Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Meditate Through Mandalas

Mandalas are the perfect format for creativity when you have a lot on your mind.  Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning "circle", and they have been used in many religions (most notably the Hindu and Buddhist religions) for centuries.

I have found using the mandala to be a great way to quiet my mind.  By focusing on the design and color of the mandala, intuition takes over and energy is directed in the creation.

Begin by tracing the perimeter of any round object that you have handy, such as a plate, bowl, or compact disc.  I typically begin by sketching the outside of the design working my way toward the center.  I like using colored pencils although any media of your choosing will work.

Using a central figure and working your way out can also be beneficial.  Of these three mandalas that I created this past weekend, the final mandala brought clarity and meaning to the things that had been on my mind.

There are many wonderful sites on the Internet where you can find more information on mandalas.  To read a brief history of the mandala, look HERE.  I hope you give mandala making a try as you continue on your journey to "Celebrate, LOVE, and Create!"

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Unexpected

Once in a while, we are fortunate in our life's journey to get validation of the quest along our chosen path.  I received such validation last Saturday night as I was warmly, eagerly, graciously, and joyfully welcomed into the family of The Heart Tribe.

Female figure designed by Kerri

One by one, this new family celebrated my homecoming, embracing me as a long, lost sister, into the ancient knowledge of the universe.  That warm welcome was so unexpected by me.

My masks and armor lay cast aside as I stood among these beautiful, loving spirits who share the same knowing and knowledge of my heart, and I could feel their love envelope me under the moonlit sky.

We danced the dance of spirit, bound by our common condition.  We celebrated life.  We celebrated divine feminine.  We celebrated our oneness with all that is and ever was.  We celebrated LOVE.

As I look to my wrist at the tie that binds, I am forever grateful and overjoyed to be rewarded with this validation on my life's journey.  I can feel the power of our oneness.  I can feel the power of my sisters, and I marvel that in one modest backyard, I felt enough LOVE to feed the world.  I recall those moments and I am filled with hope and peace.

As you walk the path of your life's journey, my dear art journaling family, be sure to watch for your validations and remember as always, to "Celebrate, LOVE, and Create!"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Stamp Your Foot!

That's right - add some acrylic paint and stamp your foot (or feet) into your journal!  It's summer, and a perfect time for playful journaling and childlike fun.

Today's technique was inspired by a comment that Michele Mary of Movin' Muses, left on my blog post, "Give Yourself a Hand".  Never once did it cross my mind to use my feet, but Michele Mary's comment, "What a great idea to use your hand as a self portrait. We could use our feet, too!", sparked this fun page.

I used artist craft acrylic to paint the bottom of my foot, and that act in and of itself, was freeing and just downright FUN!  A little soap and water clean up, and my foot was good as new.  A few wavy lines to add some colored pencil text, and voila!  It's one of the most joyful, playful things I've done in a while, and I highly recommend this activity.  Why let the kids have all the fun as you "Celebrate, LOVE, and Create!"


My first cherry tomatoes ready to pick - YAY!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Make Your Photos Fabulous!

So you have all those digital photos on your computer that you occasionally browse through.  They evoke pleasant memories as you recall special events in your life.  What can you do with them in your journal?  Make them fabulous!

Here's a picture of my house.  When I come around the corner and see my house, I am filled with joy.  Home is definitely where my heart is.  How to portray the glorious feelings evoked by images of my house?

Here, I've printed out this picture of my house and added other imagery with it that illustrates the warm, fuzzy feelings that I get when I think of home.  I've added more wings to the house - even adding a turret!  How grand is that?  I've loaded the front of the house with endless flowers and blossoming trees, and I included photos of the Baltimore Orioles that I feed in the backyard.  

I love this photo of Mom and me and keep a copy of it by my bedside.  She's been gone 3 years now, but this image always makes me recall the fun and laughter that we shared over the years.  One day, Mom and Sis stopped over to visit, and to our great delight, Mom and I discovered that we had the same top!  That prompted my sister to take a group of photos of us - and of course we were clowning around as usual.

Mom's birthday was just a couple weeks ago, and what better way to celebrate than by creating a couple journal 
pages?  Mom collected clowns and enjoyed dressing like a clown when the occasion presented itself.  And I have to admit, we really enjoyed our share of time clowning around and enjoying each other's company!

I enjoyed creating these pages, and I hope they inspire your to go through your own personal photographs and create some spectacular pages.  Hey - stop clowning around and get busy as you "Celebrate, LOVE, and Create a fabulous photo spread!"


My lilies are beautiful this year!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Classroom Glimpses

June was an exciting month for me as my first Creative Art Journaling class began.  In four short weeks, I've had the pleasure to witness the most amazing women take a leap of faith into the world of creative exploration, and their results have been nothing short of spectacular.  As Kathy's pre-class journal pages illustrate so nicely, "There will be many doors" - one only needs to have the faith to cross the threshold. 

Doors - Kathy Harris Szerdy

Most of these women had never worked in an art journal before.  I even had one student, Nancy, who stayed for  the entire June session despite thinking she had joined a colored pencil class! (A little mis-communication in the center's newsletter. Whoops!) Quiet Nancy, with a twinkle in her eye, never missed a beat and although she insisted that, "I don't know what I'm doing", her pages were thoughtful, creative and beautiful.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera last week, so I don't have any of her images to share with you.  Nancy had to take July off (as did several other of our members), but assured us that she will return in August when I'll be able to share some of her images with you!  (Your presence is missed ladies!)

Synchronicity - Kathy Harris Szerdy

We spent the first two weeks exploring imagery and color emotion, using prompts that would encourage the creative muse to "come out and play".  Kathy's synchronicity pages really hit home with me.  We attended high school together, and we just found each other on Facebook a year or so ago.  That we have come together again in this time and place is no accident.  She is a talented, creative woman who is an English teacher, and drives an hour to get to this class every week.  I'm so grateful to have her back in my life as a joyful and encouraging "blast from the past"!

Here's Patti with her colorful pages illustrating her love and longing for her daughter and grandchildren that she doesn't get to see often enough.

Joy - Patti Belt

Patti created this spread using our "Photo to Fantastic" prompts, and techniques from earlier classes like writing thoughts and feelings down and covering them with paint to make the background more interesting.  Patti is my angel.  She quietly whispers words of great healing and encouragement to me, as well as wonderful advice from her own spiritual journey.

Emotions - Patti Belt

It's taken such a short time for all of us to feel like family and to share our deepest thoughts and feelings with each other.  We've shared sorrows and tears, triumphs and applause, silliness and laughter, and everything else in between.

Flower child - Kathy Szerdy Harris

Yesterday's Lesson - Painting Without Brushes! - Tina Bishop
Yesterday, Kathy said, "You tell us something terrifying every week!"  She was referring to "self portraits" (with hands) and "painting without brushes" (we used credit/store cards and fingers).  She made me laugh and it made me happy because I know I'm doing my job - getting that creative muse to come out and play!
The color black - Tina Bishop

One of the most difficult challenges for all of us was using our hands as self portraits, but I think it was one of the most rewarding of the prompts we've explored.

"Human Being & Human Doing" - Kathy Harris Szerdy
Kathy's exploration of her hands was poignant and thoughtful.  The left side explores the negative aspects of time, the binding chain loosely fitting around the fingers and hand because we can make a choice to free ourselves from the bond.  She has also drawn her hand as fading- as with time.

Past, Present & Future - Tina Bishop
Tina (whom I have adopted as my own mom), is wonderfully spirited and has become a great mentor to me.  Her hands probably amazed me the most.  It took her over a week to be able to begin her exploration.  She persevered through her "block" to be able to complete this exercise, and triumphantly explored a painful past, delighted in her present with gratitude, and looked enthusiastically into her future.  She even included a "bucket list" hand!

Past, Present, Future - Tina Bishop
When I look at Tina's pages, I see not only her own personal journey, but I also see the  deep kinship we have  with each other as we explore ourselves through creative art journaling.  I see how each of us as unique individuals, bring something special to share with each other.  I see growth, fellowship, understanding, acknowledgement, fear, joy, support, and all of the other wonderful things that happen in our group of amazing women.  I am constantly reminded that "the greatest illusion is that we are separate."

These wonderful women, my amazing sisters, have told me how much they are enjoying our class.  I can only hope that I'm offering them as much as I receive from being in their presence.  It's truly a blessing to be in their company as we "Celebrate, LOVE, and Create!"


Nick's perfectly built cheeseburger from our July 3rd cookout, featuring pepperjack cheese,  my homemade mayonnaise (boy was that ever time consuming, but yummy), sis-in-law, Berta's homemade pickles, and the first harvest of lettuce from the garden. YAY!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Tips and Techniques: Give Yourself a Hand!

The general reaction I get when I speak the words "self portrait" to budding creatives is one of panic.  There are many ways to create a self portrait, and one of my favorite ways is to use the outlines of your hands.  When I use my hands as a self portrait, I like to outline both the left and right hands - one on each facing page.  I like to use this method to explore contrasts and opposites such as, past/present, best qualities/worst qualities, etc.

I recently taught this method to my Creative Art Journaling class, and I completed a few pages myself.  The first "opposites" spread I did was "Physical Me" and "Spiritual Me".  Here's the left page, "Physical Me".  I used colors that portray my color emotions as discovered in my monochromatic color spreads.  As the page developed, I was a little surprised to realize just how much of my physical life has revolved around loosing weight.  The spiral surrounding my hand says it all.

"Spiritual Me" is full of color and energy.  My golden fingertips and area on the palm represent the power of the Creator within me and my quest to come in contact with that power.  I used lots of squiggly lines to get the feeling of movement and electricity and the color purple surrounds my hand as the color that best represents spirituality to me.  I also used adhesive backed, metallic papers to add more energy and to make the page feel more special.

The second set of pages I completed were "Happy Me" and "Sad Me".  "Happy Me" was a blast to complete.  There are so many things that make me happy and joyful.  The colors reflect my happiness, and of course, art is at the center of my being.

"Sad Me" was a difficult page to create.  I thought about feeling sad and what it looks like to me.  I thought about how feeling sad literally feels as if it's draining the life out of me, and that prompted me to place my hand  facing downward.  

I thought about the things that make me sad, like bigotry, prejudice, negativity, egotism and DRAMA.  I contemplated the fact that these are things that are thought based, and it led me to contemplate the things that I sometimes think about that make me sad.

I thought about the things that happened in the past and continue to resurface from time to time. . . 

And I thought about how deeply we try to bury old wounds.  Buried beneath layers, they seem to lay in wait like toxic chemicals.

I think we all have little areas of "toxic thoughts" that try to leak out from their confined areas and wrap us in sadness.  I think the great part of realizing this is that the acknowledgment that they exist give them less power.  That's my theory anyway, and that's how this mini book with fold-out pages came to live in the palm of my hand.

I hope this post inspires you to do a self portrait.  Self assessment is a great tool in personal growth, and using your hands as a catalyst isn't near as frightening a prospect as looking in a mirror!  "Celebrate YOU, love YOU, and Create a wonderful day!"


July 4th Fireworks, Mentor, Ohio

Friday, July 1, 2011

July Art Journaling Prompts

Well, I totally blew it on posting June Art Journaling Prompts, so let's give it a go for July!  I hope everyone is having a great summer, and I wish all of you a safe and happy 4th of July weekend of perfect weather, great food, and spectacular fireworks.  As always, "Celebrate, LOVE, and Create!"

Click to enlarge image, and as always, the link to all journaling prompts can be found on the sidebar.  Happy Journaling!
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