It's been a while since I posted last. I've been so busy and time keeps getting away with me! The hazards of juggling a number of things. So here are just a few shots from my recent trip to Southern California. It was a lovely trip and I got to spend some wonderful time with my dad and my great aunt who is like a grandmother to my daughter. In addition, we were able to spend some time with some friends that we haven't seen in a long while. There is much to say for family and friends that one truly connects with. Home is my word for the year and it was nice to be at "home" with those I love and who love me back as well as being in familiar territory (Southern California was my home for 18 years). My daughter (above) absolutely adores reptiles and has since she was little. She said that this big guy was as cuddly as a kitten! While I agreed that he has beautiful markings (I've learned to appreciate reptiles through her) I stayed happily behind the camera!
I've been getting things ready, i.e.: finding someone to take care of my feline friends, making sure I have appropriate clothing and shoes since I will be in a slightly different climate, getting my car all ship shape and most importantly creating a new playlist. I've been in desperate need of new music so there are new (to me) tracks and tracks a bit off the beaten path.
Today was one of those days. You know the ones. When your energy is a bit low and something just doesn't feel quite right and you can't quite put your finger on what it is. Everything just feels a bit...off. It could be the dull, gray, rainy weather. We certainly need the rain, but dull, gray always seems to affect me this way.
So I played some upbeat music like this and this while I worked.
My car has been leaking rain water (and we've been having sheets of it) into the passenger side floor. When I took my car to the shop the other day, they put a piece of plastic in to divert the water. Unfortunately, it made it worse. It soaked two towels clear through as well as the floor. Very wet. And very smelly. Ugh.
I called the shop and they said bring it right down. So, I threw the soaked, smelly towels in the bathtub, laid down another old towel to catch the dripping water and hopefully soak up some of the water on the floor, grabbed my umbrella and yoga mat and headed out. After I dropped my car at the garage, I walked the seven blocks or so to the yoga studio. As I settled into my practice, I found myself letting go of all my concerns and feeling quite peaceful (as well as a sense of victory that I had actually made it there on time). In the more challenging poses, I could be mindful enough to find my edge and back off to a safe distance so I could breathe and let my muscles do their work. After the hour and half practice, I began my walk back to check on my car. The rain had let up temporarily so I didn't need my umbrella so I stuffed it in my yoga bag. It suddenly donned on me as I was standing at the corner waiting to cross the street that I could stop at my favorite bakery for a cup of chai and get a slice of quiche to take home for lunch. So I did. And sipped the most wonderful, spicy chai all the way back to the garage. It felt wonderful in the gray, drizzly, cold!
Back at the garage, they told me that they had taken the plastic out and recommended that I take my car to a body shop. Poor car. But I have no complaints. My car has been a good and faithful friend, seeing me through thick and thin and through every kind of journey and adventure for fourteen years. I love my car! So body shop, here we come. (And after that, a good detail).
There was a time that I wouldn't have allowed myself a cup of chai on the way back. I definitely wouldn't have stopped to pick up something special for my lunch. Make a sandwich at home or better yet, have the leftovers no one else will eat so they don't go to waste, I would have told myself. I might not have even gone to yoga for fear of getting there late and then feeling disappointed that I hadn't made it there on time. I used to keep myself boxed in and beat myself up a lot in those days. But not any more. It's so much better to find ways to enjoy myself, even when life throws a curve ball especially when life throws a curve ball.
For Valentine's Day this year, I decided to use a technique I learned in an art class and combine it with my painting and collage to create some special one-of-a-kind Valentine's. I was pleased with the result. Here's what I did:
First begin by taking a sheet of drawing paper and using different size pencils and both a fine tip and bold tip black sharpie (or other pen) write your name, a word or a phrase over and over in different directions and different sizes until the paper is completely covered. Using different size pencils such as, 2H, HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B, will give your lines different weights and qualities, light and dark, thick and thin lines. Don't forget the edges, make sure those are covered too.
Once you have completely covered your drawing paper with your writing and have a wide variety of lines, turn the paper over and measure off a grid of 2" squares. Cut the squares.
You will now have a pile of 2 inch squares with very interesting marks on them. Take a look at them and pick out the ones you really like.
Glue them onto a piece of 14" X 17" Bristol. You can use Mod Podge, YES Glue or Matte Medium. Don't try to glue each individual square, spread a bit of glue onto the Bristol and then place the squares. Try to get all of the squares lined up evenly together, but if you have a bit of variation in them because your cutting wasn't exact, don't worry, just get the squares as close as you can. Just don't overlap any squares. If you have any squares over the edges of the Bristol like I did, no worries, just trim off the excess, but do go all the way to the edges. After you get all of your squares glued onto the Bristol, let it dry thoroughly before going on to the next step.
The next step is where we get into painting and collage. I really get into this step and usually forget to take pictures. What you're basically doing is adding layers of paint and paper to your composition. Use a variety of fluid paint, which is transparent and will allow your marks underneath to show through and heavy bodied acrylic paint which will be opaque. I like to start with fluid paint and collage paper and then go on to heavy bodied paint. I then go back and forth until I really like what I see. I also used a variety of printed paper that I like as well as some transparent, hand-made origami paper (the green above) and tissue paper which is transparent. The origami paper is my favorite because you can see the fibers of the paper which makes an interesting texture. Let it dry in between layers so things don't get smeary or muddy. When you have as many layers as you want let it dry completely.
While your composition is drying, take either another piece of bristol or an old file folder like I did (I have so many old file folders and I like to make use of them, rather than throw them out!) Make a stencil by tracing a heart shape and cutting it with an exact knife. When you are finished and your composition is completely dry, float your stencil over your composition to find something you like. Turn your paper around and keep looking. Once you find something you like, place your mask and trace in pencil around the stencil.
Now, cut out your heart.
Now you can add some stamped words, markings in ink or make other finishing touches.