Friday, November 16, 2012

Mental Health Day

Yesterday I took a much needed mental health day. I posted on facebook "Self care before self destruct...mental health day today. Trust me, I've been down the self destruct path and if you need one...take one!" While I was out and about I ran into a friend who had seen my status update and asked what I was doing for my mental health day.  After our conversation I got to thinking that once upon a time I had no idea what a mental health day was or how to execute one. Many people sacrifice their self care because they feel they are being selfish when take time for themselves and neglect other responsibilities. Those responsibilities may be work related, school, household or family responsibilities. There may be others but these are the ones I can personally relate to...

I'm not going to take you down my path of self destruction but I do want to share with you my current efforts to maintain balance and good mental health in my life now. First, I plan my mental health day and actually put it on my calendar. I choose a day when my kids have few or if I'm really lucky, no school or sport events.  I plan it so that I can get any of my responsibilities taken care of before the day comes (house cleaning, laundry, errands etc.) I also plan it so that I can have certain things ready for myself, for example I make sure my favorite shirt is clean.

Here's what a typical mental health day might include, the things I always do are marked with an *:
* wear my favorite shirt
* wear perfume
* lunch at's always the same, fajita burrito bowl with peppers, onions, black beans, mild salsa, sour cream and extra cheese.
* a stop at Starbucks. I actually go in and enjoy my Venti Mocha, no whip in the store and listen to the music, enjoy the aroma and people watch
* drive the speed limit and make complete stops at ALL stop signs
- watch a favorite movie that provides either a good laugh or a good cry depending on what I need or a new one from my list of movies that I want to see
- spend time in a favorite store, usually a bead store or a paper store
- download some new music to my Ipod
- indulge with a favorite candy, usually Swedish Fish, Twizzlers Cherry Nibs, or Jelly Belly jellybeans
- take a nap
- make an impulse purchase
- paint, scrapbook, play with beads, sew, knit...
- take pictures

If you've never taken a mental health day or it's been too long, take one, soon! I promise you'll be a better mom, wife, friend, employee (insert noun of your choice here) for it!!

Speaking of pictures here are a few from yesterday...
Some tags I painted and inked and a mini stencil I made...

My impulse purchase...$2 grab bag from Michael's. Granted, most of it I will not use but the 3 little chairs are a altering project waiting to happen and my cat can be a pimp for Halloween next year! Score!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fall Fearless and Fly Challenge 3

It came together slowly but all for good reason I think...
Here are the prompts:
Headline: Triumphs and Defeats
Color: Black and White
Quote: Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have been existing on my dark side lately so I wanted to start with a black background. I don't have any black gesso yet so I used crumpled black tissue paper and adhered that to my page with gel medium. Then I sponged on some dark grey for more texture. I went a bit crazy with my sponge so I lightened the black more than I intended. To fix that I used a stamp that I made with plexiglass and silicon to stamp black swirls. I found the tutorial for the stamp on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's website but I can not find it now to provide a link to save my life. My stamp is shown in the photo below. (On a side note, if you think it looks a lot like The Crafters Workshop Cosmic Swirl you're right. I used that to make this 'companion' stamp.)

Anyway, I pulled out the playing cards because triumphs and defeats made me think of taking chances and gambling...things sat that way for a few days. Then I got Carolyn Dube's newsletter with a black and white "spark" which can be printed out and used in your personal artwork. I printed a couple of large copies and a couple of smaller copies and added them to the pile. In her email she said that she kept seeing the moon. I could not stop seeing a black cat. Superstitious people associate black cats with bad luck which would probably lead to defeats. I am superstitious to a point but I am too much of a cat person to believe any of them could be bad luck so I kept thinking of the quote by Samuel Goldwyn "The harder I work, the luckier I get." and probably more triumphant. I cut that little kitty out and put him in the bottom left corner of the page.

That kitty made me happy so I pulled out my favorite Dylusions Letter Jumble stencil and a new Balzer Designs stencil I'd been hoarding, Mini Summer. In my happiness I wanted to add more white on my page so I pulled out the grey and white polka dotted packaging I'd been saving from a Donna Downey product I'd purchased. I started tearing up paper and placing pieces and added some black and white polka dotted Smash tape that is mostly covered now. Got everything glued down and started stenciling in light grey and white. I decided Summer was me and gave her a couple of dark plum highlights like the ones I got in October.

Thanks for stopping by! If you feel moved please leave a comment, they mean the world to me!
- Dawn

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween Eve!

The Halloween bug hit early and it hit hard this year!  I have had to use quite a bit of self restraint not to buy tons of new decorations, there are so many cute and fun things out there. Where I did not restrain myself was where some Halloween art was concerned. I've been dying (no pun intended) to share my Vampira page in my Inspiration Journal.

It all started with the background stamp I found at Michael's. I loved the design and that the bats were so subtle. The bats lead my thinking to vampire bats which lead me to Vampira. I planned to use this stamp with Versa Mark ink and black Pan Pastel to create my background. Versa Mark attracts the Pan Pastel to give a darker image where the ink is, really cool!

I wish I new how to rotate this photo but I can not figure it out. Still working on those kind of things, sorry! Arrr

As it turned out one side of the page was smooth and one page was a linen texture. I was afraid  I was not going to be able to get my stamp lined up well enough or stamped well enough using the Versa Mark so I just covered the pages with black Pan Pastel and used black Staz On for the stamp. Basically the same look just more "mistake proof" in the process. I added the red drippage (to use a Donna Downey term) and let the page sit for a few days.

Red and black lace was floating around in my head so I picked up some of that but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it until I happened upon the grey ruffle with the rhinestones in Archiver's. It was $4.99 but I knew it was going to fit perfectly across my page and provide an anchor for some lace. I also splurged on the package of Halloween rub ons just for the 3 bats on my page.  I didn't know what I might do with the rest in the package but I knew I needed those black bats. I have been a scrapbooker for 15 years and this was my first time using rub ons! Hard to believe, I know, but still true!

I hope you all have a happy and safe Halloween! I think I'll let my kids eat candy until they are sick to their stomachs tomorrow night. I've never let them do that before so they don't really believe too much candy will make them feel yucky. Every kid deserves to be proven wrong by their parents once in a while!

To my friends on the east coast whose Halloween was canceled last year due to the horrific snow storm, I'm hoping Frankenstorm Sandy does not cause a repeat.

Thanks for stopping by! If you feel moved please leave a comment. I appreciate every one!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Fearless and Fly Challenge 2

My journal page for this challenge turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. This time the three prompts were:

Headline: When did you take a chance or a leap of faith?
Color: What color do you like least? Use it!
Quote: "Don't refuse to go on an occasional wild goose chase...that's what wild geese are for." - Anon

I immediately thought "THIS is my leap of faith!" Starting my career as an artist. I have the tiniest bit of training from 15 years ago and so much to learn! There are so many paths for an artist to will I ever decide which ones I want to travel? Some of those paths I have absolutely no knowledge of what steps to take to get down those paths i.e. book publishing, licensing, product lines...the list goes on. I have so many fears and doubts that I constantly have to push out of my thoughts just to create...some days I lose that mental battle and I do not go down to my studio at all. I could go on but I'm feeling mentally strong today and do not want to sabotage myself...I am inspired and dying to get downstairs today!!

The color prompt was easy too...Brown. Not that I don't like brown, I do when it comes to chocolate and coffee. It's warm and comforting and familiar. I have brown hair and brown eyes. My eyes might be my favorite feature, they're very dark, almost too dark to see the pupils. However, when it comes to my art I like it very bright, colorful and happy. Brown is boring and emotionless, a neutral color.

Since color always seems to be where I start a piece I was going to use brown. I guess that's the reason they call this a was I going to use brown and still be happy when it was finished? I decided to go back to one of the brown things I I decided to stain some book text with coffee and then adhere that book text down as my background. Then I had to go get some brown paint...I did not own a single shade! I gave it a wash of brown mixed with gesso because I needed to push the text further into the background and shaded the edges...I was going to leave it and just journal with my brown pen but I couldn't. I pulled out a couple of pinks and finger painted the happy circles. Then I pulled out my favorite coffee mug and one other and stamped the brown rings with more paint. I finally got around to journaling my leap of faith and decided I needed that last reminder that I am an Artist which I stamped in the pink paint.

I am happy to report that I am indeed happy with this brown page!

Thanks for stopping by and if you feel moved please feel free to leave a comment. I appreciate every one!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Fearless and Fly

I have a joined a challenge at Artist In Blogland called Fall Fearless and Fly. It is hosted by Jessica Sporn and Carolyn Dube. We are given three prompts every two weeks. Last week's headline prompt was Inventing the Future, the color prompt was reds, oranges, yellows and pinks and the quote prompt was "The best thing about the future is it only comes one day at a time" by Abraham Lincoln.

The first thing I think of when you say orange, yellow and pink is a sunset. I grabbed one of my favorite photos and this metal wall art that I picked up at Michael's on clearance for $0.50.

I pounced a coat of gesso on the metal with a cosmetic sponge and then used a white paper bag I had lying around to add more texture. I  crumpled it and smoothed over and over again until I was happy. I adhered the bag with gel medium and this is what I got next...

Then I took to the paints...I am not very good at mixing and blending colors yet but I was determined to be brave and keep moving forward until the result did not look like the stripes I painted as a five year old.

For the most part I am happy, I think I did pretty well going from yellow to orange, orange to pink to the deep plum, not so much but the clock struck 3 and I my forward motion was forced to come to a halt! Although I am mostly happy this is not really what I wanted to submit for the challenge. So I am extremely proud of myself for starting again the next day!

I don't have as many step by step pics of my second attempt but I'll tell you what I did...I started in my Moleskine journal this time. For texture I covered the page with page know the paper rings you use to repair hole punched paper in a binder? Then I covered the page with a wash of the deep plum paint. Then using my cosmetic sponges again I started with the yellow and pounced paint haphazardly...this is what I ended up with...

Color prompt, check. I really wanted to push myself and write some goals for the future. I am not good at writing goals because I have always been afraid that if I write it down and can not accomplish it that it equates to failure. I must get past that so I forced myself to write down some true measurable goals.

I finished my page by adding some dots with acrylic spray mist through a stencil and India ink circles. Added my goals and the quote and I am happy. Here is the finished page:

Thanks for stopping by and if you feel moved please leave a comment. Your words mean the world to me!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

We're big fans at our house

Well, all of the boys at my house are big fans...of Star Wars. Me? Not so much but I am a big fan of The Big Bang Theory and recently saw a rerun where Penny quoted Yoda. "Do or do not, there is no try."

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing my dreams and plans regarding my career as an artist with my husband Doug and I kept starting my sentences with "I'm trying..." At one point he said to me, "Are you doing this or are you dabbling with this?" I immediately thought of Yoda's quote! Our discussion as well as my attitude changed after that. I AM doing this, I am NOT dabbling. I decided that this change needed to be documented in my inspiration journal and I had just the page waiting for some profound words!!

This background was inspired by the fact that my 12 year old son Sam wants to take a paint ball gun to the walls of my basement studio to give it more character so I thought a quote from one of his favorite Star Wars characters was appropriate for this page as well. If I had to pick a favorite Star Wars character is would definitely be Yoda too. Wisdom is sexy!!

I started this page by adhering strips of book text across the pages and inclusion. Then I white washed over them. Since I don't have a paint ball gun (and no one in this house is getting one any time soon) I decided to try to use a straw to create what was in my son's noodle...I watered down my acrylic paints in my happy colors and sucked just a bit up into the straw. Then I blew through the straw at the pages. I was using too much paint at first so I got some drips and big splotches that really just looked like I spilled paint on my page. Once I figured out to use less paint it became fun, just like Sam envisioned! To remedy the messy parts I stood the book up and sprayed it down with water. Parts still look like I just spilled paint but I can live with that...evidence of something I learned. I used white India Ink for the quote.

Here's one other thing I've been working on...

I started with a sheet of watercolor paper and smeared a blackberry all over it to get that purple background.  I loved the color so much I almost left it alone. I didn't want to lose too much of the purple with the next layer so I started to tangle with a white signo pen. After the first two designs I was on the fence...I lost quite a bit of purple in the tiny circles but the pen doesn't really like to write over the berry so it has a 'carved' (for lack of a better term) look to it which is really cool. It's difficult to see that detail in the picture. Anyhow...keeping more purple won out and I decided to stencil the rest of it with acrylic paint. Now I'm not sure what to do with it...I did make another sheet of berry pulp paper and have considered tearing a small rectangle from it to put a quote on and adhering it somewhere. I've also considered it might just be finished. I'm also not sure what to do with it when it is finished, it's my first piece that is not part of a journal. I'm not sure if it's 'home' when complete effects what happens to it next or not...maybe I'm really just over thinking it! If you have any thoughts I'd love to hear them!

Thanks for stopping by! Have a colorful weekend!


Friday, September 21, 2012

You Can Not Use It Up

Creativity that is...they say the more you use the more you have. I am finding this to be true. VERY true and I am very happy about that fact. When I first started The Sketchbook Project I was scared to death I would not have enough ideas to fill all the pages and I would just end up scribbling with crayons on the remaining pages to get it done by the deadline. (That or I would just give up and not send the book in at all.) I counted all of the pages and made a list of ideas. Every idea got written on a sticky note and put on a page in my book. At first I did not have enough ideas to fill all of the pages which of course just reinforced my fears but I started to work on the ideas I had and as I worked new ideas came to me. Onto their sticky note and into the book they went. Eventually I had an idea on every page and I almost could not believe it. I double checked to make sure that the same idea was not on two pages. As I continued to work even more ideas came to me. Some of the sticky notes got removed from the book and replaced with new ones. Those that I removed I stuck on the wall in my studio. The deadline is January 15, 2013 but I am almost done with my sketchbook which turned out not to be a sketchbook at all. It's really a multi media art journal if I have to put a label on it. When it's done I will share all of the pages like a proud momma shares photos of her first baby. Which in all honesty this is my very first project since declaring myself an artist and there is a part of me that does not want to send it in. I have a feeling I might cry just like the day I sent my oldest son to kindergarten. Until I finish it I will share a page from my inspiration journal...yep, not only are there enough ideas for my sketchbook there are enough that I have three other art journals in progress!

For this page I just wanted to play with mixing colors. I intended to use only red, yellow and blue to create all twelve colors on the extended color wheel. I chickened out and added the three secondary colors as well as blue-green. I did do a lot of mixing on the page and learned a lot about color theory. I just used my fingers to mix the paints right on the pages so it was totally fun which was my other objective! Then I wanted to play with the black and white India Ink I had just purchased. When you blow on the ink through a straw it spreads differently on acrylic paint that it does on gesso or plain paper.  I didn't get the result I was looking for with the white splotches but I learned something new.

Thanks for stopping by and if you feel moved please leave a comment. Your words mean the world to me!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Another Page From My Sketchbook

A tribute to of my favorite colors!!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Altered Brush Project

My brush arrived in the mail the other day. I am going to alter my brush into a piece of artwork and send it back to Donna Downey to display in the bathroom gallery of her new studio. I am so excited to get started but have a couple of ideas I need to decide between. To see other brushes that are ready to be hung take a look The Altered Brush Project. There are some amazingly talented artists out there!

Here's a look at another page in my sketchbook. I used gesso to prime the page and then scribbled with Watercolor Wonder Crayons from Stampin' Up. I used a water brush to wet the color. I didn't realize how the color would pool on the primed surface so it didn't turn out how I envisioned it. I let it sit for a few weeks trying to decide if I was happy with it anyway or if I wanted to do something else on top of it....then I happened upon the stamp in the clearance bin at Michael's. I loved the quote from Picasso and I decided the page was perfect the way it was!

P.S. If you have any tips on how to better photograph my work or better share it here I welcome any suggestions! Thanks!

Have a colorful day!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

I'm baaaaack....

on my blog that is (I don't think that I was ever missing from any other aspect of my life but I guess I can't be sure myself, can I?) and I've made some changes! Not nearly enough changes but it will suffice for now. I have spent this summer doing many things...We have had "Make It Mondays", "Take A Trip Tuesdays" (which almost never actually occurred on Tuesday, whatever), "Wet Wednesdays" and "Frozen Fridays". The frozen refers to ice cream so of course Fridays were my favorite! We've seen movies, attended soccer camps, made s'mores, played golf, redecorated Sam's room, attended a Fire game, took the train downtown to see Doug's office and have lunch at The Mart, enjoyed time with friends, had a PJ day (or 3) and took our annual trip to Castlerock Lake in Wisconsin to camp with the Bennetts. I think it is safe to say a good summer was had by all and the kids were sad to see summer come to an end.

I have also done one other very important thing this summer...I have decided what I want to be when I grow up! After much soul searching, contemplating, researching, journaling and reflecting I have decided I am going to be an Artist or that I am an Artist (depending on who you ask I suppose).

I posted this to my friends on Facebook:

What are the "requirements" for calling yourself an artist? Do you have to have taken classes, sold a piece of your work, have your work on display somewhere? Is is a title where there are no "requirements" unlike that of say a doctor? I'm curious...what do you think?

My favorite answer came from my friend Jennifer who happens to be an art teacher. She said if you create an original piece you are an artist.  

There you have it, I am an artist!

One other response that I got from my friend Craig who is a performing artist said that for other people to take me seriously as an artist I need to sell my work or have it displayed in a gallery setting. His is a respectable opinion and one I took seriously even though it did not come with the instant gratification that I so loved of Jennifer's.

To that end I have gotten to work! I am participating in what is called The Sketchbook Project 2013. I was sent this humble sketchbook to fill with whatever my heart desires.

When it is complete I will mail it back to the Art House Co-op. My book will be cataloged and then taken on a tour of the country. It will be on display in numerous locations including Chicago during 2013. Once the tour is over it will live forever at the Brooklyn Art Library therefore putting my work on display. This project is making me very happy! It might not be exactly what Craig had in mind when leaving his comment but I'm working towards a goal and goals are good!

If you have interest in this project you can find information or sign up here The Sketchbook Project 2013.

I just received the materials for another project in the mail today! Since it just came I don't have a picture to share yet. When finished this one will be on display in Huntersville, South Carolina at Donna Downey Studios. Donna Downey is a fun and fantastic multi media artist that I had the pleasure of taking a class with this summer. 

Finally, (if you've made it this far thank you!) I have returned to my blog here and figure in this age of the internet I can make this my own public "gallery" of sorts. I am on an Art Journey! Care to come along?