I have a lot to cover in this post, so bear with me. It's picture heavy and TL;DR. :)
I did a mini-retreat in December shortly before the holidays. This was the second year I checked into the Frederick Street Inn here in Kitchener for a few days of no work and lots of whirlpool baths. When I arrived, the lovely owner, Amanda, give me a big hug and helped me get settled in. The next four days were pretty much glorious.
This sums it up.
I took nine baths in four days. I am totally serious. :)
I also ate a lot and wandered a fair bit, and dug into one of those yearly planner things. Then I realized that I really don't want to do someone else's planner every year. I'd rather create my own! So that got put on my list of things to do in 2015.
I meditated a fair bit as well, and came to some conclusions. I work too hard. I take on too much. It isn't good for me to be so busy with content creation that I feel overwhelmed all the time. It's a good way to self-medicate, but I don't *want* to self-medicate. I let go of Moonshine for 2015 and decided to focus on Book Of Days & Life Book pretty much exclusively, at least in the early part of this year. As spring arrives, we'll see what happens, but for now, I am working in a pared down way that allows for lots of personal work and healing.
Book Of Days began with Opening Ceremonies on Jan 1. The cover I created for my hand bound journal really reflects my desires for the year - simplicity, ordinary beauty, coffee rings. *lol*
Creating the cover really brought me into a state of readiness for the year ahead. I realized, as I was creating it, that I wanted to coast into 2015 without a whole lot of unnecessary fanfare or hooplah. I recognize the value in marking transitions from one year to the next, but my spirit was wanting to experience the transition in a gentler, less linear way than I might have done in the past few years. I wanted to acknowledge that while, yes, New Year's is a big deal, a new calendar year is a big deal, it is also just another day in a long, long cycle of days...
Something about the cyclical nature of each year felt really soothing and gentle to me.
I also wanted to put 2014 behind me without a whole lot of focus on what had transpired. I'm still so firmly IN what's been going on all year that it seemed disingenuous of me to call it 'over'. It is what is. I want to embrace what is. That seems a gentler path to me than treating it as though it was a closing door.
Doors do close, it's true, but what had been going on in 2014 would only spill through any cracks in doors I'd closed. It felt better to leave a portal open so that whatever needed to follow me into 2015 would have a way to do so. All the finality of releasing and closing ceremonies felt just plain *wrong* for me at this time.
I did, however, choose a word of the year. Joy. I was going to choose audacious, but that felt like way too much pressure. Joy felt somehow more in line with what my soul was craving. And, we're not talking about 'I WON THE LOTTERY' joy, either. We're talking about the perfect cup of coffee joy. The sound of the creek joy. The warm puppy and a good book joy.
Gentle would have made a good word, too, but it was lacking something so I embraced joy.
This is my first spread for Book Of Days this year:
It's a hot mess, but it's MY hot mess and I am in love with all that joyful colour.
Life Book got off to a gorgeous start. I am already behind, but the bonus weeks between 'main' weeks gives one plenty of time to play catch up. I got my warm up done, which was super fun and allowed me to focus yet more attention on my word of the year.
And the girls in my seekrit Life Book club are doing beautiful work as well. (In case you missed this: if you sign up for Life Book using my link (which is how I get paid for teaching), and then you EMAIL me to tell me you signed up, I will let you into our seekrit club house where I teach my Ultimate Notebook class + do Life Book alongside you all year. It's awesome!).
Here's my ultimate notebook.
The thing with keeping a notebook for classes one takes is that not only do you end up getting more out of the class because you are better prepared to integrate what you've learned, but you also end up with a work of art in and of itself. The notebooks end up all fat and juicy with your notes, clippings from the PDFs, screen shots, and ultimately, images of your own work.
It really works for me, though I will admit there are times it feels like a bit of a slog to watch the videos first, take notes, cut and paste (literally as opposed to the kind we do on the web) images and snippets from PDFs, print images of works in progress to glue in, etc. etc....
But when I've done the lesson and I glue in the final image of my work, a sense of accomplishment unlike any other I've ever experienced (except maybe the one experienced after childbirth) takes over and I can't wait to do it all again with the next lesson!
I introduced this concept in Radiant (you can still register!) and it has really changed the way some folks take classes. I heard nothing but positive feedback about how the notebook helps a body really dig into course content. It's also kind of like 'keeping score' in a visual and tangible way. When you're done, you can flip through the notebook and KNOW that you DID IT. Maybe not all of it, but enough that your notebook is a scrumptiously full bank of inspiration, ideas, and examples of your own progression as an artist.
New Year's was really special this year.
My Umfriend (formerly known as Manfingy formerly known as my ex) and I drove to Montreal on December 31st for smoked meat at Dunn's (a restaurant I remember from my childhood), and then to Ottawa to hang out with my daughter, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece.
We are family. Whatever else we might be, we're that, and that's okay with me.
I spent Jan 1 teaching my loves how to layer in the kitchen nook in Vivi's house. It was splendid...
We spent about five hours painting that day. I can't think of a better way to spend the first day of the year! Can you?
This is a not very good photograph of the painting I did while demonstrating layering techniques. It is my very first art of 2015 and I really love it. Vivi wants a print, so I'm going to send her one as soon as I get this one sealed and properly photographed.
I Said Farewell To Moonshine
As a bonus and a thank you to my loves in Moonshine, I created a painting for the first full moon in 2015 on camera:
This is an ode to joy and change and all things feminine. I loved creating it.
So how am I really?
I swing between perfectly okay and miserable, but I think that's okay considering there were a few months there where it was all miserable all the time. I am moving forward, one foot in front of the other, towards gentle joy. I am investing in my own art, spending time playing for the sake of playing, continuing in therapy, and letting myself be desire led wherever possible.
Yesterday, for example, after three days of zero human contact, I bundled up and braved the weather just so I could breathe the same air as other human beings.
I live in Canada, and often, in Canada, the air hurts ones face in the months between December and May, so yeah. Going out isn't often on my list of things to do during those months.
Last night, though? It was imperative. I needed to be out among humans, so I braved it and went. I got a new nude lipstick from Mac (with matching lip liner) a hair cut (just a trim), my eyebrows waxed, and a delicious dinner. A friend (not that kind of friend) met me at the restaurant and we talked for a few hours before I headed back home.
My mood lifted, but then sank again when I got a call from a family member in crisis. I had a lot of triggery feelings around what was going on there, and decided that I really could not be alone with all the feels for the rest of the evening.
Umfriend came over. We talked about what's going and I got to a place of calm and inner peace, and then curled up to watch an episode of Luther on Netflix (it's awesome, by the way). When he arrived, he came bearing gifts (all my packages go to his house since I don't have proof of address for my new place yet) - a box of Dina Wakley mixed media paint that I purchased from Artistcellar.
And that brings us to now.
I'm wearing flannel pajamas and sipping a mocha with whipped cream. I have done all my admin work for the day, so I'm going to paint. Umfriend is picking me up later and we're going to go for Pho.
And that's today.
And you? What's up with you? Tell me everything. xo
Wow. That last post was a doozy, eh? And your responses were amazeballs. So beautifully witnessing and supportive. THANK YOU.
x a bazillion.
For the last couple of days, I've been all over the Internets answering questions, emails and PMs about my depression and where I'm at now. I also did something I've been wanting to do for a while:
I released Book Of Days Boot Camp into the world as a free offering.
Prior to this release, Boot Camp was only available to students in Book Of Days. However, it is such a wonderful program (one of the best things I've ever taught, really) and what I share in that class has been such a huge part of my recovery that I want to share it. For free. For all.
This class was created in my second year of teaching Book Of Days as an intensive in the art of mixed media art journaling and bookbinding. It was created so that instead of having to spend a lot of time in each video explaining basic concepts, each new session of Book Of Days could have a ready-made “art journaling immersion” that folks could dig into either before their session starts, or during the session. The session is organized into four chapters, which you will find linked below. The materials are designed to take you through the entire process of creating an art journal (called around here, the BOD or Book Of Days) & an art grimoire. The BOD is for art journal spreads and the grimoire is for experimentation with different mediums/techniques. Many of us use both in our creative practice, but you are welcome to use one book as you see fit.
As a student in Book Of Days Boot Camp, you are invited to use this material to create a regular creative practice. While many Boot Camp students move on into Book Of Days this is totally optional. Coupon codes will be provided in the classroom as new sessions of Book Of Days are released. Click here to snag-a-lag the free class with my thanks.
In Other News
Now that I've decided NOT to exit the planet, my teaching schedule will resume. I am so grateful that I have these offerings to keep me arting and anchored here. It is also a really good thing to have a way to pay my rent and buy my groceries. :D I have opened up Book Of Days for registration, and we will begin on January 1st with opening ceremonies with twelve weeks of arting to follow.
Book Of Days is an art journaling and memory keep class that includes start-to-finish video instruction every week for the duration of the class (12 weeks), full colour printable PDF walkthroughs, journal prompts, support, feedback, and face time videos in which I bring you my whole heart.
In this first volume of Book Of Days this year, we will be exploring ordinary beauty. What beauty exists around us and within us that we might not notice unless we pay attention? This is a practice that I hope will foster gratitude and a kind of artist's seeing that will keep us inspired all year. This BOD session will include a lot of optional sketching which you can do or not do according to your own urges.
Every week starting January 5th, 2015 you will have access to an instructional and inspirational start-to-finish art journal spread with video content lasting anywhere between 30 mins to 2 hours. Each post will include journal prompts (to be used in written and/or art journaling) and some musings about that week's spread, snapshots of the spread, downloadable videos (yours to keep!), a full colour PDF walkthrough, and supplies information.
I do not own an art supply store, this class is not designed to market products. I will be encouraging you to use what you have, substitute where necessary, and discovery alternatives.
Boot Camp in and of itself is life changing. Book Of Days is that x a million. The practice, the community, the body of work you end up with is priceless.
Use coupon code bootcamp to get $30 off.
I have really left this very late.
Launching registration for a class like this should be done months in advance. Because I've only given myself a few weeks, I'm going to need your help. In return, I will enter you in a draw for a giveaway: A free seat in ALL the sessions of Book Of Days I teach next year. I've got three of these to giveaway, so here's how to enter:
Share the permalink for this post on Facebook. Come back here and comment that you did it.
Share the permalink for this post on Twitter. Come back here and comment that you did it.
Share the permalink for this post in a blog post. Come back here and comment that you did it.
Here's the permalink. Copy, paste, share: http://wp.me/p1ZQyo-1nw
If you do all three, that's three entries in the drawing.
Thank you so much for your help. xo
I will be opening Moonshine 2015 for registration next week. Watch this space or sign up for my newsletter for details.
It's September 14, 2014 and that's my date to share how I face the blank canvas. I've been reading my fellow cohorts posts on the subject and I'm so amazed by all the ways we have as individuals to face that blank canvas and make something where there was nothing.
Long before I was ever anything even resembling a visual artist, I was a writer and writer's block is not very much different from 'canvas block'. We talk, as writers, about the muse and inspiration as though it is a lover we must woo so that our work can continue. I hear artists using very similar language.
Here's the thing, though: inspiration is not, as we might come to believe, a fickle, fleeting power. I know that's akin to blasphemy, but after twenty plus years of creative practice, I know this to be true. Inspiration can be fostered. It can be kept simmering on the back burner, ready at any moment to be doled out in doses that are appropriate to our projects.
Creative practice, intentional, structured, even *COUGH* disciplined is the way to ensure that whenever you meet the canvas, inspiration joins you in your creative endeavours.
Here's what my practice looks like:
I make art regularly and before I do, I have a little ritual that includes lighting a candle, using some sage smudge to clear my space and mind, sitting my butt down in my chair, and picking a colour - either paint or paper - to begin working with. I keep going until I'm happy, even if that means I have to come back to it later. I do this several times a week (sometimes for work related projects, sometimes for pleasure related projects) and it *never, ever fails me*.
The hardest part for a lot of us is beginning. I remember this from my writing days, and it was definitely true of my early painting days. Staring down that blank page or canvas is intimidating! Especially when you have absolutely no idea what it is you're about to create.
So, I stopped worrying about that. The what will take care of itself. All that's required of me is that I show up on a regular basis, and pick a colour. Boom. Things start to happen. Paintings come into being. Blank canvas turns to inner landscape revealed for the world to see.
Another practice that keeps me creating without worrying overly much about the outcome (which is, let's face it, the most intimidating part of painting) is trusting my every instinct. If I find myself feeling like a particular symbol or word belongs in the painting, I don't worry about how it will look in the end. I put it in there. I trust it. I create it. If I lose it in the process of creation, I consider it an ingredient in what made the painting what it is. It may only be partially visible. It may not be visible at all. But dropping it in there is as important to the painting as the finishing details that make a painting a work of art.
It sounds easy, and at the core of it, it is:
Show up with intention.
Pick a colour.
Obey every instinct.
Actually mastering this process takes work. It takes making time to put your behind in the chair. It takes your willingness to make crap and keep pushing through until it isn't crap anymore.
Nike has it right. Just do it. Do it with intention. Do it with courage (which is not fearlessness, but rather, going for it despite the fear). Do it with abandon.
The blank canvas doesn't stand a chance!
I am so grateful that you stopped by to read! As a reward, I'd like to offer one lucky winner a spot in my Book Of Days Boot Camp class, which is designed to help you create an intentional practice that will eliminate all the blocks you think you might have around creating. To be entered in the drawing, please do one or more of the following and leave a comment for EACH task you completed.
And now, go play with my cohorts who have lots of insights, wisdom AND fabulous giveaways for you to enjoy!
I'm going to blog for 30 days straight starting May 1st. No biggie. If you want to join me, please visit every day and pop your link in the comments.
I painted yesterday and today, so I have lots to show you!
First, there's this, which I've already posted all over social media, so you've probably already seen it:
"Freedom" - Mixed media on canvas - 6 x 8 inches
This was super fun to make. I started with a random, messy background with lots of splatters and drippage and then isolated the dragonfly shapes with matte paint. Added some metallic green swirls, and voila! Too fun!
Today, I did this:
"Bountiful" - Mixed media on canvas - 6 x 8 inches
This one started the same way the dragonfly painting didi with a really random mixed media background. Instead of isolating the shapes, I painted them on top of the background and then pushed back the areas of the background that took the focus away from the fleurs. This took about two hours of intense painting time with Adele singing heartbrokenly in the background. Very fruitful art session! While I was painting this baby, I used the extra paint to start a background for tomorrows painting, so I am already ahead of the game. Woot!
In Other News
One of the only reasons I'm actually succeeding at getting the paintings done every day is because I'm a Bloom True alumni. That five week painting class totally changed my creative life and allowed me to take huge risks in my art, play with layer after layer fearlessly, and create things that I might not ever have other wise created. Bloom True is open for registration and, as an alumni, I'm also an affiliate, so if you've been thinking of taking it, I'd be pickled tink if you used my affiliate link.
While most of my finished paintings look *nothing* like a "Flora" painting, I know how deeply her methods influenced me, and how much more easily I surrender to the risk taking process, thanks to her class. I didn't go into it intending to paint like Flora, though my first few attempts were similar, as usually happens when you are under someone's tutelage. Once I got the basic fundamentals down, though, this painting process veered way, way off into my own style. I think that's the point of any class we take - start off by copying and end up with something that is distinctly our own.
Anyway, you can check out more about Bloom True here.
AND! Check out this juicy video!
I'm going to blog for 30 days straight starting May 1st. No biggie. If you want to join me, please visit every day and pop your link in the comments.
So, yesterday started with me all gung ho to get started on the 30 paintings challenge. I did my usual morning thing (blogging, checking e-mail, journaling, etc.) and then sat down to get my art on. I made a total mess of things - working in a new size, on canvas, with way too much of a plan (I wanted to do a stylized floral). I didn't ask my spirit what it wanted to paint. I didn't do my usual 'before art' ritual (which includes lighting a candle, smudging my space, and lighting some incense as a way to enter a light trance state). I just dove in with some bouncy music blaring in the background. I hated what I made. It wasn't resonating. It felt off.
So, I grabbed a jar of absorbent ground and slathered it on there. While it was drying, I did my pre-art ritual, and then sat down to attend to my soul like I usually do.
This is what came out:
"In The Garden" - Mixed media on 6 x 8 canvas
I'm super happy with it. My crappy start was the perfect teaching moment for me. It taught me that no matter what kind of art I'm making, my routine, my self-created ritual, is important. Whatever I'm doing, my spirits wants in. It wants to be engaged.
AND! I got flowers out of it, so win!
In Other News
I went on a couple of dates over the last two weeks, more as a practice in badassery than anything else. I had two pretty disappointing experiences, and I realized after the second total fail that I *am* badass, but my badassery is better applied elsewhere right now. My intention was to open myself up to finding someone to pass time with now and then - nothing serious, nothing heavy - some fun, maybe some sex. My intentions were good, but I am definitely not ready to be 'putting myself out there'. It's crazy out there. Seriously. One guy did nothing but bitterly complain about his ex, and the other one remarked that his ex had a smoking body and could have been a stripper. While I had more fun with the second (we talked a lot), the whole "My ex is so hot" thing really turned me off.
So, yeah. Not interested in putting myself through that kind of thing for the time being.
I could have had gotten laid last night (it being Beltaine and all). Instead, I did this:
Pens and Pencils
Golden paints, specialty paints, markers
Where I film your lessons
More Golden paints
Cleaned, organized, ready for my work. Gah, it felt so damned good to get this done! After my first failed painting yesterday afternoon, the studio was a MESS, but now? It's pristine. Happy.
Today is for me
I have therapy at 1 (I go weekly because BATCRACKERS) and then coffee with a girlfriend, and then the rest of the day is for me. I will get my painting done - and having learned my lesson, I'm going to go in with no preconceived notions, no expectations. I'm going to let my soul sing in colour.
And you? How are you? Are you blogging along?
Go ahead and pop your link in the comments below.
Thank you for all your lovely comments on the nature of my personal writing. I really appreciate hearing that this way I have of blathering on transparently and vulnerably serves you. It makes me feel shiny. xo
It's New Moon, which means a new lesson in Moonshine, and I gotta tell you - I am totally in love with what I painted.
This piece of loveliness was arrived at via a method I teach in Moonshine called "Trance Journaling". I started doing it way back when I taught Elements in 2010 (an art journaling class that is now retired) and it became a regular part of my practice.
Essentially, you put on some music that doesn't get your emotions all riled up (like ambient tunes or straight drumming) and you OBEY EVERY IMPULSE. Every. Single. One.
Sometimes, you end up with really strange, maybe even ugly paintings - messes of mud and unintegrated symbols, but sometimes, you get something like this vision of swoon-worthiness.
Whether you end up with something that makes you look at it cockeyed wondering WTF or you get something that makes perfect sense in both a visually pleasing and meaningful sort of way, the point is the process.
I love process painting.
Love. It. Madly.
One of these days, I'm going to dedicate an entire e-course to process painting. You just watch.
In the meantime, Moonshine affords me the opportunity to demonstrate trance journaling at least once a moon cycle, since our New Moons are dedicated to loose-y goose-y, non-composed, non-preconceived intuitive flow. It just makes me happy.
In Other News
Three lucky ladies won a seat in Book Of Days Premium today, and that ALSO makes me extremely happy. I love being in the position to send out happy news via e-mail. If you entered my April Art Journal Challenge, and you're not sure whether or not you won, you should definitely POSITIVELY check, because you might have! Click here to get the news. A new challenge will be going up on May 1st.
In Book Of Days News
I'm already seeing new art being posted based on the first week's lesson in BOD2014 v2. I don't know of anything that makes me happier than seeing people dive right into a new class and get 'er done. It's so affirming to know that my lessons resonate with people and that they enjoy them enough to really tackle them.
The first spread was a 'manifesto' around my chosen theme for the 12 week session - self-love. I used a meme I found on Facebook (nothing is too hokey for my art journal!) and created this spread to house the text:
It's always really fun to include selfies in my spreads. It really personalizes a journal spread AND it gives me a place to use all those Instagram shots I tend to take and then do nothing with.
Using your own photos is something I highly recommend. Journal spreads that are made up of other people's components (scrapbook paper, stamps, etc.) can be super beautiful AND meaningful, but there is nothing like getting a little bit of you in there in the form of a photo or your own handwriting that really takes a spread to the next level.
Up & Coming
I'm starting a 30 day painting challenge on May 1st, and that will coincide with my Mulligan Blog Along. I had to pause a few days before the end because my Internet had me so frustrated. We finally figured out what the problem was AND we got it fixed, so I am a happy denizen of the web once more!
There's no Wildly Inspired this week, but there will be one next week.
And that's all she wrote for now.