14 December 2017–Hanukkah party…

Blessed to have help for my Hanukkah party tonight.  Thanks to husband’s job, I have a chef and housekeeper!  Next year I will have to do it myself, but it’s such an American thing to offer help that I’ve had two guests ask if they could bring anything!  Next year I will say yes, but I will be living in a different country and have different guests…

Today’s card is about changing/ choosing my mood…I often am drawn to these kind of messages, because I know that I CAN affect my mood with what I think about, but sometimes forget that I can use that intentionally.  December can be hard in places with short amounts of daylight.  Humans were smart to make so many holidays around the winter solstice because we need cheerful things to help us get through these days when there is not much natural light.  Happily the sun is out this morning and shining in my window.  What a lovely thing.

I’m always amused to find appropriate symbolism I did not intentionally put in my little pieces, like the hanukkah candles and night sky and wrapping paper!  And maybe even an angel on the right upper side…  I guess sometimes when words and images “feel right” together it’s because of symbolism I didn’t consciously see when I was making it.

Better December

Unintentional chanukah/ winter holiday symbolism is probably why these felt like the right words for this card!

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Wednesday, 13 Dec 2017

Spent several hours in my studio yesterday and finished this, which I had started a while ago.  I was pleased about the words–this one actually started with the words, which is not usually the case.

world's best friendsThis is the first piece I have put any depth into–not a lot, but the corrugated card underneath lifts the words a little.  Bought a circle cutter on clearance in the US, and like how easy it makes it to get accurate circles.  The one I have doesn’t give me much size choice, but it’s good for a start.  I really like the contrast of controlled circles made from gelatin prints and paint brush/ brayer cleaning sheets.  And a scrap of the great newsprint wrapping paper too.

Started working on a door decoration for winter/ chanukah, and will finish that today and add a little touch of festiveness to the house.  Having a chanukah gathering tomorrow to eat potato pancakes and maybe even doughnuts!

12 Dec 2017

I screwed up my rhythm with blogging and cards, and I don’t know that anyone else in the world noticed, but I didn’t like it.  But I am NOT going to stigmatize myself for this lapse!

Lost stigma

Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.

I was going to post this card the other day, but didn’t really “connect” to its words so I didn’t, and it was what led to my lapse in posting!  I like the message on the card, but not happy with my wobbly black letter outlines.  I am learning that when I use the magazine words, they are fragile and I can rub the color off them and then I have to figure out how to make them more visible, and so I tried using white and black paint pen.  Since I am not a computer, my “fixes” aren’t perfect!

So today I am going to work on NOT feeling a mark of disgrace for being human and imperfect, for lapsing in my daily blog/ FB posting of cards.

I have also been annoyed at my body, that seems to be not liking the onset of winter’s dark and cold.  My leg muscles have been hurting, and I’m having more pins and needles feeling in my arms/ legs that may be worsened for mechanical reasons of posture and walking in boots etc.  So I need to work on being more active while also being more cognizant of how I’m sitting etc.   But even if I can improve these things, having Multiple Sclerosis is at the root of the issues and that is not magically going away.

I hate being “chronically ill” and don’t really thing of myself that way.  Whoa.  Just realized that I am stigmatizing myself–feeling like MS is a mark of disgrace somehow.  I don’t know WHY I have MS.  I didn’t CHOOSE to have it.  If I did something to cause it, I don’t know what, and didn’t intend to have it.  MS is for me an “invisible illness” at this point–you can’t tell I have it by looking at me.  Which is a benefit in some ways, and challenge in others…

So today I am an imperfect person with MS, who happens to feel happier when I make and share art.  And am trying to lose any stigma I feel because of being imperfect and because of having a chronic illness.

Today at home all day being creative.  Or at least that’s my plan.

Sunday, 10 Dec 2017–DARK!

It’s a dark, overcast day today, which means my plans to go shopping for winter decorations to make my more more cozy and cheerful will be beneficial to my enjoyment of winter. We are having a chanukkah gathering Thursday, and I was just at a work-related holiday gathering that had cheerful, tasteful holiday decor on top of the normal house, and I realized I have NOTHING that says “cheerful holiday” in my home.  And while I have a few specifically chanukkah things, I also need to think about how to make my home more cheerful and cozy on the dark days of Northern European winter.  Only about two weeks to the solstice, but even during the day we need sparkly lights to help keep up our spirits while the sun is hidden.

So this is where I am emotionally today as I choose a card to post.  It seems, however, that I need to finish some more art cards, because I only had three left that I haven’t posted. None of them are what I want.  In fact I chose one, worked on writing about it, and then decided that since I was really struggling, it isn’t the right one to post today.  I just don’t feel like struggling with its meaning to me or its greater meaning right now.  If it were resonant with my feelings, it would not seem like such a struggle.

But I have been posting one per day.  So do I choose one of the other cards, or choose to not post anything this morning and see if I can finish something today that fits my mood better?  Hmm….  Maybe that is the answer.  Maybe I should go up to my studio and see if something more suitable comes together.  Or maybe I will find something while out getting additions to festive decor that will be more fitting to today…there is a likelihood I will find things to use in art as well as in decor today….

 

Saturday, 9 Dec 2017

I have been working on my bullet journal, trying a new strategy for arranging it and including a copy of one of my art cards for a guiding thought for the week.  I’m trying to decide how to describe what I’m doing since I seem to have inadvertently developed a “thing” with my little art series, but I haven’t yet defined it, and maybe doing so wouldn’t actually be that helpful.  I’ve read a couple of books by Austin Kleon, one of which Show your work talks about having a “hashtag” that fits your work, so that’s what is making me think about this, I guess.  When I first read it I really had no specific thing defining MY art, and hashtags are only specific to a point anyways.

My other thoughts for the moment are about holidays and Chanukah and decorating.  Went to a holiday open house at a home that was nicely decorated for the holiday, and thought “Wow, I need to do something before the Chanukah gathering we are organizing…”  And really, I am thinking it would be nice to have some “winter” decor to make things more cozy and cheerful as we go through a dark Central European winter….

Today’s small art!  It’s a good challenge to have enough cards to choose from to pick something that suits my feelings/ mood and that I haven’t used before.  Since I am thinking about decor and dark winters and art, I’ll pick this today.  The black with white illegible writing is from a paper napkin–LOVE the way it looks when applied in a decoupage way with acrylic medium.  Lighting not ideal in this photo, but I like the way the texture is visible.

Dream magic

Thinking about religion, art, holidays, artificial intelligence, the mystery of the universe and astronomy, so this seems appropriate for December.

Friday, 8 Dec 2017

Ugh, made the mistake of looking at the news.  Do not see immediate nuclear war, which is good.  I think the weekend is safe in that sense.  Maybe.

I have some good things in process in the studio.  Did some work yesterday afternoon that finally started coming together, but need to finish details and backing cards and putting a finish coat on them.  I can’t work in late afternoon today b/c I have a social obligation, so I need to get into my studio earlier, and get out in time to dress etc for that…  All the snow is gone, which means it is warmer, but we don’t have the bright reflective snow anymore.  😦

I’m not sure this card has any particular meaning today, but I really like the river/ nature feel and the papers.  I think all of these are gelatin prints–a really fun way to make layers of color and pattern.  I have some that are whole A-4 sheets, and I also keep smaller pieces and scraps for using in these little pieces.

Magical repurposing

I love finding new uses for things, but one of my friends said while we were in a store together that every item I see, I think of how to use it to make art…which is pretty much true–I like particularly like finding surprising tools for making texture and pattern.

Thursday, 7 Dec 2017–fresh snow

Fresh snow really does make the outdoors brighter.

img_0574.jpg

If you can’t imagine many (or any) hopes and dreams, you might be depressed.

This seems aesthetically appropriate for a snowy day, and I choose it because I have been studying the map and travel information for our NEXT home, and marking things to go see.

There are TONS of things to go see–mostly I have been marking castles, because my husband likes castles, and they are indeed picturesque and beautiful and often have old towns near them.  Pretty much we enjoy seeing old stuff, and he takes pictures and I absorb the atmosphere and maybe sketch and maybe it comes out in my art somehow.  We are moving next summer from eastern Europe to western Europe, where we have never lived, so there are many areas we have not explored yet.

Looking at my map with all it’s “want to go” marks, I was thinking “How can we possibly see ALL these things?”  And we probably can’t see ALL of them.  There are a LOT of castles and castle ruins in Europe!  But I am thinking about things I want to see and do, which is good.  I have had times in my life when I have shrunk my dreams and goals to almost nothing, because I felt having dreams and goals was pointless.  Certainly an indicator of depression.  So having dreams and goals is a good indicator that I am not currently depressed, which is a good thing.

So if you look at this small art and can’t come up with any hopes and dreams, please get help.

Wednesday 6 Dec 2017

Grateful today for my SAD lamp that is helping to make waking up possible despite a late sunrise!

Last evening I tried scanning some of my small art cards, and the colors seem better, but I am still trying to figure out the best way to “digitize” them.  Thanks to my long-time friend Loribeth who has a blog and etsy shop and knows more about this stuff than I do, and is helping me.  She really has made amazing transformations in her house and posts gorgeous pics on her blog.  Beautiful, but a modest little house–not one where you are agog at how rich people live, but at how normal people can live if they are choosy.  http://blog.loribethclark.com/

Today’s small art:

IMG_0571

I am pleased that I can still think deeply enough to perplex my very bright children.  Apparently I can’t explain my thoughts well enough for them to follow, or interest them enough to want to though….but I enjoy my deep thoughts at any rate…

Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017

Once just isn't enough....

One thing I’ve learned is that changing habits is never just once and done….

Husband is back, dog is happy to have routine restored, cat is happy to have her nighttime heater on the bed.  It has been a struggle for me to come to the realization that New Year’s Resolutions don’t always work, and that I have to keep restarting my good intentions over and over again.  So today I’m picking this card (which is not from my most recent batch, but the previous one).  I may finally be accepting that my quest for an “authentic” life means I have to keep “starting over” over and over.  I hope I learn a little more each time I start over, and maybe do it better, and maybe, just maybe, when I’m really old (and don’t just “feel” really old) I will have integrated enough of my intentions that I will not feel like I have to start again…

So what IS an authentic life, anyways?  Well, I guess that definition is different for every person, and changes, which is another reason I have to keep clearing space for the real me.  Just like I have to keep clearing out my studio.  My mom actually struggled with this lesson too–I remember her being really annoyed that the house kept getting dusty.   She wanted to be able to put in the right furnace filter and have it collect all the dust and never need to dust the house again.  My mother was not a stellar housekeeper, so I come by my lack of housekeeping skill and routine honestly, and have passed that on to my kids.  What a great inheritance!  Ah, well, they can blame it on Grandma Jo….and  I suspect her mother and grandmother were much the same….

So if an “authentic” life means one that suits me and my needs at my current age and living situation, it makes sense that it is always a work in progress, needing adjustment and change to work with what is happening around me and what is happening inside me.  Constructing it once just isn’t enough…

Wednesday

 

Today’s little art:  IMG_0567

Ways I am helping myself by reaching for more….

SADD light:  Have been using my SADD light in the morning pretty religiously last couple of weeks, and it definitely makes it easier for me to wake up in the morning.  I knew that once I got back in the habit, I would notice the benefits and it would be easier to maintain the habit because it obviously helps.

Music:  I was looking for lively music, and so had downloaded a “global high-energy” playlist from my apple Music subscription.  I discovered through that I really enjoy Balkan-gypsy music which shades into Klezmer and Mariachi music too.  So I am putting that on more often, not just in my studio.

Media fast:  Working on actively challenging my urge to go read articles on current events that will just make me feel frustrated and sad.  I want to be generally informed, but this morning stopped myself from reading more about a recurring thing, because I thought “will it change my personal views, my general knowledge, or what I do today to know more about this?”  And the answer was “No, it will just increase my level of disillusionment with politics.”  So I didn’t go read more.  The brief summary was enough for me to be informed.

Social-ness and shopping:  Went out with a friend yesterday, and so enjoyed catching up.  We went to the mall, and I got a few things to use in my artwork including some ribbon with confusing English, some wrapping paper with old newspaper excerpts, some little canvas boards, a couple new punch shapes, some napkins to use the designs in art.  I really enjoy finding things NOT at art supply stores (though I enjoy those too!) because I feel like it makes my creations more “mine” if I use supplies to make art that were not intended for that.  Gift wrapping materials are good possibilities, as are kitchen items, and things intended for kids’ art, which is less “serious” than grown-up art supplies (but in Europe often quite decent quality!).  I also got some more kids watercolor paper, which I use for making gelatin prints, so like to have a supply of for when I start making them and can’t stop…

Studio time:  Spent some time in the evening in my studio, and really liked some black napkins with white illegible writing that I got to use in mixed media.  I worked on some notecards I had started but had only the beginnings of–some color and texture.  Did not get as far as words on anything, though looked through my stash of phrases for some ideas.  So nowhere near completing anything, but did “improve” some cards.  Also started an art journal page with some of the wrapping paper I got, putting some paper layers and paint down.  Still evolving, but I wanted some lines texture for the bottom layer of it, which I achieved.  Also used some of my most recent batch of gelatin prints.

And thinking about the things I am doing to help myself (“self-care”) is also a form of self-care, because it is helping me think more strategically about what helps me and what I should do more.