Friday, December 05, 2008

Feeling Blessed

Today I am feeling very blessed. My application to teach a workshop at Art & Soul - Portland, 2009 was accepted.

My class is called "Collage with a Focus: Let Your Art Tell Your Story" featuring techniques in collage, working with acrylic/plexi-glass, and making tube rivets to create a collage with a focal point.

Along the way we will talk about how to allow the stories we all carry inside speak through our art and we'll talk about alternative ways to use the materials and techniques from the class to continue illustrating these stories outside of the class.

The example here and the one of the bird in the post below are my class samples to give an idea of what this looks like put together, but I am guessing with so many stories to be told there will be an awesome variety of finished projects!

Be sure to mark your Calendar for Art & Soul, Portland. My class will be on Sunday, October 4 2009.

"I Pledge Allegiance To My Denial"

Monday, December 01, 2008

Let Everything That Has Breath Praise The Lord!

"My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever." -psalm 145:21

I'm praising God today for the storms of my life. I know it sounds strange, but I truly am thankful. Not that I've been enjoying having to go through so many hard times, back to back to back, for literally the past few years. Unemployment, losing our home at the onset of the mortgage crisis, marital issues, health issues, so much more. I wouldn't ask to have the things happen to me that I've been through, no, I wouldn't even ask for these things to be brought on my enemies. But I see how God has been using these times to bring about changes that were necessary. In fact he has used these times to bring about the very things I have prayed for.

I came to a place in my walk with Christ where I began to grow dissatisfied. I grew more and more dissatisfied and hungrier and hungrier for a deeper relationship with Him. I naively prayed that God would give me more of Him. That he would take me from the milk of His word to the meat. I wanted to be a mature Christian believer.

And the storms that I thought had began to pass in my life began again. Hitting in full gale force. Winds that came so strong and so suddenly they knocked me down and for the first time in so long I didn't want to get back up. I was worn out, exhausted, felt helpless, lost all but the thinnest thread of hope that life, my life, was ever going to be anything more then troubled. I cried out to God over and over to deliver me from it. To rescue me. To come quickly and save me. At the very least, could you show me why? Why Lord would you let me go through this?

Amazingly some of you would write to me when I posted about some of these events and tell me how much I had brought encouragement in the midst of your own trials and storms. Sometimes I felt like a hypocrite in hearing this. How can you say that I helped you to want to work on your marriage when I am sitting here wanting to walk away from my own? How can you say that you felt closer to God today because of my words when I am sitting here feeling about as far from Him as I ever have?

I didn't feel worthy of these words.

And I wasn't, but God is.

These past few weeks, maybe longer, God has been lifting the veil from my eyes and showing me the answers He has brought to my prayers. "You prayed for your marriage, your relationships, you wanted a more mature walk with me" He says "and in the troubles you have experienced you sought counseling, you came to me and cried out, you opened to me in ways you never would have before, and now you are starting to see changes you never thought you would see. And you are growing each day."

"You prayed for more money, less debt" He says "but you had never learned how to handle money. And when I let your husband lose his job and then let you lose your home, and let you go through so many financial hardships I got your attention. You went to that class and started to open your eyes and now you are starting to work together in this area too. Starting to look to me to teach you. It has taken a lot of trials, but here you are trying and willing and growing each day."

"You said you were hungry for more of me" He said "but you were looking all around you, at your church, your friends, your husband, your family, to show you where to find me. It wasn't until I had allowed you to reach the bottom of that pit that you were finally quiet enough to hear me right here beside you. With you. You don't have to go looking. I am with you. And because of all these trials you have begun to look to me to lead you to places you never thought you would get to go. And you are learning and growing with me each day."

Recently, the reporter who wrote the story about us when we lost our home called my husband. She wanted to let him know about a phone call she had just received from a couple who had read that article. They said they had been on the verge of losing their home too and their own marriage was nearly ended, but when they read our story they felt encouraged and decided to try again. They were calling to let her know that as a result they had managed to save their home and their marriage and they just wanted her to know. She told my husband she was calling to pass this along to us because we had said "if we could help just one person with our story". When he told me this, it wasn't the reporters voice I heard in my mind, it was Gods "You said if you could help just one other person...."

Praise God. We didn't do it, it was Him. He was just gracious enough to let us have a part in it as a result of our storms.

"My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever." -psalm 145:21

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making Peace with My Inner Child

So this is kind of a hokey picture, part of a self portrait assignment for my Digital Photography class where I had to place myself with a group of ten other people using my new found Photoshop skills. No rules about who those ten other people were and whether they were actually shot at the same time, so I decided to have a little fun with it. I don't know which part amuses me more, the one where I am holding my own hand? The one where I am hugging myself in my Raggedy Andy Halloween costume? My husband thought the big me peeking out from behind all the little me's was funny. So I need to work on scale a little bit, but whose noticing?
Sorting through all of my old photos to do this project brought back a lot of childhood memories. Some of them were fun, some warm and sweet, some painful. I've been learning about my "inner child", or broken and hurt places from the past, and how they will affect the choices I make in my present circumstances until I address them and heal, so this was kind of a therapeutic project. I decided to call it "Making Peace With My Inner Child".
Okay - no cracks about my Carol Brady hairdo!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Studio Clearance

Its that time again, OPF Studio Clearance (or "Help a Struggling College Student Provide Christmas For Her Family Sale").

I'm listing some of my art from my personal collection and some that I intended to list ages ago but couldn't let go of - now through the holiday season. The prices will never go lower so it's a great time to buy yourself or someone you love a gift for Christmas! Stop by OPF Studio today!

And if you're in the mood to make it yourself, I'm letting go of a lot of my treasures so here is your chance to get a bargain on something unique to inspire your creative muse! Come by Other Peoples Flowers at Etsy and Shop till ya Drop!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

SOFA Chicago

Took a drive...

to the city...

had a hot date....

and a cold walk on the pier...

I might have thought it was a dream...

but after 6 hours of looking at art my feet started to scream...

Camera's weren't allowed on the floor so you only get to peek...

I left thanking the good Lord ...

For an awe inspiring day and a magical night...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Don't We All Need A Theme Song?

This pretty much sums up the season I'm in. The words couldn't be more in tune with my life today.
If you're not one for listening to music videos online here are the lyrics, but I highly highly recommend listening to this very beautiful song:

Whatever You're Doing (Something Heavenly) lyrics

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...


Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let Me Tell You About The Birds and The Bees and The Flowers and The Trees

By now it must come as no big surprise to my regular readers to find my blog posting to be sporadic this year. No matter how much I try or how sincere my desire, there just seems to be those seasons when there is either not enough hours, not enough energy, not enough creativity, or just plain ol' not enough me.

But here I am today, with a little time on my hands to try to catch up with at least a few pictures to show you that I actually have not dropped off the face of the earth. (Just in case you were wondering.)

Proverbs 3:13
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.

My classes have progressed and I am pleased with all that I am learning. This is my most recent piece from my jewelry/metalsmithing class, not nearly enough in this picture to show you the frustration I have experienced in class, but frustration with a point.

I've come to appreciate, through some not so cooperative projects, that there is a purpose to the obstacles, difficulties, and accidents. Without them, would I have learned as much?

Proverbs 1:5
let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance.

The silver spot in the middle of the back of this piece was the original tab to hold down the prongs of the pin back. A T-shape that looked much better then these little tabs but wasn't as functional. I guess it will take practice in order to produce a piece that is both functional and pretty on the back.

Practice, practice, practice, without it I will never be able to produce all the ideas lined up in my head.

I am learning patience.

Inside, as I stand at the soldering station, waiting for the stubborn solder to flow, I'm a bossy demanding child stomping my foot in front of the Lord. Why won't you make the solder flow for me? Come on Holy Spirit! Aren't you my helper? Stomp foot, kick the cat, stomp, stomp, stomp!

Outwardly I sigh and allow the instructor to guide me, to show me how to hold the torch, to demonstrate the proper technique.

I am learning humility.

I've been plugging along with a little Nikon Coolpix in my Digital Photography class, having broken my good camera just before the semester began. And while I am thrilled to be learning more about digital photography in general, it is learning Photoshop that has me so excited in this class. I put together the banner above before my free trial version of Photoshop ran out. It isn't what I had pictured in my head either, but it is a start. A considerable start as far as I'm concerned and I hope to refine it as my skills develop. This Friday I also took a day long workshop for Photoshop. Yeehaw!

I am learning to love learning.

Psalm 51:6
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.


Along with all the learning going on in the classroom, I'm still seeing my therapist and learning so much about who I am. I've been exploring all that I have learned through the wisdom of this lovely Spirit-filled woman in a series of collage-assemblages. I have shared the main image from these first two with you in previous posts, but felt they were incomplete and needed to be presented as a part of this series.

"Pregnant" represents to me all the possibilities that opened up when I allowed myself to think about change. The kind of change that began deep inside and allows me to embrace my past, not shrink from it, in order to heal and begin the voyage that God has in store for me. I will look to Him for the true inner healing and follow where He wants me to go. It is getting exciting but I still have some fear.

I am learning to trust.

Proverbs 4:6
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.

"Change Begins Within"

The series I've been working on will be titled after this piece, which represents a window from a dream like state deep in my own spirit where the seeds of change were first planted.
I look back over the storms of the past few years and now know that the Lord was plowing and working the hardened ground to make it ready to accept these seeds. It was a painful tilling, but necessary in order for the seeds of change to be firmly planted and allow them to take root.

I want this change more then anything. I can see it, taste it, breath deeply of it. As I fall asleep at night I can't help but envision it. I know the Lord has good things in store for me, but there will be plenty of weeding to do. I will open my heart to Him and let Him do the work he needs to do.

I am finally learning to surrender.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Summers End

Summer's end brings a unique rhythm between taking advantage of the last of the warm weather to head out to the open air flea markets and art festivals and getting settled in to school and fall routines. There is a sadness to the end of the long warm days and a familiar comfort in the appearance of pumpkin patches and hay bales in roadside stands.

I promise to post more art soon, but until then I wanted to share this picture of a few of my treasures from the Randolph Street Market last weekend. The unpolished sponge coral branches were an awesome find and I wish my pocket book had allowed me to snatch up all the strands the vendor had to offer. I can't wait to start creating with them. They are long finger like branches and have great textural appeal. That one over on the right side with its white bubble-like inclusion has my creative wheels spinning! I'll be listing a few for you in my Etsy shop so be sure to stop by today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hard/Easy vs. Easy/Hard or Back To School - A Season of Change

"Self Portrait: A Work In Progress"

First counseling and now school. My head is spinning over the suddenness of it all, and yet, not so sudden.

It started with a single thought. One innocent thought.

"Hey, I'm not working full time now, I can take a class!
Something fun.
Something I can use to take a step toward my art goals and build a better future."

That one innocent thought led me to enroll for a class, add another class, then another, and oh why not just one more? Whoops, I'm a full time student!
Phew! Is it only Wednesday?

So suddenly I'm going back to school. But at nearly 43 years old, I guess it isn't really sudden at all. It took me a long time to get here. I signed up for Digital Photography, Electronic Graphic Publishing, Web Design, and Metalsmithing. Many of the classes I would have loved to take if I had gone to college straight out of High School.
Well, I would have loved to take them if they actually had computers and the internet way back then! Ha!
Okay, they did indeed have computers. And maybe the internet even existed, but nobody had heard of it and the one computer class I took in High School involved IBM key punch cards.

I know very little about computers. Enough to show you my latest work and tell you a little about my life here. Enough to list and sell my wares at the store and the studio on Etsy, but that is about it.
So to say I am feeling a little overwhelmed with my choice of classes; learning Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver all at the same time, is an understatement. And deciding to do this at the same time that I have decided to dive into counseling has me questioning my sanity just a bit.

It's not going to be an easy season, this season of change.

There is that voice track in my head, you know the one, that puts up all the objections that sound rational and reasonable to making these changes.
Its too hard. I'm too old. What about all that time you thought you were going to spend just working on art? What about the housework and the kids and dinner? What about all that homework?
And do you really want to open that can of worms?

But then I think about a sermon I heard not long ago. I can't remember the scripture it was based on, or really, the main message at all. I just remember the pastor giving this tidbit: Hard/Easy versus Easy/Hard.
Making the choice to do the hard thing now can bring about the fruit of easier paths in the future, whereas, taking what looks like the easy road can make the future a whole lot harder.

I guess I'm old enough now to testify to the truth of that statement.

Not dealing with the pain of my past "issues" and always having a good excuse not to go back to school? Easy.
Life after those decisions? Hard.

Doing the work it will take to heal and to learn? Hard.
Finally being free of that baggage and having knowledge that will give me more choices for my future? Priceless.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Let Me Tell You About My Blog Friend...

"People let me tell you about my blo-og friend....A warm hearted gal who will love ya till the end...."
Ahhh, did I just date myself there? Changed a few words around but I'm sure some of you will recognize that tune!

Well I do want to tell you about my blog friend, Cindy Forrester, who is one talented artist and I am lucky to call her a friend.

Speaking of Lucky, check out this amazing necklace Cindy made by that name:

And this piece titled "When Teardrops Fall", which moved me to even more tears when I found out that Cindy had made it with me in mind:

This October Cindy will be leaving her home in Florida and heading all the way across the country to teach In The Artists Studio in Seal Beach, California. How I wish I could be there to learn Cindy's techniques in bezel making and her signature heirloom bottles:

But if I can't be there, I can send you. Be sure to get in early. This girl is going places with her talent!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Very Charming Announcement!

Over the weekend I ran out to Barnes and Nobles looking for inspiration on the bookshelves and nearly fell over when I got there! I've been eagerly waiting to make this announcement for my copy to arrive in the mail, but apparently it has taken a slight detour due to my change of address this year. I knew that it was available on Amazon, but wasn't expecting to see it on the shelves of my local book store already.

A Charming Exchange is a collaboration started by Kelly Snelling and Ruth Rae, inspired by a round robin charm swap involving 24 other artists. Ruth began a blog to have one place where each artist could give instructions on the charm she had created and from there the idea for the book was born.

How lucky to be included, not only in the initial round robin (which I managed to get in by the skin of my teeth!) but to have it turn into a book!

As the book project began I was asked to be a part of a round robin group project specifically for the book with 4 other artists. Each one of us began a necklace or a bracelet and sent it off, round robin style, to the next participant, who then added their own elements and passed it on to the next person.

Here are photos I took of each necklace or bracelet as it passed through my hands. Each of these are featured in the book and many have step-by-step instructions for creating some of the charms shown.

Ruth Rae, the host of the original charm swap and co-author of the book, created this wonderful bracelet and an equally wonderful felt carrier to keep it in. Be sure to check out her instructions in the book for both the carrier, and her layered centerpiece for the bracelet.

The little riveted wing charm below is my contribution to Ruth's bracelet:

"Gothic Romance" necklace by Catherine Witherell. Romantic to the very core of the felted heart centerpiece Catherine created. I can't tell you how intimidated this necklace made me. Of course, I felt that way each time one of these talented artist's works arrived in my mailbox!
In order to get over my fear of ruining somebody else's work, I would display the necklace in my studio when it arrived and "live with it" for a time. As I grew more comfortable with the piece, touching it and getting a sense of the artists style, I could let myself go and begin to be inspired.

My addition to Catherine's necklace is the peek-a-boo style charm at the center top. The antique religious charm swings to the side and reveals an antique image of a flower and the word "beauty". The word "strength" is etched at the bottom.

Here is the spread from the book featuring my necklace, "History Lesson":

Unfortunately the photos I took before I let it go were on the blurry side. It was such a flurry of activity to finish and get the pieces out by the deadline that I didn't stop to think I would probably never have these items in my hand again and lost the opportunity to get really good photos.

I am delighted with the way it came together. I created the centerpiece from an antique camera lens, which was empty when it left me. It was also swinging from side to side on the steel wire bar. But these were opportunities for the other participants to "fill in the blanks" and they did quite nicely!

Next Deryn Mentock's finely crafted necklace arrived in my mailbox. Deryn is an amazing jewelry artist and the one who recommended me to Ruth for this round robin. I bow to her talent, not only with working the steel wire with the ease of fine silver, but also with an eye for composition, which she has taken to an extraordinary level.
Be sure to stop by her blog to see her Shepherd's Amulet Bag, which she created for the Amulet bag challenge presented by Ruth for the book.

And finally this fantasy fairy necklace arrived by Jessica Moreau-Berry. I was one of the first to work on Jessica's necklaces so it looks a little bare in this photo, but the finished piece is so whimsical and I half expected to see elves jump out of the package when it showed up. I don't think I've ever wanted to dance through a woodland meadow as much as when I was working on this piece.
As a matter of fact, I don't think I ever wanted to dance through a woodland meadow before at all. But check out the finished project in the book and see if it doesn't make you feel the same way!

As part of this group of 5 artists, I was also invited to contribute to the cover project. To create my charm I used an antique earing, an old brown ribbon, and antique MOP button.

The bracelet has a story of how it came to be. Be sure to read about it in the book and watch the website for an announcement of when this piece and others from the book will be auctioned off for a great cause, breast cancer research.

There were other group projects that I participated in, including earring swaps, that you can see in the book, along with some other charms I created that wound up being used in some really cool pieces. Here are some photos of my charms, but you really have to get the book to see the finished pieces!

This piece "XOXO" was created from two antique wood printers blocks, two antique tintype photos, old wire and nails salvaged from other items, and one tiny link from an antique cuckoo clock chain:

Kelly, the author of the book, created a gothic style necklace to show off the charm and then Ruth stepped out instructions on doing something similar if you don't have genuine tintype photo's to use.

This side isn't shown in the book:

I brought these elements together:

And created this charm, which also wound up being used as the centerpiece for a necklace in the book:

And finally I was surprised and delighted to find that my amulet bag was featured and instructions stepped out by Ruth on creating the wire cage.

This piece was inspired by the scripture verse "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

The top of the cage is designed to look like the crown of thorns.

This necklace is big and clunky and could never really be worn, but I really love it anyway and just thrilled to death that it was included, along with my explanation of the inspiration from Gods word!

To Him be the Glory.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Embracing The Mess

As mentioned in the previous post, I've done some re-organizing in the studio this summer. Ever since I moved into this space I've had piles on the floor and piles on various surfaces that have just never made their way into a permanent location.

Finally, with the determined pace of a migratory snail, I managed to get every last pile picked up off the floor and into a semi-satisfying arrangement and I could officially call my studio clean. Of course there are plenty of things still on my to-do list to further organize my space, but for the first time in a long time it had the appearance of being clean.

And there it stood.

I could envision myself creating wonderful works of art in this freshly organized space. I could see myself creating my next masterpiece in my minds eye and knew just what the process would be to bring it to fruition.

But I couldn't seem to get started.

Something about the appearance of order in what had once been so much chaos begged not to be disturbed. The work it had taken to get it to this point had been exhausting, time-consuming, and seemed like such a waste of effort if I was just going to turn around and mess it all up again. I should leave well enough alone and maybe take up gardening instead.

Not wanting to deal with the mess was nearly crippling any progress I wanted to make as an artist and one morning I woke up and knew I had to overcome this.

I had to accept that it was going to get messy.

I brought out a stack of blank canvases that I found at an artists estate sale earlier in the summer and laid them out one by one.

To get over the intimidation of the blank canvases staring up at me I quickly coated each one with a layer of leftover house paint. This process seemed to release me and soon I was having fun pulling out scraps and papers from my collage bin and throwing them around the work table imagining what each one would be.

I was embracing the mess.

The process itself became somewhat therapeutic and, as is so often the case when I am in the midst of creating, I felt my Creator begin to talk to me. He whispered words of encouragement and spoke to me of the similarities between my reluctance to stir up the mess in my studio again and my reluctance to stir up the mess in my life again.

He began to show me how the mess had a purpose. That looking beyond the individual pieces or set of circumstances, one could see a complete work of art coming together. Something beautiful that would not have come about any other way.

Over the past few years the foundation of my life had been shaken to the core, to say the least. I've written before of how the hardships my husband and I endured as a result of his being laid off from his job, and my subsequent return to the work place full time, started bringing many issues not being dealt with to a head in our lives. Just when we felt that things were settling down and I would declare that we had been delivered through the storm, we would get shaken again.

And again. And again. And again.

We dealt with the job loss and ultimately the loss of our home as the mortgage crisis began to take it's toll on our country, so many individuals with stories not unlike our own. We have each dealt with major health issues and the health issues of many loved ones. Car issues, appliance issues, heaters breaking, child issues, on and on and on.
On a personal level all this shaking began to take a toll and we separated for a time. And finally we brought our lives back together and began to build from the mess it had been, picking up pieces from the pile and finding a place to put them and appreciating how things are so much better now.

And there I stood.

Something about the appearance of order in what had once been so much chaos begged not to be disturbed. The work it had taken to get to this point had been exhausting, time-consuming, and seemed like such a waste of effort if I was just going to turn around and mess it all up again.
I should leave well enough alone and maybe take up gardening instead.

But I hear God whispering once again. My creation isn't finished. There are things that I still need to do. Things I still want you to face and overcome. You still need to heal. There are wounds, messes, from so long ago that you keep pushing away. The mess had a purpose and it isn't finished yet.

I know He is right. Not dealing with the mess is nearly crippling me as a person. I cling to the appearance of order. I'm avoiding people, projects, events, many things in life that I loved and cherished just to avoid making another mess.

I know I have to overcome this.

I have to accept that it is going to get messy.

I finally made that appointment with a counselor. It was a long time in coming. I met with her yesterday and God was faithful to meet me there as well. I felt something inside of me being released. A fresh washing of tears. A girl waiting to be seen by her Daddy.

I know it won't be easy but I am excited at the possibilities, the outcome, the finished creation, imagining what it will be. Something beautiful that cannot come about any other way.

I am embracing the mess.