Thursday, 25 October 2012

Making Time for Creativity

I've been down with a flu bug for the last few days.  I guess my body was tired and said, "That's enough. You need to rest girl!"  So it was lots of hot tea, cozied under a warm blanket on the couch, tv remote in hand.  The old brain didn't want to do any thinking whatsoever during this time.  Now I'm back with something to share.

The other day I was visiting my mother-in-law (I so lucked out in the mother-in-law department; she's an angel) and we got to talking about doing art.  I suggested that to be an artist one has to be a bit on the selfish in order to get the time to create.  It's hard to fit it in with all the other duties, interests, and fun stuff we deal with on a daily basis.  It's hard to say "no" to things, especially if it is important to the family or to the community.  She said she understood, then told me I had to realize that "the housework can wait; it will always be there tomorrow."  Isn't that sweet?

One way I found to help fit art into my life is to have several different projects on the go at the same time.  That normally would make me pull my hair out because I'd want to work on them all, but in this case, each project is vastly different and requires different set up and time requirements.   Example--this past week I have worked on my crazy quilt, a multi-media painting, and a collage project.  Here are my works-in-progress....

The crazy quilt is real basic, no thinking, pull out when I have a few minutes or want to veg out in front of the tv.  It requires virtually no setup (unless I need to cut more blocks), just a needle, thread, pins, thimble, and scissors, and is easy to put aside.


 The collage project I do in small chunks of time-sorting out papers, cutting or tearing them up, glueing them down.   All I need is a couple of tools and maybe a half hour to make some progress. 

For painting I need more time so I save it for those evenings my husband is working nights and my son is out at work or with friends.  The house is mine.  I can drag out all sorts of tools, spread them out over the kitchen table, and spend several hours in creative heaven. 

I'd like to have art in my life on a daily basis, but right now that's not possible.  With methods like these, I get it in my life way more often.  I keep reminding myself not to wait for that magical "perfect" time when everything falls into place and I have unlimited time.  That will never happen 'cause life is just not like that.  So we adapt, flex, make it work for the moment, and go on.  Baby steps in creating -- they add up and eventually, we look back and say "Wow!  I did all that!".   And it feels good.

Stay true.

-- Leah

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Busy Week

It's been a busy week here.  My cousin Carol was visiting my dad for a few days so I was able to spend a couple of evenings with her.  It was wonderful seeing her again, and even more wonderful eating her freshly baked homemade bread (along with the supper she cooked us)! Thank you Carol.  I've also been trying to catch up on the bookwork/housework now that my e-course with Kelly Rae Roberts is finished.  What a wonderful experience. I learned so much about the creative on-line biz, and learned even more about the power of community.  We have a facebook group going, and I think it will live long and prosper.  I love being part of the "Flying" group.  This was the first e-course I've ever taken and now I'm trying to decide if I should take another - I've been looking into multi-media, drawing, art-journalling or photography.  Heck!  I might try them all.  I'm also really looking forward to checking in on all the blogs of my new on-line friends.  It's a whole new world to explore out there.  I can't wait to dive in.  Have a great weekend.

-- Leah

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Just Breathe

Some days I have to tell myself to do this.

Today is one of those days. 
Sometimes I have a zillion things to do and think about and remember.
My mind gets tied up in knots trying to keep it all straight. 
At work I've being doing brain gymnastics, but I'm getting a lot done!
At home I have three separate to-do lists, and I've been ticking those items off!
Done, check, done, check, done, and check.
Jumping from one thing to another, flying on adrenaline.
Wondering why I do this to myself, excited to see progress.
You know, today has been a good day.   Tomorrow may not be.  It doesn't matter.
All I have to do is

-- Leah

Sunday, 14 October 2012

New Painting


Here's a newly completed piece.  This is what I want to do - grow from my heart.  To be authentic and honest and the best human being I can be.  To share from my soul in hopes that it might help brighten this world a little bit. 


Friday, 12 October 2012

Bear Lessons

In my backyard
For the last couple of weeks we have been visited by bears in our backyard and sometimes in the front yard.  Only one at a time, fortunately, and not everyday.  They are slurping up the acorns that come from a bunch of oak trees on our property.  At first I found this exciting.  Bears! In my yard! I've heard stories in the past about the bears in town, but in the 17 years I've lived here, I've had one bear cub in my tree and heard of a few in other yards.  So when a bear showed up in my yard, I was out there taking pictures, telling everyone about it, watching from the window until it was too dark to see the black fur in the black shadows.  But after a while, I realized that this bear thing is kind of an inconvenience. 

First of all, a bear will sometimes leave a "gift" behind.  Thank you to my loving husband who is willing to go and scoop up these rather large presents.   Then, I learned some bears don't take kindly to being watched closely and photographed.  I was up on the deck, and old grumpy decided to "harrumph" and charge at me.  I slammed up against the wall, camera still clicking (those photos are no good), and prayed the bear wouldn't climb up the deck and eat me!  Well he didn't.  I stopped breathing for about forever, didn't move a muscle, and he went back to his snacking after an angry glare or two.  After my heart slowed down and I took a few more pictures (call me crazy) I was exhilirated with the whole experience. 

It was what I found out from other people about bears -- they are unpredictable; they walk silently so you can't hear them come up to you; they don't like being disturbed--that I started getting scared.  So now I won't go out the back door past 7:30 at night.  I use our unused front door to come and go.  I won't walk anywhere in the dark, and I won't let Maxie, my dog, out by herself in the dark either.  Now I leash her up and walk to a wide open, well-lit area a couple of times in the evening and a couple of times in the morning, usually somewhere between 5 and 6 am.  She's tiny, white, and fluffy.  A friend said a bear would love to snap her up like a marshmallow!  Really, I don't know if a bear would eat her, but he might get mad at her and swat her down like a housefly.

It occurred to me yesterday morning as I was walking the dog in the biting, cold wind for the second time before 6 am, that these bears are a good metaphor for the obstacles that life throws at us.  They drop into our lives unexpectedly, exhilarting us, scaring us, inconveniencing us, making us adjust to them and even mabye leaving a few messes for us to clean up.  For the next few weeks it is something I have to deal with, whether I like it or not.  I can either moan and complain about this obstacle, resisting and making myself angry.  Or I can embrace the moment, accept it, and learn something from it.
Sketch I made a few years ago from a photo
So I chose to view these bears as an opportunity to practice courage.  I am learning that I can consistently step out of my comfort zone when faced with the unknown for something I care about, just as when I face my fear each time I step out the door in the dark for my dog, not knowing if a bear is out there. 

I guess it's all in how you look at it. 

Have a bear-y great day.

-- Leah

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Ilustration Challenge Picture

"I See You"

I created this piece for the Illustration Friday challenge.  It's my first time ever trying a challenge, and my first time trying a person in a collage like this. 

The prompt for this week is "mirror".  After I got past the mirror, mirror on the wall line which immediately jumped into my head, I suddenly thought about the mirror on one of my favorite programs when I was a little girl -  Romper Room. 

At the end of each program, the hostess held up a magic mirror which she would look into and recite this poem, "Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, have all my friends had fun at play?"  Then she looked "through" the mirror (a hoop with a handle on it) at all the children in television land and say the names of the children she "saw".  I wanted her to say my name so badly.   But it never happened (I didn't know I had to write in to get my name mentioned).

In this picture, I have finally been "seen" through the mirror and the little girl in me is happy!

-- Leah

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for...

- my beautiful children, my wonderful husband, my family and friends, our home, work, my sweet dog Maxie, the great community we live in; I am so lucky to be surrounded by love

-  sunshine on the hardwood floors in late afternoon,  my cozy plaid housecoat,  a printer that works, a magnet that says "believe in possibility", date cake with slivered almonds on top,

-  my art corner filled with pens, papers, paints, stamps, art books...and the opportunity to create

-  and I am even thankful for the not-so-good things in my life too; they have helped me to learn and to grow, and make the good things in my life all that much sweeter

We had a great day visiting with family and ate way too much.  Grandmère always makes an amazing spread.  I'm sorry I didn't take a picture for you to see.  She is a super example of creativity in the kitchen.  My stomach is very, very thankful for her. 

Wishing you buckets of good things to be thankful for in the year to come....

-- Leah

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Inspiration Experiment

I've been thinking more about inspiration.  If I give it a quick thought I can list of couple of things that inspire me, maybe even four or five.  Are there more?  Do they change over time?  Do they actually show up in my artwork or are they something that capture's my interest for a few moments then disappear into the netherworld of my brain, never to be thought of again.  Is my work affected or my goals and work habits or both?

So, no pre-thinking.  Here's a list of things that inspire me right now just as they pop into my head:

- the artwork hanging on the walls or in photo layouts of home decorating magazines

- children's art work - it is so spontaneous and free

- autumn with sharp blue skies, golden yellow and crunchy brown leaves against the deep evergreens, crisp cool air, the steel grey of the river

- a really, really good, hot steaming cup of apple cinnamon tea

- my daughter

- music not for the masses; not that there is anything wrong with those big, huge superstar singers - what tugs at me are the musicians who write their own songs, deep from their soul, then put themselves up on stage in front of five, ten, twenty or fifty people, and sing their heart for all to read

- words - from my e-course classmates, from my favorite blogs, from my friends

- taking a whole pile of photos and finding one in the bunch that I fall in love with

- bright paint colors

- walking into an art supply store (my childhood candy store equivalent)

- walking into a book store (my other childhood candy store equivalent)

I'm going to watch and be aware and see how inspiration affects me. It will be my own little inspiration experiment.  Feel free to join me.  I'd love to know what inspires you and how your inspiration shows up in your life.

--  Leah

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

It's Never Too Late

I'm inspired today.  Why?  Because today I started editing my dad's book number three. 

Dad has always been a creative type.  And he has never let his age stop him from trying something.  At age 35 he picked up the guitar to seriously learn it.  He still plays daily and his latest gig was last night.  In his 40s he decided to take up photography.  Not long ago he was riding his bike around town taking pictures. 

He's a house painter, carpenter, electrician, landscape architect, and a heck of a good cook (he never follows recipes) and more.

And what did he do when he turned 70 years old?  He bought a computer of course, learned how to use it and started writing because he decided to write down some of the history of his family for a reunion back in 1999.     

How's that's for a great example of "it's never too late"?

I expect my editing work today will be a lot less demanding as his writing has grown and improved over the last 13 years.  He's progressed from an 80-page section in a genealogy book with family history and stories written by others, through a 380 page limited edition self-published not-for-sale book with more family history, more stories written by others, biographies, eulogies of those close to him, anecdotes, things that make him smile and more, to a smaller family military book and another in a collection of stories of local men and women who served in WW1, WW2 and more recent conflicts.  The latter is the first he sold, at cost, so others could have these memories as well.

For the last year he has been submitting re-worked and new personal essays to the local newspaper, and now he is near completion on his third work, a memoir of the town where he has lived and worked for about 65 years.  This is the first time he has done practically all his own writing, incorporating comments he took from interviews he made with friends on a mp3 digital recorder (which he learned how to use last year by the way) rather than ask others to submit their writing to be included alongside his own.

So, as I started in on the editing this morning, I couldn't help but think about all my dad has done, and what a great example he is of "it's never too late".  And I thought I'd like to share this thought with you.

By the way, he'll be 85 years old this year.