A Wreath of Possibilities…

What turns out to be some years ago now, I created a winter wreath. I wanted it to last for more than just the holidays both for frugality and because I lived in a little one bedroom with my boyfriend and there was no room for storage. Even though I now live in a slightly larger two bedroom, I still store my Christmas decorations at my mom’s!

Ironically while dealing with my tendonitis, I have been wanting to create. Nothing like not being able to do something to get you to do it! I have been bad the past couple days not wearing my brace which keeps me honest about not using it so I thought I would continue the trend.

The bow was done on that winter wreath this year – the white paper ribbon was crushed and yellowing so I set about tearing it off. The base was still nice though and I’ve always liked the texture so I bought a new bow for it. It is not my favorite bow – I was sick, it was the last piece of decorating but I was determined and I figured this could go into the early part of the new year since it wasn’t red and green.

winter-wreath-w-gray-bow
The not so exciting holiday bow.

A couple of weeks ago while Michael’s I saw all the Valentine’s Day crafting supplies and decorations out. (also all the new spring stuff which only made me want to make more wreaths!) I thought the red, sparkly decorations would be a good change – I could use the same base but spiff it up a little! I had been meaning to make it back and with the threat of a looming snowstorm that might keep me cooped up for a few days I went at lunch and as luck would have it everything was on 40% mark down! (to make room for the St. Patrick’s Day decorations which are green and sparkly…)

winter-wreath-w-red-bow
A little more exciting and rich!

I am not loving the lighting, it looks a little garish but I know in real life it’s very pretty! It was also the first time I’ve ever attempted to make a bow from ribbon. Ahem. It only took an hour… so glad a friend called and distracted me for a while so I wasn’t as frustrated when I got back to it. Success.

Exercising My Creative Chops

In an effort to keep myself in the creative habit, I bought the book Creating Art at the Speed of Life: 30 Days of Mixed-Media Exploration. It’s 30 exercises for 30 days to just create. Will I do them all in a row? I doubt it – I have noticed not only distinct lack of routine in my life but also a distinct lack of being able to create any! (Well, I do feed my cat wet food twice a day so I guess it’s a start.)

I also struggle with ‘playing’. Just sitting down and doing something for no other reason than to do it and see what comes of it. I find it interesting that someone who has created art in fits and starts her whole life has trouble playing. But then that might be why it’s in fits and starts. I think so much about how something will be before I even do anything which can really cause issues when something doesn’t go the way you want. Like the first exercise in the book…

Exercise 1: Color Wheel
Exercise 1: Color Wheel

First, just sitting down and getting started was (as usual) a process. I looked at the exercise, this is stupid. Why am I even going to do these? I probably won’t even like them.I looked at my journal. It wasn’t the right journal. Did I want to do basic exercises in this journal and ‘ruin’ it? (You know – ruin the book with this and this) Slide over to computer. Is Michael’s still open, to get a new sketch book? Ponder. Sigh. Really? We’re still doing this? I go get the coffee filter and sit down. Was going well… until violet. Ugh. Mud. I mean I made 4 or 5 attempts at this. Well, this is why we are practicing so I painted the violet slot the violet I got to and that was that.

The page background started out a nice soft yellow but I had all this paint from the violet violence and I started using it on a different page just to use it while the wheel dried but still had so much paint! So I slapped it on the page I was using for the wheel and was a little disappointed at my rash decision: now the PAGE was muddy! Ugh. I had some blue that hadn’t been used so I through some white in and slapped it on the page to try to help out the situation (did I just play?!). Better.

In the book, the author had just written ‘color wheel’ around the wheel but never really liking to do things exactly the way it says to do it or suggests doing it, I looked up quotes on color and found the one by Francis Bacon that I used.

create-art-01-color-wheel

Do I love it? No. I find it a little embarrassing actually that I couldn’t make purple. But is it done? Yes. 1 down, 29 to go.

First drops of paint

Often the fear of not knowing what to do or the fear of doing something wrong stops us in our tracks and keeps us from starting. If we can let go of this fear, we open ourselves up to a much larger world of expression – a world where anything is possible.
– Flora Bowley, Brave Intuitive Painting

I wasn’t sure where to start. I’ve wanted to ‘know how’ to paint I think my whole life. I’ve certainly said “If I could paint what is in my head” often enough. I get overwhelmed by the idea of creating a whole image and then do nothing which just leaves a void and a continued longing.

In the most recent issue of Art Journaling, Winter 2014, there was a spread by a woman who had a lifelong unrequited love affair with watercolors. Her attempts at using them were disappointing and unfulfilling but one day she decided she was going to master this medium and put all her other mediums away. “The materials were simple: watercolors, a waterrush, black ink pens, and a Moleskin diary.”

art-journaling-magazine-spread-stampington
Spread from Art Journaling, Winter 2014. Artist: Ginn Magante Barber

She set out just using one or two colors, feeling things out. The images in the spread were simple but lovely and looking at them and reading her words I thought ok, this I can do. This is simple, just to start. And I will be doing, not just wanting.

Different reds
Different reds

Getting started and going for a swap!

The first project of the year will be a swap! The Sketchbook Project sets up these mini-projects to sign up for during the year outside of their self-titled, main project. The one I signed up for is called ‘The Ampersand Project‘:

Being that “&” means “and,” we feel like it’s the perfect character to symbolize an exchange that connects you and another person. Make a simple image that interprets this unique piece of our letter-set and we’ll send you the work of another participant in exchange.

They provide you with a board to use that is 5×7. Everyone in the project gets the same board to keep it consistent (and probably so someone doesn’t mail in a 7 foot sculpture although that would be cool). I started laying down some of the paper foundation tonight. I am going to use telephone book (remember those?!) paper as the foundation for the ampersand, building up the layers and then cutting out the shape of the ampersand so that you can see a scene behind it. I knew the paper from phone books was thin but it’s really thin – this may take quite a few layers to build up some thickness but I think it will be better as it will dry/harden more uniformly.

ampersand project card

My initial thoughts are to build up the layers, then cut the ampersand out (very carefully). I will paint a scene on the board and when you lay the cut out ampersand on the board, you will be able to see the scene behind it. Another possibility is to have the ampersand paper be cut in half and somehow hinge open to completely reveal the scene which has formed in my mind as a beach with a shipwreck in the distance.

ampersand-layer

After the base layers are built up the top layer would be of green foliage so it would look like you were looking through shrubbery onto the scene. Some issues I can think of immediately are the hinging aspect and the toggle to open close. Could be too fragile but I really like the idea.

ship-scene

Very quick sketch (those are palm trees with coconuts in the background!). This layer would probably be painted onto the board.

We will know how it all turns out by early February as I have to postmark it by Feb 15th!

What are you working on this month?

Another Country: Costa Rica

A client of mine was generous – he flew the NY team members to Costa Rica for the holiday party and I even had an extra day for sight-seeing! Saw this pretty little creature at a reserve near the waterfall gardens we visited. Looking forward to going back someday and seeing more of the country for sure!

Blue Butterfly
Blue Butterfly, Costa Rica, December 2012

waterfall
Waterfall in Costa Rica, a damp gray morning but still lovely.

It was wet and rainy in the morning but the skies cleared up and were so lovely!

Costa Rican Sky
Costa Rican sky after a very rainy morning.

The Bee’s Knees

I love my little bee! I couldn’t believe it when he landed right there on the bench and stayed there! I’m not sure if what he was doing was cleaning but he was there for a full minute or two and I was able to scoot in pretty close. I’m using a pinhole setting on my camera which is why there is a soft halo effect around him.

a little bee
a little bee at Menla Mountain, Summer 2012

Luna

It’s been a very hectic two weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy but New York – human beings are resilient. We have a grasp on the extent of the damage and some is very severe and will take time to repair. Coney Island in the Rockaways was one of the worst. An image from a peaceful day back in September. With time, I hope that peace returns.

Luna ride sign from Coney Island
Luna ride sign from Coney Island, fall 2012

Scarves unraveled and good foundations

I am working on a delicate, lovely scarf for someone who has made such an amazing  difference in my life. The yarn recommended for the pattern, Rowan kidsilk haze, had this lovely pink color called Grace and I knew that was it. That is what this person has brought to my life (I would name her but she might be reading!) It is the thinnest, softest yarn I have ever used and the hardest pattern I’ve ever worked.

divine lace scarf gauge swatch
divine lace scarf gauge swatch

After doing the gauge swatch, I knew that this yarn was not going to be easy to work with. I actually did a practice round with some cotton/poly blend yarn – I never do practice rounds. I just jump in and woo! come what may! Once I’d done the practice round, I cast-on the good stuff and worked one round of the pattern. Counting the stitches as I was going through I realized I didn’t have enough stitches so I adjusted the stitches to fall in the right place and then added them on in the final row of the pattern as it was a simple row of purling/knitting. Time passes…

I knew I was putting it off but I didn’t know why. Part of it, I’m sure, is the yarn/pattern combo but the other part is because I knew that the foundation wasn’t right. I couldn’t decide whether to unravel or keep going. I pulled it together this weekend, sat down and worked the first row of the pattern. If it went well, then I would keep going. What was already done really didn’t look so bad now. Well, after the first row of the pattern, I lost a stitch. So I took one off, added a stitch with a yarn-over, knit the final stitch and counted again. Still off by one stitch. I’m thinking not only can I not KNIT I can’t even COUNT! Ugh – ok. Time to unravel. It came down to this: the foundation just wasn’t right and if the foundation isn’t right, then the rest of it is going to be skewed. And maybe the recipient wouldn’t know it but I would and it was going to stop me from going forward.

Things don’t have to be perfect the first time out and I fight that – I want it to just happen, right out of the gate. Sometimes I don’t want to keep going because it’s not right the first time but that really never accomplishes anything, does it? You just end up with a bunch of half-assed stuff lying around in your brain and your life, taking up space and niggling at you.

So. I am unraveling the scarf and doing another practice round. It’s a hard pattern but I think the end result is going to be so soft and pretty that it’s going to be worth the extra effort. And I’ll feel better giving it knowing I spent the extra time. Stay tuned…