which thing I'll do just yet...  It will be a mystery till then, I guess!
I wanted to take a picture of these stairs, just because I think they're neat.  I've liked them since the first time I ever went to Watauga Lake about 10 years ago.  I don't know what it is, but I just love them and had to share!
This is another view of the lake.  That blurry thing in the water was a guy on a jet ski.  I wish we had still been down by the water when he came though...I would have asked him to drag that log over to the shore!  If you look to the right of the picture, you can see a little piece of Wilber Dam.  Watauga Dam looks more like a normal Dam...Wilber looks like a big pile of gravel.
As you can see in this picture, the lake is not usually this high.  We've gotten quite a bit of rain so far this year, and this is the highest I've ever seen the lake!  You can see the trees coming out of the water.  There is about 15-20 feet of rocks from where those trees are to the edge of the water.  Like I said, it's REALLY high!  My husband tried to teach me how to skip rocks across the water, but I am an epic failure at it!  No matter how hard I try, I can just get them to skip once...maybe I just need more practice.
As we were leaving, this little guy came out of the forest and was wondering around.  The picture is dark and blurry because my husband rolled up the window while I was trying to get the picture.  He was convinced that the raccoon was going to jump in the car and give us both rabies or something...so he rolled up the window and sped away.  I don't know why he had to speed away, it's not like the raccoon was going to open the car door or anything!  I guess he just likes to play it safe.  I'm the opposite.  I was trying to open the car door and get out so I could take a better picture.  I think that means that if one of us does get rabies in the end, it will probably be me!

Getting to go to the lake was a nice surprise for me!  It was definitely a fun way to end a work day.  I don't know why we don't do things like this more often.  I guess life gets in the way of fun stuff sometimes.  But today proved to me that it doesn't have to be that way!  I will work on getting out in the world a little more, and not be such a hermit, huddled over my desk doing arts and crafts.  It's nice to get out and and breath fresh air into the lungs and fresh inspiration into the brain...and trust me, my poor little brain needs all the help it can get!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Countdown, Day 3: The Gardener

Day #3 of the countdown to 30.  

I was thinking all day about how disgruntled yesterday's post seemed.  That's a good word for it, I think.  That's just how I felt, too.  No apologies!  But I don't want that to be a major theme of my personality.  I'm happy I got it out, because now there's room for different feelings.  

It's good to see that I do have some kinds of real feelings, even if they're not the ones I want.  I'm trying not to let myself push that negative feeling down completely.  If I feel negative, I want to understand why I'm feeling that way.  If I can figure out where the negative stuff comes from, then I can start to eliminate the cause.  Once the negative stuff is understood and discarded, there will be more room for positive things.

With that in mind, here's today's page:
The journaling says: "I'm not sure what they are yet...it's quite possible they're weeds.  But I won't know till they get a little bigger.  So I'm just gonna water them and watch them grow.  And if, in the end, they're no good, I'll uproot them, toss them aside and start over.  No harm done.  It's just gonna take time and elbow grease, and that's ok.  I need the practice anyway, I think.  I need to relearn how to care, then I'll be ready for the good stuff."
So I've decided I'm like a new gardener...a brain gardener.  I don't quite know what's a weed (stuff that shouldn't be there) and what's a flower (the positive stuff), because these thoughts and feelings are so small that it's practically impossible to tell!  But if I work at it, if I take the time to care for them, eventually they're going to grow.  Then I'll be able to differentiate between the two.  Then I'll pull out the weeds and cultivate the good stuff.  In theory, it's simple enough, right?  

I know it will take time and hard work on my part.  Right now, in my head, it's like a chaotic desert with a bunch of tumbleweeds swirling around, littering the landscape, and not much else happening.  But eventually, I'm going to have a garden...a place of peace and beauty and serenity.  Won't that be nice?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Countdown, Day 2: I'm just tired.

Day #2 of the countdown to 30.  I've been pretty busy with the mundane things in life.  There hasn't been a lot of time for art the past couple weeks.  Or, not my version of 'a lot' anyway.  I like to do something creative every day and that hasn't been happening.  It's partially what spurred my need for the countdown to 30.  The countdown is giving me a good excuse to make sure I'm creative each day (at least for a week).  

I've been feeling extraordinarily frazzled lately.  It seems like I'm running around and around on a little hamster wheel and just not getting anywhere.  Despite what this blog makes me seem like, I don't go around in my daily life expressing my feelings with ease.  I am a fabulous bottler.  I bottle up emotions, hopes, dreams, thoughts...anything and everything.  This is a skill I learned really early on in life.  I found out that there are bad people out there, who will use all that stuff against you.  And so, I learned to hide it and made a great mask of smiling and being funny and being happy.  I've been wearing that face for a long time.  

Lately though, my mask has been starting to break down.  People have started to ask me if I'm ok.  And I find myself saying I'm just tired.  And that's the truth and a lie in the same sentence.  I am tired.  Physically, a little.  Mentally and emotionally, I'm exhausted.  I've been keeping myself hidden for so long that I find even I don't know my real self anymore.  I kept pushing myself down underneath all the fake stuff so much, that I don't know what I want.  I'm sad and I don't know how to let myself cry.  I'm angry and I don't know how to express it.  When I'm happy, I don't know if I'm happy or if I'm still just faking it.  I can't tell anymore.  

With that in mind, here's the journal page I made:

I'm just tired...really, I'm ok.

I've been getting asked if I'm nervous to turn 30.  Will it be hard for me?  Do I dread it?  My husband turned 30 last year, and he's thoroughly convinced it's all been downhill for him since then.  

But honestly, I'm not worried about it.  

For one thing, I work in an office where I am the baby of the group.  The next youngest in age is twelve or thirteen years older than me.  The oldest is a couple years away from 70.  Working with these ladies, I know that I'm still a pup!  With any amount of luck, my life isn't even half over yet.  For another thing, I know that age is nothing but a number.  It doesn't matter how old you are, it's how old you feel.  And mostly, I feel like a little kid who's still waiting to be an adult.  That worries me more, I think.

I said earlier in this post that as a kid I learned not to show my true self because people would use it against me.  Well now, at (almost) 30, it's time for a new lesson.  The lesson now is that people can only use it against you if you let them.  The only power other people's opinions have is the power that you give them.  I'm almost 30.  You know who's opinion should matter to me?  Mine.  Finally.  Finally, my opinion should matter.  I've got a lot of catching up to do.  I've squelched my personal thoughts for so long that I barely remember I had them in the first place.  But slowly, slowly, slowly, I'm going to work on revitalizing myself.  I am going to work hard to let who I am and how I think and feel be made known, first to myself and then to others.  

Am I ok?  No, but I will be.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day and the Countdown Begins

It's Mother's day, and officially a week until I reach the age where I am no longer trustworthy.  (Don't trust anyone over 30, man!)  ...Well, technically, I'll be 30, not over 30, so maybe I have another year of trustworthiness to look forward to...or maybe it ends when you hit 30 and 1 day...I don't know what the rules are...  

In regards to Mother's Day, I have a little something to show (and a little something I can't show yet...)  

First, what I can show.  I made a little something for my Work Mom.  Her name is Miss Lettie, and I adore her ever so much!  She is so good to me (way better than I deserve).  She always listens to me when I need to talk, she takes care of me, and she would kick the butts of anyone who did me wrong.  If that's not a mom, I don't know what is!  I always try to make her a little something special for Mother's Day, just so she knows I'm thinking of her and I appreciate her so much.  So here's what I made:

This is the envelope for the card (just a store bought card, nothing handmade...).  I always hate my hand-writing, but check out that sweet 'L'!  I am in love with it...I had to show it off!

Here's my little sketchy girl that I drew and water-colored.  I wanted something simple and sweet, and I am pretty happy with the results.  And Miss Lettie really liked it, and that's the most important part!
I just put her in a simple frame I had painted a soft white to go with the image better.  The frame was a very high gloss white when I started, so I sanded it down and repainted it.  It meshes with the simplicity of the drawing much better now, I think.
In the card I mentioned that the red parts of this drawing are the most important ones: a red headband to show I always think about her, red stockings because she puts the pep in my step and, of course a red heart because I love her very much!

I also made something for my regular mom.  Her name's Marian...she's not that regular, she's actually pretty awesome...I say regular mom to differentiate from my work mom, Miss Lettie.  I don't want to say actual mom, because they both fit that role in my head.  So work mom vs. regular mom...no wait, that sounds like their in a boxing match...  Ok...  Work mom is Miss Lettie, Birth mom is Marian.  There...that sounds better...  

Anyway, I made something for my Birth mom (Marian), but I can't share it yet, because I haven't given it to her yet and she reads the blog and, really, she should see it before anyone else...so I'll have to share it later.

Mother's Day is always a little bit sad for me, because I know that, unless there's some substantial miracle that happens, I won't get to be a mom.  It gets me down sometimes.  

This year, though, I've been thinking about what constitutes a mom.  A mom isn't a mom just because she ruined her lady parts to bring you into the world!  There are a sad amount of women out there that prove this theory by being horrible and irresponsible parents.  There are also a large number of women out there who prove it in a positive way!  Miss Lettie, is my dear friend, and is also like a mom to me.  She listens to me when I need an ear.  She's always taking care of me in a million little ways.  She fusses at me when I say or do something out of line, because she wants me to be a good person.  She encourages me with all my crafty endeavors.  She lets me know that she's proud of me, too!  She makes me feel good about myself.  And all those things, to me, are a big part of what makes a real mom!

So this year, it's not so sad to me that I probably won't have kids of my own.  I can follow the examples of all the amazing women in my life who are helping to shape me (still, at almost 30!) into a good person.  I can try to be kind of woman for others.  So maybe, in the end, I do get to be a mom...and still keep my lady parts in tact...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sehnsucht and The Big What-ifs

Despite the fact that I feel like I haven't accomplished much in the past week or so, I feel like I've been extremely busy!  Don't you just hate that feeling of hurrying and rushing but not actually getting anywhere?  I have been feeling like that all week!  I hate it; it's a yucky feeling for sure.  I much prefer the feeling of relaxed, peaceful working, that doesn't feel like work, but when you look up you realize you've gotten so much done!  I'm looking forward to feeling that way again...and soon, I hope!

Yesterday, I had a lazy day, where I did absolutely nothing but sleep and watch t.v. and lounge about.  I am not normally one to enjoy days like that, and I generally find t.v. pretty mind-numbing, but I have to say, I was ok with it yesterday.  I guess every great once in a while days like that are good.

This morning I got up with a little more vigor and washed some clothes and the dishes and swept the floor.  Then that was enough of cleaning, and I moved on to the much more enjoyable work of art journaling.  I love  making art so much, I don't think it's even fair to call it work!  But I digress...  

I've been working on this page for a while now, trying to get it right...  It's in my little scrappy pocket calendar book that I made.  I know I said that I was going to toss it in my purse and use it for on-the-go sketching, but I was wrong...  I just felt the need to get something into it, before I tossed it into my purse.  So in the end, it may still end up in my purse...or it may end up on my desk and I'll have to find another tiny book for on-the-go sketching...  At any rate, here's the page:

The journaling part says: " Sehnsucht...  And so I sit here alone, missing things that once were, almost, almost crying for possibilities that existed which exist no more, longing to know what could have been but never will be.  If I were braver, I would cry out: 'What have I done?  What have I ever done?' but I'm not, so all I do is silently sit here thinking of sad things that are and happy things that cannot be."

I saw that word "sehnsucht" on Pinterest, and googled it.  It's supposed to be a German word, which doesn't really have an exact English translation, but conveys the feeling of an intense longing  for a person or place no longer in our life or a longing for 'we know not what'.  When I read that, it made me think of all the what-ifs in life.  What if I chose this thing instead of that thing, how would my life be different?  

I wonder if I am the only person who does this...while at the same time, I'm sure I'm not.  It must be something in our nature that makes us question things in this way.  It's an inherent quality in this type of daydream that we will always view these thoughts through rose-colored glasses...the thought of it will be a perfect scenario, if it were real, it could never be like it is in the mind, because nothing in life is ever perfect.  In our heads, it can be perfect and beautiful and that must be why we have such an intense desire for these people and places.  But if we had chosen B instead of A, we'd probably still be daydreaming about the converse.

I think probably everybody has one big 'what-if' in their life, the one that eclipses all the other what-ifs.  I know I do.  When I get down about it, when I really struggle with it, I try to remember that I do picture things in my head much more softly than they would have been in reality.  There are no hard edges in my daydreams, but, had those daydreams been real, who knows how many gashes and bruises those actions would have caused.  And like the lyrics in the song below say, "the grass is greener, but just as hard to mow."

Mail Art Goodness!

Oh Happy Day!!!  I got some lovely mail art yesterday!  Happy, happy, joy, joy!  I am doing the dance of happiness!  It mostly involves me frolicking around the house like an idiot...but an idiot who's REALLY happy, and that's what counts! 

First, I will show you this loveliness from fabulous Denise in Canada, the front of the envelope:

The feathers were inside of the envelope too!  Can I just say that when I stuck my finger in the flap and felt those feathers, I had an almost-peed-my-pants moment of "What the crap am I touching?!?"  I was very relieved when I saw the feathers!  I can't wait to use them!

The back of the envelope:
I love those Stamps!  Such neat touches!  

And what was inside the envelope (besides the feathers that scared the crap out of me!):

I love her SO much!  She's even better in real life!!!  Everything about this piece is fabulous and amazing!  I love that the lyrics showing in the sheet music say "hours away; passing too."  I don't know why, but that made me so happy when I saw it!  Thank you, Denise!  

And then, from the wonderful Jana all the way in Sweden:

The envelope:

Aren't those stamps THE COOLEST EVER?!? (I wish we had cool stamps like that...or that I would remember to ask if the post office has cool stamps...)  I love her envelope too!  I will tell you about the pink paper below...

What was in the envelope:
There were many goodies in the envelope, including a tea filter (on the right), a beautiful Swedish smile  at the top, a beautiful leftover piece from where she made the envelope (I REALLY like this piece, and I wonder what it says! ...that will be a great mystery...I will have to ask Jana...the suspense is killing me!) and the neat pink paper. The pink paper is some that Jana had dyed with beet juice!  Isn't that so cool?  I can't wait to use all of these awesome things!

Also in the envelope was:

An awesome kitty for me!  I love it!!!

And this:

An original artwork by Jana!  I loved this piece when I saw it on her website, and I didn't think it was possible, but I love it even more now that I've seen it in real life!  Thank you, Jana!

I wish I was a better photographer so that you could see how totally awesome all my lovely mail art goodies really are!  Ooh, I also have to say before I forget, that both Denise and Jana have THE BEST handwriting ever!  I was reading over the notes they had included and was possibly drooling in jealousy of how beautiful both ladies handwriting is!  

I can't wait to display my lovely art on the wall of my craft room so that I can look at it every day and get the same squishy happy feeling I have now each time I see it!  Thank you ladies so, so much!  You made my whole weekend better!

Friday, May 3, 2013


The theme for Illustration Friday this past week was Farewell.  I was an over-achiever and made two pages...

Here's the first one:

This first one is much more cartoonish; it was something I thought of and just went from brain to paper..

Here's the second one I did:

This second one is a little less cartoonish.  For it, I found an image on Pinterest that inspired the page.   This one is not quite finished.  I have a little more shading work I want to do, but I also wanted to get in under the wire with it for the challenge, so I'm sharing it partway unfinished.

These two pages have shown me that if I want to do something cartoonish, I can draw it right out of my head.  If I want to draw something more realistic, I have to be looking at something real, but what I draw won't necessarily look just like the inspiration image.  I just need it for reference sometimes...

Now that I'm aware of it, I think I can work to make what comes out of my head a little more true to life, at least sometimes.  I don't mind cartoonish.

This was a fun challenge/prompt for me.  I found I could play with the 'Farewell' theme quite a few more times and still have ideas for more pages at the end!  Maybe I need a whole farewell-themed journal...