Saturday, December 31, 2011

Creativity...and a New Year!

Not only is this night six of Kwanzaa where I get to celebrate my favorite principle of CREATIVITY, but it's also the last night of 2011 AND I've got my Word of the Year to guide me as I move forward in the new year. It's a TRIPLE WHAMMY of goodness I get to celebrate today!

Now, first things first - my review of the principle of Creativity from last year...

Sixth night of Kwanzaa - Creativity
Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

One candle left to light and then Kwanzaa is at an end...until next year!

Then and Now:
Here are my hopes from last year -
  • One way I'd like to leave my Planet Earth more beautiful and beneficial is by using creativity in recycling old goods and giving them a new life in a new form. I do this when I make my t-shirt scarves and t-shirt skirts, not to mention the tote bag with the recycled t-shirt flower. I also recycle when I use old book pages for my collage work which keeps purchasing new craft paper to a minimum.
  • I do hope to make some of the projects from the book "re-bound", which my dear boyfriend gave me as a Christmas gift this year! This book has great ideas for recycling all sorts of things and I was very excited to see a project on using old (empty) gift cards for small books since there were some gift cards I had been holding onto for their graphic art and I nearly threw them away last week! WHEW! I'm SO glad I can re-purpose them now and I'll be sure to share that project when I begin to work on it...
Here is how I did in my projected goals:
I'm always using old book pages when making my collage art and I had a fabulous t-shirt dress made for me by a recycled garment artist. I was so inspired by this artist that I made a recycled t-shirt dress of my own*! (And I might make a few more before 2012 is over!)

 My own recycled t-shirt dress in teal, brown and chartreuse green - I like to think of it as my "Wood Fairy" dress ;)

I did not make the recycled gift card books this year but I have been making some little pocket-sized notebooks using outdated promotional postcards which I plan to list in my shop soon...

An example of one of my little notebooks made from a promotional postcard

Moving forward in 2012:
I plan on attempting one or two more recycled t-shirt dresses in 2012. Though it took me a few days to create my own dress (compared to the one day it took to have my dress made for me!) it was a wonderful challenge to create a dress of my own, adding some design elements that were a bit more advanced  than the original, not to mention the challenge of figuring out the 'puzzle pieces' to create a fit and flare shape and a 'ruffle' hem...

A detail shot of the back of my dress with a hand sewn and embroidered twill tag at the hem

I do plan to create some hand bound books in the new year using some old books I've been collecting for the purpose, and use pages from other books to make new signatures for the hand-bound ones I've got ideas for. I'll be recycling books in one way or another with this project! I think it's fair to say I've got enough ideas for recycling projects to keep me busy well into 2012...

My Word Of The Year

As I began this Kwanzaa review and read of my hopes for making more money in 2011 I began to think that my word for 2012 should be "money", since I was not very successful with this goal, though being laid off from a job that had already cut my pay is hardly something I had any  control over! I like to have a 'qualifier' for my words, so I thought "abundant money" could be my words to guide me in 2012, since this is a way to get specific with the Universe about what I need in my life.

Then, I began to see a pattern emerging of my desire for a circle of like-minded artists. I began to rethink the idea of "abundant money" and to think instead about "support" - I can give support, which I enjoy doing, and I can receive support in return which I sometimes need to work on! I then began to think that "mutual support" might be a guiding force for me in 2012.

After a session with my wonderful Life Coach Pete, we came upon the concept of "abundant support" as a guiding phrase to use in the new year. Pete then guided me through a lovely meditation and a word came to me out of this meditation: "plentitude"...I really liked the sound of this word as it felt like having plenty, as in "just the right amount" and not one bit more than is needed or necessary. After the many months of all the cleaning and clearing I've been doing in my humble home, I have come to respect the idea of "plentitude", of having just enough and not any more than is necessary to bring joy into my life!

However, after much thought and discussion, I've decided to go with this phrase moving forward in 2012:

Abundant Support

To me, this phrase means that support can come in ANY form - gifts of cooked meals, gifts of art supplies, gifts of tools needed to move forward in my artistic career, gifts of travel, gifts of friendship and companionship, gifts of interesting and unique experiences. Gifts of Support can come in many ways, large and small, that can be helpful to myself or someone else that I can lend support to, such as offering encouragement in creativity or sharing art supplies with others.

Support can certainly include money when it's needed, but I like removing the focus from money since it does not always cure everything. After all, money can't buy true friends or true love. Also, it's time for me to exercise RECEIVING SUPPORT which can be hard for me to do sometimes...and I have a feeling that I'm not the only one who has trouble receiving support when it's needed!

I'm looking forward to seeing how "Abundant Support" will play out in the new year to come, as well as seeing how I accomplish some of the principles of Kwanzaa in  2012. I still have one more principle to review tomorrow and it's one that can be challenging - 'Faith'. I hope you'll check back tomorrow as I complete my Kwanzaa review, if you haven't been up too late celebrating the New Year! ;)

May we all have "Abundant Support" and a Prosperous New Year in 2012!

* - I planned on having my dress made for me to support the recycled garment artist, since I still had some hours toward another dress, but the artist and his wife have been busy settling into a new gallery space. I might ask him to create a special sweater coat though, if I have enough hours toward one =-)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Purpose - A Review

I've been celebrating the principles of Kwanzaa which is an African American holiday celebrating important principles that strengthen community. I celebrated  these principles last year and this year I've been reviewing my hopes for how I hoped to incorporate those principles throughout 2011 so I can find ways to move forward in 2012...

Fifth night of Kwanzaa - Purpose
Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness

Candles are lit for each night of Kwanzaa in a 'kinara' - this is my version of a kinara =-)

Then and Now:

This is how I hoped to approach the principle of "Purpose" in 2011:

One way I hope to contribute to building and developing our community is by finding ways to work with children and youth and to inspire a love of the arts, visual and performance. I hope to find a way to volunteer my skills to this end, which I think will help to build a strong community of more artists and I hope it will pave the way for the Arts to take their place of greatness in our culture once again...

I was not able to find a way to do work with children and youth in the arts, though I was able to donate some of my artwork to City Hearts, an organization that does the kind of work I thought of doing. I have been approached by one of the ladies of City Hearts to consider working with children and upon much reflection, I'm not sure I'm qualified to work with children; after my recent job with the non-profit after-school program, I've come to learn that many children need professionally trained and skilled teachers to work with them. However, I won't rule out working with children in the future. I just need to rethink the best approach that will be best for all involved =-)

What is your Purpose looking forward in 2011? What are some ways you can help to build and develop your community in your Life?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cooperative Economics - A Review

Tonight is the fourth night of Kwanzaa and the principle to be celebrated is Cooperative Economics. I'm reviewing how I hoped to approach the principles of Kwanzaa in 2011 to see how I can move forward in 2012.

Fourth night of Kwanzaa - Cooperative Economics
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Then and Now:

Here is my list of how I hoped to incorporate Ujamaa in 2011 -
  • One way I hope to incorporate this principle is by supporting my fellow artists, through sharing about their amazing work, participating in e-courses or by purchasing their artwork.
  • There are also people I know that are self-employed in different trades, such as my Tax Man and I am happy to support his business! Maybe you know someone who has chosen to be self-employed that you can support? 
  • Another way I hope to incorporate this principle is by creating some wonderful items to sell in my own Etsy shop. I've got so many ideas of wonderful things to make, I just don't know how I'll have enough Time to make them! 
Here is what happened in 2011:
I can say that I managed to support small businesses on Etsy though they may not always have been art shops. I can also say that I did support artists through the interviews I created about them - it was a great way to showcase the work they do!

I'm still supporting my tax man and I like to think that I'm supporting small business by patronizing farmers markets for my produce...

While I did finally re-open my Etsy shop this year, I still have some improvement to make in creating more goods to sell, but selling supplies in my shop is one way to inspire creativity in others which goes back to my hopes from Self Determination =-)

What are some ways you can incorporate the principle of Cooperative Economics in your life for 2011??

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Collective Work and Responsibility - A Review

Tonight is the third night of Kwanzaa, the African American holiday that celebrates meaningful principles, with a new principle for each night. Tonight is the night we celebrate Collective Work and Responsibility and I'm reviewing what I accomplished in 2011 as I wrote about these principles last year, with the intent of finding ways to move forward with them in 2012.

Third night of Kwanzaa - Collective Work and Responsibility
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.

Then and Now...

Here is what I wrote about these principles last year:
  • I have worked with many people in the past year to help solve problems or to help them figure out a way to move forward or to help them take some first steps into their creative future by using my experience and my skills I've acquired in Life. I do expect to continue doing this type of work in the name of "solving each others problems" and I'm hoping that I can acquire a scholarship to learn how to facilitate Soul Collage workshops in order to continue helping others
  •   I also hope to do some collaborative work with other artists - I'm not sure how this will manifest, but I know it is something that I am hoping for in 2011... 
Sadly, I was unable to begin training in Soul Collage but I can say that I did help out a few people this year in terms of their creative work. I do hope to continue with helping out others and encouraging others in finding and doing their creative skills.

I'm also sorry to report that collaborative work did not take place this year as I'd hoped for, but since I didn't have a definite plan, that could have been a factor. Maybe if I am able to create the circle of like minded artists, there will be opportunities for collaboration? Then true 'Ujima' can be accomplished =-)

What are some ways you can incorporate Collective Work and Responsibility in your life for 2011??

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Self Determination - A Review

I am celebrating the African American holiday of Kwanzaa which lasts for 7 nights beginning on the night after Christmas and focuses on 7 principles. Tonight is the principle of Self Determination or Kujichagulia, and I'll be reviewing what I hoped to accomplish in 2011 when I wrote about this last year so I can make a plan moving forward in 2012.

Second night of Kwanzaa - Self-Determination
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. 

Then and Now...

Here is my list for what I hoped to accomplish in terms of self determination from last year:
  • I want to push my financial limits to their utmost in 2011 by earning more money than I could dare to dream of - apparently I have not been dreaming of very great financial success in the past few years!! ;)
  • I want to help others find their creative voice and give support where it is needed...
  • I want to create a home of comfort and welcome for the loved ones in my life...
  • I want to surround myself with like-minded artists, who are enthusiastic about the work they create...

Here is my review:
In regard to pushing my financial limits I guess I needed to be a bit more specific about earning more money since I was laid off from my already low paying job and money is tighter than ever at the end of 2011. I'm not sure what needs to change to bring more money into my life - mind set, skill set, emotional patterns??? I think my Word of the Year can be used to help with this aspect...

I'm not sure if I've been very effective in helping people find their creative voice in 2011, but I do think I have been able to give support to many friends and a few blog buddies when I could. I'll have to ponder this aspect of self determination to see where and how I can improve in 2012

It seems that this was another aspect that went backward rather than forward but I've certainly been working on creating a home of comfort and welcome in the past few months! If I can get there the goal will be to maintain some tidy comfort that will welcome all who pass through my door =-)

I want to work harder on creating a circle of like-minded artists, who are enthusiastic about the work they create and I'd have to add that they should be able to face their fears and still be able to do the work they love. I'm definitely feeling a need for some sort of circle of 'colleagues' to visit with on a more regular basis...

What are some ways you could incorporate the value of Self-Determination in your life for 2011?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kwanzaa for 2012

Last year, I created a series of posts explaining the African American holiday celebrated at this time, Kwanzaa, and I want to do it again this year by doing a review of how I was or wasn't able to incorporate the principles of Kwanzaa throughout the year so I can plan how to make amendments moving forward into 2012. If you'd like to read the posts from last year, you can find them all HERE and if you'd like to learn about the holiday itself, you can read this Wikipedia page and check out more details at this website...

I also work on finding my Word of the Year at this time and I believe I have found my guiding words for 2012 that will be revealed by New Years Eve. I may even do a review of how my 'Word of the Year' played out in the meantime, let the review begin!

First night of Kwanzaa - Unity (Umoja)
 Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race

A "kinara" is used when lighting the candles for each night of Kwanzaa - this is my 'makeshift' kinara =-)

Then and Now...

This is the list I created for incorporating the principle of Unity in my life as I moved forward in 2011:
  • make time/space in my life for visiting friends more often
  • making time to send messages or gifts through the mail
  • contribute my skills, time or money toward a worthwhile cause 
Here is what took place:
I did make time to visit friends by making a commitment to attend the weekly knitting night at my favorite knitting shop and I can tell you that it was long overdue! I realized how much I had missed the company of my fellow knitters and I now manage to go almost every week. I also got back in touch with an old friend who sells vintage goods and we made a few shopping excursions to help her find goods for her shop!

I did make time to send mail or small gifts to a few friends, such as one friend who moved to Canada in the fall, as well as sending goodies to other wonderful blog buddies. I do feel that I can improve in this area by sending mail (and Mail Art!) more often and I will continue to work on this aspect.

I did help out a young couple who owned an art gallery, by volunteering my administrative skills. And I also donated some of my artwork to my favorite non-profit that is dedicated to helping children through art, City Hearts. However, I'd like to find ways to expand my volunteerism and this is something I will work on in 2012.

What are some ways you can incorporate more Unity in your life with your community?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Little Bit of Spirit...

I've written here before about feeling "Scrooge-y" in the midst of "the most wonderful time of the year" and sadly, this year is no exception. In fact, I've felt less spirit than I ever have in the past...

I usually manage to muster up a little bit of spirit before the big day arrives, but I think I've been doing so much cleaning and clearing that I've run out of energy for the holiday! I can usually get a bit of spirit going if I decorate, but the thought of bringing out the holiday decorations in the midst of so much cleaning just didn't sound appetizing, but I did find a way to do a little bit of decorating this year...

This picture illustrates how I'm feeling this holiday season - hazy with shadows of spirit coming through...

One thing I do look forward to each year is my annual visit with my wonderful Wise Woman, Janet. We have our very own tradition we created at this time of year though she is Jewish and I am...non-denominational! Our annual tradition is called:

"Monica's Movie Matinee!"

Janet does not own a tv and she doesn't always get to see popular movies since her husband is more a fan of foreign films. I began to show her snippets of popular films that I owned and it all began by showing her bits of different versions of The Nutcraker ballet, since it's my favorite ballet and I own several versions of it.

We pool our resources to have a gathering of foods that we can each enjoy and it usually includes goat cheese since we both enjoy eating goat cheese and our respective partners are not fans of it. We often have our movie matinee in the afternoon but this year we celebrated in the morning since Janet had to pick up her husband at the airport in the afternoon, so we celebrated with a brunch for a nice change.

I am glad to report that my annual event with my wonderful Wise Woman went very well, even though I was not able to clear my dining table to set out our food as we have done in the past...

My dining table, currently my art table, since it's close to the kitchen sink for water when I'm painting

I was able to clear off much of the clutter on my little sofa so Janet could sit in comfort while we dined and watched bits of movies. This year the bits were titled "The singing sensations of Ewan McGregor"*!

My little love seat with much of the clutter that is usually piled on the arms of the sofa - a small tray provided a place for Janet to rest her plate

It was a lovely morning of tasty food, thoughtful conversation and watching movies of singing and dancing! It is my favorite tradition of the holiday season...

Another tradition I've grown to love is celebrating the African American holiday of Kwanzaa. I've been working on a series of posts that will begin the day after Christmas, which is when Kwanzaa begins. I've been reviewing my posts from last year to see how I managed to incorporate the principles of Kwanzaa in my life and I will be thinking of how to move forward in the new year.

I've also been giving some thought to what my Word of the Year will be in 2012 and I'll certainly reveal that on the last day of 2011. I hope you'll check in after Christmas to read the series!

I hope that you are enjoying holiday traditions of your own with the people you love most, whatever those traditions may be...

A Happy Holiday Weekend to you all!
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* - Ewan McGregor has sung in the films "Emma", "Miss Potter" and of course, "Moulin Rouge", all of which I own on dvd =-)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cleaning and Clearing, Bit by Bit

I've been pegging away at the cleaning and clearing project of my home, but it's been a bit up and down, backward and forward...Here are some shots of one area in my little home:

This area is the space between the "dining" area and the "living room" which, as you can see is taken up by my clothing rack that I use to dry most of clothes and my bicycle that, sadly, has not been used for some time...and you can also see my dining room table that is used for collage and painting since the kitchen sink is just a few steps away. I'll share some pictures of the dining room table soon, if you can stand the horror! ;)

The stacks and piles were actually bigger before I took these shots, so this is not a proper "before" shot, but it's still quite a mess with piles of boxes, bins and books which are sitting under my collapsible clothing rack for drying my clothes. (As someone who works with fabrics a lot, I can tell you that nothing will fade the color of your garments more than heat from the dryer...or BLEACH!)

I usually collapse it down between washings but it's been left up for awhile now as I seem to continually be washing clothing or fabrics. The batch of t-shirts you see facing forward are going to be used for another t-shirt dress, eventually...

You can see that the pile did get smaller in the shot above but that did not last for very long as I managed to arrange a meeting with a nice lady who owns this wonderfully fabulous vintage shop, Hide and Seek LA. It is a charming store that sells lots of lovely vintage and I hoped to sell off as many of my grandmother's things as possible. I didn't sell as much as I'd hoped, but I did make a few helpful dollars to use for a gift for my dear boyfriend for the holidays =-)

And I did clear out a box or two, so now the area now looks like this:

As I continue to clean and clear all the accumulated stuff from my home, I get ideas of how I want to move things around and the big idea swimming in my head lately is to get rid of the tired old love seat I've had for several years. I don't have a picture of it just now, but I'll be sure to take one soon to share with you all.

You might be asking what would replace the love seat. Nothing! I really like the idea of having cozy comfy chairs in the living area, such as my comfy chair that I sit in while having sessions with my wonderful Life Coach, Pete...

This was a thrift shop find - I made the burgundy slip cover to hide the boring upholstery it was covered in!

I'm not sure how I'll acquire a few more cozy comfy chairs for my humble abode, but I'm hoping that all the cleaning and clearing will pave the way to make room for better things in my greater financial abundance! I'll be sure to keep you posted as I continue my cleaning and clearing project, so stay tuned!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Creative Beast Interview - Faery Mysterium

Hello dear blog readers! I've been busy with quite a lot in the past week such as working on a wonderful interview to share with you today with a truly magical artist. It's been on my back burner simmering for awhile now and I am happy to say it's ready to be savored. I'm so excited to share this interview with you all!
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Interview with Michelle Van Fleet of Faery Mysterium

I first met Michelle at the Scottish Highland Games back in October when someone mentioned a vendor selling beautiful, magical faery chairs made of crystals and semi-precious stones. My dear boyfriend and I made our way to find this vendor and we were not disappointed!

Michelle had a unique tent and set up that felt as though we were entering a magical world and indeed we were. Several tiny and dainty faery chairs were laid out before us, each one more magical than the last! My dear boyfriend chose a chair to take home for a faery figurine he had brought back from a trip to Ireland and his tiny faery was soon ensconced in her new throne...
The faery usually sits inside his home but I shot the faery and her chair outside among my dear boyfriends many potted plants -
Photo enhanced by Michelle Van Fleet

We had an enjoyable conversation with Michelle who spoke with us about her chairs and how they are each made for a particular spirit. As she spoke about her creative work, I realized that she would be a great subject for an interview - an amazing artist full of creativity. I asked if I could interview her and I was so happy when she agreed! Thank you and welcome Michelle!

Michelle, Artist and Creator of Faery Mysterium
Who first introduced you to creating? Was it a family member - a teacher? How did that person influence you?

My grandfather, Fred Sersen, was head of the special effects art department at 20th Century Fox for decades. He was brilliant, won 2 Oscars for his work, along with a dozen nominations. Both of my parents were very supportive of my artist efforts. My grandfathers' paintings were hung throughout our home, so I grew up surrounded by beautiful art created by a professional, successful artist. That informed my notion of what was possible early on.

Your grandfather certainly had an illustrious career that can be found at IMDB, not to mention a Wikipedia page! It's wonderful that you had such a family legacy of creativity and support throughout your childhood.

What were your first creative actions that you remember? (Sewing, Dancing, Painting, etc?)

I loved to paint, to do collage and mosaic (assemblage at an early age!), draw with charcoal, create jewelry with beads. I had a little door-to-door business selling my necklaces when I was about 8.  I loved to dance to the Nutcracker Suite (who didn't??) and I was very fond of trying to create Haiku poems. And oh yes, mustn't forget to mention I was creating (and selling to my schoolmates) woodland outfits for those neon hair troll dolls. Clearly, I took after my grandfather in a big way, but I was coloring 'outside the lines' even then.

I love that you were an entrepreneur at such a young age Michelle! It reminds me that I made little things that I sold to some of my friends in school: embroidered key chain charms and book markers!

Do you have a favorite medium to create in? If so, what is it?

My favorite medium is always whatever is current for me. But I must say, this current assemblage work is really knocking my socks off. Each work is a whole new puzzle, with many layers and levels to experience within the process.

How do you feel when you are creating in your chosen medium?

Whatever I am attuned to, I am creating there because I am in harmony with that process and mode of artistic expression. That said, what this then offers is the opportunity to get into 'the zone', where one is existing outside of time and the inspiration is pouring through. Truly, the works that emerge from that space can feel as though they are beyond me, in a sense. There is no direct forethought, the piece literally morphs and emerges as it will, while I look to "feel" the placement, the stones, the colors, the curves. It is all about feeling your way through, not thinking what something should or shouldn't be. Very organic and intuitive. This is what I love. So in a way, it is my process of refining my being, my consciousness.
A scene from Michelle's workshop - a faery chair in process...

What is the greatest joy you derive from creating? Accomplishment? The process? Sharing it with others? Please explain…

First and foremost for me is the process . As I mentioned before, my artistic process is also a method of personal refinement. When I cannot 'see' what is coming into form, and yet trusting my process and going with the proverbial 'flow', this creates self-trust as an artist. The surprise and delight I experience with the finished piece further strengthens the concept of self-trust, which is applicable in all aspects of life.

This is also a collaborative effort. There really is a distinct being that is connected to each of these pieces; that is what makes them portals. The energetic tone that is created is what they respond to, and assists them to come through into this world we inhabit. I have had to learn to "listen" to their input. This I put in quotes, as it is a different sort of listening than we are use to. It comes through the mind of the heart. This sort of refinement is ongoing, and I thoroughly enjoy focusing there.

I do love to connect with those who enjoy my works, it often opens many doors and many wonderful conversations ensue. But more often than not, my pieces move along to their intended caretakers on their own and I never meet who receives them. So it really is the process and collaboration with the fae that spurs me on.

Accomplishment? I do love these whimsical little wonders, and have created quite a body of work to date (over 450, give or take a few...). But once they are ready to move along, it is on to the next. The greater sense of achievement comes through my own growth I addressed above, as well as sticking with this; keeping to my decision to have this really be the thing for me.

I have to agree with you on all the points you've made. I've learned that sometimes the materials know better than I do how to get to the end result of whatever I'm creating and though I may have a firm idea or plan in mind, my materials will do what they will and the end result will usually look MUCH better than I'd imagined. I also admire that you are able to let go of each chair as they are made - it's not always easy for artists to let their work go out into the world, especially such beautiful chairs as the ones you make! In regard to letting go of work created, I think this quote from a Pixar character says it best for me: "I never look back darling, it distracts from the NOW" ;)

Do you think a creative life comes from ideas, doing or being?

Yes, yes and yes. Creativity, in order to be fully realized, asks to be brought forward into 'being-ness'. We are all creative, we are all weaving stories in our heads every moment of every day! For me, it is to have a specific concept, with a desired result that the creator/artist has decided upon, and to then hold to that vision as it takes form. This is not to say the vision must remain static, not at all. My vision of where I am going with this body of work is changing all the time. And yet, there is a consistent thread carrying through in each and every piece. The actual 'doing' of the piece, the creation process, is what moves me along, and also develops these works. If all I was doing was thinking about and visualizing them with no 3rd dimensional creation, no growth would unfold. 

A creative life, in my experience, asks one to be able to turn on a dime and head off into uncharted territory, all the while certain that this too shall bear fruit. Or faery chair treasure, as the case may be.

How do you express your creative life? Is it integrated in your daily life or is it a separate part of your life?

Creativity is integral to my experience of myself. If I am not in one process, I am in another, of asking/pondering questions and looking for those unexpected possibilities. As a spiritual being, I am certainly what is called a 'contemplative', and this is also my creative method. I let my mind wander and open my self to the moment, the alchemy of what is before me. 

These works I am involved in, they are a collaborative effort. It is all happening between myself and the faery that will presence through it, as well as the person it is going to. Those connections are coming through all the time, with the nexus occurring at the time the piece is created. I am always swimming around in many levels of expression. In fact, I have to work every day at getting grounded.

Can you think of a time when someone else’s creativity fed you? What was that like?

Other's creativity feeds me all the time. I am always taking in all forms of art, as often as possible. I am a big fan of "". My own postings there are flux and flow, as my greatest enjoyment is the ability to tap into and share in the creations of others worldwide. I love your blog Monica for the same reason. It is just delightful to share in another's process, their take on things, and what emerges from that for them. I love that we are all so unique.

Thank you for your kind words Michelle! I do love your website - it's chock full of beautiful imagery that is inspiring for me as well =-)

What is the most significant creative event in your life to date? Was it a defining moment? Was it a milestone or a lifetime goal?

My most significant personal creative moment was giving birth to my amazingly wonderful son, and all of the moments with him that have followed since. To share so deeply in the the life of another, right from the beginning! This is an amazing gift and honor. Having a child changed me forever, opening my heart and my mind like nothing else. Again, this is a major creative process, ongoing and constantly shifting. He is not 'mine', just as the art works I create are not 'mine', but I do get to go along for the ride and it's fascinating and challenging and wonderful. Letting go while remaining present is an art form unto itself...

I often hear many mothers speak of their children as their greatest works of art and their biggest contributions to the world. It's great to hear you speak of how you 'let go' while remaining in the present - it is quite an art form to have that ability! There are a few mothers who have difficulty in that area...luckily, mine was not one of them ;)

How do you feel about working a ‘day job’? Do you feel your day job is in alignment with your life and your values? If not, does that matter to you?

I do work a 'day job', lol. I design and sell sofas and chairs for humans! How funny is that. I have been in retail for quite awhile, and learned how to design custom furnishings many years ago. I really enjoy that process as well. It is a collaboration with the home owners, to help them to reach their vision for their interior environment. So many people do not have the visualization ability that I am blessed with, so it is satisfying to be able to know the right questions to ask to help them express themselves effectively.

When I began this most recent journey, with Faery Mysterium, I gave everything a lot of thought. I have tried, with varying degrees of success, to express myself artistically over the years. How do I define success, you ask? I have always wanted to reach a level of actualization in my work where I am really, deeply pleased with it's ongoing progress and development. I have also always wanted to strike a chord in those who experience it, to effect them internally. I find I have created just that with this current effort, and it is just so funny to me. We often read how other's reached their greatest level of personal success by doing that which they love the most. Well, I can tell you that certainly holds true here. I certainly did not foresee the depth and breadth of response that has come forth from these works. Who know the world was waiting for little crystal faery chairs?  It is really great to experience!

Back to what I was saying. I looked very hard within, to target those beliefs and self made "rules" that had me bogged down from really flying. I wanted to avoid my own pitfalls this time. Having a 'day job' is one of my answers. I found that I did not do well with the stress that came with depending upon my art for all of my needs. So I decided I would work a few days, enough to pay the rent and buy the food, that sort of thing. The other days I work for myself, creating faery artworks! This balance has been great for me, and allowed me the platform to progress upon towards my eventual goal of working exclusively as a full time artist again.

What is most important to me at this time is balance, and a flow of success. I don't want to suffer for my art, I just want to keep it all moving along together as best I can and enjoy the ride. The journey is the whole thing, and being at peace with your choices is the ticket to having fun. 

I love your metaphor of the "ticket to ride" as you continue on your journey as an Artist! It's great that you were able to pinpoint what would and wouldn't work for you to be fulfilled as an artist and I love that you are able to have a day job that is in alignment with your creativity, not to mention a funny coincidence that you design furniture/chairs for humans as well as for faeries!

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Thank you, Michelle, for taking time to be interviewed! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it! If you'd like to see and purchase a faery chair for yourself, or if you'd like to be inspired and see what inspires Michelle, you can find her at these sites on the internet:

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Gift of Orly's Workshops

Hello dear blog readers! I'm still soaking up the energy from participating in Orly Avineri's last workshop for 2011, "The Gift Swap" - it was a wonderful afternoon of great art, great company and great food!

It was a small group for this workshop so we were able to move at a leisurely pace. We were instructed to "doodle" in each others art journals to give one another our gift of artwork. Here are the BEAUTIFUL gifts I received from my fellow art journalers:

This one was made by Orly herself - I love the woman peeking out amidst the swirls and shapes!

Do you see how we were influenced by each others starting points?

Do you also see the pattern of CIRCLES we began with??

Just look at all the detail of each piece - aren't they amazing?!!?! They are beautiful gifts, indeed =-)

Orly then had us choose some lovely bits of paper to work with and draw any shape we saw in them. We also had to find a way to incorporate the drawing with the existing work or make it a focal point. Here is how my journal spread began to evolve...

First evolution with inspirational papers

Second evolution - more detail is added

Of course we took a break for lunch with delicious foods set out in a most appetizing way...

More circle shapes....I think there was a theme for this day!! ;)

Before the workshop took place, we had been instructed by Orly to bring at least one journal to share with the others - sharing our "gifts" of art journaling. We ooohed and aaahed over each others art journals and got inspired by each other - what a gift!

We fell back to work to color in our journal pages however we wished - we could cover the 'gifts' or leave them as they were. I loved the 'gifts' my fellow art journalers gave me and I didn't want to cover over them, so I began to color them individually and fill in the background...

My journal spread by the end of workshop - I've added to it since then and I'll share that soon...

I got to learn how to use Caran D'Ache water soluable pencils brought by a workshop participant, which was another great gift - I'm hoping to get a set to use in future workshops, as well as at home. They are really fun to work with and produce lovely effects.

I've been adding color to my journal spread since I wanted to keep the gifts I received as they were and add color to them as though they were "coloring pages". It's been a long time since I did detail coloring work and this gift is a wonderful way to get back into that! I'll be using my fine point markers and a different set of color pencils that I own - Koh-I-Noor Woodless Color Pencils.

The wood-less pencils look great but they break easily without the wood covering to protect the leads. This workshop is the first time I actually began to work with my Koh-I-Noor wood-less pencils and I like the feel of them and the color they produce - I'll be sure to get some pictures of this set of color pencils to show you. In fact, I may just post about all the color pencil sets I own - I own a few sets!

This workshop was a wonderful gift for me in so many ways - it got me to use a set of color pencils that had been sitting around for a few years since I bought them! I got to see some art journaling friends before the end of 2011, as well as seeing and visiting with Orly in her lovely home, which inspires me as I continue my cleaning and clearing project. I got to look into other art journals that have inspired me to add to my own journals or they inspired some ideas for different projects altogether! It was also a gift to myself to honor my art, as a friend pointed out when I spoke to her about this workshop. It was a wonderful afternoon that I'll look back on as this year fades into a new year. Many thanks to Orly for her fabulous workshops! I'm looking forward to the new ones in 2012!

I'm off to do some more cleaning in my home as well as adding color to my journal spread. I'll be back to share pictures of both soon, so stay tuned!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Creative Beast Interview - Gwynnie B Designs

Hello dear blog readers! It's been awhile since I've posted any interviews, though I've had a few simmering on my creative back burners! So you can imagine how excited I am to share today's interview with Gwynnie of Gwynnie B Designs...

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Interview with Gwynnie of Gwynnie B Designs

I met Gwynnie at my very first Artful Journey Retreat during one of the meals on the first day of classes. I spoke to her about my project that I had submitted to a gallery for exhibit, "Currency of Strength" and she wanted to see it. She was so enthusiastic about the concept that I knew I had met a fellow feminist and artist, not to mention an awesome Scorpio Soul Sistah! I consider myself lucky to be able to say I know this awesome chick!

She creates wonderful and whimsical jewelry and gifts that you can find on her website and she is currently beginning to explore a new passion for painting. Gwynnie is one creative beast and I'm so glad she agreed to be interviewed. Thank you for being here today Gwynnie - let's begin!

Gwynnie with her fabulous purple-streaked hair!

Who first introduced you to creating? Was it a family member - a teacher? How did that person influence you?

My great grandmas and my paternal grandma were seamstresses and my mom was pretty handy with a sewing machine and a glue gun, and my maternal grandpa was a musician, so I'm sure watching them as a kid encouraged me to be creative. There were always outfits being made for my Barbies, Halloween costumes for my sister and I and music filling the house, so without knowing it at the time, these creative moments were influencing my creative talent. 

Even though "art" wasn't encouraged in my home, the women in my life were hard workers, so I learned early on that if you want to get something done, or something sewed, have a talented woman do it!  This in itself was a huge influence on me and a starting point for my own creative endeavors.

LOL! I hear you on having a talented woman get things done Gwynnie! Huzzah to that! ;)

What were your first creative actions that you remember?

I remember lying on the living room floor at about 5 years old, with pigtails tangling, drawing horses and cats on scrap paper.  I was in a trance and very happy! I also did some finger painting about this age, and of course, some sewing.  I think I made an outfit by the time I was in junior high. I don't think it held up very well but I made it! 

One of Gwynnie's mixed media treasure boxes available at her website...

Do you have a favorite medium to create in? If so, what is it?

Right now it's acrylic paint.  I can't have enough paint and watercolor paper!  Prior to this new obsession it was fine silver metal clay (precious metal clay or PMC) and designing and creating a line of jewelry.  And I love glue, glitter, rhinestones, paper, vintage findings, and did I mention glitter and rhinestones?

How do you feel when you are creating in your chosen medium?

Like the luckiest chick on the planet! I go into this zone and don't want to come out of it.  Sometimes I forget to eat and my husband has to remind me to stop and get some nourishment.  Creating truly is magic for me.

Gosh! I thought I was the only artsy gal who forgets to eat when being creative!! Creating sure does make time fly and in the nicest way...

What is the greatest joy you derive from creating? Accomplishment? The process? Sharing it with others? Please explain…

The greatest joy for me is that I have the choice to create.  My grandmas and my mom never had the opportunities I have, or the choices, so for me to be able to do what I love is the greatest feeling ever. I'm grateful every single day that I get to do what I've always dreamed of doing! 

I feel the same way Gwynnie, especially when I see so many others make a choice to NOT use their creativity and it really IS a CHOICE we can all make in every moment. I think "To choose" is perhaps the biggest creative action we take every day...

Lovely little bowls from Gwynnie's website...

Do you think a creative life comes from ideas, doing or being?

All of the above!  We're all creative beings, and I truly believe we are all artists in some way. Whether it's making traditional art or putting together a menu to feed your family, it's the doing and the being and the ideas that spark the creative process.  I don't think you can have one without the other when living a creative life. And life is about creating!

How do you express your creative life? Is it integrated in your daily life or is it a separate part of your life?

I am a woman who makes art and an artist who happens to be a woman.  There is no separation in my life.  All aspects of my life, from clothing to decorating, is a reflection of my artful self with no line of demarcation.

Can you think of a time when someone else’s creativity fed you? What was that like? 

Oh, this happens everyday!  I'm fed very well with all of the inspiration around me, from fellow artists, nature, the Internet, and just plain ol' life.

What is the most significant creative event in your life to date? Was it a defining moment? Was it a milestone or a lifetime goal?

The most significant creative event in my life was the decision to pursue my art.  I'll never forget the day I was completely honest with myself and decided I needed a huge change.  I was commuting to grad school and was very unhappy with the direction my life was going. I pulled over on the highway, called my husband to tell him I was quitting grad school, and then turned the car around to face an uncertain future as an unemployed artist! This decision, to finally listen to my heart, was the most creative and defining moment in my life as an artist, and as a free woman.

I sure am glad you made that choice Gwynnie - otherwise I would be interviewing someone else today!! ;) Seriously, it can be hard to make the decision to become a full time artist so I heartily applaud you!

Create your own Fairy Tale and honor your Story with this charming book!

What is it like to be a self-sustaining artist? 

Wonderful, hard, challenging, fabulous!  Wouldn't have it any other way.

Is your life different from the time when you worked for others?

Very different! There's a different code, a different way of doing things because you're answering to others and following other people's ideas.  I loved working for other people but I always felt that something was missing.  Now I follow my ideas, my code and my way of doing things.  Plus, my dogs and cats get to go to work with me!  And I don't have to wear a bra if I don't want to.


LOL!! yes, pets and no bra are some great perks to working for yourself, even if it is a challenge! Working for oneself might be hard but you get to honor yourself in a way that many employers don't and you know that honoring yourself is important!! 

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Many thanks to Gwynnie B for taking the time to be interviewed! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it! Be sure to check out Gwynnie's beautiful jewelry and her new passion for painting as her journey continues to unfold: