Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let's face it

You don't get much better than this.

Visiting the Omaha Zoo

with my husband and lovely daughter over Thanksgiving.

No matter how you look at it,

email, Google Talk, Facebook, texting, phone calls

nothing is as good as face time.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What a card

Need a unique, inexpensive gift for Christmas?

I have a limited amount of cards available from the "Dueling Dragon" series of paintings. They come in packs of six, are prints from the original paintings, and are printed on high quality card stock.

Pair a pack of these beautiful cards with one of the full size "Dueling Dragons" prints for a very special gift.

They are available in my shop now!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Courage, dear heart

When I was a little girl, I read all of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books - many times. There is a line in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that has buoyed me in difficult times. The character, Lucy, along with the other characters are on a ship surrounded by darkness and filled with unspeakable fear.

Suddenly Lucy sees a flash of white. Aslan, the mighty lion, has come to Lucy in the form of a white bird and whispers into her ear, "Courage, dear heart". Even though the darkness persists, she is comforted, knowing that she is strong enough to withstand the darkness - that the darkness is temporary.

Winter is difficult for me. I was looking out our window at the first snowfall, feeling that darkness surrounding me. You might have experienced that darkness; it can come in various circumstances. My eye caught a bit color and was drawn to a Christmas cactus that was blooming for the first time in three years - as though whispering to me, "Courage, dear heart".

Today, as in every day, I am thankful for so many things, having been truly blessed in my life. But I am especially thankful for those flashes of hope that God sends to us when we need them.

Whether you are enjoying a season of light or enduring a time of darkness, I am thankful for you and wish you blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear hearts.

P.S. - These fellows showed up for a visit:

A small joke: Why did the turkey cross the road? To avoid being turkey dinner!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

You don't impress me much

OK, so a funny thing happens whenever I finish an art project.

I go into a funk - a small pit of despair, adrift and at a loss.

You would think that finishing a project would result in a boost in confidence. For some reason it does the opposite for me. I just finished two major projects that I am very pleased with. One was an addition to the Centennial Trail Project, the other was a commissioned painting with matching cards. I had to overcome several obstacles on both projects and I am very happy with the way they turned out. So what happened?

Into the pit of self-doubt I went. I won't bore you with the details of my sojourn in the pit. Eventually I clawed myself out - using the hand and footholds that I have painfully carved out as a result of previous visits.

During my last time in the pit, I thought about this pattern of post-project despair, and I realized that maybe I just needed to not be so impressed by it. Instead of feeling that panic of "I am in the pit...again!!!! WOE IS ME!!!", maybe I could just get out scientist me and take some notes: "Hmmmmm, I notice that when I finish a project, I have a dip emotionally. Very interesting," all the while taking notes in my Book of Me.

I know it sounds somewhat narcissistic to have a Book of Me, but it has actually been very helpful in noticing patterns in my behavior. Neutrally listening to the fear voice that runs through my head has helped me to minimize its debilitating effect. Just like I have learned that I need to build a bridge back to the studio after time spent away, I can also set up helpful transitions for moving from the end of one project to the beginnings of another.

In the studio, I am working on a new painting. Here is a value study for it:

I also have lovely new cards from the Dueling Dragons Series of paintings:

The commissioned piece that I spoke of earlier required that I solve the "how to turn a painting into a card" mystery, which has resulted in my also being able to offer these cards. They will be in my shop very soon.

I am thankful that while the fear voices are still with me, and probably always will be, I am learning to not be quite so impressed by them.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Get it while the gettin's good

Or Mission Impossible

(Too many Saturday mornings spent watching Rocky and Bullwinkle in my formative years make a second title often seem appropriate.)

As winter approaches I have a goal, a desire, a wish all rolled into one. I want to keep running - somehow. I said that last year and I failed.

I have an even greater incentive this year. My thinking process during running has become amazing. Running not only makes me feel better physically and emotionally, it is the incubative (I just made that word up, I think) process for major projects. If I could attach a recording device to my brain as I ran, an entire book would be near completion. As I run dialogue from this unwritten book pops into my head, art ideas bounce around, blog post possibilities announce themselves.

Super Sprecka and I on a recent run on the Centennial Trail

How can I do without that for four months? I have to keep hold of this superpower ability while it's here. Who knows how long it will last? And here's the worst part - no matter what indoor physical activity you do all winter (treadmill, elliptical) when you start running again in the spring it is as though you were back to square one!

Life can be unfair.

What are the obstacles to winter running?

  • Snow

  • Ice

  • I live on major hills and am known for falling and breaking bones in my face (yes, I did that in the summer, so no excuses there)

A running expert told me that if I just got in one decent run (3-5 miles) a week, and did something else indoors the rest of the week, I would keep my running fitness come spring.

Possible solutions:

I could run in a school gym. (This sounds incredibly boring, but I am hoping that my superpower will kick in and I will be transported to that other place of incredible creativity during the hamster-like gym running.)

I could run in flat areas that have been plowed.

With either of these solutions I will have to get over my aversion to getting in a car to go someplace to run. It just seems like such a ridiculously American thing to do.

I will keep working on other ideas to make my impossible mission possible. Any thoughts?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Polka dots and poetry

Or, bridge building 101.

Many people (slight exaggeration, perhaps), have asked where I get my bridge building ideas. After all, in order for the bridge to work, it has to meet important criteria. It must be:
  • fun

  • stress free

  • for the most part, directed from elsewhere so that I don't have to think too hard

For your bridge building pleasure, I thought I would share some of my current favorites.

For loose, fun exercises, I turn to Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists. This little guy came from one of those bridge building days.

When I'm in a silly mood and just want to play with a pencil you can't beat any Mark Kistler book. If I want to get messy and feel like an 8 year old again, I turn to this fantastic book by Denise Logan.

But my favorite current bridge-building activity is to add color to this beautiful, hand crafted coloring book


When this incredible creation arrived, I was momentarily frozen with indecision about what to do with it. It was so amazing that I didn't want to ruin it. I turned to one of the line drawings and decided to just add some watercolor washes without worrying about it. Then I knew what I had to do.

Add dots -
and lots
of dots.
Here a dot
there a dot
everywhere a dot, dot.

I don't have to worry too much about it. Just add dots - wherever they seem to want to go, in whatever color they seem to want to be.

Dots are strangely soothing and very playful. You can add them while listening to your favorite dot-type music. They are a perfect bridge-building activity.

I thought about what to put on the facing pages of my beautiful polka dot illustrations and it hit me (while running, of course - all my most inspired ideas come while running): poetry!

Polka dots and poetry.

Poetry can be intimidating and serious, but paired with polka dots? Preposterous.

When I was young I wrote poetry all of the time. I'm sure it was very bad poetry, but I loved it and I loved the process. So, I've decided to fill my beautiful Photosynthesis book with polka dots and poetry.