Wednesday, May 14, 2014

High and Low

The prompt for Journal 52 this week was to use a photograph in your art in some way.  You can read more about that HERE

I love what other people can do using pictures and seamlessly blending them into their art.  Major gorgeousness!  I, however, am not very practiced at doing this.  So, because I don't actually have a huge amount of photos, and because I was scared that I would ruin one of the few photos that I do have, I used a photo from an Ikea magazine.  I think this is actually a really good way to practice putting photographs in your art, without the fear of ruining said photo.  I am going to keep practicing with magazine pictures till I get better, and then I will start incorporating actual photos.

So here's what I did:

I looked high and low.

First off, not to shabby for one of my first attempts, right?  I started off with a page that had spray inks already on it, I think from a failed experiment with stencils...basically, the page was a scrap piece of watercolor paper when I started out.  It was horrible looking.  

So I was going to just cover it over with some gesso and start fresh...but when I did that, the ink smeared around (duh, water-soluble spray inks!  I knew that...) and I really liked what accidentally I absolutely knew was going to happen...  

When it was dry, I glued down my magazine photo, and covered it with a thin layer of Glossy Accents so that I easily wipe away anything that accidentally got where it shouldn't get.  It ended up making the picture have those neat ripples in it, which I think makes it look like an older photo.  I imagine if I had done this with a black and white magazine photo, it would totally look like a weather beaten vintage pic!  Again, hooray for happy accidents absolutely knowing what was going to happen from the moment I started...  

Then I used gesso mixed with Dylusions to try and make the image look like it was part of the page instead of sitting on top.  I think this could be done a little more effectively, and I will try more/different things to blend it in next time. 

 Then I added the big lettering at the bottom, and when everything was dry, I took a white pen and did all that scribbley, messy journaling around the photo.  Yes, there are words.  Yes, that is my actual handwriting.  Yes, I can read it.  I know!  I keep telling you I have 12 year old boy handwriting!  To get to the point where I was sure no one else could read it, I wrote down the page first, then turned it horizontally and wrote over that, then turned it diagonally and wrote more and then diagonally the other direction and wrote even more.  That's a good way to get things out of your head, while ensuring no one else will be able to read what you wrote.

I used this song as part of the inspiration for my page:

I think it describes my feelings pretty well in regards to the loss of my friend.  I don't walk around in a cloud of despair everyday like I used to.  I'm learning how to live with what happened, and be happy with the world as it is.  I don't look for him anymore.  I have stopped trying to find pieces of him in the people I meet.  It was driving me crazy to live like that.  And I'm better now that I have come to realize that, even though he's gone and even though no one else in the world will be exactly what he was, I am lucky to have had him in my life and I should take that for what it is and be happy for it.  And most days are happy days.  But the anniversary of his death was Saturday, and I have come to understand that it seems no matter where I am or what I am doing, May 10th will always be tinted with sadness for me.  I imagine that too will get easier with time, but I can't imagine never feeling at least a little sad.   And that's ok.  I don't think anyone gets through life with a pristine heart.  They're all all a little scarred or a little broken.

To paraphrase Rumi, the cracks are where the light shines through.  We take what we have learned from those we love, and we share it with others, consciously or unconsciously.  We empathize with the pain of other people, even if the reason for their pain is not the same as ours.  We just know it hurts, and we can feel that hurt in our own hearts.  Maybe we help them get through it in some small way.  And maybe we learn to love our scars and our broken hearts, not because we wish for them, but because of what they mean...because of who they've made us...because we're lucky to have them...  Because even though they're banged up, they're still beating.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Where We Change

The prompt for Documented Life this week was to "Use a rubber stamp in a new way".  You can read more about it HERE.

I have to admit, I am a bit of a stamp hoarder...not as much as some people...but I'm really bad, because I use them so rarely.  Even though I love them.  And I continue to buy them, even though I don't use them very often. Guilty, guilty stamp hoarder indeed...

So, I lovingly pulled out my binder of barely used stamps this weekend (and searched through my tote full of wood-mounted ones...I told you I was a guilty stamp hoarder!) and here's what I came up with:

"Change comes from within."
"Be the change."

Because I'm a guilty stamp hoarder, just using my stamps is using them in a different way for me...but I took it a step further, by coloring in some of my stamped images with Souffle Pens.  And some of them are stamped on vellum, which is a technique that I love to see in other people's work.  So cool!

Really glad I went with the scribble lines to outline her...I think it looks really neat!

I've been feeling like a big fish in a small pond lately.  It wasn't till this week that I could put my finger on it and say what it was, but that's it: big fish syndrome...I don't think that's an actual disorder, but that's what I'm calling the feeling I have...

What I mean is this: I've worked on myself really hard.  Especially since beginning this blog, I've made massively huge changes to myself.  I've worked to become more like my real self, and I've made gigantic strides.  Because I wanted to.  I needed to.  I'm proud of that...SO, SO proud.  Because it wasn't easy.  Because it took time.  Because it took tenacity.  And because it was something I chose.

And there are still things I work on, or want to work on.  I think once you start, you continue to crave least that's what I'm experiencing.

The problem that's come up for me is that I've grown so much, there's doesn't seem to be room for me to expand anymore in the place where I'm at.

Let me give you an example:

I've been watching TED Talks on Youtube.  They're these really interesting lectures given by these amazing people who are experts in their various fields.  The topics are widely varied, and forward thinking and thought provoking.  Totally awesome stuff...I suggest you check them out, because there's bound to be at least one topic that will interest you.

So anyways, I've been watching these talks.  And I've been trying to start conversations about some of the things I've heard in the know when you hear something that's so interesting, you feel like you can't keep it to yourself?  The thing I've found is that, even though what I have to share might benefit the person I'm telling it to, there's no interest in it.

I'm not trying to ram it down anyone's throat, just have an intelligent conversation.  And yet, NO ONE I know has any interest in that.  What I'm finding out is that, while people have problems and 'want a solution to their problems', they don't want to have to put forth any effort.  They want a magic fix.  They want a change, but don't want to feel any discomfort in the process.  

That's not a new concept to me.  I KNOW people are like that.  But what I failed to realize before is that everyone I know personally is like that.  And I'm not too haughty or self-important or blind to realize that I myself am like that at times...I know it, and I'm working on it.  But that's the point, isn't it?  That I'm the only person I know in real life who's willing to work on changing.

And that's the problem I'm having...feeling like a big fish in a small pond.  Feeling like, if just one other fish would try to expand themselves, maybe it wouldn't be so bad.  I wouldn't feel so alone in this little pond.

One thing I know is this: no one changes unless THEY want to.  You can't fix anything for anybody, because once you turn your back, they'll do the same thing they were doing before you fixed it.  You can help people at times, but, in the long run, not people who aren't willing to help themselves.

The other thing I know is this: I have the choice to change my circumstances.  If the other fish are content with the pond, then maybe what I have to do is find a bigger pond.  That sounds a little harsh, but the thing is, I've expanded as much as I can in my current situation.  If I stay in this place, there is no room to expand any further.  There is no room to 'swim'.  And if I can't expand, then I will become stagnant.  Eventually, I'll start to shrink again.  

I've lived long enough to realize that life is like swimming against the current.  If you don't at least try to move forward, you will move backwards.  You can only tread water so long, before you regress. I've worked too long and too hard to get to the place I am now.  I don't want to go back.

That said, I've been feeling dissatisfied with the way things are for a while now.  I can feel myself start to become stagnant.  I find that I don't want to put forth effort to make some of the changes I KNOW I want to make.  Because...why?  Why make those changes?  And why do I feel that way, when I've made so many changes so far, and seen the benefit to making those changes?  

Because before, I naively thought that other people might expand with me.  I thought, if someone else can see how I've improved, then maybe they would also put forth the effort to improve too.  But that's not what's happened.

So I find myself saying why should I change, when nothing around me will ever change?  Despite how much I've grown, I'm still in the same small place that will never get any bigger, so why should I try any more?  

But that is the wrong question.  I see that now.  It puts the blame for my choices on other effect, it's saying 'I can't change because you won't change'.  That's the wrong way to think and it's a total cop out.  The right question is this: Why am I allowing myself to stay in a place that will never be what I need it to be?

There's an expression that says "If you don't make a choice, you made the choice to let someone else choose for you."  I've lived at least a third of my life that way.  I don't want to live the rest of it like that.  I choose not to always be a big fish in a small pond.  With love and appreciation to the other fishes, it's time for me to start making my way down the road.  It's time for moving on.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Things People Say

The prompt for this week's Documented Life Project was to "Document a random act of kindness (RAK for short) from you."  You can read more about it HERE, but basically, the prompt was to take note of a time you did something nice for someone without expecting something in return.

Instead, I decided to document something someone else did for me.  I guess there was a big conversation on the Facebook group about this prompt.  Some are of the opinion that you're not supposed to tell other people about RAKs, because it lessens the act in some way.  If you're doing something nice for no reason, you don't broadcast it, because then you're doing it for praise, or whatever.  Personally, my reason for not documenting my own RAKs is kind of a selfish one...

It's not that I don't do nice things for other people.  I've bought lunch for people.  I've mowed my friend's lawn because she needed help.  I used to cut my elderly land-lady's toenails because she was too old to do it herself...I got made fun of A LOT for that one.  There's other stuff too.  And while part of me thinks that kind things should be done for the sake of being kind, you as a person know what your motives were, and that's your business, so if you want to tell people about it, rock and roll.  The world needs more kindness either way.

As I said, my reason for not documenting my own RAKs is a selfish one.  It's because I don't want people to think I'm nice.  Or, more correctly, I don't want them to think I'm too nice.  Because sadly, then people expect you to be nice...and I like people to be surprised by my niceness...and I like not to be taken advantage of.  Oh sure, you guys know me as lovable and darling (haha), but in my real life...ok, I'm lovable and darling there too...but I'd like to be...less darling and more...caring towards myself...  

I'd like to not need people to like me...and I'm slowly moving towards that.  I'd like to be able to say "No." and not worry about whether saying 'no' will cause the other person to not like me.  I want to do things for other people, but because I want to do them, not because I'm afraid of what will happen if I don't.  I recognize the...I don't know what the right word is, childishness?...of that line of thinking...but it doesn't change the fact that I think that way.

I recognize that I am a weirdo.

And that's the first part of the story.

The second part of the story is this: There's this guy I work with.  We used to be really good least I thought we were.  We ate lunch and took breaks together every day.  We were just good buddies, you know?  Well, one day, out of the blue, he just stopped talking to me.  No rhyme or reason, no explanation, just silence...and avoidance.  I tried to talk to him, at the very least, to find out what happened.  But he told me to "Leave it alone."  That was all I got.  After being, in my mind at least, good friends, that was it.  That was about a year ago.

And a 'normal' person would probably have just put that in the "Oh well, screw him" section of their brain, brushed it off, and forgot about it.  But me?  Oh, no. 

Instead, I've pondered, ruminated, obsessed, and scratched my head every single day since he stopped talking to me.  It takes a lot for me to genuinely like someone.  It takes a lot for me to put my real self out there in my non-internet life...probably because of crap like this situation, but I digress.  But I didn't say anything...I was doing as I was told...'letting it alone'.

Last week, I decided I had enough of 'letting it alone'.  I suddenly decided that what I'd rather have is an argument.  (I'm slowly gearing up for a much larger argument with someone else, and apparently my brain decided I needed some practice before the big blow up.)  Just so you know, I am the LEAST CONFRONTATIONAL person you have ever met.  

This is the conversation that happened:

"Hey man, I've got something to say to you!"
"I thought we were friends.  What the crap?"
"But then you just quit talking to me, for no apparent reason, and you couldn't even be a decent human being and tell me why. And I'm sorry it took me a year to say it, but you're a bad person."
"I'm not a bad person."
"Fine, you know what, that's fine.  You're not a bad person, not to anyone else, but you were to me and that's messed up."
"That's it.  I just had to say that.  Good day to you, sir."

End scene.

First off, yes, I did actually end the conversation with "Good day to you, sir."  I feel like it wasn't a horrible fail until that point.  Perhaps still a fail, but not a horrible one.

Secondly, this is the most disappointing confrontation ever.  I was ready to have a fight.  I was ready to cause a commotion.  All I got in return was "OK's" in a voice that was almost smiling at me and "I'm not a bad person".  WHAT THE CRAP?  This wasn't satisfying in any way.  It just made me more angry.  Honest to goodness, he could have said ANYTHING other than what he did and it would have been more satisfying.  You know what's worse than having someone hate you?  Having someone be apathetic towards you.

Again, a rational person in my shoes would have just chalked this up to "That guy is a jerk." and went on about their life.  But, clearly, I am not a rational person.  

I look at that conversation like this: I am not a good judge of character (which is something I pride myself on very highly).  I am an idiot for saying anything (which is wrong, I should have said something...just A LOT sooner).  This person, who's friendship I valued very highly, not only didn't view me as his friend, he doesn't even view me as his equal/a human being, because I don't even deserve a freaking straight answer.

And again, I understand that thinking like that makes me a crazy person.  I understand that being wrong about one person doesn't make me a bad judge of character.  I understand that I don't need anyone's approval or acceptance but my own.  I understand that this guy is a jerk. 

 But I was fired up.

So, when someone at work (who knows the situation) asked me what was wrong, I told him.  I told him what happened.  I told him using many more words, in a round about way, as is my fashion.  Probably in a very loud voice, because I get LOUD when I get worked up.  But, in so many words, I said all I wanted was resolution.  And I ended with: "I WANT TO FIGHT AND YELL AND HAVE SOMEBODY TELL ME WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME!    JUST FREAKING TELL ME WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME!"

And my friend looks me in the eye and calmly says to me "OK.  But what if I don't think there's anything wrong with you?"

It was kind of like a punch in the stomach.

My immediate mental reaction was "Of course there's something wrong with me!"  

I've spent my whole life thinking there's something wrong with me.  If something's wrong, someone has to be at fault...therefore, whatever is wrong, it's my fault.  As silly as it sounds, this arrangement always seemed hopeful to me.  Because if I'm the one to blame, I can also fix it.  I can change.  I can do better.  I can make you happy.  I can make everything better.  

With one offhand remark, I suddenly see the ridiculousness.  I've spent a LONG time under the impression that there was something wrong with me, when (maybe) there's not.  And if there's not anything wrong with me, it's no longer my job to make everything better.  It's not up to me to fix every problem in the universe.  It's not my fault.  I'm not to blame.  I'm not responsible. 

It's kind of crazy (hey, that's me), but "What if I don't think there's anything wrong with you?" is one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me.

And here's my journal spread commemorating that moment:

"What if I don't think there's anything wrong with you?"

And gratuitous close-up:

I painted this in the Pointillist style, using a pencil eraser dipped in paint for everything except the hair (which I did using a Ranger Acrylic Paint Dabber (in Lettuce), then I used an Inktense pencil in black to outline a few things.

I made this page in the Pointillist style, and even though it was a gigantic pain in the booty, I'm glad I did it...once...

All those tiny dots of paint made me think of how much every little thing that happens makes up who we are.  All these tiny things come together to make one whole person, flaws and quirks, interesting things and beautiful things...all of it.  

I might be crazy, but I'm not only crazy.  

We might be weird, but we're not only weird...or bad or good or funny or sarcastic or bitter or lonely or happy or jealous or anything.  We're not ONLY anything.  We're all of those things, in different proportions, making us unique individuals.  We're not responsible for the things that happen to us.  But, at least to a certain extent, we are responsible for how we let those things affect us.

I've let myself believe I was responsible for every bad thing out there.  But I'm done with that now.  I will take responsibility for my part.  I will disregard the rest.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

I Love You For What You Can Do

The prompt for this week's Journal 52 page was to incorporate hands into your page.  You can read more about the prompt HERE.  

I will admit that I was a little reluctant about this prompt...and that I had a momentary lapse of sanity in regards to it...  Because hands are hard to least for me...and that's my go to answer to all prompts...I will draw my way out of this.  But that answer just wasn't jiving with this prompt.  I didn't want to do a collage, because fancy cutting gives me the hives, and all the magazines I have are comprised of tiny people with even tinier was a scissor-phobe's worst nightmare.  At one point, I even thought about doing a hand print turkey like a kindergartner...I was getting desperate.

Suddenly, I realized that, if I did trace my hand, I didn't have to use my whole hand.  I thought maybe I could make mountains by tracing my fingertips and then draw a person standing on them.  I felt like a genius.  But once I started tracing my fingers, I liked how they looked, so I just kept tracing.  Fingertips up the sides of the page.  And then I felt like less of a genius.  I had traced myself into a corner.

But I persevered.  I painted them green.  I liked the color, but still had no clue where to go from there. Then, I decided it couldn't get much worse, so maybe I'd just draw doodles in the fingertips.  I am not a natural doodler, so I was taking another chance.  But, as I have learned, if it gets too bad, a coat of gesso fixes everything...I could always start over.

But as luck would have it, I didn't have to gesso the page out of existence.  I actually thought it looked pretty groovy.  And that's when I decided to get REALLY bold...and traced my whole hand in the middle of the page.  And here's what I ended up with:

I ♥ U 4 what you can do

The thing about my hands is that I am very mean to them.  I call them my "actual man hands" in they are beefy and thick-fingered.  The rest of me is pretty thick and beefy as well, so at least we match.

But, as I looked at my chubby hand outline surrounded by those green tangled fingers, I thought to myself, "Wow, hands, look what you can do!"  My little sausage fingers will probably never play the piano, or send text messages without hitting forty letters I didn't mean to hit, but they do enable me to make some really cool art!  They are my fat little translators, taking what my brain says and passing it onto the page with ever-growing skill!  

I was suddenly very proud of my actual man hands...and so I decided to write the journaling: "I love you for what you can do."  I finished up my spread and gave my hands a treat in the form of some cobalt blue fingernail polish.  Which I promptly got gesso on...  But the thought was there, and that's what counts.  

Another thing my hands finished up recently was this spread:

"Who I am comes in waves."

I want to say a big THANK YOU to my friend, Boo, for the fish napkin that inspired this page.  She sent me a plethora of different napkins, which I keep on my desk and pet when I need a pick-me-up.  But I realized I can't just keep petting them forever...I need to use them!  So I picked the one with those colorful fishes and went to town in my gigantic Dylusions journal.

This picture is more true to color than the, look at me, with my fancy art shot!
It made me feel fancy anyway...

Those colorful fishes totally needed a mermaid to go with them.  I don't know what it is about mermaids, but that's two in close succession...I just did an adorable chubby mermaid for last week's Journal 52 spread (which you can see HERE)!  Apparently mermaids are currently rocking my world...

One last thing my glorious man hands do (in conjunction with my weird brain) is write this blog.  As of this post, my busy little fingers have written 200 posts!  I have 49 followers in total (still makes me feel like a cult leader to say "followers").  

And, thanks to you and your amazing hands, I have 14,865 page views.  That's completely insane to me!  I just want to say a big, humongous THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! to all of you who made that happen.  Your support and encouragement give me so much happiness that I can't even express it in words.  All I can do is say thank you again (and again and again) for coming to see me, taking the time to leave comments, and for subscribing to my blog.  You all make me feel so proud and excited and extremely lucky and grateful to be a part of the online art community.  Thank you. ♥♥♥

Thursday, May 1, 2014


This week's Journal 52 prompt was can read more about it HERE.  Basically, the prompts asked 'what do you do to refresh your mind/body/spirit'?

What do I do when I need a pick-me-up?  It depends on why I need one...  I want to say art...obviously.  But also, I am a cleaner.  When I get nervous or mad, I clean.  Everything else might be out of my control, but I can make the toilet SPARKLE.  I can organize the kitchen cabinets.  I can put things in their place.  

The good thing about it is that when I'm upset, my house ends up looking like actual human adult people live in opposed to mentally deranged hoarders a la Mad Max...  The less than desirable part is that I rarely realize I'm upset until I find myself cleaning.  It's like Martha Stewart's done some kind of zombie spell on me, and suddenly I've got a can of Pledge and a microfiber cloth in my hand...against my will.  

The other bad part is that once I find myself obsessively cleaning and realize it's because I'm upset, I don't always know why it is that I'm upset.  But experience has taught me that if I do anything more than necessary cleaning (aka washing dishes because there are literally no other containers in your house for you to drink out of...) on any given day, there is DEFINITELY something wrong.  So then I'm charged with the task of figuring out why I'm cleaning/upset.  I sometimes wish I could just magically see the answer in the dish soap bubbles...although then I'd freak out, stop doing dishes altogether and have to run around drinking gallons of milk at a time, just so I don't need a glass...

So I kind of wanted to do a page about cleaning making me feel refreshed, but then I realized that it would make people assume my house is clean, when in reality, it looks like squatters have overtaken an abandoned hovel...and the rest of the people would probably get mad cause women's lib and act like I just told them to get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich...and while I do love sandwiches, I don't want to lose any friends over it...

So instead, I made this page:

"There is nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean." - Dave Barry
"Refresh your viewpoint."

So, between you and me, this chunky mermaid (who is adorable, right???  ...if I was a mermaid, I would totally look like this tail is so fancy!) stands for my quirk of cleaning when I'm upset...that quote goes along with it too...  On the surface, I'm just making my house be a step further away from being condemned by the city...but the whole point of that ocean (an ocean made of Windex and 409) is that I'm not a happy camper and I need to figure out why.  

And the thought that things are rarely only what they seem to be led me to this:

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end, may only be the beginning."

Endings are least for me.  I don't know why.

When I was a younger, I loved change.  It was exciting!  As I've gotten older, I seem to have become a codger, yelling at kids to get off my lawn, and being scared of anything new or different.  This is so NOT me...not the way I want to be.

My Pinterest feed clearly has my best interests at heart, because it sent the above quote my way.  The end of something is the beginning of something else...the start of a new adventure...the conflict and drama where the book becomes a page turner.  The end is the beginning.  

That's much less scary than THE END.  The beginning is exciting and new and as-yet-untainted by anything.  The creepy, gross caterpillar ends and a less creepy, more beautiful butterfly emerges from the shell of it's former life.  Endings are not the end...they are only the start of something different.  

That's exactly what I needed to hear right now.