Entries from: May 2008

Art & Inspiration

May 21st, 2008, Comments (11)

Here's some of the art I've been working away on the last couple days. Penelope's Web (above, still in progress) is coming along nicely. It's a bit hard to see here, but the ocean has maps collaged into it and there are objects in the sea (a boat and an octopus). The latest bit of painting has been done on the easel, which is different because it seems like I've been painting everything on a table lately. Much of this piece was done on a table, but I got the feeling like the easel would be helpful and put it to use. Having organized my stuff a little better has also allowed access to my easel which is often covered with artwork. I would love to have one of those wooden racks for stacking larger canvases as there's only so much wall space I have to work with and things tend to get damaged when propped against the wall.

Above is the latest on the encaustic piece (Little Boy Blue, 6"x6"), I started in the weekend workshop. I used some oil paint stick over the lines I'd carved to make the silhouette a little more clear. After wiping away the excess, I think it did the trick. I had other ideas in mind, but I'm liking the simplicity, so I think I'll be leaving it as is.

I love making art.

Some inspiration linkage for you:

Steering by Synchronicity

May 20th, 2008, Comments (6)

"By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us,
penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible,
whereas in fact we live steeped in its burning layers . . . This palpable
world, which we are used to treating with the boredom and disrespect
with which we habitually regard places with no sacred association, is a
holy place."
-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, *The Divine Milieu*

When I start experiencing lots of synchronicity, I have this feeling like I want to share it with everyone, but it's very hard to put into words. Even if I wrote down every little instance of it, it's still hard to get across the feeling that comes along with it. I think of myself as a scientific and spiritual person, with a practical, somewhat skeptical, no-nonsense look at the world, while also having a sense of the mystical undertone to everything. Sounds conflicting, but somehow it isn't. When I try to explain synchronicities, I'm aware of the woo-woo sound of it. But I still see it everywhere. I want to express it somehow, but words escape me. Thank goodness for art, right?

I left a comment on a blog recently about the limitations of language and how that is why art and poetry often seem much more soulful than prose. When we release ourselves of the rules of imagery and language, we can get closer to the heart of what we're trying to express.


Anyways, I've had so many synchronicities around the book, Steering by Starlight, which I just finished listening to on my ipod (and then went out and bought the hard copy of the book with a gift card.) I felt like I needed the written pages because I wanted to re-read passages (which can be far easier than re-winding and trying to find a particular passage in an audio book.) By the way if you do happen to purchase the audio version of this book, you can find the pdf files Beck talks about on her website here. There are definite limits to audio books, I sometimes have trouble absorbing information by just hearing it (the pdfs for this book helped). But the upside is hearing the nuance and tone in an author's voice as they share their book with you. Beck is a wonderful storyteller with a great sense of humor and having her read these stories is a definite bonus. It feels more personal somehow, as if Martha was talking in my ear as I went about daily chores or exercising, and I liked that.   

Some quickie examples of synchronicities here: some of the final words in the book were about neural science and mysticism coming together and then moments later I got a link about neural buddhists in a newsletter from Rob Brezsny. Towards the end, there was a whole section about re-decorating and de-cluttering your home when that has been a big focus of mine while listening to the book. Beyond the synchronicities, I deeply resonated with this book, more than I have with any book in a long time.

Creative Every Day: May 19th – May 25th, 2008

May 19th, 2008, Comments (13)

CED2008 participants! Feel free to leave a comment here with a link to post(s) about your creative activities during the week of 5/19/08 -5/25/08.

Happy creating!

Weekend Show and Tell

May 18th, 2008, Comments (6)

My computer has been one hassle after another lately. This weekend the power cable started to melt. Glad I noticed it before it started a fire or something. I looked it up online and apparently it's been a big problem with the magsafe power adapter on Macbooks (even on the Apple website, it's rated just 1.5 stars out of 5.) But seriously, within a few months my keypad stopped working, my hard drive completely died and now the cable is fried. From what I've read you can go to any Apple Store with your wrecked cable and they'll give you a new one and I have the Apple Care extended warranty, so I'll be all set, but I'm not pleased. I think this is the first Mac product that I've had any complaint with though. I still have an older iMac, the hubster uses a Mac at home and work, I've owned an ibook before with no trouble, and we have a variety of ipods. I've always been a Mac fan, but this Macbook is starting to annoy me. Hopefully this will be the last of its troubles for the near future.

The upside of a computer problems is that I'm on the computer less and yesterday I really had no time to be on the computer, except to check my email in the evening, because I took an all day workshop in encaustic painting (so fun!) with Tracy Spadafora. Tracy was a fabulous teacher and I learned a lot. I have done some encaustic work before as I had a brief introduction in a mixed-media workshop last year and I've read Joanne Mattera's excellent book, The Art of Encaustic Painting. But the intro I had wasn't all that in-depth and I couldn't figure out some of the techniques from just reading about them. I needed to see it and then try it myself. I was especially excited to learn how to incise into the wax because I especially love to draw and this is a great way to work with the medium. I started with a purely experimental 8"x10" clayboard (above) and tried some of the layering techniques, some incising and some painting with color. I love the depth created by layers of wax! Then I started a smaller 6"x6" piece (below) that's not quite done (ran out of time), but I like a lot so far. I used a heat gun to fuse one of the layers and it created this cool separation between the medium and color which I liked. When I looked at it after it had cooled I thought it looked like a brain. The silhouette isn't very clear from a distance, so I'll be filling that in with oil or wax another time.

At the end of the day, I had a massive migraine developing, so driving home was not fun and I had to go immediately into a dark room and sleep it off. There was fresh air blowing through the studio and exhaust fans, so I don't know if it had anything to do with the fumes or if it was just a migraine (which I get from time to time.) Hard to say. I'll have to keep an eye on that when I work with encaustic again. Luckily, I found the cure for migraines.

Today the hubster and I had a wonderful hike through the woods on a new-to-us nature trail. It was beautiful out and loads of people had their super happy dogs with them. When I got home I felt so beat! Thought about napping, but that isn't going to happen, so instead rested a bit and then tried making a repeating pattern using instructions from Julia Rothman on Design*Sponge. Very cool. Hope you're having a fabulous weekend, full of creative goodness!

New Cure for Migraines

May 18th, 2008, Comments (5)

A new cure for migraines: Whale socks! (plus excedrin and a dark room, your results may vary.)

Rare Bird Finds!

May 16th, 2008, Comments (3)

Check it out! Today, I'm the guest editor of a special Etsy-themed Fab 5 Friday at Rare Bird Finds! I got to highlight five products on Etsy that I think are cool. It was super hard to pick just five.

I've loved checking out the selections at Rare Bird Finds, so it's especially fun to get to participate. Go see the fabulous etsy items I picked out and while you're over at etsy, check out the selection of prints I've got for sale here.

The De-Cluttering Continues

May 16th, 2008, Comments (4)

Seems like most of my creative energy has been domestic this week. That's o.k., sometimes you've gotta follow your bliss and this week I've been feeling like a blissful nest maker! Tonight, the hubster and I collaborated on a perfectly light springtime dinner. He prepared sesame crusted swordfish on the grill and fulfilled my request for tomato, basil, and mozzarella, which he arranged beautifully.  The hubster had requested brussel sprouts, so I found a recipe online and again tweaked it slightly (I didn't add any cheese at the end.) The weather was nice enough to eat out on the porch again and everything was SO good!!

A quirky older gentleman came by to purchase my old stereo. Turns out he needed something to play music at his family's summer cottage. Oh, and I forgot to mention another bit of clutter released. I received a gift last year that I simply didn't care for. There was no receipt to exchange it for something else and I couldn't imagine ever using it. However, it was from a family member and the idea of getting rid of it made me feel guilty. So, it moved around the apartment from one corner to another, eventually ending up in a dark cabinet where I didn't have to look at it. Well, in my clutter release, I decided to let it go. I couldn't imagine anyone else wanting it, so I put it next to the kitchen trash to take out the next time I went out. Well, I had someone over the other day who asked, "Are you throwing that out?" I told her yes and explained that I didn't like it. And then she asked if she could have it. Even better! I was quite happy that someone else wanted it. In a bit of synchronicity and as Caroline mentioned in the comments of my last post, this is just the sort of thing that Carla is recommending in her Weekly Wings Challenge.

I'm on a de-cluttering roll! Out of the way clutter! You're no match for me!

Creative Decorating & De-Cluttering

May 15th, 2008, Comments (4)

The hubster and I are in re-decorating mode. We've been selling, clearing and generally getting rid of things that were cluttering up our apartment while also purchasing some new items and doing some inexpensive re-decorating to make our current abode a more enjoyable place to live. Being in home limbo has made us uninterested in fixing up a place that we don't own, but we do have a great space and it's always more inspiring to be living in a well cared for environment. Plus, I feel my energy boosted up by the opportunity to do some creative decorating!

Last night we had someone pick up the elliptical machine that was taking up so much space in our apartment, was a major eyesore, and neither of us enjoyed using. It would have been a major pain in the bum to move and we got someone to come and take it apart, move it out, and paid us for it. Woohoo! That was the biggest thing to leave. We also got rid of the moldy couch on our porch/balcony and replaced it with some inexpensive patio furniture from Tar-jay. We ate outside last night and it was so nice! I posted an old t.v. table that we'd been using to hold an old stereo system on craigslist. We gave it away for free, but it was so heavy (and ugly), that we were both ecstatic to have someone else (who actually wanted it) come pick it up! Tonight someone is coming to pick up our older stereo. I was holding onto this one because it was a gift from my dad and I've always had trouble with getting rid of gifts (even if they are really old and/or I never use them.) Andrew suggested my super thrifty dad would appreciate the fact that I got some money for it (which is definitely true.) I was also encouraged by earlier posts from Christine Kane about releasing your clutter. We'll soon be releasing some more old items from our space and creating a more open and inviting space to live in. I'm excited about it.

One of the things we've done to spruce up the place is to get a couch cover for our slightly torn up couch. What a huge difference that made!! I have a strong dislike for the throw pillows we have and I'd like to find some new ones, get pillow covers to put over them or if I'm feeling extremely ambitious (since I know close to nothing about sewing) sew some pillow covers. Any suggestions? The couch cover is brown, the rug is deep red and the walls are off-white with dark wood furniture. In the next couple months, I've also got a strong desire to paint our kitchen. It really needs a painting. If it were ours, I'd say it needs to be gutted and re-done completely. But a paint job would make a big difference.

Need some more creative inspiration?

  • Fellow Creative Every Day 2008 participant, Karen has a fantastic d.i.y. post about how to frame your artwork with lots of great pictures!
  • Bread & Honey, a blog by two friends who love food, is chock full of pictures and recipes. Beware, the pictures will make your mouth water. Do not do what I just did and look at it when you're hungry!
  • Are you a book under-liner and quote keeper? If so, you might like the look of this Woodland Reader Kit, found on Cut Out + Keep. I also like the story she shared about the initiative in Tel Aviv to give every baby born there a poetry book. The maker of this kit also sells them on etsy here.
  • Speaking of Etsy, I'm participating in a fun etsy related project tomorrow, so do stay tuned!
  • And if you'd like to see the prints I have available at etsy, here's the link.

Creative Life Lived

May 15th, 2008, Comments (8)

Robert Rauschenberg, Rebus, 1955

Part of what inspired me to study art history in art school was learning about the art of Rauschenberg, who died this week at the age of 82. There's an excellent article about his life in the New York Times. From that article:

"Screwing things up is a virtue,” he said when he was 74. “Being correct is never the point. I have an almost fanatically correct assistant, and by the time she re-spells my words and corrects my punctuation, I can’t read what I wrote. Being right can stop all the momentum of a very interesting idea."

The way he combined imagery, color, texture and objects spoke to me in a way that I can't quite put in words. He led and amazing life, full of inventiveness and pushing the boundaries. Definitely a great role model for living a life bursting with creativity!

Cooking Creative

May 13th, 2008, Comments (10)

Mind as Ocean

I'm not the best cook on the planet, but I can follow a recipe. With the encouragement of the hubster's very experimental take on cooking, I have been taking recipes I find online and tweaking them slightly to make them work for me. I may eliminate ingredients I don't care for and substitute items depending on what I have in the pantry. Creating a meal together that was put together with a touch of love and creativity can be so satisfying!

Tonight I made artichokes (steamed, like Jim shared on his blog), skillet mashed potatoes (a new fave), and my creatively tweaked recipe for baked flounder. Here's what I did in case you're curious. It was super tasty. Of course, feel free to use your creativity and adjust the recipe all you like!

Leah's Sweet & Crunchy Flounder for Two

Ingredients needed: 2 flounder fillets, 1 egg white, 3 teaspoons orange juice, 1 cup of cereal (I used honey bunches of oats) smashed up in a food processor (or by hand), and one tbsp of butter, melted.

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees
  • blend together egg white and o.j.
  • Pat dry fillets
  • Dip fillets, one at a time, in egg mixture then cereal.
  • Place fillets in 13"x9"x2" pan
  • Drizzle butter over fish
  • Bake for 8 - 10 minutes

What a yummy dinner it was. After dinner we borrowed our neighbor's dog and took him for a walk. All in all, a lovely evening.